Seattle Mariners: Mark Trumbo’s Early (Lack of) Impact

The Seattle Mariners offense is struggling. Despite the offseason addition of Nelson Cruz and the presence of Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager, the M’s offense is in a rut. Entering the week, only the White Sox and Phillies had scored fewer runs.

Given all these factors, the addition of Mark Trumbo would seem like the best early Christmas present known to man. Yeah… not so much.

Trumbo’s early impact, or lack thereof, has been staggering considering the slugger’s track record.

The former Angel was a massive hit for his hometown team, averaging 32 home runs, 94 RBI and a .251 average over three full seasons with the Halos. The M’s needed that Trumbo, not the one they acquired. The first baseman/corner outfielder/designated hitter (he basically plays every “power” position on the diamond) had a rough go of things in Arizona. With the Diamondbacks he tallied 23 bombs, 84 RBI and 128 strikeouts in 134 games. Those aren’t that awful numbers, but when you consider the stats were accumulated over the course of two seasons, it encourages pause.

The Mariners certainly gave up some quality pieces to bring a player who once finished second in Rookie of the Year voting and appeared in an All Star game during his first two seasons.

Out went Welington Castro, Dominic Leone and minor league prospects Gabriel Guerrero and Jack Reinheimer.

(It should be noted that reliever/swing man Vidal Nuno made the move north with Trumbo in the transaction, so the M’s upgraded their bullpen to some extent).

Losing Castillo is the most prominent negative here. Yes, Leone had his moments last season in relief, but he struggled this year and Nuno is likely an upgrade over the now-former Mariner.

Seattle’s catching situation is pretty straight forward. Mike Zunino is the starter and Jesus Sucre is the backup. However, Zunino is hitting .158 with a .230 OBP while Sucre is scuffling with the bat. His batting average, OBP and slugging percentage are all .043. He owns the rare distinction having an OPS under .100. Yes, that’s right, Jesus Sucre’s OPS is .087. Yikes.

So why is this being mentioned? Because Welington Castro happens to be a career .251 hitter, who at his best hits somewhere in the .260-.270 neighborhood.

Why he was dealt for a struggling Trumbo is puzzling.

Trumbo put up half-way decent numbers (9 home runs, 23 RBI, .805 OPS) in 46 games in the desert prior to the trade—however, Seattle was already well-stocked in the first-baseman/corner outfielder/designated hitter areas. In fact, they had a log jam on their hands. Logan Morrison was/is entrenched at first base, while the pre-Trumbo corner outfield/DH candidates included Nelson Cruz, Seth Smith, Justin Ruggiano and Dustin Ackley. James Jones has also received at-bats in the outfield.

Adding Trumbo to this mix makes sense if the Trumbo in question is the one who suited up for the Angels. However, sacrificing an above-average offensive catcher (Castillo) and two prospects for the Trumbo who suited up for the D-Backs is, in layman’s terms, a bad deal.

Losing Castillo hurts catcher production, while adding Trumbo to a position where there is a surplus only rubs salt in the wound. While Zunino is clearly the starting catcher, he’s struggling with the bat, as is his cover, Sucre. Sacrificing offensively behind the dish is fine trade-off when you acquire pre-Diamondback Mark Trumbo, but sacrificing behind the dish for a player who hit entered the week hitting .179 as a Mariner… well, then you have some problems.

The Mark Trumbo acquisition will be a win for the Mariners if the slugger can regain the form he displayed with the Angels, however if he continues his downward trajectory, the M’s may soon come to regret the trade.

All stats courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

5 Stats from the Seattle Mariners 6-3 Loss to the Cleveland Indians

  • Five

The number of hits by the Mariners in 12 innings. The M’s were lucky the game lasted as long as it did as Cleveland accumulated 18 hits and 25 baserunners total. Seattle had only five hits in 40 plate appearances.

  • Seven

The number of relievers used by Seattle after five solid innings from J.A. Happ. Tom Wilhelmsen, Charlie Furbush, Carson Smith, Joe Beimel, Fernando Rodney, Mark Lowe and Dominic Leone all recorded outs in relief.

  • Three

The number of Mariners to reach base more than once. Nelson Cruz and his eyebrows had a hit and a walk, as did Logan Morrison. Kyle Seager drew two walks to round out the trio.

  • 17

The number of pitches seen by leftfielder Justin Ruggiano. He struck out three times in three at-bats.

  • 11

The number of strikeouts by the M’s as a team. Of the 13 Mariners batters to register an at-bat, Wellington Castillo, Richie Weeks, Willie Bloomquist and Dustin Ackley were the only Seattle hitters not to strikeout. Weeks and Bloomquist went a combined 0-for-2 and saw a total of four pitches.

