Tag Archives: Matt Tuiasosopo

Your 2011 Mariners- Third Base

I’m not finding much time to write and even less I feel like writing about, but I’ll try to get through the rest of this series before free agency starts.  Enjoy the World Series.  It should be a fun one!

Third Base

Under Contract

Chone Figgins- Figgins is as big a mystery as any player currently on the team.  Defensively, he played a serviceable but not great second base last season, but popular opinion is he will move back to third base for 2011.  The big caveat there is that he may not be with the team, as I imagine the Mariners would be willing to move him if someone would give a good return or take all of his salary.  If he is back and at third, he used to be very good defensively there, and the hope is that the move back will get his bat going.  Who knows if that will happen, but he did finish the year hitting fairly well.  A rebound to even his career averages in 2011 might be the biggest addition the Mariners could make this offseason.

Matt Tuiasosopo- My hope has about run out with Tui.  He still has some offensive potential, but has shown no ability to hit in the majors.  His defense is scary at every position.  It might click for him eventually and he could be an average starter or decent utility man, but for now he’s just okay depth if you have a major injury. Continue reading


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Should Tui Play More?

After looking as lost as Paul Wulff does on the football field for much of the season, Matt Tuiasosopo has put in the best 2 day stretch the Mariners have seen from a single player all season.  He has 7 RBI’s in the last 2 games and 3 extra base hits (one double and two home runs).  He made a game-saving diving catch in left field yesterday (more on that later) and is the main reason the Mariners have their current 2 game winning streak.  Of course, this leads to the question of him getting more playing time.  The M’s blogosphere has seen a good discussion about this topic in the last couple days and I’m not going to pretend like I know more than them, because I don’t.  Geoff Baker thinks he should see more playing time.  Jeff Sullivan is more on the fence but doesn’t disagree that he should.  I think both of them are on the right track.

Throughout the course of the season, Tui has suffered some criticism from the Mariner faithful.  Some of that was just criticism.  Any unbiased Mariner follower will tell you that Matt is pretty bad in the field.  It was a joke when he spent the early part of the season as the Mariners’ backup shortstop.  Shortstop is a tough position to play and he should never have been put in that situation because of his lack of range.  That’s not the only spot where he’s a bad fielder though, it’s everywhere else.  He shouldn’t be allowed to play 2nd base either.  That leaves the corner outfield spots, 3rd base and 1st base (he is the emergency catcher and is definitely not a center fielder).

His top position may be the corner outfield.  He has an athletic family but his foot speed is not up to par which limits him in the outfield.  Still, if Manny can play left field Tui can too.  Unfortunately for him, the Mariners are pretty set at those spots.  Ichiro is our right fielder, no questions asked.  The M’s have Michael Saunders in left field and I think everyone would say he is a better option than Tui.  Saunders needs this last month and a half in left to see if he can play there next year.  Most scouts would agree that Saunders has a much higher upside than Tui does.  His defense is far superior and his bat is even, if not better, than Tui.  Saunders should be in the lineup at least 5 times a week for the remainder of the season (assuming he’s healthy).

So what about 3rd base?  Well, Jose Lopez is there.  Of course, Jose Lopez isn’t that great.  There is one big reason why Lopez should be playing over Tui, his trade value.  Lopey’s trade value is as low as it can get right now, but what if he hits a little hot streak?  Maybe Jack Z could get something back for him in the off-season if he puts up a good last month.  I’m as sick of watching Loafie as the next guy but it’s easy to understand why he’s playing.  Also, he may be better than Matt (we don’t really know).  I’d rather see Tui play over Lopez than Saunders but I don’t think that will be done or necessarily should be done.  A spot start there for Tui is a good idea, I think.

That leaves 1st base.  Which also leads to the question, “Why is Casey Kotchman still here?”  I thought they’d cut him about a month ago but they haven’t.  I don’t hate Kotchman and I understand that he’s filling in until Justin Smoak comes back up but I get tired of watching this guy try to hit.  And he’s so dang slow.  This is the spot where I think Tui should see the majority of his time if he plays.  Kotch can’t hit lefties; Tui is right handed.  Hey,  that seems like a match!  I’d be just fine with these two splitting time at first.

