...... M's 4

Chris Chambliss' age-27 season landed him #5 in the MVP voting

 ................................

=== Michael Saunders ===

Is swinging the bat very well.  He seems to be grooving in his stroke, the one in which his bat stops at the 1B foul line and the the one in which he finishes with his belt buckle pointed at the shortstop.  He is swinging that way more and more often, and looking more and more natural as he does it.

His OPS+ is slightly above 100, and he's on pace for almost 3.0 WAR.  Do you remember center field last season?

Player WAR
Guti (92 games)

+1.1

Saunders -0.5
Langerhans -0.7
Trayvon -0.9
Total -1.0

Gutierrez was nominally credited with 1.1 WAR, but don't let that mislead you.  His OBP was .261 -- think about that, now -- and his SLG was .273 also.  UZR credited him with +15 defensive runs in half a season, so the aggregate looked like things were okay there.

If a stat tells you that a .534 OPS center fielder is a decent player, that's an idictment of the stat.  Seriously.  Franklin Gutierrez 2011 calls into question the statistic of WAR.  ... I don't say it's the end of the discussion, of course.  But if you look at a .261 OBP singles hitter, and go "well, he's got a decent WAR," check your blog pass at the door amigo.

Anyway:  in 2010 and 2011 the Mariners were a laughingstock offensively, literally posting 1906-type offensive numbers, and lest you forget, a big part of that was the steaming dinosaur tar pit in center field.

Saunders is on pace for nearly 3.0 WAR.  Keep it in perspective.  Center field is fixed.  He says gingerly.

............

Michael Saunders was never going to hit .300.  His game is going to be a .240 average with 25 homers and real good speed.  He's a weird player.  Just forget his batting average, as far as wanting to see it look like Ackley's, we mean.

His swing looks real good, we predict hot streaks going forward, and if it's my club Michael Saunders is my center fielder.

.

=== Miguel Olivo ===

We notice that Montero and Jaso were right back in there after Olivo's entitlement start, first day back.

Jaso helped create Ervin Santana's pain, with two walks and four real tough AB's.  Montero caught a good game but was rubbish in the batter's box.  It was 5 men he left on base, if anybody's counting.  Even one good at-bat and the M's probably win.

Point is:  seismo's that Wedge is willing to re-think the team captaincies.  Baby steps, Marge, baby steps.

.

=== Justin Smoak ===

Chris Chambliss came up with a swing key that I hadn't heard of before - replant the front foot early.  Exaggeratedly early.

It has worked wonders for Smoak.  He almost hesitates now on 92 MPH fastballs, waiting for them to arrive.  And the HR he smacked was on an offspeed pitch.  He read the pitch calmly, and then simply swatted it into the Safeco porch out there.

You remember how Edgar used to keep his head wayyyyy back, almost rocking on his back leg as the ball arrived?  Smoak's been doing that for about a week now.

...........

He swatted the HR .... and then his gimp around 1B made me sad.  Jeff Sullivan pointed out that Smoak never, that is never, hits the ball 400 feet any more.  He can't plant the back toe.

Ah well.  Mickey Mantle used to get both his legs taped from hip to ankle like a mummy, and he limped through the second half of his career.  They "monitored that day-to-day," too.  This is hardcore baseball, dudes.

.............

Smoak isn't a 300/30/100 hitter at this point -- the legs are holding him back -- but Chambliss' cute little foot plant trick has Smoak out of the doldrums.  He can participate in the rallies now.

If anybody even cares about the rallies.  Is 2012 on, or what?

.

