Tag Archives: Kyle Seager

Mariners Begin Season, Let’s Review!

At the start of the baseball season I had this idea to write a recap of each series the Mariners played.  Then the season started and I got busy, tired, sleepy, or lazy.  So now here we are, 12 games into the season and I think it’s time to recap what happened so far.  If I do that then I could maybe do a series recap starting Thursday!  Probably not, but maybe.  I’ll keep you on your toes.

For now, I’m going to give you a very short series recap of the 4 series the Mariners have completed and then take a closer look at the lineup.  Let’s get started!

March 31-April 2:  Three game sweep of the Angels!

What a way to start the season.  I hate the Angels so it was nice to pummel them.  The offense battled against some pretty good starting pitching and then destroyed a pedestrian bullpen.  The pitching was very good all series.  The closest game of the series was an 8-3 victory.
Star of the Series:  Justin Smoak – Smoak came up big all series long.  He hit a big dinger in the first game and rocketed a bases clearing double off of CJ Wilson in the second game.
Goat of the Series:  No one – I searched through the box scores.  There was no one to pick.  Every single position player got on base and no pitcher had some crazy meltdown.

Ted S. Warren

Ted S. Warren

April 3-April 6:  1-2 in a 3 game series against the A’s

The A’s seem to be pretty even with the Mariners, actually probably a little better.  This was a strange series.  Erasmo threw a clunker.  Elias was screwed over by the worst umpiring I’ve ever seen.  Felix threw a gem.  The Oakland grounds crew did something ridiculous and a game was postponed.  The series was annoying and really weird.  The offense was able to squeak out 8 runs over the 3 games.  The A’s pitching is really good and the offense hasn’t figured them out yet.
Star of the Series:  Felix Hernandez – I think Felix is the right choice here.  He threw a fantastic game and got the Mariners their only win of the series.
Goat of the Series:  Hector Noesi – Noesi threw 2 pitches and gave up a walk off homer.  It was as predictable as things could get.  He’s now gone.  Other goats considered were Sean Barber, Oakland grounds crew, and Coco Crisp (he really was terrible for the Mariners).

April 8-9:  1-1 in a 2 game series against the Angels.

The season opener was electric.  Paxton recovered from a rocky first inning and threw a great game before coming out with an injury.  Hart had his best game of the season to date, homering twice.  The next game was ugly, as the Mariners were shut out by Garret Richardson.  Roenis Elias threw well but not well enough to overcome the offense being shut out.  That’s pretty much impossible to overcome.
Star of the Series:  Corey Hart – He didn’t do much on Wednesday (although he did get on base) but his two dingers won the game on Tuesday.
Goat of the Series:  Dustin Ackley – Ackley didn’t record a hit in this series.  A small blemish in an otherwise very good year to date.

April 11-13:  1-2 in a 3 game series against the A’s

It sure is annoying playing the A’s all the time.  Each game against them feels like a struggle.  It really is.  They don’t make many mistakes and their pitching is so good that you just have to scratch out some runs.  Friday night was an extremely fun baseball game.  Saturday and Sunday the Mariners scored a total of 1 run.  Thankfully, the Mariners don’t play the A’s very many more times before September.
Star of the Series:  Dustin Ackley and Felix Hernandez – After the performance that Felix put up on Friday, I have to include him.  Ackley went 5 for 8 in the series with 2 doubles and quickly bounced back from his lackluster series against the Angels.
Goat of the Series:  Justin Smoak – Smoak didn’t get a hit all weekend, even though he did hit some balls hard on Friday.

That left the Mariners with a 6-5 record after 11 games.  They won tonight (7-5) and I think anyone would have taken a 7-5 record to start the season.

Some thoughts on individual players after the jump.   Continue reading

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Some Minor Promotions

The Mariners roster is in disarray.  There are moves that have happened (Jesus Montero is in Tacoma), moves that might be happening (nobody knows what’s going on with Andino as of 1:50 P.M. today) and moves that should happen (Aaron Harang is still on the roster).  There is mass speculation on what the Mariners should do.  Some of it is intelligent, some of it isn’t at all.  Most people calling into radio stations aren’t, I’ve found in the last two days.

This paragraph should be a separate blog post but I wanted to throw it in anyway.  Form your own opinions on these Mariners roster decisions (and all decisions for that matter).  When you do, form the opinions after you are informed and read multiple reports.  There are plenty of statistics and a fountain of information a few clicks away.  Go make informed opinions.

