Next Need: Lefty OF/1B

Dave · May 2, 2008 at 11:50 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Now that the Mariners have made some line-up changes, they’re going forward with a line-up that looks essentially like this:

1. Ichiro – LH
2. Lopez – RH
3. Ibanez – LH
4. Beltre – RH
5. Clement/Vidro – LH / B
6. Sexson – RH
7. Balentien – RH
8. Johjima – RH
9. Betancourt – RH

They might shuffle the batting order, but you get the idea. That’s an awful lot of “RH” notations in there. Even when they run up against a right-handed starting pitcher, they’re running out six right-handed bats and just three left-handed bats. This makes them a very easy matchup for right-handed sinker/slider arms who do well against same handed hitters but are vulnerable to lefties. The M’s just don’t have enough LH bats to exploit that type of pitcher. The imbalance allows them to really pound southpaws, but considering that 75% of all pitchers out there are righties, that’s not the side you want to beat up on.

The M’s offensive splits bare out the results of this overly right-handed line-up:

Vs RHP: .238/.303/.364, OPS+ of 82
Vs LHP: .321/.371/.491, OPS+ of 136

Having Clement replace Vidro will improve the offense vs RHPs, but the improvement there isn’t large enough for the team to contend. It’s a start, not a finish. This team simply needs another left-handed bat in the line-up, or they’ll keep getting shut down by the likes of Paul Byrd (career .692 OPS vs RH, .852 vs LH), and those are pitchers they simply can’t afford to not beat up on.

The team has options. Richie Sexson’s entire value so far this season has come from whacking southpaws (.364/.417/.682 vs LHP, .192/.304/.397 vs RHP), and his skills are tailor made for a platoon. Ideally, I’d like to see Sexson take over the role of Clement’s platoon partner and DH vs LHP, which would put Vidro permanently on the bench where he belongs. That would free up first base for an acquisition of Nick Johnson, simultaneously adding a quality left-handed bat with plate discipline and upgrading the defense.

However, I know that’s unlikely, so the next best move would be for the team to pick up a left-handed hitting outfielder. Balentien simply isn’t as likely to help this team win as Clement is, and getting him regular playing time shouldn’t be a priority compared to winning baseball games.

Until the M’s add some balance to the line-up, we’re going to continue to see things like last night, where marginal right-handers shut the team down due to a lack of quality lefty bats in the line-up. The M’s made a good step forward by promoting Clement and admitting that Wilkerson was a mistake, but they can’t stop now. This team needs another bat from the left side, and the sooner, the better.


93 Responses to “Next Need: Lefty OF/1B”

  1. currcoug on May 2nd, 2008 1:34 pm

    Reed had a solid year in 2007. Here are Reed’s numbers to date in 2008 in 91 AB’s:

    .385 AVG., .447 OBP, .604 SLG, 1.051 OPS

  2. bakomariner on May 2nd, 2008 1:35 pm

    Nobody is talking about JJ because, as you said, it’s inappropriate for this thread…

  3. _David_ on May 2nd, 2008 1:38 pm

    Maybe I’m just venting frustration, but what kind of logic or thought process prevents the Mariners from seeing that signing Patterson for outfield defense and baserunning and someone like John McDonald for infield defense is superior to Bloomquist/Cairo?

  4. LefebvreBelebvre on May 2nd, 2008 1:43 pm

    [what part of off-topic don’t you understand?]

  5. bakomariner on May 2nd, 2008 1:43 pm

    I would be worried that in any trade, BB would get ripped off as usual…the safest way to improve is from within…dump Cairo for Jeremy Reed…move Raul to 1B…platoon Richie with Raul or Clement…

  6. JMHawkins on May 2nd, 2008 1:44 pm

    I should added that Cairo should be released as well.

    Why not give a shot to Reed?

    Agree. I really don’t see the need for Cairo and Bloomquist both on the roster, and a real backup OF would be nice. Plus, I think they need to give Reed one final shot – either that or trade him. He’s not doing the team any good wacking the ball around T-Town at age 27.

  7. Jimmie the Geek on May 2nd, 2008 1:52 pm

    Every time someone suggests trading for Griffey, God kills a kitten. Think of the kittens!

    I personally like the Nick Johnson idea. Too bad my name isn’t Howard Lincoln…


  8. Paul B on May 2nd, 2008 1:55 pm

    I really don’t see the need for Cairo and Bloomquist both on the roster, and a real backup OF would be nice.

    They’ve backed themselves into a corner with Cairo because they need to use Bloomquist as the 4th outfielder.

    It’s silly, but once you make the decision that you have to have Cairo on the bench so you can use WFB, then you have no room on the bench for a real outfielder to platoon.

