This team, as currently constructed has a gaping hole. I'm not talking about the Fifth Starter du Jour or Brad Miller, we know those are problems, but help is on the way (hopefully) for the rotation and Miller seems to be looking at least passable lately. No the hole I'm talking about is at DH, where 11 players have combined to put up a .201/.246/.318 line.
For reference, Zack Grienke's career batting line is .222/.271/.333.
Let that sink in for a minute.
The 2014 Mariners' designated hitters have put up a slightly worse line than a pitcher (albeit one of the better hitting pitchers). The DH's for the M's have hit just about every position in the lineup, except ninth - where, if they are hitting like a pitcher, they belong. If the team has any dreams of continuing to contend in the American League later this summer this has be fixed sooner rather than later.
Help may eventually be on the way, Hart will presumably come back, but then again he was a major culprit in the current batting line. Logan Morrison should be better than the 8 games he played this season (only 3 at DH), but there doesn't seem to be much chatter in recalling him from AAA, despite sporting a 125 wRC+.
It could be that McClendon is enjoying the DH carousel, allowing his regulars days off in the field while still getting their bats in the lineup and they don't see Morrison as an asset anywhere in the field. Well I have another solution that would allow for the same type of rotation, with a bat that could actually help on a day to day basis.
I'm sure many of you are familiar with Kelly, but for those of you that aren't, he is a switch hitting infielder acquired last June from Baltimore in return for Eric Thames. He will turn 26 next month and has been in AAA since he was acquired. Last year Kelly played primarily 2B for the Rainiers and this year has basically split his time evenly between second and third.
He's known primarily for his fantastic approach at the plate (resulting in a .419 OBP since coming to the organization) and a lack in power. This year however has seen his power numbers essentially double. Last year for Tacoma he hit 3 dingers, 6 doubles and a triple in 197 at bats (.086 ISO), so far in 2014 he's had 195 at bats and has hit 7 dingers, 12 doubles and 0 triples (.169 ISO). Kelly's walk rate has jumped down 4% to a (still very good) 16.2%, this could be in relation to the power surge or it could just be random variation. Kelly achieves all this while not striking out at an alarming rate, currently sporting a 17.4 K%.
Now the PCL is known as a hitters league, so Kelly isn't likely to come up and light the world on fire, but with an approach at the plate like he has it is unlikely he will perform under what M's DHs are currently doing.
One thing against Kelly has been his lack of ability in the field, which has led to him playing just about everywhere in his minor league career (games at 1B, 2B, 3B, SS and LF). Now I don't know how M's management views him as a defender and likely he wont ever see games at SS or in the OF, but currently the M's have one backup to cover the entire infield, that could cause problems if say... someone was out day to day with a quad injury and another infielder needs to be replaced mid game, or Brad Miller is up in the 8th inning with the tying or go ahead run on third and 2 outs.
With Kelly the team gets another glove on the infield, a bat that can get on base with maybe a little pop and enough defensive versatility that McClendon doesn't have to commit to one every day DH.
Finally I'm going to leave you with what I believe could be a potential ceiling for Kelly, he's an old friend that many of us know, love and miss dearly. His name? John Jaso.
2014 Jaso: .294/.382/.490, 10.9 BB%, 20.6 K%, .196 ISO, .346 BABIP, 148 wRC+
2014 Kelly: .267/.385/.436, 16.2 BB%, 17.4 K%, .169 ISO, .304 BABIP, 120 wRC+