On Leone: play him, at least while he’s up. Use Spiezio to rest Olerud at first, do whatever you have to do. But all he’s done is hit at two levels. He’s old for a prospect, sure. But what harm could it do to give him at bats against major league pitching and see if he’s a viable option in the lineup? The only objection I can see is that they’re showcasing Spiezio for a trade.
To which I would say: I think Spiezio’s pretty well established that this is an off season for him. Teams that are willint go take a gamble on him aren’t going to be more, or less, put off if the M’s find time to play Leone.
I missed today’s game because I was out playing baseball (ahhhh), but I wasn’t surprised to see Franklin’s line, because it’s what he does almost every start: not a lot of Ks, not a lot of walks, gives up the long ball at least once, and relies on his defense to get him through the game. It worked for a couple years, right?
Instead of re-hashing the last couple of games (like many of you, I’m sure, this season I’ve been no less a fan of the team and what’s going on in general, but I’m a lot less fanatical about making sure I see or listen to every game).
So how do the 2005 Mariners shape up as we head into the All-Star Break?
C: Miguel Olivo
C2: — but probably Dan Wilson because I’m going to be forced Dan Wilson for the rest of my life
2b: Bret Boone, unless they can trade him or bench him and his not-producing self immediately so his option doesn’t vest
SS: – open –
3B: Leone? Dobbs? Lopez?
UTs: W.F. Bloomquist (arrgghhh), Ugueto
Some of this depends immediately on what the team can move. Right now the team’s got two veterans who might take over at first in Spiezio/Ibanez.
If they can find a taker (any taker) for Spiezio’s deal (3 years! $9m!), for instance, that opens up third and keeps first for Ibanez. If they can find a taker for Ibanez’s nutty deal (3 years! $12m!) that opens left field and keeps first for Spiezio. If they move both, well, that’d be pretty sweet.
Similarly, Randy Winn’s trouble unless they can dump him and his heating-up bat ($11m for 3 years — does anyone know the details of his option year in 2006?). Would he play left or a bad center? Reed’s not a natural centerfielder, as Dave notes, but I can’t imagine he’s worse than Winn out there. But if Winn doesn’t move, is the team willing to pay him $3.3m to be a pretty good 4th OFer?
The move we’d really like to see, of course, is signing Beltran to the monster deal. But there are other interesting options. Carlos Delgado is a tremendous left-handed power hitter who will almost certainly face a huge cut in salary on the free agent market. Plus, he’s cool. Con, he’s 32, and this is not a team that needs to invest a lot of money in declining veterans unless it’s a good value.
Magglio Ordonez plays right, he’s only 30, but a right-handed hitter. Still…
Third we’ve got some interesting options. Glaus may be available, if his career’s not ended by his injuries, or may play first. Or there’s Koskie, who has been underrated defensively and offensively (and isn’t hitting quite as well this year)… buuut 31.
It’s all Beltran when it comes to the lineup. As for the other positions (like SS) I’ll get to that in a second.
The other real danger we’re going to have is that the M’s fall prey to the same trap that many, many other clubs do, and reward Jolbert Cabrera/Hiram Bocachica for being useful players with multi-year deals. If you can find them in the discount bin, there’s always more where that came from. It’s harsh to say, but it’s true: those are not the kind of players teams should expend their resources retaining.
SP3: Soriano if he’s healthy, maybe King Felix.
Here’s Derek’s Strategy of Doom: See if anyone bites on Franklin, and stock the rotation with Blackley and the rest of the Tacoma guys: Madritsch, Nageotte. If we can’t get Beltran, find the best glove man available and stick him in center. (Cameron!!) Find the best glove man to pick it at short, and run him out there. If Boone’s still here, that’s fine.
These guys can come cheap, too.
Play stellar defense. Make those guys trust in their stuff and willing to go after batters. Rack up the Ks, turn the balls in play into outs. Make these guys look like aces. Even Ryan Franklin, who doesn’t have the strikeout stuff of some of these guys, racked up a ton of wins and guady ERAs with the defensive star Mariners.
Then trade them. Oh yes. Someone nibbles on the line for one of these guys you don’t think is coming around (say, isn’t improving their changeup and doens’t want to ), you trade them for decent prospects to restock the farm system.
Or don’t trade them: hopefully this way they’ll develop as pitchers and become the young core of a dominant M’s rotation (um, though frankly I don’t see that in these guys).
And the bullpen: punt. Hasegawa’s gone if we can unload him: he’s Ryan Franklin without the stamina to start. Guardado’s gone if there’s a taker. Don’t spend much and re-stock.
Even with Beltran, this isn’t a team that’s going to win 90 games next year unless Delgado signs for $1, Koskie signs for $1, Beltran signs for $1, and Rafael Palmerio agrees to DH for $1. But it’s a better team that offers potential for the future and hope to the franchise, rather than some kind of abstract treadmill-running road to nowhere.