The west coast is where you can find the Red Sox for the next seven games, meaning there will be many tired Sox fans dragging their behinds at work after staying up late to watch their beloved team. First up, the Seattle Mariners for four games and while the Red Sox offense has been stellar of late, the first game doesn’t get much more difficult as it does with King Felix Hernandez on the mound.
The Mariners are last in the AL West and won’t be making the postseason this year. Already rumors have started swirling about the possibility of trading the face of the team, Ichiro Suzuki and we asked Bryant, the senior editor at Sodo Mojo about this and much more in our series Q&A. Enjoy.
1. There’s been talk about Ichiro and whether or not the Mariner’s should trade him this year. What do you think the right thing to do is and what do you think will happen?
I believe the idea has to be at the very least entertained. That being said, I believe it is a bit of a fantasy. Ichiro is coming off the worst season of his career and is in the midst of putting together another season of poor production. A .276/.304/.378 lead off bat isn’t worth much in the league these days, and even though a switch to the National League might benefit the former 200 hit regular, it is unknown whether Ichrio would even be willing to waive his no trade clause.
Essentially the perfect deal would have to fall into the Mariners lap. If a team is willing to overpay for Ichiro’s former abilities, I believe the Mariners will jump. But the Mariners aren’t going to trade the current face of this franchise for the couple of fringe prospects, they will require something immediately tangible.
2. Eric Wedge went on record and said he was disappointed with the growth his young players have displayed so far this year. Is that a fair statement? Would you send some down to triple-A?
It’s hard to argue with his judgement. Dustin Ackley is mired in a massive sophmore slump, Jesus Montero isn’t progressing as rapidly as we hoped, Justin Smoak is a few months away from being labeled a bust, Hector Noesi lacks pitching smarts, and while Kyle Seager and Michael Saunders represent the teams best hitter, both are incredibly streaky.
Would I send them down to AAA? No. Well, perhaps Justin Smoak (who has a mere 3 doubles on the season) but there is nothing for them to develop down there expect bad habbits. The only way they are going to learn is through hard knocks here at the big league level.
All that being said, if Wedge is going to hold his young players accountable, he needs to do the same for his veterans. Miguel Olivo, and Chone Figgins have done nothing to justify roster spots and Ichiro and Ryan have provided one sided value with their gloves. The Mariners have holes, some will be filled once the young prospects develop into their own, the other will need to be filled through other means.
3. Who’s been the biggest surprise for the M’s this year and who should we keep an eye on during the series?
It’s hard not to argue for a tie. Michael Saunders and Kyle Seager have both come from nowhere to claim the title of the teams best hitters. Saunders, who was undoubtedly close to wasting his last opportunity last season, has discovered how to hit the outside pitch. Throughout his first few seasons, pitcher discovered that if they worked him outside with off speed stuff, he was an automatic out. This season, Saunders has started to drive that pitch the other way, thus transforming him into a league average product at the plate.
Seager made his debut last season, and while he showed mild gap power, he was being written up as a utility infielder…in his prime. After making a few tweaks to his swing this off season, he has reinvented himself and is displaying a sustained power surge. I believe Seagers new found power to be legitimate, but only time will tell.
Seager and Saunders have easily been the biggest surprises of the season.
4. Will the Mariners ever trade King Felix? Reason I ask is there has been discussions in the past about whether or not the Red Sox should look at dealing Ellsbury before losing him to free agency in a couple years and one destination that’s been deemed a possibility is Seattle. What are your thoughts?
To be honest I don’t think Ellsbury is a big enough center piece in a deal for any of the top 5 pitchers in baseball. But no, I don’t believe the Mariners will trade Felix. The Mariners window is soon approaching, and even if it takes a bit longer than the organization hopes, Felix’s prime still extends far enough to keep in in the fold.
5. Will the Mariners be sellers at the trade deadline? If so, who do you think is in play?
Undoubtedly. The Mariners were aware that is would take a near miracle to push them into contention this season, and that train has left the station. Brandon League is definitely on the block, along with Kevin Millwood, Shawn Kelley, Miguel Olivo, Chone Figgins, Brendan Ryan, Jason Vargas, and Hisashi Iwakuma. We discussed Ichiro earlier, other than that I believe the list of untouchables is a much shorter list.
6. Finally, give us a brief update on the four starters the Red Sox will see over this series and give us your predictions.
Boston Red Sox are familiar with King Felix, as he has whirled a few gems against them. Felix has been a bit of a different pitcher this season. Early on there was concern of injury due to a dip in velocity. Felix insisted it was nothing until watching film of himself. Felix identified a small mechanical issue that he didn’t even realize he was preforming. Since then the results have been kinder to our staff ace and his velocity is back on the rise. I have the Mariners taking this one, it’s hard to bet against Felix.
Hector Noesi is the lesser known part of the Michael Pineda deal that occurred this winter. Noesi has been very good at times, but more often than not he is very bad. Noesi has great stuff, but at time he doesn’t appear to think like a pitcher out there on the mound. Several 0-2 pitches that should be buried in the dirt, are often left up in the zone and results in a hit. Noesi does seem to have a repeatable skill of producing in field pop ups, but unless that skill shows up in full force, I have the Red Sox taking this one.
Erasmo Ramirez takes the ball in game 3. Ramirez is coming off the best performance of his young career the other night…which resulted in a 1-0 loss. Ramirez stuck out 10 while only giving up the one run. His MO is easy, pound the zone and let the opposition get themselves out. I figure this one to come down to the pen, and eventually the Sox taking this one
Lastly we have possibly the Mariners best trade chip in Jason Vargas. Vargas has easily taken claim to the teams second best pitcher behind Felix all these years. He isn’t shiny and doesn’t throw anything “nasty” but somehow he has been able to miss enough bats and create enough outs to be a pretty good pitcher over the years. Vargas will attack you with a little cutter and a change, hoping to weakly put the ball in play rather than generate strike outs. I have the Mariners taking this one.