One of the most shocking, short-sighted developments to pop up this week (a week full of shocking, short-sighted developments) is that the Seattle Mariners won't be looking to sell leading up to next Wednesday's trade deadline. Now, I can wholly understand the team not wanting to trade young players like Felix Hernandez, Kyle Seager, Nick Franklin, and Mike Zunino...but what about all of those veterans currently sucking up playing time on the Mariners roster?
Seattle has won eight in a row and has leap frogged the Angels to take sole possession of third place in the AL West. But honestly, that doesn't tell you much of anything. Despite being in second place, the Mariners are still ten games behind the division leading Athletics, and they're still 8.5 games behind the Orioles for the American League's second wild card spot. Despite their recent hot streak, Seattle still has a -41 run differential on the season (better than just the Twins, White Sox, and Astros in the AL). Furthermore, it's not as if the Mariners are taking series from the cream of the crop in the AL. During this current winning streak, Seattle has swept the Angels and Astros, while taking the first two from the Indians. Only the Astros series took place away from Safeco Field. This streak might actually continue through the weekend, as the Mariners welcome the hapless Twins to Safeco Field once Cleveland leaves town.
Now, let's just go ahead and ignore the fact that the Mariners are winning games right now, because after the Twins leave Seattle, the Mariners get the pleasure of having 12 of their next 15 games against AL East teams, with nine of those 12 games coming on the road. They follow that stretch up with six straight on the road against the Rangers and A's, not a very pleasing scenario for any team. Sure, let's go ahead and buy into a hot streak against some second and third tier teams. That makes a lot of sense.
Furthermore, there's the issue of Seattle's roster construction. The Mariners have nine free agents next year, along with a pair of players with options (Franklin Gutierrez and Joe Saunders). None of these impending free agents are guys like Chase Utley, who would be worth a qualifying offer, or Robinson Cano, due for a huge payday this winter. Players like Michael Morse, Kendrys Morales, and Aaron Harang are not part of the long-term solution in Seattle...yet GM Jack Zduriencik doesn't want to trade any of them and get some value? How does that make any sense whatsoever? Oh, right: because it would feed into the belief that Zduriencik's construction of the 2013 roster was an absolute disaster, and he'd be admitting failure by selling off pieces at the deadline.
It's silly for the Mariners to think they have a chance at contending over the last two months of the season. While the team has improved as of late, they're doing it against a weak schedule, and the Mariners have some solid (although unspectacular) assets that teams would have interest in. Francisco Rodriguez got the Brewers a solid prospect. What would Oliver Perez, a much better reliever than Rodriguez at this point in their careers, fetch for the Mariners? What about 30-year old Kendrys Morales, who is a DH and nothing more? The Mariners would be insane to hand him a qualifying offer of something in the range of $13 million this winter, yet they're keeping him because of some slim hope at contending in the last two months?
In 2009, the Mariners finished 85-77 despite a -52 run differential. The only player they sold at the trade deadline that season was starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn, who hasn't played in the majors since completing that season with Detroit. Adrian Beltre walked after the season, and has been an MVP candidate in three straight seasons. Seattle gave up their first round pick to make the disastrous Chone Figgins signing. They traded for Cliff Lee. In 2010, the Mariners finished 40 games under .500, Lee was dealt in July, and manager Don Wakamatsu lost his job. Hell, the same thing happened in 2007 when the Mariners won 88 games despite a -19 run differential. They moved no one in July, signed the horrendous Carlos Silva contract that winter, and made the franchise-altering Erik Bedard trade as well in February. They finished 40 games under .500 in 2008, and both manager John McLaren and GM Bill Bavasi lost their job.
Those that ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Despite two examples of flukish seasons in the last decade, the Mariners are once again being stubborn and refusing to dump old, expensive assets. With the new CBA in effect, Seattle can't cash in their free agents for draft picks, like they did with Beltre and Raul Ibanez in the midst of those ugly years. When the Mariners finish 83-79 with a negative run differential this season, make a big move in the winter, and have the bottom fall out next season, all we'll be able to do is nod our heads, because we've seen the way this movie has played out before.