In the future, I agree with Sullivan in that Tui looks like he should be a 4th outfielder type.  He hasn’t got a chance to prove himself and that’s what the rest of the season should be.  Also, we have to keep in mind that it was just two games and it was against Baltimore.  Sullivan pointed out that quality of opponent is often overlooked and undervalued in baseball (Jeff knows what he’s talking about).

Hopefully, we see a little more Tui in the next month.  It’s amazing what a little confidence can do for a baseball player.  Don’t forget that he’s only 24 too.   And what’s the worst that could happen with the M’s playing him?  They could lose a couple more games?  We’re used to that already.



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Working On the Farm- AAA Tacoma

After a long season that I really don’t have the words to describe, the Mariners are finally down to about 2 months and 60 games left.  While the trade deadline and maturation of Michael Saunders have made the last month a little more interesting, something else that is both significantly better and more interesting is the Mariners farm system.  Most of the affiliates are hovering near the top of their leagues, a nice sign for a franchise that needs to learn how to win.  More importantly, the talent level has improved to the point where each team has more than a few interesting players.

There’s a lot of interest in the Mariners’ minor league system right now, for good reason, so I thought I’d take a walk around the farm and give a quick rundown of who to watch at each level.  One caveat: I’m no scout and haven’t seen more than a handful of these players in action.  Everything you’ll see here is my composite memory of scouting reports and media pieces I’ve read.  There are some good writers, local and national, who know a lot more.  Jason Churchill at Prospect Insider typically has a lot of good information from a scouting standpoint, while Jay Yencich at Mariners Minors puts out a ridiculous amount of recaps, etc.  Jay also does a great weekly Minors Recap at USS Mariner that will keep you up on the majority of the system goings-on.  Here’s this week’s.  There’s plenty of other good stuff out there, especially Jon Shields at both ProBallNW and Lookout Landing.

I’ll take these one at a time and hopefully bust through them in the next few weeks, before the minor league seasons end and I take another vacation!  First up:  AAA Tacoma. Continue reading

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Game Recap – 5/12

Well, that was frustrating.  That game, and a sweep, would have been really nice to have but the crazy thing about baseball is that even the worst teams (and the Orioles are as bad it gets) still usually win about 60 games.  As much as sabermetrics do work for baseball, the favorable matchup doesn’t always win.  With that being said, I’m not sure the Mariners had the favorable match up today.  Lets looks at a few matchups in this game:

  • Ryan Rowland-Smith vs. Brad Bergesen.  Let me start off by saying that Hyphen is a good guy.  I like him and have yet to hear anyone write/say that they really disliked him.  But, he just isn’t very good right now.  I want him to succeed as much as anyone but he doesn’t look like a quality starter right now.  Brad Bergesen on the other hand has turned his season around a little bit.  He’s no Cliff or Felix, heck, he’s not even Doug or Vargas, but if given a choice between Hyphen and Bergesen I would chose Bergesen.  This may not be the case in a couple months or years but it is right now. 

The Mariners obviously rolled out a better defensive unit than the Orioles but lets look at thelineups hitting wise tonight.  We’ll play our series preview game with tonights lineup (winners in bold):

  • CatcherO’s-Wieters.  M’s- Moore. This really is a no contest.  Moore looks awful right now, he might need to go back to Tacoma.
  • 1st base:  O’s- Atkins.  M’s- Kotchman.  Yes Kotchman is a better player but looking at this hitting wise, Atkins is a little better in my opinion.  It’s close, but neither guy is really hitting right now.
  • 2nd base:  O’s- Wiggington.  M’s- Figgins.  Yes, I’d rather have Figgy on my team than Wiggington but Ty is hitting the ball.  Chone really isn’t hitting the ball at all.
  • SS:  O’s- Izturis. M’s- Jo. Wilson.  This is a sad contest but Wilson wins.
  • 3rd base: O’s- Tejada.  M’s- Tui.  Tui is another guy who looks lost, right along with Adam Moore.
  • LF:  O’s- Patterson. M’s- Saunders.  I don’t need to explain.
  • CF:  O’s- Jones.  M’s- Langerhans.  This one is closer than it should be.  Langerhans is one of them most productive hitters on the team right now, which is sad, but I still think Jones strikes more fear in pitchers hearts.
  • RF:  O’s- Markakis.  M’s- Ichiro.  Ichiro seems to be on his usual May hot-streak.  This is good.
  • DH: O’s- Luke Scott.  M’s- Lopez.  Jose can’t hit right now.  Scott’s average is lower but he’s shown a lot more power than Jose.  Lopey was so close to a home run tonight but more on that later.

