TL;DR It was a fun month. Let’s gather around the TridentFire and say mostly nice things about the baseball team. Call your parents and/or your friends and say something nice.
The second installment of the overcaffeinated-budget-helicopter tour all Mariber no one asked for, but a select few seem to enjoy, is here!
It took longer than I thought!
I am exhausted!
Welcome to the second installment of the ? monthly? Tour De Ner, TheAutoReorder. In this big dumper, we’ve got some mups’, transactional spills, chills of cheap ownership, pats on the back, and heck, even a Lil coveting of thy neighbors dudes.
I give you the DUDECON Scale.
Going from 0 (already A Dude, exceedingly rare, mostly here for a theoretical Godzilla Plays Baseball situation) to 5 (slimmest potential for On The Watch, but hey, you’re saying there’s a chance). I completely pull numbers out of my tuchus that feel right about future DudeWatch potential.
Anywho, let’s a go.
NUTCRACKERS 2 FLY SMACKERS
TL;DR A story in perseverance and deadlines, two relievers, and the newest WunderTeen. Good stuff happening in NutTown.
This is the part where we say some good stuff about a young man who deserves some PosPixels. Carlson came into orbit of the MarinerNerds as a tall drink a’ water and over-slot draft signee in the year of our lordt two thousand and seventeen. You may wonder what happened since then, and folks, it’s been chiefly a downer! Carlson got DEEP into the Depressing Pitching Acronyms catalog after a mere three innings of affiliated baseball. PRP to Rehab to Setback to TJ to season wiped out by COVID gave Carlson multiple reasonable chances to do literally anything else as a vocation, but hey, the guy loves pitching.
And dag nabbit I would too if I had a projectable frame and reasonable command of three pitches. Carlson features a pretty median fastball/curve/change and has been striking out over 11 batters per 9 over 10 starts in Modesto. It hasn’t been 100% sunshine and or lollipops as he’s nearly 6 batters per 9 innings, and two of his last three starts can be generously described as “stinky.” That being said, results have been pretty gosh darn aiite as even with these wet thuds, his ERA is Low A league average, and he’s suppressing dingers (6.9% HR/Flyball nice) and generating grounders (52%).
Carlson is a toughie of an eval as the team has to add him to their 40 man roster this offseason or risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft. The aforementioned projectability and ability to miss bats makes him an intriguing long relief-stash for later starter possibility for a tanking team; it’s time to crank up the challenge and see if his possible departure through bureaucracy would be regrettable attrition or if he’s getting the Juan Then spot on the 40…
Through the writing of the Sam Carlson blurb, incepted the term “moose of a man” into my head, it was not suitable for the slenderdude above from the land of lakes. However, it is nay apropos about one Leon Hunter. Standing six foot three inches two hundred and fifty got dang two pounds, Hunter casts a shadow of imposition as he deals (from what I can see) a fastball-breaker-change mix. Thus Far, the results are good! Being used in a two-inning relief role, Hunter is sporting a 3.26 ERA across three minor league levels and has been flambeing Modesto to the tune of 2.28. Typical relieve stat-line as the concern is, you guessed it, walks (4.5 per 9, really quite bad), and that is primarily assuaged by his big ol shiny k/9.The org seems to see him as something of a salve for taxed hurlers as he’s made appearances for Modesto, Arkansas, and Tacoma this year. Strangely, the level where he’d both be somewhat age-appropriate and likely suited for (Everett) has eluded the frequent flier. Time for him to pick on large sons his own age (24) at the facility known as Everett….
Despite being a wiwl’ guuuyy, Kuhn brings an enthusiastic attitude on the mount and that classic fruit-forward fastball-slider reliever profile, with the ability to crank it up to the high 90s. Much like the two pitchers mentioned earlier and nay, a good chunk of the minors Kuhn is missing bats (11.4 strikeouts per 9 over 48 minor league innings) and missing the zone (5.3 walks per 9). Now 23 with a 3.52 ERA (and an impressive brief appearance in Tacoma), Kuhn has cracked Modesto enough to be comfortable yet stretched in Everett as he trains that dragon…
In regards to one Noelvi Marte, I’m gonna put the pith-ing wedge back in the ol’ golf bag here for a second…
Noelvi Marte, when called up, barring anything weird happening in Greater Baseball, will be the youngest player at Advanced-A ball and will be the 2nd consecutive (non-pandemic) season the Mariners Advanced-A team will have had a teenaged (VIBEKING/Culvers Crusher) hitter receiving regular at-bats.
