Taking a Look at Today’s Trade With Pittsburgh


As you should know by now, the Mariners pulled off a semi-blockbuster trade today. Seattle sent Jeff Clement, Ronny Cedeno, and three minor league pitchers to the Pirates for shortstop Jack Wilson and starting pitcher Ian Snell.

Now, I did not get the feeling from this trade that it was aimed towards making a run this season. At this point, it wouldn’t be smart to make a trade that would only benefit us for the next two months. No, what I took from this trade, was that it was aimed at making this team better for the next two months, and more importantly, for 2010.

First, let’s look at what we gave up.

Jeff Clement no longer had a place in this organization. He’s still a good hitter with some pop, but he can no longer consistently play the only position we would need him to play – catcher. He doesn’t have the knees for it, and because of that became very expendable.

I have to think Ronny Cedeno was only included in this deal as a very temporary fix for the Pirates at short, and somewhat of a throw in. It’s a little sad to see Ronny go, as he seemed to really fit into the good clubhouse atmosphere, but he wasn’t hitting, and the fact is, Jack Wilson will be a fairly big upgrade. He’s a slightly better fielder, and a significantly better hitter.

Then there are the three minor league pitchers we gave up. They were Brett Lorin, Nathan Adcock, and Aaron Pribanic. All three of them have back end starter or long reliever upside. We lost a lot of our minor league pitching depth with this deal, but none of those three guys are huge losses. We also trade Wladimir Balentien to the Reds today, in exchange for minor league pitcher Robert Manuel, which restores a bit of the depth.

Now, what we got.

Jack Wilson, 31, is one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. If you don’t know much about him, you’ve probably at least seen him on Baseball Tonight a few times, checking in with a web gem. This year, he’s running a UZR of 12.5, the best among major league shortstops. He also doesn’t make errors – he has the 4th highest fielding percentage in baseball.

He’s not exactly a slugger, or the big bat many think the Mariners need to make a run, but he can hold his own at the plate. This year he’s hitting .267, which is about what you should expect from him going forward, with 4 home runs and 31 RBI. His 2009 wOBA is .300, which is right around his career average. Like I said, he’s not a great hitter, but he’ll be a significant improvement over anything we’ve put at shortstop this season.

The other piece the Mariners got, was right handed starting pitcher Ian Snell. Snell is a 27 year old with really good stuff. One comparison I’ve heard today is that he’s “kind of like Felix Hernandez without command”. That may be especially true this season. His peripherals have been his worst this year since 2005. He’s been striking out fewer batters, and walking a lot more batters, which fairly recently lead to him being sent down to triple A by the Pirates.

Since he got sent down, he’s been absolutely dominant in the minor leagues. In his six starts in triple A, he’s 2-2 with an 0.96 ERA, with a 47:13 K/BB ratio in 37.1 innings. That K/BB rate is especially promising. Hopefully, Rick Adair and John Wetteland will be able to help with his command, because there’s a lot of potential in there.

Another thing we know about Snell, is that he was really unhappy with the Pirates, so there’s always the chance that this change of scenery will be big for him.

The last piece of this deal was the Pirates picking up the tab on both player’s salaries for the remainder of 2009, coming out to be a little over three million dollars.

Was this a great deal for the Mariners? No, it wasn’t. Did we do alright? I would say yes. We filled a huge hole at shortstop, and Snell could be big for this team if we end up trading Washburn (I’d be shocked if we didn’t). It wasn’t the best move Jack Zduriencik has made, but as fans we have to realize that even the best GM’s can’t pull off steals every time. The fact is, this trade improves our team now, and improves our team for 2010, and that’s something to be happy about.

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