Brad Miller – Why Now?

marc w · June 27, 2013 at 11:59 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Ever since Dave’s post a few days ago urging the M’s to call up Brad Miller, it’s been discussed throughout the M’s blogosphere. Alex Carson of Prospect Insider/Lookout Landing and I talked briefly about it on Tuesday. I’ve seen quite a few fans question the move, given the question marks surrounding his defense. But ultimately, this is the right move. Why?

* Miller’s made a number of errors, generally on routine plays. OK, you know who else used to do that? Nick Franklin. I haven’t seen Miller play as much as I saw Franklin, but I saw several more mental lapses from Franklin than I have from Miller. This isn’t about picking on Franklin as it is pointing out that mental lapses *can* be minimized in MLB. The stakes are higher, the fields are better, and there’s more time to prepare and less time spent waiting for connecting flights and bus trips. This isn’t handwaving; Miller needs to work at this, but this a fundamentally different situation from a hitter who has trouble with breaking balls or good velo. This isn’t a skills issue. MLB is *brutal* on kids with deficient skills, and it *can* be brutal on those who aren’t able to focus 100% of the time. But it’s often a good environment to improve focus as well. From what I’ve seen, he’s got plenty of skill to play SS at the big league level, and I never would’ve said that about Nick Franklin.

* Why? Because Miller now gets to learn from Nick Franklin, a guy who’s become a *better* fielder since his call-up, and he gets to work with one of the best defensive shortstops in the game in Brendan Ryan. I think we all have this image of Ryan as a joker, as a free spirit who wants to do imitations instead of work on his craft, but that’s not entirely accurate. There’s a reason the M’s kept Brad Miller with the big league club so long this March, and there’s probably a reason they wanted Miller to play 2B alongside Ryan. Ryan has a lot to pass on in terms of preparation and learning hitter and pitcher tendencies, and Miller will benefit from that a heck of a lot more than he will from fielding a few more grounders in Albuquerque or Salt Lake.

* Ultimately, because the M’s need to see if he can hit. Miller reached base in every game he played for Tacoma, so I’m going to assume a batting line better than Ryan’s is a given. But if he’s able to approach what Franklin’s done, then that really changes how the M’s approach the offseason. The M’s haven’t had offense from the position in a loooong time, and what better time to get a sense of their 2014 starting line-up than now? The season’s over from a contention point of view.

Welcome to the show, Brad.

P.S. – I’m indebted to Ryan Divish for point 2 above; Divish saw how Ryan’s preparation in the spring impacted Miller, and talked to me about how it could change Miller’s focus. He also pointed to bench coach Robby Thompson, whom Divish thinks has helped Nick Franklin)

P.P.S – Dave’s post on Miller’s call-up is here.

Miller swing

Comments

38 Responses to “Brad Miller – Why Now?”

  1. gopilots70 on June 28th, 2013 1:16 am

    I am so happy that the M’s have called up Brad Miller…I have been trashed on this website for months because I argued for calling up Franklin in May to play short and have been convinced that he fits much much better at second. But still the problem of Ryan was not solved and now it appears it it is. yess.!!

    But Eric Wedge will find a way to bollox it up. Case in point. A very hot and hopefully confident hitter was just called up from the minors. He arrived too late for Tuesday’s game and then sat for Wednesday’s game with a day off looming on Thursay. So Dustin Ackley has sat for three days and any comments I have ever seen from hitters is that they don’t like this.

    So why? Eric Wedge is afraid of offending the anemic offense of Michael Saunders. Jeez. This guy, Saunders, who I really want to like, is proving that last year’s .249 was a career year. So what is the thinking there?

    Anyway, just please keep Brad Miller as far away from Brendan Ryan as you can becaude he is a capital L loser.

    And I don’t hate Brendan Ryan. I have wanted him to succeed and he has not. Everyone around the team seems to love him and that is great but he is a losing ballplayer.

    Great for the M’s.. Nick is here and excelling. Miller and is and we hope for the best. Ackley has his second shot and we hope he will turn into Alex Gordon.

    But still we are stuck with a manager who whines about the bad offense and sits a hot newcoming player on the bench for three days. And still seems perfectly happy to trot Ryan out there every day.

    Let’s go with Daren Brown for the rest of the season and here less clichés from our over-matched skipper . Barrel up.. Hunt fastballs.

