Be Bold, Jack
Over at FanGraphs today, I wrote a piece advocating for the Pirates to act as buyers as we head towards the trade deadline, even though it’s pretty likely that they’ll end up falling short of the playoffs. They aren’t actually a very good team, and their current record is something of a fluke, but I still believe that the potential rewards from that fluke lasting all year outweigh the potential gains that could be made by punting the season and acting as sellers.
I believe that this applies to the Mariners as well. This is not a great team, but they’re in a position to give Seattle some interesting baseball in September, and I think they should capitalize on that opportunity. I know the Bill Bavasi era made us very reluctant to trade any young players, but the reality is that the franchise has some players who would have some trade value and probably don’t have a future in Seattle.
Michael Saunders is the most obvious player in that position. He’s still get a little bit of former top prospect shine attached to him, and he’s still a good athlete with some interesting tools. There are organizations out there who would probably be willing to see if they could fix his swing and teach him how to hit Major League pitching. If the M’s were looking to make a blockbuster deal, Saunders wouldn’t be enough on his own, but I’d imagine they could make a smaller move to improve the roster using him as bait. And we shouldn’t let the fact that Bavasi traded away legitimately good talents like Asdrubal Cabrera scare us away from being willing to move a guy like Saunders.
The Mariners need a real left fielder, and if takes giving up Saunders to get a guy who can actually hit big league pitching, so be it. I wouldn’t advocate moving any of the guys that you think could be a real part of the future here, but a guy like Saunders (or maybe even Carlos Triunfel, who also is likely most valuable to the team as trade bait) is expendable. The M’s have some pieces to make a move and improve this team for 2011 without mortgaging the future, and as I talked about in the FG piece, the payoff of stealing a playoff spot is often worth more than the payoff of keeping a marginally interesting prospect around and seeing what he turns into.