Tag Archives: Miguel Olivo

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mariners

The Mariners of the Future: Catcher

The Mariners are in a weird spot right now.  They’re inconsistent and pretty bad more often than not, but then they run off a hot streak every so often.  They have mostly young talent with promise.  The problem is that few of those guys are performing in a way that cements them as a future Mariner.  Even fewer have the type of elite talent where they should be penciled into future line-ups regardless of current production.  When you add in the minor leaguers, the roster is becoming a logjam of guys with unclear talent levels.

I’d expect we’ll start to see some changes, perhaps as soon as the trading deadline.  It’s possible that any of the few veterans on the team might be traded, but what will be more interesting is if Jack Zduriencik packages a few guys to get more proven performers.  This roster has too many unproven, promising players that need to be made into a cohesive, productive roster.

With all that in mind, this is a good time to look at the players that might figure into the Mariners’ plans over the next few years.  I’m going to take this position-by-position and just run through some names, with my opinion of how I’d lay out the roster, if I have one.

Catcher is first up.  A year or two ago, catcher was the most talent-starved position in the system.  That’s been almost completely reversed now.  In about a year, the Mariners have drafted about seven catchers with promise and traded for Jesus Montero and John Jaso.  That’s a pretty good influx.  Still, there’s no definite catcher for the future due to shortcomings for each of them.  Here’s the rundown: Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Mariners

Review and Look Ahead

Last time we met, Dan was talking about how the Mariners pulled off a minor miracle in Texas.  Since then, nothing too exciting has happened.  The club did what we expected (maybe even hoped for them to do).  With that being said, I think we all have different feelings about the team right now.  I’m encouraged because the team won the games they were supposed to and that’s with the bats not being close to where they’ll finish the season (although, how many times have we said that in the last few years).  Dan is slightly happy with the team but can’t get over Miguel Olivo’s inept play.  They’re the team Matthew thought they’d be but he’s still annoyed about seeing his 3rd abysmal home opener in a row.  Joe?  He’s trying to hunt down Chuck Armstrong and make him write a letter that says if Seattle doesn’t have an NBA team within a year that he has to sell the Mariners immediately.*  So, with all of those different opinions in mind I’ll try to write a quick review of the Oakland series and a preview of the next one.

* I don’t actually know if that’s how any of them are feeling.  It is a fairly educated guess except for the part about Joe.  That’s what Joe wants to be doing, not what he is doing.

The Mariners took 2 of 3 from Oakland this weekend and won’t play them again until late June.  Some people think that’s a good thing.  It’s a good thing for entertainment reasons.  For winning purposes, this is a terrible thing.

On Friday night the M’s lost to Oakland 4-0.  I’ve heard the pre-game ceremonies were classy, as usual.  The video of the boy stealing 2nd base and finding his dad home from Afghanistan is touching and extremely well done by the organization.  Otherwise, it couldn’t have gone worse for the home team.  This is three years in a row that Seattle has played a terrible game in their home opener.  The stadium also had their debit/credit card system break down and could only accept cash for a large portion of the game.  These things happen but it was an unfortunate night for it to happen.  Otherwise, Felix looked pretty good.  His groundball rates still aren’t where they usually are but they progressed as the game went on so lets hope that trend continues.  I still think he’s perfectly fine.  The offense disappeared so there’s nothing to recap there.

On Saturday nights game, it was the Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi show.  Also, I guess it was the Michael Pineda show because without him the Mariners wouldn’t have those guys.  Maybe anytime Jesus or Hector do anything good the Mariners should flash Pineda’s picture on the big screen with the word “THANKS” written across it.  Or they could do that with the Yankee logo instead.  That’d be cool.  It could be done for all trades even.  I’d laugh, along with 3 other people in the stadium.  Anyway, Noesi pitched 8 shutout innings with 6 K’s.  When he came over, it seemed like he’d be a fastball/slider guy but it’s easy to see his 2nd best pitch is his change-up.  His fastball velocity is good and I think he’s going to be just fine after that rough, first outing in Texas.  Jesus hit his first home run as a Mariner and added a double just for kicks.  His home run was a shot to straight-away center showing off his power.  The guy can hit and he’s only going to show off more power as the year goes on.  He also looked good defensively behind the plate.