Bah humbug,

Dr D

 

Comments

1

Smoak just ain't going to be the bomber we thought we got. Not at all. Oh, I suppose he could have a nice year, at some point (given enough AB's) where he whacks 28 homers (if he's playing in Colorado), but he's an 18-20 homer type guy, way top-side, as a year in & out production level. I mean, this guy hit 24 homers in 773 MINOR LEAGUE PA's.
OK, good enough. Then you think, maybe he can rope the ball around the field like Mattingly.
Well, no.
OK, then. Maybe he's got a 100 point eye, to go with a bunch of gapper doubles, like Olerud.
Well, no.
What we have is some kind of a lesser hybrid 1B. How about calling him a lower BA Chris Chambliss? CC was a hybrid. Smoak has shown some recovery of late. Chambliss may have found a bit of a fix, but I'm moving forward cautiously before I'm all in on Smoak, or even mostly in. Chambliss was basically a 110 OPS+ guy. That's where I start my Smoak evaluation. I round down from there.
BTW, not only does he not rip 400 ft shots, but he doesn't hit a lot of smoke-trail line drives, either. Uh....this guy has 2 doubles in 171 PA's. He is showing some signs of life, so I'll give him that, but he isn't really dangerous. He hurt a hanging off-speed pitch last night. Good enough. But if you can't hurt that pitch once in a while then you shouldn't be a MLB 1B. And I'm still standing by my concern over his general athletic ability.
I thought he got fooled on the HR, but hung back well enough to flick the ball into the seats. That's improvement....getting fooled but getting good wood. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but hedging my bets.
When he finds his best success, it will not be as an everyday player. 250-350 PA's as a 1B/DH/PH complementary player. That's where he'll find his niche.
Saunders, on the other hard, has found his way out of the wilderness back to the .240, 20+ tater, nice glove guy we thought he might be TWO years ago. He's on pace for more than 50 extra-base hits. There's a critical mass that occurs when you get 4-5 guys in that area.
I'm back in his camp. OK, OK...call me fickle. Remember, though, I was never in Guti's camp. And Wells' camp doesn't exist anymore. So The Condor Camp it is. And it's a pretty warm/comfortable place.
Of course, we will have to see Guti at some point this year. He'll get his Olivo/Figgins time. I've always said that Guti's best role is as a 4th OF. Alas, we don't pay him like one. And goodness knows, we play guys we pay.
BTW, the Olivo and Figgins and League camps all sit in a landscape something like Mordor or that of the Battle of the Somme. Avoid them. Bring a gas mask if you don't.
Here's your Green Plate special, Moe's prediction of the week: We're going to see a Seager start at SS in this weekend. Bet on it.
Moe

3

Smoak right now is aimed at Ben Broussard (.260/.320/.450) for his UPside. That's absolutely not where we need Smoak targeted, nor where his skillset should have him targeted. Although it would sadly be a huge improvement on Justin's .225/.310/.375 major league line thus far.
You remember that Smoak had a similar batting eye in college to Dustin Ackley's, right? In the SEC, no chump baseball conference.
Justin: 151 BB / 107 Ks = 1.41 eye
Ackley: 133 BB / 82 Ks = 1.62 eye
Now, wood bats are different than aluminum, no doubt. But if I believe Ackley's .5 batting eye will get better because it was always great before...then Smoak's should improve along the same premise. He was never a blind hacker, absolutely not 9/40 level.
It's been timing. Smoak's timing has been atrocious. I actually kind of expect him to underperform at hitting doubles, thanks to his speed and his tendency to short-corner the ball on line-drives, leaving him to long singles or taters. But TWO is ridiculous, especially after he hit TWENTY in the first half of last year.
And the longer he hits like he has so far in the pros, the harder it is to believe the 25 HR / 25 2B Smoak still lingers, let alone hoping for any higher numbers. When he makes flush contact the ball goes places, but until this last week he was making flush contact about once every fortnight.
I hope Chambliss found the fix and it can stay fixed until Justin's legs heal. But he's just been a beat up sort of guy early on, which I guess means you can hope that a healthy Smoak can start crushing the ball. No matter what, he has to do it this year. His last two weeks he has a .790 OPS, with a .880 this last week. He hasn't been striking out this week either, which is nice to see. He just needs this week EVERY week. .880 should be his goal, not his high point, and .780 should be the LEAST we can expect from him.
And those lines are all power driven, which I suppose provides hope that he's not doing anything unusual other than re-discovering his power stroke - he's not getting too many lucky hits.
Now he's got to KEEP it. The Smoak we saw in April last year needs to be our first baseman going forward, or we're gonna have to do something like play Liddi at 1st 4 days a week just to climb out of the hole Smoak is putting our offense in.
We designed the offense around him. He's the switch-hitter in the heart of the order who can play vs righties or lefties and hit cleanup. He's the one who's supposed to allow us to run all these lefties out there.
We need you Justin. Be the ball. Our first basemen in the minors are eons away, and while Carp and Liddi might be able to do your job it works out better for us if YOU do it.
If he doesn't, though, I see a Carp/Liddi first base thing in our future while we add a Carlos Quentin or someone in Left.
I'd rather Smoak be bombing it for us thirty times and make it easy on us.
~G

