There haven’t been many teams who can define and identify their future plans with the trade of a mid-30s lefty starter who hasn’t had an ERA under four since 2005, when he was with the Angels.
The Mariners could be that team.
The players being discussed could directly relate to a philosophical choice the Mariners plan to make within their front office.
Jarrod Washburn has struggled this year, but he has pitched well since May 25. There were some rumors swirling earlier this week about the Mariners being able to trade Washburn for Yankees lefty Kei Igawa.
When I heard that, I was thrilled. Sure, Igawa has struggled since coming to the United States, but he’s in his late 20s, left handed, and has potential to be good. Aside from that, it would mean unloading some of Washburn’s salary.
However, two new names have entered this mix. The Newark-Star Telegram is reporting that Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner are being discussed.
Both Cabrera and Gardner would figure to fill the center field void left when Ichiro moved back to right field, but both have considerably different offensive tendencies.
Gardner was recently called up to the majors and has struggled in his short time up, but he was having a great year at AAA.
Going into today’s game, here are Cabrera’s stats to this point in the season, and Gardner’s AAA stats to this point.
Cabrera was speculated about earlier than Gardner, but the pair and Igawa make a very interesting trio of potential new Mariners.
Igawa, in my opinion, would represent no change. Igawa would indicate that the Mariners believe they are still that “one season veteran away from success” that they have been since 2001, when they last made the playoffs.
However, Igawa could flourish in a new city with less pressure, and he could truly benefit from having a Japanese-speaking catcher. Igawa is currently in the minors trying to work out his struggles.
Cabrera could indicate the same thing. He’s very young but has spent some time in the majors. He has, however, had the stigma of potential attached to him. He probably will never be a power hitter, but he has 20-plus home run potential.
Cabrera is an old-school pickup—he’s far from a SABR stud, but his tools scream ability. If the Mariners trade for Cabrera, expect Pat Gillick rumors to heat up.
Gardner is perhaps the most interesting prospect. He’s older than Cabrera by almost a full year, but he could indicate a more defined organizational shift. Gardner walks. He could indicate a shift to a Sabermetrics philosophy throughout the organization.
Gardner could lead off, moving Ichiro to the No. 2 spot in the batting order, which I’ve been a proponent of for quite some time. He’s fast enough that being on base wouldn’t hamper Ichiro’s pitch selection, though Gardner’s ability to steal a base would be less important after a philosophical shift like that.
Quite frankly, if the Mariners chose their prospect by launching a dart and seeing who it stuck to, I’d be thrilled they rid the payroll of Washburn. Having a choice of a once-touted Japanese star, a former chip in the Johan Santana sweepstakes, or a SABR All-Star is all bonus.