Tag Archives: kyle seager

Mariners’ Attendance Increase Highest in MLB

seattle mariners attendance

Mariners’ Attendance Shows Fans Care About Team Again

Over the course of the season, no other team increased their attendance over last season like the Mariners. 25,485 came to the park on average in 2014. That’s a 17% increase over last year. It still only ranks 23rd among the 30 MLB teams home attendance figures but it’s a large leap in the right direction.

It’s absolutely no secret in Seattle, and probably around all of baseball that Mariner fans had lost a lot of respect for their team. A decade of constant losing and a front office that showed zero interest of fielding a competitive team would do that to any cities fan base. That is, until now.

This remarkable 2014 season just came to a dramatic, and disappointing conclusion, with a win nonetheless. The Texas Rangers and their fans became our friends for the final week, yet they were unable to defeat the Oakland Athletics in game 162 of the regular season. So, again, the Mariners will be out of the playoffs.

There is reason to celebrate. The final win of the season was witnessed by over 40,000 strong at Safeco Field. Now you might think that was only because it was the finale of the season, or because Felix Hernandez was pitching. And both of those were obviously factors. But the jump in victories, 16 more than in 2013, is the real reason Seattle fans are flocking back to the ballpark.

If the winning continues into next season, maybe the Mariners’ attendance will approach their record of over 3,500,000 fans coming to Safeco in 2002 – just one year after the club won 116 regular season games.

Guys like Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and Hernandez deserve to play in front of sold out home crowds. Plus young guys such as James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, and the possibility of seeing the rest of the top Mariners draft picks should add even more of a reason for fans to come out and eat some garlic fries next season.

Mariners, meet Nick Swisher – Swisher, Mariners

Nick Swisher Mariners rumors
Nick Swisher Mariners rumors

Hi Nick Swisher!


The Mariners badly wanted Josh Hamilton. Well, that didn’t turn out the way we all wanted, eh?

It’s time to turn our attention elsewhere folks. Meet the next best hitter on the free agent market. Yes, he’s been talked about, a lot. Nick Swisher would actually be a better fit for the Mariners. As of today, what is the teams biggest weakness? Offense…right? Of the nine offensive positions, which is currently the biggest question mark? Right Field, right? Take a wild guess what position Nick Swisher plays?

You could argue that Brendan Ryan at shortstop is a greater liability than say, Casper Wells would be if he became the Mariners’ everyday right fielder. His defensive value, something I think is overrated, gives him a bit of a pass however.

Swisher would be a safer bet because it’s highly likely his deal will come $8-10 million per year cheaper than what the Angels gave Hamilton. He’ll also plug right into the last outfield spot, and bat third or fourth on the lineup. Hamilton would have done the same, in left, with Michael Saunders or Franklin Gutierrez going to RF. But, Hamilton would cost 30-40% more and likely only play 90% as often as Swisher.

How does a guaranteed .265, 35+ doubles and 25 HR sound? It’s not Josh Hamilton numbers. But Swisher is as safe a bet to give you 150 games with an OBP around .365. That would instantly make him the best hitter on the Mariners. Only Kyle Seager compares in numbers. In 30 more plate appearances for Seager, he walked 30 fewer times than Swisher. Not much of an edge but enough that adding Swisher would give the Mariners at least two somewhat decent bats.

The beauty with Swisher is his versatility. Now he’s no Mark McLemore, playing everything but pitcher and catcher, but, he could very well relieve Justin Smoak at first base if he struggles yet again with the Mariners. Smoak did finish off last season pretty strong and I have faith that he’s finally going to put a solid season together. It is nice to have that insurance policy that Swisher offers.

Re-Ranking the Mariners 40 Man Roster

Cincinnati Reds v New York Mets

So it is December, and the Winter Meetings have now passed. While the Mariners were rumored to be going after every hitter imaginable, the only player they got in the Winter Meetings was Jason Bay. Mauricio Robles was designated to make room for Bay and is currently in limbo while the Mariners 40 man roster is full. I find it unlikely that he will be claimed by anyone, meaning he could come back and stay in the Mariners system. Either way, this means that they got rid of the bottom 4 players in my rankings from August. They also lost (they designated him for assignment, and then lost him to the Cubs by free agency) Johermyn Chavez who I ranked at 21st, and they evidently wanted to change him into a pitcher. They also traded Trayvon Robinson (#19) for Robert Andino (more on him later). Kevin Millwood (#33) is unsigned, while they re-signed Hisashi Iwakuma (#34), Oliver Perez (#25) and tendered a contract (technically came to an undisclosed agreement) to Josh Kinney (#36), which I wasn’t sure they would do. They also added some players to the 40 man, which I will rank and address below.

Remember, this ranking is by my interpretation of each player’s value, considering contract/age/future/role etc. This is not a ranking of how good the players are (though pure talent obviously plays a huge role). You will notice that a lot of players dropped since August, and a lot of this has to do with the minor leaguers added to the 40 man being obviously more valuable than the ones they replaced.

1. Felix Hernandez. Extension seems unlikely now, but the organization has been clear that they are not going to trade him.

