Olivo Injury Forces Roster Decisions

Dave · April 30, 2012 at 8:15 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

If you missed it, Miguel Olivo left tonight’s game in Tampa Bay with what has been called a strained groin, but he had to be helped off the field and almost certainly looks bound for the disabled list. Let’s just get this out of the way – I’m not celebrating Miguel Olivo’s injury, nor do I encourage anyone else to find joy in his personal pain. That said, there’s an old saying about silver linings, and this cloud may be a little less toothsome than most.

With Olivo likely DL bound, the Mariners are going to have to make a decision on a replacement, and in reality, they have two options.

A. Call up Guillermo Quiroz to serve as the emergency catcher, use Jaso/Montero as a C/DH platoon.

Against RHPs, this probably makes the Mariners better, as Jaso would essentially substitute into Olivo’s line-up spot regardless of which of the two was actually behind the plate on any given day. This would allow Wedge to continue to use Montero behind the plate at the same pace he’s been using him while still getting him at-bats at DH and not put the team in another situation where they had to forfeit the DH if one of the two catchers went down with an injury.

Against LHPs, its a bit more of a problem. Quiroz is a right-handed bat, so Wedge could use him behind the plate and Montero at DH to maintain the mostly RHB-heavy line-ups he’s been favoring, which would probably be the best option. The other option would be to start Montero behind the plate and use Liddi at DH, keeping Seager on the field at third base. Seager’s not very good against LHPs, so the team might actually be better off with Quiroz, but you can make an argument that Seager getting at-bats against lefties is more important for the franchise than getting a marginal upgrade by having Quiroz’s right-handed bat in the line-up.

Neither solution is perfect, but my guess is that Wedge would go with Quiroz behind the plate, as it wouldn’t force him to have Montero catch more than originally planned.

B. Call up Mike Carp, have Montero/Jaso split time behind the plate, and have Carp DH until he shows he’s ready to resume regular OF work.

To me, this is probably the right call. Yes, Carp’s been lousy down in Tacoma and his shoulder may still be bothering him, but he was down there to get his hacks in, not try to earn his way back to the club. By having him come back and DH, the team could get a better look at where he’s at and try to inject a bit more offense into the line-up without forcing him to rush back to the outfield upon his return. The offensive upgrade of going from Olivo to Carp could be substantial, and would force the team to give Jaso and Montero regular time behind the plate. It’s obvious that Wedge doesn’t yet trust Jaso to catch, but that fear isn’t based in any kind of reality, and keeping another catcher off the roster would force him to actually watch Jaso play and hopefully realize that he’s a Major League quality catcher who deserves more playing time than he’s gotten so far.

This option doesn’t come without its risks, however. On days when Jaso catches and Montero DHs, the team runs the risk of losing the DH spot if Jaso gets injured, and they also forfeit the ability to pinch-hit or pinch-run for him in any late game situation. Since he’s slow and lousy against lefties, he’s a late game match-up weakness, and opposing managers would exploit those issues. But, those risks are outweighed by the upside of Jaso showing Wedge that he actually can catch and offer some more offense against right-handed pitching from behind the plate, which could lead to a more optimal playing time distribution even after Olivo returns from his injury.

My guess is that Wedge is going to push for option A, and we’ll see Quiroz joining the team tomorrow. It’d be nice if Jack told him it was time to see what Jaso could do behind the plate and didn’t give him the option of using Quiroz as the new crutch, however. Option A is easier. Option B is better. Let’s hope the team goes with better.


23 Responses to “Olivo Injury Forces Roster Decisions”

  1. Paul L on April 30th, 2012 8:34 pm

    It’s fascinating how many times I come here and read:
    – there’s Option A & Option B
    – we think Option A is the better move
    – Wedge will probably do Option B

    Then…he picks Option B.

  2. Westside guy on April 30th, 2012 8:57 pm

    On the bright side – even if they bring up Quiroz, there’s no way Wedge will make him the “everyday catcher”, right?

    I’m looking for some reassurance here!

  3. Carson on April 30th, 2012 8:59 pm

    @Westy – Well, I fully expect Quiroz to be the starting catcher tomorrow with Jaso on the bench. But, we can chalk that up as pessimism rather than insight or rational thought.

  4. just a fan on April 30th, 2012 9:25 pm

    M’s should go with Option B and call up Carp’s bat. With some crafty lineup manipulation, Jaso could be sandwiched between Montero and Liddi. (of course, Wedge makes the lineup)

    It’s ironic (or whatever it is that always gets mistaken for ironic) that the M’s carry 3 catchers to avoid exactly the situation that happened tonight when Olivo got hurt. I think it’s an overblown problem. But if it becomes a problem carrying two catchers when one is often the DH, then maybe that could be the time to make a decision on Figgins.

  5. shortbus on April 30th, 2012 9:35 pm

    Per Larry Stone’s Twitter:

    Olivo is headed for DL. Wedge said it’s likely Montero and Jaso will split catching, and good chance Carp will come up to fill roster spot.

  6. bookbook on April 30th, 2012 9:36 pm

    Is there any chance that Jaso is nursing a small injury that is keeping him from behind the plate. My (somewhat) rational mind keeps trying to assign logic to the absolute refusal to give Jaso an inning behind the plate.

  7. Westside guy on April 30th, 2012 9:41 pm

    Is Carp out of options?

  8. just a fan on April 30th, 2012 9:49 pm

    Yes, Carp is out of options.

