I was concerned early in the day when Seattle sent Abraham Almonte to San Diego, along with a minor league pitcher for Chris Denorfia, a 34 year old outfielder with no power. He does bat from the right side, but is at best a 4th outfielder, perhaps a platoon in left or right with Ackley and Chavez. I assume Stephen Romero will be send back to Tacoma.
It was not a bad trade, just not one that would improve Seattle that much. On the other hand they received a veteran outfielder and gave up no players that figured in the Mariners future.
Then the rumor hit that Seattle was involved with two teams where the Rays David Price was the centerpiece. It was true. Price went to the Tigers, who sent the Rays starting pitcher Drew Smyly along with a young A ball shortstop, 18 year old Willy Adames, the number three rated Tiger prospect. The Mariners sent the Rays Nick Franklin who did not figure in Seattle’s future with Robinson Cano at second and Brad Miller and Chris Taylor ahead of him at shortstop. In return the Mariners received centerfielder Austin Jackson from the Tigers. Jackson is not a big homerun hitter, but is a .277 career hitter and considered one of the top centerfielders in baseball. He is signed through 2015 and is 27. James Jones will likely be sent to Tacoma until September as Jackson will be the everyday centerfielder.
Whether Denorfia and Jackson can help the Mariners get a wild card spot is not the point. Seattle gave up no player that figured in their future, so no harm done. The two moves improve the Mariners without losing anything. They still have D.J. Peterson, Taijuan Walker, and James Paxton.
There was no trade that Seattle could have made that would fill all there holes. But all in all, a good day for Jackie Z who definitely improved the team.
It was no surprise when switch-hitter Nick Franklin was sent back to triple A Tacoma. He was batting .128 with 21 strikeouts in 47 at bats. He had a chance to unseat Brad Miller at short and failed.
McClendon, without mentioning any name, said, “This is not a country club. It is about positive results.” He also said that it is about production, not whether ” I like you or not. If you produce, I like you, if you don’t produce, I don’t like you.” The statement implies that Franklin thinks McClendon doesn’t like him, but for Lloyd, as any manager, it is about winning and winning is about producing.
When Abraham Almonte hit .198 in the leadoff spot in 27 games he was sent back to Tacoma. When Erasmo Ramirez began the season in the starting rotation he was sent back because he was 1-4 with a 6.00 ERA. Brandon Maurer was sent down because he pitched worse, now Ramirez is back. At the moment they have no other choices for the fifth spot. But if Taijuan Walker, in rehab in Tacoma, gets well, he will be back and all will be well with the world.
Which brings us to McClendon’s patience with the lack of production of Brad Miller. He did homer this weekend and drove in two key runs with a single against New York Monday, but he is still batting .164. McClendon is patience because of limited options. Franklin was one, the other was Chris Taylor who was hitting great at Tacoma; .372 in 35 games with 13 doubles, 5 triples, 3 homers, and 21 rbis. Of course the Pacific Coast League is a hitters league. And Taylor is not on the 40-man roster, meaning if he were to be recalled, Seattle must designate somebody for assignment.
But Taylor has not played since May 13th. He is injured. Like Walker, if Taylor gets healthy, gets back into hitting shape in Tacoma, he could be called up. Seattle is not a country club, it is about positive results. Franklin knows that, Almonte knows that, and Miller knows that. It is time for Miller to get it going before he is sent back to the country club, wherever that is.
What is my tee time?
Why did Seattle Mariner Lloyd McClendon show no faith in pitcher Hector Noesi. He was quick to rid himself of Noesi after his one inning of work over two games, yet McClendon gave Abraham Almonte 27 games to prove he belonged in the leadoff spot, but after 106 at bats, 40 strikeouts and a .198 batting average, did he the right thing and send him back to the minors. That was fair. But why oh why does he keep Brad Miller, whom I like, in the lineup when he is batting far worse than Almonte.
If you are not in the Great Northwest and don’t follow the Mariners you are unaware of all the talk about why Brad Miller is still with Seattle. I have already blogged about Miller’s shortcomings. Like everyone else I expected Miller would be send down before the current road trip. He was 2 for his last 37 at bats; he is bating an unbelievable .154. His fielding has been average at best and in his last game made a big base running blunder. In short he is not helping the team.
