Felix Hernandez: Will His Early Season Struggles Usher Him Out of Seattle?

Chris WilkesContributor IIApril 18, 2011

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 01:  Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates at the end of the eighth inning against the Oakland Athletics during an opening day game of Major League Baseball at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 1, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Felix Hernandez, an established ace and perennial Cy Young candidate, has seemed a bit out of sorts in his first starts this season. In his first three outings, King Felix has posted a disappointing 1-2 record with a bloated 4.33 ERA.

Many experts predicted a mid-season move for Hernandez, but does the lackluster start of his 2011 season make a trade seem even more likely? With both the Yanks and Sox hungry for starting pitching, could the departure come sooner rather than later?

It seems inevitable that Hernandez days are numbered in a Mariners Uniform, but the bigger question is: who will he play for next? Both Boston and New York are packed with high-talent/ high-salary players. Finances aside, which team needs the dominant pitcher more?

New York, with a rotation anchored by ace C.C. Sabathia, appears desperate for another powerful arm. Even with some great outings by Sabathia and No. 2 starter A.J. Burnette, the Yanks hold a disappointing No. 11 AL team ERA.

It would seem the Yankees can ill-afford another hefty contract, but they never seem to run out of salary space when need someone bad enough. So far the booming bats of the New York lineup have carried the team despite the mediocre pitching, but will offense be enough to carry them into October without another ace in the rotation?

The Red Sox, favorites by many to win it all, have shocked the baseball world with their miserable start to the 2011 season. Many blame the ice-cold bats on the lineup, most notably the unbelievably low .133 average.

Although the struggling offense is a major concern in Boston, the pitching is even more disturbing. The Red Sox collectively sit at the bottom of the of the AL in ERA and earned runs. Former Red Sox ace Josh Beckett has somewhat fizzled out, and newer faces like John Lackey and Clay Buckholtz have been far less than impressive.

The Sox need Felix more than anyone, even the Yankees. New York may seem equally in need, but the difference lies in the offense of the clubs. While Yankees pitching may be weaker than they would like, the powerful bats can keep them in the running.

On the other hand, the Boston offense is far less prolific. Boston's offense can only be successful if anchored by stable quality pitching. In the near future, don't be surprised to see King Felix taking the mound in Fenway.