Mariner Catcher Mike Zunino

Right now it looks like Mike Zunino will catch between one hundred and one hundred-ten games on the season.

Carlos Ruiz who the Mariners picked up from the Dodgers will catch most of the remaining games. This will depend on how Zunino performs at the plate for the Mariners.

Defensively we all know that Zunino can do the job however will he be able to hit better than he has since coming up to the Mariners three years ago. His rookie season he hit over twenty home runs however his batting average was low and then he slumped in 2015. So much that at the end of August he was sent down to triple A and then never returned in September. The Mariners decided to start him at Tacoma once again at the beginning of 2016. This happened before spring training even had gone underway.

Zunino had a pretty good season with Tacoma when he was called up in July because of injury. He started off pretty good but slumped in September. This year Scott Brosius Tacoma’s hitting coach has been promoted to Seattle to be Edgar Martinez’s assistance coach. Although he will work with other hitters I expect that Zunino will be his primary pupil. Everyone is rooting that he can get back to hitting like in his rookie season.

This is a key season for Zunino because if he hits like he did in 2015 I can see that the Mariners may trade him during the season and after the season for sure. Dipoto and Servais both figure that he will have times where he will hit well and other times that he will struggle which is OK the deal is that he doesn’t struggle starting out the season and it continues on.

Zunino is a great guy along with his good defensive ability so everyone is rooting for him to succeed. The Mariners haven’t had a catcher that has played for several years since Dan Wilson retired. Zunino has a lot of power so he could hit a lot of home runs and doubles so it would be good if he could hit around .250. The Mariners would accept a little lower than that as well. They don’t want him hitting around or below .200.

We are all hoping Mike that we will see you here for many years to come and become involved in a team that will go to the playoffs and World Series in the rest of your career. Go M’s.

Continue Look at Mariner Pitching

Besides a big bluster trade during the off-season that brought the Mariners Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger from the Arizona Diamondbacks for pitcher TaiJuan Walker and shortstop Ketel Marte the Mariners added more pitching depth to their roster.

The Mariners not only picked up some veteran help they went out and got some young pitchers to help out for the future well as for the upcoming season.

The Mariners triple A team the Tacoma Rainiers will have a good starting rotation well as their bullpen. The Mariners have a solid starting rotation and bullpen although we are wondering how well the starters will do over the season.

We start out with King Felix Hernandez who will turn thirty-one in April shortly after the season starts and came off an injury last season. He did have a good off-season getting into better shape and right now he I participating in the Word Basic Classic for his home country of Venezuela.

Iwakuma will be back for another season however he will be older as well so who knows how healthy he will be for the season. James Paxton is back to make another try for the rotation. Hopefully he will stay healthy and have his best season so far. We won’t know for three more weeks but he is doing well in spring training. He likely will start after Felix since he is a lefty.

The Mariner’s picked up another lefty who should pitch after Iwakuma in the rotation. He is Drew Smyly. The Mariners got him in a trade with Tampa Bay.

The fifth starter right now for the Mariners is Yovani Gallardo who they picked up from the Baltimore Orioles for outfielder Seth Smith. He had a poor year last year for the Orioles however general manager Dipoto and manager Scott Servais are hoping that he will rebound this season.

If Gallardo doesn’t rebound or any other starters don’t do well they do have some depth. The number one pitcher that would come in is Ariel Maranda who they picked up late last year from the Orioles who had a good September. He will probably start in the bullpen as a second lefty or be sent to Tacoma to start the season.

Another starter the Mariners picked up who may start with Tacoma is Chris Heston who had a minimum season last year because of injuries. He previously pitched and started for the San Francisco Giants. The Mariners signed him as a free agent.

Other starters the Tacoma Rainiers may have are Chase De Jong who they picked up on a minor deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers during the early part of spring training. He had a good season last year at double A and he is only twenty-three years old so he could have a spot in the Mariners rotation next season. He may come up some time during the season and likely will in September. Another starter is Rob Whalen the Mariners got from the Atlanta Braves during the off-season. Like Heston and De Jong he is on the Mariners 40-man roster.

