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Frustration On The Field: Mariners Make 'Emergency Fix Out Of Desperation'

MarinersMclendonhat.jpg
Elaine Thompson
/
AP Photo
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon kicks his baseball cap along the first base line after being ejected from the baseball game the third inning against the New York Yankees on Tuesday, June 2, 2015, in Seattle.

As the Mariners host the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend at Safeco Field, there are two new faces in the dugout. This week, the Mariners traded four players to the Arizona Diamondbacks for power hitter Mark Trumbo and left-handed pitcher Vidal Nuño.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel said he's not impressed.

Didn't Get Much

Thiel called the trade "redundant" and "mysterious."

"They already have what they acquired in Mark Trumbo: guys who can hit big flies and who also have big whiffs," he said. "(General Manager) Jack Zduriencik loves power hitters. He tries to collect them. And the Mariners have not done well, typically, with them.

"Trumbo is a guy who is not only a big home run hitter and strikeout guy, he's also a below-average fielder. And it's really frustrating for Mariner fans because they're saying 'this isn't a guy that is different from what we already have.'"

But Thiel admits Trumbo is an "incremental improvement."

"He IS better than Dustin Ackley or anybody else they put in left field. Unless it's Seth Smith, who I think is an average Major League outfielder. I would've put him in there, but I wasn't asked," Thiel joked.

"The young left hander Nuño is an adequate pitcher. He's had a 3-15 record in his Major League career with the Yankees and now as a reliever with the Diamondbacks," Thiel said.

"He is needed because they are short-handed both in the bullpen and in the rotation. Is he going to be a long-term answer? No, I don't think so. I think they're waiting for a return to health of Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton. So this is a patch."

Didn't Give Much

"They gave up two players on the current roster: Dominic Leone, a left-handed relief specialist, and their back-up catcher Welington Castillo, who'd only been here six games," Thiel pointed out. "They clearly wanted to prove that he could catch and hit at least adequately because Arizona has a need. So they just basically showcased him.

"They (also) gave up two minor-league prospects that I think most fans are not familiar with. But one is a shortstop, Gaby Guerrero, who is the nephew of Vladimir Guerrero, the great slugger in Angels history.

"Gaby Guerrero is hitting .214 in the minor leagues and has been struggling. He IS rated as the No. 7 overall prospect by Baseball America in the Mariners' organization. So, he is, potentially, a valuable player.

"But, really, the Mariners gave up relatively little for these two players and got back relatively little."

What's Next?

Thiel doesn't see a lot of prospects.

"This (trade) is an emergency fix out of desperation because the Mariners are slowly falling out of contention here in June for a team that had a lot of expectations," he said.

"I was among those who thought this was a playoff-worthy team. I'm not saying they're not - yet.

"(Manager) Lloyd McClendon said it best after a game this week in which somebody asked him about the continued hitting woes and whether there's going to be help on the way. He said 'I've got to have my 3,4,5 hitters hit.' That refers to Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager.

"He said 'If they don't hit, I'm going to be driving a garbage truck soon.' Some of us cynics might say 'You know what, you may be driving one now and it's called the Seattle Mariners.' I don't want to go quite that far yet but I guess I just did.

"They've really got to to turn this thing around quick. We're now 50+ games into the season and the Mariners are falling further and further behind. And it's really hard to make up that distance in the American League West."

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You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and Crosscut.com.

Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between historylink.org and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.
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