Tag Archives: AAA

Jesus Montero is back and agility drills cannot save you

Jesus Montero is back in a Mariner’s uniform.

If you are anything like me then you had already more or less forgotten about Montero’s existence, save in those few moments where you chuckle to yourself whilst wondering if he could eat an entire lasagna and still find time to take some steroids.

The answer is yes motherfuckers and Jesus is back to show you just how effective he can be. Maybe.

A once prized prospect, Jesus Montero’s first season with the Mariners was bad(ish) but bad in a pretty forgivable, lets-wait-and-see sort of way that inspired people to hope for progress and made said progress seem inevitable in the same way as say, getting fat when you’re older. This expectation was framed by the narrative that accompanied Montero. Basically, his ceiling was fixed in the minds of those who had heard the scouting reports and saw the minor league production. His performance was then characterized as a low to medium baseline from which we expected Montero to steadily ascend and grow into the right-handed masher he was all but assured to be when poring through the scouting reports documenting his performance in the Yankees’ farm system.

Little did we know that those cheese eating fucks over in New York likely doctored those reports, wrote his SAT for him, proposed to his nonexistent wife for him, and genuinely disguised his all-up shittiness in every facet of his life for the sake of return value in the form of Michael Pineda who (haha) has ended up being fuck-awful (and a pretty bad/ineffective cheater) as well.

To add insult to injury and to build on the inevitability of getting-fat-whilst-aging comparison I lobbed to myself in the prior paragraph; Jesus went ahead and made a literalist out of me this year by showing up to spring training having eaten a swimming pool of sour cream and borrowed Guy Fieri’s thyroid glands. He got fat.

Hyperbole aside, he was more or less unapologetic for his mockery of the term “athlete,” saying straightaway that he had done figuratively nothing but eat all offseason.

To be entirely honest, Montero can totally be fat and probably still play baseball. Having watched Montero pretend to be a catcher and then subsequently mime around first base for a few months, it is clear to even the most aggressively casual observer that Montero cannot play any position on a baseball field. Note here that when I say “casual observer” I am not even referring to the observations of a non-baseball-fan. That degree of casualness does not convey the hyperbolic message for which I am striving. When I say “casual observer,” think instead of your hypothetical Grandma, having recently immigrated from Serbia or some such place and having never even seen baseball before watching Montero play baseball on a satellite TV over a poor signal out of the corner of her eye while you try to teach her how to text with her new iPhone at the same time.

The dumbed down message is: it is abundantly clear that Jesus Montero will never play in the field. He is a DH and that is all he will ever hope to be. The thought process that leads people to occasionally believe that any rube with 7+ fingers can play first base has been proven incorrect.

Jesus Montero committed 9 errors in 59 games at first base down in AAA Tacoma. This number looks pretty bad on the surface. It looks worse when one considers that 1st basemen will typically only get an error assigned to them if they fuck up in an extremely egregious, obvious, and costly way. Often times a catchable throw across the diamond that the 1st baseman cannot pick will simply result in an error for the poor guy making the throw—even if everybody in the stands, having watched major league baseball or even minor league baseball once or twice knows that a 1st baseman should catch any throw that he can get his glove to. It is pretty much his only job.

The resulting logic suggests then that if Montero was assigned 9 errors in 59 games then it is fairly safe to assume that he was responsible for even more buttfuckery on defense that simply didn’t get charged to him and statistically qualified as his own personal little error—even though everyone watching, scorer included, was likely aware that, similar to 9/11, it was all Jesus’ fault.

So Jesus Montero is a DH and a DH he will always be. As of right now—despite my obvious misgivings regarding Jesus Montero, the player—I prefer seeing his name slotted into the lineup against left-handed pitching than say, Willie Bloomquist. While I appreciate that Willie has been less than completely useless in his starts this year that does not change the reality that an offense featuring Bloomquist as either a 1st baseman or DH is likely to be an offense that is terrible. While I have pretty much zero confidence in Montero as a player or human being, the guy at the very least has some power, which is something our current roster lacks in pretty much any capacity. The Mariners can do worse than rolling out Montero against lefties. They already have done worse.

So take heart in low expectations my morbidly-obese-but-working-slowly-towards-being-just-chubby friend—you can’t possibly disappoint us more than you already have! And to you Mariners’ fans: take heart in the weird optimism that comes with the thought that Jesus can’t possibly get any worse than last year (can he?) and therefore he really has nowhere to go but up!

Optimism reigns supreme in Mariners’ town.

