Game 42, Mariners at Red Sox: Desperation Time?

marc w · May 22, 2022 at 10:19 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Logan Gilbert vs. Nathan Eovaldi, 10:35am

After another heartbreaking loss – another big early lead squandered – the M’s will need to make even more roster moves. Abraham Toro’s injury in yesterday’s game will necessitate an IL stint, and Steven Souza’s poor play necessitated a roster move as well. The ideal replacement for the latter would be Kyle Lewis, but the organization is talking about his health the way they did about Jay Buhner’s in 2001: general soreness and years of wear and tear making it all but impossible to say whether he’ll be able to play the field on a given day (a reminder that life is often cruel, and baseball is crueler). So, the M’s have made a short term move and a longer term one. For the former, they’ve brought Taylor Trammell back from extended spring training where he’d been rehabbing an injury he picked up in the season’s first week in Tacoma. For the latter, they’ve signed free agent OF Justin Upton, who’d been cut by the Angels at the end of spring.

With Souza’s DFA’d and Toro IL’d, there’s still an open active roster spot. Thus, old friend Sam Haggerty is back from Tacoma to fill in. Adrian Sampson, who’d just been signed on May 13th, has been DFA’d to make room on the 40-man. Let’s be clear: the M’s needed to make moves. What’s less clear is if these moves will help. The M’s decided to punt defense a bit with Souza, and it now seems like they’ll re-prioritize it with Trammell, whose MLB hitting performance is…not great. The back-up to the back-up infielder doesn’t matter so much, but the M’s depth is being sorely tested, and they’re getting kind of desperate. Dylan Moore may need to stick around the infield more going forward, and the M’s just have to hope that Trammell is ready to go despite not playing a minor league game, or that Upton can get back to game speed in the next few weeks.

Today, the M’s will be desperate to salvage a game in this series. They get perhaps their best starter on the mound, and facing an opposing starter who got demolished in his last outing. But that doesn’t make the M’s favorites. Nathan Eovaldi was off to a great start for Boston, and has a great walk rate and K rate, but 5 HRs in one disastrous inning against the Astros mar his seasonal stats. Sure, that game was essentially played in a wind tunnel, but the HRs counted just the same.

As a guy with a big fastball, does Eovaldi’s game plan run right into the M’s batting strengths? Eh, not really. While it’s 95-97mph, Eovaldi’s throwing his four-seamer only 40% of the time, far less than yesterday’s starter, Garrett Whitlock. Eovaldi’s arsenal is a deep one, and he mixes in a curveball, a slider, a splitter, and a rare cutter. The slider’s his primary breaker against righties, and it’s been weaker than normal in 2022 thus far, but his curve’s been solid against both lefties and righties. He uses the splitter not as a change-up, where he’d target lefties with it, but as an equal-opportunity weapon.

Gilbert’s given up at least 3 R in the last three starts, but he’s been the victim of poor defense and some bad luck. He’s remained a surprising strikeout threat throughout even this dip in form, and he’s yielded so few HRs on the year. That combination makes him a serious threat to win every game he starts.

1: Frazier, 2B
2: France, 1B
3: Crawford, SS
4: Rodriguez, CF
5: Winker, LF
6: Suarez, 3B
7: Ford, DH
8: Raleigh, C
9: Trammell, RF
SP: Gilbert

Tacoma’s game last night featured one of the most eye-popping performances in years. Starting pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon started the game with *9 consecutive strikeouts.* That’s clearly a Tacoma record, and it’s believed to be the most in the long history of the PCL. de Leon finished with 5 scoreless innings, giving up only 1 hit and striking out 12 against 1 walk. That’s…astonishing. Nick Margevicius gave up 6 runs in 2 in relief, but the Rainiers had built up a big lead and won 10-6. Jarred Kelenic went 3-5 with a couple of doubles, and SS Mason McCoy had two HRs. Today, Justus Sheffield gets the start; he’s had a rough start to his PCL stint this year.

NW Arkansas took Arkansas apart, winning 11-4. Today, SP prospect Emerson Hancock gets the start for the Travelers.

