Reconfiguring the Roster
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.