Mariners Analysis

Friday, August 27, 2004

Mariners dreadful season continues

Swept by the Devil Rays at home, and then your "#1" starter Moyer loses to Kansas City. Finding positive things to write about on this team requires a neutron microscope.

Dave has a nice piece on Jose Lopez at USS Mariner- link

My take? Jose has certainly appeared overmatched, and his stats are indicative of a player who is not ready. Season numbers to date-
.231 .263 .286 .549

However, look at his home numbers-
.265 / .306 / .412 / .718

Smaller sample size, but perhaps in a comfortable environment he is better able to perform. Let's face it, with so many bad players surrounding you, and a negative energy hanging over this club, what can we expect from youngsters like Jose? There are not many players who could come in right now and hit on this team.

Look at how many players have moved on and seemingly have benefited from moving out of Seattle's lineup. The first reaction is to dismiss them all as statistical anomalies, but take a look at recent performances-

Ben Davis- August
.323 .362 .600 .962

This is a player who had 3 hits as a Mariner in how many at-bats?!!!

Rich Aurilia- August
.289 / .400 / .447 / .847

Olerud- August
.309 / .377 / .397 / .774

McCracken- August
.309 / .352 / .395 / .747

The only trend I see is get out of Seattle and you learn to hit again!

Look, I'm not trying to pretend all these guys are suddenly great players. Ben Davis is not going to win a batting title, and Rich Aurilia is not an OB machine. They are who they are. But we can't deny this team has struggled to score runs since midway through last season. You have a bunch of guys stressed, out of position, trying to do things they cannot do and it spills over to the new guy.

So back to Jose Lopez. What do the M's do for next year. The simple truth is this team cannot run out and afford to pick-up 2 starters, a couple of power arms in the bullpen, a CF, SS, 3B and possibly 1B. Not if you fancy names like Beltre or Beltran anyway. The only way the M's get back to decent next year is if young guys on this team STEP up. That means you have to count on guys like Jacobsen and Lopez not only making the team next year, but contributing.

Look at Beltre's numbers his first time up in the bigs-
.215 .278 .369 .647

This is in 195 AB's. I'm not comparing Lopez and Beltre here, but just to point out plenty of guys struggle when they first come up. You have to invest in players, and you have to get a little lucky. It is unfortunate the M's don't have more in the system to plug-in, but this is the present, and we have to work with it. I don't mind investing in Lopez. I do mind investing in Mevinquist.

I want the Mariners to invest time in Lopez and Jacobsen. Why?

Because they are simply the best we have right now. You make do with what you have, so put them in the lineup now every day and let them play. You do this with Lopez because you HAVE to. You have to because you traded away the SS you had, Carlos Guillen. Now you are forced to play the next best player in your organization, regardless of the odds of him becoming a superstar. We can bitch and moan all we want about the fact we are in this position, but here we are.

Play Lopez and Jacobsen next year because they are cheap. Take the money you saved by not signing another Rich Aurilia and use it to find players you can build around ie. Adrian Beltre or Beltran.

If the M's were serious about restocking the farm system, they would have traded guys like Moyer at the deadline. They also would have not stated they intend to be competitive next year. Putting Lopez in AAA for at least another year may be the best LONG TERM solution, but it won't allow the club to be competitive next year. They will simply run out of budget to field almost an entirely new club, and they won't get the superstar they need.

So I understand why Dave doubts Lopez is ready for the bigs, and understand why it would be best to keep him in AAA. However, when you are one of the worst teams in baseball, worrying about service time for future superstars is not something I am concerned with. If Lopez does turn into something, I'll gladly worry about that when the time comes.

Dave is right, but the M's are doing the right thing by playing him. We'd all better root for the young guys, because without them this team will be in the cellar of the AL West for a long time. And put a few stars on this team, and I suspect we'll see a lot of guys numbers look a whole lot better.