Hannahan To Start Year On DL

Dave · March 22, 2010 at 4:20 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

No big surprise here, as we talked about this last week, but Geoff Baker reports on Twitter that Jack Hannahan won’t be healthy enough to start the year on the team. That leaves the M’s with a few options:

1. Go with either Tui or Josh Wilson as the utility infielder until Hannahan is healthy enough to return. There are problems with both, as Tui can’t play shortstop in any reasonable fashion that resembles a major leaguer, and Josh Wilson can’t hit while also just being okay defensively. Given Jack Wilson’s lack of durability, the M’s would have to be willing to start these guys at least once a week and probably more until Hannahan was healthy, and so you’d be essentially going with a replacement level SS when Wilson isn’t in the line-up.

This also would essentially eliminate any chance Wak would ever pinch hit for Wilson, as the defensive downgrade caused by removing him from the game would probably outweigh any offensive gain by subbing in a bench bat in any inning besides the 9th. Wak is already a bit shy about pinch-hitting, but not having a legitimate backup SS on the roster would basically rule out pinch hitting for Wilson as a strategy. That may prove frustrating.

2. Make a trade. I advocated for this last week, and I still think it’s the best idea. Hannahan lost his entire spring training opportunity to prove to the coaching staff that he could play short, and I don’t know that Wak is going to want to just throw him out there at a position he’s rarely played during the season. I just don’t see the M’s being willing to take a gamble on his defense at a position they haven’t seen him play more than a handful of innings at. Fair or not, this injury may have torpedoed Hannahan’s shot at being the sole reserve 3B/SS/2B. There’s no one else in the organization capable of handling that role at an acceptable level for a contender. So, the M’s need to go get someone who can.

And, to throw an extra wrinkle into the mix, it would be great if that guy could play the outfield too. Given that the team will now probably end up carrying 12 pitchers to start the season, Langerhans is probably off the team as well. Especially if they lose him on waivers, outfield depth in the reserve role becomes a bit of a problem (you don’t want Saunders serving as a defensive replacement in the big leagues). So, now, not only do the M’s need a utility infielder who can play short, they probably need that guy to be able to at least fake it in left field from time to time.

23 players in MLB played at least one game at SS/3B/OF last year, and besides Ben Zobrist, it’s a pretty uninspiring list. As expected, it’s mostly a bunch of no-bat scrubs who wouldn’t be any kind of real improvement over either Tui or Wilson. The guys who do hold some appeal, such as Jerry Hairston Jr or Omar Infante, aren’t available.

There is one interesting guy on the list who you may be able to get – Jayson Nix. He’s fighting Brent Lillibridge for the 25th roster spot on the White Sox, and he’s not Ozzie Guillen’s kind of player at all, but he’s got his uses. He’s got power for a little guy, can run a bit, experience all over the field, and wouldn’t embarrass himself defensively. Just 27 and cheap, he’s kind of like a right-handed Hannahan, just without the terrific 3B defense.

If the M’s could pick him up relatively cheap, much like they did with Hannahan and Langerhans a year ago, he could be a useful stopgap and part time player until they figure out how the roster is going to shake out once everyone’s healthy. This team isn’t currently built to withstand a whole bunch of injuries, and adding a guy like Nix could help them make it through April with a four man bench.

If the White Sox asking price is outrageous, it may not be worth it, but it’s a tire worth kicking. I wouldn’t settle for either Tui or Josh Wilson unless I absolutely had to.


34 Responses to “Hannahan To Start Year On DL”

  1. joser on March 22nd, 2010 4:58 pm

    Suddenly Willie Bloomquist doesn’t look so bad, does he? 😉

    Of course, who knows if his surgically-repaired knees will hold up this season either.

    I have to say, Jason Nix is not a name I’ve thought about. Ever.

  2. bumkus on March 22nd, 2010 5:09 pm

    Why the big objection to Tui as the backup? Butcher at SS – probably. More than likely gets offset with the good bat.

    If they keep Josh Wilson – why not get him ready to be the extra pitcher? He could surely soak up some blowout innings to save the staff. That is the only advantage I would see for Wilson over Tui, as his bat is bad enough to offset his good defense.

  3. Mekias on March 22nd, 2010 5:24 pm

    I can’t imagine Tui making the team as the only utility infielder. Whenever Wak is given a choice of defense over bat, he’s always taken defense. They played Josh Wilson a lot last year so I’m 95% sure they’ll start the season with him in that spot. No one’s thrilled with Josh but he can play those positions pretty well and that’s the main goal for now.

