Robinson Cano wasn’t extremely vocal in spring training, but he did voice some concerns about the makeup of the Seattle Mariners lineup. Star players typically would like to have the option of swinging the bat. Getting on base is nice and all, but leading the league in intentional walks is typically not the goal.
Try this scenario on for size. You are the manager of the Chicago White Sox and you are playing the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners have runners on second and third and Robinson Cano is at the plate. What do you do?
You walk Cano, obviously. Why? Because Kendrys Morales is on deck.
A few years ago, you might have taken your chances with Cano. Granted, Cano has always been good so perhaps you walk him even with an effective bat behind him.
However, today this is a no-brainer. In his second stint with the Mariners, Morales has a .161/.222/.196 slash line. Ugh. His WAR is -0.7, and if he were a Triple-A prospect, he would soon be headed back to the farm.
Early on, Morales defenders were suggesting that his slow start with the Minnesota Twins was due to the fact that he really didn’t have a spring training. He’ll come around, people were saying.
Yeah, well, Morales has now appeared in 54 games. That argument is starting to wear a little thin.
Why does manager Lloyd McClendon continue to run this guy out there? For one, his other options are hardly appealing. Logan Morrison is not having a stellar season, Corey Hart can’t stay healthy and Justin Smoak has been, well, Justin Smoak.
Will D.J. Peterson arrive soon?
Hope is a wonderful thing in baseball, but it can also be a destructive force. You hope Morales will start figuring things out, but it isn’t looking good. Maybe he is just done.
Morales has nine hits in 56 at-bats with the Mariners. In all honesty, a couple of those hits have been opposite-field dribblers, where the third baseman was playing to pull and Morales seemed to be fairly late with his swing. His bat speed has not been particularly impressive, and he continues to look like he can’t find his groove at the plate.
Again, there are few other options. The only thing that McClendon might think about doing is putting Kyle Seager back in the four-hole and dropping Morales down until he figures out his swing. That is, assuming Morales ever figures out his swing.
Fans are going to keep rooting for Morales to succeed. If he can protect Cano, that would go a long way towards making the playoffs. It is just a matter of how long McClendon can wait.