First Half In Review: Passing Out The Grades (Position Players)

Jeff Sullivan · July 16, 2014 at 7:46 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

A year ago, at the All-Star break, the Mariners were just two games back of the Angels, but that was deceptive, because while the Angels were supposed to be a really good team, they never really found their groove and got to the break five games under .500. This year, at the All-Star break, the Mariners are 6.5 games back of the Angels, but that’s deceptive, because the Angels have been outstanding and, if the season were to end today, the Mariners would actually be in the playoffs. I know I’ve written that before, but only in my dream journal, and seriously, take a step back. Put the day-to-day matters out of mind. The Mariners need to get better. Most teams need to get better. The Mariners, at this writing, have a 2.5-game lead on the Royals and Blue Jays, which means the Mariners are on a playoff pace. You might question whether a one-game playoff counts as the playoffs, but then it has the word “playoff” right in it.

It’s been an eventful first half. They’re always eventful first halves, unless you’re the Padres, but the Mariners’ first half had more good than bad, which is how you explain their 51-44 record. Now, baseball is a game steeped in tradition, and one of the traditions is that, before the All-Star break, teams play a lot of baseball games. Roughly half of them, give or take plenty. (The Mariners have played 59% of their games, so “first half” is a lie.) Another tradition is that every All-Star break I put together these stupid subjective report cards. They’re not important, but none of this is, so go ahead and read on, since you’re already here anyway. You came to this website because you have time you’re willing to dedicate to reading Internet baseball text. Here’s some of that.

I’ve assigned grades to every player who’s played for the Mariners in 2014. There are no formulas — the grades are just the grades that occurred to me, and if you disagree with one or two of them, express so politely or keep it to yourself. I’m not married to these grades and by the time this post is published I might even disagree with myself on a handful of guys. The position players and the pitchers will be broken up, with the pitchers presumably coming tomorrow. Sneak preview: I would marry Felix Hernandez. I would literally drop everything to marry Felix Hernandez, right now. I understand that would make his personal life a lot more complicated, but I’m willing to deal with baggage. Everybody’s got baggage. I’d be honored to carry the King’s.

On to the position-player report card. Let’s start with a bummer! We’ll follow that with a bummer. And then another bummer, and…well, shoot, 51 wins? Are you sure, 51 wins? And the season isn’t finished?


Dustin Ackley: D-
Dustin Ackley has a higher OBP than Domonic Brown, who has been a top prospect. He has a higher slugging percentage than Jackie Bradley Jr., who has been a top prospect. He has a higher wRC+ than Jean Segura, who has been a top prospect. He has the same wRC+ as B.J. Upton, who’s in the second year of a massive five-year contract. In other words, there’s still room for Dustin Ackley to be even worse. I used to compare Ackley to Jeremy Reed to be funny in a dark kind of way. Then I’d compare Ackley to Reed with nervous laughter. Nobody’s laughing anymore. Ackley’s at .242/.310/.351 for his career. Reed finished at .252/.309/.354. I’m haunted by my own stupid joke, and we’re all paying the price.

Abe Almonte: F
I felt so self-confident. I’m supposed to be a baseball expert, according to my job description. I get good feelings when my expertise is validated, because I get to not feel like a fraud. I’ve gotten good feelings from the AL Central, for example, where I’ve never considered the Royals to be the threat so many other people have. In the spring, the analytical part of my brain was telling me not to be worried about Abe Almonte. In April, the analytical part of my brain was telling me not to be worried about Abe Almonte. I publicly expressed confidence in him, believing that he’d pick it up in no time. I didn’t allow myself to believe that Almonte might not actually be good. Whoopsadoodle. I appreciate the moments of not feeling like a fraud because, most of the time, I sit back and feel like a fraud.

Willie Bloomquist: D-
Willie Bloomquist has a higher average, OBP, and slugging percentage than Dustin Ackley. In the major leagues. That would’ve made more sense to me ten years ago, when Ackley would’ve been 16. Ha-ha! Can you imagine a 16-year-old Dustin Ackley trying to hit in the major leagues? Actually, he might’ve been better than the 26-year-old Dustin Ackley. I didn’t mean to make this another paragraph complaining about Dustin Ackley, but I guess it’s better than a paragraph about Willie Bloomquist.

