The Mariners’ DH Options

Seattle's lineup has struggled through April, managing just a .241/.314/.349 team line entering Monday's game with Kansas City and hitting an AL-low nine home runs.  While Chone Figgins and Jose Lopez have gotten off to slow starts, the designated hitter spot has been a particular trouble spot.  There has been little production from the veteran platoon of Ken Griffey Jr. (.519 OPS) and Mike Sweeney (.349 OPS).

Larry LaRue of The Tacoma News Tribune points out, however, that while the Mariners could release Sweeney (due to make just $650K in 2010) or bench Griffey (releasing a franchise icon like the Kid is probably not an option for the M's), there aren't any obvious options to fill their shoes in the lineup.  Milton Bradley could see some time at DH since his injury history makes him an unlikely candidate to spend a full year playing in the field, but as LaRue notes, moving Bradley then just leaves a hole in Seattle's outfield.

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik is certainly not adverse to making big moves to help his club, but LaRue thinks it will be until at least June before the M's can "find a team willing to admit it's given up on 2010" and talk trade.  The June deadline seems like a bit of a stretch given that teams will always be looking to shed a big bat with a big contract if the offer is right, though LaRue doesn't think Seattle has the pitching prospects to net such a player.

One name that LaRue doesn't mention is Michael Saunders.  The outfielder hit just .221/.258/.279 in 129 major league plate appearances last season, but he posted a .922 OPS in 282 plate appearances at Triple-A Tacoma in 2009.  Saunders was sent to the minors during spring training since the Mariners wanted him to play every day, and has just a .385 OPS thus far for Tacoma.  Should Saunders turn things around at the plate and earn a call-up, though, his good glove should provide defensive value in left field in Seattle and provide cover to move Bradley to DH. 

Another minor league option is first baseman Mike Carp.  LaRue dismissed him due to his low average at Tacoma thus far, but Carp is still slugging .484 for the Rainiers and has put up good on-base and power numbers in his last two minor league campaigns (not to mention a .878 OPS in a 65 PA cup of coffee with Seattle last year).

And, of course, Griffey and Sweeney could still turn things around given that there's a lot of baseball left to be played this season.  While the DH spot may be a problem for the M's in the short-term, things haven't quite reached Jose Vidro-esque critical mass.


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28 Comments on "The Mariners’ DH Options"


Jerry Mandering
5 years 3 months ago

Jermaine Dye, bank on it. 😛

lakersdodgersyankees4life
5 years 3 months ago

“has just a .385 OPS thus far for Tacoma”… please tell me thats a typo…

mw3
5 years 3 months ago

Saunders time in the majors last year exposed his weakness. Pound him with fastballs in and his swing is too long and too slow to catch up. He has major bust written all over him.

swishasnkush
5 years 3 months ago

we are screwed, keeping Griffey & Sweeney will kill us…which just made the Cliff Lee trade pointless…we are going nowhere.

bjsguess
5 years 3 months ago

Yeah – why Jermaine Dye isn’t a Mariner is quite confusing. He could easily split time with Bradley. Sure his defense sucks but with the rest of the M’s defense, they could afford to trade off some defense for a nice offensive lift.

I said it before the season began – pitching and defense is great but the M’s simply cannot hit worth a lick. No way they win the AL West unless they get a big bat.

ELPinchy
5 years 3 months ago

would you like a david ortiz? PLEASE!

bustercherrie
5 years 3 months ago

Having a great defense is bonus to have, but offense is more important than defense. If you have good pitching (which the M’s do) there shouldn’t be such a need for a gold glove caliber defense.

Joemomma4hire, the M’s pitching staff relies heavily on fly ball pitchers or pitch to contact pitchers. Playing an average or below average defense behind them would hurt them more substantially. The Mariners need a good defense considering they play half of their games in Safeco, but the problem with that is Safeco kills right handed power hitters. IE, Adrian Beltre, Richie Sexson even Jose Lopez can be argued considering he hit 19 of his 25 home runs on the road last year. The Mariners have the right blue prints just the wrong building materials in some ways. They don’t need an all or nothing home run threat. They need good contact gap power hitters that play good defense, even average/above average defense. The Mariners are not a complete project yet, they have their holes, mainly their Designated Hugger combination of Griffey and Sweeney.