2. Erasmo Ramirez: Erasmo is basically a lock to make the Mariners’ 2013 rotation, and has a lot of team control. He looks like a mid-rotation type starter, and that has a lot of value, as long as he can stay healthy.

3. Kyle Seager: Notice that, other than an occasional Youkilis rumor, the Mariners haven’t been linked to a 3rd baseman. They seem to believe he can play at a good everyday level again, and I think so too.

4.Danny Hultzen: I put him behind Erasmo and Seager (which he was ahead of last time) because the above two are more known commodities. Hultzen just has to find the strike zone again, but he has a pretty high ceiling and if all goes well, he will be in the rotation sometime in 2013.

5. John Jaso: This is a high ranking for a guy without any real defensive value and big platoon splits. However, he is still cheap, and he was their best hitter in 2012.

6. Dustin Ackley: Obviously 2012 was an offensive disappointment, but there is too much team control, potential, and good defense to rate Ackley much lower.

Mariners 40 man roster

7. Michael Saunders: He has more value in center, but he isn’t excellent there. Saunders is not quite a “tweener” (meaning he doesn’t have the bat for the corner, but not the defense for center), but he really needs to hit again like he did in 2012.

8. Charlie Furbush: I still like Furbush better than Wilhelmsen, but the elbow injury did scare me a bit. I think you could rate Wilhelmsen higher than  Furbush, but left-handedness makes me lean toward Furbush.

9. Tom Wilhelmsen: I don’t put much value on the closer role, but Wilhelmsen had a very good 2012 season. He is a very key part of the bullpen.

10. Jesus Montero: I was criticized for ranking him so low last time, but I wasn’t a huge fan of Montero before the trade, and 2012 really showed nothing to make me change my mind. He has good power and is cheap with a lot of team control, but he lacks plate discipline, is a terrible defensive catcher, and will have to spent most of his time at DH. The moved in fences should help him, but it isn’t going to fix his flaws.

11. Brandon Maurer: Obviously injury is a concern, but Maurer’s first really healthy season was a big one and got him added to the 40 man roster. Sometime in 2013 may be unrealistic, but he is a guy who should be in the rotation very soon.

12. Stephen Pryor: The fastball alone gives him value, but his slider looked pretty good in the Majors as well. If he stays healthy, he could be a bullpen piece (or maybe even a trade piece) for years to come

13. Hisashi Iwakuma: A guy who continued to prove himself as the season wore on. The contract is very workable from a Mariner perspective, and we will see how real his home run problem is with moved in fences.

14. Carter Capps: Still have Pryor ranked higher, but Capps has the harder fastball and showed improved breaking pitches as the season went along.

15. Anthony Fernandez: At the very least, he should be a left-handed bullpen piece over the next few years. Pitched well in AA, may even get some AAA time in 2013. Probably at least another year from the Majors, maybe longer if he still looks like a starter.

16. Carlos Triunfel: I have basically talked myself into slotting him as a utility player for 2013. Still a lot of control, doubtful to hit, but perhaps still has some value.

17. Brendan Ryan: Being a free agent at the end of the year hurts his value a lot. However, the defensive wizard is the Mariners 2013 starter, and the market isn’t exactly saturated with shortstops. Depending on what Nick Franklin and Brad Miller do in 2013, he may be expendable, or it may be a good idea to extend him.

18. Julio Morban: I am not entirely sure how to rank Morban, who was added to the 40 man roster. He hasn’t played in AA yet, has been inconsistent as a hitter, and has had injury problems. I would like to see more, but as of now, I am not a huge fan (but obviously things that salary/control/potential makes him automatically rated pretty high).

19. Jason Vargas: New park dimensions will make this interesting and he is a free agent at the end of the year. I still think he should have been moved at the trade deadline, but it is possible that most teams are as cool on Vargas as I am. Unless some trade is on the horizon, he will start in the rotation again, but he could be a guy who is booted out if he struggles and some of the prospects are given a shot in the rotation.

20. Mike Carp: I’m sticking to my guns of Carp over Smoak, but Carp’s ceiling is certainly lower going forward and you have the injury history. There have been some trade rumors surrounding him, and he becomes very expendable if Smoak hits at all and Montero finally moves to first (which, as of now, the organization doesn’t want to do).

21. Franklin Gutierrez: Probably a starter going into the year, but 2013 is his last guaranteed year of his contract, and he has been inconsistent with the bat and hasn’t been able to stay healthy. He could be ranked even lower, but his defense makes him a starter.

22. Casper Wells: Cheap platoon player, with some decent base running/defensive skills. Unless the Mariners find some real outfield help, he is an important part of the 2013 Mariners.

23. Francisco Martinez: He is still too young for me to give up on him. You can see the tools and ability, he just has to hit and put it all together.

24. Blake Beavan: Obviously Beavan’s inability to miss bats is frustrating, and ideally, you don’t want him in the starting rotation. However, there is a good chance that he will start the year there and he is still cheap with a lot of team control.

25. Hector Noesi: Obviously if you thought that Noesi would be a starter for the Mariners, (I have advocated him being used in the bullpen from day 1) you are disappointed. However, his stuff is too good for him to not succeed out of the bullpen, and he still has a lot of team control.

