BY Steve Rudman 04:34PM 06/04/2015

Anemic Mariners forced Jack Z into panic move

Acquired by the Mariners Wednesday in a six-player deal, Mark Trumbo won’t hurt the club, but he doesn’t bring to it what they need: A hitter who consistently gets on base.

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik made a panic move in trading with Arizona. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Had GM Jack Zduriencik scoured the planet, he could not have found a more perfect fit for the Mariners’ staggeringly lame offense than Mark Trumbo, obtained in a six-player deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks Wednesday. Once an All-Star (2012), Trumbo brings a career .298 on-base percentage to the Mariners, who will enter the four-game Tampa Bay series Thursday night with a .297 OBP.

Wow! A whole point! Who says Zduriencik doesn’t know how to upgrade his team?

Trumbo ripped nine home runs for the D-Backs this season to go with a .259 batting average, well above Seattle’s team mark of .236.

One caveat is that Trumbo is departing hitter-friendly Chase Field for the Safeco expanses. There, in 29 career games (admittedly a small sample), Trumbo is a .243 hitter with a .282 on-base percentage, so he meshes nicely with the Mariners, who rank 14th in the American League in runs scored, 15th in batting average, 15th in OBP and 11th in OPS.

Trumbo doesn’t add a thing to the Mariners that they don’t already have, and brings little of what they need — a hitter, on the order of, to rub it in, of Adam Jones, who can reach base in at least 35 percent of his plate appearances. Viewed another way, six Mariners’ regulars have higher on-base percentages than Trumbo, and the Mariners rank 15th in the AL in OBP, their most damning stat and the reason for Zduriencik’s wild scramble to change his team’s offensive dynamic.

Trumbo will hit some home runs for Seattle, perhaps as many as 20 before the end of the season, but most will come with no one on base. Nearly 71 percent of the Mariners’ home runs this season (44 of 62) have been solos, highest percentage in the majors.

Trumbo will also strike out a lot and won’t walk much. He strikes out more often than Justin Smoak, based on 162-game averages, and draws fewer walks than Ichiro — 42 times per 162 games vs. Ichiro’s 46.6 (in his prime).

Defensively, Trumbo is questionable, in fact a downgrade from Dustin Ackley, but the Mariners will throw him out there at the corner outfield spots, at DH and first base. But that OBP of his fails to address Seattle’s primary need.

Since Zduriencik became general manager in 2009, he has employed a swath of outfielders, mainly stop-gaps on the order of Wladimir Balentien, Bill Hall, Trayvon Robinson, Eric Thames, Jason Bay and Abraham Almonte. For a while, Zduriencik, who has also employed three managers in seven years, even had Milton Bradley, whose .298 OBP in Seattle (2010-11) matches exactly Trumbo’s career number.

Zduriencik and the Mariners were hosed when Franklin Gutierrez had medical issues that wrecked his career. Zduriencik sought to rebuild after trading Ichiro to the Yankees in 2010. But Zduriencik hasn’t come close to replicating even an aging Ichiro, whose OBP for Miami at age 41 — .338 – would rank second on the 2015 Mariners.

Mostly, the Mariners have featured a parade of non-hitters, such as the following outfielders who all saw in action in at least 100 games in the Zduriencik era. All were deemed expendable:

Player w/M’s Games OBP Skinny
Mike Morse 2005-08, ’13 183 .326 Traded to O’s for Xavier Avery
R. Langerhans 2009-11 117 .326 Sold to Diamondbacks
Endy Chavez 2009, ’13-14 231 .309 Released March 31
Casper Wells 2011-12 124 .304 Waived April 10, 2013
Chone Figgins 2010-12 308 .302 Released following 2012 season
Michael Saunders 2009-14 553 .301 Traded to Jays for J.A. Happ

Although all were deemed expendable (most for good reason). Note that all also had higher OBPs with the Mariners than the .298 Trumbo brings to Seattle.

Zduriencik had little choice in trading for someone who registered pulse. He did not make the deal in order to add a “piece” to his club’s batting order, but out of panic. The Mariners are 9.5 games behind the Houston Astros as they get set to face the Rays, and the season is slipping away, based on historical recovery rates from 9.5-game deficits on June 1.

Ironically, the slippage has occurred in large part because the biggest signing of Zduriencik’s tenure, Robinson Cano, is hitting like he’s at the end of his 10-year, $240 million contract rather than in the second year of it.

