We got the Winter Meetings going on this weekend and as you hear mentioned consistently by just about every media news source this is often a place where the ground work for the “big” off-season deals begins to be laid. JJ Putz, Cliff Lee both deals started at this point and while one was consummated here and one wasn’t both get their roots from here.
I’ll be honest and a bit of a buzz kill I really still am not sold that any “big” really happens this off-season. While it certainly is appealing considering the state of the roster it just doesn’t make sense with the large amount of question marks facing this team. From Justin Smoak and Mike Carp to Franklin Gutierrez and Casper Wells. Not to mention Alex Liddi, Trayvon Robinson, Kyle Seager and Adam Moore.
As I pointed out earlier Greg Johns highlighted a few Jack Zduriencik quotes he also made out a sort of shopping list for the team. I figured I’d throw out a few thoughts on the list.
A bat (or two): Look everyone is going to talk about Prince Fielder, but what about Carlos Pena? This is an interesting thought that hasn’t been brought up much but as things with Prince Fielder obviously get out of the Mariners reach I guarantee his name is going to come up more. The only question I have about this is does it really fit to sign a DH at this point? I get the impression more and more than the front office prefers Carp in the DH spot (as do I) and that it would make more sense acquiring a capable left handed bat to potentially platoon with Casper Wells in left field.
A few names outside of the recently mentioned Seth Smith that have interesting splits and could be a suitable partner would be Dexter Fowler, Lance Nix, Nate McClouth then there is also someone that I’ve been all over this off-season Will Venable. They all have really positive splits versus right handers in the last few years and I believe they could all be had pretty easily. I believe Will Venable may even have the potential to be an every day starter should he get out of that left handed repressive San Diego ballpark.
One other name to put in your hat that is highly unlikely but still interesting enough is Travis Snider. He’s struggled quiet a bit lately and could be an interesting grab. Maybe the Blue Jays and Mariners get together on a couple of change of scenery guys like say a Michael Saunders for Travis Snider swap. Not likely, but then again interesting enough. With Saunders defense he doesn’t have to hit much to require playing time but the problem is he hasn’t hit at all. The Blue Jays may still be in need of a CF with all the craptasticness of Colby Rasmus and maybe they feel he could be a potential buy low option much like the case with Jose Bautista. Only not in that drastic of a way but maybe just in the “hey, we could get him to the point that he doesn’t suck at hitting”. As for Snider, he struggles immensely against lefties, if you pair in left with Casper Wells facing those evil southpaw guys and you used Snider versus his natural strength (right handers) the trade could work out well for both parties. But, who knows. I’m just pulling things out of the air.
Backup shortstop: I haven’t really mentioned it like just about other sites (Lookout Landing, Geoff Baker) but I have to think that Munenori Kawasaki is absolutely the best option going forward for the team. Assuming that the reports are true he’ll accept a minor league contract with a spring training invite just for an opportunity to make the team. To be honest, judging based upon the scouting reports, he seems like the Japanese version of Brendan Ryan.
Already the team has resigned Luis Rodriguez, who had orginally chose to go for free-agency after being removed from the 40-man roster. But realize: “Hey there isn’t really any better situation for me in all of baseball than Seattle” and came back. Now, that was an easy joke and kind of not fair… well kind of… anyways back to the point. Kawasaki and Rodriguez are both fine back-ups and really with Carlos Triunfel and Nick Franklin close behind there aren’t too many reasons to go and offer anything more than a minor league deal.
Left-handed reliever: I really don’t believe that this is going to be that big of a deal. Yes, it’s been mentioned a few different times in interviews but then again so has Prince Fielder. I don’t think the club goes out of their way to ensure they have a left hander in the bullpen. They already have three internal options in Cesar Jimenez, Bobby LaFromboise and Brian Moran. I just can’t see the Mariners over spending for something that they don’t absolutely need right now.
A veteran starter: There are so many options here that I don’t really know where to start. You could point to Erik Bedard and I’m sure that most Mariner fans would surprisingly love that. The relationship that has been the Mariners fan base and Erik Bedard really been an odd one the last four years. But, I think part of that is the we know what to expect with you. That said there are a few different options that are available. Aaron Cook could be someone who can at least not completely suck, Paul Maholem is someone that would fit in nicely but you have to wonder how many left handers are going to be in the starting rotation. Kevin Millwood is another pitcher that isn’t mention much but could come pretty cheap, easily discarded and could still provide positive WAR.
Personally, I believe you want a delicate balance between someone that you easily flip at the trade deadline for an interesting prospect and someone that you can cut at the end of May because they are just simply a waste of a rotation starter. I don’t believe the team is going to invest serious asset in this position. But that said if they arne’t sure about the future of Paxton or even a few other pitchers in the upper minors they may spend in the hopes they can flip those prospects for that “big bat”.
Again like I alluded too earlier, it’s all about your personally theory in roster construction. If you want to go all for it then you may want to invest a little bit more than if you are waiting for Hultzen and Paxton to show up in the second half of the season. This weekend hopefully will give a bit of insight in which way the club is leaning. Not that you couldn’t do a bit of both or neither for that matter… PARADOX!