  9. Westside guy on April 30th, 2012 10:12 pm

    Olivo described his injury as “hurting and real painful.” Whatever else you say about him – and I’ve ragged on him a lot – you can’t deny the guy is tough as nails. If he says it’s real painful, it must be REALLY painful.

    Poor dude – it hurts me just to think about it!

  10. Adam S on April 30th, 2012 11:13 pm

    I’m not celebrating Miguel Olivo’s injury, nor do I encourage anyone else to find joy in his personal pain.

    On a personal level, Miguel Olivo seems to be a nice guy and I bear him no ill will, and I’m truly sorry to see him suffering from an injury that must be painful.

    But on a baseball level, I’m celebrating because he’s a lousy ball player the Mariners insist on running out there six days a week and the Mariners are a better team with him on the sidelines. As well, I get physically ill when I see “Olivo DH” come across Twitter. I think this helps the team short term — at bats to anyone else but mostly Jaso — and long term in that the team should recognize that Jaso is the best catcher they have.

  11. Kazinski on April 30th, 2012 11:25 pm

    Just as Olivo was starting to heat up, in the last week he’s hitting .280 and hit 2 HR.

    I’ll bet by the end of May he’d be leading the position players (but not Montero) in HR and RBI’s and we’d never get him out of there. I feel bad for Olivo too, getting hurt, but I don’t feel bad for Jaso. I haven’t seen him catch, but I want to see why Wedge didn’t think he was better than Olivo.

  12. mossi on May 1st, 2012 1:19 am

    Plan C? Perhaps they might send the last man in the bullpen down,who very rarely pitches and seems ineffective when he does, and call both players up?

  13. MrZDevotee on May 1st, 2012 4:04 am

    I think Plan B actually will be the way to go, since Carp’s rehab stint is up in a couple days and they have to make a move with him. Either that, or if they bring up Quiroz too than someone else has to go down. But Carp pretty much HAS to come back on the roster, if I’m not mistaken (regardless of Olivo’s injury).

  14. terryoftacoma on May 1st, 2012 4:39 am

    I had to walk away from this and think. I don’t believe option A was on the table very long with Carp out of options and forcing a decision in the next couple of days either way. Our DH/1B will for a while be Smoak, Carp and Liddi with Liddi getting some starts at 3B. I doubt we’ll see much of Carp in left until his bat improves.Until then Figgins will continue to see most of the time out there.
    For those of us that have wanted to see Jaso catch, with only two catchers going forward we finally will. However, due to only 2 catchers it becomes pretty much an either or. The more we see Jaso the less we see Montero. One of those two has to sit everyday and I’m betting Montero starts most of the days with Jaso starting maybe once or twice a week.
    We could,of course, still add another catcher and see more Jaso, and Montero would be in most games but we’d have to drop someone from the Wells, Liddi, and Smoak’s crowd to do that or has Mossi mentioned a pitcher.
    On that note, Wedge needs to use Charlie, Hisahi, and Erasmo more because Tom and Brandon are currently on a pace to appear in 90+ games which will burn them out.

  15. djw on May 1st, 2012 5:28 am

    One of those two has to sit everyday

    No. You just risk losing the DH for part of a game. It’s entirely doable, as Dave clearly describes in this very post. Whether Wedge will do it, I don’t know, but it’s an entirely plausible option.

  16. terryoftacoma on May 1st, 2012 6:21 am

    Not many managers will willingly give away his DH spot,even for an inning, not gonna happen whether Dave says it’s doable or not. Managers don’t thhink that way for the most part. Wish they did, you wouldn’t lose much if you did but it’s not likely to happen.

  17. Paul B on May 1st, 2012 7:14 am

    The funny thing is (injuries are not funny, but managerial decisions can be) that, even with 3 catchers, the M’s had to give up the DH last night.

  18. Thoan on May 1st, 2012 7:50 am

    Dave, your use of the word “toothsome” doesn’t really fit the context. “Toothsome” means “attractive” (or “tasty”), but your writing seemed to use it as “toothy.” Isn’t your point that the silver lining is less tarnished than is often the case? In that case, “toothsome” doesn’t convey your meaning.

  19. EricL on May 1st, 2012 8:26 am

    According to Greg Johns on twitter, the team went with “better.”

    Color me surprised. Now, let’s see how Wedge uses what he’s got.

  20. Beniitec on May 1st, 2012 9:27 am

    Yep… Carp called up and headed to Tampa.

  21. MrZDevotee on May 1st, 2012 9:27 am

    Olivo says he heard a “pop” and that it’s definitely worse than the last time he strained his groin. Could be more serious than expected.

    (And in the “kicking a guy when he’s down” department, NBCSports sums up his season so far with the phrase “and his usual leading the league in passed balls”– so it’s not like criticizing Olivo is unique to USSMariner, folks… Even I found that a bit harsh in the “guy’s injured” news department.)

  22. Westside guy on May 1st, 2012 9:39 am

    MrZ, you’ve totally missed the larger point. We should be concerned – REALLY concerned.

    This is one place where our 2012 Seattle Mariners had a strong chance – maybe even a LOCK – to lead the league at the end of the year. Now Olivo’s injury may threaten that, depending on how long he’s out.

  23. Paul B on May 1st, 2012 12:19 pm

    Jaso not starting tonight.

    Hopefully, that is just because they are facing a lefty, so Ackley is DH. So Wedge wanted Seager in the lineup more than Jaso against a lefty.

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