Next up in our Needs and Luxuries series, the Mariners.
C – Kenji Johjima
1B – Richie Sexson
2B – Jose Lopez
SS – Yuniesky Betancourt
3B – Adrian Beltre
LF – Raul Ibanez
CF – Ichiro Suzuki
RF – Adam Jones
DH – Jose Vidro
SP – Felix Hernandez
SP – Jarrod Washburn
SP – Miguel Batista
SP – Cha Seung Baek
SP – Ryan Feierabend/Brandon Morrow
Setup: Sean Green/George Sherrill
Closer: J.J. Putz
Let’s start with the offense. The Ms placed seventh with a .337 OBP and seventh with a .425 SLG. Their offense could not have been more average.
Seems like we can stick a fork in Sexson after his .205/.295/.399 performance. I’ve heard people try to explain why his $14MM salary for ’08 wasn’t dumped on the Tigers when that team claimed him, and haven’t heard a convincing answer. At the least, the Ms shouldn’t feel compelled to play Sexson because of his salary.
That leaves first base open for Ibanez and maybe Vidro. Getting Ibanez out of left improves the outfield defense no matter who replaces him (I wouldn’t re-sign Jose Guillen, who’s got to be asking for more than 3/30). I wouldn’t mind seeing Wladimir Balentien get a shot as a regular, but then there’s the whole "two rookies in the outfield" problem. Maybe if Guillen asks for too much the Ms try to find another bargain outfielder on the free agent market, like Milton Bradley, Cliff Floyd, or Geoff Jenkins. Barry Bonds makes a ton of sense as the DH and part-time LF, but it appears the Mariners will pass.
Lopez just did not hit, and signing a Tadahito Iguchi wouldn’t be a bad move. I’d just hate to see Mark Loretta come in and offer the same subpar production level as Lopez. The Ms wanted to trade for Loretta this summer.
It seems the Mariners need to conjure up one starting pitcher. Their starters ranked 12th with a 5.16 ERA. That should come down with less Jeff Weaver/Horacio Ramirez, who combined for a 6.58 ERA in 244.6 innings. Better defense will help as well. The Ms may venture into the free agent pool again, despite the odds stacked against them. Carlos Silva, anyone? An innings-eater with a sub-5.00 ERA would be nice. Seattle scouted Jason Jennings and Livan Hernandez this summer. Curt Schilling would be a nice signing.
There may be some clamoring for a reliable eighth-inning bridge to get the ball to the game’s best reliever, J.J. Putz. If the money’s there and the other holes have been filled, I’m on board. A flyer on Octavio Dotel or Kerry Wood could work. Wood might want a contract with some incentives for starting, if his shoulder allows it.
The Mariners have two prospects who may not have roles with the ’08 club – Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien. If one or both are used in a trade, it’ll be for a decent starter. This year the club has been connected to Kei Igawa, Dontrelle Willis, Jon Garland, and Jose Contreras. A simple Wlad for Contreras swap might work for both teams. The Marlins could use a guy like Clement. The Yanks have no place for Igawa. Trading makes more sense than free agency.
Ibanez could definitely be considered a luxury; the Ms could live without him if Nate Robertson came in return. Ibanez is signed affordably at $5.5MM in the last year of his deal.