They’re tanking

DMZ · June 17, 2008 at 8:00 am · Filed Under Mariners 

They’re sending Balentien down to see if he can play center after being bad defensively in right. To do so, they’re moving Ichiro back to right, creating a hole in center they’d fill with Reed, who is the only other player on the roster who can defend in center. But they’ve also been working him out at first, to replace Sexson, who they’ve turned from a three-outcome power threat into a taller, fitter clone of 2007 Vidro who still can’t play defense.

The roster spot opened up by sending Balentien down will be filled by Jeff Clement, one of the best hitters in the organization, sent down after a 50-PA trial didn’t work out (and replaced by the shorter and one year regressed designated hitter version of the singles-hitting first baseman). Clement is a catcher, but he can’t play catcher because the team already has two, one of which was just signed to a lucrative three-year extension and who hasn’t hit so far this year. They could play him at designated hitter, but that would displace the designated hitter they already have who isn’t hitting.

The could also solve the team’s outfield defense problem by putting the team’s outfield defense problem at designated hitter, so he needs to remain a designated hitter who stands in the outfield and lets balls drop around him and never gets a defensive sub.

A possible solution is to play Clement at catcher and move the recently-signed catcher to first, where they’re also thinking about playing the good defensive center fielder.

The M’s position players, for your amusement
DFA Vidro: DH
DFA Sexson: ?
2B Lopez: 2B
SS Betancourt: SS
3B Beltre: 3B
DH Ibanez: LF
CF/RF Ichiro: RF
UT Bloomquist: CF/UT
UT Cairo: UT
OF Reed: 1B/OF
C Johjima: C/1B
C Burke: C

There’s no rational explanation for what the M’s have done with their lineup this year, or their promotion decisions, their playing time decisions — and yet we all know they’re savvy baseball people who’ve been around the game forever. There must be a reason.

Stephen Strasburg

This is the best-executed plan we’ve seen from the Mariners since they bid for Ichiro.

Comments

49 Responses to “They’re tanking”

  1. isaac on June 17th, 2008 8:10 am

    How does this look:

    RHSP Strasburg: RHRP

  2. bakomariner on June 17th, 2008 8:11 am

    Their refusal to get Raul out of LF is just maddening. How can they REALLY believe that he is ANY good at defense? The guy makes a “great” play once a month (that a regular outfielder would make routine), but lets WAY too many balls land in front or beside him…makes me want to puke…

    The outfield should be Reed, ICHIRO!, and WLAD…DH Raul…1B Johjima/Richie…C Platoon Burke and Clement…DFA Cairo and Vidro…call up Diaz for the 4th outfielder, and he’d give you pop in a PH situation off the bench…

  3. Jeff Nye on June 17th, 2008 8:16 am

    I scrolled up again just to make sure that this was posted by Derek, not Graham.

  4. bakomariner on June 17th, 2008 8:17 am

    Isn’t Strasburg a closer/reliever? Could he converted to a starter? We don’t really need more bullpen help.

    I watched Fields picth the other night in the CWS…he was ridiculous…hit the mid to high 90s with his FB and his CB was SICK…he’s going to be a stud…he should be the 8th inning guy by August…

  5. Mike Honcho on June 17th, 2008 8:22 am

    Strasburg is a starter.

  6. Strang on June 17th, 2008 8:24 am

    This reads like Joseph Heller as a sports writer. Does that make Doyle Snowden?

  7. bakomariner on June 17th, 2008 8:29 am

    5- Was just reading up on him…guess he was a closer his freshman year…my bad…he struck out 23 in a game this year…wholy shit…

    How many years away would he be from the big squad if taken after his junior year next draft?

  8. bakomariner on June 17th, 2008 8:30 am

    Well, the Ms can hire Willie Randolph now…he’s been fired…

  9. argh on June 17th, 2008 8:33 am

    Projected as the best arm in the ’09 draft according to some of the chatter I’ve read. Actually, look down the road two years and you could see a Felix, Morrow, Strasburg top end of the rotation plus maybe Bedard although he’s not acting like he has any interest in staying nor has he shown much reason to shower him with the big money to win his longer term affections. I assume a posting on where Bedard might fit (or not) in the post-wreck Mariners’ world is in preparation out there somewhere.

