What’s Next For The Mariners?

The Mariners cashed in their biggest chip yesterday, dealing Cliff Lee to the Rangers for Justin Smoak and three prospects. With the team currently 34-52 and 16 games back in the division, it's reasonable to expect GM Jack Zduriencik to continue making moves geared more towards contending in 2011 than righting the ship in 2010.

Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times points out that with Smoak set to man first on an every day basis, the Mariners now have three players (Milton Bradley, Russell Branyan, and Michael Saunders) for two roster spots (left field, designated hitter). Bradley's sore knee buys them some time, and Saunders could also be optioned to Triple-A, but flipping Branyan to a contender looking for some pop is very possible.

Saunders was almost sent to Philadelphia in last winter's Lee deal before the Phillies' requested Tyson Gillies instead, and Baker says the Zduriencik regime "hasn't exactly been in love" with holdover prospects from the Bill Bavasi era. Saunders could again find himself on the chopping block.

Backup first baseman Casey Kotchman could go at any time, though it's tough to believe there will be much trade interest in his .208/.292/.344 batting line, regardless of how good his defense is. The same could be said of the currently injured Mike Sweeney, though he was hitting a tolerable .263/.327/.475 before his back flared up.

Jose Lopez is very much available, but Baker doesn't think either Brandon League or David Aardsma will be dealt. Both are under team control for the next two seasons, so the Mariners aren't feeling pressure to move them immediately.

The Lee trade basically represented the white flag, but the Mariners don't have much left to trade away beyond Lopez, some relievers, and possibly Branyan. More than anything, they need to start getting better production out of Chone Figgins (.235/.334/.277) and Bradley (.211/.295/.368) while Jason Vargas (3.09 ERA) and Doug Fister (also a 3.09 ERA) continue to establish themselves as viable starters behind Felix Hernandez.


45 Responses to What’s Next For The Mariners? Leave a Reply

  1. HerbertAnchovy 5 years ago

    They should give Saunders more time to develop, but maybe in the Minors. I think maybe they’re forgetting that as beautiful as Safeco is, it certainly isn’t a hitters park.

  2. j6takish 5 years ago

    Jose Lopez to the Tigers

    • MackNorth 5 years ago

      The Tigers want another mediocre Seattle castoff in their middle infield?

  3. cards28 5 years ago

    Why not trade Kotchman to the angels? They could use him as a late inning replacement for Napoli. Plus their manager said they would like to add some depth and he would provide a left handed bat of the bench. Also they drafted him so they were high on him at one point and Im sure he wouldnt cost very much.

  4. Jose Lopez to philly please

  5. Jose Lopez to philly please

  6. I am unenthused about the Smoaks trade. Not too long ago, there were several items in the Texas sports press about the Rangers being disappointed with Smoak’s ability (inability?) to consistently hit major league pitching. And the last thing the Mariners need is ANOTHER first baseman. But I guess Smoak’s .209 batting average will fit in very well well with the current Mariners lineup. Also, did you see the story out this morning, “Josh Lueke, a minor-league pitcher acquired by the Mariners in the Cliff Lee trade, faced rape and sodomy charges last summer.”

  7. I am unenthused about the Smoaks trade. Not too long ago, there were several items in the Texas sports press about the Rangers being disappointed with Smoak’s ability (inability?) to consistently hit major league pitching. And the last thing the Mariners need is ANOTHER first baseman. But I guess Smoak’s .209 batting average will fit in very well well with the current Mariners lineup. Also, did you see the story out this morning, “Josh Lueke, a minor-league pitcher acquired by the Mariners in the Cliff Lee trade, faced rape and sodomy charges last summer.”

  8. slr5607 5 years ago

    To continue building their team’s youth and ability to produce very soon, I think they should trade Russell Branyan. This guy has a 5 million dollar option for next year, so that will make him a little more appealing to others.

    I think the Giants would be interested in Branyan. They have come out and said that they want a LH Hitter with some pop. They need to either fill a corner infield or corner outfield position. Justin Smoak is going to own the 1B position for years to come. I bet the Mariners could get a quality young relief pitcher from the Giants for Branyan.

  9. slr5607 5 years ago

    To continue building their team’s youth and ability to produce very soon, I think they should trade Russell Branyan. This guy has a 5 million dollar option for next year, so that will make him a little more appealing to others.

    I think the Giants would be interested in Branyan. They have come out and said that they want a LH Hitter with some pop. They need to either fill a corner infield or corner outfield position. Justin Smoak is going to own the 1B position for years to come. I bet the Mariners could get a quality young relief pitcher from the Giants for Branyan.

  10. astropolis 5 years ago

    Yeah, if true about Lueke, that’s obviously very unfortunate. However, “facing charges” and “convicted of the crime of” are two very different things. After the Duke lacrosse case and other analogous scandals, I’m very careful about drawing conclusions about a person or their character based solely on the fact that they were “facing charges”.

