Had GM Jack Zduriencik scoured the planet, he could not have found a more perfect fit for the Mariners’ staggeringly lame offense than Mark Trumbo, obtained in a six-player deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks Wednesday. Once an All-Star (2012), Trumbo brings a career .298 on-base percentage to the Mariners, who will enter the four-game Tampa Bay series Thursday night with a .297 OBP.
Wow! A whole point! Who says Zduriencik doesn’t know how to upgrade his team?
Trumbo ripped nine home runs for the D-Backs this season to go with a .259 batting average, well above Seattle’s team mark of .236.
One caveat is that Trumbo is departing hitter-friendly Chase Field for the Safeco expanses. There, in 29 career games (admittedly a small sample), Trumbo is a .243 hitter with a .282 on-base percentage, so he meshes nicely with the Mariners, who rank 14th in the American League in runs scored, 15th in batting average, 15th in OBP and 11th in OPS.
Trumbo doesn’t add a thing to the Mariners that they don’t already have, and brings little of what they need — a hitter, on the order of, to rub it in, of Adam Jones, who can reach base in at least 35 percent of his plate appearances. Viewed another way, six Mariners’ regulars have higher on-base percentages than Trumbo, and the Mariners rank 15th in the AL in OBP, their most damning stat and the reason for Zduriencik’s wild scramble to change his team’s offensive dynamic.
Trumbo will hit some home runs for Seattle, perhaps as many as 20 before the end of the season, but most will come with no one on base. Nearly 71 percent of the Mariners’ home runs this season (44 of 62) have been solos, highest percentage in the majors.
Trumbo will also strike out a lot and won’t walk much. He strikes out more often than Justin Smoak, based on 162-game averages, and draws fewer walks than Ichiro — 42 times per 162 games vs. Ichiro’s 46.6 (in his prime).
Defensively, Trumbo is questionable, in fact a downgrade from Dustin Ackley, but the Mariners will throw him out there at the corner outfield spots, at DH and first base. But that OBP of his fails to address Seattle’s primary need.
Since Zduriencik became general manager in 2009, he has employed a swath of outfielders, mainly stop-gaps on the order of Wladimir Balentien, Bill Hall, Trayvon Robinson, Eric Thames, Jason Bay and Abraham Almonte. For a while, Zduriencik, who has also employed three managers in seven years, even had Milton Bradley, whose .298 OBP in Seattle (2010-11) matches exactly Trumbo’s career number.
Zduriencik and the Mariners were hosed when Franklin Gutierrez had medical issues that wrecked his career. Zduriencik sought to rebuild after trading Ichiro to the Yankees in 2010. But Zduriencik hasn’t come close to replicating even an aging Ichiro, whose OBP for Miami at age 41 — .338 – would rank second on the 2015 Mariners.
Mostly, the Mariners have featured a parade of non-hitters, such as the following outfielders who all saw in action in at least 100 games in the Zduriencik era. All were deemed expendable:
|Mike Morse||2005-08, ’13||183||.326||Traded to O’s for Xavier Avery|
|R. Langerhans||2009-11||117||.326||Sold to Diamondbacks|
|Endy Chavez||2009, ’13-14||231||.309||Released March 31|
|Casper Wells||2011-12||124||.304||Waived April 10, 2013|
|Chone Figgins||2010-12||308||.302||Released following 2012 season|
|Michael Saunders||2009-14||553||.301||Traded to Jays for J.A. Happ|
Although all were deemed expendable (most for good reason). Note that all also had higher OBPs with the Mariners than the .298 Trumbo brings to Seattle.
Zduriencik had little choice in trading for someone who registered pulse. He did not make the deal in order to add a “piece” to his club’s batting order, but out of panic. The Mariners are 9.5 games behind the Houston Astros as they get set to face the Rays, and the season is slipping away, based on historical recovery rates from 9.5-game deficits on June 1.
Ironically, the slippage has occurred in large part because the biggest signing of Zduriencik’s tenure, Robinson Cano, is hitting like he’s at the end of his 10-year, $240 million contract rather than in the second year of it.
Cano’s slash line after his first 52 games: .244/.286/.330. Last year after playing 52, Cano’s line was .327/.371/.420. His best year after 52: .366/.406/.616 in 2010. His worst before this season: .223/.276/.340 in 2008. Cano rallied that year to finish .271/.305/.410, suggesting recovery is possible.
But Zduriencik didn’t have the luxury of waiting.
Trumbo’s acquisition duplicates what the Mariners already have: A preponderance of weak hitters with occasional power who can’t reach base often enough to generate a sufficient number of runs (Mariners rank 27th in the majors in runs scored). So his addition isn’t likely to help much.
At least Zduriencik will go down swinging rather than looking.
The Mariners Thursday recalled C Jesus Sucre from AAA Tacoma and designated for assignment OF Justin Ruggiano. Sucre, 27, began the season with Seattle, appearing in six games. After being optioned to Tacoma post-game May 19, he appeared in six games and hit .261 (4×23) with 4 runs scored and 2 RBI.
Ruggiano, 33, hit .214 (15×70) with eight runs, four doubles, two home runs and three RBIs in 36 games with Seattle. He was acquired from the Chicago Cubs Dec. 17 in exchange for left-hander Matt Brazis.