The Third Base Problem

Dave · August 22, 2011 at 7:53 am · Filed Under Mariners 

A few months ago, the M’s off-season priorities seemed pretty obvious – the team was devoid of interesting left field options, and they needed to at least get a competent DH to help stimulate the offense. Since then, however, they’ve acquired Casper Wells and Trayvon Robinson and Mike Carp has shown enough power to at least be considered in the mix for playing time at 1B/DH next year. What were total organizational holes are now more question marks, where the team could make a case that it’s worth investing playing time in guys like Wells and Carp to see if they can find reasonably productive players who make no money, which would let them allocate their resources elsewhere when looking to upgrade the roster.

If the team decided to go that direction, that would leave third base and catcher as the glaring organizational holes, and the likely spots to target for upgrades this winter. The problem with trying to upgrade at catcher is two-fold, however – the organization already is paying Miguel Olivo $3.5 million next year, and they seem to actually like what he brings to the table. There’s also the fact that there are no good hitting catchers that are likely to be available, and it’s tough to see the M’s investing significant money on a non-impact guy to make Olivo a back-up. They might spend a few million to get another veteran to split time with him, but I doubt we’ll see Olivo forced into a strict backup role.

So, that leaves third base as the position where the team could focus their resources on improving. Chone Figgins is basically out of the picture at this point, having performed so poorly that I doubt anyone really wants to see him report to Peoria next spring. Kyle Seager still profiles more as a utility infielder than an everyday guy, and is certainly not going to be the kind of thumping big bat that the organization would like to add to the line-up. Alex Liddi has some power but isn’t really a Major League player at this point (and might not ever be), and after that, there just isn’t really anyone internally that the organization could point to and say that he’s the third baseman of the future.

So, despite the Figgins flop, it seems like the team may be in a position to spend some money to get an established third baseman this winter. The problem – I have no idea who they’d actually go after. Look at the list of the best third baseman in baseball this year – it’s not a very pretty sight. Kevin Youkilis is headed into the final year of his contract, probably can’t play 3B much longer, and there’s no reason for Boston to trade him. Pablo Sandoval is the Giants only decent hitter. Adrian Beltre just signed a huge contract with the Rangers. A-Rod? Longoria? Zimmerman? Not happening.

League wide, the third base position is just in a funk. There aren’t many good young 3Bs coming up, and the ones that have established themselves as quality players aren’t available. The 3B market this winter is basically going to be an aging Aramis Ramirez (if the Cubs don’t pick up his option) and a bunch of guys who wouldn’t make a difference.

So, the M’s have a hole that won’t be easy to fill. If they’re going to upgrade at third base this winter, they’re going to have to be creative. And if they decide not to upgrade at third base, but instead decide to stay in house, it’s tough to see exactly where they would spend the money they’ll have available.

All of the sudden, what was a pretty obvious off-season plan is now kind of murky. I don’t envy Jack Z.

Comments

61 Responses to “The Third Base Problem”

  1. ndevale on August 22nd, 2011 8:02 am

    Jose Reyes?

  2. TherzAlwaysHope on August 22nd, 2011 8:23 am

    Give Seager a shot?

    As far as Figgins goes, DFA him, have the A’s pick him up, he gets eye surgery, and he proceeds to pound the M’s again.

  3. ndcohn on August 22nd, 2011 8:30 am

    1) The long-term hole in RF makes it easier to justify an LF upgrade in 2012. I think it’s reasonable to assume that RF is open in 2013. Acquiring a quality LF option for 2012 may reduce Wells/Carp playing time, but we’ll learn more about their long term role, and a new LF would not preclude such a long term role, since Wells or the new LF could slot into RF starting in 2013.

    2) While I’d prefer to add a 3B through free agency, because I’d like to add talent and value rather than move it around, I’ve had a somewhat unrealistic idea that the Mariners could acquire Brett Lawrie for either Michael Pineda. As much as they want a Canadian star, I think TOR might think hard about that offer, and I think it’s fair to assume that Jack-Z is a Lawrie fan. I don’t know whether he’s a 3B long term, and I’m not enough of a prospect expert to speak to his long term potential, but he’s had a fantastic start, he’s quite young, and we have enough SP depth in the minors that I would feel comfortable taking a downgrade in value.