26. Oliver Perez: Re-signed a 1 year 3 million dollar deal in the off-season, which I liked. Even if he repeats his 2012 success, the value is somewhat limited, with other good left-handed relievers owned by the Mariners and the fact that he will be a free agent again at the end of the season.

27. Shawn Kelley: Certainly a capable piece in the bullpen, coming off a good season. Health is important and the Mariners have a lot of good relievers. Trades may be in order to get some value from what seems like a surplus.

28. Justin Smoak: Honestly, who knows where to rank this guy? He got really hot at the end of the year, but having him as the starting 1st baseman going in to start the season would be a disappointment. Mark Reynolds signing with the Indians hurts, but there is still a couple of options out there.

29. Lucas Luetge: Another good lefty bullpen piece, Luetge was a good Rule 5 pickup. Now, the Mariners could actually send him to Tacoma if they wanted to, and that may be where he ends up, at least to start the year.

30. Josh Kinney: Ideally a low leverage type guy, Eric Wedge definitely loved him. His delivery and constant sliders makes him somewhat hard to watch, and he isn’t going to provide a ton of value, but he was tendered a contract and I agree with the decision.

31. Chance Ruffin: He pitched better as the season went along, and would have to flop massively not to pitch in the Majors in 2013 (even though there isn’t a lot of room for him).

32. Vinnie Catricala: New to the 40 man, no defensive value, moving from third would be basically the death kneel to his value, but staying there and playing really bad defensively won’t help either. He really has to hit in Tacoma this year.

33. Bobby Lafromboise: You can never have enough pitching, but Lafromboise is the 4th reliever on the list and the 3rd of which is basically a LOOGY. There is some value there, but I am not real sure that they needed to add him to the 40 man. Similar pitcher Brian Moran was not taken in the Rule 5.

34. Robert Andino: Andino has less team control than Trayvon Robinson did, and we now know Andino can’t really hit, while there is still some potential for Robinson. I am still not sold on Andino’s defense, and he is out of options.

35. Eric Thames: I think he most likely starts the year in Tacoma, especially if they add another outfielder along with Bay. The extra option does give him some flexibility, but I just think that his lack of speed/defense/plate discipline will prevent him from becoming a very useful big league player. The ceiling is platoon slugger.

36. D.J. Mitchell: The player on the 40 man from the Ichiro trade, Mitchell’s stuff is sub par, but he may develop into a swingman thanks to pitchability, and he has options and team control.

37. Yeorvis Medina: Medina is just caught in a place where there are too many relievers on the roster. He really needs to be impressive in Tacoma this year. He has a good fastball, he just needs to gain some polish and command.

38. Alex Liddi: He takes a huge drop since I have come to the conclusion that he is not a big league player. He has no real position and has yet to really impress with the bat. I can’t see any way that he makes the 25 man roster out of spring training.

39. Jason Bay: As I wrote in my article on him, I am just not sold that he will help much. Not a good defender or baserunner, you are expecting a guy in his mid 30s to hit like he did when he was 29 to really have any value.

40. Carlos Peguero: He isn’t worth a 40 man roster spot, I would have designated him for assignment already. You can find AAA sluggers that won’t hit in the big leagues without using a 40 man spot. Assuming they sign someone else to a big league deal, Peguero should be the guy that goes.

Looking at the Potential September Call-Ups


September is coming. This means that MLB active rosters will expand from 25-40. Of course, a team cannot bring up any 15 players in the minors that they want. They can only bring up players on the 40 man roster or replace players on the 40 man roster. Using my Mariners’ 40 man roster ranking that I created earlier this month (I am planning to update my rankings in January, then again in Spring Training) I will argue for whom I think should stay, be promoted, and be replaced.

1. Felix Hernandez (MLB): Stay

2. Danny Hultzen (AAA Tacoma): Basically shut down because of an innings limit. Hultzen wasn’t throwing strikes anyway, perhaps he could get some time in the Arizona Fall League, but I think an off-season of rest would be best.

3. Dustin Ackley (MLB): Stay

4. John Jaso (MLB): Stay

5. Charlie Furbush (MLB): Stay

6. Tom Wilhelmsen (MLB): Stay

7. Erasmo Ramirez (AAA Tacoma): A no brainer promotion, Erasmo is pitching reasonably well in Tacoma now after a successful stint in the Majors (both as a starter and a reliever). I would like to even see him get another start or two in the majors this year unless the Mariners are worried about his innings (which I don’t see why, as he threw more innings last year than he has so far this year). The only concern I could see is the minor elbow injury he suffered earlier in the year in his last MLB outing.

8. Kyle Seager (MLB): Stay

9. Jesus Montero (MLB): Stay

10. Brendan Ryan (MLB): Stay

11. Casper Wells (AAA Tacoma): Just demoted. Won’t be eligible to come back until the Tacoma season ends on September 3rd. Once this happens, he is another no brainer promotion.

12. Jason Vargas (MLB): Stay

13. Stephen Pryor (MLB): Stay

14. Michael Saunders (MLB): Stay

15. Carter Capps (MLB): Stay

16. Blake Beavan (MLB): Stay

17. Francisco Martinez (AA Jackson): With the injury problems he has had this year and the absolute silence of his bat, I see absolutely no reason to promote him. Just let his season end when Jackson’s season ends and get him some time in a Winter League this year.

