Chris Capuano of the Dodgers is one of a handful of pitchers out there capable of delivering the quality innings totals the Mariners desperately need. Photo Credit: AP
We’ve spoken about the offensive upgrades made by the Mariners and how the “wild card” to it all is how much of an impact moving the Safeco Field fences in will have on the team.
But all of that could be offset by a decline in the pitching staff if the Mariners don’t do something significant to upgrade their starting rotation. Moving in the fences will help the offense, in theory, yes. But using the same logic, it could also hurt the pitching staff even if you put the same five-man rotation out there as we saw for most of last year.
Now, of course, the Mariners won’t have the same starting five as last year. In order to acquire Kendrys Morales, the Mariners had to trade away Jason Vargas. And they also saw free agent Kevin Millwood leave.
You didn’t have to be a huge fan of either Vargas or Millwood. But between the two of them, they threw 378 1/3 innings last season and kept their teams in the game for the most part. Both pitchers relied heavily on their defense and — especially with Vargas — a pitcher-friendly home park , but they still were able to keep the score close after six or seven innings.
And you can’t just let that walk out the door without replacing it.
Plenty of things have to fall into place for a Mariners trade for Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier to make sense. Photo Credit: AP
About 48 hours ago, I got into a panic concerning the Mariners. They weren’t really going to pull off a trade on New Year’s Eve, were they? For Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier? I mean, such Dec. 31 deals have been known to happen before, though rare. Despite the rumors percolating at the time, I came away satisfied nothing was going down that night. Now, we’re into Jan. 2 and there’s still no deal. But does that mean the Mariners are done on the Ethier front? Not so fast.
My first reaction to the Ethier rumor was that it was ridiculous. I mean, he’s owed five years, $85 million and if the Mariners really wanted to spend that much on a corner outfielder, they could have done so for less and signed Nick Swisher. After all, Swisher has more positional flexibility and can hit from both sides of the plate without massive platoon splits like Ethier has. Sure, the Mariners would have given up their 12th overall draft pick next June as compensation, but they will have to give up young talent in any event just to get Ethier.
I mean, what’s the goal in baseball now, anyway? To keep collecting draft picks? I understand the value of top-five, or even top-10 picks. But where’s the cutoff point when it starts to impede decision-making on bettering the team that will take the field next year and the year after that? After all, Blake Beavan — who now gets made fun of on some local Mariners blogs — was a 17th overall pick. Phillippe Aumont, now a bullpen guy, was taken 11th overall. You can make fun of Bill Bavasi for the Aumont pick, but Beavan was taken by the Jon Daniels regime in Texas. So, you tell me, is it worth passing on Swisher or Michael Bourn in order to save a potential fifth starter or eighth-inning setup man for the year 2016? Now, before you go off on me, I realize there is pool money associated with the pick under a new draft system and the Mariners would lose some signing flexibility there in other rounds. And I also realize it’s possible Jack Zduriencik (the guy who went ahead and signed 20th overall pick Josh Fields in 2009 rather than letting him go back into the draft and picking again) could make better use of this coming first-round selection. All I’m saying is, when you get out of the top-10, you’re taking your chances. This isn’t quite the “get better quickly” thing the Mariners have had going for them in three of their last four drafts with top-3 picks.
And besides, to get Ethier, the Mariners would likely wind up trading away a young player or two whose value would be the rough equivalent of a first-rounder taken in the 10-20 overall range. One that wound up working out, in any event. Fields sure didn’t, since he was just claimed for next-to-nothing as a Rule 5 pick by the Houston Astros. Maybe now he’ll finally make it to the mound at Safeco Field.
So, those are my reservations. If you’re going after Ethier, why not a cheaper Swisher?
And for me, that’s the key to any Ethier deal. Offsetting not only the cash aspect of it, but also the talent aspect as well, so that you don’t have to keep asking “Why not Swisher?”
One of the things we’ve seen with the latest rumors is that there is more of a multiple-player aspect to them. And for me, that’s what takes them from mere fodder into the realm of plausible.
Because if you’re going to ask “Why not Swisher?” one of the answers would be: well, he’s only one guy.