Result: The more successful player was Player Y.
Who managed a meager slash line of .241/.295/.383 in their first 500+ plate appearances with the Mariners. But shortly after being granted free-agency he proceed to hit .286/.350/.481 over the next ten years in the league. The player is Raul Ibanez.
Player X is, as Conor Dowley so quickly figured out, Michael Saunders. Who, as well as comparable minor league statistics, has a very comparable first .500 plate appearances with a slash line of .206/.274/.325.
Digging up some info around Raul Ibanez improvement I found this.
"“Kevin [Seitzer] gave me a great approach,” the left-handed-hitting Ibanez said. “My whole life, I had hit, but I really didn’t know how to hit. My swing got shorter. My approach went immediately to left-center no matter what.” – Raul Ibanez"
There are certainly some differences in skill sets between Raul Ibanez but I’ve always been amazed at how similar their careers have been and how Saunders seems destined to move on from the Mariners and put it together some 3 or 4 years down the road. (WHY DO THEY ALWAYS GET BETTER!?)
There are still some mechanical or rather just plain issues with Saunders at bat. Talking with Conor Dowley via twitter a couple of weeks ago he pointed out to me the lack of Saunder’s bat speed this season(and really before the season started). His swings have been slowed tremendously this year. Which was very perceptive and after specifically watching it for the last couple of weeks I completely agree. Not only that but his new swing is very long. Couple that with inconsistent and often times poor pitch recognition (which is why he can go 20+ plate appearances without a walk and then work 3 over the next 10 at bats). There are some flags that are raised.
The Mariners need to decide what they are going to at this point. Despite Langerhans and Bradley being cut as soon as Gutierrez returns he’s going to lose any type of length on the proverbial playing time leash he once had. I love the guy. I love his athleticism and love the fact he’s a plus defender in the field. The organization has given him more of a chance than what it gave Wladimir Balentien, and rightfully so with his skill set. But they need to decide what they are going to do with him.
I know that this isn’t surprising but I’m not ready to give up on a guy with his skill set just yet. I think the Mariners need to send him down to Tacoma starting tomorrow. Let him work whatever he needs to work out there. Tacoma needs outfielders, he can start there every day in center. Hit 6 or 7 in the line-up and just work on specific things. I’ll be willing to bet that after two or three weeks he’ll be tearing up some PCL pitching. But I’d leave him down there.
I’d wait, at least until the all-star break, then work him back in with the club and give him the rest of August and September to prove himself everyday. It would give the organization the ability to determine what they want to do in the off-season.
Can he be the 2012 left fielder: yes or no? If not, the Mariners have a cheap option as a glove first 4th out fielder and they move in another direction and onto finding a more permanent solution for the left field hole.
One last thing, and I’ve been trying to find a way to work this into a blog post over the 6-8 weeks and so here is the perfect opportunity. With Saunders going down and Langerhans being DFA’d one may ask “So, Harrison what happens if Gutierrez isn’t ready to play every day in Center Field, or if he gets injured again. What do you do about the center field position?”
So glad you asked!
Chris Dickerson, I’ve been watching him for the last 6 months. He popped up on my radar when he was traded from the Reds to the Brewers for Jim Edmonds. He was actually a decent under the radar player. I really thought that he could be the answer to the Brewers 2011 Center Field woes. But, they decided to fore go either Dickerson or Lorenzo Cain and stick with Carlos Gomez. Then the Brewers shipped Dickerson to the Yankees in return for Sergio Mitre back at the end of spring training.
So what would we want with a 29 year-old road warrior that only has a rough 500 plate appearances to his name? Well for one he has accrued a UZR/UZR 150 of 10.3/40.9 in 52 games in center over 3 years. While it is seemingly a sample size the fact that he has done it and done it well for two different teams over three different years leads me to believing he is a plus defender.
But he also fits what the Mariners have been stocking up in terms of talent. He takes pitches, a career 11% walk rate in the big leagues and 13% in the minor leagues. In 128 games and 421 plate appearances between 2008 and 2009 with the Cincinnati Reds he has a slash line .283/.383/.440 which isn’t radically different from his career .263/.366/.417 minor league slash line and more in line with his AAA slash since 2008 (.292/.394/.468).
His down side is that he does strike out a bit, over 24% in the last three years in AAA and while he has an upside it’s limited and I’ll be straight he isn’t much different than Ryan Langerhans. But we’ve seen what Langerhans can give us. I want to see what Dickerson can do.
You can give the Yankees… well I don’t know what you give the Yankees. I suppose you can give them a sac of potatoes or the pitching equivalent (Chaz Roe). I can’t imagine that they’d want much being what they gave up for him. It’s not like they have much use for him beyond being some depth.
It’s May and the Mariners need to start the working out what they want to do for the rest of the year in the outfield. Saunders is far from figuring things out and they need to send him to AAA in an opportunity to help him at the plate and I can’t imagine they want to play the rest of the 127 games with Mike Wilson or Carlos Peguero in left field.