Breaking down roster moves the Mariners will hate to make

Plenty of Talent

With just a couple of weeks left in Spring Training, the Seattle Mariners have some roster decisions to make.  The 40-man roster (players eligible to play on the big league club) is currently full, but every year Major League teams invite players to their training camp for an extended tryout to make the team.

Some of these are youngsters with little to no experience while others are washed up veterans attempting to make a comeback.

Even with the addition of some veterans such as Raul Ibanez, Joe Saunders, Michael Morse and Robert Andino, the Mariners are still a relatively young team.

As such, the M’s are likely to let younger invitees get more opportunity in the minors before making any major changes to the roster. This really eliminates the reality of guys like Mike Zunino and Nick Franklin from seeing any major league time in 2013.

The Mariners simply don’t have a reason for bypassing the development time they could have in the minors. If the management didn’t want to keep hot hitting 21-year-old Julio Morban (who is on the roster) in camp, you can make a safe bet in the opportunities for non-roster guys are getting cold quickly.

Possible Youngsters

The one exception may be the versatile Brad Miller as a back-up infielder.  Miller is mostly known as a short stop, but has shown good defense at 2nd and 3rd base so far this spring. And at the time of this writing he is hitting .258 in 13 games.

However nice it would be to have a young and healthy guy as a back-up to an aging Brendan Ryan, it probably wouldn’t do the kid any favors to put him in a spot where he would get limited at-bats.

Hultzen, left, and Miller, right, are two promising young guys for Seattle. (Mike Harrison/The Seattle Times)

Hultzen, left, and Miller, right, are two promising young guys for Seattle. (Mike Harrison/The Seattle Times)

Blocking his path in this role is Robert Andino, who was brought over in the trade for Trayvon Robinson back in November.  In my opinion, Andino is a subpar defender and has only a .235 career batting average.

Andino was brought in for veteran presence, but with Ryan filling that role in the clubhouse, I don’t see why he is needed.  Miller has a case, I’m just not sure it is strong enough.

The other youngster that could petition for a roster spot is 24-year-old catcher Jesus Sucre.  Sucre has a shot to make the team as a third catcher.

Right now the M’s have Kelly Shoppach and Jesus Montero platooning the position, but it is unclear what Montero will be like as an everyday catcher, and most teams like to have a third option in case of injuries.

Sucre holds a .986 career fielding percentage in the minors.  With 7 years of experience in the farm system, Sucre would make more sense than moving Zunino along too quickly, even if Zunino is a better all-round player.

Veteran Hopefuls

As for the veterans, the most likely to make the team are those petitioning to make the starting rotation.  Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Joe Saunders are the most likely to man the top-end of the rotation.  That leaves two spots open for the likes of Jeremy Bonderman and Jon Garland.

Bonderman hasn’t pitched since he was with Detriot in 2010.  At his absolute best Bonderman was a 14-game winner and pitched 214 innings.  So far this spring he has an ERA of 7.20.  I can’t see it.

Garland is a bit more interesting.

As a former all-star, Garland has an opportunity to have a real upside if his injuries are behind him.  He can be the work horse the Mariners need with experience to balance out a rotation that is in quite a bit of flux.

He isn’t really the same caliber pitcher the M’s are used to, though, so in the end he may lose out to the likes of Blake Beavan. However, his 1.50 ERA in 3 games this spring isn’t hurting his chances any.

The veteran that has been the most interesting though is Mike Jacobs.  Jacobs has been getting a significant amount of playing time at first base this spring, which is interesting considering the M’s have Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse as regulars for that position.

However, if the M’s could find space for Jacobs on the bench, he could be exactly what the M’s need to call on in close situations, pinch hitting in close games, which most of their games are likely to be.

After all, if you are down by one with a guy on 3rd and 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th, Brendan Ryan will need a pinch hitter to come in. But what options do the M’s really have for pop off the bench?  If only Jacobs could play catcher, he would be golden.

The real question is, if you are going to add any of these players, who would come off the 40-man as well as the 25-man roster?

But that is speculation for another day.


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