Friday, December 6, 2013

How To: Fixing the Mariners

I will give it to you. Most of the time, the writers here at StartWedman are full of satire, ill advised ideas, and crap. Even though I believed that Justin Upton's time with the Diamondbacks eerily mirrored the movie
Elf, that doesn't mean that you all thought that way too. And since I am one of the few remaining writers here at StartWedman that actually posts things, I can't say that many of my thoughts have been useful either, for awhile. But still, I at least understand how baseball works, how free agency goes, and have at least a decent grasp on what player value is.


The Seattle Mariners.....do not. 

Twitter is currently catching fire with the news that Robinson Cano will be signing in Seattle for somewhere around 10 years and $240 million. WHOA! AWESOME! What a great idea! Now that Seattle signed Cano, that means that other free agents will flock there and they will win lots and lots of games! Zduriencik is a genius! CAN I SQUEEZE A FEW MORE EXCLAMATION POINTS IN HERE?!?

Lets be real for a second, or maybe a lot of seconds. The Seattle Mariners are not good. They haven't been good in awhile. This signing doesn't make them good. It makes them better, but still not good. They are a team with many holes left to fill and earmarking a large chunk ($25 million) each year of your payroll to an old, declining second basemen isn't the way to get better. Do you realize that their payroll last year along was $45 million.....TOTAL.

But the thing about the Mariners is that they actually have a decent young core of a team. Yes, they need a few spare parts to make it complete, but the talent is almost there. Zunino needs some seasoning, but was a monster in college, Seager is a beast at third, Brad Miller is speedy and last year handled his own at SS, Smoak is slowly turning a corner, and Kendrys is at least a stable option at DH. Funny thing about all of those players? Their average age is 25.8! That is a decent place to start.

So lets rewind the clock 18 hours. A large Twitter conversation is happening between all of the writers at StartWedman. While Cooly, wrongly, explains that the Mariners should sign Cano, Zach and I quickly put a plan in place for the Mariners to make they a better team in 2014. Fun fact about our place? We don't commit $240 million to an aging second basemen who is already showing slight signs of decline. Ready? Go.

  • STEP 1: Trading for Brandon Phillips + Minor League Player
    • If Seattle wants a second basemen, there is a much cheaper option out there. Yes, Phillips is also declining and showing his age, but at 4 yr / $50 million, he represents a much lower cost. Plus, in my eyes, you throw in Ackley in an attempt to have Cincy offset some of the cost. Sad to see Ackley go, but he isn't turning into what Seattle envisioned when they drafted him in 2009.
  • Step 2: Sign Matt Garza
    • King Felix needs a little bit of help out there and Garza was never really an ace like the Cubs wanted him to be. Garza slides into the #2 SP slot and gives the Mariners a VERY solid rotation with Felix, Garza, Iwakuma, Walker, and Ramierz. Hultzen is waiting in the wings after rehab and Paxton could be ready soon. Throw a 5 yr / $75 million deal at him and it would get things moving. Yes, that is a longer deal for an injury prone pitcher, but Garza has been solid when healthy.
  • Step 3: Sign Corey Hart
    • Coming off a lost season in Milwaukee due to a knee injury, Hart should come cheap, maybe around 1 yr / $7 million. If he does well throughout the season, they can extend him or flip him at the deadline. Low risk, decent chance at a high reward for someone who can spend time at 1B, RF, and DH.
  • Step 4: Sign Jesse Crain
    • The rotation looks amazing after the Garza signing, but one of their weaknesses has been the back end of the rotation. Furbush, Medina, and Perez all pitched well during the middle innings and Capps' peripheral numbers were decent enough that I can see his stuff succeeding, but they lack a shut down closer. Enter Jesse Crain. While he has never been given the opportunity to close, the stuff is there. Last year had him with a 11.3 K/9 and a 0.74 ERA. A late season injury cost him, but on the upside, that makes him cheaper in free agency. A 1 yr / $4 million base with incentives on games finished would do it.
Doing all of that research, I actually did feel some shame in the fact that I knew, and now know even more, so much about the Seattle Mariners. Do these moves above put them over the top and make them a playoff team? Probably not. But those moves are all low cost, high reward, and do not compromise the future payroll of the team. If the season would start to head downhill, Crain and Hart can both be moved to contenders at the deadline to help boost a lacking farm system.

Our 2014 Seattle Mariners Lineup
C: Zunino
1B: Smoak
2B: Phillips
SS: Miller
3B: Seager
LF: ?
CF: Saunders
RF: Hart/Franklin
DH: Morales

The real 2014 Seattle Mariners Lineup
C: Cano
1B: Cano
2B: Cano
SS: Cano
3B: Cano
LF: Cano
CF: Cano
RF: Cano
DH: Morales

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