The Seattle Mariners, reclaimers of optimism

The Mariners recently decided to take 3 of 4 games from the Oakland A’s. They wrapped the series with a completely unnecessary doubleheader yesterday brought on by a situation earlier in the year where Oakland’s poverty literally leaked on to the field of play, turning it into a Swamp of Sadness-equivalent and resulting in several of the Mariners’ ponies losing the will to live, languishing in the muck adrift in their own sense of desperate apathy, the faint call to carry on muted through the mufflers of their own helplessness until they were utterly submerged.

 

Yesterday’s doubleheader played itself out in about the oddest way imaginable. The Mariners picked up a win in the first game, going to extras following a weird start by Felix Hernandez in which we didn’t appear to have any of his pitches working. Felix surrendered eleven hits and 3 runs, yet the Mariners, behind a couple well-timed dingers by team strongmen Hart and Zunino managed to make it out alive from a game where Yoervis fucking Medina was credited for the win. Oddness.

 

The second game saw a resurgent Erasmo Ramirez return briefly from AAA in order to turn in possibly his most serviceable effort of the season, going 6 innings and allowing only 2 earned runs in the process. The problem in this second game was offense, which seems to hardly be surprising when the lineup includes the corpse of Brad Miller, Willie Bloomquist, John Buck, Cole Gillespie and Stefen Romero. I understand we want righties in the lineup but you need to have quality right handed hitters for this to make sense. If I want beer but don’t have any beer I don’t start fermenting my own urine. The Mariners are fermenting their own urine. It smells like Bloomquist’s grit.

 

A big positive to come out of the 1st of these two games is James Jones’ play in center field. The guy looks infinitely superior to anybody else the Mariners have wheeled out there since Franklin Gutierrez was patrolling center. He made a fantastic diving catch in the seventh inning and made a few excellent plays in the early innings besides. His routes look rather…sober…compared to those we have become accustomed to with Abe Almonte scurrying about. To cap it all off he flashed a plus throwing arm and was able to reach base a few times as well.

 

I still have no fucking clue why McClendon went ahead and slotted him in the 2 hole for his first start in the Major Leagues, but I am willing to suspend my disbelief if the guy continues to play well because frankly, the Mariners need good defensive outfielders to man center and if he can make the tiniest bit of noise at the plate and on the base paths I think he could be a valuable addition moving forward. The tools are there, if the polish can come with it on the job, then welcome to the squad Mr. Jones.

 

The Mariners are heading home following a road trip that took them to a game above .500 where they will be taking on the Kansas City Royals who presently mirror the M’s location around the mythical .500 line. Royals fans probably expected more from their squad moving into 2014—they experienced one of their better seasons in recent memory last year and have been posturing as though gripped by a win-now mindset as evidenced by their (probably idiotic) trade of former No.1 prospect in all of baseball, Will Myers, for serviceable former Rays’ starter James Shields.

 

The trade reeked of the same desperation-spunk surrounding the Mariners’ trade for disgruntled Canadian injury-enthusiast Erik Bedard in which we gave up Adam Jones, now a perennial All-Star for the Orioles and emerged no closer to “winning now” than we had been before, with the added caveat of lacking even the “winning then” that perhaps Jones could have helped with.

 

In that sense—I feel for the Royals’ fan base as a similarly afflicted bunch. The Royals also have several home grown positional prospects-turned-regulars who have taken forever to develop and often developed into something that rested well below their perceived ceilings as prospects. Eric Hosmer never became really as cool as he seemed, Alex Gordon didn’t figure it out until he was like 26, etc.

 

I suppose both of those players are better than their Mariners’ counterparts in Smoak and Ackley, but regardless, the results have not been there with a similar organizational approach.

 

So hey Royals, throw us a bone here. We can’t both make it to the playoffs can we? And you had George Brett once! Your franchise has even won/been to the World Series before!

 

At this point, as a Mariners fan, it is cool to even be able to care still. I have seen optimism dwindle so much faster than it has this season and for the team to remain afloat at this point in time is a revelation. I look forward to going home and seeing the Mariners play baseball and I have been able to do this for more than a month. I think this is what it must feel like to be a fan of a team that is good. I like the feeling. It makes it easier to sleep at night and it saves me money on liquor.

 

Go Mariners.

Brad Miller and Nick Franklin. The time for change is meow. Nobama.

Count me among the bajillion people who, in regards to their expectations for Brad Miller, allowed their optimism to grab them by the balls and lead them to the bedroom only to emerge the next day with a rash of regrets as well as just the normal, medical kind of rash.

