Optimizing The End Of The Roster
As we saw yesterday, there’s a downside to carrying a 12th pitcher in lieu of a 14th position player – not having a fifth spot on the bench means that you can find yourself in some bad spots if a couple of position players are dinged up at the same time. The M’s were lucky that they got a great performance out of Felix and the bullpen on a day when they put a line-up on the field that couldn’t score at a brothel.
Seriously, against a right-handed pitcher in a park that is death to right-handed batters, the Mariners ran out a line-up that went L-L-R-R-R-R-R-R-R, and one of the Ls was Endy Chavez. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was James Shields, James Baldwin, or James the VI – the Mariners weren’t going to put up much offense yesterday.
As we mentioned coming out of spring training, the team is too right-handed. Of the 13 position players they’re carrying, nine of them are right-handed bats. They team is currently incapable of playing a LH bat at catcher, second base, shortstop, or third base on any given day. If any of the four LH bats need a day off, for any reason, the team has to replace them with a right-handed hitter. So, frequently, you’re going to see line-ups with just two or three LH bats in the line-up against an RHP, and that’s a pretty big problem.
For instance, this weekend the Mariners will be facing Shane Loux, Anthony Ortega, and Jered Weaver. Here are the career platoon splits for those three.
Loux: .642 OPS vs RH, 1.004 OPS vs LH
Ortega: No Major League Experience
Weaver: .661 OPS vs RH, .767 OPS vs LH
Loux’s sinker is a nice weapon against righties, as we saw last week, but he’s got nothing against lefties. He’s basically Sean Green out there, throwing his sinker and getting torched by opposite handed hitters. They don’t even have to be good – a crappy left-handed bat can look like a star against pitchers like Loux. Ortega is basically the same thing, just with less of a sinker. And Weaver’s stuff plays up much better against righties than lefties.
If the M’s had a LH bat off the bench, they could add a legitimate offensive weapon this weekend, even if that guy wasn’t a great hitter, simply due to the matchups. The right-handedness of the team’s position players is a handicap that is really going to hurt them in series like this.
This team needs a fifth bench player a lot more than they need a 12th pitcher. Shawn Kelley didn’t even pitch in the Tampa Bay series. Miguel Batista is getting used every four days or so. The Mariners run prevention has been excellent, and the team is getting innings from the rotation.
I know Jeff Clement had a bad spring and isn’t tearing the cover off the ball in Tacoma, but he’d be a pretty useful guy to have around right now. Or, just go sign Geoff Jenkins or trade for Adam Kennedy or something. The team needs a left-handed reserve. They can’t keep running out these overly RH line-ups and giving teams easy matchups to shut them down.