Mariners Takeaways: Dylan Moore’s bat puts him in line for 2B job
There was a lot to get to from Mariners manager Scott Servais’ meeting with members of the media on Wednesday. Today, we look at a number of things he said about how the 2021 Mariners could look on the field and his expectations for the team.
Here are the biggest takeaways.
Who’s on second?
Shed Long Jr. is expected to be ready for spring training after surgery to address a stress fracture of his right tibia, but unlike in 2020, he will not head to spring training as the second baseman. Not after the offense Dylan Moore put up last season.
“They will both get chances in spring training to play a bunch, we just have to wait to see how it plays out, but Dylan has earned the right to get more regular time at second base,” said Servais, who indicated that Long could play some left field as well.
Despite playing in only 38 of the Mariners’ 60 games, Moore lead the team in WAR (1.7), OPS (.855), slugging percentage (.496) and stolen bases (12), was third in doubles (nine), tied for third in home runs (eight), and was fourth in on-base percentage (.358), hits (35) and runs (26).
Ty “This Guy Can Really Hit” France could also get some time at second, third, DH and perhaps even first as Servais looks to get him into the lineup on close to a daily basis.
Mariners have a catching duo
With the addition of Luis Torrens in the July trade with the Padres that brought France to Seattle, Servais sees catching as a strength of the Mariners.
“I think we have got a great tandem back there,” Servais said in reference to Torrens and Tom Murphy, who is expected to be ready for spring training after missing the 2020 season with a foot injury.
The strength behind the plate isn’t limited to the big league roster.
“I love our catching and we have got Cal Raleigh right behind them (in the farm system),” Servais said. “He’s an interesting young prospect who played really well in the taxi squad situation down in Tacoma. I actually saw him play for a few days down in Arizona and he looked great.”
A new year brings new expectations
The Mariners followed up a last-place finish in the American League West in 2019 by going 27-33 in 2020, good for third in the division, and the hope is for the slow climb to continue next season.
“It’s different heading into spring training than the last couple of years,” said Servais. “Now I feel like we are starting to see a core come together. It’s especially exciting when they are homegrown players. I do like our chances to be more competitive throughout the whole year understanding we still have a got a ways to go.”
Servais wants to see the Mariners build off a good final month but knows the challenge that presents to a young team.
“We played very well over the last 30-35 games, but that’s 30-35 games. In a 60-game season that’s a big chunk. In a 162, it’s such a small sample,” he said. “We need to be realistic in where we are at. For me, it’s about getting better. If our young players can continue to grow and get better and we continue to add, I like our chances for being very competitive this upcoming season. I really do.”
Mariners want to cut down on strikeouts
Nobody is overlooking the strikeouts last season. Seattle tied for eighth-most in the majors and fourth-most in the AL with 545.
“There’s room for growth, no question, offensively,” said Servais. “The strikeouts are something that did get in the way – the strikeouts are up around the league – but you look at these teams that get deep in the playoffs, they don’t strike out quite as much. They find a way to get the bat on the ball when the pitching is elite.”
Servais noted that Evan White (81 strikeouts in 198 plate appearances) and J.P. Crawford (38 strikeouts in 227 PAs) have been working with Mariners hitting coaches this fall in Arizona, each making small mechanical adjustments. The problem for both has not been the swing decisions; rather, missing pitches in the zone.
“The one thing we don’t want to lose is their aggressiveness at the plate,” said Servais. “I’m not worried about those two young guys. They are working their tail off, they’re going to get better, there’s no question about it.”
Check back this weekend on 710Sports.com for one last post stemming from Servais’ press conference, which will cover the prospects in Seattle’s farm system who have caught his eye.