Mariners Analysis

Monday, March 24, 2008

Wladimir Balentien cut

That's the good news. Earlier this spring McLaren hinted there might be surprises this year on the Opening Day roster, and some speculated Balentien could make the club. The team is doing the right thing in letting Balentien and Clement play every day and continue to work on defense. It does neither of them a bit of good to sit on McLaren's bench.

On the other hand, the news about Rhodes making the club, Cairo etc... is all bad.

I'll reserve judgment until the end of the week when final decisions are made, but this team appears again and again to limit themselves by taking veterans over talent and losing roster flexibility in the process.

How RRS doesn't make this team but Rhodes does will say everything about this team if it happens. Same with Norton, Cairo and Bloomie on the roster. For a team that is about "win now" these moves will produce the exact opposite. (BTW- I'm not saying RRS and Rhodes are interchangeable, just saying one has talent and a future right now while the other is in doubt...)

I don't think there is any question the Mariner offense is giving both Bavasi and McLaren a bit of heartburn at the moment. They see danger signs in Lopez, Sexson and Vidro, and have to wonder what Wilkerson will do coming off a sub-par year. Yet the replacements for any of these doomsday scenarios is unclear. Balentien in RF makes sense, but would they really replace him with Ibanez if he struggles? Color me skeptical. I think the current plan for the FO involves prayer and voodoo more than it involves data and deadlines.

The bullpen situation is fixable. They have plenty of arms to juggle until they find a combination that works. But going with a 12 man pitching staff is hurting the team on both offense and defense. Instead of using the bench regularly to rest everyday players as well as provide defensive upgrades in late innings, the team is going to give players like Rhodes wide latitude to work through early season problems. With no guarantee that move will payoff in the future.

Can you really tell me Rhodes has years of successful life left in him at this point? He's old and coming off a serious injury. Doesn't mean he won't make it, but means it's a risk. A risk the team doesn't need to be making if they put him on the 25 man roster this weekend. Are you winning now or running a fitness therapy club?

The good news is Wladimir Balentien is where he belongs. The bad news might be coming soon...