    • harmony55 5 years ago

      Josh Lueke was convicted after pleading no contest to “false imprisonment with violence.” I’m a Seattle fan who is willing to give the guy a chance.

    • harmony55 5 years ago

      Josh Lueke was convicted after pleading no contest to “false imprisonment with violence.” I’m a Seattle fan who is willing to give the guy a chance.

    • It’s true you got to look into these things, but it sounds like the charges were pretty well backed up in this case. With that said, he would not be the only guy to make some mistakes and then go on to a solid MLB career. Nor would he be the only despicable character to ever grace the MLB, if he didn’t clean up his act even. So oh well, I guess. Keep your daughters away from the bullpen, citizens of Seattle. Which was probably good advice anyways.

  11. astropolis 5 years ago

    As for what’s next for the Mariners, how about brining up Pineda. I know that no one likes to rush pitchers, but this guy’s been lights out at every level.

    • ghost5599 5 years ago

      Pineda got roughed up in his last start. But I would not doubt that we will see him before the year is out. Unless he has more rough outings.

  12. astropolis 5 years ago

    As for what’s next for the Mariners, how about brining up Pineda. I know that no one likes to rush pitchers, but this guy’s been lights out at every level.

  13. Guest 5 years ago

    I’m convinced the Mariners took the wrong deal and they spent a great deal on money. It doesn’t make much sense, but the Rangers come out huge winners. I am going to stand by what I said, intuition tells me that the Mariners would have made out like bandits with Montero. The three other prospects they got for Lee (perhaps except for Beavan) are garbage. I mean one guy is a criminal. Poor job by the Mariners all around in my opinion. Justin Smoak is a great young player, but I’m reading varying reports on his true potential.

    • harmony55 5 years ago

      The analysis from FanGraphs:

      link to fangraphs.com

    • roberty 5 years ago

      Leuke looks nasty! Did you look at his stats? He has a career 1.176 whip with 11.4 SO/9. He has 62 SO in 38.1 IP in 2010, which is 14.9 SO/9. He also has 12 saves. He is 25 though, which is kind of old for a AA player.

      Lawson is OPSing .809 in AA. He has the highest OPS of all of Frisco’s regular position players in 2010. He is 24, which is also kind of old.

      Beavan is having a decent year in AA and is only 21, but he has averaged only 5.2 SO/9 over his minor league career. He doesn’t walk a lot of batters, he is averaging 1.0 BB/9 in 2010 and 1.4 for his career. I find him the least interesting prospect in the bunch.

  14. Guest 5 years ago

    I’m convinced the Mariners took the wrong deal and they spent a great deal on money. It doesn’t make much sense, but the Rangers come out huge winners. I am going to stand by what I said, intuition tells me that the Mariners would have made out like bandits with Montero. The three other prospects they got for Lee (perhaps except for Beavan) are garbage. I mean one guy is a criminal. Poor job by the Mariners all around in my opinion. Justin Smoak is a great young player, but I’m reading varying reports on his true potential.

  15. Guest 5 years ago

    and lets not forget they pi**ed off the Yanks in the meantime…Zack McCallister, Montero and Adams would have been a kings ransom and frankly, this works out for the Yanks anyway at the end of the season. I’m just appalled that Jack threw this deal aside and took what he did. Kind of like the trade they made with Detroit last year. They wanted Jackson for Washburn and then turned around and traded him for a bunch of grapefruit league players. Weird.

    • harmony55 5 years ago

      The Mariners traded Jarrod Washburn for 23-year-old lefthander Luke French, who is 10-2 with a 2.69 ERA in 15 starts this season at Triple A Tacoma, and the primary target of the trade, 20-year-old lefty Mauricio Robles, who has struggled recently at Double A after a fabulous spring.The Mariners reportedly were concerned about how Jesus Montero’s righthanded bat would play at Seattle’s Safeco Field and where the defense-minded Mariners would play Montero in the field. Instead, the Mariners went with the switch-hitting 13th-ranked prospect in Baseball America’s preseason rankings, plus another former first-round pick and two other minor leaguers.

    • letsgogiants 5 years ago

      I highly doubt the Yankees would have given up Jackson for just half a season of Washburn. As well as Washburn was pitching at the time, he wasn’t highly coveted by many teams nor was he even going to bring that much to the table. The Mariners got a pretty good package for Washburn who ended up pitching horrendously and didn’t even bring aboard any draft picks.

  16. Guest 5 years ago

    and lets not forget they pi**ed off the Yanks in the meantime…Zack McCallister, Montero and Adams would have been a kings ransom and frankly, this works out for the Yanks anyway at the end of the season. I’m just appalled that Jack threw this deal aside and took what he did. Kind of like the trade they made with Detroit last year. They wanted Jackson for Washburn and then turned around and traded him for a bunch of grapefruit league players. Weird.

  17. harmony55 5 years ago

    How about Russell Branyan and Erik Bedard for Wade Davis?

