On ESPN earlier today, an article ran enumerating the strengths and weaknesses of each AL and NL team, focusing on positional depth.
The weakest part of the team in terms of depth was… none? They said they would’ve put the outfield had the Mariners not signed Nelson Cruz— who can play in right– and traded for Seth Smith and Justin Ruggiano.
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But what about first base? Logan Morrison is the incumbent, but he played in only 99 games last season for the Mariners, with the vast majority of his at-bats (272) coming at first. He shared time there with Corey Hart and Kendrys Morales, two players the Mariners didn’t re-sign this offseason, and for good reason. The Mariners were dead last in DH production in 2014, a position played primarily by Morales and Hart.
So where do the Mariners stand at first base?
Unless Logan Morrison gets hurt or bats below the Mendoza line during Spring Training– both distinct possibilities– he will be the starting first baseman for the Seattle Mariners on Opening Day.
If he can hit like he did in August (.302/.355/.395, 1 HR, 9 RBI) and September (.342/.398/.645, 5 HR, 11 RBI) of 2014, LoMo should play 150+ games in 2015, barring injury. And interestingly enough, his splits don’t line up with traditional thought: he hits for a better average, and for better power, and has a better OBP against southpaws. His numbers against righties last season were .236/.296/.398.
When Logan Morrison needs a day off in the field, or gets dinged up, who takes his place?
Nelson Cruz hasn’t played a single game at first base over the last 3 seasons, but he could be an option if he gets reps in Spring Training. Cruz has made it clear he likes playing in the field and doesn’t want to be stuck DHing for 162 games, so a few go arounds at first wouldn’t be the worst idea. Though, we have no idea how good his defense would be.
Feb 25, 2014; Mesa, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners catcherJesus Montero
(63) warms up during camp at Peoria Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Then, there’s the slimmer and seemingly more motivated Jesus Montero. If he comes out firing in Spring Training, it’s very possible he could be LoMo’s backup on Opening Day. However, Montero could only play first and DH, so eating up a spot on the roster could hurt the Mariners’ positional depth.
Other options include utility man Willie Bloomquist, who is getting old and coming off a season-ending injury. If he is only having to play first base once a week throughout the season, this just might work.
Dustin Ackley, who seems to have left field locked up by virtue of a lack of competition, could also play a game or two at first base– he played first for most of his college career after tearing his rotator cuff at UNC.
Beyond that, the Mariners can choose to get more and more creative with guys like Stefen Romero and Brad Miller.
What do you think? Do the Mariners have a clear-cut first base backup? Or are they going to bank on Logan Morrison continuing his hot late-season hitting and staying healthy?
As of today, the Mariners list Logan Morrison, Willie Bloomquist, and Jesus Montero as their first base depth on Mariners.com.