The Mariners Really Need to Trade Felix Hernandez

The Upper Echelons of Major League Pitchers-

  1. Justin Verlander
  2. David Price, Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay, Clayton Kershaw, Jered Weaver
  3. Matt Cain, RA Dickey , James Shields, Zack Grienke, Cole Hamels, Gio Gonzalez
  4. Cliff Lee, Stephen Strasburg,  Yu Darvish, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Johnny Cueto
  5. Ian Kennedy, Anibal Sanchez, Jon Lester, Yovani Gallardo, Trevor Cahill, Jordan Zimmerman etc.

Those, in a nutshell, are the top pitchers in baseball. Notice the placement of RA Dickey and James Shields. Both have been traded in the last month, yet both are ranked below (in my estimate) Felix Hernandez. In addition to those two big offseason moves, the Angels signed Josh Hamilton. I say this for one reason, Texas isn’t going anywhere,  and Los Angeles just added Hamilton to their team. The other team in the division is Oakland who, I might point out, was probably the second best team in the AL playoffs last year.

Regardless of Seattle’s current talent (meh,) the team is in a stacked division. Anything besides last place is probably a miracle (barring an Angels’ season-long flop.)

The team isn’t going anywhere soon. Thus it makes sense to trade Felix Hernandez, especially since their top two pitching prospects (Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen) are ranked fourth and eighth in terms of the top 100 prospects in the game per Jonathan Mayo.

There are two, if not three, (James Paxton could be special as well) potential Hernandez replacements waiting in the system. Yes, the fences are being moved in and the Mariners need to sell tickets, but dealing Hernandez makes sense.

Let’s put a few things out there. One, Hernandez is four years younger than Shields and twelve younger than Dickey. Not surprisingly, King Felix is a much better pitcher than both. The point on Shields, or even Dickey, is that Shields fetched the number three overall prospect (again all this per Mayo,) Wil Myers, who has at least “star” potential if not more. Another prospect that went to Tampa was starter Jake Odorizzi, ranked the 30th best in all of baseball. Tampa also picked up two other prospects who are ranked in the top 20 of their system.

New York got the 11th and 83rd best prospects in the game by selling high on a 38-year old.

What I’m getting at, if you haven’t gotten there first, is that the Rays and Mets got some of the better packages of prospects that the trading market has seen in the past few years. I would think that the Mariners would want to cash in with a haul of that kind.

The Mariners need a hitter to lead them into the next phase of the franchise (hopefully contending.) I’m sure they’d jump at a package of Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt (not that Texas would consider that seriously.) But Seattle needs a corner stone. They need the next Miguel Cabrera or Evan Longoria. They need someone who can carry a team on his backs/bats. Maybe Felix Hernandez is the way to find that player.

Surely if James Shields and RA Dickey can fetch outstanding hauls of prospects, then a younger and better pitcher (Felix Hernandez) can get a better one.

What do you think? Should the Mariners trade King Felix or should they keep him and try to contend?

The Mets Need to Trade RA Dickey NOW

It isn’t often that the reigning Cy Young winner is the subject of trade speculation the offseason after winning the award. But it also isn’t often that the reigning Cy Young winner is 38 years old and is in the midst of so-far unsuccessful contract negotiations.

Welcome to the Mets world.

Normally, a winner of the Cy Young award would be a player that a team, especially a rebuilding one like the Mets, builds around. But, despite being a knuckleballer, it’s tough to build around a 38 year old. Ergo the Mets need to trade him. Continue reading

Can’t Live Without ‘Em: American League

(Disclaimer: You can live without these players, it certainly doable.)

Injuries happen. Trades happen. Prolonged, bench-worthy stints occur. Players might not be there.

Whether that player is your everyday superstar or fourth outfielder, the loss means something. But in the case of the superstar, it can sometimes mean a lot.

Teams and the Players They Can’t Live Without:

(Starting in the AL West and moving east through the AL, I’ll have another one coming soon on the NL.)

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: None. Not kidding in the slightest. Even if their big, new-fangled signing Albert Pujols breaks down at some point, either Kendrys Morales or Mark Trumbo will be there to step in. Rotation-wise, I might say Jered Weaver simply because his replacement won’t likely come close to his production.

