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Full of Hitting Depth

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Ryan Langerhans, Bill Hall, Michael Saunders, Jack Hannahan, Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Carp and Matt Tuiasosopo. Those are the people currently on the 40-man roster who profile as bench bats or a starter at designated hitter, first base or left field for 2010. That's seven names for six spots (the three starting jobs plus three bench roles) and that's before we sign anyone else. Heaven forbid those are the seven Don Wakamatsu has to pick from for those last six spots come end of Spring Training.

Here is where I would love to throw in some clear facts on which players have options remaining, but MLB's player option rules are murkier than lead and so the best I can do are educated guesses. Langerhans, Hall, Hannahan and Griffey are out of options while it appears that Saunders, Carp and Tuiasosopo all have two options remaining.

If the Mariners add two more bats in the DH/1B mold (say Nick Johnson and Russell Branyan), then clearly Carp and Tui head back to Tacoma. However, that still leaves seven players for six spots. The consensus so far has been that Saunders is penciled in as the starting left fielder and thus Ryan Langerhans would appear to be the odd man out, a victim of a overprotective seven-men bullpen. I wonder though, given Saunders struggles in his Seattle showcase, and the roster situation, would it not make more sense to send Saunders back to Tacoma, he only has 387 PAs at the Triple-A level after all, and start the season with a Langerhans/Hall platoon in left field?

If the team only adds one more hitter, then this is moot, but given that it appears the team considers neither first base nor designated hitter filled, it seems an interesting discussion to be had, one with reasonable arguments on multiple sides.

It is also a key discussion no matter where the second hitter is added. If the team did manage to sign Adrian Beltre, and held onto Jose Lopez, then Chone Figgins would get moved to left field and Michael Saunders demoted. Or if the team inked Mike Cameron, same result for Saunders. In either case a lock for the team replaces one of your optionable players and takes a roster spot up, once again forcing you into a two spots for three guys decision.