Sometimes, it is fun to try things differently. And when you write about the Mariners, it can be necessary. Today, we unveil a one-act play between Mariners fans Negative Nick (NN) and Positive Pete(PP).
PP: Hey, Nick. I just checked my phone and according to sources, the Rays and our hometown Mariners are in the works of a deal.
NN: Care to specify, Pete?
NN: The quarterback?
PP: No, MALLEX Smith!
NN: Oh, I know him! Big whoop. So if you pull Zunino aside for a second, we’re just swapping one three-year outfielder for another. I don’t see the buzz.
PP: Look at stats much, Nick? Smith did something Heredia never did in his first three seasons.
NN: Do a cartwheel?
PP: No, Let’s say that hitting in the .250’s or less is “baseball okay” and anything .260 or above is “baseball good.” Has Heredia broken .250 once?
NN: Well, no.
PP: And Mallex Smith?
NN: (sigh) .270 in 2017 and .296 last year.
PP: Exactly. So Mallex has posted a good average in the first two-thirds of his career while Guillermo still is yet to.
NN: Newsflash, Smith hit .238 in his rookie season.
PP: That was his rookie season, give him a break!
NN: But Heredia was so clutch. Remember his walk-offs?
PP: Baseball teams need to prioritize consistent hitting over a few walk-offs. And both were early in the season, not September crunchtime or anything.
NN: Still not convinced, Pete.
PP: Seriously? Not even if I told you Smith outdoes both his trade opposites in WAR?
NN: What the heck is WAR?
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PP: Let’s just say it’s the kind of statistic that can measure the difference a player makes. Mallex Smith’s WAR was 3.5 for the Rays in 2018! Almost double Zunino’s 1.9 and Heredia’s was in the negative!
NN: For all your selling points about Smith, don’t forget about Zunino’s power. He finished 2018 with 10 times more homers than Smith. Even the power-light Heredia parked more than he did.
PP: You’re prioritizing the wrong categories, Nick! Zunino’s 150 strikeouts more than offset his homer total. And even though Heredia could have been in the same utility class as Mclemore or Bloomquist with a higher average, he didn’t achieve that. We have to accept the reality.
NN: If this Mallex Smith guy is so special, why did the Rays deal him?
PP: Maybe they saw something in Smith which made him expendable. Or maybe they want a veteran backstop with pop. Think about it: The Rays have two rookie catchers, Nick Ciuffo and Michael Perez. Despite being brand new, Ciuffo’s 2018 slash of .189/.262/.559 makes Zunino’s line look Aaron Judge-like.
NN: Oh, please.
PP: And even though Perez hit an impressive 2018 rookie average of .284, Zunino has the experience and he doesn’t.
NN: We didn’t give either of them enough of a chance.
PP: Maybe so, they may both become solid hitters and be diagnosed with Smoak Syndrome. It’s true that Heredia was flashy and sometimes clutch. Mike had proven the power and was a good defensive catcher. But think of this trade as Dipoto merely selling a mediocre farm system.
NN: You’re blaming the farm system?
PP: Nick, it was time to part ways. Heredia and Zunino were two of the few 2018 Mariners who were homegrown. And both had two of the lesser averages on the club.
NN: This trade makes no sense. We’re doomed next year.
PP: Maybe not. Zunino and Heredia both had the potential to hit higher but they didn’t. The best we can do now is wish them the best.
NN: You’re willing to give this Mallex Smith a chance?
PP: We have to give him a chance.