By Shannon Drayer
I touched on the subject of the Mariners' failure to generate anything on the bases this season in my post on Saturday. We explored it further on the roundtable segment of Sunday's pregame show. If you missed it, the podcast can be found here.
Gary Hill, Mike Blowers, Rick Rizzs and Aaron Goldsmith weighed in on the subject, which apparently is on the mind of acting manager Robby Thompson, who told Rizzs before the game that push was coming to shove in regard to stealing bases.
"We have a lot of guys who are on their own," he said, indicating that several had the green light. "Between the runner over there and (first-base coach Mike) Brumley, who studies these guys (opposing pitchers), we would like to see them run a little more. So we may need to push that button more with Ack to get him going."
Interesting that he started out talking about the subject in general and zeroed in on Dustin Ackley. Perhaps it is most appropriate as Ackley – according to numerous people in the organization – is the fastest player on the team. He has swiped all of two bases and made just three attempts. His speed may be his best tool and he is not utilizing it, but that is a subject for another day in the near future.
On the roundtable, Rizzs points out that the lineup Thompson put on the field Sunday should be capable of swiping a bag or two. Brad Miller, Nick Franklin, Michael Saunders and Ackley (I would argue Kyle Seager as well) all have the ability to steal and we did indeed see one steal but it was stumbled into rather than taken aggressively.
There is work to be done and Blowers agrees with Thompson that it is time to take the decision making out of the players' hands.
"I think that maybe it is time to where instead of giving them the green light to run, you make them run," he said. "Instead of saying, 'Well, pick your spot and when you have it, go,' you are telling them you are going on the next pitch. Get these guys in the mindset of being aggressive on the bases and wanting to steal. I think once they have some success doing it you will see them doing it even more."
Blowers also noted that in taking the decision making away from the player, the coaches would also be taking a good amount of the pressure off. If they do everything right and are caught then that is on the manager.
The Mariners currently have the third-fewest steals in baseball. It would be nice to see that number go up in the final weeks of the season.