So, consider this.
Catricala, Seager and Peguero are just whacking ST pitchers. Two of these guys can make the team if you just make the decision right now that Montero is your principal catcher.
Olivo can go.
Let Montero and Jaso handle the backstop duties. Catricala becomes your DH in that scenario. Seager starts at 3rd and Chone bounces all over the field....perhaps as your Opening Day SS, if you DL Ryan. Kawasaki is looking like a very real MLB SS.
You'll remember that I was very happy to just let Montero bring his bat and DH. But, hey man, if we can find a way to keep The Cat in the lineup and it involves Montero catching 100 games.....man I'm all over that.
Were Moore not dinged up and available in Tacoma, I think I might bet on this situation. Could still happen.
Peguero is doing some interesting stuff. But I think he remains, basically, Peguero.
Who needs a veteran catcher? Well, we have an expendable one.
Olivo or The Cat? Ain't much of a decision there.
Make is so, Z.
=== Methinks Thou Dost Protest Too Much, Dept. ===
If the M's were scoring one run per game, and were 3-9, we'd all be fretting. They're not scoring one run per game.
The performance of any one player, in spring training, is a (sic) "small sample." When the entire ballclub is playing Pinball Wizard, and the dials are spinning and popping in a blur, I'll cosign that as significant.
Today's lineup, 7 more runs against Greinke and Co. In the two (late) innings that I was listening to the Brewer radio feed, as Ackley and Saunders and Co. were whirling around the merry-go-round, their announcers reminded us about 12 times that it doesn't matter who wins these games...
|Ackley||.333||3 triples, 2 doubles, 1 HR in 21 AB - .810 SLG|
|Montero||.333||.619 SLG, playing catcher in these W's|
|Peguero||.308||3 homers, .654 SLG|
|Seager||.304||2 long homers, .565 SLG|
|Saunders||.409||2 more doubles today, .682 SLG|
|Kawasaki||.348||Leads club in games played|
Honorable mention: Ichiro is drawing walks in the 3 hole. His OBP is .389 and, no longer focused on 200 singles, he's approaching things so as to participate in rallies that are in front of, and behind, him.
Saunders has always been a platypus, a very exciting player with funky holes in his game. Dr. D remembers the days when the peanut gallery ruled him out as a defensive center fielder. Now that he's fashionable as a glove player in CF, we allow our minds to drift towards the offensive game of a young Carlos Beltran ... look at Beltran's age-25 season, before he had all the walks.
.270 / .340 / .500 ... 20+ homers, 40 doubles, 20+ stolen bases ... 100 RBI and 110 R.
The M's would take 70 RBI and 70 R from Saunders, of course, but if his game blossomed it would blossom everywhere. Runs scored, homers to straightaway left, hard-hit balls into the gaps, speed on the bases. We've always given Saunders credit for knowing when to drop a bunt, knowing how to keep his head on a swivel... maybe you've forgotten, but Saunders has an almost supernatural feel for laying down a bunt towards the SS and beating it out down the line.
Get you a center fielder in Safeco, who can run and hit, and get you 5 WAR pretty quick. The UZR is going to give you 2 WAR before you pick up a bat.
If Saunders becomes the M's most exciting player, I'm going to crack up laughing. It could happen.
So, consider this.
I was wondering what Ackley and Smoak had to do this spring to get a write up on SSI. It seems like Ackley is good for a triple every game. Smoak's OBP this spring has been outrageous. Dude hasn't made any outs yet.
What is painfully obvious is that Catricala is always good for a homerun against the Rangers or Angels. Two close games, two multi RBI homeruns, two wins. Two division rivals skulking back to their caves to lick their wounds. Coincidence? I don't think so. This kind of player is handy. Some players are just dialed in against certain teams. Think Nelson Cruz, the Furbush, Kelley and Vargas killer, only on our team, and only lighting up their pitchers.
Are we really going to send him down to give Chone more playing time? This could cost us some games. Z ought not worry about Chone's wasted salary when we have an exciting team with a small $60 million payroll. He's been good enough to the bean counters who own the Mariners, now its time to give the fans what they want to see.