    I hate that we might lose Langerhans. I like that guy.

  4. Jeff Nye on March 22nd, 2010 5:25 pm

    You’re undervaluing defense and overvaluing offense.

  5. Kazinski on March 22nd, 2010 5:25 pm

    Just how bad is Tui at SS? Yuni bad?

    I would go with Tui because he can play the outfield too and has a stick. With 12 pitchers I don’t think Hanahan or Wilson are viable options right now. Then you’ve got Wilson waiting in the wings, and Hannahan available soon if it doesn’t work out.

    And while Wilson and Hannahan are down in Tacoma, put them out in LF for a few innings, just in case. We don’t want Griffey to have to fedex is glove out from Florida.

    I might note that Chris Woodward is the only player the M’s have with MLB experience at LF, 3b, SS, and 2b.

  6. Jeff Nye on March 22nd, 2010 5:53 pm

    I don’t know that we have enough of a sample size to say exactly how bad Tui would be at shortstop, but Yuni Bad (I like that, by the way) isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Maybe even worse.

    In any case, especially with the Lopez/Figgins switch, defense is much more important for the backup SS than offense. So, while neither is ideal, Josh Wilson is probably slightly less awful as an option.

  7. Jack Swan on March 22nd, 2010 5:58 pm

    Tui will probably make the team because he can play anywhere even if it is poorly. But say Jack Wilson were to injure his quad running out a grounder in the second inning, I have a feeling it would be Figgins sliding over to short and Tui covering second. So there is that to consider.

  8. tmac9311 on March 22nd, 2010 6:10 pm

    where is willy sitting contract wise, is it his last year? How great would it be to give KC 1 or 2 of the prospects they gave us.

    I’m willing to try a new face though, jayson nix sounds interesting, not sure who else is out there, I know willie harris could play the infield in video games half a decade old, so that goes to show what I know.

  9. auldguy on March 22nd, 2010 6:25 pm

    Unless in the last year and a half Tui has improved his D dramatically not just incrementally, having him at SS would be at least as bad as Yuni. At third, he might make Lopez look like Beltre. Sorry, Tui seems to be a great young man and I like his offensive potential and a great work ethic, but I really see him as a 1B at best and most likely a DH.

  10. coasty141 on March 22nd, 2010 6:42 pm

    Great post as normal Dave. A couple of questions…

    Do the M’s really need to give Jack Wilson days off right out of the gate? If he really is that fragile I’m really starting to regret his re-signing. We are committed to a league average SS with no real upside.

    If the M’s don’t make a move, couldn’t it be a sign they are comfortable with the timetable Hannahan’s timetable to return?

  11. bseblfevr on March 22nd, 2010 7:29 pm

    Released today by the Dodgers…Angel Berroa, 30 , average stick , plays all over the infield.

  12. number3 on March 22nd, 2010 7:39 pm

    If we need to spell Wilson a start here and there, what about Figgins playing there? He hasn’t played there since 2006 and he has 4 errors in 27 appearances, but he could a decent replacement for a few games. He has the range to do it.

    Then Tui or Lopez can play 2B and the other plays 3B.

  13. Jeff Nye on March 22nd, 2010 7:43 pm

    I’m still not real hot on his defense, but yeah, Tui at 3rd, Lopez at 2nd, and Figgins at SS might not be a bad setup for when Wilson needs a day off.

    Lopez needs to get lots of reps at 3rd though, so they’d want to do this pretty minimally.

  14. JJD on March 22nd, 2010 7:45 pm

    Given Dave’s track record with move suggestions, I expect Brent Lillibridge to be a Mariner by noon Wednesday, at the latest.

  15. Puffy on March 22nd, 2010 7:57 pm

    Bill Hall?

  16. CCW on March 22nd, 2010 9:11 pm

    There is a reason the M’s are trying Tui out at SS in spring training games, and it isn’t to showcase him for a trade. Based on the M’s actions, I think we have to believe Tui as the backup utility player is a realistic scenario. And if the M’s are considering it, I’m willing to consider it.

  17. Jeff Nye on March 22nd, 2010 9:33 pm

    Wait, CCW posting his disagreement with something Dave says?

    (insert shocked expression here)

  18. jordan on March 22nd, 2010 9:40 pm

    Puffy brings up a good point… Bill Hall sure is looking nice right about now!

  19. behappy on March 22nd, 2010 9:41 pm

    Untill Hannahan gets back, I like the idea of Figgins giving Jack his one day a week off. We are only talking about a few games that Figgins has to start at SS. Hannahan is only going to miss a couple of weeks. I don’t see why we need to panic just yet. If Hannahan misses a month or longer then it would be an issue.

