Sharp Elbows
I-5 traffic jam getting more and more honk-able


The TNT does its usual (thematic, coherent) "article" on the roster battles impending.


#5 SP

Reducing the fraction 4/14, as it were, to 2/7 ...  we're told that Lloyd McClendon considers J.A. Happ to be a given, although he's probably the M's seventh-best starter.  This is undoubtedly affected by politics.  It might also be affected by Happ's 69:18 control ratio in the second half last year.

Since K-Pax is obviously a given too, that leaves Roenis Elias -vs- Taijuan -vs- Danny Hultzen, who fly under the radar until he casually twirls 22 scoreless innings in March.

Normally, MLB "code" would not allow for Elias to lose his job in spring training, not after making ~30 starts in the Mariners' renaissance 2014.  But such is the talent of Walker and Hultzen.

The takeaway:  sometimes 7 starters = 10 starters.  Your #8 starter doesn't mean much on this squad, Pokey.

And we'll gingerly predict that both Taijuan and Hultzen start in Tacoma.  $1 hot dogs are okay by me, especially in discount packages of 4 hot dogs for $4.



James Jones is the incumbent platoon guy in RF, we hears, since the M's would prefer that Brad Miller win the SS job.  (There is a hidden justification here.  It would be odd, maybe unprecedented, for Miller to quasi-switch to the OF and then ever resume 155-game duties at short later in his career.  Remember what G-Money warned us about Brandon Maurer?)

Which is cool in its way:  if Miller is going to hit enough to play RF, well, imagine that .465 slugging average at shortstop next year.  An Ian Desmond trade, but without the Bavasi noise from the peanut gallery.

The takeway:  right field is more Barney than we even thought it was.  And Nelson Cruz is going to be greatly annoyed if they're playing Barney in right, while he stares out at it for three hours a night.

Personally would prefer that Cruz play 80 games in right, as he did last year, with Jesus Montero on the bench.  If the alternative is James Jones.


#7-8 Bullpen

Carson Smith -- whose career ERA is 0.00, much like James Paxton's -- is liable to lose his job to the MLB conceit of platoon matchups out of the bullpen.  (The platoon advantage is .040 of AVG, far less than the difference between a meatball pitcher and a Carson Smith.)

The takeaway:  comfort zones are both understandable and contemptible.  Understandable, considering the way MLB beat reporters treat you after a blown save.  (If a lefty bat hits a game-winning double off your 1-batter lefty, the reporters don't say anything.)  And contemptible, in terms of the utter anti-Earl cakeout that such cover-your-backside moves represent.


1B Backup

Mystifyingly, Nelson Cruz can't do this although Jesus Montero can.  :: shrug ::  Well, catchers aren't nervous around 90-mph throws on one hop.

Brad Miller could do it, of course, but here we are again that the M's would like him to play SS.

Willie Bloomquist could do it, but then again, so could Tom Wilhelmsen.  That ain't the direction we're goin' with this thing.

Dustin Ackley could do it, and has done it, but we're trying to shore up the outfield already.  Still, Darin Erstad used to be a fave of mine.

Logan Morrison can't back up himself because (1) DL time due to his tight-strung body, (2) platoon worries again, and (3) he ain't a "given."

The takeaway:  Dutton sees D.J. Peterson as closer than we gave D.J. credit for.  That would be massively info-taining.



So the I-5 traffic jam has arrived, and back-pressure traffic flow is even heavier on the Doppler radar.

But!  With the elbows getting sharp in the phone booth, none of these homies are reliable enough to split time with Ruggiano in RF.  

Me personally, since Nelson Cruz is now here, I'm fine with 9-to-make-5.  Jack Zduriencik, and Dr. D, are much less urgent about a platoon bat than anybody else is.  But we tried that tack with youse guys already. :- )  Am still trying to shovel myself out of the crumpled Dixie cups.

Dutton sez Seth Smith.  So chill.


