Mariner Top 5: Tradeable Assets


I love Top-5 lists. I think I’ve had an affinity for it since watching High Fidelity as a high school junior. Sure, I should probably have read the unadulterated book. But, I’m lazy and the ability to have John Cusak deliver me his own take on world transported from London to Chicago.

Maybe, that isn’t quite roots for where this weird obessesion began. But really that’s not important. Today, I wanted to have a little fun and do my very own Top-5 tradable assets. Now, the out come took sometime to develop and while you might not agree with my personal conclusion that’s kind of what makes it fun.

Game on.

5)  Adam Moore – Catcher

Regardless of whether or not you consider Montero a real catcher or not you can’t deny that Moore still has potential to be a regular catcher. At 27, turning 28 here soon, Moore embodies what life I have left. We’re barely two months apart and so part of me has a really hard time giving up on this guy.

But then again why should anyone give up on Moore? When has he pulled his Wladimir Balentine or Michael Saunders? I mean outside of those 250 plate appearances in 2010. The guy has consistently shown the ability to be an above average hitter at every stop in the minor leagues. Every stop.  It’s just really hard for me to believe that he can’t hit major league pitching or that he isn’t a major league back-stop. To be fair the guy just continually has gotten screwed by the farm system. First by Rob Johnson, then by his body and Miguel Olivo, now by Jesus Montero and John Jaso.

The guy is entering what should be his peak years physically but considering the fact that the organization took it’s sweet time with allowing him to be developed, I think it’s possible he has a bit more of an extended window.

Teams such as the Red Sox and the Marlins both have been connected to him in the past and considering the extreme lack of catching talent in the last few years around the league. He’s the one guy on this list that I’m not for moving but he’s one of the most forgotten about pieces around the league.

4)  Kyle Seager – INF

Let me tell you some of the buzz around June and July leading up to the trade deadline had a lot of teams interested in Seager. A lot. There were all sorts of scouts take in Seager and there were multiple teams that brought up his name during mid-season talks. I know that from being a good listener in the press boxes and knowing how to identify scouts and then sit/chat with them during games.

Seager may start the season at third base and could probably be a major league average (2+ WAR) third basemen. That doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t be better at second base. Nearly everyone I’ve ever talked to about him has mentioned the fact that he should be a second basemen or utility player. His defense is okay but what he really does well is drive the ball and drive it all over the place.

His freak out in AAA, where he batted .387/.444/.585 over barely 100 plate appearances, wasn’t in any way sustainable. But the guy still is going to be a solid offensive second basemen. There are a lot of teams that just need hitting in general and while the Mariners are one of them second base is a position they have solidified for the next …. 20 years.

This gives the front office a legit hitter to deal. Not only that but involved in the right package, Seager could possible used to return a valuable piece that fits our teams weaknesses.

3) Jason Vargas – Starting Pitcher

Vargas is one of our most confusing assets. He’s good, he’s bad. He has had some really great games and other times they are… less than just forgettable. Then he made the additional “Felix” twist and he may have taken a step forward. But here is the thing we don’t really have an idea of how the league really views Vargas.

In general I believe that the league has caught up to the idea of pitching parks. Places like Safeco, Petco and the Colisuem all have started to come with a stigma. In the same way that we talk about guys like Michael Young and playing in the Ballpark in Arlington.

Vargas is a weird guy in that a lot of his value is tied up in how much stock opposing front offices place in his production away from Safeco. I think it’s possible that with all the upcoming prospects the Mariners have in their farm system that you could see them trade away Vargas for a needed piece or even farm system depth at a specific position.

2) Brandon League – Relief Pitcher

I don’t really buy into the whole “he’s not a real closer” theory. The guy doesn’t strike out a lot of hitters but misses plenty of bats. Not to mention he gets plenty of ground balls and/or induces weak contact. Sure, he has had a few hiccups, not just last year but also during his combined time between Seattle and Toronto the over his past few years. There is the added fact, his pitches can and do flatten out at times and on other occasions he allows inopportune early inning runners that cause things to get a bit too interesting at times.

