Mariners manager Eric Wedge officially announced that Jack Wilson will move to second base while Brendan Ryan becomes the new everyday shortstop.
Now, why would the M’s do this? Well, as Wedge says, the move does give the team veterans on both the left and right side of the infield. You have Justin Smoak playing first base and it would sure be nice to have Wilson ranging to his left to scoop up the added balls that Smoak lets get by him to the right.
Consequently, on the other side, Chone Figgins is good enough at third base that he doesn’t need Wilson’s help on balls to his left. So, you could get by with Ryan at shortstop even if, at this point in his career, he might be Wilson-Lite on defense. We’ll see.
“We want to do what we feel feel like is the best fit, the best combo for us up the middle,” Wedge said. “We could have went either way with it because I think you feel comfortable with those guys on both sides of the bag.”
But Wedge says this helps the team right now.
“I think that there’s a lot that goes into it besides the specifics of play. I like having a veteran on both sides of the infield. You’ve got Smoak and Jack on one side, you’ve got Figgy and Ryan on the other side. I think that’s a part of it.”
But what are the other reasons for the move? Well, we can speculate, because it’s what we do.
Think about health, Dustin Ackley and mid-season trades.
Ackley is expected to be up by mid-June, when his service time issues will all be taken care of on both the free agency and arbitration fronts. Also, by which point, he’ll have been able to master the second base position a bit more.
So, if you know Ackley will be your daily second baseman — or at least a regular guy there — come mid-season, who do you want playing second the first half of the year? The guy, Ryan, who will then become your shortstop?
Or the guy, Wilson, in the final year of a contract, who won’t be on the team come October and will likely be traded if the M’s get any offers?
Why cause the disruption of having to move Ryan from second base to shortstop mid-season when you can just do it to start the year? Especially when you know he’s your shortstop of the future — a much cheaper version of Wilson.
Also, given Wilson’s injury history, you can mitigate some of that by moving him to second base, which is still demanding, though not to the degree that playing shortstop can be.
This way, if Wilson gets hurt, you simply plug in Adam Kennedy, whose best position is second base. If Wilson got hurt as a shortstop, you’d have to deal with Ryan switching positions to cover that spot as well as Kennedy moving in to second. By playing Wilson at second to start the year, you mitigate that.
Plus, you’ve now got a veteran out there to help out Smoak, who, so far, has not been the Mark Teixeira clone with the glove he was reputed to be when he came over in last year’s trade. Hey, it’s early in his career and Smoak can get better. But having Wilson out there next to him might have the team breathing easier than it would if his infield partner was a less-experienced guy like Ryan.
Just my two cents. Two cents Canadian, which, if you check, is worth a bit more these days.
In other news, Miguel Olivo is going to catch three innings of a minor league game tomorrow. The team has laid out a tentative schedule for Olivo, but Wedge isn’t releasing it because he doesn’t want to deal with the obvious questions that would arise if there are changes as we go along.
So, will Olivo be ready for Opening Day? Looks like the team badly wants that, given the number of non-roster guys who will already have to be added to the roster before you even consider Josh Bard. So, there you go. It’s why Adam Moore will make the team and why the M’s need Olivo there as well.