Let The Sell Off Begin
When the Mariners decided to recall Guillermo Quiroz from Double-A to backup Rob Johnson, passing over Jamie Burke, it signaled that a decision on the direction of the 2009 season has been made. Quoting Baker:
In what he termed “a difficult call to make” Wakamatsu had a phone conversation with Burke earlier today and told him the team is looking to go in a younger direction for now.
When the manager is telling the veteran players in the organization that playing time decisions are being based on age, rather than expected performance, it signals that the team has shifted the priority from winning this year to winning in the future. Given where they stand in the division (seven games out of first place, ~7% chance of making the playoffs), it’s the right call. It’s time to pull the plug on the 2009 season, and make moves that reflect the reality that the franchise is putting 2010 ahead of 2009.
The team should move Erik Bedard and Jarrod Washburn as soon as possible. As we’ve talked about previously, these two are volatile assets, and the reward of moderately improving the return in trade as we get closer to the deadline is outweighed by the extra risk of collapse that both carry with them. Once Adrian Beltre shows a sustained hot stretch that pulls his numbers up, you probably have to move him too – his struggles so far have made him unlikely to be a Type A free agent at years end, which reduces the value in letting him leave via free agency.
Ship Miguel Batista to a contender looking for bullpen help (the Yankees?) and Endy Chavez to a team that needs a legitimate center fielder (the Braves?). And yes, put Russ Branyan on the market – for as well as he’s playing, he’s not a great bet to sustain this level of offense (.382 batting average on balls in play), and the team has several guys in Tacoma who could use an extended second half shot at the major leagues.
Also, Mike Sweeney should get a stint on the disabled list to allow the team to give Chris Shelton a look in the majors.
The shift from “we’re hoping to contend” to “we’re playing for next year” brings the necessity for some significant roster turnover. The team that takes the field in Oakland today won’t be together for much longer. Calling up Guillermo Quiroz seems fairly innocuous, but the process that led to that decision being made will also lead to the beginning of the shift away from playoff aspirations.
Let the sell off begin.