Wassell: What should Mariners do when Robinson Canó returns? Put Dee Gordon back in CF
This is as enjoyable a baseball season as I’ve personally experienced in 14 years.
Each time we look at the standings, there are the Mariners right above the world champion Astros. Better yet, every day this week the Angels and their injured hype-machine, Shohei Ohtani, are left further and further behind.
But there is a dilemma. A small one that we’ll have to figure out in about a month and a half.
Robinson Canó will be returning at some point in August. Where’s he gonna play? Things seem to be working pretty well with Dee Gordon back at his natural position of second base and Guillermo Heredia in center field. Why mess with that?
Well, because you have to mess with it a little. No matter what their record is in Canó’s absence, when given the option to put his bat in the lineup, you’re gonna take it.
General manager Jerry Dipoto commented to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick on this very issue earlier in the week. He allows for some “time-sharing” but also says something about Dee not being able to “go play center field for a month-and-a-half and then say, ‘Oh, by the way, you’re going to go play second base in the biggest game of your career when you just haven’t been out there.”
Why not? He’s already done it twice.
When Gordon was acquired, he had basically no experience as a center fielder, but he learned the position pretty quickly and did a decent job for the first month and a half of the season. Then, when Canó got himself suspended, Gordon went right back to second base without missing a beat.
Does the idea that it’s a “big game” change the way he might play if another defensive switch is made in October? It’s hard for me to believe that the defense of a veteran player like Gordon would go to pieces because the moment was too big.
There is a solution! When Dipoto talks about “time-sharing,” this is what I hope he means: When Canó returns, put him back at 2B, Gordon in CF, and move Heredia to the bench. Ryon Healy stays at first base.
Look, Healy is a low OBP guy, but he’s got some power and seems to come through in big moments. I don’t want that to go away because all of a sudden he wasn’t getting enough reps. Plus, he’s good with the glove and radiates positive energy in that dugout. When mid-to-late September rolls around, depending on where they are in the standings (like Dipoto said), then you can start to work Gordon back in at second base to the point where he’s comfortable going into October. It’s actually pretty simple.
My co-host Bob Stelton suggested that Canó might be able to play some third, shortstop or first because he’s athletically gifted enough to do so. I agree, but let’s only go there sporadically or in the event that someone’s injured. Moving Gordon to CF – a position he’s already demonstrated he can play – makes more sense than risking a learning curve with Cano every day at multiple positions in the infield.
As I write this sentence, Mitch Haniger just hit a walkoff HR to sweep away the Angels. Bring on Boston and New York. I love this team.