When the Mariners swapped Doug Fister to Detroit for four young players in 2011, it seemed like the Mariners had gotten a decent haul for a mid-to-back end starter. Fast forward to today and the package doesn’t look so great. While Fister has taken a step forward and become a #2 starter, the Mariners package seems to consist of mainly role players. Sure, Charlie Furbush had a breakthrough year out of the pen in 2012, but his potential as a starting pitcher has all but vanished. 22-year-old Francisco Martinez was over-matched in Double-A last season – hitting .227 with 2 home-runs in 402 plate appearances and showing few signs of translating the potential that some scouts saw in him. Prized relief prospect Chance Ruffin took a major step backward in 2012, lacking the stuff that made him a first round pick in 2010. The final piece of the package was Casper Wells, whose future in the organization is likely to be equally questionable.
Casper Wells brings a lot of athleticism to the table and it’s easy to see why the front office targeted him in the Fister deal. Wells has one of the stronger arms in the game, the range to play centerfield in a pinch, and very impressive pull power from the right side. However, Wells has been extremely inconsistent and hasn’t really gotten the benefit of regular playing time from manager Eric Wedge. In the first couple months, Wells only got 53 plate appearances and then was soon demoted to Tacoma. When he was finally given regular playing time in July, Wells disappointed with a .226/.293/.396 line during that month.
Now the Mariners have gone out and signed a possible replacement in Jason Bay, and could possibly add one or two more outfielders to the mix. If this is the case, then Casper Wells could very well be on his way out of Seattle or he’s going to have to fight hard to make the 25-man roster in the spring.
As a right-handed outfielder, Bay is currently the main competition for Wells on the roster. Let’s take a look at how their skills have stacked up over the past three years.
Based on these numbers, Wells and Bay have quite similar profiles. The advantages for Bay include his veteran leadership and slightly better contact and discipline skills. Meanwhile, Wells should be in his prime and has brought much more productive power and defense in the past three years. As you can see in the profile above, Wells seems to be average-to-above average in every area except for contact. In 2012, Wells ranked 256th in contact rate out of the 265 players who had 300 or more plate appearances. This has been a huge area of concern for Wells and it should be noted that his contact rate has declined significantly in each big league season. On a positive note, it was reported that Wells got Lasik surgery this off-season which hopefully can help him improve in this area.
Although I think Wells can bring more with the glove, I think it’ll be interesting to see if Bay can find some of the elite power that he had as recently as 2009. Overall, it’ll be up to Bay and Wells to duke it out in the spring and prove who can contribute more to the 2013 team. If the Mariners add another outfielder or two, Wells could quickly become an outsider and may very well have a new team come April.
Comment below: Can you see Wells being a factor in 2013? How about a Thames/Wells platoon in right field?