Let’s be clear: this is about as minor as personnel moves get. Justin Smoak can be on bereavement leave* for a maximum of 7 days, so we’re really talking about a handful of games. The M’s felt confident enough in Ryan Langerhans and Chris Gimenez to hold down the fort at 1B and instead called up a left-handed outfielder, Carlos Peguero.
As you saw if you watched tonight’s game, Peguero’s huge. He’s 6’5″ (at least) and probably over 250 pounds at this point. He’s been playing CF in Tacoma the past few games, though that’s due to injuries – the M’s will use him in LF and at DH. So: why bring up a lefty corner OF when the M’s have Langerhans/Saunders?
1: The M’s don’t really need a 1B for so few games. Langerhans/Gimenez offers them a natural platoon; the true 1B option – Mike Carp – doesn’t offer much more than a slight edge in contact over Langerhans. Defensively, it’s a push at best, and in any event, Carp hasn’t played much 1B this year at all: the Rainiers are trying to get Matt Tuiasosopo as many innings as they can. Tui’s a known entity, but that’s a double-edged sword. Peguero’s moderately hot right now (Tui and Carp really aren’t), and while the sample size is tiny, he’s struck out less than Carp/Tui. None of these guys will be confused for Dustin Ackley.
2: Peguero’s different/somewhat exciting. He’s a hulking man with a swing that’s breath-taking in its ferocity. While you can certainly see why Peguero’s racked up impressive strike-out totals at every stop in the minors. He’s been better in the infancy of the 2011 season, but I’m not going to suggest that he’s now a contact hitter. Still, when Peguero makes contact, he hits the ball hard. Last Friday, Peguero was responsible for perhaps the hardest hit I’ve seen at Cheney stadium. That’s an anecdote and not a compelling argument, but it highlights why I’m OK with this move. Peguero’s entertaining. If I know he’s coming up, I’ll watch. Given the sample sizes involved, this factor dwarfs any performance-related metric. Over the next week, who would you rather see face a righty? (Ackley? Personally, I’d rather he play every day than get 5 at-bats sprinkled over a few games). The M’s were recently shut down by Bruce Chen and Josh Tomlin in games that were almost unwatchable. I’m not crazy about Peguero long-term, but I’m really not crazy about feeling like watching the M’s is an obligation/chore. Go get ’em Carlos.
* This is certainly not minor for Smoak.