Justin Smoak is back. We brought him back from the DL and lo and behold, in his first game since returning to the Majors, he hits a home run.
Dustin Ackley, since being sent down to Tacoma to work on his hitting (and, I guess, work on his becoming an outfielder), is seemingly days away from getting called back up. And not a minute too soon.
Guti! Guti, as well, is nearing the point where the organization is comfortable with bringing him back to the Bigs. I know there’s some alternate universe out there where, these last four years, Guti has been an amazing success story and his being picked up by the team option for his 2014 season is nothing but a formality, and a cost-effective one at that. But, in this universe, Guti’s return is merely a showcase for some other team to try to take a chance on a guy we have nursed back to health time after time after time. On the one hand, I wish Guti nothing but the best in his future endeavors. On the other hand, if he does achieve that best, it would kinda piss me off.
These three guys coming back will be huge. Because we’ve got guys like Morse, Bay, and Morales suffering from nagging injuries that are preventing them from playing the field. And, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think we want to have Raul Ibanez starting in left field every single day without rest. Oh, yeah, and it’ll be nice to give Michael Saunders a day off. He’s been struggling like it’s 2011 all over again.
Most importantly, if we can get these guys back in our everyday lineup by July, that gives us a solid three months of evaluation time. Tired of seeing the veterans constantly carrying the mail, while the kids scuffle and stub their toes? Well, how does this lineup suit you?
Zunino – C
Smoak – 1B
Franklin – 2B
Ryan – SS (assuming Triunfel is one of the guys sent back down to Tacoma to make room for incoming veterans)
Seager – 3B
Ackley – LF
Saunders – CF
Guti – RF
Morales – DH
Obviously, the return of Ackley, Smoak and Guti won’t signal the end of Ibanez, Bay, and Morse. Those guys will still get regular playing time, mostly because they’ve earned it. But, that list of guys above will get their share of regular playing time too. And THOSE guys (with the exception of Ryan, Guti, and probably Morales) are the future.
As things stand right now, I couldn’t be more pleased with how Nick Franklin is turning out. It’s still VERY early in his career, and it could all stop on a dime come next season a la Dustin Ackley in his Sophomore year, but right now? I’m all in.
If you think it’s too early to make a solid opinion on Franklin, then don’t even get me started on Zunino. There have been bright spots – his power seems to be the real deal – but I’m still firmly in the camp of this being too early for him to be on the Big League team.
The point is: this is it. This is the LAST chance. The final straw! Over these last three months, we’re going to need to see some considerable gains out of the following:
I think it’s safe to say Seager has established himself, but I don’t want to jinx it, so let’s just say that Seager needs to keep doing what he’s doing.
Those guys HAVE to pan out, right now, or there will be wholesale changes. The organization hasn’t stated as such, but you know which way the wind is blowing. For their sakes and ours, I hope it works out. I hope these next three months jumpstart a Mariners resurgence. Because I don’t want to have to start ALL OVER AGAIN.
Also, not for nothing, but any time the Mariners want to bring up Erasmo Ramirez and replace any of the three shitshows – Saunders, Harang, Bonderman – it would make me and a lot of my Internet siblings quite happy.