Seattle Mariners: Why the Team Should Trade for Matt Kemp

The Seattle Mariners reportedly had conversations with the Dodgers about incumbent outfielder Matt Kemp.

Kemp is reportedly not being moved, but the M’s should maintain interest in the two-time All-Star.

After the ambitious, low-buy acquisitions of Logan Morrison and Corey Hart, the team’s lineup will look something like this-

  1. CF Dustin Ackley
  2. 3B Kyle Seager
  3. 2B Robinson Cano
  4. DH Corey Hart (he only wears sunglasses when it’s sunny, just so we’re clear)
  5. 1B Logan Morrison
  6. LF Michael Saunders
  7. C Mike Zunino
  8. SS Brad Miller
  9. RF Abraham Almonte

That’s a pretty solid lineup. In terms of the division standings, that group would probably get you higher than the Astros, and should the pitching hold up, above the Angels. If Hart and Morrison can have bounce-back years, and (again) pitching forbid, the team has a good chance to surpass Texas.

Acquiring Kemp would vault them past Texas and the Angels. Something that seemed absurd four months ago. Oakland may be out of reach, but bringing in Matt Kemp would put the Mariners in a position to legitimately contend for a Wild Card berth.

The Dodgers’ outfielder would bring a perfect blend of, well, everything to the Mariners. Kemp’s defense would shine in still-spacious Safeco Field. Hitting him cleanup in the lineup listed above could be potentially lethal. Imagine this-

  1. RF Abraham Almonte
  2. 3B Kyle Seager
  3. 2B Robinson Cano
  4. CF Matt Kemp
  5. DH Corey Hart (he still only wears sunglasses when it’s sunny)
  6. 1B Logan Morrison
  7. LF Michael Saunders
  8. C Mike Zunino
  9. SS Brad Miller

Almonte is the “projected” leadoff hitter only based on the fact that he has the foot speed to create at the top of the order, and Ackley can’t play right field. A leadoff hitter would probably be the next item on the Mariners’ to-do list. Ackley could be traded in an effort to get one.

The Yankees, among others, have inquired about the former first-round pick.  Ideally, Seattle could flip Ackley and one of their lesser relievers for one of their incumbent outfielders, Brett Gardner. Here’s another lineup prediction with Gardner (bear with me on this)-

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Kyle Seager
  3. 2B Robinson Cano
  4. CF Matt Kemp
  5. DH Corey Hart
  6. 1B Logan Morrison
  7. RF Michael Saunders/Abraham Almonte
  8. C Mike Zunino
  9. SS Brad Miller

That lineup would contend with Oakland for the division. Not only could that lineup, coupled with the Mariners’ underrated pitching staff, contend with Oakland, but they could compete with the best of them. Outside of Detroit, St. Louis, Los Angeles and a regressing (for the moment) Boston, Seattle could have the most talented team.

This isn’t even mentioning former top-prospects Jesus Montero, Justin Smoak and Nick Franklin, all of whom could be shopped to add to the M’s bullpen or rotation.

Getting to this point won’t be easy. Seattle’s going to have to take on some money as well as give up a solid player or two to acquire Kemp. The other trades won’t be cakewalks, but should the Mariners do it, they could be looking at a playoff berth for the first time in a long, long time.

 

The Mariners’ Future is Now

A quick pan over the Mariners’ depth chart shows Nick Franklin and Mike Zunino in the starting nine. This wouldn’t be too far-fetched if it were, say next year’s depth chart, but this is where the world is presently; the Mariners future is also their present.

The M’s probably would have liked to have had Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero each put a respective stranglehold on second base and catcher so that the team could ease Franklin and Zunino into their roles for the next decade. Ackley hit .205 with five extra base hits in 45 games, while Montero struggled to fit in defensively and was a smidgen better batting than Ackley with a .208 clip. The two obviously didn’t execute said strangleholds, and here we are.

This might be a good thing for the Mariners, all of course pending the youngsters perform well.