18. Mike Carp (AAA Tacoma-Rehab): Reinstate him on September 1st.

19. Trayvon Robinson (MLB): Stay

20. Eric Thames (MLB): Stay

21. Johermyn Chavez (AA Jackson): No real reason to promote him. Still has to prove that he can do something with the bat.

22.Justin Smoak (MLB): Stay

23. Hector Noesi (AAA Tacoma): I would recall him back to the big leagues and use him as a reliever. No reason to not bring him back the the Majors, and there really isn’t room in the rotation.

24. Alex Liddi (AAA Tacoma): Other than an occasional home run, Liddi has not looked good in AAA. He still doesn’t lay off breaking pitches, and has no real defensive position or value. However, the Mariners might as well bring him back up to the Majors and get him 15-20 more plate appearances.

25. Oliver Perez (MLB): Stay

26. Franklin Gutierrez (MLB): Stay

27. Lucas Luetge (MLB): Stay

28. Shawn Kelley (AAA Tacoma): Very simple. Call him back up, he has been good in both Seattle and Tacoma.

29. Chance Ruffin (AAA Tacoma): Ruffin has not been good this year, but has been better as of late. There is no real need for another reliever, but I fail to see the reason for him to just go home when the Tacoma season ends. I don’t think it would be a bad idea to promote him and let him throw a few garbage time innings. We will at least get another look at him (selfishly, we would have more pitch f/x data on him).

30. Carlos Triunfel (AAA Tacoma): Like Ruffin, Triunfel is a borderline decision. He really hasn’t shown anything offensively to show that he deserves a MLB callup, and he is inferior defensively than the Mariners other choices. However, it might not hurt to give him a couple starts after the Tacoma season ends.

31. D.J. Mitchell (AAA Tacoma): I would really like to see him promoted and used as a reliever.

32. Yoervis Medina (AA Jackson): This is an interesting case. Medina throws hard, and has been an effective reliever for the AA club. He has a history of control issues, but has been pitching fantastic lately. I think I would give him a shot and let him throw 5-10 innings against big league hitting (and let him start the season in Tacoma next year).

33. Kevin Millwood (MLB): He was placed on waivers earlier this week. I keep thinking that Millwood will be traded, but we will see. If he is still one in September, obviously he will be with the MLB club and it will be disappointing.

34. Hisashi Iwakuma (MLB): Stay

35. Carlos Peguero (AAA Tacoma): I wouldn’t give him much playing time with the other young outfielders the Mariners have, but there really isn’t a reason for him to not be back with the big league club (unless they decided to be really aggressive and DFA him for another option. They may do that in the off-season anyway).

36. Josh Kinney (MLB): Stay

37. Mauricio Robles (AA Jackson): Too many walks. No reason to bring him up.

38. Miguel Olivo (MLB): Stay (Probably)

39. Munenori Kawasaki (MLB): Stay (Probably). You need a backup shortstop, so unless Triunfel is promoted (or Nick Franklin/Brad Miller is added to the 40 man and promoted), you really can’t get rid of him. He is better than Triunfel at this point, in my opinion, but he really has no future in the organization or the Majors in general. Triunfel might (probably not, but he is still young and has a much better chance than Kawasaki).

40. Chone Figgins (MLB): DFA

We have either 1-3 open 40 man roster spots. So who are possible candidates for being called up and placed on the 40 man roster?

Luis Jimenez: While he has played well enough to deserve a call-up to the Majors, he doesn’t really have a future, especially in the Mariners organization. Replacing Figgins with him wouldn’t be the dumbest thing in the world, but it will be hard to get him at-bats with Jaso and Montero getting most of the time at DH (and not being good defensive catchers).

Darren Ford: The big question for me is: Ford or Jimenez? Ford most likely will not provide value with the bat, but the raw speed is always intriguing (although his in game speed is actually not that great, as he gets caught stealing too much, and has just a 7.0 Speed Score in Tacoma. That is good, but not great.). You can possibly see Ford getting more playing time, but it maybe wise to pass on both him and Jimenez, as they are both veterans and will be free agents at the end of the year.

Mike Zunino: I probably wouldn’t add him to the 40 man roster. There just isn’t any reason to rush. Of course, he is tearing the minor leagues to pieces, but he was a really advanced college hitter, it would concern me if he wasn’t tearing up minor league pitching. My preferred course of action would be Zunino perhaps playing in the Arizona Fall League, spending spring training with the big league club, then starting the year in AAA Tacoma. The only way that I would DFA Olivo would be if I brought up Zunino.

Nick Franklin hasn’t hit very well in Tacoma. He is striking out too much, walking below average, but hitting for some power. I would rather not see him with the Mariners in September.

Stefen Romero doesn’t walk, but he doesn’t strikeout a whole lot either. He has torn both California and Southern League pitching apart, hitting much better than Franklin in AA. He provides less defensive value as he can’t play shortstop and the jury is out on whether he can play 2nd base. You would like to see Romero get his position set before he is brought up, but taking Figgins’ spot on the roster and getting a few starts at 1st would be interesting, even if not wise.

