If Not Ichiro, Then Who?

Eric Wedge has said he’s considered moving Ichiro out of the leadoff spot for the Seattle Mariners.

Ichiro is a leadoff hitter. If he isn’t hitting there, he’s still considered a “leadoff” type hitter. The Mariners aren’t going to be up there with my Detroit Tigers, or the other baseball elites. 75 wins probably deems the season as a “success”. Maybe even an “overachieving” season.

Here is the Mariners current roster as it stands from a hitter standpoint:

(* indicates spring training invitee)

  • C/UTIL Chris Gimenez
  • C John Jaso
  • C/DH/1B Jesus Montero
  • C Adam Moore
  • C Guillermo Quiroz*
  • C Miguel Olivo
  • 2B Dustin Ackley
  • INF Chone Figgins
  • 3B Alex Liddi
  • 3B Francisco Martinez
  • SS Brendan Ryan
  • 3B Kyle Seager
  • INF Muneniri Kawasaki*
  • INF Luis Rodriguez*
  • 1B Justin Smoak
  • SS Carlos Triunfel
  • 1B/OF/DH Mike Carp
  • OF Johermyn Chavez
  • OF Chih-Hsien-Chiang
  • OF Franklin Gutierrez
  • OF Carlos Peguero
  • OF Darren Ford*
  • OF Trayvon Robinson
  • OF Michael Saunders
  • OF Mike Wilson
  • OF Casper Wells
  • OF Ichiro

First round of cuts — cross off Montero, Olivo, Martinez, Liddi, Moore, Smoak, Carp, Chavez, Peguero Wilson and Wells as being more power-oriented hitters. Cross off Gimenez, Luis Rodriguez and Kawasaki because of their likeliness to be more utility guys. Obviously cross Ichiro off because that’s the point of all this, finding a replacement in the leadoff spot if it’s not Ichiro.

The field is now cut down to this:

  • C John Jaso
  • INF Chone Figgins
  • 2B Dustin Ackley
  • SS Brendan Ryan
  • 3B Kyle Seager
  • SS Carlos Triunfel
  • OF Chih-Hsien-Chiang
  • OF Franklin Gutierrez
  • OF Darren Ford*
  • OF Trayvon Robinson
  • OF Michael Saunders

No it’s not a typo. Jaso is still in consideration in my mind if I’m Eric Wedge. Joe Maddon used him there for a little bit in Tampa because of his ability to get on base and all that.

The next round of cuts probably leaves Jaso in the cold. Cross of Ryan as well because of his .256 career stat line. Seager isn’t probably a logical fit either. Triunfel might still need time in the minors (if he makes the team he’s probably stuck behind Ryan at shortstop). Ford is fast and is also a candidate, but he, Robinson, Saunders and Chiang are all fighting for one outfield spot. As are a host of other outfielders (Peguero, Carp, Wilson and Chavez). So I’ll keep Outfielder X in the discussion (whether that be Ford, Robinson, Saunders or Chiang).

That leaves:

  • INF Chone Figgins
  • 2B Dustin Ackley
  • OF Franklin Gutierrez
  • OF X (Ford, Robinson, Saunders or Chiang)

Here is the debate for all four (six if you want to put it plainly):

INF Chone Figgins

The Case for Figgins- He has experience in the leadoff slot. He patrolled that spot for years in Anaheim. He hit.298 and .330 in two of last three years in LA of Anaheim. He’s a fast guy who perennially swaps 40-50 bags. He has hit double digit triples a couple times in his career. He can hit double digit doubles (generally somewhere around 20).

The Case Against Figgins-  He had a terrible year last year (sorry Chone, the numbers weren’t there). .188 as a batting average for a perennial leadoff guy? Yikes. The numbers, like I said, weren’t there.

 

2B Dustin Ackley

The Case for Ackley- He’s a good hitter. Not a premiere slugger, but one with good power, and one who can hit for average as well. The batting-average thing goes right to people’s heads, and they say “put Ackley in the leadoff spot”.

The Case Against Ackley- The factors working against Ackley are his strengths. The guy is a good all-around hitter. So why not put him in the 3 or 4 hole to pair with Montero and Smoak?

OF Franklin Gutierrez

The Case for Gutierrez- Has showed he can hit for average and run, and showed it in his best year in Seattle (2009). In ’09 he hit 18 bombs, and he chipped in 80 RBIs with a .283 batting average.

The Case Against Gutierrez- Guti is in the same boat as Ackley. Good hitter, but probably more tailored to a 5 or 6 spot in the lineup.

Outfielder X (Ford, Robinson, Saunders or Chiang)

The Case for Outfielder X- All fast guys. Ford can fly. Chiang absolutely raked in AA for the Red Sox minor league affiliate. Saunders can run and hit a little bit. The stuff could be there. Robinson can run as well.

The Case Against Outfielder X- All guys are a bit on the inexperienced side. That’s the key. Due to that we aren’t exactly sure what the guys can do in a full season.

The Verdict- Figgins makes the most sense. If, and that’s a big if, he can play like he did with the Angels. If not, ehh, you might see a revolving door. Who knows? Maybe Wedge will pull a Joe-Maddon and put Jaso there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s