stefen romeroAs we pass the midway mark of June, the Seattle Mariners still sit above the .500 mark despite a struggling offence and a pitching staff that’s held together by a couple of surprise performers. There should be some reinforcements on the way however, as Corey Hart and Michael Saunders appear close to being sent out on rehab assignments and Justin Smoak began his on Wednesday night. Starter Taijuan Walker looks like he’s nearly ready to make his season debut with the big club as well after being activated from the disabled list last week and sent to Tacoma. But, with every player activated from the disabled list or called up, another has to be removed from the active roster to make room. Let’s take a look at a few players who may find themselves on the outside looking in as others begin to make their returns.

Stefen Romero — OF/DH
The 25-year old outfielder seems like the most likely candidate to be sent down once Saunders returns now that Logan Morrison is back from injury. Romero is now the owner of a .197 batting average on the year after picking up a double on Tuesday, bringing his hit total up to 26. At times this year the right-hander has looked overmatched and considering the fact he only has 411 plate appearances at Triple-A under his belt, it could very well be true. Combine his lack of upper minor experience with the fact he’s mostly assumed the role of designated hitter when he’s been in the M’s lineup consistently, and there’s reason to believe he may simply be struggling with all the adjustments he’s had to make. As is the case with most young players, the chance to re-focus and play everyday at Triple-A for a while could be just what Romero needs, although he does possess the right-handed bat that manager Lloyd McClendon seems to covet for the M’s roster.

Endy Chavez — OF
The veteran joined Seattle for a second tour of duty this year, but probably hasn’t produced enough to justify keeping him on the roster for much longer. Perhaps the biggest factor in Chavez’s favour is that should the M’s decide he’s the odd man out, they would likely designate him for assignment and end up losing him unless he’s alright with being sent back down to Triple-A. Although letting the 36-year old go would hurt the M’s outfield depth slightly, they really wouldn’t be losing much. At this point in his career Chavez isn’t much more than a late-inning defensive replacement or pinch-runner, and his 47 wRC+ across 55 plate appearances this season provides clear evidence that his offensive abilities are all but gone. Not to take away from Chavez however, as he seems to be a fairly well respected guy in the clubhouse and has provided some timely contributions at the top of the lineup this year, but realistically his loss wouldn’t be decimating in the least.

Jesus Montero — DH
This could be an interesting case. We’ve all heard the drama that has surrounded Montero over the last year — from his Biogenesis suspension to his lack of conditioning entering Spring Training — but he has managed to put up a decent .270/.345/.455 line in 255 plate appearances with Tacoma and has already popped a home run since being recalled. He does have a career 134 wRC+ against left handed pitching, but he’s essentially limited to designated hitter duties and offers little if any value elsewhere. And does the team really want to carry two designated hitters once Hart is back on the roster? Well, at least the previous regime did. Nevertheless, Montero can still be optioned back to Tacoma and that appears to be a likely scenario barring an offensive outburst in the next week.

Logan Morrison — 1B/OF/DH
This is another interesting case as Morrison has only been back with the big league club for a week after a lengthy rehab assignment. He has 3 hits in 19 plate appearances since returning and his season line now sits at a paltry .146/.222/.244 but it’s hard to really make much of his 2014 season yet with only a 15 game sample size. I’d be surprised if LoMo was sent down to make room on the roster since he’s actually been hitting the ball fairly well in the past week — it seems like every night he’s hit a ball to the warning track — and it’s not as if Smoak and Romero have done enough to take all of the first base and DH at-bats away from Morrison.

Erasmo Ramirez — SP
It seems to be a forgone conclusion that once Walker is ready to make his return Ramirez will be sent back down to Triple-A. This much shouldn’t be a surprise however, as both Roenis Elias and Chris Young have done enough to hang on to their rotation spots at least until James Paxton is ready to return. Despite not giving up a run in his previous two starts, Ramirez’s ERA still sits at 5.27 and his FIP at 5.77 for the year. One could even argue that it was just by luck that Ramirez didn’t yield a run in those two starts as he walked a total of nine batters in the nine and two-thirds innings he pitched. Control issues have plagued the right-hander this season and he has only managed to last six or more innings in three of his nine starts. There’s still work to do for the 24-year old, and perhaps it’s not time to give up on him entirely, yet.

