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Topic: robert andino; brendan ryan; carlos triunfel; nick franklin

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May 15, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Why the Mariners are handcuffed in their middle infield

Mariners infield prospect Nick Franklin has been putting up torrid hitting numbers in Class AAA. Photo Credit: AP

Mariners infield prospect Nick Franklin has been putting up torrid hitting numbers in Class AAA. Photo Credit: AP

There has been plenty of justifiable discussion of late pertaining to how the Mariners can continue to carry both Brendan Ryan and Robert Andino on the same roster when Ryan is batting .129 and Andino .169.

It’s certainly a valid question for any team hoping to win more than it loses. And there is a valid answer that I’m sure very few fans and pundits want to hear: the alternative could be far worse.

First of all, bringing up one or both of Carlos Triunfel or Nick Franklin will require dropping either Ryan or Andino.

Now, if you drop Ryan from the team, you throw away any of the defensive value he brings. Don’t forget, Ryan has more value defensively than any of those other infielders I just mentioned. So, any improvement you get on offense will automatically be docked a bit by the value you are throwing away on defense. In other words, if you add Triunfel or Franklin, you will have to guarantee they can be substantially better at the plate (at least doubly as good as Ryan) for the net gain to mean anything.

The more logical approach would be to drop Andino, who costs less than Ryan in any event and is not as good at shortstop with his glove. Here’s the catch, though: the flexibility Andino brings at being able to play multiple positions and play on a more regular basis (at least in theory, if not in reality so far) is what led the Mariners to carry only one backup infielder this year.

Drop Andino, and the club will most likely have to go with two backup infielders. And where would the extra spot come from? An outfield where the Mariners don’t really have any spots to spare.

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