So, looking at the matchups hitting wise the O’s held a 6-3 advantage tonight.  I know defense is an important part of the game and the Mariners run out a good defense usually but this just shows how inept this offense can be.  The Mariners are better than the Orioles but tonight the matchup never really seemed to be in our favor.  4/9 of our starters were in Tacoma last week.  Four of the other starters are hitting .214 or below.  That leaves Ichiro and he can’t do everything himself.  The lineup should be back to normal tomorrow, which still isn’t anything to be excited about but at least we’ll have a better matchup.

Goat/Hero and a few notes after the jump.  Continue reading

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Game Recap — 5/11/2010

Nothing like seeing Baltimore on the schedule to cheer up a blue Mariners fan. They are really bad. And yesterday, we looked really good. It appears the team is rallying around the Griffey story and if that’s what it takes to come together, then I’m all for it.

The quick analysis is Cliff did his thing, the Tacoma bats continued their hot hitting, and the M’s took care of business in efficient fashion. Speaking of those Tacoma bats, Langerhans, Wilson, and Saunders combined to go 5-11 with a homer, 2 RBI, and 9 total bases. I especially love seeing Michael Saunders play well, because left field is a position of need for the M’s. If his early success continues, we may look back and point to his call up from Tacoma as the turning point in this season.

Cliff Lee is fun to watch. I love his first pitch strikes. I love how fast he works. I love that he doesn’t walk batters. I love his cool demeanor. I love you Cliff. Now, please engage in the following conversation, because I’ve had this dream a couple times already.

Jack Z: Hey Cliff, thanks for coming in, take a seat.
Cliff: Whats up?
Jack Z: Well, I noticed your contract is up at year’s end and, well, let’s see if we can’t figure something out to keep you a Mariner a little while longer.
Cliff: Hmm, I usually don’t do this type of thing mid-season, but I sure love being part of baseball’s best 1-2 punch. Awe heck, let’s bang something out.
Jack Z: Perfect. How about 3 years, 52 million.
Cliff: That is generous, but 55 million has a better ring to it. Deal?
Jack Z: Deal! Now, excuse me while I go get you some bats. I hear Mauer is available, let’s see what Minnesota thinks of Rob Johnson.

Then I wake up from my dream.

Some more quick notes and hero/goat after the jump! Continue reading


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A Tale of Two Miserable Weekends…and some ridiculous stats!

I didn’t think things could get more painful than watching the Mariners give up 3 late game homeruns on route to being swept last weekend in Chicago. All 3 games were 1 run losses, and I remember thinking the M’s should have legitimately taken 2 of 3 in that series. Despite the frustration, those losses were a product of a few hiccups, albeit in consecutive games, by our usually solid bullpen. There wasn’t too much analysis required, and while it sucked to have them happen in a row, that’s baseball. We moved on.

This past weekend, however, had many more layers of dreadfulness. To condense this mess, I’ve bulleted 5 events that were pretty unbelievable (not in a good way), and another 5 RIDICULOUS facts that may require reading with a puke bucket by your side…