5

Right now I'm with James:  a Carlos Pena career path.
Don't know how *durable* he's going to be, though.  Some guys are fragile, and he carries a lot of weight on that frame.

6
Anonymous's picture

A Carlos Pena career path is very similar to a Jay Buhner career path. Just to add some perspective. Buhner played until age 36 Pena is 34 and not likely to last much longer. Assuming that Pena's feeble .238 career average won't withstand age-loss at the plate.
Age 26 to 29 seasons.
Pena .256/.366/.532 136 OPS+
Buhner .259/.360/.478 126 OPS+
Pena had one monster season at age 29, it's the only reason he has a slight edge over Buhner.

7

Except that Pena never had two full years' worth of at-bats in which he hit worse than an anemic shortstop, which is what Smoak has. Smoak has a thousand plate appearances now and an OPS under .700.
Like I said, he's got to Carlos Pena it from here out, this year. I think that's where he should be, but only Justin can claim it. Otherwise, Adam Lind it is - and Smoak should be better than that. Good to see another HR last night. His timing looks to be recovering and he's swatting balls again instead of flailing at them or popping em up.
400 more PAs like this last week, please.
And this isn't to say I don't believe Smoak can have a Pena-esque career - I do. I've believed in Justin since Day One and I'm not stopping now. We just can't have another year like his last 365 days have been, or he won't be around. A .650 OPS isn't survivable on a power corner, "unlucky" or not.
~G

9

It's hard to believe they can carry this offense, true. I'm not worried about Ackley long-term. He's getting killed by lefties right now, but he'll adjust. It's part of the sophomore slump.
But it's why I didn't want so many sophomores in the lineup doing the heavy lifting. Do I think Carp and Smoak and Ackley will be hitting the ball hard at age 27? Yeah.
But we ain't there yet, and they have no cover right now. Edgar put up an atrocious partial season at age 26 (and 19 year old Junior wasn't great) but that lineup had Mr. Mariner and a couple of other vets in it.
This lineup has...well, Ryan leads the team in walks. Startling stat of the first two months, I guess.
Ackley has basically a full year's worth of at-bats now and .260/.335/.390 isn't where we want him for his career...but if he was, he's still be a seriously plus player, scarily enough.
Chase Utley over a similar period hit .260/.310/.435. Just gotta be patient. Ackley will get there - and I hope Smoak will too.
The difference with Ackley is that he's a useful 2B right NOW. Brandon Phillips is a ~3 WAR a year player falling out of bed (in a hitter's park) at .270/.330/.440. Ackley's been worth 3 - 4.5 (!!) so over the last year, depending on whether you like B-R or Fangraphs more.
Ackley can't carry an offense right now, but he's absolutely a contributor at that position, in this park. Justin Smoak has basically been the definition of a RLP in his 2 years in the bigs. We'd have done as well (or better) to have LaHair or Wilson or Poythress play there.
LaHair, btw, is killing it as a platoon bat in Chicago. The NL is perfect for his skillset since he destroys righties and is murdered by lefties. Who here would have taken a LaHair / Liddi platoon at first over the switch-hitting of Smoak so far?
Smoak's gotta hit, because somebody's got to shoulder the load. Having him put up a positionally-average line would be a nice start.
~G