  4. ndevale on August 22nd, 2011 8:30 am

    Or trading for Alex Gordon?

  5. maqman on August 22nd, 2011 8:44 am

    Not much on the free agent shelf as you say so why not try some internal options? Cat the Bat would be my choice for first tryout but I expect Liddi will be given a chance to prove everyone wrong in September.

  6. Mike Snow on August 22nd, 2011 8:44 am

    Alex Gordon is a left fielder now, and anyway he’s making noise about a long-term contract with Kansas City. In terms of third basemen who might be available in trade, possibilities include Casey McGehee (Brewers connection to Zduriencik, should be arbitration-eligible, but question if Milwaukee would look to restock after going all-out this year), Chase Headley (arbitration-eligible and Padres have prospects coming up, but would probably require a substantial trade package), and David Wright (last year of his contract and still unclear what Mets’ finances will look like, but also really tough for them to dump him).

  7. Valenica on August 22nd, 2011 8:45 am

    I know no one likes Figgins, but does anyone think his 2011 is unsustainable like me? .214 BABIP vs .314 last year (where he posted .259/.340/.306, .302 wOBA 88 wRC+ which is close to his 2008 numbers believe it or not, adjusting for parks) Seems to be he’s swinging at more bad pitches and walking less (which makes sense), which isn’t a good thing but fixable.

    It’s better than Kyle Seager barring some miracle understanding on how to hit MLB pitching by Seager, and we’re paying him already. Plus his defense isn’t that bad.

  8. rightwingrick on August 22nd, 2011 8:54 am

    You may be correct in that we have no “sure thing” 3B on the horizon. At the same time, we have a number of very young and very intriguing prospects at 3B, perhaps more than at any other postion in our system.

    Let’s start with Kyle Seager. He’s “undersized” in today’s sports world at “only” 5’10″, and has been underestimated his entire career, including his first years in college. But any guy who hits .275/.359, .344/.418, .312/.387, and .387/.443 on a rapid rise through the minors at only 21/22 years of age is definitely a prospect. He may not be a 15-20 homer guy in a traditional power position, but if he can hit .280, get on base at a .360 clip, hit 10 out, and steal 15 bases, Seattle should be very, very happy. His bat is heating up now. Let’s see what happens in the next few weeks.

    Alex Liddi has made some pretty nice defensive improvement in AAA Tacoma, and he’s still hitting them out (27 homers)and getting on base at a .330 rate despite his high K rate. And his homers are not cheap ones…they would leave any park, including SAFECO. His OBP has been .330, .353, and .411 in his last three minor league years. If he can keep that up and continues to make defensive progress, (remember, he’s only 23), there’s reason to believe he may be at 3B in Seattle. Maybe as early as September.

    Meanwhile, the M’s just traded for Detroit’s #4 top prospect, Francisco Martinez, only 20 and plays 3B. He’s 6’1″ 175 and has held his own at nearly the youngest player in every league in which he’s played in the minors. Right now he’s at AA, and someone to watch carefully. His power is increasing every year, and he’s got good speed, as well.

    Highly regarded Mario Martinez, 21, is at High Desert, as is newly drafted Steven Proscia, 6’2″ 210, only 21 as well…and he’s hitting .311/.329 with 7 homers in 135 AB. Pretty impressive early start.

    And 21 year old Roman Morla, who last year hit .323/..364 at Pulaski with 17 homers and 13 SB, is down in Everett. He’s struggling, but he started late this year, possibly due to injury.

    Of course, top minor league hitter Vinnie Catricala has been played at 3B this year, and the play of Brendan Ryan at SS in Seattle means top prospect Nick Franklin might even get a shot at 3B.

    So it may be muddy seeing the future at 3B. But it’s far from bleak.

  9. groundzero55 on August 22nd, 2011 8:58 am

    Pursuing a trade won’t help with the problem of “where to spend the money?”

    While I do believe we would be best served by trading for a 3B rather than signing one of the bad free agent lot…

    I don’t see why Gordon and Zimmerman are out of the question. Especially if we dangle something sexy, like a Pineda.

    Reyes seems too injury-prone lately.

