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Middle Infield Set

Jack Wilson
In a mildly surprising announcement, Brendan Ryan will be the M's starting shortstop, and Jack Wilson the starting second basemen. This officially puts an end to any hope Dustin Ackley would open the season with the Mariners, though really that was gone before pitchers and catchers reported.

What's surprising is that Ryan is at short, and Wilson is at second. The last time the Mariners tried shifting someone to second base wasn't all that long ago. It was Chone Figgins, last year, and he was horrible. Figgins also had 793.2 innings at second before the M's switched him over, whereas Jack Wilson has no experience at all.

Maybe this should not be surprising though. Brendan Ryan has some experience at second base, but much less than Figgins had. Really, he has played sparingly at second over the course of his career. Neither Wilson nor Ryan has played second base regularly, so one of them was going to be outside their comfort zone. The Mariners decided to push out the guy that is older, with worse legs, and likely worse defense at this point. Honestly, as great as Wilson was, Ryan is probably better. He is that good.

The big subplot in all of this involves Ackley. He will open up in Tacoma, but he certainly is not finishing the year there. As of today, Jack Wilson is the one in line to get Wally Pipped.

On paper, Eric Wedge made the logical choice. Jack Wilson, being older, more injury-proned, and on a shorter contract, is easy to pick as the guy to keep Ackley's spot warm.

However, Jack is also batting well over .400 this spring, and he reportedly lost 20 pounds over the offseason. Whatever he did, it is apparent that he worked hard in the offseason, and has come into spring training and done everything he possibly could do. If there really had been an open competition at shortstop, Jack Wilson should be winning it as of right now.

That's why this decision doesn't sit very well with me. When the M's got Brendan Ryan, I thought he might be better than Wilson. I guess I should still be happy, but Jack Wilson should be rewarded for the work he has put in. What motivation is there for other guys on the team to compete if they think the powers-at-be make up their minds before seeing anything that happens on the field?

Players are professionals, so it's probably fair to say that my worries are overblown. Still, the 2011 Mariners aren't exactly oozing talent. They need the best they can get from everyone, and players are only human. Not everyone tries their hardest when they think that performance does not change the perception of them.

All things considered, would you have gone with Brendan Ryan at shortstop, and Jack Wilson at second base?