The Most Obvious Move Of The Winter

Dave · September 20, 2010 at 8:41 am · Filed Under Mariners 

As the season thankfully winds down and we run out of things to say about Felix, it’s about time we start looking ahead to the off-season. This will undoubtedly be a busy winter for the Mariners, as they set out to hire a new manager and build a roster that won’t suck as bad as this one did. Adding to the intrigue is the sheer quantity of young players that are near major league ready or should be at some point in 2011, which both gives the team some depth and also provides reason to be hesitant about filling holes with established major league veterans. The Mariners are probably going to be a pretty young team next year, as they try to find out just what they can expect going forward from the likes of Justin Smoak, Michael Saunders, and Adam Moore, as well as potentially mixing in guys like Dustin Ackley, Michael Pineda, and Dan Cortes.

So, in several positions, we’re not really sure what the Mariners are going to do this winter, as they’ll have to choose between upgrading the roster and creating opportunities for some young players that make up the future of the organization. There is one position, however, where the plan looks to be pretty obvious, at least from my perspective, and that’s the closer role.

David Aardsma racked up his 31st save yesterday, and after giving up a bunch of home runs in the first half of the year, he has his ERA down to 3.44. As a guy who has now converted 69 saves in the last two years, he’s earned the label of proven closer, which still holds value to quite a few teams around the game. However, for teams who don’t want to pay market prices for high leverage relievers, Aardsma will represent a cost-effective option, as his arbitration raise will likely push his salary into the $4 to $4.5 million range. That’s several million less than what closers have been getting in free agency the last few years, and he’ll have the added benefit of being a guy with two years of club control but only one year of commitment, thanks to the arbitration process.

If the Mariners decide to put him on the block this winter, he’ll have some trade value. And, given the expected structure of the club, they’ll almost certainly make him available this winter. It would be crazy not to.

For starters, 2011 doesn’t look like a contending year for the Mariners, given how many young players they’re going to have to break in at once. “Proven Closers” are a luxury that rebuilding teams can’t afford, and that’s likely what the Mariners will be next year. And, while Aardsma will have value to a contender with a budget, that value will likely diminish the longer the team holds onto him. Even if he has a good year in 2011, his payday in arbitration for 2012 will get up into the $7 million range, at which point a lot of teams would rather shop for a better closer in free agency. While the Mariners have two more years of club control on Aardsma, only the next one has any significant surplus value, and so he’s better viewed as a guy going into the last year of his contract.

And, for this team, there’s just no reason to keep a guy who won’t be here in 2012, especially at a position where he will probably be replaced without too many problems. Even with all his pitch selection issues, Brandon League is still an equal or better pitcher than Aardsma, and should be able to handle the closer role in 2011, so the team wouldn’t see a big downgrade in ninth inning performance. In the middle innings, the organization has a host of promising young bullpen arms who could step in and provide value both in the short term and long term. Cortes, especially, provides a lot of the same skills that Aardsma brings to the table, only he’ll do so at the league minimum next year, and has a long term future in Seattle. Giving Aardsma’s roster spot to Cortes would save the Mariners a decent chunk of change without significantly downgrading the bullpen, and would allow the team to evaluate one of their better prospects at the same time.

As we’ve talked about, the M’s won’t have a lot of money to throw around this winter, so saving $4 million by moving Aardsma could create enough payroll flexibility to let them go out and make a move for a guy who can make an impact elsewhere. It’s a good winter to be DH-shopping, and the team could use another reliable starter at the back-end of the rotation as well. Moving Aardsma not only gets you value in what the team could get back for him via trade, but in what the team could acquire with the money that would go to having him on the roster next year. They won’t get anyone’s top prospect for him, but the combined value of the return in trade and the ability to redistribute the cash to other places on the roster make this a no-brainer.

Aardsma’s time in Seattle is almost certainly coming to an end. At some point this winter, the M’s will be presented with an offer for their closer that simply makes too much sense to pass up. It’s the one thing about this off-season that you can essentially take to the bank.

Comments

80 Responses to “The Most Obvious Move Of The Winter”

  1. CCW on September 20th, 2010 8:51 am

    I still have a hard time believing another team is really going to give the M’s anything of value for Aardsma. I think it will be essentially a salary dump if the M’s trade him. And that would be fine with me.

    I do wonder if League is the guy. I don’t subscribe to the “closer mentality” notion completely, but League is a flat-out flaky headcase and I’m just not sure he’s the guy we want with the ball in the 9th inning. Do I have a better idea? Not really, though if Kelly or Lowe are healthy, I’d probably pick either of them over League at this point.

  2. FelixFanChris420 on September 20th, 2010 9:05 am

    Yeah, but its going to be hard for Lowe to close games for us AND pitch out of the Rangers pen. Not to mention Lowe was a POS anyways.

  3. robbbbbb on September 20th, 2010 9:08 am

    I thought the M’s were going to deal Aardsma last winter, or, failing that, at the deadline this year. I’d hoped that the J.J. Putz deal showed that the M’s weren’t interested in a “proven” closer.

    But yeah, what you say about Aardsma makes complete sense this off-season. Relievers are the most volatile commodity in baseball. Trade Aardsma now, while he has value.

