Brandon Maurer, Meet Tacoma

Dave · May 29, 2013 at 9:01 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Update: And there you go – Maurer is being optioned to Tacoma, though it’s Alex Liddi, not Franklin Gutierrez, who is replacing him. Liddi is probably only up for a few days.

With both Justin Smoak and Michael Morse unable to play at the moment, the Mariners need to add a position player to the roster, especially headed into an NL park where they will need to pinch hit for the pitcher’s spot. The most likely call-up would be Franklin Gutierrez, who has been playing everyday down in Tacoma without breaking himself. His rehab assignment could theoretically last another week, but with the M’s in need of an outfielder while Morse is more unable to run than usual, I would expect Guti to join the team sooner than later.

And, really, there’s a pretty easy swap for the M’s to make today. Since they’re short on position players for the next few days, they could add Gutierrez to the roster without getting rid of a hitter by optioning Brandon Maurer to Tacoma. Since his turn in the rotation doesn’t come up again until Sunday and he shouldn’t be the one making that start, he doesn’t really need to be on the roster right now.

For all the talk of Maurer learning on the job, there’s just no real evidence that he’s actually improving in a meaningful way.

Brandon Maurer, April: 128 batters faced, .299/.359/.521, .380 wOBA, 5.15 FIP, 4.97 xFIP
Brandon Maurer, May: 93 batters faced, .369/.435/.646, .458 wOBA, 6.32 FIP, 4.60 xFIP

Back on May 1st, I wrote about Maurer’s problems with left-handed batters, as they hit .359/.424/.717 against him in April. In May, he’s introduced more curveballs to try and combat lefties, but they’ve hit .335/.410/.542 against him this month. That’s improvement of the “it had nowhere to go but up” kind, and shows that he still can’t get big league left-handers out on a regular basis.

Maurer simply isn’t ready for the Major Leagues. The Mariners rushed him because they got overexcited about spring training performance — stop me if you’ve heard this before — and the in-house alternatives weren’t particularly good. He’s never pitched in Triple-A before, and there was no real reason to expect him to be good enough to skip a level and compete against Major League hitters without the necessary weapons. Despite all the talk about how he “has the stuff”, Maurer is not currently a big league starting pitcher. He is against right-handers, and he could have success in a relief role similar to Carter Capps, but he’s not cut out for starting right now. His secondary pitches need work. His command needs work. He needs time to develop.

It’s in his best interests, and the organization’s best interests, to let Maurer develop at a natural pace rather than let him get his brains beat in by left-handers he’s not ready to get out yet. Send him to Tacoma, and use the roster spot to get another position player on the team for the next few days. When Maurer’s spot in the rotation comes up on Sunday, they can create a roster spot for the new 5th starter by either DL’ing an injured player or putting Chavez through waivers. As much as I don’t think he’s ever going to amount to anything, I’d probably give the roster spot to Blake Beavan. Jeremy Bonderman hasn’t shown anything to earn a 40 man spot, and Beavan or Noesi can fill-in for Maurer and give a similar performance without harming the long term development of one of the team’s young arms.

The M’s need a roster spot. Maurer needs time in Tacoma. This shouldn’t be too hard.


50 Responses to “Brandon Maurer, Meet Tacoma”

  1. ChrisFB on May 29th, 2013 9:14 am

    Surprised you’re suggesting Chavez as a waiver candidate to make room. I thought he was one of the better defenders in the outfield. Also surprised at wanting to see Guti back so fast given injury history.

  2. rowlandice on May 29th, 2013 9:32 am

    It seems more likely they’ll go with Noesi and bring Guti back. Bonderman hasn’t shown he’s worth the 40-man move. Of course that means he’ll be picked up and be replacement level or better for some other team.

  3. jak924 on May 29th, 2013 9:40 am

    Why bother with Gutierrez? Sounds harsh, but enough is enough. At this point, you really have to question his motivation. And, really, he’s never shown as anything more than a mediocre major league hitter.

  4. scraps on May 29th, 2013 9:45 am

    His motivation?


  5. absolutsyd on May 29th, 2013 9:48 am

    WTF? I suppose his lack of motivation is why he got beaned in the freaking head last year? Or maybe if he was more motivated he wouldn’t have had digestive problems that took 6 months to diagnose while he lost weight like a cancer patient? Seriously? I mean, he’s clearly cursed in some horrible way, but he is also at worst an OK hitter while being a top tier defender. If you think a healthy Guti doesn’t help the team, then damn, I don’t even know what to say.

