When things aren’t going well you see the ever present and popular if I ran the M’s post crop up. All the beat writers and journalists from Drayer, to Stone (paywall be damned), to Baker- whom daily assumes the GM’s role, to the blogosphereites at USSMariner and Lookout Landing- everyone is calling for changes before the wheels come completely off this train. But is now truly the time to make changes?
This regime from day one has preached, pleaded and begged for patience. There was, and is, a vision Between M’s management in the office and management on the field. We were told to trust Jackie Z and he would rebuild it, re-tool it, and take us to the promise land. Patience! So what changes are being called for? Where has our patience worn pencil thin?
Looking at our problem areas we have Major problems at: C, SS, 2B, And then other assorted issues with: OF Defense, Timely Hitting, Perplexing Batting Order, SP 3-5, Bullpen Use and roles, and finally upper upper management (which is the root of most of this mess, and countless other messes See: SODO Arena Sonics, and an article for later).
Montero’s lack of focus killed a M’s rally against Cleveland, his poor mechanics behind the plate also played a roll. (Photo Credit: Seattle Times)
Catcher: Jesus Montero is awful, his mechanics, footwork, framing, base-running, hitting, focus, pretty much everything he does at this point pisses me off. Getting Picked of second base during the Cleveland series to me was the straw that broke the camels back, you are right there you can see the pitch the bunt, everything is in front of you stop guessing and pay the fu…. sigh . I pretty much agree with everyone Zunino is not quite ready but he needs to handle 90% of the catching duties in Tacoma, if Montero is a First Baseman/DH Fine send him down bring up Sucre, Let him catch one day a week to give Zunino a day off, explore trade options this off season, Montero is a young dude and has shown flashes of power at the plate but it’s not happening right now, Kelly Shop is superior in every facet save age, he should be getting the bulk of the playing time. I know the front office wants to appear as though we “won” the Pineda~Montero trade and if Montero is demoted it makes them look bad. The fact remains that Montero is not a major league catcher, at this point Montero is not a major league DH orfirstbaseman. He is certainly not better than the other options we have on this team. Verdict: Change
Frustration is mounting for both Ackley and fans. Would a trip to Tacoma right his swing and confidence? (photo Credit: MyNorthwest)
Second Base: A Lot of people see Ackley’s sub-par offensive numbers and are calling for his head, demote him ship him to Tacoma let him sort himself out down there. I’m not so sure, his average has come up quite a bit and I see a lot of the progression that Smoak has had in Ackley. Here is the dilemma with Ackley though, his BABIP (Batting Avg Ball ins Play) is .272 which seems low, He is swinging at a fewer % of pitches and is seeing a fewer percentage of strikes, yet his walk rate has gone down too. The stats (thanks fangraphs) lead me to believe he’s been just unlucky, however my eye leads me to believe he’s pressing, he knows he sees fewer good pitches to hit so the strikes he sees he’s swinging and making contact with those pitches (91.2% contact rate at pitches in strike zone which puts him middle of the league based on 100 PA). Ackley need to Swing the bat more his Contact rate is acceptable, stop being indecisive and let it rip his 37% swing rate is worst among all second basemen, trust yourself and let it rip the extra basehits will come and the average will take care of itself. I like moving him to the 2 hole, If Saunders can get on base Ack will see more fastballs, and they won’t want to walk him and have ducks on the pond for Seager, Morales, and Morse. Verdict: Stay the Course
Shortstop: I love defense, I love Brendan Ryan, I wish Brendan hit like he played Defense. His recent road trip success has brought his average up to .178. I remember a scene from the movie “Little Big League .” When the fan favorite, but struggling hitter, hits a seeing-eye-single and the everyone from the manager to the bench is downright gleeful you know perhaps it’s time to look in another direction. The M’s have Options on the farm, if they feel like big league pitching will hurt Nick Franklin’s development, call up the potentially lower ceiling Carlos Triumfel to hold down the spot until he is ready. If not I see no reason why they should not make a move here. Both AAA guys are hitting and hitting well, they both play a passable SS, Penciling in pretty much an automatic out at the bottom of the order is a white flag, in fact much of Smoak’s recent offensive resurgence has been wasted as despite being on base for much of the last series the offensive suck hole that is the bottom 3rd of our order has failed to do anything in terms of run production. Verdict: Change
Nick Franklin SS of the future (Photo Credit: MarinerBlog)
Carlos Triunfel the former SS of the future, still better than the SS of the present. (Photo Credit: Zumbio.com)
As of right now these are the only changes I would make- Bonderman/Beavan for Harang is a sideways move at best, not sure I wouldn’t give Harang one more shot. If Erasmo was healthy that would be another story, I like our bullpen, their roles could be tweaked but those are minor, minor changes. I don’t think we need to blow a hole in the ship and start over. This team is capable of playing .500 ball and could challenge for a post season birth(at least be in the conversation), but we have to be patient, let the arms get up through he system to solidify the back end of the rotation, Zunino, Franklin, Brad Miller, supplementing developed Saunders, Montero, Ackley, and Smoak. That is the vision in management’s mind the question is do we have the patience to see it through, and do we have the personnel to carry out that vision.
What changes would you make if you were in charge of the M’s?