Aug 29, 2011, Seattle, WA, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo (44) watches his two-run home run against the Seattle Mariners in the fourth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

Solving the Power Outage


Before I launch into my first article here at Sodo Mojo, let me introduce myself. My name is Joel Condreay, and I am a 15 year old baseball fan who would like to pursue a career in journalism. I also currently write for thehuskyhaul.com where I cover University of Washington baseball and sometimes football. Ever since I saw my first Mariners game back in the days of the Kingdome, I have been a huge M’s fan and am really excited about this opportunity to write and talk about my favorite team. I even remember the days when we used to say “Sodo Mojo” or “Refuse to Lose.” Please comment or give me feedback, I would love to talk baseball with you.

If you have paid any attention to the Mariners over the last two years, you will have noticed their abysmal offense that has finish last in the MLB in nearly every offensive category. They have been especially lacking in power production, as proven by the fact that not one batter surpassed 20 homeruns last year, and 32 year old catcher, Miguel Olivo, led the team in RBIs with 62.

Mariner fans have been wondering about solutions to this power outage. Earlier this offseason, fans called for the signing of free agent Prince Fielder. But the price, among other issues, wasn’t right for the 275 pound first baseman, and the Seattle faithful are left saying, what now?

Sure, they brought in a great young prospect in Jesus Montero, but that doesn’t solve the short term issue unless he has a phenomenal rookie season.

I thought I would take a look at some possible courses of action to solve the tragedy that they call the middle of the Mariner order.

The first idea would be moving in the fences at Safeco Field. While this would give Mariners, especially righties, some help, I don’t think it makes sense. The Mariners need to play to their strengths; which is pitching. The Mariners have a Cy Young winner, decent young staff, solid bullpen, and a farm system stacked with good young pitchers. Moving in the fences at Safeco would hurt the promising pitching staff more than it would help the below average power hitters.

Next option: trade. In the past off seasons, there have been rumors of the Mariners trading for names like Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, or Justin Upton. However, none of those look like options right now. However, the Angles seem to have a first baseman overload on their hands due to the signing of Pujols. Either Mark Trumbo or Kendry Morales could be on the market. There have been rumors of the Angles moving Trumbo to third, but I can’t imagine that they would be thrilled with putting a 6’4” 220 pound first baseman at the hot corner, although it did work with Troy Glaus. With the right package, I believe that the halos would be willing to part with one of these power hitters. Both of these players have risks however. Morales hasn’t played in a year and a half after hurting himself celebrating a walk off homerun against the M’s. Trumbo hit 29 homeruns in his rookie season last year, but also posted a .291 OBP and only had a .274 BABIP. I don’t think that they can afford another player who can’t get on base. Besides the 2010 and 2011 Mariners, the last team to post an OBP under .300 was the 1989 Atlanta Braves.

Mark Reynolds is another option, but he is in the same boat as Trumbo: lots of homeruns, lots of strikeouts, and a -2.5 dWAR. I don’t think any of those guys are worth giving up a bundle of prospects and probably Brandon League for.

The last option is to stay put and wait for guys to develop. Honestly, barring a series of miracles, the AL west is going to be dominated by the Rangers and Angles for the next couple of seasons. The M’s don’t need to be going out and finding instant impact bats because they probably won’t be competing in September and October. And if the situation arises where the Mariners are in the chase and need a bat at the trade deadline, Seattle has the prospects to get it done.

Despite this seemingly endless lack of power at Safeco field, I believe that there is reason for hope that doesn’t require handing out $200 million or selling the farm. And I’ll tell you why… in my next article.

Next Mariners Game View full schedule »
Tuesday, Sep 22 Sep7:05at Oakland AthleticsBuy Tickets

Tags: Brandon League Kendry Morales Mark Reynolds Mark Trumbo Safeco Field Seattle Mariners

  • AMitchellReport

    The M’s got Miguel Montero? SWEET!… :)

  • RyanCarterHoffmann

    You’re a heck of a sports journalist, joel. Nice work.

  • AMitchellReport

    The M’s got Miguel Montero? SWEET!… :)

  • RyanCarterHoffmann

    You’re a heck of a sports journalist, joel. Nice work.