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Chat: 7/31/15 11:03am
Interests: International Wild News (202399)
    Shouts update every 10 seconds.       
2015-08-02 18:32

Forgot to mention NFL #News of the cap casualty McDaniel suffered from Wagner and Wilson deals. Will see how the rest plays out. The better of the 3 are still with us, but gotta hate the cap casualties

2015-08-02 18:28

Nice to see Marte have a big game. Jumped his avg from 0 to .333

2015-08-02 18:18

gnat, I've been getting kicked off a bunch lately. Usually I have to write up a shout twice because I get booted just before I complete it the first time. Been happening for 3 or 4 days.

2015-08-02 16:21

I think my only complaint about the previous SSI was that it would often be out of date when I would load it up and it was difficult to get the latest. Sometimes logging in would do it other times I would end up going over to Spec's site and clicking through his links of the latest comments and posts. Very frustrating, and unfortunately it seems to be happening here too. I loaded the pages up this morning and the latest post was Lowe's with some shouts from a few days ago. Logging in updated it to Taijuan's post and Moe's Ex-nay shout, hoping thats the latest?

2015-08-02 13:21

Ex-nay on the shutout, huh? Uh....can you say "hanging curve?"

2015-08-02 13:17

Hey, I beat the TV folks with that bit of info by 2.5 minutes! SSI aims to please, ahead of the curve!

2015-08-02 13:13

Interesting: Kuma has never thrown a MLB CG. He's gone 8 2/3 ('14) but never 9. Last year he 3 times threw 8 innings w/ 4 hits, 0 BB's and PC's between 93-96. Right now (after 8), this is his best start ever.

2015-08-02 08:55

Very convenient.. for sure. If the team pitched well they hit bad, if they hut well they pitched bad..and then sometimes pit hing and batting were both well and they threw in some serious errors defensively and #Wild pitches to get other Ls. Amazingly unlucky and unproductive year

2015-08-02 08:27

You're right OBF, #Montgomery pitched well. It's uncanny this year how often the offense scores just enough to lose whether the pitching performs well or badly. When we hit, the pitching fails. When the pitching is good, the offense fails.

2015-08-01 19:39

Now that we are playing for a good draft position... I am not that upset about that loss... It was good to see #Montgomery have a good outing. 2nd and 3rd no outs producing no runs was pretty annoying, but as DaddyO says, very representative...

2015-08-01 19:28

This was truly a representative game of the 2015 #Seattle Mariners.

2015-08-01 19:28

And there you have it.. awful. Wonder when the #News is going tk.come down.. Lloyd out as M's head, I can see it now. Don't wanna put all this on him.. but he has no fire in my eyes and is one foot out the door. Let's get things moving and give some people the axe. End rant.

2015-08-01 19:23

Nothing like another #Wild pitch that can cost us a game. Like a week before break we lost on #Wild pitch.. awful. Not many teams losing on #Wild pitches twice in a months worth of games

2015-08-01 19:21

Nomproblem. It's truly magical.. the stories he tells the calm cool delivery. Never know what you are going to get. Kind of like this game

2015-08-01 17:37

Ah, got it. Thanks for clarifying, Browns. For me it truly was a privilege.

2015-08-01 17:10

Oh daddyo.. I honestly mean it in the best way when I say can put me to.sleep. guy really is remarkable. I can only imagine hearing him then

2015-08-01 14:33

Zobrist with 2 HR's and a 2B today, including a blast off of Mark Low, who gives up 3 in the 8th and gets the loss for #Toronto. KC gets their return on the Zobrist investment in a hurry!

2015-08-01 13:19

Scully now is only a shell of his younger self. You wouldn't have fallen asleep listening to him in the sixties, seventies and eighties.

