The Mariners made a flurry of roster moves today, the result of which brings them back into the fold of the 19 MLB teams currently rocking an 8-man bullpen. It also renders them as one of 30 teams lacking a Daniel Vogelbach on their active roster.
All the roster moves ... pic.twitter.com/mRnfDlXafc— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) May 2, 2017
That’s a lot to follow. Let’s start with who is leaving Seattle. Casey Fien had an abysmal first stint with the MLB club, following two scoreless appearances with three scoremore showings. In his lone third of an inning back with the club since last Wednesday, Fien allowed the Sunday blowout to steamroll beyond Chase De Jong’s struggles. He has generally looked unable to locate with the effectiveness he had earlier in his career and has been bitten by the homer bug to boot. He should return to Tacoma soon, where Steve Cishek is nearing his return.
Shawn O’Malley sadly appears more hamstrung than his initial Spring Training injury indicated. With Gordon Beckham, Mike Freeman, and Zach Shank all in AAA, there are a number of utility men available to fill the space, but it’s discouraging to see such a likable player sidelined extensively. While O’Malley heals, his 40-man spot opens up, as does Fien’s.
Daniel Vogelbach is the name likeliest to elicit strong feelings one way or another in this move. Vogey has struggled at the plate so far this year, and according to the team he has let poor defensive plays seep into his mentality at the plate. A .143/.294/.143 line with a 43 wRC+ doesn’t scream PLAY ME, but in 17 plate appearances anyone can look incredible/incredibly bad. Vogelbach has four K’s and three BB’s so far, good for a 23.5 K% and a 17.6 BB%, which are below-average and exceptional in that order. His lack of power is concerning, but like Mike Zunino, a couple doubles or a single home run still transforms his line into something more pleasant on the eyes. Vogelbach has been unable to get under the ball much, however, so despite making solid contact, his notional foot speed renders most grounders outs. The discussion around his demotion notes a “lack of confidence” which is understandable. It’s tough to say whether that will be improved by beating up on AAA pitching some more or not, but that appears to be what he’ll be doing.
Danny Valencia will retain the lion’s share of time at first base, presumably mixing in with Taylor Motter. Valencia ran a -2 wRC+ from Opening Day through April 11th (nine games) but has had a 118 wRC+ since (12 games), including a 107 wRC+ against RHP. History would indicate he’s closer to the player he’s recently been, and his career-high 9.9% walk rate suggests he’s learning to lay off some pitches out of the zone. That’d be important, considering he’s seen the fourth-lowest percentage of pitches in the strike zone in the MLB at 39.9%. Valencia or Vogelbach is a debate that is absolutely justifiable in a number of different directions. I’m afraid I lack a strong feeling one way or another. Somebody needs to hit. Vogelbach may do it soon, do it better, and do so for longer. Valencia has been doing it recently and has done so for the last few years at the MLB-level. The Mariners have chosen the latter, for now.
The two players coming up are first-time Mariners, and one will be making his MLB debut. Emilio Pagan was the final man listed on every World Baseball Classic list of Mariners players participating, but the righty reliever threw two shutout innings for Puerto Rico and held his own. He’s continued to miss bats this season as he has his entire minor league career, with a delightful 40% strikeout rate in 11 innings in Tacoma this year. His fastball sits 92-95 with solid horizontal movement and he also offers a decent slider. Here is some video from him this offseason in the Arizona Fall League.
Jean Machi has had one good MLB season and three meh ones, but he has two World Series rings from his meh work so remember kids, baseball is nonsense just like life. The 35 year-old RHP hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2015, but has been averaging a fastball in the low-90s in Tacoma, along with a changeup around 84-85 and the occasional slider. He has always pitched to contact and has had success in his career when he’s avoided walks. In AAA this year he’s walked just one batter in 8.0 IP while serving as their closer, which is better than walking more batters, this I know. He’s also a lot of fun.
@LookoutLanding Can I interest you in proof that Machi can run home-to-first in 4.1 seconds? https://t.co/ExjanAoCEM pic.twitter.com/mNRLUVVP7g— Grant Brisbee (@mccoveychron) May 2, 2017
Welcome Jean, maybe you’ll have better luck finding a conga train in the bigs.