  6. stevemotivateir on May 29th, 2013 9:49 am

    How is his motivation an issue? Do you think he doesn’t want to stay healthy?

    Who cares if he’s just an average hitter. He brings elite defense when he’s on the field. Value comes both ways. This has been covered hundreds of times.

    That doesn’t mean they should extend him, but there’s no reason to not play him if he’s able to go right now. They’re paying him 7 or 8 million and he is the best outfielder we have.

  7. MrZDevotee on May 29th, 2013 9:57 am

    Yeah, what’s with Guty always trying so hard to be hurt? What is it about Tacoma he likes so much? That centerfield is huge?


  8. eponymous coward on May 29th, 2013 10:00 am

    Also surprised at wanting to see Guti back so fast given injury history.

    And, you know, the M’s are just FLUSH with good outfielders…

  9. MrZDevotee on May 29th, 2013 10:00 am

    You realize Maurer would be kicking ass if you weren’t polluting his head with all this talk of “splits” and other stat-y geek-y stuff.

    Enough with ruining our prospects! Have you no heart?!

  10. ChrisFB on May 29th, 2013 10:04 am

    And, you know, the M’s are just FLUSH with good outfielders…

    Do you want Guti up too quickly and injured again? Is it really so horrifying to have say Thames around for a couple weeks? Thames can’t be any worse of a defender than say Bay. Most anyone they have around is no worse than Morse.

  11. ChrisFB on May 29th, 2013 10:12 am

    I’m not hugely opposed to Guti coming back, as there is likely no hard and fast rule on how to see if an injury-prone dude is ready to come back. I’m just surprised that bringing Guti up would be suggested so readily given that he was going down to Tacoma to rehab his umpteenth injury.

  12. eponymous coward on May 29th, 2013 10:23 am

    Do you want Guti up too quickly and injured again?

    There’s no evidence that he’d be LESS likely to injure himself again by staying in Tacoma and playing out his rehab option. Either he’s healthy enough to play or he shouldn’t be playing. You don’t really get anything much out of the rehab option after a few days to get the swing timing back.

    I’m just surprised that bringing Guti up would be suggested so readily given that he was going down to Tacoma to rehab his umpteenth injury.

    It’s pretty easy: the M’s OF depth in the minors sucks, and Guti’s the only player in the system who isn’t some shade of replacement-level or worse. There is no real point of giving playing time to a worse player to save Guti for making the Rainiers better.

  13. ChrisFB on May 29th, 2013 10:31 am

    Either he’s healthy enough to play or he shouldn’t be playing. You don’t really get anything much out of the rehab option after a few days to get the swing timing back.

    Yeah, I suppose. He’s been in his rehab for what, 3 games, 5 games now? If he’s played several games as a CF and not just PH/DH then I guess he’s back to game speed in all aspects.

  14. Greeff on May 29th, 2013 10:50 am

    i’m guessing pequero gets the call.

    Wedge said Guti first had to play out his full rehab assignment to show he was healthy enough.

  15. Westside guy on May 29th, 2013 11:08 am

    Wedge has made it clear he’s finished with Guti. So it’ll be curious to see who comes up – it may tell us more about just how much control Wedge has over the front office.

    Thinking of Wedge as the de-facto GM makes me shudder; but it makes a lot of recent team decisions so much clearer…

  16. maqman on May 29th, 2013 11:17 am

    Guti has the second highest OPS (.823) to Morales (.852) on the team. He’s hit 4 dingers in 54 ABs compared to Morales 6 in 190 ABs. He’s the best defensive OF on the team. Endy’s BA is .297, why in the hell would you want to get rid of him or Guti?

  17. jordan on May 29th, 2013 11:19 am

    Keep Endy! At least he is a solid fill in for the oft injured Guti. Show Ibanez or Bay the door. Too bad both are playing just mediocre enough to keep a job.

  18. terryoftacoma on May 29th, 2013 11:23 am

    I agree a roster change is in order. However, I don’t think one will be made. I would do has Dave suggests. Wedge and company will look and see 4 outfielders, Morales to play first and he’ll wait and see on what they say about Morse. Who I believe they plan on leaving in Seattle today.

  19. djw on May 29th, 2013 11:30 am

    Yeah, I suppose. He’s been in his rehab for what, 3 games, 5 games now?