John Buck: D
John Buck gets a performance F, but I bumped him up on account of all his alleged leadership ability and clubhouse value. Mike Zunino says that he never stopped learning from John Buck from the moment the two first interacted, and I think at this point it’s entirely clear that John Buck did a lot to teach Mike Zunino to hit like John Buck. I’m in no position to actually evaluate Buck’s intangible value, but given that the Mariners’ record is a mystery and given that players seemed to like what Buck did, I’m perfectly happy to write some of this up to Buck magic. What, you have a better explanation, like “pitching and defense and the random nature of sporting outcomes?” Like there’s randomness in baseball. Come on.

Robinson Cano: A
A storyline for much of the first half was that Cano was hitting like prime Ichiro instead of prime Cano. Of course, prime Ichiro was super good so it wasn’t so much a complaint as an observation. And now Cano seems to be hitting for more power, and just the other day he turned on a fastball and ripped it into the right-field seats. Over the past 30 days he’s hit .349/.420/.538, and by the way he’s also been a good defender and a great leader and an awesome interview and personality. Robinson Cano is one of the best Mariners players ever, and he’s certainly the best Mariner ever who’s represented by an agent who once stabbed a man. We’ll never love Cano the way we love Felix Hernandez, but there are different kinds of love, each of them valid.

Endy Chavez: D
Following the line of thinking of a friend of mine: if you let Endy Chavez bat four times a game, you’ll probably get to say things like “it seems like he’s on base every game,” because he seems to finish every single one of his games 1-for-4 with a single. Who could say no to a long-term hitting streak and a .250/.250/.250 batting line? It’s awkward to be in the position of not liking Chavez, since I like Chavez the person, and he’s been all right lately, but this team is fighting for the playoffs and Endy Chavez keeps leading off a lot. Do you see how that’s counter-productive? Do you see how this team could improve even with an old sack like Marlon Byrd? Chavez is pleasant and little and he knows how to make things happen, but unfortunately the thing he knows how to make happen the best is outs.

Nick Franklin: F
The Mariners didn’t manage to move Nick Franklin earlier. He started strong in Triple-A, then he didn’t hit upon being promoted to the bigs. And since returning to Triple-A at the beginning of June, he’s hit .244 with two home runs. Used to be, Franklin was confusing because he couldn’t hit in the majors, but now he’s confusing because he just can’t hit, period. It’s because of guys like Franklin that the purpose of Triple-A is becoming increasingly fuzzy. Aren’t those numbers supposed to mean something? Aren’t those numbers not supposed to mean nothing?

Cole Gillespie: D
I remember there was a time at which Cole Gillespie led the Mariners in rate hitting statistics. That time is not now, because Cole Gillespie isn’t good, and Cole Gillespie isn’t on the Mariners. What I remember most about Gillespie is when he pinch-hit and popped up in a tie game with one out and the bases loaded. It was at that point I figured his time with the Mariners was up. I was off by five or six weeks, but in the bigger picture, I wasn’t off at all. If you always consider a big-enough picture, your timing can pretty much never be off. “Sure,  I was late to meet you by 15 minutes, but how much are 15 minutes, really? If you think about the raising and the grinding of the mountains-”

Corey Hart: F
When Hart was on the DL, I almost put together a post talking about how Hart was better than his numbers, and how he’d been screwed by a few well-hit balls not quite working out as they should’ve. Those are the kinds of posts you write about bad baseball players. I do think Hart is better than this, but this isn’t about true talent, and Hart’s first half was a lousy first half.