Here here, Moj.
I just don't think I'm seeing any Z/Wedge intent to dump...er...trade Figgins(well...is there a team that would take him right now...so let's just call it a dump).
The M's hope for Figgins seems to be that he might walk enough to have a .350 OBP.
So maybe he's a .270-.350-.370 player. M-A-Y-B-E!
Uh...any bets on Catricala or Liddi besting .720 OPS?
I'm just not seeing any M's interest in moving him now. Were it only so.
Writing about them is like saying, "Hey look, it's 2002. Will Ichiro and Olerud have good years? Let's debate."
The only things I've written about Smoak this year (other than praying not to trade him if we got Fielder) were to say that I don't believe his struggles last year were talent related and I'm looking forward to him crushing it for us this year with two working thumbs, no broken face and no more personal tragedies.
And Ackley I expect the universe from as a matter of course. In a couple of years I'll be like, "Yeah, so I can count on Ackley for 45 doubles, 20 homers, a run at the batting title, gold glove defense at 2nd, rescuing at least 3 kittens from trees and a nomination for the Nobel Peace prize. But what about Burgoon's chances in the back of the pen? That's what I wanna focus on.."
I'll be crowing about Ackley and Smoak in the regular season, but they're kinda the vets of this team right now. Veteran hitters in the opening day lineup go Ichiro, Olivo, Figgins, Ryan... Smoak. And all four of the first guys may be gone by 2013.
I expect a lot from Smoak because we need a lot from him. We can't afford for him to fail, so why bother talking about it? ;) I'm enjoying the hope of March and his swing looks May-2011 great.
So I've set my requirements for him at "decently productive out of the gate" and moved on to more pressing questions.
... from the M's point of view. The bloggers and writers take it as a 100% given that the M's will carry two catchers plus Montero.
Only thing we've heard from the M's: "We won't throw Jesus to the wolves out there." But that could mean he's in a position to win a real catching job. He is certainly the catcher for a lot of W's so far.
I was trying to be pro-Chone because I've been such a detractor for so long. I tried not to let that impact a best-case scenario.....best case being if all the planets in the universe align for each Chone AB. Personally, I think the .270 is pretty optimistic, too.
They've said dozens of times they won't push Montero to be the everyday C this season. Playing him a lot at C in AZ is a different thing. They want him to be a C, they just don't want to make him the everyday C at the same time they are leaning on him to be a big bat as a rookie.
Right or wrong, Wedge won't let himself be exposed with having his backup C at DH on a regular basis. Won't happen. Therefore, 3 catchers. Therefore, Olivo.
Figgins will be on the roster at least until Guti returns. He'll share CF with Saunders and share 3b with Seager. They want to see if it was "not leading off" that made him tank, as opposed to "moving to 2b" or "moving back to 3b" or "the towels in the locker room were too scratchy" or whatever.
I will say this: Figgins and Guti will not both be on the roster the entire year. Seager and Catricala are too good, and if Saunders version3.0 can handle prolonged exposure to MLB pitching, then they will get the jobs.
But the team won't just toss their investments in Figgy and Guti on the discard pile without trying to increase their trade value first.
I'm with you, mojican -- Smoak (7-for-17, 2 dbl, 2 BB) deserves a shout-out.
Having Montero, Carp and eventually Catricala around him ought to help enormously. He won't have to try to be "the man" every AB. And he's healthy.
And, of course, Ackley has 6 XBH in 21 ABs.
You know, that other 2b named Dustin won an MVP at age 24, batting second, with 54 doubles and 17 HR. Anything keeping Ack from matching that?
We get all these guys producing together (remember, Ackley, Carp and Smoak were never "clicking" at the same time last year), and it ought to get very interesting.
I was worried about a lineup with a number of guys under 2 years of service time this off-season, and it was one reason I wanted Fielder - as an "elder statesman" at 27 around which to hub the offense. We need SOME sort of veteran presence in the lineup.
