So the Fansided writers are all getting together and making a list of what every team wants/needs for this coming Christmas. It’s easy to make some type of cheap wise crack about how the Mariners are likely begging Santa to bring something to improve this offensive. Making such a joke is like asking Alec Hardison (“age of the geek”) to hack the CIA with a cell phone, the Leverage equivalent of tossing a softball to Albert Pujols. But seriously back to the point, it’s already the freakin middle of December and regardless of how you wanted the team to approach this off-season we all thought we’d have something to argue/discuss by this point. I mean I’m all for a quiet winter, with all the question marks that this team has, but I thought we’d see a few moves that pointed the team in the right direction.
There was John Jaso – let’s not go there people, I like him just fine — and then… there was… Chris Gimenez? I mean, okay, so their chasing the Prince Fielder train. But, they’ve hardly been rabid about it. If anything I feel like It kind of seems like their dancing with every partner that comes along. But, at this point it’s more like they are acting like an indecisive teenager at a Junior High prom. They’re not sure who they exactly want to go after and are trying to see who’s interested in them. Oh, but the catch is that the Mariners are more like one of the AV kid who … no… I can’t even go there. I was going to say that maybe, just maybe, they were the AV geeks who –you know just like every rom-com story like this– would score later on in life. Reality being what it is (and it’s sad) that we’re more like a bench player that never gets any playing time in any one of the “major” school sports that you would choose and no one really knows what to say to us and we just get excited when a girl remembers our name.
Okay, away from all those weird metaphors.
With all the talk about Prince Fielder and now Yu Darvish it’s at least encouraging that the front office at least appears to be willing to spend money to add talent to the roster. Whether that’s the move now or in the future it’s one that is eventually going to be needed and there is a lot of people that seem to be worried about the ownership. The only problem I really have with everything is that it’s all been talk. I mean we all talked about the Marlins and the possibly that their talk about spending money would just end up being a smoke screen, but so far the team holding the “Kevin Garnett: All-I-Do-Is-Talk” award is our own Seattle Mariners. They’ve been in on nearly every free-agent/trade candidate/homeless person available. They’ve even recently been connected Gio Gonzlaez. Between that, the Bailey rumors, Michael Cuddyer also entering the fray (and no out as he signs with Colorado) and the perceived notion that someone is going to give Prince Fielder a 10-year contract. I HAVE no idea what’s going to happen with this club at this point.
I’m not saying that I’m all about a bunch of moves or spending money being the right move, I’m really not. But, I really thought that before the beginning of the new year the Mariners would have for the most part have the majority of their line-up in place and rotation in place and that January would be for putting together the bench and adding to the pile of collected arms for the bullpen.
So here we are almost a week out from Christmas and we are all left wondering: “What is Santa bringing the Mariners this off-season?”
Again, I’m not about the Mariners making a “big” move this off-season. I think the Mariners need to invest in a solid role players (preferably a third basemen, probably through a trade) and get this organization back near to the .500 line. The AL West is certainly tougher than what it was 5 years ago but it’s not the AL East and even the AL East isn’t what it was 5 years ago. The league is in a weird talent shift (and that’s my opinion) and a league average team at this time has just as good of a chance at over performing if not better than what they did a few years ago. Think about the following teams that are all above average:
New York – Has serious rotation issues. So much so, they are getting hot and heavy trying to bring a fly ball lefty into a park with a jet stream to right field. I love Brian Cashman. I think he’s the most under rated General Manager in the game today. He’s compiled THE BEST bullpen in the game today but he needs help finding someone to give their team 6 competent innings in which to give that bullpen a lead besides CC Sabathia. Alex Rodriguez and Jeter both on the down swing of their careers, if not finally completely falling off the cliff this year. Their Captain is their real concern as he’s really getting old and defensively he can’t last longer than this season at short, I’ve currently got a running bet with my buddy that he ends up more than 10 runs below average out in the field. You can call me crazy but this team is going to live and die by Granderson and Cano. Both players are elite but they aren’t the power house they were almost a decade ago.
