Today I want to discuss opportunity. It’s a concept we’re all familiar with, but it’s not one we really think about a lot in our daily lives. One of the aspects I enjoy most about baseball is the absolute purity of the opportunity. All roster spots are up for grabs, and it’s a fight every day for those spots.
Recently on the Mariners we’ve seen one of the most obvious cases of such an opportunity. Jean Segura went on the 10 day DL due to some hamstring issues, and as a result Taylor Motter has been handed the starting role.
Motter stepped into the role and has re-written the book on how to seize an opportunity. As I write this, he’s hitting .257 with 3 HRs over 39 Plate appearances. That’s a big step up from several other starters in the lineup who are starting the season off slow. His unchecked enthusiasm and hairflip have taken the fans by surprise, who are all rooting for and wishing to order their own “Motterpops” this summer.
With Segura on pace to come back soon, Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto is now faced with a tough decision as to how to get Motter at-bats. It’s a problem every GM loves to have; too much talent, too little playing time.
Motter isn’t the only pleasant surprise this season. Over in Milwaukee, there’s a little known guy who used to be a Mariner for a short period back in 2012-13. Eric Thames, the current HR leader in the MLB, was viewed as a potential 4th outfielder back then, with some question marks connected to his plate discipline.
After being handed between 4 different MLB teams and not truly finding a home, Thames headed to South Korea for a fresh start. There he was forced to focus more on discipline, as the Korean league isn’t exactly known for fierce fastballs. The style there is more focused on breaking balls and exacting control. The new environment obviously worked, as he became the 3rd foreign player to win the MVP of the league there. He’s now back showing his newfound skills for the Brewers and is on top of the league at the moment.
We all face these opportunities in life, and its how you face them and react that determines how your life will turn out. These are just two examples of how baseball athletes took advantage of theirs. Keep watching this season to see if there are more surprises, as I expect there will definitely be.
In Pax we trust – There’s a buzz surrounding James Paxton this season, as he seemed ready to take a big step forward. He’s definitely done that, with 21 scoreless innings to start the year, and a 22:4 Strikeout to walk ratio. Have the Mariners found a new Ace? Very possibly.
Ichiro Mania – Big news in Seattle this past weekend, with the former right fielder in town as a Miami Marlin. No word yet on when he will retire, but make plans Seattle fans for number 51 to be the next number retired by the Mariners. He hit an emotionally satisfying home run in what’s likely his final Safeco Field at bat, and it was a wonderful sendoff.
PEDs…again – PEDs made the news once again this week with the suspension of Pirates star center-fielder Starling Marte. There’s a lot of conflicting views on the issue across baseball, with some folks like Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo calling for a lot more testing. But the reality is that teams do not care on this subject. Look no further than the signing of Johnny Peralta by the St Louis Cardinals 2 years ago, to a multi-year deal when he was suspended. It made absolutely no difference and clearly didn’t impact his earning potential. As long as teams ignore it, players will continue to take PEDs.