- Winter Preview----Seattle Mariners:
What they need: A first baseman; a third baseman; a veteran, part-time catcher; a power left field bat; a veteran starting pitcher.
Free agents: RHP Miguel Batista; LHP Erik Bedard; 3B Adrian Beltre; 1B Russell Branyan; OF Endy Chavez; 1B/DH Mike Sweeney
Batista didn't pitch all that badly out of the bullpen last season after a rotten 2008, but he's finishing up a big contract; is about to turn 39; and should get offers as a back-of-the-rotation starter or reliever somewhere. He won't be back.
Bedard was a disaster on and off the field after being acquired as the "final piece" of a contending puzzle for the Mariners before 2008. There's been talk that the Mariners want him back on a mutually advantageous contract, and with another type of person, I'd say that Bedard might feel he owes the Mariners something after his injuries and cantankerous behavior was such a train wreck, but he'll go elsewhere and the Mariners should say good riddance.
Beltre is a fine fielder and is a leader in the clubhouse. His power has "mysteriously" disappeared after a 48 homer year in 2004 with the Dodgers. He's in demand and won't be back.
Branyan had his career-year with the Mariners in 2009, but he's a journeyman with giant holes in his game (he strikes out too much and won't repeat his 31 homer campaign). He wants a 2-year deal, which the Mariners aren't going to give him. I'd advise Branyan to stay in Seattle where he finally had the success that's been predicted for him since his big league arrival 11 years ago. There's a good chance he'll be back.
Chavez blew out his knee in a collision with Yuniesky Betancourt in June. He might be back once he rehabs and proves he's healthy.
Sweeney is a veteran journeyman who's well-liked and can still hit a bit. He might be back.
Players available via trade: RHP David Aardsma; 3B/OF Bill Hall; RHP Felix Hernandez; RHP Brandon Morrow; RHP Carlos Silva
I've always liked Aardsma's arm and he put it all together at age 27, saving 38 games. After bouncing from the Giants to both Chicago teams and the Red Sox, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik and manager Don Wakamatsu turned Aardsma into a solid closer. That said, it could've been his career-year and if someone is hypnotized by the prospect of Aardsma having "figured it out" and offers something good for him, they should seriously consider moving him.
Hall is overpaid (almost $9 million guaranteed through next season) and his offensive production fell off the cliff after a 35 homer year with the Brewers in 2006. The only way he's moved is if the Mariners take back another contract like Mike Lowell. It's not out of the realm of possibility because there's a fit there.
Teams----especially the Yankees and Red Sox----are hovering around and trying to pry Hernandez away. He's supposedly not available, but a big enough offer and the willingness to take a rotten contract along with him might put him in play. Zduriencik is willing to do most anything. Hernandez is arbitration-eligible and depending on where the talks for a long-term contract go, he could be moved. I don't expect it, but...
Like the ghost of Jacob Marley floating above the head of Ebenezer Scrooge, Brandon Morrow may never live down the slender, diminutive and quirky hippie following him around. That would be the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner and Washington State native Tim Lincecum.
Through no fault of his own, Morrow has become the object of vitriol of fans and media members who ceaselessly remind the Mariners and Morrow himself that he was drafted five spots ahead of Lincecum in the 2006 draft. I'm on the record as saying that I would've taken Morrow as well. He was more of a prototype, had a cleaner motion and was the safer choice. Obviously, I would've been wrong.
I still believe in Morrow's ability. While the attention paid to the way Joba Chamberlain has been jerked around by the Yankees on the other coast, Morrow has been screwed with just as badly by the Mariners without the national exposure and debate. He's been a starter; he's been a closer; and he's living in the Lincecum shadow. He needs to get out of Seattle and I think both he and Zduriencik know this.
While I think Chamberlain belongs in the bullpen, Morrow can be a big-time starter. Similar to the Bedard fiasco, Zduriencik isn't constrained by having been the one to draft Morrow----it was a done by the previous administration----so he'll be more willing to move him. How would Morrow to the Mets for Mike Pelfrey look? To the Cardinals for Jason Motte?
