By Shannon Drayer
The Mariners made pitching moves today that for some raised eyebrows at first glance. Bobby LaFramboise and Hector Noesi were called up, Blake Beavan was optioned to Tacoma, and Erasmo Ramirez was optioned to Single-A Everett.
The move with Ramirez was most likely made so he can continue to pitch through the All-Star break. The Rainiers take the same break so sending him to Everett keeps him close and makes it easier for others to travel to check out his appearance if they wish. He would be eligible to come back to the Mariners July 22. In other words, he could pitch and stay on almost regular rest before a return.
With Beavan I assume they want him starting as well, but as he is not yet needed with the big club in that role, they can afford to give him the break. The biggest factor that most likely went into selecting the two who were called up was that they were on the 40-man roster. Surprisingly, there is not a lot to choose from there in the way of bullpen arms. A little more on that further down the post but first, the lineup.
Nick Franklin is out of the lineup for a second straight day. Having not talked to the players or manager yet I am assuming the knee bruise is still bothering him. We should hear more about Endy Chavez, who left yesterday's game with what they were hoping was a slight groin injury as well.
Joe Saunders is on the hill, and the Mariners could use a strong pitching performance from him. They have been few and far between lately, and it is largely responsible for a good number of the losses we have seen.
It has been a different story for the offense, however. In the past two weeks the team has gone 6-7, but in that time span -- which includes series against Chicago, Texas, Cincinnati and Boston -- the team has hit the second most home runs in baseball. They are second in slugging percentage, second in OBP, second in wOBA (weighted on base average) and first in wRC+ (weighted runs created), which measures runs created by this team in comparison to league average. Those are some solid offensive stats; a small sample, yes, but perhaps a step or two toward the corner.
That of course is the good. The pitching has been a problem. With what we have seen, it shouldn't be a surprise that the pitching ranked 24th in ERA the last two weeks, with the bullpen coming in with the third-worst ERA. The defense did not rank well, either, but defensive stats can be questionable. My biggest concern with the defense right now is, can Dustin Ackley play center? We did see Boston run on him quite a bit. On the flip side, Brad Miller looks much better at short than what I think we thought we would see considering the things we heard before he got here.
Surprising offense, good; surprising pitching, bad -- and bad with not a lot of help below. For now, at least a couple of new arms are in the pen, so Eric Wedge will be able to mix and match heading into the break.