The Mariners called up Justin Smoak to take his place. Smoak is a known commodity and got sent down because he wasn't hitting all that well. I saw him in Tacoma a few times, and he did not look much better to me. He did not hit a home run in 82 AAA plate appearances. The biggest difference was Smoak's walk rate, which spiked considerably. Hopefully he packs his patience with him as he returns to the majors, but franky, there aren't many reasons to expect his return to look all that different than what got him sent down in the first place.
I am irritated that Smoak got called back up. Not incredibly irritated, but irritated, much in the same way that a hangnail isn't really that big of a deal, but it's still a hangnail, and enough of a bother to notice and complain about. First base is now the Mariners version of a hangnail.
The reality is that Smoak probably isn't much better or worse than any other hitter the Mariners could have called up. That's why this isn't a move worth getting all that worked up over. Still, Smoak presumably got sent down to turn his season around, and he hasn't yet, and now he has been rewarded with a promotion. Granted, injuries change circumstances, but the Mariners had other options.
Alex Liddi is on the 40-man roster. He has hit for more power in Tacoma, and is athletic enough to play positions besides first base. Liddi strikes out way too much to be productive, but so what? Justin Smoak has been worth -1.0 WAR so far. He's a win worse than replacement level. That's the standard that Liddi has to pass. Even if he can't do that well (and he has managed 0.3 WAR in the majors despite striking out in over a third of his plate appearances), he at least brings some defensive versatility.
My pick would have been Luis Jimenez. He deserves the shot. Jimenez is 30 years old and yet to crack the Major Leagues. He left the minors in 2008 and played in Mexico for two years. The M's signed him to a minor league deal in 2011, and now he is raking in Tacoma. The biggest problem with Jimenez is that he is not on the 40-man roster, but the Mariners have all sorts of options. They could transfer Franklin Gutierrez to the 60-day DL, and he would be eligible to come back on September 1. That's only a few weeks away, and Guti would benefit from a rehab assignment once he is healthy. Heaven forbid they cut ties with Chone Figgins, or risk losing Mauricio Robles and his 60 walks in 62 minor league innings this year, if they know Guti will be back this season.
Promoting Smoak is not that big of a deal at the end of the day. Any move the Mariners could have made probably would not impact their chances of winning all that much. There was a small chance to make a statement with Carp going on the DL though, and the M's did not cash in on it. Calling Jimenez up would have rewarded a man who has paid his minor league dues, and sent a message to everyone in AAA that the front office looks to reward players that perform well.