This farewell was a lot easier to write than my last one.
In case you have been bored by the Mariners today, they sprung another transaction on us tonight, albeit a less unexpected one than the trade of Ichiro – Justin Smoak has been sent down to AAA Tacoma.
To say Smoak’s demotion is long overdue is an understatement. Previously one of the top hitting prospects in baseball, Smoak broke into the big leagues with the Rangers in 2010… and hit .209/.316/.353 before being sent back to AAA. After he was traded to the Mariners for Cliff Lee he was promoted directly to Seattle… where he hit .239/.287/.407. He didn’t do much better in 2011 – on May 22 he was hitting .271/.376/.486, but the rest of the year that dropped to .216/.296/.352.
2012 has been even worse for the once highly touted prospect. His batting average is .191. His OPS is .578 and his OPS+ is 64. Brendan Ryan’s OPS+ is 64. Justin Smoak just looks clueless at the plate right now, and sending him out to rack up three strikeouts each game isn’t good for anybody.
Mike Carp will be up tomorrow to take Smoak’s place on the team, but there is yet another move that needs to be made. Ichiro’s trade opened up another spot on the 25-man roster (and the 40-man), which means that the Mariners can pick from any of their up-and-coming players to give the big leagues a go. Will it be Alex Liddi, who’s promotions and demotions only rival those of Steve Delabar? How about Luis Jimenez, who represented Tacoma in the PCL All-Star game as DH and has an OBP of .392? Maybe Darren Ford, who could emulate Ichiro with his speed on the basepaths and in the outfield (17 stolen bases in 31 games, which is a pace of 89 over a 162 game season)?
I’ll take anything at this point.