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?

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!

(your Seattle Mariners working title here)

The Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) are all in next season. Meanwhile, the Oakland A’s dealt their two best players, frontline starting pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahil, to NL clubs for prospects in what is presumably a rebuilding year. The Seattle Mariners on the other hand…. Eh…

We’ve been over the fact that the Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero swap was a little confusing for a number of reasons. The Mariners aren’t in a real rebuilding mode. They are trying to win with a roster that probably isn’t going to get it done.

The pitching for Seattle is good for a 76-86 record. Felix Hernandez is the best pitcher in baseball not named Justin Verlander. Brandon League is a solid closer. Jason Vargas is a quality pitcher. There isn’t a lack of pitching here in the northwest, but rather a lack of hitting.

The hitting is the issue. Texas and the Angels both have somewhat balanced attacks from the mound and the plate. Oakland’s pitching numbers will always be a smidgen better due to their ballpark. Seattle is in Oakland’s boat, but there’s a big difference.

Have you heard the phrase “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”? Well the Mariners are broke and they need fixing (not financially, they’re fine, but you get the point).

There is no rebuilding project plans in Seattle. They aren’t even throwing out their failed attempts to improve their hitting. There are no Richie Sexson or Adrian Beltre transactions coming. No mid-season Ben Broussard or Eduardo Perez addition. Not even an opportunity to buy migraine pills for watching Milton Bradley. Nada.

Here’s what the M’s need to do: blow it up. At least from an offensive stand point they do. Ichiro is on the wrong side of 30 and is coming off a down year. Franklin Gutierrez is coming off an injury-riddled year. There aren’t a lot of players outside of those two and Dustin Ackley that are going to make people lose a lot of sleep.

The catcher position is confusing from the point of having Miguel Olivo, Adam Moore, John Jaso and potentially Jesus Montero in the mix. There’s a lot of offensive-minded players there, but not in a lot of other places.

If the Mariners are going to win, or even come close to it, they are going to have to hit.

Give the AL Central Some Love

If you ask a casual fan to name the four best teams in the American League you will probably get some combination of Texas, New York, Boston and the Angels. Yes, they probably have the biggest pay rolls in the league.  Yes, they made the three biggest signings of the offseason (Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson and Yu Darvish). Yes, they could make a fourth (Prince Fielder). Yes, they have represented the AL in the last five World Series. Yes, they sport one of the biggest cash cows in sports (Yankees). And yes, they are probably four of the bigger markets in the country.

But people need to get to start giving the Central some love. No one seems to be talking about Detroit, who despite losing Victor Martienz to injury still have the best pitcher in the league and the best hitter in the league. Also Jim Leyland is the “winningest” active manager in the game. Throw in the league’s best closer last year, Jose Valverde, and one of the better catchers for the next decade in Alex Avila and you’ve got one hell of a team.

It should also be noted that the division isn’t just Detroit (it will be next year), but Kansas City will be pretty good too. The Royals have arguably the most talented farm system in the league that will set them up for a long time. They also have a pretty good young core that’s at the Major League level. Lots to like in Kansas City. They won’t surpass Detroit for a while, but they’ll be in the mix.

The White Sox aren’t without their own hype as they welcome in a new era led by new manager Robin Ventura and potential young stars Dayan Viciedo, Gordon Beckham and Chris Sale.

Cleveland also has its coup of young up-and-comers despite the Fausto Carmona situation (had to mention it at some point). The coup includes Carlos Santana Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis.

Minnesota is also a team in the AL Central. As you can see I’m very excited about them (bored voice)… they have a lot of pieces… blah blah blah. Minnesota is in a rebuilding year and has a high pick in the draft (number two overall), and  it will get worse before it gets better. The point is that it will get better for Minnesota, whenever that may be, it will get better. But all hope isn’t lost, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau can still hit.

The underlying theme spoiler alert of the day is that the Central is not the cellar dweller of the division, or not the worst by any stretch. We know absolutely nothing about the Angels, they haven’t even stepped on the field as a team yet. Yu Darvish will run into a wall at some point from an adjustment point of view. Prince Fielder’s zip code is yet to be determined. Don’t write off the Central, now or later.

How do You Replace Victor Martinez?

I’ve covered the fact that Victor Martinez is out for the year. Now the question is how the Tigers replace him, and who with.