  10. ivan on August 22nd, 2011 8:59 am

    Might as well throw Triunfel and Mangini into the organizational mix.

  11. Mike Snow on August 22nd, 2011 9:02 am

    Pursuing a trade won’t help with the problem of “where to spend the money?”

    Sure it can, if the trade target is an established player with a significant salary, and you’re giving up minor-league prospects and minimum-salary youngsters.

  12. rsrobinson on August 22nd, 2011 9:07 am

    No one may want to see Figgins in Peoria next spring but I’m sure he’ll be there. I’m not convinced that the M’s are going to write him off as a sunk cost just yet without giving him at least one more chance. I’m sure Jack Z will be looking for other options at 3B but if there’s not much out there I wouldn’t be shocked to see Figgins in the starting lineup on opening day.

  13. SonOfZavaras on August 22nd, 2011 9:11 am

    Is there a Japanese League third baseman who’s ready to come stateside and could play at the major league level?

    As far as internal options go, I think the best move is to scoot Triunfel there to third base and have him compete with Liddi in spring training for the job- to be held until Francisco Martinez is legitimately (non-rushed) ready.

    Certainly I think Liddi has at least earned a shot to audition for a major-league job.

  14. The Ancient Mariner on August 22nd, 2011 9:24 am

    Yeah, at this point, I think you have to ask who’s the best 3B who might be available in trade, and then whether you can get the guy for a package headlined by Paxton — or Walker — or even Pineda, if the player coming back justifies it.

  15. lalo on August 22nd, 2011 9:25 am

    Maybe Aramis Ramirez, 2 years , 15 Millions, thoughts?

  16. ManifestDestiny on August 22nd, 2011 9:33 am

    I’d kick the tires and see what the Padres want for Chase Headley or the Diamondbacks for Ryan Roberts. If they’re unavailable (which they probably are), I’d just give Figgins one more shot next season, then let the young’ns play if Figgins fails.

    Besides, we won’t have much money to go FA, since we’re signing Prince >:)

  17. lalo on August 22nd, 2011 9:48 am

    I’d kick the tires and see what the Padres want for Chase Headley or the Diamondbacks for Ryan Roberts. If they’re unavailable (which they probably are), I’d just give Figgins one more shot next season, then let the young’ns play if Figgins fails.

    Agree with the Headley idea, he can hit, not a power hitter, but a #3 in our lineup, i like him a lot…

    Ichi
    Ackley
    Headley
    Prince
    Smoak
    Wells/Carp
    Olivo/Moore
    Guti
    Brendan Ryan

  18. lalo on August 22nd, 2011 9:53 am

    Vinnie Catricala can play third base too, and he really can hit, .360 in High Desert and .360 in Jackson, walks, etc,…

  19. fuggin_figgins on August 22nd, 2011 10:00 am

    Liddi should get an audition and I think the sooner the better. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to keep running Kennedy out there when we could be getting a look at Liddi. He is probably going to struggle strikeout wise with MLB pitching so why not start the process now when the games don’t matter.

    It also makes sense to inquire about Roberts, Headley, Sandoval.

    It will be interesting to see if the cubs pick up Ramirez’s 14M option. If not I could see us getting him for 3 years $45M.

  20. Jordan on August 22nd, 2011 10:11 am

    Diamondbacks for Ryan Roberts

    He is a utility type and should be available for less than our ‘top’ prospects. So, in the unlikely scenario one of the internal options forces their way onto the roster, he becomes the new/better Kennedy or takes over in the outfield for the underperforming ____

    Are the outfield options any better? I don’t see Z spending just to spend, so if the organization is not going to resign Ichiro, wouldn’t it be good to fill this 2013 hole as well? Even if Trayvon and Casper both pan out, the Mariners still need a 4th outfielder; actual depth is never a bad thing.

  21. msfanmike on August 22nd, 2011 10:15 am

    Liddi should get an audition and I think the sooner the better. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to keep running Kennedy out there when we could be getting a look at Liddi

    I agree with this … and I think we will see it in the month of September. There really isn’t much reason (other than potential Wedge allegiance to his gamer) for us to see Kennedy in September. There really isn’t much reason for it now, actually … other than the fact that the Minor League teams are still in-season.

    If not I could see us getting him for 3 years $45M.

