Trade Season Almost Ready to Start

Now that the World Series is underway with the Cleveland Indians beating the Chicago Cubs in game one 6-0 soon we will start seeing teams making transactions for the upcoming season. These transactions likely won’t be made until the World Series is over.

I expect that Jerry Dipoto of the Seattle Mariners has already has had discussions with other teams over players that may be available. Most of us would agree that he has talked to the Cincinnati Reds about shortstop Zach Cozart who they almost traded for before the end of July for the primary trading deadline. Actually teams can make trades in August and September however the players have to clear waivers first. Teams that are in contention for the playoffs though would likely make them in August because have to be on the roster at the end of August to be eligible for the playoffs. If the Mariners are not able to acquire Cozart because the Reds have decided they still want to keep him or trade him to another team with a better offer than the Mariners than I expect that Dipoto will look around the rest of the major leagues to find a veteran shortstop to acquire. Though Ketel Marte is the starting shortstop right now he had an up and down season some having to do with injuries. The Mariners will probably start him in triple A this coming season in the same manner as they did with Mike Zunino last season. Marte main issues have to do with his defensive fielding and not his hitting though he could improve in that area as well. The Mariners don’t have any depth at shortstop that is ready to play on the major league level. Shawn O’Malley who is the utility player for the Mariners most of last season and will most likely be this coming season showed that he could play shortstop defensively pretty good however he would have to show himself as a better hitter who could play as a regular for the Mariners. He has a lot of upside to himself if he can do so because of his speed. In any case likely he will be back to fill in at shortstop and in the outfield since third base and second base Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano play almost every day and don’t get hurt. O’Malley is a good choice if either one does go out for a short period of time.

The Mariners will be looking at who they can get to play in the outfield as well with the pitching. The Mariners did sign a couple pitchers to minor league deals however they likely will spend next season in Tacoma. Dipoto signed them as for depth to the pitching in case of injuries to the pitching staff. I hope that he will look at getting another front line starting pitcher at least and possibly a reliever as well although it is not as much a concern in the bullpen.

Though Dipoto loves to wheel and deal he probably won’t do as much like he did last winter when he took over the job as General Manager however he could surprise us in that to. I am sure all of us Mariner fans are looking forward to see the additional players added to the spring training roster going into next season. Go M’s.

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Seattle Mariners and the World Series

Now that the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians have made it to the World Series for the first time in most of our live times is time for the Seattle Mariners to get into the big time next year. Who would you like the Mariners to play?

I thought about the Washington Nationals who have never been in the World Series either. The problem though is what if they beat the Mariners in the Series. This would leave the Mariners the only team not to win a World Series. So what national league team should they play?

I am thinking the St. Louis Cardinals because they were one of my favorite teams to watch as a kid or the San Francisco Giants another one. My brother Jack lived in St. Louis for seventeen years so that would be nice to root against the Cardinals and my brother along with his kids. On the other hand Willie Mays was my favorite player growing up.

It would be nice to see former players like Junior Griffey, Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner and Dan Wilson among the few to throw out the first pitch. Also be nice to see King Felix play in his first World Series as a Mariner along with Kyle Seager, Iwakuma, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz to name a few.

It will be interesting still to see who Jerry Dipoto brings back next season along with those who will not be on the roster next season. We expect that Adam Lind and Chris Iannetta will be among those who will not be back. Daniel Vogelbach will replace Lind while Jesus Sucre will replace Iannetta unless the Mariners go after another veteran catcher. Will Aoki return or will the Mariners go after another outfielder to replace? The starting rotation won’t change unless the Mariners look to add there and have someone move to the bullpen. Also will the Mariners go add to the bullpen especially a lefty specialist? These are the primary questions Dipoto has to answer. Go Mariners!

What Should the Mariners Do in Outfield?

The Seattle Mariners have options to do in the outfield. They can bring back either or both Seth Smith and Aoki or go another direction. It looks like Smith will be coming back but not sure about Aoki. The only reason I see Aoki coming back is what he did for the Mariners in August and September after being sent down a couple times to Tacoma.

