Why the Mariners should pursue James Shields.


Editor’s Note: This is the first of a For/Against series of posts. Chace and Dan will be arguing for and against the Mariners signing James Shields and Max Scherzer. Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

When I first started writing for SodoMojo, I wrote a piece about the pro’s and con’s of Kansas City Royals free agent James Shields. The story didn’t get a whole lot of traction with you, but I’m here to convince you (again) that Shields would look fantastic in Mariners teal.

We all know that he was part of the David vs. Goliath story that was the Kansas City Royals’ playoff run last year, and although Goliath eventually won (in Game 7), it was hard not to root for the underdogs in the Cinderella story.

It is hard to compete against a dynasty, after all. Just ask the teams from 1936 to 1943, when the New York Yankees competed in seven of eight World Series, and won six of them.

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But none of that matters now. Shields is a free agent, and it’s not likely that his former team will make a run again. He’ll likely be looking for a fairly hefty contract at a team that will be competitive in 2015, and the M’s are that team.

The 32-year-old, now having played in two World Series, and been in the playoffs in for four of his nine seasons in the MLB. Players don’t make the playoffs that often without being something special.

I was talking with some of my friends earlier today about Kerry Wood, the former Cubs great, and Shields reminds me a little bit of him. Wood was undoubtedly one of the better pitchers in recent memory. Remember his 20 strikeout game in 1998? It was brilliance on the mound. But I digress.

The one thing that the Mariners still need on their current roster is playoff experience. They picked up a little bit of that with the addition of Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith (and Robinson Cano last year), but the team’s starters, combined, including pitchers, have only 22 years of playoff experience among them.

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Seven of those years goes to Cano, four to Cruz, and four to Smith. So the other 20 players listed as #1 on the Mariners depth chart (including relief pitchers and the first five starters) only have seven years playoff experience.

It would be nice to have another starting pitcher that knows what it’s like to compete in October, and work through the summer toward that end. I say another because J.A. Happ has two years of playoff experience with the Phillies, in ’08 and ’09. They lost the World Series to the Yankees in 2009.

Not that Felix Hernandez needs any mentoring on how to pitch, but he’s never played a meaningful game in October. Having a good pitcher like Shields behind him in the rotation might give him more confidence to go out and be Felix in October.

If this team wants to compete for a World Series title, like every team should strive for, they need players with the know-how to get there. As it sits right now, the M’s are lacking in that department, and James Shields would be the perfect addition in that department.