  1. Sweeney’s double play: When a walk, sac fly, base hit, or really anything past the infield would have won the game, Mike swung at the 1st pitch from Darren O’Day, a slider low and away, and ended the bases loaded threat in the bottom of the 10th on Friday. Although I must say, none of this surprised me.
  2. Byrnes whiffed bunt: This oddity captured the short Eric Byrnes era well. With the bases juiced just one inning after Sweeney failed in the same situation, Wak called on Byrnes to just make contact on a bunt attempt. I liked the call because asking Byrnes to not strike out or pop it up to an infielder is a tall task. Still, he failed…and then struck out for good measure.
  3. Bradley’s blown pop up: Many say Milton just gave up on this play, while some argue the sun got in his eyes. Regardless, this ball needed to be caught, because it allowed 2 runs to score with 2 outs after Felix had fought back from bases loaded and none out.
  4. Aardsma’s blown save: For the 2nd consecutive game following 8 dazzling innings by “Can’t buy a break Fister,” Aardsma surrendered a lead-off walk, then after a stolen base and a base hit, the game was tied, the save was blown, and Fister was given another no decision. I’m scared every time Aardsma enters the game and starts firing fastballs. This past week reminded me why I have this fear, despite his league leading 8 saves.
  5. 2 passed balls in 1 inning by Rob Johnson: Perhaps the previous events are explainable, but this one is not. Andrew touched on “Hips” and his lack of catching in his recap from yesterday’s game, so I won’t ramble. This tweet from Dave Cameron pretty well sums it up-

    “Rob Johnson had as many passed balls in 1 inning yesterday as every non-Mariner AL team has all season.”

What is especially disappointing about all this is that if ANY one of these scenarios hadn’t happened, the M’s would likely have won the game. But it all happened, and as the wheels came off, it was like watching a bad horror film that started off decent, turned frustratingly unrealistic, and ended up humorous. The snowball of unfortunate events that overcame this team could not be stopped, and this team was coming up with new ways to blow games.

And now, grab your bucket… Continue reading


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Mariners Recap – 5/2

It was an interesting day in Mariner land.  Some roster moves along with a game make for a lot to cover in shorter post.  I’m going to tell the story of this game largely through my goat and hero:

Hero:  Doug Fister.  Wow, this guy is incredible right now.  He’s been legitimately better than Felix so far this season.  Think about that.  I know this high level of pitching probably won’t last all season but he’s shown that he’s a quality starter and has rightfully earned his spot in the rotation once Bedard is back.  The most amazing thing is he’s doing this with basically one pitch, his fastball.  Fister is throwing with Maddux and Moyer like control right now and is reaping the benefits.  Today he threw 8 shutout innings and didn’t give up a hit until the 6th inning.  He was helped with a beautiful catch by Ichiro that brought a home run back but that’s the benefit of pitching for this team.  For those keeping track, Fister has took no-hitters into the 6th and 7th inning this year.  I was at both games, so naturally I’m going to take the credit.  I keep waiting for Fister to flounder but it hasn’t happened yet and he’s not showing many warning signs that it will happen.  Unfortunately, he didn’t get the win today but this rotation looks crazy good.  Think about this:  Lee-Felix-Fister-Bedard.  I don’t know if it’ll be in that order but, admit it, you smiled when you read that.  After watching this game we all need to smile a little bit.  That leads me to…..

Goat:  Rob Johnson.  I don’t get very vocal during Mariner games.  I mean, I’ll cheer and clap just as much as anyone else but I don’t out many yells, and I hardly ever yell at our own players.  There will always be my sarcastic comments like, “Bases loaded, no out, Eric Byrnes up.  Time to take a nap.”  but these comments don’t usually make it out from under my own breath.  Today was different because Rob Johnson can’t catch a frickin’ ball.  In the top of the 11th, with the game tied and a guy on 1st, Elvis Andrus squared to bunt.  Mark Lowe threw a fastball a little off the plate, but not far from where Johnson set up.  Hips (I’d call him Robo Rob but a robot could catch a baseball better than he could, a dead robot could catch a ball better than he could, my sister could catch a ball better than he could) moved his glove a little bit and then the ball simply bounced off his glove and headed for the backstop.  The runner advances to second.  I yell, “Rob, you suck!” probably scaring the people I’m sitting with.  This pitch didn’t have a lot of movement.  It was a fastball just off the outside corner.  I could write about how much this play changed the game but instead I’ll get on to the next passed ball.  With a run in already and a guy on third Rob made absolutely no effort to stop a slider that broke off the outside corner.  This one was tougher to stop than the prior passed ball but, there’s a guy on third for crying out loud.  Move your feet and block a ball, don’t stab at it.  I let out another, “You suck Rob!” and buried my head in my hands.  Rob Johnson is not a good catcher.  People will argue that he called a good game today but I tend to disagree.  I guarantee you Rob didn’t put much more thinking into the game than, “Hey, people still aren’t hitting Fister’s fastball because he locates better than any pitcher I’ve ever caught.  I’ll call it over 80% of the time because that’s what’s working.”  Stop giving credit to our catchers for calling great games and start giving credit to our pitchers for hitting their spots just about every single time.  Hips did drive a ball to the centerfield warning track which is the farthest he’s ever hit a ball.  Ever.  Otherwise, he was useless at the plate again.  I can’t stand Rob Johnson.

