Trade Thoughts: Felix Hernandez


"We can debate all day the wisdom of entertaining Felix trade offers, but as long as the Mariners are ripping off 17-game losing streaks and heading toward another 95-plus loss season, the topic isn’t going to go away. Which is way I’ll be watching with great interest the Ubaldo trade developments this weekend.Larry Stones, Seattle Times"

I’d love to come into this all bewildered and say something to the effective of “I can’t believe yet again someone would dare infer that the Mariners may have to make a decision in reference to Felix and the long term.”

The truth is Mr. Stone hit the nail right on the head. The Mariners are going to have to put up with people consistently bringing up the need for the Mariners to trade Felix.

Right now as it stands the Mariners are mortgaging their future against the possibilities of making the playoffs.

I know it’s difficult but, just for a second, let’s think about what the Mariners might procure.

Forget about just a Devin Mesoraco and a side of Yonder Alonso, maybe even a small slice of Travis Wood for desert (how to did I start comparing a trade to a dinner?). Instead we start looking at the top 50 trio such as Brett Lawrie, Travis D’Arnaud and Henderson Alvarez from the Blue Jays.

Two guys that would have an epic and nearly immediate impact in this line-up. Not to mention that Alvarez has a chance to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher down the road. This is just the start as you could expect one or two more lesser prospects included in such a deal.

The Rangers, as Mr. Stone pointed out earlier this week, are stacked as an organization. Their minor league system has put them in a position where they could acquire just about anyone via trade. They also now have the financial means to compete with just about any other team on the market.

The organization is fighting an uphill battle right now. The Mariners do have some assets but don’t have all the pieces yet in place to quiet make a run at the Rangers. Felix Hernandez is the quickest path to ensuring our competing in the AL-West division.

I can only speak for myself, but when I read this article on ESPN I realized why I can’t take that easy route.

"Felix Hernandez is the biggest [hall-of-fame] slam dunk, with an estimated 80 percent chance of getting his WAR into the automatic range, essentially the odds that his career isn’t completely derailed by injury. All 22 eligible pitchers with 70 WAR are in the Hall, and Felix, with 27 WAR at age 25, is already more than a third of the way there.– Dan Szymborski on ESPN"

When you look at the near 35 year existence of this organization and all the players that have come through it. There are all of four players that have played significant time with this organization that are hall-of-fame caliber players and have a chance to be inducted into the hall-of-famers. Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr (Ichiro is a unique beast and we can argue/discuss that at a different time.)

Short of Edgar everyone of those guys could very well go in wearing another cap other than that of Seattle and Edgar may very well never even get into the hall, regardless of his credentials. Looking as far into the future as 2015 that could leave us without a member representing this organization in Cooperstown (not including Dave, of course).

The point is this: players of Felix’s caliber aren’t replaceable. They just aren’t. There is no value that you can place upon them and there isn’t any number of prospects that is going to fill the hole left behind. Eventually it heals and you become attached with other players but you’ll always remember and there will always be that scar. Ask every kid that was 12-15 when The Unit, Griffey and ARod left town.

Sure we got Cammey, Freddy and Carlos. They each did their part in making up one of the greatest single season teams of all time. But, they really weren’t all that special individually. There was still sadness in my heart when I realized that Safeco field would be opened with someone other than Randy Johnson on the mound.

I know that the front office could easily flip Felix for a bounty that would immediately put Seattle back in the discussion for playoffs. I think the organization knows that. But when you have someone of Felix’s caliber, a true once in a generation type player, that wants to play for you and loves the local fans, you can’t convince me it’s a smart move.

I don’t know if this is quiet fair, and I hold him with an amazing amount of respect, but when I think of Felix I think of Bob Feller. I think of how similar they are and I think about their early career dominance. I think of how similar their teams were (both bad).

Things were different then but only two of the 18 years he pitched did he see the post season. Once winning a world series title and another falling just short in the World Series.

I want to give Felix that. I want to give him the chance to win here. I know the road is long and the terrain is rough, but Mariner fans we have something special. Let’s not just throw it away because we are impatient.

Trading Felix is the head move, it’s the paper move. Keeping Felix is the pride move it tells the people of Seattle that the organization respects it’s fans enough to keep it’s hall-of-famers even if and when the times become hard and unpleasant.