Zunino is obviously the future at catcher. He’s proved that with his own body of work. Not to mention having Montero prove the fact for him with his defensive shortcomings. This lets him get a head-start on being the M’s everyday catcher while continuing his learning process. Everyone knew he was going to take over for Montero at some point between the start of this season and the end of next. This just accelerates the process and lets Montero transition to more of an everyday utility player, one who might catch a day or two a week and play the other games at first base or as the DH.

The Franklin transition seems to be working out for all parties involved. Mariners, Franklin and Ackley. Franklin is currently preforming well for Seattle with a .299 clip at the plate while providing plus defense. Ackley is ripping the cover off the ball at AAA Tacoma, a good sign after his iffy stint with Seattle to start the year, with a .383 batting average.

This could all work out well for Seattle. Zunino could establish himself as the catcher sooner than expected. Franklin could integrate himself into the core of the team, also sooner than expected. Ackley could come back firing from a hitting spree in Tacoma, and Montero could figure things out after he returns from injury.

Things are looking up for the Mariners.

Why Michael Saunders Is the Most Important Player in the Seattle Mariners’ Lineup

Big name additions Mike Morse and Kendrys Morales might be viewed as the most important players in the M’s lineup. It might be the development of budding stars Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager. Or it could be Michael Saunders.

Michael Saunders who hit .727 (that being 8 for 11 for all of you who didn’t major in some sort of math at MIT) in the World Baseball Classic. Michael Saunders, who I gave the nickname Grand Torrido to despite “Torrido” meaning torrid in Italian and the M’s having one of the more prominent Italian players in the game of baseball in their organization: Alex Liddi. Whatever, Saunders is the most important player in the lineup and this is why.

He extends the lineup. Continue reading

Projecting the Mariners’ Opening Day Lineup

Due to the Mariners hot start in spring training, it makes it just about as easy to predict a lineup where the whole team struggles. None the less, the M’s will likely feel good about themselves going into the season thanks to their torrid spring offense and lack of a terribly-long flight to Japan.

The Mariners have a lot to look forward to this year. They will likely contend for a playoff spot, or at least a seat at the final table to determine that spot. They will unveil a new, slugging-based offense. They will play in the same division as Houston. And they will play in the same division as Houston. Continue reading

This is the Mariners Depth Chart and This is What I’m Going to Write About- Looking at the Mariners Possible Strengths and Weaknesses

Writing block happens. Everybody gets it. So when trying to come up with a timely piece about the Mariners I just stared at the depth chart. And this is what I got.

Possible Strengths-

  • Outfield- This might be more of a necessity due to the amount of depth the M’s have. When the team has the quality of players the M’s do, some group of the nearly 30 possible outfield groups the M’s have is going to work, offensively and defensively they should be fine.
  • Middle Infield- Brendan Ryan led the league in defensive WAR last year. While his offense can leave more to be desired, he still is the best defender at a defense-first position in the league. Dustin Ackley, on the other hand, saved 16 above average in the field per 1,200 innings last year. Pretty remarkable for a guy who is known for his bat and for someone who transitioned to the position for the first time in his life in 2010.
  • Middle of the Order- Continue reading

Hey, the A’s Did it, How About Us?

The Oakland Athletics had an extremely successful season last year. Maybe you didn’t notice. In a discussion where the A’s were probably relegated to the kiddy table, while big-boys Texas and Anaheim were supposed to contend for the division, the A’s won it. LA of Anaheim missed the playoffs all together, and Texas went out in a pretty unceremonious way against Baltimore in the new-fangled one-game playoff.

The team’s supposed strengths going into the season were pitching and, well, pitching. Albeit in an enormously large ball park where a game of cricket can be played down the right field and left field foul territories.

Oakland’s strength ended up being not only pitching, but also a tendency to hit home runs. And lots of them. The A’s were one of the better teams at the art of the long ball (7th in baseball last year.)

Last year as well, the A’s got the bulk of their power from their first base/ corner outfield/DH spots from a mix-matched group of role players and journeymen.

(Sensing a theme?) Continue reading

Can The Mariners Be Baseball’s Version of the Clippers?

Let me explain. Felix isn’t going to throw alley oops to Jesus Montero; Kendrys Morales isn’t going to get a never-ending highlight reel of clips for dunking on Ryan Dempster, and well you seem to get the point.