    I don’t think this is going to happen and it would be really difficult to agree with the logic if it did occur. Ramirez would be a nice player to have, but he won’t be worth that kind of money in his 34-36 age years. Injury prone, probably heading for a steep and steady decline, streaky, blocking some yutes (like Liddi) from advancing. Can’t see it happening. Ramirez would be a nice player to have on a 1 year contract – on a team that has a chance to win something – but that won’t be the Marines – and Ramirez is probably going to be offered better deals elsewhere if not re-upped with the Cubs. Re-upping will probably depend on what Sandberg thinks of him.

  22. J-Dog on August 22nd, 2011 10:23 am

    Is it possible to trade Paxton prior to next spring? I thought players had to have been under a professional contract for at least a year before they could be traded.

  23. Liam on August 22nd, 2011 10:40 am

    J-Dog, that’s what the PTBNL can be used for like with Chance Ruffin. (It was only a couple weeks in this instance, but a PTBNL can be up to 6 months later) Paxton signed in March, so he would be available in a Winter Meeting trade as a PTBNL.

  24. rickyabc on August 22nd, 2011 10:44 am

    Here’s an idea – Hanley Ramirez.

    The Marlins seem fed up with him and he is getting very expensive (owed 46M over the next 3 seasons). He’d obviously take some premium talent in return, but maybe not as much as we think considering some down seasons and his rising price.

    Could a Nick Franklin and one of the top arms get it done?

    This would obviously be a big risk as Hanley has been injury prone and not great on the field when he has been healthy, but upside is huge.

    He probably needs to be moved off SS and 3B is the logical spot for him. Having his bat at 3B makes having Ryan at SS just fine.

    The Marlins are opening a new stadium and might want his star power, but they also need to start over and build around Mike Stanton. They traded Miguel Cabrera in his prime for prospects so the precedenct is there.

    Just a thought.

  25. Chris_From_Bothell on August 22nd, 2011 10:45 am

    Is there a Japanese League third baseman who’s ready to come stateside and could play at the major league level?

    I’d expand on that and ask is there anyone internationally that could work – Korea, e.g. seems undertapped.

  26. goat on August 22nd, 2011 10:50 am

    There was an article here this summer about possibly trading Pineda to the Reds for a host of talent including 3B Todd Frazier. What about including Hannigan in that instead of some of the OF/1B players mentioned? Could solve both 3B and C. Plus the Reds had expressed some interest in Figgins.

  27. Paul B on August 22nd, 2011 10:55 am

    I wouldn’t give up on Seager, or relagate him to permanent utility infielder duty just yet. He’s only had 90 games at AA and AAA (combined). He doesn’t have much power, but I think he’ll hit for average once he gets more experience. I would like to see him hit a few doubles, though.

    If I had to pick just one, I’d keep him over giving Figgins another chance.

  28. J-Dog on August 22nd, 2011 10:58 am

    Thanks Liam. Is there a time limit on the PTBNL? If the trade is made in December, do we have 3+ months to name the player?

  29. fuggin_figgins on August 22nd, 2011 11:11 am

    Here’s an idea – Hanley Ramirez.

    This is definitely fun to think about but as has been said on here we don’t get to have nice things. But still in dream mode he did go 16/43, with 10 R, 3 HR, 13 RBI in interleague play against the AL west this year. He would be a really nice long term solution at SS or 3B. Just can’t see Florida giving up on him after one not so great year.

  30. rightwingrick on August 22nd, 2011 11:14 am

    I don’t think there is any way in Hades that the Mariners trade Pineda (only 22), Paxton, or Walker. They are all potential #1 starters, and Paxton may be competing for a rotation spot this coming spring. He has been everything Toronto hoped he would be when they drafted him #1 (and he didn’t sign), so the M’s got him the next year in the 4th round, a huge steal.

    Walker is already being touted as one of the top 10 right handers in all of the minor leagues, and he’s still just 19!

    You just don’t give away those kind of guys unless you get a fabulous package back.

    All of these guys have higher upsides than Blake Beavan, mostly because they all throw 94-97 and his fastball sits at 90-93 (well, I should hedge my bets there…even he is still just 22 and he’s 6’7″, so imagine him at 24-25 if he keeps progressing like he has).

