Figuring Out the Mariners’ Logjam

The M’s have a problem. A big problem with a bunch of big guys who can’t run very  fast and who’s gloves are not quick.

The Mariners have eight players; Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales, Jesus Montero, Mike Morse, Mike Carp, Rauuuuuul Ibanez and Jason Bay who all seem to be DH’s who are competing for four roster spots. Justin and Kendrys and Jason and the Mikes are gunning for 1B. The Mikes, Raul and Bay are looking for a spot in the outfield. Montero is currently locked into the catcher position. All of these guys can DH.

So how will the Mariners do it?

Eric Wedge, the M’s Manager, has said that Justin Smoak will be manning first base. The Mariners are not going to bench Kendrys Morales, so we can assume he will be at DH. Mike Morse is looking for the 1B, DH, and an outfield spot, and the M’s won’t have him warming the bench. So let’s slot him in at Leftfield. So at this point the M’s opening day lineup would look something like this:

  1. Dustin Ackley, 2B
  2. Franklin Gutierriez, CF
  3. Kyle Seager, 3B
  4. Mike Morse, LF
  5. Kendrys Morales, DH
  6. Jesus Montero, C
  7. Justin Smoak, 1B
  8. Michael Saunders, RF
  9. Brendan Ryan, SS

(the 2-8 slots can be mumble-jumbled up depending on performance)

So what would the M’s do with the other guys?

This regular lineup would mean Carp, Ibanez, and Bay are out of regular jobs. Ibanez has said he won’t be a role player but rather a starter (not going to happen). Each player has a flaw; Ibanez is almost a hundred years old, Carp stinks, and Bay hasn’t had a good season since (Little League… haha) 2006.

So what to do?

Ibanez is the best, posting the highest overall WAR of the three in 2012. Ibanez can fill in for Morse in the OF, Smoak at 1B, Morales at DH, or any combination of positional flip-flops that may occur.

Also, as much as the sabermetricians would like to say that ‘being good in the clutch’ doesn’t exist, anyone who watched Ibanez last year in the playoffs, or Kyle Seager with 2 two outs and RISP, would like to say otherwise. Ibanez single-handedly advanced the Yankees to the ALCS in 2012, while Bay and Carp toiled around with negative WAR’s in regular-season land.

Carp and Bay have a high likelihood of being cut.

Jesus Montero also doesn’t look like he is going to play catcher every day, so recent signing Ronny Paulino will have to sub in for Montero once in a while. Ronny’s best value is against left-handers, as is Jesus’.

So in order to get Montero a break, it needs to be against a lefty. Kendrys Morales struggles against southpaws. So it works out well to put Montero in the DH spot against a left-hander, and sit Morales. You could also do the same with Smoak, by sitting him and tossing Kendrys in at first.

Raul Ibanez is almost a non-factor when facing lefties, so he should only sub in against righties. Mike Morse has nearly identical splits against righties and lefties, so Wedge should put Ibanez in for Morse when Morse needs a break and the M’s are facing righties.

Raul also could sub in for Smoak if need be. It wouldn’t matter if it was against a righty or a lefty because Smoak hasn’t hit very well against either one. Morales could also hop in for Smoak on Smoak’s off-day, and put Raul at DH. Or if you wanted to give Montero and Smoak a day off simultaneously, Montero could head in to DH, Paulino could catch, and Smoak could warm the bench with Morales holding runners on.

But Montero needs to be in at catcher as often as possible, as his splits are better when behind the plate than when he’s in the dugout. While the split could be a fluke, if I were the Mariners, I would test Jesus out behind the plate more often than not.

So a sample lineup against a left-hander (when the M’s would give most off-days) could be:

Sitting Montero:

  1. Dustin Ackley, 2B
  2. Franklin Gutierriez, CF
  3. Kyle Seager, 3B
  4. Mike Morse, LF
  5. Kendrys Morales, DH
  6. Justin Smoak, 1B
  7. Michael Saunders, CF
  8. Ronny Paulino, C
  9. Brendan Ryan, SS

Sitting Smoak + Montero (Option 1):

  1. Dustin Ackley, 2B
  2. Franklin Gutierriez, CF
  3. Kyle Seager, 3B
  4. Mike Morse, LF
  5. Kendrys Morales, 1B
  6. Jesus Montero, DH
  7. Ronny Paulino, C
  8. Michael Saunders, RF
  9. Brendan Ryan, SS

Sitting Smoak (Option 2):

  1. Dustin Ackley, 2B
  2. Franklin Gutierriez, CF
  3. Kyle Seager, 3B
  4. Mike Morse, 1B
  5. Raul Ibanez, LF
  6. Jesus Montero, C
  7. Kendrys Morales, 1B
  8. Michael Saunders, RF
  9. Brendan Ryan, SS

Both of the above options have a player who’s not tremendous against lefties based on their splits, Ibanez and Morales, so it might suit the Mariners well to go out and find a right-handed utility player who hits lefties pretty well.

Sitting Mike Morse (against a righty):

  1. Dustin Ackley, 2B
  2. Franklin Gutierriez, CF
  3. Kyle Seager, 3B
  4. Jesus Montero, C
  5. Kendrys Morales, DH
  6. Justin Smoak, 1B
  7. Michael Saunders, RF
  8. Raul Ibanez, LF
  9. Brendan Ryan, SS

There are obviously many more lineup configurations that Eric Wedge and Co. will likely play with throughout the season, but these are a few samples to work from.

In conclusion, Jason Bay and Mike Carp will be cut, traded, released, or removed from Seattle by other means. Raul Ibanez will round out the OF/1B/DH dilemma by filling in likely twice or three times per week while providing a veteran presence and perhaps pinch-hitting every so often.

About Josh Gibbs

Josh Gibbs is the mastermind behind baseballblaze. He's 16 years old and lives in Seattle. He's an avid Mariners and Seahawks fan. He hopes you likes this blog and thinks you should comment on every post he writes. He also wrote this bio in the third person because he's awesome.
This entry was posted in Mariners and tagged 2013, jesus montero, justin smoak, kendrys morales, logjam, mariners, mike morse, raul ibanez. Bookmark the permalink.

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