  • JCondreay

    My bad on the typo! It would have been nice to get Miguel Montero, but I’d rather have Jesus. I really appreciate that compliment!

  • huskyhaul

    My boy is growing up! :) Looks good Joel!

  • JCondreay

    My bad on the typo! It would have been nice to get Miguel Montero, but I’d rather have Jesus. I really appreciate that compliment!

  • huskyhaul

    My boy is growing up! :) Looks good Joel!

  • MattyK

    That’s an interesting thought about trading with the Angels. I see Trumbo working out at third about as well as Glaus, which is to say well below-average defensively. They might be desperate, but who know if they’d trade with a division rival…

  • http://sodomojo.com/ MattyK

    That’s an interesting thought about trading with the Angels. I see Trumbo working out at third about as well as Glaus, which is to say well below-average defensively. They might be desperate, but who know if they’d trade with a division rival…

  • JCondreay

    You’re right; I think that Trumbo could turn into a passable third baseman. However, there is one difference between the early 2000’s teams that Glaus played on and the current team with Trumbo. With Glaus, they needed to find a way to put Glaus in the order because he was one of just two run producers on those teams. It was worth his less than stellar defense to get his bat. With Trumbo, he is one of five guys who will probably hit at least 25 home runs for them this year. The Halos have no shortage of power. I’m not sure if its worth it to them to sit Callaspo who is solid defensively (1.7 dWAR) and a good top of the order guy (.388 OBP) just for another .250/30/95 guy.

    You made a good point about trading in the division though. I’m not sure that they would worry too much about dealing with Seattle since they’re not a major threat and have some good trade pieces, but I definitely don’t think they’d trade with the Rangers (which is interesting because Texas could use a first baseman.) Regardless, I don’t think that trading for Trumbo would be a good move for the M’s right now.

  • JCondreay

    You’re right; I think that Trumbo could turn into a passable third baseman. However, there is one difference between the early 2000’s teams that Glaus played on and the current team with Trumbo. With Glaus, they needed to find a way to put Glaus in the order because he was one of just two run producers on those teams. It was worth his less than stellar defense to get his bat. With Trumbo, he is one of five guys who will probably hit at least 25 home runs for them this year. The Halos have no shortage of power. I’m not sure if its worth it to them to sit Callaspo who is solid defensively (1.7 dWAR) and a good top of the order guy (.388 OBP) just for another .250/30/95 guy.

    You made a good point about trading in the division though. I’m not sure that they would worry too much about dealing with Seattle since they’re not a major threat and have some good trade pieces, but I definitely don’t think they’d trade with the Rangers (which is interesting because Texas could use a first baseman.) Regardless, I don’t think that trading for Trumbo would be a good move for the M’s right now.

  • lonnie.mathis

    Hi Joel, welcome to the madhouse known as Mariner Blogging!

    When you look at the topic of “power outage” on a larger scale you’ll see that it isn’t just the M’s who are lacking in that department. The prototypical “big bat” is getting harder and harder to find. Larry Stone has a nice piece on this topic over at his blog “The Hot Stone League”.

    Lonnie

  • AMitchellReport

    I have an interesting idea about the whole bringing in the fences idea, let me begin by saying I know a lot about baseball, I’m not some random person with some random thoughts, I follow the game close and I feel very knowledgeable about the game.

    I believe that a ball-park with closer fences could benefit a team that’s built around pitching and not power.

    I think this because power hitters can hit hrs regardless of the park they are in. A player like Albert Pujols hits home runs that are long enough for the length of the fences not to matter. This is the case for many of the home run hitters in baseball.

    With deeper fences, the M’s, who lack big power bats, don’t hit many hrs at all, because they don’t have enough raw power. Instead the M’s are hitting warning track shots in Safeco while opposing power hitters are still able to hit home runs, because they just flat out have more power.

    If the fences moved in 10 feet, the M’s warning track shots would become hrs, and opposing teams hrs would just look like longer hrs. Yes they would hit more as well, but I believe the impact would be greater for the Mariners.

    Also, a good pitching team isn’t going to be based on inducing fly ball outs. Good pitchers look for ground balls and strike outs. Moving the fences shouldn’t make that much of a difference if the M’s pitching staff can continue to pitch at the same level, where they strike batters out and induce ground balls.

