Good Mo-nin’

This is Post #3 in the Wily Mo Deserves a shot campaign.

I have been asked a couple times “Why does it matter to you whether Wily Mo gets called up?”

A: To be honest… I am a huge Mariners fan, and I will continue to be such a fan even if they never call him up.  I have experienced losing seasons before, and I am guessing that in the future more losing seasons will eventually happen.  The part that keeps me a Mariners fan and cheering for my team is that I get excited about players that have exceptional skill to make amazing plays or have projectibility and talent to become a player that will be a cornerstone of the future.

Example: Franklin Gutierrez is currently my favorite Mariner for the way he plays in the outfield, but that doesn’t give Gutierrez enough credit.  He doesn’t play the outfield, he owns the outfield with his combination of skills.  Many players are faster, but nobody covers as much ground.  His best skills are reading where a player is going to hit the ball, getting an amazing jump before the ball is hit, tracking the ball, and knowing exactly where he is on the field.  Gutierrez makes amazing plays by other good outfielders look almost routine.  Then he goes a step further and makes plays other outfielders wouldn’t be close to.

Wily Mo Pena is exceptionally talented at crushing baseballs.  If a pitcher makes a “mistake out over the plate” he not only has a good chance to hit a homerun, but he might hit one out of the stadium.  In the same way that Franklin Gutierrez makes me get up off my couch or out of my seat when he tracks down and amazing catch, Pena will do the same by crushing homeruns.  He will be fun to watch, but there is another side to it as well.  The stats and story keep telling me that he could still become a very good major league hitter. 

Wily Mo burst on the scene with the Cincinnatti Reds in 2004 when he was 22 years old by hitting 26 homeruns in 364 plate appearances.  At 23 years old he hit another 19 in 335 plate appearances and he put up an OPS. over 800 for both seasons.  At 24 years old, he was traded to the Red Sox and they didn’t have a full time spot for him.  Eventually he found a spot in Washington where he could have earned a full time role in the outfield but at that point he was recovering from an injury and wasn’t able to play to his full potential.  Now we are 4 years later; he has fought through semi-pro ball and the minor leagues, and his stats are showing that he is healthy and deserves a shot.

To Summarize:

1: He has the talent to bring excitement to a team that is out of contention

2: There is a chance that he could rejuvinate his career

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Still need a Lil’ Mo’

I do think that today’s lineup is better than yesterday’s, but I still think there is room for Wily Mo Pena in it. 

Wily Mo stole Jobu from Pedro Cerrano

1: Ichiro (DH)
2: Wilson
3: Ackley
4: Carp
5: Olivo
6: Gutierrez
7: Wells (RF)
8: L. Rodriguez (3B)
9: T. Robinson (LF)

Texas is throwing LHP Derek Holland (Interesting fact: Derek Holland is a switch hitter), it sure would be nice to have a power hitting right handed bat in the lineup.  Maybe Mike Carp could get a day off and Wily Mo could play a little first base.  Ichiro is also 14 hits shy of where he needs to be to get 200 hits, and a full day off sparked him into a hot streak earlier in the season.

Anyone who can put up these stats in AAA deserves a shot on a team looking for bats:

You can sign up for the Wily Mo Pena fan club by commenting below, or you can just comment.

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Mo’ $$$ Mo’ Problems

After seeing todays Mariner lineup I have decided to write a post a day about Wily Mo Pena until the Mariners call him up.

1: Ichiro                -RF
2: Wilson              -SS
3: Ackley              -2B
4: Carp                  -1B
5: Kennedy         -DH
6: Olivo                 -C
7: Gutierrez        -CF
8: Robinson        -LF
9: Seager             -3B

Adam Kennedy (.241/.287/.367) batted 5th today and was our DH.  We know what we have in Adam Kennedy, and I sincerely doubt that he is going to be a major part in the future of this franchise.  Why not give the opportunity to player who has something to prove and a decent chance of impressing?

Here are five more reasons from Wily Mo that all occurred within the 45 ML at bats he received while playing for Arizona this season:

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=16599769

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=16489715

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=16233223

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=16137805

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=16391353

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A little Franklin Gutierrez appreciation

Here is a question to quickly ponder:

How good is Franklin Gutierrez’s defense in Center Field?

