The Seattle Mariners are fun again. (You don't have to reread that...you read it right the first time.)
After a weekend series with the best team in baseball (the Philadelphia Phillies), which ended with a 2-1 series win and a 2-0 final game win for the Mariners, Seattle fans have more to cheer for than Ichiro and more games to come out for than the ones being started by Michael Pineda and Felix Hernandez.
Reading around the web the past few days, I have come across a large contingent of writers/fans that have all drawn the same conclusion: The Mariners are winning now, but they don't have all of the pieces to win for the future.
That's probably true, but a lot of the "fixes" seem to center on trading away the good players the team has right now (Felix, Ichiro, Franklin Gutierrez, Erik Bedard) for nothing more than prospects.
Lets get one thing out of the way right now: Trading Felix Hernandez for prospects (and only prospects) in order to build for the future is an asinine proposal. Felix is barely 25 years old, just won his first Cy Young and is possibly the best pitcher in the major leagues not named Roy Halladay. He's already a veteran in his sixth year in the bigs and is signed to a very team-friendly contract—and did I mention he's probably the best pitcher in the major leagues not named Roy Halladay?
Teams don't get better by trading away players who are top-three at their position, barely over the age that a lot of prospects make their debuts and are just entering their prime for prospects.
Here are a few deals that are probably not going to happen but would help the team build for the future without sacrificing the present.
Most of you are scratching your heads. Most of you have no idea who Travis d'Arnaud is, let alone why the Mariners should consider trading for him.
D'Arnaud was one of the pieces that the Toronto Blue Jays received from the Phillies when they traded away Roy Halladay.
D'Arnaud fits with the Mariners because he's a plus catching prospect, both defensively and with the bat. He's raking in AA currently, and the Blue Jays seem to be settling in on J.P. Arencibia as the catcher of the future, making d'Arnaud somewhat expendable.
He's a right-handed batter, which doesn't always play well in Safeco, but he's not projected to be much more than an average power hitter at best, with good gap power and good strike zone discipline. The Mariners are filling the hole at catcher with Miguel Olivo, and while he's having a good year, he's unlikely to be the answer long-term.
The previous "catcher of the future" for the Mariners, Adam Moore, is coming off major knee surgery, and as a catcher, that's more problematic than other positions. Moore's bat wasn't great to begin with, but if he can't catch after this surgery, he's virtually useless.
I think the Mariners should offer up 2B prospect Kyle Seager to see if the Blue Jays bite.
This deal could work, as the Blue Jays don't have much in the way of middle infielders, and Aaron Hill isn't who they thought he was. That means the Blue Jays need a 2B, and the Mariners need a catcher. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Carlos Beltran is owed $18 million for this season, after which he is a free agent.
The Mariners need some offensive production from somewhere in the outfield from someone not named Ichiro Suzuki. The current outfielders aren't going to provide that. Beltran provides some pop and would make an ideal left fielder for Safeco Field.
A straight-up swap of Figgins for Beltran has been suggested in some media circles, but Beltran's recent strong play (and Figgins' lack of strong play) makes that idea unlikely.
Figgins has several years left on his contract, and so far he hasn't produced anything worth what he is being paid.
Bedard, who has been good for the Mariners in 2011, is unlikely to sign with the Mariners again after the season. Some people point to the fact that he took a non-guaranteed offer from the Mariners for far less than he was being offered from other teams as a sign that he would be willing to re-sign after the season.
I'm on the other side of that fence. I am of the opinion that Bedard re-signed with the Mariners because he and his agent both know that Safeco is extremely easy on left-handed pitchers, meaning that as long as he can stay healthy, he can maximize his future earnings by putting up good numbers there.
If this deal were to happen, the Mariners could then call up Alex Liddi and Blake Beavan to take their places.
Liddi can't do much worse than Figgins at third. Beavan is a future member of the rotation, and learning at the big league level may not be a terrible idea.
Brandon League's value will never be higher.
He currently leads the league in saves, and other than a stretch of three games in May, he's been virtually unhittable.
Now is the time to trade him for some good major league-ready prospects. Teams overvalue closers at an alarming rate, and as has been demonstrated repeatedly by the Mariners over the last few years, dominant closers are a dime a dozen. The Mariners have several guys that could take over the position right now.
Seattle has an opportunity to get some good prospects without giving up anything irreplaceable.