...... 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: 6/30/15 11:58pm
Interests: Health (185903)
A question:  When was the last time a ML...Read more.
    Shouts update every 10 seconds.       
2015-07-03 17:47

Kind of forced to listen to a guy with that offensive track record. Zunino sure looks like he's buying in.

2015-07-03 17:37

They *are* playing to be the tailenders aren't they? If they hit last place in a 1-division league, just keep in mind. Edgar. Is. Good.

2015-07-03 17:19

Got a shot for last in the AL tonight. Are the Mariners considered an addiction for those of us who follow so close? Not sure how I can still get excited to spend my Friday night watching this team, but I do!

2015-07-03 17:04

Lil video on espn ap on non-stars.. guy picked Cano number 1. Hard to blame him, and that's the national attention this team has. He definately isn't playing up to par or his paycheck, and it seems to be contagious. On paper....hmm wow not bad, but on field...ummm? Big changes coming up ahead.

2015-07-03 16:34

robinwilliamsmovietitle...quite sweet. It's #Independence Day, it's hot, and clearly my brain is a little addled this afternoon.

2015-07-03 15:34

Rollins has been looking dominant in Tacoma. Decisions, decisions.

2015-07-03 10:59

On Taijuan, edit to add that he looked terrif after 76 pitches but the NL strategy played in to it. And so happened to pay off in a full nickels bin, as it were ...

2015-07-03 10:57

DaddyO … but how sweet is it to have the Taylor/Logo combo in, and Willie out … got to give it up that the M's ate the contract. Politically it's not easy either; you make a decision to give a "reach" contract and then next midseason you admit it was a reach. Very tough to do in a boardroom.

2015-07-03 10:56

Kazmir would have shut out any lineup in the majors on Thursday … not to say our offense doesn't have problemos but Kazmir could not miss the glove, even with his curve ball. If it were bowling he'd have scored 301.

2015-07-03 10:55

Taijuan gets quick hooks in lieu of / in addition to an IP count. Probably has its benefits. The last 10-20% of your reps cost as much wear-and-tear as the first 80-90% ...

2015-07-03 10:24

I question the quick hook on Taijuan more than Felix... 72 pitches and done? Did he look that bad after so few pitches?

2015-07-03 07:02

#Jordan Pries needed 33 pitches to get one out in the 1st w/Tacoma last night. 5 ER's, 2 BB's, 3 hits and two homers. Rollins, now on rehab, threw two innings of zero run ball. 1 hit and 4 K's. Beimel is likely gone soon.

2015-07-03 06:51

Yup zERO consistency.. they we're going for their first 3 game shutout in 7 years. Honestly.. where is the all star break

2015-07-03 06:07

This team is just sad.

2015-07-03 00:05

The Mariners are incapable of winning streaks. Losing streaks maybe, but not winning ones.

2015-07-02 21:04

The worst part of tonight... Billy Beane will now get more for Kazmir when he trades him, so today's lack luster game will haunt us for years to come.

2015-07-02 18:40

As expected, the first five minutes of the pregame show were spent gushing about Willie Bloomquist and what a shame it is His Belovedness has to move on. And my worst fear was realized. They opined about how once he hangs 'em up, perhaps he might come back and join the M's media team. Again, he's probably a nice guy. But I don't wanna see him. To me he represents all that is wrong with the Mariners.

2015-07-02 17:21

I think we, and alot of people, just expect so much of Felix. It was a rare game overall for him. Def disapointing, and he got hit up early. He will need a big bounce back that's for sure. I think alot of it is the high expectations any elite pitcher, or player in any sport,faces

2015-07-02 16:32

Thank you Matt. I feel better now.

2015-07-02 15:10

The change: his Pitches per inning ratio has dropped from 15.2 in 2009 to 14.5 in 2014. He's actually having a bit of an off year in 2015 overall, but that is largely due to getting absolutely shellacked twice at random.

