We start this piece acknowledging my colleague Adam’s fantastic article on the departure of Ichiro—good for the franchise, good for Ichiro, good for everybody. I’d like to address the situation, outside of what Adam already said, with this; you’re not near what you used to be, but you are forever a Mariners’ legend. I look forward to seeing the day you take your rightful place in the Mariners Hall of Fame. Thank you for all you’ve done, Ichiro.
We now move on to another player that shouldn’t see another pitch, defensive or offensive, for the Seattle Mariners; Miguel Olivo. He has a .198/.214/.335 line, with a 25% strikeout rate and a laughable 2% walk rate. He’s got a -0.3 fielding grade, and an overall WAR of -0.5. His last performance (and what prompted this piece being written), was an 0-4 with 4 strikeouts. He’s already struck out 51 times in 57 games, while striking out 140 times last year as a much more regular player. Delving deeper, he hits .218 against lefties and .185 against righties, hits .181 at home and .211 on the road. Using the 4 sets of numbers for Mar/April, May, June, and July for batting average, Olivo’s hit .210, .133, .241, and .149. To compare these, we’ll look at the other two catchers on the roster, starting with the one who is the most like him right now—Jesus Montero.
Jesus Montero has a bad 6% walk rate to compare to a 21% strikeout rate. He has a still-paltry 0.1 fielding rating, and has combined for only 0.6 WAR this season. His biggest problem is pitch selection and K rate, striking out 71 times in 81 games. Delving further, he hits a superb .373 off lefties, while only hitting .205 off righties. He’s affected like everyone hitting .206 at home, but hits a much higher .307 on the road. For his month splits, he’s hitting .259, .255, .244, and .310. For the purpose of this article, it’s important to mention that struggles are expected; Montero is 22 years old in his first full major league season, and is someone who needs more than anything to get used to the wear and tear of the majors, while learning how to make adjustments and be more selective (his biggest problem right now).
John Jaso, as everyone is aware, has been one of Seattle’s most consistent performers when he’s been given the opportunity. He 12.8% walk rate compared to a 16. 2% strikeout rate, which is the best of our bunch. He does have a bad -0.2 fielding rate, and a 1.5 WAR for the season so far. He’s struck out 29 times in his 55 games, and waked 23 times. He hits an abysmal .120 off lefties, but .320 off righties. He seems to be our lone hitter unaffected by Safeco, hitting .294 there compared to .280 on the road. His month splits are .278, .232, .326, and .333. Clearly shown, he’s performed the more he’s been in the game, and has comparable defense to Olivo (which is not good, but it’s not worse).
After this analysis, it becomes clear that Olivo should not be batting against righties whatsoever, anywhere, especially when we have two better options at his own position no less. But what about when lefties are involved? Olivo doesn’t get run on at-will like Montero does, and Jaso literally can’t hit lefties to save his life. Who do we DH when Montero is behind the dish? Or should Olivo catch while Montero DH’s against lefties? The answer, of course, is very simple; it doesn’t matter.
The Mariners showed today that youth, and the direction of this ball club in terms of the future, are its main priority. A 33-year-old catcher, especially one that is worse than the player we just traded, is not part of our future. He can’t hit. He can’t field. He can’t take a walk to save his life. He provides nothing for the Seattle Mariners, in any respect, whatsoever. He is an absolutely atrocious baseball player who is (and this is important) NOT going to get any better. The Mariners could easily (and it pains me to say this) put the newly recalled Carp in the outfield, while Montero plays 1st and Jaso catches against lefties. The minimal improvement that would be needed from one player in the minors (someone like Darren Ford, who is playing well in AAA and is a right-handed batter) or currently with us would vastly improve our outlook for our future, whilst not sacrificing much needed-ABs and experience to a player that is a) not part of our future and b) is not good at anything at all.
Outside of the newly sent down Justin Smoak (who still is 25), and the constant scapegoat Chone Figgins, no one on the Mariners has been worse over the year than Miguel Olivo. We would suffer absolutely no loss at a Major League level by ridding ourselves of Olivo tonight. It should be done, for the organization’s future and present, as soon as possible. And with the moves before the deadline starting with tonight’s Ichiro trade, hopefully the feeble argument to keep Olivo leaves soon with a new acquisition. But even if we don’t get another catcher or right-handed batter, it really doesn’t matter. Olivo’s last at bat as a Mariner should be the last strike three he saw against the Rays in Tampa Bay Sunday. The last thing he should have done on defense with “Seattle” across his chest, is catch one of Tom Wilhelmsen’s last pitches to Hideki Matsui in route for the final out. He should be done.