Trades I’m Rooting For
With the trading deadline coming up, some different opportunities are starting to present themselves as chances for the Mariners to make some moves and help rebuild this roster. What follows are my suggestions (not rumors, not inside sources, suggestions) for three deals I’ll be rooting for the M’s to make.
Raul Ibanez to the Mets for LHP Jon Niese and 1B Mike Carp
The Mets are surging, but their outfield is a mess. Moises Alou is out for the year, and Ryan Church’s status is up in the air thanks to lingering concussion issues. Omar Minaya is going to make a move, so the M’s should put themselves in the forefront of his thoughts and convince him that Ibanez is the guy he wants. He has no problem emptying his farm system in attempts to win now, and Ibanez has the reputation to command more than he’s worth.
Niese is a 21-year-old southpaw with an average fastball and good curve who mixes his pitches well and is already succeeding in Double-A. He’s not a high upside guy, but as a potential #3/#4 starter, he’d help give the M’s a legitimate young pitching prospect who could potentially help the team as early as next year.
Carp is a 22-year-old left handed hitting first baseman with a good eye at the plate and gap power. Right now, he projects as a Lyle Overbay type, but there is room in his swing for some extra pop, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he grows into a 25 to 30 home run guy down the line.
Why The M’s Should Do This: Ibanez is obviously in decline, and 2008 might be the last year he’s a starting quality player. As such, he shouldn’t spend the rest of the year in Seattle. Niese and Carp give the M’s some moderate reward youngsters that could be useful players down the line.
Why The Mets Should Do This: They sold the farm to get Johan and they’re running down the Phillies in the east, but a Fernando Tatis/Endy Chavez combination isn’t going to work in RF/LF. While they would prefer to keep Niese and Carp, Ibanez will almost certainly be a Type A free agent, so if they offer him arbitration and let him leave in the winter, they’ll get two draft picks to replace the prospects they gave up. The addition of Ibanez for the stretch run and the draft picks makes it worth doing for New York
Yuniesky Betancourt to the Dodgers for Andre Ethier and Chin-Lung Hu
The Dodgers badly need a shortstop to make up for Furcal’s injury, and they don’t have a long term answer if they Rafael leave at years end. Betancourt would stop in and give them a huge offensive upgrade over Angel Berroa once they realize that Nomar is going to kill them at shortstop. Thanks to the contracts they gave Jones and Pierre, Ethier is somewhat expendable, and their need for a shortstop outweighs their need to keep him around.
Ethier is a 26-year-old left-handed outfielder who doesn’t have any one special skill but has a solid all around game. He’s solid defensively and hits RHPs quite well, and while he’s not going to be a star, his combination of offense and defense would make him one of the M’s best players, and his style of hitting is a good fit for Safeco Field.
Hu is a 22-year-old 2B/SS who is terrific defensively and has a questionable bat. He might end up as a defensive replacement, but if the bat develops at all, he could be a nice option to hold down one of the middle infield spots for a few years.
Why The M’s Should Do This: The M’s need to vastly improve their defense to help the contact pitchers on the staff, and bringing Ethier to replace Ibanez and committing to finding a new shortstop is a good step in that direction. Betancourt’s defensive reputation hasn’t matched his performance the last few years, and his swing-at-everything approach is too repetitive in this line-up. Betancourt’s not going to develop into the star the organization hoped he would, so trading him now before other teams realize that is the right way to begin rebuilding a bad group of position players.
Why The Dodgers Should Do This: The Dodgers production from SS since Furcal got hurt has been as bad as the M’s DH production. They need a guy who can fill that gap while they make a playoff run, and Betancourt would be the best SS on the market. Yes, they lose Ethier, but they’re committed to getting at-bats to Pierre and Jones, so he wasn’t going to play enough in LA as is, and if they need to pick up another OF to replace his loss, that’s easier than finding a shortstop.
Jarrod Washburn and Jose Lopez for Chris Duncan and Jamie Garcia
The Cardinals aren’t going to give up Colby Rasmus, so they’re not going to get a frontline starter to match what the Brewers and Cubs have added, but they’re still going to make a move to try and stay in the race. With their rotation struggling to stay healthy, Washburn would give them a 5th starter that would give them predictable results, while Lopez would solidify their long time second base hole for both this year and the future.
Duncan is a 27-year-old first baseman who has played some LF, but is St. Louis’ version of Raul Ibanez out there. He’s suffered a power outage this year, but he’d shown some real power from the left side the last few years, and he’s also more than willing to draw a walk. If he finds his power again, he’d be the M’s best hitter.
Why The M’s Should Do This: Getting rid of Washburn is a plus, so this deal breaks down from their perspective as Lopez for Duncan and Garcia. While he’s having a nice resurgent year with the bat, his defense has become a problem, and the M’s need to transition away from right handed free swingers. With Orlando Hudson and Mark Ellis hitting free agency this winter, they’d be able to spend some money to fill the hole created by his departure, while Duncan would give them a 1B/DH option and Garcia would give them another good young left-handed arm.
Why The Cardinals Should Do This: If St. Louis is going to hang with Milwaukee in the wild card race, they need a starter and a second baseman, and this is the only place they’ll find both in the same package. Washburn should be fine in the NL, and since neither he or Lopez are free agents at years end, they’re not mortgaging the future for a rent a player. Duncan doesn’t have a role with the Cards, and while Garcia is a tough arm to give up, questions about his command and durability make him the kind of higher risk arm that you can move in a deal where you get a 24-year-old sescond baseman who is under contract for three more years.
If the M’s made all three of these deals, they’d set themselves up to have a good off-season and contend in 2009. Yes, they’d have to get a new middle infield, but this is a good winter to go shopping for second baseman, and there are shortstops like Ronny Cedeno who will be available in trade in a few months. They add a few legitimate major league hitters to a line-up that needs some, pick up a couple solid young arms, shed a bit of payroll, and get a chance to build around position players who can both create runs and play a little defense.