It’s been awhile since I’ve written. Between finals, starting a new job, and being sick essentially for the last three weeks, it’s been hard to find both time and energy, but I finally have two hours off where I don’t have a fever, so here we go!
After last night’s two errors, it seems like as good of a time as any to write about this. In my opinion, Jack Wilson might just be the most frustrating member of the Seattle Mariners. Sure, Milton Bradley is boom or bust, and Chone Figgins is boringly unproductive, but Jack Wilson draws my ire more than any other player on the team. I know this may sound strange, since by all accounts Wilson has a good work ethic, hustles, and plays the game the right way. At his best, he’s a 2 WAR shortstop, which is nothing to sneeze at. But in my opinion, he’s just not worth it.
First of all, he’s injury prone. He was injury prone before coming to the Mariners, and, shockingly, he’s become even more injury prone after he was traded to the Mariners at the age of 31. Last year his explosive legs limited him to just 61 games where he posted the second-worst wOBA of his career at .262, and managed to be a -.5 UZR SS for an even 0.0 wins. Durability is a skill that Jack Wilson simply doesn’t have, and it clearly effects his performance.
“But Brett! He lost 15 pounds! He should stay healthy and perform at a more acceptable level!” you say. While his last full season was very good, a year in which he posted 2.6 WAR, that was nearly four years ago, when he was 29 years old and in his physical prime. Losing 15 pounds is not going to make his ligaments as good as they were when he was 29 years old. Even after he lost those 15 pounds, the Mariners still wouldn’t count on him to play shortstop for them on a regular basis. Health was one of the reasons he was moved to second base, even. The other was perhaps enhancing his trade value; to show other teams that he can play multiple positions at an above-average level.
That brings me to my next point: he has no trade value. There is no reason to think that he’s going to accumulate much over the course of the season either. The best case scenario for Jack Wilson would be to luck his way into a .300 wOBA while playing slightly above average defense, and then the Mariners could dump him for something like an A-ball reliever at the deadline. To me, that return is not worth the dull pain of watching Jack Wilson spend 250 or more at-bats in a Mariners uniform for the first half of this season. Sure, it will help the Mariners save maybe a million dollars, but they’d still be taking a risk thinking anyone wanted to trade for him.
It’s not like the Mariners don’t have capable replacements, either. While Adam Kennedy would likely receive a good deal of playing time, Kennedy did post a .303 wOBA and 1 WAR for the Nationals in a part-time role last year. It’s arguable that Kennedy could be the better player, and as a left-handed hitter he is a better fit for Safeco. More interesting, however, is Luis Rodriguez. Dave Cameron wrote about Rodriguez’s exciting potential earlier this year, and I’m inclined to think that it would be better for the team if he were to get more at-bats. Rodriguez could be nothing, but we know that Jack Wilson is essentially nothing, or maybe slightly better. If the switch-hitting Rodriguez’s newfound power is real, we’ll have a nice little steal that could potentially slide over to third base once Dustin Ackley is ready, if the team can find a suitor for Chone Figgins.
Jack Wilson is on the team mostly because of his contract and his past reputation. He could still help out the team, but in a year where we will not be competing, I don’t like giving that playing time to someone who does not have the potential to be on the next good Mariners team. Luis Rodriguez has that kind of potential (we saw a glimpse of it with his opposite field double on Wednesday), and taking the chance on perhaps discovering a .750-.800 OPS infielder is worth dumping Jack Wilson’s salary to me. It’s not going to happen, at least not right away, but Rodriguez makes me realize that I just wouldn’t care if Jack Wilson went away right now.