The headline says it all. Two years after the Mariners tried and failed to deal left fielder Wladimir Balentien for a reliever at the trade deadline, he could now be lost for next to nothing after being designated for assignment this morning.
In his place, the Mariners have called up Class AAA prospect Michael Saunders, who has been hitting very well in the minors since returning from off-season shoulder surgery. The Mariners could have called Saunders up a while ago, when Endy Chavez went down, but wanted to see him progress more as a fielder. Also, his arbitration and free-agent clock might have been triggered a year early had he been activated before the break. Now, that’s no longer a concern.;
As for Balentien, it became clear he was done in Seattle a while ago. He has failed to hold on to an everyday job in multiple opportunities since last year. And you only get so many opportunities in this game, no matter how good a prospect you are, or once were.
This move demonstrates the risk taken in the prospects game. For every bunch that pans out, there are others who don’t. It’s why good teams like to stockpile as many prospects as they can, knowing some are to be used as trade bait and others will never amount to anything.
If you get a handful that do pan out, you’re ahead of the game.
And that’s why, at this stage, we’re about to learn a little of what Saunders has to offer.
It’s unfair to expect him to “carry” the team. The M’s have about six days to convince the front office not to start dealing away all the pitchers that got them here in the first place. But with four runs scored in three games, the current lineup clearly wasn’t working.
Saunders is a lefty bat that can help the club right now.
As for the future, this is his first chance. And remember, you only get so many in this game. Just ask Balentien.