mariners

2012 Mariners Hot Stove Series Part 1: Left Field

Left Field?

Ah yes, the hot stove season is quickly approaching, and I think we can all agree that this off-season looms large for the Seattle Mariners.

The last two seasons under GM Jack Zduriencik have been abysmal. From locker room dissention, to a managerial change, this team found ways to take ugly to a whole new level.  Posting a record of 128-196 didn’t help much.

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Neither did boasting an offense that ranked dead last in all of Major League Baseball over that span,  .234/.295/.343/.638, 210 HR, 1019 RBI, 2537 H, 1069 R.

Jack Zduriencik

Does Jack Have A Plan For Left Field?

Jack Zdureincik will definitely have his work cut out for him this off-season.

  • It will not be any easy task of reshaping this lineup.
  •  He cannot throw money at dart board hoping the problems will go away.
  •  The guy(s) that Zduriencik does bring in, not only have to fit the ball park, but also the pocket book.

The Mariners will finally have an off-season in which they will have the money to spend for player personnel. The question is “how much”?

At first glance the Mariners have four existing contracts that will be coming off the books.

Milton Bradley, Carlos Silva, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Josh Wilson. Those four contracts total out at $18,679,000. If you take a deeper look, the Mariners were still paying Jack wilson’s 5 million dollar  2011 salary even after he was traded.

With Adam Kennedy, Jamey Wright, and Luis Rodriguez’s MLB salaries coming off as well, that’s another $7,250,000 that could be available.

Overall it looks like the Mariners will have $25,929,000 available this off-season.

If you factor in 10-12 million dollars for arbitration, the available number looks to be in the $11-14 million dollar range for off-season spending.

Not exactly a bad stitution to be in if your a team desperately needing to improve.

So where to begin?

Left Field seems like the obvious place to start.

It’s a power premium position, and the Mariners have had a lack of power/revolving door in Left Field since the days of Phil Bradley.

They return Casper Wells, Trayvon Robinson, Michael Saunders, and Mike Carp. Their combined numbers, .235/.301/.394/.695, 34 HR, 133 RBI, 56 2B, 253 H, and 136 R,  simply will not cut it at this level. The position demands a player who is either close to playing at or playing at an All-Star level. That player will also have to be in a Mariners uniform for at least three seasons, at the minimum.

It makes no sense trading for, or bringing in a guy who will leave after just one or even two seasons.

So who is available?

I have compiled a list 8 players.  four of them are potential trade candidates, and the other four are free agents.

All of them makes sense from an on-field standpoint. Their games all translate well to Safeco Field, and most of all they financially make sense.

The four possible trade candidates:

1. Nolan Reimold – LF,  R/R, MLB service 1.5 years, control 4.5 years.
.247/.328/.453/.781, 13 HR, 45 RBI, 10 2B, 66 H, 40 R

Are these guys possible 2012 M's Left Fielders? Carp, Robinson, Saunders, and Wells?

2. Alex Gordon – LF, L/R, MLB service 3 years, control 3 years
.303/.376/.502/.879, 23 HR, 87 RBI, 45 2B, 185 H, 101 R

3. Jay Bruce – RF, L/L, 6 year – 51 milion (2011-16) 47 million left
.256/.341/.474/.814, 32 HR, 97 RBI, 27 2B, 150 H, 84 R

4. Logan Morrison – LF, L/L, MLB service 1 year, control 5 years
.247/.330/.468/.797, 23 HR, 72 RBI, 25 2B, 114 H, 54 R

The four free agents:

1. Juan Rivera: .258/.319/.382/.701, 11 HR, 74 RBI, 120 Hits
2. Ryan Ludwick: .237/.310/.363/.674, 13 HR, 75 RBI, 116 H
3. Jason Kubel: .273/.332/.434/.766, 12 HR, 58 RBI, 100 H
4. Michael Cuddyer: .284/.346/.459/.805, 20 HR, 70 RBI, 150 H

As you can see very clearly, those four free agents are the best available, and are not exactly the most attractive pieces.

Most will be asking above market value, and all of them are not worth the price they will be asking for. The Mariners are in a unique situation because they have an abundance of organizational depth in pitching, and in the middle infield to be able to pull off a very nice trade.

When your team has statistically ranked dead last in every major offensive category for two consecutive seasons, the worst thing the Mariners could do is let the “we cannot jeopardize our future by moving our prospects” excuse stand in the way improving in left field.

It’s one thing to give Mike Carp a full season at DH, but it’s quite another thing to waste another season experimenting with two positions that need immediate attention.

The three kids we do have cannot provide the team what it most desperately needs, a consistent power source.

The Mariners can afford to make this trade because they wouldn’t be giving up the farm to do it.

The 3B, SP, and RP holes can be upgraded through free agency at a relatively decent price.

Left field is the only position that demands Mariners to make a hard decision in order to significantly improve. It will mean moving pieces that could play significant rolls in the future.

Would trading for an Alex Gordon mean a playoff appearence in 2012? Probably not, but it most certainly  fast tracks the rebuilding process, and put a potential 30 HR guy right in the middle of your lineup for three seasons.

In my opinion, that is worth the Kyle Seager‘s and Nick Franklin‘s of the word. This off-season could be a turning point in Mariners history. The moves Jack Zduriencik makes can either sink us, or makes into a winner.

For a franchise who hasn’t been in the post-season in 11 years, let’s hope Z chooses the latter.

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