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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

April 24, 2013 at 11:34 AM

With Ryan benched, Ibanez is next veteran on the spot

Photo by Getty Images

Photo by Getty Images

(Former Seattle journalist John Hickey, now covering the Oakland A’s, tells the story of Casper Wells’ journey from Seattle to Oakland, via Toronto — with speculation that another DFA could be imminent).

Here is today’s Mariners’ minor-league report.

UPDATE: Ibanez went 0-for-4 in today’s 10-3 Mariners’ loss and his average fell to .148.

Geoff has the story of Eric Wedge’s decision today to bench Brendan Ryan in favor of Robert Andino, at least for now. The time frame for this move is a little vague. I don’t have a problem with sitting Ryan, because even as great as his glove is, there does come a point where stellar defense is negated by a virtually non-existent offensive contribution. And that point has clearly arrived. Since a flurry of three hits in two games against the White Sox April 5-6, Ryan has three singles in his last 42 at-bats. That’s an .071 average (with just two walks). Obviously unacceptable.

I’m not sure Robert Andino is the answer, however. I’m pretty sure he’s not. He’s hitting just .161 himself (5-for-31), and doesn’t have much of a career track record at the plate (a 67 OPS-plus in his nine seasons). Defensively, he’s solid, but unspectacular. I like Andino as a backup — certainly, he has more pop than Munenori Kawasaki — but as a starter, his resume would indicate that he will be sub-par over the long haul. I’d rather the Mariners dip into their farm system and give a look at Carlos Triunfel, who is tearing up Triple-A right now and showed some dynamic defensive skills last year during his September callup. I have questions about Nick Franklin’s ability to handle shortstop at the major-league level, and it’s probably too soon to play the Brad Miller card. If Ryan is going to sit awhile, why not see what you have with Triunfel?

I can give you two reasons. One, I would bet that Eric Wedge is reluctant to turn over a position as important as shortstop to a raw rookie like Triunfel — not with this season seemingly on the verge of unraveling. Andino at least provides the comfort of having handled major-league shortstop.

Secondly, the roster is not constructed for the addition of another infielder — not with five outfielders. Which brings us to Raul Ibanez, another veteran who is struggling mightily. Let me say I am the biggest Raul Ibanez fan in the world. He’s had an outstanding career, and has conducted himself with as much class as any major leaguer I’ve ever covered. But Ibanez is 40 now, and he, like Ryan, needs to produce to make his worth extend beyond the murky realm of “veteran leadership.” Heading into today’s game, Raul is hitting .160 (8-for-50) with a .208 on-base percentage and .320 slugging percentage. His defense has been painful to watch at times. He has just one hit against lefties, despite Wedge’s faith in letting Ibanez face them in several key situations.

I’m not advocating jettisoning Ibanez (or Jason Bay, another veteran who has yet to heat up),  although that’s a painful discussion that might have to be broached at some point. But Ibanez is one of several players on this team that they desperately need to give them the production they envisioned when planning for this season.

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