Dr D







I CAN NOT believe that the M's are settled in with Jones in RF.  It isn't possible, really.  "As structured," it might appear that he has the role, but that assumes Miller doesn't play RF or a zillion other things that may happen.  Jones will start in CF in Tacoma, watching Kivlehan get an occassional CF start.  Exchanging Saunders for Jones, with no real pedigree, is not the sign of a FO that has a real smart plan.
And I think the Happ language, "He's a #3 or #4," is purely motivational.  Taijuan Walker being the target, of course.  "OK kid, we've brought in a guy who can (kinda) pitch.  The job ain't yours.  Get it?    You have to earn it.  Throw strikes early and throw out pitches late and the job is yours.  If not.....enjoy foggy Tacoma!"  
Happ just had a season with a WHIP of 1.335, his best since '09.  Elias had 1.314 in his rookie season, still learning to throw.  Walker has "chugged along" at 1.208 in his MLB efforts.  Happ is insurance.  Better insurance than E-Ram, in fact, but he isn't penciled in.
The M's desperately want Miller to have a spot.  It would be too easy right now to just declare him Zobrist and tell him to have a bunch of gloves. But we haven't decided on the spot we want him to win, I think.  I actually think he ends up in CF for the '16 M's.  I'll take him at SS, no problem.  I think he's demonstrated the glove chops to play that position, but I'm expecting Taylor to demonstrate the bat chops to stick with the M's. 
Interesting news about Deej and his "readiness."  I like that a lot. I worry about Morrison.  He can't hit lefties like he did last year.  But he shouldn't be as dismal against RHP as he was, either.  Is his fall vs. LHP of greater magnitude than his rebound vs. RHP?  If so, Deej or Kivlehan may be here by July.  I would still bet, even up, that one of those guys gets the call before July 1.  
All that said, Seth Smith's .790-ish OPS vR (over his last three years....not the Colorado ones) will be pretty tempting.  He's got an attractive contract, after all.  The cost to get him?  There's the rub.


The Mariners have 6 guys in their upper minor league system who are considered right handed mashers. Since DJ has only played in A, A+ and AA leagues, I will only compare these players at these levels...
Player 1 - 132 games in A ball, 48 games in A+, 44 games in AA for a total 872 AB with 330 / 379 / 520 / 899 with 69W 130K
Player 2 - 98 games in A ball, 117 games in A+, 33 games in AA for a total 925 AB with 307 / 362 / 524 / 886 with 79W 182K
Player 3 - 113 games in A ball, 80 games in A+, 66 games in AA for a total 907 AB with 255 / 362 / 478 / 840 with 151W 282K
Player 4 - 116 games in A ball, 60 games in A+, 56 games in AA for a total 903 AB with 318 / 363 / 534 / 897 with 64W 141K
Player 5 - 60 games in A ball, 102 games in A+, 104 games in AA for a total of 1007 AB with 299 / 363 / 487 / 850 with 101W 217K
Player 6 - 26 games in A ball, 65 games in A+, 58 games in AA for a total of 703 AB with 299 / 362 / 552 / 914 with 67W 158K
They all seem to be relatively equal to me, so why push DJ?


James Jones is probably the safety net beneath an elevator that has about 5 stops on the way down.  Although we don't doubt that the org would feel friendly towards having him actually on the green grass out there, in part because of the vibe.  A kid who never does anything, except everything they ax of him.  And has the signature "wheels" tool justifying the call.
But, yeah, last year's 300+ AB's at a .300 SLG doesn't cut it from here.
Good stuff as always Mo' Dawg.


You invest your starting RF into a #3-4 starter, and the guy goes nominally INTO your rotation ... well, if three kids blow the league away, it wasn't your fault in dealing for him.  So much the better if rookies leave you no choice.
It's "amateurish" to write Taijuan and Hultzen into a Sonny Gray-type 2015, even if you suspect it, but you're not averse to it occurring.
Can't disagree with you there either :- )


