Seattle Mariners: Is Justin Smoak out of the 2013 Lineup?

Todd PheiferAnalyst IIIDecember 22, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 03:  Justin Smoak #17 of the Seattle Mariners hits an RBI single in the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Safeco Field on September 3, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners defeated the Red Sox 4-1.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Justin Smoak's days with the Seattle Mariners may be numbered.

Anytime a team acquires a new player, there is going to be a domino effect that impacts other individuals on the roster. Now that the Mariners have acquired Kendrys Morales, someone may be losing their job in the future.

There are a few different scenarios when it comes to roster spots and positions on the field.

Assume that Morales may be occupying first base on a regular basis in 2013. Or, he may be the designated hitter on some days. Morales was the DH in 92 games for the Los Angeles Angels in 2012.

The decision of where to play Morales will be influenced by how the Mariners want to handle the tandem of John Jaso and Jesus Montero. If Montero stays behind the plate, there may be some room for a first baseman like Smoak.

However, if the Mariners have faith in Montero's bat and eventually want to move him away from playing catcher, this may impact player time, particularly at DH. Montero played 56 games at catcher in 2012, while playing 78 games at DH.

To keep John Jaso and his .276 average (2012) in the lineup, he may need to play some catcher or trade time with Montero, like he did last year.

Therefore, you may have Morales at first while Montero and Jaso split time at catcher and DH.

Where do you put Smoak?

The rest of your infield of arguably set with Kyle Seager at third, Dustin Ackley at second and either Brendan Ryan or Robert Andino at shortstop. None of those positions really suit Smoak anyway.

Smoak may not have a place to go.

Can you put Smoak in the outfield? Unfortunately for Justin, he has never played in the outfield, and there is already a logjam in the open spaces of Safeco Field.

Saunders. Gutierrez. Bay.

Add in Liddi, Carp, Wells, Peguero and any other hot bat that might be lurking in Tacoma.

Not much room for another player in the outfield. Oh, and there are rumors (via NBC Sports) that the Mariners are chasing Raul Ibanez.

Another potential outfielder.

It would be different if Justin Smoak was a valuable hitter that was worth a spot in the lineup on a regular basis. Unfortunately, his stats over the last two years have looked like this:

2011: .234, 15 home runs, 105 strikeouts, 123 games
2012: .217, 19 home runs, 111 strikeouts, 132 games

Obviously, you can apply different what-if scenarios to Justin Smoak. What if 2013 is his breakout year where he hits .275 with 30 home runs? What if moving in the fences benefits someone like Smoak the most?

What the Mariners get rid of him and he becomes the next Adam Jones?

Then again, what if the Mariners keep giving him time in the lineup and he hits .225 for the year?

Sure, Seattle could put Smoak on the bench, platoon him or keep him as insurance if someone gets hurt.

Then again, maybe Justin Smoak will never live up to the hype. Perhaps the consolation prize from the Cliff Lee trade will never be that much of a consolation.

Kendrys Morales may have cost Justin Smoak his roster spot.