Trying to bring a little common sense to the game of baseball. But considering many of the people who read baseball blogs, I'm probably just pissing into the wind.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Seattle Mariners preview

Well, someone has to finish last in the division, and the Mariners are laying claim to the position. Some good players surrounded by guys who should be on the bench for pennant winners, but are disguised as starters here. Some of the roster moves don’t make sense, and some of the personalities are worse. A disaster of a pitching staff, and no power. Molly Hatchet sang about the Mariners season.


Miguel Olivo. Because he’s getting the big money. I don’t understand this move. His power is wasted in Safeco, he can’t get on base, he doesn’t hit doubles, and he can’t block the plate. He can steal a few bases, and throw out some opposing runners. He’s not the catcher for a team that wants to get better, and for a disaster of a pitching staff. Hopefully Felix Hernandez will get his own personal catcher.

Upside:  will get enough opportunities to throw out base stealers that the deficiencies don’t show

Downside:  leads the team in home runs

Score:  0

First base:

Justin Smoak. Lots of upside, especially in the power department. If he can hit the ball, he should have some good power in Safeco and hit a few homeruns. A higher average will get his on base percentage up, and he’s neutral defensively so far. Given the chance to play full time, he could do a lot of damage. The strikeouts are going to hurt, but it’s a liveable fault if he can go full time.

Upside:  becomes Carlos Pena

Downside:  becomes Tony Pena

Score:  - 2

Second base:

Brendan Ryan. I don’t think this will stick. If he hits well enough to be in the line up every day, he’ll be at short stop. If he doesn’t hit, he won’t play. They can’t hide his bat. No team should make the shortstop more important than the team when there is a better defensive player available. People forget he had a couple of good years with the bat, for a short stop. If he doesn’t hit, he becomes a super sub.

Upside:  can hit like he did 2009

Downside:  the glove goes away

Score:   0

Third base:

Chone Figgins. A move back to third will help him and the team. He’s better defensively at third, and the infield defense will be a strength. He’s a better hitter than last year shows. Safeco isn’t great for hitters. If he can get on base and get some steals, his lack of power won’t matter as much. The main thing is that he comes to play every day, and the infield will be improved.

Upside:  doesn’t feel the pressure of the contract and just plays ball

Downside:  ends up moving all over the field

Score:  + 1

Short stop:

Jack Wilson. A good defensive short stop, but Ryan is better. A move to second would seem to be in order. Injuries have sapped whatever offensive game he had, and it wasn’t much. Not a lot of power, and he doesn’t get on base or steal them. Age is an issue, and I can see him going at the deadline to a team needing veteran help on the infield.

Upside:  stays healthy and hits as much as he reasonably can

Downside:  hits so bad his glove doesn’t help

Score:  0

Left field:

Michael Saunders. Finally getting the chance. He didn’t have a great year, but I don’t think its cause for concern. He’s got the chance to develop some power, and he is left handed at the plate. Good defensively, and young, he could be a fixture for years if he gets his bat going. More plate discipline would help, but he’s not going to win batting titles or lead the league in walks.

Upside:  develops power and gets into the 30 home run range

Downside:  comparisons to Griffey

Score:  - 1


Franklin Gutierrez. A down year at the plate, but I think it was more what he’ll do in his career. Great defensively, he can pop a homerun and steal a base, but doesn’t bring a lot else to the plate. Getting on base would help, but we all know he’s there for his glove. There will be less pressure on him if Saunders can get going, and the defense will help win some games.

Upside:  wins another Gold Glove

Downside:  the stomach problems cause him to miss a lot of time

Score:  0

Right field:

Ichiro Suzuki. What can you say about him? Sure, he doesn’t walk, but he’s 30th on the list for active players. That’s not bad. Still runs and gets around the bases, and he’s always on them. Plays excellent defense, and is a team player. On his way to the Hall of Fame, he should get the chance to go somewhere else, and hopefully will be traded at the deadline.

Upside:  gets traded to a team that will get him to the Series

Downside:  becomes a modern day Ernie Banks

Score:  + 1

Designated hitter:

Jack Cust. Or Milton Bradley. Or a platoon. One thing that is certain, this combination will lead the league in strikeouts and ejections. They both have to prove they can still do it. Cust is the most Three True Outcomes players around, and the short fence in right should help, if he makes contact. Bradley will help if he just keeps out of trouble. I don’t see either one happening.

Upside:  one of them takes the position away from the other

Downside:  the pitchers have to hit all year

Score:  - 1

Backup catcher:

Adam Moore. Doing what a career back up does. Plays some defense. Not walk, not steal, not hit for average, and hit a home run on occasion. He can also play some decent defense, and figures to get into about 50 games this year giving Olivo a rest. If he can’t hit better than he has, he won’t have the job long. Josh Bard should get a look, but he’s older and more expensive. Who’s the lesser of two back up catchers?