For my money, Chavez and Romero will eventually find themselves as the odd ones out once Saunders and Smoak are back on the roster, and I’d also be willing to guess that it’ll be Montero getting sent down once Hart returns. I’m not convinced that the club has seen enough from Morrison yet and Cole Gillespie has actually been a decent fourth outfielder for the club this year. Although Gillespie hasn’t provided anything particularly special in his first year with Seattle, he does own an 81 wRC+ for the season and has been just slightly below average in the field and on the base paths according to FanGraphs.

It’s probably in both parties’ best interest to have Romero see some time at Triple-A in the near future and like it was mentioned previously, losing Chavez isn’t all that big of a deal anyway. Romero does appear to have a skill set that could potentially become useful down the road or perhaps he could be a fill-in piece in a trade to acquire a bat or another starter. Whatever the case, sitting on the bench or going 0-for-4 when he does play isn’t beneficial for the young outfielder.

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    That’s the thing though — the Mariners SHOULD have the financial resources able to boast a top-10 payroll, but whether they choose to or not is a different story. If the M’s decide that Tomas is their guy and they want to put the money out then I have no problem with that. But, if there’s only so much money available to spend, which I feel the case will be, my preference is that they invest it into something less risky. That doesn’t mean free agents necessarily, that could mean in trade too. I have no issue with spending big on an international free agent and obviously the success of guys like Puig and Abreu make the prospect of grabbing a young, pure power hitter tantalizing. By no means am I against going for Tomas, but given the fact ownership is hesitant to boost the payroll as it is, my preference is that if they do allow a little wiggle room it’s used to help the team immediately, that’s all.

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    I agree to an extent. The M’s do have a lot of holes. But this is a club with great financial resources with their media deal, and attendance has bounced back quite a bit. There is no reason that they shouldn’t be in the top 10 in payroll. I foresaw the Cano signing as part of a general strategy of ramping up the payroll. Otherwise, it wouldn’t make much sense to have Cano and Felix making more than half the teams payroll.

    Some of that cash will hopefully go towards resigning people. But most of the core guys – Seager, Zunino, Miller, Jones, Saunders, Elias, and the bullpen – won’t command big money for a while. Only Kuma is an immediate concern. The rest is free agency and salaries for resigned guys in a few years.

    But the problem is that free agency is becoming less and less useful for adding talent. Most guys that hit free agency now are either old, flawed, or both. Thats especially true with position players. Cano wasn’t a terrible move, but the team shouldn’t expect (or want) to do that every offseason. Signing guys to multi-year deals when they are in their 30s is a bad idea. That’s why guys like Tanaka and Abreu are so special: they don’t command the same cash as a similar established ml player, and the are available before they are past their primes. For a team like the M’s – who are still just approaching their window to contend – these guys are perfect.

    I’m not sure what Tomas will cost, or how he compares to Abreu and Cespedes. But he’s only 23, and is further along than Puig. Where else can you get a 23 year old OFer with 70 power? I think it’s worth the risk.

    And if the Ms ever stop acting like sissies and actually invest in the payroll, it shouldn’t be an either/or decision.

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    If he was right-handed then perhaps I could see it — since this is the Mariners after all — but I have a hard time seeing Seattle signing him. They’re going to have a hard enough time figuring out their lineup once Hart and Smoak come back.

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    I know folks don’t like him much around these parts, but Kivlehan should probably be up in Tacoma playing left field right now. You don’t have to be that much of a prospect to displace a Mariners outfielder…

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    Question of the day: does Seattle take a flyer on Raul Ibanez? I hope not but you never know…

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    I’m with you Jerry on a lot of your points about Tomas. I think Seattle has proven to be a great place for Japanese baseball players to migrate to and I have little doubt that a defecting Cuban wouldn’t feel like home there given the culture that’s been created, but the biggest factor for me in acquiring Tomas would be the cash. Now I have one major caveat — I haven’t spent much time looking at Tomas’ skill set and how he really compares to guys like Abreu and Puig, but if the cash he’d require is somewhere between what those two players received, I think I’d have to pass right now.

    I’m all for adding a true power hitting outfielder, don’t get me wrong, but $50 million can add a lot to your major league roster NOW, and if ownership allowed the M’s to have that extra money I would probably want to see it spent on additions that could help in 2014-15-16 while Cano and Felix are at the very top of their games. Although, if Tomas would be ready for the beginning of the 2016 season I suppose that would fit the timeline, but at this very moment I feel like the money Tomas may require could be put to better use. The M’s aren’t just one player away from a championship team right now — they’re several. And even though adding that power to the middle of the lineup is needed, it doesn’t entirely solve the issues at hand.

