== Wither Goeth Little Nicky? ==
I can’t say with absolute certainty that I was the first or only prospect analyst to put Brad Miller ahead of Nick Franklin, but I can say that Baseball America didn’t (Franklin 5, Miller 9); mlb.com didn’t (Franklin 3, Miller 9); Jon Sickles didn’t (Franklin 5, Miller 6 — he was closest); and fangraphs.com’s Marc Hulet didn’t (Franklin 4, Miller 8).
So the relative (but not absolute) Franklin-skepticism from this space is not new.
[For those of you less familiar with what I’ve been up to the last few years: I also have longstanding relative skepticism about Stefen Romero, Patrick Kivlehan and, now, Tyler Marlette. On the other side of the coin, I have been a relatively aggressive early adopter of Ji-Man Choi, Carson Smith, Dominic Leone and Chris Taylor. I was very wrong about Vinnie Catricala and very right about Alex Liddi. You can, as they say, look it up.]
So I was not stunned to see the Mariners deprive Franklin of a long-term opportunity to play second base by signing Robinson Cano.
Now the question is: what happens next?
- The story line is that Franklin will compete with Miller in spring training for the starting shortstop job, but most folks seem to concur that Miller ought to prevail.
- Given that Nelson Cruz is gone and the Mariners seem to have cooled, for now, on the notion of signing another bat there might be room on the 25-man roster for Franklin as a backup infielder and bench bat. I actually like that idea, but Jack Zduriencik seems to think that’s unlikely.
- He says it’s because the loser needs to play every day somewhere, but the probable reason he thinks that’s unlikely is that he’s already working on trade scenarios, as has been widely rumored and as Jack Z indeed admits. In fact, he says he could have done a trade already, but he wanted to wait and let the new coaching staff evaluate the players first.
If Franklin ends up at AAA, it will be the third time that the club has chosen Miller over Franklin as the shortstop of the future. He’s not going down there to hope one last do-over in which he’ll beat Miller out. It will be only because the club is biding time for the right trade scenario.
So how do we evaluate Franklin circa 2014? What kind of player and/or trade commodity is he right now?
Let’s take a look!