The Sweeney Situation

Mike Sweeney
Mike Sweeney refuses to cool down. He is still hitting almost .700, flashing extra-base power along the way. If intangibles matter at all, Sweeney beats anyone this side of Griffey. Sweeney's role on last year's team can't be ignored either. How could an established veteran, and core member of the clubhouse, bat .700 in the spring and not make the ballclub?

Here is how. The Mariners will carry 13 or 14 position players. Casey Kotchman, Jose Lopez, Jack Wilson, Chone Figgins, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Ichiro, Ken Griffey Jr, and a couple catchers are definitely on the team. That's 10 of the slots taken. At least one spare outfielder, and one spare infielder will be kept. That brings the total to 12 spots spoken for, none of which Mike Sweeney can fill.

Let's assume the spare outfielder is Eric Byrnes, and the spare infielder Jack Hannahan. That leaves Ryan Langerhans, Ryan Garko, Matt Tuiasosopo, and Mike Sweeney battling for one or two roster spots.

Tui can go down to AAA, and he might even benefit from a little more seasoning. So, let's take him out of the competition. The question becomes the pecking order between Langerhans, Garko, and Sweeney.

As far as defense goes, it's pretty easy to say that Langerhans is the best, Garko next best, and Sweeney the worst. Offensively, Sweeney and Garko are somewhat comparable, and Langerhans a step below both of them.

I'm glad I won't have to make the decision. It's going to be tough with how well Sweeney has performed, and what he does in the clubhouse. Players are professionals, but they are still people. I would be disappointed if I was a player and Sweeney didn't make the team, especially after a killer spring.

Is that enough to keep Sweeney though?

It might be if Eric Byrnes looks good enough to cover center field. Otherwise, Ryan Langerhans almost certainly takes a spot, and that might squeeze Sweeney out.

Cliff Lee's suspension situation is a significant deal too. The Mariners might be forced to start the season with 12 pitchers because of it, and the roster spot sacrificed might be the one Sweeney has a chance at.

One thing is for certain. Mike Sweeney has done everything he can to make the Mariners. I am interested to see how much he plays as the regulars get on the field more. It might be telling of what Wak is leaning towards doing.

I thought Mike Sweeney had no chance of making the Mariners, but he can't be ignored at this point.