The Plot Thickens
Lose a SS, gain a …. Gomez? Jones? Harper? or Reed...


Bob Dutton with the Jack Z quotes:


Zduriencik doesn’t hold to the game’s long-held protocol that a club must play 40 or 50 games in order to make any legitimate overall assessment.

“I just think it’s an ongoing evaluation,” he said. “I’ll look at 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60 games. It’s always ongoing to figure out exactly where you’re at, and what your club is doing.”

“We made a couple of moves the other day,” Zduriencik said, “because we thought they were the right thing to do at the time. And we’ll continue to look at it.”

Okay, if it's in a vacuum?, the Z-o-Vision would translate that as "you can lose your job tomorrow if I lose confidence in you."

The Mainframe has absolutely no problem-o with this.  Like Earl Weaver said, "You promise a rookie a job, and if he goes 3-for-53 you are out of a job."  Earl was not known for being out of a job; in fact he was never fired from anything at any level.

But the statement wasn't in a vacuum.  He adds,


And, yes, Zduriencik has concerns after watching a club he still views as having postseason-level talent lurch along at 11-17 while settling into last place in the American League West Division.

What’s gone wrong?

“I even said in the wintertime,” Zduriencik recalled, “that as high as the expectations were, it’s really all about players producing. So no matter what your history is, you have to come out and live up to your potential.”


Ah!  So we're talking about guys with POTENTIAL.  That would seem to rule out Robinson Cano as being on the Watch List.

More seriously, it also rules out Seth Smith.  And probably Weeks and Ruggiano and Bloomquist.  Mike Zunino is a defensive player.  We're talking about the young bats we were excited about, then.  Those being:

  • Dustin Ackley
  • Brad Miller / Chris Taylor
  • Logan Morrison
  • If pitchers:  K-Pax, Taijuan, Medina, Smith (Leone)


So one move was already made:  Brad Miller was ... wait for it ... told he won't be playing shortstop any more.  Say WHAT?  He ticks off the complaints on his fingers:

  • Miller's OPS+ was 91 (which is just fine after a single month)
  • His strike zone looked fine (and his out-of-zone swing % was down a bit)
  • Defensive metrics have him as a plus shortstop (+2 plays Dewan; +6 runs UZR; average Dr. D)
  • Chris Taylor is looking at a career full of 2.0 WAR seasons (it ain't like he's Addison Russell)
  • They just now reiterated that March was a great competition.  Why isn't it now?
  • Miller is staying in the big leagues, in dry dock, with a frantic scramble to get his OF ready


Why would he and Taylor not continue to compete?  But youse mooks help me out here.  What possible baseball rationale could there be here?  We're sure there's something.  But it is entirely beyond our perception.  

Naturally, the M's internal defensive metrics are well beyond Dr. D's perception.  But I've been watching the games, and .... well, how many gray-area plays have you seen Miller fail to make?  I count maybe three (actually, Inside Edge counts two:  compare Miller's % to his number of opps in each difficulty category).  And he's made plays that compensated for those, you know.

... the upside here is that SSI thinks Miller can become a Gold Glove outfielder very quickly.  And the M's have stated that they realize such a defensive shift can help a player's bat.  Maybe we get Carlos Gomez, CF sooner rather than later.


We have been told that other MLB teams offered the Mariners stunning packages for their young talent.  Starting with Brad Miller.  (Ian Desmond has an OPS+ of 84, by the way.)

Dustin Ackley, as a second baseman, would still be a mouthwatering concept for any mid-market team not happy with its 2B.


Anyway, Zduriencik's remarks were made after Miller was powerflushed.  So we are talking about Dustin Ackley?  And Taijuan.

Elias in there for Taijuan:  no big deal.  Brad Miller in there for Dustin Ackley

