Mike Zunino was recently called up by the Mariners. While they could certainly use offensive help, I'm not sure a guy who was putting up basically league average numbers at AAA and who has had less than a year of development time is the answer. What is some of the thinking behind calling him up now?
I wrote about this on Tuesday, but the move doesn't really make sense from a player development standpoint. Zunino was played in the College World Series less than a year ago, and had major contact issues/trouble with breaking balls in AAA. The catching situation of Jesus Sucre, Kelly Shoppach, and Brandon Bantz left a lot to be desired, but for a team that isn't in playoff contention, shouldn't proper player development be more important than winning an extra game or two? The whole thing left me wondering if the Mariners brass are starting to fear for their jobs and need to get as many wins as possible right now. Zunino is the organization's best bet at catcher, but I highly doubt he's ready to handle this. Plus, it needlessly occupied another spot on the 40-man roster as the Mariners are going to be forced to make some more tough decisions. Maybe the A's can take the next 40-man casualty away from the Mariners as well. Miss you, Catricala.
As Zunino comes up, Montero went down earlier in both senses, with an injury and demotion. He simply hasn't been the hitter he was cracked up to be thus far. What are some of the things he's struggling with?
Not only the injury and demotion, but now rumored PED suspension possibly on the way. If this is what Montero was like at the plate on PEDs, the thought of him without is terrifying. He's an impatient hitter who doesn't see a lot of pitches, but just generally doesn't make good contact very often. He has monster power when he really connects, this season he hit out right by the hill in Minute Maid Park. Montero's work ethic has been called into question more than a few times, and his performance didn't help any of those theories. He's a horrific baserunner who looks like he's slowing down from a sprint when he's at an actual sprint, and his defensive performance was brutal to watch. I don't mind that the Mariners gave him another shot to improve behind the dish, because his value could be so much more there than at DH. He constantly made fundamental mistakes on defense and in the field, and it was the right move to just let him try and become a pure hitter. That's his last hope, and in order to be a valuable player he'll have to really hit because he's now without a position.
Having now signed a contract extension, Felix is pretty much untradeable from multiple perspectives. On the other hand, wow what a haul he could bring in a trade. Do you think that was ever really given any serious consideration?
Felix's new deal has no trade protection and he also has 10/5 rights coming up soon, which is insane for a guy who's only 27. The Mariners front office likes to play things close to the vest, which is why I don't think it was ever really entertained. Jack Zduriencik went out of his way to talk about how they weren't trading Felix, and Felix went out of his way to say he didn't want to ever leave Seattle. At the end of the day, they both followed through and Seattle got to keep a home grown superstar. I believe there was really no other option.
On the topic of trades, is there anyone you think will be dealt at the deadline to a contender? Kyle Seager would look good on the A's if he could learn to play second
I see a lot of players possibly being traded, including Mike Morse, Brendan Ryan, Kendrys Morales, Jason Bay, and Raul Ibanez. The Mariners are held together right now by a bunch of 1 year rental players, and those are the guys they will shop to contenders. Seager has been such a breakout player for the Mariners and is controlled for many more seasons. The organization doesn't really have any other great depth at 3B, and the return required for such a valuable player would have to be massive. It'd be a shock if he was moved, in fact I think the Mariners will probably try to buy out some of his arbitration years this offseason. He's proven to be a piece worth building around. To answer your question about 2nd base, that's actually Seager's "natural" position, in that he played it primarily in college and in the minors. From what we've seen of his 21 games at 2B, he may even be better there than he is at 3B.
Thanks so much to Scott for participating the in the AN Series Preview. He can followed on Twitter at @scottyweebs. The A's play Those Guys Again at 7:05 tonight.