Wlad to Cincy

July 29, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 26 Comments 

The M’s traded Balentien to Cincinnati for 25-year-old RHP Robert Manuel. Manuel’s fastball tops out at 87, but he has a decent change-up that’s let him destroy minor league hitters. There’s almost no upside here, though. At best, he’s a strike-throwing middle reliever. At worst, he’s a Triple-A arm who will get pounded in the majors.

I’m not a big fan of this deal either, but I guess we can hope he turns into Mark DiFelice 2.0.

The Trade

July 29, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 97 Comments 

Obviously, our server can’t handle you all hitting refresh a lot. Please be kind to the site.

Basic summary: I think we overpaid, unless it comes out that the Pirates are picking up half of Wilson’s 2010 salary or something. I liked Snell as a good buy-low candidate, but I’m not sure this is buying low. We gave up a lot for two guys with a lot of question marks.

Long summary, reposted from FanGraphs:

It’s no secret that I’m both a Mariner fan and an Ian Snell fan, as I’ve been lobbying for the M’s to acquire the guy from Pittsburgh for the last two months. I laid my reasons for liking Snell at the time, and his Triple-A performance hasn’t lessened my enthusiasm.

So, when the Mariners actually go out and trade for Snell, you would think I’d be a happy man. However, my first reaction when I heard about the deal that sent Jeff Clement, Ronny Cedeno, Brett Lorin, Aaron Pribanic, and Nathan Adcock to Pittsburgh for Snell and Jack Wilson was “yuck”.

Let’s start with what the Mariners are getting. Wilson is a really good defensive shortstop who can hit well enough to justify his place in the line-up. Despite a lack of power and an aggressive approach at the plate, he’s still been a +1.5 to +2.5 win player for most of his career. He’s essentially a league average shortstop, and at $7.25 million in salary for 2009 with a team option at $8.4 million for 2010, he’s not overly expensive for what he is. He’s a solid role player who does enough things well to earn his contract and won’t hurt the team he’s playing for.

But he’s also 31 years old, and while he’s not overly expensive, he’s not a bargain either. Adam Everett is a similar player and signed a 1 year, $1 million deal with the Tigers last winter. Wilson’s salary makes him a small asset, not a big one. He’s not the kind of player the Mariners should be giving up significant pieces to attain.

So, that leaves Snell as the main piece of value coming back. While I’m a fan, I also saw him as a buy-low opportunity, as he was done in Pittsburgh and everyone knew it. He’s not an ace – he’s a guy with good stuff and average to below average command and some well documented issues with his prior organization. I don’t like the word headcase, but when you’re talking about a guy who would rather pitch in Triple-A than the majors, it’s hard to argue with.

Snell’s contract is better than Wilson’s, as he makes just $4.25 million next year and then has two club options for 2011 and 2012 that could be bargains if he rebounds to prior form. But there’s obviously the risk that he won’t, and then you’re looking at getting one year of Snell and letting him leave. He may be a long term asset… or he might be a one year flop.

For two guys with minimal value, the Mariners parted with five young players.

Clement’s the big name of the bunch, as a LH DH/1B/C? with power who had no future with the Mariners. He can hit righties, but his ability to do anything else is questionable. His knee problems have kept him from catching, and the bat might not be good enough to make him more than a solid 1B/DH type, especially if he can’t figure out LHPs.

Cedeno is a solid utility infielder who plays good defense at SS/2B, but can’t hit. He’s a nice role player, but basically the definition of replacement level.

It’s the three pitchers that the team gave up that pushes the deal in Pittsburgh’s favor. Pribanic and Lorin were the teams 4th and 5th round picks in 2008, and both had impressed in their first year as professionals.

Pribanic’s an extreme groundball guy who throws strikes but lacks an out-pitch, so he profiles as a #5 starter or a good reliever. If his breaking ball improves, he could beat that upside, though.

Lorin’s a good command guy with a nice breaking ball and an average fastball, plus some projectability as a big guy (6′7/250) who hasn’t had much experience on the mound. If he adds a couple of MPH to his fastball, he could be a mid-rotation starter.

Adcock had struggled of late with his command, but as a 21-year-old with a decent fastball-curveball combination and the ability to get groundballs, he’s also an interesting arm. Getting him out of High Desert should give Pittsburgh a better idea of where he stands right now.