Upside:  Moore gets a chance to show he can do the job and hits

Downside:  can’t hit and has to play too many games

Score:  - 1

Backup first baseman:

Mike Carp. At least according to the depth chart. He should be in the minors playing every day if Smoak hits. If not Carp, Olivo, Cust, and Bradley could all get time here. They all figure to get some, as Smoak won’t hit against a lot of lefties. This could end up being a revolving door. Someone has to play, but who?

Upside:  Smoak hits and they don’t really need one

Downside:  everybody gets a chance

Score:  - 2

Back-up infielder:

Matt Tuiasosopo. At least at third, and maybe second. The rest will move around as necessary. There is really no one listed on the roster, and they might carry a third catcher, so I guess he can do it. There is danger of no offense up the middle, so having a true middle infielder would help, but they don’t. If they hit as they’ve done in the past, it won’t be an issue. If they don’t, there will have to be some kind of trade.

Upside:  all the starters stay healthy and hit

Downside:  one of them doesn’t

Score:  - 2

Back-up outfielder:

Milton Bradley. Assuming he makes the team. There shouldn’t be a lot of movement around the outfield if Saunders can hit. Bradley will get into some games against tough left handers, DH, and pinch hit. Maybe limiting his playing time will keep him out of trouble, but it wont’ keep him happy. I don’t see him lasting the year.

Upside:  they can’t win with him, they can lose without him

Downside:  ends up having to start

Score:   - 1

Rotation (front 3):

Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, and Doug Fister. Hernandez is the stud, and while the others aren’t necessarily duds, they aren’t anything to get excited about it. They don’t strike guys out, and they don’t go deep into the game. The rotation is going to hurt the team, and hurt it badly. The defense, as good as it will be, won’t help these guys. It’s going to be a long summer in Seattle.

Upside:  the other starters surprise me

Downside:  Hernandez agrees to be traded

Score:  0

Rotation (back end):

Erik Bedard and Luke French. Bedard can’t stay healthy and French is a fill in until someone else comes along. Neither one is a dangers to step up to the top three, but either one might have to. Right now, there is nowhere to go but up for the pitching staff, but the elevator is broken. The other teams are going to love hitting in Safeco. I used to work there. Stand in right field under the restaurant. Plenty of balls will land there.

Upside: Bedard goes down early enough that someone else can be found

Downside:  there is no one to replace these guys

Score:  - 2


Danny Cortez, Garrett Olsen, Josh Lueke, David Pauley. So bad they only have four listed on the depth chart, instead of the usual five. This means the spots are wide open, and anyone can get one. Absolutely nothing to get excited about. The only question is how many blown saves will cost wins for Hernandez. Will he be the first Cy Young with a losing record?

Upside:  lots of bodies to look at means someone could be a sleeper

Downside:  it won’t really matter

Score:  - 2


Brandon League. Never closed, but pitched well last year. The only issue is that he won’t get a lot of opportunities for saves. The rotation won’t leave leads, and the bullpen won’t hold the ones they do. He’ll get a lot of work days, just to keep him sharp. He’s the second best pitcher on the team, and will pitch the fewest innings. But he’s a closer, and every team needs one. Don’t they?

Upside:  will rack up a few saves and have a good year

Downside:  lowest save total for a closer in the last 25 years

Score:  0

Team speed (which includes base running):

Good. Excellent team speed, and they should get lots of stolen bases. Probably lead the league. Good range in the outfield and infield also. But they don’t hit doubles, and they don’t hit triples. They’re not great on the base paths either. This is a feast or famine type of team when it comes to speed. They’ll need all they can get and they’ll have to use it a lot.

Upside:  more doubles and triples

Downside:  lots of guys who can’t run clog up the base for those who can

Score:  0

Team defense:

Good. Second best to the A’s. Strong up the middle. Very strong. Even Olivo has his moments. Flip flopped on the corners, some good, and some not as much so. They will have to be good, as this is the only way they are gong to win games. They can’t give away free outs to the other team, as the pitching staff is going to let enough guys on base themselves.

Upside:  Gold Gloves abound

Downside:  won’t really matter as the runs saved won’t even make it close

Score:  + 2

Team batting:

Bad. Horrendously bad. They ranked dead last in every category except for stolen bases last year. Oh year, and strikeouts. They were first in that. No help added, so far. Some promise, but not much. They won’t give away runs, but they won’t score much either. The pitching staff will make sure it doesn’t matter, as the game will be out of hand before they have time to turn the line up over.

Upside:  it can’t be any worse than last year

Downside:  they do their best to find out

Score:  - 1

Team pitching:

Terrible. Only Hernandez and League save this staff. But the two of them aren’t good enough to hold off the inevitable. This is a 100-loss team, and no one can do anything about it. There are no starters beyond Hernandez, no bullpen, and League won’t get much of a chance to do anything. Sad, as this is a good franchise gone bad. It’s not going to be pretty.

Upside:  Hernandez wins every one of his starts

Downside:  he’s the only one that does

Score:  - 1

Total score:    - 12

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