Brad Miller: It is not a big sample size, but Miller’s K/BB is awesome in Jackson. He is not slugging near as much there as Romero and Franklin have in Jackson, but he is more than holding his own offensively. Defensively, he plays the middle infield and a lot of scouts believe he will be able to handle short. He isn’t ready yet. I would promote Romero and Franklin over Miller.

Mike Wilson was actually on the 40 man roster in spring training before being designated for assignment (along with Chris Gimenez) for Shawn Camp and Hong-Chih Kuo (neither of whom made it out of Spring Training with the Mariners). While showing an occasional display of power in Tacoma, his overall statistics are are underwhelming. There is no reason to add him back to the 40 man, and he will walk in free agency this off-season (unless he just really loves Tacoma and wants to come back).

Bobby Lafromboise: There really isn’t any need for another reliever.

Danny Farquhar has basically the same problem as Lafromboise, except he is right-handed. You could make a good case that he should be on a big league roster, but he just doesn’t fit with the Mariners. It is a good problem to have. I still like him better than Mitchell, but roster situations are roster situations.

Kyle Seager and Learning that Patience is a Virtue


On Monday night against the Twins, Kyle Seager worked a 10 pitch walk in the first against Liam Hendriks. Jesus Montero went on to bang into a double play to end the inning anyway.

In his 2nd at-bat, he chased a 1-1 high and away slider and fouled it off. Hendricks was clearly keeping the ball way from him. On the 5th pitch of the at-bat, Hendriks threw an inside and high fastball (in the strikezone though) and Seager weakly popped out. At 1-2 instead of 2-1, it was a completely different at-bat.

The 3rd at-bat was a 1 pitch at-bat, as Seager got a pitch low and hit it on the ground for a double play.

His 4th at-bat lasted 6 pitches, but with a runner on, he chased a fastball way outside to strikeout.

When looking at what Kyle Seager is good at, patience is something that can be left off the list. He saw 3.65 pitches per a plate appearance last year and has seen 3.62 this year. League average is 3.81. So far in the Majors, he is walking 7.4% (7.9% this year) of the time, below league average. He walked just once in March/April and I remember remarking (or at least thinking) that this was simply unsustainable. It was. He started walking more. He has been a decent hitter this year, around league average (if you don’t adjust for position. MLB average for 3rd baseman is 97 wRC+ and just 93 wRC+ in the AL). Before the game, his OPS +  was 105, his wOBA +was 100, (and thanks to Fangraphs’ live updates), and his wRC + is exactly 100. So Seager has been roughly an average hitter this year. It is always interesting, but not always informative to look at how he has gotten to this point. Basically, Seager had a big May, but other than that he is been below league average. However, it is not as if Seager went BABIP crazy in May. It was above league average, but nothing too out of the ordinary. So it seems that he is able to have legitimate big months and tread water the rest of the year.

Seager is only 24, so hopefully there will be progress in the plate discipline front. Even if there isn’t and he can hold the rest of the statistics (there is nothing that is obviously fluky about his offensive statistics), you have a guy who doesn’t walk a lot, but can slug the ball and be a league average hitter and what appears to be (both by defensive metrics and the eye test by myself and baseball writers I respect) above average defense. If Seager is that guy, then an upgrade at 3rd (a position that looked like a position of need at the start of the year) won’t be necessary for the Mariners.


Mariners Lose to White Sox, Tacoma beats Las Vegas


The Mariners lost to the White Sox 5-4

Jose Quintana has been putting up really good numbers (2.76 ERA/3.83 FIP/4.30 SIERA before the game) despite a real lack of stuff (91-92 MPH fastball, occasionally hitting 93 MPH, without an elite breaking ball), but the Mariners made him regress to the mean. Dustin Ackley used his speed to get on base with an infield single and after a Trayvon Robinson walk, Kyle Seager knocked a ball out of the park to right field. He knocked one out of the park to center field to keep things alive in the 9th.

Justin Smoak looked bad at the plate (batting right-handed) when he actually saw strikes, but to his credit, he did take a few breaking pitches low for a walk in the 1st. He walked later in the game as well against a wild Matt Thornton. Quintana had real problems throwing strikes, especially with his breaking pitches. It looks like his SIERA was the most accurate number. Miguel Olivo did the Olivo thing and chased to ground-out, but Casper Wells walked as well. Unfortunately, Trayvon Robinson had a long (8 pitch) at-bat in his 2nd time but weakly flew out on a pitch down the middle (he also weakly grounded out on a pitch that caught a lot of the late). He also had seriously problems with Addison Reed’s velocity. Quintana really settled down after the first inning until Dustin Ackley hit the ball the other way to the warning track. It was an out, but it is good to see him make hard contact. Seager hit a similar ball in the same area and it was also an out. Smoak hit a ball hard on the ground and Olivo hit a ball to the warning track (although not on a line like Ackley and Seager). Eric Thames had a good long at-bat before dribbling a grounder up the middle against Brett Myers.

