Tag Archives: Alex Liddi

The Mariners of the Future: Third Base

I’ll dispense with the lengthy preamble for this one.  Like every other position for the Mariners, third base has good options, questions, and lots of guys with something to prove.  Not sure when I’ll get to the outfielders or how I’m going to tackle that many guys, so you might have to wait a bit for that.  Plus, I’m heading on a long vacation in a couple of days.  Sorry.  Maybe the Mariners will make a trade and clear things up for me in the meantime.

The Rundown

Think of Kyle Seager‘s pro career up to this point as a reverse on the football field.  Unexpected, exciting.  Everyone’s paying attention now, where a few seconds ago the game was a bit on the boring side.  He’s just turned past the line of scrimmage, so that danger of being caught in the backfield for a big loss is avoided, but now he has to make that defensive end who held his gap miss, or else it was just a pretty three yard run.  Seager was a bit unexpected as a third round pick in 2009.  He was the second baseman on Ackley’s UNC team, and most thought that Ackley would move to the outfield in the pros and Seager would stay at second.  Instead, Ackley moved to second, and eventually, Seager to third.

Seager’s hit more than anyone expected.  Early on, he was termed Ackley-lite, but that doesn’t seem so accurate now.  He has surprising power without quite having the eye that Ackley was supposed to have.  He started 2012 on a tear, and despite tapering off some, he’s still been one of probably the three best position players for the Mariners this year.  Right now, he’s an average or slightly wose hitter and a good defender who should only improve.  The player he is now is valuable.  The Mariners could do and have done much worse at third base (see below).  The question now is whether Seager can make that defensive end miss and go for a big gain.  To be a star, he needs to make adjustments and become a constant power threat.  He’s not likely to ever be a huge power hitter, but home runs in the 20s with 40 doubles and a .340 OBP is realistic and would make him one of the best third basemen in the league. Continue reading

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The Mariners of the Future: First Base

After looking at the interesting and fairly loaded catcher position yesterday, we move to the grassless pastures of first base.  Once past the big league roster, which is bare enough, most of the future first basemen in the organization are likely to be moved from other positions.  Most of the current first basemen in the minors are not really prospects for one reason or another.

The Breakdown

It’s too much to say the position begins and ends with Justin Smoak, but he is still the primary hope for 1B production.  We could write posts for days about Smoak.  I’m a big supporter, or have been in the past, but time is clearly running out.  There are plenty of big time prospects that take a long time to find themselves in the majors, so there’s still hope.  The question is how long the Mariners can wait for him to become that player.  Given the current state of the team and the lack of better options, they can keep waiting for a while, but Smoak needs to show some consistency before this season ends. Continue reading

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Tooting the horn and a few other things

As Matthew said earlier today, there’s a ton going on in Seattle sports right now.  So, I’ll start with the news of the hour and hit on a few other things.

  • Max Browne of Skyline High School, who most recruiting experts thought to be the number 1 quarterback prospect in the nation, verbally committed to USC tonight.  It’s not a huge surprise as many thought he’d be leaning that way.  Let me start off by saying, that it’s never good to lose the best players from your own backyard.  Browne is a huge talent and it would have been great to have him as a Husky.  With that being said, once the Huskies took two quarterbacks in the last class, this always seemed like a bit of long shot.  It’s not a huge position of need for the Dawgs and Browne has a much better chance of being Matt Barkley’s successor than he has of being Keith Price’s.  It’s hard to fault Browne for not staying home or the coaches for not keeping him home on this note.  Of course, Browne hasn’t signed yet, but he seems like he wanted to get the process over.  Good for him.
  • Matthew recapped Terrance Ross’ and Tony Wroten’s decision to enter the NBA earlier today.  He also took a look at what the team might do next year.  Don’t forget to take a look at that.
  • Husky football has started their spring practice with all of their new coaches on hand.  Bob Condotta will have all of the coverage and we won’t be able to cover it to the normal extent because this year’s practices aren’t open to the public.  We’ll try to give a few recaps at some point but hopefully there’s no huge news coming out of practice because that usually means there was an injury.
  • Earlier today the Mariners decided to keep Alex Liddi over Carlos Peguero, meaning Chone Figgins will get the majority of the time in left field over the next week or two.  This is where I toot my horn a bit.  I advocated for this move to happen on Monday and Jack Z just happened to agree with me.  I think it’s the right move, although who knows if it will make much of a difference over the next few weeks.
  • My last little bit is on a piece put out by Seattle Sports Insider today.  About a week ago, I wrote a post about sabermetrics and how I don’t think we can solely rely on them.  The subject of what the Good Guys had been working on recently came up in a mini-discussion I had in the comments of this SSI post with author Jemanji.  I told him that I’d been trying to find the right line in measuring sabermetrics against the other elements in the game and he responded, not only with a comment but, with a whole post on the matter.  In short, he used a Bill James article on the subject of sabermetrics to help us understand the concept better.  Sabermetrics should maybe be seen as questions that we’re trying to solve instead of statistics we can look up on fangraphs.  The likes of Dave Cameron and other Fangraph writers may disagree, but it’s an interesting concept.  You should all just go and read it by clicking here.  The quote he uses at the top is mine, so that’s kind of cool.  They have a great blog and they’re all good guys (no pun intended) over there.

