Any day now, Mike Carp will be due to return from his short disabled list stint. At that time, the Mariners will have an extremely difficult decision to make. The organization is going to have to make room for Mike Carp…but how?
Carp may be experiencing less than stellar results in his rehab stint down in AAA, but that isn’t necessarily indicative of how he will preform once he returns to the Majors. When Carp gets his clean bill of health, he will be back holding down LF. So the real question is who–or whom–is going to be on the wrong end of Carp’s reactivation?
Carp’s position on the diamond won’t be too large of a factor. In fact, just because Carp occupies LF/DH/1B doesn’t mean the Mariners have to designate a LF/DH/1B kind of player, but I wouldn’t bet against it. Casper Wells, Michael Saunders, John Jaso, Alex Liddi, and Chone Figgins are all in some form of danger.
Realistically Wells shouldn’t be on this list. Wells, an extremely under utilized player, has inexplicably been rotting away on the bench since he experienced struggles this spring. Even though he has been experiencing better results lately, it hasn’t resulted in additional playing time. Something doesn’t add up. Wedge either doesn’t understand the talent he has, or he doesn’t care. Either way he has open communication with Jack, and if Wedge continues to under utilize Wells’ abilities, Zduriencik may opt to just get him ABs… down in Tacoma.
Another outfielder in danger is Saunders. He’s been gaining momentum lately, with a couple of multi-hit games including his first opposite field knock today. Even with his recent “surge” at the plate, Saunders overall has still been a little disappointing; he could be Tacoma bound if he doesn’t surge just a little bit more. Many are not prepared to let go of Saunders, and neither am I, but his clock is ticking and if he isn’t careful his time as a Mariner may be nearing an end. Even if Saunders isn’t displaced by Carp, there is a strong possibility that he will lose his position to Gutierrez anyways.
John Jaso, your long shot. Jaso has yet to see any time at catcher, so the team isn’t currently getting any value from him there. If the Mariners were to option Jaso, they would basically be losing a DH. While I wouldn’t consider this a likely option, it is not out of the realm of possibility. The backlash from the fans would last a long while, but eventually–after Olivo has departed–Jaso will have found his way back onto this team and all will be well.
The most likely candidate to be reassigned is Alex Liddi. Liddi is young, a questionable prospect, and has some options left. The Rainiers don’t have an actual first basemen, so Liddi could play both 1B, DH, and 3B down in Tacoma making it that much easier to find him at bats. He +-has seen some success in his limited playing time here in his second Major League stint. In fact, Liddi launched his first home run of the year against Detroit today. Even with his comfortable results at the plate, Liddi could have a hard time convincing management he deserves a roster spot over Saunders, Figgins, Seager, or Wells.
Figgins. Figgins, Figgins, Figgins. How dare you taunt us with visions of competency. After getting off to a roaring start, Figgins has all but fizzled out. If you haven’t been paying attention, his slash line has dropped down to a .206/ .286/ .309 and a robust .595 OPS. Absolutely incredible. Supposedly on a “short leash”, Seattle may just decide they are done and cut ties with Figgins when Carp returns. It’s not as though Figgins has been up and down either. It’s quite clear he has been on a down hill slide since the series in Oakland. If the concern this year is building for the future, it’s time to let go of Figgins. Even if that means getting absolutely nothing in return. Cutting Figgins isn’t as probable as some other scenarios, but it is beginning to look like the most favorable.
Technically, Seager and Kawasaki are also at risk of demotion, but I don’t see either of them getting demoted for Carp’s sake. This team’s look is going to change when Carp returns. If the team demotes Saunders, you would see the majority of Carp in LF, while Wells would take over in center. With a Wells demotion, Saunders will remain in CF. If Jaso receives the cut, Carp could receive some split time at DH and LF, with Montero receiving more time behind the plate. Liddi and Figgins won’t change the outlook for Carp as much who still figures to spend most of his time in LF. If Figgins remains on the team when Carp returns, however, Seager is likely to spend a bit more time on the bench.
Either way, I am very much looking forward to Carp’s return. The move that helps the most is cutting Figgins, however, the move that is easiest for the team is Liddi. This should be fun.