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Making sense of Mariners lineups as currently constructed

Gutierrez is back, and the Mariners plan against LHP is starting to take shape.


Franklin Gutierrez is back. Colin's broken it down wonderfully, and we should all be happy about it. While carrying Gutierrez on the active roster is difficult thanks to his constant nicks and bruises, this is where carrying Willie Bloomquist actually comes in handy. Instead of continually optioning players back and forth from AAA to accommodate the inevitable scratches Gutierrez will accumulate, Bloomquist can at least be a replacement player, filling in without disrupting things.

The hope is that Gutierrez will be able to keep his health by reducing his playing time, and given this team's currently lefty-heavy lineup, he'll slot right in as an ideal platoon bat across the outfield. If Gutierrez only starts against lefties and avoids back to back days, he'll have the best shot at health he's ever had. As we know with Guti, it's far from any guarantee, but there's a scenario taking shape that demonstrates his proper utilization.

More moves are certainly coming, and you have to get irresponsibly optimistic to see this team contending as is, but for now, let's take a look at what a lineup would look like with the roster as it's currently constructed. For the purpose of this exercise, we'll assume that Nick Franklin is not a member of the 2014 roster, whether he's in AAA or in another organization. I also won't bother with lineup order for the time being.

Versus RHP:

C: Mike Zunino (R)
1B: Logan Morrison (L) / Justin Smoak (S) / Corey Hart (R)
2B: Robinson Cano (L)
SS: Brad Miller (L)
3B: Kyle Seager (L)
LF: Dustin Ackley (L) / Logan Morrison (L)
CF: Michael Saunders (L)
RF: Corey Hart (R) / Abraham Almonte (S)
DH: Logan Morrison (L) / Corey Hart (R)

Almonte is a switch-hitter who doesn't hit left-handed pitching particularly well, but has hit RHP. Assuming he's around, he'll get some time at the corners against righties, primarily at right, but occasionally spelling Ackley in left.

Morrison/Smoak/Hart is a bit of a mess, and while they both claim they can play the outfield, it's worth noting that they are listed as infielders on the Mariners 40-man roster. The odd man out here is clearly Smoak, who will have to prove that his splits against RHP in 2013 weren't a fluke. He'll get time at first base, but his days as an every day player should be over.

Hart/Morrison will alternate at 1B/DH versus RHP, with Hart also getting some time in RF and Morrison in LF. Either corner outfield spot works here, and it might be a good idea to flip these, given Hart's poor arm metric ratings. Hart's arm would be less of an issue in LF, but as it stands now, the current left fielder, Ackley, has an even worse noodle arm. The outfield alignment here is crowded. All that we know, right now, is that Michael Saunders will be in center field.

Versus LHP:

C: Mike Zunino (R)
1B: Logan Morrison (L)
2B: Robinson Cano (L)
SS: Brad Miller (L) / Willie Bloomquist (R)
3B: Kyle Seager (L)
LF: Willie Bloomquist (R) / Dustin Ackley (L)
CF: Michael Saunders (L) / Franklin Gutierrez (R)
RF: Franklin Gutierrez (R)
DH: Corey Hart (R)

Smoak won't be starting against most LHP, though there will have to be some substitutions to keep Hart healthy and rested. Bloomquist will get spot starts here and there, but both Cano and Seager will likely be every day players, and Brad Miller should be close to that as well. When Miller needs a break, Bloomquist can start at short, and his days off should coincide with starts against LHP.

Bloomquist will probably play a lot against LHP as it stands. The one thing he's done reasonably well over the second half of his career is hit lefties for average, and given the Mariners deficiencies, he'll be spot starting all over the place, including the outfield. Left is the most likely destination for him.

Gutierrez should primarily play in right field to assist his health, but if everything is going well, he will get some starts in center.

Ackley, if he's still around, is still a potential candidate to start against lefties. While he hasn't hit well against them at the big league level, he hasn't really hit well against anybody. Ackley didn't show a huge weaknesses against LHP in the minors. If he's indeed fixed from the second half of last year, he's still probably a better option to start against them than Almonte. If he isn't, Almonte will get some starts here, but don't expect much.

This team is going to struggle against left-handed pitching, but the additions of Hart and Gutierrez help a considerable amount. The Mariners have a ton of options in how they create lineups this year, despite the three-headed 1B/DH/corner outfield jam of Morrison/Hart/Smoak. Looking over these lineups, this off-season has made a remarkable amount of sense so far.