    Hernandez, Pineda, Paxton, and Walker are all untouchable in my book. Guys like these are rare, rare, rare. And I’d add to that Hultzen and another young lefthander, 6’4″ Anthony Fernandez now in low minors. He’s moving up carefully, but was 8-3 with a 2.59 ERA in Everett last year and was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in the Northwest League Championship Series…at age 20.

  31. The_Waco_Kid on August 22nd, 2011 11:20 am

    The lack of external options and decent amount of internal options makes me nervous. Is the team going to have another uneventful offseason? I agree signing Prince is now iffy. I think we need to take a long look at Carp at DH and Wells in LF (maybe RF in 2013) and they’ll clearly stick with Smoak at 1B. I’m worried we’ll stand pat, or make Cust/Olivo-type signings again. I’m hopeful for many of our bats, but we still need more offense.

    Honestly, Aramis Ramirez sounds good for a cheap enough 1 or 2-year deal. A placeholder til our prospects are ready or the FA market improves.

  32. amnizu on August 22nd, 2011 11:29 am

    Lets face it, the team has a long way to go to be competitive in the the wild card or AL west for 2012. They are hovering around a 93 to 94 loss season. I think we can probably expect more from Smoak, Ackley, Ichiro and Guiti next season however that still leaves around 8 to 10 wins away from being a .500 ball club. I do not see one player making up that difference, especially from what is reasonably available at third base both in the M’s system and the open market.

    In my opinion the M’s need to make moves this off season that set them up for being competitive in 2013. Obviously the future is fuzzy, but the teams 2013 commitments are very reasonable right now, I would like to see the front office do their best to keep them that way and become buyers when the right players become available not trying to secure the best of a bunch of mediocre options and overpaying in the process.

  33. The Ancient Mariner on August 22nd, 2011 11:31 am

    J-Dog, read Liam’s comment again, he already told you: the rules give you six months to name the PTBNL.

    rightwingrick: if you can get a fabulous payday (Hanley Ramirez might be an example), that’s when you deal a guy like that. Fact is, unless we want to court another 100-loss season next year, we probably have to trade Paxton or Walker at the least.

  34. Westside guy on August 22nd, 2011 11:41 am

    Dangle Pineda and see if the Yankees will give us A-Rod and lots o’ cash.

    I kid, I kid…

    I’m not sure left field is settled – and, as others have pointed out, we might have to worry about right field sooner than we’d hoped. Wells looks good, but his BABIP is so absurdly high he’s likely to come crashing down to reality soon. Of course, if he can produce at the level he did for the Tigers that’d be workable – but who knows if that’s realistic. Traynon, I really like the kid but a 38% strikeout rate just won’t do.

    Basically, I think the team still has lots of holes into which they might want to stuff some of that “extra” cash.

  35. raul_podzednick on August 22nd, 2011 11:44 am

    Seager is coming around, I would be happy with him going into next season. he doesn’t have the traditional 3B power but as long as he can keep rallies going with a knock or a walk I am satisfied

  36. fuggin_figgins on August 22nd, 2011 12:09 pm

    I think a lineup like the following would be a lot of fun to watch (and possibly a competitor):

    1. Ichiro RF/DH
    2. Ackley 2B
    3. A. Ramirez 3B/DH
    4. Carp DH/1B
    5. Smoak 1B
    6. Wells LF
    7. Gutti CF
    8. Somebody catching
    9. Ryan SS

    Seager util/3B
    Robinson 4OF

    Rotation 1.Felix 2.Pineda 3.Paxton 4.Beavan 5.Vargas

    Bullpen: League, Ruffin, Kelley, Furbush, Aardsma, Lueke, Cortes/Wilhelmsen/someone else

    Batting Practice Fun: Wily Mo

  37. Edgar4Hall on August 22nd, 2011 12:20 pm

    I really like the Hanley idea. Maybe it’s far fetched but hey it’s worth taking a look at right? Plus he’s young which means he will be here when all our kids get settled

  38. lesch2k on August 22nd, 2011 12:22 pm

    draft rendon ???