    Chris, he’s been playing for 11 games. I suspect at this point he’s as fully recovered from his most recent injury as he’s going to be. It’s not like he’s Kirk Gibson or something, who we’ll put in the lineup for his bat even he’s still limping. At this point, I don’t see why he’s any more likely to re-injure himself playing for the Mariners than he is playing for the Rainiers.

  20. The_Waco_Kid on May 29th, 2013 11:30 am

    I think Guti gets the call. But this time it’s a stopgap move rather than a core player returning. I’d love for him to stick but his job now is basically to stay healthy til Morse returns. I’d like to see us trade him. He has value but is too fragile for us to count on him.

  21. currcoug on May 29th, 2013 11:33 am

    I would argue that Chance Ruffin get the call. Ruffin has demonstrated an ability to go 5-6 innings at AA Jackson…seems to have regained command, has better splits against LHB…and from what I hear, maintains velocity throughout his starts. He seems to be improving as a starter (.193 BAA in May, .234 BAA in April).

    Moreover, Ruffin has already had extensive AAA experience (reliever), and appeared in 15 games in the majors (reliever). Ruffin could hardly be worse than Beavan or Noesi, and he could also throw long relief if need be.

  22. Klatz on May 29th, 2013 11:45 am

    Ruffin just got converted to starting. He should get a whole season to see if it will work; there’s not enough information to tell if he’ll be a successful starter.

    Unfortunately the 5th starter replacements are unappetizing. Beavan or Noesi are essentially it. Ruffin’s never started before; let’s see how he does at AAA.

  23. currcoug on May 29th, 2013 11:56 am

    Ruffin had extensive starting experience as a frosh/soph in his college career…but I imagine the Mariners will want to see what he can do at AAA.

    However, I can’t stand the thought of Noesi or Beavan starting again this season, and Bonderman has not impressed at AAA.

  24. make_dave_proud on May 29th, 2013 12:03 pm

    Wow, what a freaking mess.

    With nobody injured, the team is challenged. Start taking out pieces, and its bloody awful.

  25. JasonJ on May 29th, 2013 12:21 pm

    So true. Seems like it was plan A or bust.

  26. Westside guy on May 29th, 2013 12:24 pm

    Referring to it as a “plan” is being overly generous, Jason – at least in my opinion.

  27. terryoftacoma on May 29th, 2013 12:38 pm

    Here’s how rumors start. No offical news releases(so far) about any roster move but Guti did not play yesterday.

  28. Jeremy on May 29th, 2013 12:46 pm

    How common is it for a manager to be the de facto GM like Wedge? How many other managers in MLB have as much control as Wedge over which players make the roster?

    I thought managers only controlled who started, what position/batting spot, etc–not roster construction.

  29. SonOfZavaras on May 29th, 2013 12:49 pm

    Brandon Maurer going to Tacoma makes all the sense in the world.

    I am a big believer in the kid, but right now he needs to develop a weapon or two for this level.

    Right now, I’m willing to bet every lefty hitter on an opposing team sees him as the starting pitcher, and begs to be put into the lineup.

    If Gutierrez is full-on playing in the minors, then bring him up. And I don’t even see what the debate is.

    When healthy, he’s not a fringy major leaguer, like Carlos Peguero or Eric Thames.

    We’re seeing the last of Franklin Gutierrez in a Mariners uniform this season, regardless of when he comes up. And he’s coming up with a team that’ll be lucky to win 81 games. So it’s not like there’s huge stakes hinging on the right decision by the team, either.

    Dave’s got this one aced, IMO. Maurer down, Gutierrez up.

  30. Glen on May 29th, 2013 12:51 pm

    Apparently Liddi is up.

    Shannon Drayer ?@shannondrayer 1m

    Expecting moves today. Just saw Alex Liddi in a cab a block from the team hotel. That would appear to be one. #Mariners

  31. SonOfZavaras on May 29th, 2013 12:53 pm

    And if Bonderman wants to walk in a couple days, let him. He’ll find roughly the same situation waiting for him in every other ML-organization.

    He doesn’t warrant a uniform and a starter’s role in the bigs…yet.

  32. jordan on May 29th, 2013 12:58 pm

    If the M’s don’t have a gig for Bonderman, nobody does. His best possible situation is right here and I am sure he knows that.

  33. Westside guy on May 29th, 2013 12:59 pm


    If there’s anyone in the organization that’s a worse outfielder than Morse – it’s Liddi.

    However I was under the impression that Liddi hadn’t played outfield at all this year. Is that incorrect?

