Nick Franklin at #5 OF
Yu gotta be kiddin' me


Ryan Divish at the Seattle Times reports that Nick Franklin took 2 innings in RF.  Ryan isn't pleased.  Let's give a "roundtable" (as opposed to "debate") style followon.


By the way, when Geoff Baker was beat writer for the Times, he'd link to SSI frequently, and with gusto.  This is because SSI is :: ahem, adjusts tie :: the best Seattle site for info-taining baseball analysis.  

Since Baker left and Divish took over, we notice that the Times has reverted to follow every other "mainstream" outlet -- the Times' "editorial links" (those in the text of articles) now point to everyplace in Seattle except Seattle Sports Insider.

This bemuses Dr. D.  He has never quite understood the persona non grata treatment, but it has been persisting for at least five years now.  Usually the insinuation is that Blog X does not have material of sufficient quality to merit linkage.  But even USSM would not attempt to take that position vis-a-vis Seattle Sports Insider.

So, like we say, the reasons for the persona non grata mode remain opaque to Dr. D.  Obviously it never did Geoff Baker any harm, to put us on the marquee.  For our part, it's a curiosity.  :: shrug :: Another year of "Bill James 1981" treatment?  We're in good company.  ;- )

As you know, SSI is not small-minded, so we reiterate that we like Divish.  We'll continue to link to him whenever such is of benefit to our audience.


Let's speak cordially here ...  Ryan is unimpressed with the Franklin OF thingy because:

"It will be remembered as the game that Nick Franklin played two innings of right field.

Yes, something that some people clamored for has happened. Nick Franklin was in the outfield. Apparently, he’s been catching fly balls the past few days. He didn’t have a ball hit to him in the two innings of action. But he looked solid in warm-ups.

What does this mean? I have no idea.

“We’re tinkering with it,” manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Not sure I can, or want to, write a ton on this. I guess I understand the move. But it’s a move that should have been done much sooner. It was clear that Brad Miller was winning the shortstop job from about the fourth week on. This seems a little bit last second. But who knows.

I do think some people are overestimating Franklin’s value as an offensive player based on 2/3 of a season. That happens.

Franklin has yet to prove he’s a good defensive player at second base – though he has the potential to be. Most scouts still don’t believe he’s a shortstop. And now you are adding a third position for him to work on. This isn’t a Ben Zobrist situation because Franklin isn’t developed enough to play him in the MLB outfield right now. The Mariners also lack the positional versatility."


In other words, it's a goofy idea because (1) Nick Franklin is no ball of fire to begin with.  Here you've got a questionable player to start with, and now you're (2) making it more difficult for him to succeed.  And you're in this situation because (3) you didn't plan well.

Divish isn't alone in this analysis.  It's a reasonable position to take.  Some SSI readers would refine this argument by saying, "Franklin IS a questionable player against LHP's, and that's who you would have him in the OF against."

Franklin, purchasing an outfielder's glove with less than a week to go before They Hit the Lights... that IS a bit cattywampus.  If you want to argue that Franklin deserves 120 games at shortstop in AAA, you've got an argument.


Dr's Diagnosis


For me, the charge of "poor planning" ... that one doesn't stick.  Billy Beane is liable to stick Jack Cust in center field in May.  That's because baseball seasons are dynamic -- you don't know whether Corey Hart is going on the DL, you don't know whether Nick Franklin is going to look Super Awesome in spring training, etc.

You know what, gentlemen, you don't know what your 25-man roster is until Opening Day.  And that's the way it should be.

Franklin flat-out made the team.  Now they're being agile about it.  You try to plan as much as you can, but do you follow your December 15 script all the way through the All-Star Break?



The charge of "questionable player" ... Okay.

Your visceral reaction to this move is going to correlate directly to how excited you are about Nick Franklin.  If you see him as a budding star, you're going to applaud the attempt to get him onto the roster.  If you see him as something more like Jeff Clement, you're going to roll your eyes.

The Mariners see him as a budding star.  They resisted the urge to trade him for a #5 starter.  I've got to side with them on this one.



You do realize that the Mariners, as constructed, have exactly four (4) outfielders.  

You do realize this would mean that Stefen Romero cannot DH against left hand pitchers -- for example, on Opening Day, against C.J. Wilson.  McClendon would rather stick needles in his eyes, than --- > see an injury force his DH to the field and --- > (heaven forbid!) a pitcher have to take an at-bat.  GASP!

And no, Romero has not been given a full-time platoon scenario in RF; on Opening Day, it's Almonte CF and Saunders RF.  (Granted, Romero will win at least a platoon role in the very near term.... )

Nick Franklin being theoretically available in the OF, in McClendon's mind, that gives you Stefen Romero DH against LHP's.  Such as on Opening Day.



I dunno how good Franklin would be in RF.  Relative to Corey Hart?  ... hmmmm ...

Edit to add, Divish has an "agile" followup with Franklin quotes as to Nick's attitude about playing outfield.



As to making things more difficult for Nick:  

  • In the abstract, yes.  With 80%, 90% of players, yes.
  • In the specific case of Nick Franklin, no.  He is a fish in water at shortstop.

Sometimes, kiddies, it's just a question of "Who is our best 25?"  Down in the clubhouse, it looks weird to send out a really good player and keep ahold of a bad one.  Everybody goes, "Hunh?!"



