thoughts on the Mariners, MLB draft, and more homelinksdraftabout me

Aardsma's Trade Value

David Aardsma
image from
It makes sense to trade David Aardsma. It has all off-season. His salary will go up, the Mariners don't have at one of money, and don't need a closer until they score a few more runs. Furthermore, David's value isn't likely to go any higher. It makes all the sense in the world.

However, if this report has any truth to it, David Aardsma may be around on opening day. Reports are that the M's are seeking an "impact" bat in return.

On some level, it makes a ton of sense to look for a bat with Aardsma. He is the Mariners most convenient trade chip right now, and their offense is still their biggest weakness. This isn't rocket science.

What exactly is an "impact" bat though?

Dramatic Transaction Reenactments - Episode 1: Putz Traded

I am both excited and scared to roll out the video below. This is the first of at least two episodes in a series I'm going to call Dramatic Transaction Reenactments. It is a departure from my usual analysis, to say the least, and we'll see where it goes.

This first video is how I imagine the J.J. Putz trade went down behind closed doors. We learn how confident Mets GM (at the time) Omar Minaya is about his ballclub's talent, and see some early glimpses of what life will be like under the leadership of Z and new manager Don Wakamatsu.

There might be some embellishments too. It is a Dramatic Transaction Reenactment after all:

This video didn't come out of thin air into my mind, and if you want some of the back story, click "continue reading."

Greinke Traded To Brewers

Zack Greinke
There have been whispers all off season about Zack Greinke potentially getting traded. None of those circled around the Brewers, but nonetheless that's where he is going in a six-player swap. Milwaukee receives Greinke, old friend Yuniesky Betancourt, and the cash to buy out Betancourt's contract option next year.

Both Greinke and Betancourt are pretty well-known commodities, so I'll skip straight to the players that the Royals receieved. Judging from early reactions to the trade, there are mixed opinions on who Kansas City got. Here is the quartet in question:

Matsui's No Trade Clause

Hideki Matsui signed with the A's, which has been known for a few days, but became official this morning. I wasn't going to write about it, but then I saw the terms. Matsui's contract includes a limited no trade clause. He cannot be traded to six teams: the Orioles, Blue Jays, Indians, Royals, Twins, and Mariners.

I am taking a guess that Matsui wants to play for a contender, and that might have something to do with the first four teams on the list. Who knows, maybe Matsui is also like Ichiro, and would have to punch himself in the face* if he said he enjoyed playing in Cleveland.

*Scroll down for quote, it's right above the "For the Record" heading

However, the list of teams can't be all about wins and losses. The Twins are contenders in the AL Central every year right now. Also, even though the Mariners are not in a position to contend in 2011, there could be more to their inclusion on Matsui's list too.

M's, Feller, and More From Cyberspace

Several things have been going on in the baseball world that I've wanted to write about, but me and my urge to spread holiday cheer to people I see face-to-face on a regular basis have kept me away from the blogosphere.

Luckily, several great writers have already said lots of what I'd like to talk about. So, instead of stealing their ideas, I'll link to them:

Happy Trails, Rob Johnson

Rob Johnson
Jack Cust was officially signed today, but the real news is about whose 40-man roster spot he took: Rob Johnson's. Rob was designated for assignment today to make room for Cust, in what is a bit of a surprising move.

I will admit, the fan in me immediately heaved a sigh of relief. Rob Johnson, to date, hasn't shown anything that warrants a spot in the major leagues. He is a catcher that isn't that good at catching the ball, and he does it with no power and plate discipline only in name.*

*I would agree that Rob took plenty of pitches, but many of them he should have swung at. It's not like Rob Johnson is a guy that pitchers are pitching around. I don't have any real analysis for this point, but Johnson took a bunch of good pitches to hit, which in my book is not plate discipline.

However, after taking a step back to analyze the situation, this is a precarious move, especially right now. Until Miguel Olivo officially signs, the Mariners have only 1 catcher on the 40-man roster, and the roster is full. It's a good rule of thumb to have three backstops, so that's alarming.

