When I browsed through the June schedule and realized the Mariners would face the Florida Marlins for the first time ever, two words came to mind. Strangely, they weren’t “Oh, crap” or “starting pitching” or “Wazzup Dontrelle?” They were “Carlos Delgado.” Yes, the newest fish in the school was the first thing that popped to mind.
I spent much of the off-season tooting my Delgado horn all over the blogosphere, hoping against hope the M’s could land that ever-elusive sweet left-handed power stroke. My words fell upon deaf ears, and the Marlins struck a deal with the former Jay, similar to the one the M’s gave Sexson. Two months into the season, both deals seem to have worked out, at least for the time being. Delgado has knocked around NL pitchers to the tune of 11 HR, 37 RBI, and averages of .315, .406 OB, and .565 SLG. Meanwhile, Sexson has swatted 13 HR and driven in 44, with a .505 SLG. However, I feel the M’s will one day regret their choice in first baseman.
Beltre has struggled shifting leagues, but in the end, I believe Beltre’s right-handed bat is the best of the three free agents, and will prove to be a bargain for the $64 million the M’s invested. Sexson has been good, but I would have preferred a Delgado-Beltre coupling, for several reasons.
If I had my druthers, I would have at least one left-handed bat on the infield, especially on a team that has to play at Safeco Field. On the infield, it’s rare that you’ll find a non-switch-hitting lefty anywhere but first base, so if things stay true to form, the Mariners won’t have a lefty on the infield for at least four more years. Assuming Adrian Beltre sticks at third, Jose Lopez takes over at second, and one of the young shortstop prospects comes through, the Mariners will have righties across the diamond. That leaves five slots in the batting order to fill in lefties who can reach the seats in right field. That wouldn’t be much of a problem if we didn’t have a slap hitter in right field (Ichiro) and another singles and doubles type in center (Reed). Ibanez isn’t a bad DH, but he’s far you’re your typical homerun hitter. That leaves left field and catcher as spots for lefty power. Hopefully, Jeff Clement foots the bill behind the plate…but are you catching my point?
The M’s currently have pretty much zero left-handed power, and not much to speak of on its way from the minors. Snelling and Choo won’t hit any more out than Raul. Ideally, the M’s would have three left-handed boppers with that reachable right field porch. This is why locking in first base with a righty was a mistake. It doesn’t give them many options. They have lefties, but not much power. Delgado would have solved that problem. He would have allowed them to alternate right-lefty in the middle of the order like the in the 90’s rather than clogging it with Beltre-Sexson-Boone.
We’ll see how it all pans out, but sandwiching Delgado, who makes much better contact than Sexson, between Beltre and Boone would have given those dominant AL right-handed pitchers more to think about when trying to plow through the middle of the order.
Let’s see how Bavasi can create some more flexibility.