The Seattle Mariners Have Been Here Before With Kendrys Morales

The Seattle Mariners have been here before. Not just with Kendrys Morales; he was with the team last year, but in this situation. Not re-signing a player after a productive season and then trading part of its future to get the player back. This happened with Russell Branyan in 2010.

Branyan had an absurdly productive power year in 2009 with an unprecedented 31 home runs. He would sign with Cleveland the following year only for the Mariners to suddenly want him back. Their replacements obviously didn’t work.

Seattle surrendered outfielder Ezequiel Carrera and shortstop Juan Diaz in the trade. Neither was tipped for stardom, but neither were the two players Seattle sent to Cleveland in two deals for Ben Broussard and Eduardo Perez. The two players Cleveland got for Broussard and Perez? Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera.

Despite the iffy track record the M’s have in dealing away future talent for role players (see Jason Varitek, Derek Lowe, Michael Morse… the list goes on) Carrera and Diaz never really panned out. Neither made a sizable impact in Cleveland and as such, aren’t with the organization at present. However, both were dealt to Cleveland as minor league players with no big league experience. The player Seattle surrendered to Minnesota in order to obtain Morales, Stephen Pryor, does have big league experience. In fact, he’s been quite good in the Majors. He’s no Mariano Rivera in terms of relief pitchers, but he does own a career 2.81 ERA across 30+ innings.

The Mariners probably felt comfortable trading Pryor due to the emergence of Dominic Leone and the continued improvement of Danny Farquhar and Yoervis Medina. Still, a team can never have enough quality relievers. Injuries and ineffectiveness run rampant throughout a season, so depth is as much of a necessity as anything.

The package Seattle gave up to get Branyan back didn’t amount to anything special, and Pryor was surplus to requirements given the depth the M’s have in the ‘pen, but both were still significant chips to part with simply to reacquire a player the team could have kept for nothing.

If recent numbers hold true, Morales won’t have the impact that everyone thinks he will. The former Angels slugger has a .439 OPS and more strikeouts (eight) than hits (six). Pryor may not amount to more than a quality reliever, but Minnesota will have pulled off a train robbery if they get Pryor for a player the M’s could have replaced, production wise, with a player from AAA.

Branyan didn’t do much the second time around either. Yes he hit 15 home runs in 57 games for Seattle, but he also hit a lowly .215 at the plate. That’s certainly not what a team is looking for from a middle-of-the-order bat.

The M’s don’t have a strong track record when they trade for a player only a season after letting them leave via free agency. Acquiring Kendrys Morales only continued the trend.

 

All stats courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.

MLB Trade Rumors: Why Trading for Matt Kemp Makes Sense for the Mariners

It’s “rumor” season folks. When the bad (in a statistical sense) teams look to get better and the contending teams look to keep up with the Joneses, you know it’s rumor season.

One of the Joneses-keeper-uppers is the Dodgers, who have a glut of outfielders, namely Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford. Also likely to compete for an outfield spot is minor league prospect Joc Pederson, who could break the big league roster in the near future.

I thought dealing Puig might be the answer for the Dodgers, but it seems that they may have interest from other teams in Matt Kemp. Dealing him would solve their outfield dilemma until Pederson is ready for the bigs.

 

Kemp would be the perfect fit in Seattle.

Funny enough, Kemp has never actually played in Seattle, and has struggled in some of the other AL West ballparks, but nonetheless he would be a fit in the Emerald City.

Seattle has needs in the outfield and in the middle of the lineup. On that note, they could use a leadoff hitter as well.

While Kemp has experienced most of his success at the plate in the three and four spots in the lineup, he has been successful as a leadoff man. Kemp has hit .292 and has scored 33 runs with 25 extra base hits in 51 career games at leadoff.

The former Dodger could play leadoff, but he would likely hit third, or even fourth, in Seattle. A three-four-five combination of Kemp, Kendrys Morales and Kyle Seager would be pretty formidable.

The problem with the Dodgers being a contending team, and Kemp supposedly being available in a trade, is that the Dodgers will be picky about the return. They certainly aren’t going to trade him for the sake of trading him. After all, this is the guy who led the league in runs scored, home runs and runs batted in on his way to a top-two MVP finish, a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award just two seasons ago.

Los Angeles is also going to be picky because they don’t have a lot of holes to fill. Having already addressed the potential problem at second base, the hot corner is likely the biggest need area for the Dodgers.

Unless the Mariners offer one of their big pitching prospects (extremely unlikely considering Kemp only played in 179 games the last two seasons,) the only piece LA would want is probably Kyle Seager. Unless the Dodgers think a couple of the M’s young, bullpen arms are of equal worth to Kemp,  Seager is the most likely target. If Kemp can get back to his 2010 form, then maybe the M’s would consider a swap of the two, but at this point Seager provides the only legitimate stability of any M’s position player. Meaning the team won’t even consider trading him unless the return is substantial.

If the Dodgers are willing to sell-low on Kemp to clear up their outfield picture, then the M’s could swing a deal. Should Kemp return to his 2010 form in Seattle, it would be all the better.

Why the Vetoed Justin Upton Trade Was a Good Thing

Last offseason the M’s almost acquired Justin Upton. Almost. The Mariners would have sent Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush and Stephen Pryor.

Drink it all in.

That’s Seattle’s second baseman of the future, their two best bullpen arms, plus a potential ace.

Does that sound like the haul to give up for a player like Upton?

Justin Upton is not the player he was in 2009 or 2011. At least statistically he isn’t. He probably isn’t a threat to hit .300, but he will turn in close to a .270 batting average.  He may hit a lot of home runs, somewhere around 25 or 30, but that’s it. Also, he has never reached the 100 RBI plateau, an interesting fact considering the supposed stature of Upton as a hitter.

So, does a hitter with a .270 batting average, 20-30 homerun potential and less than 100 RBIs a year (last season he drove in 67 in 150 games) sound like the guy to trade for a future ace, second baseman, and two dominant bullpen arms?

The answer is a resounding, “No.”

I’m not disparaging Justin Upton’s talent as a player, I just think his market value at the time was overblown.

Put it this way, not only did the Mariners keep nearly a fifth of their future roster, they also found a suitable mish-mash of players to replace, and out produce Upton.

Meet Kendrys Morales, Raul Ibanez, Michael Morse and the since-departed Jason Bay. Plans B, C, D, E, in no particular order. The M’s brought this group in to provide the same kinds of things Justin Upton would provide, a middle of the order presence. The team might have gone a different direction in filling out the rest of their lineup with Upton seeing as these four players are… four players, and Upton is just one. But at the end of the day, they play the same role.

And the M’s combination has done it better.

Justin Upton’s 2013 WAR with his new team, the Atlanta Braves, 1.9.

Kendrys Morales’ 2013 WAR, 2.9.

Raul Ibanez’ 2013 WAR, 0.8.

Jason Bay’s 2013 WAR, 0.5.

Michael Morse’s 2013 WAR, -0.6.

Collectively that spits out a WAR of 3.6. And while that may be four players’ output versus a singular player’s output, the different ways the M’s got that output is key. The price for Upton would have been two ace relievers, an actual ace and a second baseman. The price for the current M’s was a backup catcher, who was blocking the path of Mike Zunino, and a starting pitcher on an expiring contract who likely didn’t factor in the team’s long term plans.

It’s a good thing that Justin Upton vetoed a trade to Seattle. Yes, he would have brought star-power to the team, but since the veto, the M’s have found a much better solution for their lineup, statically and monetarily. Not to mention they keep the team intact for the long haul.

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