Seattle Mariners: 2016 Winners and Losers

Seattle Mariners baseball ended in somewhat disappointing fashion as Seattle finished just three games out of a playoff berth.

The Mariners were in it right up until the second to last day of the season.

Despite the season ending without a long-awaited return to the playoffs, there were plenty of positives to be had.

Here are the winners and losers of the 2016 Seattle Mariners season.

Winner: Edwin Diaz

Edwin Diaz certainly made quite the impression in his rookie season. The flame throwing reliever pitched to a 2.79 ERA while racking up 18 saves in 51.2 innings pitched. He also struck out 88 batters. If you do the math, that comes out at 15.3 punch outs per nine innings. So yeah, this Diaz guy is pretty good.

Diaz will likely continue to close games in Seattle for the better part of the next decade.

Loser: Adam Lind

Acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers for a trio of minor-league prospects, Lind had an opportunity to establish himself as the team’s first baseman for at least the next few seasons.

However, the former Brewer and Blue Jay hit just .239 with a sub-par .286 on-base percentage. It didn’t help that the veteran’s RBI total dipped from 87 in 2015 to just 58 this past season.

Winner: Mike Zunino

It seems that Mike Zunino is once again in Seattle’s plans. The slugging catcher collected 31 RBI, 16 runs scored, 12 home runs and seven doubles in just 55 games. While his .207 batting average isn’t much to write home about, the backstop did produce a career-best .318 on-base percentage and a 1.8 WAR.

Loser: Chris Iannetta

Like Lind, Iannetta was brought in to start. The backstop started his fair share of games (94), but ultimately lost significant playing time to Zunino.

Winner: Ariel Miranda

Acquired for Wade Miley, Miranda turned in a string of quality performances for the M’s down the stretch. The 27-year-old could be a long-term piece in the Pacific Northwest if he continues to put up numbers similar to the 5-2 record and 3.54 ERA he posted in 2016.

Miranda’s performance looks even better when you consider that the pitcher he replaced in the rotation and was traded for, Miley, owned a 4.98 ERA and a 4.76 FIP. Miley also did all that after being traded for both Carson Smith and Roenis Elias.

Losers: Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma

Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma didn’t have the best seasons compared to their high standards. The duo, who have All-Star Game appearances and numerous Cy Young votes to their name, struggled in 2016. Hernandez’ FIP sat at 4.63, while Iwakuma’s wasn’t much better at 4.27.

Seattle will need the two back at their best next season in order to make a push for the playoffs.

Why The Tigers Should Sign Edwin Jackson

In an attempt to give their bullpen a different look, the Chicago Cubs have designated pitcher Edwin Jackson for assignment to make way for fellow reliever Rafael Soriano.

Jackson, who is a former Tiger, is on the open market after posting a 3.19 ERA (his FIP is an even more impressive 2.84) in 23 appearances. Over those 23 appearances, he’s tallied 31 innings and struck out 23 batters.

The Tigers should actively pursue a reunion.

Jackson, who pitched in his only All-Star Game as a member of the Tigers in 2009, was highly successful as a member of Detroit’s rotation, posting 13 wins.

Given Jackson’s track record as a reliever this season, and the Tigers struggles in both the rotation and the bullpen, he would make a lot of sense back in a Tigers uniform.

Whatever role Jackson takes up in Detroit—should he sign—he’d fill a need. He could slot in as part of the bullpen, suddenly giving the Tigers a shiny-new pair of dependable relievers in himself and Neftali Feliz.

(RELATED: Neftali Feliz Signing a Smart Move by the Tigers)

Or, if Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon’s struggles prove too much, Jackson could slot into the rotation. That, in addition to the eventual return of Kyle Lobstein, would give Detroit a full rotation without Greene or Simon. This would allow Simon to move to the bullpen, a place where he found considerable success. Simon worked to a 2.78 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 148.2 innings pitched out of the ‘pen for Cincinnati from 2012 to 2013.

Either way, the Tigers bullpen would benefit from a move while the rotation could also stand to benefit as well.

