Time to Send Justin Smoak Down
Mike Carp‘s rehab assignment ends today, as there’s a 20 day limit and Carp is out of options. The team must activate him from the DL or designate him for assignment, and they almost certainly don’t want to do that. So, expect Carp to join the Mariners at Safeco today, which means someone from the roster has to go to Tacoma. Carlos Peguero belongs there, but don’t be surprised if it’s Justin Smoak making the trip south instead.
A month ago, I wrote that I was ready to give up on the idea of Justin Smoak as a core part of the team’s future, and start exploring alternatives at first base. Since I hit publish on that post, Smoak has hit .128/.200/.244 in 85 plate appearances, with his slugging percentage only getting over .200 because he faced a stretch of Triple-A pitchers in Kansas City last week. Smoak is completely and utterly lost at the plate right now, and his season line has sunk to .191/.255/.323, which grades out as the second worst offensive performance of any full time player in baseball this season. For comparison, Justin Smoak’s wRC+ (60) is essentially the same as Brendan Ryan‘s (59), and only one of those two provide any defensive value.
It’s time to send Justin Smoak to Tacoma. If he’s fixable, having him get embarrassed by big league pitchers on a nightly basis isn’t helping anything, and he’s a massive liability in the line-up right now. With Carp coming off the DL, the team has the opportunity to make the switch, and they should take advantage of it. Maybe a 6 week stint in Tacoma will help him get back on track. Maybe he’ll continue to be exposed as a guy without as much offensive talent as everyone thought he had. Regardless, the organization needs to use those six weeks to see whether or not he can respond to a change of venue and a chance to hit minor league pitching again.
This was Justin Smoak’s make or break year. He couldn’t have possibly performed any worse. At this point, the team should send him to Triple-A, give his job to Mike Carp (and, I’d still like to see Jesus Montero get some opportunities at first base, which is his future position anyway), and go from there. Smoak is broken. Keeping him on the roster isn’t helping anyone.