— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) July 12, 2015
The Seattle Mariners offense is struggling. Despite the offseason addition of Nelson Cruz and the presence of Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager, the M’s offense is in a rut. Entering the week, only the White Sox and Phillies had scored fewer runs.
Given all these factors, the addition of Mark Trumbo would seem like the best early Christmas present known to man. Yeah… not so much.
Trumbo’s early impact, or lack thereof, has been staggering considering the slugger’s track record.
The former Angel was a massive hit for his hometown team, averaging 32 home runs, 94 RBI and a .251 average over three full seasons with the Halos. The M’s needed that Trumbo, not the one they acquired. The first baseman/corner outfielder/designated hitter (he basically plays every “power” position on the diamond) had a rough go of things in Arizona. With the Diamondbacks he tallied 23 bombs, 84 RBI and 128 strikeouts in 134 games. Those aren’t that awful numbers, but when you consider the stats were accumulated over the course of two seasons, it encourages pause.
The Mariners certainly gave up some quality pieces to bring a player who once finished second in Rookie of the Year voting and appeared in an All Star game during his first two seasons.
Out went Welington Castro, Dominic Leone and minor league prospects Gabriel Guerrero and Jack Reinheimer.
(It should be noted that reliever/swing man Vidal Nuno made the move north with Trumbo in the transaction, so the M’s upgraded their bullpen to some extent).
Losing Castillo is the most prominent negative here. Yes, Leone had his moments last season in relief, but he struggled this year and Nuno is likely an upgrade over the now-former Mariner.
Seattle’s catching situation is pretty straight forward. Mike Zunino is the starter and Jesus Sucre is the backup. However, Zunino is hitting .158 with a .230 OBP while Sucre is scuffling with the bat. His batting average, OBP and slugging percentage are all .043. He owns the rare distinction having an OPS under .100. Yes, that’s right, Jesus Sucre’s OPS is .087. Yikes.
So why is this being mentioned? Because Welington Castro happens to be a career .251 hitter, who at his best hits somewhere in the .260-.270 neighborhood.
Why he was dealt for a struggling Trumbo is puzzling.
Trumbo put up half-way decent numbers (9 home runs, 23 RBI, .805 OPS) in 46 games in the desert prior to the trade—however, Seattle was already well-stocked in the first-baseman/corner outfielder/designated hitter areas. In fact, they had a log jam on their hands. Logan Morrison was/is entrenched at first base, while the pre-Trumbo corner outfield/DH candidates included Nelson Cruz, Seth Smith, Justin Ruggiano and Dustin Ackley. James Jones has also received at-bats in the outfield.
Adding Trumbo to this mix makes sense if the Trumbo in question is the one who suited up for the Angels. However, sacrificing an above-average offensive catcher (Castillo) and two prospects for the Trumbo who suited up for the D-Backs is, in layman’s terms, a bad deal.
Losing Castillo hurts catcher production, while adding Trumbo to a position where there is a surplus only rubs salt in the wound. While Zunino is clearly the starting catcher, he’s struggling with the bat, as is his cover, Sucre. Sacrificing offensively behind the dish is fine trade-off when you acquire pre-Diamondback Mark Trumbo, but sacrificing behind the dish for a player who hit entered the week hitting .179 as a Mariner… well, then you have some problems.
The Mark Trumbo acquisition will be a win for the Mariners if the slugger can regain the form he displayed with the Angels, however if he continues his downward trajectory, the M’s may soon come to regret the trade.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
The number of hits allowed by Mariners starter J.A. Happ. The veteran lefty pitched well, but didn’t receive any runs support. He also struck out six batters in seven innings while only walking one Ray, Logan Forsythe.
The number of hits/runs/earned runs/home runs allowed by M’s closer Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning. In an otherwise scoreless game, Rodney blew the save and took his third loss of the season. Again, Forsythe was the exception, going yard in the ninth.
The number of hits by new Mariner Mark Trumbo. The former Angel/Diamondback went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, hitting fifth behind Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager.
