Y'know ... when I first heard they sent Wells down and kept Liddi, my first thought was to shake my head. I don't like the decision. I just didn't get an opportunity to voice my opinion on the choice to keep Liddi up before his golden sombrero night against Haren.
So, here's my thinking.
1) Wells has *already* managed to maintain a 115 OPS+ in the majors for 400 PAs, (okay, 393 ... sue me). He's shown an ability to do this even while only getting part-time play. While his 3:1 K/BB ratio isn't great ... it's at a level where he *can* stick around and not be a detriment. While the splits are too tiny to be certain of anything ... as a STARTER, his career line (in 344 PAs) is: .264/.332/.476 (.808). That is correct. Wells ... in a starting role ... has an .800 OPS. His career numbers are pulled down because he "only" hits .604 as a sub. (And frankly, hitting .600 as a sub ain't bad, when your veteran starting (when the season began) CA, 1B, SS, and LF can't manage that as full-timers).
2) Liddi ... while showing decent numbers so far in the majors, (.248/.311/.463 -- .773) over his 132 PAs between '11 and '12 ... is running a K/BB of almost 5:1. That is unsustainable. Liddi, in Tacoma last year, whiffed 170 times in 138 games. My take on Liddi is that he is in basically the same boat that Peguero was last year. He has a lot of talent ... but he is NOT adjusting. His 'development' (which I believe is a misnomer), is that at each successive level, his K-rate has gotten worse. He did add more power ... and the club is obviously chasing the dream that he'll be a 40-HR monster, (which Wells will never be). But, *at this point in time*, between the two of them ... I think Liddi would benefit more by a return to AAA.
3) Liddi played ZERO games in the OF in the minors. So, having fixed the chronically bad defense Seattle suffered from before Z arrived, are they really just going to let Liddi play a lot in the OF and hope he gets it? Now, maybe Liddi has buy in to the move ... (what rookie wouldn't, if it would keep him in the Show?) ... but pros don't like being embarrassed ... especially if a bad night shows up on ESPN. The defensive issue is *HIGH* risk in my opinion, (since Seager has a stranglehold on the 3B job). If you want him to play SS ... then Liddi should be getting reps in AAA ... not in the Bigs. If Liddi is the guy (compared to Wells), that you think will be around and be a star some day ... then he's the guy you need to invest DEVELOPMENT into *NOW* ... not next year. This is better accomplished if he's playing every day ... not being deployed as a 4th OF and occasional 3B sub.
4) Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe Liddi can work out his strikeout issues at the elite level playing 1/2 the time. It's possible. Maybe the coaches have seen something in his development that suggests the breeze may abate sometime soon. But, the biggest detriment in all of this (aside from ignoring the defensive concerns and issues), is that Wedge now has an EXCUSE to play Figgins more in the OF. Instead of Wells becoming the late inning defensive replacement ... Figgins inherits that role.
In the end, I see Liddi following a path similar to Peguero last season. He'll manage enough power for awhile to survive ... but once he's booked, he'll stop seeing the pitches that he can drive out of the park, and smack hard into the wall of you-can't-get-away-with-that-approach-here-meat. If there is an upside to this it is that Liddi "fails quickly", and actually understands and appreciates that his talent alone will not be enough to survive. I think Peguero might well be benefiting from his 7:1 K/BB ratio from his trip to the majors last season as we speak.
Is it possible that Seattle has grown savvy enough to intentionally let a prospect "flail" in the majors, so they can send him down and get a new attitude from him? I have my doubts. While I see a scenario where this works out in the long run ... I think in the short term it's going to end up being a painful combo of Liddi getting booked and flaming out ... and Figgins winning the "more PT" lottery.
When you couple the undeniable reality that Olivo is going to be taking PT away from "somebody" ... the immediate impact of the Olivo for Wells swap is likely detrimental to the club's winning percentage this year on multiple levels. But hey ... at least Olivo and Figgins are working hard to improve Seattle's draft position.
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Age 25 - RH - (2B/UT) - (as of 7/13/2014)
Stefen Romero - mnrs - 1475-PA; 82-2B; 53-HR; 251-RBI; 36-SB; 19-CS; 90-BB; 239-K; .305/.355/.507 -- .862
MAJORS - 159-PA; 6-2B; 2-3B; 3-HR; 11-RBI; 0-SB; 3-CS; 4-BB; 40-K; .196/.236/.324 -- .560
Age 23 - LH - (LF) - (as of 7/13/2014)
Dario Pizzano - 2014 - 335-PA; 22-2B; 9-HR; 52-RBI; 0-SB; 0-CS; 47-BB; 39-K; .236/.346/.454 -- .800 (A+/AA)
Dario Pizzano - mnrs - 1116-PA; 80-2B; 21-HR; 151-RBI; 11-SB; 4-CS; 138-BB; 124-K; .298/.389/.474 -- .863
Age 23 - RH - (CF) - (as of 7/13/2014)
Jabari Henry - 2014 - 322-PA; 18-2B; 18-HR; 58-RBI; 4-SB; 6-CS; 44-BB; 62-K; .305/.411/.592 -- 1.003 (A+)
Jabari Henry - mnrs - 1005-PA; 56-2B; 37-HR; 157-RBI; 18-SB; 15-CS; 136-BB; 182-K; .277/.381/.498 -- .879
Age 24 - RH - (OF) - (as of 7/13/2014)
Jabari Blash - 2014 - 299-PA; 14-2B; 0-3B; 17-HR; 57-RBI; 6-SB; 2-CS; 39-BB; 81-K; .228/.351/.492 -- .843 (AA/AAA)
Jabari Blash - mnrs - 1740-PA; 80-2B; 13-3B; 76-HR; 257-RBI; 50-SB; 24-CS; 238-BB; 480-K; .254/.371/.484 -- .855