Teams with more than 3 hitters qualified for a batting title with a maximum of 2 years in the bigs (past 50 years): If we go with Seager, Carp, Ackley and Montero and they play the # of games we'd like, that’s 4.
Wells and Smoak both have 1-and-a-bit years of experience at this point, so they’d be over 2 by year’s end, but barely.
If you go first-to-third years (since I can’t sort by service time) then 13 teams in 50 years have batting-title qualifiers with 4 or more.
The Twins with Ford, Mauer and Morneau in 2005 had 3 in their lineup.
We had 3 in 2006 with Yuni, Jose and Kenji, but IMO Kenji doesn’t really count.
2005 Rays had 3 (maybe 2, I don’t remember). 2006? Same. 2007? 3, including Iwamura.
This year we could have SIX. And six again next year if Catricala and either Franklin or Trayvon make the leap. We either have a historic amount of hitting talent accumulated at the same time rising through the ranks, absolutely ZERO veterans worth keeping or acquiring, or both.
We're not punting Olivo and Figgins just yet. Gotta have at least a couple of vets in the lineup considering how many guys have never played a full 162 game season in the bigs before (ie, every single person on the below list).
Current Service Time:
FYI, that could be your 2013 Opening Day lineup. Yes, Saunders could lead all starting hitters in service time next season if the Guti thing goes badly. Players in bold might get full seasons in the lineup this year.
Unless the vets are abominable, they've gotta stick around for a while. No team has ever been successful with that many kids fueling the offense. The 2008 Rays had Baby Longoria + 4 year catcher Navarro, 7 year OF Crawford and a bunch of guys around 30. The 1995 Indians had two pups in Thome and Man-Ram (though Thome had been up in parts of 4 seasons at that point) and a bunch of hitters in their prime with Lofton, Belle, Omar, etc all around age 28.
Those teams made 30 game leaps in the standings. If we'd like to make one, it's a stretch to believe the kids can power it on their own. The 1990 Mariners had Junior and Gar each get legit playing time for the first time and couldn't move the needle. We're assembling an amazing minor-league All Star lineup but they still have to grow together and learn how to be a functional and successful major league team.
I'd pay Olivo to stick around and help with that whether or not it shortens our bench.
I know I'm getting carried away, spring training, small sample size, unproven, etc. But, what if these guys can all reach their potential? I'll dream a little...
Wedge himself having been a catcher... you see this as a reason that he wouldn't consider Montero + one other catcher? Can you re-state your reasons for believing that Wedge specifically dislikes that idea?
Interesting point about Figgins + Gutierrez. Lemme check to see if it withstands scrutiny .... what if Gutierrez had been healthy going into ST? They'd both have started, right? So your premise is that Figgins was certain to be traded this year?
Agree 100% that Seager and Catricala have bulled their ways into the china shop. Would be a real shame to block them in this situation.
1. Not so much Wedge specifically, but any manager. I say it because when I looked at it I couldn't find any examples of a team using their only backup C as primary DH for any length of time. And the risk is having to hit your pitcher at a key spot. Maybe it's a bad percentage play, but it's like going on 4th down in your own territory -- doesn't matter what the odds say, not gonna do it with your job on the line and everyone watching.
2. It's Saunders and Catricala asserting themselves as guys deserving a shot that makes me think Figgins and Guti won't both last the season. You could keep Seager and Wells rotating through with Figgins and Guti, but you can't keep Saunders and Catricala in the mix, too. The premise is that one (or both) of those guys busts their way in.
If neither of them looked MLB-worthy (which was certainly a plausible situation at the start of the spring), then I wouldn't say that.
.... to see if James was aware of cases in which the backup C is the primary DH.
And if not, whether the handful of AB's in which you lose the DH, outweighs the need to carry a whole extra catcher in order to avoid the "embarrassment."
I'm not sure how many times Montero would have to take over behind the plate because of a foul tip or what have you. 10 AB's a year in which the pitcher hit?
you're even giving him too much credit - 3 of the last 4 years Figgins ISO has been about .050, and in the 4th year, his 'career' year, he still didn't get to .100 (.096). I'd say an optimistic triple slash would be .270/.350/.330. Any bets on every other Mariner besting .680 OPS?