Everett won 9-3 over Hillsboro, hitting three home runs in the process. Adam Macko had a so-so start, going only 4 IP, walking 5, but striking out 6. Bryce Miller starts for Everett today.

Stockton blanked Modesto, 4-0.


11 Responses to “Game 42, Mariners at Red Sox: Desperation Time?”

  1. eponymous coward on May 22nd, 2022 1:22 pm

    I don’t think Justin Upton is in any real sense an upgrade on Souza (maybe marginally as a platoon DH, but this roster isn’t really intended to have regular DHs, even though Winker probably is best at DH). We’ve just decided to raid the trash heap the Angels left in spring training instead of the one the Dodgers left.

    It’s 2022, aren’t we supposed to be done with stepping back into raiding the trash heap of other organizations?

  2. globalalpha on May 22nd, 2022 7:12 pm

    Aren’t we supposed to be done with raiding trash heaps? I guess when your payroll limitations are $100 million you don’t have many other options. This team could have easily added another frontline starting pitcher, a strong or mid-range outfielder, and two or three bullpen pieces and still come in below league average payroll. Making only two (?!?!!??) free agent signings, one of whom is Sergio Romo and only then after Sadler went down in spring training, is just criminal. Well-run organizations trying to compete are laughing at this kind of strategy.

  3. Stevemotivateir on May 22nd, 2022 8:35 pm

    They’re 5.5 games back from a wild card.

    They’re about 5.5 upgrades short of any hope.

  4. eponymous coward on May 22nd, 2022 11:03 pm

    They’re closer to the bottom of the league right now than a wild card. I think it’s a rough stretch and could see them racing back to .500ish (the schedule after mid-August is soft), but that also depends on Dipoto not deciding “welp, might as well cash in Frazier, Mitch, Flexen for what I can get” ala the Toro/Graveman trade, which would be trading 2022 wins for 2023 and beyond potential roster pieces.

  5. Stevemotivateir on May 23rd, 2022 6:04 am

    There is no point in selling guys like Frazier or Haniger. A powerless second baseman and and often-injured outfielder who may not even be off the IL before the deadline would bring them nothing. They’re not a team that needs to add low-ceiling prospects to their farm.

    Flexen would be useful for long relief & spot starts. At 4m next year, retaining him shouldn’t be a problem.

    Not only do I think Seattle should add, immediately if possible, I think they should try to extend Frazier and use him next year in the role Toro has had this year.

  6. MKT on May 23rd, 2022 11:35 am

    The Ms playoff chances this season are sliding lower and lower. But I count this as Year 4 of their rebuild, and had always figured that it’s not until Year 5 that a team can really expect to make the playoffs. That’s how long Houston took, e.g.

    The Ms’ true talent level is not as bad as their won-loss record suggests, the opposite of last year when their talent level was not as good as their won-loss record.

    So overall my response is “meh”; the Ms should be a .500-ish team and regression to the mean should get them close to that level this season. There’s a good chance they’ll miss the playoffs again. But at least they have rebuilt their roster to .500-ish levels, unlike previous seasons when pre-season prognosticators put them close to the bottom.

    Next season though, the fans should expect, and demand, roster moves plus internal improvement that makes the Ms contenders, and we should expect to see the results in wins and losses. It’s baseball, so the unexpected often happens, but 21 years of playoff futility is more than enough.

    The Ms, except for 1995-2003, have been one of baseball’s consistently losing franchises due to a combination of cheap owners and incompetent front offices. This is the organization that thought Kevin Mather was worthy of being its president.

    There are signs that the franchise is on the right track for making the 2023 playoffs. There are of course also signs that they’re hoped-for infusion of youth will fall short. A season or two ago commenters here were wondering what the Ms would do with a crowded outfield of Haniger, Lewis, Kelenic, and Rodriguez and I predicted that one of those players would fail to be productive either due to injuries or just plain being a bust, because that’s the nature of prospects, they don’t all pan out.

