Mariner Musings: More Questions than Answers
By Trevor Pedro
The Good Vibes Express is back in action as the Mariners played their first complete game in a week. The team rode a dominant start from ace Luis Castillo (6 IP 0 ER 9 K) and big games from Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez to an 11-2 win against Oakland. Despite the happy totals, the team still has more questions than answers. Let's delve into them in this edition of "Mariner Musings."
Answer #1: Caballero Shines at Second
The Mariners have continually run out of subpar second basemen for the past two years. When the team traded for Kolten Wong, the thought was the veteran would solidify the spot and provide leadership in the clubhouse. Instead, 48 games in, Wong is sporting an anemic slash line (.177/.259/.467). The poor offensive performance is trickling into the field, as the 32-year-old has made several critical miscues that cost the team wins. Enter rookie Jose Caballero.
The unheralded infielder was known for being the return in the famed Mike Leake trade. But, oh, how has the narrative changed? Manager Scott Servais continues to praise the 26-year-old rookie at every turn, but now his teammates are joining in.
"The guy brings grit, and he's a leader on the team already," Jarred Kelenic said after Monday's 11-2 win. "And he's only been here for like a month now. But he's a guy you need on a team because he's going to go out and be the same guy, playing the game hard every day."- Jarred Kelenic on Jose Caballero
Caballero is running a 129 wRC+ amounting to 0.9 WAR, making Kolten Wong expendable – especially since the team only gave up Jesse Winker (who is struggling in Milwaukee) and Abraham Toro (in Triple-A). So chances are Wong's days are numbered with the organization.
Question #1: When will Teoscar be Teoscar?
Teoscar Hernandez, another offseason addition, is supposed to replace Mitch Haniger. The track record showed a complete player who was a rung above Haniger. He was an all-star, had a pension for hitting the ball with authority, and came up clutch in critical moments. Fast forward to the quarter-season mark, and we are looking at a wholly lost guy at the plate (.239/.279/.688). He is starting to show some signs of a breakout, but they are few and far between the strikeouts.
The veteran slugger has always had some swing-and-miss in his game, but he is walking less (3.6%) and striking out at an untenable rate (34.5%). At this point, the only choice is to let him hit his way out of the funk, which he has shown signs of every few games. Chances are the track record will play out, and he'll get hot carrying the team for a few weeks. Until then, hang on for dear life because his at-bats are an adventure.
Question #2: When will we see Munoz and Murfee?
We've written extensively about the Mariner's need for another high-leverage arms - specifically since Andres Munoz is on the shelf. Per Ryan Divish, General Manager Justin Hollander had some excellent news for fans of Senior Smoke and Penn Murfee.
"Relief pitchers Andrés Muñoz (deltoid strain) and Penn Murfee (elbow inflammation) both had platelet rich plasma injections and are improving. Both are hopeful of being ready sometime during Seattle's next trip which begins June 2 in Texas."- Justin Hollander, GM
Until then, the team will continue to cobble together the late innings in hopes of getting to closer Paul Sewald. Also, keep an eye on prospect Prelander Berroa, who was in Atlanta with the team's taxi squad in case of a rainout. He's on the fast track to the big leagues a la Edwin Diaz and could be a roster addition in the coming weeks.
With the team lined up to face Oakland and Pittsburgh on the this ten-game homestand; now is the time to make up some ground. Another 14 game win streak anyone?