Seattle Mariners: Is the Franklin Gutierrez Era Over?

Brad HinkleContributor IJune 16, 2011

SEATTLE - JUNE 15:  Franklin Gutierrez #21 of the Seattle Mariners uses his bat as a faux microphone as he sings along with music played over the public address system during batting practice prior to the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Safeco Field on June 15, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Every now and then you come across a player who can dazzle you with his defense, in the outfield Mariner fans have been spoiled by the talents of Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro Suzuki for the last two decades.

Today we get to watch the exciting and steady defense of Franklin Gutierrez, or Guti or Death to Flying Things, as he is called around these parts. Over the past couple seasons we have been entertained, and he has grown from being a mere part of the JJ Putz three-team trade to being a local icon.

However, it is my belief that soon, possibly as soon as this year's trade deadline, Franklin Gutierrez will either be out of town or not starting for us anymore, and truth be told, the team would probably be better for it.

The Mariners are in the middle of a youth movement that has seen us call up Greg Halman, Carlos Peguero and Mike Carp to the active roster, all who have made their cases for being given playing time in our major league lineup.

And lately we have seen Guti sit for Halman more than once. Peguero has already been shifted to our DH spot, where his mighty swing can be deployed with regularity, and we have seen Mike Carp, a converted infielder, rob a home run ball with a catch at the wall and hit better than I had expected.

Just last night, Greg Halman, who started this MLB stint by going 6-7 and playing nice defense, smacked a home run out to center at Safeco field. So in 22 MLB at-bats this season not only has he hit a homer and for a high average, but he has tied Franklin Gutierrez (83 AB) in homers, has one more triple (Guti has zero) and already has three RBI to Franklin's six.

Day by day, game by game, Franklin Gutierrez is playing his way off this team at the plate.

Astonishing defense in center field is good and all, but Halman is no defensive slouch, and he is making the lifetime .259 hitter, Gutierrez, look more like an overall liability than an asset, as he is standing in the way of another young player hitting at a torrid pace, all the while batting a paltry .193 and looking more lost at the plate than Chone Figgins ever was at any given point this season or last.

I believe that by the trade deadline, it is likely that he will be packaged in a deal with one of our starting pitchers and possibly a prospect in a trade with either Florida or Cleveland, as both teams are in need of starting pitching depth, and we are in need of one last outfielder that can hit.

I honestly believe we come out of a deal at the deadline with a player like Grady Sizemore, a local product who may have some injury history but is a historically reliable bat with pop who will complete our outfield, Greg Halman being the primary backup to all outfield positions in this scenario.

So, while it's true that the Death to Flying Things era is still relatively young and while it may be hard to give up Franklin, I believe that in both the short and long term, he is the primary factor holding this team back, and that his departure is becoming more and more imminent with every poor at-bat he puts up.


Other Possible Trade Deadline Outcomes

Ty Wiggington Col (3B,2B,1B) plus prospects / In a trade for one of our starting pitchers, would be a reliable bat out of our offensive black hole position (3B) assuming Chone Figgins isn't heating up by the deadline. 

Mike Stanton Flo (CF/RF) / Some Blockbuster trade for a top prospect wouldn't be too shabby, Florida seems to be exploring moving one of their outfielders for more minor league depth and MLB starting pitching

Carlos Beltran NYM (CF/RF/LF) plus possible prospects / Wouldn't take a ton to get, provides instant power upgrade, may be a bit of a defensive liability but those problems shouldn't be TOO bad as long as we don't play him in CF like the Mets are currently.