02 June 2010
Mariner's legend Ken Griffey, Jr. announced his retirment yesterday. Junior is one of my favorite players - ever. In the early 90's every kid my age wore their hat backwards and tried to replicate his fluid swing. He was the total package, making spectacular catches in center, hitting monster home runs and stealing more bases than you'd expect from a guy with that much pop.
He's a first round Hall of Famer.
But his 2010 season in Seattle was pretty dreadful. The Mariners were smart to bring him back from Cincy, but the Junior Mariners fans knew and loved was gone. He hit .214 with 19 ding dongs in 2009 and struggled through 33 games this season, hitting .184 without a homer.
Junior was the left-handed option at DH for Seattle. For now they'll try to piece it together with Mike Sweeney and his .271, 6 HR, 16 RBI. But Seattle has expressed interest in Mike Lowell and with Griffey gone, this seems like a very good option Mikey.
Sweeney can also play first and is hitting much better than left-handed Casey Kotchman (.194, 3 HR, 21 RBI). The Mariners could trade from Mike Lowell and platoon him with Kotchamn at DH or use all three players on a rotation at first base and DH. 3B Jose Lopez isn't exactly crushing it either at .239, 3 HR and RBI, so Lowell could help out at third as well as provide some much needed offense to one of the weakest lineups in the league.
The Mariners don't have a ton of exciting young talent that the Red Sox would be interested in, but with out own farm system pretty well stocked, the Sox can afford to make this move, more as a sign of good will toward Lowell, than anything else.
Here are the Top 5 names from Fangraphs Top 10 Mariners Prospects list - all these guys have value:1. Michael Saunders, OF, Majors
DOB: November 1986 Bats: L Throws: R
Signed: 2004 11th round – Tallahassee Community College
MLB ETA: Now 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 1
Saunders showed some rough edges at the MLB level in ‘09 by hitting .221/.258/.279 in 122 at-bats. That MLB triple-slash line came on the heels of a .310/.378/.544 line in triple-A. After stealing 20+ bases in ‘06 and ‘07, Saunders attempted just 14 thefts in ‘09 between the two levels so it would be nice to see him incorporate the running game into his attack a little more often. Although he didn’t show it in the Majors (.057 ISO), Saunders does possess some pop (.234 ISO) and he showed solid defence in left field. With the addition of Milton BradleyEric Byrnes at the MLB level, the outfield is crowded in Seattle so Saunders could very well spend much of the year in triple-A but he could be the first man recalled if an injury occurs. and
2. Adam Moore, C, Majors
DOB: May 1984 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2006 6th round – University of Texas-Arlington
MLB ETA: Now 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 3
The club is relying heavily on youth behind the plate in ‘09 with the likely tandem of Rob Johnson and Adam Moore. The club chose not to dip into the veteran catcher free agent pool (Yorvit Torrealba, Rod Barajas) this past off-season, save for a few non-roster invites to the likes of Josh Bard and Eliezer Alfonzo. The 25-year-old Moore had a nice offensive showing in triple-A in ‘09 by hitting .294/.346/.429 in 340 at-bats. He has some raw power but his ISO rates have slowly eroded away since hitting 22 homers (.236 ISO) in high-A in ‘07. His rate in triple-A in ‘09 was .135. Moore walks a modest amount (7.1%) but he keeps the strikeout rate at a reasonable level (15.0%). Behind the plate, he threw out 31% of base stealers and still has some work to do on his receiving skills.
3. Carlos Triunfel, 3B, Double-A
DOB: February 1990 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2006 non-drafted free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Late-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Triunfel was zooming through the minor league system and reached double-A in ‘09 as a 19 year old, but the infielder’s season came to a crashing halt when he broke his leg in April. He made it back for the Arizona Fall League where he hit .204 but he was reportedly bothered by his leg. Looking back to ‘08, the third baseman hit .287/.336/.406 in 436 at-bats in high-A. He also stole 30 bases in 39 tries so it will be interesting to see if his injury affects his speed going forward. With an ISO of just .119 in ‘08, Originally a shortstop, Triunfel does not really fit the profile of a third baseman but he’s expected to play there in the future, unless he can stick at second base. Only 20, Triunfel is just beginning to tap into his potential.
4. Alex Liddi, 3B, High-A
DOB: August 1988 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2005 non-drafted international free agent (Italy)
MLB ETA: Late-2012 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
It’s amazing what a good hitter’s environment can do for a player’s value. With Liddi, though, the improvement is considered to be part league-affected and part realization of potential. Signed out of Italy, the third baseman is still learning the finer aspects of the game and he’ll play 2010 under a much larger microscope after catching fans’ attentions with a line of .345/.411/.594. His wOBA jumped from .314 in ‘08 at low-A to .431 in high-A in ‘09. Although his plate rates were almost identical to ‘08, Liddi made a number of statistical leaps, most notably: OPS from .673 to 1.005, ISO from .116 to .249. The huge increase in power in just one season is a little suspicious and could very well be the product of his environment in high-A. His batting average of .345 (.244 in ‘08) was fueled by a .413 BABIP. Defensively, Liddi has shown some improvements at third, but he may never be better than average at the hot corner. If ‘09 wasn’t a fluke, though, his bat might be able to play anywhere on the field.
5. Michael Pineda, RHP, High-A
DOB: January 1989 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2005 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Mid-2012 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 88-94 mph fastball, slider, change-up
A beast on the mound at 6′5” 250 lbs, Pineda was let down by his elbow in ‘09 as his season was interrupted in mid-May and he did not return until August. The elbow soreness that he experienced is cause for concern going forward, but the right-hander has a bright future ahead of him if he can put the issue behind him. Just 20 in ‘09, Pineda posted a 2.73 FIP in 10 appearances (eight starts) in high-A despite playing in a good hitter’s league. He allowed just 29 hits in 44.1 innings of work and showed outstanding control for his age with a walk rate of 1.22 BB/9. His low-90s fastball and good (but inconsistent) slider helped him post a strikeout rate of 9.74 K/9. It will be interesting to see if the organization returns Pineda to high-A in 2010 or pushes him to double-A.
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