James Jones: C+
Jones is impossibly easy to like. He’s always smiling, he provides for the team a different dynamic, he arrived almost out of nowhere, and he somewhat famously went up to Lloyd McClendon just to ask how he might be able to improve. Jones is so easy to like that you might want to look past the mediocre OBP and the mediocre slugging percentage and the mediocre walk and strikeout numbers. Jones has served a valuable role in that he’s filled a position of dire need, but so much about him has been raw, and speaking objectively he probably shouldn’t be a starter. He’s a starter here, and he’s not bad, but this is part of why McClendon described the team as having a BB gun offense. James Jones just doesn’t shoot real bullets, and he probably never will.

Brad Miller: D
Brad Miller has made people feel better by posting a .755 OPS since the start of June. That’s the Brad Miller we expected. Unfortunately, the regular season didn’t begin on June 1, and the Brad Miller before that was among the very biggest disasters in the league! He’s still not really hitting lefties, to the point at which there’s a statistical justification for batting Willie Bloomquist at short with a southpaw on the mound. When it might make sense to platoon your starting shortstop with Willie Bloomquist, the situation could be better, that’s what I always say. I don’t say very much.

Jesus Montero: C
Jesus Montero batted 14 times, he didn’t walk, he swung at a higher rate of pitches out of the zone than pitches in the zone, and he mashed a dinger. So that’s what Jesus Montero was up to. Before Montero’s first half had even begun, he was publicly ripped by his own general manager. On the plus side, Montero has probably completely forgotten about that, because my guess is that he completely forgets about everything within the time it takes his brain to try to submit an experience to memory.

Logan Morrison: D+
Like Hart, my feeling is that Morrison has hit into a few too many loud outs. Even if you try to adjust for that, Morrison’s numbers still don’t come out good, but I think I’ve partially inflated this grade just because Morrison isn’t Justin Smoak. He was the Marlins’ Justin Smoak, but what was old to them still feels fresh and new to us. Morrison, in other words, is frustrating in that he isn’t better than he is, but we’re still in the process of learning that about him, which means every good point might represent a turning point. They’re always potentially developing until they’re 28-year-old busts.

Stefen Romero: F
Last season Stefen Romero batted .277/.331/.448 in Triple-A with 28 walks and 87 strikeouts. By OPS on the team, he ranked directly between Carlos Peguero and Alex Liddi. It’s not Romero’s fault he didn’t help the Mariners.

Michael Saunders: B
Saunders hit in 2012. He hit in 2013, when he wasn’t recovering from injury. He’s hit in 2014. No longer, I think, do we have to worry about whether or not Michael Saunders’ bat is for real, and we know he’s a more than capable defensive right fielder. Now what we have to wonder is whether Saunders is particularly injury-prone, since he’s now back on the DL with a Grade 2 oblique strain. Saunders has conquered his obvious problem from earlier in his career. So now he’s confronted by a problem no one would’ve ever foreseen. There are always new problems, is the point. Even when you think you have everything figured out and going your way, you’re still closer to dying than you were at the start of this sentence.

Kyle Seager: A
I think we can say that Kyle Seager is objectively, certainly underrated, based on his numbers and based on his All-Star support. He’s one of the better third basemen in baseball and he’s still considered just one of the nobodies alongside Cano and the King. Part of the issue, probably, is that he’s never been hyped, and part of that issue, probably, stems from the reality that he just looks like a guy whose middle name is Duerr, which is Kyle Seager’s middle name, which is Duerr. Seager doesn’t look like an elite-level baseball player; he looks like a happy-go-lucky cousin, who’s also a younger brother of an older cousin, who you can’t believe is old enough to have a baby and a collection of guns. Seager has the skills that Willie Bloomquist’s body was always supposed to have, and making things weirder still is that there are two more Seager brothers in the minor leagues right now, with one of them being a Dodgers top prospect. It’s a whole family of guys sent to destroy the very concept of a “baseball face”.

