The Twitter mailbag doesn’t need a special weekend to keep things fun and lighthearted and creative. So while the MLB players have their weekend of colorful custom shoes, special painted bats and ugly uniforms that look like the hockey scene from “Strange Brew,” the mailbag will do what it has always done. Baseball should follow its lead.
As always these are real questions from the potential September call-ups known as my Twitter followers.
I’ve gotten this question on Twitter and in email often. If the Mariners or their team doctors truly felt that having Haniger sit out the rest of the season would be vital for his health moving forward, they would do that. This is a lost season for the team and one that Haniger will be happy to forget.
Still, most players don’t want to end the season in the injured list. There is a comfort knowing you end the season on the field. It’s a mindset that is developed in their progression to the big leagues. If they are healthy enough to play, they want to play. It’s not necessarily about being a tough guy. It’s a sense of responsibility to your team, your teammates and the organization.
“I absolutely want him back,” manager Scott Servais said. “It’s just peace of mind that you want to go into the offseason knowing that ‘ok, I played the last month or whatever.’ I’m not so much concerned about how his performance, just how he feels. And then he can go into his offseason training and get ready for next year.”
Why does Haniger think he should play?
“Because playing makes me happy and competing makes me happy,” he said. “At the same time, I kind of accepted that I don’t really have control over this. I only have control over trying to get better every day. Today, doing what I can to set me up for tomorrow and build off it each day. If it takes five days, great, if it takes two or three weeks, then it does.”
To be clear, Haniger isn’t dealing with lingering effects from the ruptured testicle and subsequent surgical procedure that landed him on the injured list since June 7. He’s dealing with some lower back discomfort that is due to his weakened core area. He wasn’t able maintain the level of core work that he needs while recovering from his injury. So getting back into intense game action after an extended absence caused the back to start to ache. Haniger has one speed when it comes to playing in games and sometimes his body isn’t ready for that level of intensity.
For Haniger, a strong finish could salvage some aspects of another season interrupted by injuries. When he went on injured list, he had a .220/.314/.463 slash line with 13 doubles, a triple, 15 homers and 32 RBIs in 63 games. The slow start was magnified by 28.6% rate — 81 strikeouts in 246 at-bats. That rate was a cause for concern considering it was an increase of 7 to 8% from his previous two seasons.
Let’s say Haniger returns when rosters expand on Sept. 1. It would give him 24 games of at-bats to try and work on some of the struggles that plagued him earlier in the season. During his time on the injured list, he’s studied the video of his swing in an effort to determine some the causes that led to timing issues. Getting game action to work on those changes would be useful.
If you recall back to 2017 season where Haniger dealt with two oblique injuries and then was hit in the face by a fastball from Jacob deGrom, he came back and struggled immediately, going 5 for 34 and looking lost at the plate. But one little tweak to his swing on a day off set him up for a torrid final month. Over his last 29 games, he slashed .366/.386/.659 with 10 doubles, a triple, eight homers and 17 RBIs. He took that change into the 2018 season where he had a breakout campaign, making the American League All-Star team with a .285/.366/.493 slash line, 38 doubles, four triples, 26 homers and 93 RBIs.
“It can be one at-bat, it can be one crucial spot in a game where a pitcher makes a couple of pitches that he hadn’t been doing,” Servais said. “Something just clicks. You never know when it’s going to click. But you have to keep going out there and looking for it. That’s certainly Mitch and he wants to play.”
So getting back on the field could provide benefits for both Haniger and the Mariners.
Why do you get to choose the time component and say that enough time has elapsed to offer a legitimate grade? There are certain aspects that are still left to be determined.
- Is Mitch Haniger’s breakout 2018 season an outlier for a player that has battled a freak injury or two?
- Is Ketel Marte’s monstrous explosion of power in 2019 due to the 25 pounds of muscle that he put on this offseason or the fact that everyone is hitting homers this season? Will he able to replicate this season’s success next season?
- Taijuan Walker has yet to pitch in a game for the Diamondbacks since undergoing Tommy John surgery on April 24, 2018. When will he come back and will he be the same pitcher when he returns?
- Jean Segura essentially netted the Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford and pitchers Juan Then and Isaiah Williamson since his departure. Do they factor in the grade of the trade?
This is the kind of bartering/debating I did with my college professors to let me graduate from journalism school.
From the simplest of standpoints, here’s what the two teams got in cumulative Fangraphs WAR:
- Mitch Hanger: 8.2 WAR
- Jean Segura: 6.7 WAR
- Zac Curtis: 0.0 WAR
Total: 14.9 WAR
- Ketel Marte: 9.0 WAR
- Taijuan Walker: 3.6 WAR
Total: 12.6 WAR
Both sides have benefitted from the trade so I could give it a “B” for both, which is better than most of my grades in journalism school. But the prospects generated for the Mariners by Segura, specifically Crawford, matter to this overall grade. So really, it’s an “incomplete” … a grade I also knew well in school.
Why should I rank them when the WAR metric and Fangraphs searchable site is supposed to do that for me? Here’s a list of the shortstop and their contributed WAR to the Mariners in their time with Seattle. And also a few of my comments because I can’t help myself.
Jean Segura: 269 games, 6.7 WAR
A good player that believed he was superstar. A bad teammate that didn’t know it even though he’s on his fifth organization since 2012.
Brad Miller: 343 games, 4.7 WAR
Bad footwork, awkward throwing motion made every groundball a toss-up. He still believes he’s a shortstop, but he’s been a utility player since being traded.
Brendan Ryan: 351 games, 4.3 WAR
A magician in the field, he accumulated this much WAR despite his nonexistent offense dragging the overall number down.
