Tonight the Mariners announced that they signed INF Miguel Cairo (70) to a one-year contract. He is expected to team with INF Willie Bloomquist (68) to form a super-sub duo from the bench that should, in the words of Bill Bavasi, "allow Mac more flexibility to use Miguel or Willie earlier in a game, if he wants, and still be covered late."
Essentially, Bloomquist and Cairo are the same player, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Both are not exactly feared hitters, but possess good speed and the ability to defend multiple positions. They are both the kind of guys a team wants on their bench. Indeed, the flexibility John McLaren has with these two guys is a nice luxury to have.
With all that said, this deal is a mistake. Assuming the Mariners starting 9 is set (which it is), and that they carry a 12-man pitching staff (which appears highly likely), they will only be able to carry 4 bench players. Bloomquist, Cairo, and Jamie Burke (69) will be three of them, leaving only one more spot. Since all of them are right-handed, it seems likely that the last bench member will be left-handed, which points towards C Jeff Clement (70/85) as the front-runner. That is a nice bench, and I do not have any problems with any of those players. The problem is that none of them are INF Mike Morse (69/81).
First of all, Morse would be a good bench player. He is a decent hitter, certainly good enough for pinch-hitting duties. He also can defend a number of positions. Of particular importance though, Morse is out of minor league options, so he must make the 25-man roster or be placed on waivers. Clement could be sent down, but I do not see McLaren carrying an all right-handed hitting bench. So, it looks like the Mariners are prepared to let Morse go for absolutely nothing, because I would be surprised if he cleared waivers.
Miguel Cairo is a good bench player, and many teams would have been wise to pick him up. However, the Mariners are not one of those teams. They already had a good bench duo in Bloomquist and Morse, and anyone who does not think that Morse has more upside than Cairo at this point in their careers is a fool. Morse is not an elite prospect, but he is good enough to be a quality sub right now, and he has the chance to develop into a solid everyday player. Maybe Morse is now free to be offered in a trade for someone else, like SP Erik Bedard (96), but I doubt that is what the M's have in mind.
Players as good as Mike Morse are not an endangered species, but they also are not a dime a dozen. A player of his caliber should not be thrown away, especially in favor of an aging reserve infielder.