    Gawd if my little league coach would have only told me it was that easy I would be in the bigs now too

  2. gopilots70 on June 28th, 2013 1:23 am

    And Dave is on a roll…promote Taijuan. Yes!!

    Call up Brad Miller ….Yes!

    Just wish they would have listened to him about Jaso.

  3. PackBob on June 28th, 2013 3:25 am

    From a selfish standpoint, I’d like to see Ryan stay so I could watch him play the field every once in a while and so he could pass on his expertise to Miller (and to Franklin). For Ryan’s sake, I hope he gets traded to a contender and finds some of the hitting magic others have found once they switched teams.

    If Miller hits the ground running and hits like Franklin did to start, he’ll be playing most every game. But I hope Ryan gets some starts as well — just watching Ryan should be beneficial.

  4. PackBob on June 28th, 2013 3:57 am

    Erasmo is the one I’d like to see promoted. He’s wasting away in Tacoma-ville while the stop-gap veterans pile up starts.

    But if Erasmo is projected as part of the 2014 rotation, and the Mariners have visions of contending, then any ML experience he can get should prove useful. He’s already proved he belongs. Why waste time with ho-hum Harang/Bonderman starts?

  5. Klatz on June 28th, 2013 7:05 am

    By end of the season we’ll see

    Smoak
    Ackley
    Franklin
    Miller
    maybe Montero
    Ramirez
    Hultzen
    maybe Maurer
    Saunders
    Felix
    Iwakuma
    Seager
    Zunino

    It’s the true future of Ms team. Now we’ll see how the it’s going to pan out.

  6. ripperlv on June 28th, 2013 7:09 am

    Now if we could just find 3 more decent rotation starters, ahhh, maybe 3 decent outfielders, some upgraded relief pitching, a healthly first baseman, then, maybe just then, the Astros won’t catch us.

  7. casey on June 28th, 2013 7:23 am

    thinking there is almost the opposite of veteran grittiness / presence happening here – Wedge must wonder why they are making him walk the plank. Almost like an elite college bball team with all these top prospects feeding off each other (after success in Tacoma). Don’t know the personalities but can see some healthy competition to perform between Ackley, Seager, Miller, Franklin, Saunders, Zunino on a nightly basis. Interesting dynamic with Ibanez, Bay, Morse, Morales, Endy, Ryan, the janitor, Harang, Saunders, Perez fitting around this core of young guys.

    Imagine Capps will get sent to AAA for Kinney this weekend. But have to think Ramirez will be in rotation soon.

    and off course Felix at the center of it all. Will be interesting to watch the next two weeks.

  8. Ralph_Malph on June 28th, 2013 7:35 am

    I’m not disagreeing with any of this, but why do we believe Ryan’s veteran influence can help Miller’s development when we don’t believe the same about Ibanez?

  9. MrZDevotee on June 28th, 2013 7:53 am

    Ralph…
    Um, Ryan is the best defensive SS in the game.

    Ibanez, not so much, at any position.

    Miller needs to learn to be better focused at SS, and could benefit from major league insight into how to play the position at an elite level.

    Ibanez can help with daily preparation, in the generic form, but none of that other stuff.

    And hey, who says Miller and Franklin aren’t benefitting from BOTH of them– no reason they can’t pick Ibanez’s brain too, it’s not like it’s either/or.

  10. MrZDevotee on June 28th, 2013 7:57 am

    This season is suddenly getting a little bit fun…

    We’re all ready to slit our wrists, enjoying articles about “heck why NOT switch to rooting for another team”… And suddenly the bounding playful kittens come into the room and say “hey, look what I can do…”

    And unlike the Three Amigos (Smoak, Ackley, Montero) they’re looking pretty good (Franklin at the plate, Zunino behind it, Miller pure anticipation at the moment)…

    It’s just nice to finally see some fruition from the minor league position guys.

    And right on cue, for Z. (IE- “it takes 5 years, typically”)

  11. stevemotivateir on June 28th, 2013 10:25 am

    This move doesn’t bother me, but it shouldn’t be viewed as some kind of miracle that saves the ship from sinking. I still think calling Zunino up was a mistake and the outfield is still a disaster.

  12. stevemotivateir on June 28th, 2013 10:36 am

    And Dave is on a roll…promote Taijuan. Yes!!

    Dave hasn’t called for Walker to be promoted to Seattle. In fact, he’s encouraged people to exercise patience. He just got to Tacoma.

