Look at the Bullpen

Now that Mariners will be starting spring training in almost two weeks let’s look at who will be competing for a spot in the bullpen. Like most of the roster there aren’t many spots available to make the team. Outside the primary guys there could only be about one spot open and it would have to be someone unexpected who has a really good spring training or an injury happens.

The Mariners have ten pitchers plus a few minor league invitees who be going for eight spots. The Mariners might bring seven pitchers north but most likely it will be eight which leaves the Mariners with three bench players.

One of the bullpen spots most likely go to a pitcher that is competing in spring training for the starting rotation. This pitcher will be the long relief pitcher and add depth to the starting rotation along with some starting in Tacoma. The Mariners are hoping they won’t have a season like last year where they used forty pitchers including seventeen as starters.

Edwin Diaz return again as the primary closer. The Mariners signed Juan Nicasio as a free agent to pitch the eighth inning plus the ninth when Diaz needs a rest. Nicasio ended last season as the closer for the St. Louis Cardinals. He will share the eighth inning with Nick Vincent. The Mariners want to be sure that Vincent isn’t overused like last season when he ran out of steam in September.  After off-season surgery the Mariners are hoping to have a healthy David Phelps all season long. Phelps will be the primary reliever in the seventh inning who can go a couple innings if necessary. Mark Rzepczynski will return as the left handed specialist along with fellow lefty James Pazos who will be able to go at least one inning as well like Phelps. So that makes six pitchers with one spot to fight over since the eighth likely will be long reliever.

The pitchers that will be competing for the seventh spot in the bullpen will be hard throwing Dan Altavilla who the Mariners could begin the season in Tacoma however I am sure they would love him to nail that spot down. He could be used as a closer as well. Other candidates would be Tony Zych who returns once again to compete for the spot. Zych again spent part of last season on the disabled list however he was able to pitch in forty-five games with a solid 2.66. Like Altavilla he is a hard thrower and is only twenty-seven years old. Another candidate is Shawn Armstrong who the Mariners acquired in a trade from the Cleveland Indians for international slot money. He only pitched in twenty-one games for the Indians last season so we will have to see. I am sure the Mariners staff saw enough of him that they thought he could compete for a spot in the bullpen. Another guy is Nick Rumbelow who they acquired from the New York Yankees however the last time he pitched in the major leagues was 2015. The Mariners have other candidates to compete for the bullpen but the chance of them making the opening day roster is slim since only one spot is really up contention.

Since we are fans and not sure how the starting rotation will be during the 2018 it will be important that the Mariners have a strong bullpen. With the Mariners everyday lineup that should score enough runs and the starting rotation the three primary starters in James Paxton, Felix Hernandez and Mike Leake can go at least six innings should help out. Erasmo Ramirez is expected to be the fourth starter so if he can make it into the sixth inning that would be nice as well. Whoever the fifth starter is the long reliever will likely be available to come in those games.

Anyway spring training will be interesting to see fills out the one or two spots remaining in the bullpen. The Mariners will have some depth there if they need to bring up anyone from Tacoma during the season. Go M’s.  

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Who’s On First

 

Now that we are over the Edgar didn’t make the Hall of Fame once again or are we? It is now time to get ready for spring training which is coming in about three weeks. We will be looking at positions and players who may or may not make the team for the final roster.

First we look at first base where now we have two newcomers for the third year in a row under Dipoto. It has been a while since the Mariners have had a solid first baseman will this be the year?

Last year the Mariners figured to platoon between Daniel Vogelbach and Danny Valencia. Vogelbach didn’t make the roster and spent most of the season in Tacoma so Valencia was the starter for most of the season until August when the Mariners traded for Yonder Alonso from the Oakland A’s. He had been on the all-star team but during his stay with the Mariners it wasn’t all-star caliber. In thirty games he hit six home runs and drove in eighteen which is Ok with a .265 batting average. Danny Valencia who started most of the games at first base before Alonso arrived had an OK season as well especially after starting off slow in April. His defense was a surprise especially when he had never played the position full time. He ended the season with fifteen home runs and sixty-six runs batted in which isn’t too bad being low in the batting order however the Mariners would like to see more production out of first base. Both Alonso and Valencia became free agents so the Mariners decided to go another direction. Also they didn’t want to put the money into what it would cost to resign either player.

So early in the off-season the Mariners made another trade again with the Oakland A’s. This time they picked up a younger player who can be around for a while and had a good rookie season in Ryon Healy. He had

Twenty-five home runs and seventy-eight runs batted in with a .271 primarily at designated hitter however the A’s have Matt Olson who had nearly as many home runs in many less games and he is little bit younger than Healy so the A’s felt he had a better future. Also he bats left handed while Healy bats right-handed. The A’s are planning to move outfielder Khris Davis who has a poor arm to designated hitter so Healy was expendable in their thinking. We will have to see whether that benefits the Mariners over the A’s.

