As the saying goes, it’s only a problem if you have a solution. And frankly, when it comes to the Mariners’ designated hitter tandem of Mike Sweeney and Ken Griffey Jr., solutions are nowhere to be found.
Much has been made in recent days of the hitting woes shared by two veterans with 76 years of life between them (Sweeney is 36; Griffey, 40). Their combined batting average is .211 (16-for-76). They have managed just one extra-base hit (a double, by Griffey). They have produced a grand total of six RBI. They have eight bases on balls to their credit, but mitigate the on-base percentage with their 14 strikeouts. To say that the Mariners’ DH position is a veritable black hole would be entirely accurate.
But let’s be real for a minute. What other options does the team have?
I suppose, the Mariners could call up a player from the minors to fill the void. But it’s always a risky move taking a prospect and attempting to turn him into a designated hitter from the get-go (see Jeff Clement). Not to mention the fact that there is no one worthy of such a promotion in the farm system at this point in time. Currently, the two best hitters at Triple-A Tacoma are middle infielders Josh Wilson and Chris Woodward, neither of whom would be counted on to provide pop in the heart of a major league lineup. So that’s out.
Then you have the possibility of a trade. Except at this point we’d be speaking in hypotheticals. So why even go there?
The reality is this: If a guy isn’t on your active roster or in your system, he cannot be had without giving up something in return. And what do the Mariners really have that they could give up to obtain a big-league slugger? The cupboard isn’t bare, but it certainly isn’t full. Meaning the number of tradeable commodities within the organization are few and far between. Can we make a trade happen? Yes. Will we make a trade happen? Not right now. So get that thought out of your head for the time being.
You can always sign what few available free agents remain, I guess. The name Jermaine Dye has surfaced in recent weeks. But Dye is 36 years of age, same as Sweeney, and there’s no telling what kind of shape he’s in at the moment. Even though he showed signs of a life a year ago with 27 home runs, he still batted just .250. And trust me, folks, there’s a reason he’s out of baseball. Thirty franchises can’t be wrong. So yet again, we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place.
As we stand here discussing the issue, the Mariners have no other options besides what they currently possess. That means if neither Sweeney nor Griffey can iron out their wrinkles in the immediate future, perhaps some lineup tinkering is in order.
Maybe Matt Tuiasosopo or Eric Byrnes could earn themselves more playing time.
Maybe Milton Bradley could find himself logging more at-bats at DH.
Maybe we’ll just let the pitchers hit. Keep in mind that Felix Hernandez once hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana, Jason Vargas was a full-time batter in college, and Cliff Lee posted a batting average of .212 with the Phillies last year. Anyone? No? Okay, fine. We’ll just let that one go.
Until we get closer to the trading deadline in July, the Mariners are going to look very similar to the way they do now. So get used to it, M’s fans. Because Mike Sweeney and Ken Griffey Jr. are likely here to stay. For now, at least.