  4. joser on September 20th, 2010 9:14 am

    I still have a hard time believing another team is really going to give the M’s anything of value for Aardsma. I think it will be essentially a salary dump if the M’s trade him. And that would be fine with me.

    It’s certainly too bad the team didn’t trade him last off-season when his value was at its peak. Don’t know if that was something they considered, but it could be yet another gear that had a wrench thrown into it by the sudden availability of Cliff Lee. (Given how much that steered the rebuilding train onto a dead-end track, I suspect the chance to have him for half a season will end up being judged more damaging to the M’s than all the games he will pitch against them over the course of his career).

    One question I wished I’d asked at the library front-office gathering a couple of years ago (and should have submitted to be asked at the later events) is how the org views closers, and whether they think they’re overvalued in the league generally.

  5. robbbbbb on September 20th, 2010 9:17 am

    I dunno, joser. The availability of Cliff Lee made one year of contention look pretty good. The M’s took fliers on a bunch of short-term contracts. It’s not like they invested anything other than short-term resources.

    Yeah, there’s been an opportunity cost in guys like Aardsma, but it hasn’t been that steep. And I’m not sure last year was Aardsma’s “peak value”, anyway. As Dave notes above, racking up the saves for a couple years and getting the Proven Closer label adds value all its own. Aardsma was a one-year-wonder last year.

  6. Duncan Idaho on September 20th, 2010 9:19 am

    Getting rid of Aardsma’s salary is as much a no brainer as dropping Lopez & Kotchman. As far as who closes next year I wouldn’t count out Kelley, he looked awfully good this year before he got hurt.

  7. Todd Hunter on September 20th, 2010 9:21 am

    Maybe I read the post too quickly, but I did not see a mention of Lueke as a potential Aardsma replacement. Is this due to uncertainty about his future within the M’s organization or a belief that Cortes is a better pitcher?

  8. lubin_cuban23 on September 20th, 2010 9:39 am

    Maybe I read the post too quickly, but I did not see a mention of Lueke as a potential Aardsma replacement. Is this due to uncertainty about his future within the M’s organization or a belief that Cortes is a better pitcher?

    You just beat me to it. The exact question I was going to ask…

  9. lubin_cuban23 on September 20th, 2010 9:41 am

    Dave,

    I know you posted what you think SHOULD happen with Leuke, but what do you think WILL happen because I can see him as a fill-in for Aardsma. I like his stuff more than League or Cortes.

  10. wsm on September 20th, 2010 9:49 am

    Aardsma’s trade value this offseason has to be higher than Putz’s when we traded him.

  11. 14limes on September 20th, 2010 9:53 am

    I wish I could write the classified ad for Aardsma:

    FS/FT: AL closer. Works good. Lightly used. Make offer.

  12. KDawg on September 20th, 2010 10:00 am

    Aardsma should have relatively high trade value this off-season. His value last year may have been higher in winter 2009 to a team that only looked at his ERA and Saves total, but we all knew he would struggle if he kept pitching like he did in 2009.

    And as we saw, he did struggle early; however, he made adjustments and that does not go unnoticed by teams. He has now shown that his success can be sustainable. With his second half bounce back coupled with the 2 years of team control, he should be able to bring in a prize if Jack Z does his job right. I agree with everything in this post and just hope the Mariners make the move.

  13. Pete Livengood on September 20th, 2010 10:28 am

    I agree with everyone that this is an obvious move. I’m with robbbbbb, I really thought this would happen last off-season, and agree with joser’s speculation that the sudden availability of Cliff Lee probably threw a monkey wrench into that plan. I’m not certain I agree that Aardsma’s value is that much less this offseason than last, though – maybe a little, because he will make more money, but I agree with KDawg, his performance this year showed an ability to adjust and sustain performance that will be important to his marketability, and he is still relatively cheap. I also think the Mariners are better positioned to replace Aardsma this offseason, than last.

    I have two questions for Dave, though the first one (Lueke) has already been asked. The other is, what leval of prospect do you think we can garner for Aardsma? Is it unreasonable to expect that we might get something like what we got for Betancourt (Cortes) – a B-level prospect with upside? If that is not a reasonable expectation, can you point to someone within our organization that I might be familiar with who represents the level of prospect we should expect to get back?

    With Lueke, I posted here a month or more ago that I thought Lueke was ready to pitch in the Bigs. I am not sure whether I would put him ahead of Cortes, but it would certainly be an interesting competition between Lueke, Cortes, and League (and maybe Shawn Kelley, if healthy). I agree with Dave – the end result shouldn’t be any worse, and could be a fair bit better, than the 2010 Mariners bullpen.

  14. eponymous coward on September 20th, 2010 10:34 am

    Maybe I read the post too quickly, but I did not see a mention of Lueke as a potential Aardsma replacement. Is this due to uncertainty about his future within the M’s organization or a belief that Cortes is a better pitcher?

    Lueke has 43 innings of pro experience above A ball. Let’s see how he does in a MLB bullpen for a few months BEFORE handing him high-leverage innings in a high-stress job, on top of all the crap floating around him and the organization regarding his past and acquisition, OK?

    (I’m still of the opinion he’ll be bundled in a trade before spring training 2011…)

  15. katal on September 20th, 2010 10:40 am

    What kind of player do you expect the team to be able to get for Aarsdma?