Brad Miller is absolutely lost at the plate this season. He is only the most recent example of a promising Mariners’ position prospect coming to the Majors to briefly impress only to fall victim to the disturbing trend of trying to pull everything. This, as with every other player to whom the curse has lent its sinister shadow, has resulted in Brad sucking. He is, as they say at times, “in-between pitches.” He has adopted a tendency towards taking called strikes on hittable fastballs until he falls into pitcher’s counts, only to readily offer at off-speed pitches out of the zone, resulting in a 26.7% K-rate and a putrid .534 OPS.

What’s worse is that he is allowing his disappointing season at the plate to leak into his defense, where the mental miscues are beginning to aggregate into a serious concern. These miscues, when coupled with Brad’s expected above-average offensive production at the position seemed like charming hiccups. Those charming hiccups have turned into foam burps which have then turned into aggressive projectile vomiting session post-franzia-night all over your white carpet.

Let’s pull a spray chart for Mr. Miller real quick.

brad miller spray

See all of those stupid magenta squares over by where the 2nd baseman pretty much always is? Those are groundouts to the second baseman. Brad used to be a guy whose main positive trait was the ability to spray line drives to all fields, resulting in a projectable batted ball profile that would indicate a high BA and likely doubles power. He bulked up over this past offseason in an effort to ass a little power and meat-titan-ness to what was before a slight frame and it seemed that in the process he may have become pull happy in an effort to put those muscles to work. This strategy has not yielded dividends.

I wrote a piece earlier disparaging Dustin Ackley from falling into this trap. I also recently wrote an article basically forgiving Seager for doing the same thing. The difference here, however, is the way the players pull the ball. Seager launches baseballs into the air like it’s his job. He is a fly ball hitter and he has consistently shown that, though he pulls the ball a bit more than you would like, he gets the ball in the air, some of those balls leave the yard, and the result is a productive major leaguer.

When Ackley and Miller fall into this trap, their production declines precipitously. They let pitchers get ahead of them in counts and then, when they are at the pitcher’s mercy, they expand the zone and either whiff or pull a pitch off the plate on the outside off the end of the bat to the second baseman for an easy out, or a double play. Yippee.

The suggestion here: send Miller down and bring up either Chris Taylor or Nick Franklin in an everyday role and see what they can do. I know people are not crazy about Franklin’s defense at SS. That being said, however, I think Miller’s performance in the field has declined to the point where their defense is comparable. Franklin struggled during his previous call-up this season, but he was playing in spot-duty at an unfamiliar position with inconsistent at bats. In layman’s terms, he was not given a chance to really prove that he had figured out major league pitching or that he was ready to do so.

Franklin has an OPS of 1.079 to go along with 2 dingers in the past 3 games down in AAA. He has nothing left to prove at that level. It seems at this point that the Mariners, given the framing paradigm of a team seeking to win games NOW should use the depth at their disposal in order to keep afloat.

Having a black hole at the bottom of your lineup is bad. This problem is exacerbated by the volatility up and down the rest of the lineup.

It is one thing to have a bad apple among a bunch of kickass apples. It is another to have one obviously bad apple surrounded by a bunch of organically grown apples (read: no preservatives or whatever wait can apples even have those?) that might be left in a microwave or something at any given moment, becoming bad apples themselves!

There have been some who have been clamoring for Chris Taylor to be the guy rather than Franklin to get the call. I understand this desire as we have yet to really see what Taylor can do in a Mariners’ uniform and therefore he still has that new-prospect smell that always seems to elicit the grass-being-greener-over-there mentality from the fan base. This makes sense as we have all been getting pretty tired of recycling the same prospects only to have them sent back down and replaced with similar prospects who were probably recently sent down for similar reasons themselves blah blah blah.

The fact of the matter is, Taylor is new to AAA and isn’t on the 40-man roster. If they bring up a guy it is going to be Franklin and I do not have a problem with that. The move serves multiple purposes that make sense given the Mariners’ situation. The Mariners do not benefit from Miller’s continued struggles and for a team looking to contend (even if that is wildly unlikely) he weighs down the rest of the lineup too much in his current condition. Moving to Franklin almost certainly helps them in the near-term as they try to piece together a lineup capable of winning as many games as possible. Further, the move rewards Franklin who has been doing nothing but mash in AAA and has absolutely nothing else to prove at the level. Finally, the move is in Brad’s best interest as the SS of the future for this club. Continuing to scuffle and lose confidence at the major league level is only going to make him press that much more.