The Mariners have two outfielders they both got last season. Primarily they were used as defensive replacements late in the season. The question would be if they would platoon in either left or right field in the same manner as Smith and Gutierrez. If so then Ben Gamel would start against right handers while Guillermo Heredia against lefties. If this were the case the Mariners may bring Gutierrez back to platoon again with Smith? Whoever did not start in the outfield between Gamel and Heredia would likely come late in game to replace Smith and Gutierrez. This is the way the Mariners go likely Smith and Gutierrez would play in left field.

Another option would be to go out and get another outfielder to play left or right field. In this case Gamel or Heredia would be on the roster as the extra outfielder. The Mariners do have Shawn O’Malley as the utility player who can play the outfield well as the infield so he could come in as a defensive replacement as well when he doesn’t start a game or move over late in games.

If the Mariners were to go out and get an outfielder to start in left or right who should they go after? I was reading on line where Michael Saunders in going to be a free agent. Should the Mariners go after him and sign him. In the same manner did when Raul Ibanez came back to the Mariners. He is athletic like Gamel and Heredia with experience. He fits the mold that Dipoto is looking for and he knows Safeco Field as well. The big question is can he stay healthy and be consistent. He had a great first half of the season since he was voted into the all-star game however his second half hitting dropped off. With experience in the playoffs this year for Toronto is now mature for the Mariners? He is twenty-nine years old so he could be the answer for the Mariners. If not him who else should they go after either free agent or in a trade.

How About the Shift

I have mentioned before that I am not a big fan of the shift all the time. I know it works on certain players however I don’t think you have to use it on every player in the lineup.

The shift was primarily used on superstars like David Ortiz because he was a primary pull hitter. You go way back and they had the shift on Ted Williams another left handed pull hitter who loved to hit against the shift just by his numbers showed that.

I am sure the shift will be still around for a long time though it will gradually decease against many players especially those who no longer pull the ball all the time. The Mariners have Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager who they put the shift on quite a bit because they are both pull hitters especially Seager. Cruz on the other hand hits the other way especially on two strikes. In fact I would never put the shift with two strikes or when there is a batter on first base unless there are two outs. It would be hard to make the double play with the shift.

Seager was not a pull hitter before he came up to play for the Mariners and was moved to third base because he felt that he needed to hit more home runs. I am sure working with Edgar Martinez he will find a way to be less of a pull hitter. Look at Robinson Cano he is not a pull hitter and he hit the most home runs of his career in 2016. No teams ever put the shift on him.

I would keep the shift on certain players that are pull hitters for sure and have the history of hitting for a high average.

Those players that have low batting averages like Mike Zunino or Justin Smoak seem to me unnecessary to do so against. In fact for Zunino I would look at putting the shift in the outfield because of his power. He hits mostly doubles and home runs.

Most players low in the batting order I would have no concern putting the shift on since they usually have poor batting averages anyway. I am sure the shift will stay on over the next few years until hitters adjust. You will always have those who will pull the ball anyway. What do you think about the shift?

Changes In the Bullpen

I am sure we will see some changes by the Mariners when it comes to the bullpen however the use of the relievers could be different too. Often teams will duplicate what other teams do when they see something that is successful.

We see the Cleveland Indians during the playoffs are bringing Andrew Miller as the first reliever out of the bullpen to a lot of success. I wonder if other teams will do so during the regular season or more happening during the playoffs. I would not be surprised this does happen during the season especially in September however teams that do have relievers that are like Miller may do so early in the season.

I would not be surprised if the Mariners are one of those teams that will try this since Dipoto and Servais are both willing to do anything that seems to be successful. I am sure that the Mariners will still have Edwin Diaz close the game in the 9th inning however they may try to bring in Steve Cishek as the first reliever into the game. Also they may try Dan Altavilla or Arquimedes Caminero both hard throwing right handers to come in if either makes the team out of spring training. The Mariners could do that with a left hander as well since that is what Miller is.

So who do you think should be the first pitcher out of the bullpen for the Mariners? Also if you had to list the members of the bullpen for next season who would be your choices of relievers?

 

Who Should Be At Shortstop For Mariners!

This last season the shortstop position was mostly handled by Ketel Marte who played for his second season on the Mariners and for the first full season. Like what happens often a player does struggle in his second season in the major leagues however the big question going into 2017 can the Mariners afford him to have another off-season?