    More specifically, let’s say the Mariners were going to trade David Aarsdma to a team that somehow had our exact same farm system (Pineda, Halman, Seager, etc. were all controlled by this hypothetical team). What player(s) do you think Aarsdma would be worth?

  16. maqman on September 20th, 2010 10:51 am

    Trade him for a bag of balls or cut him if necessary, he’s just not worth $4MM, plus there are plenty of potential replacements in house or for sale cheap. Take that $4MM and the $5MM it would cost to pick up Branyan’s option and buy a decent DH.

  17. pinky on September 20th, 2010 10:53 am

    It sucks that both of the following statements are true:

    “2011 doesn’t look like a contending year for the Mariners”

    “the M’s won’t have a lot of money to throw around this winter”

    Ugh.

  18. ndevale on September 20th, 2010 10:59 am

    Is “they MUST find a shortstop” the second most obvious move?

  19. the tourist on September 20th, 2010 11:17 am

    I’m interested in just how little the team has to spend if they spend the same amount next year as they did this year. Without Lee, Snell, Kotchman, Lopez, Aardsma, Griffey, and Branyan’s contracts, isn’t there at least some payroll flexibility? I mean, those guys made, what, $20+m this year? I know that arbitration and Felix’s contract will eat some of that, but I was thinking half of that would still be available.

  20. SODOMOJO360 on September 20th, 2010 11:20 am

    though if Kelly or Lowe are healthy

    Lowe got traded to Texas buddy

  21. Drew Garret on September 20th, 2010 11:27 am

    Most obvious? Pitching is the only bright spot this club has. Aardsma may not be the tops but he’s fair. The pressure closing for a team unable to score is like double. I think he’s worth the money. Hanging on to him for one more year would not in any way compare to the blunders of hanging on to some of the other positional players. It might make a little sense to move him.. but really? This teams issues have been hitting. We fired the hitting coach first, remember? Was that the solution? When everyone is struggling to hit to their potential sombody needs to figure out why and change that. That is what seems is most obvious. We need players that hit!

  22. Pete Livengood on September 20th, 2010 11:31 am

    ndevale – I think we are stuck with another year of Jack Wilson (and maybe Josh) in 2011, but Nick Franklin is not too far off – 2013 at the latest, I would think. Of course this begs the question of what we do if Franklin isn’t ready in 2012 (as I ‘s’pose I would expect). You’re right about this being an obvious need, though.

    EC – that Lueke only has limited experience above A ball is one of the reasons why I said I probably wouldn’t put him ahead of Cortes (yet), but his talent is real and relievers with his skill set can come quickly. It’s a legitimate question – at least in a vacuum that doesn’t consider all the off-field issues he’s facing. I agree with you that that (alone, let alone coupled with his inexperience) could be reason enough not to put him in such a pressurized role.

  23. Pete Livengood on September 20th, 2010 11:32 am

    And truth be told, if Aardsma is gone, I suspect League is far ahead of Cortes, for some of the same reasons.

  24. Bremerton guy on September 20th, 2010 11:38 am


    Without Lee, Snell, Kotchman, Lopez, Aardsma, Griffey, and Branyan’s contracts, …

    Isn’t Lopez Felix’ best friend on the team? I’m not so sure I agree that he’ll be gone next year. The brass wants to keep Felix happy, and if trading or cutting Lopez would make him unhappy, then maybe Lopez stays. Just my thought.

  25. ndevale on September 20th, 2010 11:39 am

    Do I take it that the collective wisdom is that there is zero possibility of signing Cliff Lee?

  26. CCW on September 20th, 2010 11:40 am

    Lowe got traded to Texas buddy

    Right – you’re not the first one in these comments to point out my mistake… Regardless, my point was that League seems to be one of the relatively rare cases of a guy with closer stuff who might not have what takes upstairs to close. I had a friend who worked for the Charleston Alleycats when League was there and the consensus among management was that he was headcase. Just flaky. And this has been somewhat confirmed by his years in the majors of so-so results to go with dominant stuff. Anyway, I bet the M’s will find someone else internally to be the closer if they trade Aardsma.

  27. the tourist on September 20th, 2010 11:42 am

    Isn’t Lopez Felix’ best friend on the team? I’m not so sure I agree that he’ll be gone next year. The brass wants to keep Felix happy, and if trading or cutting Lopez would make him unhappy, then maybe Lopez stays. Just my thought.

    Wasn’t Beltre Felix’s best friend, too? They let him go…. If I were Felix, I’d rather win than play with my best friend. But I’m not, so who knows?

  28. chris d on September 20th, 2010 11:48 am

    Dave, who do you believe the M’s should go after? A RH DH? Could Mangini fill this spot?

    A SS? Until Franklin is ready.

    3B? Until Ackley is ready and move CF back to 3rd.

    They need more power for sure.

  29. Liam on September 20th, 2010 11:49 am

    With Milton Bradley still on the payroll and the Mariners not in contention, do they even shop around for a DH?

  30. Bremerton guy on September 20th, 2010 11:51 am


    Wasn’t Beltre Felix’s best friend, too? They let him go…

    They didn’t “let him go.” He turned down the M’s offer to take less from the Bosox.

