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September Call-ups

Posted by Jason A. Churchill on August 31, 2006

Every September this comes up. Each club in the big leagues is allowed to expand their rosters by as many as 15 extra, starting on the first day of the final full month of the season.

Clubs typically stick to those already on the 40-man roster, but occasionaly reach for a prospect that is near major league ready. Fifteen is far-fetched and probably never has happened, but a half-dozen ballplayers will likely be major leaguers, either for the first time, or again, come the end of the first week of this month when the Triple-A season ends.

The Seattle Mariners, on the other hand, have been guilty of calling up their near-ready youngsters in June or July over the past three years, creating a somewhat meaningless group of September call-ups. Well, meaningless to the core of the club’s future, usually. Not to those who get that call.

This summer, the Mariners have summoned the likes of Adam Jones, Greg Dobbs, Shin-soo Choo, Sean Green, Emiliano Fruto, Eric O’Flaherty, Mike Morse, T.J. Bohn, Chris Snelling, Jon Huber, Cha Seung Baek, Bobby Livingston,and Mark Lowe. And technically, Rene Rivera, who spent the first week of the year in Triple-A Tacoma. That’s 14, and at least a few more are on their way.

The candidates include a couple of no-brainers, such as the recall of Dobbs, Jeff Harris, Bohn and Fruto, but a few first-timers are certain to have a quick chat with Rainiers skipper Dave Brundage, who’ll tell them the good news.

Right-hander Francisco Cruceta is a sure thing, and deservedly so. The 25-year-old leads the Pacific Coast League in strikeouts with 175 in 154 1/3 innings and opponents are hitting just .245 against him. Cruceta has issued 74 walks and servd up 24 long balls, but his 90-92 mph fastball and plus splitter provide him with the arsenal to get outs in the show.

Expect Cruceta to get a few innings in relief during the month, with the potential to get a few starts, should the M’s shut down Felix Hernandez, as expected.

Catcher Guillermo Quiroz is on the 7-day DL in Double-A San Antonio, but if he’s healthy, he, too could get the nod, as a pre-audition for 2007, or as potential trade bait during the winter. Quiroz is a quality backup catcher and has the skills to get it done in the majors. He should have been Kenji Johjima’s backup this season.

Other possible call-ups in Tacoma include lefty Cesar Jimenez and the recall of southpaw Bobby Livingston.

The thought of calling up Jeff Clement in September was run by a Mariners official this afternoon and the response indicated that the team has not decided but is leaning heavily toward not sending for Clement.
Left-hander Travis Blackley could, and should, get a call as well, depending on how many healthy arms are left on the big club at the time, and how many innings the club wants Blackley to throw during his first season off major shoulder surgery.

Blackley, 24 in November, has thrown 149 innings as he heads into his final start of the year tonight versus Salt Lake. He’s never thrown more thanthe 162 1/3 frames he pitched in San Antonio in 2003, and has reached the 130 mark only one other time in his career.

Right-hander Yorman Bazardo, who sports a solid 3.56 ERA at Double-A in 24 starts, could also be among those called up. Bazardo and Blackley are both current members of the 40-man roster, which comes into play with the not-so-sure things, such as the two aforementioned pitchers.

When a pitcher goes under the knife, it’s always a scary proposition. Will he ever be the same? With shoulder surgery, it’s even worse than that of those who undergo the TJ procedure. Blackley is already throwing at near-max velocity and while he has a ways to go to get back to where he was during the first half of 2004 when he led the PCL in ERA, he’s certainly further along than anyone would have bet.

Well, anyone but Travis. He bet on it – and won.

Blackley deserves it, but so does one other name that has played his heart out in Triple-A for two straight years.

Hunter Brown had a better year in ’05 than he is having this season, but in the name of Mickey Lopez, Brown, 26, deserves to sit on the bench in the big leagues, pinch run, get an AB, or just simply suit up for a few weeks, whether he gets in a game or not.

Brown can play third base and has a decent bench-level bat that plays well in a park like Safeco, since Brown likes to hit the ball from left-center to right-center, and has a 1.74 G/F rate with 54 line drives attached.

He may not be a future big-leaguer, but he’s as talented as any 25th man in the American League.