  9. galaxieboi on May 2nd, 2008 1:57 pm

    I’d love to have Nick Johnson, but I can’t see the Nats moving him at this point. I’m sure they’d let Young go for a lot less than Nick.

    *checking fangraphs*

    Holy moly. Nick Johnson really is unlucky. 28% LD while only getting .237 BABIP. If I were the M’s I’d try calling the Nationals and saying, ‘Whoa, lookit that .217 average! I got a fella in Tacoma batting .385!’.

    Yeah, either him or Pat-ter-son. Or, he-who-shall-not-be-named.

  10. arbeck on May 2nd, 2008 1:59 pm

    We know how Jim Bowden likes to collect outfielders!

  11. galaxieboi on May 2nd, 2008 2:03 pm


    Oh, I’m a big Russell Branyan fan too. Dave, do you think he could hit better than .220, .230? And if he’s walking and hitting for power, would it even matter?

  12. lailaihei on May 2nd, 2008 2:03 pm

    Nick Johnson would be a great upgrade, I’d love to see him in an Ms uni.

  13. donger on May 2nd, 2008 2:05 pm

    Can anybody explain what OPS + is? It’s hard to google because of the operator

  14. downwarddog on May 2nd, 2008 2:06 pm

    Corey Patterson with his .297 career OBP is lucky to still be in the majors and if it wasn’t for Dusty Baker’s unnatural love for him, he’d still be waiting for the call. He can field and that’s it. Why the love? I just don’t see it … yet, meanwhile, Griffey’s worthless? He did play in 144 games last year going .277/.372/.496. Not great, but not too shabby.

  15. galaxieboi on May 2nd, 2008 2:07 pm

    It’s On Base Percentage adjusted for the Park. So, I believe, it makes OPS Park neutral. Please, correct me if I’m wrong. I’m not sure if it corrects for era.

  16. Graham on May 2nd, 2008 2:08 pm

    Can anybody explain what OPS + is? It’s hard to google because of the operator

    The quick definition of OPS+ is park adjusted OPS/league average OPS. This isn’t quite true, but close enough.

  17. Xteve X on May 2nd, 2008 2:12 pm

    “I should added that Cairo should be released as well.

    Why not give a shot to Reed? ”

    Yeah, dumping Cairo for Reed is the quick and dirty solution.

  18. Ollie in Raleigh on May 2nd, 2008 2:15 pm

    How high are the Padres on their left-handed OFers in Portland? Is Gerut MLB ready? I worry if the FO makes a move for anyone with any amount of major league experience, we will get fleeced.

  19. themedia on May 2nd, 2008 2:18 pm

    I know this is unrelated, but [unrelated]

  20. gwangung on May 2nd, 2008 2:22 pm

    Griffey’s worthless? He did play in 144 games last year going .277/.372/.496.

    In a hitter’s ballpark (PARK ADJUSTMENTS!!!) and in a league that was distinctly less than the AL.

    Strikes me as being more on the shabby side, myself…..

  21. irish on May 2nd, 2008 2:27 pm

    I’m not happy with any of these OPS+ definitions.

    OPS+ is a park-adjusted percentile comparison of a players OPS to the league-average OPS.

    For instance, a hitter with a OPS+ of 100 will have a league-average OPS (park adjusted), while a hitter with a 150 OPS+ will have an OPS 150% of the league average.

  22. SeattleRealtor on May 2nd, 2008 2:33 pm

    Its funny. I seem to remember someone that fit that description, except he was a switch hitter and was DFA’d by a certain team. Something about battinf .438/.500/.563 wasn’t quite good enough.

  23. Graham on May 2nd, 2008 2:38 pm

    OPS+ is a park-adjusted percentile comparison of a players OPS to the league-average OPS.

    Which is exactly what I said, really.

  24. lailaihei on May 2nd, 2008 2:39 pm

    I would hate it if the Mariners signed Griffey. Sure, the highlight game of last season that I went to was when he came into the Safe and hit a couple HRs and O’Face struck him out, but there are better, cheaper, younger options.
    Turnbow is pretty much replacement level at this point.

  25. HighBrie on May 2nd, 2008 2:41 pm

    How does a prospect hitting .295/.380/.568 with 21RBI in 26games sound? Meet Bryan LaHair, left-handed 1B starting for your Tacoma Raniers.

  26. bakomariner on May 2nd, 2008 2:44 pm

    Re: LaHair…not to speak for Dave, but I think I remember him saying that LaHair’s not any good…

  27. lailaihei on May 2nd, 2008 2:47 pm

    Re:Re: LaHair
    He isn’t any good.

