They’re sending Balentien down to see if he can play center after being bad defensively in right. To do so, they’re moving Ichiro back to right, creating a hole in center they’d fill with Reed, who is the only other player on the roster who can defend in center. But they’ve also been working him out at first, to replace Sexson, who they’ve turned from a three-outcome power threat into a taller, fitter clone of 2007 Vidro who still can’t play defense.
The roster spot opened up by sending Balentien down will be filled by Jeff Clement, one of the best hitters in the organization, sent down after a 50-PA trial didn’t work out (and replaced by the shorter and one year regressed designated hitter version of the singles-hitting first baseman). Clement is a catcher, but he can’t play catcher because the team already has two, one of which was just signed to a lucrative three-year extension and who hasn’t hit so far this year. They could play him at designated hitter, but that would displace the designated hitter they already have who isn’t hitting.
The could also solve the team’s outfield defense problem by putting the team’s outfield defense problem at designated hitter, so he needs to remain a designated hitter who stands in the outfield and lets balls drop around him and never gets a defensive sub.
A possible solution is to play Clement at catcher and move the recently-signed catcher to first, where they’re also thinking about playing the good defensive center fielder.
The M’s position players, for your amusement
DFA Vidro: DH
DFA Sexson: ?
2B Lopez: 2B
SS Betancourt: SS
3B Beltre: 3B
DH Ibanez: LF
CF/RF Ichiro: RF
UT Bloomquist: CF/UT
UT Cairo: UT
OF Reed: 1B/OF
C Johjima: C/1B
C Burke: C
There’s no rational explanation for what the M’s have done with their lineup this year, or their promotion decisions, their playing time decisions — and yet we all know they’re savvy baseball people who’ve been around the game forever. There must be a reason.
This is the best-executed plan we’ve seen from the Mariners since they bid for Ichiro.