  31. Grizz on September 20th, 2010 11:56 am

    Regarding the 2011 payroll and excluding Aardsma, an increase of roughly $16 million is due in payments for the Bradley/Silva deal, scheduled raises, and estimated arbitration raises.

    The net effect of the Bradley/Silva deal is that the M’s pay an extra $5 million in 2011 (Bradley gets a $3 m raise and the M’s payment to the Cubs increases by $2 m).

    There is another $6 million in scheduled raises for Felix (+$3 million), Gutierrez (+$2 m), and Figgins (+$1 m).

    Then there is maybe another $5 million in arbitration raises for Vargas (+~$3 m), League (+~$1 m), and Josh Wilson (+~$1 m), not including RRS, Sean White, or Langerhans.

    Thus, the approximate $20 million the M’s are saving from players leaving the roster is mostly consumed by the additional $16 million due the players sticking around. The $4 million or so due Aardsma represents a pretty decent swing in payroll flexibility.

  32. Westside guy on September 20th, 2010 12:00 pm

    Sometimes I wonder if we have unrealistic expectations for a closer because we’ve seem what a truly great guy like Rivera can do (and even he’s blown it a few times this year) – but guys like Rivera don’t come along very often.

    Between last year and this year, Aardsma’s xFIP hasn’t appreciably changed (last year 4.12, this year 4.21). The main difference (and Dave’s pointed this out before) is his HR/FB percentage has more than doubled – and that’s not something a pitcher has much control over. If you liked him last year, you should like him this year.

    I’m not saying this to disagree with Dave at all – I think he’s right. Not just because we’re not likely to contend next season; but also because closers are overrated.

  33. Liam on September 20th, 2010 12:03 pm

    Felix was friends with Cedeno too. He knows that it is a business and players come and go.

    “I’m really sad,” said Cedeno, a close friend of Mariners ace Felix Hernandez.
    - Link

  34. firova2 on September 20th, 2010 12:13 pm

    Drew Garret- Aardsma is easily replaceable. Had you heard of Aardsma before last season or thought of him as a closer candidate? League, Cortes, Leuke, and someone else off the scrap heap a la Aardsma 2009 can do the job for cheap. You can’t begin to fix the offense without finding some cost savings in obvious places–like closer. Bullpens can be built on the cheap. Plus, who needs a top closer on a noncontending team in 2011? You don’t think League can be as “fair” as Aardsma? Read Dave’s thinking again on Aardsma’s likelihood of being here in 2012 and why selling high now is the play.

  35. eponymous coward on September 20th, 2010 12:16 pm

    Thus, the approximate $20 million the M’s are saving from players leaving the roster is mostly consumed by the additional $16 million due the players sticking around. The $4 million or so due Aardsma represents a pretty decent swing in payroll flexibility.

    … and that of course assumes that payroll stays constant. Attendance will almost certainly be down for 2010 (just a shade over 2 million, 4 games remaining with absolutely zero appeal against Oakland- the M’s would have to sell out those 4 games to hit last year’s 2.2 million).

  36. eponymous coward on September 20th, 2010 12:26 pm

    They need more powertalent for sure.

    FYP.

    The issue isn’t power. It’s talent. The Mariners got basically ~0 WAR from 2B, 3B, SS, LF, DH and C, and only Ichiro and DTFT grade out as contributing more than an average MLB player (~2 WAR) for the entire season.

    If two-thirds of your starting roster is playing at an AAA-caliber level, you’re going to lose 100 games. A roster that had more power could be more talented, but that’s not the only way to add talent.

  37. Swungonandbelted on September 20th, 2010 12:28 pm

    I just hope that How-Chuck don’t end up deciding to “go in a different direction” with Jack Z. after the season, with the M’s (stupidly) needing to go find a new manager, I wouldn’t put it past this rolling clown show to make Z the final fall guy in the Lueke debacle. (And I don’t believe for a minute that there was no knowledge of his past by those two, I’d be willing to bet a couple of $8.25 beers at Safeco that they tried to pull it off and slide him in under the radar…(and managed to get caught by the unwashed masses….)

  38. lesch2k on September 20th, 2010 12:28 pm

    Isn’t Lopez Felix’ best friend on the team? I’m not so sure I agree that he’ll be gone next year. The brass wants to keep Felix happy, and if trading or cutting Lopez would make him unhappy, then maybe Lopez stays. Just my thought.

    Do I take it that the collective wisdom is that there is zero possibility of signing Cliff Lee?

    There is a negative probability that either Lopez of Cliff Lee play for the M’s in 2011. I know there’s no such thing as negative probability but there is also no such thing as Lopez or Lee being on the team

  39. eponymous coward on September 20th, 2010 12:36 pm

    And I don’t believe for a minute that there was no knowledge of his past by those two, I’d be willing to bet a couple of $8.25 beers at Safeco that they tried to pull it off and slide him in under the radar…

    Seriously? Lueke was a minor-league player with negligible impact on the business side of the house (that being salaries). The odds that the CEO or President is going to be THAT involved with a deal the GM makes (to the point of asking about minor league players) I think are nearly nil. Their jobs don’t really extend to the minutiae of baseball operations, and they’ve never shown a history of Al Davis-style micromanagement of the minors.