    Jeremy Hellickson can replace Davis in the current rotation with Bedard as the wild card for the postseason rotation. In 638 at-bats over the past two seasons, Branyan has posted a .254/.341/.513/.854 line with 44 homeruns, 109 RBIs and 93 runs.

    Davis gets a chance to rebound with the Mariners, who are out of contention and who have little need for the expiring contracts of Branyan and Bedard.

  18. harmony55 5 years ago

    How about Russell Branyan and Erik Bedard for Wade Davis?

    Jeremy Hellickson can replace Davis in the current rotation with Bedard as the wild card for the postseason rotation. In 638 at-bats over the past two seasons, Branyan has posted a .254/.341/.513/.854 line with 44 homeruns, 109 RBIs and 93 runs.

    Davis gets a chance to rebound with the Mariners, who are out of contention and who have little need for the expiring contracts of Branyan and Bedard.

  19. Smoak was the right choice….someday you’ll see and then remember…”oh that guy was right”

  20. Smoak was the right choice….someday you’ll see and then remember…”oh that guy was right”

  21. Mr_Clutch 5 years ago

    Kotchman has little to no trade value.

    • But that’s a big difference. If he has little trade value and you can get anything, great. If he has no value, then he’s useless.

  22. Mr_Clutch 5 years ago

    Kotchman has little to no trade value.

  23. Mr_Clutch 5 years ago

    The Mariners made the right choice in a questionable manner. The Ray’s would never Wade Davis for that joke of a package.

    • harmony55 5 years ago

      How badly to the Rays need Wade Davis and his negative WAR? What could Davis command on the trade market? What if Erik Bedard posts several quality starts before the trade deadline?

  24. Mr_Clutch 5 years ago

    The Mariners made the right choice in a questionable manner. The Ray’s would never Wade Davis for that joke of a package.

  25. Mr_Clutch 5 years ago

    The Mariners made the correct trade, but they did it in an ugly manner. As far as Branyan and Bedard for Wade Davis. Thats a joke, come down from your high……Wade Davis is staying with the Ray’s before that would get done.

  26. Mr_Clutch 5 years ago

    The Mariners made the correct trade, but they did it in an ugly manner. As far as Branyan and Bedard for Wade Davis. Thats a joke, come down from your high……Wade Davis is staying with the Ray’s before that would get done.

  27. mememememememe9 5 years ago

    “Baker doesn’t think either Brandon League or David Aardsma will be dealt. Both are under team control for the next two seasons, so the Mariners aren’t feeling pressure to move them immediately.” How about pressure to move them because the suck!

  28. Wrek305 5 years ago

    The M’s GM is the 2nd worst GM in Baseball only to Jim Hendry.. He will become… one of the best once he finds another home for Milton Bradley which will be Bradley’s 10th team in 10 and a half years.. HA

    • You’re crazy. Jack Z. has been nothing but amazing for them.

      He couldn’t predict the turnaround of Carlos Silva, no one could. No one is going to take Bradley, so he’s stuck there. He’s done all he can, and he turned Lee into a huge load compared to what he gave up.

    • damnitsderek 5 years ago

      Unsubstantiated post is unsubstantiated.

  29. Guest 5 years ago

    I think the more many people think about it, they realize the Mariners took the wrong deal. There was ZERO logic in trading with the Rangers and it cost them money. That’s crazy part. As a Yank fan I am a little bent over this result, for the short term, however we retain Montero. I am laughing right now that they Yanks dangled him in front of them and they didn’t even flinch. Odd indeed. And lets not forget the in the same division aspect. This was a case of quantity over quality.

  30. Guest 5 years ago

    I think the more many people think about it, they realize the Mariners took the wrong deal. There was ZERO logic in trading with the Rangers and it cost them money. That’s crazy part. As a Yank fan I am a little bent over this result, for the short term, however we retain Montero. I am laughing right now that they Yanks dangled him in front of them and they didn’t even flinch. Odd indeed. And lets not forget the in the same division aspect. This was a case of quantity over quality.

  31. m4r1n3r 5 years ago

    The packages were very close to being equal. Dealing him to the Rangers was a good choice for a couple of reasons. Smoak is projected to be a star caliber player and was the Rangers most coveted prospect. Montero was a right handed power bat and that’s pretty much it. Smoak is a first baseman and needs no converting and can play right now. He’s got decent defensive abilities whereas Montero was a question mark in that area.

    Cliff Lee won’t re-sign with the Rangers. Sure the Rangers will get some good picks in next years draft but the M’s are likely to get good picks as well as long as they continue to tank the season which I’m fairly confident they will. Our starters need to go the full 9 as the bullpen is terrible right now so I see them being all set for some decent picks next year.

    Rangers farm system was weakened a bit by a division rival. That’s a good thing.

  32. damnitsderek 5 years ago

    The only good hitter named Lopez in the Majors goes by the name Felipe.

    And the only way you’re getting a good pitching prospect for any of those guys is if you have a time machine and can trade the 2008 version of Kotchman or the 2009 version of Aardsma.

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