Here is my reasoning for this question mixed in with some other questions that have the same answer:

Lately I have been hearing around Seattle that the Mariners have a hole in center field, and need to replace Gutierrez next year.  Many people are excited about Trayvon Robinson, and think that he could fill the void.

-How good was the Beatles music in the 60’s?

Don’t get me wrong, Robinson is a very exciting baseball player, but if the Mariners were to get rid of Franklin Gutierrez it would be a huge mistake.  There are certain things that I have to acknowledge about Gutierrez that make it understandable why people are starting to sour on him.

-How good does a dive in the pool or lake feel after hours of yard work in the hot sun?

–          He is batting .194/.236/.235 in 65 games this year

–          He is going to make $5.5 mil next season

–          He may never get over his stomach problems

-How cool would it be to have the power of flight?

With the Mariners struggling to score runs, the fan-base is turning their concentration toward replacing those players that are having a weak season at the plate.  Franklin has been a hole in the lineup, but there is reason for optimism.

–          He is only 28 years old

–          He obviously has not lost his athleticism with the way he plays in center field

-How good is chocolate to a woman when it is that time of the month?

While playing in 65 of the Mariners 113 games this season, Franklin Gutierrez leads all center fielders in UZR (ulimate Zone Rating).  He currently ranks 5th in all of baseball at any position and every player ahead of him has played in at least 96 games.

To put this into perspective a little bit, if Franklin Gutierrez played 111 games like Brett Gardner and we used the current ratios, he would have a UZR of 20.5.  That would mean that the second best defender in baseball would have less than 80% of his defensive skill.

Franklin Gutierrez currently has a WAR (Wins Above Replacement)of .5 while batting only .194/.236/.235.

Guti is capable of batting like a league average hitter or better, and when he does he will be one of the most valuable players in the league.

Watching Franklin Gutierrez play defense can:

–          Make you feel like The Beach Boys are just another group of California surfer dudes

–          Cool you to the core and rejuvenate you

–          Give you the wind in your hair, the adrenaline of a dive, and views that you weren’t meant to see

–          Calm even the most savage raging hormones

I want Franklin Gutierrez to calm Mariners fan’s raging hormones.  Let other teams hormones rage away.

Franklin Gutierrez is the best defensive player in the game of baseball… maybe ever.

The answer to the question is “Unbelievable!”

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Who to choose?

When the Mariners trade away Doug Fister and David Pauley for Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush and Francisco Martinez they also received a player to be named later.  This player is to be chosen from a list of three players and the trade is to be finalized on August 20th.  Through recent reporting by Shannon Drayer, Jason Churchill and others, we have discovered that this player is likely to be one of The Tiger top picks from last year’s draft.

Detroit’s first four picks in last year’s draft were:

Pick Name Age Position B/T Level
44 Nick Castellanos 19 3B R/R A
48 Chance Ruffin 22 RP R/R AAA
68 Drew Smyly 22 SP L/L AA
100 Rob Brantly 22 C L/R A+

 This trade already included a third baseman in Francisco Martinez and it has been rumored from a couple different sources that Nick Castellanos is not part of this deal.  If the list was comprised of the other three top players from the 2010 draft, who would be the best choice for the Seattle Mariners?

Here is some more information on each player including links and images from the last post:

Chance Ruffin– In 2011 Chance has dominated out of the bullpen at both the AA and AAA levels with 2.12 and 2.31 ERA respectively.  Through both levels he maintained a K/9IP rate of over 11 and saved 17 games.  He earned himself a call up to Detroit in late July and made two quick appearances before being reassigned to AAA.  Ruffin was a closer for the Texas Longhorns in college, and has fit in that role well within the Tiger’s system.  His pitch selection has in the past included a fastball, slider, slurve and change-up, leaving the possibility for a transition to a starting role in the future.