Cano’s slash line after his first 52 games: .244/.286/.330.  Last year after playing 52, Cano’s line was .327/.371/.420. His best year after 52: .366/.406/.616 in 2010. His worst before this season: .223/.276/.340 in 2008. Cano rallied that year to finish .271/.305/.410, suggesting recovery is possible.

But Zduriencik didn’t have the luxury of waiting.

Trumbo’s acquisition duplicates what the Mariners already have: A preponderance of weak hitters with occasional power who can’t reach base often enough to generate a sufficient number of runs (Mariners rank 27th in the majors in runs scored). So his addition isn’t likely to help much.

At least Zduriencik will go down swinging rather than looking.


The Mariners Thursday recalled C Jesus Sucre from AAA Tacoma and designated for assignment OF Justin Ruggiano. Sucre, 27, began the season with Seattle, appearing in six games. After being optioned to Tacoma post-game May 19, he appeared in six games and hit .261 (4×23) with 4 runs scored and 2 RBI.

Ruggiano, 33, hit .214 (15×70) with eight runs, four doubles, two home runs and three RBIs in 36 games with Seattle. He was acquired from the Chicago Cubs Dec. 17 in exchange for left-hander Matt Brazis.


  • Topcatone

    He will help the lineup a bit. I really think it is early, and that the Mariners will start hitting. And Houston will cool off. I like their lineup and pitching. EXCEPT for Rodney. That blown save against Yankees was a real morale problem. Instead of this six player trade, I would rather have seen us get a real closer.Until we start hitting, we REALLY need to win those games where we go into the 9th winning.

    • Bruce McDermott

      We may already have a real closer. Except now he is our set-up guy.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Well, Nero fiddled while Rome burned…maybe if Nero or Caesar had traded for Trumbo…? No? C’mon man! Maybe!? If Anthony had brought in Cleopatra to play left field?

  • Rj Smith

    What makes people think these guys are going to hit? Their ab’s with runners in scoring position are totally predictable everytime, right down to the exact pitch these guys strike out on every single time. Oh sure Cano the king of the single, will probably get lukewarm in a couple weeks or so, but by then the M’s will be 20 games back. It’s the same story for this extremely flawed roster every year, totally out of contention by the end of June.

  • jafabian

    Jack’s going to regret letting Ruggs go. He hit .263 vs. lefty’s, including a .342 OBP. He could play the OF as opposed to Weeks who is still learning the position. Weeks should have been DFA’d but I’m guessing since he was drafted by Jack in Milwaukee Jack has a soft spot for him. Maybe he’s thinking that Weeks adds to the leadoff position but LoMo and Smith have done okay there. Basically we’ve got another player to hit a solo home run.

    The D-Backs moved Trumbo to RF this season because of problems he had fielding in left. So of course he’s going to platoon in left with Ackley. If the M’s don’t make the playoffs it won’t be because of the players or coaches. Jack has assembled the kind of team he put together in Milwaukee. Players with pop but little else. Is there a a Gold Glove anywere in the OF? I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen that on the Mariners.

    • notaboomer

      agreed. weeks sucks and should have gone to the great pbr brewery in the sky with corey hart.

      • jafabian

        I think Jack has said Weeks is a switch hitter, that’s why he kept him. I think it’s because he drafted him in Milwaukee. He wouldn’t have DFA’d Ackley because Ack is his 1st Mariner draft pick AND….he has a bobble head night coming up.

  • Rj Smith

    The M’s player development & coaching staffs from rookie league all the way up need to be replaced most likely. Look at all the failed prospects (Franklin, Truinfel, Catricala, Clement, Montero, Smoak, Saunders, Ackley, Moore, Carp, etc) & young players that played well after leaving (Jones, Ortiz, Morse, Pineda, Tillman, Fister, Choo, Cabrera, etc). It’s also no coincidence that most of their disappointments have been hitters, they just have no clue how to produce hitters. On the flip side, this is an Era of dominant pitching again, so those who want to say they develop good arms would be deceived. This is just not a good baseball organization. Has anybody wondered why Figgins was good before he arrived & suddenly was awful? Or how about Beltre? He was excellent before & after Seattle, but slightly above mediocre while playing here. The M’s ruin or stunt the progression of most players, it will not change without an entire organizational overhaul.

