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Mariners grant Justin Smoak another look

Aug 14, 2012, 6:23 PM EST

Justin Smoak Getty Images

It could be do-or-die time for Justin Smoak.

With Mike Carp returning to the disabled list because of a strained groin, the Mariners brought Smoak back to the majors on Tuesday. He’ll likely play regularly at first base as the team tries to determine whether to include him in its plans for 2013.

Smoak hit just .242 and failed to homer in 20 games for Triple-A Tacoma. Obviously, that’s not very encouraging at all. The good news is that he had a 16/16 K/BB ratio in his 66 at-bats. He was at 85/29 K/BB in 344 at-bats for the Mariners this season. And while he didn’t homer in his stint at Tacoma, he did have six doubles. That’s just as many doubles as he managed in five times as many at-bats for Seattle.

Smoak is still relatively young at 25, but he’s had 1,119 major league at-bats to prove himself and he’s currently sporting a .215/.297/.365 line. If he doesn’t take a big step forward in the Mariners’ final 45 games, the team will have to weigh giving up on him and installing Jesus Montero at first base going forward. Montero isn’t going to last at catcher, a point the Mariners seemed to concede when they drafted Mike Zunino third overall in June,  and given that he’s struggled mightily as a DH this year, first base might be the best long-term option for him.

  1. schlom - Aug 14, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    I always found it kind of strange that Smoak was such a highly regarded prospect – or at least enough of one to be the key piece in the Cliff Lee trade. I understand that he was the 11th pick in the draft but he never really hit in the minors. He was OK in Double A in 2009 although not great, and outside of 66 plate appearances in 2010 he’s been bad in Triple A.

  2. Kevin S. - Aug 14, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Drafting a catcher has nothing to do with how they view Montero’s future behind the plate. Baseball player development is too long-term to use current roster needs as part of the drafting process.

  3. denny65 - Aug 14, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    Big mistake. No, let’s make that BIG mistake, bringing back Smoak. Several of my cohorts have stated they will no longer attend Ms games (and many others have already sworn off Seattle’s AAA club); recalling the light-hitting Smoak is the last straw for them and many others, judging by the comments posted on Seattle “Times” blogs.

    The U.S.S. Mariner blog has an excellent recent piece on Dustin Ackley and his prospects as a first-baseman (remember, he played that position in college and has done so 7-8 times this season for the Ms), as well as the logjam of talented and semi-talented middle infielders down on the Ms’ farm. Kyle Seager has been doing an excellent job at second base when Ackley has been moved to first (again, Seager’s college position was second), and Large-Salary-Small-Results Chone Figgins can hold down third base for at least the rest of this season.

    Jesus Montero at first base? Well, he’s certainly not a catcher, so there’s that.

    Jack Z (GM) and Wedge need to decide on a plan of action, and soon, that doesn’t include Smoak.

    • mgdsquiggy17 - Aug 14, 2012 at 7:58 PM

      really not attending games because Smoak is on the team? I’m sorry but that is just stupid. I don’t think I will ever be more upset then when I had to constantly watch Dusty Baker trot out Neifi Perez (at least Smoak is still young and has a chance to possibly turn it around. Really at this point what do you have to lose by giving him another shot till the end of the season??) over and over and over but I wouldn’t turn my back on the team I love just because of that. Personally I’d be glad they wouldn’t be attending anymore games.

  4. g2-21fbe9ca5d47110d88250f4f0fb3ba08 - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:37 AM

    What about Luis Jimenez? Give a chance to the big guy!
    BTW, Smoak and Looney can be the two worst 1B in the mlb this season

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