Yesterday, I got into some of the bright spots. Today, it’s time to shine a light on the pits of despair.
As always, there’s a lot of blame to go around when a team is as mediocre as the Mariners. To put things in perspective, as of the moment of this writing, the M’s are 10-1 against Oakland, Colorado, and St. Louis (three of the worst, or at least most-underperforming, teams on our schedule to date). Against everyone else, we’re 14-23.
But, I don’t want this post to be 300 pages long. So, we’re not going to get into the bottom part of the order too much. Frankly, I never expected much out of La Stella or Pollock or even Wong; they all felt like poor fits to me, and I was never going to be surprised that they sucked. It also isn’t terribly shocking that Haggerty has been bad at the plate, or that Murphy got off to a slow start, or that Trammell & Hummel are more Quad-A guys than actual Major Leaguers. If you went into this season banking on one or more of these guys to be catalysts to our success, you were always bound to be disappointed.
What’s more concerning has been our studs, who have been decidedly unstudly. We’re never going to go anywhere if these guys don’t pick it up.
With so many other storylines going on, Julio Rodriguez was kind of sliding under the radar for a while. But, he’s been pretty far from what we had come to expect from him. Somewhere in between the dregs of last April and the rest of the season, but a helluva lot closer to the poor end of that spectrum. I don’t think it was out of line for people to already have notions of MVPs dancing in their heads, so an OPS under .700 this far into May is fairly discouraging. I don’t think anyone believes this is who he’s going to be the rest of the year, but he can snap out of this funk anytime now, as far as I’m concerned.
Teoscar gets a lot of the flak, and sort of gets lumped in with the other shitty newcomers, but I don’t think he’s unsalvageable. I also don’t think he’s necessarily been anything other than what we should have expected. Maybe he’s a little light in the extra-base hits, maybe he’s striking out a bit more than normal. But, he was always a guy who struck out a lot. He was always Boom Or Bust. I think where the disconnect lays – and I’m as guilty of it as anyone – is projecting him to be some sort of Home Run King or something upon arriving here. We saw a guy with a lot of talent, a guy entering a contract year, and a guy with enough power to overcome the challenges of playing half his games in Marine Layer, U.S.A. But, I think this is just who he is. He’s not going to become the next Nelson Cruz in a Mariners uniform. He’s going to muddle his way through this season, and take the biggest deal he can get with another team next year. I do expect he’ll pick it up a little bit at some point, but I also don’t think he’s going to be a huge guy for us.
I think I’m officially starting to sour on the Ty France experience. I certainly, 100% don’t want to see him reach a second contract with the Mariners. We’re talking about a guy who, sure, when he’s healthy, he’s probably my favorite type of hitter on this team. But, part of that quality that makes him so rootable also tends to get him hurt. He crowds the plate and takes an inordinate number of pitches off his body. Last year, he went on the IL while playing in the field, and when he returned he was pretty much worthless for the rest of the season. It turned out – obviously – that he was playing in a considerable amount of pain. And, at least for him, he can’t seem to perform when he’s trying to fight through nagging injuries. Already this year, we’ve seen him go in the tank; is he already dealing with injuries and we’re not even two full months in yet? I just wish Evan White wasn’t also so injury prone (with MUCH more devastating conditions), because I was really hoping to see what he could do before his contract starts getting expensive. Either way, Ty’s home run power seems to be dwindling, and he’s not even really putting up an impressive batting average. I think it’s a long, slow decline from here on out.
Eugenio Suarez is quite off of his power pace from last year, and while I don’t think this is bound to continue forever – he tends to hit them in bunches – it’s yet another major reason why the M’s have had so much trouble scoring runs this year. Last year at this time, he had 9 homers and 9 doubles; this year it’s 5 and 5. Just boil it down to that. Everything else being pretty much equal, you have to imagine the additional RBI of just equalling what he did last year (adding 4 more doubles and 4 more homers to his current total) might be worth a small handful of games by themselves, considering what our record is in 1-run games.
It’s easy to shit on Marco Gonzales – I do it all the time! If you put him in perspective, I’ll admit you could do a lot worse for a #5 starter. But, we’re 9 starts in and I would argue he didn’t give us a chance to win 3 of them based on his performance. He’s reached 6 innings (and no further) 4 times, in spite of extremely reasonable pitch counts in all of his starts. That shows me a guy who can, at times, be effective, but even then he can’t be trusted. We’re trying to squeeze as much as we can out of this dried sponge, and then getting him the hell off the mound.
I would say Matt Brash isn’t exactly the force of nature we were promised by pretty much everyone this offseason. The stuff is still there, but he’s disturbingly hittable for a guy we’ve been trying to shoehorn into high leverage spots. It makes me wonder if he’s ever going to figure it out. I was still holding out some hope that he’d one day return to a starting role, but if he can’t even master a single inning, how would we be able to trust him with 6+?
Finally, let’s dump on Chris Flexen. On the one hand, maybe we should be praising him; for, if he hadn’t stunk so hard in his limited duty as a 6th starter – following Ray’s injury – we wouldn’t have gotten to see Bryce Miller this early. But, his entire package – even as a reliever – has been appalling. He’s in a contract year, he had been pretty reliable as a back-of-the-rotation starter until this season, and there was every reason to believe we might trade him at the deadline for a prospect, or as part of a package to bring in a hitter to help us for the stretch run. Instead, his value is pretty much nothing, and we’d be trading him just to get him off our roster. I would say that maybe there’s hope he can rebuild his reputation in the bullpen, but we don’t have very many opportunities to make use of a long reliever with the rotation arms we have now. And he’s not a leverage reliever in the slightest; you can pretty much only use him in blowouts. Sure, he’s had five consecutive scoreless outings (8 total innings) since his ERA hit its zenith of 8.86, but it’s taken him a little over 3 weeks just to accrue those outings. He’s a last resort, and he’s going to have to be near-perfect from now until the end of July to have any value at all.