I think Morrow's going to get traded and it's best for all involved.
You want Silva? He's yours. Owed $13.5 million guaranteed through next season, Silva has pitched about as poorly as a human being can pitch in his two years with the Mariners. I literally could've done just as badly (and probably better) for a fraction of the cost and I haven't picked up a baseball and thrown it with intent in 15 year; plus my elbow's shot. A 5-18 record with a 6.81 ERA and rotten across-the-board stats at that salary isn't just bad, it's embarrassing.
Non-tender candidates: OF Ryan Langerhans; LHP Jason Vargas; INF Josh Wilson
It seems so long ago that Langerhans and Jeff Francoeur were promoted as the Braves outfield cornerstones. Francoeur has since been traded to the Mets; and Langerhans has gone from the Braves to the Athletics, the Nationals and now the Mariners. He'll be non-tendered.
I'm not going into one of my usual rants about Jason Vargas. Suffice it to say that anyone who thinks Vargas has any use whatsoever as a big league pitcher either hasn't seen him pitch or doesn't know what they're talking about----he's not any good. If Zduriencik goes to arbitration with Vargas, he's out of his mind.
Wilson is a useful utility player, but you can find players like him under a rock.
Players to pursue:
Via free agency: 1B Adam LaRoche (Braves); LHP Doug Davis (Diamondbacks); 3B Melvin Mora (Orioles); OF Jason Bay (Red Sox); RHP Rich Harden (Cubs); C Ramon Castro (White Sox); RHP Jason Marquis (Rockies); 1B/3B Aubrey Huff (Orioles); LHP Jarrod Washburn (Tigers); SS/3B Miguel Tejada (Astros); 1B Nick Johnson (Marlins); C Miguel Olivo (Royals); 3B Chone Figgins (Angels); RHP John Lackey (Angels); RHP Jon Garland (Dodgers); LHP Randy Wolf (Dodgers); RHP Carl Pavano (Twins); 1B/DH Carlos Delgado (Mets); C Brian Schneider (Mets); LF Johnny Damon (Yankees); C Jose Molina (Yankees); RHP Justin Duchscherer (Athletics); 3B Pedro Feliz (Phillies); RHP Pedro Martinez (Phillies); RHP Brett Myers (Phillies); 3B Troy Glaus (Cardinals); C Gregg Zaun (Rays); 3B Hank Blalock (Rangers); C Rod Barajas (Blue Jays); RHP Ben Sheets
Depending on what happens with Branyan, there are viable alternatives if the Mariners aren't ready to trust Mike Carp as their everyday guy. Delgado has to prove he's healthy in the winter. LaRoche and Johnson could fall to the Mariners depending on the market; and Huff could play first or third base.
Bay has been linked with the Mariners and would be a perfect fit on and off the field. They're not going to break the bank for him, so I don't see it happening.
Figgins wants a lot of money (which I don't think he's worth) but he'd fill the third base hole left by Beltre. Glaus and Mora are lower-cost stopgaps.
Washburn was happy in Seattle and pitched well before he collapsed when he was traded to the Tigers. They're not getting into a bidding war for him, but his return coud happen. The other starters mentioned----Wolf, Pavano, Davis----wouldn't be super-expensive and, if healthy would fill the back-end of the rotation adequately and relatively cheaply.
The Mariners have been linked with Lackey. There's a chance of that happening.