  34. msfanmike on May 29th, 2013 1:01 pm

    Well, if Liddi is up, he would seem to be able to slide right into that “deficient fielding, high K rate, power hitting” slot that Morse been holding down for the past several weeks.

    He isn’t as good as Morse, but he seems to fit the mold right down to the requisite physical proportions, too.

    I like Liddi, and I always hope he does well, but his K rate is unbelievably bad at the AAA level (this year). Even worse than in the past, I believe.

    Oh well ……………

  35. jordan on May 29th, 2013 1:03 pm

    Alex Liddi and his 76 K’s in AAA? …ugh

  36. jordan on May 29th, 2013 1:07 pm

    Why do I like the Mariners? Why do I consistently root for a team that actively tries to lose?

  37. terryoftacoma on May 29th, 2013 1:11 pm

    I think Liddi’s up as a back up for Morales and Seager, not to play the outfield.

  38. Section329 on May 29th, 2013 1:17 pm

    Arrgh. Divish just confirmed the Liddi move. “The Mariners are making a roster move. You know how I know? I saw Alex Liddi walking down the street in San Diego looking for a place to have lunch. Liddi said he’s been called up.”

  39. ChrisFB on May 29th, 2013 1:22 pm

    Cameron breaks Ackley, now he’s moved Maurer with less than a 24-hour turnaround… go for the trifecta, Dave, and write your definitive “Eric Wedge Needs To Be Fired” piece for this season.

  40. SonOfZavaras on May 29th, 2013 1:22 pm

    Drayer speculating on Twitter (20 minutes ago) that Maurer’s been sent down to Tacoma. NOT confirmed, but she’s usually right.

  41. ChrisFB on May 29th, 2013 1:24 pm

    djw – Serves me right for posting that without doublechecking; I sit corrected. But also, I’d forgotten about Guti so completely, missed him so little, that I really hadn’t been keeping track. I’d love to see him be productive and healthy the rest of the season as a near-everyday CF or RF… but I’m not getting my hopes up.

  42. SonOfZavaras on May 29th, 2013 1:30 pm

    As for TODAY’S game? Relax. It’s in the bag. It’s my birthday, and the Mariners almost always win on my birthday.

  43. terryoftacoma on May 29th, 2013 1:33 pm

    Z you’re birthday better be extra powerful this year. We’re starting Saunders. Although, at least it is in San Diego.

  44. just a fan on May 29th, 2013 2:27 pm

    Good for Maurer that he got big league experience. Given the alternatives, it was good the team brought him up from spring training. Now he’ll have a good understanding of what it’s going to take to get back to Seattle.

    Hope it’s Beavan on Sunday, so they can send him right back down when our savior Erasmo is ready to go.

  45. tmac9311 on May 29th, 2013 3:14 pm

    So I’m guessing our NL outfield is Ibanez-Saunders-Bay, with Endy as the 4th


  46. Longgeorge1 on May 29th, 2013 3:23 pm

    And a fly ball pitcher – what could go wrong ? M’s 7 P’s 2 we win yea !

  47. billr on May 29th, 2013 3:28 pm

    “Hope it’s Beavan on Sunday, so they can send him right back down when our savior Erasmo is ready to go.”

    I’m hoping to see Erasmo Ramirez back on the M’s ASAP… I like his stuff and his focus. Will he actually be back within 2 weeks?… anyone know or have a good guess?

  48. currcoug on May 29th, 2013 5:05 pm

    For those who continue to wail about Ibanez…you might want to keep in mind that he has 7 HR’s, 18 RBI’s, and a sizzling 1.107 OPS for May (with a .768 SLG%). He also has an OPS of .923 with RISP for the season, which has been a real achilles’ heel for the Mariners.

  49. pgreyy on May 29th, 2013 5:29 pm

    Raul still has a decent stick. Should never play in the outfield. If he’s ok playing occasionally and only as DH, I’m fine with him sticking around. (He is my wife’s favorite all-time player, after all.)

    But I hope when Guti’s ready to come back that we don’t ditch Endy Chavez…

    As far as Liddi coming back–whatever. I mean, yes, dingers! and all that…but anything that drives another nail in Wedge’s coffin is ok with me.

  50. stevemotivateir on May 29th, 2013 11:05 pm

    If there’s anyone in the organization that’s a worse outfielder than Morse – it’s Liddi.

    I was going to tease you for spacing Ibanez, but quickly realized that just because he’s been used in the outfield, doesn’t mean he’s actually an outfielder;)

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