Actually the answer more is for his fielding than his hitting. He plays at one of the three most important positions on the field. Those are the three that they call up the middle. Catcher, shortstop and centerfield; the Mariners are pretty good defensively at catcher in Mike Zunino and Jesus Sucre along with Leonys Martin in centerfield however Marte is not the shortstop need at this time. He starts 2017 at the age of 23 so he actually still has time to become a very good shortstop. The Mariners can handle his hitting because it was decent but in both seasons his fielding percentages were .960 and .959. If you look at Zach Cozart who the Mariners tried to trade for at the trading deadline his fielding percentage was .980. The problem with Marte’s fielding had to do with making the routine plays. He had no problem making some spectacular play however at times he would throw the ball away. A great example of that was at the end of the season when he threw the ball away in two crucial games down the stretch. You could say that the Mariners may have made the playoffs if those plays had not happened. In both games the opposition scored four unearned runs in the inning that he threw the ball away. We don’t know whether they would have won the games or not but the chances would have been pretty good. In both cases the Mariners were ahead.

Right now the place the Mariners are going they need to go with a veteran shortstop whether it is Zach Cozart who I am sure they will try to acquire once again or go for someone else. Ketel Marte most likely will be sent down to play next season in triple A primarily to work on his defense. He has showed that he can hit in the major leagues but he has to show that he can play shortstop in the major leagues. In my opinion his future position is more to be second base; if that is the case than the Mariners likely will look to trade him since Robinson Cano is a fixture at second base and there is no one better than him.

As far as Cozart goes he has a one year contract remaining on his contract. Not sure whether the Mariners are looking to sign him to an extension or let him leave after one season. At the start of last season besides Marte they had Chris Taylor and Luis Sardinas on their 40 ma roster however they traded both them away. Among the Mariners top minor league prospects Drew Jackson a fifth round draft pick in 2015 is considered the Mariners number three prospect. Right now don’t know whether he will be ready to play in 2018 if Marte is not ready to go. Also they have Tyler Smith who played a lot of shortstop in Tacoma last year but not sure whether the Mariners consider him to be someone to play for them as a regular anytime soon. I am sure that Dipoto will look into acquiring Cozart during the off-season along with some other shortstops that could be available. It would be difficult to keep Marte at shortstop for another season unless he works a lot during the off-season and sees a lot of improvement in his fielding. So right now it is see what happens at short. Go M’s.

 

Look at First Base For Mariners

I am sure we will see soon what Jerry Dipoto will be doing for trades coming up in the off-season. I am sure he has talked over with a few other ball clubs and has discussed with his management team whether first base is a priority or he may be looking more at shortstop and the outfield.

Looking at his history I expect at least one trade if not more will happen during October. He will look at more transactions in November. Free agency won’t happen until after the World Series though I am sure the Mariner staff is discussing that to.

At first base Daniel Vogelbach the Mariners got in mid-July from the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Mike Montgomery. He played out in Triple A for the Tacoma Rainiers before being called up in September when the roster expanded. The Mariners feel that he is ready to play regular in the major leagues since he has hit pretty good in all the levels of the minor leagues. He is a left handed hitter so the Mariners may look at platooning him at first base so they would look at bringing in a right handed hitter. Adam Lind and Dae-Ho Lee are both free agents. Lind will not be back and Lee could if his asking price is OK. The Mariners will look at a right handed hitter that could play every day if things don’t work out and Vogelbach isn’t ready for the major leagues.

I have heard that the Mariners could be interest in Steve Pearce who played last year for the Baltimore Orioles and is a free agent. He batted .288 in 85 games with thirteen home runs. His batting average was higher than Lee and so was his on-base percentage. What would make him interested to the Mariners is that he could play either left or right field along with second and third base. So he gives more flexibility in the lineup for the Mariners. Although he has been in the major leagues for several years could he be a regular at first base if necessary.

Another choice in house could be Mike Freeman and Stefan Romero who both can play multiple positions as well. D.J. Peterson a former first round draft pick ended his season in Tacoma early because of an injury. Hard to know whether Dipoto thinks he is ready or should spend another year in Tacoma. The thing about Romero is he has been in the Mariners system for several years so Dipoto may think his days are done here. He could be an added piece in any trade the Mariners make. Other words he would be a throw in. It may do him a world of good to go elsewhere.

Next time I will look at the shortstop position since it is the only other infield position that is in question.