  28. SeattleRealtor on May 2nd, 2008 3:17 pm

    I still want to see Greg Norton back up.

  29. irish on May 2nd, 2008 3:19 pm

    Which is exactly what I said, really.

    The hardest part of OPS+ to understand is the number system. Just trying to make that part of it clear.

  30. Typical Idiot Fan on May 2nd, 2008 3:21 pm

    Re: LaHair

  31. Typical Idiot Fan on May 2nd, 2008 3:22 pm

    Re: LaHair

    The flipside to the LaHair discussion is that if he was ever going to be good, it’s pretty much now. At 25, he’s about maxed out on his abilities. Whether this month is his true talent level or a fluke remains to be seen. He’s done this before.

  32. CCW on May 2nd, 2008 3:39 pm

    To echo a few others here… Greg Norton might not be Nick Johnson, but he can play 1B and OF (at least as well as Ibanez and Sexson can…), he hits righties pretty well, and he’s free. He’s clearly better then Vidro or Cairo. Anyone have an insight why they released him? Is he jerk or something?

  33. terry on May 2nd, 2008 3:49 pm

    I love Corey Patterson… a defensive replacement for Raul in the 8th or 9th inning… as a starter….there is no upgrade there.

  34. Gomez on May 2nd, 2008 3:55 pm

    82. A guess: Norton is owed the minimum. Cairo is owed ~$850K. Vidro is owed ~$9 million. Dumpting Norton is a lower sunk cost than dumping the others, and the marginal gain of keeping Norton over one of the others likely didn’t justify creating a sunk cost in dumping one of the others from the M’s POV.

  35. oystercracker on May 2nd, 2008 4:01 pm

    What does Corey Patterson bring that Jeremy Reed doesn’t?

  36. Matthew Carruth on May 2nd, 2008 4:04 pm


    Can anybody explain what OPS + is? It’s hard to google because of the operator

    try googling OPS+

  37. gps on May 2nd, 2008 4:23 pm

    There have been several mentions of Russell Branyan in this thread. I had him sitting around on my DMB team for years, just waiting for someone to give him a chance to play regularly. He was always platooned, though his career split is actually pretty small. His career OPS= is 107. He’s hitting .363, OPS 1.058 at Nashville.

  38. andrew23 on May 2nd, 2008 4:34 pm

    Long time lurker — first time poster.

    I’m a Reds fan and really wonder why you have any interest at all in Corey Patterson. He’s been dreadful this year, and I’d be happy for you to take him off our hands.

    I guess if you hit him 8th or 9th, he wouldn’t be such a drag on your offense, but he’s KILLING us at leadoff.

    A .306 OBP, even with the .428 SLG, wouldn’t seem to be very valuable.

  39. north on May 2nd, 2008 4:56 pm

    Have the Nationals made any sounds about wanting to trade Johnson? What it the basis for the Johnson wishing?

    I suppose I am asking – What is the reasoning from the Nats perspective?

    (Of course the real answer is obvious, but someone has already made the obligatory mention. The Jays are also a team with a good starting rotation that is that one controversial left-handed bat away from competing.)

  40. joser on May 2nd, 2008 4:59 pm

    Dave thinks Patterson is still poised for a breakout year. I’m a skeptic. (I would’ve taken Patterson over Wilkerson in the off-season, and I’d be willing to consider picking him up if the Reds released him, but I just don’t see him worth trading anything for).

  41. Dicky Amaral on May 2nd, 2008 5:08 pm

    I really agree with all of the Reed talk… at one time he was considered “Adam Jonesish” when the M’s picked him up as a part of the Freddy deal. It would be nice to actually salvage something from that deal.

    At the very least he would give you a true fourth outfielder and add a left handed bat. Bring him up and DFA Cairo… seems to me the only reason that Bavasi would hold onto Cairo is that he is worried that Lopez will drop off the face of the earth like he did last year.

  42. downwarddog on May 3rd, 2008 7:21 am

    re: Corey Patterson’s breakout year. I’d love to see the list of players who finally figured it out in their ninth season in the big leagues.

  43. BigJared on May 3rd, 2008 12:58 pm

    Ummm? Johnson seems to have spent much of his 20’s on the DL.
    Can that be expected to improve now that he’s nearing 30?

    Corey Patterson has racked up a wood smoking .712 career OPS playing in hitter’s parks like Wrigley and Camden Yards. He’s going to do better at Safeco???
    He also likes striking out and doesn’t like walking. A 4.5 K/BB ratio isn’t too great when you’re not providing power. He does bring speed, defense and outstanding base stealing skills, but another free swinging minimal power guy is NOT what this lineup needs. With that said, Bavasi will probably trade a couple good prospects to get him!

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