Casey at the Bat | M's Deadline Dilemma Part 5: Meltdown To Liquidation

Casey McLain@caseymclain34Senior Analyst IJuly 28, 2009

Having submitted to my own past demons, I’ve decided that his appearance on Obie Trice’s “S—t hits the fan,” as an ode to the challenge that Jack Zduriencik presently faces, is perhaps best fits the article, and hopefully having made my decision, I can move on from one sell out, to a potential liquidation.

The Mariners have been outscored 42-10 in their past four games. To make matters worse, the presently ace-shopping Blue Jays put King Felix in shackles.

Hernandez had been brilliant for his last eleven starts. He’d pitched at least seven innings in all but one start, when he pitched six-and-two-thirds innings.

He hadn’t given up more than three earned runs in any start, dating back to May 19, and only gave up three earned runs in a game once during that stretch.

Hernandez gave up two homeruns on Monday, equaling the total homeruns allowed since May 19. All of that while only striking out 10 or more batters once, when he struck out 10 on May 24.

Hernandez carried the Mariners. He was the stopper at the end of losing streaks, and finally showed off the stuff that the rest of the league has been raving about since he came into the league.

But the Mariners have been walking a tight rope since the season began.

An overachieving, lucky bullpen, paired with an almost luckier rotation of fill-ins, as Erik Bedard and Brandon Morrow both spent time out of the rotation for very different reasons, carried the Mariners to a 2007-esque late-July above-.500 record.

But luck runs out, timely hitting shows up late, and without a realistic option on the trade market to cure the team’s woes (apart from Adrian Gonzalez, who “isn’t” on the market, and carries a “Bedard-like” price tag), Mariners fans and analysts have begun to sway to the dark side.

Jarrod Washburn is the team’s most obvious trade piece. He’s amidst perhaps his best season as a pro, and though some of his non-traditional statistics have been similar to previous, less-successful years, there are logical, tangible explanations to his success.

Last season the Mariners mulled over, and ultimately didn’t acquire two mediocre outfielders (Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner) and a bad left-handed pitcher (Kei Igawa). Now, presumably with an additional player, the Mariners may be in line to acquire J.J. Hardy, a defensive stud shortstop with an average bat, some power, and a decent plate approach.

A year ago I wanted to crucify Lee Pelakoudas for not unloading Washburn, and now it appears that hanging on to Washburn may have been the best move in the era between Pat Gillick and Zduriencik.

But if Washburn goes it would ultimately mean that 2009 is something of a concession. While Hardy could improve the team this year, and would almost certainly improve them next year, the team’s playoff chances are very slim. 

That said, there are a few other players I think should be dangled, if not to simply see what they’re worth.

Jose Lopez doesn’t fit the team’s new philosophy. He’s a free-swinging player who was billed as the “A-Rod replacement,” and while that projection was unfair, Lopez has only met the low to moderate end of his potential.

He’ll probably have to move to third base in the next few years, his second position change as a pro, as age will diminish his already suspect range.

And the Mariners farm system is thick with infielders stuck between positions. Matt Tuiasosopo is playing third after being drafted as a shortstop, while Carlos Triunfel will likely make a transition from shortstop to either the hot corner or second base. There is even a possibility, albeit remote, that Dustin Ackley, the team’s second-overall pick moves to second base.

The Giants may be interest in Lopez. They’ve coveted a bat since essentially the onset of the season, and appear to prefer that the bat be right-handed.

The team has Pablo Sandoval at third base presently, but if “Kung Fu Panda” doesn’t start to shed some pounds, he may find all nearly-250-lbs of his odd body type across the diamond.

The Giants have expressed interest in Freddy Sanchez, but Sanchez doesn’t have nearly the power that Lopez does and comes at a much higher price tag. By trading for Sanchez as the Giants would almost assuredly be on the hook for his $8.1 million option, an option vested by plate appearances.

Brandon Morrow has been a frustrating figure for Mariners fans since the team drafted him.

Local sentiment had the majority of Mariners fans rooting for the team to pick Tim Lincecum, and after being proven right, following Lincecum’s immediate success, fans have been very outspoken about the mistake.

That’s not Morrow’s fault, nor was the awful handling he received under the previous regime, but it is nobody’s job to make up for that to Morrow. There may be a solution though, that can help both parties.

The Padres have been hunting for young, promising starting pitchers since the offseason. In a vetoed trade of Jake Peavy to the White Sox the Pads would have acquired two of the White Sox top pitching prospects. But Morrow may ultimately be a greater coup for the Padres than either White Sox farm hand would have been.

Morrow grew up in California, and while it’s hard to quantify the affect pitching closer to home would have for him, it’s possible he’d develop faster and better in his home state.

His pitching style, which lends itself to strikeouts, may be better suited in the National League, where he’d face a pitcher twice a game. Petco Park is also something of a power-pitcher’s heaven.

The Mariners have a slew of extra pieces in their farm system, led by Greg Halman.

The Pittsburgh Pirates appear to be one of few teams remaining who use “tools and potential” as their overwhelming primary method of scouting. They’ve also unloaded their entire outfield in the past few months.

About a month ago the team sent Ian Snell to triple A at the pitcher’s request. Since the demotion, the both the Pirates and Snell have shared publicly their distaste for eachother.

Snell may be had for Wladimir Balentien, if Balentien isn’t part of another trade. The value for Snell isn’t clear, the Pirates claim they won’t give him away, but also deemed offering nearly the same amount of money to Jack Wilson and Sanchez over the next two years as the duo will make next year “negotiations.”

Regardless of the players traded, this may be the most fluid deadline the Mariners have seen in some time, and the first in even longer that didn’t start with the fans saying “don’t bleep this up,” and end with the fans saying “they really bleeped that up.”


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