The name Prince Fielder tends to come to mind for a team who needs a middle of the order bat. The Tigers might have some interest, but Fielder is quite a large financial commitment, even a one-year deal.

The Tigers first and cheapest option, at this point is to move Delmon Young to DH and then put  Andy Dirks and/or Clete Thomas in his outfield slot.

Young would give them a solid bat at the DH spot, and give Detroit the opportunity to put maybe a more versatile defender in Young’s place (i.e. Dirks and Thomas).

As stated that’s the Tigers’ cheapest option, and it probably doesn’t require a roster move. This way you don’t risk losing a player to waivers.

Detroit could also go digging in the free agent bin or the bargain bin. Former Tigers could be a big draw for Dave Dombrowski:  Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez and Marcus Thames are out there. So are established hitters like Derek Lee, Hideki Matsui and JD Drew.

Raul Ibanez is a player who could be a great fit in Detroit. Dude can hit. He’s driven in at least 84 runs every year except one since 2002, and each of those seasons put up at least 16 bombs a year. You’re talking about double digit homers and at least 80 RBIs per year for a guy who could come pretty cheaply. I’ll take it! He also is a .280 career hitter despite a season last year in which he hit an uncharacteristic .245. That will go up when you hit around a guy named Miguel Cabrera.

A piggy-back option to the earlier move-Delmon-Young-to-DH thought would be to make it a rotating door of sorts. Put Don Kelly at first and give Miguel Cabrera the day off in the field. The next day, put Dirks in the outfield and give Young or Brennan Boesch the day off. There is a smorgasbord of options to pick from.

The trade market is another one of many routes to go for the Tigers; the Angels have a log jam at DH with Mark Trumbo, Kendrys Morales and Bobby Abreu. Morales would be a very intriguing fit if he can return to pre-injury form. Trumbo is another fit, but once V-Mart comes back next year, he will be out of places to play regularly.

Yoenis Cepedes is probably the most serious target for Detroit. Not only can he provide an impact bat behind Cabrera, but once V-Mart comes back he can slide into the outfield. Not to mention the fact that he’s a potential star.

Does Yu Darvish Change the Landscape Out West?

Yu Darvish and Albert Pujols have joined the AL West. The Houston Astros will also join next year. Throw Houston out for a minute. Does this change you big east coast Boston-New-York-Philadelphia -are-the-only-teams-that-really-matter-mindset, east coast media persona? Does it surprise you that given the choice, the two bigger free agents flocked to the west coast and not the east? Granted those big market teams were low on cap room, but that’s another story.

I’m not saying that the “power” has shifted out west, but it has certainly evened things out a bit. Both Easts have two, borderline three contenders with Philly , Atlanta and possibly Miami or Washington in the NL and New York, Boston and Tampa Bay. The Wests now have Arizona, San Francisco, two-time defending AL champs Texas and the new look Angels. Unless Prince Fielder signs with the Cardinals, the Tigers are really the only legitimate team in the Centrals.

This is quite a step up from the perception of the west being a barren waste land. Before last year the Diamondbacks were a cellar dweller. San Fran won a title, but before that were stuck in mediocrity. Anaheim had made some playoff appearances, but was stuck behind the Rangers and out of the playoffs (due to the wild card spots being taken up in the East and Central).  Oakland’s biggest success was the Moneyball premiere as of late. Seattle can’t hit to save anything really. The Dodgers have shrunken into a mediocre team with the whole sale of the team situation going on. The Padres missed the playoffs by this much, but otherwise haven’t gotten in recently. Colorado went to the World Series, but has gotten into slow stretches recently. The whole point is that things are changing. The Angels got miles better with only two players. They also will get Kendrys Morales back from injury, which is huge seeing as he is one of the better power hitters in the league when he’s on. The Rangers might have actually upgraded over CJ Wilson with Darvish, despite paying over 100 million to get him. That’s right one hundred million dollars. Take that in for a minute. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Just flip to the next paragraph when you’re done.

Where were we? Oh yeah, the one hundred million dollars. Right, Darvish makes the Rangers better, blah blah blah. Arizona looks like it could be here to stay for a long time. The Giants should rebound next year. The west will be better. The question now is how the west will be won? ((Had to throw that one in there, couldn’t resist.)