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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

Category: outfielders
August 4, 2013 at 3:42 PM

Big day for the 40-somethings as Mariners take series

Henry Blanco (left) congratulates Danny Farquhar after he closed out a 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Blanco's two-run homer in the seventh was the difference. Photo Credit: AP

Henry Blanco (left) congratulates Danny Farquhar after he closed out a 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Blanco’s two-run homer in the seventh was the difference. Photo Credit: AP

Kind of tough not to appreciate what Raul Ibanez has done all season long, as well as what Henry Blanco has contributed the few times he gets on the field.

Both guys are 41. The fact they’re still playing is special, but today, they drove in all three Seattle runs in a 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles. There’s this strange vibe I get in Seattle, especially in internet discussions, but occasionally when I host my radio show, about how older veterans contributing means nothing. That a team out of contention should be sitting veterans over the final two months in favor of going all-young.

That kind of stuff is silly. It’s short-sighted. And it won’t happen in real world baseball. At least, not with managers who hope to still have a job two months from now.

You don’t jettison guys making contributions to a team, be they 41, 31 or 21. You don’t make baseball decisions based on birth certificates. I know I’ve used the birth certificate line for a while now, but it bothers me when I see so many arguments being formulated based on logic that fails to extend beyond the date a player was born.

Want to know why the Mariners haven’t replaced Aaron Harang with James Paxton yet? Because they aren’t entirely sold that Paxton would be the better pitcher. You’ve seen how long it’s taken Erasmo Ramirez to adjust to being back in the majors. With Paxton on an innings limit, just like Taijuan Walker, he might run out of time to get acclimated here. And as bad as Harang got bashed around early the other day, we’ve seen him rebound and throw complete games just as quickly.

So, if you jettison Harang now and Paxton goes out and gets lit-up over three innings, the team is actually worse off than before, because at least Harang has shown you he can rebound. If Paxton is no good, you’re down a starter, one of your alleged “Big 3” is exposed and the team keeps losing. Not the best prospect if you’re running the Mariners and unsure about Paxton’s ability.

Now, let’s look at Ibanez. He’s struggled for two weeks at the plate, so naturally a few noses got out of whack on Twitter this morning when it was noted that the Mariners are sitting Dustin Ackley for now because he’s not good enough to be in the everyday lineup.


Comments | More in outfielders | Topics: henry blanco; raul ibanez; dustin ackley; michael saunders

August 4, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Nick Franklin sits, Dustin Ackley continues to and could be AAA-bound

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Nick Franklin got a day off today after seeing his slump climb to 0-for-24 last night and then hesitating on the bases when he did get on, causing a logjam and bizarre double play after Raul Ibanez had driven a ball off the right field wall.

Interim Mariners manager Robby Thompson said Franklin needs a mental break more than anything else. So, he’s getting one. The Mariners are about to face three right-handed starters in a row and Franklin will be in for those games.

Things aren’t so simple when it comes to Dustin Ackley, who is out today and will have sat this entire series. When the Mariners did not deal anyone at the trade deadline, it created a cluster of four starting outfielders and only three available spots.

And with Michael Morse and Michael Saunders heating up and Ibanez┬áhaving the season he’s had, there just isn’t room for Ackley right now.

“Right now, it’s kind of like Ack is the odd man out,” Thompson said.

Ibanez has slumped since the All-Star break, hitting .151 with a .426 OPS. But he did drive a ball off the right field wall last night that should have been a run-scoring double if not for Franklin’s bad baserunning.

Thompson said he thought about resting Ibanez today, especially with left-hander Wei-Yen Chen on the mound. But he likes what Ibanez and Saunders have both done against left-handers at times this year and wants to see whether they can both continue what they did last night.

In Ibanez’s case, the team hopes he can pull out of this slump.

With Ackley, though, you have to start wondering whether he is going to be Class AAA-bound shortly.

Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik seemed to suggest it’s still a possibility this morning.


Comments | More in outfielders | Topics: dustin ackley; nick franklin; michael morse; michael saunders

May 18, 2013 at 8:32 AM

Franklin Gutierrez to be used often in right field during rehab stint

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We’re a couple of hours from gametime and Michael Saunders is getting a rare day off for the Mariners, having played 15 games in a row. Saunders has looked tired at the plate his last two games, so the rest comes at a good time. You can expect to see Saunders playing a lot of center field going forward, perhaps even once Franklin Gutierrez is ready to return off the disabled list.

Gutierrez was slotted to play right field last night for Class AAA Tacoma prior to being moved to the DH spot because of slick field conditions. He’s 2-for-8 with one RBI and one walk in two games thus far but has yet to play the outfield. I asked manager Eric Wedge this morning whether we should read anything into Gutierrez being slotted in right instead of center.

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“We want him to play some right field as well as center field for a couple of reasons,” Wedge said. “One…I think it’s easier to stay healthy if you’re playing left field or right field versus center field. Two, Saunders has been great in center field.

And three…if he’s not 100 percent, then we’re better off with him in right field. Now, if he’s the Guti of old, 100 percent, then of course you want him in center field. But he just hasn’t proven that he can do that. So, we’re going to give him some time down there to work things out.”

Wedge said it’s critical that Gutierrez comes back fully healthy, meaning he could very likely use all 20 days of allotted rehab time before the team calls him back up.

“Like I told you (media) guys and I told him, too, I need him to be not just able to play up here, but able to come up here and play every day, steal a base and do some things. Because otherwise, we’re going to end up right back where we are right now.”

There’s another big reason the team needs to be able to count on Gutierrez daily.

“The fact of the matter is, there’s a good chance we’ll lose a player when we activate him, too,” Wedge said. “That’s real, too.”

Indeed it is. As we’ve mentioned before, Wedge has no plans to carry six outfielders. I asked him about that again this morning.

“No, we can’t do that,” he said. “You just can’t do it.”

So, that leaves a tough decision ahead. It also leaves the team extremely vulnerable going forward if Gutierrez or Saunders gets hurt again.


Comments | More in outfielders | Topics: franklin gutierrez; michael saunders; corey patterson; endy chavez