Justin Smoak: D-
On Opening Day, Smoak went 2-for-4 with a double, a homer, and a walk, and spirits were high. He’d been practicing a net drill with Robinson Cano on the side, and people wondered whether Smoak had finally figured everything out. It only followed all of McClendon’s early support, with his assertions that Smoak could lead the league in doubles. Since Opening Day, he’s performed like Justin Smoak. Maybe the most interesting thing about him at this point is how much support he continues to have. The Mariners have never wavered in believing in Smoak as a first baseman. McClendon continues to believe in him as a first baseman. Educated baseball people look at Justin Smoak and see a long-term productive asset. It’s enough to make you wonder whether you’re just being impatient. But Justin Smoak turns 28 in December. They’re always potentially developing until they’re 28. According to my arbitrary cutoff, Smoak, you’ve got 2.5 months to not be a pile of crap.

Jesus Sucre: C-
Sucre has played twice and he hit a single and he caught pitches. With Zunino and Sucre, the Mariners ought to be one of the very best pitch-framing teams in all of baseball. Sucre is never going to be the topic of any conversation among fans, as he’ll never be good enough to start and he’ll never play enough to attract negative attention. He’ll just do his job and ingratiate himself to managers and he’ll stick around as an unknown backup for more than a decade. It’s a hell of a non-polarizing way to make a living. Way down the road, the complete oral history of Jesus Sucre will consist of, “who was that again?” and “that guy, that was a ballplayer.”

Mike Zunino: B-
Since May started, Zunino’s hit .180 with ten walks and 75 strikeouts. He’s kind of been last year’s J.P. Arencibia, which isn’t a good offensive catcher, but then there is more to it. The season also happens to include April, and Zunino appears to be an incredible receiver and handler of the pitching staff, and not that it matters here but sometimes it is easy to forget how quickly Zunino was rushed through the system. There’s been a lot on his plate, and one of the ideas behind bringing up Sucre is now McClendon might feel more comfortable giving Zunino more time off. More time off might allow him to perform more consistently. Zunino’s offensive game is basically running into a dinger from time to time, but the power is legit, and the defense is legit, and this is still the best catcher the Mariners have had in years. He makes too many outs with the bat, but he’s also invaluable when it comes to creating them in the field. Zunino might kind of capture the 51-44 All-Star break Mariners in a nutshell.


36 Responses to “First Half In Review: Passing Out The Grades (Position Players)”

  1. MrZDevotee on July 16th, 2014 8:14 pm

    Not saying I don’t want them replaced, or that I don’t throw up a little at the idea of them on a roster that makes it to the playoffs, but it feels pretty evident that Endy and Willie have been better than any of us would have imagined, if someone had joked “watch, they’ll both be starting by mid-May” back in April…

    I think “true talent” they’re both D’s, but for what they’ve actually accomplished for us, between the stat lines, I’d have a hard time giving them less than a C/C-… And I certainly don’t LIKE giving them that sort of grade. Just seems warranted.

    Same with James Jones… He’s got a 95 OPS+. Way above what I would have predicted for him. 17 stolen bases is a solid “B” at least, and a .280 avg is a “B” or “B-“… I’d give Jones a pretty solid C or C+ myself.

    These are always fun to read… Looking forward to the pitcher grades.

  2. Don Money on July 16th, 2014 8:47 pm

    Some people just don’t realize what the 23-25 players on a good roster are supposed to be and Jeff definitely doesn’t . You need versatile players who can be productive while getting inconsistent playing time, which is exactly what the M’s have in Willie, Endy, and Sucre. Young players need to be in the minors getting consistent at bats so they can develop into major leaguers, not sitting on the bench waiting to spell a starter. There is also a reason players have minor league options and there is nothing wrong with sending a struggling player down to work on identified flaws, it is not a punishment, it is part of normal player development for about 90% of the league . So, so easy to criticize. Not a single mention of Ackley’s immense improvement in his routes on fly balls, just bashing of his hitting. What if he turns into another Alex Gordon? Would that not be worth the wait? He had a strong second half last year and there is no reason he doesn’t repeat this year. First half or 59% has been great and apparently it was all done by D rated players because I haven’t seen any M’s pitcher with 27 strike outs!

