Spring training is almost here, which should make it easier to find things to write about. I've also had commitments in "real life" keeping me from the blog, but I am not sure it would have made much of a difference with all the non-activity the last few weeks from the Mariners.
Without any moves to talk about, I'm going to make some up to discuss. There are still some free agents out on the market, and the Mariners still have some places where I would like to see even more depth. When there is free depth to be had, why not add it, and see what sticks? Here are seven players that I am confident the Mariners could go out and get right now if they wanted to, plus a bigger name that could be a surprisingly good fit:
RHP David Aardsma - The reality is that Aardsma won't pitch until halfway through the season at the earliest, but why not give him a bit of the Erik Bedard treatment? Aardsma has been a leader in the bullpen, and he seems to love Seattle. He could come back and provide a boost in the bullpen, but even if he doesn't, he could add some value behind the scenes that few others on the free agent market would.
3B Casey Blake - There is a good chance that Casey Blake is over the hill for good. He might not be able to man third base regularly at this point, and his power looks like it is about gone. However, he did play half of his games in the traditionally pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium. If he has another year somewhat like 2011 he's not much, but he could add some depth at the M's weakest position.
3B Eric Chavez - There's probably a reason that Chavez is still on the free agent market. His power might be all the way gone, given that his ISO sunk going from pitcher-friendly Oakland to hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. Maybe that's a little harsh, because he hasn't got many at-bats the past couple seasons - although that argument in itself has issues. There are reasons he hasn't played much. Still, Chavez's sweet left-handed stroke is a nice fit for Safeco if it has any pop left. He also can still field third base a little bit. I think he's got the potential to be a nice mentor for Kyle Seager.
INF Esteban German - It's interesting to see any player that got an at-bat in the 2011 World Series still available in free agency. The reality is that German is an aging middle infielder that hasn't played much in the majors the past three seasons, but he still could be added to a pile of potentially serviceable reserve infielders and be, well, serviceable.
LHP Mike Gonzalez - Another member of the 2011 AL Champions still on the market, Gonzalez is probably best known for his odd "snake charmer" wind-up, where he swirls around before actually kicking his leg towards home plate. However, over the years he has been a very effective southpaw in the bullpen, and I think there is LOOGY potential in him. The Mariners really do not need him with George Sherrill and Hong-Chih Kuo already, but a lefty is a lefty.
INF Aaron Miles - If you haven't caught on yet, I would build a pile of aging middle-infielders to go with the usual armada of bland, serviceable relievers. The Mariners could use some depth around the infield with all the youth, even if it is just a bunch of grizzled vets hanging around spring training. I'm not sure if players learn by osmosis, but in case they do, I want guy like Aaron Miles around. He is a classic scrappy middle infielder - in other words, he doesn't do much in terms of tools/production, but he's good enough to fill out the depth at a position of need.
RHP Ross Ohlendorf - The reason Ohlendorf is available is thanks to injuries, but at this point, a minor league deal might be all it takes to sign him. The upside, if he can rehab, is a legitimate back-end starter that should still have several years left in the tank. The Mariners don't need starting pitching per se, but talent is talent. At this stage in free agency, it is surprising to see a 6'4" 29-year-old with a somewhat recent track record of success in the majors. Ohlendorf even says that his injury problems started with a change in his mechanics, so there might even be a way to alleviate his injury woes.
RHP Roy Oswalt - Again, the Mariners do not need starting pitching, but they should have some money to spend still. What's stopping them from signing Oswalt to a one-year deal, and peddling him at the trade deadline? Oswalt has to sign somewhere, and he could find worse places to build up some value than Safeco Field.
Really, there's no arguing with this list. Aside from Oswalt, none of the players would require any sort of investment. Even if all these players failed spectacularly, nothing would be lost. These are free shots at productivity, because the reality is that few are probably going to be worth much in 2012. As far as I'm concerned, this is MLB's version of dumpster diving, but there is something oddly alluring about it to me. If a team pokes around long enough, they are bound to find a few bones with some meat left on them.