Something to keep an eye on


It’s the new guy’s first post! I guess if you don’t know about me I’ll say a few words. I’ve been posting in the blogosphere for a few years now, mostly at Lookout Landing. I am the sports editor for the Edmonds Community College newspaper, The Triton Review. I’m not as smart when it comes to numbers as LL or USSM may be, but I have a basic understanding, and am fairly good at interpretation, so my analysis, I would like to think, adds another element to the discussion. Anyway, I figure that’s enough about me, so onto the post!

One of the more interesting stories this spring has been the catching situation. With Adam Moore having all but made the team, the next thing to figure out is his role. This is just speculation on my part, but I believe the Mariners would like his role to be more than that of just a backup.

The thing that stood out to me was how the M’s pushed back Rob Johnson’s spring debut from Sunday–where he would’ve been catching Felix Hernandez–to Monday, where he would be catching Cliff Lee. If you followed the team even a little bit last year, you’d know that Rob Johnson was essentially Felix’s personal catcher. Why, I don’t know, but that’s not the point of this post. If I wanted to talk about Rob Johnson’s inability to catch the ball or block anything in the dirt, my tone might be a lot angrier.

Pushing back Johnson stands out to me because it allowed the Mariners to have Moore catch Felix, and it also made Moore the first Mariner catcher this spring to catch back-to-back games. My hunch is that the team wants to see how well Felix works with Moore, as well as giving Moore the chance to see what catching a pitcher of Felix’s caliber is like. My hunch was confirmed when Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN Seattle posted Wak’s thought process on giving Moore the start on her blog. “Wak wanted Moore to get experience catching Felix and it is something that Moore is looking forward.” Drayer posted.

I personally don’t believe that it was just a reward for Moore’s good start to the Spring thus far. What it shows to me is that the Mariners would love for Adam Moore to grab this job by the throat and run with it while Johnson is recovering from about 159 offseason surgeries. It’s too bad for Johnson that an injury may cost him playing time, but he could’ve either hit or played good defense last year and this wouldn’t have been considered a positional battle. Also, Johnson essentially landed the starting job last year due to Kenji Johjima’s DL trips, so perhaps it’s a little bit of baseball karma that he may lose his job the same way.

If this is the case, I don’t think this could be seen as anything but good news for Mariners fans. Moore and Johnson are the same age, though Moore definitely has more upside. I’d be shocked if Moore wasn’t a better hitter than Johnson right now, and if being at least as good as Rob Johnson defensively is the hurdle that Moore has to clear, then based on the fact that I’ve yet to hear anything about Moore dropping pitches in the strike zone, I think Moore has the clear edge there too.

Obviously this isn’t set in stone, but the Mariners like to be close to the vest with just about any move they make. No one knew about the Chone Figgins/Jose Lopez position swap until it was happening in camp. It seems as though the Mariners are very quietly putting Moore on schedule to be the primary catcher. Right now it’s just speculation based on the team’s actions early in the Spring, but it’s something to keep an eye on. Don’t be surprised if Adam Moore is your primary Mariners catcher in 2010.