Seattle Mariners: 6 Things the Team Must Do Post-Deadline
We are into August now in the 2011 campaign, and after four months of sky-high peaks and excruciating valleys, the Seattle Mariners ended up sellers at the deadline.
That meant unloading pitchers Doug Fister, Erik Bedard, and David Pauley for prospects, and cutting dead weight like Jack Cust.
While playoff hopes are all but gone for the last-place Mariners, there are 52 games left that can not only provide more experience for the younger players, but also momentum going into the 2012 season.
Here are five things the Mariners should do moving forward.
Demote Greg Halman
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Halman has stuck around long enough to outlast Carlos Peguero, but like Peguero he has no business in the majors at this point.
After being called up, it looked like he was hitting just about everything, but the beginner's luck quickly faded and the sheen wore off, revealing a player that wasn't very disciplined and needed more work.
The Mariners finally made the call to send Peguero down, and they need to do the same with Halman. Sitting on the bench isn't doing him any good and he isn't challenging Franklin Gutierrez for anything.
Casper Wells looks far more refined and has already flashed that power, plus he is easily a better fielder than Halman with an impressive arm to boot. Even though Casper has outclassed Halman, it doesn't mean the team should give up on him- they just need to send him down to work on discipline and patience.
See you next year, Greg.
Rest the Aces
Yesterday, it was reported that Michael Pineda would skip his next start, effectively giving him nine days of rest in between outings.
This is exactly what the Mariners need to do. Pineda has had plenty of experience to bring into the offseason, but the team would still like to get some more starts out of him so they can win games. They also would like for him to go through a full season without being shut down early.
Pineda has had a few rough starts in July, and in addition to some mechanical issues the concern was that he might be breaking down or hitting a wall. Giving him extra rest and watching his pitch count very closely (110 pitches last outing?) is the prudent decision going forward.
Pineda should not make more than seven starts for the rest of the season. The benefit for the rest of the rotation is that young starters Blake Beavan, Charlie Furbush, and even Luke French can get more starts in to build off of.
In addition, the Mariners need to keep Felix Hernandez under close watch. The advantage of him going an inning each start is minimal at this point, and they'd prefer if he didn't throw his arm out before his late 20's.
The M's have made a statement along the lines of taking him out when the game is out of reach, but they need to follow through on that. Make sure the King isn't overworked going forward.
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Many M's fans were excited by the seemingly minor signing of slugger Wily Mo Pena recently, a low-risk acquisition that could literally be a home run.
Is he a poor man's Prince Fielder? Probably not; although several years ago he was hitting for power and a .300 average we can't expect that.
What we can expect, though, is legitimate home run potential from one of the strongest hitters in the business. In four games in Triple-A Tacoma, Wily Mo has a .304 average and a home run.
The Mariners need to recognize that Smoak's thumbs have been bothering him for quite some time now and put him on the DL. This would create a low-pressure situation for Pena as a designated hitter, outfielder, or first baseman like Mike Carp has been.
Pena is not a long-term piece, but the Mariners should see what they have in him and assess if his power is worth holding on to. The M's have nothing to lose seeing what he can do.
September Callups: Michael Saunders?
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I decided to devote an entire slide to Wily Mo; this is for the other prospects down in Tacoma who should be seeing a bit of action in the last month of the season.
Obviously, this means many of your minor league starters should find themselves on the expanded roster, like Alex Liddi, Mauricio Robles, Luke French, etc.
One name they need to consider giving playing time to is Michael Saunders.
After being tossed back to Triple-A Tacoma early in the season, it seems like they've almost given up on him, which they shouldn't. Saunders has been hitting .367 since the All-Star break, and he deserves a chance to prove himself again.
This doesn't mean just mean promoting him for the sake of formalities and benching him- it means regular playing time for much of the month. Dismissed as a career Quadruple-A organizational-type player, Mike Carp has seemingly transformed his career.
That could be Saunders, but he needs a chance with regular playing time. He had much of 2010, but this will be a make or break type of deal for the 24-year-old, which should motivate him.
Play Chone Figgins or Jack Wilson
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I know most Mariners fans have been calling for Chone Figgins' head for months now, but hear me out.
Although he's going to be on the shelf for a bit of time, Figgins wasn't doing terrible when given starts recently- with a four game hitting streak, something that must have given him some confidence.
For Figgins, it's really now or never, and the Mariners need to give him one last chance and provide him the everyday third base job for the rest of the season. The last thing you want to do is have him sit and rot for the rest of his contract.
Worst case scenario, he doesn't produce, at which point you go into the offseason confidently knowing the move didn't work out. But just maybe, he bats .250 or something, and heads into the offseason with something to build off of.
The team has another former All-star sitting on the bench- Jack Wilson. Appearing in just five games in July, Wilson is doing no good just sitting on the bench. If they aren't willing to play Figgins, they should at least see what Wilson can offer at third.
It was refreshing seeing him again, and he seemed to be just fine manning the hot corner. The bottom line is, while this rest of the season should be for the younger players, they need to see if they can salvage anything from Figgins or Wilson as a backup infielder at least.
Keep Eric Wedge
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The team is in last place right now, but the last thing they should do is can the skipper.
Eric Wedge has been a great manager for the team this year, and has the respect of the players even with the club more than a dozen games below .500.
Reportedly, the clubhouse is still light and none of the drama last year with the players and Don Wakamatsu is present. Much of that can be attributed to the veteran leadership of Brendan Ryan, but Wedge cannot be given the boot.
Wedge also has a legitimate vote of confidence from GM Jack Zduriencik amid the losing streak:
"I think Eric has been a good leader,'' Zduriencik said. "I think he's been very consistent and I've liked his demeanor. He's wearing it right now and it's tough on him. He's done everything he could and will continue to do a good job as we go through this."
Jack Z seems to have found a manager that the players can trust and look up to, and quite honestly, a couple years from now when the Mariners are ready to contend, I would like to see Wedge still at the helm.