I give up.
The Mariners have suddenly DFA'd Kelly Shoppach and replaced him with 41 year old catcher Henry Blanco. Blanco played for Toronto this year and had a mere 43 PA, posting a.184/.262/.263 line. Blanco has only had a handful of PA over the last 2 seasons, and has now been on 11 different teams in 16 years. Henry Blanco, for all intents and purposes, is terrible.
I'm trying to rationalize this one, and I have nothing. Is Shoppach could be unhappy with his role? Why would that be the case? He was signed this season to be a backup catcher to Jesus Montero, and never had starting expectations. Shoppach hasn't hit well this season, but is a better option than Blanco, and Sucre as well.
It is possible that there's something we don't know here. Maybe Kelly Shoppach is a terrible teammate, and has been stealing all of the chicken wings before Felix gets a single one. Maybe he had some words with Eric Wedge, and the team showed him the door. Maybe Shoppach wanted a bigger role, and was only ok with being the backup when he knew he would eventually overtake the terrible defensive catcher who was in front of him when he signed. Speculating is stupid, but a stupid move gets stupid speculating.
So much for the idea that Zunino is just here to get his feet wet and can easily be sent down if he struggles. The Mariners just cast off their other experienced big league catcher for nothing, and Zunino is left all alone as the only viable starting catcher in the organization. If he struggles and goes down, what do the Mariners do? Roll out Sucre and Blanco for the rest of the year? It doesn't seem likely, and so the M's put the all their eggs in one nice Zunino basket. We'll see what happens, but this doesn't look like Zunino's here for an audition.
There was some disagreement to my theory that the Mariners rushed Zunino to try to throw a hail mary and save some jobs, and this really only reinforces my view. He's probably not going back down now when Sucre is healthy. This rush job is now simply a rush. Nothing more, nothing less, and it doesn't appear to be any sort of stop-gap. Nothing that's transpired here has made any sense, from not promoting Zunino when Bantz was called up, to handing Zunino the job a few days later, to cutting away his safety net for nothing. Henry Blanco was free, he's nothing. You can get a guy like him at any time all year long, but you can't get a guy like Kelly Shoppach back, who can at the very least be a borderline starter at catcher for the rest of the year.
Now that there's really no fallback plan for Zunino, this is his time to sink or swim. If he sinks, there has to be concern about a loss of confidence, developing bad habits, and stunting his development. From that perspective, this is a crazy move. I suppose I'm waiting for the Mariners to announce something that explains this all, but I don't think it's coming. If the Mariners like Sucre more than Shoppach, why do you make this move well before you have to? Shouldn't they spend the next few days seeing if anybody is interested in trading for Shoppach or making sure Sucre doesn't suffer any setbacks?
It's just a baffling move. I have absolutely no idea what this team is doing with Mike Zunino and the catching situation, but I'm pretty sure I hate it.