  3. Westside guy on July 16th, 2014 8:50 pm

    Wow, I somehow didn’t realize Smoak is as old as Saunders. I didn’t think I could get more depressed about Smoak than I already was, but I was wrong. So congratulations (?) Jeff.

    I still don’t get how this team is winning. It’s been fun to see, and I hope they continue to defy logic, but there’s a significant part of my mind that is waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don’t know if that’s based on reality, or if it’s just because of recent history. I really want to let go and get excited, but there have been so many bad experiences… please prove me wrong, boys.

    Get better soon, Condor! The team really needs you in the lineup.

  4. Dennisss on July 16th, 2014 8:57 pm

    I’m with Westside — you look at this lineup and see two great players, two good players, and five positions ripe for upgrade, including (well-deserved) D’s and F’s at DH, 1st, SS, and LF. But we’re talking playoffs!

    So I’m thinking lots of A’ and B’s for the pitchers.

  5. Don Money on July 16th, 2014 9:17 pm

    Also, McLendon never said Smoak would lead the league in doubles, he said he “should try” to lead the league in doubles, which is a hitting coach saying don’t swing for the fences. A lot of Lloyd’s line ups seem to confuse a lot of commenters but he seems, again due to his background as a hitting coach, pretty astute at looking at the opposing pitcher and selecting from his roster the batters with the best chance of being successful, not who was hot against last nights pitcher. This is known as utilizing a roster which keeps players fresh and involved. It will pay big dividends in the second half of the season.

  6. Don Money on July 16th, 2014 9:38 pm

    As for Smoak, Tino Martinez was 27 before he hit over .265 or 20 homers, and that was in the Kingdome, a bit more hitter friendly than our jewel known as Safeco. Again it is so easy to criticize.

  7. kfrei2 on July 16th, 2014 9:43 pm

    I completely agree with everything MrZDevotee said.

    To me, these grades are really another way to articulate what we all already know. The pitching is carrying this team. We need an outfielder sooo badly. Barring a nice OF/1B/DH addition (or two) I don’t see the offense really changing much in the second half, maybe a slight improvement. Our biggest treat to dropping out of the playoff picture is the rather likely combination of Elias running into a wall and some regression from Young. Get well soon Paxton and Walker.

  8. bookbook on July 16th, 2014 9:51 pm

    Don Money, I appreciate your optimism. I suspect Ackley earned his way up to a D- with the defense. (Even so, a weak-armed left fielder isn’t going to add tons of value through D. He needs to get to a team that needs him at 2b for his defense to carry the bat.)

    I do agree that if you evaluate Willie (25th man allowing the M’s to carry an extra pitcher) and Endy (washed up AAA insurance outfielder) in the context of their best roles, they’d get higher grades. On the other hand, hitting 75-80% as well as an average MLBer and poorish defense can only take one so far.

  9. Westside guy on July 16th, 2014 10:00 pm

    Tino Martinez was good two years before that, running wRC+ of 99 and then 110 in the two seasons prior to the one you mentioned, Don. AND he only had ~ 200 major league plate appearances before his bat showed itself.

    Smoak has had just shy of 2200 major league plate appearances to date! He’s had ample time to show he’s worth keeping, but he’s failed to do so.

  10. Longgeorge1 on July 16th, 2014 10:08 pm

    Last year we had a sack of 1B/DHs and we got nothing but bitching. This year we get Endy and WFB and we get nothing but bitching. When we miss the payoffs by two games we will get nothing but bitching. I’d go to bed right now but I’d probably get nothing but bitching. Baseball is supposed to be fun, quit bitching. We are going to win 85 games, wouldn’t you have taken that on April 1st?

  11. Westside guy on July 16th, 2014 11:20 pm

    Nah, when they win 85 games and miss the playoffs by two I’ll likely still be saying “I have no idea how this roster pulled that off”.