  10. Graham on June 17th, 2008 8:35 am

    Who’s this Strasburg guy again?

  11. eponymous coward on June 17th, 2008 8:38 am

    Actually, look down the road two years and you could see a Felix, Morrow, Strasburg top end of the rotation plus maybe Bedard although he’s not acting like he has any interest in staying nor has he shown much reason to shower him with the big money to win his longer term affections

    Say, how’d that Piñeiro/Ryan Anderson/Clint Nageotte rotation work out?

    Seriously, don’t do that “two years down the road” thing with pitching prospects- especially involving someone who’s not even under CONTRACT with the Mariners.

  12. bakomariner on June 17th, 2008 8:39 am

    10- Go to the San Diego State U website…kid sounds like he’ll be a stud…

  13. terry on June 17th, 2008 8:40 am

    Dave did a write up on Strasburg after draft day over at fangraphs.

    Was service time an issue with Wlad’s demotion?

  14. Steve Nelson on June 17th, 2008 8:42 am

    My major concern here is that they’re going to blow the roster up, bring in a bunch of new untested young players (whom they are convinced will be downgrades because the new guys aren’t proven gritty vets), and with the upgrade in talent the team will rally so they lose out on Strasburg.

    ****

    Pleas, Pelekoudas, please, for the love of God, please don’t do anything rash or sudden!

  15. bakomariner on June 17th, 2008 8:43 am

    11

    I’m fired up for what we already have under contract…Felix, Morrow, Aumont, Pineda, etc.

    We have a bunch of great arms in the minors even after getting raped in the EB deal…

  16. bakomariner on June 17th, 2008 8:46 am

    My only hopes for this season are:

    1- They dump Vidro before his option kicks in
    2- We get the #1 draft pick
    3- Mac gets fired
    4- We get a GM who is a “nerd” and who actually knows how to evaluate talent…

    Am I asking too much?

  17. Jeff Sullivan on June 17th, 2008 8:49 am

    Just remember whose Strasburg bandwagon it is that you’re riding.

  18. Elwood P. Dowd on June 17th, 2008 8:51 am

    Good post Derek, funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. Good thing it’s just fantasy, like the Bugs Bunny thing.

  19. Colm on June 17th, 2008 8:53 am

    It is indeed eye-popping craziness. Perhaps this is the reason. Does 2009 (long range) project as a shallow draft? 1 stud followed by a bunch of meh college prospects and toolsy high-schoolers?

    Or are the beloved Seattle Mariners the only organisation in baseball who would let someone as obviously out of his depth as John McLaren make decisions like this?

    Wait, I think the English FA also had a manager called McLaren recently, and he was also WAY over his head, so there is precedent.

  20. bakomariner on June 17th, 2008 8:57 am

    Maybe they are tanking on purpose…the “Mojo Rising” has been taken off the official site…maybe they’ve finally given up…

  21. wabbles on June 17th, 2008 9:07 am

    In light of yesterday’s events, I need to ask whether this kind of mess will change with a new GM (and possibly other new faces). I finally bought a DVD player because it was becoming increasingly difficult to find movies on VHS (and now impossible for new releases). So is it too much to hope that when the M’s go shopping for a 20-century GM retread, there won’t be any (just like new release VHS movies) and they’ll have to upgrade to a 21st Century GM? Is it too much to hope? Is it?

  22. fdeezle on June 17th, 2008 9:10 am

    DMZ or Dave,

    Wang is out until September. What are the chances Bedard gets dealt to the Yankees for prospects?

  23. pygmalion on June 17th, 2008 9:15 am

    12 Graham’s affecting an ironic ignorance.

    Either the M’s bizarre actions are designed to make the team lose without being completely obvious about trying to lose (playing Joh in center, Ibanez at short, etc.) or they are the product of complete ignorance. It is impossible that the team is acting in complete ignorance. Therefore the only explanation is that they are to make the team lose. If there is no other explanation, then there is not better explanation. If there is no better explanation, then this is the best explanation. The rules of abductive inference require that we adopt the best explanation as the true one.

