Reconfiguring the Roster

Dave · June 11, 2012 at 7:27 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Off days are the perfect time to reevaluate the roster and see if there are any changes that need to be made. Often times, non-injury related roster decisions are made when the team isn’t playing, which gives the organization more time to work out the logistics of making the moves and allows the new guys to not have to rush to the park the day they get called up. So, today, Jack Z and company are likely considering what to do about a couple of spots on the roster. I figured I’d be helpful and offer up some suggestions.

1. Option Hector Noesi to Triple-A, call up Erasmo Ramirez.

On May 22nd, Ramirez got bombed for 11 runs, seemingly putting his chances of getting a callup on hold for a while. Since then, however, he’s given up four runs in three starts, throwing 21 1/3 innings in the process. His K/BB ratio over those three starts is 20/4, and he’s ready for another big league audition, but this time as a starting pitcher. So, why should Noesi be the one to go down to Tacoma? Like Steve Delabar, he’s shown some potential, but needs to work on his breaking ball, and that kind of specific improvement is better worked on with regular innings down in the minors than in the big leagues. Demoting Noesi isn’t about punishing him for pitching badly – though he has done that – but more about giving him an assignment of things to work on, and an environment in which he can actually do that with some effectiveness.

2. Have Blake Beavan and Hisashi Iwakuma switch roles.

Iwakuma is already pitching multiple innings every five days thanks to Beavan’s lousy performances, so getting him stretched out to start again shouldn’t be a big deal, and he’s earned a shot to show what he can do as a starting pitcher. Despite the manager’s decision to shove him into the far corner of the roster, Iwakuma has actually flashed some legitimate potential as a pitcher, posting a groundball rate of 58.1% while also getting strikeouts from 19.4% of the batters he’s faced. Pitchers who can get both ground balls and strikeouts are generally quite good, and while Iwakuma will likely perform a bit worse when asked to face a line-up two or three times in a game, he’s pitched well enough out of the bullpen that he deserves a chance to show what he can do as a starter. You could make a case for Beavan being the guy to go back to Tacoma instead of Noesi, but as a guy who can just come in and throw strikes, he’s well suited to the pitch-in-blowouts role that Iwakuma has filled so far. He won’t hurt the team by coming in when the game is already decided, and it won’t harm a more talented player’s development to have them sit down in the bullpen for a week or two between outings.

3. Option Alex Liddi to Tacoma, recall Casper Wells.

Liddi has played in two games in June, and with Kyle Seager still hitting well, he’s not even getting himself in the line-up against lefties anymore. At this point, the Mariners are just carrying him as an injury replacement guy, and that’s a waste of time that could be spent working on his development in Tacoma. Meanwhile, the team has used Chone Figgins in left field against lefties in lieu of Mike Carp, and not surprisingly, he’s been terrible in the role that belonged to Casper Wells pre-demotion. The team can rectify both situations by recalling Wells and giving him a bit of a look in left field over the next week or so, as they’ll have to make a decision on their outfield when Franklin Gutierrez returns next week.

With Guti’s return, Saunders will likely shift to left field on days that Guti is able to play (which almost certainly won’t be everyday, at least not for a while), meaning that Carp will be relegated to playing a couple of times per week and serving as a pinch-hitter. However, his defensive limitations make him poorly suited for a fourth outfielder role, and the team would probably be better off with Wells functioning in that job. By giving Wells a call-up now and letting him get a few starts before Guti returns, the team could prepare the roster to have Carp go down to Tacoma when Guti is activated. Because Carp is out of options, they’d have to disable him and call it a rehab stint, but given his early season shoulder injury and the fact that he’s hitting .175, that shouldn’t be too hard to sell. This would only buy him three weeks in the minors, but it’d be three weeks of regular playing time in which you would hope he could hit well enough to earn his way back to the big leagues.

Yes, that means Chone Figgins would stick around for a while longer, but by having Wells on the roster, his role would essentially just be Seager’s back-up and occasional pinch-runner, so the team wouldn’t actually end up using him much. The anti-LHP line-up would improve with Wells bat back in there, and they’d have more defensive versatility than if Carp served as the fourth OF. Carp may feel like he has nothing more to prove in Tacoma, but the reality is that Saunders has probably taken the left field job in Seattle for the near future, so Carp’s back to being a 1B/DH in Seattle if he wants to play regularly. To get at-bats there, he’ll have to show he can hit well enough to be worth playing over Justin Smoak at first base, or he’ll need to fill the DH role after Miguel Olivo is traded/excised/accidentally left in the desert, and he’s not going to be able to get his bat going again by watching Saunders and Gutierrez from the bench.

The two rotation moves are easy and should be obvious to anyone, even Eric Wedge. The team knows that Gutierrez’s return is getting closer and they’ll have to adjust the roster to compensate for his arrival, and they can begin doing that now by swapping out Wells for Liddi and preparing Carp to head down to Tacoma when Guti is activated. Hopefully, we’ll see at least a couple of these moves before tomorrow’s game against the Padres.


64 Responses to “Reconfiguring the Roster”

  1. dnc on June 11th, 2012 8:33 pm

    dantheman, Ichiro is number 8 among all RFs in the majors in WAR, sandwiched between Jason Heyward and Jay Bruce. I think we’d all agree we’d like to see him hit better, but he still brings a lot of value to the table.