Another starter would be Cody Martin who started two games for the Mariners last season. He is not on the 40- man roster so he would have perform better than some of the other guys to make it on the roster whether opening day or during the season. Andrew Moore out of Oregon State who the Mariners like a lot may start the season in double A could be seen some time during the season especially in September. Another one is Dylan Unsworth out of South Africa who will probably start at double A this season to. Both Moore and Unsworth could move up to Tacoma during the season and likely see in September.

The bullpen has a lot of pitchers on hand. Far as right handed pitchers they are keeping five so not much room there for sure. Steve Cishek will probably start on the disabled list or there would be only room for one pitcher.

Edwin Diaz is the closer with Evan Scribner and Nick Vincent being two setup men. That would leave two pitchers and one would take Cishek’s spot until he is ready. The only change here would be if Dipoto decided to trade either Scribner or Vincent because neither will go to the minors.

Dan Altavilla looks to take one of the two remaining right handed spots in the bullpen unless he underperforms or someone else surprises the coaching staff. The other pitcher had the best chance is Shae Simmons however he was injured on Saturday so he could be out for a little while though he isn’t too concerned about it.

Other possibilities to make the bullpen that are on the 40-man roster Casey Fien, Thyago Viera and Tony Zych. So far Fien hasn’t done too well, Viera likely start in double A and Zych either on the disabled list or in Tacoma depending on he will do the rest of training camp. If Simmons can’t start the season than Zych could have the best chance in make the opening roster.

Another possibility is Max Povse however he is not on the 40-man roster. A veteran pitcher the Mariners recently picked up was Jean Machi. He too would have to be added to the 40-man roster to start the season with the Mariners.

The primary lefty in the bullpen will be Marc Rzepczynski however the Mariners hope to have another one as well. Ariel Maranda could be the second if he isn’t a starter in Tacoma when the season begins. James Pazos the Mariners got from the New York Yankees is having good spring training so he is the main competition for the second lefty against Maranda. They signed veteran lefty Nick Hagadone who last pitched in 2015 with the Cleveland Indians and is from nearby Sumner. His experience will be good for the Mariners whether he starts the season with the Mariners or the Tacoma Rainiers. The Mariners could trade him if another team is interested and he is not on the 40-man roster either.

So that looks like the primary pitchers for the Mariners going into the new season. Knowing Dipoto it most likely will change in the next three weeks before the season begins. Go M’s.

 

 

Current Look at Mariners Outfield

Going into spring training the plan for Mariners outfield looked to be Jarrod Dyson in left, Leonys Martin in center and Mitch Haniger in right field. It doesn’t look like things have changed there at this point.

On March 8 the Mariner brass said that the competition is still there who will be the fourth outfielder along with the utility player. In fact they say that two utility players could be on the opening roster. I am sure most would agree with me that probably wouldn’t happen even though things could change.

Although the coaching staff says thing are equal it looks to me that Guillermo Heredia has the edge to be the fourth outfielder over Ben Gamel. They say whoever may be the guy between the two it won’t depend on the right handed or left handed hitter which I am sure is true. Right now though Heredia is playing outstanding ball and deserves to be the guy. Of course that could change if Gamel starts playing outstanding ball.

At this point it looks like Dyson will lead off and start in left field in a platoon situation with Heredia playing against left handed pitchers. Also there is a possibility that Nelson Cruz could play right field on occasion and Haniger moving over to left field against lefties. Hard to say who the designated hitter would be in those situations. They could give someone like Kyle Seager or Robinson Cano a day off and be designated hitter against a tough lefty or even have Mike Zunino be in the lineup at the spot.

I don’t see Cruz playing much in right field in Safeco Field since it is a big park. I would see him playing in right field in a smaller park on the road.

I would see Gamel starting the season in Tacoma and if Heredia or someone was struggling at the plate he would be brought up along with an injury. One thing for sure the Mariners have more depth in the outfield especially defensively this season.

Danny Valencia who will play some first base will play occasionally in the outfield well as third base. Again this will depend on Vogelbach how does playing first base and giving Seager a day off once in a while.