    If anything… hey, remember how we dumped Carlos Guillen for crap players as one of the first moves when Bavasi showed up? That almost CERTAINLY was a “get rid of this guy” move, given the players we picked up. Note that this was the opposite of Lueke (talented player traded for cold delicious Sprite due to off-field problems), and I feel pretty sure this was (in part) an upper management deal, given how new Bavasi was on the job.

  40. Chris_From_Bothell on September 20th, 2010 1:00 pm

    and the team could use another reliable starter at the back-end of the rotation as well

    Really? Felix-Vargas-Fister-Pineda-RRS. Done.

    Ok, yes, Pineda is new and RRS is just about out of chances to really stick as a starter. So I see what you mean about needing a reliable starter.

    But still, they need a shortstop or DH way before they need another starter. They could even use catching depth, or depending on how fast they want to bring up Ackley another 2b/3b, before they need another starter.

    Starting pitching is way down the shopping list. This team needs to upgrade the offense at a couple of positions first.

  41. Bremerton guy on September 20th, 2010 1:21 pm


    There is a negative probability that either Lopez of Cliff Lee play for the M’s in 2011.

    I guess we’ll see. It’ll be an interesting off-season, that’s for sure.

  42. Willmore2000 on September 20th, 2010 1:28 pm

    Ok, Dave, I’ll bite. Who is this DH that would be good for the Mariners long term, is currently playing for a team that overvalues closers and would cost less than a David Aardsma & Peter Sarsgaard singed photo package?

  43. Chris_From_Bothell on September 20th, 2010 1:33 pm

    Who is this DH that would be good for the Mariners long term, is currently playing for a team that overvalues closers

    I didn’t read Dave’s post that way. The money freed up by not having Aardsma would help towards a DH, it’s not that Aardsma nets a DH directly.

    Aardsma could e.g. bring back a shortstop that is an incremental upgrade over Josh Wilson (in terms of talent) and Jack Wilson (in terms of health). Or depth at 2b/3b/C.

    Hell, you could even get prospects back to round out Tacoma given that so many AAA guys will be getting a long look next year. That would guarantee an extra 2.5 – 3 million to then turn around and spend on a free agent. (E.g. put that money towards whatever is necessary to get Victor Martinez… there’s your DH, plus emergency catcher, right there…)

  44. spankystout on September 20th, 2010 1:40 pm

    The problem with SS and DH positions, is the M’s are on the hook in 2011 for 23.8M for those two spots. Bradley is owed 13.3M, Jack Wilson 5M, and the Cubs get 5.5M for Silva. As much as I would like to see healthy, and productive upgrades I doubt it will happen at those positions.

  45. Chris_From_Bothell on September 20th, 2010 1:57 pm

    spankystout – I hope all of that is treated as a sunk cost.

    You play Bradley as a true DH, platooning him with whoever you find in the offseason. You keep Jack as healthy as possible and on the bench as much as possible. (Or even watch him retire, if Drayer’s reporting from a few weeks ago wasn’t just Wilson being discouraged.) You shake your fist at the sky over Silva.

    But none of that precludes going out and getting better at those positions. The available money should be spent on the best players possible, wherever that may be. If the budget gets you a solid DH, go with that, the Wilsons platoon at SS. If the budget gets you a better SS, go with that, and limp along with Bradley and whoever at DH.

    Yes, there’s a lot of money sunk into those spots, but if some theoretical upgrade comes along, take it.

  46. Mike Snow on September 20th, 2010 2:06 pm

    Had you heard of Aardsma before last season or thought of him as a closer candidate?

    Aardsma was considered a future closer when he was drafted. A lot of that projection had been forgotten with his performance afterward, but it’s still related to why he was the first guy tried in that role when Morrow was combusting.

  47. eponymous coward on September 20th, 2010 2:08 pm

    Yes, there’s a lot of money sunk into those spots, but if some theoretical upgrade comes along, take it.

    I think it’s mostly going to be theoretical without some salary dumping somewhere or trades. I don’t see how Zduriencik gets to go to his bosses after the 2010 season and say “see, I spent your money so well in 2010 that you should give me more in 2011″- especially given that payroll got CUT in 2010 after 2009.

    You might also consider that going into 2010, anyone with working brain cells knew Jack Wilson wasn’t going to stay healthy through all of 2010… and the official backup plan of record was a guy with less MLB games at SS than I have fingers (Hannahan). Apparently backup SSs above the Wilson level of AAA-level aren’t all that easy to find. I don’t see how 2011 is going to be any different than the same routine of Large Item Pickup Day we’ve had the past couple of years.

  48. Philly M's fan on September 20th, 2010 2:18 pm

    Its a shame by the time the M’s get good enough for a playoff run Ichiro might be to old to enjoy it. It sucks they werent good enough to contend during his younger days besides 2001, because he was and still is terrific.

  49. Chris_From_Bothell on September 20th, 2010 2:19 pm

    I don’t see how 2011 is going to be any different than the same routine of Large Item Pickup Day we’ve had the past couple of years.

    lalalalalala I can’t hear you.

    Unfortunately, I agree, SS would be a good trick.

    Trade Aardsma and Lopez for salary relief and prospects, bring up Ackley, move Figgins to 3b, make a full-court press for Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez, and call it a day.

