Roster construction and the Mariner bench

DMZ · August 13, 2005 at 9:19 am · Filed Under Mariners 

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.


26 Responses to “Roster construction and the Mariner bench”

  1. IggyReilly on August 13th, 2005 10:00 am

    Drop Spiezio, bring up Lopez to play second, Bloomquist can DH. Bloomquist a DH? That’s pathetic. Yes, but not as bad as Spiezio.

  2. Steve Thornton on August 13th, 2005 10:01 am

    Dump Hansen and the Speez. Just flat out release them. I swear just looking at Spiezio’s face is hurting the team even if he doesn’t play. Betancourt plays second, Morse short, Bloomquist is back to the bench role where he belongs. Bring up Lopez to get more options in the IF or Strong to ditto in the OF, probably Strong.

  3. Gold Heart Mountaintop Queen Directory on August 13th, 2005 10:02 am

    Yes, I agree with Iggs. Or put Bloomquist at left and Ibanez dh’s

  4. Gold Heart Mountaintop Queen Directory on August 13th, 2005 10:04 am

    God, those boos on Spiezio were intense last night, huh? I’ve never heard our crowd boo a Mariner as bad as that….

  5. Todd on August 13th, 2005 10:12 am

    I would DFA Hasegawa for a 4th outfielder. One of the newspapers actually mentioned the possibility of recalling Nunez, even though he is not on the 40 man, but a release of Hasegawa would open up a spot. I was also mad when I read that the M’s will keep 13 pitchers for another day or two. Absolutely inexcusable.

  6. Digger on August 13th, 2005 10:14 am


    Once again, the front office appears to be in disarray. Since they didn’t have to activate Franklin until today, they essentially played with a 24 man roster last night. Nobody ever does that, do they? And they could certainly have used another bat in that game.

    And what’s with the development of the young MIFs? For Lopez, Tacoma is best; for Betancourt, Seattle is best, and for Morse it’s sitting on the bench. I’d like to hear a viable rationale for why these 3 different approaches are best for each of these 3 young guys. But I doubt one exists.

    Earth to front office….

  7. Alex2 on August 13th, 2005 10:43 am

    It’s best for Lopez to play in Tacoma until he can learn to hit the outside pitch to the opposite field.
    It’s best for Betancourt to play in Seattle because he’s the best defensive SS on the team and he’ll probably start the season with Seattle next year.
    It’s best for Morse to sit on the bench because he can keep his batting avg. artificially inflated and make him more valuable for an off-season trade.
    I don’t really agree with the rationale for Morse but i agree with the first two.

  8. Pete Livengood on August 13th, 2005 10:57 am

    Derek, everything you say makes sense, but I’m guessing the FO doesn’t see a pressing need when they aren’t even in sniffing distance of contention and its only 2-3 weeks before September call-ups. It may be more important to them to see if Spiezio can find something resembling his former career (praying that he’ll do well enough to create a market where the M’s can trade him and pay 90% of his salary, just so they can claim victory in saving $350K next year and the buyout the next), if Bloomquist can maintain a .300-ish BA over a larger sample of ABs than one month, and if Morse can do the same, plus play an adequate LF. All of those things help you assess what you need to do and can do with those players in the offseason. I may not agree with all those moves, but I’m also not going to bitch too much about a 49-65 team waiting three weeks to address these problems.

  9. Rusty on August 13th, 2005 11:42 am

    I think the lesson of Spiezio is this…

    If Oakland has a player for a couple of seasons and lets him go, and then Anaheim uses him for a few seasons but then figures they can do without him, then that just screams Replacement Level talent. Not something you should pay, ahem, $3+ mill/yr for.

    Looking at his 4 best years in Anaheim, the best that Spiezio was going to do was a .750 OPS at Safeco. And that ceiling just isn’t good enough for a corner infielder.

  10. mZak on August 13th, 2005 11:46 am

    As fans, we should boo Spezio every time he shows his face until he’s shamed into retiring. I generally wouldn’t endorse this kind of behavior but he is excruciating to watch–hell, even out of sight, to even know he’s on the bench, it’s painful. Grass roots everybody. Get him out of here.

  11. aurorae on August 13th, 2005 12:00 pm

    Put Morse in left.

    It doesn’t matter whether there is anybody on the bench, Hargrove likes cruddy players on the bench because then he will have an excuse not to play them.

  12. G-Man on August 13th, 2005 12:01 pm

    Yes, with 2.5 weeks until September callups, the current roster isn’t a big deal.