One thing for sure the defense will be a lot better this season in the outfield and with the speed Dyson and Martin will steal some bases. Haniger will have some pop in the bat hitting some home runs and he may steal some bases too. For sure he will be able to go from first base to third on a lot of hits to right field along with some hit and runs. These guys will make things more exciting that is for sure. This will be the best outfield defensively since Franklin Gutierrez in center and Ichiro in right. Go M’s.

Mariners Solid Infield

Being Tuesday March 7 the Seattle Mariners have an off day in the Cactus League Spring Training schedule. Of course some of the players will get in their regular routines. The infielders will likely take grounders and many will take batting practice. Nothing will take place in the afternoon and some will relax and go play golf or spend time with their families.

It does look like the Mariners will have a solid infield this year. We expected that Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager would be their normal selves going into training camp. Jean Segura who the Mariners got in the trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks we expected to be an upgrade from Ketel Marte. He had a really good season last year and he does look he will have a good one for the Mariners even if he doesn’t hit as well as he did last year. Defensively he will be an upgrade over Marte. This could make a difference of at least a couple of games. Going into the off-season it did look like the Mariners would go after a shortstop because Marte did not look like he was ready to play regularly in the major leagues and he may have to do a Mike Zunino by going back to the minor leagues for a season. The question was who the Mariners would get to replace him since they did not have a solid player on their roster to replace him or in the minor leagues. We thought that Dipoto would go after acquiring Cozart the shortstop of the Cincinnati Reds who they tried to get before the trading deadline in July instead they went for a younger shortstop that had his best season so far in the major leagues. The Mariners had to give up TaiJuan Walker who we have heard for several years being their top pitching prospect and also included Marte going to Arizona as well. It made perfect sense since there is no room to have Marte except for depth at shortstop. Actually second base could be his best position however he won’t play for the Mariners for several years because of Robinson Cano. The Mariners also picked up Mitch Haniger who looks like he will be the regular right fielder for them at least at the beginning of the season.

The other position the Mariners had to do something about in the infield was first base. After the season we knew that neither Dae-Ho Lee nor Adam Lind who became free agents would return. They were adequate last year but not players that looked to be long term answers at first base. Before the trading deadline the Mariners picked up Daniel Vogelbach from the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Mike Montgomery. Vogelbach had a good minor league career in the Cubs system however they had regular first basemen already there so the Mariners decided to pick him up and on the positive side he is young as well. The Mariners did not have much in their farm system at first base either. Only D.J. Peterson a former first round pick is even close to playing in the major leagues and he may be a year away if he is at all. He probably plays this year with Tacoma as added insurance at the position. Dipoto could trade Peterson as well since he has done so with other high draft picks that the Mariners had before he arrived on the scene. Vogelbach is a left handed hitter who is looking better at first base defensively than when he came up to play sparingly in September. Dipoto and manager Servais both said that he would have to improve defensively at first base to have a shot playing this year. The Mariners went out and traded for Danny Valencia who played third base last year primarily with the Oakland A’s. He doesn’t have any experience at first base going into this season however expected to play as much as possible depending on how Vogelbach does. Valencia will play some third base when Kyle Seager needs a rest and probably some left and right field depending on how everything works out in the outfield as well. Right now it does look like Vogelbach will be the regular first baseman especially against right handed hitters while Valencia will get in action against lefties. It may not be the same platooning the Mariners had last year with Lee and Lind though.

The Mariners offense and defense both looked improved over last season. Seager should have a better season this year at third base along with Cano having another solid season at second. Segura and the team of Vogelbach and Valencia should be an improvement at first base as well. We will see but things will be better. Next time I will look at the outfield and the progress there. The regular season begins just under four weeks on April 3. We will have more answers in the weeks ahead. Go M’s.

First Televised Spring Game on Sunday

The Seattle Mariners take on the Oakland A’s in a split squad game on Sunday that will be televised. It will be the first television game of spring game. King Felix will be pitching for the Mariners in his second outing before heading to the World Baseball Class to play for Venezuela.