Seattle Mariners: Why the Team Should Trade for Matt Kemp

The Seattle Mariners reportedly had conversations with the Dodgers about incumbent outfielder Matt Kemp.

Kemp is reportedly not being moved, but the M’s should maintain interest in the two-time All-Star.

After the ambitious, low-buy acquisitions of Logan Morrison and Corey Hart, the team’s lineup will look something like this-

  1. CF Dustin Ackley
  2. 3B Kyle Seager
  3. 2B Robinson Cano
  4. DH Corey Hart (he only wears sunglasses when it’s sunny, just so we’re clear)
  5. 1B Logan Morrison
  6. LF Michael Saunders
  7. C Mike Zunino
  8. SS Brad Miller
  9. RF Abraham Almonte

That’s a pretty solid lineup. In terms of the division standings, that group would probably get you higher than the Astros, and should the pitching hold up, above the Angels. If Hart and Morrison can have bounce-back years, and (again) pitching forbid, the team has a good chance to surpass Texas.

Acquiring Kemp would vault them past Texas and the Angels. Something that seemed absurd four months ago. Oakland may be out of reach, but bringing in Matt Kemp would put the Mariners in a position to legitimately contend for a Wild Card berth.

The Dodgers’ outfielder would bring a perfect blend of, well, everything to the Mariners. Kemp’s defense would shine in still-spacious Safeco Field. Hitting him cleanup in the lineup listed above could be potentially lethal. Imagine this-

  1. RF Abraham Almonte
  2. 3B Kyle Seager
  3. 2B Robinson Cano
  4. CF Matt Kemp
  5. DH Corey Hart (he still only wears sunglasses when it’s sunny)
  6. 1B Logan Morrison
  7. LF Michael Saunders
  8. C Mike Zunino
  9. SS Brad Miller

Almonte is the “projected” leadoff hitter only based on the fact that he has the foot speed to create at the top of the order, and Ackley can’t play right field. A leadoff hitter would probably be the next item on the Mariners’ to-do list. Ackley could be traded in an effort to get one.

The Yankees, among others, have inquired about the former first-round pick.  Ideally, Seattle could flip Ackley and one of their lesser relievers for one of their incumbent outfielders, Brett Gardner. Here’s another lineup prediction with Gardner (bear with me on this)-

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Kyle Seager
  3. 2B Robinson Cano
  4. CF Matt Kemp
  5. DH Corey Hart
  6. 1B Logan Morrison
  7. RF Michael Saunders/Abraham Almonte
  8. C Mike Zunino
  9. SS Brad Miller

That lineup would contend with Oakland for the division. Not only could that lineup, coupled with the Mariners’ underrated pitching staff, contend with Oakland, but they could compete with the best of them. Outside of Detroit, St. Louis, Los Angeles and a regressing (for the moment) Boston, Seattle could have the most talented team.

This isn’t even mentioning former top-prospects Jesus Montero, Justin Smoak and Nick Franklin, all of whom could be shopped to add to the M’s bullpen or rotation.

Getting to this point won’t be easy. Seattle’s going to have to take on some money as well as give up a solid player or two to acquire Kemp. The other trades won’t be cakewalks, but should the Mariners do it, they could be looking at a playoff berth for the first time in a long, long time.


Determining the Mariners’ Outfield of the Future

The Mariners probably can’t believe their luck with the embarrassment of riches they have in terms of young, exciting talent. Kyle Seager is already a bona fide star, Nick Franklin and Brad Miller continue to settle into their respective middle infield roles earlier than expected and Mike Zunino has showed well in a limited stint with the big boys. The future cornerstones of the team also include the highly heralded “Big Three” pitchers Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton. The current season, while leaving much to be desired from a win-loss standpoint, has yielded the M’s a group of potentially useful relievers such as Yoervis Medina, Danny Farquhar and Brandon Maurer, the latter of whom could still be a major league starter down the road.

What’s missing, you’ll notice, is the mention of any outfield player. The questions surrounding the current group, even those in AAA, are numerous. Can Dustin Ackley establish himself as an outfielder both offensively and defensively? Does either Endy Chavez (35) or Raul Ibanez (41) have anything left in the tank after the conclusion of next season? Can Michael Saunders hit above .250? Can Carlos Peguero hit for contact? Will Franklin Gutierrez play 140 games in a season ever again? Or even 100?

These questions would be all right if the M’s had a handful of outfield prospects waiting in the wings. They don’t. DJ Peterson, the M’s most recent first-round pick, might be moved there to avoid being blocked by Seager, and while his bat will be strong in the outfield; he will never be Ichiro Suzuki. Austin Wilson, another recent draft pick, shows promise defensively in the outfield but is still, like Peterson, in his first season professionally. Not to mention they are both at High A Everett.

