Quite often things happen at seemingly the most inconvenient time. On Tuesday my car was totaled, and if you were driving on I-5 north you hated me and everyone else that was involved in the accident because I’m sure we ruined your morning. The downstream effect of that was that my life became me constantly on the phone with mine and other people’s insurance companies, re-hashing the accident, recording statements, etc. The accident wasn’t my fault, so financially things should be fine, but it is a real pain in the ass.
The other downstream effect was the goings on of this weekend: a long-planned weekend when myself and my best friend would play home bartender, photographer, chauffeur, waiter, and anything else necessary for a bachelorette party. The anything else included, but wasn’t limited to me spending 20 minutes attempting to inflate a penis shaped balloon, an act that anyone looking in the direction of our apartment could see, and that had to look absurd, as I cupped the balls of what was becoming a 20 inch penis.
The other things that happened, in some blurry order, were that Justin Smoak got called up, Franklin Gutierrez got activated, Michael Morse got sent to the disabled list, Eric Thames got DFAd, the Mariners won yet another series despite an unnerving loss in the first game of the series, Geoff Baker got mad at the Mariners for trading away Steve Delabar, and Austin Wilson signed.
The Smoak move wasn’t shocking. He’s back to healthy, and much to my chagrin the team seems commited to keeping him at the big league level for the rest of the year. He’s been really bad for a while now, but his failure in many people’s eyes represents the failure of the front office. We do this sometimes. Ruben Amaro isn’t getting nearly as much shit for trading Cliff Lee for J.C. Ramirez, Tyson Gillies, and Phillippe Aumont as Jack Zduriencik is getting for trading Lee for a much more impressive haul of prospects that happened to not turn out. We ignore the move that granted the Mariners the opportunity to trade an asset like Cliff Lee. We ignore the fact that the Lee trade brought – along with failed prospects – the piece necessary to trade for John Jaso, who would eventually traded for Michael Morse.
Speaking of Morse, he finally went on the DL with a quad injury. He’s been unable to run at anything close to full-speed, and has been only passable playing first base in place of Kendrys Morales, who has been battling a back injury himself. Two weeks ago over at Prospect Insider I opined that Morse deserved some slack because he wasn’t pencilling his own name into the lineup. He’s a first baseman on a good day, a DH on most days. His value has been sapped by him playing outfield, and an argument could be made that his bat has been hurt by the team’s need for him to fight through injuries. That’s honorable, and while honor and “grit” doesn’t show up in the box score or the bottom line, it’s worth commending.
In Morse’s place, Franklin Gutierrez was called back up. I have to admit, I’d pretty much decided that Gutierrez had played his last game in blue and teal. He’s an undervalued player when healthy, but he’s missed nearly 200 games in the past two seasons, and missed about three-quarters of the team’s games this year. Supposedly Gutierrez has his health issues in check (the main subject of the Baker post invoking dissatisfaction with the Delabar trade), and with him in the lineup the Mariners are finally capable of fielding a very good defensive outfield, with Gutierrez in center field, and Michael Saunders and Endy Chavez manning corners – though Saunders seems likely to make a trip to Tacoma soon, while Chavez has been a candidate for waivers every time the team has needed to make a 40 man roster move. Gutierrez also made huge contributions to Saturday’s win.
While Morse’s DL move cleared a spot on the 25 man roster, to get Gutierrez back the team had to make a move on the 40-man. That move ended up being Eric Thames. Thames may someday go down as the most overrated Mariner of all time, as he may possess the most celebrated 92 wRC+ bat and bad defense in the history of the team. Of course, down the stretch last year – albeit the stretch of no consequence – Thames seemed to come through in every big situation. He was the outfield’s answer to John Jaso. Thames was “clutch.” Thames is now on waivers, and is likely to go the way of Francisco Martinez and Vinnie Catricala, two guys DFAd by the Mariners, and then traded for a damaged box of those metal brushes pitchers use to clean out their cleats. The Mariners got Thames for Delabar, who you may remember as the ROOGY who gave up 2.21 HR/9 for the 36.2 innings he pitched for the team in 2012. His 27.3 percent HR/FB was sure to regress, but his 2.4 percent HR/FB is equally likely to regress, making his sudden lack of control (5.25 BB/9) a larger issue.
A day after the Mariners snatched defeat from the jaws of victory – losing a game in which Felix Hernandez was spotted a seven-run lead – they lost a Hisashi Iwakuma start. The top of this rotation has been phenomenal so far this season. They’ll have bad results sometimes because they face big league hitters every single time out. The same way Jeremy Bonderman can BABIP his way to good results while missing an alarmingly low percentage of bats, Iwakuma and Felix can shit the bed on accident sometimes.
But hey, Kendrys Morales. Walk off homer, no broken leg.