Gutierrez is Back! (For now…)


Apr 5, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Seattle Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez (21) reacts after hitting a home run against Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jose Quintana (not pictured) during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Perpetual disabled-lister Franklin Gutierrez is coming back to Seattle tonight to face the Texas Rangers. In order to make room for him, SP Aaron Harang has been designated for assignment. Harang is coming off of a pretty weak start yesterday where he went 5.1 innings and yielded seven runs on nine hits. However, that’s not the only time this season he’s been the goat. Poor Aaron has eight starts this year where he’s given up 5 or more runs, and because of that his ERA is an inflated 5.76 on the season. I think we’d be a little hard pressed to find anyone who’s truly sad to see him go, but on the other hand, he wasn’t really given the run support he needed to spin wins. Harang went 5-11 this season over 22 starts. While that’s not really anything to be proud of, there’s a few games that the Mariners left on the table that should have been converted. Most notably three starts in April where the M’s lost 1-0, 2-0 and 3-0. I don’t care who you are, it must be frustrating to get hung out like that three starts in a row.

But enough with the old, onto the new. Franklin Gutierrez is returning (again) to the Mariners lineup tonight. He’s coming back after he spent some time (again) on the DL for a hamstring problem. Gutierrez got a few cuts in with the Mariners earlier this season where he five homers and 11 RBIs over 18 games. Most of those were in April before he was first moved to the DL for that nagging hamstring issue. He returned for two games in June where he went 2-for-6 with a homer and a double against Oakland, and then was promptly moved back to the DL for the same hamstring issue. Even his time in Tacoma has been marked with injury, as he bounced to the triple-A disabled list for a third time before he even made it back to Seattle.

It shouldn’t even need to be stated that the guy is kind-of an accident waiting to happen. I’m sure we all remember last season where he finally came off the DL from a foot injury and was smacked in the ear by an innocent throw over to first. His ear looked reminiscent of a UFC fighter, and he went back to the DL with concussion-like symptoms.

So now that he’s back, how excited should we all be? Well, I’m excited. I don’t think he’s going to be the savior of the season, but at least he can bring some excitement to the plate. After last weekend’s abomination against the Angels (which I’m still upset about), at least there will be something to shake the lineup a little bit.

Can we expect a win? Maybe. With Guti in the lineup the M’s are 8-10 on the season, and going back to 2012, they are 25-33, a winning percentage of .431. That’s almost 30 points lower than the Mariners’ season averages through the same time (.460 as of this writing). Since Guti only played 60-some games over those two seasons, it’s tough to argue that he’s been a major factor for the Mariners. It looks like the Mariners are just as good (or bad) with him as they are without him. The hardest part about watching him play is that you just know something is going to go wrong and he’ll be back on the DL again. He’s 30 years old already, at some point we have to stop pretending that he’s going to come off of the DL and suddenly turn into the Savior of Seattle. The way things are going I’d be happy if he could just manage to stay off the DL for a year.

On the other hand, watching gold glove fielding is awesome, and watching home runs is also awesome. I’m not going to pretend like Gutierrez is the greatest thing to happen to the Mariners, but I’m also not going to pretend like I don’t want him. A healthy season and a generous peppering of home runs would more than make up for his history of injuries. He’s exciting when there’s not a lot else to be excited about.