A number of writers on the Bleacher Report, Yahoo! Sports and a good many other sports sites have suggested that King Felix might be traded away from the Mariners. Whether they are hopeful Yankees fans, or bloggers seeking attention, they are all wrong. Felix Hernandez will not be leaving Seattle anytime soon.
When Jack Zduriencik says something he sticks with it, because Jack Zduriencik says very little. Every season around the midseason trade deadline and during the offseason, Trader Jack reiterates to the media, baseball fans and other teams that Felix Hernandez will not be traded.
Jack Zduriencik cares deeply about building a strong team the Mariners can rely on. Even though teams might offer strong veteran players packaged with incredible prospects, the Mariners will never propose or accept any deal involving Felix being shipped away as long as Jack Zduriencik is in charge.
Edgar Martinez served brilliantly from 1987 to 2004 as the Mariners' third baseman and designated hitter. Edgar always tried his hardest, remained calm and loyal, showed his respect to fans and amazed Seattle with his brilliance at the plate. Playing seven All-Star games, earning five Silver Slugger Awards, two batting titles and the 2004 Roberto Clemente Award, Martinez earned the respect of Seattle sports fans.
Felix Hernandez is also a brilliant hard worker, who has served as the Mariners' ace almost immediately since his career began as a 19-year old in 2005, and has also earned the respect of Seattle sports fans on and off the field. The King's modesty, appreciation of his support and ever-present smile and happy manner remind Mariner fans of the franchise player before him.
Felix, just 26, is a Cy Young Award winner and has played in three All-Star games. Keeping Felix in town would extend the presence of a pinnacle of modesty and athletic excellence Seattle has had since 1987.
For every trade Trader Jack has made, the Mariners have landed prospects. In baseball, a good many prospects turn into nobodies and end up retiring without much of a major league career. But most of the prospects Jack and company have acquired appear to be talented, some have even proven themselves.
Jason Vargas, Mike Carp, Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush and Jesus Montero all have obvious value. While none of these players have delivered All-Star seasons, they are all solid players. Current prospects added by Jack Zduriencik, such as Trayvon Robinson, Francisco Martinez and Chih-Hsien Chiang, could end up being solid players as well.
Adding prospects to a growing list of quality prospects including draftees and international free agents including Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Vinnie Catricala, Carlos Peguero, Carter Capps, Alex Liddi, Brad Miller, Nick Franklin and Jordan Shipers, would be a mistake. Seattle already has a solid core of prospects.
What the Mariners need is a few veteran players to play well and mentor the prospects currently in the organization. Trading Felix for prospects would be a mistake, we would get more of what we already have, and lose what we need to keep and add more of: veterans.
The Young Three, for a lack of a better title, consists of Major League Baseball's best young pitchers: Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker. The Young Three (TY3) are one of the few bright spots in Seattle baseball.
A future rotation of Felix, TY3 and another youngster, possibly Erasmo Ramirez, Blake Beavan or Andrew Carraway, could stay in Seattle for years, providing Mariners fans with winning seasons that have long waited for. As a beastly pitcher, young veteran and Cy Young Award winner, King Felix can, and will, teach TY3 as they grow into aces as well.
In 111 games started at Safeco Field for a total of 766.2 innings pitched King Felix is 48-32 with a 3.13 and 713 strikeouts. Felix fits into Safeco Field better than any other pitcher. As long as the walls remain where they are and Felix remains in Seattle, there is no way they can trade him away.
The argument is that Safeco Field's outfield structure is based solely off the fact that the Mariners have solid pitchers. If the walls are moved in, up goes Felix's ERA, production of Seattle hitters and opposing hitters alike and the whole purpose of Safeco Field being a pitcher's park. Safeco Field is Felix's kingdom, moving him away from it would be like ousting the king.
Felix, shown above as Larry Bernandez, sells merchandise as two different people. For fans who have not seen the Larry Bernandez commercial, you won't understand this slide and you should watch the video. Felix sells merchandise better than any other athlete in Seattle, except for Ichiro.
Imagine how hard it would be for the Mariners to sell jerseys without a franchise player. Would buy Ackley, Hultzen and Montero jerseys in advance? Who would replace Felix on posters, key chains and stamped baseballs?
From a marketing perspective, trading away King Felix is just plain stupid.
There are few players the Mariners could use to draw in fans if King Felix left Seattle. Would Dustin Ackley and his .233 batting average get people through the gates? Would the defensively-excellent, yet offensively-challenged Brendan Ryan help fill Safeco Field's seats? Or would watching Jesus Montero hit pop flies to what would have been homers in most other stadiums create revenue?
The Mariners have no one to replace Felix with in terms of revenue, except for when the Yankees and Red Sox come to town once or twice a year. The support team of the King's Court with their Mariner yellow and navy blue "K" signs every five games brings in revenue and creates a tremendously-positive atmosphere for an otherwise depressing team.
The front office has declared for years that Felix Hernandez is the player the Mariners are building a team around. He is young, intelligent, experienced and has carried one of the worst teams in baseball for the last seven years. Felix is only 26, but he already has 1404 strikeouts and a Cy Young Award. He's never been to the playoffs and he says he would like to help the team into October.
Young players like Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton need his leadership to create more wonderful starters. Felix can lead a beast of a rotation for years, trading him away would just be plain stupid. Take a look at all the pitching aces in baseball today, none is as young as Felix with as much experience.
Players like Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia and Jake Peavy are aging and have played with multiple teams. Felix has grown with Seattle and will continue to grow as other players grow around him.
At a press conference the day before the 2012 All Star Game, Felix told reporters, “I like Seattle and I want to help the Seattle Mariners win a World Series. I believe in the organization. I believe we’re going in the right direction. We’ll be better.”
Felix said it plain and simple. He wants to stay in Seattle and he wants to help the Mariners win a World Series.
The Mariners, who joined Major League Baseball in 1977 as an expansion team, are one of two teams who have not been to a World Series. The other team, the Washington Nationals, relocated from Montreal and have been in existence since 2005, and are currently in first place in the NL East with a 51-35 record.
The Mariners are 37-53 and in last place in the AL West with some of the worst hitting players in all of baseball. But Felix says he wants to win a World Series with the Mariners, which means he needs to stick around a while.
Fans love King Felix, and what ownership and front office veterans of Seattle have hopefully learned is that Mariner fans don't like their stars to leave Seattle. The Big Unit, Junior and A-Rod—all guaranteed Hall of Famers—all left Seattle to the dismay of fans. These losses, without a doubt, contributed to the popular Northwest saying: "The Mariners are the farm team for the AL East".
The losses of Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez also all contributed to the frustration of Mariner fans who have never experienced their home team in a World Series. The losses of big stars are one of the many reasons why fans have an unconditional love of Felix.
In addition, fans enjoy his consistency on the mound, Yankee fans begging for his majesty to head to Yankee Stadium and the love he expresses on and off the mound for his team and his fans. Fans love their legend, who will hopefully be the greatest pitcher ever to only wear a Seattle Mariners jersey.