Roster construction and the Mariner bench
We’ve ranted at times about the 13-man pitching staff, but with Doyle down, this is worth talking about again. This team’s 25-man is thin and doesn’t offer Hargrove a lot to work with. Not that he might work with it anyway, as he’s a set-lineup kinda manager, but there’s almost no flexibility here. Really:
SP: RHP Franklin, RHP Hernandez, RHP Meche, LHP Moyer, RHP Pineiro.
Bunch of guys, several of which are likely to get shelled or leave a game early (which helps, unfortunately, to justify a 7+man bullpen).
RP: RHP Harris, RHP Hasegawa, RHP Mateo, RHP Nelson, RHP Putz, LHP Sherrill, LHP Thornton
As a unit, they’ve done well, though they all seem to have their flaws. Nelson still can’t get lefties out, for instance, and has looked erratic even against righties. Thornton’s walked too many guys and is home-run prone. Putz is home-run prone too. Still, there are a bunch of guys who can handle multiple innings effectively. Even with the starting rotation they could get away with fewer relievers.
Closer: LHP Guardado
Outfielders: LF-L Ibanez, CF-L Reed, RF-L Suzuki.
Backup? Um… well, you’d think you would want a right-handed 4th OF who can sub defensively for Ibanez in the late innings, give any of these guys a day off without killing the team, maybe play center if you want to sit Reed versus lefty starters. Jamal Strong’s right-handed, hitting .293/.371/.393 with 25 steals in Tacoma. He doesn’t help with power at all, but a high average guy who can get on base and swipe on — stick him in the #2 slot, heck. Or bat him ninth and let him get on and terrorize the bases ahead of Ichiro, stay out of double plays.
Here’s the other problem here — if Ibanez is in the field, and Bloomquist is at second, your nominal backup outfielder’s already in the game. Move him to left to replace Ibanez and then you have to stick someone at second, which creates its own problem.
And anyway, I’d argue that while part of Bloomquist’s value in being on the roster is that he could play the outfield, that’s not really where you’re getting your best Bloomquist value. Having a true outfielder out there, even if it’s another guy without pop like Strong, has value.
Choo, btw, .252/.358/374. Ugh.
With a roster crunch, though, who do you move to get a Strong up here?
Infielders: 1B-R Sexson, 3B-R Beltre, with two of SS-R Betancourt, SS-R Morse, UT-R Bloomquist.
If Bloomquist plays second every day, one of Betancourt/Morse sits. Since Morse has spent the last year becoming an adequate defensive shortstop, moving him seems silly. Since Betancourt is a natural crazy ball-vacuuming short, moving him seems silly.
Morse (and this was in one of the papers recently) may end up the righthanded 4th OF… but that’s not going to happen tomorrow. Right now, any middle infield lineup leaves a shortstop on the bench who could be starting. Not having Lopez or a straight 2B means Bloomquist can’t be the super-sub where he earns his keep by giving random dudes days off at the manager’s discretion.
Catchers: C-R Gonzalez, C-R Torrealba
Bench: 1B/3B/but really PH-L Hansen, 1B/3B-B Spiezio
Ugh. There could be utility to having Hansen in the right roster, but a left-handed pinch-hitter who isn’t hitting when called off the bench and can’t carry a glove on a team that desperately needs a DH or an extra outfielder to move Ibanez back into DHing doesn’t make sense. Spiezio offers a little more glove at the same positions, but those are positions played by Sexson and Beltre, neither of who need replacement defensively. And while you’d like to think that Spiezio can’t hit ~.050 forever, what’s the upside here — he DHs a lot and goes on a hot streak where he hits .250/.300/.350?
Two guys who are on the roster, essentially, to pinch-hit for the catchers, when both of them make you want to give up the DH and let the pitchers swing away. At the same time, they’re running without a true second baseman, seemingly tying Red Hot Bloomquist down to the position, without a good 4th OFer, or a decent DH.
The good news is we’re only two weeks and change away from roster expansion, when the team can call up everyone from Tacoma for Hargrove to not use.