Texas Rangers- Joe Nathan. Again, not what you’d think. If the Rangers lose any one of their infielders Michael Young will step in more than adequately. The outfield is a little more in question, but Craig Gentry usually gets the job done. I say Nathan because, while Texas has depth in the bullpen, it isn’t necessarily closer depth. Koji Uehara, Mike Adams and Alexi Ogando only have 18 saves combined in their careers, and 13 of them are Uehara’s. (Just a quick aside, Mike Adams is an almost-less-than pedestrian 4-20 in save opportunities in his career. If you’re doing the math at home, yes Ogando only has one career save.) All that is basically blogspeak for: The Rangers might go into a colossal bullpen-tailspin if Nathan can’t hold it down.

Oakland A’s- Yoenis Cespedes or Jemile Weeks. It’s not as if the Athletics can’t live without them, or play for that matter. It’s that they probably wouldn’t like to stunt the players growth/developments (whatever term lights your fire).

Seattle Mariners- Chone Figgins. I’d say Jesus Montero for reasons listed above, but the M’s need the Figgy Pudding to maintain his trade value by playing well.

 

Detroit Tigers- Justin Verlander. The Tigers, like the Angels, have good depth. Also like the Angels, the potential loss of the reigning MVP would only hurt Detroit from the standpoint that the replacement couldn’t put up Verlander’s numbers unless his name is Felix Hernandez.

Kansas City Royals- Either of the Corner Infielders. Just as with Oakland, KC needs their young players to get time under their respective belts. The loss of a potential trade candidate like a Mitch Maier or Jeff Francoeur could also endanger those players’ trade values.

Chicago White Sox- Adam Dunn. The Sox need Dunn to stay healthy so he can prove that his signing wasn’t a complete-and-utter waste. The potential loss of Paul Konerko could send this team into the cellar after the way they played last year. Dayan Viciedo could benefit from getting a good deal of playing time as well.

Cleveland Indians- Asdrubal Cabrera and Ubaldo Jimenez. Cabrera is at the center of everything the team does on both sides of the box score. Jimenez, meanwhile, needs to prove that the Rockies didn’t straight-up rob the Indians’ entire store of prospects.

(Weird side note, have you noticed that a lot of the Indians players previously played in Seattle? Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Casey Kotchman, Derek Lowe, Jack Hannahan and Jose Lopez all donned Mariners uniforms. Weird.)

Minnesota Twins- Whoever is Producing Well at the Time. The Twins have been ransacked by injuries in recent years. They have gone from division champ and perennial sacrifice to the Yankees in the ALDS to basement dweller. To give you more of an idea of how far the Twins have fallen, when you type in “Minnesota” and then a “t” to start the word “twins” you get “Minnesota Timberwolves” as your top suggestion. That’s right, the Twins have fallen past the T-Wolves.

 

New York Yankees- CC Sabathia. The Yankees acquired pitching in the offseason. I’ll give them that, but the loss of their ace could be detrimental. As it is the Yankees seem like they will be a playoff team, whether that is as a wild card or a division winner remains to be seen. Here’s a quick rundown of the AL East as it is for me. Tampa and these Yankees are head and shoulders above the rest of the division. Boston and a not-so-far-behind Toronto are in the next tier that seems to be fighting for a wild card berth. Obviously that leaves Baltimore at the bottom, but we’re moving on. The potential loss of Sabathia drops New York more towards the Sox and Blue Jays than Tampa.

Tampa Bay Rays- Carl Crawford Matt Garza Jason Bartlett. The Rays have shown in the past that when an injury hits, or they lose a player to free agency or trade, they recover. Honestly, Evan Longoria would probably sting the most to lose, but the Rays will probably find a way to replace him. Cause that’s how they roll (as the kids say).

Boston Red Sox- Adrian Gonzalez. Yes, Boston would still have Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz, but the rest of the offense simply isn’t there. Carl Crawford is on the shelf due to injury, leading to outfield woes that also prompted the acquisition of Marlon Byrd. Losing a player like this in the past wouldn’t have been as serious, seeing as Boston’s outfield and rotation were both much stronger than they are now. But because of those weaker factions of the team, the Red Sox might not get by if A-Gon is gone. (Sorry, had to do it.)

Toronto Blue Jays- Jose Bautista. The Jays are going to need their MVP candidate if they want to even have the smallest of smallest shots at contending. Other candidates include Adam Lind and Ricky Romero.

Baltimore Orioles- Anyone who has trade value. The Birds need some pieces, and lots of them. The rotation is a very young group, but the players in the field could use a youth infusion. Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are nice pieces, but something has to give. The O’s need to make some changes to even try to win in God knows when.

Can Justin Verlander Repeat?

A Cy Young and an MVP award in the same season is no small feat. You won’t find it on many resumes anywhere. But can it be done again? Surely you would think no, but it’s not as obscene as you might think.