Drew Smyly– After 14 starts for the High A Lakeland Flying Tigers, Smyly earned himself a quick promotion to AA Erie after posting a 7-3 record with a 2.58 ERA.  His first two starts in AA have also gone well as Drew has yet to give up an earned run through 12 innings.  He is a left-handed starter which projects well in Safeco field, and he has pitched solidly in the starting role with his low to mid 90’s fastball and off speed selections.

Rob Brantly– Like both Ruffin and Smyly, Brantly earned himself a promotion in 2011 but in this case it was to high A ball for Lakeland after he was an All-Star selection for West Michigan.  Rob is a lefty hitting catcher that would fill a position of weakness within the Mariner’s system, and Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik has been very proactive in acquiring either left-handed or switch hitters throught he draft and in trades.

All three of these players are quality prospects that project well for the Mariners in the future.

My Choice

Brantly could become a quality Mariner someday if selected, but he is likely two years away and has yet to prove himself in High-A ball.  Since his value is not as certain as the other two, this would truly be a choice between Smyly and Ruffin for me. 

Both player carry about the same value as Smyly has the advantage of being a left-handed starter, but  Ruffin looks to be a quality late inning reliever that could be called up right away to help in the bullpen.

Given the equal value I would likely choose Ruffin for his immediate impact as a late innings reliever that could give the Mariners more flexibility for next season.  With Ruffin, some of the other young arms in the system, and a couple other smart moves the Mariners could have the flexibility to trade Brandon League in the offseason.  This could bring in additional talent and free up ~$5mil more in cap room for a big free agent signing.

Who would be your choice and why?

Posted in Chance Ruffin, David Pauley, Deals, Doug Fister, Drew Smyly, Mariners, Nick Castellanos, Rob Brantly, Tigers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Post Trade Disorder (Details)

As Todd so graciously brought up, the Mariners faltered just before the trade deadline with style by stumbling through a franchise record 17 game losing streak.  This allowed Seattle to go into the trade deadline with both eyes focused on the future.  The two trades that were pulled off have already provided Mariner fans with five shiny new young players to analyze and another to come around August 20th.  The Mariners shipped away pitchers Doug Fister & David Pauley to Detroit and Erik Bedard & Josh Fields to Boston.

In terms of value in return the Mariners did well in both trades. 

Doug Fister/David Pauley Return

Charlie Furbush appears to have better stuff than Fister with a little less accuracy.  Being left handed and a fly ball pitcher will allow him to take full advantage of Safeco Field’s expanses.  The Tigers were recently using Charlie as a reliever, but once he gets his pitch count up and a little more experience he should be a very solid starter.  He might not go quite as deep into games because he lacks Fister’s accuracy, but the combination of his stuff, Safeco Field, and the defense behind him should allow him to be just as successful when he is on the mound.

Francisco Martinez is a 20 year old third baseman that is harder to pinpoint and predict.  The Mariners do need help at third base, but he is still considered to be a couple years away.  His batting line isn’t very stellar in AA currently, but he is competing with players that are on average much old than himself.  It is still believed that he hasn’t finished filling out and should have more power in the future.  Since he is so young we are still far from knowing exactly what he will become, but it is a very good sign that he is able to stay afloat in a upper division.

Casper Wells appears to be a very solid left fielder.  He tends to slip under the radar because he doesn’t excel at any specific tool.  That being said, he has above average range and an above average arm in the outfield; along with above average power, good contact percentages, and average patience at the plate.  While he doesn’t have any tools that jump out at you, he also doesn’t have any major weaknesses.

The player to be named later in this deal is set to be named on August 20th.  Since the deadline for signing draft picks last year was August 18th and a player must be a member of a team for at least a year after signing, many people believe that the final player was drafted last year.  Rumors are trending toward:

–           Chance Ruffin– Right handed closer in AAA.  Chance is very close to ML ready and could potentially be an effective closer or setup man.

–          Drew Smyly– Left handed starter in AA.  Smyly is predicted to be a 4 or 5 starter that has been effective in AA.  He is still likely to be at least a year away.

–          Rob Brantly– Left Handed Catcher in A.  Brantly is still at least a couple years away, but catcher is a position that Zduriencik has been looking for and being a left handed hitter in Safeco field would be advantageous.