    If they can’t get Lee or Martinez, and won’t bring up Ackley or Pineda until the All-Star Break of 2011, this may be the first offseason and season in several years where I literally don’t care what they do as long as they keep Felix.

  50. spankystout on September 20th, 2010 2:27 pm

    Asking the M’s to eat 23M is a little much. Its my hope Jack Z can wiggle out of those contracts, but I highly doubt anyone will take them off his hands.

  51. Diehard on September 20th, 2010 2:34 pm

    It makes complete sense to trade the DA when his value is high as a proven closer. The M’s have plenty of guys on the cusp of the majors who are potential closers so Jack Z just needs to do when he first got here with Putz, get as much back as possible for Aardsma.

  52. Shanfan on September 20th, 2010 2:49 pm

    It makes sense to trade Aardsma if we get a decent return but I wouldn’t be upset if we kept him either. I’ll only be upset if we dump him for salary relief or ‘opportunity cost’ reasons. Does anyone here remember any of the pre-Sasaki bullpens? In not quite two seasons Aardsma is already fourth on the M’s career saves list. Even on a non-contending team it’s crushing as a fan to have a decently pitched game get handed over to a gas can gang.

    It wouldn’t be horrible to let the young guys, injury rehabbers, and off-season pick-ups sort it out in back end and set-up roles. We can trade him next year in-season if somebody looks ready to fill his shoes. The Nat’s got Ramos (and others) for Capps this year at the deadline. The Padres and Heath Bell were in the same situation last winter and keeping him worked out fine for them.

    As for easily replacing bullpen arms, sometimes all you get off the scrap heap is scrap. This year’s Aardsma was Jesus Colume. How’d that work out? We replaced him with Chad Cordero. If effective relievers are a dime a dozen, why have we had dozens and dozens of relievers not worth a dime in our history? We’ve got other arms that already could use an upgrade out there. Sean White is still on this team, folks.

    Luxuries we can afford less than an effective closer are $12 million part-time declining DH’s, $5 million part-time banjo hitting shortstops, and $9 million half-a-WAR attitudinal second basemen. No one is going to take those first two off our hands but I’d jump at a chance for a straight salary dump ($26 million or more still owed) for our second baseman if that was possible.

    If Aardsma is traded, it’s only worthwhile in a talent-for-talent swap. Can you imagine how much more this team would’ve sucked with an Ayala instead of an Aardsma? I agree with Dave as he states that this winter we’ll get an offer too good to pass up, but if there isn’t, dumping the guy for salary relief/roster space as some suggest is a bad idea.

  53. nathaniel dawson on September 20th, 2010 3:11 pm

    Trade Aardsma and Lopez for salary relief and prospects

    I’m not sure picking up Lopez’ option in order to trade him would be such a good idea — his salary under that option would probably make him untradeable, unless we ate some of the money, which would be worse than just declining the option in the first place. The same for offering him arb — higher salary, making him less attractive to other teams. The wisest move would seem to be declining his option and letting him become a free agent.

  54. gwangung on September 20th, 2010 3:22 pm

    As for easily replacing bullpen arms, sometimes all you get off the scrap heap is scrap.

    That’s not how you replace bullpen arms. And that’s not how BAVASI developed a bullpen (which is one of the few things he did OK).

  55. ozman24 on September 20th, 2010 3:57 pm

    What ever happened with Josh Fields? Wasn’t he the next best thing in 2008?

  56. firova2 on September 20th, 2010 4:16 pm

    April and May: a bullpen full of Ayalas, Aarsdma included. We saw it. Remember Chicago? Anaheim?

    Figgins moves to third to make way for Ackley. Josh Wilson or somewhat better scrub starts at second until Dustin’s ready. A Figgins salary dump may be more doable with only two years left rather than three depending on what is available next winter and how much they think they can upgrade from him.

    I would put the chance of Cliff Lee coming back to Seattle at roughly that of Adrian Beltre. The Mariners can’t offer him the megabucks and why would he come back to this noncontending mess? I actually think that depending on how competitive Texas is in the playoffs, he may give them a discount to stay since it is close to his Arkansas home and they have a lot of young talent.

  57. Duncan Idaho on September 20th, 2010 5:07 pm

    With Tampa’s salary limitations and with Rafael Soriano almost certainly leaving, could an Aardsma for Jason Bartlett deal be possible with Brignac ready to step in for the Rays?

  58. groundzero55 on September 20th, 2010 6:08 pm

    Its a shame by the time the M’s get good enough for a playoff run Ichiro might be to old to enjoy it. It sucks they werent good enough to contend during his younger days besides 2001

    In 2002, the M’s went 93-69.
    In 2003, the M’s went 93-69.

    Those are damn good seasons. Unfortunately the AL West was very, very, I’d go so far as saying ridiculously good those years, especially 2002, when 93 wins was good enough for third place in the division.

  59. gag harbor on September 20th, 2010 6:09 pm

    I’m cool with the team going “younger” but I would be willing to believe in the Mariners a lot sooner if the front office got “younger”.

  60. wtnuke on September 20th, 2010 6:54 pm

    I know I’ll get rocks thrown at my head for this, but what about the idea of trading Ichiro and Felix Hernandez? If we’re really rebuilding, we need more good young talent, and clearly we need to spread out the value on this team.