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    That is a very shortsighted way of going about business. Even if it Tomas needed a year in AAA, he’d still have his prime years ahead. The Ms need good players to have long term success. Focusing entirely on the short term usually ends poorly. And focusing on short term fixes leads to perpetually being in a situation where you “need help now.”


    There is no reason to think that Cuban players have shared preference of destinations, and that Seattle isn’t on that list. Its sorta like saying “Canadians prefer places with snow”.

    Most of the time, players go where the money is. Abreu signed with a rebuilding team because they gave him a shitload of money. Cespedes signed with a financially strapped club that plays in one of the worst parks in MLB in a shitty town because they gave him a on of cash. Puig too. The money the Dodgers gave him shocked everyone. These guys are like most other players who are signing their first substantial pro contract: they go where the cash is. Some of these guys risked their lives to be able to be set for life. Besides, most of the recent defectors aren’t even following the pattern you suggest. Oakland and Chicago aren’t exactly warm places. And Kendry Morales just signed with Minnesota, which has an outdoor stadium in one of the coldest places in MLB. Only the dodgers are a warm weather place, but people are going there because they spend like drunken sailors.

    All people are different. But which one of these statements do you think is most accurate: “Cuban defectors don’t like places in the northern part of the US”, or “Cubans defectors like getting paid lots of money.” I’m voting for the latter.

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    I don’t have any issue with them signing Tomas as most scouts feel he is at worst ready for AAA and possibly the majors. However, as far as affecting this year, it won’t. He still has to set up residency in a country, get cleared by MLB, and be cleared for a his visa. The speculation is that he won’t be able to sign until the end of this season at best and wouldn’t be playing until 2014.

    With that said, we absolutely need to add a legitimate major league outfielder and figure out the 1B/DH spots or we won’t be in it by the trade deadline. If we could add even two league average bats to the lineup would make a huge difference. We literally are getting below average production from LF, 1B, DH, and RF (with Saunders out). Thank god that Miller has turned it around the past four weeks or we’d have five below average slots at this point in time.

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    Seattle has several very good outfield prospects in the system. Tomas likely won’t help the team right now. I’d rather see them go spend the money it would take to sign Tomas, and go get a player that can help right now, and for maybe another season, while the kids develop.

    The team needs help now, and IMO, Tomas isn’t a source for that.

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    Let me start by saying that I really like Keith Law and find him to be pretty spot on most times. However, the same things he is saying about Tomas are the same things he said about Abreu. In fact, he said that he didn’t know that Abreu would have good power at the ML level because of the “slow bat”. Pretty much all the scouting reports I have read state that Tomas will be a corner outfielder with plus power. I am not sure how much running matters but I hear average speed which is fine.

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    Keith Law on ESPN just put an article up on Yasmani Tomas. He said the guy is slow, could lose some weight, is a corner outfielder with power, but has a slow bat that could result in hitting for a low average. Law predicts someone will overpay for him because of hype success of Abreu and Puig, but that Tomas isn’t nearly as good amend not worth that kind of money…

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    Good points Kaehlaone, there may be some young guys that end up being studs…I guess I was thinking more about the big name, close to MLB ready talent, that always seems to go to the Dodgers or Yankees. But Seattle wasn’t in on guys like Cespedes and Abreu, who didn’t go to teams with deep pockets for crazy money. When you are as desperate for offense as Seattle is, these are the kinds of players you have to get.

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    I think the Mariners have done well on the international front the last few years under this regine, it just takes a lot longer for these guys to develop as they typically sign at 16yrs old in most cases. Guys like Gaby Guerrero, Ketel Marte, Luiz Gohara, Jordy Lara, Ji-Man Choi, and Victor Sanchez are examples of guys that have a real shot to contribute as international signings. There are several others that may develop as well such as Guillermo Pimental (hurt), Wilton Martinez, and Phillips Castillo. Our biggest issue internationally is that we haven’t had much luck in the Cuban market, outside of Roenis Elias, who wasn’t a top guy on the market.

