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2012 Musings in Review

It's the end of the calendar year, although frankly that doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me. The baseball and school calendars mostly govern my life patterns, and I am in the middle of seasons within both of those. Regardless, after this post, nothing will go in the 2012 archives. You should read everything written on the Musings in 2012 multiple times over, but if you are pinched for time, here are the 11 best places to start. It's no coincidence that I picked 11 with Edgar Martinez still on the outside of the Hall of Fame looking in:

  1. The 2011 Mariners connections post was the first of 2012 and easily the most popular. It got linked to on Uni-Watch, of all places.
  2. Allen Schliebe started writing pieces for the Musings this year. His first post compared NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to Bud Selig.
  3. I had too much obscure fun placing price tags on non-roster invitees.
  4. The Musings did not predict King Felix's perfect game, but went on the record predicting he would be fine when many were worried about his velocity in April.
  5. The Musings did a few podcasts this year (you can subscribe on iTunes!) The second one featured reviews of a couple books the Musings got advanced copies of, a first for the blog.
  6. Prediction time came again with Albert Pujols's slow start. The Musings expected a bounce back to a degree, a forecast that looked quite good as the season progressed.
  7. There was the usual MLB draft coverage, starting with the top 31 list for 2012.
  8. Allen did a mid-season review of M's hitters and pitchers. The pitching one unleashed my personal favorite analogy on the Musings this year. Hint: it involved a former non-roster invitee and a gluten-filled baking staple.
  9. The Ichiro trade post got the most comments of any post this year.
  10. I unearthed some interesting historical information on triple crowns. They got romanticized in the baseball media this year if you ask me.
  11. I put the theory that former Mariners perform better than former players of other teams to the test, and for at least a few playoff series, the theory was totally verified.
Yes, 2012 was a good year at the Musings. Cheers to 2013!

Hanrahan, Melancon, and Bullpens

The Red Sox and Pirates officially completed a trade that was more or less done a few days before Christmas. Joel Hanrahan goes to Boston, either as the closer or insurance for oft-injured closer Andrew Bailey, and several players often characterized as spare parts go to the Pirates. One of those spare parts, Mark Melancon, happens to be the bullpen arm that Hanrahan more or less directly replaces on the Red Sox roster.

The idea is that Hanrahan upgrades Boston's bullpen. It is debatable if he actually will though. The fact that this trade happened suggests a team with a surplus of successful bullpens, like the Mariners may have at the trade deadline, could swing some interesting trades.

Raul Ibanez Returns to Seattle (Again)

Much like many of us who travel far to return home and see family and relatives, news just broke that Raul Ibanez will be returning 'home' to Seattle for the third time. The only difference is that Ibanez will be making about $2.75 million with another $1.75 million in incentives, according to AP, and I'm guessing he won't be dealing with that weird aunt or uncle who pours too much 'Christmas cheer' in their eggnog and then rants about politics. Although, Erik Wedge seems like a guy who likes his eggnog.

Bonderman Signed, Others Still Available

The Mariners signed Jeremy Bonderman to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.  In other words, he will show up in Peoria with a shot to crack the Mariners starting rotation. If he doesn't, the M's aren't out anything really. Bonderman hasn't pitched anywhere competitively for two full seasons so I don't expect him to make the roster. However, this is a risk-free move, so there is nothing to complain about.

Bonderman's signing speaks to a need on the Mariners roster. The starting five looks something like this as of right now:
  1. Felix Hernandez
  2. Hisashi Iwakuma
  3. Erasmo Ramirez
  4. Blake Beavan
  5. Hector Noesi/Danny Hultzen/Andrew Carraway/pray for rain
That's an interesting rotation in every sense of the word. Adding others to the mix would make the interest a little less dangerous.

Mariners Trade Vargas For Morales

Finally, a legitimate move that changes the Mariners roster! LHP Jason Vargas is the newest Los Angeles Angel of Anaheim, 1B Kendrys Morales the newest Seattle Mariner.

Vargas is a known commodity. He has been a largely unspectacular but faithful sidekick to King Felix in the starting rotation. He was also a very pleasant surprise in the J.J. Putz trade, and his change-up conjured up memories of Jamie Moyer at the turn of the millenium. There are reasons Vargas was an underground fan favorite. I personally enjoyed watching him pitch, and I will miss seeing him take the mound every fifth day.

With that said, this is a really good deal for the Mariners - not franchise-altering good, but really good.

Process of Elimination

Anxiety keeps ratcheting up every day the Mariners do not sign a hitter. It is especially tough to watch a division rival like the Angels swoop stealthily in and sign Josh Hamilton. That might trigger a reaction from the Rangers, meaning yet another division rival may acquire a hitter before the moribund Mariners.

The waiting, in the end, will pay off. The reality is that the Mariners cannot compete with teams like the Angels and the Rangers in the open market right now anyway without paying way, way more than them. The fiscally responsible move is to wait the market out. The only risk with that approach is losing out on everyone. That's unlikely to happen for the Mariners though. It's a simple process of elimination.

Morneau Makes Some Sense

I mostly avoid hypothetical trades because anyone can come up with a made-up trade and they rarely come to fruition. My following proposal highlights a larger market trend that the Mariners might be poised to take advantage of. Here is my trade proposal:

The upside for the Mariners is pretty clear. They get a proven slugger with some gas left in the tank at a position they can readily fill. The Twins have traded away both Denard Span and Ben Revere this offseason, so Guti provides them a little outfield depth, and Carp gives them another option besides Chris Parmelee to replace Morneau. Joe Mauer might find himself playing more first base too. Carp is a logical guy for the Mariners to trade because he is out of minor league options, and I doubt a shoo-in to make the opening day roster.

Morneau makes $14 million in 2013, but Guti slated to make $7 million. Overall, that means the Mariners take on $7 million, which still leaves them roughly $13 million to spend in free agency. I doubt that hinders them from signing any of the best bats still available besides Josh Hamilton.

Ultimately, this deal likely makes sense for the Twins only if they value the money they save. I would be willing to sweeten the deal with a marginal prospect, but none of the big names. Perhaps Carlos Triunfel intrigues the Twins. I'd even play around with including a guy like Charlie Furbush.

Let's suppose the Mariners and Twins make this trade, and then the Mariners sign Cody Ross in free agency. Here is what the M's lineup could look like:

Normal Keeps Getting Bigger

I often shake my head when Jon Heyman analyzes baseball moves. The man is well-connected and probably can get scoops with one eye open, but his opinions are often...fascinating. Anyway, this is all a precursor to say that I promise I am not about to poke fun at Heyman in this post. A tweet of his caught my eye the other night:
Heyman is referring to B.J. Upton (5 years, $75 million) and Russell Martin (2 years, $17 million), respectively. He rightfully points out flaws in both of these players' talents, and infers that both are getting more money than they should.

What if these aren't big deals though?