With Deadline Looming, M’s First Trade Raises Questions.

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Photo Courtesy: Otto Greule Jr. / Fox Sports

By Braught / PNW Sports Fans

And so it has begun. The Mariners first trade (and I expect more) doesn’t tell us a whole a lot about them being buyers or sellers this year. Dipoto said “The attraction here was getting younger and deeper and really starting to fill some positions of critical needs for us moving forward.” Sounds like Dipoto is being realistic here and implying our playoff chances are becoming slimmer by the day, which is true, but damn is 15 years a long time and I sure would like to taste October baseball. We just may have to wait.

Here are my thoughts on this trade, meh. I really like Mike Montgomery. He has transitioned to  the bullpen and spot starting well. Pitching 61 innings and only giving up 16 ERs and a WHIP of 1.086 are great numbers. Even better is that he is team controlled for the next 5 years. That’s what hurts, but the Mariners have quite a few lefty relievers/5th starters in their system. Dan Vogelbach can mash the ball, so I’ve been told. But that’s it. He has no defensive value whatsoever and will be relinquished to DH’ing his entire career. That’s worrisome, especially considering we have DJ Peterson putting up similar numbers in AAA, albeit with far less PA’s, and more defensive ability at 1B. The secondary pieces, we came out on top in. Blackburn was 1st rd pick out of high school who hasn’t progressed as expected but is still a solid get, while Jordan Pries came out of Stanford in 2011 and has been at AAA level for most of the last 3 years. He probably won’t get further than being spot starter.

Now to look ahead. There’s reasons to be excited about this roster.Felix returning, Diaz throwing fire and our top three players; Cano, Cruz and Seager, are all performing to expectations. But there is much to be worried about; our outfield is not good, the closers are shaky, and starting pitching has not met expectations. If the Mariners are to be buyers, I don’t expect them to move any major prospects, not that we really have any highly coveted ones. Teams have inquired about Paxton and Walker but the Mariners don’t appear ready to move either and I agree. The only other big name on the roster that could be dealt is Cruz and this may be the time to move him, if we are giving up on this year. The Padres will be moving pieces this deadline, as they are rebuilding yet again. That means Upton Jr or Kemp could be available and we need a legit outfielder. I’d prefer Upton with his smaller contract and ability to continue to play all OF positions.

I am not sure what I want the Mariners to do. Not entirely ready to mail in the season but I see a roster with too many shortcomings to compete this year. Maybe I need to lower my expectations. All I can do for now though is wait for August 1 to come and go.

 

 

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M’s Recent Struggles Serve as Reminder: This is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

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Photo Courtesy Jennifer Buchanon-USA Today Sports

By Braught / PNW Sports Fans

Today I received a text from a friend saying “I know it’s early but you can’t have downward spirals like this.” He was referring to the Mariners and their current 4 game losing streak. (Which will be snapped tonight as Cruz has just homered again.) I had to set him straight.

Normally I am a pessimistic Mariner fan. I’ve been through it all and been disappointed by almost all of it, holding onto only the small things, like Guti being resurrected last year. But this team has me optimistic. They have their warts and may not be as good as their May had us believing but here’s why I am optimistic as of June 7th.

The Mariner’s, losers of 8 of the last 11 games, have been operating without their starting SS, starting CF and their ace has missed his last two starts. Getting swept by the lowly Twins at home, with Felix and Taijuan pitching, is still unacceptable but the rest of the losses are unfortunate. Marte has been a solid SS for the M’s and on pace for a WAR over 3. Martin started the year off cold from the plate; he showed his power but wasn’t getting hits. Right when he was turning the corner and putting it all together he got hurt. Despite that cold start he is still batting. 262 with and OPS of 127. With Martin missing, we’ve had to see Aoki in CF. That isn’t a pretty site if your team is expected to make the playoffs.

Both of these guys will be back soon, Marte currently with the M’s and Martin playing in Tacoma come Thursday. Now Felix, hasn’t been his normal self, fastball is a couple MPH down, command isn’t always there but he is still the King. It appears he will miss more than the 2 or 3 starts we all hoped when it was announced. That gives us a chance to talk about our 6th starter, Paxton.

Paxton has shown glimpses of his ceiling but has struggled to maintain any consistency, losing the 5th starter spot to Karns. Paxton, in Tacoma, started really cold and confirmed the decision to send him there; since then he has performed ok. His first start up in the Bigs, was at Petco. A perfect pitcher friendly park to start in. Instead he gave up 6 runs in the first, mostly because of his throwing error and finished with a line of 3.2 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 1 BB, 7 SO. Compare that to last night and his 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1BB and 10 K’s. He even hit 100 MPH multiple times. Last night is when we were able to see all the parts working together. His 20 or so lbs he lost in the winter, his more ¾ arm slot, his new mix of fastballs, cutters and curves. Now which pitcher we get in the future, who knows. But if it is the latter, we are in for a treat.

Another tidbit to be optimistic about is Diaz, who debuted last night as a reliever, after having only thrown something like 13 innings as a reliever at AA. He also hit 100 MPH multiple times, 10 of his 11 pitches were strikes and his off speed looked good. Don’t want to extrapolate too much out of a debut, i.e Ackley, but DAMN, that’s nice to have.

With injuries to two vital defensive positions and an ace missing, I still can be optimistic. Cruz is crushing everything in his site, Cano is having an All-Star season, Seager again is quietly doing what he is doing, and Seth Smith is the Man. Our pitching has hit a rough patch, but I believe we can pull through it and our bullpen has surprisingly been able t0 hold for the most part, onto the torrid start they had. Again, this team may not be the best team in the AL, but there is plenty to be optimistic about.