Monday, May 3, 2010

MARINERS: Roster Moves Hope to Strengthen both Offense, Defense

Following the offensively disappointing sweep by the Texas Rangers in Seattle over the weekend, the Mariners front office has designated for assignment Eric Byrnes (.094 batting average/.237 on-base percentage/.156 slugging percentage) and optioned Matt Tuiasosopo (.182/.182/.182) to Tacoma. In their stead, Ryan Langerhans and Josh Wilson have been called up as respective replacements.

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Both moves help the team in two key ways.

First, Langerhans: With Milton Bradley being notoriously injury-prone, and Eric Byrnes struggling at both the field and the plate (seriously, who pulls back on a squeeze bunt?), Langerhans offers a left-handed bat that can give Bradley a break in the field and more time in the designated hitter slot without a staggering loss of power.

The more time Bradley can spend getting at bats without having to run in the field, the more time he can spend producing for the Mariners instead of riding the bench. Byrnes’ anemic production created dead spots in the lineup, ultimately leading to the rally-crushing at-bats seen in late innings.

He won’t be the best hitter on the roster (.231/.332/.379 career), but he will provide another speedy set of legs to create an even further frustration for pitchers when runners get on. It’s no secret that the Mariners are being aggressive on the base paths, and Langerhans has done well in Tacoma this year (.282/.391/.410).

For Josh Wilson, the move is more defensive. Jack Wilson, regular shortstop, is one of the bats in the lineup that lead to more rally deaths than advances, but bringing in Tuiasosopo as a pinch-hitter led to a decrease in defensive production.

With Josh Wilson, a pinch hitter can be brought into the game with the knowledge that there’s a glove on the bench able to perform on the field.

There is still the issue of the Mike Sweeney/Ken Griffey, Jr. designated hitter platoon (that can’t hit), but these are proper steps in the right directions. Hopefully Tuesday will bring with it some more offense and hope that the team can be able to rise above the fray in the AL West with these moves and any possible future steps.

Reach M. Wend at