Bad News On The Hannahan Front

So I don't actually know what percentage of you are constantly reading Twitter and the other blogs all the time. If it's 100%, then I apologize for repeating old news. If it's not 100%, then, hey - according to Dan Wakamatsu, via Geoff Baker, Jack Hannahan will not be ready for Opening Day, as he's still experiencing some discomfort in the groinal area. He was supposed to take some groundballs today, but...well I can't figure out how to work in a "but he felt like he had ground balls instead" joke here so for god's sake let's just skip past the opening paragraph. I'm so ashamed.

Dave's already got up his response, and you should go read it. The in-house options right now for the utility role are Josh Wilson and Matt Tuiasosopo, and Dave isn't a big fan, so his first preference is to trade for somebody. Not someone real shiny or core-worthy, but rather someone who comes cheap and can handle himself at a number of positions. Like Willie Ballgame if Willie Ballgame weren't terrible.

As usual, I agree with Dave, in that a trade for someone useful would be great. However, I'm not quite so reluctant to go with what we've got. Especially if "go with what we've got" means Matt Tuiasosopo.

First of all, Jack Hannahan probably isn't going to miss a whole lot of time. As any good hockey fan can tell you, groin injuries can be tricky, and Hannahan hasn't undergone a thorough evaluation, but assuming there's nothing dreadfully wrong with him, getting some rest should do him a lot of good. Let's say you give him a couple weeks to get healthy and work his way back into some approximation of game shape. Then, because he missed his chance to get reps at short in spring training, you send him to Tacoma for regular work instead. This is all just estimation and speculation since I don't know the extent of Hannahan's injury, but you could conceivably get him up at the end of April or sometime in May if the reports on his defense are positive, and you prefer him over the guy you have in Seattle.

Then you're dealing with the probability that the utility guy won't be seeing a ton of action. Granted, Jack Wilson could get hurt making coffee, but let's say you give the utility guy two starts a week. Through the end of May, that's 16 starts. The difference between a perfectly league-average Jack Hannahan and a replacement-level player over 16 starts is a quarter of a win. The difference between a more likely Jack Hannahan and a replacement-level player over 16 starts is almost negligible. No, you never want to take a hit anywhere, but there are worse places to take a hit than the end of the bench.

And lastly, while Matt Tuiasosopo has a pretty lousy reputation as a defensive shortstop, there's no such thing as a guy who "can't" play a position. Anybody can play any position. It's just a matter of how well or how poorly. Matt Tuiasosopo is not a good defensive shortstop. In fact, he's probably a lousy one. But it's not like he can't bend over or throw a baseball at another guy standing somewhere else. Let's call Tui a -25 run shortstop over a full season. Awful. Awful! A -25 run shortstop, though, only needs to hit like, I dunno, Orlando Cabrera in order to be replacement-level. And if you average Tui's 2010 projections, you get just that as an offensive forecast. I think it's pretty safe to call Matt Tuiasosopo a replacement-level shortstop, but he's a replacement-level shortstop with some upside, what with the possibility that he keeps spraying line drives everywhere in the bigs, and the possibility that he's a little better than a -25 in the field.

He could also offer a little reserve support at 2B, 3B, and the corner outfield positions, and while he wouldn't be good, if you've opted for Matt Tuiasosopo, you've done so knowing he's not going to wow you in the field. At least not in the good way.

It's too bad that Hannahan's down, and I'm a bigger fan of his than most, but at the end of the day, this isn't the worst thing ever. In fact, given the premise that more bad things happen in the world than good things, this might be closer to the best thing ever than the worst thing ever if you look at the scale. Utility players are important to have, but they seldom contribute a whole ton of value, so the difference between a decent one and a replacement-level one isn't real big. And when you throw in the fact that Hannahan could be back fairly soon, and that one of our replacement-level options has real upside, it's all just more a minor inconvenience than anything. It's a change of plan, but hardly a major one, and not necessarily one that needs to be addressed with a trade.

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For the record, it's been pointed out that, barring a trade, the M's might opt for Josh Wilson over Tui because he's the superior glove, and this is a team that highly values defense. That's absolutely a valid point, but one must remember that Wilson is fairly established as what he is, and this is an organization that understands overall value. It's not like Ryan Garko's a magician out there. If the front office and/or coaching staff determine that they prefer Tui's bat/glove combination over Wilson's, it will in no way be out of character, nor a surprise.

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