  39. dnc on August 22nd, 2011 12:54 pm

    Another young lefthander, 6’4? Anthony Fernandez now in low minors. He’s moving up carefully, but was 8-3 with a 2.59 ERA in Everett last year and was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in the Northwest League Championship Series…at age 20.

    Just saw you post about Fernandez at ProspectInsider as well. You are way, way overrating this guy. He’s worth keeping an eye on but he got destroyed when they promoted him to High Desert. Yeah, most guys do, but he’s a fairly soft tossing lefty who’s going to have to prove himself at every level.

    Remember Craig Anderson? Fernandez’s stuff is a little better than Anderson’s, but he’s getting worse results with it. I see him as about the same kind of ‘spect as Anderson was at this point, which is to say semi interesting, but not exciting.

    Jose Campos is the guy who should be considered with that group, not Fernandez.

    As far as the pitchers are concerned, one of Pineda, Paxton, Walker or Campos is going to have to be traded soon, it’s basically inevitable. There is diminishing returns in having that many top of the rotation caliber guys, especially when you have the gaping hole at third.

    I’d throw Pineda, Franklin, Seager and Campos at Florida and see if you could pry away Hanley. Or Pineda, Franklin and Seager at the Mets for Wright.

  40. charliebrown on August 22nd, 2011 12:57 pm

    draft rendon ???

    Only with a time machine. Got one?

  41. davepaisley on August 22nd, 2011 1:22 pm

    I still think Jeff Cirillo could work out. Man, if only we could get him…

  42. fuggin_figgins on August 22nd, 2011 1:24 pm

    I’d throw Pineda, Franklin, Seager and Campos at Florida and see if you could pry away Hanley

    What about Paxton or Walker instead of Pineda? Man I would hate to see him go.

  43. The_Waco_Kid on August 22nd, 2011 1:46 pm

    In my opinion the M’s need to make moves this off season that set them up for being competitive in 2013.

    Maybe. It’d be a huge shame if 2012 is already a lost cause. By 2013, Ichiro may be gone. On the plus side, if they don’t contend next year, we may see free parking at Safeco.

  44. Typical Idiot Fan on August 22nd, 2011 1:48 pm

    Some thoughts.

    Seager

    I like him, but Dave’s right that he’s probably more of a utility role player. Not that this is a bad thing, as it helps a much maligned bench.

    Liddi

    Liddi has a long way to go yet before anybody can consider him MLB material. He’s basically where Halman / Peguero were a few years back. While the reports on his bad defense have been exaggerated, he’s just not ready yet. He’d be Mark Reynolds at best, and even that might be generous with his walk rate.

    Francisco Martinez

    The Other F-Mart is Carlos Triunfel playing third, which is fun because that’s where some people think Triunfel ends up anyway. They’re the same guy, cloned straight from Jose Lopez. I don’t know if I’d consider them non-prospects, just that they have work to do.

    Catricala

    I love Vinnie Cat’s bat. I don’t like Vinnie Cat’s glove. Just because he has played third base doesn’t mean he should be. Sometimes he’s playing there just to find a spot for him, as he’s played more games away from third base than he has at third base the last couple of years.

    Mario Martinez

    Long ways off, if he ever figures it out at all.

    Morla

    Put himself on the map in 2010. Took himself off it in 2011.

    Nick Franklin

    Some think he’ll move to third eventually, but he doesn’t have to yet. He’s not major league ready anyway. Let him cook a bit more.

    Mangini

    Mangini floundered for quite a while in the minors before getting something going last year. Not sure if it means anything going forward, and the Mariners aren’t not high on his defense at third.

    The big problem with all these guys is that they’re not ready for the majors to begin with. Seager is up in the show and struggling to learn against the best pitching he’ll ever face. So even if we thought any of these guys could come up, there should be an expected growing period. And that wouldn’t help us much for 2012.

    The answers pretty much lie in acquiring someone else’s third baseman, but as Dave pointed out, competitive teams are going to be loath to give up their studs. Doesn’t mean we have to get a “stud”, but it would certainly help more than getting a cast off like Casey Blake.

    Aramis Ramirez

    Apparently I wasn’t paying attention to the Cubs this year, because Ramirez has come back to form quite nicely hasn’t he? He sucked balls the first two months, and he’s not getting any younger, so I don’t know what kind of move you’d want to make for him. Also, whether he’d come here or not when we’re not close to contention.