We can only hope that somebody focuses only on the OBP and speed and takes him.
In 1958, the San Francisco Giants opened a new era in baseball, having relocated the preceding off-season. A seldom-used bonus baby (in those days you had to keep them on the 25-man roster) named Mike McCormick, at age 20, was tabbed as a starter in his third season. Joining him on the squad were two talented Latin players, Orlando Cepeda and Felipe Alou, and a 3rd baseman, Jimmy Davenport.
In the 1959 seasons, these young stars were joined by Willie McCovey and Jose Pagan.
The following season, they were joined by Felipe Alou's brother Matty and a young Dominican pitcher, Juan Marichal.
In 1961, they added two catchers, Tom Haller and Johnny Orsino. Orsino would OPS .816 in his rookie year.
In 1962, after adding Manny Mota and Gaylord Perry, the only veteran position players were Willie Mays and Harvey Kuenn, and the staff had three experienced hurlers of note: Billy Pierce, Billy O'Dell, and Stu Miller.
They won the NL pennant and went to the ninth inning of game 7 before losing the World Series to the Yankees.
11 rookies were brought up in 4 years, completely changing the team. Did they have the Say Hey kid? Of course. But in so many other respects they resemble what the Mariners are doing now. (and, of course, we do have Ichiro)
Loaded opponents (Braves with Aaron and Mathews, Dodgers with Drysdale and Koufax, Reds with Robinson and Pinson)? check.
Difficult schedule (try flying a DC-3, or even a DC-8/early 707 sometime instead of a 737)? check.
Tacoma farm team (they moved from Phoenix to Tacoma in 1960)? check.
Rookies who were mature in attitude and became leaders? check.
Yes, it took four years. (We are comparatively in the second or third year). BUT--
It was fun even in 1960, because it was apparent that the team was getting better and that kids at Tacoma were on fire. Count how many names above ended up in the Hall of Fame, as All-Stars, as managers and coaches. Pretty spiffy, I'd say.
I want one more round, if you please. And although my parents are still alive at 94 and 90, I don't want to wait too long!
...Condor and Cat are two sizzling looking beasts at the plate right now. That's what I'm just saying. Everything is a line drive off the bats for those two (except for Cat's first base hit tonight...which was a jam pitch that he muscled into RF despite getting the wrong part of the bat on the ball)...
We don't need all of the kids to be awesome instantly...what if Saunders hits .280 with 30 dongs, Ichiro bounces back to .300 with a bit more gap power, and Catricala makes the club in like June and hits .270 with some pop to upgrade third base...if you get most of that and Kawasaki posts an 85 OPS+ and Smoak hits like last April's Smoak...that's not just an OK offense...that's a very good one. But we don't need a very good one...we just need an OK offense to get to winning some ballgames.
I didn't hear the broadcast, so maybe I'm making assumptions, but It sounds the equivalent of the Brewer's announcers not wanting to toss any props the M's way on the youth deal. Especially since the M's have snagged the heart and soul of the Brewers scouting department. Sour grapes?
As far as giving props to Ackley and Smoak? How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Been there, and done that, with a fine toothed comb it seems. We gotta make'em earn those pats on the back.
So, yeah man. Nothing wrong with a little early wind in the sails, I'll buy into the momentum thing, factor in a little luck and we're burning rubber out of the gate. So, bloody cheers to that mate.
Avila - 130 games caught
VMart - 26 games caught - 112 DH
Santos - 6 games caught (don't know when he was and was not on the roster, but he played two games in April (19/20) ... then didn't appear again until August 25th. So, most of his games caught were after rosters expanded.
From poking around, it looks like Leyland was cool with burning the DH if he had too, but it looks like he never did.
They did have a utility guy on the roster ready to play C if needed, but you're right -- VMart was the only other true C and also the primary DH.
But! For the playoffs, they kept Santos as the third catcher. Didn't want to get exposed at crunch time.