Today is my birthday, but I got one of my presents early this year. Wrapped up with a bow on his head, the Mariners sent Brendan League to the Dodgers for a pair of minor league prospects. The Mariners also completed a deal with Toronto that sent Steve Delabar away, continuing their trend of giving away players during this home stand.
Now, if you've been following the M's this year, League being dealt comes as no surprise. It was rumored that League was going to be sent off even before he year started. He's a free agent at the end of the year. Plus, he's making $5 million this year. There was no way to justify continuing to pay him with the numbers he was putting up.
If you've read any of my other posts this year, you know how I felt about League this year. In his appearances this year as the M's closer, he blew six saves and was a shell of his 2011 All-Star self. He's walking more batters this year (19 total) with a BB/9 of 3.8, whereas last year at this point he'd only walked eight batters total and ended the season with a BB/9 of 1.5. Oddly enough, he has the same total strikeouts he did last year at this point at 27, but his K/9 is down to 5.4 (last year it was 6.6).
It may sound like I've been especially hard on League, in particular when so many other Mariners have underachieved *cough* Justin Smoak *cough*cough* However, we've seen better from League in the past with no reason to have expected this much of a downturn in performance.
In fact, he was one of my favorite pitchers on the roster. With his mohawk and tattoos, I loved seeing him come out of the pen in the ninth, even with his intro music being a Slipknot song. It would get me pumped (I do admit, I did listen to that band in junior high). His attitude was just as intimidating as his fastball. I think he lost that this year. I wish him well and hope he has a great career with the Dodgers.
Looking at the return the M's got for League, it looks decent to good at first glance. The Mariners got 22 year old outfielder Leon Landry. He's a lefty bat with some speed (20 Stolen Bases, 15 triples). For someone with his speed, he does strike out quite a bit though with 52 SO in 376 Plate Appearances in High A with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.
The other piece in the trade is a RHP and devoted christian Logan Bawcom. Bawcom has been closing for the Double A Chattanooga Lookouts and done a good job at it too, with 13 Saves on the year and has only allowed a single Home Run on the year through 34.2 innings. He's also only walked 16 batters while striking out 36. It's possible the M's see him as potential closer of the future, some saw him as that with the Dodgers Organization.
Getting to the other trade the M's made, former school teacher Steve Delabar was sent to the other clubhouse at Safeco. Now, Delabar was no stranger to being told to go away, as he's been up and down from Triple A Tacoma multiple times this year. So, it was clear he was not in the Mariners' rebuilding plans. Plus, he's been hit hard this year with nine Home Runs given up through 34 Appearances, but he does have a 4.18 K/BB ratio to hang his hat on.
In return, the M's got Eric Thames from the Blue Jays. He's left fielder with some pop in his bat (12 HR last year) but he strikes out quite a bit (88 SO last season in 394 PA, with 40 this year in 160 PA). He had been splitting time in left field with the Blue Jays and don't see that changing with the M's. My guess is that he'll split time with Carlos Peguero and Trayvon Robinson, so long as Casper Wells continues to hit.
If it wasn't official that the Mariners are in rebuilding mode, it has been made official in the last few weeks with Ichiro asking to leave and these moves. The Mariners are getting younger showing that Jack Zduriencik is confident that the answers to the Mariners woes are going to come from the Minor League system.