I made fun of Chone Figgins starting and playing centerfield on the forums, but he did make a nice play at the wall on an Adam Dunn drive. His 2nd chance against the wall did not go near as well, as he whiffed on a ball that Alex Rios hit on a hanging slider off Josh Kinney. Olivo had a tough pitch to throw on, but really made a poor throw, nearly hitting a crouching Beavan. The next chance he got, Olivo delivered, throwing an absolute strike to 2nd for an easy out.  He had major problems blocking the ball in the 8th inning when Lucas Luetge came into the game (who was pretty wild). Robinson couldn’t get to a ball that I really thought he should have. Technically, he got to it, he just didn’t get the glove on the grounder and it went under his glove.

Blake Beavan was getting good movement on his fastball (mostly 91-92 MPH) to start the outing. However, he couldn’t control it. His breaking ball was also hanging in the zone as well. He was attempting to backdoor Adam Dunn, who torched the Mariners last night, with the curve and had some success getting a called strikeout (with a little help from the umpire). The fastball was too hittable though and he was walking guys, which he cannot do with his low strikeout totals. Since being promoted back to the Majors, he had walked just 3 guys. He walked 3 guys in the first 2.1 innings in this game. He hit Youkilis in the 5th in the back, further evidence that his control was just not there. He was not good, and the numbers (7.30 FIP and 7.64 xFIP) reflected that.

Charlie Furbush was 91-92 MPH on his fastball, but was mainly relying on his curve/slider against lefties, which is pretty normal. He had problems putting away Jordan Danks, as he was fouling away breaking balls that Furbush was throwing for strikes. He got him to ground-out then got his fastball up to 93 MPH up high to get a pop out foul when there was a guy on third with 1 out.  He then had problems putting away Dewayne Wise and it eventually cost him as a fastball down the middle was hit on a line for an RBI single.


Brett Cecil (a personal cheeseball of mine) started for the 51’s and brought his slightly below average fastball with solid breaking stuff, which is usually a challenge for Tacoma. It wasn’t quite a typical day for the Tacoma offense though

Luis Jimenez was absolutely fooled by a pitch but beat out an infield single. If that wasn’t enough, he stole a base as well. He did traditional Jimenez things later with a double.

Carlos Peguero had one of the ugliest swings you will see at a park on what turned out to be a double on a low changeup.

Alex Liddi’s march against contact continued as he struck out swinging in the 2nd.In his next at-bat, he got a high fastball outside and was actually able to pull it for a line drive single.

Vinnie Catricala had a long at-bat, and actually walked.

Carlos Triunfel hit a ball hard to the wall, which was refreshing considering how bad he has been lately.He reverted back to bad Triunfel quickly though, striking out on a breaking pitch. He made a really good play at short though. When it is accurate (which it often isn’t), his arm is plus plus.

Nick Franklin had an ugly strikeout on a changeup in the dirt, which has been the story of his AAA career. He did walk though and creamed a fastball up high (but it was turned into an out).

Darren Ford got on the first two times, but was caught stealing again. It wasn’t even very close. This has been a huge problem for Ford. With his speed, he should not be caught stealing 13 times out of 37. Especially if he is going to slug .375 in the PCL. He also hit into a double play. Again, I would rather have Trayvon Robinson.

Erasmo Ramirez struck out 3 batters in the first inning (and then had to get another one as one of the strikeouts actually reached base). He was missing bats but his delivery looked a little more violent than I remember it being in previous outings.  He was throwing strikes with all his pitches and getting ahead and missing bats and getting weak contact. You can’t ask for anything else. The 4th was a little bit of a problem though, as he walked a batter and then gave up a hard drive by Luke Hughes to Franklin Gutierrez. He got out of the inning without the runner reaching 2nd though. Through 7 scoreless innings, Erasmo had 6 strikeouts and just 1 walk. At just under 90 pitches, he was brought back out for the 8th inning and continued to pitch well. He got a whiff down low, but then gave up a bloop single. Against Brian Bocock, he kept his fastball away but a breaking ball got away from Guillermo Quiroz to advance the runner to 2nd. A ground-ball (and nice play by Franklin at 2nd) moved the runner to 3rd but got the first out. Needing a strikeout, he got to face Anthony Gose, who is a definite strikeout candidate. After getting ahead with 2 strikes, Erasmo strangely turned to a lot of fastballs and watched Gose foul a couple of them off. He would walk him, ending his outing.

Shawn Kelley then took over and got a called strike with a good changeup and got a fly-out on an inside fastball. Las Vegas would run themself out of the inning but not before Kelley got a big whiff on his fastball. Kelley came out to pitch the 9th and dispatched of Yan Gomes with a high fastball. Luke Hughes struck out swinging to end the game.


Scouting Chase Headley


The annual rumor mill around the trade deadline has started and has not disappointed. Absurd trade ideas have been floated by respected journalists, big names have been assigned to teams, teams that aren’t very good are pretending to be in pennant races, and some good trade ideas have been reported. This time of year is fun to be a blogger or a writer about the great game of baseball. This isn’t (at least for me) because I care about every little rumor reported. Instead, again for me anyway, it gives me an excuse to watch, read, and write about players I normally wouldn’t care about. One rumor from a couple different sources has the Seattle Mariners interested in Chase Headley. This article and it’s author claims to have no inside sources or anything of that nature. For all I know, the Mariners hate Chase Headley and think he is worse than Chone Figgins. However, it still seems like an opportunity to give Mariner fans and readers of this website a solid writeup on Headley in case something does happen (in other words, there is only so many times one can write about Blake Beavan’s starts).

