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Monday, January 28, 2008

Bedard, Jones    

Well, it finally happened, or so it appears. Erik Bedard will be a Mariner, and the Orioles have gotten the biggest prospect haul since the Indians traded Bartolo Colón. Well, maybe not quite, since it looks like the Mariners have managed to hang onto Carlos Triunfel, but getting one of the top 5-10 outfield prospects in the game, the best lefty specialist in the game (who shuts down righties just fine too), two legit SP prospects that aren't that far off, and a serviceable righty reliever is pretty handy. This was a good move for the Orioles, without question.

My emotional relationship with the trade is a confusing one. I had already slotted Jones to become my favorite baseball player, which is the problem with getting too involved with prospects, so seeing him go hurts. And he is a good bet to be a very good baseball player, bringing a lot of things that the Mariners really need to the table for very little money for a long time. Now the Orioles will get that, which sucks, but of course we just got a guy that might just be the best pitcher in baseball if he can stay healthy. I'm not saying he's got a real case for being better than Santana or Beckett, exactly, but he's on the short list of guys that tempt the comparison, which is amazing.

As usual, Jeff Sullivan says it best. It's a time to be disappointed but not outraged, worried but excited, and underneath it all mostly unsurprised that the Mariners probably won't seriously be contending for a title in the next 5 years. The bottom line is that the Mariners are still in a very precarious position. For a team with a little more depth near the top of their farm system, this is probably a no-brainer. Even earlier in the offseason, this could have been covered for. If we'd signed Geoff Jenkins, maybe we could work something out. But right now we traded a joke of a rotation for a joke of an outfield, which is mostly like spinning your wheels. It may be easier to find a right fielder than a "true ace," but that doesn't mean that I have any idea where that right fielder is coming from.

As USS Mariner puts it:

Since the team is going all-in for 2008, mortgaging the future in a chance to steal the division from the Angels this year, they need to get serious about fixing some of the other problems on this roster. Right field is now a gaping hole, and unfortunately, the good free agent outfielders are already off the board. The best plan would be to pursue a trade for a new young outfielder (call the Cubs about Matt Murton or Felix Pie please), but unfortunately, the team’s going to be running low on trade chips after this deal is complete.

Boy, too bad we don't still have Snelling and Soriano, who could actually help us weather this storm. Those trades continue to look more retarded every day, though poor Snelling didn't have the best year, obviously. The Mariners just don't appear, to me, to have the resources in talent, money, or available free agents and time to sign them to fix all these roster holes. Our pitching looks a hell of a lot better, but our offense and defense look terrifyingly bad. As USS Mariner points out, an injury to Ichiro or Beltre could fully sink the season before it starts.

But it's hard to be too cynical with Erik Bedard and Felix Hernandez on your roster. Though both have injury concerns and Felix has a few things left to put together, we're one of the only teams in baseball who could legitimately see two of their starters in Cy Young contention. And as Alex kindly reminded me a few weeks ago, Felix is still younger than Joba Chamberlain or Clay Buchholz, so take that stupid east coast media. And maybe next offseason will allow us to be rid of Sexson and Vidro and get Ibañez to DH or 1B, which could make life a lot more pleasant. So, it's both hard to see where the real improvement will come from and hard not to be excited by the possibilities.

I really wish Adam Jones was still a Mariner, but I can't work up the indignation that some folks have. There are some fairly preposterous insinuations that this deal isn't real, but I guess it's time to settle on a new soon-to-be-favorite-player. Then again, it might be Bedard, we'll just have to see how this all plays out.

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