    You can have even use Tui as a pinch hitter for Wilson, and then just slide Figgins over to SS. Leaving Lopez at 3B. This also gives more time to see what Tui can do against the big boys.

  20. Dave on March 22nd, 2010 9:53 pm

    Figgins is not going to play SS.

  21. Slippery Elmer on March 22nd, 2010 10:28 pm

    Luis Ugueto?

  22. CCW on March 22nd, 2010 10:48 pm

    For the record, I agree with Dave 99% of the time. He is good at being right about baseball analysis. However, posting comments that say “I completely agree with what Dave just said” doesn’t, in my opinion, contribute very much to the discussion.

    In this case, I don’t disagree with Dave as much as I think he might be overstating the *certainty* of his position. I really don’t know how bad Tui’s defense is, and really, no one does at this point. Defense is, as everyone would agree, extremely difficult to quantify unless you have a large sample size. I asssume Dave’s opinion that Tui is beyond terrible at SS is based on first-hand observations and what he has heard from scouts and others, plus the fact that Tui was flat-out bad, as recently as a year ago, at 3B. However, I submit that Tui is exactly the type of player – an exceptional athlete, a hard worker, and a multi-sport player who has not focused solely on baseball his whole life – who might figure things out relatively late. Also, as we all know, while valuable, scouting reports and the like do not provide complete information regarding defense. He’s probably bad, but how bad… tough to quantify.

    The fact that the team has tried Tui at SS says something. Maybe it just says they needed a SS a few times during the spring and Tui was the closest thing they had. I recognize that possibility, but it seems more likely to me that the M’s, a smart organization, are trying Tui out at SS for an actual reason, i.e. because they think he just might be their best option as Wilson’s backup. And, as I said earlier, if they think that, I’m willing to consider it, too, since they’re (a) in a good position to know and (b) smart.

    Hasn’t some savvy beat-reporter asked this question of Wak or Jack Z yet? I bet they know the answer…

  23. andrewjsnider on March 22nd, 2010 10:50 pm

    I think I prefer Tui because of his stick. Besides, as Jeff from LL said, “Jack Hannahan probably isn’t going to miss a whole lot of time.”

  24. ndevale on March 23rd, 2010 4:02 am

    What about a more substantial trade? The Hardball Times wrote up the Ray’s plethora of infielders capable of playing shortstop including the oft-cited Brignac (a few weeks ago, I did look but to no avail). Would they trade Jason Bartlett, for instance? Or would this make more sense as a mid-season trade involving say Carlos Peña as well?

  25. wsm on March 23rd, 2010 6:24 am

    Highly doubtful the team makes any move that will push Jack Wilson off he starting SS position. Brignac would be great, but I think the would have happened last winter if it was a possiblity.

    Does Cliff Lee’s injury/suspension mean the team will need to carry 12 pitchers north? If so, that may help make a case for Tui. The team couldgo with a bench of Tui/Byrnes/Langerhans/Catcher and forego having a righty 1B for a couple weeks.

    There seems to be a vibe that Sweeney has beat out Garko for that bench job. The team could release Garko and ask Sweeney to hang out in Tacoma or on the DL for a couple weeks until the pitching staff is stabilized. They’d have Tui around to pick up some of those right-handed platoon ABs.

  26. Paul B on March 23rd, 2010 7:34 am

    Tui hasn’t embarrased himself at either second or third in the Bigs, although that has only been about 18 games over two seasons. So, the UZR isn’t very meaningful, but at least he wasn’t awful.

    The problem we have is there aren’t any really good fielding stats for the minors, are there? And most of us don’t know a bunch of scouts we can talk to.

    Well that and Tui hasn’t ever played SS at a level above A ball. His range factors at second and third look OK to me (although not great) and in 2009 his errors went way down. But never having played SS at AA or AAA looks like a problem to me.

    Too bad, because he would hit better than Hannahan.

  27. Sports on a Schtick on March 23rd, 2010 8:20 am

    Hopefully the M’s plug in the best available defensive SS for the time being. Make things easier for Chone and Lopez.

  28. Kazinski on March 23rd, 2010 9:18 am

    From LaRue:

    Without Hannahan, infielder Josh Wilson was a clear club favorite to back up shortstop Jack Wilson, but over the last 10 days, that’s slowly changed. Josh Wilson has big-league experience, but Matt Tuiasosopo may be the more intriguing option.