Brendan Ryan Acquired

Brendan Ryan
Finally, a move to feel really good about! Today, the Mariners acquired INF Brendan Ryan from the Cardinals for RHP Maikel Cleto.

I wrote about Cleto when he was added to the 40-man roster, and I've never been a big believer in him. I was concerned that the Mariners were too in love with him, but clearly, they were not. As much as I like Ryan, no team would trade a guy that they think will turn into an impact starting pitcher for him.

Cust And Olivo

Jack Cust
The Mariners made a couple moves during the recently completed winter meetings. Well, actually only one is official so far, but they both will be in a manner of time.

To start with, Jack Cust is officially under contract for one year, to serve as the primary designated hitter. Zduriencik talked about the power he brings to the table, which is probably his calling card. Eric Wedge talked about the professional at-bats he will bring, as his high walk and strike out rates attest to. Both outcomes require a hitter to see quite a few pitches.

I am not a big fan of the signing though. At first glance, Cust seems to be a good fit for Safeco, and a clear upgrade to the lineup. However, as Dave Cameron pointed out on USS Mariner, his power isn't to right field. Last year, most of Cust's home runs went to left-center, which just so happens to be the deepest part of Safeco Field.

Also, Cust's power has clearly diminished the past three seasons. His ISO has gone from .245 to .177 to .166, and at 31 years old, there is no good reason to think the trend is going to reverse. In fact, given that Cust is getting older, and also moving to less hitter-friendly park that happens to be biggest where he tends to hit his home runs, his power could plummet this season. Combine that with the inevitable regression his .387 BABIP will take, and we are talking about a DH that hits .240 with great patience, an absurd strikeout rate, and marginal power. Personally, I would take my chances on a rebound from Milton Bradley.

With all that said, Cust was only signed to a one-year deal for a few million dollars, and the M's DHs as a collective whole were a black hole in 2010. Plus, if Cust is seen as the "gritty veteran" type that will show the youngsters the ropes, then he is worth the investment. I still wouldn't consider him the primary DH, but even with as luke warm as I am on the move, it is hard to really scorn signing him.

The one that is easy to get upset about is the still unofficial acquisition of Miguel Olivo. He has reportedly signed for two years and seven million dollars (total).

To start with, I see the logic in bringing in a catcher to at least split time with Adam Moore. He wasn't ready last year, and it wouldn't be ideal to count on him to carry the load in 2011.

There are so many reasons that Miguel Olivo is not the right guy for the job, in Seattle at least.

Gonzalez Traded, Werth Signs

Why even bother with the winter meetings? The two biggest deals of the off-season (to date) just happened a day before the meetings begin. Instead of splitting them up, or picking just one, reactions to both follow:

The Gonzalez trade is huge. Adrian is one of the premier players in the entire game right now. Fenway Park actually plays a little big for left-handed sluggers, but it will feel small to Gonzalez compared to Petco Park. Plus, Adrian hits to all fields, so he will befriend the green monster.

This trade probably also signals that Adrian Beltre will be playing elsewhere next year. The assumption is that Gonzalez will take over at first for Boston, with Kevin Youkilis shifting back over to third. Sadly, I would bet that Beltre will join the Angels. That would/will be painful to see.

From San Diego's perspective, I am not sure I would have done the deal. I'm not in love with the prospects they got in return.

The Heartwarming Erik Bedard

Erik Bedard
Earlier this week, the Mariners signed Erik Bedard to a non-guaranteed contract. Or, just as accurately, Erik Bedard signed a non-guaranteed contract with the Mariners. On paper, it does not look like a big deal, particularly from a financial standpoint.

However, it is a big deal.

Mild Surprises At Non-Tender Deadline

Yesterday was the deadline for teams to tender arbitration-eligible players. In more natural terms, that means yesterday was the last chance for teams to decide they would bring back players without contracts, and without enough service time to walk away in free agency.

Even that last statement doesn't make a whole lot of sense, because non-tendered players become free agents. Some people say baseball's roster rules are excessively complex. I say they are just complex enough to be amusing.

The Mariners did not make any huge moves, but each is worth a few thoughts.