Tough decisions for Wedge
The Seattle Mariners have made quite a few acquisitions this offseason to compliment their already young roster. Most notably is the trade to get Jesus Montero from the Yankees. That move alone gave Mariners fans a shot of excitement and a reason to show up to Safeco Field this year.
The conundrum for Eric Wedge will be how young does he want this lineup to be and where does he place his 4 players who could be considered power hitters?
There are so many combinations that could work this year for the Mariners that it boggles the mind.
That’s where I come in.
Here are my predictions for the Mariners 2012 starting lineup. Complete with secondary options for each postion on the field and batting order.
1. Dustin Ackley – 2B
Why: With Dustin Ackley batting first, it would give him plenty more opportunities to get hits. The guy is a pure hitter, he just needs more chances to prove it. This would allow him the extra at-bats that the leadoff guy gets each year.
2. Ichiro Suzuki – RF
Number 2 seems logical because he is still at the top of the order, will still get extra at-bats and with his production and consistency of getting on base, he will easily advance Ackley to start off scoring runs in innings.
3. Jesus Montero – DH
Why: Why not? Jesus Montero is a young, stud catcher who can beat the hell out of the ball. Putting him third in the order will force pitchers to pitch to him instead of around him. He is tabbed at DH to save his knees although he will platoon at catcher during the season.
Second option: Mike Carp. Carp is a guy who can play a lot of positions, but is not really stellar at any of them. He can hit the ball, though, and he will make a difference as long as he is hitting for the Mariners.
4. Justin Smoak – 1B
Why: Putting Justin Smoak as clean up hitter seems odd to some fans. His potential shows he could be the next great first baseman which means high fielding percentage to go along with some pretty nice power numbers.
He can be the catalyst to drive Ackley or Ichiro in if they are on base.
5. Mike Carp – LF
Why: As I stated before, Mike Carp can hit. He doesn’t really specialize in a position, but left field is most suitable as the other positions he has been know to play are locked up.
Second option: Casper Wells. Wells is a right fielder, but there’s no way the Mariners are going to move Ichiro much to the chagrin of the fanbase. Wells is a young stud like the rest of the team, who in time, could really turn out to be a solid hitter when given an opportunity.
6. Franklin Gutierrez – CF
Why: I consider Franklin Gutierrez to be a semi-power hitter. I know that sounds funny, but last season he dealt with illness and injury the whole season. He lost a lot of weight and was just out of form.
This season, he is coming in heavier and from what I have heard, as healthy as he has ever felt. He was a solid hitter to go along with his Gold Glove ability in center.
Second option: Trayvon Robinson. Robinson got called up last year and started off hot, but sputtered out and was sent back to Tacoma. He has the speed to run down fly balls in center, the glove skills to make some highlight reels and can hit well.
He just needs to refine himself a little and we’ll see him in Seattle again really soon.
7. Chone Figgins – 3B
Why: It hurt me to even write Chone Figgins name down on this list, but the fact is that the Mariners are paying him A LOT of money and will not waste that investment. They couldn’t deal him in the offseason and are going to be stuck with him until he proves himself.
They talked about him maybe playing other positions, but I don’t see it.
Second option: Kyle Seager. If Seager proves he put it in the work in the offseason, he should earn a spot. Seager is young like the rest and hit well coming up through the minors. He played a little in Seattle but not enough to get a full report on him.
Third option: Carlos Guillen. I know a third option is crazy, but I’m just throwing it out there. If Guillen proves he still has some in him, I can see Wedge giving the guy a shot and platooning at third. When he was dominant, (when the Mariners traded him in the beginning) he could hit for power and was an above-average fielder.
8. Brendan Ryan – SS
Why: Honestly, because we do not have a quality short stop to replace him. Brendan Ryan is a fan favorite, but there is no looking past his below average numbers. He can be streaky, but was not all that consistent last season.
Second option: Nick Franklin. He hasn’t cracked the majors yet, but if he has a good showing in spring training or a good start in Tacoma, he WILL be in Seattle. He is a stud who has been tearing up the minor league system. He will be our short stop of the future whenever he is ready to go.
9. Miguel Olivo – C
Why: People knock Olivo, but he was insanely clutch for the Mariners last year.
Yes he was streaky, but it was in a good way. It seemed the few times they needed him to come through to actually win a game or seven, he was the one who took it upon himself to make the big plays.
Yes, his days are numbered especially with him slightly injured. But with a platoon, he could come in handy.
Second option: John Jaso. The Mariners acquired Jaso this offseason to add some depth at catcher.
He is not stellar, but he is a rock. He will compliment any group of catcher we have with his experience and leadership.
Third Option: Jesus Montero. As mentioned above, Montero is listed as a catcher and would love the opportunity to play catcher. I’ve got no problem with it at all as long as he doesn’t bang himself up behind the plate and affect his hitting.
(If Montero is in at catcher, Carp moves to DH and Wells to LF in the lineup)