By Jordan Wevers @JordanWevers on July 23, 2014
Lloyd McClendon has done a pretty strong technical job of managing the M's so far in 2014. He has used a ton of lineup combinations, trying to get the most out of some of his underperforming players. Mostly though, the Mariners' success is a result of strong pitching. Here are five adjustments the M's should consider in order to give themselves a slight edge over the competition in the second half.
It's anyone's guess why Miller has had such a long leash in 2014. He is hitting .206, averaging a home run every 35.6 ABs, is third on the team in strikeouts and is dead last in FPCT (.960) among all MLB shortstops who qualify for the amount of innings logged at the position. If he isn't an asset on defense, surely another hitter could be used advantageously. McClendon needs to send him back to triple-A Tacoma to refine his game.
With Brad Miller's ongoing struggles at the plate and the Mariners' reluctance to give Nick Franklin another shot, why not promote Taylor? The former fifth-round pick has earned the opportunity. Not only is he a right-handed bat, but he's one that is hitting .329 in triple-A this year. The 23-year old also has a combined FPCT of .969 between 72 games at second base (21) and shortstop (51), a projected improvement over Miller's current FPCT.
Young has been solid for the Mariners in 2014, but instead of letting him try to work through difficulties and be resilient during away starts, McClendon should just yank him sooner and let his top-ranked bullpen earn their paychecks. Young has a 2.45 ERA and a K:BB of 2.21 at home versus an ERA of 4.09 and an undesirable K:BB of 1.47 on the road.
While both players still have top prospect billing, the front office would be wise to move them now for player who will make an immediate impact on the roster for a potential World Series run. Walker has been sporadic, and the organization doesn't seem to be thrilled about Franklin anymore. A top-end veteran SP like Cliff Lee or a strong utility player like Ben Zobrist would help feed the win-now mentality the M's should embrace.
The Angels are doing it with Trout. Derek Jeter and Wade Boggs had HOF careers out of hitting second. By hitting Chavez ninth instead of first, the M's would keep the same order of Chavez-Jones-Cano in use, but would make it more efficient. Jones has a higher OBP than Chavez, and recent sabermetrics research supports having your best hitter in the two-hole. The M's could then bat Seager fourth, and Saunders third when he returns from the DL.
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