Seattle Mariners: What to Do When Franklin Gutierrez Returns

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IMay 8, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, Seattle Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, finally ending the search to identify his mysterious injury.

Guti is now in Tacoma looking to get his timing back, and while I'm not a doctor nor do I play one on TV, it seems that he is healthy enough to be back in Seattle very soon. Only one question really remains.

What do the Mariners do when Gutierrez is ready to return?

As far as roster space goes, the only real option seems to be sending down a reliever. Currently, the Mariners are going with essentially a four-man bullpen of Jamey Wright, Aaron Laffey, David Pauley and Brandon League. Chris Ray, Tom Wilhelmsen and now Dan Cortes are there too, but they aren't being used all that much. If I were a betting man, and I am, I would bet that Chris Ray gets sent down, mostly because of how terribly ineffective he's been.

Okay, we've got Guti on the roster, now how do we get him into the lineup?

Does he replace Milton Bradley or Michael Saunders?

Now, both the payroll and history may point towards keeping Bradley in left, but after tonight's performance against the White Sox, I've finally had enough.

Milton Bradley is a poison. It's as simple as that.

I lost count of the number of times that Bradley, looking uninterested in left field, let a fly ball—a fly ball that could have been caught with any type of hustle—drop in front of him. And then there was the Alex Rios single down the left field line that Bradley took a horrible, lazy route towards. The ball drifted past him and allowed Rios to get into scoring position.

This has become too common of an occurrence this year for Bradley—that is, when he is actually in the lineup. 

Bradley has already lived up to potential this year, getting tossed from two games and suspended for another. Classic Milton.

If he was actually hitting like he has in the past, Seattle might look past all his other troubles. However, he is hitting just .215 with two home runs on the year. This certainly isn't the production the Mariners were looking to get out of their No. 3 hitter.

While Michael Saunders isn't doing any better at the plate (.184 average and one home run), he is at least contributing on the defensive end. He robbed a home run in tonight's game and has looked much better than Bradley in the field, even while handling a tougher position.

So, what we have is two players who are pretty much a wash at the plate, and one of those players is better defensively, has a better effect on the clubhouse and can actually control his temper.

I realize the Mariners are investing a lot of money into Bradley, but there is nothing he is doing right now that warrants him staying in the lineup when Gutierrez comes back. Bench him, send him down for reassignment, buy him out, trade him for a taco, I don't care.

Just make room, because Franklin Gutierrez is coming back.

 

Sources:

Baseball Reference

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