The number of pitches seen by the Tigers, significantly more than the 124 seen by Anaheim. Despite this and going through five Angels pitchers, Detroit wasn’t able to scratch out more than two hits.
The number of runs and walks allowed by Tigers starter David Price, who took the loss. Price ERA on the season sits at 3.15 after an outing Sunday that included 7.2 innings pitched, eight hits allowed, four runs allowed (all earned), four walks and six strikeouts.
The number of walks drawn by the Tigers. There walk total was actually superior to their hit total (five), but despite the 11 baserunners, the Tigers were unable to score more than two runs.
Joba Chamberlain’s ERA after a short appearance in relief of Price. He recorded one out while allowing one hit on three pitches.
The number of Tigers with more than one hit. Though Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez and Jose Iglesias all had a hit and a walk, no Tiger had multiple hits.
The number of runs allowed by Tigers starter Shane Greene in 1.2 innings pitched. Greene also gave up six hits, walked one and struck out one.
In addition to the seven runs on six hits in 1.2 innings (and a walk and a strikeout), Greene gave up a whopping five home runs against the Angels.
The number of Tigers with multi-hit games. The middle of the Tigers’ order, Miguel Cabrera (two hits), Yoenis Cespedes (two) and J.D. Martinez (three), accounted for seven hits while Jose Iglesias also added two hits.
The number of runs allowed by the bullpen after Greene exited. Considering the former Yankee only threw 1.2 innings, the bullpen could have imploded, but the trio of Alex Wilson, Blaine Hardy and Al Alburquerque allowed a combined three hits, one run, two walks and five strikeouts.
The Tigers managed a mere four hits against the Angels on Friday, an output that isn’t going to cut it against Major-League opposition. To put it in perspective, Albert Pujols had three hits by himself for the Angels.
The number of strikeouts by Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez. For a pitcher who has struggled at times this season, Sanchez was solid against the Angels. He was a tough-luck loser after allowing two runs and six hits in seven, but the outing served as a positive moving forward.
The number of times Miguel Cabrera reached base. The Tigers first baseman went one-for-two with two walks, one of which was intentional.
The number of runs allowed by Tigers starter Buck Farmer. Farmer’s 2015 debut didn’t exactly go well. The Angels notched nine hits and drew a walk against Farmer, who also allowed two home runs while only striking out one batter.
Tom Gorzelanny’s ERA after the game. The Tigers setup man allowed four runs, two walks, two hits and a home run in 0.2 innings pitched. His ERA jumped from 2.93 to 5.06 after the game.
The number of hits and walks by the Tigers. On the whole they combined for ten base runners, but were unable to turn the men on base into more runs.
Fun fact, Jason Vargas and Kendrys Morales were once traded for each other. Morales went from Anaheim to Seattle with Vargas going the other direction.
Both are now members of the Kansas City Royals. Vargas is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA after one start while Morales is hitting .414 with two home runs, five RBI, three doubles and five walks. Entering the day, he is fifth in the American League in batting average
The Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera is having a down year. That much is true. He may not win a fourth consecutive batting title, he may not win a third straight MVP and he may not win another triple crown. But, despite the sub-par season (by his extremely high standards) he may just be showing his brilliance as a hitter. Why? Because when most hitters have down years, they look awful—comparatively and in general. Miguel Cabrera’s down year includes a .307 batting average. He’s that good.
A typical season for the Tigers’ slugger has generally consisted of gaudy numbers and some kind of hardware. Whether it is an MVP award, a Triple Crown, an American League pennant, Cabrera has won them all.
His biggest accomplishment may be this season—his “down” season. Here’s just a small snippet of his stats this year. I remind you, this is his “down” season.
- His .307 line is a far cry from the his batting averages over the last five years (.348, .330, .344, .328 and .324) but only six players in the American League have a higher clip.
- Leads the AL in doubles with 42. Only Johnathan Lucroy of the Brewers has more in Major League Baseball.
