The Way Too Early 2012 Post


There will come a year, I hope, that on August 5th I’m writing about how the Mariners deadline acquisition is off to a hot start with his new club. About how the prospects we gave up to get him might sting but won’t kill. About how this team is six games up on the Rangers and the finish line is in sight.

For now, though, we’re left with far too much time to ponder the future because the present is so unpleasant.

There are a lot of things we don’t really know about 2012 yet. We have no clue if Franklin Gutierrez is on notice or if the outfield surplus is to set the team up for a trade. We don’t have the foggiest when it comes to what team ownership will set the budget at for Jack Zduriencik.

This isn’t going to be a massive rosterbation piece, but rather a look at what we know about 2012 and what holes should and need to be improved and what the budget will allow.

Here’s a look at what the player landscape looks like:

Green means I’m confident that player will be on the roster next season. Yellow means the player has a shot but could be a candidate for trade or upgrade. Red? Go away, Chone.

While the mariners may neither find anyone to take Figgins or be able to cut bait, he’s the most glaring hole on the active roster that needs addressed. As a singles hitter with some doubles power and solid defense, Figgins was a reasonable signing for a club trying to contend. As a nothing hitter with poor defense and (insert any other area of baseball activities) on a rebuilding club, he has to go. One way or the other, the Mariners need to move on.

Adam Moore’s days as a prospect are over so, if he’s healthy, he should be on the roster when camp breaks. Clearly, though, the club could use a boost.

Alex Liddi will turn 23 this month and stands a good chance to get a September call-up. It’s time to see what he can do at the major league level. Kyle Seager’s upside is likely that of a big league utility guy. It’s time to get that started next season.

The outfield has a lot of questions. There’s little reason to believe anyone other than Ichiro will be in right, but Gutierrez needs to start hitting in a hurry. His defense is still a huge asset but the club sent a clear message with the addition of three major league ready or near ready outfielders. Casper Wells is off to a good start but needs to show more pop to be more than a platoon guy in the corner.

For the starters, the top three are locks. Charlie Furbush and Blake Beavan probably hold the lead as of this writing to fill out the rotation, but I’ve got to believe that Zduriencik will be active in both the trade and free agent markets to add rotation depth.

The bullpen has a lot of questions. Jack will surely be looking for cheap arms to add to the mix. It’s one of the easier areas to find parts so, really, your guess is as good as mine. David Aardsma is going to be an expensive rehabber.

So, that’s where the team is probably at. Where can the team possibly go?

Looking over the payroll information at Cot’s, the Mariners only have $59.513 million on the books for 2012. This is a sharp drop from this season as guys like Milton Bradley, Carlos Silva and Yuni stop getting paychecks from this club.

If ownership leaves payroll where it has been, Zduriencik will have roughly $35 million to play with before the arbitration dust settles, which could end up reducing that total closer to $25 million. All of a sudden there just isn’t a lot of money to be spent.

Dreams that some have of Prince Fielder, when the team has several areas they need to improve, quickly become dashed. This team simply can’t afford to sign another player who will have a salary in the teens and up. This is another reason that hanging on to Brandon League when his value was at its peak may turn out to be a bad idea.

They won’t have to go dumpster diving again and there is plenty of young talent both on the way and to consider packaging in trade for a cost controlled player with upside, but I wouldn’t start getting too excited about the payroll situation just yet.

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