Nick has earned a shot. Miller needs time to collect his thoughts and get his confidence back. The Mariners need another bat capable of making the occasional impact.

Brad Miller AAA party now plz.

Go Mariners.

 

The Mariners’ bullpen situation examined through a lens of misery

New and exciting way to quantify Mariners losses for the diehard fan!

Lock a loaded pistol into your nightstand or any such desk that has a locking drawer in it.

Take the key. Lose it intentionally. Perhaps give it to a friend to hide. Perhaps lose it in a river. Throw it into the ocean. Tie it to a piece of bread, feed it to a duck and then scare the duck away. Feed it to Anna Paquin and have her construct some sort of homemade dirigible to guide a herd of geese into the southern hemisphere. She loses her father in the process, but gains an experience and an adventure that is timeless, classic. Jeff Daniels. Deff Janiels.

I don’t actually remember if her dad dies in that movie, but they are flying Ultralights. Ultralights are a death sentence. Thus, they both died in that movie.

I’m in love with a stripper.

Once the key is thoroughly lost, a friend or other observer be they psychiatrist, truant or parole officer, can gauge the Mariners’ success (read: failure) by the number of claw marks left near the handle of the drawer in which the pistol (representative of the sweet release of the NFL season) is locked.

Experiment end.

Since my fingernails are all filled up with splinters typing is kind of hard.

The Mariners have suffered through what is the first, but will not be the last, prolonged stretch of ineptitude in the long, long MLB season. Yesterday the Mariners brought up a guy who struggled mightily in a starting role in Brandon Maurer.

Maurer was already well on his way to being transitioned into a reliever. They brought him up, not fully stretched out, in a starting role. He proceeded in delivering 4+ solid innings in which he surrendered 1 ER, walked 2, struck out 4, and generally looked solid all around. Maurer looked to be throwing free and easy, his fastball touching 97 on multiple occasions with some great late movement. He kept the ball out of the middle of the plate, thusly limiting the hard contact that made him suck last year. His changeup looked far better than the minus offering we saw in his starting appearances last year. Basically, his performance was everything the Mariners could have asked for. He left the game with a lead and the Mariners’ bullpen merely had to come in and seal the deal.

Unfortunately, this bullpen is tired. And this bullpen is kind of bad. The walking of the bulls.

What even is this?

McClendon initially brought in Joe Beimel who took care of his batter in short order.

Then McClendon brought in short person and relief pitcher extraordinaire Danny Farquhar, who walked a batter but otherwise got out of his inning with a relatively minimal dose of drama.

Then the Furbush arrived. And in this case, the carpet totally matched the pubes as Furbush proceeded to issue a hit to one of the two batters he faced, leaving a guy-on-second-fire to be put out by…

…Tom Wilhelmsen, the bartender. Alcohol is flammable. Alcohol is also inflammable.

I am generally against bringing Wilhelmsen into the game in most situations. I am categorically against bringing him in for high leverage situations in which a runner is already on second and the Mariners are clinging like Leonardo DiCaprio to a one run lead.

The Bartender is broken. There is no doubt to this. The guy goes 3-0 to every batter he faces. The stuff is still there, but his mind just is not right and has not been since the beginning of last year when he was more or less untouchable.

As a Mariners fan, it is one thing to lose a few games to a team that is objectively shitty. It is another thing entirely to go out and blow leads over and over in the 8th inning to said teams. The offense is one thing. The Mariners have not scored that many runs. But still, playoff teams win games where they take leads into the 8th. Winning teams win games that are winnable. What a stupid fucking sentence!

The best course of action for the Mariners is to continue to dip into a deep farm system for help. That help is there. The help is named Carson Smith.

Can I help? I am The Help. Who helps The Help? The Illuminati.

Similar to Stephen Pryor and Carter Capps, Carson Smith and Dominic Leone are two guys who I have always imagined as being super best pals. This is probably because they were linked in terms of both their Major League expectations as well as their timetables. Leone is up, pitching in the Mariners’ bullpen and doing a solid job thus far. Carson Smith has spent limited time in AAA but, in the past 2 seasons has posted a better-than 11 K/9 rate with stuff that projects as ready for a Major League bullpen ASAP Rocky.

So please Mariners. Stop putting out bushfires with alcohol. All of my fingernails and 1 of my toenails are already embedded into a wooden drawer in my apartment. Scrabbling at locked doors is hard to do with your feet. Don’t send help (to me, that is). Do bring up Carson Smith though. That would be an excellent idea!