The Seattle Mariners' recent seven-game winning streak may be over, but it sure was nice to enjoy a week's worth of winning baseball in an otherwise disappointing season.
The biggest question now is whether some of the encouraging signs found within this stretch will have any long-lasting meaning. Over the course of this week and next, I hope to tackle a few of these questions in search of answers.
Rather than jinx anything last week, I posted an article highlighting the team's top prospects, figuring that most would be staying put in the minors; however with pitcher Carter Capps' recent call-up it made me wonder whether the M's would consider bringing up any other prospects out of the blue within the farm system.
While it's understandable that fans may want to see the M's "Big Three" pitching trifecta of Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker, and James Paxton brought up to Seattle, I just don't think it makes sense for this season.
When looking at the remaining list of top prospects, you could argue the same thing for the majority of them as deep down I don't believe any of them are quite ready.
At the same time, for the sake of the argument, here are five players who have yet to log MLB service time that the Mariners could consider giving at the very least a cup of coffee in the majors before the end of the season and, in some cases, might be best served with an immediate chance to see if they have what it takes.
If Carter Capps can jump from Double A to Triple A to the majors in a blink of an eye after having only been drafted last year, then who else should we be looking at more closely in the Mariner organization?
Last week I listed pitcher Brandon Maurer as the Mariners No. 13 prospect assuming he still had a ways to go before reaching the majors, but at the rate he's going his numbers are arguably better than No. 1 prospect Taijuan Walker.
Understand no one is going to rank Maurer ahead of Walker, but what might not seem so crazy is giving Maurer a shot if the M's happen to have roster space on the pitching staff before the end of the month.
If Brandon Maurer seems a bit too young and rushed, perhaps Triple A pitcher Andrew Carraway would be someone the M's could give the opportunity to pitch instead?
Earlier this year, Carraway looked like he was the best pitcher on the M's Double A Jackson squad after starting the season undefeated through seven starts and looked to be on the fast track to Seattle; however once he got promoted to Tacoma he struggled and has only one win in his last 10 starts.
As he approaches his 26th birthday, you have to wonder if this late bloomer from UVA could merely have hit a small bump in his road to the majors rather than a major pothole?
On second thought, perhaps Carraway probably needs more seasoning at Triple A, but if the M's run out of arms at some point between now and October, you never know...
With Ichiro traded to the New York Yankees, the issue of finding playing time in the outfield for all of the M's youngsters is just about gone.
To date, Michael Saunders looks to have his spot secure for the rest of the way and Casper Wells has come on strong since his returned to Seattle, but it still leaves the M's with one more spot in the outfield.
Recent trade deadline newcomer Eric Thames and one of last year's trade deadline prospects Trayvon Robinson look to be splitting the final corner outfield spot as part of the four-man rotation on the roster to see if any of them have any staying power.
Even if we can once and for all give up on Franklin Gutierrez ever making a contribution this year, why add another body to the mix?
It's a fair point, but Vinnie Catricala seems like the type of player who could use a change of scenery.
Yes, last week I noted that he probably wouldn't be called up until September at the earliest, but for starters it's not like any of the four current outfielders have knocked the cover off the ball. Meanwhile, Catricala could very well have let the near miss of Spring Training throw him off for the better part of this season as his numbers from April and in his past 10 games are quite disappointing.
So why now?
Perhaps it's the foolish hope that Catricala getting a chance to come up the road to Seattle will give him the feeling that he once again belongs. Even if he doesn't play much, it's more the feeling of putting on the uniform and walking through the clubhouse that could give him the confidence to refocus.
Honestly, if Carlos Peguero can get a shot this year, why not Catricala?
If you've been reading this column for the majority of the season, the name Carlos Triunfel should come as no surprise here.
Like Vinnie Catricala, he too was listed as a top prospect last week and much like Catricala he's at Triple A Tacoma doing little to distinguish himself within the grand scheme of the Mariners' organization.
Factor in Brendan Ryan's recent renaissance at the plate and the argument to add Triunfel to the roster is all but moot.
So why keep arguing this tired point?
Because like Catricala he may not have run out of options in the technical sense, but he too could use some time, at least in September, to see what he's aiming for after having signed as a teenager with the ballclub.
Look, it's not that I believe the Mariners should be running a "fantasy camp" or giving free tours of Safeco to disillusioned prospects, it's more my own protest that the organization keeps a guy like Chone Figgins on the roster for reasons that defy logic, especially now that Ichiro is gone.
While I understand the purpose of keeping on some vets to help guide the kids, I'm not 100 percent sold on the benefit when they fail to produce and eat up roster space. Meanwhile, I found it telling that general manager Jack Zduriencik had this to say last week following the trade deadline...
“There had been a lot of (trade) interest in our young players,” Zduriencik said Tuesday. “I think you’d really be surprised — and maybe you wouldn’t be — on a lot of our young guys, at the big-league level and at the minor-league level. You know, the one thing is, timing is so important in anything you do. Although some of our kids have struggled, what, do you just throw them away?”
I fully agree in not letting the kids get poached, but don't let them waste away either.
I liked the promotion of reliever Stephen Pryor and hope the Carter Capps move works as well, but don't stop there. Granted I can't imagine the M's will be able to conjure up too many waiver-wire deals in August to clear roster space, but I do hope they can finish cleaning house and start with a clean slate for next year at the very latest.
When the time comes, players like Catricala and Triunfel need to get their shot, otherwise the M's run the risk of seeing them go elsewhere as other players move past them (e.g., Nick Franklin) while getting nothing in return.
Whether or not it comes back to haunt them is a risk that all teams take, but these are two players I'd like to see play first before throwing away, especially with no one outstanding clearly blocking their way.
Then again, perhaps it's foolish to hold back on the future and fight the tide.
It's easy to say that Nick Franklin isn't ready, but could the M's call him up before the end of the season?
I actually think he could benefit from working with Brendan Ryan in regards to his fielding, yet beyond that I still think the M's No. 4 prospect needs to get in some more at-bats at Triple A.
Will he be the M's future shortstop?
I hope so and would be tempted to see him get a few at-bats before October this year with the M's, but much like the "Big Three" it seems doubtful...then again, let's see how Carter Capps does with his audition as it could open the door for others to follow.