    Yes the runs given up by the M’s pitchers would go up, and it’s possible that they may lose confidence, but I don’t think that should be too big of a concern. The current pitchers get no run support, and adding some runs behind them would likely be more beneficial than the downside of giving up more runs.

    I’m not saying Safeco should be made into a huge hitters park, but making it less of a pitchers park makes a lot of sense to me, I see no reason to believe it actually benefits the team to have a park built for pitchers.

  • lonnie.mathis

    Hi Joel, welcome to the madhouse known as Mariner Blogging!

    When you look at the topic of “power outage” on a larger scale you’ll see that it isn’t just the M’s who are lacking in that department. The prototypical “big bat” is getting harder and harder to find. Larry Stone has a nice piece on this topic over at his blog “The Hot Stone League”.

    Lonnie

  • AMitchellReport

    I have an interesting idea about the whole bringing in the fences idea, let me begin by saying I know a lot about baseball, I’m not some random person with some random thoughts, I follow the game close and I feel very knowledgeable about the game.

    I believe that a ball-park with closer fences could benefit a team that’s built around pitching and not power.

    I think this because power hitters can hit hrs regardless of the park they are in. A player like Albert Pujols hits home runs that are long enough for the length of the fences not to matter. This is the case for many of the home run hitters in baseball.

    With deeper fences, the M’s, who lack big power bats, don’t hit many hrs at all, because they don’t have enough raw power. Instead the M’s are hitting warning track shots in Safeco while opposing power hitters are still able to hit home runs, because they just flat out have more power.

    If the fences moved in 10 feet, the M’s warning track shots would become hrs, and opposing teams hrs would just look like longer hrs. Yes they would hit more as well, but I believe the impact would be greater for the Mariners.

    Also, a good pitching team isn’t going to be based on inducing fly ball outs. Good pitchers look for ground balls and strike outs. Moving the fences shouldn’t make that much of a difference if the M’s pitching staff can continue to pitch at the same level, where they strike batters out and induce ground balls.

    Yes the runs given up by the M’s pitchers would go up, and it’s possible that they may lose confidence, but I don’t think that should be too big of a concern. The current pitchers get no run support, and adding some runs behind them would likely be more beneficial than the downside of giving up more runs.

    I’m not saying Safeco should be made into a huge hitters park, but making it less of a pitchers park makes a lot of sense to me, I see no reason to believe it actually benefits the team to have a park built for pitchers.

  • maqman

    This team was built to play in Safeco as it is. If we change the fences we have to change the players too. As for trading with the Angels for one of their now excess 1B pieces, we have a couple of answers at 1B in Smoak and Carp and don’t need a DH anymore. Plus why help the Angels?

  • JCondreay

    AMitchellReport: I completely understand your opinion and actually used to subscribe to it. However, I now believe that the fences should stay back for two main reasons. I agree that good power hitters would hit it out anyways, but let’s look through some of the right-handed power hitters in the AL West (since the fence change would really only affect righties.) Pujols and Nelson Cruz have raw power and can hit it out just about anywhere, but I think that the rest of the righty power hitters like Wells, Hunter, Trumbo, Kinsler, and Beltre would benefit greatly from a shorter fence since they are good hitters but still in the phase where having the fence 10 feet shorter would grant them a few more homeruns.

    Another factor is that our power hitters wouldn’t even benefit that much from it. Carp is a lefty, Smoak is switch but gets a majority of his abs from the left side, Ackley is a lefty, Montero bats right but has pretty good opposite field power, and Olivo will only be here one more year (I hope). I think that the power hitters of the divison, excluding Pujols and Cruz, would tee off on shorter fences more than the lefty dominated heart of the Mariner’s order would.

    Lonnie: I saw that article, and I think its very true. I think the decrease in hrs can be attributed to the lack PEDs and the excellent pitching we’ve seen lately. The standard for a “great” power hitter has changed from 45 homeruns like in 2001 to 27 or 28 homeruns like in 2011. There are still good bats available though.

    Maqman: Well it looks like Carp will be in left and Smoak at first so the M’s could find away to fit Trumbo or Morales in if they really wanted to. You’re right though, we don’t have a great need. Any trade is going to help both teams, so I wouldn’t be too worried about that, especially since we probably won’t be competing for a playoff spot with them.

