The right field situation seems to have been resolved with the acquisition of Seth Smith. Justin Ruggiano and Smith will platoon nicely in right. They will be able to complement each other very nicely with Smith hitting righties well and Ruggiano being able to take over against lefties.
This still leaves left field somewhat vulnerable. It looks like Dustin Ackley will continue to man that part of the field. After posting good numbers after the All-Star break into end of August last year it seems he might be right for the job.
Getting hot for a stretch doesn’t mean he will be consistent as we’ve seen all the ups and downs he’s had in his career. Perhaps this offseason is a blessing for Ackley. If the status quo remains Ackley should be the starting left fielder.
Smith and Ruggiano should platoon right and will probably also split some time with Ackley in left, and we’ll probably see some of Nelson Cruz in the outfield.
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I went into this offseason thinking the Mariners could take the opportunity to improve the corner outfield positions. This would involve finding a replacement for Ackley. With the current moves in place that is not the case. Ackley is getting another chance to hold a starting position.
I am biased toward believing in him because I will admit that I am an Ackley fan. Since he came up I expected him to be great. I know an All-Star game probably isn’t in his future but I believe he can make the most of this opportunity.
The outfield is looking better than last year. Losing Michael Saunders was difficult but when you consider his nagging injuries that kept him off the field I understand not being able to trust him.
Despite losing him the outfield could be stronger than last year if Ackley can have a solid year. He doesn’t have to be that good to have an improved outfield from last year as they struggled in that area a lot.
If Ackley can handle most of the work in left, Smith and Ruggiano hold strong in right, and Austin Jackson bounces back, the outfield will be able to maintain solid numbers. Rather than being a glaring weakness it can be somewhat dependable.