    When people were screaming for Ryan’s head in early May, Franklin had played less than 20 games. The argument that he should have more PA’s (and reps at SS, since he had lime 4 starts there at the time) was a legitimate one, especially given what little he did in 2012.

    Funny thing is, Ryan got hot and hit well for a solid month, and Ackley proved to be the one who really needed a break during that stretch. The timing with Franklin’s call appears to have been good for both he and Ackley.

    Maybe now the timing is good for Miller as well, we’ll see.

  13. djw on June 28th, 2013 11:53 am

    Dave hasn’t called for Walker to be promoted to Seattle. In fact, he’s encouraged people to exercise patience. He just got to Tacoma.

    I think that’s a reference to Dave suggesting it was time to see Walker in Tacoma just before that happened.

  14. MrZDevotee on June 28th, 2013 12:00 pm

    Steve-
    I don’t think anyone thinks this rights the Titantic, or fixes the hole in the hull, it just gives us cute things to chuckle about while we slip beneath the surface of 2013…

    And yeah, Dave said it was time for Walker to be promoted to TACOMA, not Seattle.

  15. terryoftacoma on June 28th, 2013 12:01 pm

    I still think he’s being called up too soon but we’ll see.

  16. currcoug on June 28th, 2013 12:47 pm

    Many people have been discussing Brad Miller being called up…long before Dave did.

    All I can say is, it’s about damn time!

  17. mossi on June 28th, 2013 12:52 pm

    Miller Time

  18. Kazinski on June 28th, 2013 1:52 pm

    We’ve got 3 decent starters now. Harang has been worth .6 WAR in 64 innings, Bonderman -.01 in 30. I think Harang will end up the season about 3 WAR, because his current numbers are weighed down by his first two starts in April, which was basically spring training for him.

    Splits by month for Harang:
    FIP xFIP
    April 8.49 4.79
    May 2.72 3.62
    Jun 3.27 3.96

    Harang is pitching at least as well as I expect from Rameriz. Bonderman and Saunders should be the ones on the hot seat.

  19. currcoug on June 28th, 2013 2:06 pm

    I would trade Harang and Saunders, but hold onto Bonderman.

  20. Westside guy on June 28th, 2013 2:11 pm

    Oh, lordy, it’s basically what I feared would be happening. Ackley is in center tonight… flanked by two old guys.

    Wedge needs to go. Now.

  21. MrZDevotee on June 28th, 2013 2:14 pm

    Who’s Wedge?

    (See what I did, Westy? He’s already gone in my mind… Wait… Is that considered “rosterbation”? I think it might be, because it feels really really good to think about… Apologies to all.)

  22. Kazinski on June 28th, 2013 2:27 pm

    Bonderman is an unsustainable mess. He is getting by on a .235 BABIP and a 83.3% strand rate.

    His K/9 is 3.0, and his BB/9 is 3.0.

    Lets put it this way, his walk is almost double Harang’s (8.1 vs 4.2%), and his K rate is less than half of Harang’s (8.1 vs 20.9%). By any measurement other than ERA Harang has been much better.

  23. terryoftacoma on June 28th, 2013 2:31 pm

    Kinney has been outrighted to Tacoma.

  24. currcoug on June 28th, 2013 2:33 pm

    ….I don’t think we will get much for Saunders and Harang, but probably more than we would get for Bonderman (and he is less of a geezer than the aforementioned chaps).

  25. Westside guy on June 28th, 2013 2:48 pm

    I like it, MrZ – I will try to emulate you.

    BTW when he walks out to the mound to make a pitching change… do you hold your thumb up in front of your eye so you don’t see him? :-D

  26. terryoftacoma on June 28th, 2013 2:48 pm

    Other than putting Saunders in left. This may be the best defensive outfield we have available. At least Miller is starting. Wedge isn’t dragging his feet on that change.

  27. Carson on June 28th, 2013 2:50 pm

    My name in the lede of a post on USSM. Humbled, tingly, proud, all that. Thanks for the mention, Marc! And great as always to chat with you at the park.

    Agree on all points, too. After having talked with the kid last night (you can read some quotes on PI), I’m sold. You can tell when a guy is giving you canned quotes and you can tell when a guy is just talking to you, straight up. I love his confidence and his mental approach to the game.

    I think he’s got a chance to be a star in this town.

