May 1st 2008 10:30AM by Will Brinson
Big changes went down with the Seattle Mariner starting lineup on Wednesday evening, as the M’s cut Brad Wilkerson and Dan Norton (no, no seriously, this is important) while calling up Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien. This seems like totally irrelevant news, but with the Mariners already 4.5 games behind the Angels, it shows some sense of desperation, but also a notion to trust the farm system that the team has built up. Although it’s mostly desperation.
Following Tuesday night’s 7-2 win over Cleveland, Mariners manager John McLaren suggested changes were imminent.
‘It was time,’ he said before Wednesday night’s game. ‘We haven’t had much going. We felt it was time to bring new blood in. I’m anxious to see these kids play.’
Clement and Balentien are both top prospects — ranks Clement first and Balentien fifth overall in the Mariners system — and Wilkerson and Norton are nothing but possibly-possessing-of-upside journeymen at this point.
But before dogging this as a win-now at all costs strategy, it’s worth pointing out that both guys are ready for the Show. Clement was posting .397/.535/.692 with five home runs and a 22:12 BB:K ratio in the Pacific Coast League, while Balentien, a Curacao native, was hitting .254/.329/.619 with six homers, three of which came in one game on Monday. He’s also already homered in the big leagues.
Clement is going to get full time work, combining to play DH and catcher every day. Balentien is going to start full time in right field. Both guys are fantasy worthy, especially in deep and keeper leagues. Clement is actually the more valuable prospect, simply because of his C eligibility and because Balentien might be a little closer to fellow Curacao native Andruw Jones. That’s a good or bad thing depending on whether you’re looking for power or average.