Boston - I’ve never put too much stock in who the coach or manager at the helm of a good a team is. Do you think the Red Sox win the AL Wild Card with Bobby Valinetine? I really don’t know. Maybe, maybe not, that’s not really important, what is important is whether or not they can win the division with him at the helm in 2012. Can Crawford become an asset again to their team again (paging Chone Figgins…)? What about their catching situation? Right field has a bit of a whole with JD Drew departing, though I really like Josh Reddick. There are also the supposed club house problems that have start sprouting rumors and while I believe that winning helps resolve personality conflicts, I will say that losing equally ignites them. They need to get off to a great start and they need to be consistent. Oh and while their rotation issues aren’t as bad as the Yankees they’ve got problems of their own. Boston’s baseball team has a big three in all their own style with potential MVP candidate players in Ellsbury, Pedroia and Gonzalez. Their club is better than the Yankees but they are hardly a shoe in for the Division.
Rays - All that pitching plus Ben Z and Longoria, yeah, I’m just going with 90+ wins this year. I think they’ve quietly in the best position for any AL East team between their pitching, hitting, farm system. Can you imagine what would happen if you gave Andrew Friedman a stadium? Seriously, I think he could call collusion on the owners of the league because there isn’t one person that wants to see him get additional revenue added to that budget. What.A.Nightmare.
Blue Jays – I was a strong supporter of this team in the early part of 2011 and I don’t think I was too far off. Ironically enough if they had Roy Halladay right now I’d be saying that they could again be a surprise team. But their pitching is a mess and it just seems as if they are basically on the next plateau the Mariners are trying to reach right now. But they’ve competing against three good teams where as the Mariners only have to overcome two.
Orioles – Haha… just kidding.
Twins - Injuries, Injuries, Injuries. Pitching? Hitting? They certainly got some pieces on both sides of the ball but its pure question marks at this point. I’d hardly be surprised if they won the division, but then again I wouldn’t be surprised if they finished last in their division again either. Man, the AL Central is weird.
Tigers - They have a crazy rotation right now and adding Gio Gonzalez as a 5th starter could make them all the better. Miguel Cabrera was quietly neck and neck with Jose Bautistia as the best hitter in all of Major League Baseball. But, then again they’ve got holes all around the field, they’re hell bent on giving significant playing time to Delmon Young and their bullpen is one of the scariest hit or miss groupings in the American League. If you were going to associate a player with a team you’d have to go no further than the teams own Jose Valverde.
Royals - I know everyone is so far up the butt of the Kansas City Royals, but they got some seriously interesting players going forward and while I don’t think they are going to win their Division, I think they’ve got a team that could win more than 80 games.
Rangers – I will argue and continue to argue that the Rangers offense is the most over rated one in baseball and that the stats produced by their players is a byproduct of the location they play. That in mind they still are an above average offense and I realize that. Elvis Andrus is simply one my favorite shortstops in baseball and maybe the best in the American League. He’s got a few faults but man is he fun. I feel the same about Derek Holland, whom I feel is brief look at James Paxton, if he can learn to pitch in his home park he could absolutely pick-up where CJ Wilson left off. Reminder the off-season isn’t over and who knows what pieces the Rangers pick-up before February.
Angels - They do have some holes on their roster, their bullpen isn’t as strong as everyone would have you to believe, and they’ve got some real age to this roster. Not to mention that Howie Kendrick had a weird break out season that I wouldn’t count on him repeating. Their team is clearly one of the strongest in the League, I’d place them behind Boston in terms of overall roster talent, but they’ve never
The league had 7 teams with more than 80 wins last year. I think this season the league could push 8 or even 9. There isn’t as big of a gap in talent between teams as there was last decade and while you can scream about payroll (and it certainly helps) teams that are average have a better chance at competing right now than in recent years.
So what the Mariners need to do right now is acquire the right pieces to complete the roster. The best thing that Santa could bring this organization is a healthy Franklin Gutierrez, a Justin Smoak who is ready to step up and become what we thought he could be back in 2010, and a Casper Wells that picks up where he left off in August. Those three coming back revitalized plus Mike Carp and Dustin Ackley could very easily take this offense from ugly to respectable.
If they find a third basemen that can hit league average and not make a fool out of himself defensively they could very well be a team that wins 77-81 games. We can make jokes