Though this is by no means a reason to go In The Tank or commit to full prospect fetishization, this is Pretty Dang Cool and implies good things for the near-ish future of your Seattle Mariners…
Entering the year, Marte was seen as a ballyhooed international signing with an awe-inspiring pre-covid age-17 season in rookie league. Naturally, with the volatility of the bucket of people we like to call “teenagers”, there was some trepidation of just what exactly “Noelvi Marte” actually meant. Thus far, he’s answered any and all questions about his feel to hit (.290 batting average), plan at the plate (drawing walks nearly 12% of the time, and though it’s the weakest part of his current profile, keeping strikeouts around 20% isn’t unforgivable), and is hitting for even more power than he did in rookie ball (.219 isolated power, folks that is gooooood). To put it simply, Marte is the best hitter in Modesto and deserves the chance to see if the ambitious goal of making the bigs before he’s legally allowed to drink in these United States is in the cards…
FROG 2 HOG
C CARTER BINS (DUDECON 3) (He’s up!)
TL;DR ‘mup the whole dang roster
FrogWar, FrogWar never changes. The drumbeat continues out of SnoCo as the AquaSox continues as Long Tongue Of Da Frog has come for 24 opponents, and they’ve only taken 10 L’s since June 1st. Comically overpowered group.
We’ll start off with the consensus top youngster of this massive block of promos, one Emerson Christian Hancock. This Hairy Dawg out of Athens is a central-casting (6’4, 213) starting pitcher who, by folks who watch a lot more baseball than I, is seen as a near surefire starting pitcher with four above-average offerings and + command. Thus far, the results have gotten more promising as they’ve rolled in with our dude EC, getting his pitch count into the 90s, and his lonelywalks are creeping closer towards the ever desirable “striking out a batter per inning.” The control bugaboo of hurling youngsters is present, but it’s in the “bad but palatable” 3.8 walks per nine bucket. Hancock has also shown a propensity for grounder-generation (58% batted balls at the time of writing) and dinger-diffusion (has yet to give up a plakata in affiliated baseball). It’s time to see if Hancock could be someone who helps the Mariners in the 2nd half of 2022…
DaDollOne was selected in the 5th and final round of the dumbest possible cost-cutting measure. I mean, holy cow, the rich, they’re puddinheads just like us. Enough of the macro; in the micro, Taylor Dollard could be what they call in the industry “a mover.” The 22-year-old made haste of Modesto and more than earned his June promotion up the coast to Everett. Since then, the metaphorical bag o’ doughnuts has been mixed, but there is a gleaming .98 BB/9 maple bar in there. Possessing 4 usable pitches and showing signs of the desirable duo of cojones & control, Dollard is one to watch…
Readers of a certain age who have hazy memories of a pre-internet epoch got something of a throwback prospect hype with George Kirby. At best, you got an “Around The Minors” update in the South County Journal, checked out the Prospect Almanac from like 2 years ago from the library every once in a while, and outside of that, the minors were “Here Be Dragons.” Without actual stats to go off in 2020, the M’s 2019 first-round pick generated some fantastical urban legends of 200mph heat, impeccable command, and an uncle who not just worked there but ran the North American Controller Design Division at Nintendo. The fog of war was thiccn’d further as Kirby mysteriously disappeared from the middle of May to the beginning of June. Since then (outside of a start in Vancouver), the Kribster has been vacuumin’ em’ up and consistently working up to 90 pitches. Not gonna bore you with details, but the holy trinity of limiting walks, keeping the ball in the yard, and keeping the said ball on the ground is there for Kirby this year, and there’s an argument to be made that he could skip Arkansas and start auditioning for a September callup in Tacoma…
After proving a starting assignment in Tacoma was ill-fitting, the org decided to send Onyshko northbound and down, and he’s been a late-inning stud for the Aqua Sox. The Pierce County sojourn wasn’t all bad, as the former Stetson Cowboy (new idea for a Moneyball, just draft pitchers from Stetson…) struck out more than two batters per inning has gotten his BB/9 into the 3’s in Everett. The Solomonesque solution here is to send the spin rate curio southeast bound and up to cap the summer to see if there’s a 2021 40 slot for him…
If Carter Bins keeps hitting like he is currently, you’ll be seeing him at the tail end of top 100 prospect lists next year. Starting with the negative, the only place where Bins has taken a step back is with the glove. Evaluating minor league catcher defense (especially for someone who granted isn’t watching every pitch) is a toughie, and Bins has allowed 11 passed balls in 307 innings while only throwing out 16% of baserunners (he’s allowed fifty-nine steals as of this writing, yeeeeshhh). The staff for the Frogs hasn’t taken a hit by having Bins as their primary receiver as they’re at or near the top of the league in meaningful pitching categories and Bins’s (Bins sis, Binsi?) framing has undoubtedly contributed a bit to the ASox sitting 2nd in the league in BB/9 at the time of writing. Batting-wise, just gonna sum it up and say good stuff up, bad things if not down, palatable, watch this donger. Should Bins thwart something of this strange glove-first to bat first polarity shift while remaining pretty doggone special with the stick, you could expect Bins to think about the bigs in late 2022 early 2023.
