I have defended leaving Brendan Ryan at shortstop for a while, even when he was hitting below .200 for the majority of last year and partially into this year. But after almost 30 games and almost 100 AB’s I have officially given up on him. His defense is phenomenal and if he could hit .250 he would be a very valuable player to have. But this is the realization I am steadily having about Brendan Ryan: He cannot hit .250 in the MLB, or even .225. And expecting him to do so anymore is a waste.
What has finally made me lose my last straw was finally looking at his stats, in both the box score and online. We all know his triple slash line is awful and that he has struck out as many times as he has had an RBI, scored a run, walked AND stolen a base combined. I am not kidding, that’s 19 on each as of the morning of May 13. But those things just show how bad he is, and what I am more interested in is why he sucks. Or, to put it more succinctly, what changed from last year or two years ago that is suddenly causing him to suck.
And the really sad answer that has caused me to give up on him is that really not much. His K%’s have gone from 17.6 to 20.4 since 2011 and his BB% has shifted from 6.9 to 8.6, which should offset the uptick in K’s. His batted ball profile (Line drive %, fly ball % and ground ball %) is almost identical, with a small drop in line drives and small gain in fly balls. He is seeing the same percentage of pitches according to pitch F/X and even swinging at a similar percentage of pitches inside and outside the strike zone (All of these numbers can be found on Fangraphs). It is this information that has driven me give up on Ryan, quite simply he is not an MLB-level hitter anymore.
So this takes us to the actual productive part of this article (As much as I love being Captain Obvious, I think we all knew Brendan Ryan couldn’t hit). And that is what the Mariners can do about this situation because I really doubt that Wedge can justify starting a shortstop that hits less than his weight (This is both shortstops on the roster right now). There are a few options in AAA, namely Nick Franklin and Carlos Triunfel. Franklin is the new sexy middle infield prospect who has torn up AAA pitching in about 30 games. Triunfel is the prospect turned bust, turned somewhat interesting player who is still only 23. Franklin would be the better replacement for Ryan but there are a series of factors that could see Triunfel as the short-term replacement.
First of all, Robert Andino should be cut before Ryan is. Andino is cheaper and worse defensively than Ryan. Offensively they are pretty much a push; Andino is sporting a solid .159 average in 70 AB’s. But this comes with the issue that Andino is also the backup third baseman. So whoever is called up would have to play some third base when Kyle Seager or Dustin Ackley need a rest. This requirement favors Triunfel, not because Franklin can’t play third, but because Triunfel has the stronger arm. I would not be surprised to see Wedge cite that as a reason for choosing Triunfel over Franklin, he also cares little for plate discipline, which Triunfel lacks.
The second issue is one of experience. Triunfel has played with the Mariners before, albeit briefly in September last year. Franklin is also a prospect and the issue of service time comes up. The Mariners do not want to start his service clock early and lose a year of team control over Franklin. This becomes a non-issue once we get deeper into summer and Franklin can be called up without starting his service clock. Meaning Triunfel could be called up soon to replace Andino but then replaced by Franklin later in the year.
Nick Franklin should be called up to replace Robert Andino and share time with Brendan Ryan. This team cannot carry TWO shortstops who are hitting less than their bodyweight. One of Ryan or Andino should be cut to help improve the offense. Even if Franklin or Triunfel do play poorly, they are getting MLB experience and that will make them better, even if they struggle at first. Andino and Ryan are not getting better by playing everyday, they are making the team worse. And as much as I love the talking buffalo commercial, its time to let the next generation of players get experience, meaning Ryan or Andino have to go.