There’s a lot more happening around but we’ll save it for another day.  I’m going to try to get a few things up on the M’s before Friday, hopefully that happens.  Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Andrew

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Surprises Coming?

So, the Mariners have played a few games.  Weird, huh?  Jeff Sullivan likened last week’s 2 regular season games in Japan to a dream and that sounds about right.  Now, we’ve been back to Cactus League games for the past few days and I find myself longing for Opening Day.  Then, I stop and think, “That already happened.”  I hope someone else has felt this way or else I spent far too much time writing this meaningless introduction.

Chone Figgins

Starting left fielder? Maybe he's too short.

One of the dumb things that happened in Japan was Mike Carp hurting his shoulder and getting put on the disabled list.  The other dumb thing was getting 3-hit by Bartolo Colon but I’ve tried to conveniently not remember that part of the dream.  Mike Carp got put on the disabled list before the 2nd game of the season and Carlos Peguero was activated for the 2nd game in Japan.  Now, Carp’s DL clock has been ticking even though we aren’t technically in the regular season at the moment so we can expect him back in about a week and a half.

People seem to think they have the Mariners roster figured out for the opening game (aside from a few spots in the bullpen, but I was referring to the position players).  They’ll option Alex Liddi and have Casper Wells and Carlos Peguero split time in left field.  I admit, this is the most likely but I’m not sure it’s the right decision.

If you’ve followed Spring Training, you know that Chone Figgins will be getting regular playing time for the first few weeks at least.  Little Figgy has been playing all over the diamond this spring and has spent a good amount of time in the outfield.  I’d even say he’s been there the majority of the time.  Knowing that and knowing that Carlos Peguero is bad (really bad).  Why not have Figgins be your starting left fielder for the next 2 weeks?  Keep Alex Liddi on the team and have him be the best right-handed bat off the bench.  Let him start a few games against left-handed pitchers while Seager gets a rest.  Kyle Seager should be this teams starting 3rd baseman anyway, so why not let him.

This works out for the Mariners front office, as well.  If Seager hits and Figgy doesn’t then you have a perfect excuse to cut him by the time Carp comes back.  Not a long enough trial, you say?  He’s had 2 years.  2 awful years.  Figgins is still on this team.

You can’t convince me that Figgins and Peguero on the field at the same time is a better combination than Figgins and Seager.  Figgins will be better defensively in left field.  Seager is a better hitter than Peguero.

Again, I don’t think this will actually happen because it’s unorthodox and usually baseball stays away from unorthodox but I think it should happen.  Plus, Alex Liddi is Italian.

Speaking of the Italian, he’s had a great spring.  Not that spring means much (or anything at all) but he would become the best right-hander on the bench.  He could play first, when Montero catches and Smoak DH’s.  All in all, I just think he’s better than Peguero because well… If you really want me to explain that then you need to figure out how bad Peguero is.

Last year, Seattle Sports Insider argued that Luis Rodriguez should make the team as the 25th man because he was simply better than Josh Wilson.  You can argue how much a 25th man means to an organization (probably not much), but a team should still put their best players on the major league team (unless they’re holding them back to save an extra year of team control.  We see you Paxton, Hultzen and Catricala!).  You know who the best right-handed hitter on the bench is when Casper Wells plays center, if Peguero makes the team?  There is no right-handed hitter on the bench in that situation.

I’ll break this down mathematically after the jump. Continue reading

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It’s Almost Mariners Time!

This has been a weird offseason for Your Seattle Mariners, but it’s surprisingly almost over.  Pitchers and catchers report to Arizona in a few weeks, with the season just over two months away.  Actually, since the Mariners open the season in Japan, their season starts a couple of weeks early.  Yes, the season opener will be at like 3:00 in the morning on the other side of the International Date Line.  Plan your lives accordingly.

Anyway, if you haven’t been paying attention or haven’t stopped to think about what the team looks like, I’ll try to help you out with a little fake Q & A.  I’m making up the questions and I probably won’t have any answers, so don’t expect too much, but this will still be a pretty good time.

Who’s new this year?

