First off, sorry for the lack of posting. It’s been a difficult term at school. Now it’s the holidays, and I’ll be good.
The Mariners, as things stand, are not a good team. They might not even be an OK team – they fluked their way into a nice little season last year, but now the big worry is that the front office sees us as a true 88 win roster that needs minor tinkering to make the playoffs. This would be a pretty horrific mistake to make.
Where are the problems with our roster?
LF, 1B, DH, and 2 starter slots. If we accept Jose Vidro as essentially unmovable, we then have 4 problem spots on the roster. Not good.
Raul Ibanez is a liability in left field. He makes the occaisional spectacular (looking) play, sure, but he’s not very fast and takes some Byrnesian routes out there. Most defensive metrics have him as one of the worst left fielders in the game (and we’re talking Adam Dunn/Manny Ramirez territory). Replacing Ibanez in left with a merely average defender is probably a two win move by itself. However, rumours of the demise of Raul’s bat were heavily overstated. He absolutely carried the team from early August onward, and he’s exactly the sort of hitter that can thrive in Safeco – left handed and with reasonable pop, helped out immensely by the short porch in right. The Mariners really cannot afford to lose that from the lineup, unless someone seriously thinks Ben Broussard is the left handed sock for which we’ve been yearning.
At first, we have the much maligned Richie Sexson, who had the misfortune of slumping for the entire season, whilst playing first like his feet had been nailed to the ground. Will he bounce back offensively next year? Yep. He might even put up an OPS+ of over 100. But he’s being paid like a star, and if we’re really lucky he might end up as a below average first baseman next year.
As for the starters, is there anyone who wants Jeff Weaver or Horacio Ramirez back next year? No? Well, let me make a few points in their favour. Weaver first.
Jeff Weaver is a known commodity, and historically bad start aside, he was a decent #5 pitcher for us last year. Another point in his favour? He’d come really cheap, which is always nice.
Horacio Ramirez is young, relatively cheap, and left handed. If he magically acquires some talent this winter, I’d be all in favour of bringing him back. As it stand right now, he’d make an excellent ligament bank in case some of our players get hurt.
So what do we do?
Here’s my ideal scenario:
Milton Bradley on a 2 year deal, with Jeremy Reed/Wladimir Balentien as injury backup. When healthy, Bradley’s an excellent defensive outfielder with a good arm, and a very solid switch hitter. Unfortunately, he’s crazy and has a habit of breaking all the time, most recently while being tackled by his own manager. I still think he’s worth the risk: getting three centrefielders in one outfield would give us a defense the likes of which we haven’t seen since 2003, and they can all hit a bit too.
Richie Sexson to San Francisco, with us eating $8M of the contract, for whatever we can get. I know there’s a lot of scepticism around the blogosphere about Richie’s trade value, but if Brian Sabean doesn’t jump at the chance to add Sexson to his team for $6.5M, I’d be really surprised. That frees up some payroll to play with and also opens up first base for Ibanez to slot into. One think we have to watch out for here is getting a bad contract back – if you can’t completely get rid of him without getting something useless in return, keep Sexson on the bench and let him walk at the end of the season. Ibanez is a terrible defensive outfielder, and he’ll probably be a pretty bad first baseman, but that’s still a better package than Big Richie.
Re-sign Jeff Weaver for to two year $4M deal. No, I’m not insane, or at least I don’t think I am. This isn’t a huge investment. If he sucks again (I don’t think he will with the defense improved), just DFA his sorry ass and make him go away. If he doesn’t, well we’ve just bought low and patched up a spot in the rotation in an offseason where everyone’s clamouring for pitchers. RRS would be my first choice to replace him if things go pear shaped, and to that end he’d assume the long-guy role in the ‘pen. Morrow’s in AAA in this little dream-world of mine.
Explore some trade possibilities with the Rays (have you seen their new stadium, by the way?It’s absolutely gorgeous). Dave Cameron favours J.P. Howell, and I agree. I’d love Sonnanstine too, but that would be a bit of a stretch. The Devil Rays have a lot of starting depth, but they need a bit more bullpen help and perhaps a catcher too. I’d start at Eric O’Flaherty and Rob Johnson and see where that ended up (Clement, however, is off limits).
On paper, that’s a much better team than last year, and done without mortgaging the future away. We’d still be relying on Ichiro, Beltre, and Felix (and now Bradley’s health) to get us into the postseason, but I reckon that if Bavasi could execute the plan above, it’d be a very successful offseason.
Will he? Of course not. Hopefully nothing goes too badly wrong.
Feel free to flame me over the Weaver thing.