If the Mariners are about doing things right and rewarding the right guys for hard work, Travis Blackley and Hunter Brown will be wearing an M’s uniform in September.

Yeah, yeah, Churchill just wants his favorites to get the call. That’s true, in a sense, but they deserve it as much as some of those who have already been up.

No doubt about it.

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45 Responses to “September Call-ups”

  1. marinerswinws said

    Nice article Jason, i was hoping Hargrove being fired can be added to the list.

  2. list of September Call-ups?

    That’s not a call-up… it’s another subject altogether.

  3. Oly Chris said

    Am curious why Grover would play the younger guys in September, given his obvious disdain (“there’s a lot to be learned by sitting on the bench and keeping your mouth shut”). He did surprise us by using Bohn, but that was probably only so he could platoon-but-not-platoon Chris Snelling. Doyle forced the issue, and good for him.

  4. kva15 said

    Jason, then how about a September call-up for Dan Rohn? Hargrove doesn’t even need to be fired that way. They could just lock him in a closet until they bring him out in early October to fire him.

  5. This is about players, not Mike Hargrove or the manager’s job.

  6. Oly Chris said

    So it sounds like Cruceta and Quiroz stand the most chance of showing something the club does not already know. I hope they will get a decent evaluation to help answer some questions regarding 2007.

  7. Quiroz’s injury will have to subside or he won’t even get the chance.

    Also, Bryan LaHair would be a shoo-in, but he’s currently off playing for Team USA. It’s very possible that he joins the big club after the qualifying tournament concludes.

    LaHair is very deserving of a few Abs and might actually develop into a big-league bat. He’s progressing very nicely and his final obstacles aren’t all that glaring, with the exception of hitting big time pitching, which every prospect has yet to prove.

  8. Oly Chris said

    If Travis Blackley’s health is not jeopardized, I would love to see him get some 2006 innings. How can one not root for this guy? He’s a true original and sounds like a guy you would love to have on your side.

  9. Oly Chris said

    Are there restrictions as to who can be called up? Evidently they don’t have to be on the 40-man.

  10. they do have to be on the 40-man, but not right this second. If the M’s wanted to call up Matt Tuiasosopo, they just have to find room on the 40-man, place him on it, and then call him up.

  11. Speaking of Blackley, he’s gone four scoreless against Salt Lake tonight, just one hit allowed.

  12. Just wondering if you think Cruceta will be a starting pitcher or reliever when he gets the call. I think he deserves to start, but do you think there’s room in the Seattle rotation for him? I think trading Jamie Moyer was a sign that Bavasi has some faith in Cruceta and the other youngsters, but does that mean they’ll see tons of action this year?

    I would love to see Cruceta get a chance this year.

    Thanks for the article.

  13. I think he deserves a few starts, too. The opportunity will probably come when the Mariners shut down Felix, which they are very likely to do. Cruceta would be the natural choice to pick up those few starts.

  14. J said

    What about Scott Atchison?

  15. Atch is a possibility, but I wouldn’t see why they’d want to do so. His future is not in Seattle and at what, 30 years of age now? I think it’s counterproductive at this point. It would be like calling up Rich Dorman, even though he isn’t going to be in the org next year. Atch may not be either.

    Lots of worthy arms in their early 20s deserving of AAA status in 2007.

  16. Marinerhomer said

    Jason, will the players from the Rainiers get called up on Friday or will they wait until their season is over?

  17. They are going to wait. The team is in Tampa and that’s a long flight just to get there for an extra few games, and none of them would play much anyways.

    Besides, Tacoma is already using several players from down deep into the system such as catcher Juan Beltran. If they lost more players, at some point, one of the clubs in the system wouldn’t have enough players to field a team.

    Tacoma has several guys hurt and out for the year, too. Garciaparra, Nageotte, Johnson, to name a few.

  18. J said

    That’s kind of been my thoughts on the matter too. He was a favorite for his improved K-rate for a while, but he’s not an appropriate long-term solution anymore. Sort of like Campillo… he was nice to have around as a “right now” option, but I think that time has passed in favor of trying to bring in a new core to last us more than a few years.