1) There is zero intelligence to even considering Hultzen to start the year in the rotation. Even if he throws 25 scoreless innings in spring training. It would be like asking a guy on his first day of rehab for a pulled hammy to go full speed. Give it the time it requires.
2) I buy the Happ talk 100%--no motivational aspect at all. He threw 158 injury-free innings last year. Walked totaled 120, but with injury. Paxton totaled only 87, because of injury. Elias got to 168, but was shut down the last two weeks because of injury. In his last three starts, he struck out six in 14 innings. Not the same guy. Do we know he's cured? I'm betting the M's don't.  In short, fellow Shandler adherents will note his warning flags on health for both Paxton and Walker.  Happ allows us to not push everybody at the same time.
3) Yes, the left-hand platoon in right field is an issue.  It will probably be addressed.  But I'm still more concerned about backing up LoMo, because of his own injury history.  I stand firmly on my Gaby Sanchez bandwagon.
4) It would be malpractice to start DJ with the big team...or assume he'll be ready the first half.  Ditto Montero.  
5) On a happier note, Shandler blesses Cano, Seager, Cruz and Ackley with sparkling reliability grades.  
6) But in any case, there's still 6+ weeks to figure this out, right?


The BoSox just had a similar situation, a quality OF who had zero place on the ballclub, everybody in the stadium knew he had to go ...
They gave Cespedes + camouflage and got back a #3 starter.  That among other things makes you suspect that Seth Smith won't be had for a Boston College reliever ... :- )


Who has consistently plumped for more developmental time, not less, on the next wave of minor leaguers.
The minors results are on your side, in terms of making D.J. wait his turn, though the pros' attitudes not as much ...


'cause it sez here that come March 27th, a lot of people will be singing a different tune.  ;- )  But yeah.  The prime computation is to Earl him, the way the Twinkies did Santana.
2)  Yep   3) Sanchez even for Opening Day?  Would like to hear the case for ... 4) Yer probly right   5) If that 3-4-5 MOTO doesn't work it's no fault of Jack's   6) Yep but what fun is that
Bring it amigo.


He's insurance and the left handed bat. Pads are going for it. Yesterday I was watching the 1984 version of "Baseball Seasons". I looked over that Padre roster. How on earth did they make it past the Cubs to the World Series? The Pads are not adverse to loading up and hoping to get lucky. It's why they make it to the big dance, but never win it there. They throw a lot of spaghetti to the wall and hope enough of it sticks. But they need lots of spaghetti to play that game.


First of all, the 'zero intelligence' comment? That did NOT come out right! Maybe 'little sense' would have been a better choice? I blame the late hour when it was written. I will NOT attempt to match intelligences with the proprietor.
Here's my thinking on the last roster spot. Would I like to have both a lefty platoon for right field...AND a realistic backup for LoMo? Yes, of course. But I don't see how that happens. So I'm assuming we're forced to choose one. The right field platoon is the immediate need, which is why I assume it will be the priority for the team.
However, the idea of having either Miller or Jones in right is less troubling to me than forcing either Miller or Bloomquist to fill in full time at first if LoMo goes down...or on the necessary day off. I don't believe Choi, Montero or DJ are viable alternatives for a team trying to win from opening day. Last year? A different story. There was an acknowledged longer leash on Almonte, Miller and Zunino. This year, it doesn't seem like 'tryouts' are going to happen.
Which leads to Sanchez. What I like:
--career OPS vs. lefties is .863
--career walks vs. strikeouts vs. lefties almost equal
--some recent decline in defense, but still solid
--will clearly take a one year offer, thus not blocking anyone in Triple A long term
--won't cost a single bit of talent from the system.
To repeat, I doubt this is not the way the last spot will be filled. But I would definitely consider it.


Gaby Sanchez would be fine by me, if not my first choice.  But it is likely his ship sailed when we acquired Ruggiano, seeing that they would have the same offensive role.  All the same, he's got value..  
would = 12.  You would want to have a guy who can play IF and OF as the last guy, unless you're planning on playing Morrison or Cruz of Miller in the OF.
That likely means Bloomquist, which somewhat depresses me.  I would prefer Stefen Romero....but the other Romero could get a look-see as well.  S. Romero played a total of 1 game (AAA) in the IF last year.  We likely no longer see him in any IF capacity.