There are a of couple contributing factors to this. One is named Prince Fielder. Of Verlander’s five losses, two were by two runs or less. I’m not saying Prince Fielder will change that, but he will surely help in the run department category.

The big thing though is that the division might have gotten worse. Yes, Kansas City will get better, but everyone from Jacoby Ellsbury and Adam Jones to So Taguchi and Joey Gathright struggle against the reigning MVP.

Minnesota might still be in the same rut they were in last season. Cleveland will contend, but doesn’t seem to figure into the big picture. Same with Chicago, who might have gotten worse by trading off Carlos Quentin among others.

Which brings us to our next point, Carlos Quentin is gone. I’m not going to say that this will drastically impact Verlander’s season, but in one of his many losses (read five with a heavy dose of sarcasm) he lost 8-2 to the White Sox. In that game one certain Quentin went 3 for 5 and drove in three runs while scoring another. Also is the fact that only Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye and Victor Martinez have hit more homeruns off of the reigning MVP than Quentin. It should be noted that Quentin is now playing on the complete opposite end of the spectrum as Verlander, on a west coast NL team (read San Diego).

(As a quick aside, Dye isn’t in the league, Thome is in a reduced role in Philly and Martinez is with Detroit and out for the year with a torn ACL).

(Another quick aside is that the 8-2 loss was Verlander’s last of the year. And it was in mid-to-early July. Yowza!).

As far as repeats go, back-to-back Cy Young’s certainly isn’t obnoxious. Most of his stiffest competition in the past (see Zack Grienke, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay) have all gone over to the NL. The real challengers that are left are mainly Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia, Jon Lester and Jered Weaver. This list can probably be lowered down to three with Hernandez’s exclusion. He is certainly worthy, but is backed by a shaky offense. But you never know. Funnier things have happened. As for the other three, they will be in it. But look for Verlander to come back strong in this year’s Cy Young voting.

The MVP repeat is a little more tricky. Of past AL MVP winners, only Hal Newhouser and Frank Thomas have repeated. Incidentally, Newhouser was a pitcher who pitched for, you guessed it, Detroit. It’s not that small of a club, Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds, Mike Schmidt, Ernie Banks and Joe Morgan have all done it in the Senior Circuit. OK maybe it is a small club, but the point is that it’s tricky. Especially for a pitcher such as Verlander. The only other pitcher to repeat was Newhouser, who was a Tiger. So maybe it could happen again.

The fact of the matter is Justin Verlander and the Tigers are going to be extremely dangerous come playoff time. Heck, they’ll be extremely dangerous in the middle of a cross country road trip in Seattle.

Tigers Sign Prince Fielder (Go ahead Tigers fans, go ballistic!)…..

Also start throwing out your “maybe next year” quotes for M’s and Nationals fans. (Also, incidentally the only two teams that have never been to the World Series.)

The Tigers won 95 games last year and essentially replaced an injured Victor Martinez with Prince Fielder.

Martinez tore his ACL. He’ll be out for a while, an October return would be a plus at this point.

The Tigers replaced him with Fielder. Can you imagine the offensive potential of a lineup of Cabrera and Fielder? And then if and when V-Mart gets healthy… I’ve been bouncing off walls ever since this story broke and am still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that this just happened.

The V-Mart injury created a dilemma for Detroit. They were still favored to win the Central, but the hole Martinez created was huge. There is probably only a select list of guys you could pick to fill in for him. That list probably includes guys like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Matt Kemp maybe a Joey Votto in there. Guess what? The Tigers just replaced him with one of the guys on the list.

And remember, Victor Martinez is only out for this year. Fielder is supposedly signing a nine-year deal. Cabrera is around for a long time with his contract. Think about that 3-4-5 lineup when everyone is healthy. Think about the pitching that the hitters will be scoring runs for. Think about Verlander’s numbers next year. He had an amazing season last year. Verlander lost games against Boston and LA of Anaheim by a run each. He also had two losses of two runs to Texas and the Yankees. With Fielder in the lineup this season those kind of losses might disappear for the reigning MVP all together. Last year’s Cy Young winner is going to be good with or without Fielder. Think about the rest of the rotation. Think about them pitching in a park that is not friendly to hitters whatsoever. Think about the run support they will get with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Think about the headaches opposing managers will get having to stare down a lineup with maybe the two best hitters in the game.

Don’t think about the money that is involved. Don’t think that they grossly overpaid the Prince. Don’t think that you’re paying Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Prince Fielder millions and millions of dollars to play the same position. Most teams would kill, heck some teams might trade entire minor league affiliates, for these guys. Some teams (cough Seattle Mariners cough) need the hitting to even think about competing.

