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Friday, November 17, 2006

What Now?    

Well, the Mariners’ offseason isn’t even really underway yet, and it’s already hit a few snags. The surest way to upgrade our rotation—the team’s most glaring weakness—belongs to the Boston Red Sox (or possibly still to the Seibu Lions, but I’m not buyin’ it). The easiest way to upgrade both our offense and defense—J.D. Drew—may also belong to the Red Sox, and will probably be too expensive anyway. The most talked about trade target—Jim Edmonds—improbably won the World Series and looks to stay put (having signed an extension). Surprise!

So where to go now? The team needs to acquire three starters—or more realistically two, leaving the 5th starter spot to within the organization and hoping for the best. And it has two left handed bats that really should be platooned—Raul Ibañez and Ben Broussard—plus one guy (Chris Snelling) who actually will be platooned by our dumbass manager, if he is allowed to start at all, despite being a much better bet to hit lefties (if a much bigger injury risk). So we need pitchers and a position player. While the team is likely to use the free-agent market to pursue this strategy, it looks clearer and clearer that this could be a colossal mistake. If Schmidt is willing to take a discount to come back to his home state, great, but it does not appear that likely he’ll end up being worth the salary he receives. The rest…yikes. The trade market then?

Recommendations here are dicey for me because I am no kind of expert about what players are likely to cost, especially in trade—and I certainly don’t want to throw around cockamamie trade ideas that would never work, that’s horrible. But I can outline some broad directions I would be looking in if I had the chance. First of all, while nobody in the organization should be completely untouchable, a lot of the future could depend on Felix, Adam Jones, and Jeff Clement. Each could still flame out, of course, but for my purposes I’m considering them untouchable, because there’s no one out there now (no one like Miguel Cabrera, say) who I perceive as both maybe available and worth the cost.

So, the only elite player I see as potentially available without giving those guys up is Manny, if the Mariners take on the whole salary. You have to DH him, but I think he’d get over it, and we could live with Ibañez’s defense a while longer. Whether or not the Mariners really have what the Red Sox need is another question, but he’s the only elite player that I feel very inclined to pursue. Dave over at USS Mariner thought Rafael Soriano, Jeremy Reed, and Francisco Cruceta might do the job (Soriano being the key piece). I can’t evaluate that claim, but we don’t have Cruceta anymore anyway, so the package will have to be different regardless. I’ve heard that Boston has thought about moving Youkilis back to third and grabbing a first baseman, maybe Broussard would help them there. I’m not as sold as Jeff that the Red Sox wouldn’t want anything to do with Reed, but swapping Manny for Reed leaves an offensive need so cavernous it’s hard to describe, even as it nets a legit center fielder (which would help them a lot). What do you guys think it would take to nab Manny?

After that, you’re really talking about dumpster diving. If Broussard goes in the Manny trade, you could still salary-dump Sexson on SF or Baltimore, move Ibañez to 1B, and either give Reed another try in left or pick up someone like Emil Brown on the cheap. Pavano could be had for very little, and probably Mulder as well. One of them might be good (though neither is a particularly good bet to). USSM also suggested Rogrigo Lopez and Angel Guzman as two guys who could be had for very cheap that could do for a change of scenery and/or a better defense. I don’t know. The Mariners rotation is likely to be better next year just by the permanent subtraction of Piñeiro, but while Meche is a dumb bet to re-sign and Moyer wouldn’t really help much either, both performed well enough (at least last year) that they’ll be hard to replace. It’s scary.

More likely, the Mariners sign Schmidt and start looking for a way to dump Sexson so they can also sign a second pitcher and dumpster-dive for some offense to replace Chris Snelling. I actually kind of like the idea of Snelling as a guy who is spelling LF, RF, and DH often enough that he’s playing three days a week, and being the first pinch hitter off the bench, but with this many needs I don’t see that being the smartest thing. But if we end up with Schmidt, I’ll survive. If we offer $8 million/year to Adam Eaton and Ted Lilly, I will be very, very scared for the future health of this franchise.

So, what would you guys do? Are the Mariners better off doing absolutely nothing than messing around in this market? If so, how do they manage to fill out their rotation?


  • Edit: Based on the debate in the comments section of the USSM piece about Brown, I now realize that he completely sucks and should not be picked up for any reason.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 2:43 PM  

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