Experience over youth and talent?  Is that it Matt?
Walker's likely down side is something like Happ, in terms of production.  
So what does Happ as your #4 or 5 give you that Walker doesn't?  Happ runs FIPs from 4.0 to 4.7 like clockwork.  I suppose you can say that Walker needs more farm time to get his BB rate down...but he's not learning how to throw MLB strikes in Tacoma.  His MiLB BB rates have been 3.6 (A), 3.4 (AA), 3.6 (AAA) and 3.7 (MLB). He's consistent.  Happ's career # is 3.8, BTW.  
Walker threw 120 innings last year.  You probably don't give him more than 160 this year (which I think is a bit silly), but THAT is why you have pick up the innings that Elias and Walker don't throw...when you rest them.  Not to bump your Kid Wonder to the gutter.  The whole world wanted to trade for Walker.  We've refused all offers.  No put your valuable asset to use.


This is likely the real question, come June 1-July 1:  Why NOT give Deej and Kivlehan a shot IF they are beating up AAA pitching?  That will be the case for one of them, perhaps both.
So do you artificially hold them down when Morrison DL's or Ackley craters or Ruggiano isn't what we thought we were getting?  One of those things might just happen by July 1.  OK, I know, you can just plug Romero in.  I like that....but what if Deej is hitting AAA like Romero did last year?  I uderstand "learning curves," I really do....but such curves likely occur for all young guys coming to the majors.  To hold down your best young talent just because they might have some MLB adjustment to do doesn't make a lot of sense to me.  That adjustment may always be there. 
If Deej or Kivlehan were killing the PCL throwers, why wouldn't you give them the bat and say, "Just hit the ball!"


Heading fishing this morning I realized that my Jones' comments were a bit too severe, unintentionally.  I like the kid.  I think as a MLB regular CF or 4th OF he would roll out 90-95 OPS+ years pretty consistently.  I'm just not sure I want him as our RF for 120 games.  I'm not sure I see the slugging (or OPB) up side I would like there.  I like the kid, and said so often in '14. 
I hope he turns out to be Bake McBride.  I'm just not sure I see it.  BTW, as a masher of RHP, last year he wasn't.  AAA/MLB splits vR were .252-.295-.330.  He hits lefties way better than that. 


Walker has the same down side that Brandon morrow had when he first came up. His secondary pitches are mostly garbage, his fastball is arrow straight, and his mechanics are all over the place. His downside is to be a disaster for a team fighting for the pennant.I don't see Happ pitching any worse than a 3.50 ERA in Safeco. He started attacking the top of the strike zone, his walks plummeted, abd his swing miss rate increased. And the problem with him had been homers...which are not a problem in Seattle. He's a much better fit for us if we're trying to win a championship

Taro's picture

Jones is not an acceptable option in RF. Was worth less than RP level last year and is one of the biggest reasons we missed the playoffs.


One possible advantage to the Ms now being considered a contender is that a guy like Sanchez might consider a minor league deal with invite and opt-out, knowing he may have a very good chance of being on a championship squad for at least part of the year. If by mid-June it doesn't look like the Ms are contending, or that he will get a chance with the MLB club, he tries elsewhere. But he looks like another draw on the Chris-Young-as-RH-hitter draw, similar to Hart, Gillespie, or Denorfia last year. And having him at Tacoma if/when Morrison goes down looks like a dandy idea; and if Lloyd can get along with a 7-man (or even 6-man) bullpen, he'd obviously be a great platoon partner for Morrison.
Then again, I'd like to see them try Gutierrez the same way and I don't know what the tolerance is for split contract NRI/June opt-out contracts, let alone how many benchies the Ms will carry. Would they sign Endy, Guti, and Gaby (as Rick Rizz might say) and put them all in Tacoma, even if that meant guys that are on the verge of AAA start in Jackson? And does Sanchez in particular work against the rehabilitation of Montero and Choi as future contributors? Might be a tough call. But all three are decent "stop-loss" back-ups - guys who started (or would have started) for the Ms in the recent past.
I'm wondering if they're also trying to get Beimel to come onboard the same way, and that's a bit of a holdup there. An MLB contract is certainly better than a NRI/opt-out/split one, and Beimel certainly can feel he earned the respect, but (following the Dubai scene) there are Ferraris and Lamborghinis mixed in with some DeTomasos, DeLoreans, and Pontiac Solstices on their way up, so that assuring him a spot is probably not the way to go; if you can't drive your Ferrari 456 every day, maybe you need to look at a cheaper used 308 (Rollins, Olmos). But it would be nice to have the assured stability of a guy like him available for when one of the young arms gets the yips or something.


