I’m going to be talking about a few guys in the next coming weeks that we… I have forgotten about in a way. Now, I don’t really actually forget that they exist but sometimes you look over how they might be successful or be able to contribute to the team in some manner. Naturally these are guys that have struggled, been injured or have yet to really prove themselves in a specific manner. Thus why they are forgotten or fans have dormant hopes for them.
The first one that immediately comes to my mind is Michael Saunders. The acquisition of both Trayvon Robinson and Casper Wells has allowed many fans to subsequently forget about the ugly 2010 and 11 of Saunders, who had bountiful time to solidify himself as a regular in this line-up but continually has struggled and shown an inept at the plate. A lot has been attributed to his swing and the need to fix a multitude of things with the added complication of his inability to go the other way on pitches left over the outter half of the plate.
Going through a bunch of old posts by Greg Johns I found this great quote from Saunders.
“I know it’s a big season for me,” Saunders said. “There’s no question about that. It’s something I can’t think about and put too much pressure on myself, but I worked hard in the offseason to get to this point. I expect a lot from myself.
“The last couple years have been disappointing for me. They were not successful. It’s something I’ve built on. It’s no longer, ‘Oh, he’s a rookie. He’s a young guy.’ No, it’s time to strap it on and put together a good season. I know I’ve got it in me and I’m confident I can do that. That’s why I worked hard this offseason to get here.”
The only problem is that it’s from 2011.
You would have thought with all the things that he covered that it would be from 2012 rather than 2011. One of the reasons I was looking for it was what I read the other day on Greg Johns blog.
“This will be first year where I can focus solely on the game and not personal matters back home,” Saunders said Thursday at the Mariners pre-Spring Training media luncheon. “That is something I’m really excited about. Everything I’ve been through and experienced has really driven me, knowing there’s so much more to life than baseball. I’m really excited to concentrate solely on the game and that’s what is driving me now.”
“We’ve worked very hard at cleaning some things up,” Saunders said. “Spring training is always a competition. The front office has done a great job producing a lot of young, competitive players moving forward in this organization. There are a lot of talented players for only nine positions on field. I think it’ll be a great competition and everyone strives for that as athletes. Everyone is coming in excited and I know I am ready to lace up the spikes and go at it.”
I want to believe in Saunders. I really, really want to believe. The thing that really gives me hope is his comment about cleaning up his swing. But knowing that this isn’t anything he hasn’t tried previous just brings me back to the realization that it’s highly unlikely that Saunders ends up being anything more than a good defensive center fielder.
Sure, he has speed, he has the raw power and plenty of athletic talent to become the left handed Jason Werth, only with better defense. However, he’s out of options this year so it’s really make or break spring training for him. A year in which the talent level - in the past few years – is reaching new and exciting peaks. While he’s certainly a suitable defender anywhere in the outfield, we still don’t know if he’ll ever make the proper adjustments to his offensive game.
All that said, if Saunders ever does figure out things at the plate, he has the tools to ecome one of the better outfielders in the game. Remember once upon a time he considered among the better outfield prospects in all baseball. Ranked #65 overall in 2009 and #30 in 2010 by Baseball America. I’m understandably nervous about losing his talents, regardless of the fact that he’s shown nothing more than being AAAA talent at this point.
He’s someone to keep an eye on as we approach Spring Training. Regardless of what he does in the time given in Peoria, it’s doubtful he could find his way into the starting line-up. However, it’s conceivable that he makes the team as a 4th outfielder. Though, at this time it’s doubtful.
Michael, you’ve been a favorite of mine for a while. Please do something this spring to make you worth of my weird admiration.