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Ok, so this issue isn't new by any stretch.
In fact, if we were to rank these issues in priority order, it should probably be at the top of the list as the Mariners outfield doesn't inspire much confidence at the moment.
Sadly, not a single player on the roster comes without a question attached to him.
Is Michael Saunders a one-year wonder or a legitimate starter?
Can Franklin Gutierrez stay healthy?
Will Jason Bay rediscover his swing?
Can 40-year old Raul Ibanez make a meaningful contribution?
Can Eric Thames, Casper Wells, Mike Carp or Carlos Peguero do a decent job of filling in or perhaps step up if the opportunity should present itself?
Kind of makes you miss Ichiro just a little, doesn't it?
Ryan Divish over at thenewstribune.com though is trying to stay positive:
As for outfield playing time, the Mariners have Bay, Ibañez, Saunders, Franklin Gutierrez, Casper Wells and Eric Thames. One opposing big league scout characterized the players who manned the Mariners’ outfield last season as “a collection of fourth outfielders.”
Saunders might be the most complete player among them. He can play any of the three spots at an above-average level and his hitting has improved considerably. If Gutierrez is healthy and Bay returns to even 80 percent of his best years, Saunders could be the starter in right field.
How Jack Z sorts this out will likely make all the difference this season for the Mariners. If he can get at least one quality outfielder to pair alongside Michael Saunders, then the issue of filling the third spot becomes a competition rather than a compromise.
Realistically though, can Jack Zduriencik really lock down the likes of a Michael Bourn or make a deal for someone else instead?
Either way something's got to give. The Mariners only have so many roster spots available once the season starts and at some point between now and then need to start focusing on quality over quantity.
Saunders, Guti, and either Bay or Ibanez would have been workable maybe four or five years ago, but now it sounds like some serious wishful thinking. If nothing changes though, we may all be crossing our fingers and holding our breath come April.