The lazy man’s comp for Austin Shenton would be current Mariner Tyrierre Franks, and folks, this is a lazy man’s article, so we go no further. As it stands right now, Austin Shenton is one of the top 20 hitters in high A as a 23-year-old, giving hope for a low-end regular, even if our former Bellevue College Bulldog hits a few branches going down the defensive Ugly Tree. As it stands now, the carrying tools for Shenton are power and patience as a nearly 15% walk rate and .245 Isolated Power ranking (.250 would be one of the best in the league). He’s displayed some feel for hitting, and the hope is he doesn’t devolve into a three-true-outcomes type as he starts playing against some older kids. Hate to give links to The PR Machine, but this account gives Shenton ++ makeup grades for being someone who’s jib I would like the cut of. Austin, if you’re reading, please come on the podcast and tell me how to make salmon at a replacement level…
What I like about wRC+ is the statistic allows us to quantify the performance of differing hitting archetypes into one easily consumable number, illustrated in the comparison between the aforementioned Shenton (power&patience wRC+ 157) and Patrick Frick (far less power but walks and feel for contact wRC+ 158). Frick, 24, was your typical punch-n-Judy collegiate middle infielder who was on track to becoming a classic Outbound Sales Guy With Cool Stories in a few years until he showed up this year and started driving the ball with far more authority than he ever has. Frick is currently running an ISO of .163 while by in large maintaining his judicious approach at the plate (strikeouts getting a little worrisome at over 20% but walking at slightly over a 16% clip shows Frick gets it). Players like this will always be lower on prospect lists than folks that they’ll end up outperforming in time due to ceiling concerns, but Frick could very well be an up and down infielder with the potential to be the short half of a platoon. Time to get him the heck up to AA to see if this is just a product of picking on the young’ns…
TL;DR Get those fringies rollin’ part two, fringy boogaloo
Hey hey, who doesn’t like a hippie cowboy! Penn Murfee, a pitcher by way of not being much of a hitter, has been a small pleasant surprise for the Mariners since entering affiliated ball a 33rd round draft choice in 2018. Though not blessed with a blaring fastball, Murfee relies on a biggie of a bender and newfound ability to hold velocity deep into outings. Something of an ol’ reliable for starters like Murfee with 2ish pitches and issues with both control & command (18.4% HR/FB, walking over 3 batters per 9) problems is a shift to the bullpen, but with most thing PennyMurf, they are not as they seem. Murfee originally started out as a low-A reliever, and the results could be best described as a “wet thud.” Moved to the rotation in 2019, Murfee started missing bats at an astonishing rate and has held steady around 10.6 K’s/9 since. As mentioned beforehand, Murfee’s age (27) is quite a bit older than his experience with pitching, but with the influx of AquaSox and a pending offseason 40-man decision coming, it’s time to see if it’s John Wayne or Real Pain up in Tacoma for DaWranglor….