On Sunday, it was the Cliff Lee trade that paid off.  Justin Smoak homered.  Blake Beavan pitched pretty well.  John Jaso sat on the bench (he’s a product of this Lee trade if you pay close attention.  Josh Lueke for John Jaso!).  Those were the storylines but Brendan Ryan homered and Ichiro doubled home the winning run.  It’s good to see those guys do things.

So all in all, it was a successful weekend.  These are the series that the Mariners have to win and they did.  Sure, a sweep would be nice but we can’t really complain about a series win.

Some actual thoughts instead of a recap and a preview after the jump.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under M's Game Recaps, M's Series Previews, Mariners

Mariners Win in Texas, Which Does Not Usually Happen

We don’t do game recaps at the GGS Blog, because quite honestly it takes a huge committment, and when Jeff Sullivan at http://www.lookoutlanding.com writes pure gold after every Mariners game, why try to top that? But after last night’s win, I have to do a mini recap because all things considered, it may be the sweetest victory we have all year.

Entering the 8th inning, down 3-0, the Mariners win expectancy was around 8% according to gamecast. Overcoming those odds is hard enough, but to do so in Texas where you’ve won once in the past dozen games, against perhaps the best team in baseball, that win expectancy may as well been 1%. But, the M’s got a run in the 8th, and in the 9th a single by Smoak, doubles by Seager and Saunders, and finally a bloop single by Jaso after a gutsy stolen base, was the recipe for 3 runs and an improbable 4-3 win was ours after BLT shut em’ down in the 9th.

Mariners Win!

Today the Rangers and M’s meet again. Once again, Texas will have the edge in nearly every category. A win today would mean a 2-2 split and I’d probably do something drastic like buy a Figgins jersey. Either way, the M’s will finally arrive in Seattle tonight, with no worse than a 4-4 record. This is pretty great considering those 8 games were in 3 time zones, spread across 2 weeks. This team intrigues me, which I was expecting, and because it is still only April, I can’t resist thoughts of contending into the summer. I doubt this will happen, and some fans will hit the point where investing their time, money, and emotions is not worth following a .500 or below team, but I don’t see myself losing full interest, because the youth is just so dang fun to watch. This statement will upset my wife, who is way too rational to get excited about 1 game in a 162 game season. To her I say enjoy your hockey, where half the league makes the playoffs and yet they still play 82 regular season games. And then she’s like, ya well baseball is boring, and I’m like well at least its played outside! Thats typically how it goes 🙂

Lastly, there aren’t many guys on my bad list right now, although it doesn’t take much to get on it quickly. Currently, Miguel Olivo has a permanent spot reserved, Chone Figgins is working his way off it, and Brendan Ryan is somewhere in between. Steve Delabar gave up back to back jacks last night, but come on, its Delabar, you have to be cold to have him on your bad list. Back to Olivo, why is he on this team? I understand he led the team with 19 HR last year, and he has good repoire with the pitchers, but lets quickly review who Miguel Olivo is at this point. He is a 33 year old .220 hitter with zero plate discipline, bad defense, and in the final year of his contract. He’s a nice guy and all, but should he be occupying a spot on this roster, when you have Jaso, Montero, and Adam Moore that could handle the catching duties? Am I missing something? Back to the plate discipline. Since 2010, only Pablo Sandoval has a higher swing %, and only Mark Reynolds has a lower contact %. Miguel Olivo swings and misses at 20% of the pitches he sees. That leads all hitters and its not even close. Olivo strikes out in 28% of his at bats, and draws a walk 4% of the time. Both rank in the bottom 10 in baseball. Miguel Olivo, why are you on this team??!!!!

