Another Blowout Loss, a New Trade Rumor

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The Mariners suffered another ugly loss tonight, being blown out by the Cleveland Indians 10-3. The Mariners only three runs came in the ninth inning, when it didn’t matter – although it did snap a streak of 20 scoreless innings in a row.

Erik Bedard might be hurt again, as he looked really bad today. He had no command of his fastball, and it took him 81 pitches to get through three innings, after which he was pulled. Both Jack Zduriencik and Don Wakamatsu were worried that there’s something wrong with his arm, and he will apparently undergo some tests.

Aside from a blockbuster trade rumor, which I’ll get to in a minute, the other big news of the day was Michael Saunders being called up. Saunder had been waiting in the wing for awhile, but the management didn’t want to rush him. Wladimir Balentien was DFA’d to make room, which just confirmed what we already know – his time in Seattle is done. Expect him to be traded in the next few days. Saunders went 0-4 on the day, and was robbed of his first big league home run in the ninth inning by Chris Gimenez.

So, the trade rumor that surfaced today, was that there may be a three team deal brewing, involving the Mariners, the Indians, and the Rays. From what I’ve heard, this deal would look like this: Mariners send Brandon Morrow and Jeff Clement to the Indians, Indians send Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez to the Rays, and the Rays send Reid Brignac and Scott Kazmir to the Mariners.

That would be a fantastic trade for the Mariners. If it were to happen, the M’s would probably trade Jarrod Washburn very shortly after wards to make up for taking on Scott Kazmir’s salary.

For those of you who don’t know much about Reid Brignac, here’s a profile of him from scout.com:

Only two years ago, Brignac was coming off a noteworthy M.V.P. performance in the California League. He had a breakout as a hitter—.326/.379/.557/.936 OPS, with 21 home runs, a .231 ISO and .394 wOBA—and quickly established his place among the premier middle infield prospects in the game. Scouts were unsure that his defense would play well enough at shortstop, however, and a move to third base seemed inevitable for the 2004 draft pick.

Brignac has regressed severely as a hitter against more advanced pitching since then, however. His approach has left a lot to be desired, as his OBP totals have dropped significantly—.330 at Double-A in 2007, .300 at Triple-A in ’08. While he still flashed signs of power potential and ranked among International League leaders in doubles when he was promoted to the Rays to fill in for an injured Jason Bartlett, he posted a discouraging line of .250/.300/.412. He struck out in more than a fourth of his plate appearances (26.4 %) as his walk rate fell to 6.6%, leaving him with a telling 93-to-25 K/BB ratio before a wrist injury cut short his season. Many scouts still feel that he can rebound and provide adequate offensive contributions at the major league level, especially for a shortstop.

Brignac, to his credit, has put to bed any talk about a position switch with his marked improvements defensively. A unanimous selection by the managers and coaches as the best defensive shortstop on the circuit, he nearly cut his errors in half and flashed solid range. Granted, major league managers and coaches crew up similar defensive awards every chance they get, so it is hard to read too much into that. Many scouts (and Baseball America) agreed, though, and there is seemingly a consensus within the industry that he will be able to stick in the majors for a long time even if the bat does not come around.”

He would be a very nice fit for the Mariners, and could certainly end up being our every day starting shortstop for a good long time. As for Kazmir, his walk rate is up this year and his K/BB is down, but he’s still young and still has good potential. I’d be happy to have both of them.

The Mariners now sit 7.5 games out of the AL West, and 6.5 games out of the AL Wild Card. The Angels have won 8 games in a row, and show no signs of slowing down. I think it has finally become clear that it’s time to sell, and it looks as though Jack Zduriencik feels the same way. Don’t be disappointed in this season, it was a great success overall, and we have a very bright future to look forward to.

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