  • MattyK

    @AMitchellReport I can see the point about a fence move helping the Mariners more than other clubs who have big sluggers, but it’s likely to hurt our pitching, not help it.

    The league averages for GB%, FB% and K% are about 45%/36%/16%. Here are your 2012 Mariners (last 3 years of data, if possible):

    Felix: 53 / 30 / 23

    Vargas: 36.5 / 45 / 14.5

    Millwood: 40.5 / 38 / 15.5

    Beavan: 38 / 39 / 10.5

    Furbush: 42 / 39 / 18

    Who don’t know what Iwakuma will do, but besides Felix, we have bunch of low strikeout, high flyball guys designed to pitch well in THIS ballpark. We also have stripped the team of power right-handed bats, the only players that would receive a noticeable gain to moving the fences in. Since this team has already been constructed around Safeco Field, to move the fences in would erase years of, in my opinion, smart planning.

  • MattyK

    @maqman Oh man, didn’t see your comment before I made mine. I completely agree!

  • maqman

    This team was built to play in Safeco as it is. If we change the fences we have to change the players too. As for trading with the Angels for one of their now excess 1B pieces, we have a couple of answers at 1B in Smoak and Carp and don’t need a DH anymore. Plus why help the Angels?

  • JCondreay

    AMitchellReport: I completely understand your opinion and actually used to subscribe to it. However, I now believe that the fences should stay back for two main reasons. I agree that good power hitters would hit it out anyways, but let’s look through some of the right-handed power hitters in the AL West (since the fence change would really only affect righties.) Pujols and Nelson Cruz have raw power and can hit it out just about anywhere, but I think that the rest of the righty power hitters like Wells, Hunter, Trumbo, Kinsler, and Beltre would benefit greatly from a shorter fence since they are good hitters but still in the phase where having the fence 10 feet shorter would grant them a few more homeruns.

    Another factor is that our power hitters wouldn’t even benefit that much from it. Carp is a lefty, Smoak is switch but gets a majority of his abs from the left side, Ackley is a lefty, Montero bats right but has pretty good opposite field power, and Olivo will only be here one more year (I hope). I think that the power hitters of the divison, excluding Pujols and Cruz, would tee off on shorter fences more than the lefty dominated heart of the Mariner’s order would.

    Lonnie: I saw that article, and I think its very true. I think the decrease in hrs can be attributed to the lack PEDs and the excellent pitching we’ve seen lately. The standard for a “great” power hitter has changed from 45 homeruns like in 2001 to 27 or 28 homeruns like in 2011. There are still good bats available though.

    Maqman: Well it looks like Carp will be in left and Smoak at first so the M’s could find away to fit Trumbo or Morales in if they really wanted to. You’re right though, we don’t have a great need. Any trade is going to help both teams, so I wouldn’t be too worried about that, especially since we probably won’t be competing for a playoff spot with them.

  • http://sodomojo.com/ MattyK

    @AMitchellReport I can see the point about a fence move helping the Mariners more than other clubs who have big sluggers, but it’s likely to hurt our pitching, not help it.

    The league averages for GB%, FB% and K% are about 45%/36%/16%. Here are your 2012 Mariners (last 3 years of data, if possible):

    Felix: 53 / 30 / 23

    Vargas: 36.5 / 45 / 14.5

    Millwood: 40.5 / 38 / 15.5

    Beavan: 38 / 39 / 10.5

    Furbush: 42 / 39 / 18

    Who don’t know what Iwakuma will do, but besides Felix, we have bunch of low strikeout, high flyball guys designed to pitch well in THIS ballpark. We also have stripped the team of power right-handed bats, the only players that would receive a noticeable gain to moving the fences in. Since this team has already been constructed around Safeco Field, to move the fences in would erase years of, in my opinion, smart planning.

  • http://sodomojo.com/ MattyK

    @maqman Oh man, didn’t see your comment before I made mine. I completely agree!

  • lonnie.mathis

    @JCondreay Not to argue, but, who are these “good bats” that you speak of?

