No matter what happens today, and it’s hard to expect much positive with the Mariners’ facing David Price. This road trip will be a losing one. The Mariners will either go 3-4 or 2-5. And really they had chances to win every game – even last night’s debacle featuring an eight-run third inning.
So the Mariners are 43-52 on the season. I saw someone mention that the odds of them making the postseason are slim – Thanks Tips. For the Mariners to get to last year’s record of 87-75 …. they’d have to go 44-23 the rest of the season. This is a team that hasn’t back-to-back games in over three weeks and has one four-game winning streak and three three-game winning streak – the last of which came at the end of May. Winning streaks aren’t the determining factor. Winning three of four or five of seven is also beneficial, but that would require winning two games in a row at some point. They could be 10 games under .500 after today’s game. They’d have to go 15-5 over the next 20 games just to get to .500. Is that plausible? It would take almost all of August for them to get .500 playing .600 to .650 baseball. If that happens, then maybe September would get interesting. Of course, I have better chance of dating the soon-to-be single Jennifer Garner.
With the trade deadline looming, they shouldn’t be inert. Trading off J.A. Happ, Austin Jackson, Mark Lowe and Hisashi Iwakuma for midlevel prospects would be wise. I doubt Mark Trumbo or Logan Morrison have much value, but you can test the waters on it. The Mariners farm system is woefully bereft of talent, particularly high-level talent that is on the verge of contributing.
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A few things on the story on Mike Zunino.
So the story I wrote on Zunino yesterday got a few comments and a few emails. I don’t know if Zunino will ever be a competent big league hitter. This may be what he is. Though I do think he could probably hit .220 if he can cut down on the strikeouts. I wrote the story because I saw something significantly different at the plate in terms of stance and hand placement then I’d seen in a while. Zunino has been taking advice from everyone trying to break out of his slump. He’s opened his stance, he’s stood taller, he’s went back to wide again. He’s tried no step. He’s tried a high leg kick. He’s tried a toe lift. The kid is trying. Basically, I was asking him about everything he’s trying to do to fix what’s broken.
“When it’s not going well, you sit there and you want to listen to ideas,” he said. “Obviously if you aren’t doing well a certain way, you want to figure it out as soon as you can. Sometimes I think you get too flooded with stuff and try too much stuff that maybe doesn’t work for you or isn’t for your body type. I can’t hit how some guys do – standing up. I’m just trying to get back to where it’s comfortable and make adjustments from there instead of making such drastic adjustments.”
I certainly never said the changes would lead to success. I also wanted to see how he is handling all of this. He knows what’s being said around baseball and by Mariners fans.
One comment that I couldn’t fit in my story was about the idea of his hitting work still coming second. Zunino knows hitting is his biggest weakness and it needs to be fixed. But he won’t take time away from his daily defensive and game-calling preparation to do that. Preparing with the starting pitcher, understanding scouting reports and hitters still has precedence.
“I don’t want that to get lost,” he said. “That’s the most important part. I know that making sure our pitchers are pitching to their best of their abilities that gives us the best chance to win. That’s what I’m focused on – whether it’s knowing hitters, knowing reports, talking with the pitchers and calling a good game. That’s important part of the position and when all of that is taken care and the stuff on the opposing hitters is done, then you can go work on your swing.”
*** McClendon would have no problem with Zunino going back to AAA to clear his head and work on these changes in a less pressurized environment. But there is no better option for them as a starter. You can’t start Jesus Sucre every day. And if you called up John Hicks or Steven Baron to be the every day catcher – neither of whom are ready – you’d just be doing the same thing to them that you did to Zunino. Hicks and Baron have the potential to be good defensive catchers. But throwing them into a daily starting role would be unfair.
*** The Mariners have tried to go out and add catching after trading Welington Castillo – yes, we all know it was a regrettable trade. It hasn’t been easy because teams know they are desperate and are asking for a huge return. They made preliminary calls on Carlos Ruiz, who is basically done and still owed $8.5 million next season. I’m told the Phillies wanted Ketel Marte and Edwin Diaz in return. They called on Tomas Telis of the Rangers – a AAA catcher with big league experience. The Rangers wanted Charlie Furbush or Roenis Elias.
*** This lack of a veteran back-up falls on Jack Zduriencik. It was something that needed to be addressed in the offseason and it was a need. He said they were comfortable with Sucre as the back-up and having John Hicks as the every day guy in Tacoma. At the last minute, they signed John Baker to a minor league deal. Hicks has struggled in his first full season at Tacoma – posting a .229/.268/.350 slash line in 60 games. Baker was released after they traded for Castillo. They needed some insurance in case Zunino struggled, which wasn’t an impossibility. They didn’t do it. Now they are paying for it.
Podcast from my appearance with Dave Mahler last night.
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Mariners’ numbers vs. David Price ….
Tigers’ numbers vs. Hisashi Iwakuma — check out Cespedes’ numbers.