The Outfield Going Into 2012

I walk a minimum of three miles every day. One and half miles to work and then of course back to my “room”. Of coures this doesn’t count walking to the chow hall and the various things that I have to do and take care of over the course of the day. I have plenty of time to think to myself and it’s not entirely unusual for me hold conversations with myself.

Just go with it and act as if that’s normal.

Something that I’ve spent a large amount of time thinking during those walks the last few days is the comments made by Eric Wedge during his Winter Meetings sit down with the press. If you wanted to read them I’m sure you’ve gone out and done so. It wasn’t anything ground braking. In fact it was the usual things you’d expect a manager to say about his outfielders and players in general.

His thoughts on Mike Carp:

“I’m looking at him more in the outfield – that’s where the bulk of his time is going to come in spring training. When he was out in left field on a somewhat regular basis, he was more and more comfortable.”

“I don’t ever like to put a guy in a position — especially young in their career — to where they’re platooning. You know what I mean? Like when we brought (Shin-Soo) Choo over to Cleveland (from Seattle) to give you guys an example of someone you know. It’s just real easy to do and I think it’s the wrong thing to do. It’s the wrong message to send a player. I’m not smart enough, you’re not smart enough to figure out whether he can or cannot hit against lefties. You have to watch him do it and watch him react to it. I’ve got a pretty good eye for what I feel like he’s going to play. From the right side or the left side against right-handers or left-handers and I think he’s going to be able to hit left-handers too.”

Thoughts on Casper Wells:

“He had some eye issues, head issues, sinus issues, he had some things going on upstairs that really affected him,” Wedge said. “And we feel like we’re on top of that right now.

“The guy is a rock. Athletically, he’s very good. I love him in the outfield. I love him on the bases. We saw a couple of weeks that were pretty special. I know what he’s capable of doing.”

 

Thoughts on Franklin Gutierrez:

“His weight is actually better than we thought it would be,” Wedge said. “I know what he can do when he’s good. I’m talking about getting on base, stealing bases. I’m talking about being … a run producer.”

 

The quotes are taken from the Seattle Times/Tacoma News Tribune. So thanks to Geoff, Larry and … well … Larry.

So as I was saying I just have a bunch of random thoughts. So let’s have a one sided conversation.

There was a few other broken quotes from Wedge on Gutierrez. Talking about his weight  and checking up on him to ensure that there wasn’t a repeat of last winter, which is obviously smart and the right things to do, Gutierrez still has a long ways to go if he plans to be anything similar to that of what he was back in 2009. Yet, even if he doesn’t return to his “offensive highs” –and I’m in no way implying that he will–with his level of defensive prowess even with the worst offensive production for a center fielder he was STILL worth plus value for the team. There are few if any position players in baseball that can sit at the bottom one side of a category or another and still be of value.

This is one of the reasons why I’ve held out so much hope for the organization to keep Gutierrez around despite all the trade talks this past off-season. I do understand that he is owed a guarenteed contract and that money wise it makes him a target to move because he constricts the budget over the next three years.

As everyone is talking about Gutierrez as a trade chip let’s nutshelf him as an asset: one of the more uniquely valueable players at his position whose ceiling is among the upper tier for his position that over the past year and ahalf has had a equally unique health problem.

Should Gutierrez be traded I think that everyone thinks of Trayvon Robinson or one of the numerial center fielders that are on the trade market such as Denard Span or BJ Upton as the obvious solutions for the Mariners should Gutierrez either be moved or fall injured this year. The thing is I think people really over look Casper Well’s ability as a center fielder. He was named by Baseball America as the best defender in the Tigers organization and he’s got good UZR numbers even if sample is rather light not to mention a cannon for an arm that brings back memories of Jay Buhner.

As it stands now, according to Wedge, Carp will be getting the primary load of plate appereances out in left field and as previously stated Carp won’t be platooned. This is kind of a lead into Wells either serving as the teams 4th outfielder and back-up center fielder should anything happen to Gutierrez or even could be the starter should the Mariners find the right deal this off-season for Gutierrez. There is the chance that he is possibly the hier apparent to Ichiro’s right field spot should he not remain with the club beyond 2012. 

Reading a into the Wedge comments, I believe that Gutierrez is on thin ice with the Manager and probably the team in general. While that’s pure conjecture on my behalf I think it’s an obvious thought that the organization isn’t going to continue to wait around with Gutierrez and his stomach issues to be resolved should he continue to have problems this season. As much as I like the guy baseball (and sports in general) are litered with stories of great talents being cut short due to various illnesses.

I’m not saying that I don’t think anyone likes him, I get the impression that Wedge has a ton of respect for what Gutierrez brings with his specific set of skills but it’s hardly going to lead to paying him 7 million in 2013 and 14 while sitting on a bnech and possibly being a late game defense replacement.

That kind of leads me to the thought that if the Mariners were going to try and clear some room in the budget this off-season might be the best time to move him if they were more worried about his contract than his upside. He might not have the trade value that other guys on the current market have I personally think he’s a great buy low option for a few different clubs one specifically would be the Washington Nationals, who have been all over both BJ Upton and Denard Span in the last 6 months (maybe trading Morgan was a bad idea) but for one reason or another they don’t seem to want to pay the price for such talents.  The Mariners could easily escape from “under” the contract plus maybe acquire a cheap bullpen component going forward.

Looking at the defensive allightment and how it shapes up for next year, I’d personally like to stick Carp at the DH. I know he wasn’t terrible in left field but he wasn’t good… or even average for that matter. I get that he won’t kill the team but with Casper Wells around it just doesn’t make sense to have him sit on the bench when you could just slide Carp to the DH. That’s just me. 

Then you slide Wells to left, leave Guti in center and of course there is Ichiro in right. You can let Robinson marinate in Tacoma, a long with minor league pick-up Nathan Darren Ford and Carlos “I need a fu manchu so I can further personify Rob Deer” Peguero . That would leave Michael Saunders as the possible 4th outfielder, whose causing me to sound like Jack Twist with my inablility to quit on him.

All this talk of course doesn’t take into account the possibility -as much as it diguists me to write — of Michael Cuddyer joining this club. At which time it would seem difficult to exactly figure who goes and who stays. An interesting thought would be if Casper Wells has any options left. (Options are one of those things that mystify me, regardless of how many times it’s explain to me. ) If that was the case you could hide him down in Tacoma or just go ahead and cut Saunders and continue on with Wells as your 4th outfielder.

I personally hope the organization doesn’t do anything with the outfield at this time. I know I’ve talked about Willingham and DeJesus in the past but I really like the overall potential of what we have in the outfield and if they continue to have issues next year they can just go after one of the three interesting outfield options next year or even make a trade.

*sigh*

This was kind of a ramble and maybe it’s better suited for a podcast. Yes, Keith let’s break out the podcast stuff and do that sometime soon.

Tags: Carlos Peguero Casper Wells Darren Ford Franklin Gutierrez Ichiro Michael Saunders

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