    Therefore, until new evidence is found, I am going to treat the Strasburg Hypothesis as an adequate explanation of the phenomena, and act as if it was true.

  24. Steve Nelson on June 17th, 2008 9:23 am

    #16:

    My only hopes for this season are:

    1- They dump Vidro before his option kicks in
    2- We get the #1 draft pick
    3- Mac gets fired
    4- We get a GM who is a “nerd” and who actually knows how to evaluate talent…

    Am I asking too much?

    Yes, you are asking too much. If you pick #2, you can’t pick any of the others.

  25. bakomariner on June 17th, 2008 9:28 am

    24- They can still finish with the worst record without Vidro…

    They can fire Mac and hire Antonetti AFTER we secure the #1 pick…

    It could happen!

  26. notanangrygradstudent on June 17th, 2008 9:33 am

    1- They dump Vidro before his option kicks in

    This is the only truly important task for the interim GM. Keep the next guy from getting saddled with this ablbatross. Everything else is gravy.

  27. JI on June 17th, 2008 9:48 am

    Just remember whose Strasburg bandwagon it is that you’re riding.

    Graham’s?

  28. Goob on June 17th, 2008 10:07 am

    From the article on ESPN about Ichiro being shifted back to right:

    “When I close my eyes and think of Ichiro, I think of [No.] 51 in right field,” McLaren said.

    Fantastic. The man still in control of the team’s daily on-field moves is apparently taking his cues via daydreams. I fully expect to see a giant pink pony playing center field soon.

  29. Adam S on June 17th, 2008 10:21 am

    Most of the time I see the wisdom behind the M’s moves; it’s misguided wisdom, but I see it. But Ichiro -> RF, Balentin -> CF may be a new level of stupid.

    DMZ, Dave, or anyone knowledgeable about outfield defense, how would you rate Ichiro, Reed, Bloomquist and Balentin on CF defense from a 1-10 scale, where 10 is a deserving perennial Gold Glove Winner (Maddox, Blair) and 1 is about the worst guy you’d ever play there (Vidro).

    My sense is Ichiro 7-8, Reed 4-5, Bloomquist 4-5, Balentin 2.

    Thanks

  30. killer_ewok18 on June 17th, 2008 10:21 am

    I finally bought a DVD player because it was becoming increasingly difficult to find movies on VHS. So is it too much to hope that when the M’s go shopping for a 20-century GM retread, there won’t be any and they’ll have to upgrade to a 21st Century GM?

    I’m sure the M’s could find one no one else wants on eBay. And sign it to a 4 year deal.

  31. bonesbarry on June 17th, 2008 10:42 am

    what the hell is going on with the baseball team?

  32. notanangrygradstudent on June 17th, 2008 10:49 am

    what the hell is going on with the baseball team?

    You could devote pretty much an entire website to answering that.

    …Oh.

  33. John in L.A. on June 17th, 2008 10:53 am

    I was wondering about some of those moves last night. Maybe someone here knows the answer.

    The day that Bavasi gets fired there are some immediate, big changes in the use of the roster – Ichiro moves to right, Bloomquist to center.

    My question is… if Bavasi let Mac choose how to use his players, then why that night to make the switch? Was Mac finally free to do what he wanted? Or did the NEW GM take away his freedom to do what he wanted, mandating Ichiro’s move to right?

    Or was it just a “what the hell” move, not really related to Bavasi leaving?

  34. busplunger on June 17th, 2008 10:58 am

    This reads like Joseph Heller as a sports writer. Does that make Doyle Snowden?

    Who is Safeco Field?
    Why is McLaren?
    When is right field?

    Where are the Doyles of yesteryear?

  35. optigan on June 17th, 2008 11:02 am

    They totally had a great reason for moving Ichiro from center–it’s going to juice up his offense!

    ‘The move is said to be permanent and was made, McLaren added, with an eye toward having Ichiro — performing less at the plate than in past years — regain some “zest” and “get it going” offensively.’ -Geoff Baker, Seattle Times

    Remember how Turbo lit it up once he didn’t have to play second anymore? Like that!

  36. John in L.A. on June 17th, 2008 11:05 am

    So was Bavasi forbidding Mac from moving Ichiro? Or did the new GM demand it? Or did it just seem like a good day to try it?