  12. LongDistance on July 16th, 2014 11:33 pm

    It’s legitimate to feel very good about baseball in general and the standings in general and the prospects for the season in Seattle this year. It’s also legitimate to be surprised and concerned and clear-sighted about how this has been done despite very obvious holes. It’s also legitimate to project that teams with playoff hopes will be upgrading and that no matter what the M’s have done to this point, they have to respond in kind. It’s all well and good to feel all Pollyanna once in a while. I do, and have, frankly. But it’s also legitimate to know… know… we don’t have enough collective fingers to cross to flatline this team straight into the playoffs, or off, on Tuesday, September 30th, 75 days from now.

    We live in a run-of-the-mill house with some serious upkeep problems (although it has a Grade A pool and BBQ setup out back)… a broken screen door, a broken garbage disposal, leaf and needle filled gutters… whatever. Dad’s response to the dandelions was to buy a Ferrari. We look pretty good on the road, but it doesn’t change what things look like at home.

    The place doesn’t need Incredible Home Makeover… just a couple of jack-of-all-trades handymen. And it’s more than legitimate to expect that.

    Go away Dustbin. Go Ms. Go Jack. Go Jack Go.

  13. LongDistance on July 16th, 2014 11:48 pm

    I should have added the caveat: we should care that they do something IF we actually want to be in the playoff on 9-30. IF you go with the logic in sports that no matter where you are, you always try to do better.

    If not, fine. We’re Happy.

  14. jeffs98119 on July 17th, 2014 12:02 am

    “Dad’s response to the dandelions was to buy a Ferrari” made me smile.

  15. HighlightsAt11 on July 17th, 2014 12:37 am

    Don’t the individual and team stats, and more importantly, the Mariners overall W-L record, speak for themselves?

    Are the grades relative to the rest of MLB or to the AL only. Is the grading on a curve? Is more recent performance weighted higher than early season performance? What is the specific grading criteria?

    I don’t understand the need (of sportswriters) to assign mid-season grade letters on each member of the roster. More than anything else it appears to be more of an ego exercise by the author.

  16. dc24 on July 17th, 2014 12:58 am

    Not too many disagreements from me. I do think Willie and Endy are worthy of C-‘s. Endy serves a purpose on this team and he just seems to do something positive almost every game. Should he be starting? No. Well maybe because of Ackley and Saunders being injured, but ideally no. Should he be leading off? No. Is he valuable to this team? Yes. I’m glad we have him, but I do think if Almonte keeps hitting in AAA, Endy would be the odd man out. Might be time for Ackley to go. As for Willie, he can play almost every position and isn’t a disaster. He’s been ok at the plate. I have no complaints with him to date.

    Jones deserves a B. If anything just for the energy he seems to have given the team. He plays a good center field and has hit for a good average. I hope that with time the discipline and power will develop more.

    I love Brad Miller and I still think he has a bright future in the league, but he’s a D- or F. Even with the recent surge, he’s still not up to a D in my book. This team would be completely different if he could bat leadoff or 2nd, but he can’t right now. Maybe part of this is because my expectations were high, but whatever. He has to get better, and I fully believe he will.

    I think Morrison is worthy of a maybe a little bump to a C- or a C. He’s been stinging the ball lately and doesn’t have much to show for it, but that’s baseball. Maybe part of it is because he isn’t Smoak, but that’s worthy of a jump in letter grade by itself.

    As for Smoak, I have a hard time seeing him not being a F, but then again, what did we expect? I do think he plays a dang good defensive first base, much better than he gets credit for, but that’s about it.

    Pretty much spot on for the rest. I think if Saunders was fully healthy and had played more the first few weeks he’d be in B+ or A- territory for me. I think he might be our best position player behind Cano and Seager, and maybe Zunino. Was glad to see your assessment of Mike Z., because he’s been so good on defense, but he HAS to improve his offense and soon. If he ever can harness some plate discipline and hitting the ball up the middle and opposite field, he’ll be a monster.

    Just my thoughts. Looking forward to the pitchers!

  17. B13a on July 17th, 2014 1:17 am

    I like these individual player reviews, because it puts things in perspective. Say what you want about the team’s record, but objectively, the M’s have a few position players that should be replaced when the opportunity presents itself. Endy shouldn’t be starting as much as he should, even though he’s been adequate. Smoak and Ackley are busts, and there is absolutely no way to spin their performances differently. You can try, but you’ll fail.

