Game 103, Mariners at Rangers

July 31, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 71 Comments 

Vargas vs. Padilla, 5:05 pm PDT

It looks like the other “major” announcement of the deadline is that RHP Ian Snell is due up in the rotation after Felix, which would put him on pace to start for the USSM/LL gathering at Safeco on August 8th. After Snell, we’ll have Hyphen again and then either French or Olson.

The lesser thing that was not “announced” exactly but is good news no less is that Branyan is back in the lineup, having not played since the 25th. Gutierrez continues to bat second while Branyan moves to third.

RF Ichiro!
CF Gutierrez
1B Branyan
2B Lopez
DH Griffey
C Johjima
SS Wilson
3B Hannahan
LF Saunders

Luke French

July 31, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 94 Comments 

It’s no secret that we wanted Washburn traded and had little to no interest in retaining him for 2010. So, if the M’s moved him, we were going to be happy, even if the guys they got back weren’t much to write home about. But should you be excited about Luke French?

Depends on your expectations. He has extremely low ceiling for a 23-year-old – as a guy with an 87 MPH fastball who pitches up in the zone and depends on his breaking ball to get outs, he’s not that much different than Garrett Olson in terms of raw stuff. And I know that most of you are sick and tired of watching Garrett Olson take the mound, so that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.

However, there’s a pretty big difference between the two – French can actually get right-handed hitters out. Olson’s problem as a starter is that he gets destroyed by RHBs, and opposing managers can just stack the line-up with them when he’s in the rotation. French, however, uses his change-up effectively to keep RHBs off balance – he actually ran a better BB/9 and K/9 against righties than lefties in Triple-A this year.

That won’t continue in the majors (and it hasn’t during his first few appearances), but he’s not totally hopeless against RHBs. As an exteme flyball lefty, he’s going to get the same bump from Safeco and the outfield defense that Washburn did, and while he doesn’t have as varied of an arsenal, there are reasons to expect French and Washburn to be near equals going forward.

Between French, Rowland-Smith, Vargas, and Olson, the M’s now have four LHPs who all take advantage of the cavernous left field area in Safeco Field. Odds are they’ll be able to get two quality starters out of that group, and with Felix/Snell/Morrow around, the team has options for the front of the rotation as well.

French will probably never be an all-star, but as more depth for the back-end of the rotation, and a guy who should benefit greatly from the context he’s coming to, you should be quite happy with the return.

Washburn to Detroit

July 31, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 105 Comments 

For Luke French and Mauricio Robles.

Awesome. French is Washburn – a strike throwing flyball lefty who fits Safeco perfectly and should slide in as a nice back-end starter. He just doesn’t cost any money, and we have him for the next six years. That they threw in Robles, a 20-year-old lefty with a ton of strikeouts in A-ball, is just gravy.

This is a fantastic deal. The M’s didn’t even get worse. It’s 50-50 on who pitches better the next two months, French or Washburn. And, of course, we get to keep French next year without paying anything for him.

Sweet, sweet deal.

Act now!

July 30, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 46 Comments 

Teams, where do you think you’re going to find a durable veteran left-hander with playoff experience for your stretch drive? Do you think a pink pegasus is going to swoop down next to the mound before your next game and one’s going to step off, already wearing your uniform?

Snap out of it! You want an ace? How about a 2.64 ERA? Two! Six! Four! 5.35 K/9? 2.23 BB/9? Sure, he’s a flyballer, but but he’s only giving up home runs on what, 6% of them? You won’t even get that from your expensive groundballers. You’ll only get that from Jarrod Washburn, available today!

You might say “that sounds too good to be true”. Listen, you! After years of grinding out starts with good-but-not-great stuff, Washburn’s finally found a weapon to match his veteran savvy and menacing grimace: a new two-seam fastball, newly mastered, that makes opposing hitters next to helpless. Have you seen it? Go call your scouting guys, roll some video.

Yeah, nice, huh? Washburn’s been throwing that all year. Roll more tape if you want proof, but don’t take too long — your competition won’t. Why, if he’d figured that pitch out early in his career he might have more hardware than hunting rifles racked up at his house. But then his price would be that much higher as an established name.

Speaking of price. You might be worried what Washburn will cost. Your whole farm system? Two, three major-league starters? Not at all. The Mariners, racked by lowered attendance and freshly dropped from the race, need to build for tomorrow, and they are ready to deal. They’re not asking for some Halladay-like haul, not some Lee-style looting. No! Call now and the Mariners will hand-select a couple guys off the farm system, names most of your fan base won’t even recognize. You know what they do recognize though? Pennants. You want pennants, you want this pitcher.

And if you act now, as a bonus, we’re willing to shore up your bullpen as well. You need right-handed help that can also write a gripping crime novel or poetry! We’ll include one at no extra charge! Or you might prefer a fire-throwing youngster — the Mariners can give you one as well.

And if you call by the trade deadline tomorrow, you’ll get the Mariner Moose! That’s right, the beloved, now parasite-free mascot that makes kids scream in glee and can be used to injure opposing players without consequence can be yours when you call the Seattle Mariners now! Don’t delay!

T-Minus 16 Hours

July 30, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 61 Comments 

The trading deadline is at 1 pm local time tomorrow. If you’re looking for good news, well, don’t read below.

