Franklin Gutierrez has been busy with Tacoma on a rehab assignment, playing a good center field when weather permits and hitting the ball reasonably well, and according to several reports he could re-join the Mariners at almost any moment. While he won't play every day at first, he will play, and he will play often.
Dustin Ackley, meanwhile, has been on a recent tear, and Jack Zduriencik said that he'll be called up sooner rather than later. Dave heard that Ackley could be up as soon as tomorrow, and even if that seems unlikely and hasty, it's clear that Ackley isn't far off. We're talking about a matter of days, or maybe a matter of just a few weeks.
Now with that in mind, I want to show you two lineups:
The first, obviously, is what we're dealing with now. The second is what we could and should be dealing with soon. And I can't be the only one who finds the second to be somewhat exciting.
Clearly, the second one still has its problems. And on top of them, Gutierrez is currently something of an unknown, and Ackley will be going up against big league competition for the first time in his life. The second lineup is not a guarantee to be a good lineup, or even a decent lineup.
But just having Gutierrez and Ackley's names in there allows for such a psychological boost. Right now, when we see Michael Saunders in center, we've been conditioned to expect nothing at the plate. We've also been conditioned to expect nothing from Jack Wilson, and while Adam Kennedy has helped out, he hasn't been great, and he won't keep hitting home runs. Gutierrez's presence is a powerful one. And Ackley is one of the more exciting young position players the Mariners have ever developed.
Even before Gutierrez and Ackley show that they can contribute at the Major League level, seeing their names in the lineup will give us a lift - a lift in hope, and a lift in confidence. In the absence of data, we go on impressions, and we have greatly positive impressions of both players. Even if they struggle at the outset and continue to struggle, it will take a long time for us to readjust. And if they don't, well, that's why we were excited in the first place.
Help is coming soon, and with it a substantial psychological boost. Right now, the M's are only 4.5 games out of the division, and nobody's pulling away. Like it or not, get ready to hope again, at least for a little while.