Against Justin Verlander, Yu Darvish, and Max Scherzer, I kinda like the OF of Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, and Nick Franklin.  Then you got yer infield against him too.  They could put one whale of a righty-bashing lineup out there ... South Side Hit Men, indeed.  :- )


This debate isn't cut-and-dried.  You can reasonably take either side, I think.  But Dr. D is, once again this spring, thrilled with the M's dynamism, agility, and emphasis on talent.

Beane would have Franklin out there in a heartbeat, baby.


Pick yer poison,

Dr D





pointsette's picture

franklin is an athlete. I thought his defense was better than Miller - the hitch is franklin is a switch hitter and he is working on the rhs. The kid has two roles as an offensive player. IMHO twice as valuable. Stats on the rhs is good this year .333.
Divish is new to town and really hasn't gotten his feet wet. I find him somewhat a little more informative than geoff baker, but not much.

M-Pops's picture

Stuff the 25-man with as many MLB weapons as you can and let the weird, unpredictable 162-game season decide who gets what ABs.
This also is consistent with the message that the best players will play. No petted favorites. We have Willie on this team so that such "wild" risks and experiments can be taken.


...strikes me as rather short-sighted and "east coast"ish. A Yankee beat writer will look at Pineda and say "meh...what have you done for my big-league club lately"...someone paying an attention at all knows that Nick Franklin is enormously talented, intelligent, and hard-working...and is doing a nice job making adjustments and learning on the job.
Give me Franklin. I don't really care how "poor" the planning was (I think this is signaling that Hart is going to the DL and hat they don't like what they see in Morrison in the OF).
vs. RHP: LF) Ackley SS) Miller 2B) Cano DH) Morrison 1B) Smoak 3B) Seager CF) Saunders RF) Franklin C) Zunino
vs. LHP: CF) Almonte LF) Bloomquist 2B) Cano C) Zunino DH) Romero SS) Miller 1B) Smoak RF) Franklin 3B) Seager


Actually we had 5 1/2 OF's, as constructed. Ackley-Almonte-Saunders-Romero and Willie Ballgame. And 1/2 of an OF for Morrison. So you could have DH'ed Romero w/o worry of the P actually batting. Franklin makes 6.5, depending on who goes to Tacoma. And there isn't any guarantee that Franklin isn't still going down (nor is there any guarantee he gets much RF time once the season begins). I think Romero has established that he can bash a bit, he isn't going down and I think he's getting quite a few PA's early in the season. Franklin staying up depends on Hart and the DL'ing....and on what we do with Morrision. Matt, BTW, I can't agree that Franklin has automatically become our fulltime RF. He got TWO innings a night ago then played the whole game at 2B today. There wasn't much urgency in getting him more OF reps.
BTW, I do like that Tenbrink got a look-see again today. After his knock today, he's 6 for 12 during ST. That guy can hit RHP!
Also BTW, the fact that we (evidently) didn't trade for a RHB OF such as Tabata or Vicedo (assuming both were available for Franklin) indicates that we have some confidence in Romero's bat. And Blash's, perhaps. Perhaps such a trade is still in the works, if so, then showing off Franklin's versatility is no bad thing.
But I think a DL stint for Hart allows Franklin and LoMo to shakes things out.
Did you notice that Romero played a bit of 1B today? Without Hart and minus LoMo, then Romero (as currently configured) would be next in that line.
And this is interesting: LoMo has 1072 career PA's vRHP: His OPS is .786, with individual years of .797, .827, .723, .778. Smoak has 1313 career vR PA's. His OPS is .720, with individual years of .691, .716, .627, .839. Even I'm a bit more confident that Smoak has jumped a plateau, but I'm not shipping Morrison anywhere until Smoak has proven that in real '14 games. And Morrison is a year younger than Smoak. Did you realize that?

OBF's picture

Franklin is a good enough hitter and prospect to get ken Griffy junior and baseball america (top 100 several year s in a row) excites but gives divish an overall "meh"
I think that says more about divish than it does about franklin or anyone else's opinion of Franklin's chances... ;)


I'd written the LoMo experiment off, and figured Bloomquist was 90% infield, but ... right.  By the standards of "Nick Franklin as emergency RF" then certainly LoMo and Bloomquist fit that criterion already.
:: daps ::


I've seen more people talk down about Franklin after his "disappointing" OPS+ of 96 last year. Fact of the matter, an OPS+ of 96 in your first taste is pretty doggone good. For a 1B/ COF, it should be respected. As the 2B he was, people should have been absolutely giddy about it -- especially following the ~150 wRC+ with 3:2 BB:K he put up in AAA. They weren't, however. The guy outhit Wil "best offensive prospect" Myers in AAA in pure performance and peripherals and no one realizes it.
Even if he were to never play the infield again, he's got plenty of bat to profile well in the OF.


RE:Also BTW, the fact that we (evidently) didn't trade for a RHB OF such as Tabata or Vicedo (assuming both were available for Franklin) indicates that we have some confidence in Romero's bat. - See more at:
I'd say it's much more an indication that the team realizes neither Tabata nor Viciedo are even close to being worth what Franklin is. If Zdurenciek had made a trade like that, I, and many others, would have appropriately flipped a lid. I'd bet $20 that Franklin outhits Viciedo by a mile and is a better defender in the OF. And while Tabata may would be the favorite for this year, Franklin's can play the MIF and has a higher ceiling.

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