Spent the day with Daveshoe up at Cafe Mox in Ballard today. Mostly we were there to play a couple of awesome board games and partake of the great food and gaming environment, but I’d be remiss to say we didn’t discuss one of our favorite topics, the Seattle Mariners. We rolled over all the remaining possibilities for the Mariners to fill their outfield needs-Brad Miller, James Jones and perhaps a trade of some kind. Seth Smith.
Dropped Dave at home at 4:15, got on Ambaum headed south toward the freeway and checked my phone for messages from the missus. Lo and behold the M’s have acquired Smith from the Padres for right-handed reliever Brandon Maurer.
This is a good move for the Mariners and closes the outfield hole they created when they traded away Michael Saunders. Let’s be clear about what Seth Smith is not. He isn’t an every day outfielder. He’s a guy who should make a good platoon with Justin Ruggiano. His career slash vs. left handed pitching is .205/.291/.314. His line against right handed pitching is .277/.358/.481. Smith has far more at bats against right handers than lefties and is used to the role of a platoon player.
Seth Smith is not Justin Upton. Upton is an every day player who has hit 27 or more home runs every year since 2009. Smith has never hit more than 17 home runs in a big league season, and that was Colorado in 2010. However Upton has struck out more than 100 times per season since his first full season in 2008, 171 times in 2014, 26% of his plate appearances. Smith’s 2014 strikeout percentage was 16.6%. Upton had a 9.6% walk percentage, while Smith had a 13.2% ratio. Upton is a better defender and a stronger throwing arm. He’ll steal more bases. The Padres have Upton for the 2015 season only at a cost of $14.5 million. The Mariners get Smith through the 2016 season for $12.5 million with a 2017 option for $7 million. Upton is only 27 while Smith is 32.
While Smith is definitely not an every day player, he is an outfielder and he is affordable. He is not a 41 year old Raul Ibanez forced to play in the outfield on a daily basis. He is not Mike Morse who should never have been stuck in the outfield in 2013. He is not Corey Hart or Logan Morrison who were imagined as right fielders by the fertile mind of Jack Zdurencik. He isn’t Brad Miller who has never played the outfield at any professional level. He isn’t Abraham Almonte pressed into a starting center-field/leadoff role because it seemed like a good idea at the time. No, Seth Smith has been an outfielder 865 major league games subtracting a few for his DH games in Oakland. He’s a guy who should make a good platoon and might give the M’s the best outfield they’ve had since at least 2009. We’ll see; they still have to play the games.
I’m sorry to see Brandon Maurer go. He went through an incredible transformation when he moved to the bullpen. He could throw the crap out of the ball for an inning. He has the intimidating fastball and heart of a closer, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him end up in that role. Unfortunately, you have to give up something to get something. The Mariners are awash in relievers, and the Padres had a few too many outfielders. It’s a good trade for both teams.