Morse Returns, Bay Goes Away
As expected, the Mariners activated Michael Morse from the DL today, and he’ll join the team in Boston for the series with the Red Sox. To make room for him on the roster, Jason Bay was designated for assignment.
This wasn’t too terribly hard to see coming. Bay was moderately decent for a few weeks at the beginning of the season, but has been awful the last few weeks, and had basically played himself out of the OF rotation. It was pretty telling that Endy Chavez pinch hit for him last week. Endy Chavez. When a washed up speed-and-defense center fielder pinch hits for you, you’re done.
Bay’s final line as a Mariner: .204/.298/.393, .305 wOBA, 92 wRC+, -0.2 WAR. He was basically a replacement level scrub, which is what all the pre-season forecasts projected him to be before the season began. Despite all the talk about his health and his career resurgence and his good spring training, Jason Bay was the 34-year-old version of Jason Bay.
It will be interesting to see how much time Morse gets in the outfield. You’d hope that Ackley and Saunders will be given the final two months of the season to make an impression and play themselves into the 2014 plans, which would only leave one spot and some extra time for Ibanez and Morse to share. But, even with Ibanez’s recent regression to planet earth, it’s still hard for me to imagine that he’s going to get relegated back to a reserve role. And, given how enamored the organization is with Morse’s skillset, it’s hard for me to imagine Morse not being in the line-up when he’s healthy.
So, don’t be too shocked if Ackley and Saunders end up sharing time in center field sooner than later, especially if Ackley keeps not hitting. The Mariners aren’t in a playoff race, but they’re clearly still prioritizing the present over the future, and Dustin Ackley isn’t a very good player right now, given that he’s still learning to play the outfield. With his lack of power and minus defense, he’s hurting the team, and if the Mariners are committed to this finish-at-.500-so-we-can-say-I-told-you-so plan, Ackley’s not going to stay in the line-up if he’s not producing.
In the grand scheme of things, though, none of this really matters that much. Ackley’s likely trade bait at some point, as he’s more valuable at second base than he is in the outfield, and Saunders looks more like a fourth outfielder than a starter on a winning team. Ibanez and Morse aren’t part of any future here. Endy Chavez shouldn’t even be part of the present. The Mariners need an entirely new outfield next year, so rearranging the ones they have now isn’t likely to have a huge long term impact.