    Although I finally was drawn into the Spezio hatefest last night, I still think that keeping him around is better than dumping him at this stage. He has the versatility and tools of a good bench player, except that he can’t hit (details, details). Pressure him to play winter ball or something. At least see if he gets going again in the spring, and if all else fails, dump him before Opening Day 2006.

    Pete said it well in #8, although I’ll point out that the M’s would save the 2006 major league minimum (around $320K?) on him if they ditched him and another team took him. So we get them to pay $400K and declare victory.

    He doesn’t really have a 2007 otion with a buyout, does he? I’ll check.

  13. pensive on August 13th, 2005 12:32 pm

    At the beginning of the season it was pointed out many times that the bench maybe the worst in history.
    Although it has changed this current bench appears to be even worse.

  14. world series on August 13th, 2005 12:42 pm

    Spiezio shouldn’t be given a chance to get back on track, he shouldn’t be given a chance to be showcased for his or our benefit (trade?, come on), he shouldn’t play period. We still have work to do. That is, evaluating our up and coming players. Along these lines, we shouldn’t watch Franklin start another game this year ( we know what he can do and what he can’t do). Same with Bloomquist. Although I’m not a Bloomquist hater, If I was the GM or the manager he would hardly play another game this year. I’ve already got him penciled in as super utility back up player/pinch runner/bunter for 2006. Let’s see what direction we need to go in as regards to starting pitching first (with what little we have, granted), then catcher, then second base, then left field/center,then DH. None of our regulars should be blocking any of these positions. Let Harris or Thornton start, alternate Morse with Betancourt at second and short(both should play everyday), if Bucky comes up let him START at DH, try Ichiro in center and Reed in left (too bad Doyle can’t move to right now) try Meche in middle relief,etc. There is really no need to play our regular stiffs, unless they are obligated to start by contract.

    We need to have a plan in place for Reed for 2006 and beyond I am fearing, we know he has no real power , I’m not sure if it’s developing and if he can’t steal bases and hit close to .300 like I thought he could….I’m thinking about putting him on the market.

  15. world series on August 13th, 2005 1:17 pm

    As regards Mike Morse, I’d keep him in our system. He may not earn a starting position in 2006, but he deserves some more time. Let him finish this year with the big club, trying him at second and LF. He may develop some power (right now he looks more likely to do that than Reed). We don’t know his ultimate potential offensively right now.

    I’d run something like this out as much as possible,
    Ichiro CF (L) speed
    Betancourt (throw him in the deep end, make him work on patience) SS (R) speed
    Ibanez LF (L) – Ibanez plays left when Bucky DH’s and Morse plays second rbi power
    Sexson 1B (R) rbi power
    Beltre 3B (R) rbi power
    Reed RF temp. (L) speed? hitting? good at bats? (may keep him in center if you want to
    trade him)
    Bucky DH (R) rbi power (just get him some more major league at bats, can move him up in
    line up too)
    Morse 2B (R) hitting? (chance to work on defensive skills – should make some starts in LF
    catcher (sigh)

  16. pensive on August 13th, 2005 1:18 pm

    What is really sad is the thought that if Mariners put every player on waivers (except Ichiro Beltre Sexson) not sure there would be any other team claiming anyone other than Guardado. Ms have no players other teams would rather have than their own. Sad.

    Of course this does not include King Felix.

  17. Ben on August 13th, 2005 1:57 pm

    Granted, I’m not a baseball expert by any means, but I just don’t like the way the show is being run.

    First off, it seems to me there is absolutely zero reason to have Spezio in the lineup, except maybe a day off every month for Spezio or Beltre. I don’t see him getting, nor getting close to being hot. He’s also already bitched about playing time, and asked for his release. With all of that known, the question as to why he’s in the lineup two nights in a row as DH baffles me. I could care less if he gets splinters in his ass, or gets released…just pull him out already.

    This leads me to why Morse is not DH’ing. Yes, we know by now he won’t hit like he did when he first came up, but at least give him a chance. Sitting him does nothing but add rust to him, which does him no good, and more importantly, does the M’s any good.

    When we started calling up our kids from the minors, made some nice trades, and we got to see The King play, I felt a surge of interest in watching them play. But now, whether it’s the FO or Hargrove making these lineup decisions, I’d almost rather have a root canal then watch Sandfrog stink this lineup more than we all thought possible.

    Yeah, all of this has been stated by others infinitum, but I felt I needed to grovel.