I expect this team to settle in and start hitting towards end of May or June. They are not going to hit a lot of home runs, but as guys heat up perform they will score more and the pitching will remain strong with the defense behind them. This is not a complete project, and I understand that it is frustrating for a lot of fans, myself included. This team is lacking in offense, but they will be average by the end of the season. It’s still too early to be jumping ship.

Ricky Bones
5 years 3 months ago

Remembre when the Mariners fans on here insisted their Punch & Judy offense wouldn’t be a point of concern & this was the year Milton Bradley put it all together?

5 years 3 months ago

It’s a little early to be tossing the offense down the toilet when guys like Figgins, Lopez, and Bradley have yet to hit their stride. No one thought we would have Griffey/Sweeney as our DH either. We were told all through the offseason that Griffey was the 25th man and his ABs would be far less than last year.

Jermaine Dye isn’t really the option either as his type of bat has always been negated by Safeco’s winds blowing in from left field.

Ricky Bones
5 years 2 months ago

I wouldn’t hold your breath on Bradley & Figgins isn’t a run producer, he’s a run scorer. Someone still has to drive him in. People who think Dye is the answer are really grasping for straws b/c the guy is done. Not only that but let’s say he does have something left, it would take him a good month or more to be ready to play. These guys still on the scrap heap haven’t gone through spring training & have been sitting on the couch for an additional month, 2 months after that.

britishpeoplearesosmart
5 years 3 months ago

I’ll (Reds) give you Yonder Alonso and Orlando Cabrera for Chone Figgins… Deal? Please? Okay, take Bronson Arroyo, too.

crunchy1
5 years 3 months ago

“LaRue thinks it will be until at least June before the M’s can “find a team willing to admit it’s given up on 2010″ and talk trade.”

How do we know it won’t be the Mariners that will be among the teams giving up on 2010? I agree with those say that Dye is the logical choice. It may not fit into what the M’s are doing, but he can still hit and they can get him sooner and without giving anyone up. If they’re still rotating the unholy trio of Byrnes, Griffey, and Sweeney into the lineup come June, it may just be too late. Bradley may turn things around a bit, but he’s not the kind of guy that carries an offense even when he is doing well.

Redhawk
5 years 3 months ago

I was thinking the same thing. It doesn’t look like the M’s are going anywhere soon. In fact, the best thing they can do might be to trade some of that vaunted pitching for some legit hitting prospects.

Redhawk
5 years 3 months ago

I was thinking the same thing. It doesn’t look like the M’s are going anywhere soon. In fact, the best thing they can do might be to trade some of that vaunted pitching for some legit hitting prospects.

Redhawk
5 years 3 months ago

This is a real question I’ve had for awhile. I’m hoping the M’s fans that are closer to the situation could help me out. One of the issues I’ve seen for the Mariners is NO one could hit there. It’s too big to too many areas. It’s too much a pitchers park. It takes mediocre hitters and make them look awful, in my opinion. It’s almost to the level of Petco as a pitcher’s park.

Am I wrong? Or would a reconfiguring of the OF wall in Safeco be beneficial to the Mariners.

5 years 3 months ago

You’re absolutely right when it comes to power-hitting right-handed bats with heavy pull tendencies. That’s one of the reasons why a guy like Jermaine Dye would struggle in Safeco. That’s also the reason why the M’s have started going after left-handed bats. When they do target a right-handed bat, it’s usually a guy with gap power who hits a lot to right field.

Right field is actually fairly homer friendly. Most of this is because of the winds coming off the water. They blow in and down from left field and tend to blow out towards right field.

Redhawk
5 years 3 months ago

This is a real question I’ve had for awhile. I’m hoping the M’s fans that are closer to the situation could help me out. One of the issues I’ve seen for the Mariners is NO one could hit there. It’s too big to too many areas. It’s too much a pitchers park. It takes mediocre hitters and make them look awful, in my opinion. It’s almost to the level of Petco as a pitcher’s park.

Am I wrong? Or would a reconfiguring of the OF wall in Safeco be beneficial to the Mariners.

progmatinee
5 years 3 months ago

Griffey for Giambi-straight up!