    I found a link to the Top 30 international prospects for this year that include scouting reports and videos. I found it interesting although about one third are supposedly favored to sign with the Yankees, which is impossible with the financial restrictions on the market. They have RH outfielder from Venezuela (#7 prospect I think) that is favored to sign with the Mariners. In any’s the link.

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    Hey Jerry, I was thinking the same thing and you beat me to it. I don’t know how good Yasmani Tomas is or how much he would cost, but Jack has to do a better job on the international front. Can you imagine this team had they signed Abreu this past offseason? My hope is that next year the team ownership will drop this “we are poor and have no more money to spend” act. With the TV deal they have in place, it is time to spend it. Otherwise signing Cano was pointless if they won’t spend money to surround him with talent…

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    I wouldn’t mind us dipping into the Cuban player pool for a hitter but it seems to me they really aren’t interested in Seattle as a location to play. Most end up in warmer weather areas or bigger cities. I know Castillo already has his preferences and we aren’t one of them. I don’t think its a case of the Mariners not being interested, its more on the players.

    As far as Ackley/Smoak go, you won’t get an argument from me. I think Ackley very well could be a trade piece for a team needing a secondbaseman that could send us at least a league average outfielder. I think he profiles as a guy that could produce at that position and would think he has some value still left. In regards to Smoak, we have to move on after this year but I don’t think we have anyone that can really replace him right now. I have hopes for Choi and I think DJ Peterson will be the guy longterm. Obviously Choi is the most likely short term option, but I doubt they’d give him a shot until the rosters expand. DJ Peterson could be up by mid year next year but any sooner I think would be a stretch. He really should be in AA, IMO, as he has been destroying High A ball the past month plus.

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    It would be awesome if there was a young international free agent OFer we could sign. Someone who isn’t past their prime, and won’t cost talent via trade or draft pick compensation. That would be awesome.

    Wait a minute…..that guy just defected from Cuba!

    Let me be among the first on this bandwagon. The Ms MUST sign this guy.

    The bullet points: one of top talents in Cuba, 23 year old OFer, plus plus RH power, not subject intl signing bonus limits, just defected, near ML ready.

    Is there a more perfect potential addition to the Ms?

    They need to sign this guy, and Rusney Castillo, as soon as they can.

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    I’m wondering if all this will be sorted out with a roster shuffle in 6 weeks.

    Justin Smoak isn’t good. It’s time to pull the plug on that experiment. Dustin Ackley also isn’t putting it together.

    Both of those guys might benefit from a change of scenery. Ackley can play 2B, and I’d bet some teams would be interested in a buy low candidate. His numbers project better there, and his status a #2 draft pick could make some team give him a shot. Same thing with Smoak.

    I know that it would suck to watch those guys do well on another team, but they just aren’t making any progress in Seattle. Moving them – especially for similarly talented guys who also haven’t performed to expectations – makes sense at this point.

    Moving them opens up playing time for other guys. Between Montero, Morrison, Hart, and perhaps Choi, we are OK at 1B/DH. In the OF, there are fewer internal candidates. The M’s would likely need to add someone from outside the organization. But I’m wondering if just giving regular playing time to Romero and Gillespie – along with Saunders and Jones – isn’t the way forward.

    Sucks it’s come to this, but think about how Pete Carroll would handle this situation. Keep playing ex prospects who aren’t panning out, or try something different?

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    I think the correct moves are pretty easy to make. However, being that this is the Mariners they will undoubtedly make the wrong least in my opinion. The correct moves would be to DFA Chavez, send Romero, Ramirez, and Morrison down. This gives the roster the matchups that Lloyd wants while playing the best players full time.

    Full time players (barring a rest day) should be Zunino, Cano, Seager, Jones, and Saunders
    Virtual fulltime layers (occasional day off versus strong LH starter) would be Miller
    Matchups versus LH Starters would be Montero (DH), Hart (1B), Gillespie (LF)
    Matchups versus RH Starters would be Hart/Montero (DH), Smoak (1B), Ackley (LF)

    Now, this makes way too much sense to happen but that is what I’d do. I can’t say I have huge hope for Hart but I know McClendon will play him fulltime so even though I didn’t list him at fulltime he will be at 1B/DH with the moves I advocate. I prefer Montero to Morrison because he is RH and we have plenty of coverage with LH hitters.

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    It’s time to make Endy a coach. Past time.

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    This offense is terrible. Same old same old. Somethings never change.

    Hard to watch.

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