  45. eponymous coward on August 22nd, 2011 2:13 pm

    Pretty much what I have been saying: the M’s have big vacuums at C and 3B.I’d also agree that at least at 3B, there are young players who look like they might pay off, whereas at C we have Olivo (bad), Adam Moore (injured), and whoever Jack’s picked up during Large Item Pickup Day (Josh Bard, or a credenza with a dent in it).

    That being said, compared to where we were coming into the 2011 offseason, where the list was (C, OF, SS, 2B, 3B, SP), this is considerable improvement. So I’m optimistic. 5 positions isn’t fixable in an offseason. 2 is. A few million for a veteran C, and that still leaves… well, something for addressing 3B, maybe even a skosh for a veteran starter and a guy in the bullpen.

    Also:

    - Fielder? Not going to happen unless Ichiro decamps for Japan this offseason. I don’t see this team dropping 9 digit contracts (and that’s what it’s going to take that guy, over $100 million) until Ichiro is off the books.

    - Before anyone makes any pitching prospect untradeable until the end of time, two words: Ryan Anderson.

    - finally, going from 100 losses to 90 wins is pretty unprecedented. 90 losses to 90 wins? Not so much.

  46. goat on August 22nd, 2011 2:20 pm

    I think in general the best approach should be to sign FA pitchers and trade surplus young pitching for position players already under contract. Pitchers are more likely to want to play at Safeco than position players are. So I would feel much better about the potential of a Ramirez at third named Hanley than I would about one named Aramis, even if the second “only” cost us money while the first might cost us Pineda, Franklin, and then some.

  47. dnc on August 22nd, 2011 2:27 pm

    What about Paxton or Walker instead of Pineda? Man I would hate to see him go.

    Sure, if you can pull that off absolutely. Pineda is major league proven though, which is going to help the GM trading us a stud 3B sell the deal a whole lot better to his fanbase. “Prospects” are all lumped together in mainstream trade reports, no matter the caliber. Pineda would actually have a name.

  48. SonOfZavaras on August 22nd, 2011 2:52 pm

    Hernandez, Pineda, Paxton, and Walker are all untouchable in my book. Guys like these are rare, rare, rare. And I’d add to that Hultzen and another young lefthander, 6’4? Anthony Fernandez now in low minors. He’s moving up carefully, but was 8-3 with a 2.59 ERA in Everett last year and was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in the Northwest League Championship Series…at age 20.

    Jose Vicente Campos also says “Hola” to this list. Very soon.

  49. SonOfZavaras on August 22nd, 2011 2:55 pm

    I really like the Hanley idea.

    I don’t. As talented as what he is, he’s been clubhouse poison from Day One. His attitude was one of the key reasons Boston ever made him available.

  50. lamlor on August 22nd, 2011 3:07 pm

    There is one player I didn’t see mentioned on here and he would be a little bit of an offensive upgrade at 3B:

    Albert Pujols :)

    He has 103 games played at 3B and he would help some I think. It will only take about $150M to get him here and we would have to sell him on the idea of how playing third will keep him healthier (no broken wrists from trying to catch balls thrown into runners kind of sell).

    While we are at it, let’s sign Fielder to place across the diamond from him as well. That would guarantee 3M+ attendance again.

  51. ndevale on August 22nd, 2011 4:13 pm

    OK what about signing Reyes, trading for Alex Gordon AND Max Wieters? Would you give up Pineda, Paxton, and spare parts? I say yes. Then you have on the left side of the infield Ryan, Reyes, Gordon, and say Liddi. Or Triunfel. Or Catricala. Meanwhile Gordon plays left in a lose platoon with Wells, and they all take some DH ABs from Carp.
    Your 2012 outfield is Ichiro, Gutierrez, Wells, Gordon, a bit of Carp, and maybe Robinson. or Halman. Orioles wont give up Wieters? At this juncture I say overpay. Adam Moore, Paxton, plus whatever. Of course if the Yankees decline Swishers option…..
    Id still rather have Gordon’s flexibility.
    But hey, it aint my money, and who knows if Reyes would even sign it Seattle.