Sorry to put a stain on this post, but it felt good to express my joy in last night’s game, and also my disgust for Miguel Olivo, and this blog post is all about me and I’m a good guy and so deal with it. Enjoy the sun today and hopefully a Mariners win!

Leave a comment

Filed under M's Game Recaps, Mariners

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

Leave a comment

Filed under M's Game Recaps, Mariners

Does Prince Fit? The Mariners by Position

Prince Fielder has dominated Seattle Mariners offseason talk thus far, which is saying something since their offseason really started back in June.  Offensively, it’s hard to imagine a better fit for the Mariners than Fielder, but there are other issues besides his bat, including but not limited to: money, weight, defensive position, and possibility of the Mariners contending in the forseeable future.

Every Mariner writer (and there are many good ones) has weighed in on the issue.  Other than those people who think that Fielder is going to fall apart next year, its hard to argue with any objections to signing Prince.  It’s going to cost a fortune, he’s not a great fit for the current team defensively, and there’s a decent chance that he could be breaking down by the end of the contract.  Most people agree on all of these issues to varying degrees.  Some are willing to accept them and still make a deal, others aren’t. Both viewpoints are completely understandable.

I’m pretty firmly on the “Sign Prince” side, but I thought I’d step back to see where the Mariners stand, both for next year and the future.  I’m going to work through this positionally, probably out of order.  I’m not going to make an effort to talk about how to improve the position, unless I feel like it.  I’m just going to lay out what’s there and what is in the system that might help soon. Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Mariners

5 M’s Quick Hits

None of these points deserve a full post, because full posts on goodguyssports.com typically involve hours of research, in depth analysis, and material worth publishing. I don’t think any of these fit that bill, but please read anyway.

1) We’ve yet to mention the unbelievable comeback on Monday night. In short, the M’s were down by 7 in the 7th, at which point they had about a 0.6% chance of winning. Craziness ensued and Seattle pulled out a miraculous victory. My first thought watching this was, this is what makes baseball great. In baseball, there is no clock. So even when the M’s were down 7 in the 7th, Toronto couldn’t just milk the clock, no, because in baseball you’re required to get 27 outs, no matter how long it takes. Baseball and golf are two of my favorite sports, and neither involve time. Maybe I’m oddly attracted to this aspect.

2) It feels like every time I watch a Miguel Olivo at bat, he swings and misses at least twice. I have not seen every one of his at bats, and sometimes you draw conclusions, but the stats don’t back it up. But in this case, Olivo really does swing and miss more than any player in baseball. SWSTR% is an advanced stat that measures the percentage of strikes that are swung at, and missed. Olivo leads MLB (eligible players) by swinging and missing an astounding 24% of the time he swings at strikes. Rod Barajas is 2nd in baseball at 19%. Olivo has dominated this statistic in recent years. In fact, he has led every year since 2007. How many guys can say the’ve led baseball in a stat category 5 years running?! Jack Cust is 2nd on the M’s in SWSTR%, at 12.4%. Cust sure seems to swing and miss a lot, but Olivo still has him beat by double the whiffs.

The bottom line is when you’re a big league hitter, and you swing at a ball in the stike zone, you should make contact around 90% of the time, even if it’s just to foul it off. I’d like to watch Miguel in BP sometime, because he probably swings and misses at every 4th pitch.

3) I just found out that when you see a bunch of “K” signs tracking how many strikeouts a pitcher has, a backwards K means the batter struck out looking. I thought fans just got lazy and put them up that way. Oops.

4) When Guti returns, in a couple weeks Lord willing, the team will have a decision to make, because unless an injury, trade, or major slump occurs, there is no obvious candidate to be demoted. Those on the block include Langerhans, Saunders, Bradley, Cust, Kennedy, Rodriguez, or perhaps a bullpen arm like Wilhelmson or Ray (don’t get me started on Chris Ray). I won’t get into the implications for each guy, but at this point, it’s hard to justify demoting or cutting any of these position players, for various reasons. These things tend to work themselves out, otherwise the M’s could have a logjam in the outfield/DH position.