I would take these three guys over any other 3-4-5 middle of the lineup out there. (This isn’t just a Tigers fan voicing his opinion, most “experts” would probably tell you the same thing.) This group is better than the Angels, better than the Rangers and, gasp, better than those heavily favored and subject to lots of bias, Yankees-Red-Sox-Phillies lineups.

Back to the money, don’t attack the Tigers for giving him a lot of money. Yes, there is a lot of money going around between the Tigers middle of the order. The outfield isn’t obnoxiously overpaid, neither are a lot of the pitchers. The Yankees are paying Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson a lot in the outfield.

Their entire infield is overpaid. Derek Jeter and A-Rod are on the wrong side of thirty. Teixeira is on the hook for a lot. Robinson is the one left out in the infield millionaire row. He’s on the tail-end of a sad sack five-year 44 million dollar deal.  (Notice the heavy sarcasm).

AJ Burnett is one of the best examples of a possibly overpaid player due to his Jekyll and Hyde tendencies on the field. CC Sabathia is probably the one guy who is paid the right amount on the team.

Can anyone say that Daisuke Matsuzaka is paid correctly? How about Bobby Jenks making six million dollars as a non setup role. He isn’t even closing. Let alone setting up the closer. Philadelphia is giving Joe Blanton eight million dollars as a potential swing man.

Don’t fuss about the money. Fuss if you’re a Cleveland Indians fan. Or a White Sox fan. You just lost the division by 15 games last year to Detroit. (That was the Indians, Chitown was worse.) The Indians were making a fuss of choosing over Casey Kotchman or the-now-off-the-market Carlos Pena. And now the team you lost the division to by 15 games (holy schnikies) just signed Prince Fielder. (Again, holy schnikies).

Holy Schnikies. Theme of the day. Holy Schnikies. Get ready for one hell of an offensive year for Jimmy Leyland’s Tigers club.

(Watch out when V-Mart gets back!)

Holy Schnikies!

Really?

Did the Mariners just trade Michael Pineda? Really? I’m not a Mariner fan by any stretch, but living in the northwest you tend to hear a lot about them. Though I didn’t get this from any Tacoma News Tribune or Everett Herald, I got it from ESPN.com, which is probably because the Yankees are involved. That in and of itself is an entirely different matter (big market bias, etc…). The Mariners will supposedly get phenom-hitting-extraordinaire-whatever-term-makes-sense-to-you hitter (at this point he’s probably a DH and not a catcher — which is what he was originally going to play) Jesus Montero as well as pitcher Hector Noesi. Montero is number nine overall on MLB.com’s Top 50 prospect list. Noesi is a swingman type, or pitched like one last year. Pineda is an All-Star already at age 22. An All-Star at 22! Minor Leaguer Jose Campos is also heading to the Bronx.

This could turn out a number of ways:

One: Pineda joins an established group of players who thrived or enjoyed success after leaving Seattle (past success or no). This group includes Randy Johnson, David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Raul Ibanez, Carlos Guillen, Gil Meche, Derek Lowe, Jason Varitek, Freddy Garcia, Adam Jones, Michael Morse, JJ Putz, George Sherrill (now back in Seattle), Miguel Olivo (ditto), Joel Pinero, Adrian Beltre, Doug Fister, Jamie Moyer, Shin-Soo Choo, Randy Winn, Cliff Lee and Ken Griffey Jr.

Two: All players and parties succeed and come out beautifully (see Edwin Jackson, Curtis Granderson and Max Scherzer trade).

Three: Montero joins a list of his own in the number of hitters who have arrived in the hitters’ death row that is Safeco Field. See Richie Sexson, Chone Figgins, Milton Bradley, older Griffey, Kenji Johjima, Bill Hall, Brad Wilkerson and Ben Broussard.

It’s probably somewhat of a combination of all three. Number three probably only at the beginning of Montero’s Emerald City career only because of the adjustment it will take. On the flip side Pineda will probably flourish with an actual offense scoring runs for him.

So, at the end of the day (that day being the day when all players involved have filed retirement papers) this will probably end up like number two. But if I’m jinxing it by writing this and it turns into solely one and three, I won’t be surprised.

Logjam

Montero gives the M’s somewhat of a nice problem to have. He gives them an abundance of somewhat unproven corner-outfielder-firstbase-DH types. Throw him in with Justin Smoak, Mike Carp and Casper Wells and the word logjam comes to mind.