2015-07-02 15:03

As for your question regarding pitch counts over time...Felix isn't losing 120 pitch games because he doesn't care to pitch deep into games and risk injury or because he's getting soft-shoed by the Mariners. He's losing 120+ pitch games because he's pitching more efficiently. His IP counts per season are steady and among the best in baseball.

2015-07-02 15:01

Neither, Tacoma. Felix was pulled from that game because he was visibly laboring late...throwing a TON of pitches and limping a bit on his bad ankle after having to field his position in the 6th. They yanked him because a laboring Felix who's struggling with his command can actually get really terrible really fast.

2015-07-02 14:48

I know I'm stomping on hallowed ground, but... is anyone else bothered by the last Felix start? Yeah, I know it was a no runs, 1 hit masterpiece in 100+ temperatures BUT.... leaving after 6 innings after throwing 96 pitches against a division rival in a game the Mariners really needed to win.
I realize the bullpen was fairly well rested, and Lloyd really mis-managed the bullpen to lose the game... BUT 96 pitches? And this highlights the fact that Felix has not thrown more than 120 in close to two years. Aren't aces / kings supposed to be horses that occasionally throw 130 pitches when it is needed?
Is Lloyd / Mariner's coaching treating Felix with kid gloves too much? Or has Felix decided that pitching another 7 to 10 years is more important than giving max effort this year?

2015-07-02 14:36

If he bombs like that Matt....in some extended trial....then I'm good with that.

2015-07-02 14:32

He'll at least get a September call-up. No reason not to.

2015-07-02 14:30

I am sure Guti gets at least 80 at bats before they cut ties with him... and based on the fact he can not play back to back days... that is easily well into August. I agree that Romero SHOULD get another significant look, but I doubt it happens until August... and possibly September.

2015-07-02 14:30

Most AAAA players get two shots at least. I'm sure Romero will too. And when he's finished hitting .198 with 5 HR and 100 K, hopefully we won't extend a third audition.

2015-07-02 14:00

Looks like the M's could get a young RHB who hit .352-.391-.599 at A+/AA and .321-.365-.559 at AAA. Well....I'm loading the dice. That's Stefen Romero, of course. And I dropped his first AAA year '13, which wasn't a disaster. In '13 Romero, in 411 Tacoma PA's hit .277-.331-.448 with 11 homers. Over 444 '14-'15 Tacoma PA's, he's hit .321-.365-.559 with 21 homers. Matt, I know you hate Romero based on the fact that he doesn't walk much and fizzled in #Seattle last year, but the guy has upped his game to the next level and can slug. If Guti doesn't hit, Romero should get a shot.

2015-07-02 13:20

The timing on this is weird just because it didn't make any sense to send him down lat time, but it is driven by this fact: Miller is hitting .143-.176-.153 vL this year, approx. .160-.215-.250 over the last two and .206-.260-.296 for his career. He's a hard hitting SS vs. RHP, but needs the vL help. Taylor isn't ripping up Tacoma right now (.701 over the last 28 days),but he's at .308-.370-.418 vL for the year, including his #Seattle stint. It doesn't make up a lot more flexible, but it helps us some.

2015-07-02 13:09

It had to be done. Taylor was hitting again in AAA, and we need someone who can actually play short up here to bench Miller against tough lefties.

2015-07-02 12:41

Oh no. They'll probably make Wille B the new manager, and all he'll want to do is talk about grit. jk. At least I won't have to listen any more to the incessant fanboy talk from the M's announcers and commentators.

I'm sure WIllie is a fine man personally. I'm just relieved to no longer be afflicted with his presence as a player taking the spot of someone who can contribute more.

I imagine there is a funereal atmosphere in the front office, where WIllie seemed to symbolize everything Fanboy Mariner-- overhyped and overrated.

2015-07-02 11:40

The end of Boom Boom. About...a year and a half too late

2015-07-02 11:33

Willie Bloomquist DFA'd and Chris Taylor brought up. Maybe some winning will break out.

