Brendan Ryan is rapidly getting close to creating the “Ryan Line” in baseball. He’s already obliterated the “Mendoza Line” of .200 by remaining in the lineup the majority of the week, but with his batting average down to .140 he’s out of there again today and Munenori Kawasaki is in.
Say, who says we need Ryan to fall to .100 to create the “Ryan Line”? Let’s make it an even .150. He’s managed to stay in there the past week hovering around that mark.
Let’s just say he appears to be reaching critical mass. No matter how good his defense is, you can’t play a guy seven days a week when he gives you the equivalent of a National League lineup where the pitcher hits.
Ryan’s follies the past six weeks have created an almost intolerable lineup situation where the Mariners are now playing several hitters in spots they aren’t all that suited for.
Hence, today, the latest right-handed bat to audition for the No. 2 spot — John Jaso (and he’s a lefty, for crying out loud). There just aren’t enough righty bats on this team that are any good.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge wants to avoid having three left-handed bats atop the order because it will leave the M’s vulnerable to left-handed relief pitching late in games. Makes sense, but Wedge simply does not have enough good right-handed bats on the roster to stay away from that situation much longer.
Today, he’s doing it because Josh Beckett is on the mound and he’s a righty. But once the bullpen comes in, it could get interesting. If the bullpen comes in…
Ryan would have been a temporary solution but keeping him in the lineup at all is handcuffing the team, as I just mentioned. Kawasaki isn’t much of a solution, but he can at least hit his weight and not humiliate himself defensively.
Alex Liddi is another potential No. 2 guy but he really should be further back in the order.
Franklin Gutierrez is the guy Wedge would really like to have batting second but that’s not an option and probably won’t be before the All-Star break at this rate.
Compounding matters is having Ichiro in the No. 3 spot. As improved as some of Ichiro’s numbers may be over last year, that’s not all that to cheer for in the middle of the order given how bad he actually was last season. Ichiro should be batting eighth or ninth on this team, but politics have kept him in the third position, with Wedge unwilling to move him further back too quickly for reasons that have little to do with on-field play.
That may change shortly.
Part of the reason the m’s haven’t moved Ichiro is the poor hitting by Justin Smoak until very recently.
Once Smoak is more consistent, the Mariners might be able to move him higher up in the order. Maybe he hits third, maybe fourth. Perhaps the team then moves Montero and his bat up to No. 3.
Maybe not. But it would at least give Wedge more options than he has right now.
Dustin Ackley has performed admirably in the leadoff spot. The team would like him hitting second or third, but right now, he’s the best leadoff hitter they have.
The reason two weeks ago that I suggested Ichiro go back to leadoff is because the team could then avoid the political issue of dropping him further down to 8th or 9th. So far, the squad has been unwilling to do it, so putting him at leadoff would at least get Ackley back where the squad wants him.
But like I said on the radio this morning — after mulling it back and forth on air — I think Wedge will eventually drop Ichiro further down unless he starts getting more extra base hits and more timely hits beginning right now. I doubt Wedge would have mentioned Ichiro’s name two days in a row if he wasn’t planning something big.
You don’t just bring that topic up for kicks. Wedge knows it. He’s been around the game long enough and knows the politics and the realities of it.
Right now, he also knows he’s got one big miscast lineup in front of him. Part of this team’s development will involve addressing that as well.
2B Dustin Ackley
C John Jaso
DH Jesus Montero
3B Kyle Seager
1B Justin Smoak
LF Mike Carp
CF Michael Saunders
SS Munenori Kawasaki
RHP Blake Beavan
C Ryan Sweeney
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
1B Adrian Gonzalez
3B Will Middlebrooks
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
RF Cody Ross
LF Daniel Nava
SS Mike Aviles
RHP Josh Beckett