With the Rays starting a 4-game set with the Seattle Mariners, I chatted with Harrison, a staff writer at SodoMojo, the Seattle Mariners site as part of the FanSided Sports Network. He asked me a few questions about the Rays and I responded with a series of questions about the Mariners. Let’s listen to his responses and learn a little bit about our opposition this week in the process.
Robbie Knopf: We’ve been hearing a lot about the Pineda-Montero trade with the word coming that Pineda will miss the entire 2012 season. Did you like the trade when it occurred? What are your thoughts on the trade now?
Harrison Crow: I liked the trade from the beginning with the exception to giving up Campos. Campos is something really special and giving him up really, really makes me sad and it kind of takes away from the awesome depth of pitching the Mariners had at every level and there was already a short drop off at the short season level already.
Aside from Campos, and I’m sure you realize this with all your pitching depth, young arms are volatile. One day they are awesome, another they are not. One day they are one of the best up and coming arms in the organization the next they are the forgotten men following surgery.
Pineda has ALWAYS been a concern for injury. Couple that with his youth and lack of maturity it’s going to breed something bad. The Mariners were exceptionally smart to deal one of their best assets and strengths for such a grave and frustrating weakness.
I liked the trade. I hate seeing him injured and I wanted to see the Mariners –and more specifically Jesus Montero–face off against the young fireballer. But these things happen and that’s part of the deal.
RK: Ichiro is hitting .293 thus far as a 38 year old in 2012. Has he rediscovered something? Is this his last hurrah?
HC: Ichiro was the #3 hitter for his 6+ years with the Orix Blue Waves. If you actually go back and look at him as a hitter back then he was different from the lead off hitter that we have grown accustomed to seeing. Not completely dissimilar to what he has become. He works counts much better and doesn’t swing at so many poor pitches.
Before he used his contact skills and speed to get on base. Now, he uses his pitch recognition and his bat speed to drive balls. He’s made a few more physical adjustments at the plate to gain an advantage to pulling the ball (something he’s not done much of in the past) but besides that we’re just seeing a side to Ichiro that has been there but wasn’t been executed previously. It’s been fun to watch unfold.
RK: What do you think about the M’s’ young lineup? Jesus Montero, Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, and even Justin Smoak have shown signs of life. Do the M’s have a young core of position players they can build around?
HC: We’ve got a great young core… if it develops. That’s really the question here going into things. Saunders and Alex Liddi both are coming a long much nicer than anyone expected. But both Ackley and Smoak have taken steps back and have been rather frustrating at times with their plate discipline. Montero has been hacking inexplicably bad. Just somethings still need to be developed
So there is still a lot to develop here. There is a ton to like. But it’s not quite ready…not yet anyways.
RK: One alarming thing for the Mariners lineup is their strikeout to walk ratio: 161-54, third-worst in the AL. Will the patience come with more experience for these young players? Is part of the problem seeing guys like Ichiro who is a great hitter but has never drawn a lot of walks?
HC: Actually this is a huge, HUGE concern of mine. Bryant (our Chief and Editor here at SodoMojo) and I have had quite a few phone conversations … well, rants… that at one time I’m sure just turned into screaming and incoherent bable due to frustration.
Part of it is that, yes, we have some hitters in the line-up that don’t take a lot of walks. Kawasaki, Olivo and Ichiro don’t traditionally walk much. While that’s one average 8-10 PAs a game. That’s still too many at bats just to give up getting on base.
Yet, the problems really steamed from Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero. Kind of where we thought we had a previous strength in the young guys. It’s disconcerting but they haven’t reached 100 PA’s for the season so I’m just going to let it pass by and try not to let it put me in a bad mood.
But it sure makes watching these games rather difficult.