Seattle Mariners: Mike Carp's Struggles Mirror the M's Bigger Issues

Thomas HolmesCorrespondent IIIJune 13, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - MAY 07:  Left fielder Mike Carp #20 of the Seattle Mariners makes a sliding catch on a ball hit by Brennan Boesch #26 of the Detroit Tigers at Safeco Field on May 7, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Left field at Safeco Field, a place where fly balls and talent dies. 

The latest victim?  Mike Carp.

According to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, Carp will be headed to the 15-day disabled list, but even before this move it was clear that he was struggling this year.

Oddly enough it was around this time last year that Carp came up from the minors and over the season's second half turned out to be one of the M's more pleasant surprises.   

This year, after locking up the starting outfield gig at the end of spring training, it's been all downhill. 

Before most of us had even woke up to find out the score of the M's season opener in Tokyo, Carp had already sprained his right shoulder and immediately went on the DL the next day.  Making matters worse, the journey back to Seattle took longer than expected with a rough start at Triple-A Tacoma, but by early May he was back with the big club.

In more than a month's time since coming back Carp has four home runs, but little else to show for his efforts. 

Now with a return to the DL, what does the future hold for Carp?

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Hard to say right now as the Mariners' outfield situation continues to present more questions than answers. 

The only given, for better or worse, is Ichiro. 

On the bright side for the M's, Michael Saunders has taken his chance to play everyday and hasn't looked back. Yet will he be able to sustain that effort over the course of a full season and beyond?

Meanwhile how will Franklin Gutierrez respond in his return to Seattle after recovering from his injury suffered in spring training?

Beyond that we're looking at spare parts like Casper Wells and Chone Figgins to fill the gaps. 

If we take the positive approach by assuming that Carp is for real and just off to a bad start, it technically shouldn't be too hard for him to distinguish himself within that group.

Yet for Carp to come back and put together a solid second half to the season, it would probably mean that either Gutierrez or Saunders flamed out some time over the course of the next month or so.

So then what should we be rooting for moving forward?

Once again this is the problem of having Ichiro play every day.  I'm not saying Ichiro should sit all that often, but once a week or every 10 days could help provide a spot in the lineup occasionally to someone like Carp.

More than ever this team needs answers to some very important questions...

Are any of the following players (Saunders, Carp, Casper Wells, Alex Liddi, Trayvon Robinson, etc.) capable of starting in the outfield for this ballclub either this year or over the next few years?

Can Franklin Gutierrez get up to speed fast enough to be worthy of trading at the deadline?

How much longer do we need to watch Chone Figgins disappoint both at the plate and in the field?

Which one of the two has staying power?
Which one of the two has staying power?Rich Schultz/Getty Images

And why exactly can't Ichiro take a day off once in a while?

I'd imagine we will get answers to some of these questions in the coming weeks.  Yet it's the first question that has the greatest long-term impact and will probably be the easiest for the team to delay taking action on or simply ignore. 

Somebody needs to take control of the situation and fast. 

But who is steering the ship?

It's unfortunate for Carp, who finally got his big break last season, to see his position in jeopardy right now, but in some ways we're all in the same boat with him the way things are going. 

While I hate to single him out, Carp sadly represents so much of what this team hasn't achieved this season.  With the exceptions of Kyle Seager and Michael Saunders, has anyone else matched or exceeded expectations?

I know it's only June, but right now half of Seattle is mourning the loss of the Sonics while the other half is wondering who Pete Carroll will plug in at quarterback for the Seahawks; meanwhile the Mariners continue to take on water.

I'm hoping things work out, but please...somebody, anybody...send us a sign.  And no, six pitchers throwing a no-hitter is not what we need here...