Healy is a right handed hitter with power so that helps the Mariners having Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager hitting left handed with power so that allows another right handed hitter to go along with Nelson Cruz. Most likely he will bat sixth in the batting order for the Mariners though they may decide to bat Mitch Haniger in that stop. In any case the Mariners should have pretty good bottom of the batting order with Healy, Haniger, Mike Zunino and Ben Gamel.

During the winter games the Mariners took Mike Ford in the rule 5 draft who is a left handed hitter so they could platoon him with Healy. Being a rule 5 draft pick he must be on the 25 man roster for the season or be sent back to the New York Yankees in which the Mariners drafted him from. An alternative would be that the Mariners make a trade with the Yankees to keep him if they want to send him to the minor leagues. The problem with platooning Ford and Healy is that the Mariners plan to carry an eight-man bullpen so only room to carry three bench players and one of them will be a backup catcher so only leave two other players on the bench. Most likely those two spots will be taken up by a utility man and extra outfielder. Guillermo Heredia who had off-season surgery on his shoulder isn’t ready to go and Ford along with Healy has outstanding spring training you could see the utility man turn into being the extra outfielder. Healy has experience at third base he could back up Seager though if this was the scenario. Dee Gordon who the Mariners picked up from the Miami Marlins during the off-season is expected to be the center fielder however his experience is at second base and shortstop so he can be the backup at both of those positions as well. Most likely though he would only switch back to the infield if an injury happened to Robinson Cano and Jean Segura that would keep them out for a little while.

Mentioned earlier the Mariners still have Daniel Vogelbach on the forty-man roster as well. He had a solid triple A season last year but his chances to make the team became less because of Ford and Healy. If he has a good spring training the Mariners may use him to pick up another pitcher for depth. At this point I see that the Mariners will likely start Healy at first base and either send Ford back to the Yankees or trade for him and send him to Tacoma. This would give the Mariners depth if something happened with Healy at first or Seager at third base. So who’s on first will be answered during spring training. I would have to go with Healy for now. Go M’s.

Edgar Misses Out

On Thursday afternoon the fate of Edgar Martinez getting into the Hall of Fame was made known. Again he missed out narrowly this time. He was voted on seventy-one of the ballots given to the baseball writers who vote the Hall of Fame. This was up twelve percent over last year when he was at fifty-eight percent. Edgar has only one more year of eligibility to make the Hall of Fame. He needs just five more present to make it. So we are hoping that he does.

Most of the voting has to do with stats in the most part. Edgar is high on many of the stats except for home runs. He was more of a doubles hitter. I expect though a major reason he is not in is that he played most of his career as a designated hitter. He started his career as a third baseman but because of an injury Lou Piniella who was manager at the time thought it would be better for the team if he became the designated hitter instead of playing in the field. If he had stayed at third base or switched to first base with the same stats and length of career he likely would be in already. Some of the writers don’t feel that the designated hitter is not a legitimate position though the American League has had it for over forty years. It would not surprise me if those who didn’t vote for him cover teams in the National League. Having the designated hitter of the year named after him you would think get him in. We hope that next year will be the one for Edgar to get in. If he doesn’t than the veterans committee will have to decide and that will take some time.

Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Vladimir Guerrero were the position pitchers that made it along with closer Trevor Hoffman. It is sort of interesting that Hoffman made it because you could consider him a specialist in the same way as Edgar.

In my opinion the criteria for a Hall of Famer is one at the top or near the top at his position during his career. Edgar was the best designated hitter during his period so he would qualify. I don’t think it all has to do with stats. Thome has over six hundred home runs which is pretty good feat however I never thought of him as one of the top first basemen when he was playing. If he belongs no question so does Edgar; anyway we hope to here his name next year.

Going into next year’s vote Edgar has the highest voting of anyone who didn’t make it. So this means that he has a pretty good shot. What would keep him out would be if there enough first timers next year that would sneak in. For now we can continue to enjoy seeing Edgar as the Mariners hitting coach. Go Edgar!

Mariners Non-Roster Invitees

The Seattle Mariners have twenty-two non-roster invitees to spring training along with the forty man roster that will be in spring training beginning in just under a month.

Most likely most of these non-roster invitees won’t make the team and many of them will be starting the season in either AA or AAA unless they are released.

I will look at some of these non-roster invitees. The name we recognize the most is Iwakuma who the Mariners signed as a triple A however invited to spring training. He is the most likely one who would make the opening day roster however he is coming off shoulder surgery and may start the season on the disabled list. If so he will likely be sent to Tacoma when he comes healthy and will be available for the Mariners if they need to bring someone up to the Mariners if they need a fifth starter because of injury or lack of performance. The Mariners are looking go to a six man rotation possibly in the second half of the season so he could fit that spot or a long reliever. That is another position he could fit in is as a long reliever.

