I am not concerned about a deal where prospects are traded, though they need to keep D.J. Peterson, James Paxton, and possibly Chris Taylor, who may be the better shortstop long term, not Brad Miller. My concern is whether one player can make a difference for the Mariners to get into the playoffs.
Consider the Mariner offense. Logan Morrison or Justin Smoak at first. Neither has been consistent, both barely hitting over .200 and Smoak is in Tacoma. Corey Hart, whether in the outfield, at first, or DH has done nothing. Brad Miller is hitting around .180 in July and continues to flirt with the .200 mark. Mike Zunino despite his home run power is also flirting with the .200 Mendoza line. Endy Chavez and James Jones are both slumping.
The point is the Mariners do not have the chips to make enough moves to better the lineup. They could add one bat, but that one bat can not overcome the holes in the rest of the lineup. Even after adding Kendrys Morales, another bat will not make a difference. I would not mind another right handed bat, preferably an outfielder with power, but it would be a trade that improves Seattle for the long term, not just the short term. Seattle must battle the Yankees, Blue Jays, Indians, Royals, possibly the Rays and White Sox for the wild card and Seattle is slumping.
Another arm would be good, but the price of Price is too high. I had thought a couple of weeks ago another bat and another arm would help Seattle get that final wild card slot. And while anything can happen, Seattle can not add an arm to get them that final wild card spot because the Mariners will not give up what is needed and I don’t blame them. If the mariners were in the Angels position with a 7 1/2 game lead in the wild card race go for it.
The Mariners can make a trade for a pitcher, and like the bat they seek, it should be to improve the team in the long term. But right now, there are too many holes to fill.
Justin Smoak is like that girl you once knew; the tempting tease, the fawning flirt, hinting of unimaginable delights, but ultimately lets you down.
Case in point is September, the last 18 games that Smoak played where he hit .394 with five homers and RBI’S as frequent as a Seattle winter rain. The problem is that he has a batting average of well over .300 for his career in September and October. The rest of the season he is barely peeking over the .200 line.
Smoak is only 25. Baseball theory says that players have their best years around 27, so he is on the verge of coming into his own. Or is he?
The Mariner front office must decide whether to a package him in a big trade, perhaps letting Jesus Montero play more first base, or Mike Carp, or someone in a trade, letting Mike Zunnino be the catcher of the future, or give Smoak another chance in 2013. The decision will be like a jury in a long complicated trial as they deliberate, poring over the evidence, that being his stats, scrutinizing his every number, trying ti figure out if he will be the real deal, or a misdeal.
Smoak frustrates Mariner fans. He has streaks where he looks like an all-star, like in September, but those streaks, are few and brief. The vast majority of time his play, indeed his future, looks like a Dodo bird, extinct.
But to examine one of the facts in the deliberation is the number 25, Smoak’s age. The Mariners have a history of giving up on young players or trading them. Mike Morse, Adam Jones, Shin Soo-Choo, Astrudel Cabrera, to name four. Part of my flip-flopping in the jury room is that Smoak should be given one more shot. He only hit four homers at Safeco, but the fences are coming in for 2013 and he is only 25. Did I mention that? But then I flip again and say adios.
One would like to see fire where there is Smoak, torching American League pitching, bringing fans back to the park, giving them a new hero. But where there is Smoak there is also ashes. His career to this point is rubble. I wish I could see into the future. I bet the Mariners do to.
The one thing a general manager should never do is fall in love with a player to the point it clouds his judgement. This must be the case with Trader Jack Zduriencik and Seattle Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak.
I can think of few teams that would continue to put a .192 hitter in the lineup every day. He went on a brief hitting binge a few weeks ago and everyone-except me-thought he had found himself. But as usual he reverted to his true self. Recently he had home runs in back to back games, but even a broken clock is correct twice in 24 hours.
True he is only 25, but he has played in 311 games with a lifetime average of .217. Last season he hit .234 and has no chance of reaching that mark this year, indicating perhaps, he is not learning anything, can not correct the holes in his approach, or is simply out of his league.
Trader Jack saw Smoak in high school and has been high on him ever since. Jack needs rehab. Sometimes the player is not who you thought he would be. The talent was there, but not the ability to harness it, to take it to the next level.
Smoak’s statistics are comparable to such stalwarts as Dave Hostetler, Jim Traber, Doug Ault, and another Mariner, though briefly, Joe Lis. If you have never heard of these players, or even if you have, you can see the company he is in at this point in his career. Not exactly scary.
Smoak is tenth in the league in recording the most outs, which, along with his .192 average and .257 on base percentage should indicate a seat on the bench.
This year Dustin Ackley has played first, so has Mike Carp, now in Tacoma, so they can move someone there. At some point Trader Jack and Eric Wedge must realize that Smoak has turned to ashes.
Justin Vargas in his best game of the season pitched a three hit shutout of the Phillies, retiring fifteen batters in a row before Ryan Howard hit a bloop single with two out in the 9th. It was his second career shutout.
Vargas improves to 5-4.
The Mariners won 2-0 and beat Cole Hamels, a nine game winner in the process.
The win not only gave the Mariners the series win over the pheared Phillies taking two of three, but coupled with the Braves win over Texas put the Mariners 1/2 game back of the Rangers.
The Mariners got their two runs on bloops. Smoak blooped a single in the sixth scoring Ichiro and in the seventh, Adam Kennedy pinch-hitting for Carp blooped in Dustin Ackley who tripled.
Ackley who made his debut Friday, had a hit in each game, going 3-11 with a triple and homer. He struck out only once.