Erik Bedard/Josh Fields Return

Trayvon Robinson is a AAA outfielder that at first glance at his stats looks ready for the majors.  He is a switch hitter that has lots of speed and could be a solid center fielder.  Though Trayvon already has 26 homeruns in AAA, he is not commonly considered a power hitter.  At least a couple writers believe that the hitter friendly parks of the PCL have changed his approach at the plate, and the power will not likely translate to the majors.  At 23 years old, nothing is certain and Trayvon should soon have a chance to either prove the writers wrong or change his approach at the plate.

Chih-Hsien Chiang is a left handed corner outfielder in AA.  Like Robinson he is also 23 and showing some extra power this season.  He is lighting up AA to the tone of .340/.402/.648 with 18 home runs.  Both Robinson and Cheng have had recent improvements in their stats that are being attributed to becoming more comfortable with changes.  Cheng is believed to have better control of his diabetes and Robinson is more acclimated to becoming a switch hitter.

Trade Thoughts

In terms of value the Mariners appear to have done very well in both of these trades, but I would be lying if I said that I was completely happy with the deadline approach.  For the Mariners to compete next season they will likely need to add two impact bats to their lineup.  The players that the Mariners brought in are an improvement, but they don’t appear to be impact bats. 

The three largest positions of need before the deadline were at LF, 3B and DH.  As we have already covered with the prior posts regarding Rafael Furcal, it will be difficult to find a middle of the lineup bat to fit at 3B.  With that conclusion, the most efficent and effective way to improve this team would be to take the areas of weakness in Left Field and Designated Hitter and turn them into strengths before next season.  The trade deadline is the point in time when a veteran player has the most value to a team in contention.  I am not a general manager and I do not know who was available, but the Yankees made it clear that they were looking for pitching help in their rotation and bullpen.  The Mariners do have players that could have helped them in both of those categories, and Jesus Montero could have been an extremely good fit at DH.  I know that people are commonly of the mindset that we need to get more value in players than the other team in a trade.  I would have been willing to give up extra value to acquire a bat like Montero’s for the middle of the Mariner lineup.  There are reports that Montero wasn’t available, but the Yankees likely could have been convinced with a decent package of pitching.

Zduriencik appears to favor the overall player to a one dimensional batter.  This likely is a very effective approach in the National League, but we need at least on player on this team at DH who can hit for power and average without question.  The Mariners did improve the overall quality of the club for next season, and who is to say that they couldn’t flip some prospects for impact bats at a later time.

Posted in Casper Wells, Chance Ruffin, Charlie Furbush, Chih-Hsien Chiang, David Pauley, Deals, Doug Fister, Drew Smyly, Erik Bedard, Francisco Martinez, Jesus Montero, Josh Fields, Mariners, Nick Castellanos, Rob Brantly, Tigers, Trayvon Robinson, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Post trade disorder

Less than one month ago, the M’s were floating around .500 and I had dreams of trading for Hunter Pence and sugar plums floating in my head. Slowly reality crept into my dreams as we witnessed the epic collapse of the 2011 Mariners. Even as the M’s forgot how to win, I still thought they would make a trade, but now not for Hunter or Melky, but now redirect it towards the dreaded white flag of “potential”.

Now, the trade deadline has come and gone, and I am frantically reading about the bats we have in our system as a result of the trades. I am the first to admit, based on my fantasy baseball teams, that I am probably not even qualified to discuss major league trades… but trading for six minor leaguers, yeah, I have no idea who they are, beyond the write ups on rotoworld and ussmariner.

What I do like though, is the amount of quality prospects Jackie Z was able to get, in a trade year that the M’s didn’t have a Cliff Lee or Washburn that could bring top notch major league ready prospects back.  The problem they have now, is sorting through the 6 outfielders in the system to see who they can bring up to the big leagues as a quality glove and bat. Saunders, Pegero and Halman seem to be on the outside looking in. I really like what I saw out of Halman and would love to see what he can do for an extended time. Is he the answer, maybe, maybe not, but with the added competition at that position it is going to be difficult to weed through these guys. Here’s to the summer of the rookie outfielders.

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