  2. msfanmike on June 11th, 2012 9:39 pm

    Good news Westy: they don’t make chest protectors small enough to fit Ackley, although he and Muni might both be able to fit into Miggy’s simultaneously.

  3. eponymous coward on June 11th, 2012 10:36 pm

    A lead-off hitter with a .292 OBP? Really? As bad as Ackley is going so far this year, he’s higher than that.

    Ichiro isn’t the problem with this team if he’s chipping in at a 4 WAR pace. But hey, thanks for proving that once again fans take out their frustrations about bad teams on the good players. Good thing our front office doesn’t.

    Ichiro might not be a good sign for 2013 all things considered, but he’s not a problem for 2012.

  4. Mariners35 on June 11th, 2012 10:46 pm

    I’ll take all 3 of the suggestions, plus a side order of Olivo-in-the-desert, please. Carp as a regular DH would be nice.

    I am concerned about moving Saunders out of center field when Guti is back, somehow disrupting his rhythm at the plate. I know, if he’s that sensitive to it, bringing his game in the field to the plate or vice versa, then he’s got larger issues and his success may not be sustainable. And he’s played plenty of left field before. But this is the organization that tried Figgins at leadoff, and moved Ichiro back from 3rd to leadoff, in the name of making them comfortable… maybe Wedge thinks so little of Guti’s illnesses and toughness that he’d be loathe to put him right back in center right away… but then again again, it would result in the spectacle of Guti in left and Saunders in center… argh.

    I just hope when Guti is back that Saunders’ performance doesn’t show the slightest dip, and that Guti stays together long enough to actually contribute. Or if he falls apart, that he does it quickly, and not have some sort of Figginsesque half-season-long prolonged death at the plate….

  5. gwangung on June 11th, 2012 11:40 pm

    Hm, yes…no wonder Dave gets snippy sometimes. He says something and for some people, it goes in one ear and out the other, leaving not much of an impression.

  6. Snuffy on June 12th, 2012 1:10 am

    Beavan needs to be sent down. I’d hold off on Noesi, but he must make needed adjustments. I have no faith in Guti’s bat but what’s to be lost by playing him? Wells needs to come back. Lidi needs reps and can only get them in the minors, same with Carp. Saeger replacing Ack @ 2nd makes little sense without a viable 3b option. Figgins should be used only as an emergency utility fall back option & be cut by mid July. He’s toast. I’d love to see Olivo put up a decent run so we could trade him.

  7. Westside guy on June 12th, 2012 1:11 am

    Given that Saunders has been a bit lucky of late (at least on the recent road trip), I would expect him to come back to earth a bit. Hopefully that won’t be interpreted as an inability to adjust, just because it may be somewhat coincidental with Guti’s return.

    I would guess we’ll still see plenty of Saunders in center, too, until Guti proves he’s completely healthy. On the other hand, Wedge does seem like a “throw him in the deep end and see if he can swim” sort of guy – so never mind.

  8. Kyle Miller on June 12th, 2012 3:07 am

    Where in the desert do we get to leave Olivo? CAN THERE BE VIDEO?

  9. dantheman on June 12th, 2012 8:13 am

    “Ichiro isn’t the problem with this team if he’s chipping in at a 4 WAR pace.”

    He can’t hit for power and he’s leading off with a .292 OBP (meaning he can’t get on base). If that’s not a problem, you are looking at the wrong statistics. He should be hitting 7th or 8th.

  10. gwangung on June 12th, 2012 8:24 am

    If that’s not a problem, you are looking at the wrong statistics.

    Might that not apply to you?

    Ahem. Talk about looking at the wrong statistics…hint: try looking at TOTAL contributions. (And y’all remember about batting order being relatively unimportant, right?)

  11. samregens on June 12th, 2012 9:02 am

    gwangung, well said.

    But your words are probably unfortunately wasted on dantheman who has a history of revealing himself to be just another one of those tiresome Ichiro bashers.

    I really wish Wedge would follow Dave’s 1. and 2. suggestions which are on the money like usual, but Wedge’s track record may not be so good.
    I have a sinking feeling that the Beavan and Noesi mediocre starts may drag on for another month or so, until most rational fans are completely and utterly sick of them (and the M’s fall out of any hopes of contention), if Wedge’s past use/love of Peguero is any indication.

    Maybe JZ takes the decision making out of Wedge’s hands in these cases. Hopefully so.

  12. Westside guy on June 12th, 2012 10:09 am

    Sam, I suspect the GM takes decisions out of the manager’s hands – or at least makes strong suggestions – when he thinks/hopes there’s a business case in doing so. Figgy playing every day at the start of the season was probably his. I suspect Olivo playing so much now, after Wedge talked about “working him back in slowly”, is another.

  13. Paul B on June 12th, 2012 10:51 am

    After seeing Carp in LF, and before that, Ibanez even though the M’s had a corpse for a dh, I’m more tolerant of mediocre fielding out there.

    Wedge’s irrational distrust of Wells and Iwakuma might hurt this team as much as his strange belief in the veteran goodness that is Miguel Olivo.

  14. stevemotivateir on June 12th, 2012 5:40 pm


    Thanks for recycling the same dead-end argument from a previous post.

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