This first part comes as no surprise, given that all signs indicated last week that Jason Bay had secured his spot on the Mariners’ major league squad to start the 2013 season. That decision had to be finalized by noon PT today and it was indeed by the Mariners. That caps a fantastic comeback story of sorts for Bay, 34, who beats out Casper Wells for the fifth and final outfield spot coming off three terrible seasons with the New York Mets that caused that team to release the veteran from his contract a year early.
That’s about it for Wells, since he was designated for assignment, meaning the team now has 10 days to trade him, release him or outright him to Class AAA. He would have to clear waivers to be outrighted. Pitcher D.J. Mitchell was added to the roster in his place and was optioned to AAA.
What are my views on it? Well, it’s too bad, since Wells is a versatile player who is relatively cheap and will be for some years to come. If he ever morphs into a full-time player, the Mariners could truly come to regret this move (I’m assuming he does not pass through waivers and will no longer be with the organization in 10 days). But the fact is, Wells is 28. He’s no longer a young prospect. He is not a full-time player and just got beat out, rather handily, for a roster spot by a guy who many assumed was on the fnal legs of his career.
If the Mariners are to ever transition from a perpetually rebuilding squad to one that hopes to win something, it will have to start making tough calls on guys like Wells. It will have to start going with better players. Bay was the better player this spring and the intangibles he brings helped contribute to a better overall, more positive and more confident clubhouse vibe.
Had Bay been the one cut, there would have been a fair bit of grumbling inside the clubhouse from players wondering what was going on. And not just from veteran players. There have been young guys who sat around grumbling in recent years at some perceived favoritism being shown to higher-ranked prospects within Seattle’s system and on the major league club when it came to the playing time they have received at the expense of lesser-rated types whose perfromance was actually superior. Those days appear to be done.
Wells has upside, yes. But the time to show the upside was last season when given a full-time playing shot. And it was this spring when he was told he had to compete for a job. Wells did not compete at a high enough level in the time alloted. And MLB general managers and managers get paid to make these types of calls long before the rest of us on the internet and speculating from the sidelines gets to have a large enough scientific “sample” to suit our needs. If the Mariners make the “wrong” decision too many times, the guys in charge will lose their jobs. Plain and simple. So, in this case, they’ve made the call on Bay. And frankly, from what I’ve seen, it was the right call. If this team’s future depends on twisting itself in knots to try to keep an underperforming fourth outfielder, it’s got bigger problems than I thought.
Bay’s intangibles alone made him worth the risk once Endy Chavez was acquired as a backup, third-string center fielder who will start the year in AAA. If we want to talk head-to-head competition, it was no contest. Bay flat-out beat him. I wish Wells all the best because he does have the ability to surprise us all one day if he can figure some things out.
Unfortunately for him, the time to do it in Seattle has come and most likely gone for good.