As Todd so graciously brought up, the Mariners faltered just before the trade deadline with style by stumbling through a franchise record 17 game losing streak. This allowed Seattle to go into the trade deadline with both eyes focused on the future. The two trades that were pulled off have already provided Mariner fans with five shiny new young players to analyze and another to come around August 20th. The Mariners shipped away pitchers Doug Fister & David Pauley to Detroit and Erik Bedard & Josh Fields to Boston.
In terms of value in return the Mariners did well in both trades.
Doug Fister/David Pauley Return
Charlie Furbush appears to have better stuff than Fister with a little less accuracy. Being left handed and a fly ball pitcher will allow him to take full advantage of Safeco Field’s expanses. The Tigers were recently using Charlie as a reliever, but once he gets his pitch count up and a little more experience he should be a very solid starter. He might not go quite as deep into games because he lacks Fister’s accuracy, but the combination of his stuff, Safeco Field, and the defense behind him should allow him to be just as successful when he is on the mound.
Francisco Martinez is a 20 year old third baseman that is harder to pinpoint and predict. The Mariners do need help at third base, but he is still considered to be a couple years away. His batting line isn’t very stellar in AA currently, but he is competing with players that are on average much old than himself. It is still believed that he hasn’t finished filling out and should have more power in the future. Since he is so young we are still far from knowing exactly what he will become, but it is a very good sign that he is able to stay afloat in a upper division.
Casper Wells appears to be a very solid left fielder. He tends to slip under the radar because he doesn’t excel at any specific tool. That being said, he has above average range and an above average arm in the outfield; along with above average power, good contact percentages, and average patience at the plate. While he doesn’t have any tools that jump out at you, he also doesn’t have any major weaknesses.
The player to be named later in this deal is set to be named on August 20th. Since the deadline for signing draft picks last year was August 18th and a player must be a member of a team for at least a year after signing, many people believe that the final player was drafted last year. Rumors are trending toward:
– Chance Ruffin- Right handed closer in AAA. Chance is very close to ML ready and could potentially be an effective closer or setup man.
– Drew Smyly- Left handed starter in AA. Smyly is predicted to be a 4 or 5 starter that has been effective in AA. He is still likely to be at least a year away.
– Rob Brantly- Left Handed Catcher in A. Brantly is still at least a couple years away, but catcher is a position that Zduriencik has been looking for and being a left handed hitter in Safeco field would be advantageous.
Erik Bedard/Josh Fields Return
Trayvon Robinson is a AAA outfielder that at first glance at his stats looks ready for the majors. He is a switch hitter that has lots of speed and could be a solid center fielder. Though Trayvon already has 26 homeruns in AAA, he is not commonly considered a power hitter. At least a couple writers believe that the hitter friendly parks of the PCL have changed his approach at the plate, and the power will not likely translate to the majors. At 23 years old, nothing is certain and Trayvon should soon have a chance to either prove the writers wrong or change his approach at the plate.
Chih-Hsien Chiang is a left handed corner outfielder in AA. Like Robinson he is also 23 and showing some extra power this season. He is lighting up AA to the tone of .340/.402/.648 with 18 home runs. Both Robinson and Cheng have had recent improvements in their stats that are being attributed to becoming more comfortable with changes. Cheng is believed to have better control of his diabetes and Robinson is more acclimated to becoming a switch hitter.
In terms of value the Mariners appear to have done very well in both of these trades, but I would be lying if I said that I was completely happy with the deadline approach. For the Mariners to compete next season they will likely need to add two impact bats to their lineup. The players that the Mariners brought in are an improvement, but they don’t appear to be impact bats.
The three largest positions of need before the deadline were at LF, 3B and DH. As we have already covered with the prior posts regarding Rafael Furcal, it will be difficult to find a middle of the lineup bat to fit at 3B. With that conclusion, the most efficent and effective way to improve this team would be to take the areas of weakness in Left Field and Designated Hitter and turn them into strengths before next season. The trade deadline is the point in time when a veteran player has the most value to a team in contention. I am not a general manager and I do not know who was available, but the Yankees made it clear that they were looking for pitching help in their rotation and bullpen. The Mariners do have players that could have helped them in both of those categories, and Jesus Montero could have been an extremely good fit at DH. I know that people are commonly of the mindset that we need to get more value in players than the other team in a trade. I would have been willing to give up extra value to acquire a bat like Montero’s for the middle of the Mariner lineup. There are reports that Montero wasn’t available, but the Yankees likely could have been convinced with a decent package of pitching.
Zduriencik appears to favor the overall player to a one dimensional batter. This likely is a very effective approach in the National League, but we need at least on player on this team at DH who can hit for power and average without question. The Mariners did improve the overall quality of the club for next season, and who is to say that they couldn’t flip some prospects for impact bats at a later time.