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The Mike Wilson Era With The Mariners Is About To Begin

Mike Wilson
Mike Wilson

I spent the weekend up in Seattle and went to the game last night, and I was intending to come home and write up at least a little something on my observations from yesterday and today. But I didn't have anything particularly insightful or noteworthy to talk about, and besides, now we have bigger news to discuss:

The Mariners will make a roster move before Tuesday’s games in Baltimore. Outfielder Mike Wilson will be called up by the team.

It's been evident for some time now that the Mariners need some help in the lineup, and while Wilson may or may not turn out to be the help they need, at least it's a sign that they're looking. Better to have a guy from whom you don't know what to expect than a guy from whom you probably do know what to expect, when what you expect is not good.

Wilson is 27 years old. He is not a prospect, and until now (or Tuesday) he was not on the 40-man roster. What he is is a guy a lot of fans have asked about over the years on account of his prodigious power and occasionally strong Spring Trainings, and while questions about Wilson's Major League future were generally ignored or dismissed, here we are now, and he's going to have one, if only for a little while.

So who is Mike Wilson as a baseball player? I think he's exactly what you'd expect a 6'2, 245-pound former football player to be. More than anything else, he's strong. He swings really hard. He can hit the ball out of any ballpark, and as a consequence of that same swing, he also misses a lot. He's slugged .545 since the beginning of last season, but he's also had his contact rate hover around 70%.

On top of that, while Wilson isn't opposed to drawing his walks, no one's going to look at him and be left with the impression that he's a disciplined hitter, and his defense makes you appreciate his offense. Don't pay too much attention to the fact that Tacoma's played Wilson in center field - Tacoma's also playing Mike Carp in left. Wilson's range, while not altogether embarrassing, is somewhere between that of Manny Ramirez and Franklin Gutierrez on crutches.

Wilson's strength is his power, and that's what the M's will be looking for him to supply. It's not like they had a ton of other good options, and who knows, maybe it'll work. At least it's a change.

What's going to be really interesting is seeing how the M's make room for Wilson on the roster and in the field. As noted, Wilson needs to be added to the 40-man and 25-man rosters, meaning someone else will have to come off. And while there are a bunch of fine candidates, the name I can't shake is Milton Bradley. I don't think the M's are going to drop to a six-man bullpen just as they begin a stretch of 16 games in 16 days. I don't think they're going to demote Michael Saunders, given that he's the best candidate for center field. And I don't think they're going to ditch Ryan Langerhans, who makes for a flexible asset off the bench.

Bradley strikes me as the best bet. His defense has been well below his former standard, and he looked sluggish on too many plays this weekend. At the plate, he's been miserable since his strong start and of his two extra-base hits since the middle of April, one was an end-of-bat opposite-field flare he dropped just fair in Boston, and the other was an opposite-field blooper he dropped just fair in Seattle the other day. And, obviously, there's the behavior, since he's recently been ejected twice and seems to be constantly down on himself. There haven't been any indications that Bradley is dragging the team down in the clubhouse, but at the same time, it's not like he's an asset. He's not an asset off the field, and he hasn't been an asset on it.

It made some sense to keep Bradley over the offseason, just to see if he could bounce back. Now he's had well more than 100 trips to the plate in 2011 to show that he probably isn't going to bounce back, and since it's the last year of his contract, there's no compelling reason for the Mariners to hang on to him to try to squeeze out what production they can. If he isn't worth the trouble, he isn't worth the trouble, and these days I don't know that he's worth the trouble.

We'll see. Maybe Bradley survives. There are a lot of different ways the Mariners could go with this one. But look for Mike Wilson on Tuesday. No matter what the M's decide, Wilson's going to play, and for the love of God, hopefully he's packing some dingers.