Before I get hammered... I like DJ, and DJ had a very good year last year. I acknowledge that. BUT....
Moe... I am all for getting the young players a shot to succeed, but I question whether DJ has EARNED it yet.
I know small sample sizes apply here but....
1 . Jordy Lara played on the EXACT SAME team at the EXACT same time as DJ for 98 games last year, and Jordy Lara out hit DJ in Jackson as well as High Desert.
2. Kivlehan played on the EXACT same teams at the EXACT same time as DJ for 92 games last year, and Kivlehan out hit DJ on both teams AND Kivlehan was promoted first last year.
3. DJ at the Jackson / AA level last year hit ... 261 / 335 / 473 / 808 for 58 games, which is arguably the worst of any of the 6 players I listed. Yes DJ did crush the ball in his last 25 games in Jackson AND DJ did demolish the High Desert his last 35 games... both with OPS numbers well above 1000... but over the long haul....
In my opinion, Jack is trying to leave a spot for at least one of these guys to step up and take the spot. Thus, Romero & Montero MUST perform in spring training, or they will just get left behind.
As you propose Moe, IF there is a spot open on the 25 man in June AND guys are tearing up Tacoma, then I agree the Mariners SHOULD choose the guy who is farthest progressed in Tacoma. However based upon last year, and where guys ended up last year, I do not see DJ even starting in Tacoma. Kivlehan, Blash, Morban, Montero, Choi, Romero and even Paolini are all slightly ahead of DJ on the depth charts. Now we all know there are agendas, and things change, but... that would be a major leap for DJ... and I just do not see why.
As for Kivlehan in June though... that I could see.


Bat, I can see Sanchez (or Endy, Guti, or other) coming here to compete vs Ruggs, Bloomquist, and for a 25 man spot... but there is no room in Tacoma for him, or for anyone else.
In Tacoma, you have Montero, Romero, Choi, Morban, Blash, Jones, Landry, Paolini, Kivlehan, DJ, and possibly a couple others fighting for 7 spots - 5 OF, 1B and DH.
Yes, some of those end up in Jackson, but there you have Lara, Rivers, Pizzano, Barbosa, Austin, Henry, Pimental, Wilson, Melendres for just 7 spots there too.
And as much as Jack / Mather and the Mariners speak of keeping this going for years to come.... these prospects are NOT going to get ignored. Jack is purposely creating a spot or two where these young players can break in, ONLY if they perform... and with SO many guys competing, I am sure someone will step up.


I agree the Ms are basically full up in AAA for the future. I believe they will still have a small number of "stop-loss" guys nonetheless if they plan on being contenders - the question is how many. My guess is that they will carry 1 non-40-roster vet in each position player area in Tacoma - a Quintero-type catcher (Gerald Laird?), an IF (Rivero, probably), and an OF (Guti or Endy?), and then 2-3 pitchers from the spaghetti (Gaviglio, Leutge, Olmos, Rollins?). Beyond that they probably won't go for exactly the reasons you state.
The bench is so constricted by the modern bullpen usage, that they have to have a few of the kind of guys that used to be on the ML bench available in AAA at short notice. But Casey Stengel normally had 1-2 swing men and 4 relievers and 4 starters - he could have *7* position players on his bench to platoon from. Everybody keeps talking about platoons as if those days were still here. The Ms are likely to have a C, and IF (Bloomquist), and an OF (THE question at hand) on the bench. Reinforcements will have to be available in Tacoma. Yes, Cruz CAN play RF, which gives a bit of flexibility, but if Ruggiano is to be platooned with a LH hitter, that guy will be the BU OF by default, and if Bloomie is to be the IF, then he'll have to cover for Morrison until a Tacoma guy can come up.
Meanwhile, the Ms will have to convince guys to sign minor league contracts to stash in Tacoma, because the roster is full. If Morrison goes down during the season, the 60-day DL is available for a roster spot. Not so until Spring Training is over. Hence the Ms dilemma - you've got to be ready for a contingency that the richness of your farm system paradoxically makes very difficult. And it gets more difficult as you burn up options on the Monteros and Erasmos and Romeros and Joneses.
I know you recognize all this - but I'm kind of venting at comments I read (mainly on other sites) that the Ms should sign this guy and that one and have multiple platoons. I've read that increasing the 25-man roster to 26 or even 27 is on the agenda for the 2016 labor negotiations, but that doesn't help today. If we want D.J. and Kivlehan and Hicks to get their AAA ABs and not get called up prematurely, we gotta hope there are some guys who will sign minor league contracts and the Ms figure out a way to stash them in AAA and keep them sharp when the season starts - for the times somebody is needed until June/July when the young'uns should be better prepared. Z's job is getting harder as the roster gets better ;-) !!!


