As I’ve continually preached here at The General’s Orders, the 2012 Mariners season is one built on player development and evaluation, thus requiring fans and media alike to show some patience.
Players have had their ups and downs this season as has the team in general. Kyle Seager had a tremendous first month, month and a half in which he was the team’s leading hitter and most clutch hitter. Now he’s back down around .260 and hasn’t driven in a run in his last nine games.
As for the team, after taking 2 of 3 from the Texas Rangers just last week to improve to 5-1 over six (includes 3-game sweep of Colorado), the team has fallen to 21-30 while sporting a 5-game losing streak with things only looking to get worse. The Mariners began a 9-game road trip against probably the three hottest AL teams (Texas, Chicago, Anaheim) with a 4-2 loss last night. After that, the team comes home for a 3-game set versus the best team in baseball by record, in the Los Angeles Dodgers. Not an easy stretch for any team, especially one mired in an offensive slump like the Mariners.
So in order to put the team in the best possible position for success not only during this stretch but moving forward through the month of June and beyond, here are five moves the team should make today.
1. Demote OF/INF Alex Liddi and recall OF Carlos Peguero from Tacoma.
Carlos Peguero is tearing the cover off the ball since returning to Tacoma’s lineup in early May after a DL stint. His splits of .329/.411/.763/1.174 lead the team and obviously would boost a Mariner’s offense desperate for some solid OPS numbers. Peguero should be given his second stint in The Show in a LF/DH role platooning with Mike Carp.
Meanwhile, Alex Liddi is 0-for his last-15 with 10 strikeouts since hitting a grand slam. He can’t hit an offspeed pitch plain and simple. He needs to play every day in AAA.
2. Demote SS Muneori Kawasaki and bring up shortstop Carlos Truinfel from Tacoma. [Also, move SS Nick Franklin up from Jackson to Tacoma to take Truinfel’s place].
With this move, Truinfel should be inserted as the starting shortstop and ninth in the batting order. I think he should play every 4 out of 5 games with Brendan Ryan playing the fifth. Truinfel has improved drastically at the plate in his last 60 or so games. In 47 games this season (all with Tacoma), Truinfel is sporting splits of .275/.332/.444/.776. Offensive numbers that represent a significant upgrade over the .170 hitting Ryan even if Truinfel should lose 50 points in each category with a switch to major league pitching. Defensively, Truinfel’s 13 errors thus far in 2012 leaves a lot to be desired which is why a promotion where he can be coached daily by the Mariners’ infield coaches and be tutored by someone of Ryan’s caliber (currently the best SS defensively with a UZR of 8.2).
Kawasaki on the other hand, is terrible. He has no place on this team because he not only is bad now but has zero potential.
3. Remove Ichiro from 3 hole and everyday job.
Ichiro is a lame duck. Let’s all come to terms with that now so that when he is NOT re-signed in the offseason, nobody is jumping off of a tall building. He has also played in every one of the team’s 51 games to start the season (only player on the team to do so). It’s nearly June, the team is 21-30 and Ichiro is hitting .270 with 16 RBI in the 3 hole. There’s not only no reason for him to be batting third, there’s no reason for him to be playing every day anymore. Frankly, this was true last season.
I’d like to see Carp and Peguero platoon with Ichiro in right (while the two also see time in left) so that each is playing every day while Ichiro sits at least twice a week. When Ichiro is in the lineup, he should be hitting 8th or 9th.
4. DFA P Hishashi Iwakuma and recall P Erasmo Ramirez from Tacoma.
Not much to say about this move. Iwakuma has made all of four appearances this season despite having dressed for every one of the 51 games. Clearly, the team has zero confidence in his ability to get outs (nor should they), thus the need to get rid of him for a young pitcher like Ramirez who has been stretched out and is ready for the long relief/6th starter job.
5. Send OF Franklin Gutierrez out on a minor-league rehab assignment.
Frankly, I don’t understand the 12-step process for a player to return to the big leagues. What is this, Alcoholics Anonymous? Instead of watching Gutierrez train for a month in Arizona, then come to Seattle to do some running, then back down to Arizona for another week of training and then finally a rehab assignment if all goes well, can we just send him out on the rehab assignment now? If it doesn’t go well, it isn’t going to go well anywhere. You can’t tell me that he isn’t in shape to swing a bat and run around the outfield. That’s what he’s been doing for the last month in Arizona! It’s what he did all of last season despite weighing a gaunt 170 pounds. It’s what he does.