Roster Almost Set
Today’s dual moves of trading for Milton Bradley and re-signing Ryan Langerhans to a major league contract seem to go together. And, they would apparently point to Michael Saunders probably beginning 2010 somewhere besides Seattle – likely Tacoma, but Jack is known to be pursuing a trade involving some big pieces, and this could be the precursor to that kind of deal. Here’s why this leads me down that path.
The M’s did not acquire Bradley to just DH. He’s an average-ish defensive left fielder, which is part of the appeal to the team. They had no interest in another DH-only type of player with Griffey on the roster. And, whether he deserves it or not, Griffey is going to play more than once a month – I’ve got him penciled in for 200 to 250 at-bats at DH, which is basically playing every couple of days or so. By acquiring a guy who can play both LF and DH, the M’s have essentially created a rotating LF/DH platoon between Bradley, Griffey, Langerhans, and Hall.
On some days, we’ll see Bradley in left and Griffey at DH. On other days, it will be Langerhans in left and Bradley at DH. Against a LH pitcher, I think you’ll see Hall in left and Bradley at DH on most days. None of the four will be counted on to be full-time players, which they are not capable of being, but they will be allowed to share two jobs when the match-ups are in their favor.
Saunders just isn’t as good of a fit for this kind of role as Langerhans is. He needs to play regularly, not spend half his days sitting on the bench and coming in a as a late inning defensive replacement. The portion of the LF job share that he would be up for is probably only in line for 250-300 at-bats, which is not enough for a kid who still has stuff to work on. But it’s perfect for Langerhans, who is a quality role player but not good enough to play everyday.
Given Bradley’s role here, I think Saunders probably begins the year in Tacoma. And that’s fine – Bradley is a good enough player where that kind of move makes sense, given the team’s go-for-it approach to 2010. Whether he ends up joining the team at some point in the summer or gets shipped off at the deadline as a piece in a blockbuster trade remains to be seen. The nice thing about today’s moves is that it gives the Mariners the option to do either.