9-to-make-5 baby,

Dr D





The Miller thing didn't smack right I will give you that. He looks like a bat first decent glove SS.  Assuming he's just a 95 OPS guy (a conservative and not wild assumption) then he's kind of a Jeter late in his career.  Combine Jeter's '08 '10 and '11 and you get that kind of bat....and Miller is better defensively. What is there to hate?  But when Taylor came up he was going to be the guy.  And you know what?  He'll be pretty good too.  Less pop than Miller but he will be on base more....and he can pick it better.
Miller got steamrolled a bit. But I will bet you anything he's in CF or LF tonight.  
Z is boxed in a bit.  He doen't really have anyplace to go except to release Weeks Bloomquist or Ruggiano or to swap out Ackley.  Ackley likely isn't bringing you much right now btw.  You may as well just keep him bench him play him sparingly and hope his bat get hot again (as it did for two months last year) then play him.  Man Morrison will go cold again anyway.  That is in his nature too.
So when Jackson gets healthy (you could trade him too...I suppose) you are down to Weeks Bloomie and Ruggiano.   Somebody gets dumped.  And then you may have Montero-Kivlehan-Romero-or (yes) Pizzano saying "Hey Jack don't forget about me!"   That means another roster dump....unless a convenient DL move occurs.
Is there a team that has a tough RP available and needs a CF?  I would swap out Jackson in a hurry if that situation arose.....but that's a long shot.
If we're going to turn this around and this series vs. the Orcs would be just the right time to do it we're doing it with guys on hand or down on the farm.  
Jack's right about guys playing up to potential.  It's time for the guys down there on the field to get it done. 
This team needs a spark as struggling teams often do.  Maybe it is Miller in the OF.  How about Brad in CF and Kivlehan in LF?  Or Guti in LF?  Or Romero in LF?  Or Montero in LF?  Wait.....well never mind that one!  Or yes...yes Pizzano in LF?  New blood new energy a new vibe....sometimes all that works.
Go team.


I think that moving Miller to the OF mid-season is as much about replacing Jackson at CF as it is about Taylor replacing Miller at SS. From this move it appears to me that the M's Brass are giving up on the idea of Jackson recovering his power stroke this year. I think it is extremely unlikely that they re-sign Jackson for next year unless at a bargain rate as a reserve. Effectively in 2015 they have substituted Taylor's bat for Jackson's bat. I believe that the CF position in 2016 is now Miller's to lose. My thoughts.


Knowing that we should absolutely trade our minor league hitters for vets who can swing lumber.  Because the problem with the Mariners is not a talent one.  We had one of the best bullpens in the majors last year and have plenty of pieces to mix and match to get it right this year.  We have a HOF 2B an All-Star 3B and RF/DH A HOF Ace two of the dozen best young starters in the league (in theory if certainly not in 2015 practice) and a couple of other good starters.  The starters should iron it out.  They have the talent and even if one of em DOES need to go back to the minors to get straightened out we should be able to make that happen.
What we don't have is young hitters maximizing their talent. Miller? Regressing and changing positions apparently (cuz it worked so well for Ackley).  Ackley? Floundering at the plate still. LoMo? Trading in bats looking for Mojo.  Zunino? Pinata-swinging.
Hard to blame Howard Johnson when it's been that way since time immemorial for the Ms.  If you weren't a 1-1 pick we had trouble home-growin' ya.  Edgar's the exception - and Gar grew himself with years and years of patient study.  He wasn't exactly a raw athlete needing to be tutored.
That said we're SUPPOSED to have good young hitters on this team AND in the minors.  Most all of them are scuffling. It's pretty darn hard to build from within if you can't turn the wet clay at your disposal into sturdy bricks.  
The clock is ticking on the season fellas - clean it up.


Miller to CF moves him ahead of Jones and with good reason.  James is an amazing base-runner and raw athlete but he hasn't been able to do much at the upper levels as far as OBP and power.  He's a singles hitter - which is okay for a leadoff man.  Ichiro was a singles hitter.  
But there isn't another CFer in the Ms system worth much at this point.  Austin Cousino is the closest thing and he's still in short-season ball with worlds to cross before he's even a thought at the big-league level. Everyone else is a prayer or a stopgap.  Moving Miller to CF is fine with me - lets us keep Brad and Chris both takes advantage of Brad's arm and gives us an emergency SS backup already on the roster without having to carry one.
Doesn't solve the problem of the kids and their Terrible No-Good Very-Bad plate appearances though. I don't see how it takes more pressure off Brad at the plate to make him learn to play CF at the big-league level while scuffling at the plate.  Eventually maybe but not right now.
MAN do we need a few guys to break out and fast. 