    (On the note of deserving arms in the high minors, Tillman said in the Times that he’s shooting for ending the year in San Antonio. Nice thing to shoot for, but he’d better be working his butt off in the offseason and even then, I don’t know)

    Avila and Liddi with two hits apiece tonight in Wisconsin…

  19. Jerry said

    I am hoping that Blackley’s excellent game tonight helps his case for a callup. However, I have to wonder how the M’s will deal with all these players when they decide who will be on the club.

    I don’t see the M’s taking starts away from Washburn or Meche. That leaves some flexibility in the other three rotation slots. I figure that it is safe to say that Felix will start at least 2 or 3 of the 5 starts that are left in the schedule. So, whoever fills in for him is only looking at a few starts.

    Baek, Woods, Cruceta and Blackley are the guys that warrant the most consideration for those starts.

    Perhaps the M’s could try to just divy them up equally. That would leave each guy with around 3 starts to finish the year.

    If not, I would almost expect Cruceta to be the guy working from the pen. Given his repertoir, age, and situation, he would probably be the best candidate to make the 2007 club as a swingman/long reliever. Woods is also a guy who is likley going to end up as a reliever, although he hasn’t tanked as a starter recently. Blackley is still coming back from injury, and I would expect the M’s to stick with him as a starter.

    On the other hand, Cruceta and Blackley have a lot more upside than Woods or Baek. Both could end up as viable options as #4 or #5 starters. Baek or Woods are the types of guys that you don’t want starting unless something has gone really bad.

    With the M’s starting so many inexperienced guys, combined with the inconsistency of Meche and Washburn, there should be a lot of games where the starter only goes 4 or 5 innings. Thus, even if there aren’t enough starts to go around, all four of these guys could get a lot innings.

  20. If the Mariners are about doing things right and rewarding the right guys for hard work, Travis Blackley and Hunter Brown will be wearing an M’s uniform in September.

    This is how an organization develops long term loyalty and the reputation for treating players like more than just investments, but like people and maybe even family. That reputation helps in the long run and hurts no one in the short run.

  21. Since Deanna’s either in Japan, or leaving very shortly, I’ll interject her “Hunter For Third!” comment for her.

    I only wish HB26 was on the 40-man, so it wouldn’t be hard to bring him up…

  22. 60 day DL some reliever, you know the one

    Hunter desreves the chance and could be a fine utility player.

  23. Jerry said

    the M’s will have to deal with a roster crunch to get a look at a lot of these guys.

    The guys that the M’s could move to the DL include Lowe, Jesse Foppert, and Clint Nageotte. Lowe is already on the 15-day, and if they don’t think it is real important to have him back this year, they could move bring up someone else in his place.

    If they want to create more space than that, they will have to pass players through waivers. Guys like Rene Cortez, Foppert, Jon Huber, Greg Dobbs, or Oswaldo Navarro. None of those guys would likely clear waivers.

    Thus, the M’s likely have a maximum of 3 spots to open up.

    The players not on the 40-man who deserve a look include Cruceta, Brown, and Brian LaHair.

    If the M’s can get all three on the roster without having to pass anyone important through waivers, great. But, obviously, Cruceta takes priority over Brown. And if it comes down to giving up a player like Rene Cortez to get Brown a cup of coffee, well…I would tell Brown “sorry, maybe next year.”

  24. Lowe has been shut down, and Raffy could be, too. As might Felix.

  25. Matthew said

    JAC, adding to a list of potential off-season ideas, how about a more detailed look at Chris Minaker?

  26. Ya know, I don’t see Minaker as a prospect, so I’m not sure there’d be much interest in a Minaker spotlight type thing.

  27. Ty said

    I personally would love to hear about Minaker. A friend of mine knows him personally, and my friend’s brother plays for his dad’s baseball team. I know a lot of people that were thrilled to see him drafted by the Mariners, seeing as he’s a hometown guy.

    You don’t have to make a post/spotlight or whatever, but it would be cool if you did. He’s a hard worker, kinda like Hunter Brown (that’s probably how his career will turn out). I’m kinda surprised that Matthew knew about him.

  28. If i get enough people asking about Minaker, I’ll do some homework, call the club, a few scouts and see what happens.

  29. Allen said

    23. Not sure there’s that much of a roster crunch. Foppert and Nageotte are done. Livingston has crashed against better competition. Seems like clearing 2-3 spots would be painless.

  30. if the M’s needed 2-3 more spots, they’d just snap their fingers.