I’m not going to add to the Mariner speculation mainly because there is too much of it right now.  Instead, this post is about guys down in the lower minors who may be promoted to a higher level in the next month or so, due to good performance.  I’ll start with the low minors and work my way up, picking a few guys from each level.

Clinton Lumberkings (One of the best mascot names)

Dylan Unsworth (SP) – Unsworth has put up great numbers in the minors in the last year and a half.  His K/BB ratio is 34/2 right now.  He’s pitcher 47 innings and has walked 2 guys.  He is right-handed and doesn’t crack 90 MPH so odds are against him but I’m interested in how his 2.49 ERA and one HR given up all year would translate in Jackson (AA) or High-Desert (high-A).

Grady Wood (RP) – Wood is the closer in Clinton.  He’s sporting a 2.78 ERA and has a 20/5 K/BB ratio.  He’s 23 and was drafted last year where he pitched for Everett.  I should state that Clinton usually favors pitchers while High-Desert heavily favors hitters.

Others worth considering:
Tyler Pike (SP) 38 IP, 2.37 ERA, 34/17 K/BB
Dario Pizzano (RF) .327/.396/.483 14 doubles and 3 HR

High-Desert Mavericks 

Ji-Man Choi (1B) – Choi is somewhat of a cult hero in the Mariners minor league system.  He has always put up good numbers but never seems to stay healthy.  This year he has been on the field and, surprise, he’s put up great numbers.  He’s gone through position changes and is at first base right now (although he has played a little bit of third).  Choi just had his 21 game hit streak snapped.  His slash line is .356/.449/.658 bringing his OPS to 1.107.  It’s not all High Desert, either.  On the road his OPS is still over 1.000.  The downside to Choi, other than the health issues, is that he doesn’t have a lot of home run power.  He’s hit 6 home runs (3 on the road, 3 at home) but he does hit a lot of doubles (21) and plays good defense.  He has 30 extra base hits in 40 games.  Of all of the guys I want called up to the next level, Choi probably tops the list.

Chris Taylor (SS) – So, who’s the Mariners shortstop of the future?  Chris Taylor is entering that conversation (along with Nick Franklin, Carlos Triunfel, and Brad Miller).  Taylor was drafted last year out of the University of Virginia (he was teammates with Danny Hultzen and John Hicks, also in the Mariners system).  Taylor has hit at every level, so far, and is probably the best defensive shortstop in the system.  Taylor is hitting  .342/.444/.522 with an OPS of .966.  His OPS on the road is .860, so he’s not solely benefitting from High Desert.  He doesn’t have a ton of power (19 extra base-hits in 46 games) but he has good plate discipline.  Brad Miller just got called up to Tacoma, so Taylor may be sent up to Jackson before this post is finished.  That seems like it’d be a good move.

Others Worth Considering:
George Mieses (RP) 23.2 IP, 4.94 ERA, 26/10 K/BB
 (ERA is tough to judge in High Desert).

Jackson Generals 

Taijuan Walker (SP) 52 IP, 2.77 ERA, 57/25 K/BB

Walker is still probably the top prospect in the Mariners system.  People say he’s struggling, but these numbers aren’t really showing that.  His walks are higher than everyone would like but a little bit of wildness doesn’t put me off as much as it does others.  His strikeouts are through the roof and opposing batters are hitting .197 against him.  Walker could receive a promotion once Harang is DFA’d or a few Tacoma pitchers are called up.  

Julio Morban (OF) 

Julio is like Ji-Man Choi or Franklin Gutierrez, if you’d rather.  He puts up great numbers while on the field but he can’t stay on the field enough.  When Morban is on the field he is easily their best outfield prospect.  Morban’s slash line is .344/.394/.563 making his OPS .957.  Morban has only played in 27 games this year though and that’s the real problem.  Having him healthy would be a big boost for the Mariners system.

Others Worth Considering:
Chance Ruffin (SP) 47 IP, 2.87 ERA, 33/10 K/BB (Yes, he was bad, but he seems to be doing well in the new starting role.  He could just be benefitting due to the lower level though.)
Carson Smith (RP) 14.1 IP, 3.14 ERA, 20/5 K/BB (Smith had a rough beginning to the season but has since calmed down and looked very good.  I mean, look at those strikeouts.)

As I mentioned, Brad Miller has just been called up to Tacoma to replace Triunfel.  As a hitter, think of him as Kyle Seager.  A few home runs here and there but more doubles than anything.  Although Nick Franklin is a popular target at this point, Miller could become just as popular in a matter of weeks.

Until next time!  Believe Big!

