Seattle Mariners: Where Do September Call-Ups Fit in 2013 Roster Plans?
Following the Mariners loss on Sunday afternoon to the Texas Rangers, their record on the season dropped to 72-81 and dashed any hope of the M's finishing the season above .500.
While in many ways it's been a bit of a disappointing season, it was still impressive to see that the team held on this long in the season before finally dropping their 81st contest.
As we now enter the final stretch of the season, it would seem like a good time to see whether the M's can play spoiler in the AL West race with series against both Oakland and Los Angeles while also giving several players called up earlier in the month a chance to play.
This year's September call-ups proved to be a mix of pitchers and hitters, most of which we've seen at some point this season with one or two who managed to get their first taste of major league action.
While in some ways it might seem a bit premature, I figured it might be interesting to turn our attention towards next year and offer up a few thoughts on how each of these players may or may not fit in the team's plans for 2013.
Right now, it's a tough group to judge given their uneven performances in 2012, but if even one or two of these players can turn the corner and grow into having a meaningful role, it might make a big difference in 2013.
Luis Jimenez: First Base
When looking over the nine players the Mariners have brought up to since September 1st, one would like to think that each of them has a potential role in 2013, but for some the opportunity to play in the majors this time of the year is more a courtesy than anything else.
Luis Jimenez is a career minor leaguer who put together a solid year at Tacoma, but for a guy his size (6'3",280 lbs) at age 30, you have to wonder what his long-term options are at this point.
Could he end up on the bench next season?
I wouldn't rule anything out, but the odds would seem slim at this point.
Carlos Peguero: Outfield
Speaking of big, Carlos Peguero at first glance at 6'5" and 245 pounds looks like he could do great things if given the chance.
Unfortunately, looks can be deceiving.
Peguero will turn 26 right before spring training next season and the question remains whether he will ever turn the corner. Like a lot of hitters on this list, time and patience are running thin, yet within an organization that lacks hitting prospects, a solid spring training could get him a shot at the big club.
Ultimately though, the fate of the next three players on this list along with Peguero are all intertwined.
Casper Wells: Outfield
Casper Wells is a right-handed hitting outfielder with flashes of power who one minute looks solid, the next...not so much.
Ever since coming to the Mariners as part of the Doug Fister deal last summer, Wells has looked like a reserve outfielder. The kind of guy you plug in once or twice a week, but not somebody you can depend on to start every day or even platoon.
I'd love to see Wells prove me wrong, especially since this team could use a right-handed bat, but I'm skeptical at best.
Will he make the roster?
Probably, but the bigger question is should he?
Mike Carp: OF/1B/DH
In 2011, Mike Carp looked like he had finally turned the corner. After years of languishing in the minors, Carp was given the chance to play every day during the second half of the season and flourished on a team that struggled offensively by hitting .276/12/46 across 79 games.
While it was hardly anything to get too excited about, it certainly seemed that Carp had earned a fair shot for more than just a roster spot in spring training this year.
Sadly though, 2012 has been a complete nightmare for Carp literally from the very beginning.
After getting injured in the season opener against the A's in Tokyo, Carp has struggled to stay either healthy or productive to the point that I officially wrote the poor guy off as early as mid-June.
When you consider the struggles of Justin Smoak and the entire Mariners outfield, it would seem silly not to give him at least one more chance assuming that he's healthy and in shape come next spring.
In many ways I still think he's a one-year wonder, but the M's can't afford to throw him away until they find out for sure.
Alex Liddi: OF/1B/3B
So far it's been hard to find someone on this list that would inspire much hope long-term, but I also like to think that someone out of this group is capable of making a meaningful contribution in 2013 and beyond.
This year, Michael Saunders went from being a potential bust to a potential long-term solution in the outfield.
Can Alex Liddi do the same thing in 2013?
On the surface Liddi is still young, but he's getting old fast given the alarming rate in which he strikes out each time he gets the chance to hit.
If by some chance Liddi can exercise some form of plate discipline, he could be the guy out of this group that turns heads next year given that he is a right-handed bat that can fill a number of positions.
Carlos Triunfel: Infield
For months now I've advocated that the Mariners give Carlos Triunfel a shot with the big league club and was pleased to see him among the players called up in September.
Unfortunately, opportunities for him to play have been few and far between; nevertheless, he made the most of his chance to start Friday night against the Texas Rangers by driving in and scoring his first major league runs.
Hopefully the M's give him a few more opportunities over the next week or so, yet I'd imagine we will probably have to wait until spring training next season to see whether Triunfel has a future with the big club.
Assuming that Brendan Ryan is back in 2013, the potential competition between Triunfel and fellow prospect Nick Franklin will certainly be interesting, but not a major move the team needs to rush into next March.
If either Triunfel or Franklin look sharp in spring training, expect the winner to play behind Ryan to start the 2013 season.
At the same time, it was curious to see Triunfel playing at second base on Sunday, which leads me to believe that the Mariners are probably going to give him as many opportunities as possible to find a place on their roster next season. Like so many players either listed here or elsewhere on the roster, Triunfel has the talent to play a few positions, but as Kyle Seager proved this season, Triunfel really needs to hit in order for him to have a steady job.
Hector Noesi: Pitcher
At the beginning of the season, Hector Noesi looked like a potential steal as part of the Jesus Montero/Michael Pineda trade by making the starting rotation out of spring training.
Sadly though, Noesi hasn't even come close to living up to expectations and through 18 starts this season has posted a record of 2-12 with an ERA of 6.00.
Upon his return to Seattle following a trip to Tacoma, Noesi on two occasions came out of the bullpen before getting a start against Baltimore early last week in which gave up seven runs, six of which were earned on eight hits in 1.1 innings before getting yanked.
What more can anyone say?
Right now I'm thinking Noesi will get a chance to make the team in spring training along with a lot of other pitchers, but anything short of a lights-out March and his best bet is the bullpen for 2013.
Shawn Kelley: Reliever
Speaking of the bullpen, Shawn Kelley over the course of the season has generally done a decent job as a situational reliever who averages a strikeout an inning; thus doing what's required of him.
Next season, I'd like to think he should have a little more staying power, but it will largely come down to how everyone else performs.
Erasmo Ramirez: Pitcher
Finally we can discuss a player who in my opinion could really make a difference both next year and for the next several.
Erasmo Ramirez is probably one of the more promising players on this list, who at 22 has already shown flashes in his most recent call-up of someone capable of not only earning a roster spot, but could very well end up in the back half of the M's 2013 starting rotation.
Next season if he can distinguish himself amongst a long list of pitchers in spring training, he could be the No. 4 or 5 starter behind Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas and Hisashi Iwakuma assuming that all three are back.
If not, Ramirez's role could even be more significant, but at the very least he should make the M's bullpen on the opening day roster with a shot at upward mobility based on performance.
While it's very easy to underestimate Ramirez given his limited sample of work this year in the majors, I wouldn't relegate him to the role of stop-gap solution before the likes of Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker make their way to Seattle.
Time will tell with Ramirez and the rest of the players here, but as I said at the beginning, if one or two of them can find a meaningful role it could equate a few more wins next season and potentially help shore up both the lineup and rotation.
Sadly no one on this list is going to get fans excited, but for a team that's forever rebuilding, a few solid building blocks would offer some much needed stability to help the process.