Was e-chatting over on Twitter in the recent past ago with ArdentDeckieAndFunFollow @MelnykMustGo, and though it’s one of the most “They Don’t Know Ass Problems” to have, there’s a pattern with the Mariners of stalling, for no reason known to the outside world (I do admit there are things the org knows about makeup, mechanics and just general vibes that we don’t as the public) and an example of this for 2021 is one Tyler Herb. Herb is 28 years old and carries 26 starts at AAA on his resume; strangely, the Mariners decided to plug Herb in at Arkansas after being signed from indy ball earlier this year. Herb’s is succeeding at AA much as he has in previous years by generating ground balls (50%+) and showing an excellent feel for the strike zone (walks hovering around 1 per 9). From what I’ve read, Herb has pretty JAG’y stuff (low 90s fastball, curve & change), and it shows in middling ability to miss bats (7k’s per 9) and a troubling dinger habit (nearly 20% of flies leave the yard). That felt mean to say for someone who, again, has an ERA of 2.04. With Hancock & Kirby earning promotions and Williamson, Sweet, Requena, and Hill far more age-appropriate for AA, it’s time the Mariners realized that Herbs are safest in the cupboard, but that’s not what herbs are for…
I am not willing to call a shot here at this time, but Joshua Morgan has hit his way into “New Nola Just Dropped” watch. Signed as a minor league free agent (link is a massive flex for the player dev org as all three of these folks are at worst gonna be on 40s next year). Somewhat confusingly, Morgan was available as a minor league free agent this offseason. Though he lacked power through the minors and, if we’re frank, was getting the bat knocked out of his hands in AA, he displayed an interesting age-adjusted feel for contact and has uncommon defensive versatility. From reading about Morgan, defensively the “versatile” belongs with those dreaded quotes. He’s at an 18 CS% on his resume, and there have been questions about his ability to stick at shortstop since being drafted. This all being said, Morgan is somehow still just 25 and hitting for more power than he’s ever hit for before (gave us a slight hint as an Auckland Tuatara before the world shut down!), with no statistical signs that he’s selling out to get to it. He’s a fringy to watch, and hopefully, he can get up to Tacoma by the end of the year; he’s more than earned it…
“SS”-2B-3B Jordan Cowan (DUDECON 5)
RP Collin Kober (guy)
RP Nick Duron (guy)
This troika has met or exceeded their early-season gains and should be mup’d yesterday.
1 KALL KREW
RP VINNY NITTOLI (guy)
C BRIAN “Three Stacks” O’KEEFE (DUDECON 5)
“SS”-2B-3B-”LF” DONNIE “BALLGAME” WALTON (dudecon 4.75)
TL;DR With the call-uppance of Raleigh, the team has by in large shot its upper-level prospect wad for the year.
We’ll get a bit more into Nittoli later on in the big block of text, but he’s an appealing option as the I5-wayman…
Won’t bludgeon you with CalFacts (hits good, the scene from heat, switch-hitting catchers don’t grow on trees), but good on the team for finally getting him up. The 24-year-old, who I will say looks like he’s seen some things, should be happy to hear that he’s likely Catcher 1A in the triangular platoon the M’s will run out for the 2nd half. Looking forward to just how catcher of the present we’re looking at here…
Gonna put it out there, love to see Young Brians Gettin’ Money. One Young Brian is of the surname O’Keefe and was a minor league rule 5 pick for the 2020 season. As you can imagine in that sentence, our dude likely got to meet his new coworkers solely through the “magic” of video conferencing and, if we’re honest here, had a reasonable out if he wanted to do literally anything else. O’Keefe went to the woodshed and emerged from his pandy-chrysalis a similar but better hitter than he’d ever been before in his career. This is still something of a three-true outcomes approach (O’Keefe always displayed good patience, as seen by his 10%+ walk rates), and the strikeouts have climbed, but we’re seeing more power from him than he’s ever shown previously. Tapping the “evaluating minor league catcher defense is hard without framing data” sign, he’s throwing out a bad but palatable 25% of runners and has only conceded 2 passed balls. Taking off our number generator spectacles for a second, this seems to be a classic “20something figuring stuff out” tale (link for fantastic interview from vivaelbirdos) tale…
Have a feeling that ol’ Donnie Ballgame may need to keep the ORCA loaded as he’s in The Guy Place as a utilityman who’s possibly too good for Tacoma but has proven “aiite, I guess” in the show. This is still a lefty who’s posted some impressive minor league numbers and is someone who I think you should be comfortable with seeing big league at-bats…
TL;DR Mostly some eye of the beholder end of the 40 goofs but one puzzling gaffe. Some well-deserved kudos to be had.
Jerry b Goofin’
Breaking the glass early, let’s remember this column is a
Leyba of love.