  52. eponymous coward on August 22nd, 2011 4:29 pm

    Hanley

    Albert Pujols

    Reyes

    Alex Gordon AND Max Wieters

    And now we enter the extended rosterbation session of the comment thread…

  53. wilchiro on August 22nd, 2011 4:31 pm

    Some of these ideas I’m seeing are insane. No, Matt Wieters isn’t going to be traded, and the Marlins front office loves Hanley Ramirez as if he’s a god or something.

    The third base market just isn’t going to be that big this offseason. Aramis Ramirez is entering the tail-end of his career, and I’m not sure he’d even come here in the first place. Headley may be available, but he’s not going to be cheap, as he’s the Padres best hitter and he’s locked up to a team friendly contract.

    Jack Z has shown interest in Pablo Sandoval in the past, but I doubt he could pull something off. David Wright is an interesting option, but I’m not sure why the Mets would sell him in the low point of his career.

    I think our best bet is getting somebody like Casey McGehee or Ian Stewart – two guys that have produced in the past that have struggled as of late and are non-tender candidates. Two nice buy low options that could be high reward pieces.

  54. Jerry on August 22nd, 2011 7:16 pm

    Trade Michael Saunders for Ian Stewart.

    Both players are talented and could use a change a scenery. I think it’s a pretty fair trade. Regardless, I think the M’s could work out a deal with COL to pick him up.

    Give Stewart an extended trail at 3B. If he can’t figur it out, at least it would give Martinez, Triunfel, Liddi, and Catricala a chance to polish up their games and hopefully emerge as a legit plan B.

    Signing Wilson Betemit as another option wouldn’t be a terrible idea either.

  55. Adam S on August 22nd, 2011 7:39 pm

    Best bet might be to hope the Cubs pick up Ramirez’s option and are willing to trade him. For 1/$14, he seems like a great stop gap.

    Barring that, we seem to be looking at a bunch of cheap options hoping someone turns out to be a 2 win player. Given that, isn’t the chance of Figgins rebounding better than an AAA or AAAA player becoming league average? Or has he simply worn out his welcome enough that they’ll give him away this off season?

  56. lamlor on August 22nd, 2011 7:46 pm

    Best bet might be to hope the Cubs pick up Ramirez’s option and are willing to trade him. For 1/$14, he seems like a great stop gap.

    He can’t be traded w/o approval and why would he want to come to Seattle where his numbers would suffer going into another free agency year?

    Betemit? Can’t field and offense isn’t strong enough to make up for it.

    Stewart? If the cost of the trade is cheap and IF you bring him in as a player to compete and not as a player to take over, then fine.

    If the M’s are not going to go big at 3B, then just let the kids play. We as fans have to stop settling for underachieving, or over-the-hill, or stop-gap solutions. We are a real baseball market with a real baseball fan base, and not in a small market venue. We have to stop thinking that we are or they will never offer us better quality than they have for the past decade. Expect more as a consumer, and the the money-makers will provide. Expect less, receive less.

    And my Pujols post was tung and cheek.

  57. raul_podzednick on August 22nd, 2011 9:01 pm

    as long as were throwing out far out ideas…

    What kind package would it take to get Jose Bautista?

  58. Boy9988 on August 22nd, 2011 10:47 pm

    I know this is gonna sound stupid and I pretty much know the answer already, but I’m gonna throw it at the wall anyway. Can Mike Carp play third base?

  59. lamlor on August 22nd, 2011 11:19 pm

    Can Mike Carp play third base?

    Not a stupid question, but I would doubt it only for the fact I think they would have tried that before moving him to LF. It would solve a lot of problems if he could.

  60. lesch2k on August 23rd, 2011 1:19 pm

    raul_podzednick on August 22nd, 2011 9:01 pm

    as long as were throwing out far out ideas…

    What kind package would it take to get Jose Bautista?

    2 of the group Ackley, Pineda and Felix should do the trick.

  61. raul_podzednick on August 30th, 2011 1:08 am

    I know this is gonna sound stupid and I pretty much know the answer already, but I’m gonna throw it at the wall anyway. Can Mike Carp play third base?

    I wrote this off at first, but now that I think of it. He has lost a lot of weight and is playing pretty good defense at first. I think he should at least get a look at 3B in Spring Training.

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