Off-Season Story Lines
Well we have officially hit the offseason, so it’s time to start worrying about offseason stuff. Here are a few story lines to keep track of during the baseball-barren months of winter.
Bringing in a Bat
This has been discussed in depth by just about every Mariner blogger in the world, but the Mariners need some offense and there will be good options on the free agent market and available for trades. The name I think would be best for Seattle is Billy Butler, but there will be a lot more power hitter talks in the future.
According to a report by MLB Trade Rumors, Figgins wants out of Seattle. He also stated that he, “can’t take two more years of this.” Oh, the irony. The first thing I said when I saw this was, “well, I can’t take two more years of you.” I don’t believe that the 9 million dollar benchwarmer is needed much in Seattle, so I hope that Jack Z can find a way to appease all of Seattle by ridding the city of Figgins’ presence.
Another funny thing about the situation is that this is probably the best opportunity he will find these days. I can’t imagine that there is a team that would sign him to a major league contract, so if he leaves Seattle, he will probably find himself in AAA.
Resigning Free Agents
There are a couple of current Mariners whose contracts have expired. The most notable of these are Hisashi Iwakuma, Oliver Perez, and Miguel Olivo.
Iwakuma looked very good in the starting role this season, and will likely require more than his current 1.5 million dollar contract to stay in Seattle. At 31 years old, the Japanese pitcher probably has a few more good years in him and would be a nice middle of the rotation piece over the next couple years until the big 3 can take his place.
Oliver Perez went into the year as just another minor league pitcher at the end of his career, but he finished the year as a dependable lefty specialist out of the bullpen. He accumulated just 29.2 innings of work in 33 appearances, but he posted an ERA of 2.12 and a WHIP of 1.25. His 2.93 FIP was impressive as well, and proves that he has some value going forward. Between lefties like Furbush and Leutge, there may be no need for Perez in the pen this year, however. It will be interesting to see if Seattle pursues him.
I assume that Olivo will not be back in Seattle next year. The Mariners have a pretty solid catching situation right now between Jaso and Montero and Zunino on the way. Olivo doesn’t bring much to the table anyways. His BB% is 2.2 and his K% 26.3 which comes out to a .08 BB/K. Let that number sink in for a few seconds. I actually laughed when I read that considering he probably won’t be our problem anymore. In addition, towards the end of his Mariner career, he platooned against lefties, but Jesus Montero’s average against lefties was about 100 points higher than Olivo’s.
Finding a New Hitting Coach
Today, Chris Chambliss was fired as hitting coach in Seattle. He was here for two years, but the team OPS was .665 and .640 in those two seasons. There haven’t been many bright spots in the Mariner offense in the last two years. Ackley had a miserable sophomore season, Smoak has been a disaster all the time except during Septembers, Brendan Ryan has looked lost in the batters’ box, and the list of offensive frustrations extends forever. The Mariners will need to fill the role soon, and hopefully the new man will help turn around the offense.