Now that’s out of the way, a bit of a boner letting Leyba get claimed by the Orioles. Leyba, 25, boasts an awe-inspiring (but like a calm river, not grand canyon levels of awe) age-adjusted track record of success in the minor leagues, most notably posting a 301(excellent)/374(aiite)/436(pdarn good) slash line as a 20-year-old in AA way back in 2016. That being said, there are issues. Though there are some hopeful signs from the minors, he’s only managed a dang near unplayable .88 Isolated Power in the majors and hasn’t stolen a base since 2019. Defensively the internet consensus on Leyba’s ability to stick at shortstop is trending towards “can I guess” versus the more desirable “sure!” and he’s likely a 2b/3b/LF utility dude long term. To compliment things, Leyba is out of options (for the real fronds and regular baseball folks, an option is a team’s ability to send a player down to the minor leagues Purple Row has an enjoyable read regarding all things options).
This all being said, a switch hitter who has displayed a plus feel for contact, has a plan at the plate (gloss over the big league yikes numbers), and can competently play most of the infield has a place on your 40. No shot at a first division regular but absolutely a Guy In Limbo.
This is, in fact, an extremely fringe goof as giving up a somewhat youthful pile guy for a 4th outfielder who could only marginally improve the team’s moribund outfield defense (surprisingly, Locastro has been middling at best in the field) is maybe 10th percentile goof.
What this is, is an excuse to post one of my favorite videos on the web.
Did a little bit of pixel spillage regarding one Mike Ford earlier this year, and not much has changed. Ford again got eaten alive by big-league pitching, but quite concerningly was piranha’d at AAA for the first time in his career. He’s gotten off the schneid with Tampa and has again given hope to being a low-end starter at first. Not a super sexy profile, and 0 hope he ever becomes a first-division level dude but a quad A masher with minor league options is a helpful guy to have on the back half of your offensively challenged 40.
This one, this one hurts.
Viva El Birdo’s did a fantastic job giving a high-level overview of Nogowski if you’re thirsting for more info on a dude who willed his way back from Indy Ball all the way into the hearts of BuccoNation. Pre-Pandy, Nogowski was a 26-year-old who was walking more than he struck out in AAA, but alas, here we are in 2021, and he’s a 28-year-old who’s caught between the minors and majors. Of everyone on this month’s list, Nogowski has the most explicit hypothetical role with the current club as there was a role as the short-side of a platoon with both Jake Bauers at first or Shed Long in left. Alas, that last sentence gave this author a spike of The Doubt flowing through his bloodstream, but incremental upgrades are still upgrades as the team moves into something of a pennant race.
SOME NOTABLE MOVES FROM OTHER PEOPLE’S PILE
Why he’s available: Walked more (11) batters than he’s struck out (7) in brief big-league trials, no enormous velocity or gif-grade secondaries, being DFA’d by the Pirates and Orioles is never a good sign of good things to come.
Why he’s neat: Left-Handed former starter who could be a once-through-the-order long reliever, strikeouts shot up to over 10 per 9 as a 25-year-old starter in AA, didn’t get cut to ribbons in AAA as a starter, and showed an ability to suppress homers in the minors.
Why he’s available: Unusable at this time because of control and command issues, 31 years of age.
Why he’s neat: Big velocity and three viable pitches, success in 2018 in a 30 inning big-league trial, may have been unlucky during 18 innings of big show ball in 2020, limited homers until he hit the high minors, though older newish to pitching as he didn’t convert until age 22.
Why he’s available: Mollywhopped in his big league debut this year, over 1 in 5 fly balls hit off de Geus left the yard this year, is nibbling (walks near 4), carried a Rule5 designation, and though he no longer needs to be on the major league roster he’s a 23year old reliever who is taking up a 40 slot with likely some lasting effects of the whoppin’.
Why he’s neat: Gopheritis doesn’t match up to track record in the minors as de Geus didn’t give up a single dinger across 60 innings in 2019. Struck out 10 per 9 as a 21-year-old across 2 levels of A-ball in 2019 and was dispatching a batter per in this disaster year. Even while bombing out of Texas was generating a ton of grounders. A recent former starter who can give 2-3 innings. Relievers are on more of an Effective-Palatable-Broken plane vs. a standard age curve, but de Geus is just 23 and has room to grow.
Why he’s available: ERA crept up to near 9, and in 3 of Anderson’s 4 2021 outings, he allowed 4 runs. No big velo, fruit-forward breakers, or parachute change to dream on. Trending towards the “oops, all gophers” graveyard of 13+% HR/FB. Already 26, can be described as a tweener with neither enough command to start or juice to join the fire department.