Headley is a pretty big guy, listed at 6-2 202 pounds. You could say that he has first baseman build, but he is about 35 pounds lighter than Yonder Alonzo and about the same size as Aramis Ramirez. On one play ground-ball, I timed him at 4.78 to first base, which is dreadfully slow. However, it didn’t appear he was sprinting his hardest, so it is doubtful that it would be his average time. He ran from 1st to home in about 11 seconds and took 3.61 seconds to run from 1st to 2nd (this is with a lead and a slide at the end). Defensively, showed some athleticism and stretch but doesn’t move real fast in the field. It really didn’t appear that he has much range. He also botched what I thought was a pretty easy play. The arm is good though, in both accuracy and strength.

According to DRS, when he first came up, he was a terrible fielder but is now a good fielder. UZR has been more hit and miss on Headley, but has him as a positive fielder this year (4th best in baseball actually). It also rates his range as better than average. The general rule is that fielding statistics, especially UZR, stabilize over a 3 year period. In that 3 year period, Headley is the 3rd best 3rd baseman in baseball. According to Total Zone, Headley is the 8th best 3rd baseman. Again defensive metrics have their problems, especially since Juan Uribe and Chipper Jones are rated as positive fielders by Total Zone this year, despite most certainly being bad fielders. However, I don’t think they should be dismissed completely.

Corey Brock, who covers the Padres for MLB.com (meaning he watches them more than I do), believes Chase Headley is a good defensive 3rd baseman. Jason Churchill believes that his defense is not as good as Kyle Seager’s but is not bad. In one 8-2 game I watched, he was replaced in the field in the 9th inning. This could’ve been because of score, so I don’t want to read too much into it (Logan Forsythe who is an extremely high rated fielder according to UZR replaced him). According to the “Fans Scouting Report” available on Fangraphs, his arm strength was rated at a 56 with 59 accuracy (on a scale of 1-100). This seems a little low to me. I would rate his arm at least a 60 or 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Of course, I would probably rate his defense a little lower than the defensive metrics do.

Either I saw him at his worst (to be more clear on methodology, I watched his entire series against the Astros this week along with some other video) defensively or his anticipation on balls, along with his hands, are not very good. Does this mean that he needs to be moved off 3rd base? Not necessarily. It is possible, in fact probable if you listen to anyone but me, that he will continue to play passable 3rd base. Also, if the Mariners acquired him (which I would like to emphasize again that this is extremely unlikely)  Brendan Ryan (assuming the Mariners plan on keeping him around) would make him and that side of the infield look a lot better. We aren’t talking about Miguel Cabrera at 3rd by any means, I just think he looks below average and is more of a 1st baseman type (the lack of speed would make me hesitate putting him in the outfield). So what about his bat? Especially if he is more of a first baseman or a below average defensive 3rd baseman, his bat becomes more important.

Chase Headley is a switch hitter and I watched some at-bats from both sides of the plate. He looks like a patient/passive type hitter . He isn’t afraid to take close fastball with 2 strikes, but chased a few different off-speed pitches with 2 strikes though. He has seen less fastballs this year than he has in previous years. The plate discipline numbers show that he has always been patient, swinging a little less than league average and swinging at pitches out of the zone a lot less (about 5 % less). He has a pretty hard swing but isn’t overly violent, with a decent swing plane. He an hit the ball the other way with authority. Headley can also pull the ball well, relying on where the ball is pitched (like most good batting average hitters). It seems that his swing is more flat as a righty. Also looked like he wanted to chase the outside pitch more as a right hander. Here is his hot zones as a righty:

Here is his zones as a lefty (according to Brooks Baseball and Baseball Prospectus)

He has been better in his career as a left-handed batter with a .759 career OPS from that side. It is not a dramatic split, as he has a .710 career OPS from the right side. This year, the split is less dramatic at .801 and .781. Even that .710 OPS would make him the Mariners 3rd best qualified hitter, just behind Kyle Seager.

It is important to remember when looking at his slugging numbers that he has played half of his games in Petco Park which is about as regressive towards hitting as Safeco Field. In that sense, you don’t have to worry about a severe regression because of Safeco as you might if the Mariners acquired someone from the Rangers or Rockies. In fact, his home/road splits are quite staggering. In his career, he has slugged just .338 at home but a pretty good .449 on the road. This year, he is slugging .497 on the road. Here is a complete list of Mariner hitters slugging more than .497 this season:


As far as the contract goes, he is making just 3.475 million dollars this year. He doesn’t become a free agent until after the 2014 season, so you would be getting over 2 years of Headley. However, he will be going to arbitration and stands to make quite a bit of money one would think. According to Buster Olney, the player on the trade market that will demand the most in return is Chase Headley. I assume this includes Justin Upton as well. He has already matched his career best O-WAR, so it is a definite sell high proposition for the Padres. He has a high BABIP at .336, but he is a naturally high BABIP hitter at .339 for his career. This shouldn’t be a concern. Strangely, his line drive rate is lower than his career norms and his HR/FB% is at a career high. The latter is an explanation for why his Isolated Slugging (basically slugging percentage minus batting average) is at a career high. Whether or not this is merely descriptive (say for instance he is hitting the ball harder in the air) or predictive (it will eventually regress) is to be seen. Looking at spray charts may give us some clue.

