New M’s 1st baseman Adam Lind www.sportsnet.ca
This is odd scenario for long-suffering Seattle Mariner; there are some positions where the M’s have too much talent! The dearth of talent (and competition at 1st base could be called a cruel joke, if only it had not been at the expense of our hometown 9). Under-performing personalities such as Logan Morrison and Justin Smoak had patrolled the diamond giving their most mediocre effort possible to the point of frustration for M’s fans.
Perhaps this year is different! This year there seems to be some actual talent and an utter dogfight under the new Jerry Dipoto regime. A cluttered 1st base position will ultimately see only 2 players make the big squad with as many as 5 players to be given a reasonable shot. Lets look at who is a lock, who is next up, and who will get cut or demoted.
Locked and ready to rock
Former Toronto Blue Jay, and Southern Alabama Jaguar, Adam Lind is as close to a lock as we might see. The left-handed Lind is an adequate defender and bats very well against right-handed pitchers. Last year, Lind hit .291 versus nighties but only .221 against lefties.
At 32 years old, his best years are behind him, however, in a split duty (platooning) he may serve extremely useful. At $8 million for the year of 2016, he offers little risk, he is easily tradeable and with no long-term contract, he is incentivized to put up a good year.
Lind was productive in 2015, hitting .277, 20 HR, and 87 RBI. additionally, he has looked decent in Spring Training; in 18 at bats he has 6 hits and 4 runs scored.
Warming up in the garage
The 33 year old Lee was brought in to challenge Jesus Montero. At 6’4 250lbs this hulking man envelopes the plate. A superstar in Korea and in Japan, this right-hander has signed on for one last chance to play in the MLB.
It is always hard to evaluate Korean and Japanese players as the style of play and the age of the transferring players make it difficult. Some players fizzle and disappear and others end up being Ichiro. Lee was a 2 time MVP in Korea and has numerous gold glove awards. His defense is outstanding and he has power is off the charts good.
Lee has a lot of mileage on the clock, but shared duty with Lind might be a great fit as it will allow him time off every other day. Lee can hit for average and for power and has been decent in Spring Training so far. He has 8 hits on 28 at bats with 6 runs scored a home run and 4 RBI. And while the numbers don’t pop, one wonders what will happen when he gets to a regular season play.
What if I told you that we have a dark horse in the race? Stefan Romero has been a farm hand for years. at 27, his time is running out soon as well. The Oregon State Beaver has a few advantages that the others on this list do not have. one, he can play the outfield and two he makes very little money, and three he has options to go back to the minors.
Romero is right-handed which is necessary if Lind locks up the first platoon spot. As well, Romero has the utility to play any position in the outfield, thus making him a valuable bench player.
While 2015 wasn’t kind to Romero at the Major League level, he did dominate Triple-A with a .333 average and 17 home runs. Romero is forcing GM Jerry Dipoto to take notice as he is on fire in Spring Training with 12 hits in 25 at bats (.480 avg). Where others are coasting, Romero is firing on all cylinders.
Staring in from the cold
For Jesus, this is his last, and best chance with the M’s. Dipoto has given Jesus free rein in preseason to take the job of 1st base and it is up to Jesus to take it or look for employment.
Jesus combated weight (and ego) issues to make it to the big league roster last year. Not a natural 1st baseman, he made tremendous strides to reach an acceptable level of defense. In 2015, he killed it in Triple-A batting .332 with 15 home runs and 68 RBIs in 84 games for Tacoma. A decent August with the Mariners was followed by a disastrous September was met with a lukewarm reaction by management as he was optioned back to Tacoma.
2015 was not kind to Montero at the big league level as he batted .223 with a .250 on base percentage. He displayed some power, but not enough production to stay on the big squad. In Spring training, he has not hit much better with a .235 average. At 26, it seems there is still something salvageable, however, without any options left for the minor leagues, it is plausible that Jesus leaves for an opportunity elsewhere.
Former Miami Hurricane and Pittsburgh Pirate, Gabby Sanchez has had decent career as a serviceable career journeyman player; including an All-Star appearance in 2011 for Florida. While Sanchez will never be an All-Star again, he can hit adequately and plays very good defense.
Last year, Sanchez played in Japan for the Golden Eagles. Sanchez was signed for a minor league contract to provide depth in the minor leagues and competition in Spring Training. In case of injury, we may see him for a short spell as an insurance policy.
In Spring Training Gabby is hitting what his career average pretty much is. With a .250 average and .333 on base percentage, he will serve the M’s well at Tacoma.
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