Jackson has been here before as well, in terms of being a midseason boost to a new team. As a starting pitcher, he provided both Chicago and St. Louis with a shot in the arm in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

During his first half-season in Chicago, Jackson went 4-2 with a 3.24 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 75 innings. The next year, after moving to St. Louis at the deadline, Jackson went 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA in helping the Cardinals claim the World Series title.

In addition, Jackson would also be cheap. Provided the Tigers don’t claim him on waivers, he’ll only cost the veteran’s minimum.

Regardless of what role he would fill, Edwin Jackson would be a shot in the arm to a Tigers’ pitching staff desperately in need of one.

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All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

Detroit Tigers: Twitter Images from Baltimore Series, All-Star Game

Here’s Jose Iglesias flashing the leather at the All-Star Game.

Not to be outdone, J.D. Martinez made a highlight-reel defensive play against the O’s.

And then Iglesias did his best Martinez impression.

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Seattle Mariners: Mark Trumbo’s Early (Lack of) Impact

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.

What’s Left of Josh Beckett: The Bountiful Haul That the Marlins Have Thanks to Their Former Ace

Not everything went exactly as planned for Miami. They pumped up their ridiculously low payroll to accommodate the contracts and talents of shortstop Jose Reyes, closer Heath Bell, starting pitchers Carlos Zambrano and Mark Buehrle and outspoken skipper Ozzie Guillen. They also moved into a flashy new stadium, compared to their previous venue and otherwise.  So, that, coupled with the previous All-Star stalwarts such as Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson, and you seem to have the recipe for a sneaky-division-contender/ wild-card-contender.

But as stated, things didn’t necessarily go as planned. So, when the trading deadline rolled around and with the Marlin’s collective brass neck’s hurting from looking up at other teams in the standings, they decided to make some moves.

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Who is the Best First Baseman in the American League?

Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Possibly the NL’s finest pair of first basemen last season now find themselves in the AL, who were already rich with first basemen.

The Candidates-

  • Albert  Pujols, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Maybe the best of his generation, the all-around threat has switched leagues and will look to unleash his at and stellar glove work on the already down Mariners and A’s among others.
  • Prince  Fielder, Detroit Tigers. What some call the biggest free agent signing of      the offseason, he teams with Miguel Cabrera to form one of the best 3-4      combos since Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Yes, I just went there.
  • Paul  Konerko, Chicago White Sox. The near player-manager is the symbol of      consistency on a White Sox team that is shaky, and that’s putting it      nicely.
  • Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers first      baseman might arguably be the best defensive in the game. Hitting for 30      homers and 100 runs batted in a year doesn’t hurt either.
  • Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox. It’s hard to call him the third best hitter in      the AL since he’s Adrian Gonzalez for pity’s sake, but sadly it’s true. In      terms of the whole package at the plate, A-Gon is third behind Pujols and      Cabrera.

(It should be noted that Cabrera should be here, but he is currently at third base because of Fielder.)

The Displaced Options-

  • Kendrys Morales, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. A very good first baseman, after his recovery from injury, he is at DH while the team welcomes Albert      Pujols into the fold for the next decade.
  • Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. If Trumbo is here, Cabrera probably should be as well, but given the Angels ability to move one of Trumbo or Morales and put the other at DH, it seems he could be back at first base      soon.
  • Matt Laporta, Cleveland Indians. The centerpiece to the CC Sabathia trade is      currently raking at AAA and could be back in Cleveland or in somewhere else if the Tribe feels Casey Kotchman satisfactory.

Former Super Stars Who Have Had Injury Issues-

  • Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins. The formerly stated superstar has had his fair share of issues with the injury bug. A return to prominence would benefit      him greatly.
  • Morales.

Young, Former Top Prospects Yet to Carve out a Niche-

  • Justin Smoak, Seattle Mariners. The other big mover in one of the many Cliff Lee trades, Smoak is currently starting at first for the Mariners, but could lose the occasional start to Jesus Montero.
  • LaPorta.

Out of Position Players Moved to First Due to Injury or Other Reasons-

  • Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners. The trade equivlent of Michael Pineda, or at      least from the M’s and Yankees point of view, could move around the middle      of the lineup at either first, DH or behind the dish.
  • Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins. Mauer is one of the better 20 players in the league when healthy. I’ll emphasize healthy because he hasn’t been that as of late. Moving to first takes away some of the wear and tear behind the plate.

