San Diego Padres: Questions and Answers with the Mariners’ SoDo Mojo

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JULY 06: Mallex Smith #0 of the Seattle Mariners catches a fly out by Matt Chapman #26 of the Oakland Athletics in the eighth inning during their game at T-Mobile Park on July 06, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JULY 06: Mallex Smith #0 of the Seattle Mariners catches a fly out by Matt Chapman #26 of the Oakland Athletics in the eighth inning during their game at T-Mobile Park on July 06, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The San Diego Padres begin a two-game series with the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday. How do these teams match up this time around?

The San Diego Padres will try to move on from a heartbreaking loss in L.A. as they travel up the coast to the Pacific Northwest. In lieu of our traditional series preview, Friars on Base will try something new for the interleague matchup with the Seattle Mariners.

Colby Patnode is a site expert with the Mariners FanSided site, SoDo Mojo. He kindly agreed to a Q&A with Friars on Base to discuss Seattle’s 2019 season and expectations.

Here are his responses.

First of all, what were your expectations going into this season? Do you think the team has met those expectations thus far, or are they at least on track to meeting them?

Entering 2019, the Mariners looked like a 72-75 win team to me. If the bullpen surprised and the team could stay healthy, I thought maybe they could actually finish around .500. Neither happened and they are on pace for 67 wins, which is in the margin of error for my expectations. So they’re a bit behind my expectations, but the schedule lightens up a little after next week, so they could easily hit that 72 win mark.

Your team traded away Mike Leake, Roenis Elias, and Hunter Strickland this season. What’s the buzz regarding those trades? How are fans and analysts generally responding to their departure as well as the players you received in return?

The Mariners made three trades at the deadline. None of them came as a surprise and a lot of fans have checked out a bit, so the reaction from them was mostly a typical meh attitude. Amongst the analysts that I listen to/read, the feelings on the returns of those trades are that it was about the best they could have hoped for. Mike Leake is an expensive #5 starter, Roenis Elias is solid but inconsistent, and Hunter Strickland only made four appearances for the team, so no real attachment towards him.

In return for those three players, they got two left-handed relievers who are safe bets to make it

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to the big leagues and both have the upside that Elias had but with more club control. They also received a potential utility man with a knack for taking walks, stealing bags, and hitting line drives.

Finally, they got a young pitching convert who has already brushed 100 mph in his first full season transitioning to the mound. Nothing overwhelming, but a solid return seems to be the consensus amongst the analysts and I tend to agree.

Tell us about your best offensive player this season. What makes him so exciting to watch?

So our best offensive player, when healthy, is probably Mitch Haniger. However, he isn’t so there are really two candidates for that title right now.

Daniel Vogelbach is a big guy with a cult following in Seattle. He hits massive home runs and takes a lot of walks. He is a ton of fun to watch. The other candidate is catcher Omar Narvaez. He walks, doesn’t strike out much, and has shown legitimate power with his 16 homers. He also has a shot to finish the season at a .300 batting average and .370 plus OBP. Because of his overall hit tool right now, I’d give the edge to Narvaez.

Who or what has been the most pleasant surprise this season? What about the biggest disappointment?

The biggest surprise is, for me, J.P. Crawford. A highly touted prospect for years, Crawford never showed much at the big league level and has come up and been a steady performer. He even flashed superstar level skills in June and has been good on defense. It appears the change of scenery is helping and even though I liked the initial trade to acquire him, I was still worried about the hit tool.

Most Mariners fans would tell you Yusei Kikuchi has been the biggest disappointment. And looking at some of his numbers, you can see why. But we also need to consider a few things with the 27-year-old.

This year alone, he has changed leagues, gone to a new team, a new spring training home, new teammates, a new language, new city, different baseball, different pitch schedule, making his debut in his home country during his hero’s final game, making his home debut against the defending world champions, the death of his father, MLB schedule and travel, and had his first child, all in the span of 6 months.

Call me crazy, but I’m willing to cut him a lot of slack right now.

Tell us about your two most exciting prospects in your system. What makes them so special, and what are the current expectations for their performance?

The two most exciting prospects in our system are Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez. Kelenic came over from the Mets in the Edwin Diaz trade and has looked like a potential star for most of the 2019 season. He has the potential to hit .300/.400/.500 with 30+ home runs, 15-20 steals, with solid defense in centerfield or plus defense in a corner. At 19-years-old, Kelenic is already in High A ball and more than held his own. He could start next season in AA and could conceivably make his debut in 2021 as a 21-year-old.

Julio Rodriguez is a bit farther away, but not by much. Right now, he profiles as a prototypical right fielder. He is just 18-years-old and is one of the better hitters in the Sally League and has quite a bit of room for physical projection. Wouldn’t be shocked if he hit 40 home runs one year. The bat speed is plus, he has advanced strike zone recognition, especially for a teenager, and has no issue playing a solid corner outfield defense. Julio and Jarred have a cool friendship and have both said they can’t wait to be the two that bring a world series title to the Mariners.

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Let’s forget about the first half of the season. In your point of view, what must the team do to make the second half of the season a success?

The last 50 games are all about the youth and finding players who could be a part of the next playoff team. Guys like J.P. Crawford, Omar Narvaez, Marco Gonzales, and Yusei Kikuchi being good would be nice.

Seeing prospects like Jake Fraley, Shed Long, Justus Sheffield, Justin Dunn, and Kyle Lewis get some decent runs in September would be great too. In the NFL, they call it “putting something on film.” For the Mariners, it’s all about showing Jerry Dipoto why you are a building block and not a trade chip.

Finally, how would you grade the team’s performance thus far considering your pre-season expectations?

The team is performing a little bit worse than I expected, which is actually kind of exciting. The concern was that the team would be too good to lock in a top 5-7 pick. They may be but are playing competitive games against the four non-power American League teams, making them somewhat watchable. That being said, I would say they are probably 85% of what I thought they would be, which isn’t bad considering they’ve been without their best player (Haniger) for most of the season.

The Padres at Mariners series begins on Tuesday, August 6 at 7:10 PM PT/10:10 PM ET. Once again, thanks to Colby Patnode with SoDo Mojo for a great Q&A on their team, prospects, and performance this season.

Next. Padres drop series in heartbreaking fashion. dark

For complete coverage of the San Diego Padres 2019 season, continue following Friars on Base all season long.