For whatever reason, a lot of Mariners pundits decided to write about Nick Franklin today. Greg Johns wrote about it on his blog today. So did Geoff Baker for the Times. So did Brian Elsner for Wait For It Seattle. Why today?
Well, he did have a tough two-out bases loaded strikeout that could have completely altered the outcome of the game yesterday. Also, Robby Thompson decided to talk about it a lot today. Here’s what Thompson said, per Johns:
“This game will humble you in a hurry,” Thompson said. “Just when you think you’ve got it made up here, it can come back and bite you in a hurry and sometimes it bites you hard and long. He’s kind of finding out a little bit about that right now.
“Even as confident as he was down below, he was confident up here earlier and he’s lost a little bit of that. He’s lost a little of his swagger. But he’ll get it back. He’s a young kid and it’s part of the growing pains and learning situations he’s going to have to go through.”
And also this:
“When young guys get up here, you’re going to be tested to see if you can hit a fastball. If you can’t, you’re going to keep getting them. Well, he’s a pretty good fastball hitter. Now all the sudden, word gets out and they’re throwing breaking balls in fastball counts and he has not really made that adjustment yet. That should come with time.”
So basically what Thompson is saying is that Franklin is going through growing pains and he’ll eventually snap out of it. He’s also saying that Nick will eventually learn to hit a breaking ball.
I’m fine with all of that. He’s definitely in a huge slump, there’s no denying that. Since July 31, he’s hitting .102 and since July 1, he’s hitting .199. So really, he’s been a good major leaguer for a month. But he definitely has major league talent, and moving him down to triple-A wouldn’t make any sense.
First of all, who do you promote in his place? Carlos Truinfel? Probably not. That ship has likely sailed. Ty Kelly could be an interesting experiement. The Mariners acquired him when they traded Alex Liddi to the Orioles in July. Since then, Kelly is hitting .307 in 140 ABs (38 games). However, the M’s have much more invested and Franklin’s big league success than they do in a career-minor leaguer like Kelly. That move would send the wrong message and require a DFA, probably of Truinfel.
Moreover, Tacoma only has 18 games left, so Franklin wouldn’t get much time to settle back in before immediately coming back up in early September. If the Mariners want to see Kelly in the majors, they probably can wait until September. This team isn’t playing meaningful games right now anyhow.
The Mariners will have to stick with Franklin, as their future at second base is strongly entrenched with him. Franklin is too good and too promising to let a slump like this doom his solid future career.