I went to bed last night intending to write something up about Wily Mo Pena today, just because it's a move that makes me so giddy I think it's worth a second post. But then I got up and tackled a bunch of rumors stuff, then I wrote that position players pitching article, then I ran out of steam. Somewhere around three in the afternoon my brain just shut down, and I couldn't get it revived, no matter how many animal crackers and glasses of lemonade I tried to feed it.
But I'm going to try anyway, and see how this goes. What follows is a brief list of reasons why I support the Pena acquisition. This is not a list of reasons why themade the acquisition, although I suspect there's considerable overlap. This is just me, trying to explain through groggy words why this minor move to get a busted slugger makes me so happy.
Simply put, there are few more entertaining hitters in baseball than Wily Mo Pena. He should be up with the Mariners before long, and when he is, he should hit the ground running, delivering what he delivers: back-breaking swings and mammoth home runs. I want to make the obvious Carlos Peguero comparison, just because Peguero is so fresh in our minds, but it's not like that. It's better than that. It's more refined than that. Pena has more of Peguero's good parts and less of Peguero's bad parts, which makes for a more appealing overall package.
When a team drops out of the race, you just want it to entertain you. The 2008 Mariners were not entertaining. The 2004 Mariners were more entertaining. Why? Guys like Bucky Jacobsen, Justin Leone, Jeremy Reed, and Jose Lopez. This year's Mariners will already feature plenty of young talent down the stretch. Pena could be the new Bucky. He has the kind of 80 power that can make a guy an instant fan favorite.
A concern one might have about bringing in Pena is that he could take playing time from guys like Mike Carp and Greg Halman. I don't anticipate that being a problem. Pena isn't going to play in the outfield, and I doubt that Jack Cust and Adam Kennedy are long for this roster. There should be an opening at DH, and while I guess you could argue that Pena would be blocking Mike Wilson, Pena's 29 and Wilson's 28, and Pena's probably better.
I wrote up this story about Pena (featuring Red and Ms. Red) a few weeks ago, and there's the link in case you haven't seen it by now. The idea of Wily Mo Pena is likable; the reality of Wily Mo Pena is lovable. It doesn't mean a lot in the end, but I like when the Mariners have players I like, because it makes it easier and more fun to cheer for them to succeed.
I don't want to fall into the trap of declaring Wily Mo Pena the team's DH of the future, but it is worth considering that maybe, just maybe, he'll have something to contribute beyond just the final two months of this season. As previously mentioned, he's only 29, and he has a slightly below-average career OPS+ that's dragged down by playing through a badly damaged shoulder in 2008. There's reason to believe he could be a decent semi-regular hitter in the Major Leagues.
Yes, he strikes out a lot, but it's not like the strikeouts are out of control. No, he doesn't walk, but he compensates with power. It's just something to think about. Pena could be a reasonable hitter on the cheap in 2012. He could also not be, but the M's will get an idea from his at bats down the stretch. Maybe you prefer Mike Carp or someone else as the DH, and maybe the Mariners do, too, but there's nothing wrong with having options. Maybe Pena will be an option.
I can't wait for the Wily Mo era to start. I'll feel bad when the M's take him away from Mike Curto in Tacoma, but the whole experience could be so God damned fun.