Going into the season, it looked like Kyle Seager would be a bench player/AAA guy in the Mariner’s organization caused by Chone Figgin’s massive salary and Mike Carp’s 2011 resurgence. However, on the first game of the year, Mike Carp suffered an injury that would sideline him for a few weeks. Seager stepped into the starting lineup and has taken off in the last five games putting up an impressive line of .350/.381/.400 while driving in five runs.
In the short term, Seager has forced his way into the lineup. He has the hottest bat on the team and needs to be on the field somewhere. The question becomes, who is he going to replace when Mike Carp returns from the DL?
Could he replace Chone Figgins? Normally, I would love to see Figgy riding the pine, but right now I am actually enjoying watching him play. I have really liked his plate approach, and he is hitting the ball well. The 2009 version of Chone Figgins has been a lot of fun to watch over the last couple games, and he changes the offensive game for Seattle. The other thing I like about Chone playing is it increases his trade value. While he has been productive for Seattle so far this season, a powerless, 34 year old, third baseman/left fielder really isn’t part of the future of this franchise. If he keeps this up until the all-star break (which I admit is quite unlikely) he could be a pretty valuable trade piece at the deadline. Call it wishful thinking, but I could see us dumping Figgins and his entire salary for a few mid level prospects. Then, Seager would have an everyday role. Until then, I think that Figgins stays in the lineup unless he relapses into his 2011 form.
Could Seager replace Mike Carp? Not a fan of this idea. Carp is one of the few guys with power potential on this team. I don’t want to see him wasted, and I especially don’t want to see left field and third base, which are both prototypical power positions, wasted on Figgins and Seager who probably won’t combine for 20 homeruns this year.
Could Ackley be benched to make room for Seager? I make myself last some times. NEXT!
How about Saunders? There are two different ways that this would work out. The first would be by moving Figgins to center. I am not totally opposed to Figgins in center field, but his lack of arm strength worries me a bit. It is definitely a viable option though. The other way that Seager could replace Saunders really intrigues me: Figgins would go to third, Seager to second, Ackley to right, and Ichiro to center. That’s a lot of moving pieces, but it might just work. Remember that Ackley played outfield in college, so it is possible, although Jacky-Z has turned down ideas of moving Ackley back to the outfield on numerous occasions. The reason I really like this idea is because Seager projects quite well as a second baseman. A .290 average with 15 homeruns is pretty poor for a third baseman, but that looks great at second base. I have heard a lot of people talking about Seager as a second baseman in disguise as a third baseman, and a move like this would be welcomed by many baseball fans. One of whom would by Geoff Baker who said this is a tweet a while back, “Best M’s player in wrong position? Kyle Seager. Could start at 2B for many teams. Don’t rule out Ackley to OF by 2013 if Seager keeps it up.”
The last player that could be replaced by Seager is Brendan Ryan. I’m not a big fan of this idea because I believe that shortstop is a place where defense should not be sacrificed for offense. However, if Ryan’s numerous health problems sideline him, using Seager at short could work well.
These have been a couple of options for Kyle Seager in 2012, but what about beyond that?
A lot of people I have talked to don’t believe that he has a place on the Mariners of the future. If he does stick around Seattle, I don’t think it will be at third base. First of all, the Mariners appear to have a pretty solid future at third base. Figgins has up to a year and a half left there, and prospects like Vinnie Catricala and Francisco Martinez look to have a grip on the future of the hot corner.
Although Dustin Ackley will be a Mariner for a while, a move to the outfield for Ackley could mean a long term home for Seager at second. There really aren’t any big name prospects in the farm system at second base that would push Kyle out unless shortstops like Nick Franklin or Brad Miller are moved to the other middle infield position. The other reason Ackley’s move might work is the lack of talent in the outfield. When you analyze Seattle’s outfield of the future, you see names like Casper Wells, Michael Saunders, Carlos Peguero, Trayvon Robinson, Johermyn Chavez, Chih-Hsien Chiang, or even guys like Phillips Castillo, Guillermo Pimentel, Mario Yepez, or Jabari Blash. While some of these guys are a few years from reaching their true potential, I don’t foresee many of these prospects putting together productive major league careers. Wells has shown some high and low moments, Saunders has constantly struggled in the MLB, Peguero can’t hit a curve, etc. If more than one of these guys pan out, I would be pretty surprised. A move to the outfield by Ackley could work out pretty well for Seattle considering their lack of MLB ready talent in the at the position.
The last place I could see Seager making a home at is shortstop. With some fine-tuning with the glove, Seager could become a passable defensive shortstop, and his offensive abilities would project pretty well there. While Seattle does have some good looking prospects at short in Franklin and Miller, if Seager could prove his worth at there, those guys could either be moved to second or third base, or be used as trade bait.
The Mariners have a lot of decisions to make concerning Kyle Seager both in the next week, and in the next few years. Keep an eye on him, because moves concerning him could make a pretty dramatic impact on the future of the franchise and several other prospects.