5) Finally, this thought came to me yesterday as I drooled watching Justin Smoak’s opposite field homerun. Where would the M’s be had Ruben Amaro (Phillies GM) not called last winter and offered Cliff Lee?
Think about it. If we hadn’t landed and then traded Lee, we would essentially have Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and Juan Ramirez (none of which are past AA), instead of Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Matt Lawson, plus the immeasurable joy of watching Cliff Lee for 4 months! I doubt very much if an Aumont, Gillies, Ramirez package could have landed us the coup we got from Texas. And also, if we had 101 losses with Cliff Lee 1/2 the year, how many losses might we have had without him? Yikes, that’s a disturbing thought.

It’s off to KC for our 4-8 Mariners. Oddly enough, despite a poor record, the M’s have split their first 4 series, winning 2 and losing 2. This year is hardly about wins and losses, but I would be pleased if we could somehow scratch back to .500 at some point.

-Dan

Leave a comment

Filed under Mariners

Ranking Your 2011 Mariners

The big news today is basketball related, with Isaiah Thomas announcing, rather unexpectedly, that he will indeed forgo his senior season at UW. He’s off to the NBA, which sucks for Husky fans. Time will tell whether this is a wise decision by IT, but I’m happy for him. Next year’s expectations will be lower now, and it could very well be our last year watching Terrence Ross, but the team should still be good, and contend for the conference yet again.

With that news, I’m officially closing basketball talk on the blog, until at least the draft in June. Why? Because today is opening day! As Andrew noted, things have been dry on here lately, but nothing like some M’s baseball to stir conversation. In case you have not heard, the 25 man roster is official. Looking over the team last night, I started ranking guys in my mind, and that’s what this post is all about. In addition to ranking the 25 man roster, in terms of most valuable to the team in 2011, I’m also throwing 3 more guys into the conversation: Ackley, Gutierrez, and Aardsma. The latter two are on the DL, and Ackley will probably be up sometime in June, so they belong on this list too.

    Ranking the Roster (Most Valuable to Least Valuable)

1- Felix Hernandez—He is the King of Seattle, and the best pitcher on planet Earth. Yes, Felix is the Mariners’ most valuable player. Go away trade rumors!
2- Ichiro—The team’s best hitter and most valuable everyday player. Also, the coolest Mariner ever.
3- Justin Smoak—I want to fall in love with Justin Smoak, and so does this city, but he has a lot to prove. IMHO, this guy is the lynchpin to the M’s offense in 2011.
4- Franklin Gutierrez—I fear for Guti’s long-term health with every day that passes without an explanation, but assuming this mystery stomach ailment gets treated, Guti is the team’s best defender, and a top 5 hitter, a valuable asset indeed.
5- Milton Bradley—Depending on which Milton shows up, batting 3rd, Bradley could easily lead the team in production this year. But can he stay healthy AND out of trouble? I wouldn’t bet on it.
6- Erik Bedard—Hard to argue that a guy who did not pitch last year could hold much value, but IF healthy, Bedard provides huge value to this team. And IF his spring performance is an indicator of what’s to come, his worth is as high as a #2 starter.
7- Chone Figgins—This guy had better bounce back, and I expect he will now that he’s back at 3rd and settled into Seattle. The M’s should be annoying to play, and Figgy leads that annoyance.
8- Jason Vargas—I still don’t think of Jason Vargas as a #2 starter, but he earned this spot after last season. Can he provide an encore?
9- Jack Cust—Batting clean-up for your Seattle Mariners…Jack Cust. Really? You better believe it! He will strike out a ton, but I gotta think he is an upgrade at DH, and he is an awesome interview.
10- Miguel Olivo—The team’s main acquisition this winter, Miguel can’t be worse than our catchers last season, but he must improve on his first go around in Seattle if he is to win over the fans. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Mariners