  31. Jerry said

    The Tribune reports that Nageotte had surgery to have bone chips removed from his elbow on Thursday:

    http://www.thenewstribune.com/sports/story/6070617p-5324354c.html

    What a bummer year for Clint. I was hoping that he would build on his solid AFL performance and push for a spot in the M’s rotation. But he was just brutal this year.

    Obviously, he wasn’t healthy. But I have to think that this year pretty much settles the starting/relieving issue with Nagoeotte.

    Jason,

    Do you think that this is it for Nageotte? He was dominant as a reliever in 2005. Do you think that he could move back to the pen and still turn into a useful player? Or is he just another failed prospect?

  32. 2006 Clint Nageotte = 2005 Cha Seung Baek. Here’s to hoping Clint bounces back in 2007 even further than Cha-Cha has…

  33. Oly Rainiers Fan said

    Didja see the story in the TNT today? Here’s the upshot.

    “Three players, outfielders Adam Jones and T.J. Bohn and utility player Greg Dobbs, will return to the Mariners, but five others will be called to the majors for the first time.

    That group will include Rainiers pitchers Francisco Cruceta and Cesar Jimenez and Tacoma infielder Oswaldo Navarro. From Double-A San Antonio, the Mariners will call up pitchers Travis Chick and Ryan Feierabend.”

    Oswaldo Navarro? Weird.

  34. Jerry said

    Strange that they are calling up Chick and Feierabend and not Blackley.

    That seems like a major oversight.

    Feierabend and Cruceta aren’t even on the 40-man roster right now, so there should be some transactions coming up.

    I hope that they bring up Blackley. Even is he just gets an inning or so, and spends most of the time hanging out. If I were him, I would be pissed off.

  35. Navarro finally gives them a defensive replacement for the middle infield.

  36. Ty said

    What the heck? I didn’t post that… Feel free to delete it…

  37. I never said I actually think Hunter Brown, Bobby Livingston and Travis Blackley WILL be called up, just that they were considered, or should have been.

    Livingston was, Brown and Blackley were not.

    Blackley was not considered due to his workload, as I suspected.

    Calling up Feierabend and Chick makes little sense, unless they are going to get significant time – meaning a start or two for Feierabend, and regular stints for Chick out of the pen.

    If Feierabend is going to get a start or two, where are Cruceta’s starts going to come from?

    I know the M’s prefer to slide Cruceta to the pen, but they really need to start going the distance with some of these arms before determining they can’t start.

    Having 43 top shelf relievers doesn’t do much when you can carry but 7 of them. Someone has to start, and that is where the value is.

  38. Jerry said

    Jason,

    Couldn’t some of these promotions be simply a pat on the back gesture, sorta the equivalent of getting to eat at the grownup table for the first time.

    In the case of Feierabend, it doesn’t make any sense to convert him to relief, and it also doesn’t make any sense to start him ahead of Cruceta. But couldn’t this just be a symbolic way to say “hey kid, you are officially on the radar”.

    Of course, the M’s can have Feierabend pitch a few innings of relief, just to let him face major league hitters once.

  39. JasonAChurchill said

    Most of the September call-ups are a pat on the back, but if so, why not pat Blackley on the back after what he went through?

    Why not Yorman Bazardo? Both guys peformed as well as those who got the call, and to be honest,Bazardo probably has a better chance in the big leagues than Chick, though both belong in the bullpen long term.

  40. slim said

    The Feierabend call is interesting because it means the M’s will need to burn an option on him in 2007. I don’t think he needs to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft this year since he was 18 when he signed for his first year (2004) and that should’ve extended him through 2007. Probably not a big deal.

  41. JasonAChurchill said

    Feierabend was going to get a looooong look in ST anyways. He’ll be one of a handful fighting for that last spot in the rotation, so they wanted to get his feet wet.

  42. Brandon said

    I tell ya what Chris Minaker looks like he could be something. I think he will or at least he should play for the AAA and then be moved up. I like how he plays the infield and hes pretty automatic at bat. Just take a look at his stats through high school and college. Hes a hell of a ball player.

  43. I like Minaker, but he’s probably a future utility guy, if he makes the show and stays.

  44. DiQ said

    Edmonds-Woodway baby!

  45. haha, i was waiting for that!

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