Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Time for Mariners to end the Carlos Peguero experiment

By Kshell

The Seattle Mariners were a break or two away yesterday from being tied for first place in the American League Western Division. Instead the Mariners a team who lost 101 games last year find themselves two games back of the division leading Texas Rangers. The Mariners are winning this year despite an offense that ranks dead last in baseball in Batting Average, On base percentage, and hits. They rank 29th in slugging, 28th in runs and 24th in home runs. The Mariners are winning despite their offense and this post I'm about to make will make it seem like I'm picking on one player. The Mariners have several holes in their lineup but some of the guys the Mariners can't get rid of while they can demote Carlos Peguero to Triple A Tacoma. I'm also writing this because recently I've been verbally attacked for saying that Peguero shouldn't be batting fifth and has no future with the team. I was told to check my facts, how I obviously don't know baseball, well Eric Wedge thinks he's good, to quoting fake stats and lastly having my intelligence compared to his four year old daughter. Now I most likely won't receive an apology when I'm proven right just like nobody ever admits I'm right. There is usually always the "Yeah but blah blah blah" to the results. In this post I'll explain why Peguero needs to be sent down if he has any chance of being successful. I'll also explain how despite the Mariners winning the offense is broken and they need to fix things quick.

Let's start with Carlos Peguero who everyone is in love with because when he makes contact on a pitch the ball travels a long ways. Fans love raw power and then it doesn't help that the local media talks him up like they talk up all prospects. The problem is the media talks up Peguero as if he's on the same level as a Dustin Ackley. It's the same reason why fans felt Wladimir Balentien was better than Adam Jones because instead of doing research they just listen to the media. Balentien happened to do better than Jones in the short sample size they were called up in 2007 so people jumped to conclusions. Now with Peguero I'm not alarmed because he is struggling in the majors I'm more concered of the why he's struggling plus his minor league numbers suggest this will keep up. In the following paragraph I'll show you Peguero's stats and no he isn't comparable to Jay Buhner or any successful slugger in fact.

So far this year Peguero is batting .200/.257/.410 on the year in only 105 at bats with five home runs and 15 RBI's. Then the real ugly numbers pop up like his 35 K's to just 6 BB's ratio. In other words he is striking out 33.3% of the time while walking only 5.3% of the time which is a horrible ratio. His defense is also terrible as to date his UZR(ultimate zone rating which is an efficient way of judging defense) on defense is at negative 2.8 on the season. Peguero earlier in the week was batting cleanup by manager Eric Wedge and Wedge then had him bat fifth as well. Peguero is currently in a 2-25(.080) slump which include 10 strikeouts to just two walks. On the year he's swinging and missing 31.8% of the time which is a huge number, swings at 48.0% of pitches outside the strike zone and swings at 59.3% of pitches thrown towards him so he is a free swinger who doesn't make nearly enough contact. Now some keep arguing with me that this is small sample size which is true except for his career minor league stats aren't much better. In the minors he hit .271/.329/.497 in 1,977 at bats over the course of six seasons so a big chunk of data to base an opinion off of. In the minors he struck out 660 times to just 148 walks with 88 HR's. So he hits a home run one in 22 at bats in the minor leagues while striking out 33.3% of the time and only walking 7.4% of the time. If those numbers look like his major league "short sample size" well they are very similar which is why I'm so down on Peguero. For now the Mariners need to demote him which doesn't solve much.

One solution is for Wedge to go with Mike Carp who I'm on record as saying he is quadruple A I'm aware. I do think Carp someday could be a guy like Mike Morse who could emerge as a solid player I have no hope for Peguero. Carp so far with the Mariners hasn't had much of a chance as he has received just 23 official at bats. Carp isn't doing much in that short sample time hitting .217/.357/.261 on the year while striking out 39.1% of the time and walking 14.3% of the time with zero home runs. He hasn't had much of a sample size at all and I'd like to see what he could do instead of having Peguero. Carp in the minors was a decent hitter as he hit .277/.368/.469 in 2,882 official at bats. He has homered 131 times, struck out 653 times and walked 347 times. So Carp homers in one in 22 at bats like Peguero did, strikes out 22.6% of the time and walks 12.0% of the time. This past year in Tacoma before being called him up Carp was hitting .348/.409/.661 in 224 at bats with 19 home runs, 44 strike outs and 22 walks. So in Tacoma he was hitting a home run in 11.8 at bats, striking out 19.6% of the time and walking 9.8% of the time. As you can see Carp is clearly the better hitter than Peguero based on thousands of career minor league at bats. Is Carp the answer? Probably not but I would rather run him up there than Peguero at this point. Although the Mariners most likely solution will involve a trade.

If the Mariners want to make the playoffs this year Jack Zduriencik is going to have to make a trade. Whether that be a small trade that brings in a solid stick while giving up little or a big trade which parts with Jason Vargas or Doug Fister while bringing in a big bat something needs to be done. The Mariners aren't getting production from third base which can now be fixed with Ackley being called up Adam Kennedy moves to third base. They aren't getting production from centerfield which the Mariners are hoping Franklin Gutierrez can finally turn it around and be healthy. That leaves the DH and left field positions in the lineup. They tried Jack Cust earlier in the season and while he gets on base he also strikes out a lot while not providing any power. The Mariners also tried Michael Saunders in left field and he failed miserably. Wedge is insisting on trying Peguero right now in left field and he is also failing as well. Greg Halman if you look at his career minor league numbers isn't the answer against right handed pitchers but could provide a good platoon in left against a left handed pitcher. Ideally Carp will hit close to what he has done in his minor league career and Zduriencik trades for a right handed bat. That right handed bat can be the DH with Halman against left handed pitching. While against right handed pitching Carp can be the guy and Zduriencik would have to deal for a left handed stick as well to play left field or DH. Right now the Mariners are winning but it has very little to do with the hitting and if not for the amazing pitching the team would be hurting. In other words if you replace Erik Bedard and Michael Pineda with Ian Snell and Ryan Rowland-Smith the Mariners would have the same record as last year.

In conclusion, the Mariners offense is broken and the pitching is saving them this season. One thing I think most level headed people can agree on is that the Carlos Peguero experiment needs to end. He needs to be sent down to Tacoma to learn how to be a hitter and if he is still striking out at a 5.5-1 ratio to walks then flat out release him. I can't think of a single slugger who had a strikeout to walk ratio as poorly as his. Even Jay Buhner in the minor leagues struck out 24.0% of the time and walked 15.1% of the time while hitting .293 which took me about 10 seconds of research. To make that comparison is just being lazy all the way around. The Mariners by sending Peguero don't aren't saved as Carp might not be the answer either. I say give Carp a try until the all-star break while in the meantime make a trade for an immediate bat. Even a quadruple A bat would be better than what the Mariners are running out there at DH and LF. So hopefully Zduriencik makes a trade pretty soon to improve this offense because the guys currently on the roster can't fill up the DH and Left Field problems. As soon as the Mariners move on from the Peguero experiment and give Carp a chance the sooner they can seriously evaluate their roster. The choice is pretty clear at this point send Peguero down and go find a bat Zduriencik. I'm just glad the Mariners are buyers as of this date who would have thought that back in March?

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