Postgame Spread
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Monday, August 21, 2006

With bated breath...    

Sunday, Ichiro started in center field. He appeared to enjoy himself, and he spoke positively about it after the game. Unfortunately, a nasty rumor is circulating that it only happened because Willie Bloomquist had some back pain. So, we wait to find out whether this was a one time shift or if maybe Ichiro in center is a legitimate option going forward. Whatever the case, I hope to god that nothing about Bloomquist factors into their decision making on this, except that he sucks and should never ever start.

There is no getting around, at this point, that Adam Jones isn't ready. It seems equally clear that Chris Snelling, who can't play center, is ready to contribute with his bat now. Snelling, by all accounts, looked comfortable in right and has a very good arm. So the team that the Mariners can field is a better one with Ichiro playing center. We know this. And there is every likelihood that the same is true for 2007. If Snelling gets hurt, Jones (who used to be a pitcher and has an absolute cannon of an arm) is still available to help. Or if Jeremy Reed is still on the team, he could head back to center and Ichiro could shift back to right. So, it's not overly-reliant on Snelling staying healthy any more than any plan that involves him is.

The key to this to me is if we can move Sexson. If we can't, then Ichiro to CF makes all the sense in the world. It lets us keep Snelling, Ibañez, and Benuardo in the lineup, which would otherwise be impossible. But if we can move Sexson, to free up money for pitching (though we'll be paying part of his salary, for sure), then I'm not really sure I see the big advantage. Benuardo to first, Ibañez to DH, Snelling to left would be optimal, leaving RF and CF to be manned by some combination of Ichiro, Reed, and Jones. Or another outfielder or DH from outside the organization. Meanwhile, Jones is missing at-bats against ML pitching that could help him contribute better next year.

The bottom line is that Adam Jones needs to be playing every day. It's clear right now that won't be for the Mariners, so they need to send him back to Tacoma, and right away. There's no point in him losing this playing time. And I would be looking real hard at NL teams with a whole at 1B who might be able to give up something of value for Sexson if we pay a good chunk of his salary. I'm sure with his salary he's cleared waivers. And it would be nice to know if Jones is going to be called on to play in the Mariners outfield for 2007. If he will be, he might as well be practicing against major league pitching now. If not, bring on Ichiro the center fielder.

1 Comments:

  • Update: Ichiro will be the center fielder for the rest of the season, Jones back down to AAA today. He'll be back in 20 days, after the AAA season is over, without burning an option year.

    So, anyway, at least he'll be playing every day. The incredible length of time it took them to finally sort all this out, though (since Reed's injury) would be funny if it weren't so depressing. Hopefully Jones' confidence is mostly intact. He seems to think so when he's talking to the media at least.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 10:11 PM  

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