  61. Badbadger on September 20th, 2010 8:00 pm

    I know I’ll get rocks thrown at my head for this, but what about the idea of trading Ichiro and Felix Hernandez? If we’re really rebuilding, we need more good young talent, and clearly we need to spread out the value on this team.

    Felix is good young talent. Trading Ichiro makes a bit more sense, since he will be on the downhill side of his career before we contend again.

  62. greentunic on September 20th, 2010 8:22 pm

    wtnuke, I like the outside-the-box thinking. I just don’t think it would be good for us to trade Felix.

    I do not believe we could get as much for Felix as we’d want. I would want something like a Heyward AND a Jurrjens, or a Posey AND a Bumgarner. They wouldn’t do that for us and I don’t even know if I’d do that as the M’s. Felix is perhaps the most valuable player in MLB in terms of youth + talent + “proven-ness.” He’s who we build this team around.

  63. lalo on September 20th, 2010 8:32 pm

    Agree, maybe they should trade Aardsma, but we can´t expect any good prospects in the deal, is more like a salary dump only, League could be the closer and Cortes and Lueke great arms, and these 4 millions?? maybe the Branyan´s option and the 2011 M´s will be the same crap that have been in 2010, OK, maybe with 3 great prospects (Smoak,Ackley and Pineda), and with a better Michael Saunders , but they need a power hitter, they need Dunn, they need a C,SS,2B(Until Ackley is ready), and appears impossible that they can upgrade all this season, especially with Bradley and Jack Wilson, but with Jack, all is possible, do you remember the Lee trade??

  64. TomTuttle on September 20th, 2010 8:37 pm

    Are we sure that a full-on youth movement is a good idea for 2011?

    I mean, let’s think about what the Pirates have done in 2010 for a second.

    It’s one thing if Saunders, Moore, Smoak, etc. had shown a lot of sparks and flashes of life for next year.

    But they haven’t.

    I definitely think this 2011 Mariners team could have people longing for the Tyrone Willingham and/or Paul Wulff eras at UW and Wazzu and if given the choice, I’d rather go all-in than all-out.

    But then again, it’s tough to see us EVER going to the World Series anyways with Lincoln and Armstrong running the show.

    So whatever.

  65. djw on September 21st, 2010 4:05 am

    make a full-court press for Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez

    I’m pretty sure that would require that upper management authorize a larger payroll than 2010. Do you think that’s likely? I don’t.

  66. gwangung on September 21st, 2010 8:31 am

    I definitely think this 2011 Mariners team could have people longing for the Tyrone Willingham and/or Paul Wulff eras at UW and Wazzu and if given the choice, I’d rather go all-in than all-out.

    I think that’s much closer to the Lincoln/Armstrong mode than to the local blogosphere than you realize.

    If the infrastructure isn’t there, it makes no sense to go all-in. And because of years of past management, the infrastructure isn’t there.

  67. kennyb on September 21st, 2010 9:34 am

    Why are so many people wanting the M’s to go after Cliff Lee? His salary next year will be more than the M’s can add to their payroll.
    It just doesn’t make sense.

  68. crf3616 on September 21st, 2010 9:37 am

    I like the idea above of trying to trade the DA to the Rays for Bartlett. He’s having a bit of a down year, so I think it’s a do-able deal.

    As far as a couple of other do-able ideas to make this young team work watchable:

    - Sign Xavier Nady at 1B/DH/OF/Bench. He’s making $3.5M this year, and it probably wouldn’t take much more to sign him next year. He’s a career .279/.333/.449 hitter, and would be one of the better offensive players on the team without much $ out the door.

    - Sign John Buck at C. Making $2M per year this year with 18 HR and .271/.300/.480. He’s probably in line for a bit of a raise, but is only 30. I’m not convinced that Adam Moore is a MLB catcher, and it’s the most obvious spot to add offense.

    That gives the M’s decent upgrades at 3 offensive positions (Bartlett, Nady, Buck) for relatively little money. Ichiro, Figgins, and Guti aren’t going anywhere. Then the final 3 starting spots would likely be filled by youngsters (Smoak, Ackley, Saunders?). It’s not a team that would be contending for the playoffs, but it would be significantly more exciting to watch than the current version.

  69. gwangung on September 21st, 2010 9:56 am

    Why are so many people wanting the M’s to go after Cliff Lee?

    The George Steinbrenner mode of thinking. Go after the biggest, most well known name, not necessarily the most effective.

  70. kennyb on September 21st, 2010 10:11 am

    Maybe, but our payroll can’t take that kind of thinking.

  71. LongDistance on September 21st, 2010 10:18 am

    This is Devil’s Advocate time here, but… You know… I’m not so sure it’s so absolutely necessary to consider dumping Aardsma as being the Most Obvious Move of the Winter.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve seen so often… for the sake of Pencil Pusher’s Logic… this guy or that guy get put on the block. Yes, yes… it’s the “right” time to send him down the road to some more deserving team willing to spend the bucks.

    But… dammit… I’m tired of watching the bottom line baseball “business” logic always have to be the politically correct choice. We’ve thrown away SO many contributors, just because it would have been supposedly embarrassingly stupid… from a business logic point of view… to have kept them. And what have those guys done? Contributed to bettering other teams.

    And we end up with a “high” score for business logic… and lousy teams.

