As the week ended, I’d planned on writing a column about how Jarrod Washburn should have never left Los Angeles for a Mariners uniform.
The Dodgers are overstocked with corner outfielders, and the Mariners were in need of a corner outfielder.
Then, Adrian Beltre’s imminent surgery was announced and the shift focused from replacing the slap-hitting Endy Chavez as decent-hitting Beltre's substitute. While Beltre hasn’t hit great this year, he has been probably an above-average major league offensive third baseman during his Mariners career and probably in the top five defensively.
After Saturday’s game, there was speculation on the radio about who should replace Beltre. The fan opinion seemed to be split between Mike Morse and Russell Branyan. Then Morse was traded to Washington for Ryan Langerhans.
There is nothing I can say that the guys at USS Mariner didn’t say before the trade happened about how well Langerhans fits on this roster.
However, while the subtraction of Morse comes at an inconvenient time, it may ultimately be the only residual value from the Freddy Garcia trade, which brought Miguel Olivo, Jeremy Reed, and Morse to Seattle.
I truly believe that Langerhans will supplant Wladimir Balentien in the Mariners starting lineup, and if he’s somewhat productive, he could end up in the two-hole.
Last season with the Nats, Langerhans posted a .380 OBP in 139 plate appearances. His 25 walks in that amount of time would place him third on the Mariners this season, just ahead of Franklin Gutierrez, who has 23 walks in 262 plate appearances.
Langerhans’ .162 ISO would rank him fourth among Mariners starters, just behind Jose Lopez. Note, however, that Lopez has a .290 OBP.
But Langerhans can’t play third base, and the Mariners need at least a two-month solution. Had the Beltre surgery happened earlier, the M’s may have looked to trade for Mark DeRosa, who, upon Beltre’s return, could move to shortstop, second base, or left field.
DeRosa is in St. Louis now, but the Mariners may be smart to look for another versatile defensive player with at least an average bat. Ideally, at least in my opinion, the player used to replace Beltre in the short term should be able to replace Yuniesky Betancourt or start elsewhere for the long term.
The Mariners best options at third base, at least this season, should be able to play other positions.
Jhonny Peralta, Cleveland Indians
Peralta plays for the same team that just traded DeRosa. He’s a decent-fielding shortstop with some pop. He has hit 20 or more home runs in three of the past four seasons, and he hit 42 doubles last season.
Peralta has average patience at the plate with a career OBP about .068 higher than his BA.
In Peralta’s career he’s played 37 games at third base with an RF/9 of 2.79 and a fielding percentage of .978, both above league average.
Peralta is in the final year of his contract with the Indians, but the team has a $7 million option at the end of the season. Posting his lowest slugging percentage of the last four years, Peralta has also been criticized for his weight and may ultimately end up at third base anyways.
Mark Teahen, Kansas City Royals
Teahen was somewhat famous before ever lacing up his cleats at the big league level, simply because of his mention in Moneyball.
Though most of the players the A’s drafted in that legendary draft have scuffled some in the bigs, Teahen has been generally consistent. A career .270/.333/.425 hitter, he’s been close to those numbers for his entire career.
Teahen doesn't have Beltre's defensive ability, and he is best suited to play in outfield long term. However, he won’t embarrass the club for six to eight weeks, and his left-handed bat could be more productive than Beltre has been.
Melvin Mora, Baltimore Orioles
Mora has been a jack-of-all-trades throughout his career, playing every position but pitcher and catcher. The 37-year-old has been planted at third base all season in 2009, as age has robbed him of some of his athletic ability.
Mora is something of an inconsistent glove man, but still has some range to make plays in the hole. However, he’s a decent hitter, and his $9 million may make the compensation to acquire him very little.
The Mariners may be able to trade Jarrod Washburn or Miguel Batista and someone like Denny Stark for Mora.
He’s not as athletic or as good a hitter as he was in the past, but Mora was the original version of Chone Figgins, which brings us to…
Chone Figgins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Figgins is a kind of the anti-Ichiro. Ichiro doesn’t walk, and only wants to play right field, despite his team friendly posturing previous to this season. By contrast, Figgins has played six positions throughout his career.
Ichiro only wants to bat leadoff. Figgins has started games at seven different spots in the batting order over his career.
Figgins would be an ideal replacement for Beltre, as no matter what happened between now and Beltre’s return, Figgins would always have a place in the starting lineup, barring injury.
The problem of course is that Figgins plays for a division rival, one which is currently in first place in the American League West.
Figgins will be a free agent at the end of the year, and while the Mariners are sure to be interested in him in the offseason, their glut of starting pitching may make a 2009 arrival possible.
The Angels have only two starters with an ERA under five. They’ve started 12 pitchers this season and have gotten worse-than-expected production from John Lackey and Ervin Santana, both of whom were injured to begin the season.
The Angels can replace Figgins with Maicer Izturis, another player the Mariners may target if a trade within the division is possible.
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