  18. Aboba on August 13th, 2005 2:10 pm

    I was at the game last night and a few things occurred to me:

    a. Torrealba is not much of an asset at catcher. He does not have as good an arm as Wikki does, and this is dangerous when you’ve got Chone Figgins on base. He’s also not a very good hitter compared to Wikki or Rene Rivera. Does there really a place on the team for Torrealba long-term?

    b. Watching Spiezio last night, he appeared very uncomfortable at the plate. I even began to wonder whether he ever recovered fully from his injuries. My assumption is that they will let Spezio DH intermittently for the next two weeks until the roster expands. Hopefully by then Bucky will be ready to play.

    c. Betancourt needs to work on his plate discipline. Last night Betancourt struck out on a high fastball well out of the strike zone.

    d. If you have issues with the Mariner’s lineup construction, take a look at the Angels. I do not understand why Kennedy is batting 9th. Had he batted earlier in the order (before Guerrero), the Angels would have scored several more runs.

  19. slim on August 13th, 2005 3:54 pm

    Let Spiezio DH. Two good things will happen:

    a) Grover will finally see first hand how bad Spiez really is
    b) We get to keep a top 5 draft pick no matter how many free agents we sign this off season

    By September 1, Bucky should be ready to DH at least part time.

    I can’t really think of one good reason for Hasegawa to be here. 8 relievers? That’s crazy.

    Hansen? why? Strong or Dobbs would be more useful.

    They might as well keep Morse on the bench. Who’s easier to trade: the guy hitting .300 with 170 ABs, or the guy hitting .260 in 270 ABs?

  20. Mords on August 13th, 2005 11:03 pm

    “Although I’m not a Bloomquist hater, If I was the GM or the manager he would hardly play another game this year. I’ve already got him penciled in as super utility back up player/pinch runner/bunter for 2006.”

    WFB can’t bunt.

  21. DMZ on August 13th, 2005 11:13 pm

    If I knew I needed to sacrifice bunt next week in a crucial situation, I would call Dan Wilson and see if he was available to come off the DL for a couple of days, stand in the box, drop one down and then just stand there and wait for the force out at first. How many times lately have we seen Bloomquist blow that? For all the talk about his amazing ability to do the little things, he’s done nothing to justify that reputation lately.

  22. world series on August 14th, 2005 12:44 am

    How about his perfect bunt that went for a single the other day? Okay he misfired on his meltdown day, and yes Dan’s our best bunter, but he can’t play 1st through LF either.

  23. Jookie Junk on August 14th, 2005 7:44 am

    Gonzalez/Torrealba catcher. Ichiro right, Reed center, Ibanez left, Strong first OF off the bench. Beltre third, Betancourt short, Lopez second, Sexson first, Bucky DH, Bloomquist first infielder off the bench. Morse to Tacoma to learn left or second. Hanson & Spiezio released/designated for assignment. Leone or Dobbs last man on bench.

    Could someone please tell me why it shouldn’t be done this way? It seems obvious to me.

  24. mark from Oly. on August 14th, 2005 8:53 am

    #4 … boos for Spiezio?… dude you should have seen the boos for Franklin on Saturday when he left. They where horrible!

    Yes, I am a Seattle Baseball fan, so I have a hard time booing anyone not in pinstrips.

  25. eponymous coward on August 14th, 2005 10:26 am

    23- Uh, because the M’s have some bizarre urge to try and recoup some of their $9 million inveestment in Spiezio?

    In other news, Scott Spiezio has managed to win the Mario Mendoza Lifetime Achievement Award: a career batting average as a Mariner of .198 and counting.

  26. Benjamin on August 15th, 2005 4:07 pm

    Looking to next year, who on the current team and in the minors do people see as contibutors to the Mariners. From the look of things, I would say relief has the potential to be okay, with Guardado leading the way;

    Guardado – Closer
    Putz – Short
    Nageotte – Short
    Mateo – Long
    Sherrill – Short
    Soriano – Long

    The starters are a huge question mark, but this is how I would see things shaping up;

    Hernandez – He has to lead this team’s starters
    Moyer – A nice compliment to Hernandez, lefty who throws soft
    3 guys made up of the following – Meche, Pineiro, Harris, Foppert, Bazardo, Livingston

    I’ll try to get to the hitters in followup. I’m curious to see what people think. Obviously, getting another starter should be a strong priority, but I’m not thrilled with the free agent crop.