    Damn. It. Keep Dave Aardsma. Me, I don’t think he’s going to tank suddenly because of some Mariner’s Jinx. He’s a contributor, and he’s worth his salary. And instead of… every damn time… sending whatever we’ve got that has any worth at all down the road. Keep it, and build on it.

    There are plenty of other things they need to be thinking about for getting some foundation into to this club. (I refuse to use the term rebuilding. “Rebuilding”??? What. A. Joke. Rebuilding from what….?). Decimating whatever elements could contribute to what little foundation they’ve got… may be the “smart” money choice.

    But winning baseball is more than just adhering to the smart money theories. It’s knowing when to believe in a few people.

    And I don’t mean some stupid Sexson-style high-roller gambling form of belief. I mean: just take a look at these guys, and decide who are, or are not, clubbers.

    For my money, Aardsma’s a keeper.

    Let’s move out the real deadwood.

  72. gwangung on September 21st, 2010 10:30 am

    But winning baseball is more than just adhering to the smart money theories

    No, it isn’t.

    It’s PRECISELY spending money well on good talent. No more, no less. Anything else is bad baseball. See Branch Rickey.

  73. spankystout on September 21st, 2010 10:40 am

    David Aardsma is a shaky closer. There is no logic to keep Aardsma when the team has League, Cortes, Kelley (if healthy), Lueke, and maybe someday Fields. All of these guys have closer ‘stuff’ with an out pitch. Something Aardsma has had to develop on the fly this season. Aardsma is going to earn roughly 4-4.5M next season. This money can pay for League, Kelley, Cortes, and Lueke. That is 4/7 of our bullpen paid for, they are younger, cheaper and have upside that Aardsma doesn’t.

  74. kennyb on September 21st, 2010 11:34 am

    OK LongDistance,
    Let’s say the team follows your advice. They keep Aardsma and upgrade exactly what? And with what money?
    The team as you would have it is still a poor hitting team. They need to upgrade the offense somehow. Where is the money going to come from? Jack can’t exactly make a good case for increasing payroll, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see payroll cut a little. If Aardsma is going to cost 4M that eats up a big chunk of the dough. Trading Figgins would help save money, but if the team wanted to go that route they would have made the move at the deadline. Plus they would probably keep Lopez (my fingers hurt typing that).
    Don’t get me wrong, I have no hope for a San Diego like turn around next year, and I don’t think it really matters if the team keeps Aardsma for 2011 or uses that money to make a small upgrade to the offense. The team is not going to contend until at least 2012. But if they can turn Aardsma into a moderate prospect and $4m they have to do it.

  75. Duncan Idaho on September 21st, 2010 1:30 pm

    Let’s not just assume Aardsma is at 4-4.5 mil next year. Second year arby closers get between 4 and 7 million so if the case actually went to the arbitrater and Aardsma asks for 5-6 he could get it. 4.5-5 seems like a likely compromise point but I would say 4 million would mean that the team put in a lowball arby offer and won.

    Long distance has an interesting take above and there is one circumstance where I would want the Mariners to retain Aardsma. If JackZ could sell Aardsma on a 3/12 million deal I would rather keep him and trade League. As far as aquiring prospects is concerned I see League as the more valuble trade piece anyway. Aardsma seems like a trade piece that will net the Mariners a player or two who are expensive or are about to be.

  76. terry on September 21st, 2010 3:12 pm

    Do I have a better idea? Not really, though if Kelly or Lowe are healthy, I’d probably pick either of them over League at this point.

    Since we’re picking guys from other teams, i’d rather have Mariano Rivera…

  77. lalo on September 21st, 2010 7:26 pm

    -Sign Tejada, Eckstein or Uribe as a SS, three are better offensively than Jack and Josh (4 MILLIONS)
    -Sign Buck or trade for Arencibia, or Jaso.(2 MILLIONS)
    -Resign Branyan or sign Matsui (4 OR 5 MILLIONS)
    -Release Kotchman
    -Sign Kevin Millwood (1.5 MILLIONS)
    -Sign high risk pitchers like Bedard or Sheets (2 MILLIONS + INCENTIVES)
    -Trade Aardsma for any prospect.(-5 MILLIONS)

    All of this for aprox. 15 millions, – 5 of Aardsma, 10 millions, and a more watchable team.

  78. cjhenry on September 22nd, 2010 8:19 am

    Dave, I agree with you almost entirely. However the one point where we differ is on Brandon League. They should move him in the offseason as well. He really isn’t any good and doesn’t hold leads well. Once he’s frazzled a bit, he get’s destroyed. I don’t see that changing. But hey, nobody wants to admit we got fleeced in the Morrow trade, so we have to believe in Brandon I guess.

    You are probably right that he’ll be the closer next year, but hopefully only as a target for some young tough guy looking to take his job away.

  79. cjhenry on September 22nd, 2010 8:22 am

    Dave,

    I think Adam Moore got his shot and blew it. I’d be interested to see an analysis starting catchers, now or in recent history, to see how may of them hit this poorly in their first 200 mlb at bats and stayed a starter, or even stayed in the majors.

    I think they will give up on him in the offseason.

  80. Badbadger on September 24th, 2010 12:02 pm

    200 abs isn’t enough to judge a player. .

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