2015-08-01 13:19

Blue Jays designate Danny #Valencia in a weird move. He's a 3B/COF/1B with a career average of .326-.368-.497 vL! 64 xB's in 586 vL AB's. Munenori #Kawasaki gets the call up? Heck, #Valencia's vL bat is what we hope Montero's is!

2015-08-01 12:38

I don't think anyone will reach the like of Vin Scully.. guy can put me to sleep, but I say thatbwithbthe utmost respect. It's awesome listening to him. I do enjoy Goldsmith

2015-08-01 09:54

I like Goldsmith. I don't know much about him but he sounds like he comes from that Midwest school of baseball announcers, which I like.

2015-08-01 03:45

Aaron Goldsmith is probably my favorite M's media guy along with Joe Simpson ...

2015-08-01 03:45

Way easier to see the pitches ... it's form over function; the angled view provides a nice aesthetic balance to the three players ... somehow the view in #Minnesota looks fairly appealing also. Not sure how they do it

2015-08-01 00:04

I wish the Mariners would also use the straight on CF camera like the Twins feed. So much easier to digest and analyze pitches.

2015-07-31 22:42

"Of course they're relaxed. The season is over"

Yes, I think that's exactly right.
The quote that stuck out in my head most from over the winter was Lloyd's when he was repeatedly asked if he agreed the team would win even more than last year's 87. And he kept saying, "you don't start with 87--you start with zero."
So I give him credit for trying to dampen expectations. But I think the team didn't agree.

Maybe if we had started 8 and 5 rather than 5 and 8 they could have relaxed from the start. But they've been pressing throughout.

2015-07-31 22:25

Clean shaven Ackley 0 for 2 with a couple of groundouts. Not fixed yet.

Reply - IcebreakerX - 8/1/15 5:05am
I would bet the Yanks will probably watch for a few days and then tell him to just focus on hard contact or pulling the ball or some stupid simple thing. Boom, .280/.340/.435. And everyone says, "why do they get better when they leave???".
2015-07-31 21:12

I wonder if the M's can get LoMo through waivers.

2015-07-31 21:06

I like the Blowers-Goldsmith combo.

2015-07-31 20:58

Iwakuma can be QO'd.

Morosi back in Feb:
@jonmorosi: So while Yoenis Cespedes is NOT eligible for a QO, Hisashi Iwakuma is. (Both will be free agents next offseason with 4 years of service.)

Cameron and others have confirmed he can be offered but Ms likely think an extension can be had cheaper.

2015-07-31 19:47

Good day in Seatle. Big W for M's.. Russell signs extension. Chancellor and Wagner being courted... then you got Bennett feeling salty, but hey..these things happen. Overall 12th man and king's court feeling good today.

2015-07-31 19:42

Of course they're relaxed. The season is over

2015-07-31 19:41

So far tonight Flores is 2-3 with a 2B in his Tacoma debut.

2015-07-31 19:41

you are not alone
I blame Happ and Ackley

2015-07-31 19:26

Is it just me, or does this seem like the first time all year they've looked relaxed?

2015-07-31 19:22

To me it looks like Montero has put on a FEW pounds. Glad to see him up and hitting, though.

2015-07-31 18:48

So glad montero production has been in AAA all year.

2015-07-31 18:42

More seriously though... If the hitting sticks, it'll just be more questions for Z. Why'd he leave him down so long? Etc., etc.

2015-07-31 18:32

If Thin Montero saves Jack's GMship... That would suck.

2015-07-31 17:58

Good Taijain is REALLY good.

2015-07-31 17:47

The marte excitement was short lived. He's and terrible as the rest of them.

2015-07-31 17:46

I do have to wonder why, facing a lefty, you give Marte the extra AB over Montero.

2015-07-31 17:25

Thank you icebreaker.. really dunno what it'll take to move these guys along.. they either got some dirt on someone..or are just plain likeable guys..? They surely haven't been staying around based on the product they are putting on the field.

2015-07-31 17:25

Her ya go Matt. http://www.bucsdugou...

