Is Mike Ford A Thing?

Clearly, the Mariners are in need of a stable bat. Someone in the realm of a Carlos Santana from last year, at a minimum. Ideally, someone better, who’s signed through at least 2024. But, that could take up to a month or more to get done by the trade deadline. What about in the interim?

Well, the M’s need to find an internal option, don’t they? I’m specifically talking about DH here, because for better or for worse, they’re pretty much set everywhere else. No outfield openings, Caballero has sort of taken hold of the second base spot (with Dylan Moore’s return sprinkled in). But, it’s that DH spot that we’ve entirely ignored that needs the most pruning.

A.J. Pollock is a waste of space. Tommy La Stella is gone (good riddance). Cooper Hummel and Sam Haggerty were sent down to Tacoma to make adjustments. Dylan Moore is hitless in three games so far, and I’m not really banking on ANYTHING out of him in what has been a lost injury season so far. Kolten Wong is only here until Moore shows he can hit; after that, as soon as this team needs to make a roster change, Wong should be the first to go. And less really does seem to be more when it comes to DH’ing Tom Murphy.

But, Mike Ford, he’s kind of interesting to me.

Could he be a Carlos Santana type? He’s 30 years old, soon to be 31. He’s had numerous cups of coffee in the Majors since 2019, but no more than 50 games, and he’s never been as good as he was that first year with the Yankees (when he hit 12 bombs while batting .259). This is actually his third stint with the Mariners’ organization and in that time he’s always kinda been this Quad-A hitter. Someone who mashes in AAA, but has yet to figure it out in the bigs.

He started out in Tacoma this year and hit .302/.427/.605, with 13 homers and 11 doubles. Maybe more importantly, he had only 30 strikeouts against 34 walks. Now, either he’s the most Quad-A hitter who’s ever lived (playing in the PCL, that’s entirely possible), or maybe – JUST MAYBE – he’s figured things out. Maybe he’s got his swing right. Maybe he’s figured out his approach at the plate.

When Ford has been at his best professionally, he’s walked more than he’s struck out. He makes good swing decisions and doesn’t chase out of the zone. And, of course, he’s got a free and easy power swing from the left side of the plate, that’s perfect for platooning.

I want to point out that I was mulling this topic of blog-versation over before last night’s 2-homer explosion. Granted, before last night, he had yet to really do much of anything, and indeed he has 6 strikeouts against 1 walk, so if last night didn’t happen, I’d say the tone of this post would be much less optimistic. But, now we know what he’s capable of. He has a multi-homer game in him. Those also weren’t his only two homers; he now has 4 of them in his 8 appearances so far.

This turnaround – if we want to call it that – isn’t totally out of left field. He had it built into his contract that if the Mariners didn’t call him up by June, he could opt out of the deal and become a free agent. Clearly, the Mariners had a need for a hitter, and part of me wants to ask, “What the fuck took so long?!” These things happen all the time. This doesn’t mean that Mike Ford is the next Edgar Martinez or anything. But, sometimes these Quad-A guys pop for a year or two in the Majors. Maybe it’s luck, maybe it’s development, maybe it’s just total randomness. But, it happens, and maybe this is Mike Ford’s year to excel.

This feels like a situation where Ford just takes over the DH role, platooning with Dylan Moore or A.J. Pollock whenever there’s a lefty on the mound. Not that Pollock has done a God damn thing against lefties (supposedly his strength; I fucking told you that shit wasn’t gonna fly in Seattle), but maybe once Pollock settles into that reserve role permanently, he’ll relax and hits will start falling (I get the feeling he’s pressing, still trying to be a starting presence on this team).

The sample is still too small to really believe in Ford; but what else are you gonna do for the next month and change? I don’t think – even if he plays well – that it’ll prevent us from looking for a bat by the trade deadline. But, it sure would be nice to have Ford as an option just in case things don’t work out, or for the inevitable Ty France IL stint because he’s been hit by one too many pitches.

I’m rooting for him. I always root for these Quad-A guys. They’re so close to their ultimate dream – success in the Major Leagues – and so often they fall flat on their faces. Fingers crossed – for all of our sakes – that Mike Ford is the exception.

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