2015-07-02 11:23

Take Luis Gohara for instance. He's now in #Everett kicking off his 3rd minor league season. It seems like he's been in the org forever, but he's only 18 years old. How he performs for the next 10 weeks or so in #Everett and then next year in full season ball is what will tell us if we actually have something of value.

2015-07-02 11:16

Vargas is a big, strong 16-year old. He's a $1.7 million lottery ticket. We'll see first if he can even play and progress in the minors. Probably, we won't even know if he's a prospect for at least two, if not three, years. It's a lottery ticket, a draw at the deck.

2015-07-02 11:05

Who gets booted really depends on how well Elias does today

2015-07-02 11:04

Another big athlete with unorthodox swing with contact issues. Chances high he moves to the OF, where he may not have enough hand-eye skills to succeed.

2015-07-02 11:03

Iwakuma: 1 R in 5.2 IP in AAA, with 6 punchies. Got a blister (says that happens every year when he starts throwing after a long hiatus) and expects to make his next start...soooooo....who do you send out of this rotation when Iwakuma arrives? I'm gonna be TICKED if they boot #Montgomery, the way he's pitching...but that is probably what they'll do, since he has options.

2015-07-02 11:00

Mariners sign Carlos Vargas (Dominican) to 1.7 M bonus. Thoughts?

2015-07-02 10:58

That would be very nice...but even if Bloomy doesn't retire, DFA'ing him can achieve the same result. But if you take Rollins off the DL, he has to be called up or sent back to his club that very moment. Who in the current bullpen leaves for Rollins? (I'd send out Beimel)

2015-07-02 10:27

Best case scenario? Bloomquist retires, Rollins onto the 40 man, Taylor in #Seattle.

2015-07-02 10:25

that would also be fine with me (Bloomquist DFA)

2015-07-02 10:23

@shannondrayer: Chris Taylor on his way up. Mariners could have another move Sat. as they must make a decision on Rollins by then.

2015-07-02 09:56

More likely WFB.

2015-07-02 09:47

Sounds like the club has come up with a miraculous, imaginary Ackley injury to get him off the roster and get Taylor up...I hope that is what happens here.

2015-07-02 09:24

I was driving in to work a little while ago and on the radio Salk mentioned something about Ackley being overweight and injured. Is that true? Maybe there's an injury, but he's never looked overweight to me.

2015-07-02 09:02

@ProspectInsider: Not hearing anything about a trade involving #Seattle. Taylor's call-up appears to be about an option, DFA or injury.

2015-07-02 08:24

Taylor apparently called up

2015-07-02 06:49

I noticed the Pizzano absence, too...GLS> He was removed mid-game a while back and hasn't been back. Drats. I want him in Tacoma. I did not watch Walker throw yesterday as I was listening to the game while tying flies....but I'm assuming he's still on that Buehrle-like rhythm where he gets a sign and throws. Little has been mentioned of that since the first game he did that....which was the game that began this streak.

2015-07-02 04:16

WOW...that...is some serious data-oriented managing. It explains why they yanked him after six today, as well. They must be watching the radar gun closely with him...looking for signs of the sort of fatigue that can lead to micro-tears.

2015-07-02 04:10

Lloyd came running out of the dugout with the trainer for apparently no reason to check Taijuan's #Health; even Taijuan was confused. Later, cameras showed that he scapula-shrugged twice on the mound, as if annoyed at a pain, and later later, Brooks showed it was three pitches into a little velo drop on the graph. (I don't support or not support him more or less but) Lloyd has a V-E-R-Y sharp in-game eye. Even sharper than Piniella's, looks like.

2015-07-02 04:05

Taijuan's command continues to spiral upward universes away from his first several starts. *Reminded* you even more today of the young Curt Schilling template, using the fastball alone to totally dominate. … also, his spikeball was the best it has ever been for him, absolutely the best ever, and yet he threw it only 2x per inning. ?!

2015-07-02 04:01

Quick reminder guys: no language at all, including *#@#$ marks. Thanks :- )

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