The Mariners with a .154 hitting shortstop batting 9th is like a National League team with eight batters and a pitcher. That is a handicap in the American League.
Many, including myself, have written that either Chris Taylor or Nick Franklin be brought up from Tacoma. But Taylor injured his pinky. Also he is not on the forty man roster and the Mariners were unsure if they wanted to drop release anyone to make room for Taylor.
Now Nick Franklin has been brought up, but that is due to Corey Hart going on the DL. Franklin is in the lineup tonight as the DH and Miller is still at shortstop.
Perhaps when either Logan Morrison or Hart, both free agent signings in the offseason and both on the DL, return, Miller will be sent to Tacoma. Jesus Montero is doing well at Tacoma. Any reason he is not up as the DH, with Franklin at short?
But don’t be surprised if Franklin returns before Miller. Franklin was up earlier, went 2-16 and was sent back. Hardly a fair sampling. It has been rumored, though gossiped is the better word, that Franklin has a big ego, perhaps either chafing McClendon or Mariner GM, Trader Jack.
It could be both Franklin and Montero are in some kind of doghouse. But the bigger question is why Brad Miller gets chance after chance. Ackley and Smoak had been send down for lack of production in the past, but Brad gets a free pass. Even batting .154.
The series at Minnesota that starts Friday will have Chris Young, Roenis Elias, and King Felix making starts. Then Seattle has a day off Monday before going to Texas for two days.
The Mariners could and should start Iwakuma on six days rest, skipping Mauer with his 6.00 ERA. They then could pitch Young in the second game with Texas.
Back home against Houston, the M’s would then go with Elias and Felix in 1st two games. That leaves the 24th for Maurer or Paxton, if he is ready earlier than expected, as M’s are saying he will be ready first week of June. Maurer is on his way out one way or another. It could be the 24th is his last start baring any injuries.
I don’t know what manager Lloyd McClendon’s plans are, but why not go with your four best pitchers when the opportunity presents itself. It does not happen often and with the team scoring one run in their last two home games before hitting the road this is the perfect time to put Maurer in long relief until the 24th. They will need good pitching against Texas and Iwakuma and Young are better than Mauer and Iwakuma.
Another move I am hoping Seattle makes is to leave Brad Miller, whom I had high hopes for, in Tacoma. He is batting .154 and leads the team with seven errors. He is 1 for his last 31 with 10 strikeouts. It is funny, if the report is true, that McClendon said they have few options.
Chris Taylor is tearing up the PCL. He is not on the forty man roster, so the Mariners would have to designate someone for assignment and they may not want to do that. So Nick Franklin is the other option. He was 2-16 in a brief call up earlier this season, but is hitting even better than Taylor at Tacoma. At the moment Franklin is the best option.
It will be interesting to see of the M’s go with four and if Franklin gets another chance at shortstop. Both moves are needed.
When a player is batting below .200 he is considered batting below the Mendoza line. The term was coined by Hall of Famer George Brett of the Kansas City Royals referencing Seattle Mariner shortstop Mario Mendoza who batted .198 for the M’s in 1979.
Mario played 686 games over nine years with four teams ending with a .215 career average. He would be forgotten by all but the most diehard Seattle fans were he not immortalized by Brett.
Mariner manager Lloyd McClendon must love shortstop Brad Miller currently batting .160. I don’t know if that is the Miller line yet as he could drop even further. His hitting immortality for futility is a work in progress.
What I always love about managers is what they say about players in a slump. Having gone 0-19 Miller had a two run double. Interviewed the next day, McClendon said Miller was hitting the ball well, and was due to come out of the slump. Then Miller goes 0-4.
All managers say the say the same thing. It borders on “I liked what he did with that foul ball last night.” I don’t know who managers are kidding. Fans can read batting averages and box scores. At least for the time being he has been dropped from the two spot to the bottom of the lineup. The number one and two slots are important for Cano and Hart and whoever comes up to drive in runs. Without men on base you don’t score.