Andrew

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2013 AL West Team

Unlike some college sports, pro sports don’t come out with pre-season 1st and 2nd teams, but if the AL West had its pre-season team, this is how I think it would shake out. Clearly this is not a perfect method to predicting the AL West in 2013, and by season’s end the 1st and 2nd team selections will look different. But, it does provide a snapshot of how the division stacks up. My selection process looks at last year’s performance as well as potential this upcoming year, and projected impact/playing time. Some of the picks are obvious and others are less obvious, so of course I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

2013 AL West

A couple bullets:

  • It is hard to find much separation at the top between Oakland, Texas, and LAA. All 3 have playoff potential, but from this breakdown I would also suggest the Mariners are closer to the good teams in the division, rather than the bad (Houston).
  • Say what you want about Oakland’s 2012 season being an anomolye, but it’s hard to criticize the roster Billy Beane has been assembled this year. The A’s don’t have a lot of star power but they are solid at every position, and have a ton of depth, which will surely be an asset at some point.
  • The positions that were hardest to find a clear cut 1st and 2nd team selection were Catcher, DH, and the 2nd team OFs and Starting Ps. At catcher, Montero projects to have the most playing time and potential, so I gave him the honors. You could make a case for Jaso and Pierzynski too. The same is true between Kendrys Morales, Berkman, and Trumbo, but the numbers suggest Morales (when healthy) is the best option in the group. David Murphy is a nice player, as is Coco Crisp, Franklin Gutierrez, and Chris Young. Take your pick, I went with Murhpy. Starting pitching was a bit of a toss up to when you start picking the 8th-10th best in the AL West. I tried hard to justify an Astro but simply could not. Iwakuma was my 10th selection, but it could have easily gone to Derek Holland, Jason Vargas, or really any Oakland starter.
  • In order to visually quantify the separation between teams based on these picks, I’ve awarded 2 points for a 1st team selection, and 1 point for a 2nd team selection. Here’s how it shakes out on a fancy bar graph.

    graph

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The Rebuilding Process, Year 5

One year ago I asked your reaction following Prince signing in Detroit. One year later, I’m curious what your take is on Josh Hamilton signing with a division foe, for nearly $100 million less than Prince got.

This is my 5th installment in a series of posts I’ve done recapping and forecasting the Mariners Rebuilding Process, since Jack Z took over as GM. You can find the prior posts here: Years 1 and 2 Year 3 Year 4

Let’s recap the 5 year rebuild plan I laid out in October 2008.

    THE BLUEPRINT

2009, Year 1: Shed dead weight, Begin overhauling the farm
Summary: Traded Putz for Guti, Carp, Vargas, and managed to get rid of Silva, Betancourt, and Johjima, while also using 3 of first 5 picks on Ackley, Franklin, Seager.
Grade: A+

2010, Year 2: Shed dead weight, Continue building the farm (and lock up Felix)
Summary: Signed Griffey and Sweeney, locked up Felix and acquired Cliff Lee, then swapped him for Smoak. Could have done without the Morrow trade and of course the Figgins contract. Selected Walker, Paxton, Pryor in rounds 1, 4, 5.
Grade: B-

2011, Year 3: Bring the youth up, Evaluate potential, Acquire more young talent
Summary: Hired Wedge, traded for Brendan Ryan, picked up Wilhelmson at a local bar, and signed low cost vets such as Cust, Olivo, Kennedy. Fielded an even mix of youth and vets, but loads of young talent in the pipeline for the first time in forever. At the deadline traded Fister for Furbush and Wells. Hultzen chosen with #2 pick.
Grade: B

2012, Year 4: continue youth movement, achieve .500 record
Summary: Swapped Pineda for Montero and made some shrewd acquistions in Jaso, Iwakuma, Luetge, Millwood, Perez, then saw a young roster come up 6 games short of .500, while improving by 8 games from prior season. Picked Mike Zunino #3 overall.
Grade: A

2013, Year 5: add 1-2 big pieces, contend for playoffs
Summary: Thus far we’ve seen a few low cost signings in Bay, Ibanez, Bonderman, and a 1 for 1 swap of Vargas-Morales.
Grade: ???

I’ve said this before, but in 4 1/2 years on the job, Bill Bavasi set this organization back 5 years, minimum. Last year I stated

“For the first time on Jack’s watch, I think the on field W/L record is important. .500 ball is a reasonable expectation this year, which would be a welcomed site for our eyes.”

