Mariners Mini Morsels: September 12

AL West Commentary

Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports writes that a lack of offense is hurting the Rangers, he says: Texas is only 2-7 this month, with a lineup that barely resembles the version that carried the team to pennants in 2010 and 2011. The Rangers have since remade themselves into an organization more reliant on pitching. It’s a noble objective, one the San Francisco Giants have validated with championships in two of the last three years. It also (indirectly) led to 27-year-old rookie Joey Butler serving as the Rangers’ designated hitter Tuesday in the fifth game of his major-league career. (He went 0-for-1 and walked twice.) Butler is the 11th Ranger to start as the DH for manager Ron Washington this year. The job was supposed to belong to veteran Lance Berkman, signed to a one-year, $11 million contract last offseason. But Berkman has only six at-bats in the second half of the season because of hip and knee injuries. He can’t help the Rangers right now. All-Star outfielder Nelson Cruz is serving a performance-enhancing drug suspension. Catalysts Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus are performing below their career norms — Andrus far below, after signing a $120 million contract extension. Jurickson Profar, one of the most hyped prospects in the game, has under-whelmed. The end result: The Rangers are averaging 4.47 runs per game. That is their worst output since moving to hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark in 1994”

“The Rangers also know that something has to give with Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus at shortstop. They signed Andrus to a long-term deal, but he’s hardly lived up to the money or hype, yet he’s still very young, as is Profar. The Rangers might be able to fill another area of need (outfield or pitching) by dealing one of them.” —Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe


Baseball Best Practice

“When it comes to defense, there can be no debate: It has never been better in the major leagues than it is today.” So says Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated.  He writes: “If you want quick confirmation from the numbers, satisfy yourself in knowing that fielding percentage (.985) is at an all-time high and errors per game (0.57) are at an all-time low, bettering the record rates set in 2009 (.984 and 0.59, respectively). Both the Orioles (41 errors) and the Rays (54) are likely to break the record for fewest errors in a season (65, by the 2003 Mariners).”


Comment From Greg: Don’t pitching coaches have a large amount of influence over how the game is called though? Seems like catchers get signals from the dugout often, or at least they could, right?


Jeff Sullivan: The plans are always worked out in a group setting, at least with the pitcher and the catcher, but it’s on the catcher to be the strong one and it’s on the catcher to notice batter tendencies and the like. The catcher is expected to be the expert, and a catcher who has the best plan will make a profound difference, I believe. The way they talk about Yadier Molina, he’s constantly able to keep opposing hitters off balance by identifying what they don’t expect.


So they said

“Mike Trout has now tied Ryan Howard in career WAR.” Dave Cameron of FanGraphs


“Brendan Ryan will be the eighth different shortstop to get an at-bat for the Yankees.” Buster Olney ESPN


Mariner’s potential off-season targets

Bob Ellis of the Kansas City Royals blog Kings of Kauffman sees a need for his team to add some power hitting, as will the Mariners.  This is his take on some of the available candidates. Of the top free agents listed in the MLBTR FA Power Rankings, 3 of the top 10 are outfielders, with 2 of the 5 honorable mentions making it 5 of 15. One of those honorable mentions is Nelson Cruz. I’m thinking…no thanks on Cruz. I don’t even want to deal with a guy coming off a PED suspension. The other is Hunter Pence. Pence is a guy I’d be more interested in, but I’m not sure he really brings enough impact power. He’s never topped 25 homers in a year before, and sits at 17 right now. That said, in addition to those homers, he’s got 32 doubles, 21 steals, and a .788 OPS. Good all around talent, as we all know. Moving up to the top 10 FA’s, the outfielders included are Jacoby EllsburyShin-Soo Choo, and Carlos Beltran. I have a feeling someone will give Ellsbury a lot of money. I mean…a LOT. So I’m counting him out. Plus he’s a bit injury prone for my liking. We’ve already got Lorenzo Cain to worry about. That leaves Choo and Beltran. Choo is making around $7.4 million this year, with Beltran at $13 million. Choo still has room to improve at age 31…while Beltran is coming off his age 36 season. Which means what? Choo will probably get a raise, Beltran probably takes a pay cut. How much of a raise/pay cut are we looking at? Hard to say.”


By the numbers

Roger Clemens in 2001 and Mike Mussina in 2008 are the only 20-game winners without a complete game. Max Scherzer doesn’t have a complete game in 161 career starts.”  The Bill Chuck Files


“With the bases empty, his [Miguel Cabrera’s] OPS is .961. With a runner on first, it’s 1.166. With a runner on second, it’s 1.325. With a runner on third, it’s 1.529. With two on, it’s 1.208. With the bases loaded, it’s 1.371.” Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports


Bronson Arroyo is the only right handed pitcher to start at least 25 games a year for the past 10 years in all of baseball.


Joe Saunders recorded his 14th loss of the season Tuesday, allowing 6 earned runs on 7 hits with 5 strikeouts and 1 walk in 3.0 innings pitched. He is 0-4 with a 10.42 ERA (22 ER/ 19.0 IP) with 14 strikeouts and 9 walks in his past 4 starts at home (since July 24). Saunders recorded his shortest outing since June 25 vs. Pittsburgh (1.2 IP), when he allowed his 3rd career leadoff home run.


Farm Report

Everett Aqua Sox outfielder Tyler O’Neill of Maple Ridge, B.C. played in the recent Under-18 World Cup in Taiwan, representing his home country. He ended up a tournament All-Star after leading in most offensive categories, including home runs (1st), doubles (tied for 1st), slugging percentage (2nd), RBI (2nd) and total bases (2nd). The 18 year-old started all six tournament games for Canada in left field and hit .385 (10-for-26) with four doubles, three home runs (he hit one dinger for Everett in exactly 100 AB’s) and 14 RBI. O’Neill was the Seattle Mariners 2013 amateur draft third round selection with the 85th overall pick, after which he told the Vancouver Sun: “I did everything I could up until this point to prove my abilities. Obviously it paid off today. Third round to the Mariners … how could you go wrong?”  So far it looks like he’s doing well and so are the Mariners.