    On the flip side, can you imagine how much better they’d be if they just upgrade a couple of positions on the team? We’ve seen what happens when the M’s dumped Smoak; Morrison hasn’t been otherworldly, but look how much better people feel about the lineup with him in it. All they have to do now is dump Ackley for a legit OFer, get Saunders back, and bam, improvement.

  18. jak924 on July 17th, 2014 7:33 am

    I don’t mean to sound harsh, but Ackley is afraid of the ball. His hips are pulling out of the box every time the pitcher releases the ball. Check Chase utley against Ackley and see the difference.

  19. Don Money on July 17th, 2014 7:58 am

    So Tino had the good fortune to develop in the minors instead of being rushed to the majors as Smoak was. I would love to see Smoak’s numbers had he hit in the bandbox known as the Kingdome. If DJ comes up and takes 1st base, great! I just don’t want to watch another talented young M get sold “low”, I would rather see him developing in our minor league system.

  20. naviomelo on July 17th, 2014 8:15 am

    Almonte is “hitting” .255/.313/.372 in 256 PA in AAA this year.

  21. Jeff Sullivan on July 17th, 2014 8:40 am

    If I were writing this again I’d probably give Ackley a D, Willie a D+, and Endy a C-. Ackley’s been better in the field and the other guys are reserves. It’s not Endy’s fault he’s been playing too much. So those are my own minor disagreements with myself. As for the point of this in the first place, I’m not sure there is one, except that it provides something to think about and talk about. Audiences tend to be pretty receptive to the player-caption format. People like paragraphs about individual players, and the break seems like a convenient time to reflect while we have a vacation from the day-to-day grind.

  22. Westside guy on July 17th, 2014 8:41 am

    For fun, I took a look at Tino’s splits over at Baseball Reference. In 1993 and 1995, he actually hit significantly better on the road (looking at OPS). In the strike-shortened 1994 season, he hit better in the Dome.

    All three seasons, his BABIP was lower at home – due to the turf, perhaps?

  23. bat guano on July 17th, 2014 8:50 am

    It’s hard for me to imagine anyone defending Smoak at this point. D- seems kind.

  24. John on July 17th, 2014 10:17 am

    Jeff, I also wish to disagree with your rankings that you already stated were arbitrary and that you didn’t feel very passionately about.

  25. whittier ms fan on July 17th, 2014 12:12 pm

    “Are the grades relative to the rest of MLB or to the AL only. Is the grading on a curve? Is more recent performance weighted higher than early season performance? What is the specific grading criteria?”-HighlightsAt11

    Reading the article would have helped somewhat with understanding his grading criteria.

    From paragraph 3, on the specific grading criteria: “I’ve assigned grades to every player who’s played for the Mariners in 2014. There are no formulas — the grades are just the grades that occurred to me” That should answer a couple of your questions.

    From Brad Miller’s blurb, on whether recent performance is weighted higher: “Brad Miller has made people feel better by posting a .755 OPS since the start of June. That’s the Brad Miller we expected. Unfortunately, the regular season didn’t begin on June 1, and the Brad Miller before that was among the very biggest disasters in the league!”

    Brad Miller’s grade was a D, which goes to show, that no, recent performance doesn’t seemed to be too heavily weighted, or his grade would likely be higher.

    “I don’t understand the need (of sportswriters) to assign mid-season grade letters on each member of the roster.”-HighlightsAt11

    There is no need, just as there was no need to read or comment on the story if it disinterested you.

  26. Westside guy on July 17th, 2014 12:46 pm

    BTW I enjoyed this, Jeff – thank you for writing it.

  27. msfanmike on July 17th, 2014 1:21 pm

    Hey, good news … help is on the way!!

    Stefen Romero (arbitrary Grade F) has been recalled and Lucas Luetge (he of the 1 inning/1 appearance so far this season) has been sent back to AAA.