Well, The M’s flirted with .500 in 2012 and showed noticeable improvement, albeit without much offense yet again. Entering year 5 the talk of laying the foundation and replenishing the system should be over, and playoff contention ought to be close. Zduriencik has said as much if you’ve heard any of his recent interviews.

If the blueprint holds form, the M’s will be adding 1-2 big pieces this offseason, and assembling a playoff capable team in 2013. This sounds great but it is nearly January and almost all the big name free agents have signed elsewhere, and the only acquisitions Seattle has made are Robert Andino, Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez, and a swap of Jason Vargas for Kendrys Morales. Not exactly blockbuster moves capable of propelling the M’s from 75 wins into contention. I suppose the big moves we hoped for are still possible if Jack can, for example, land Justin Upton and Michael Bourn, and add a veteran pitcher to round out the rotation. That would certainly be a competitive team, but is that the best route to take?

Given how the AL West is shaping up, it may be best to hang onto the prospects, add a couple decent pieces, and shoot for a respectable 80-85 wins in 2013, while waiting until next year to make the big splash. I don’t see a scenario, at this point, for the M’s to overtake Texas or Anaheim in 2013, and probably not Oakland either. So why go all in? I’m not suggesting Seattle give up any hopes they had for next year, just because the division rivals are pulling away, but I don’t want the M’s to mortgage the future to field a better team next year, but one that cannot be sustained.

Keeping a positive trajectory is crucial next year, seeing an improved offense is also important, but that’s about all we can reasonably expect in 2013. This puts real contention off until next year, and adds a year to the original 5 year blueprint, but taking the path that leads to sustained success is what is most important. We’ve seen the Washington Nationals do this, and Tampa Bay also, and with much less money. It may not be popular, given the fractured fan base, plummeting attendance, and a decade of bad baseball, but Seattle has never given a player a $100 million contract, and unless it is a Felix extension, I don’t see it happening for at least another year. And surprisingly, I’m fine with that.

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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: Second Base

We seem to be alternating between barren and loaded positions with this series.  That should continue until the outfield.  Next up is the loaded second base.

The Rundown

Dustin Ackley is still a pivotal piece in the Mariners’ rebuilding effort.  He’s not performing well this year, but that’s not uncommon for someone in his position.  He has some clear mechanical issues at the moment and seems to be struggling to make adjustments.  I’d expect these to be ironed out at some point soon.  It’s still unclear where Ackley will end up offensively.  His recent struggles have tempered the Chase Utley comparisons, but that level isn’t impossible.  He should still be at least an above-average, allstar level bat most years.  He needs to be that, for everyone’s sake.  What isn’t a huge issue is his defense.  After meeting a lot of skepticism while learning the position, he’s become a solid if unspectacular defender.  To my eyes, he’s improving and has the skills to be at least slightly above-average. Continue reading

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Kyle Seager’s Problems with Patience

Kyle Seager has been the biggest unexpected surprise of the Mariners’ young season.  He’s been a bit streaky, and it’s not like he came completely out of nowhere, but he’s been arguably the best hitter on the team and has played a solid third base to boot.

Right now, Seager is sitting on a .295/.313/.491 slash line.  He’s already accumulated 1.4 WAR, which feels like it would have led the team last year, although it wouldn’t really have.  I don’t think.  Man, the offense was bad last year.  He has 4 homers and has ripped the ball pretty consistently.  He’s probably not ever going to have Evan Longoria power or anything like that at the hot corner, but he’s already showing more pop than anyone projected.

Even with the hot start, I’ve heard and read a few people who are unsure what to make of him.  The two main concerns I’ve heard are that he’s not likely to improve and that he’s too impatient.  Let’s tackle these questions head on!  I usually procrastinate and try to work around problems, so I have no idea how this will go, but it’s going to be exciting. Continue reading

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Cautiously Optimistic?

Last year the Mariners started 2-0.  Then they lost 7 games in a row.  In 2010, the Mariners won their first game and then lost 6 of their next 7.  In 2008, Seattle won their first game and then lost 5 of their next 6.  I’m going to stop there.  The point is the Mariners have started every season since 2007 by jumping out to grab at least a share of the division lead and then promptly losing it.

Now, keep that in mind while you read the rest of this post so I don’t look like a fool once the Mariners go get swept by Texas.

