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Are the Mariners rushing Mike Zunino?

Otto Greule Jr

From Geoff Baker's reaction to the reaction to the Mariners calling up Mike Zunino:

Quite the firestorm erupted yesterday when the Mariners called up top catching prospect Mike Zunino from Class AAA. Those who work in the blossoming internet cottage industry of so-called "prospect evaluation" were largely up in arms over the move, saying it was done too quickly. In fact, one of the more intriguing ideas put forward was that the move was designed strictly to save the jobs of Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Eric Wedge.

Baker's too polite to actually call anyone out specifically. But I'm going to guess he read, among other things, Dave Cameron's U.S.S. Mariner post, in which Cameron wrote, "Well, here’s act one of the 'I Don’t Want To Get Fired' playbook; the Mariners have decided to call up Mike Zunino from Tacoma ... this is a hail mary to try and save some jobs."

Cameron's real point, which he gets to later in the post, is that Zunino's not ready to save anybody's jobs, because he doesn't yet have the requisite plate discipline. Baker's real point is that ... we'll here's the crux:

In fact, the evidence suggests this wasn't a spur-of-the-moment decision borne of desperation.

If that was the case, the Mariners would have called Zunino up right away when Jesus Sucre got hurt last week...

That's what men trying to save their jobs first and foremost would have done. But that's not what has happened, with either of those young players, or Zunino.

Initially, the team figured Sucre would only be out a few days and they could get away with a living, breathing guy in a catcher's uniform named Brandon Bantz. But when circumstances changed, Sucre went on the disabled list and the Mariners were forced to actually use Bantz in a major league game - lest Kelly Shoppach collapse on the field - the initial approach had to change.

The Mariners got away with using Bantz once. But there was no way they could keep doing it multiple times per week.

Boy, when Brandon Bantz becomes a superstar, I'll bet he doesn't ask Geoff Baker to ghost-write his memoirs.

I think I'm siding with Baker on this one. Cameron's right about Zunino's bat; he's going to swing and miss at a lot of breaking balls over the next few months. But is he significantly better than Brandon Bantz or just about anybody else the Mariners might find without making a real trade? Yeah, he probably is.

Zduriencik and Wedge have made their share of mistakes, but I don't believe that either is foolish enough to believe Mike Zunino's going to save their asses. I think this is simply a matter of needing a catcher, and dipping into the minors for the best available catcher. But if Zunino hits a few bombs and the fans have something to cheer about?

There are worse things, for sure.

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