The silence has been deafening. We went a fortnight between posts at the Musings. There is activity behind the scenes. Free time has been sparse with my work schedule this month, and what free time I've had has been sunk into draft prep.
It's time for a post of some sort though. Let's talk about the state of the Mariners roster. The series against the Rockies and Rangers were largely awesome. The current series against the Angels has been a bust so far. This team is up and down, which is hard to watch at times, but I'll gladly take it over the down and really down we've dealt with the past couple seasons. Still, are there any major roster inefficiencies at this point? Here are my takes:
Myth: The Mariners need to ditch Miguel Olivo and hand over the reins to John Jaso and Jesus Montero behind the plate.
It hurts me to admit that it is fine to play Olivo regularly, but the numbers suggest that it is. I strongly prefer Jaso's approach at the plate over Olivo's, and I also like the idea of Montero gaining experience behind the dish. If I were Eric Wedge, I probably would make catcher much more of a roving platoon than he is likely to make it.
With that said, this isn't an issue worth getting angry about. Jaso played enough with Olivo on the DL to almost catch up to his playing time on the season. In (very) roughly equal opportunities, Jaso has been worth 0.3 more WAR. That's right, roughly a third of a win. Furthermore, history suggests that Jaso's defense will sink, and I also do not think Olivo will continue to sport a measly .226 BABIP.
As for Olivo and Montero, both have been worth 0.0 WAR so far, even though Montero has more at-bats.
Olivo seems to be one of the team leaders, and his toughness sets a good tone for the younger players to follow. Although Olivo's performances are rarely aesthetically pleasing, they don't hurt the M's chances at winning much, if at all. Montero's development as a hitter is much more important than his development as a backstop, so as long as he DHs, I'm not going to complain about Olivo playing a bunch at catcher.
Myth: Brendan Ryan needs to be benched with his woeful .179/.293/.260 batting line.
Brendan Ryan needs to get buried in the batting order with his struggles, but he still owns the third-highest WAR of all M's position players this season, behind Kyle Seager and Ichiro. That's how crazy good Ryan's defense is. Eric Wedge isn't kidding when he talks about how Ryan's defense is worth some offensive struggles. Ryan, much like Olivo, has a .226 BABIP, which I think is unsustainably low. Ryan is a good enough shortstop to start for many MLB teams, and that list certainly includes the Mariners.
Fact: Chone Figgins needs to go
It boggles my mind that Casper Wells got sent down, and Figgins kept his seat on the bench. Figgins isn't playing, and that's largely because he isn't good. With Wells down in Tacoma, there are now 4 outfielders on the 40-man roster roving the Rainiers outfield. One of those men (Wells, Trayvon Robinson, Carlos Peguero) should be up with the Mariners right now. I think any of them are capable of replacing Chone's -1.0 WAR to date.
Fact: The bullpen needs to be reshuffled
Tip of the hat to my buddy/co-writer Allen, who sensed that Brandon League is in bad shape before I did. League is not throwing splitfingers, and his walk rate has almost caught his strikeout rate. Teams are just waiting around for a fastball that catches a healthy portion of the plate, and then they square it up. That's what the Angels did last night, and it's what's going to keep happening until League improves.
It's time to take away the closer's job from League, and give Tom Wilhemsen a shot. While I'm at it, I would also send Steve Delabar down to AAA, and call up Stephen Pryor. I know he's only had a few weeks in AAA, but he's been amazing, and he's got wipe-out, power stuff. I'd give him a shot at closing if Wilhelmsen falters.
Delebar's biggest issue is home runs, which I think can be mitigated with slightly improved fastball command. He's got a great fastball, but it's clearly a little too hittable the way he uses it right now. Delabar can get some more playing time down in AAA, which I think would help him refine his command and pitch sequencing. My hope is that he could get calibrated like Shawn Kelley did when he was sent down at the start of the season.
Happy (vintage) Felix Day! Here's hoping the roster gets tweaked a bit around him, but for the most part, I just want to see the guys playing right now work through some challenges.