It is difficult for me to find anything positive to say about the Mariner’s organizational strength at this position. There simply isn’t any talent here with the exception of a couple kids who’ve never made it above A ball and are still years away from being able to contribute anything to the major league club.
Jack Wilson: A very good post about Jack Wilson by Griffin can be found here. It is hard to believe he only played in 61 games in 2010.
Josh Wilson: Due to injuries to Jack Wilson, Josh Wilson got the bulk of the playing time at SS in 2010. Offensively, Josh Wilson was dreadful, posting an OPS of .572 and a wOBA of .263. Defensively, it wasn’t much better, as he posted a UZR of -2.1. Overall, Josh Wilson is a replacement level player and won’t ever really be anything else.
Chris Woodward: Woodward is 34, so the fact that he only appeared in 41 games combined over the last 3 seasons at the major league level should tell you a lot about what to expect from him. It would be hard to justify even keeping him at AAA, except for the fact that Jack Wilson can never seem to stay healthy and there isn’t much else at the position in the organization.
Ramon Vazquez: Vazquez was the other 34 year old SS in Tacoma. Brought in as insurance in case both the Wilsons ended up injured at the same time, Vazquez waited in Tacoma before getting traded to Houston. While he will continue to bounce around baseball looking for a chance to play, he doesn’t offer anything more than Josh Wilson does, so he’s really not a good fit for Seattle.
Anthony Philips: Philips doesn’t really belong here, but he did play 4 games at SS for Tacoma in 2010 so I thought I’d include him. Philips is just 20 years old, and has spent 3 years at the Rookie and A levels without ever really impressing. His call up to Tacoma had more to do with the Rainiers needing to field a team, and less to do with anything Philips offers. I expect him to be back down in A ball for 2011.
Carlos Triunfel: Normally I don’t include players who’ve aren’t at least at the AAA level in these reports, but Triunfel is a well known name among Mariners fans so I thought it would be a good idea to include him. Triunfel was once the most heralded prospect in the Mariners system, and with good reason. He was only 18 and had already gotten himself a promotion to AA. Today though, Triunfel has almost fallen off the map. A broken leg cost him all but 11 games in 2009. In 2010 he posted a .622 OPS and a .270 wOBA. There’s also been rumblings that he better suited for 3B or 2B because his defense isn’t good enough to play SS at the major league level, though I’ve never seen him play and I don’t have access to any advanced defensive metrics for AA players so I cannot verify that this is really the case. Either way, I wouldn’t expect him to be playing SS in Seattle anytime soon.
Overall Analysis: If the cupboard was bare at catcher, than it completely doesn’t exist for SS. Anyone wondering why Jack Zduriencik would give Jack Wilson the 2 year contract he gave him a year ago needs to recognize the fact that there was no one in the organization who was able to fill in the void. A year later, there still isn’t, as Triunfel has failed to develop. The M’s did draft Nick Franklin in the first round of 2009 and Marcus Littlewood in the 2nd round of the 2010, so they are attempting to address the issue, the problem is that Franklin has yet to play at the AA level and won’t be ready to make an impact on the Mariners until mid season 2012 at the earliest. Littlewood will likely start 2010 at the Rookie league level, so he’s even further away.
Prediction Guaranteed to be Wrong: Jack Wilson remains the everyday SS for as long as he can stay healthy. My coins flip prediction system says he’ll make 2 long trips to the DL, and likely will only play in around 100 games, meaning he’ll need a solid backup. A coin flip also told me that it won’t be Josh Wilson as the backup, which means that your guess is as good as mine as to who that will be.