Via trade: C Jorge Posada (Yankees); RHP Joba Chamberlain (Yankees); RHP Phil Hughes (Yankees); 3B Mike Lowell (Red Sox); RHP Clay Buchholz (Red Sox); RHP Michael Bowden (Red Sox); RHP Daniel Bard (Red Sox); RHP Manny Delcarmen (Red Sox); OF Carl Crawford (Rays); 1B Lyle Overbay (Blue Jays); OF/DH Luke Scott (Orioles); LF Delmon Young (Twins); RHP Edwin Jackson (Tigers); 1B Paul Konerko (White Sox); 3B Jhonny Peralta (Indians); OF David DeJesus (Royals); 3B/1B Jorge Cantu (Marlins); RHP Josh Johnson (Marlins); OF Cody Ross (Marlins); C John Baker (Marlins); RHP Derek Lowe (Braves); LHP Oliver Perez (Mets); RHP Mike Pelfrey (Mets); OF/1B Adam Dunn (Nationals); RHP Jason Motte (Cardinals); OF Milton Bradley (Cubs); RHP Bronson Arroyo (Reds); 3B Garrett Atkins (Rockies); 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff (Padres); RHP Chris Young (Padres); 1B Adrian Gonzalez (Padres)
Some of the names may seem odd and most are completely out of left field, but they make sense in theory and aren't going to happen barring a totally unforeseen set of circumstances.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman would love to be rid of Posada and the Mariners are a fit; but Posada's not okaying a trade in general and he won't okay a trade to Seattle in particular, so forget it.
Oliver Perez is mentioned as a "you take my headache, I'll take yours"; if the Mets would take Silva, the Mariners would probably take Perez.
Yes, I mentioned Milton Bradley. He'd be perfect to get out from under the Silva contract and might fill the need in left field if he behaves himself. (Yah. Right.)
The prospects mentioned----Buchholz, Chamberlain, Hughes, etc----would have to be part of any deal involving Felix Hernandez.
Peralta, Atkins and Kouzmanoff would fill the hole at third base left by Beltre.
Zduriencik let finances and sentiment interfere in his decision-making process as the club kept Ken Griffey Jr for another year when they would've been better served to move on with a more productive veteran DH like Jim Thome. It was a mistake.
- The difference between "on the block" and "possibly available":
Must I explain everything to the uninitiated and blockheaded to reality?
In recent days, we've seen story after story saying that the Marlins' Josh Johnson and Hanley Ramirez are not "on the trading block". In a similar vein, the Tigers' Edwin Jackson is on the block. There's a subtle difference, but said difference is not as great as is portrayed.
Because a player isn't being thrown out there as a commodity that must be moved doesn't mean he's not up for discussion. Are the Marlins desperately trying to trade Johnson or Ramirez? Are the Rays making similar plans for Carl Crawford? The Mariners with Felix Hernandez? No. But that doesn't mean they won't listen when a team calls and starts exchanging names on what it would take to get such players.
To say they're "not trading Johnson or Ramirez" or that they're "not on the block" is a cloudy subterfuge rife with semantics that is in line with the out-of-context nonsense of Moneyball. These players can be had...if enough is offered for them.
Are they getting traded? Probably not, but it's possible. Find stuff to write about and stop wasting people's time with this non-story please. It ain't that hard.
- Viewer Mail 11.30.2009:
Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Tiger Woods:
Apparently, Tiger's wife was angry that he's been spending too much time reading this blog. So she had good reason to come after him with the club.
If ever there was a reason to beat someone with a golf club, it's that.
Michael Fierman writes RE my 20/20 Hindsight postings:
Hey- I just got around to reading all of your 20/20s this morning. Great stuff; you had me -yes actually laughing out loud...I have to say it is refreshing to read an article that isn't filled with numbers stated as dogma that cannot and must not be questioned. Anyway as far as predicting the AL or NL Central. I believe it is beyond man or machine...
I'll get to your Hot stove Previews later-Have a good one
Glad to help.
People are under the mistaken impression that I have a problem with those that use numbers to come to their projections and it's the furthest thing from the truth. Considering the haphazard results from anyone and everyone who tries to predict what's going to happen in a given season, their way isn't any better or worse than anyone else's. My problem is that they don't own it when they're wrong.
When a team like the Diamonbacks collapses, you never see any of them saying, "I screwed up"; you hear, "well, they didn't live up to their statistical projections".
I have no tolerance for alibi-artists.
What's even worse is when they don't say anything at all as if silence is going to make it all go away. Well, they ignore me and I'm not going away. I'm their recurring nightmare and it's about to get much, much worse in the next few months.I'm a man of my word.