The Mariners are making waves. The Mariners should make waves. For one, they are Mariners, who by definition are navigating ships through the ocean. But more importantly, the Mariners are not a very good baseball team, and should be making waves with their roster. Big ones. They have won seven games in a row. This is fantastic news, but let’s not fool ourselves. The Mariners roster is not the best. Change is welcome. These are not the big waves we were hoping for, but we’re hoping the small waves continue to wash away most of our recent memories of the Mariners experience.
Players have been sent down, called up, and traded. I’ve provided you with blurbs to help you put it all in perspective. Or to confuse you. We’ll see.
Ichiro – Ichiro is not on the Mariners. We’ve gone over this. The night he was traded, I wrote this sappy tribute. As I touched on near the end, Ichiro didn’t belong on the Mariners anymore. Gratefully, he asked to be traded, and spared all parties the potential awkwardness of this coming offseason. It’s now evident the Ichiro predicament has been draining on the entire organization. It would be absurd to credit the current winning streak to the absence of Ichiro, but it’s clear the youngsters are playing with some sense of renewal following the resolution of this tricky situation. Ichiro is on the Yankees now. Get with the program.
Brandon League – League was traded to the Dodgers for a pair of minor leaguers. He was one of the most frustrating closers the Mariners have had. He had a high-90’s sinker and a devastating splitter. And yet, we have Brandon League, former Mariners closer. League had great weapons. He was downright nasty for stretches of games, but then bad for other stretches. This is the hallmark of a temporary closer. Surf’s up, my tattooed dude.
Steve Delabar – Delabar was traded to Toronto, and is now a former substitute teacher in someone else’s bullpen. He was a hard throwing reliever who couldn’t figure out how to get same-handed hitters out. This is what’s called a reverse split. Put that in your back pocket. In short, Delabar’s slider was inconsistent. If Delabar improves his slider, he might one day be a pretty great reliever. But that’s not really our business anymore. He’s a Blue Jay, in Canada.
Justin Smoak – He was recently sent down. What can be said about Smoak? There is still hope. The hope is not all gone. But we can be sure now that Smoak is not an All-Star first baseman. What we’re shooting for now is average. If Smoak can be a league average major leaguer, it would be a huge victory for the Mariners. One problem though. Smoak was the worst regular hitter in the American League before he was sent to Tacoma. No joke. Smoak has been about as average at baseball as you and I have. We don’t even play baseball. Speaking of not playing baseball…
Carlos Peguero – Peguero has been optioned to AAA as well. You’ll remember Peguero for swinging his bat often, and for not making contact almost exactly as often. He swings and swings and swings. You have to hand it to him. He’s persistent. But if you’re unfamiliar with how baseball works, this is not what you like to see from baseball players. You want to see them hit the ball when they swing. Peguero does not even meet the baseline requirement for making bat-to-ball contact. He is looking up at that baseline contact rate and his extension ladder is not long enough. Rocketship, Carlos. Rocketship.
Eric Thames – As we learned last night, Thames is a powerful left-handed outfielder. His muscles are really big, and he is perhaps the most powerful of our collection of young outfielders. He is new and exciting, and this is a little bit like playing with a new toy. He’s shiny, and hasn’t been scuffed and scratched, but after a while you realize he has about the same upside as the toys you already had.
Thames is like getting the final Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. In Michael Saunders, Casper Wells, and Franklin Gutierrez, the Mariners already had three Ninja Turtles. Each has their own unique color and weapon – their baseball skill set. Adding Thames completes the set. But in the end, they are just four masked turtles, trying to protect us from an army of foot soldiers. Who we really need is He-Man. Maybe we’ll get He-Man over winter break. Hey, we’ve been asking for him for years. You never know.
But let’s not minimize the addition of Thames. Ninja Turtles are awesome. Hi, Eric. Your nun-chucks are welcome here.
Stephen Pryor – You’ll remember Stephen Pryor for his 100-mph fastballs, and his striking likeness to the scariest bully at your high school. You habitually handed over your lunch to Stephen Pryor each day at noon, and then ran the other direction. After school, you had an appointment with the smelly corner of a dumpster. You did whatever Stephen said because, well, look at him. These days, you cheer gleefully for his 100-mph fastball, but flinch when they do one of those close-ups of his eyes.
Pryor was recalled from Tacoma to fill one of the bullpen slots vacated by Delabar and League. He hurt his groin covering first base in June, but was a big meanie to opposing hitters in his six appearances prior to that. Prior, Pryor. You knew it would come to this.
Carter Capps – If you haven’t heard of him, Capps is one of the top handful of reliever prospects in all of baseball. He’s even more highly regarded than Pryor. He is tall, long-limbed, and throws from a funny angle. So funny that minor league hitters have been chuckling uncomfortably to themselves on their way back to the dugout all season. He throws 100-mph from the funny angle and had nothing more to learn from striking out about 36 percent of the hitters he faced in the minors. That’s an astronomical amount. We’ll know more later, but we may eventually have two elite closers in one bullpen. Tom Wilhelmsen is not worried, but he might be a little jealous.
Mike Carp – Carp Fish! He’s a fish. It’s science. Carp is back. His play in the next couple of months will determine his future in Seattle. No pressure, Carp Fish. You’re going to need to show us some of your best flippy tricks.
RHP D.J. Mitchell, LHP Danny Farquhar, RHP Logan Bawcom, OF Leon Landry – These four players were acquired in the Ichiro and League trades. They are now scattered around the minor league system. I could regurgitate a number of scouting reports I’ve read, and feed you some statistics on these dudes, but honestly, you shouldn’t care. Please don’t seek out this information. The reports and numbers on these players are mostly uninteresting. None of these guys is the next Felix Hernandez or Mike Trout. These are players who may one day play a small role for the Mariners. We’ll let you know more if and when they actually matter.
Chone Figgins and Miguel Olivo – These players are still on the Mariners’ roster. We’re unclear why. There’s a tiny possibility one or both could be dealt to a desperate contender during the mystical August trade-via-waivers period. As an emergency injury replacement, for instance. Although, if you are a contender, and find yourself interested in Figgins or Olivo, even in an emergency, you might want to re-evaluate. At this moment, these are two of the most valueless players in the history of the Mariners. If you haven’t been following very long, there have been a lot of players like this. These two are among the very best at being the worst.
So there you have it. Waves have been made. The waves brought in some new pieces, washed out some old misfit parts, and couldn’t quite scrub away the most stubborn bits of seaweed. But hey, we’ll take what we can get. Seaweed can get pretty tangled.