Why he’s neat: While it’s a dubious claim to fame, Anderson has managed to keep his FIP under 5 across 110 major league innings. Velocity went up 2 ticks in 2020 as he was moved to the bullpen and has shown the ability to sit at 95, which, even in this age of velo, is no small feat. Though he didn’t impress, a FIP under 5 as a 24-year-old in a starting rotation piques interest. A collegiate reliever with 4 pitches who both may be a late bloomer because of a yo-yo’d role or a viable long reliever.
Jerry b Gaffin’
Let’s introduce some of the less-sicko readership to Joseph Lionel Gerberto, otherwise known as “Joey Gerber.” Joey seems to be a nice enough 20something, and I would even say from some perusal of posting, a ++ level coolhang.
From what we can see on the outside world, Giuseppe can be described as a resident of “The Guy Place,” part of a cluster of other 20 and 30 somethings who aren’t ever going to be starting pitchers and though they’ve made it to the door of a big-league bullpen, they’re a ways from kicking it in. I’d consider Gerber, Keynan Middelton, Wyatt Mills, and Yohan Ramirez to be the current occupants of this liminal guyspot at this time.
There is a difference with Joey, however.
Provided there isn’t some mysterious stuff going on that we the public don’t know about, we can assume Giovanni is injured and can’t pitch. Typically, on teams with normal brains, the situation is rectified by placing said injured player on the 60-day injured list and freeing up a spot on the roster to use as the team sees fit. The cost of doing so is losing an option year and guaranteeing a major league minimum salary (let’s call it 580k, a nice little chunk of change, but we’re dealing with billionaires here).
Not good enough for your Seattle Mariners!
For reasons that we can likely surmise are entirely financial, the team has kept Gerber in limbo. You can even go to the team site, look at the 40-man roster, and see our gangly righty there listed as if he was healthy. Ironically if you can avert your eyes from the Logan Gilbert Studliness, you see Ken “hundred miles” Giles, a guy the team signed in the offseason for Real Big-Boy Bucks with no intention of playing in 2021, on the 60-day disabled list.
From what I can tell, the Mariners are the only team willing to sacrifice a roster spot (before the Sam Delaplane nonsense was rectified by finding a sane place for him to rehab, they offered two to the American currency deities!) for these purposes. As seen earlier, folks in The Guy Place hit waivers almost weekly, and there is going to be another Guy Train leaving the station soon. If the team loses Gerber, bummer but no considerable dent. If they move him to the 60 day IL, they free up a spot for someone who could be playing a meaningful role at nominal cost.
The choice to not make a choice in regards to this situation is actively hamstringing the team’s ability to win ballgames.
Jerry b Good
Hey hey, look at jokin’ Jerry, goofin’ n gaffin’ to good’n. The Mariners decided Mathisen was their particular flavor of QuadA and went out and made sure Mathisen got on the 40. While Mathisen has played all over the corners, the Mariners looks to be playing him exclusively at third in Tacoma.
Tip of the cap here to the org and a bigger one-to-one Vincenzio Giuseppi Nittoliano. But in all seriousness, it’s neat as heck to read about Nittoli’s journey from the hazy rounds of the draft (which no longer exist!), through early minors struggles, persevering through the indyball circuit, to success in the minors to having a season wiped out by a pandemic to now collecting a big-league check is cool as all get out. Putting on a pure number generator hat, Nittoli’s ability to go once through the order and generate whiffs and limit free passes in Tacoma has been highly encouraging (please, avoid looking directly into the HR/FB% or the appearance in Seattle though, it’s for the best). It’s not perfect, but our lil’ Pisan has shown that there’s a chance he can stand the heat in the backend of a big-league bullpen.
Some numbskull on the internet wrote this absolutely putrid paragraph last month.
“whenever you get a chance to roster Jack Mayfield and Hector Santiago you just gotta do it…“
If someone sees this DWEEB, make his day A LIVING HECK.