The Seattle Mariners have scored 15 runs in the last 2 games.  Yes, they won and that’s the most important thing but take a second to reflect on all of the times in the last 2 0r 3 years that this team has been on the verge of unwatchable because of the inept offense and that will make you appreciate these last 2 games even more.  Everyone got a hit.  Chone Figgins had 6 hits, and 2 of them were for extra bases.  Michael Saunders hit a double and a home run.  The bottom of the order was good.  The top of the order was great.  The middle was decent but it didn’t have to be anymore than that.  This won’t continue but these 2 games showed us what the offense could be.  Singles galore with a few extra base hits thrown in.  If Montero and Smoak show off some of their upside this offense could be (dare I say it) good.  Not great, or anywhere close to it, but good.

I’m going to go player-by-player in the lineup, tell you what I see and then jump to the bullet points.

Chone Figgins looked like a completely different hitter.  He hasn’t swung with that much authority since his days with the Angels.  Yes, the bunts were nice and well done but that’s not what had me excited.  At times in the last 2 years I honestly couldn’t picture a hard hit ball coming off of Figgins bat.  Chone hit 5 line drives in 2 games.  Not soft liners either.  He tucks his shoulder in, loads up and swings hard at hittable pitches.  He was measly swinging through pitches right down the middle last year but the last 2 days there was no sign of that guy.  I’m not saying this is a turning point or even close to it.  It could just be apparition in the Figgins awful span as a Mariner.  His last gasp of trying not to get cut.  But, confidence is an impossible thing to gauge and this psychological move to lead-off (because surely you wouldn’t  move him there for any other reason) may actually work.

I could write a whole post on Dustin Ackley’s swing alone.  It’s a thing of beauty and sooner or later, all left-handed hitters will begin to take his approach to hitting.  Instead, I’ll just leave it at this.  Dustin Ackley is really good, and will probably be great before too long.

Ichiro is Ichiro.  I was never too worried about him and I’m still not overly concerned.  His line drive rate last year was a bit alarming and it seemed like he hardly ever hit the ball hard.  But, for all the people who say that he’s selfish, Ichiro is one of the hardest workers in the majors and he’s not going to be held down like he was last year.  It doesn’t matter what Jon Heyman, talk radio, and fans who don’t pay attention to actual baseball say, Ichiro is good and has been so valuable to this franchise.  I don’t see that changing this year.

Justin Smoak is having a little trouble with the inside fastball.  I’m fine with this.  I know it sounds weird to say that it’s okay that the teams cleanup hitter is getting jammed by 90 mph fastballs because he’s behind them but stay with me.  Smoak would get in trouble last year because he would pull off of pitches and be way out ahead.  He wouldn’t make a commitment to hitting to left field and wouldn’t stay behind the ball.  We all learn in little league that you need to hit the ball where it’s pitched and that’s what Justin Smoak is doing, or trying to do now.  He’ll get around on the inside fastball soon, but I’m happy to see him hitting line drives to the left side of the field (which he’s done if you go back and look).

Jesus Montero is hitting the ball fairly hard but it seems like he may be out in front of the ball a little bit.  I think he grounded out to the shortstop 4 times in the last 2 games which happens while trying to pull an outside pitch.  Could he be a little anxious?  I think it’s likely.  His power is there, you can see it, but he just needs a few games to calm down and remember he’s going to be the next Edgar because he drives the ball to right center.

Kyle Seager is good too.  He’s like Dustin Ackley in that he’s drilling line drives everywhere.  He may not have the power Ackley has but he’s going to hit the ball and hit line drives.

Miguel Olivo is still Miguel Olivo but I’m okay with that.  He’s valuable in his own right  just not as valuable as some catchers.  I like the guy as frustrating as he can be at times.

Michael Saunders is… Wait, that was Michael Saunders?  He can’t hit home runs off of lefties.  Tonight Saunders worked the count against good ol’ Jerry Blevins and then drilled a home run deep to right field.  His swing is a little shorter and a little more compact but the key really is that he’s more aggressive when he’s in the right count.  His double to center last night was a beauty and just another example of him taking advantage of a hittable pitch.  Him being aggressive with hittable pitches is the biggest change I saw but I’m no scout.

Brendan Ryan had to use the uncomfortable hotel pillow last night and hurt his neck but before that he was tucking his front shoulder in and drilling the ball to left field.  He was also swinging with authority and just looked good.  If he can hit .280 or close to it and play 120-135 games he’s going to be a huge asset.

Munenori Kawasaki is kind of cool.  Jeff Sullivan said he could be a bad version of Ichiro which is just fine.  That’s valuable for a middle infielder.  Plus, did you see how slick he is with the glove?  He looks good and I think the M’s will try to find him more at-bats as the season goes on.A few bullet holes after the jump.  Continue reading

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