Melvin said he talked to clubs about “10 or 12” starting pitchers this week without coming close to a trade. He checked in one last time with Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik about lefty Jarrod Washburn but talks did not progress.

“It looks like he’s going to keep Washburn,” said Melvin. “He’s going to try to win as many games as he can. Arizona appears to be that way, too, (with pitchers Doug Davis and Jon Garland).”

Please be posturing. If Washburn is still here tomorrow afternoon, it’s an organizational failure. They have to move him – this is the easiest decision the new front office has had to make. Keeping him for a stretch drive that doesn’t matter would be a really, really poor decision. It’s been nice not having those this year. Let’s not screw that up.

If you want to be encouraged, the upside is that this M’s front office is about as leak-proof as any in baseball. The Mariners just don’t tip their hand to the media, and all of the information about their potential moves is based on information from other clubs. So, none of the rumor journalist types really knows what Jack and the gang are going to do. Here’s to hoping Doug Melvin doesn’t either.

Game 102, Mariners at Rangers

July 30, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 118 Comments 

Olson v. Holland, 5:05

I guess it’s a good thing we sent Josh Wilson down, because otherwise how would we know who was starting at shortstop?

RF-L Ichiro
CF-R Gutierrez
2B-R Lopez
DH-R Sweeney
1B-R Shelton
3B-L Hannahan
SS-R Wilson
C-R Johnson
LF-L Saunders

Dave With Brock And Salk

July 30, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 60 Comments 

I’ll be on the air with Brock and Salk on 710 ESPN at 2:00, talking about yesterday’s trade and why I’m apparently the only guy on earth who isn’t a big fan.

Thursday rumormongering and so forth

July 30, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 102 Comments 

You know what to do. And it’s not “start off with news of a blockbuster crazy trade and then say just kidding” because that’s not funny, it’s annoying.

Projecting The New 2010 Roster

July 29, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 112 Comments 

After today’s move, the M’s plan for the next year’s team, and how they’ll continue making upgrades this winter, comes into a bit clearer view. Here’s the general overview of what the team has in house for next year as of now.

Catcher: Rob Johnson, Kenji Johjima, Adam Moore
First Base: Mike Carp, Chris Shelton
Second Base: Jose Lopez
Shortstop: Jack Wilson
Third Base: Matt Tuiasosopo, Jack Hannahan
Left Field: Michael Saunders, Ryan Langerhans
Center Field: Franklin Gutierrez
Right Field: Ichiro Suzuki
Designated Hitter: Brad Nelson

Johjima’s probably going away (either back to Japan or traded, with the team basically assuming the rest of his salary), so you can mentally cross him off the list. The middle infield is probably set, while you’d expect that the team will displace one of the kids at the corners with a veteran. I’d expect Branyan back next year, so Carp/Shelton would share DH and Nelson would keep hanging out in Tacoma. Whether the the M’s will hand third over to Tui and Hannahan probably depends on how much Beltre gets offered as a free agent.

Rotation: Felix Hernandez, Ian Snell, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Brandon Morrow, Jason Vargas, Carlos Silva, Garrett Olson, Nick Hill

Bullpen: David Aardsma, Mark Lowe, Shawn Kelley, Sean White, Chris Jakubauskas, Robert Manuel, Josh Fields, Phillippe Aumont, losers of the rotation competition.

The rotation got a necessary arm for next year today in Snell, who could give the team the mid-rotation starter they were lacking before today’s trade. The flyball lefties, Morrow, and Silva could fight to fill out the back of the rotation, while Hill could force his way into the discussion if he has a strong spring.

All told, the M’s currently have about $55 million in committed multi-year contract salaries for 2010, while the arbitration eligible gang (Felix, Gutierrez, Aardsma, Lowe) should command about $15 million between them, and the league minimum guys on the roster would push the total payroll to about $78 million. If the organization maintains a payroll of around $95 million for 2010, then Jack would have about $17 million to spend this winter – and that’s before he brings back any of the Beltre/Branyan/Bedard/Washburn gang.

With that kind of money available, the team probably can only afford to offer arbitration to one of Beltre/Bedard (bet on Beltre in that case), and bringing back either would limit the amount of money they could offer Branyan to ~$6 or $7 million for 2010.

Or, to put this another way, take the above roster, put Beltre and Branyan back on it in place of Nelson/Tui, and you’re probably maxed out in payroll.

This is the downside of today’s trade. The M’s picked up a shortstop and a starting pitcher, but it cost them $12.5 million out of the 2010 payroll. They chopped up about 30% of their estimated winter budget in today’s deal. That’s a bit of a blow, and means that the team won’t be able to retain all the guys on the current roster that it might want to.

It’s nice to have a league average shortstop and a starter with upside. The team needed both. I just hope that everyone realizes that part of the cost of acquiring these two is that we’re now significantly less likely to upgrade 3B/1B/DH/SP this winter, at least through free agency. We know Jack’s good at finding undervalued talent in trade, which is good, because he’s going to have to do it again this winter.

Game 101, Jays at Mariners

July 29, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 201 Comments 

Early 1:40 game. Halladay still slated to pitch… please, someone trade for him. Pleeeeaassseee.

They’re starting Woodward at short with Cedeno traded. Good times!

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