I liked Miller last season and I would like to see him get untracked, but why is he not in Tacoma and either Nick Franklin or Chris Taylor, both of whom are tearing the cover off the ball brought up. Franklin is hitting .384 with 7 homers and 26 rbis in 25 games. Taylor .371 in 34 games with 3 homers, but 13 doubles and 8 steals. Both can play short.
Granted it is the PCL, but the point is that players who perform at triple A get called up for their chance when someone on the big club continues to falter. All Franklin or Taylor have to do is hit above the Mendoza line, heck even above the Miller line, which at the moment is .160.
One Mariner who has already been benched is Abraham Almonte, but two others are on the verge of losing theirs.
Almonte lost his job because at the time of the benching he was leading the league in strikeouts and batting below the Mendoza line at .198. He also struggled in the field making two errors in one game. Michael Saunders who replaced him is hot, hot, hot. 8 for 18 batting leadoff with 4 rbis. As long as he hits, he plays.
Brad Miller may find himself in Tacoma soon. He is hitting .188 and the Mariners offense is such they can’t afford to keep that average in the lineup. Though Nick Franklin could return, the Mariners may take a look at Chris Taylor, batting .361 at Tacoma with 11 doubles, 2 triples, 3 homers, 16 rbis, and 5 steals. He has made only three errors in 26 games. He was a team mate of pitcher Danny Hultzen at Virginia.
Franklin is doing well in Tacoma, hitting .324 with 4 homers and 15 rbis, but I feel the Mariners would like to see what Taylor can do at the major league level.
Another problem is Charlie Furbush who is 0-3 with a 7.71 ERA. Fifteen hits in 9.1 innings allowing eight runs will get any pitcher in a doghouse, even a lefty. Lucas Luetge could be recalled, but he has not fared well either. Unless they want to bring up a righty from Tacoma, Furbush will stay on the Good Ship Mariner.
Dustin Ackley is batting .241 with one homer and 12 rbis. Traditionally left field is a power spot and Ackley has little. It could be, that like Justin Smoak, Ackley has settled into a .240 hitter. I doubt the M’s will make change here unless Dustin drops further down, but without help in Tacoma he will probably platoon with Cole Gillespie. The M’s do like James Jones .313 in Tacoma. If Dustin falters look for a Jones call up.
And lastly, when either Taijuan walker or James Paxton is ready it is adios Brandon Maurer. No explanation needed here.
Despite Nick Franklin’s home run blast the other day, and despite the Mariners saying he is in open competition with Brad Miller for the shortstop position, Franklin has been the object of trade rumors. And in case you forgot, he was part of a package deal last spring for Justin Upton of Arizona, who had the option of refusing a trade to Seattle and he did just that. So Franklin stayed a Mariner as did Taijuan Walker and Stephen Pryor if you believe the proposal. Sometimes the best trades you make are the ones you don’t make.
Reportedly the New York Mets want him for shortstop and the Tampa Bay Rays want him for second base. The Mariners are looking for young pitching help. When trade rumors are heated it means one of two things. The talks are serious, there are ongoing discussions and scouting of potential players the Mariners could receive, and somebody leaked it to the media. This is the ‘where there is smoke there is fire scenario’. On the other hand, it could be some beat writer needing something to write about and trade proposals are always fun. He may be reporting on front office gossip, stitching together a baseball story out of horsehide and red stitching. This is the ‘where there is fire there is ashes’ scenario. It means where there is smoke there are ashes. In other words a flamed out, dead story.
A trade is likely since Cano is at second and Willie Bloomquist returns to Seattle as a utility player, covering any and all positions. Shortstop will be either Miller or Franklin, and the M’s, despite any public comments, seem to prefer Miller. Though the Mariners are in need of starting pitchers, neither the Mets, Rays, or anyone else, is unlikely to provide much for Franklin.
I can guess like anyone else, and my guess is that if no trade is made by March 16th, a trade is unlikely. I can see an April with both Miller and Franklin on the Mariners, or if one of the two should have a poor spring, be in Tacoma. But at some point, unless Franklin is sent to Tacoma to learn to play the outfield, either Miller or Franklin will be traded. The Mariners could wait and see if some team’s need becomes acute and the M’s can get more in return. Trades are as much about negotiating, pondering chess moves, playing mind games, and getting the other guy to blink first, than it is about trading players like they are baseball cards.