The Tampa Bay Rays are a regular target on Getting Blanked for their great love of shortstops. Everybody on the Rays is a former shortstop! The Rays line their roster with shortstops at every turn, making great use of defensively flexible players to maximize match ups – something the Rays do better than anyone.
The Seattle Mariners are going the opposite route. The Mariners under Jack Zduriencik prevent runs very well and struggle mightily to score runs. Things are starting to change in Seattle, as the M’s seem bound and determined to upgrade their offense.
So far this off-season, they traded a decent pitcher (one who benefited from the run preventing prowess of the Mariners roster and their ballpark) for a switch-hitting DH/first baseman in Kendrys Morales. This move gave the Mariners a whole lot of similar players – DH types who might be able to play some first base or left field (in a pinch) but do little else.
The Mariners made a trade yesterday which, honestly, is a head-scratcher. They added another DH-style bat in the hulking form of (FORMER SHORTSTOP!) Mike Morse, trading away one of their most valuable assests – catcher John Jaso – to do so. The M’s now have Morales, Morse, Mike Carp, Justin Smoak, Jason Bay, Jesus Montero and Raul Ibanez in their mix – a whole lot of defensively limited players who can charitably be classified as okay hitters.
Of these seven hitters, only two of them can actually still hit. Morse has power and is the best hitter of the bunch but he is really a more valuable player to the Mariners than John Jaso? Leaving Morse’s questionable health history aside it is still tough to say “yes.”
They now have only Montero listed under “CATCHER” on their 25 man roster. It is worth noting that in no way, shape, or form is — if you believe the scouting reports on him — Jesus Montero an everyday catcher in the big leagues. Just what are the Mariners doing?
Rather than assembling a team full of versitle athletes, the Mariners instead have a bunch of guys who can kinda sorta hit and not play much in the way of defense. Justin Smoak is a decent first baseman but he is yet to show the ability to hit Major League pitching even a little bit. The key piece of the Mariners Cliff Lee trade was sent down to Triple-A in the middle of 2012.
Dave Cameron ran down the options for the Mariners a few weeks ago, before the Morse deal, and things looked dire at that time. Starting the season with John Jaso as the everyday catcher and Jesus Montero DHing every day is more appealing to me than Montero behind the plate with…Ibanez as the DH against righties and Morse in that spot against lefties, with Casper Wells starting in the outfield? Reminder: Mike Morse doesn’t want to be a designated hitter.
The Mariners need to make another trade to clear up this logjam as well as address their catching situation. Rays blog The Process Report has its eyes on on Mike Carp, a decent 1B option for a team that just signed James Loney, for goodness sake.
Cameron believes the three guys most likely to go are Bay, Casper Wells, and Smoak. With his prospect sheen long gone, Smoak doesn’t represent much of a trade chip while Casper Wells is Casper Wells so neither does he. The Mariners also must contend with a great deal of outfield depth, with Michael Saunders, Franklin Gutierrez, Eric Thames, and Carlos Peguero wondering where they fit into the future.
Basically, outside of King Felix and Dustin Ackley, the Mariners are boned. They have three hot pitching prospects and catcher of the future Mike Zunino on their way but the cupboards are bare. Kyle Seager is pretty good and Brendan Ryan is a terrific defensive shortstop but, I mean, wow.
Not a good time to be a Mariners fan, who don’t even have Ichiro! to get them through the long season. Look out, Houston! You might have some company at the bottom of the AL West. The best marketing team in baseball has its work cut out for the 2013 season.
And the rest
Things weren’t always so bad for the Mariners. They won more games than anyone ever in 2001! HOw does that great team stack up against the 2013 Nationals? [ESPN Sweetspot]
Speaking of those Nationals, they didn’t just build their juggernaut through first overall draft picks. They made smart trades, too! [Baseball Prospectus]
The Barves aren’t worried about their sad sack cable deal. They probably should be? [AJC]
Proudcats! [Productive Outs]