The Dream Scenario
When I posted my offseason plan, I noted that it was made with the understanding that the front office has real limitations they have to work under – they aren’t allowed to just trade half the roster and pitch the executives on the concept of freely available talent, so I made the suggestions to comply with the structure that Bavasi and the rest of the baseball operations team are working under.
This post, however, ignores all that. This is what I would like to see the Mariners do this winter if there were no executives to yell that we can’t trade the marketable left fielder, no writers penning wishes for a frontline starter everyday, no season ticket holders to placate, no press conferences to deal with, and the front office was just allowed to shape the roster based on baseball decisions without any outside influences. This, of course, isn’t any kind of realistic scenario, but it will show where I see the weaknesses of the team and potential ways to address them.
So, here goes – if Dave controlled the universe and didn’t have to answer to anyone, the offseason would look something like this.
|2.||Sean Green||RH Setup||$450,000|
|3.||Jeremy Affeldt||LH Setup||$3,000,000|
|6.||Cha Seung Baek||Long Relief||$450,000|
Transactions that get us to this roster:
Trade Jarrod Washburn, Raul Ibanez, and Mike Morse to Philadelphia for Wes Helms and Adrian Cardenas
Trade Jose Lopez and Jose Vidro to Washington for Nick Johnson and Ronnie Belliard
Trade Richie Sexson and $4 million in cash to San Francisco for Ray Durham
Trade George Sherrill and Horacio Ramirez to Cincinnati for Scott Hatteberg and Todd Coffey
Trade Wladimir Balentien to Tampa for Edwin Jackson
Sign Geoff Jenkins to a 2 year, $16 million contract
Sign Kevin Mench to a 1 year, $2 million contract
Sign David Wells to a 1 year, $4 million contract
Sign Bartolo Colon to a 1 year, $10 million contract
Sign Jeremy Affeldt to a 3 year, $9 million contract
Quick explanations of why the other teams would make this trade:
Philadelphia adds the LH outfielder they’ve been looking for and another veteran starter to help fulfill Gillick’s old pitcher fetish while only parting with a utility player they don’t need and a prospect who plays the same position as Chase Utley.
Washington gets a toolsy young second baseman and relieves their 1B roster logjam, while Bowden gets a chance to trade Jose Vidro for young players for the second time in as many years.
San Francisco gets a first baseman at basically no cost and opens up second base for Kevin Frandsen.
Cincinnati creates a line-up spot for Joey Votto, continues to improve their bullpen, and gets an extra arm with a pulse for their rotation.
It’s a pretty significant gutting of the roster. Gone is half of the ’07 line-up, including the three DHs and the underperforming second baseman. In their place are a pair of high on-base left-handed first baseman, a slugging left-handed outfielder with range, and a serviceable veteran second baseman to hold down the fort until the shiny new second base prospect is ready in a few years.
On the pitching side of the ledger, the calls for a frontline starter are ignored, and the rotation is filled with two overweight question marks and an Australian kid with very little experience in the rotation. However, the key isn’t the three names in the rotation – it’s the guys who are still around, ready to take their jobs should anyone fail. Still in the organization are Ryan-Rowland Smith, Cha Seung Baek, Brandon Morrow, Ryan Feierabend, and Robert Rohrbaugh. The M’s would go to camp with 10 guys potentially available to break camp as a starting pitcher and to fill in for the inevitable nagging injuries that the new rotund pitchers will have to work through.
This team, while not perfect and filled with potential injury issues, would have a solid chance of taking the division if certain things break right – Nick Johnson’s recovery goes well and he plays a full season, either Colon or Wells are healthy and effective, Rowland-Smith or one of the young kids solidifies another rotation spot, and Affeldt/Green/O’Flaherty/Coffey can replicate some of the terrific performances the pen got from Sherrill and company in ’07. It’s all within the realm of possibility, and does give the team something like a 20-25% chance of knocking off the Angels and stealing the division title.
The beauty of this roster, however, is the 2009 team. About $33 million of the budget is coming off the books after the season, giving the team significant financial flexibility going into the future while retaining the core young talent to build around going forward. The team creates potential opportunities for Jeff Clement and Brandon Morrow to demand playing time through strong performances in Tacoma, keeps all it’s valuable trade chips for a midseason deal if the team is showing signs of being a contender, and realigns the organizational talent to better fit together and complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
The defense is good (potentially terrific, depending on how Nick Johnson moves after a year off with a broken leg), the offense is solid and balanced with both LH and RH hitters who can get on base and drive the ball into the gaps (while also being perfectly setup to take advantages of platoon strengths), the bullpen is still good, and the rotation is good enough. No, it’s not filled with a bunch of big name Cy Young contenders, but for once, it’d be nice to see the team stop obsessing over the quality of a couple of pitchers and figure out that teams win baseball games, not starting pitchers.
Of course, none of this is going to happen, and a lot of it couldn’t happen even if the front office wanted to be so radical, but it is at least nice to dream every once in a while.