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April 10, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Kyle Seager could create interesting problem for Mariners

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One thing that continued to flow positively for the Mariners last night was the solid hitting by Kyle Seager. Three more hits for the third baseman, including an RBI double that brought Ichiro home and an earlier two-run single, now have him 7-for-16 (.438) on the season.
And make no mistake. These are not bloopers and misplayed balls that are dropping in for him. Seager has been raking ever since the team came back from Japan.
Mind you, it’s only three games. We’ve seen this type of performance from Seager before, namely, last year in Cleveland when he went crazy in one series and then pretty much tapered off the final month-plus of the season.
So, we’re a long way from the Mariners being forced into any gut-wrenching decisions with him yet.
But let’s pretend for a minute. Let’s pretend Seager keeps this up for another week or two and Mike Carp is ready to come off the DL after that. What then? What then indeed.
Photo Credit: AP


First off, that would be a nice problem for the Mariners to have. Still, nice problems sometimes aren’t any easier to solve than not-so-nice problems. They make things easier on the field, but often no easier away from them.
Should Seager continue hitting at a .400 clip, you’d imagine the Mariners would do all they can to keep him on the field and in the lineup every day.
But that won’t be easy once Carp comes back because then you have to wonder what to do with Chone Figgins, who is primarily a third baseman and was all set to occupy the spot Seager now has. Like Seager, Figgins is also off to a roaring start and is giving the M’s what they’ve needed out of the leadoff spot.
So, you can’t sit Figgins either. Given his leadoff role, it would probably be more difficult for the team to sit Figgins than Seager.
But in a perfect world, you don’t want to sit either guy.
The Mariners could, I suppose, sit Carp. But they were all set to make him their primary left fielder when the season opened. Do you change that because of an injury in the opening game of the season and based off a couple of early performances? Probably not.
But something’s got to give.
You’ve got three guys and two positions. And while you could work Carp in slowly at first, you’ll eventually want to give him regular playing time as well, or else what was last year’s audition and this entire past winter all about?
So, what to do?
The early answer, based off what we just discussed above, is not to limit it to a three guys, two positions argument.
You try to expand the parameters a bit so that you have three guys, three positions.
Where do you create the extra positions? Well, you can do it in center field a bit with Figgins, at least until Franklin Gutierrez is ready to play full-time again, hopefully by May.
That buys you some more dates to get Figgins and Seager on the field at the same time, even if it doesn’t solve the full-time quandary.
But there’s another position both Seager and Figgins play: shortstop.
Now, please realize that I’m getting way ahead of myself here. Like I said, if Seager goes back to being a .250 hitter in a week, the problem will solve itself. Figgins? No, because even if he reverts to hitting .250, or .200, the Mariners will still run him out there to try to salvage something from his contract.
But if the problem doesn’t solve itself and both players keep tearing the cover off the ball, then shortstop is potentially a place they can both be used to keep them on the field. Brendan Ryan has already had a neck issue surface a couple of days into the season and was a question mark health-wise heading into the year.
This isn’t about Ryan’s game last night, because every player is entitled to a bad outing once in a while.
No, it’s more about the long-term concerns for Ryan’s health. He’s not exactly a terror hitting-wise, as good as he is with the glove when healthy. So, if you want to keep him fresh, or get him over any lingering neck concerns, you could spell him some games and let either Seager or Figgins handle shortstop.
Any loss you suffer defensively, could, in theory, be made up for at the plate and then some since this is all about keeping a couple of scorching hitters in your lineup.
I didn’t say it would be a perfect solution. Or an easy solution. But now is probably the time for Ryan to start hitting some more. And to keep himself out there on the field.
Because if he has trouble with either, the Mariners do have options for replacing him. Options they might be forced to explore if Seager keeps ripping the ball the way he has.

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins

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