Time to meet the 2012 Mariners: Starting with catcher Miguel Olivo
Often times when a team is down in the dumps, Super Fan A turns into Regular Fan A. This transition usually involves knowing less about the team, not paying attention to spring training or minor league players as much, and generally only tuning in when the game is on in the back ground. Since the Seattle Mariners have been down in the dumps for quite some time now, a fair share of Seattlites are unaware of who is even on the team beyond Felix Hernandez and Ichiro Suzuki. Some people might be aware of Dustin Ackley, but probably not of Mike Carp. Mike Carp! Mike Carp was a better hitter than Ackley last year (probably the last time that will happen - but worth noting).
So the point of this soon to be ongoing feature is to inform the un-informed about who these loveable Seattle Mariners are. They aren't just actors who sometimes play baseball - they are baseball players who sometimes act! As themselves! As baseball players! Wild!
But until the 40 man active roster becomes the very obvious 25 man active roster, there is still some hearts to be broken into pieces, packed up, and overnighted from Peoria to Tacoma. We know that Dustin Ackley will be starting at second. But we don't know that Carlos Peguero will somehow hit enough home runs to overlook his strikeout numbers. So we'll start with the positives in the infield, the people that we know are here.
Catcher: Miguel Olivo #30
33 years old, Experience: 10 years
Olivo has been around the block over his major league career to the tune of six different teams (the Mariners twice). The Mariners shipped him off in 2005 to the Padres for never to be seen again Daniel Mateo. After a decent Colorado hitting year where he batted .269/.315/.449 in 112 games, the Mariners signed him to the tune of a two-year, 7 million dollar contract.
Catcher has been an offensive black hole for the Mariners quite a bit. Olivo was supposedly going to provide a bit of oomph to the position, and he did to a certain degree last year in hitting 19 home runs. But Olivo is a swing first ask questions later sort of hitter, and unfortunately for him this doesn't necessarily translate into a whole lot of time spent standing on base. He owned the worst walks-to-strikeout ratio last year at 0.14. Olivo hit .224/.253/.388 in 2011 - not exactly numbers to keep someone around. But there isn't too much valid competition at catcher, and the 19 home runs last year led the team (eesh - I just looked up that statistic. Ugh).
He is far from the best defensive catcher and let 11 passed balls slip by to the tune of a fielding percentage of .988. For what Olivo lacks in patience at the plate and a terrifying arm for base runners, he makes up with attitude, experience and being beyond tough as nails. In 2010 when he was with the Rockies, Olivo passed a freaking kidney stone - MID GAME. AND THEN CAME BACK TO PLAY. Not sure what more you can want from someone behind the plate. Oh yeah, someone who hopefully can post higher than a 0.1 WAR this year.
This year, Olivo will be asked to do what he did last year, only maybe a bit more consistently. The 19 HRs were nice, but it wouldn't be such a bad thing to see his batting average up itself to his career average at .243. If Olivo were able to figure out how to walk more often (he only walked 20 times last year), he could possibly play himself into the option on his contract. But with John Jaso/Jesus Montero/potentially Adam Moore waiting in the background, this could very well be Olivo's last year in the Mariners uniform.
For a more indepth look at the Seattle Mariners, head over to Lookout Landing for all the depressing facts.