According the hoopsstats.com, the Clippers’ bench was in the bottom five in the league in terms of points, rebounds, assists and field goal percentage last year. The Clippers needed to improve the bench to get better.

Last offseason LA re-made their bench. They had 10 guys on the roster who weren’t regular starters last year. Only two of them are still on the team. The Clips main weakness was small forward depth, much like the Mariners lack of any power hitters. They went out and brought in Lamar Odom, Matt Barnes and Grant Hill among others. No one thought this would actually function and that the Clippers would struggle to give guys playing time, etc. But the Clippers have one of the better records in the league thanks to a bench that leads the league in bench scoring, and are in the top five in the league in rebounding, assists, steals and blocks.

The Mariners, you’ll remember, needed a new batch of power hitters. Middle of the order guys. Guys who could actually hit home runs on a consistent basis.

Seattle also wen the overkill route, dealing for Morales and Mike Morse as well as signing Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay. All of whom play some combination of the DH-First-Base-Left-Field Triple-platoon of positions all played by power hitters.

The Mariners are not only protected in case of injuries (which always seem to happen at the most inopportune times,) but are also able to play the mix-and-match game.

Eric Wedge can rotate Morse, Ibanez, Bay, Morales as well as incumbents Mike Carp and Justin Smoak through DH. He can also play all of them with the exception of Bay at first base, and all with the exception of Morales and Smoak in left field.

It gives the M’s the flexibility to lean on the hotter bats as well as easing off the colder ones.

So, can the M’s be baseball’s version of the Clippers?

It could happen.

What do you think? Could the Mariners be baseball’s Clippers with a mix-and-matching, strong-in-the-bench squad?

What Justin Upton Rejecting a Trade to Seattle Means for the Mariners

“HELP!!! HELP!!! OFFENSE NEEDED!!! NO ONE ELSE WILL SHOW UP!!! WE’LL TAKE ANYONE AS LONG AS HE CAN HIT THE BALL IN THE GAP.”

This is what the signs that are draped over every overpass on I-5 in Seattle read. The Mariners need offensive help and apparently Justin Upton is not interested.

The M’s supposedly agreed to send shortstop Nick Franklin, relievers Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor and one of the pitching prospect trifecta of Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen or James Paxton. Probably Walker.

The most interesting part to all of this is that Arizona actually agreed to it. I am in no way saying that these are going to be or are bad players, but if I was Arizona I would have tried to get one more of the “trifecta.”

Yes, all three are likely going to be starters in the Majors, but they all could be aces. I’m not overvaluing Upton or anything, but the asking price should be higher than stated for a few reasons. He’s young. He has the potential to be a dynamo offensive player, and Seattle is so very desperate for offense. We’re talking David-Stern-desperate-for-power-and-control desperate.

On the flip side of that is the fact that the Mariners could have potentially stolen Upton for cheap. Arizona probably should have asked more for Upton, but Seattle was going in not giving up too much in reality. Yes, Franklin could be special, but the M’s would have gotten a special player back in Upton. Yes, one of the “trifecta” could be special as well, but so could the other two. And if you haven’t noticed, the Mariners are starting to develop a very “Oakland A’s” kind of feel to them in terms of developing good relievers, so losing two wouldn’t be horrible.

It’s really a true shame that Upton didn’t accept the trade. I’m not sure why he doesn’t want to come to Seattle. It’s honestly one of, if not the best city in the world (I’m a tad bit biased seeing as I was born and live in the greater Seattle area.)

Can you imagine the Mariners’ offense had he accepted the trade? Upton, Morales, Seager and Montero are a pretty fantastic middle of the order. Add in Raul Ibanez, Dustin Ackley and a possible resurgent Franklin Gutierrez and you have the makings of a legitimate offensive team. Something we haven’t seen in Seattle in a very long time.

It is disappointing that the trade for Upton didn’t work out, but the big positive here is that the Mariners know that they have a package of players that would have acquired one of the premier players in the game. If that group of players could have brought in Upton, then they can certainly bring in someone else of his caliber.

What do you think about all this? Was Upton smart to stay in Arizona? Should the Mariners go after another player of his caliber?

Tell me in the comments section.

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