Monday is an off day. The good ship Mariner sets sail for the nation’s capital to take on the Nationals Tuesday, then on to the beleaguered Florida Marlins next weekend before returning home to face the Atlanta Braves.
In the college World Series Virginia beat California 4-1. M’s first round pick, number two in the country, left-handed pitcher Danny Hultzen pitched 6.1 scoreless innings, giving up three hits, three walks, and fanning six. Cal made him work as he threw 112 pitches.
The Mariners number four pick, Virginia’s catcher John Hicks was 1-4 with a RBI and showed he has a gun for an arm throwing out would be base stealers. It was Hicks single that drove in the first run of the game in the seventh inning.
The M’s seventh pick, Virginia third baseman Steven Proscia was 0-3 but had an RBI on a Sac Fly. They will play the winner of Texas A&m and South Carolina on Tuesday 4 pm West Coast Time.
Jason Vargas pitched his first career shutout, a four hitter against Tampa Bay Friday night. The 7-0 win put the M’s three games above .500 at 30-27.
Vargas was not the only story. The Mariners who hit 29 home runs in 55 games have hit seven in the last two nights. Justin Smoak hit his tenth and Adam Kennedy and Miguel Olivo went back to back.
The Mariners are 22-12 in their last 34 games thanks to great starting pitching and a sterling bullpen nicely managed by Eric Wedge.
Only 24, 292 showed up on a Friday night to see one of the hottest teams in baseball. Northwest baseball fans still are having a tough time believing these guys are for real.
Admittedly I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. A winning Mariner team is rare in Seattle. Take out the Lou Pinella managed years and the Mariners are the poster child for mediocre baseball.
What has gotten lost in this turn around of the M’s is the hitting of Ichiro. The All-Star leadoff hitter is batting .266 and is 5 for his last 42, a .119 average. The inevitable question arises is his age. He will be 38 in October, but he keeps himself in great shape, so what is the problem?
If he gets hot, then it was a slump. If he doesn’t, then the age question will be asked of every baseball talking head on TV and newspapers.
The other day I noticed Greg Halman came off the DL in Tacoma. He had fractured his hand earlier this year and was limited to 35 at bats. I thought he might get some playing time and if he did well get a call up for the slumping Michael Saunders. But the M’s wasted no time and made the move. Saunders was hitting .108 since May 1 (7-65) and will join Langerhans in Tacoma with whom he can share his hitting woes.
Sail on Mariners!
Who are these slugging sailors who come into Motown and sweep the Tigers off the poop deck of the good ship Mariner?
Today Luis Rodriquez hits a three run homer, his first home run since July of 2009. Miquel Olivo also homers and Justin Smoak continues his hot hitting with an RBI double, his eighth run driven in for the three games in Detroit after returning from a weeks absence due to his father’s death. He hit home runs in each of the first two games.
The Mariners belted 33 hits in three games against the Tigers, scoring 24 runs in the process. The Tigers are struggling, but with their powerful lineup and playing at home a sweep by the light hitting Mariners was not in the sextant. They win 10-1, 7-3, and 7-2.
Rookie Michael Pineda, fourth in the league in ERA coming into the game, pitches another six innings with nine strikeouts, three walks, four hits, and two runs allowed. His ERA now is 2.01 while posting a 4-1 record.
Dave Pauley pitched two innings; one hit, two strikeouts, and lowered his ERA to 1.10 and is proving to be a reliable bridge to Brandon League, surrogate closer until Aardsma returns. Jamey Wright pitched the ninth in a non save situation, lowering his ERA to 0.79.
But now it is on to Boston, with all due respect to Tigers, a more difficult test for the hot Mariners.
Streaks in baseball go hot and cold as quick as turning on a faucet. What waits in Boston is anyone’s guess, but maybe the heat off the Mariner bats will continue to scorch runs. With strong Mariner pitching it could be a good series.
With the Mariners floundering offense and lack of hitting 35 year old Adam Kennedy is likely to see more playing time as they need a bat in the lineup and his bat is getting hits.
In his sixteen games he is hitting .300 and of his fifteen hits, four are doubles, two are homers. He has been playing first base while Justin Smoak was on bereavement leave.
Smoak is back so Kennedy may be seeing action at third where Figgins is struggling with a .160 average; or he could spell Jack Wilson (.216) at second or Brendan Ryan (.220) at shortstop.
He could also be DH as Jack Cust (.171) in twenty games has one extra base hit, a double. As a clean up hitter Cust carries not a full-size broom but a whisk broom.
He should be rotating at various positions depending on pitching match ups and what player is getting a rest, but his 35 year old bat needs to be in the lineup. Chances are as the season flows on his bat will get a bit cold as it does for all players going in and out of hitting streaks, but the M’s need to keep hot bats going.
Kennedy hit .289 in 586 at bats in 2009, but with Washington in 2010 he slipped to .249 in 389 at bats. I would love to be 35 again, but for a baseball player that age is elderly, time for Medicare and a retirement village.
At the moment Mariner fans have the youth and future star Michael Pineda to get excited about, but for an everyday player Mariner fans must look to the ancient Adam Kennedy. Not to slight dear old Adam, but a team is in bad shape when you are looking to 35 year old utility infielder for excitement.
With Smoak back, rookie Carlos Peguero who was 2 for 11 in his sip of coffee is back in Tacoma. Also heading to Tacoma is Josh Lueke and his 17.05 era. In 6.1 innings he walked 6, gave up 12 hits and 12 runs. He will be replaced by Dan Cortes another right handed pitcher.