Montero, Smoak and second baseman Dustin Ackley form an intriguing young middle-of-the-order type. A combo of Ackley, Montero and Smoak in the 3-4-5 order is likely. This acquisition probably spells the end of Mike Carp or Casper Wells starts on a regular basis. One is probably going to take over in left with the other waiting for Ichiro to retire before taking over right field.

To be clear, Carp, Kyle Seager and Brendan Ryan aren’t a supporting cast that’s going to get it done championship-wise in the future, or now frankly. Franklin Guitierrez and Miguel Olivo could play on a lot of teams, but Gutierrez is on the mend from an injury-plagued season, and Olivo is being pursued by recently acquired John Jaso at the catcher position.

Montero clearly gives the Mariners a player to build around offensively. But did they give up too much?

Of the teams that made successful runs in the postseason, or to it, had somewhat of an effective one-two punch. Detroit: Justin Verlander and Doug Fister. New York: CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova. St. Louis Cardinals: Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia. Tampa Bay: James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson. Arizona: Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson. Philadelphia and Milwaukee were a few of the exceptions, seeing as they have a one-two-three punch at the top of their rotations. Zack Grienke, Shawn Marcum and Yovanni Gallardo lead the beer makers’ staff while Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels will roll out 1-2-3 for Philly.

(Notice how I left out Texas? See, they don’t have an ace so they don’t really fit on the list.)

The Mariners had an enticing future one-two punch now and later with Pineda and Felix Hernandez. This is probably along the lines of the M’s thinking: We need hitting for one, and two we have an abundance (somewhat) of young pitchers to dangle to get some. Taijuan Walker and James Paxton are both top prospects for Seattle, but New York probably wanted a young pitcher who could contribute right away (Pineda) instead of a prospect who has yet to throw a pitch in AAA.

Think about those two and possibly Jason Vargas or Blake Beavan, Charlie Furbush or even Campos as a fifth pitcher paired with Felix and Pineda.

(It probably should be noted that Campos isn’t just an afterthought or a throw in, he was the M’s number four overall prospect according to MLB.com.)

The Campos addition makes for somewhat of a tougher loss for Seattle. Yes, he probably would have had issues cracking a rotation with all the projected talent, but why not keep the depth, or at least put it towards somewhat of an experienced hitter like a Hanley Ramirez (not that that is going to happen, I was just throwing that name out there as an example).

Positional Problems

Jesus Montero will suit up for your Seattle Mariners. The only thing that will be in question is where the hitting-phenom will play. Montero is a catcher by trade, but has been tabbed by scouts and higher ups as a player up for positional relocation due to lack of defensive prowess. (I just moved to jolly old England and became an established professor with a large library for one sentence there.)

So if not at catcher, then where?

Montero might have an outfielder’s glove up his sleeve, (in which case the guy has some big sleeves). Who knows? In all likely-hood he will probably find his starts at DH with the occasional start at first base or catching, (like a Victor Martinez situation, almost) or at first base with dosages of time at DH and behind the dish.

The latter situation there probably won’t come to fruition unless Justin Smoak is moved. If he’s moved it will either be as a piece in a trade for a more experienced hitter at say third base, or a swap for more pitching.

Smoak probably isn’t going anywhere seeing as he was the M’s key in the Cliff Lee trade, and he provides a substantial part of their hazy future.

Little Big Time

Every year there is a big deal. Last year the Rangers got Cliff Lee.  A couple of years ago the Brewers landed CC Sabathia. A deal like this can propel a team into the playoffs and in some cases the World Series.
But every year there are the somewhat smaller deals that can equally help a team. For example, last year the Yankees picked up Kerry Wood. Kerry Wood had a 0.69 in 26 innings, which is only 2 earned runs given up total. This didn’t help the Yankees win a title, but it solidified their bullpen and their bridge to Mariano Rivera. In a crucial situation getting to Mariano Rivera with a lead still intact could make a difference between a championship and not a championship.

The point here is that a smaller tier could make a big difference, and often those are the first deals to take place. Here are a couple of smaller deals that have already happened that could make the difference for some contenders. These deals also serve as a bit of a table setter, if you will, or a suspense builder for the big-time deal.

• Jeff Keppinger- The Giants got the multi-positional infielder in Keppinger who can help them at second and shortstop where the Giants haven’t exactly gotten defending-champion-like production.
• Wilson Betemit- The Tigers got him supposedly as an upgrade over Brandon Inge. This season Betemit has been better offensively and good defensively, but there aren’t a lot of players at the hot corner who can bring it defensively like Inge.