To the surprise of everyone, here in early June, the AL west is wide open and the M’s could very well contend into the summer. Let that sink in for a moment. What this means is as long as the division is within reach, the team can’t afford to roll out all their youth at the cost of losing, and in case you had not noticed, the Mariners are not getting production out of left field. I suppose that statement has been true for the last 30 years, but now more so than ever, LF has been a joke. Ken Rosenthal sums it up well in a tweet I saw today- “Least productive OFs in majors by OPS. Mariners-30th, Tigers-29th, Angels-28th.”
Cutting ties with Milton was the right move, and initially I liked the platoon idea of Peguero and Mike Wilson. Well, despite a monster home run and a game winning hit (if Hunter’s sun drop counts as a game winner), Peguero really has been bad. He is batting .169, and striking out nearly 40% of the time. Also, his defense is sub-par, and that’s being generous. It isn’t fair to make too many conclusions on Mike Wilson, because he only has 25 at bats, but he has just 4 hits. I want to think these guys will get it going and they have only been major leaguers for 1 month, but here’s the bottom line: Carlos Peguero is not ready for the big leagues, and Mike Wilson has been a minor leaguer for 10 years, and there’s probably a reason for that.
The M’s want to know what they have in their young outfielders, particularly Saunders, Peguero, Wilson, Carp, and Halman, especially heading into an off season where Jack will have money to spend. I think the M’s now realize that 3 of those guys, Peguero, Saunders, Wilson are not going to be their starting LF in 2012. So, you keep shuffling the cards, bring up Carp, and maybe later give Halman a shot. If those guys are also hitting .160 in a month, and the team is still contending, then you make a trade when the market opens up. Is this too simple in my head?
There have been compelling arguments made around the Mariners blogosphere, regarding this LF dilemma. Should the M’s call up Ackley, and stick him in the outfield, where he played in college? What about Kennedy, can he play LF? How about trade options, like Chris Denorfia or Carlos Beltran? I suppose anything is possible, but my hope is that Mike Carp is roaming around in the outfield this weekend, or in the very near future. Carp is hitting .330 in Tacoma, with 15 HR and 45 RBI in just 50 games. And contrary to what Dave Cameron says, “Mike Carp is a 1B/DH, and if Wedge won’t use Cust or Wilson out there, he’s certainly not going to use Carp” Carp has actually played 35 of 50 games in the outfield this year, and been the DH in the other 15! So to say he is just a 1B/DH is not true, and actually, his defense has looked decent according to the people who know this stuff.
Oh, and Carp is just 4 months older than Smoak, so it’s not as though he can’t still turn into something. If he does, that JJ Putz trade looks better and better (Guti, Vargas, Carp). In this scenario, I still like Mike Wilson starting against southpaws, and for now the team needs Saunders to back up Guti, pinch run, and be a defensive sub. Ultimately, Saunders needs to play everyday in the minors to fix that swing, and I suspect this will happen if and when Halman is ready for a call-up.
The other must make move? Giminez down, Bard up. I wish I knew what the M’s see in Giminez, to justify him backing up Olivo instead of a proven veteran like Josh Bard. Giminez seems like a cool guy, but he is a career .165 hitter. Bard is 33, a career .260 hitter, with 40 HR. He has some pop, and normally I could care less who the backup catcher is, but when you have 2 options, and one clearly makes more sense, I can’t help but be annoyed that the team chooses the other.
Soon enough, Dustin Ackley will be here too, which presents another tough decision, and one that could spell the end for Jack Wilson or Luis Rodriguez. But for now, Peguero down, Carp up; Giminez down, Bard up.