By Miles Liatos Sports Radio KJR
When the hitting is as poor as the Mariners have shown this season, it isn’t feasible to stay the course. Something needs to change.
Enter Robert Andino. Exit Brendan Ryan.
The Mariners removed Brendan Ryan from the starting lineup last week, replacing him with Robert Andino in hopes the 29-year old shortstop could produce more in the batter’s box. Ryan was batting a mere .143 when the decision was made. Although the Mariners have many problems in their hitting lineup, batting .242 as a team currently, the move has precedent in other organizations.
Enter Steve Phillips, the former GM of the New York Mets. Phillips was faced with a similar situation in New York when his defensive star Rey Ordóñez struggled at the plate.
But there was a big difference between that Mets team and the Mariners of today.
“I had enough of an offense as a team to be able to make up for that, that I could justify carrying that bat in the lineup,” Phillips said.
John Olerud, Robin Ventura, and Edgardo Alfonso comprised the Mets’ lineup along with Catcher Mike Piazza. The combination de-magnified Ordóñez’s poor production because the team was able to surround him with potential baserunners. Although Ordóñez failed to secure many hits, his at-bats could support the lineup with bunts and hit-and-runs that could at least advance the runner(s).
Ryan comes close to an obsolete offensive player in the M’s offense. However, his production is compounded by the few baserunners the Mariners produce elsewhere in the lineup.
He may be the best defensive shortstop in the league, but his bat may never have a significant role on the team.
“When you’re challenged to score runs, defense doesn’t matter,” Phillips said. “You can play great defense but if you’re scoring one or two runs a game, you’re just not going to win because defense is not going to hold down the other team that much at the major league level.”
Andino has hit relatively well in Ryan’s absence. He has batted .286 in the last seven days. He also hit a triple in a 2-for-3 performance against the Angels April 26.
As long as Andino continues this pattern to some extent, Ryan will stay the course.
On the bench.
Listen to the full interview with Steve Phillips below.