They’re all just decent pitching prospects instead of good ones, so the M’s gave up quantity over quality, but the old cliche about building a rotation by getting a ton of arms and seeing who sticks is really true. The M’s had done a good job of collecting an inventory of decent arms, and they just depleted that fairly heavily, while also giving up a LH power bat, for two guys with marginal value.

Pittsburgh is the easy winner of this deal, as they get some interesting young talent and shed some salary without losing much that will hurt them. The Mariners could still salvage this by moving Wilson before Friday’s deadline for a younger SS with more long term potential, but if they stand pat with Wilson as the team’s shortstop for 2009 and maybe 2010, color me disappointed.

Wednesday trade mongering, rosterbation, and related topics

July 29, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 47 Comments 

Unrelated to Dave’s post on Clement, below. Stay cool.

Process Of Elimination

July 29, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 39 Comments 

We’ll hopefully find out about where Clement’s headed at some point today. Until then, we can do a little process of elimination to make an educated guess.

First off, let’s write off the entire National League. Clement’s a DH who might be able to learn how to play first or go back to catching eventually, but his primary position is hitter. National League clubs don’t have the fallback of letting him hit while his knee recovers, so they’re far less likely to trade for him.

Okay, now, write off the Angels/Rangers/A’s. Intra-division trades are rare enough, but division rivals don’t trade major league players to a team trying to catch them in the standings. Texas and Anaheim aren’t interested in helping make the M’s better. Oakland is already loaded with Clement-type players. Deals with those three don’t make much sense.

Now, write off the Yankees. Even with Matsui leaving at the end of the season, they need to save their DH spot for Jorge Posada. Also, their top prospect is a kid names Jesus Montero, a monster hitter who probably can’t catch. In other words, they already have their Jeff Clement. They don’t need ours.

Boston? Nope. Ortiz is hitting again, they just acquired Adam LaRoche to serve as their LH bat off the bench, and they’re not giving up pieces from their big league roster while they try to make the playoffs.

Detroit? No – he doesn’t fit their needs and they don’t have the kinds of players the M’s would be looking for.

White Sox? No – they already have six DH’s on their roster.

Minnesota? No – Mauer/Morneau/Kubel.

KC? Not a Royals kind of player.

That leaves four teams that make some sense.

Tampa Bay – they aren’t getting any offense from Dioner Navarro or Pat Burrell, and they’ve expressed interest in Clement before. Reid Brignac, as has been discussed many times, is exactly the kind of player that makes sense for the M’s to be pursuing. The M’s could also afford to take on Scott Kazmir’s contract to give Tampa some financial flexibility. Morrow + Clement for Kazmir + Brignac makes sense for both teams, even without the whole Cleveland angle.

Cleveland – They don’t need a catcher, but they just traded Ryan Garko and they might deal Victor Martinez, so there would be some 1B/DH at-bats open, and he’s their kind of hitter. Jhonny Peralta could be a good fit for the M’s if they think he can play shortstop.

Toronto – The Blue Jays ownership has just stated that they’re going to get “costs under control”, which might prevent the Jays from offering arbitration to Marco Scutaro this winter. Clement and some lower level prospects might be enough to get you Scutaro, in that case – he’d be a rental unless the team liked him enough to try to sign him long term, but as a Type A free agent, the M’s could prefer the draft picks to the prospects they’re giving up.

Baltimore – They have this Wieters kid, so he’d be a 1B/DH only in Baltimore, but Aubrey Huff is a free agent at years end and the O’s could use another young power bat. What they would give up in return is less clear, but they at least fit the mold of a team that would be interested in Clement.

If I had to bet, I’d say it’s a deal with Tampa Bay. Kazmir impressed in his start against the Yankees, and the Rays would probably prefer to be free of his contract even if they can’t pull off the Cliff Lee deal. Brignac, obviously, fits a big need too. This just makes the most sense of anything. But it’s not the only possibility – I could see him going to Cleveland, Toronto, or Baltimore as well.

Clement Pulled From Tacoma

July 28, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 75 Comments 

In the third inning of tonight’s game in Reno, Brad Nelson pinch-hit for Jeff Clement, who had started the game at DH. Ryan Divish reports “a fairly reliable source says its not injury related”, which would naturally lead to trade speculation. We’ll find out soon enough.