Redhawk
5 years 3 months ago

Giambi for some Iver’s Fish n Chips. They can keep Griffey.

progmatinee
5 years 3 months ago

Griffey for Giambi-straight up!

mw3
5 years 3 months ago

Jason Bay sure would look nice sharing DH and LF with Milton Bradley.

bigpat
5 years 3 months ago

Yeah, I don’t get it either. Sure, you can save some runs over time, but when I watch games I don’t see fielders routinely miss balls that are in their range. It just doesn’t happen a lot. There’s no defense for a ball to the gap or line drive base hits. Luck will factor in whether or not some bloopers make it in for hits, and that usually has more of an impact than defense.

Yankee_Baal
5 years 3 months ago

I think last year’s Yankee defense was underrated. I’m not saying it was good or great, it was just decent. Damon has a rubber arm, but he has very fast legs that make the flyouts. Melky as an awful physique for an outfielder, but makes it up with good instincts and positioning. Swisher is very unorthodox, but his UZR/150 was just slightly negative. Jeter in all his years has been a decent-to-bad shortstop, but IS a shortstop: his errors have never been because of concentration lapses or lack of knowledge on the position. And finally, Posada, the one that has regressed the most with his glove, isn’t still at a Varitek/V-Mart level meltdown. Last year’s Yankees won without good defense, but it wasn’t an example of bad defense either.

crunchy1
5 years 3 months ago

I’m watching the Mariners as sort of a test case. Defense was supposed to be the big inefficiency of the market and a lot of people have bought into this trend. It was the new way to play it smart — despite the fact that people were using inexact statistics like UZR on which to base that value. It’s still April, but perhaps the variances in defense from one player to another have been much overstated — which, of course, would overstate the value of defensive players overall. It’s obviously too early to tell whether this is true or whether this is far too small a sample size for defensive value to make an impact. We do know that measuring defense requires bigger sample sizes than measuring offense. But this investment on defense at the expense of offense better start showing up in terms of actual wins soon. It’s interesting to note that the other team that added defense at the expense of offense, the Red Sox, are also struggling out of the gate.

5 years 3 months ago

How about Kotchman with over 180 errorless games? Or Jack Wilson, largely considered on of the best glove SS’s in the game? Even Lopez over at 3B so far is running an above average +/-. Combined with gold glove caliber gloves with Gutz, Ichiro and Figgins, that’s 6 of the 7 non P / C positions filled with plus or greater defenders.

bustercherrie
5 years 3 months ago

There is nothing wrong with a veteran ball player if they still can perform. The Mariners did not sign an aged ballplayer this year, they signed someone that could produce in Chone Figgins and didn’t give up much for Cliff Lee. This is not the Richie Sexson, Jose Vidro, Carlos Silva regime of years past. And your sure Cliff Lee will be gone, you say undoubtedly, so you must know Cliff Lee on a personal note and he has relayed this message to you to spread to the entire MLBTR community? Nothing in baseball is ever truly written in stone. And the Mariners do have a blueprint. Jack Z knows what he wants, Rome wasn’t built in a day, I’m not one of the Mariner fans that was here screaming they were going to win the World Series. But, to say that they have no blue print for what they are doing is dense and nothing more. No blueprint was the Bavasi era in Seattle, no blueprint nor a clue on how to run a decent organization. They will win probably about 80 games, but as more players are filtered into the organization fitting the blueprint that Jack Z is looking for the team will be better.

5 years 3 months ago

Defense is still an inefficiency in the market but Seattle has gone a little overboard with the theory. Defense has a limit to the amount it can help a team. Offense really has no limit. A plus glove might be able to save an extra 20 or so runs over the course of a season but if that guy is hitting .225 with 8 homers, he’s costing more runs than he’s saving. Last year it was worse as the M’s trotted out some of the weakest hitters in the major leagues almost every game just because they were good with the glove.

Ironically, it’s the guys the M’s thought would hit that aren’t hitting and the guys who weren’t expected to hit who actually are.

crunchy1
5 years 2 months ago

Good points. It goes to show how difficult it is to predict performance and how we need to constantly re-evaluate statistical theory. A couple of months ago, Seattle was being hailed as the smartest franchise in baseball for following the latest statistical trends…gradually over March and April, it started becoming apparent that this team was going to have trouble scoring enough runs to win. Their bullpen, often an afterthought when it comes to statistical importance, has also been a bugaboo, costing them 3 games in Chicago. I’m a proponent of using advanced statistics but I think both Seattle and Boston have shown there are potential pitfalls when it becomes orthodoxy.