But despite that in my mind I believe he can be just as good of a “closer” as J.J. Putz, Joel Hannahan, John Axford or even Mike Adams. There are better, but he slides nicely into the upper echelon, middle of the pact. A team like Cincinnati, Detroit or even Boston could come calling in July to help either take over closing duties or even become another very strong arm to help anchor the bullpen. That’s just my opinion. But, the longer he sits in the “closer” role and continues to do pick up that key counting stat the more other teams are take him seriously.

I know there are people that think that we should have traded him back in November or even early December, but his value gets higher the longer we old onto him at this point. Yes, it’s a little bit like Russian roulette. You never know when an injury is going to strike. But Brandon has been pretty healthy over the years and has been pretty consistent. I can only contend that at this point the Mariners were dissatisfied with any offers they may or even may not have recieved and think they are better off paying him now and deciding what to do with him later.

It seems like they have some money in reserves and if they choose to go forward to get a better offer for him, and I think they will, I’m alright with that move. He’s clearly the best major league chip they have going into the season.

1) Nick Franklin – Shortstop

I like Franklin, a lot. I’ve seen him play in person and he is high effort, confident and extremely talented. He’s been ranked as high as the #6 shortstop prospect by and ranked as high as #40 in all of baseball by Franklin is considered one of the best up and coming shortstops in baseball. This is also coming off of what many believe is a “down season”. While I don’t personally believe that, as many of the issues that affected him were purely flukish in nature, it’s going to be exciting to see him in AA for a full season.

 The asterisk that comes with him is whether or not he’ll stick at shortstop. His arm isn’t anything more than average and that’s part of why people consider him a true second basemen and his range is also average or even a bit below average. He makes up for it with his quick twitch like reactions and his pure grit or determination.  I personally think he could even slide over to third base, but considering the log jam that is quickly becoming third base between Alex Liddi, Kyle Seager, Franscisco Martinez and even Carlos Triunfel it seems unlikely that this time they would use him at the position.

I’m not among those that think he can’t stick at short. But it does seem to be a consistent question mark among even the most sincere prospect mavericks. Considering Dustin Ackley, as stated previously, while be at second base for the foreseeable future that could leave open an out of the box idea to flip Franklin for someone whose talent better suits the organization. I’m not saying they should but again it’s an out of the box solution that also takes into consideration the fact the Mariners already have the best defensive shortstop in all of baseball.

Brendan Ryan is a solid shortstop and one that borderlines the Gutierrez rule. That rule is one that I’ve kind of made up this past year but that goes something like like this. A player who is  in a defensive premium position and can produce such value defensively, regardless of how poor his bat production is, and still be considered an average major leaguer (producing a minimum of 2 WAR over 150 games) could very well still be a productive member of a starting line-up.

Ryan, however, does flirt with being an average hitter and the fact that he does so with the best defense in the league make him an extraordinarily valuable piece considering that he’s often overlooked across the league and his cost to retain his services would be minimal considering the demand.  So, should the Mariners make a move with Franklin it’s not as if they don’t already have a back-up plan already in place.

Even though Franklin isn’t the top prospect in the organization, considering the current climate of baseball and lack of bat first and yet still suitable defenders, he has the greatest trade value out of all the prospects. This of course could change depending on the organization considering teams like Maimi, Colorado or Chicago already have solidified the position long term.

Franklin is easily my favorite Mariner prospect right in front of Paxton and a good notch above Scott Savastano (don’t ask). But, there are guys out there such as Dominic Brown that could potentially be a nice piece and worthy of giving up Franklin if done in the right capacity. This is just me spit balling.

I’m not in favor of trading Franklin but considering his value and the amount of depth already in the system he’s the most valuable piece that we have right now.