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

The Best in World of Sports: An Atlas of Atlases

In Greek mythology there is a Titan named Atlas who held up the world, or held up the sky so that it didn’t crash down on the Earth.

In the world of sports, each team has its own “Atlas” who keeps the team from falling flat.

Some of the best “Atlases” in recent sports memory:

  1. LeBron James- Cleveland Cavaliers. During LeBron’s tenure the Cavaliers were essentially James and a never-ending roll call of role players. Shaquille O’Neal and Ben Wallace were the only really good players who James played with in Cleveland. And at that point both were in the respective twilights of their careers, and Wallace wasn’t scoring much (as per usual). Cleveland was so bad without “King James” that they set an NBA record for the longest losing streak: 26 games after he made the decision to go to South Beach.
  2. Derrick Rose- Chicago Bulls. A small sample size, but while Rose dominated Game One of the first round of the playoffs versus Philly, he tore his ACL towards the end of the game. After holding on for the win in that game the Bulls went on to lose the series 4-2 to the eight-seeded 76ers. As a follow up, this year with Rose out for an extended amount of time, most pundits and talking heads have Chicago in the 6-8 seed range in the playoffs. Quite a drop-off for the team who had the best record in the East last season.
  3. Luis Suarez- Liverpool. If you take away Suarez’s fantastic production, the Reds would likely be in the relegation zone if not in last.
  4. Dwight Howard- Orlando Magic. Orlando is so bad without Howard it compelled me to write an entire piece on it, you can see that here. Orlando is going nowhere fast.
  5. Steve Nash- Phoenix Suns. Obviously earlier on in Nash’s career he had Amare Stoudamire and friends, so the team wouldn’t be that bad off without him. However, the Suns of the past couple years have needed Nash to help them stay out of the cellar. With him they were camped on the stairs going to the cellar; now they’re the cellar’s likely tenants.
  6. Mike Trout- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Trout supporters love overusing the stat about the visible improvement of the Angels’ record with him, as opposed to their record without him. Take away Trout and a lineup that includes Albert Pujols, Kendrys Morales, Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells goes nowhere offensively. Continue reading

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.

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.