The Seattle Mariners went out and aggressively added players this off-season in an effort to add some much-needed offense to their lineup. All those extra bodies, however, have created a bit of a logjam trying to figure out how everyone will get on the field. Manager Eric Wedge cleared it up a little bit last week, but the question that remains unanswered is what will happen with Casper Wells?
Wells came to Seattle in 2011 in the trade that sent Doug Fister to the Detroit Tigers. In three seasons in the major leagues, the 28-year old Wells has shown league average or better offensive skills while playing plus defense in the outfield at all three positions. He hasn’t gotten a lot of opportunities, so the sample size is still very small, but there’s nothing to indicate he isn’t the excellent defender he appears to be. While he certainly isn’t going to turn into a superstar, he’s a solid option that can consistently deliver both at the plate and in the field.
But he may not get the opportunity to show that in Seattle this season. With the addition of Jason Bay, Michael Morse and Raul Ibanez, the outfield picture starts to get pretty crowded when you factor in returning starters Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders. The M’s seem determined to add bigger bats to the order, so Wells is most likely doomed to sit behind the all-or-nothing plate approach of the new Seattle sluggers.
While Wells isn’t going to lead the team in home runs anytime soon, he brings a slightly more even approach to the plate and can contribute in more ways than the long ball. Plus, he isn’t a defensive liability in the field. That’s not something that Morse, likely the Opening Day left fielder for the M’s, can say as he brings a reputation as a horrendous fielder with him from the Washington Nationals. And nobody would mistake Bay or Ibanez for Gold Glove candidates either.
The Mariners are determined to bring a bigger, flashier offense to Safeco Field in 2013, and the change in philosophy is understandable. However, will adding more guys swinging for the fences do more harm than good when the defense isn’t as good and the offense, though flashier, is even less consistent?
The argument can be made the Casper Wells is as good for the overall welfare of the team as any of the additions Seattle made to play corner outfield next season. The team, however, doesn’t believe in Wells enough to get him significant playing time. Will they regret it?