    Value added, presumably.

  28. LongDistance on July 17th, 2014 2:55 pm

    BTW re: WFB’s D-.

    In fairness, his grade should be assigned to the FO for acquiring him in the first place. Otherwise, he’s a victim of collateral damage. Being that nothing much was expected in the first place, he’s over-achieving himself into deserving a gold star for effort. I give him a C-.

    As for Montero and his C: I just can’t pin him as being the absolute center of mediocrity around which all the rest revolves. For me, he’s in the corner with a dunce cap, and all else is pending.

  29. PackBob on July 17th, 2014 3:18 pm

    I think every fan in their own mind does just this to some extent for every player. The grades are never objective since no one could ever agree subjectively on what the objective parameters should be.

    Subjectively, The Mariners’ offense gets an A+, the starting rotation gets an A+, the bullpen gets an A+, McClendon gets an A+, and so does Jack. This is a comparative grade to the last few seasons.

  30. djw on July 17th, 2014 4:02 pm

    That people are still defending Smoak is hilarious. He showed a tiny glimmer of hope last year with his increased patience/walks. But everything has gone the wrong direction this year.

    To Don Money: Please identify some other players who played regularly between the ages of 23-27, produced a negative WAR, and showed no growth as a hitter during that time, and went on to become average or better players over a multi-year period.

    I’m sure there are a few, but “In 1% of cases like Smoak, the player turns out to be good, so we have to just keep playing him in case he’s in that 1%” is so obviously flawed I can’t imagine any explanation of what’s wrong here is necessary.

  31. Woodcutta on July 17th, 2014 4:02 pm

    There is no way I would ever give Jack Z an A+ for anything. He signed a future HOFer at a non need position for a large chunk of the team’s current and future payroll. I actually love the signing of Cano but you can’t go sign one player, especially of that caliber, and then wash your hands of the team and put it on McClendon to get results. Young, Jones, and Elias came out of nowhere and without them this team might have already been out of the playoff picture.

    The M’s have needed at least an average outfield for more than one season now and going into FA that was the one thing the FO needed to shore up given Miller and Smoak would be starting and how they would play was somewhat up in the air. Continually ignoring glaring holes is not the way to manage a business let alone a MLB team.

  32. djw on July 17th, 2014 4:13 pm

    Young, Jones, and Elias came out of nowhere and without them this team might have already been out of the playoff picture.

    I’m not a big fan of our current GM, but I don’t think it’s fair to not give him any credit for these player’s performances. Especially Young, who he identified and effectively chose over Wolf, a more conventional choice for the role. He deserves credit for recognizing and taking a chance on an asset the rest of the league undervalued.

  33. bookbook on July 17th, 2014 5:02 pm

    Romero was recalled? Really? Why?

  34. djw on July 18th, 2014 12:15 am

    Presumably because they had something like 14 pitchers on the roster, and no obvious better options on the 40 man for an offensive player.

    Personally, I’d like to see them drop Luetke or whomever and get Ty Kelly on this roster.

  35. stevemotivateir on July 18th, 2014 6:47 am


    Kingston was working for the Padres when Young pitched there. He may be the one who deserves the credit for landing him. It’s worth noting that Young was acquired after Wolf bailed. We may have never seen him if Wolf hadn’t freaked out over the clause. Sometimes the dice actually does roll our way!

    But I agree that credit should be given when it’s due. Jack could have done a lot better–A LOT BETTER–but he didn’t completely miss.

  36. cougs129 on July 18th, 2014 7:11 am

    Woodcutta- you really complaining about the signing of cano? Non need position? Franklin and Ackley sure don’t give me much confidence there. It’s easy to say that if elias, young and jones weren’t performing we’d be in trouble. However, the matter of fact is that they are and they’re guys that Jack Z has brought in one way or another. You should maybe try and understand just how bad of a situation he came into after Bavasi gutted the farm system and had some terrible contracts on the book. Obviously Jack Z hasn’t been perfect by any means but he has put together a pretty damn good ball club this year.

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