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I guess taking 2 of 3 from both the reds and rangers ( on the road) prior to the break don't count. Or maybe they are 3rd tier teams and I wasn't informed. Not to mention they could have just as easily took 3 of 4 from Boston as they had 4 run leads in 2 of the games they lost. Also look at the run differential over the last 2 months. Try doing some actual research next time. Also extending a qualifying offer to morales gives them leverage since nobody will likely want to part with a first round pick to sign him and if they do a first round pick is likely better than any possible trade compensation.
@DonnyReed No one is going to give Morales 13M a year. That's lunacy. He'll end up in a Kyle Lohse situation, only he wouldn't actually decline the offer. -32 RD in June, +12 in July, and that's *with* an eight game winning streak.
I disagree that Morales can't possibly be part of the long-term future for the M's. He just turned 30 this year. He'll have another two or three years like this one in him, and possibly more than that. I definitely disagree that he's not worth a qualifying offer. If his "true" market value is something like $11 million and the qualifying offer is $14 million, the advantages extending it affords the Mariners offset any discrepancy (plus let's all split hairs about how many millions someone is making).
Honestly, there's just not much for the Mariners to sell, in a combination of wanting to hold on to pieces for next year and not having much of interest TO sell. What trade value does Mike Morse have right now? Almost none. I'd expect Oliver Perez and Brendan Ryan will be dealt, and likely also Joe Saunders. Beyond that, it's gonna take someone coming to Jack for a deal to be made. I don't think that's the crime that evidently this author does.
@TheNetSet Morales is a guy that can't play the field. Guys like that have no value, and the Mariners have something like six of them right now (including Montero, still trying to figure out what the hell to do, in AAA)...but they're still trying to force those square pegs into round holes, leading to situations like Ibanez and Morse getting 800 innings of PT in the OF when the Mariners would be better off putting a scarecrow with a glove on out there.
As far as Montero, he can rot in hell (or Tacoma....they do smell about the same) for all I care. He will not have a place on the Mariners gifted to him at any point. He will have to prove he's better than someone else to take it, and that's not a likely proposition. Of course if it does end up happening, great! Because the club will be improved further.
@joelucia Maybe you haven't heard, but they've got this thing now where you're allowed to hit without playing a defensive position. Madness, I know. Morales' true market value with his bat, based on WAR, is something like $10-11 million. Those extra few dollars (couch change in ML budgets, you well know) are worth the leverage the Mariners get from extending the QO. If he takes it, great, they get their second-best hitter from this season back for at least one more (he's not gonna fall to pieces between now and April 2014). If he doesn't take it, also great, bonus draft picks.
Ibanez was exigent circumstances and the need to keep that bat in the lineup. He won't be back next year except GIANT MAYBE on something like $1 million guaranteed with heavy incentives. You'll get no defence of the Morse situation from me (from the trade to the keeping him in the lineup when he was obviously injured), but what trade value do you honestly think he has now? Correct me if I'm wrong, but being that he's on the DL, aren't the Mariners actually forbidden to trade him? Even presuming he's eligible to be traded, there's just no market for him. You'd get nothing. You'd get a 25 year old single-A right-hander.
And, really dude? A half decade of crap is coming because the Mariners aren't going to trade Aaron Harang? Have you noticed the young talent the club have got right now? The infield is looking pret-ty sweet (and pretty set for the next several years). No such prospects for the future existed in '07 or '09. The club are immensely better off than they were in either of those years. You're right in the sense that it makes no difference to the playoff fortunes of the 2013 Mariners whether the #5 starter is Aaron Harang or someone like Brandon Maurer, but, quite frankly, so what? Harang was acquired for almost nothing (a 26 year old right hander who had only just cracked AAA and was not on the 40-man roster) and would fetch pretty much the same if shopped now. So what's the harm in keeping him? Why not let the young guys win a couple additional games this year? You and I may not see any difference between 76 wins and 78, but I bet they do.