Headley as a Righty (over the last calender year):

Headley as a lefty:

Here is Headley in 09 (both as a lefty and righty):

It seems like he is making less outs to centerfield than he once was. He is hitting less balls to dead center and when he is, it is more often a hit. He isn’t a dead pull hitter or pure other way hitter from either side. He is pretty balanced to both sides, which makes it nearly impossible to shift against (and could be a reason why his BABIP is so consistently high).

One thing that has improved over his career is his walk to strikeout ratio. He was about a league average walker when he first came up, striking out above league average. Since then, his strikeout rate has stayed about the same (other than a strange increase this year) while his walk rate has improved. Before this year, his swinging strike percentage (whiffs) was about league average. This year it is quite a bit higher than league average. There could be several explanations for this. One could be that he is just swinging harder. He has a hard swing, and it could be that he is swinging harder to improve his power (which has improved this year) but makes him more susceptible to swinging and missing.

He doesn’t appear to be any bigger and has also hit more ground-balls this year, which one wouldn’t expect if he was swinging harder. In watching old videos (as frustrating as MLB’s copyright laws are, the archived videos on MLB.com are pretty good, and I used them extensively for this article), I couldn’t really find any major differences in his swing. It could be simply a question of approach, which would be hard to quantify by watching a handful of at-bats. Anecdotal evidence suggested to me that while his swing hadn’t gotten any harder or more violent, he was whiffing a lot. To me, this suggests that he is missing some bat speed but he is really strong (thus the power). The plate discipline numbers suggest that he is swinging at less pitches out of the zone this year but making a whole lot less contact. It also seemed to me, in watching him, that if it was a strike, he swung at it like it was a fastball. He wouldn’t chase, but it created some weak contact and whiffs on changeups and breaking pitches. To try to help us understand this phenomenon, here are the pitches he has swung at in the past calender year:

Here was the pitches he swung at in 2009:

It certainly seems like he isn’t as susceptible to the high fastball as he once was. It also looks like pitchers want to go inside on him when he is a lefty less than they used to. This would seemingly be a good sign if you were concerned with Headley’s bat speed. If scouts/coaches/pitchers thought he was lacking some bat speed, they would moist likely try to jam him.

Overall, it is impossible to tell if his move to a more patient/power/strikeout hitter is permanent, but the sample size seems large enough to me to conclude that this is who Headley is. There is a lot of swing and miss in his game, but he walks and hits for some power. A perfectly common and perfectly acceptable way of being a good hitter. There doesn’t seem to be a ton of evidence that hitters that swing and miss a lot regress faster than ones that don’t (in fact, in my experience hitters that rely mainly on making contact regress faster), especially ones that have shown the ability to walk like Headley. If there isn’t bat speed concerns, he certainly looks like an improved and above average hitter, something the Mariners don’t have a lot of.


The King is Alive


On a Saturday night where the Mariners roughed up Yu Darvish behind big Kyle Seager, John Jaso, and Dustin Ackley hits, the King was on full display. He threw a complete game shutout on a night where he actually got run support, as the Mariners won 7-0, sending the 3 game series into a tie with the rubber-game to be played on Sunday.

The Rangers are 1st in the American League in OBP and 2nd in SLG. They didn’t have a runner in scoring position until the 7th. He was sitting at about 92-93 (hitting 94 MPH on a whiff to Adrian Beltre) MPH on his fastball and getting whiff after whiff on it. He made Rangers’ slugger Josh Hamilton look like Justin Smoak.

He threw one 91 MPH changeup to Nelson Cruz that was the velocity of a league average fastball and broke like a splitter or a curveball. He followed that by getting ahead of David Murphy with fastballs and then throwing that changeup in the dirt. David Murphy is a left handed hitter who hits right handers really well, walking as much as he strikes out with a .876 OPS. None of that mattered.

In the 6th, he made young Ranger Leonys Martin look especially bad. Martin thought it would be a good idea to swing at this pitch:

He got this result:

Or if you prefer this view:

He later got Cruz to whiff at a changeup in the dirt again for a Cruz’ 3rd strikeout and Felix’s 10th strikeout. Felix didn’t stop after the 7th, getting Michael Young to whiff at 2 pitches to strikeout. He then blew away David Murphy with a 94 MPH fastball to get his 12th strikeout. The 8th wasn’t the end of Felix’s day either, as he came out to pitch the 9th and got 2 pop ups, then shattered Elvis Andrus’ bat, kissed his wrists, pointed to the crowd, and high fived his teammates.

Overall, Felix gave up just 3 hits, striking out 12 and walking 0. Officially, he averaged 92.53 MPH on his fastball, maxing out at 94.1 MPH. His change averaged 90.05 MPH and turned into 7 whiffs (or over 43% of the time he threw it). He lived in the strikezone:

and there wasn’t anything the Rangers could do about it.

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