Saturday, March 15, 2008

Bench Battle Down to Two?

Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider has some new information on the Mariners bench battle.

A team source concluded today that “the race for the bench jobs is probably down to two guys and I think you can guess who those two are.”

Churchill says that Mike Morse, who has been hitting really well, is almost a lock, except for what happens with Miguel Cairo. Cairo would be Morse's biggest competition, but I called Cairo a lock, and now, Churchill says that Cairo's contract doesn't mean anything.

“He (Cairo I think) is guaranteed the 800,” said the club representative. “Hopefully we can find room for both of them. But I know Mac wants the best guys for the job regardless of status. It’s something he spoke to our front office about over the winter."

Churchill says that if the Mariners go with a four man bench, it would start with Jamie Burke and Willie Bloomquist. If both Cairo and Morse make it, then Willie would be a pinch runner, infield reserve and Ichiro's backup, although I doubt that Ichiro will need a backup, Morse would handle all four corners, and Cairo would take the middle of the infield.

If Mac decided to go with a five man bench, then he would like a lefty bat. With that statement, Greg Nortan and Jeremy Reed are now into the mix. Yesterday, I talked about how the Marienrs were believed to be thinking about cutting Reed. That would leave Nortan, who can play first and third. There's a chance that he could play in the outfield, but I doubt that. Churchill goes on to say that if Reed makes the team, then Cairo would be useless, because Bloomquist would play in the middle infield, and Reed would become the fourth outfielder. There's one scenario for you. I don't have much of a scenario for Nortan, but Nortan brings a good bat to the bench, and Reed brings defence, and some speed.

Charlton Jimerson is falling off of the depth chart with Reed, and both have been outplayed by Nortan and Morse so far.

“If we need an infielder, there’s always (Yung Chi) Chen in his first option year. He can give the club time at second, and I’m not sure there’s much need to hang onto potential backups at third or short. They will start 150+ games.”

Back to Morse for a minute. As I've said every time I talk about Morse and him battling for a job, I've said that Morse is out of options, and would probably rather become a free agent then go to AAA Tacoma. The Mariners play San Francisco tonight, and I will pass on any info on the lineups that I can get.

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