Speaking of the World Baseball Class after Saturday’s game Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Jean Segura will be heading to Florida to play for the Dominican Republic. With Cano and Segura out of the infield the Mariners will be going with Shawn O’Malley, Taylor Motter and Tyler Smith primarily at second and short. O’Malley and Motter are the key candidates to be the utility player on the Mariner’s roster when the season begins. Smith most likely will start the season with Tacoma. The Mariners will be bringing up minor league infielders for some action while Cano and Segura are playing in the WBC. Of course multiple players will be playing designated hitter while Cruz is gone as well.

It will be really good to see Felix pitch in his second outing of spring training. It looks like the Mariners are looking for Felix to throw more fast balls this season over the change up and breaking balls. The Mariner’s coaching staff feels that he will be more affective that way. His fast ball has a lot of movement and goes different directions over the plate. Felix throwing more fast balls will make the other pitches more affective as well. It will be interesting to see how that works out in the long run.

With Cruz, Cano and Segura not playing on Sunday we will see most of the regulars in the game. I am sure Seager will start at third along with the outfield of Dyson, Martin and Haniger against the A’s. Either Vogelbach or Valencia will start at first base and Zunino at catcher. I am sure who doesn’t start at first base in this game will start in the other split squad game.

The Mariners coaching staff so far has been impressed with Vogelbach that he may be the starting first baseman against right handers at the very least. Valencia looks to play against lefties at first base and some in the outfield. With Cruz going to the WBC both will see a lot of action either at first base or designated hitter. Heredia the way he has been playing so far this spring he could be platooning in left field with Dyson facing lefties. When Leonys Martin needs a day off either Heredia or Dyson will move to center field. Depending on how things go likely Ben Gamel will start the season at Tacoma. It will be tough for the utility player role as well with O’Malley and Motter being the two candidates. The Mariners will probably go with twelve pitchers starting the season so leaves thirteen players. The Mariners will go with four outfielders with Cruz and Valencia both able to play in the outfield too. The only other change at this time would be if Vogelbach was sent down to triple A. In that case the Mariners would go with two utility players.

We will certainly enjoy watching the first televised game on Sunday. This will allow us to get our fingers more ready to go as the regular season is almost four weeks away. Go M’s.

Spring Training Continues Dipoto Makes Another Trade

 

The Seattle Mariners have now won four out of five games in the first week of spring training games however he decided to make another trade to add depth for the minor leagues in regards to the starting pitching.

Dipoto traded for right handed starting pitcher Chase De Jong from the Los Angeles Dodgers for shortstop Drew Jackson and pitcher Aneurys Zabala. I don’t know much about De Jong however he is twenty-three years old and was drafted in the second round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012. He had a record last year in Double A of 14-5 with an era of 3.24 in 25 starts. The Mariners expect him to start this year in Tacoma. He certainly will add more depth to the starting pitching especially at a young age. Depending on how he does with Tacoma I would not be surprised to see him called up in September to see some action and he could be in the Mariner rotation next year. Another pitcher that may be in the rotation next year is Andrew Moore who the Mariners drafted in 2015 out of Oregon State. Dipoto is not only adding depth to the starting rotation for the Mariners this season but for the future as well.

Drew Jackson is the same age as De Jong and was drafted in the fifth round by the Mariners in 2015. He played last year at Bakersfield in the High-A and batted .258 in 124 games. He was rated the Mariners third top prospect going into this season and the top shortstop. He is another top player that Dipoto has traded that was picked by Jack Z. He was expected to play in Double A this year. With the Mariners acquiring Jean Segura from the Arizona Diamondbacks I am sure that Dipoto felt Jackson was expendable to acquire a quality pitcher like De Jong. Tyler Smith who is expected to play in Tacoma once again would be considered the Mariners number one shortstop prospect at this point.

The other who the Mariners traded to the Dodgers in the trade pitcher Aneurys Zabala is twenty years old out of the Dominican Republic. He spent last year as a relief pitcher for Peoria in the Arizona Rookie League. With the depth that the Mariners have in relief pitching they felt he was expendable.

The Mariners will be taking on the World Series champs the Chicago Cubs on Thursday and Friday. Ariel Miranda makes his second start of the spring against the Cubs on Thursday. The Mariners will be starting a mixture of starters and reserves in this game. Go M’s.