Fourth Outfielder

Dave · March 23, 2008 at 11:11 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The M’s came to spring training with the fourth outfielder job up for grabs. The competitors – Mike Morse, Wladimir Balentien, Charlton Jimerson, and Jeremy Reed – have all displayed their various skills and flaws, and right now, it should be pretty apparent to the M’s that none of the four are the right fit. Morse is as much an adventure in the outfield as Ibanez, which isn’t surprising given his minimal experience. Balentien is better served playing every day in Tacoma. Jimerson just isn’t good enough to play a real role on a contender. And Jeremy Reed is left-handed, just like all three of the Mariners starting outfielders.

Really, the M’s fourth OF should be some combination of the following: right-handed (and,
thanks to Safeco, probably a gap hitter, not a power guy), ability to hit LHPs, strong defensively (ability to cover CF a huge plus), solid to plus baserunner, some modicum of plate discipline. The ideal fourth OF for the M’s would have all those skills, but a hodgepodge of most of them would do okay and be better than the internal options. Where would they find such a player at this point?

Well, Reed Johnson just got released by Toronto and is looking for work. Let’s look at the checklist:

1. Right Handed gap hitter?


2. Ability to hit LHPs?

.308/.371/.462 career mark against southpaws.

3. Strong defensively?

Pretty much every metric has him as a very good defensive corner outfielder and average-ish in center.

4. Solid to plus baserunner?

Has some speed, but isn’t a huge asset on the bases. Probably not.

5. Modicum of plate discipline?

Career walk rate of 5.4%, K rate of 18.4%, while most projections have him at 6% and 19% respectively. So no, not so much.

An average projection for Reed Johnson would probably come out to .270/.320/.380 in Safeco, or something along those lines. That’s not a great player, but combined with above average defense and a skillset that fills in the gaps left by the M’s starting outfielders, he’d be an asset.

The M’s repeatedly say they’re serious about winning this year. If that’s true, they should immediately throw Miguel Cairo overboard and replace him with Reed Johnson.


70 Responses to “Fourth Outfielder”

  1. rea on March 24th, 2008 10:00 am

    If you’re looking for a righty with a good glove in the OF, you could always offer the Tigers a reliever in return for Brandon Inge (who will probably start in CF for the Tigers on opening day, barring a trade or an unexpectedly rapid recovery from a broken hand by Curtis Granderson. . . .)

  2. JI on March 24th, 2008 10:08 am

    So I am the only person left who thinks Mike Morse sucks?

    Check out his skillset:

    -Slow singles hitter
    -(which implies) no power
    -Won’t really take a walk if offered
    -Blows at defense

    What am I missing?

    The only possible use I can think of for Morse is that of a 25th man on an NL team where you need more disposable pinch hitters. Trade him, or cut him and be done with it. He doesn’t fit here.

  3. Steve T on March 24th, 2008 10:24 am

    Mike Morse is doing well in Spring Training and has been mildly successful in a very small sample of plate appearances at Safeco Field. Since it is clear that he will be an above average player, isn’t this whole topic a moot point?

    Dave, be careful banging your head against the desk. It’s bad for the head and for the desk.

  4. Carson on March 24th, 2008 11:05 am

    So, I can’t help but to be a little excited.

    Edgar just walked by my [cubicle].

    Apparently he’s here to do some business with us. [Thankfully] none of the 80-100 people in my area who started popping up to peer out of their cubes at him ran up and asked for an [autograph] or anything.

  5. jlc on March 24th, 2008 11:26 am

    54- For all that I love the statistical approach to baseball between games, when I’m actually watching it, I turn into a 10-year old. I even get a thrill seeing the sons of my childhood heros coaching at A level. An Edgar sighting definitely rates a little excitement.

  6. Ralph_Malph on March 24th, 2008 12:13 pm

    let us also remember the elevation of those Arizona playing fields (more than 1000 feet above sea level), that in such thin air curve balls tend not to curve, sliders tend not to slide.

    At 1000 feet, the atmospheric pressure is 3.6% lower than at sea level. At 5,000 feet, by comparison, the atmospheric pressure is 16.8% lower than at sea level. The pressure difference in Arizona is insignificant.

