Well, the David Price sweepstakes is finally over, and the Mariners did not end up with the Rays’ ace left-hander. They were, however, involved in the deal that saw David Price get moved, as a part of a three-way deal that sends Price to the Tigers, and center fielder Austin Jackson to Seattle from Detroit. Tampa Bay will receive LHP Drew Smyly and SS Willy Adames from Detroit as well as IF Nick Franklin from Seattle.
I was reluctant to start writing this post, because I really thought there was a good chance someone else had to be in the deal. But, as Dave Cameron of Fangraphs pointed out, Price is worth a little less in prospects than his talent level suggests, considering he will be owed in the neighborhood of $20 million next season.After taking a closer look, though, this isn’t a bad haul for David Price.
Franklin has had a massive strikeout problem during his time in the major leagues, but that hasn’t really been the case in the minors. He has just 464 major league plate appearances, and is still just 23-years-old. He has plenty of time to develop into a league-average or better hitter, and that’s a valuable commodity at second base. Smyly is just 25-years old, and has three more years of team control after 2014. Smyly is about a 2.0 WAR starter now, with plenty of room for growth. Adames I know nothing about, but people like him, so hey, cool! It’s not that bad of a haul for a guy, in Price, that has never had a 5+ WAR season who is only under contract through 2015.
But you didn’t come here to read about those guys. You want to know what all the hubbub is about this Austin Jackson guy. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
When Brad Miller was in the middle of his absurdly long slump, I was looking for anything that indicated that change might be right around the corner. I found myself getting encouraged by hard line-outs on 3-2 pitches, or even any deep count that didn’t end in a strikeout. Any moment could be the moment he remembered that he was supposed to be pretty decent at hitting a baseball, and then do so for an extended period of time.
The final time I thought “this might be the turning point” came on May 27. Miller went 0-2 with two walks in that game. that performance raised his awful .473 OPS to a nearly-equally awful .476. I just didn’t want to believe that Miller could possibly be as bad as he had been to that point. This was a guy who had destroyed every level of the minors, was an above-average hitter while playing decent shortstop in the minors, and most importantly, a guy whose name differs from my own by just two letters. He just had to be good.
Justin Smoak has now amassed 2,183 career plate appearances. That’s kind of a lot. So at this point, we should have an idea of what Justin Smoak is as a hitter. At 27-years-old, Smoak is entering his athletic prime and the years that a hitter generally peaks. Things started decently for Smoak in 2014, and it looked like he might finally become something other than a black hole in the lineup. After a not-horrible 2013 in which Smoak hit .238/.334/.412, it would have been easy to see Smoak’s solid start–he was hitting .246/.307/.442 as recently as May 12th–as a sign that he was taking the next step. Sure, the walks weren’t there yet, but that was the one aspect of Smoak’s offensive game that he has always been pretty good at. It would make sense that he’d begin to start taking more walks, which he has done: In the 88 plate appearances since his solid start, Smoak has taken 10 walks in 88 plate appearances, an 11.4% rate. The problem, unfortunately, is everything else.
The Mariners have been treading water the past couple weeks, largely because of surprisingly decent pitching. The club’s problem, for what is probably the seventy-eighth consecutive season, is the offense. The Mariners have a .234/.299/.365 batting line right now, which gives them the third lowest OPS in baseball. Remove the black holes of Brad Miller and what Abraham Almonte did before being sent to Tacoma, and they’re still hitting just .246/.308/.382 against the American League average of .253/.322/.395. Even after removing their two worst bats this year, the Mariners have still been a slightly below average offensive team. Lots of voices are calling for the Mariners to sign Kendrys Morales to help with their offensive woes, but I think the boost the Mariners are looking for could come from Tacoma’s non-prospect, on-base machine, Ty Kelly.
If you watched last night’s Mariner game, a 3-2 loss to the Oakland A’s in 12 innings, you likely noticed that home plate umpire Sean Barber was really, really bad. This was his first major league game behind the dish calling balls and strikes–he is a replacement umpire filling in for Tim McClelland, who is going to miss the 2014 season with a back injury. So, like it or not, Barber is probably here to stay, at least for the 2014 season. Still, if this is a “tweener” AAA/MLB umpire, I’d hate to see the guys that aren’t on the short list to get major league work.
Hear me out…
Thierry is one of the most prolific goal scorers of our generation, and of all time. Now I am not comparing the quality of Thierry
Henry to Lamar Neagle, in no offense to Lamar because I doubt Henry is any good at FIFA and Lamar is the champ. I’m talking about the role that Lamar can play for this team.
With nine official goals last year in all competitions while splitting time between wide midfielder and striker, Lamar became a quality finisher and valued strike partner to Obafemi Martins. Neagle averaged a goal every two games when playing as a striker and has real chemistry with a lot of his teammates. His best piece of quality is running at defenders with the option to cut inside and either shoot or play the ball off to a teammate and continue his run.
Lamar is selected to spend most of his time on the left side of the formation, and should be given the freedom to bound forward and combine with Oba and others. Lamar is very good in the air, and is very strong when thumping around with center backs. I think Lamar is an underrated passer in the final third, and has that creative side to him which you don’t really see with other players in the league.
Henry spent significant amounts of time on the left hand side of the formation for both Arsenal and FC Barcelona, while creating and finishing some of the most outstanding goals I have ever seen. Remember that loan spell in 2012 back with Arsenal in the F.A. Cup against Leeds? Classic Henry.
I truly believe Lamar has something in his play that is starting to slowly show to be something special. Whether it be a clutch goal at the right time, or a string of great performances, there will be a moment where Lamar will be celebrating with his Washington born teammate DeAndre Yedlin, while Sounders supporters and fans go crazy. Lets hope Lamar continues with consistent playing time, and wait for THAT moment.
Perhaps the best episode of West Coast Bias to date, I was able to land perhaps the best slew of guests in the show’s short history. First up is 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom Wassell talking Seahawks and Mariners with me. Then, I managed to get a few minutes of Seattle Times Reporter Geoff Baker’s time to get a more inside perspective on the M’s. Geoff is followed by fellow West Coast Bias blogger Jordon Grangruth talking about the Sounders’ hot start. Other topics are Kyle Seager’s 2014 projection, and WSU Baseball. Listen below!