What I Would Do
Despite the fact that the M’s are significantly better than they were last year, and are actually playing to the expected level of performance we had for them heading into the season, there are always decisions that we would make differently than the organization. So, a month into the year, here’s my list of things I would change about the M’s roster if I was given the title of czar for the day. For the purpose of this exercise, I won’t be acquiring any new talent from outside the organization.
1. Option Shin-Soo Choo to Tacoma, place Bobby Madritsch on the 60 day DL, and purchase the contract of Abraham Nunez.
There could be a case for Choo being with the team if Hargrove was committed to using him, but he’s not, so the Mariners are essentially burning a roster spot and playing short-handed. Choo doesn’t do anything well enough to convince Hargrove to use him in any specialized role, and he’s not going to start ahead of the established players at his position, so I’d rather have him in Tacoma playing everyday.
Nunez isn’t much of a major league player, but as a switch hitter, he may be able to wrangle more playing time out of the roster spot than Choo was able to.
2. Option Greg Dobbs to Tacoma and recall Justin Leone to take his roster spot.
Greg Dobbs stinks.
Leone would provide a power right-handed bat off the bench to combat LOOGYs and give the Mariners a legitimate pinch-hitting option. At 28 years old, playing regularly in Tacoma won’t be significantly beneficial to him, and the Mariners could use his bat on the bench.
3. Designate Matt Thornton for assignment and place him on waivers. Purchase the contract of Dave Hansen.
If Thornton clears waivers (and I think that’s actually likely), send him to Tacoma. If he doesn’t, well, I’m not concerned. Baseball is teeming with power arms who can’t throw strikes, and the M’s don’t need a 12 man pitching staff.
Hansen gives the M’s a LH pinch-hitter to fill the role that Grover has been using Dobbs in. Despite his lack of power, Hansen’s still a semi-useful player, and if used in combo with Leone, could give the M’s at least an interesting L/R platoon pinch-hitting tandem.
4. Switch Bret Boone and Raul Ibanez in the line-up.
I’m of the opinion that Boone is basically done as a hitter. He’s an easy out with occassional power who will hit something like .260/.310/.400 this year, and there’s no way you want that kind of guy hitting 5th if you don’t have to.
Ibanez, on the other hand, has increased his walk rate this year and is one of the few productive players in the lineup. Getting his .377 OBP higher in the line-up can’t hurt the offense, and breaking up the Beltre-Sexson-Boone trio of right-handed hitters is a nice bonus.
5. Designate Aaron Sele for assignment for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release. Call up Jorge Campillo from Tacoma to fill the 5th starter position.
Sele is a replacement level pitcher adding nothing to the team. He pitches poorly and doesn’t soak up innings and has no chance of improving. There’s no upside here. He is what he is, and he’s not very good.
Campillo is the kind of pitcher who you can learn very little about through his minor league performances. He’s a pure junkballer, mixing a steady array of breaking balls and change-ups and rarely breaking 86 on the gun. At 26-years-old, he’s essentially refined his craft, and the adjustment to Tacoma has been an easy one for him. He’s most likely a sink-or-swim proposition, but at least there’s a real chance that he could baffle the league with his crap and provide some legitimate innings for the M’s.
I go back and forth on whether to cut Nelson loose to bring George Sherrill back, but for right now, I’m okay with Nelson on the roster, and would rather have Sherrill in reserve for when someone gets hurt. But I could easily be convinced that Sherrill belongs on the major league club, and I’m not real passionate about Nelson keeping his job, either.
None of these changes would have a huge impact on the club. It is what it is, but they’d make it slightly more interesting and perhaps a little bit more competitive.