The Dark Horses-

  • Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay Rays. Pena is back in Tampa and if he can hit for average, he could be a bigger force than he already is.
  • Casey Kotchman, Cleveland Indians. Kotchman is a wiz defensively. He proved he can hit for average. If the power comes, watch out.

Do you go with the all-around package in Pujols? The Power of Fielder? Who knows? All I know is we are going to have one hell of a vote for the All Star Game.

The Clippers Were Smart to Pull Out of the Prospective Chris Paul Trade

Chris Kaman, Al Farouq Aminu, Eric Bledose, Minnesota’s unprotected 2012 first-round pick and Eric Gordon. That’s what David Stern and the League wanted for Chris Paul.

If you’d pull the trigger on this deal you probably live in New Orleans or are a Hornets fan that has come to the realization that Chris Paul is probably skipping town for greener pastures.

Or you’re a crazed Clippers fan who is obsessed with the idea that Chris Paul and Blake Griffin could be suiting up together in something that’s not the All-Star game or a charity game.

Overall you might have regretted this. The reason for the deal being nixed before Stern could give a verdict on is that the Clippers thought it was too high of a price to pay for the All-Star Point Guard.

Gordon is a ridiculous season away from being third in the two-guard pecking order behind Kobe and D-Wade. Minnesota’s first-round pick could be the first name that the commissioner calls out on draft day. Kaman is probably going somewhere with DeAndre Jordon getting a monster contract. Bledsoe and Farouq Aminu are both good young talents. Overall this is a lot for any player no matter if his name is Kobe or Darko.

Chris Paul Possible Trades

Chris Paul, along with Dwight Howard, is the topic of a number of trade speculations and predictions (and even a vetoed trade!). If you haven’t been over stimulated with others, here’s some more.

  1. Chris Paul to the New York Knicks for whatever picks the Knicks have left in this century plus Toney Douglas, Iman Shumpert, Andy Rautins, Josh Harrellson, Bill Walker, even Renaldo Balkman plus Chauncey Billups contract. Basically anyone not named Amare or Carmelo or Landry Fields. This could be Miami all over again in terms of cap space and things of that nature. But don’t count against it, seeing as Paul wants to play for the Knicks. Remember the last guy who wanted to come to the Knicks with that much star power was a guy named Carmelo…
  2. Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers along with David Anderson for Andrew Bynum and Luke Walton and picks, picks and more picks. Here the Lakers get the point guard they need in Paul. No disrespect to Derek Fisher, but at this point his best days are behind him. They also automatically get a backcourt that is the best in the West and might start the All-Star Game. Plus there’s the fact that they need a torch bearer after Kobe retires at some point.
  3. Chris Paul to the Utah Jazz for Devin Harris, Mehmet Okur’s contract and picks. Another situation where Devin Harris is the secondary point guard in the trade. Do Jason Kidd and Deron Williams sound familiar? Anyway, it’s not a slam dunk of a deal, but the Hornets get salary cap and an underrated point guard in Harris. It could happen if New Orleans waits too long to deal him. Or Utah might just turn around and give the Hornets exactly what they got for Deron Williams in Harris and Derek Favors now that they drafted Enes Kanter  (pick they used on him also from Deron Williams trade).
  4. Chris Paul to the Boston Celtics for Rajon Rondo and two first round picks. At this point the trades are becoming less likely, but let’s run with this one for a bit. Paul would give the Celtics a superstar that they already have in Rondo, but Paul would give them a more dynamic scoring threat than Rondo. Other than Rondo and the Big 3 the only other Celtics with a contract are the expiring deal of Jermanie O’Neal, Avery Bradley and the rookies E’twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson.
  5. Chris Paul to the Atlanta Hawks for Josh Smith and Marvin Williams. Unlikely I know, but look at it more closely. Yes, you’d probably have to move Joe Johnson to the 3 and Kirk Hinrich to the 2, but Paul and Johnson would form quite a tandem for the Hawks. That coupled with Dwight Howard likely leaving Orlando could bump them up in the playoff pecking order in the East.