Game 100, Blue Jays at Mariners

July 28, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 161 Comments 

And Wakamatsu, attempting to enter the USSM Reader Challenge (see below), offers this:

RF-L Ichiro!
CF-R Gutierrez
DO-0 Sweeney
1B-R Shelton
3B-L Hannahan
C-R Johnson
2B-R Woodward
LF-L Saunders
SS-R Cedeno

At least it’s against SP-L Rzepcynski

Okay, sooo Shelton yay, though obviously you’d rather see Branyan. But Sweeney in the #3 spot? Why not just spot the other team a run and put someone else in there, save yourself the trouble of pinch-hitting later. I… seriously, this is Vidro-in-cleanup baffling.

Tuesday trade mongering, rosterbation, and related topics

July 28, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 127 Comments 

Here’s your comment thread. Knock yourselves out.

USSM Reader Challenge: Lineups

July 28, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 53 Comments 

Yesterday got me thinking. What’s the worst starting lineup the M’s have fielded
1. This year and
2. During the Bavasi Era

Remnants at the end of the game don’t count. Bonus points for being totally unsuited for the opposing pitcher (say, like last nights) and for fielding horrible defenses.

For #2, I submit this gem, which gets you Vidro at second, Lopez at third, Betancourt at short, and an Ibanez-Ichiro!-Broussard outfield in support of Washburn.

There will be prizes.

It Was Still Fun

July 28, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 44 Comments 

The last four days haven’t been much fun for anyone. Getting the doors blown off at home by teams that are trading players away is not how you want to end July. Beyond the losses, they’ve just been ugly – bad pitching, bad defense, and bad hitting, as usual. Just a total collapse that basically ends the 2009 season and pushes the M’s into looking towards the future.

But, in the midst of all the speculating about where Washburn will go or who will fix the SS hole, we have to stop for a second and realize that this is the most fun we’ve had watching the Mariners play in years.

During the Bavasi era, we got a reputation for being negative about everything. We were the blog to come to if you wanted to know what was wrong with the organization. We loved Felix and Beltre and lauded the greatness of J.J. Putz, but for the most part, there just weren’t many things to be excited about. The team was bad and old, and the guys in charge didn’t understand how to fix the problems. We lived in fear of every transaction, and the best we could hope for is that the talent in the farm system could charge through the minors so fast that they’d make it impossible for the team to trade them for some crappy overpaid veteran.

But 2009 has changed all of that. This season has been legitimately enjoyable. From the breakouts of guys like Gutierrez and Aardsma to the maturation of Felix Hernandez, the majestic home runs of Russ Branyan, the deportation of Yuniesky Betancourt, the arrival of pre-injury Shawn Kelley (I’d love to see that guy again before the season ended), and now the debut of Michael Saunders, there has been a lot of reasons to watch this team on a daily basis. Instead of fearing what the GM will do, I’d imagine most of us are legitimately excited about the potential of Zduriencik being able to get some value in return for Jarrod Washburn.

We were always fans, but the organization made it very hard to find things to root for from 2003 to 2008. This year won’t end in a playoff series, but it re-established our ability to enjoy Mariner baseball, and that might be the biggest accomplishment of all. A few weeks ago, we were actually referred to as a “homer blog”, which, given our response to the team the last five or six years, might be the most impressive accomplishment of all.

So, congratulations to Jack, Wak, and the rest of the crew on a successful 2009. You probably didn’t want it to end in July, but these were the best four months of baseball we’ve seen in years. We look forward to even better baseball in the days ahead.

Game 99, Blue Jays at Mariners

July 27, 2009 · Filed Under Mariners · 153 Comments 

Hernandez vs Romero, 7:10 pm

Happy Felix Day.

Back spasms for Lopez and a day off for Branyan give us the following strange line-up.

Ichiro, RF
Gutierrez, CF (he should stay here, in my opinion)
Griffey, DH
Shelton, 1B
Hannahan, 3B
Johnson, C
Woodward, 2B
Saunders, LF
Cedeno, SS

Is Hannahan-Johnson-Woodward the worst 5-6-7 in baseball history? It might be.

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