The Bourn SubductionJanuary 28th, 2013 by terrybenish
Geoff Baker is back after a tour of South Africa investigating its wine culture and cuisine and it is as if the Mariner scene is hit with a jolt of caffeine.
During his sojourn there were tweets to ponder, but not the full on Baker.
2,096 words on the change in the Mariner offense which shoots into a discussion of the uncertainty and even instability of the big league roster, concluding with the suggestion to sign Michael Bourn as we no longer need to worry about offense.
The M & M mashers, Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse, to be sure change the middle of the order in ways we have not seen in ten years or so. Each of them with enough plate appearances could be good for 30 home runs each, or at least on that pace before they’re traded. The Mariner front office and field manager have publicly given jobs to Dustin Ackley, Brendan Ryan and Justin Smoak. Last year these three incumbent players had a collective batting average of .214 in 1,497 at bats. Their combined on-base percentage was .287 and their slugging percentage was .326 for an OPS of .613. For new baseball readers, that is very, very bad.
Bourn after his collapse in the second half of last year hit .225, his on-bag was .325 and his slug was .311. This is also bad. Adding him does not help based on his last four months of playing. Previously noted is the falseness of UZR that says he’s a premium center fielder. He does not catch more balls than Saunders does in the same outfield, does not throw as well and there is not a lot of offensive upside. The only context he would be good is if he could bat 9th, but the characteristic of his offensive year last year as previously noted looks like old man behavior, lots and lots of pitches taken. If you sign him to a multi-year deal he’ll squat on the spot as he declines further and the team will run him out there hoping somebody will trade for him. We’ve watched this show before. If he ran like a deer still and got on base at a .400+ clip, then sure, but he does not do that. Subduction zones are about deep water trenches and plate tectonics, which I’ve been reading about. Adding him is like diving deep into the Marianas trench.
More interesting is the note regarding Smoak and non-note about Ackley. The team has options now if they don’t want to play guys who collectively account for four innings worth of outs game after game. There are options at first, second and short.
Holy Earl Weaver! Ryan is a very expensive defensive luxury that could be absorbed on a great offensive team. Not here.
The Giants, winner of two of the last three World Series are a very balanced team, with enough offense, plenty of defense to stand behind a great pitching staff. Yet they scored 99 more runs than the Mariners with one less hitter per each game. If the Mariners jump from 619 runs to 718 runs or even 750 runs, the key is how they get there. If it means that they play four dhs at once in Ibanez at dh, Bay in left field, Morse in right field and Morales at first base not only does their production need to happen, but there needs to be enough production to cover their defensive liability. With the exception of the old Raul, all of those guys have been partial season guys, too.
So when Baker puts Saunders in a corner spot, where are Morse or Bay can’t both play? I’m with Bill James on Saunders, put him out there and leave him alone and let him play. He is invested in his success to the point that he pays for his own hitting coach. It’s a step more of these young guys should take.
Of all of them Smoak has the shortest leash. Ackley the least and Ryan, well if they like Miller enough, he might vault both Franklin and Ryan.