    • Mavis Jarvis

      There definitely seems to be something systemically wrong with baseball in Seattle that ruins hitting prospects and destroys production from veteran hitters. Maybe you are right about player development and coaching, but I would blame Safeco Field as the real problem. It’s just a really bad place to hit. It seems like they’ve done everything they can think of remedy the situation, the black monolith in center field, the moved-in fence, etc. Nothing seems to work. Safeco is the Coors Field of hitting. We’re doomed forever.

      • art thiel

        Safeco worked pretty well in 2001. All of MLB has offenses overwhelmed by pitching.

        But to the larger point: Four playoffs in 38 years suggests chronic inability to understand resource investment in player talent. After entering Safeco, and buying Root, there’s no other way to to look at it.

        • Rj Smith

          Exactly, the M’s were good at Safeco in 2001. So the excuses about the park don’t work. The M’s had a successful regular season formula that year…… high average/on base hitters, lots of speed, just enough power & solid but not spectacular starting pitching. The M’s are totally void of any offense & it isn’t because of the park, which is fair to hitters & pitchers.

  • just passing thru

    Z knows fans like home runs, even if nobody is on. This is a put butts in seats move, and little else.

  • Effzee

    Its funny that people still think Jack is in charge. This has Howie written all over it, again. Every time something is done, it reeks of Lincoln’s desperation to not go out a complete loser. Ever since Chuckles left, the M’s have done everything the exact opposite way they have since 2001. As in, Howie is totally panicking and telling Jack “All that stuff I’ve been saying for 15 years?! FORGET IT ALL!!! GO GET BATS!! MAKE TRADES!!! DO WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO DOOOOOOO!!” And of course, the desperation will produce the same result as the conservativeness, because winning is still not the ultimate intention. The ultimate intention with Lincoln in charge always has been, and always will be, to move the turnstiles. He still refuses to see a correlation to winning and fan interest. If his intention in releasing the reigns on Jack was to create a winning team, that would reflect in the results. Since the intention is merely to bring the fans back by any means necessary, its doomed to fail. And so it goes…

  • coug73

    When’s Trumbo Bubblehead night? I’ll be the guy with the funny nose and glasses, third deck, looking down on home plate.

  • ksmyth

    Yeah but . . . it didn’t make them any worse either. They didn’t give up much, and honestly Nuno may be more important to this deal than Trumbo. The best thing that could happen is if Cano, Ackley, Zunino, and Miller start to hit . . . but I’m not holding my breath.

  • Rj Smith

    Safeco Field allegedly being this great pitchers park is a myth. It’s not huge like Comerica, it’s a fair park for both hitters & pitchers. Opposing players don’t have unusually out of the ordinary problems hitting & scoring runs there. I can absolutely guarantee in the history of Safeco, the M’s have been outscored & out homered there. Probably under .500 also. They are just awful at baseball, plain & simple. All the excuses about the park need to end. I know for a fact they have allowed 10 or more runs in a game at Safeco more times than they have scored, probably by more than a 2 to 1 margin.

  • dingle

    Jack Z. Howard Lincoln. Farm animals. Photos. That’s all I’m sayin’.

  • inplaylose

    Z’s first mistake – and, indeed, probably all of our collective mistake – was tethering so much of the club’s fortunes on the bullpen. Remember, this team got shut out 19 times last year, and still won 87 games because it had the best bullpen in the league. But bullpens are notoriously fickle – witness the fact that half the guys in last year’s pen aren’t even with the team any more because they were so ineffective. This sort of thing happens, and the Mariners aren’t alone in that. (The Dodgers bullpen, for example, went from being solid to a dumpster fire almost overnight.)

    The real concern should’ve been modernizing the offense. Offense is so scarce today that you have to have guys who can get on base and you have to have guys who put the ball in play. The Mariners do neither of those. .298 OBPs and striking out 10+ times every game negates all the power hitters in the world. You’d think he would’ve figured this out just from watching the Giants and the Royals – two teams who don’t strike out much, and two teams who do put the ball in play – cruising through the playoffs last season.

    This team is not only bad, they are also boring. They’ve looked dead on this homestand. Absolutely lifeless. I’m wondering if this is the beginning of the end for Z. This team is a disaster, and he’s the guy who constructed the roster. What’s worse is he seems absolutely clueless, and the Trumbo trade proves it. Yet another guy who can’t get on base and can’t put the ball in play, who can’t play defense and has no speed. Not only do the Mariners not need a player like him, but they need to get rid of players like him. Unbelievable.