Morrison’s hot bat gives the Mariners some options
On today’s show, I think I’ll go out of my way to criticize Stefen Romero and John Buck.
Why? Because whenever I say I’ve given up on one of the Mariners, he comes through with a big night or a big series. In last night’s 12-3 win over the Red Sox, there were two examples of me once again not knowing what I’m talking about.
Since Logan Morrison got here, I have not been a fan of him. He looked like a big injury-prone lug, and his batting average hovered in the .160s. For all the world, I thought he would never amount to anything and go down as another one of general manager’s Jack Zduriencik’s poor acquisitions.
But then Morrison hit a lightning bolt of a home run Friday night in Kansas City. And on Sunday, he lined a foul ball that impressed me because he was way ahead of a 100 mph fastball thrown by Yordano Ventura.
That proved you can’t throw a fastball past Morrison, but John Lackey and Chris Capuano tried to do it and paid for it last night. LoMo launched both pitches into the seats. He also hit the ball hard in his other two at-bats and went 4 for 4 with four RBIs.
Plus, Morrison’s starting to amuse me. I love how he joins Fernando Rodney during the closer’s shooting-of-the-arrow ceremony and follows the arrow all the way to wherever it goes. I’m hoping that Kyle Seager, Brad Miller and Robinson Cano join in the next time Rodney gets a save. I can’t get enough of that bow-and-arrow thing. Even my kids are doing it after their Little League team wins a game. And I got a kick out of it when Morrison gave Salvador Perez a rubdown after the Royals’ catcher reached first base in Sunday’s game.
The only thing that bothers me with Morrison’s emergence is that it severely lessens the likelihood that Jesus Montero will get another at-bat before he’s shipped back to Triple-A Tacoma. I fully pictured (fantasized?) Montero doing what Morrison did last night, but manager Lloyd McClendon is not giving my guy a chance, and it appears that his decision has been a good one.
Now you look at Morrison and start thinking about him being the every-day first baseman. It will be interesting to see what McClendon does when Smoak is activated from the disabled list later this week.
At this point, I’d give the full-time job to Morrison, which means if it’s something I think McClendon should do, he won’t do it. Morrison is doing his damage against righties and lefties. Capuano is a southpaw, and LoMo deposited his fastball into the center-field seats last night.
Or you could make Smoak the full-time first baseman again and hope that he improves his .208 average. I would vote against this move, but while you’re seeing if Smoak can snap out of it, you could give the full-time designated-hitter job to Morrison.
You could also play Smoak against lefties and Morrison against righties. Unlike last year, Smoak has been more productive as a right-handed hitter, averaging .227, and only .193 as a left-handed hitter.
Corey Hart’s return will further add to the depth at DH and first base. Though he hit only .209 before pulling his hamstring, Hart still could be the right-handed power bat the Mariners have been looking for. That’s why I’ve urged patience rather than trading a prospect for a right-handed bat. Plus I thought Montero might be that right-handed bat, too, even if McClendon feels otherwise.
Hart had a triple in Tacoma last night, which suggests that his hamstring must be completely healed or very close to it. Michael Saunders went 4 for 5 for the Rainiers, and he should be here by the end of June, too, adding to an outfield that has been solid of late with speedsters James Jones and Endy Chavez and steady Eddie Dustin Ackley.
Ackley’s another player I’ve continually criticized on the air because I keep wondering when the former No. 2 overall draft pick is going to hit .300. I think that’s what No. 2 overall draft picks are supposed to do if they’re not going to hit for power. To this day, I still feel like Ackley’s going to ground out to second every time he’s at the plate, but he’s been better than that, and as you know, he had the game-changing 13-pitch at-bat against Lackey last night.
The Mariners should market a new team slogan of “Somehow, Some Way” because they’re defying logic on a continual basis.
I don’t see a 41-36 team, but that’s what they are. I keep thinking they’re not good enough to sustain their winning ways, but guess what? With the arrivals of Smoak, Hart and Saunders along with Taijuan Walker and James Paxton down the road, the Mariners could be even better than they are right now.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for SeattlePI.com and KitsapSun.com. You can reach Jim at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.