    Tuiasosopo has more power, is hitting .394 this spring and is a product of the Seattle farm system – always a plus.

    Tuiasosopo has played second base, third base and shortstop in camp, and impressed the staff with his versatility, his bat and his attitude.

    I think if Tui is only Yuni Bad then at SS then he is a viable option for a back up. There is a huge difference between trotting out a substandard shortstop for 15 games a year and 150 games. If Ja. Wilson goes down for a stint on the DL, then you have to bring Jo. Wilson up to play everyday, and Tui remains the back-up. If it just a day or two then you go with Tui. But having only one backup infielder is probably not good enough anyway.

  29. Johnny Slick on March 23rd, 2010 10:40 am

    I think it’s an extreme stretch to believe that any non-SS can play the position with any ability. I think that assuming Tui would be “Yuni bad” is assuming quite a lot. There’s a reason why Tom Tango gives the position of shortstop such a large modifier when determining replacement level. Few people can even play the position at Derek Jeter prior to 2009 level, let alone passably well.

    Yeah, I think I’m with Dave here. I don’t have a lot of confidence in Josh Wilson in general and I think that if Tui ends up being the backup infielder then Wak uses Jack Wilson like Cal Ripken Jr., which is a disaster waiting to happen (but which also, to an extent, is something a guy in his position will feel is his only option).

    At the very least, I’d want to see Tui play a few full games in ST before that decision was made. Even then, I’d be very, very skeptical.

  30. SonOfZavaras on March 23rd, 2010 10:51 am

    Some quick hits:

    Reid Brignac. We didn’t have enough to entice him away from the Rays in trade this last winter, we don’t now. They won’t give him away to us because WE have a need, and other orgs that could use him will offer better packages.

    I’m okay if Tui is the back-up infielder, even at short. While I’m aware of his lack of premium defense at ANY position, put him in there once a week and see how he responds. He’s a bat first and foremost at this stage in his career, anyway.

    I have thought of Jayson Nix before as a guy who could offer more than what’cha think. I’ve also been thinking Nick Punto- while I’m not a huge fan of his- of the Twins may be a possibility…and the Twins could use bullpen help, if I’ve heard correctly.

    The only thing that’d preclude that, though, is that I have no idea who Minnesota would enlist to play short (in a pinch) if Punto was traded, so it may not be an amenable idea.

    But it’s a thought to bounce around.

  31. Kazinski on March 23rd, 2010 11:12 am

    At the very least, I’d want to see Tui play a few full games in ST before that decision was made. Even then, I’d be very, very skeptical.

    Tui has played a few complete games at SS. The last complete game he played at SS was last Saturday. The coaching staff has seen a fair amount of him at SS this spring.

    I noticed this little gem from the Box score on 3/18:

    M Bradley 3b 1 0 0 0

    my first thought was he just pinch hit, but it would have said “ph-3b” were that the case. Is Milton Bradley our emergency 3rd baseman? That would provide some options if they go with 5 outfielders.

  32. Puffy on March 23rd, 2010 12:21 pm

    I wonder if the Mariners could trade from their glut of AAAA 1B/DH types for a comparable AAAA SS type. It’s really a question of depth and contingency, rather than a guy that has to be starter quality.

    At a minimum, you want a decent fielder, if not fair/average bat. The Red Sox have a bunch of AAA middle infielders. A guy like Angel Sanchez or Tug Hullett would look nice now in Tacoma.

  33. Johnny Slick on March 23rd, 2010 1:04 pm

    Is Mike Carp worth Tug Hulett?

  34. joser on March 23rd, 2010 7:22 pm

    Do the M’s really need to give Jack Wilson days off right out of the gate? If he really is that fragile I’m really starting to regret his re-signing. We are committed to a league average SS with no real upside.

    I don’t think you understand how valuable a league average shortstop actually is.

    As for the days off, well, you need to look at his history. If we ignore last year (and we shouldn’t, not entirely: the most recent years should be given greater weight, not less, and his 2009 injury wasn’t a fluke like Endy Chavez’) Wilson has averaged 139 games per year since his rookie year. That many games over the 26 weeks of the season works out to about 5 a week; put another way, 162-139 = 23, or about one game missed a week. And that’s almost certainly your best case. Now you might want to run him out there every day for the first few weeks in a hope to bridge the gap until Hannahan is ready. But you don’t know if that will wear him down and leave him out of the lineup when the division is coming down to the wire in September and you need his defense the most.

    Wilson is a valuable piece in the infield, and to get the most out of him you should probably rest him regularly.

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