  • JCondreay

    @lonnie.mathis Well Morales, Trumbo, and Reynolds like I mentioned in the article are all 30 homerun type guys. Off the top of my head, there are always some guys like Jason Bay, Grady Sizemore, Derek Lee, or Aubrey Huff who have been plagued by injuries but are all capable of at least 25 homerun seasons. Names like Carlos Lee, Pablo Sandoval, Billy Butler, Shin Soo Choo, David Wright, Alfonso Soriano, or maybe even Andre Ethier would probably be available as well. Of course, your options will always increase around the trade deadline. Also note that Vlad Guerrero is a free agent. I’m not saying that we should go after any of those guys, but they are some of the possibilities.

  • lonnie.mathis

    @JCondreay Not to argue, but, who are these “good bats” that you speak of?

  • lonnie.mathis

    I guess we have a different definition of “available”. No problem, I understand your point.

  • JCondreay

    @lonnie.mathis Let me rephrase that to “available for a price.” haha

  • MattyK

    @[email protected] In this line of thinking, what happens to Ichiro after this season? As a free agent do we re-sign, or go after some power?

    Any lefties going to be available that can play right field? (I would check, but trying to be lazy :-) )

  • JCondreay

    @MattyK @lonnie.mathis If Ichiro has a good year and we can get him for a short term contract at a reasonable price, then I would love to have him back. I think we have taken the 200 hit season for granted for the last decade, its a luxury we have gotten used to. However, I don’t see all of those variables working out. As for free agents, it makes the most sense to sign someone to a long term deal i think so I would look at names like Andre Ethier (Left), Nick Swisher (Switch), Josh Hamilton (Left), Carlos Quentin (Right), or Delmon Young (Right). Those are some of the younger names available next offseason, but they probably won’t be cheap. We also have some decent options within the system like Wells, or Chavez.

  • JCondreay

    @lonnie.mathis Well Morales, Trumbo, and Reynolds like I mentioned in the article are all 30 homerun type guys. Off the top of my head, there are always some guys like Jason Bay, Grady Sizemore, Derek Lee, or Aubrey Huff who have been plagued by injuries but are all capable of at least 25 homerun seasons. Names like Carlos Lee, Pablo Sandoval, Billy Butler, Shin Soo Choo, David Wright, Alfonso Soriano, or maybe even Andre Ethier would probably be available as well. Of course, your options will always increase around the trade deadline. Also note that Vlad Guerrero is a free agent. I’m not saying that we should go after any of those guys, but they are some of the possibilities.

  • lonnie.mathis

    I guess we have a different definition of “available”. No problem, I understand your point.

  • JCondreay

    @lonnie.mathis Let me rephrase that to “available for a price.” haha

  • http://sodomojo.com/ MattyK

    @[email protected] In this line of thinking, what happens to Ichiro after this season? As a free agent do we re-sign, or go after some power?

    Any lefties going to be available that can play right field? (I would check, but trying to be lazy :-) )

  • JCondreay

    @MattyK @lonnie.mathis If Ichiro has a good year and we can get him for a short term contract at a reasonable price, then I would love to have him back. I think we have taken the 200 hit season for granted for the last decade, its a luxury we have gotten used to. However, I don’t see all of those variables working out. As for free agents, it makes the most sense to sign someone to a long term deal i think so I would look at names like Andre Ethier (Left), Nick Swisher (Switch), Josh Hamilton (Left), Carlos Quentin (Right), or Delmon Young (Right). Those are some of the younger names available next offseason, but they probably won’t be cheap. We also have some decent options within the system like Wells, or Chavez.

  • Harrison_Crow

    The fences are really that much deeper than a lot of other ball parks, part of the “so-called problem” is the location of the stadium in regards to the weather and even the wind coming off the cold sea and deadening left field. Plus it’s one of the more unique home field advantages that any team has in the big leagues. Just my opinion… that and I agree with Matty’s thoughts.

  • Harrison_Crow

    The fences are really that much deeper than a lot of other ball parks, part of the “so-called problem” is the location of the stadium in regards to the weather and even the wind coming off the cold sea and deadening left field. Plus it’s one of the more unique home field advantages that any team has in the big leagues. Just my opinion… that and I agree with Matty’s thoughts.