ADDITIONAL NOTE 2:45 p.m.: I’ll be guest-hosting for an hour with Jeff “The Fish” Aaron on Sports Radio KJR this afternoon from 5 p.m.-6 p.m. PT if you want to hear more discussion about today’s moves.
Well, it didn’t take long for the Mariners to make the one obvious move staring them in the face. They just optioned pitcher Hector Noesi to Class AAA Tacoma. By sending Noesi out now, he can get some work in over the All-Star Break and continue to pitch in AAA after that and maybe get back to the majors a bit sooner.
As far as other moves go, there isn’t much of a need for the Mariners to make any of them right now. As I mentioned, the All-Star Break is just three games away and the team will take time during that lull to ponder other, more profound news. But you want Noesi to keep pitching every five days, so there was no need to make him fly to Oakland for the weekend and then dispatch him to AAA the day before his next start.
So, that’s why this move came today.
The Mariners have Hisashi Iwakuma who can take his MLB spot and speaking to GM Jack Zduriencik moments ago, that appears to be the plan going forward.
“That’s what we have right now, certainly,” Zduriencik said, adding that the team won’t make any definitive decisions until the All-Star Break next week.
Now, the player called up by the Mariners in Noesi’s spot is certainly interesting. It’s going to be Carlos Peguero, the power-hitting, strikeout-prone outfielder who earned the ire of Mariners fans everywhere a year ago by being called up a bit too soon and run out into the field night after night while his whiffs multiplied.
So, why now?
Photo Credit: AP
Well, the Mariners need some guys who can hit and having Peguero up here gives you a bat that can “do damage” as Eric Wedge likes to say. Also, this move could be a precursor to sending Jesus Montero down to AAA for a stint once the All-Star Break comes.
“He’s been doing some things down there for a while now and certainly, we have had our struggles offensively,” Zduriencik said of Peguero. “So, we’ll get him up here, take a look and see what he can do.”
Peguero is running a 1.002 OPS with a .293 average and 18 homers in just 188 at-bats in AAA so far.
Zduriencik said Peguero will see time in both the outfield and at DH.
As far as another outfielder, the Mariners are having enough trouble squeezing all of their existing outfielders into the field at the same time so this move is kind of interesting from a positional standpoint.
“We’re going to do what we have to in order to make it work,” Zduriencik said.
What Peguero could do, however, is offer some power DH potential if indeed Montero gets sent down. Because Montero is still getting a good amount of his playing time as a DH.
The downside for Peguero? For me, it’s still the strikeout rate. It’s running at 30.6 percent in Class AAA this year compared to 31.8 percent last year.
Those are minor league strikeout rates, which would be expected to grow in the majors. And a 30 percent strikeout rate is too high at any level, regardless of your power. Unless you prove adept at getting on-base at an above average rate. That alone leads me to think this is meant to be a more temporary move, like something that will span the time Montero might spend in AAA if demoted. Whether it’s a few weeks, or the remainder of July and the entire month of August.
Now, if Peguero can actually get on-base in the majors, unlike his stint last year, then that’s another story. But if it’s all home run power or strikeouts and nothing else, that won’t work. Peguero actually clubbed quite a few homers in limited M’s action last year, but that’s about all he did. So, he has to bring more to the table this time. Remember, he posted a .923 OPS in AAA last year and still managed just .622 in the majors. The continued high strikeout rate leads me to believe some of the holes in his game that impacted him in the majors are still there, though he is walking more this season — so, that’s a positive.
At the very least, it will give the Mariners one more look to see whether Peguero can ever be an everyday MLB outfielder, or even a DH. And for me, it’s that DH spot he’s potentially going to get most of his playing time at.
Playing time now going to Montero. That’s why, I don’t think this team is done making moves yet. Just give it a few days.
“I think we’re going to watch the three games in Oakland and then take the four-day (All-Star) break and see where we’re at,” Zdurinecik said. “Right now, there’s nothing imminent, but let’s give it the three days, then Eric (Wedge) and myself will sit down and go over things in a lot more detail.”