Kivlehan, I mean.  I'm hoping Deej's season was impacted by the beaning at the end of '13.
But Kivlehan is a man riding a rocket.


I wish someone would just post the 40-man roster on the day that Jack took over...and compare it to what exists today.
'Took too long'...'should have done it better'...'look at the missteps'...'I would have done it better'. All of it--ridiculous.
It's only natural to want more...and to want it now. But you've identified the basic problem--there isn't much room at the inn. To add means to subtract something potentially valuable--is that a traditional Mariners' issue? I think not.
I don't expect to sway any of the blind followers of Baker or Thiel or the now-departed Steve Kelley that somehow things are actually different than they were half a dozen years ago. People are going to believe what they want to believe.
But in all seriousness, I wonder how many GM's would trade their 25-man roster for ours. 60%? 75%? More?


I am not sure where to write this, and my apologies to those who I have misunderstood or mis-quoted. Or perhaps I might just hurt your feelings or possibly plagerize where it helps my argument, BUT it is time to be blunt.
I believe Doc and many others have said parts of what I am about to write, danced around the edges, added sugar and toppings when it seemed to fit; however without question, we all - without exception - have been too .... needy... no WIMPY!
We all want something more, from Jack and the Mariners that is. Whether that is an OF, a RF, a SP, more on-base percentage or just more runs and wins.
However, the BIG problem we all have is who is actually on it NOW, and the fact that we do not TRUST them.
Now we all LOVE Felix, Seager, Cano, Kuma, and there are a few other personal favorites we all have... and that is a good!
Unfortunately we all have our favorite dogs we love to dawg.
Whether that player is Ackley, LoMo, Austin or... we just do not believe Jack should go into the season without a backup plan. There has to be a backup to the backup. And there has to be more, more more...
Or maybe you are generic, where you think the problem is at a specific position be it SS or RF or SP. This one position has to be filled by a STAR or else... BOOM! The whole season blows up. We'll never make the play-offs without another star.
Or maybe you just stopped believing in the young kids. You have reached your limit of youngsters failing, and Smoak, Montero, Almonte, Bavasi ERA, and etc... The consistent failures by kids are just too much. Just make it STOP!!!!
Or lastly, maybe you just like complaining about the lack of money or moves or trades or management because you have just lost hope. Fourteen years is just too long. WE deserve better. We are owed a playoff series. It's not fair that those spoiled Seahawk fans are getting exactly what they want. It's NOT FAIR!!!
WE all are guilty!
This used to be just on other sites, but now... NOW, here we are. Just a bunch of complainers... and I as a guilty as anyone.
We need to face facts. This is Jack's team. THIS is what Jack wants. DEAL WITH IT. Jack ain't changing 'cuz you do not like his style.
Jack wants Ackley in left field for 130+ games.
Jack is happy that Miller and Taylor will be competing for the starting SS position... just like last year when it was Franklin and Miller.
Jack LOVES the idea that Walker, Elias, Erasmo, Hultzen are competing for the final spot in the rotation.
Lloyd wants 8 relief pitchers... FINE. Jack is on board.
Lloyd wants options for right field, and Jack is content with the current options. Jack may even love the options.
Jack is thriving on finding ways to try to get young kids an opportunity to make this team.
THIS IS what Jack wants. This is what Lloyd wants. AND this is what Mather is in full approval of. You don't like it - TOUGH!!!
IT is what IT IS.
So for better or worse... this is our team. ACCEPT IT. Embrace it. Now it the time... the new year is nearly here. Learn to love again.
Go get a latte.... or a few beers... and welcome our 2015 Mariners to town.

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