- Has driven in 90 runs. Also a far cry considering Miggy’s RBI output the last two years (137 and 139 respectively), but only four players have more. Three of those four players would be home run mashers Mike Stanton, Jose Abreu and David Ortiz. In other words, players who get a lot of their RBIs from the long ball. Cabrera only has 17 homers this year, further showing his ability as a complete hitter (as if he needs to show that).
- Despite his lower numbers, Cabrera still has scored only nine less runs than Angels’ wunderkind Mike Trout. I should also point out that Trout is a threat on the base paths and has speed—Cabrera doesn’t check either of those boxes.
- Also has a top 10 rankings in the AL in OPB (ninth, .369), Slugging Percentage (tenth, .496) and OPS (eighth, .865).
- Ranks eight in the AL in hits with 151. Players with fewer hits include Trout, Dustin Pedroia and Victor Martinez.
- Top 10 rankings in total bases (tied for seventh, 246) and runs created (eighth, 89).
- Only Trout and Jose Abreu have more extra base hits in the American League.
- Only five players have reached base more times than Cabrera (206 times) in the AL.
- Drives in the runs any way he can—leads the AL in sacrifice flies with 10.
- Still strikes fear into opposing pitchers, he has ten intentional walks on the year. It may not be as high a number as teammate Victor Martinez’ 22, but it still shows the danger Miggy presents to pitchers.
They may not be the leaderboard leading numbers the world is used to from Cabrera, but for a “down year” they’re pretty fantastic.
All stats courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.
Rumored Mariner signing Nelson Cruz would add a powerful bat to a lineup already bolstered by the arrivals of Robinson Cano and Corey Hart. What signing Cruz doesn’t do is guarantee success.
An offensive triumvirate of Cruz, Cano and Kyle Seager isn’t one to balk at, and is a wonderful foundation for the team moving forward, but in terms of success, it guarantees nothing.
In most divisions, like say the NL West, these kinds of additions (Cano, Cruz, Hart) would push a team towards the top of the table. Not so much with the Mariners in the AL West.
The rest of the division is stocked. The Mariners’ rise to “playoff-contender” status, if not the realm of respectability, has vaulted the division to a ridiculous level. On paper, the Angels, A’s and Rangers all have the talent to be playoff teams. Throw in Seattle, and you end up with a lot of unhappy teams come the postseason.
It wouldn’t be completely surprising to see, even with Cano and friends, the M’s finish in the same exact place in the standings as last year. They’re probably going to have an improved record, but as stated, the division is stacked.
If one thing is clear after watching postseason baseball, it’s that pitching is needed to contend. Teams like Detroit, Boston, St. Louis and Oakland found great success last year with tremendous staffs. And it wasn’t just those four teams; most playoff teams boasted strong pitching. Great pitching is nearly synonymous with a playoff squad now-a-days.
Which brings the topic of one-way conversation in the piece to the Mariners’ pitching.
The M’s will use some combination of Erasmo Ramirez, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Brandon Maurer and recent signing Scott Baker for the last three spots in the rotation. This is where question marks come into play. Moving into the future, both Walker and Paxton figure to be mainstays in the Seattle rotation thanks to their fantastic potential, but between them they have a grand total of 39 innings at the big league level. Whether they continue to show promise or hit a wall remains to be seen.
Ramirez and Maurer have both shown flashes of potential in the past, but the jury remains largely out on the pair. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Baker, given his experience and quality, leapfrog one or both of them to claim a rotation spot. The bottom line is that the Mariners’ rotation could show the promise and poise that Oakland’s young hurlers have shown, or they could continue to display the growing pains that have plagued the team.
If anything, a potential Cruz signing puts more pressure on the rotation to succeed. The one-time Brewer coupled with Cano, Hart and Logan Morrison would vastly improve a team that had issues scoring runs. The run output in Seattle should, at the very least, be slightly above average. The Mariners need their young pitchers to step up. If they can do this, Seattle will be in a position to contend. If not, well let’s just say get ready for all those low-scoring losses to turn into higher-scoring losses.