  37. Jason Maxwell on June 17th, 2008 11:11 am

    19 – I think I’d take the English McLaren over the Amrican one at this point

  38. et_blankenship on June 17th, 2008 11:36 am

    6 – Strang said:

    Does that make Doyle Snowden?

    Well, if Doyle truly embodies the departed spirit of the Mariners franchise, then Doyle is definitely Snowden.

    Other candidates:

    Soriano – He was seemingly (and falsely) nursed back to health, his rehabilitation worthless in the end. The entrails of the Soriano/Horacio trade are not unlike Snowden’s intestines unraveling on the floor of the plane, a mess which grows with every turn.

    Randy Johnson – Unfortunately, this would make Yossarian none other than A-Rod but the Johnson trade (Snowden’s death, transition from man to garbage) embodied A-Rod’s desire to evade the Mariners (death in combat, ill-conceived cause) and seek low-key fortune elsewhere (escape to neutral Sweden).

    I love that book. Defeinitely my all-time fave.

  39. PaulMolitorCocktail on June 17th, 2008 11:44 am

    Does that make Doyle Snowden?

    Who is Major Major Major Major?

  40. edgar for mayor on June 17th, 2008 11:46 am

    Well Strasburg is certainley an advantage to loosing as many games as possible.

  41. et_blankenship on June 17th, 2008 12:03 pm

    Who is Major Major Major Major?

    Like MMMM, Bavasi was promoted to a post for which he was not qualified thanks to the name his father gave him, plus he just crawled out of the proverbial window without taking responsibility for anything. Eventually, MMMM exits the story but nobody knows if he is hiding by choice or if he was “dissapeared.”

  42. Hustl504 on June 17th, 2008 12:14 pm

    Will Strasburg have the veteran grit to come in right away and start?

  43. Steve T on June 17th, 2008 12:37 pm

    I’m still agog over these putative “sabermetricians” who predicted 97 wins.

    Is there any reason to think Sexson couldn’t play SS? Vidro can throw the ball; I’m sure he could become our closer. Morrow and RRS to the rotation NOW, no more wasting time with “learning” or “coaching”, Johjima to CF, Ibanez — duh! Catcher! He used to be a catcher 15 years ago, right? Washburn can play 1B. Clement needs to sit on the bench and absorb scrappiness from Cairo or Willie while the other plays 2B.

  44. ChrisK on June 17th, 2008 12:57 pm

    Oh this is priceless. I’m listening to an interview with Lee Elia and he throws out this beauty:

    “If a guy is a career .280 hitter, we certainly expect him to hit .280 for us.”

    That pretty much sums up the Mariners outdated philosophies in one fell swoop:

    1. Batting average is the key hitting metric
    2. They have no concept of performance regression over time
    3. They prefer ‘proven’ players over younger players every time

    The only thing missing from that quote is their notion that they can “teach” plate discipline to a roster of free-swinging hackers.

  45. huhwhat on June 17th, 2008 1:11 pm

    Yeah if the M’s don’t take Strasburg, I’m gonna go nuts.

  46. notanangrygradstudent on June 17th, 2008 1:58 pm

    The only thing missing from that quote is their notion that they can “teach” plate discipline to a roster of free-swinging hackers.

    “Plate discipline” to the M’s means “not striking out”. It does not mean “not making outs”.

  47. DAMellen on June 17th, 2008 2:24 pm

    At the very least, it does seem like Wlad belonged in the minors while Clement deserves a legitimate shot in the majors. If that means Raul plays left, then I’m okay with that. I’d rather have Strasburg than a good team anyways. As far as moving Ichiro to right, that is the desperate act of a madman.

  48. wabbles on June 17th, 2008 8:31 pm

    No, this isn’t the desperate act of a madman. A madman has a plan, however sick or twisted. The people making these lineup and roster moves have no plan.

  49. zDawgg on June 17th, 2008 10:51 pm

    Ichiro doesn’t like CF, so he gets to go back to his old spot. Fine. But it is time to get the average up.

    At least we don’t have an NBA-style lottery draft.

    Could you imagine sucking like this for 6 months and NOT getting the #1 pick?

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