By Evan Seguirant
Special to 710Sports.com
MLB analyst Keith Law of ESPN.com joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Danny” on Friday to share his thoughts on the Mariners as they prepare to begin spring training. Here are some notes from the discussion:
ESPN’s Keith Law thinks the roster assembled by general manager Jack Zduriencik and skipper Lloyd McClendon is the third-best in the American League West. (AP)
• The team feels incomplete. When asked about the Mariner’s progress this offseason, Law said, “I don’t know if this is necessarily the right direction because it feels like it’s incomplete. If you’re going to get Robinson Cano … then don’t you have to go out and spend to get another starter?” Law added that the American League West is a very tough division and that the Mariners need an arm to stabilize the middle of the rotation or a power-hitting corner outfielder/first baseman to seriously contend for a wild-card spot. At this point, Law believes the Mariners may be the third-best team in the division.
“This feels like we’ve got a business plan for the offseason,” Law said, “and they got to about page three or five and there’s still something left.”
• Zunino could be a franchise player. Law singled out catcher Mike Zunino and outfielder Logan Morrison as potential breakout candidates this season. “Zunino’s the easy one,” he said. “Incredibly talented, great makeup, I like his feel to hit, I think that he’s got more power than people have seen so far in pro ball.” Law added: “That’s a franchise player. I think he’s a guy that you build your lineup around offensively and defensively for the next five years.” Law said the key for Morrison is simply staying healthy: “I think he can hit, he’s disciplined, he’s got at least 20-homer power. It’s just that he’s never shown that ability to stay on the field for a full season.”
• Walker’s delivery is a concern. Of the Mariners’ early spring injuries, Law is most concerned with starting pitcher Taijuan Walker’s sore shoulder. “Walker’s delivery is very stiff, he finishes very upright, facing the plate as opposed to getting loose and extended over his front side,” he said. Law cited studies done by the American Sports Medicine Institute, which have found that pitchers with similarly stiff deliveries are more likely to develop shoulder problems.
• Franklin has trade value. Law thinks that infielder Nick Franklin can be a very good everyday player but will struggle to see playing time behind second baseman Robinson Cano and shortstop Brad Miller. However, Law thinks Franklin can be a valuable trade chip. “They need to convert him into something they can use,” he said. “You can’t play Franklin, Miller and Cano and I’m pretty sure Cano is going to play out of those three. That probably leaves Franklin as the odd-man out. They’ve got to flip him for something else that they need … carrying Franklin or sending him back to Triple-A, it’s the sense of incompleteness.” Law added that he would trade Walker and Franklin for Rays pitcher David Price.