Couldn't agree more with the fault analysis.
What we should do about it? Anyone's guess is as good as mine and your is a much more educated guess. It seems to me that if we extended the analysis to the M's history of trades we wouldn't fare much better than in the analysis of their player development. So I'm not sure what trades will do for us.
Like player development they sound good in theory until you run up against the M's history of poor execution whether it be to bad luck bad judgment whatever. This franchise seemingly just doesn't have "it" whatever "it" is to build and sustain a successful franchise.
They've tried it all. Change managers. Change GM's. Change player acquisition strategy. Change minor league staff MLB coaching staff. Throw money at it. Tighten money. Get established vets. Go with rookies. They even (gasp!) replaced Chuck Armstrong who in my opinion was a huge part of the problem. What HAVEN'T they tried?!
There's one thing they haven't tried since Lincoln came on board but I'm not even sure if replacing Lincoln will have any real impact. Perhaps.
I suppose the one thing they tried that really worked was to get Lou Piniella and Pat Gillick two people with track records of proven success. Lincoln/Armstrong turned issues of budget and control into an atmosphere where those two proven baseball men simply left in frustration. So perhaps Lincoln being replaced ALONG with the import of a master organizational figure with a proven track record of baseball success might do the trick.
I suppose all this is a bit premature since it's too early to write off this season but if the M's don't right the ship then where do we navigate from here?


The annual 'hole the club digs for itself early' thang is getting old. Is the club doing something wrong in ST that leaves a large % of the young guys not ready to start the season?


If things don't change VERY soon EVERYTHING needs to be reviewed. Something probably multiple things are amiss. This is more than just an extended run of bad luck. The "bad luck" line just gets old and tired year after year. Reasons for optimism or should I say reasons to eschew pessimism can be trotted out and made quite validly so in most cases. None of them are new. And that's the problem. They're not new precisely because they have been NEEDED year after year after year. Man we even get what we consider an optimal offseason of moves and we STILL can't find our butt with both hands.
This is a long way around to agreeing with you Griz that we need to review ST and anything else we can possibly imagine.

GLS's picture

It's been my observation with hitters that the Mariners organization appears to not emphasize plate discipline as much as they should or could. Now that's an easy thing for me to say sitting here behind my keyboard and to be fair I've not conducted an in-depth analysis of all 30 ML organizations. But what I can say is that over the years it's been an exceedingly rare occurrence to see prospects at any level with solid K/BB ratios. This is an observation only. I've never heard or read much of anything about what the Mariners try to teach to their young players vs. what other teams do. But I do remember reading a number of years ago that the A's under Billy Beane emphasize plate discipline at all levels and it seems to me that this is reflected at the ML level as well.
Last year in rookie ball Alex Jackson posted a 24/9 K/BB ratio. This was in 23 games over 82 ABs in a league where half the pitchers can't find the strikezone. This year at Clinton he's posted a 29/5 ratio over 24 games and 93 ABs. I understand he's a young guy but this is supposedly the best prep hitting prospect from last year's draft. What exactly are the Mariners teaching down there? Take a look at DJ Peterson's numbers. You'll find they're very similar. Not horrible but at the minor league level you would expect guys to know the strikezone. Stefen Romero another supposedly very gifted "pure hitter". Oh but guess what? He swings at everything. Others: Gabby Guerrero Tank O'Neil Tyler Marlette.
Of course Ackley had great K/BB numbers in the minors and that hasn't exactly worked out.


The thing I've never been able to figure out about the M's is their coaching philosophy.
They definitely have one but it's not really clear what it is.
And regardless of which side of the ball it is they come out really all over the place.
But I am now starting to wonder whether it's over-coaching instead of under-coaching.


I remember hearing that under Bavasi the minor league coaches wanted to teach the players to be aggressive in the lower levels and then pitch recognition at the upper levels... which obviously did not work.
I do not know if the Mariners have a CONSISTENT batting approach through EVERY level yet.

GLS's picture

We just don't have the info to make a judgment one way or the other. It doesn't help that none of our marvelous beat writers in this town seem at all interested in taking a deeper look at the team and the larger organization. I guess Divish has his dream job. He gets to go to the games and hang out with the players. Yay for him.


I think we've got a Trifecta of player comments going on here.   I think Marte is impressing the brass as a guy who could be a MLB SS.  If "m Z right now I'm looking for trade opportunities for Jackson.  Detroit doesn't need him back....but somebody might like a CF if we eat the $.  Toronto is weak in CF and a contender.  Minnesota definately could use a CF.  Get a bullpen arm back like Minn's Casey Fien...and be happy.  Then just plug Ackley-Rugi-Miller in at CF and take what you get.  Our CF pool isn't terribly shallow (well losing Jackson isn't that much of a loss)...get an arm.  


Also although he's more comfortable right now as a corner OF Guti is hitting and playing well at Tacoma. Having him up if Jackson goes would help Miller develop by giving a LF/RF with exceptional range.

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.