As for the rest of the game, well, it was more of the same.  We didn’t hit very well, caught some bad breaks, and ended up losing a close one.    We did hit some balls hard but most of the time they were right at people or the cold air kept them in the ballpark.  Lopez hit a hard, line drive to the first baseman which got Figgy doubled off second.  Guti hit one to the wall in right that didn’t carry as far as I thought it would.  Rob hit one to the centerfield warning track that would be a home run in most ballparks.  Kotchman hit the ball hard several times but they were all right at someone.  This is more than we can say in the past few games.  Unfortunately, the team doesn’t hit  many balls hard and when they do it’s right at someone right now.  The Rangers’ pitchers were good this series.  Credit where credits due I guess.  The bullpen was a little shaky but not enough to worry about.  Lowe was a victim of Rob Johnson and a perfect bunt.  Aardsma was a victim of a ground ball placed in the right spot.  It happens, and it seems like it happens a lot to this team. 

Notes on the roster moves after the jump.  Continue reading

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Game Recap — 4/23/2010

When the Mariners score 6 runs, they are usually going to win. Maybe that’s what made last night’s loss so hard to swallow. Or maybe it was the the fashion in which they lost, giving up a walk-off homer to Andruw Jones. Or maybe it was especially difficult given how the A’s, Rangers, and Angels all won their games. Either way, that game really put me in a bad mood. Just ask my wife…So on that note, let’s review some quick points and move on!

  • Jose Lopez didn’t just hit his first HR of the year, he hit his first career grand slam. Congrats Jose.
  • Milton Bradley is missed. It doesn’t take long to get tired of seeing Eric Byrnes in his spot.
  • That last pitch by Mark Lowe was an absolute meat ball. I would have kept challenging Jones with 98 mph heat, but it’s all hindsight. I thought Lowe had him struck out on the 2-2 slider he threw. Oh well.
  • Jack Wilson is one injury prone dude. I mean really, he nearly breaks his finger on a ground ball. Thankfully x-rays were negative.
  • Hey Sean White, you suck. Hey Wak, why do you have a crush on him? I understand White had not technically given up a run all year, but he is shaky every time, and really shouldn’t ever pitch in a game we are leading. That needs to be Brandon League’s spot. That’s my opinion anyway.
  • Tui can’t field and strikes out a lot. I guess that’s to be expected for a young guy, but you have to wonder if he is cut out to be the utility guy on this team. I like him on the team, but he can’t play any position well, other than maybe first base, let alone fill in at multiple spots. Of course I’m a little biased because I have flashbacks of yelling “Tui sucks” throughout my high school career when Bothell was busy bruising Woodinville. (Quick shout out to Rocky Jorgensen and his 80 yard TD return in 2002. He stiff armed Tui running down the sideline to end the first half. It was like James Harrison in the Super Bowl.)

    Hero: Jose Lopez. His first career grand slam got Seattle back in the game, and it was nice seeing him pumped up in the dugout. I especially liked that he hit it off Putz, because it reminded me that we traded him for Guti. That always puts a smile on my face. I also really like how Jose has played this year. I figured getting rid of Yuni would be a positive thing for Lopey and his so-so work ethic, and it looks like it has been.

    Goat: Mark Lowe. It’s tough to single out Lowe as the reason we lost, and I could give it to Kotchman for his 0-4 performance, but Lowe did give up the walk-off to Jones, and that usually makes you the goat, at least for a day.

    I like our chances today with Fister on the mound against Freddie Garcia. Hard to believe he is still pitching! The M’s need to start winning some road games, and let’s hope it starts today.


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