  28. MrZDevotee on June 28th, 2013 3:05 pm

    Carson-
    I picture Brad Miller having a very open conversation with Eric Wedge (and his perfectly canned cliches), and about halfway through their chat Brad starts to tilt his head, looks inside Wedge’s eyes, waves his hand in front of his face, and realizes– “Oh my Gawd!?… He’s an automaton… He’s not real!”

    Robot Wedge: “Get in there kid… Be aggressive… Find something you can hit… Show ‘em why you’re here, kid!… Hustle, hustle, hustle!!!… Give ‘em a professional at bat… Raul, show ‘em how it’s done… Raul, show ‘em how it’s done… Raul, show ‘em how it’s… (slap)… Ever been to a Turkish prison?…”

  29. MrZDevotee on June 28th, 2013 3:09 pm

    Westy-
    Luckily, I watch most games on Gameday while I’m working, so I don’t even have to see him. It’s awesome.

  30. eponymous coward on June 28th, 2013 4:02 pm

    I don’t think we will get much for Saunders and Harang, but probably more than we would get for Bonderman (and he is less of a geezer than the aforementioned chaps).

    A worse younger player is still worse. There’s no particular reason to waste time on Bonderman waiting for his ERA to catch up with his peripheral stats, just like there was no reason to wait for Jose Vidro to crash to earth when it was apparent he was getting a flukey year in batting average. Either his peripherals need to strongly improve or he’s a time bomb in the rotation waiting to go off.

  31. stevemotivateir on June 28th, 2013 4:12 pm

    I think that’s a reference to Dave suggesting it was time to see Walker in Tacoma just before that happened.

    Yeah, that would make more sense. His wording struck me as odd. After reading Greg Johns piece on it and seeing several comments there by people who actually ARE calling for another Walker promotion, I simply linked the two. It doesn’t take much time at the Mariner website to remind me why I prefer this one.

    @MrZD

    Fun like peeing in the swimming pool?! Seriously, I’m actually excited to see how he does. I just want people to be realistic with expectations.

  32. djw on June 28th, 2013 4:16 pm

    Kazinski, I’m a pretty big believer in the value of FIP over ERA for all the obvious reasons, but it sure seems to me like Harang’s giving up more than his fair share of balls. (Checking, though, his BABIP is close to where it “should” be and his LD% is actually well below his career average, so maybe it’s all observer bias on my part…)

  33. currcoug on June 28th, 2013 4:17 pm

    “Either his peripherals need to strongly improve or he’s a time bomb in the rotation waiting to go off.”

    I would much rather watch such a time bomb…than suffer through another start by Noesi or Beavan.

  34. currcoug on June 28th, 2013 4:19 pm

    For all the Wedge-bashing today (and most of it is merited), I strongly suspect it was Wedge’s tantrum that resulted in Miller being called up. So…I would like to extend my thanks to Eric.

  35. djw on June 28th, 2013 5:05 pm

    I strongly suspect it was Wedge’s tantrum that resulted in Miller being called up.

    What on earth is that based on? What knowledge do you have that underpins this conjecture?

  36. miscreant on June 28th, 2013 8:50 pm

    Calling up Miller is Jack Z going all in. He’s virtually got all the position players he picked in the Majors now (Zunino, Franklin, Ack, Seager and Miller). If they don’t perform I suspect we’ll be seeing Jack hit the road.

    That being said I wish Brad Miller (and the rest) all the best. It would be fantastic to see him light things up!

  37. currcoug on June 28th, 2013 9:46 pm

    DJW,

    It is quite logical if you stop and think about it…and it is hardly a secret that Wedge has been in love with Miller for a long time (at least since spring training).

    Moreover, Wedge’s tantrum was a remarkable, rare outburst. Zduriencik was probably on the same page…as most Mariner fans.

  38. scraps on June 28th, 2013 10:05 pm

    Weird — my webpage says no comments; I just came in to say I like this to Marc, and I discover 36 comments!

    And the very first one is a comment from gopilots70 which claims that he was “trashed on this website for months” for suggesting moving Franklin to short. I suspect that I was one of those trashers, which makes me bemused. More like, I think, some of us disagreed. I know that gopilots70, when disagreed with about this issue, sometimes got hot in the collar. But I didn’t know he believed he was trashed. Well, if I was any part of this trashing, I am sincerely sorry. I like gopilots70. But I still disagree pretty thoroughly on moving Franklin to short. I hope that we can disagree on that, and baseball generally (and occasionally agree).

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