Well, Jesus Montero’s the big one.  More on him in a minute.  Then there’s John Jaso, the mediocre young catcher acquired from Tampa Bay, who could actually be a pretty big upgrade.  Not a lot after that.  There are a bunch of relievers who may or may not make the team.  More importantly, the Japanese pipeline is back open, with Hisashi Iwakuma likely to join the rotation and Ichiro’s workout buddy Munenori Kawasaki vying for a backup infield spot.  Iwakuma could be pretty good.  Kawasaki is good with the glove but unlikely to hit, so that’s nothing new.  They just signed Kevin Millwood for rotation depth as well. Continue reading

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Mariners 2011- What Still Has My Interest

I can’t imagine there are that many people still watching the Mariners on a regular basis.  I’ll turn them on once in a while, but I haven’t watched a full game in weeks.  Still, they’re an interesting team at the moment, just not a terribly watchable one.  I have a few posts in mind I’m hoping to get to before the season ends.  This offseason could be fascinating, so I’m going to try to work through the roster before we get to that point.

First up: what would I be watching for if I were still watching games regularly.  I’ll try to keep these short and simple, because they’re not terribly surprising and if we’re being honest, not that exciting either.

  1. Alex Liddi’s debut.  I’ve made my Liddi love quite clear on this blog, but it’s based almost entirely on his Italian-ness.  His baseball skills are intriguing but incomplete.  He has solid power and reportedly plays an improving third base, but like many Mariner power-hitting minor leaguers, he likes the strike outs.  Nonetheless, he’s joined the Mariners and should make his debut soon, which makes me happy.  He’s not likely to do much, this year or next, but sports are for fun, and Italian baseball players are nothing if not fun.  On a related note, how will Kyle Seager finish out the year?  Can he be the main man at third next year?
  2. The Mariners suddenly have a glut of talented outfielders.  Unfortunately, none of them is close to a sure thing.  Casper Wells and Trayvon Robinson could be starters next year, or they could be trade bait.  Michael Saunders, the forgotten man, is back with the big club, filling in for Franklin Gutierrez and his strained oblique.  Has he finally found a swing that will translate to the majors?
  3. Tom Wilhelmsen.  When Wilhelmsen was sent down early in the season to work as a starter, the move made sense.  He wasn’t pitching well, and starting would give him more innings to work on his stuff, and if they got lucky, he might turn into a solid middle of the rotation guy.  He didn’t seem to get much better in the minors, but then he was recalled anyway, and he’s been okay.  If you haven’t noticed, the rotation is potentially a little shallow next year.  I have my doubts about Blake Beavan and Anthony Vazquez.  If one of them is my fifth starter, I can live with it, but I’d really like Wilhelmsen or Charlie Furbush to bring actual strikeout stuff to the rotation.  I doubt September will give an answer to whether they can, but we might catch some glimpes.
  4. Justin Smoak has had a season from hell.  After a thunderous first month, he fell apart at the plate.  Also, his dad died, his nose got broken and he possibly had a serious thumb injury.  Who knows how much all that influenced his decline, but it can’t have helped.  I’d love to see him get hot this month.  I like the guy, and he clearly has talent.  Here’s to a better September and a breakout season in 2012.  He’s still the key to the future, in my mind.

There are some other things going on, like Ichiro and the young relievers, but this is my list.  What are you watching (or not watching) for?

Next up: a breakdown of where each position stands going into the offseason.

-Matthew

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Liddi Watch

To top off the Huskies great win last night and the most enjoyable half of basketball I’ve seen all year, my favorite little Mariner is making news.  Alex Liddi is not little in any way, to be clear, but that’s what I’m going to call Mariner minor leaguers.  He hit a grand slam yesterday for his second in two days, which ultimately means little, but it did give us this excellent headline in the Times today:

Fantastico! Liddi Launching Salamis

Hard to not be happy with that.  Here’s the article.

-Matthew

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Know Your Mariners: Alex Liddi

Because of the Seattle snow, I had a whole day off today.  Unfortunately, there is still nothing whatsoever to write about in the Mariners spring training camp.  Luckily, Geoff Baker over at the Times has a feature up today about my favorite non-big leaguer, Mr. Alex Liddi.  Baker’s story provides a little insight into how a kid from the coast of Italy ends up as the top third base prospect for the Seattle Mariners.  I’m not generally a big fan of these profiles, but this one was good.  Go read it.

My love for Alex Liddi is based almost entirely on the fact that he’s Italian.  I should also say now that, like most minor leaguers, I’ve never seen him play, outside of a few video clips.  With that disclaimer, he’s a decent prospect, considered by most to be among the Mariners top 20 prospects, top 10 by some.  He’s 6’4″, 220 lbs with solid power.  He exploded offensively two years ago while playing at high-A, putting up some of the best numbers in all of the minor leagues.  Unfortunately, his home park, and the whole league to some degree, is probably the best place to hit in all of baseball, so everyone was waiting to see how he’d perform at AA in 2010.  His numbers took a hit, but he still gave a solid performance, far from the disaster some predicted.  Continue reading

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