Yuniesky Betancourt: 588 games, 2.9 WAR
Despite his swing-first approach at the plate and indifference to pregame work, GM Bill Bavasi believed Yuni was Seattle’s shortstop of the future. Seattle traded away Asdrubal Cabrera based on that belief.
J.P. Crawford: 72 games, 1.7 WAR
He’s solidified the position from a defensive standpoint while showing potential on offense. It’s his job for the foreseeable future.
Ketel Marte: 176 games, 1.4 WAR
Scouts believed he was better suited at second base or outfield. Marte never wanted to play either. Now he’s a full-time super utility player and excelling.
Jack Wilson: 154 games, 0.6 WAR
He was solid defender in Pittsburgh, but rarely healthy and steadily declining by the time he joined the Mariners.
Chris Taylor: 86 games, 0.5 WAR
A broken hand in spring training before 2015 robbed him of a chance to be the opening day shortstop. He’s accumulated 9.4 WAR as a utility player for the Dodgers.
Shawn O’Malley: 113 games, 0.5 WAR
A switch-hitting utility player, the Tri-Cities native played hard at all times, but was plagued by injuries.
Tim Beckham: 88 games, 0.4 WAR
A former No. 1 overall pick by the Rays, Beckham was brought in to be a stopgap until Crawford was ready. His defense was horrendous.
Josh Wilson: 153 games, 0.3 WAR
Nicknamed “The Paperboy” by Mike Sweeney, the man of many hugs, Wilson was a utility player forced into playing a lot in the 101-loss 2010 season.
It’s more about the combination of the MLB baseball and hitter friendly confines in the Pacific Coast League coming together to cause an awful season for pitchers. The concern is that having pitchers there is counterproductive. While the minor leagues are about development, the idea of results still matter to pitchers.
They don’t want pitchers to get into the habit of being afraid to pitch to their strengths out of concern for home runs and hard contact. Teams also don’t want the confidence of pitchers getting destroyed by an avalanche of runs. So if the PCL is detrimental to development, teams will avoid sending their top pitchers there.
Also most teams hope that MLB will address the baseball this offseason and bring back a ball that isn’t as hard and slippery as a cue ball and comes off the bat like a superball. The hope is this could be a one-year aberration.
Catching always has trade value. General manager Jerry Dipoto could always trade one of the three players. But having a left-handed hitter and a right-handed hitter for your catching duo is usually optimal.
Mike Zunino’s call-up came after he played a total of 49 games between short-season Everett and Class AA Jackson in the 2012 season after being drafted. He played 19 games in the Arizona Fall League after that season and then 52 games with Class AAA Tacoma in 2013 before being called up to be the everyday catcher – the most demanding position in baseball.
Even Jarred Kelenic, who has rocketed through the system, isn’t on that sort of trajectory with that level of responsibility.
This regime seems very cognizant of the mistakes made by their predecessors in terms of rushing prospects and doesn’t seem intent on repeating them. They are also very aware of service time clocks and maximizing club control over players, which is just smart business when you aren’t trying to win.
I think he will be on the roster as a utility player and not an everyday player. But it will be dependent on what Dipoto does this offseason with Domingo Santana and Dee Gordon.
- That seems unlikely and Dipoto has said as much.
- Probably around $90 million
- I want 8-4, I think 7-5.
- Both need to be very cold.
- Mostly hair loss and spilling things.
- 9:45 p.m., 10:25 p.m., 11:30 p.m.
- Why do you think I hate you? It might be asking seven questions in one tweet.
It’s a number set by Las Vegas bookmakers for total points scored in a game or a half. You can bet on it being either over that total or under it. And that number will move throughout the week based on betting action. Remember Vegas isn’t trying to predict the total. The number is set to maximize betting on both sides. That’s how those casinos get build. Some people feel it’s the most winnable bet available. Nick Holt as the Huskies’ defensive coordinator made betting the over a lock every week, no matter how high it was set.
Unfortunately given the current state of the media business, there aren’t too many beat writers covering Triple A teams. I wouldn’t mind seeing my good friend Mike Curto, the radio voice of the Tacoma Rainiers, get a call up to do a few games in September. The guy has been grinding for years.
You should stay friends. You’ll need to console them and their child for making such a monumental mistake in a key life decision.
This may surprise you, but my answer would be the Oklahoma City Thunder. Why would I want to watch the team that was stolen from Seattle in a conspiracy by Clay Bennett and David Stern with the ignorant help of Howard Schultz? Because I want to watch this gutted roster lose, and lose badly, while the malcontent that is Chris Paul tears apart the team with his whining, complaining and mistreatment of younger players. And then hopefully head coach Billy Donovan leaves at some point after this miserable season.
Hmmm … since I don’t listen to hip hop recorded after 2005 or rock recorded after about 2000, here’s my list:
- “Metamodern Sounds of Country Music” by Sturgill Simpson
- “Traveller” by Chris Stapleton
- “Trouble in Mind” by Hayes Carll
Does it really matter? The only place worse to inhabit is Twitter. But it would be taps of Bud Light Lime and White Claw. It would smell like Axe Body Spray and desperation. And while you would think it’s Pitbull’s awful music, it would instead be an endless loop of the song “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X.
To paraphrase its idiotic lyrics. “I want to take that song to the old town road, make it die so it’s played no more.”
All those times I didn’t get injured – which was like twice.
To be honest, I don’t go to Jersey Mike’s too often since there isn’t one particularly close to my place. But I usually go with The Super Sub or the Bacon Ranch Chicken Cheesesteak. And now, I’m hungry.
Well since I find the weekend to be cosmically stupid and a marketing and money grab by MLB, the uniforms to a crime against humanity and people’s eyesight and the nicknames largely uncreative except for a few, I would probably go with “Get Off My Lawn.”