The Mariners have little room for anyone to make the opening day roster. The roster is set pretty much though a couple or three spots could be filled. Christian Bergman and Casey Lawrence are two pitchers besides Iwakuma could make the roster or be available during the season. They are competing for the fifth starter and long reliever spots though the chances are not good for them. They could be available during the season because of injury unless they decide to go elsewhere or are released.

Another pitcher that might have a good chance is Ryan Garton who the Mariners picked up from the Atlanta Braves in August. He actually did an excellent job in the bullpen coming in for an inning as the first pitcher out of the bullpen. The Mariners don’t have much room in the bullpen either so he might start the season in Tacoma but the Mariners may need him at some point in the season. The Mariners have five other non-invitee pitchers but they have a less chance to make it unless they surprise the Mariner staff.

The Mariners have two catchers on the forty man roster who have the best chance to make the roster as Mike Zunino’s backup. They are Mike Marjama who could have the best chance to be Zunino’s backup along with David Freitas. They have three non-roster invitees as well. Most notable is Tuffy Gosewisch who spent a little time with the Mariners however spent most of the season in Tacoma but he didn’t even hit well as Zunino when he was sent down in May to Tacoma. Unless he hits better and none of the other catchers hit he likely will start the season in Tacoma as well. The Mariners picked up two rule 5 minor league catchers in Joe DeCarlo and Joe Odom who I don’t know anything about. They likely will start the season in double A though one could be at triple A.

The most notable infielder to be invited is veteran Gordon Beckham who spent most of the season in Tacoma could make the roster as the utility infielder though he likely will start the season in Tacoma. The Mariners will go with one utility player so he is third in line at this point. The only reason another spot could open up is if fourth outfielder Guillermo Heredia isn’t ready to open the season because of off-season surgery.

Speaking of the outfield the Mariners have five invitees to spring training. Two of them are known minor leaguers if you are familiar with the Mariners system in Ian Miller who has been with the Mariners for several years. He received the Ken Griffey Jr Award for the best hitter in the Mariner minor league system last season playing between AA and AAA. He has good favor because he has speed and plays good defense but likely will start in Tacoma. Another is Braden Bishop who the Mariners drafted out of the University Washington. He played last season in high AAA and Double A so he could start the season in triple A if he can make the jump. The other three outfielders I have no knowledge of them.

So you see the odds are pretty well against most of them however one of them could surprise us but they will give depth to the Mariners just in case of injury. Go M’s.

Mariners Going Into New Year

We haven’t heard much until yesterday after the holiday season from the Mariners. If you listen to Dipoto the Mariners are finished when it comes to getting a starting pitcher however I think he could surprise us. I am sure no one was expecting them to acquire Dee Gordon from the Marlins. He told us that he would go after an outfielder but I didn’t think anyone who was all-star though he had been playing second base. I expect he will be a good centerfielder for the Mariners. The rest of the outfield should be set with Ben Gamel in left and Mitch Haniger in right with Guillermo Heredia as the fourth outfielder. The question will be whether Heredia be ready to go after having off-season surgery to his shoulder. Good thing to is Gordon can go back to playing either second or short if either Segura or Cano are out for a significant period of time. I am sure we are not expecting that however it is good to have depth that way.

I have been mentioning it on several occasions that I believe the Mariners need to go out and get another veteran starter. I thought someone that is a number two or three however now I will take a solid fourth starter as well who can move into the third spot if something happens to the top three. What concerns me is that James Paxton hasn’t ever pitched a full season for the Mariners and we aren’t sure how Felix will perform this coming season. At least on the positive side though is that Felix has a lot of pride and he will make every effort to get back to where he was three years ago. The reality though it may not happen as well. This is the reason be nice to have someone else to help out as well.

As far as the young guys like Marco Gonzales or Andrew Moore it would be good if they can make the next step as the fifth starter or even the fourth. Right now you would think that Erasmo Ramirez would be the fourth starter unless the Mariners do pick up another veteran. Ramirez does have the versatility of coming out of the bullpen as well. The Mariners have moved Max Povse back into being a starter as well. He likely will start the season in Tacoma but could battle for the fifth spot as well along with Ariel Miranda. This is another pitcher we could see maturing this season in Miranda. If he can cut down on giving up home runs and a bad inning he could be valuable to the rotation as well. The main reason I would like a veteran starter to come in because there is too many ifs when it comes to these other guys.

So Dipoto go out and sign or trade for another pitcher. Though I like the depth to the starters most of the guys are at least another year away to really help the Mariners out. I hope in the next couple weeks you make a good surprise acquisition for the Mariners. Go M’s.