The Mariners’ biggest question is who will be in that outfield in the future? Potentially Chavez and Ibanez could be gone come next Opening Day. The alternatives are to make multiple trades for outfielders or sign replacement players on similar contracts to the previously mentioned trio.

Seattle needs to start finding itself an outfield that works now and later. Best case scenario, the team would probably like to see Guti return to the form he showed in his earlier days in Seattle and patrol center field. Next to him in right would probably be Saunders, showing the promise he has flashed numerous times. Over in left, for the short term, would probably be Ibanez, should he continue to hit home runs. Long term, Ackley or Stefan Romero could all be options if they can hit well enough to stay in the lineup.

The most likely case scenario will probably play out somewhat like it has this season. The M’s will tinker and mix and match with a group of low-risk, high-reward veterans on short contracts while they wait for prospects to come to the big club. Whether those be players like Peterson and Wilson or prospects acquired in a trade, the M’s future out field is a long ways away.

Tim Lincecum to the Mariners Proposition

The San Francisco Giants currently sit in fourth place in the NL West.  Six and a half games back in the division. That includes an astonishing multi-game deficit to the Colorado Rockies and only a few games separating them and the Swiss Cheese Baseball Team San Diego Padres.

Maybe this is all a continuation of the Giants’ master plan to win a World Series, flop the next year, and then win the next year’s title with another smorgasbord of bit players and trade deadline acquisitions.

Tim Lincecum currently sits fourth in the Giants’ hierarchy of starting pitchers. One spot below Barry Zito. Not an amazing place for a former Cy Young winner. Should San Fran look to offload their former ace in an attempt to gain pieces for next year, Seattle could be the place to look.

The Giants could do with upgrades in left field, right field as well as finding a suitable long term replacement for Marco Scutaro at second base. The defending champs also could use another starting pitcher, even if they decide to keep Lincecum.

The team could be intrigued by any of the Mariners’ young players who have yet to live up to their potential. Justin Smoak could apply, as well as Dustin Ackley, should he fail to establish himself as the Mariners’ everyday center fielder.

San Francisco could also have interest in Joe Saunders, or Aaron Harang. Saunders has provided a steady back-end-of-the-rotation presence while Harang has previously proven himself in the NL West the past two seasons, compiling 24 wins and posting an ERA that hovered near 3.50.

The Giants don’t want Smoak unless they are parting with Brandon Belt in a bigger trade, which is unlikely. Ackley and Saunders for Lincecum though, could entice the Giants to pull the trigger, but might not be enough. Should the Giants up the ante and ask for one of the Mariners’ “Big Three” pitching prospects, the M’s should think twice. I don’t think Seattle would sacrifice one of their young pitchers for Lincecum, even in a one-for-one swap.

Ackley, Saunders and a prospect somewhere between mid-level and blue-chipper for Lincecum seems an ideal trade for both sides. The Giants and M’s both get players who seem in need of a change of scenery, San Francisco gets a sturdy replacement for Big Time Timmy Jim as well as a prospect while Seattle gets a redo on the 2006 draft.

The Mariners’ Future is Now

A quick pan over the Mariners’ depth chart shows Nick Franklin and Mike Zunino in the starting nine. This wouldn’t be too far-fetched if it were, say next year’s depth chart, but this is where the world is presently; the Mariners future is also their present.

The M’s probably would have liked to have had Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero each put a respective stranglehold on second base and catcher so that the team could ease Franklin and Zunino into their roles for the next decade. Ackley hit .205 with five extra base hits in 45 games, while Montero struggled to fit in defensively and was a smidgen better batting than Ackley with a .208 clip. The two obviously didn’t execute said strangleholds, and here we are.

This might be a good thing for the Mariners, all of course pending the youngsters perform well.

Zunino is obviously the future at catcher. He’s proved that with his own body of work. Not to mention having Montero prove the fact for him with his defensive shortcomings. This lets him get a head-start on being the M’s everyday catcher while continuing his learning process. Everyone knew he was going to take over for Montero at some point between the start of this season and the end of next. This just accelerates the process and lets Montero transition to more of an everyday utility player, one who might catch a day or two a week and play the other games at first base or as the DH.

The Franklin transition seems to be working out for all parties involved. Mariners, Franklin and Ackley. Franklin is currently preforming well for Seattle with a .299 clip at the plate while providing plus defense. Ackley is ripping the cover off the ball at AAA Tacoma, a good sign after his iffy stint with Seattle to start the year, with a .383 batting average.

This could all work out well for Seattle. Zunino could establish himself as the catcher sooner than expected. Franklin could integrate himself into the core of the team, also sooner than expected. Ackley could come back firing from a hitting spree in Tacoma, and Montero could figure things out after he returns from injury.

Things are looking up for the Mariners.