2015-07-31 16:59

Without knowing much of anything, I'm looking forward to seeing how marte goes. About time someone hits the ground running.

2015-07-31 16:55

Jack sold about everything that could be sold. But not happy with the fact he's still around. The M's should have fired him and Lloyd after the AZ sweep. Other orgs actually worry about winning instead of hurting people's feelings.

2015-07-31 16:47

Definately excited to see Cano back. Last 11 games he has 5 hr 12 rbi and is batting nearly .400

2015-07-31 16:47

Each time I load this website now, I get an increasingly long list of SQL errors at the top in a pink box. Busch League, guys.

2015-07-31 16:24

For Iwakuma, I'm pretty sure it was a no-arbitration clause in his contract since it was before the QO system. The team can have control for 6 years as well, but that might also have been signed away in the contract to make him a full FA at the end of his contract.

2015-07-31 16:18

Interesting line-up tonight...glad to see Montero back. Hate Marte though...ugh

Dangit...I didn't realize Iwakuma couldn't be nontendered. I hope he will be willing to take a team-friendly deal.

2015-07-31 16:09

Looking forward to the game today. First time in a while

2015-07-31 15:35

It sounds like upper team officials already nixed Iwakuma deal...Espn crushed #Seattle in article as big loser during this trade period. I can see their point with limited return we got, but they also felt we should have traded away Iwakuma..instead of stopping a potential deal. Maybe it woukd have bore more fruit, but I'm glad he's staying..

2015-07-31 15:30

#International contracts come with their own clauses. Iwakuma has to be "non-tendered" at the end of his contract. You can't QO non-tendered players. Unless ownership changes I don't see a scenario where Iwakuma isn't back in #Seattle next year.

2015-07-31 15:23

I am not sure if he is up for qualifying offer or not, but probably doesn't matter as noone ever takes the qo anyway.

2015-07-31 15:11

All this trade talk is making my mouth water :)... better sooner than later.. make it happen

2015-07-31 14:42

Wasn't it reported that the Kuma is ineligible for the QO due to a provision in his contract?

2015-07-31 14:29

Sampson is a sinkerballer...he'll give up singles because he doesn't miss bats enough...nothing special, but the sort of guy you can plug in whenever you need a starter and get something competitive out of it.

2015-07-31 14:21

Sampson is a low HR, low K, mid-high H/9 guy. He's something to throw at the wall. Matt, I'm with you on Marte. He doesn't walk and has no pop....he needs to hit.300.

2015-07-31 14:08

OK...so now we can QO Kuma and #Jackson with confidence...so there's that...and we got an MLB-ready fringe BOR starter...so...there's that too.

2015-07-31 13:50

That's actually a decent pick-up and for low cost.

2015-07-31 13:45

Adrian Sampson

2015-07-31 13:34

Happ out? Wow. They that mad at him for tipping? What'd we get? I don't see anything on MLBTR

2015-07-31 13:22

Happ traded to Pirates. Can't say I blame 'em - playing his way out of QO position lately.

2015-07-31 12:53

Ketel of #Fish doesn't excite me at all.

2015-07-31 12:33

Marte with the call up. Will likely get some CF time. Would have preferred O'Malley.

2015-07-31 12:29

I like the hauls we got for both players we traded...really helps the minor league pitching depth and gives us an Endy Chavez-class fourth outfielder with upside to boot. So...nice work, Jack. Now don't let the door hit you in the tuckus on the way out.

2015-07-31 11:45

With the departures of Ackley and Lowe for prospects it is clear that the M's have given up on this season. Rightly so. But I sure hope some controls are in place to prevent Jack from making moves that are more than minor without serious review. His regime is surely doomed, and if so, one would think it wise to put any significant moves into the hands of a future GM.

2015-07-31 11:19

Brentz and Rasmussen the other two

2015-07-31 11:03

Wells should be in full-season ball next year at age 20. We'll see how he does. Looks like we're in the mode now of throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks.

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