    We might be seeing a scenario where injuries kneecap the careers of two of those players and being a bust caps the third, but that’s a worst-case scenario, we’ll see how this plays out.

  7. eponymous coward on May 23rd, 2022 12:47 pm

    I don’t really disagree, but the temptation to throw away 2022 wins for chances at 2023 and beyond wins (in terms of getting something) is going to be strong if we’re past Memorial Day and this team is looking pretty hopeless. If Jerry still has payroll restrictions for 2022 he’s possibly going to want some lottery tickets, fungible bullpen arms, etc instead of watching players walk for nothing after the World Series.

    (I don’t necessarily agree, kind of depends on the return, but I understand the process that would be at work.)

    Also, you want to extend Frazier but he has no trade value?

  8. eponymous coward on May 23rd, 2022 12:59 pm

    Yeah, except this is serious goalpost moving from the front office’s rhetoric about “step back” in the 2018-2019 offseason. Not to mention the process isn’t really all that close to complete. At what point are we allowed to wonder why it’s taking the better part of a decade to produce more than one productive MLB outfielder at a time out of a farm system?

    That and the talent scarcity on the MLB roster is 100% artificial, as Texas and Minnesota demonstrated this offseason. It was a conscious choice to have a payroll below league average and not supplement the production from the farm with more free agency pickups the last three years. And the last two years (yet another near miss at the playoffs that could have used some roster help, and very obvious potential roster problems coming into 2022 turning into yawning chasms) are consequences of those choices.

  9. Stevemotivateir on May 23rd, 2022 1:30 pm

    Frazier cost Seattle Ray Kerr and a low-level outfielder I wasn’t familiar with. That was for a full season of Frazier. Seattle would likely get less than that if they were to move him by the deadline. This isn’t me suggesting he’s worthless, it’s me suggesting he’s more valuable to Seattle than what the return would be, and the point about extending him has to do with thickening the depth. I’d like (love) to see Seattle land Bogaerts and use Frazier in the utility role that Toro’s been in.

  10. Stevemotivateir on May 23rd, 2022 1:44 pm

    One thing I think everyone can agree on is that Seattle can’t BS the fan base any longer. Regardless of who’s to blame for the lack of $ activity last offseason, they have to open up and field a contender–now, by the deadline, and in the offseason.

    They’re all out of excuses.

  11. MKT on May 23rd, 2022 4:27 pm

    ‘this is serious goalpost moving from the front office’s rhetoric about “step back” in the 2018-2019 offseason’

    Yes and no. For awhile in 2019 and 2020 I was miffed that the Ms did their step back but did not follow it up with a step forward. Who did they think they were, BS’ing with this talk about a short-term set back when in reality it takes years to rebuild.

    But they did make real progress in 2021 (and lucked into being in a playoff race), and additional progress for 2022 (though it’s not showing up in the wins and losses), so I’ve become more patient, knowing that in reality the process needs to be given its four years. So it’s not goalpost moving if we’re realistic about what the Ms were doing, indeed they had to rebuild.

    ‘At what point are we allowed to wonder why it’s taking the better part of a decade to produce more than one productive MLB outfielder at a time out of a farm system?’

    For me, the answer is 2023. If they fall flat yet again, then we’ll be justified in saying “yep, same old Mariners”, who’d have the majors’ worst lifetime cumulative won-loss record if it weren’t for the Marlins, Padres, and Rockies (and all of those teams have managed to play in at least one World Series). Literally a franchise that does not deserve the support of its, or any fans, given its decades-long lack of knowing how to put a good team on the field.

    Around 2020 I was getting ready to truly give up on the Ms indefinitely. But DiPoto does deserve a chance and the Ms are getting better.

    ‘as Texas and Minnesota demonstrated this offseason’

    I keep following the Twins as an example of a team that despite not having big financial resources and being decades removed from its most recent World Series, does manage to get into the playoffs with regularity. That’s what the Ms should be like. (It’d be great if the Ms were run like the Rays, but I think the Rays have rare genius team leadership, they do great at getting wins with almost non-existent fan support, and are pretty much unicorns.)

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