    Atlanta, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh are all over 1000 feet; Minneapolis and Cleveland are around 800. Chicago, Detroit, Arlington (Texas) and Milwaukee are all over 600 feet.

    The altitude in Arizona is irrelevant to spring training stats.

    Dry air might possibly be a factor, but not altitude or heat. Dry air is, actually, heavier than wet air, counterintuitively, because water molecules are lighter than nitrogen.

  7. bakomariner on March 24th, 2008 12:29 pm

    WLAD just got dropped down to Tacoma…one less candidate…

  8. Carson on March 24th, 2008 12:41 pm

    Dammit. I just came back from lunch to an IM that he was going around signing autographs for all comers.

    Do I even need to say how extremely bummed out I am right now?

  9. scott19 on March 24th, 2008 2:20 pm

    56: I would tend to agree that the altitude factor (except in Denver) is a bit overrated as well. Though ST and the regular season might be apples and oranges, it’s interesting how the “thin, dry air” never really seemed to stop RJ and Schilling back about 6-7 years ago or Brandon Webb these days.

  10. marinerfaninvenice on March 24th, 2008 5:18 pm

    There’s not a great fit for Morse on M’s — or not a good enough fit. I think (or hope) Bavasi is showcasing his spring to swing a trade for some bullpen arms. Maybe package Cairo/WFB in there, too. I see a great fit for Morse in Cincy or SD.

    Subtract Morse & Cairo/WFB, move Vidro to bench. Reed J and J Reed in OF. If J Reed doesn’t perform in April, bring up Wlad/Clement.

  11. Breadbaker on March 24th, 2008 6:23 pm

    Does anyone know why Johnson was cut by Toronto?

  12. scraps on March 24th, 2008 7:10 pm

    61: A glut of good outfielders.

  13. currcoug on March 24th, 2008 7:16 pm


    I mentioned Morse’s limited pinch hit stats because some had argued that Norton was a superior pinch hitter. I submitted Norton’s PH stats over the last three years (32 AB’s), which are awful.

    We can all agree that Morse is not an everyday player. Morse’s roll on the team is to PH for Ibanez, Wilkerson, etc., late in the game, and/or face lefties (if only McLaren understood this concept). That is also the reason I mentioned his success at coming off the bench late in the game and getting hits.

    One factor that has not been mentioned is: what happens if Beltre’s ligament tears completely? I would rather have Morse, than Bloomquist or Cairo at 3B. If Morse doesn’t make the team, and Beltre is injured, would it surprise anyone to see Bavasi trade a top prospect away for another 3B?

  14. BillyJive on March 24th, 2008 7:34 pm

    Does anyone remember who was the M’s best hitter last ST?
    Answer: Willie Bloomquist
    Just thought I’d throw that out there…
    Being a Canadian means I am forced to watch a lot of Blue Jays baseball. Reed Johnson would be a good addition to the team…heck…I’d start him over Wilkerson.
    I’ll take Reed J. over J. Reed anyday…

  15. scott19 on March 24th, 2008 7:56 pm

    I am forced to watch a lot of Blue Jay baseball

    So the Baseball Gods of the North have tied you to a chair whenever the Jays are playing…LOL! 😉

    Actually, though, I agree…I think Reed J. would be a nice addition to the M’s roster as well.

  16. Taylor H on March 25th, 2008 8:12 am

    So about how much would we be paying Johnson. Would his old salary carry over to us, or would we need to offer him like a 1 year deal?

  17. currcoug on March 25th, 2008 11:12 am

    If Johnson is signed, I hope he gets rid of his horrid goatee, which brings back unpleasant memories of Rick White’s red, hairy obscenity.

  18. currcoug on March 25th, 2008 5:21 pm
  19. Steve T on March 25th, 2008 7:00 pm

    If Beltre’s ligament goes, we’re screwed. We cannot afford to have another crappy hitter in the lineup AND another crappy defender in the field. Morse, Bloomquist, Cairo — it doesn’t matter, we cannot afford to have any of these guys playing every day at third (or anywhere else).

  20. JerBear on March 25th, 2008 8:27 pm

    …memories of Rick White’s red, hairy obscenity.

    Dude, that thing was naaaaasty.

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