Anywho, Santiago is absolutely the right man for the moment here in this, the dumbest of all possible worlds. An early career FIPuncher (and a cautionary tale for one Justin Dunn 😦 ), Santiago began to start getting knocked the heck around in 2016 and slowly descended from being a back-of-the-rotation dude to “I thought this guy was retired” by 2020. As with most positive baseball stories and what you did to get to this story, something clicked. Santiago hasn’t dramatically altered his pitch mix (He’s a low 90s fastball, low 80’s changeup with what we would call a slider mixed in for funsies) or gained velocity; he’s just finding the zone better than he has since two thousand and fuh-hif-teen. Yowza. Good on ya, Héctor, and we for one, are rooting for your continued ascent to never having to purchase a meal or beverage in Seattle ever again. HR will deal with that joker…
Emerging Catcher Pile of FLAMES
Heading into 2021, the situation behind the plate for the Mariners could be kindly described as “whelming, barely.” At the big league level, one could say the team has lived up to expectations; as per Fangraphs, the team trots out the 19th ranked catching group.
Where there has been a (and I don’t say this lightly) shocking improvement has been at the minor league level as the team has essentially transformed a moribund group of forgettable Joe’s into one where you actually may be in an actual logjam.
Of players 27 and under, here’s where the Mariner catchers stand at their respective levels in respect to wRC+ (weighted runs created, not a perfect metric but Pretty Darn good for a high-level overview of production with the bat. Click the link for more details)
AAA: 5th (Big Dumper), 13th (José Godoy)
AA: 7th (“Galaxy” Brian O’Keefe), 8th (Josh Morgan)
A+: 2nd (Carter Bins)
Heck, even Matt Scheffler down in Modesto is holing up, waiting 60 seconds, and putting some boom in it down in Modesto. Absolutely fantastic job by the org for not only identifying the three minor league free agent/Rule5 catchateers in Godoy-O’Keefe and Morgan but continuing to develop Raliegh and Bins over the pandemic. Though the glove matters much, much more than the bat for those that don the ignorance suit, it’s incredible that the M’s now have 6 dudes who have a shot of at least meeting the bar with the stick behind the plate and one who may be larger than he appears in the mirror.
As this infernal machine was started as something of a tsktsk to the baseball team for not fielding their optimal lineup, that is no longer the case. Outside of the “in the lineup until they don’t want to be anymore” group of JP, France, Mitch, The Witch Known as Jake Fraley, and les trois amis attrapeurs, the team is making due with the flawed but borderline playable group of Shed/Bauers/Moore and Walton. Heck, the team even DFA’d Will Vest and is running with what I would say is the optimal pitching staff. Unless some folks in the Minors (VIBING increases) are playing the baseball off the baseball, this is who ya brought to the dance.
TL;DR Some folks that you theoretically can cash in future value 40 Mariner Guys or 40 man crunchies into present value.
1-2 starting pitchers
The saddest development of 2021 is the departure of one Justus Sheffield from the core group of players you could see leading this group to sustained success. With unexpected contention upon us, it’s best for both the player and the org if Sheffield spends the foreseeable future in Tacoma. Justin Dunn has been promising, but FIP states he’s getting lucky, and he’s dealing with the ever ominous “shoulder soreness”. The team needs to avoid the bad in 2021 as the (famous last words) prospect cavalry is on the way for 2022-2023.
Juan Then & Goodies (Juan Then, we love him, he’s a hero, we hope for his success. He also is on the 40 and is two years away from being two years away, the exact kinda dude you look to move as you move to contention): Jon Gray, Kwang-Hyun Kim
Thrifty (ptbnl group of prospects): Adam Wainwright
Galaxy Brain (contract underwater, would need cash coming back but helpful dude as of now): Madison Bumgarner
Whether it be Statcast, FanGraphs, or the eye test, the easiest place to get better is catching flies. Won’t belabor the point but going without a true centerfielder for the entire year has likely cost the team some games, and with young pitching on the way, it’s time to get serious about sending some flying things to the afterlife…
Trendy: Michael A Taylor
Should be here tomorrow: Jarrod Dyson
1-2 Professional Hitters (Lefty MASHOR preferred)
As of now, the team is cycling through Ty France (emerging as a core player, but shouldn’t be expected to be a 120 wRC+ guy you should have as a contender) and Jake Bauers (I wish the team could option him to AAA but not the case, exciting player but should be nowhere near a contender) at 1st. The team should be commended for getting themselves off the mat and back to below average in most offensive categories. Right now, the lineup is weaker against lefties, ranking 26th in wRC+ as a team against southpaws.
The 1-2 relievers contenders always need
Though the bullpen indeed has been the floaty wings of the team and can be described as a strength, shortening games is a top priority of all contending teams as there is no such thing as a low-leverage inning anymore.
Then & Goodies: Michael Fulmer