Check out the Run Values just posted! While the season may be a wash, watching how some of the young players develop and older players age will be interesting the rest of the season. Ichiro Suzuki and Franklin Gutierrez still stand alone as the only significantly productive pieces of this “offense,” though there’s reason for optimism. With SS Jack Wilson fading into his thirties, his predecessor Josh Wilson has recorded a modest +2.1 Run Value. LF Michael Saunders has broken even, indicating that he has the value of a league-average player. At just 23 years of age, there is a lot of room for growth with Saunders (like maybe some plate discipline — just 7 BB to 26 SO), and that’s something to look forward to. DH Mike Sweeney has made a somewhat surprising positive contribution to the offense despite a horrendous start to the year. Saunders and Milton Bradley should still get the bulk of the playing time in LF and at DH, but Sweeney could be a valuable pinch-hit option with the right matchups. While the Mariners have shed some of the players bringing this offense down, like Griffey, Matt Tuiosopo and Eric Byrnes, they’ll still need 1B Casey Kotchman and Chone Figgins to find their strokes. Figgy’s walk rates actually have his OBP up above the league average, but he’ll need to start hitting as well to become a valuable offensive contributor. I would like to say that Kotchman’s understudy, Mike Carp, is showing promise. But a negative Run Value, stemming from a total lack of power and generally ability to hit the ball has me worried. It’s still a very small sample size, and he hit well in both AAA and at the major league level last season, so I’ll give him a pass for now.
As for pitching, unfortunately Ryan Rowland-Smith is still in the rotation (pitching today, in fact). Ian Snell cleared waivers and has been optioned to AAA Tacoma, so half of the bash brothers are gone. Seeing how badly the back end of this rotation has screwed the Ms this season, I think trading Lee for some quality #3 and #4 starters is the obvious move to make. While Cliff Lee has been other-worldly thus far, both Snell and Smith have been more negative than Lee has been positive. Felix Hernandez‘s nearly-average Run Value doesn’t seem to coincide with his sparkling 3.39 ERA. But with a less-than-awesome K/BB ratio and the help of pitcher-friendly Safeco Field, his true value this season has been covered up. Don’t worry, though. If his last two starts are any indication that he’s figuring out his earlier control problems, he’ll be right back on top of the league soon enough.