M’s Need Angels in the outfield
The Seattle Mariners have been without a true left fielder since Raul Ibanez went off to greener pastures. Milton Bradley had the potential to bring a power bat in that position, but when that didn’t happen his .964 fielding percentage combined with his off the field antics were not worth the price tag and he was designated for assignment.
Michael Saunders was said to be a five tool player that would wow the fans with his bat and his glove. Instead he has spent every season “adjusting” his swing. The result of this is a career .196 batting average with this set to be his 4th big league season.
It is no wonder that the M’s have gone shopping for some fresh blood out in the yard. The Mariners have 13 outfielders in their Peoria training camp this spring. With Franklin Gutierrez and Ichiro Suzuki set to take the Center Field and Right Field positions, respectfully.
All the experts are speculating that Mike Carp will take the opening day slot in Left Field, especially considering his split stats show he can hit well off both right and left handed pitchers.
That leaves 10 men all vying for the single back-up outfielder slot on the 25 man roster.
Those ten men are as follows:
Vinnie Catricala R 23
Darren Ford R 26
Mike Wilson R 28
Luis Antonio Jimenez L 29
One of the first cuts will be experience. The M’s are a young team and will be looking for those that can give them a quality at bat, especially if they won’t be starting every day or have to be working off the bench. It also gives those with less experience a chance to develop their game a bit more by playing every day.
That eliminates Chavez, Chiang, Catricala, Ford and Jimenez. Although it wouldn’t be surprising to see a few of these break into the big leagues later in the season, especially Chiang who was a part of the Erik Bedard trade last season.
The non-roster invitees have a huge uphill battle to fight and with this year’s candidates, the best they could hope for would be minor league contracts at the end of the spring. That takes out Mike Wilson who played in 8 games with the M’s last year, but was recently dropped off the 40 man roster. That doesn’t make things promising for aging minor leaguers.
That makes it a four-way race between Peguero, Saunders, Robinson and Wells.
Peguero is coming off a dominate performance in Venezuela which you can read about in one of my former posts: MLB Offseason Report: Carlos Peguero. However well Peguero performs in other places, in the big leagues he seems determined to become the strike out king. The M’s could use his power, but not until he can get some plate discipline.
Saunders, as mentioned before, is looking at his last audition in big league ball unless he can show that he can perform as the prospect he once was.
The race really comes down to Trayvon Robinson and Casper Wells, neither of which were with the Mariners at the beginning of the 2011 season. Both of these guys have the potential to play all of the outfield slots which is important as they would have to fill in for Guti and Ichiro as the season goes on.
Wells probably has a bit of a stronger arm while Robinson has a bit better range.
Robinson is a switch hitter which gives him an advantage of being used off the bench but Wells showed fans last season that he is capable of power as long as he isn’t hit in the face.
The likelihood is Wells will be the one to make the final cut, but nothing is set in stone until the M’s get a chance to see these guys in action as the spring rolls on.
Who would be your choice?