To put a cherry on top of one of the most boring off-seasons in recent organizational history, the Mariners traded for left-handed pitcher Aaron Laffey today.
Laffey broke into the majors at the age of 22 and has been extremely mediocre ever since. Over his 4 year career Laffey has pitched 320.1 innings, has gone 18-21 and posted a 4.41 ERA. His K/BB ratio is bad, at 1.21 but his ground-ball rate is decent. His repertoire includes a sinking fastball (the reason for his decent groundball rate), a slider and a change-up.
The folks over at Lookout Landing are not very high on him, comparing him to Horacio Ramirez (all of our favorite Mariner). Dave Cameron takes a little more of a positive outlook on Laffey . My thoughts are a little closer to Cameron’s. I think Laffey can find a spot on the team, and would fit best in the bullpen. He could fill in part time as a 5th starter, but anymore than part time would be a little too much as of right now. There are a group of other left-handed, soft throwing pitchers (Nate Robertson, Luke French, Garrett Olson, Royce Ring, and so on) that Laffey will be competing against. Laffey does have a minor league option left, so he can provide rotation depth right down I-5 in Tacoma.
Unlike the other lefties in the “pile” (a term that Lookout Landing has called all of the mediocre pitchers assembled by the Mariners) Laffey does have postseason experience. He was good. 4.2 innings of shutout baseball, in the midst of a game where his team was getting blown out. Yes, this paragraph is a joke.
In return for Aaron Laffey, the M’s gave up Matt Lawson. Lawson is a 25 year old prospect, who was the 4th piece in the Cliff Lee trade last summer. His upside is to be a utility infielder, so we’re not losing much. Lawson did post good numbers in AA last season, but I don’t think we’re losing the next Shin-Soo Choo here.
All in all, this trade leaves me with a feeling of indifference. It seems that most of the blogosphere agrees there. This isn’t much to get excited about, but it’s also not much to get upset about. It’s just not much, period.
There is one reason why this trade is exciting. Try to keep up with me here. Laffey was traded to the Mariners for Lawson. Lawson was traded to the Mariners with a few other players for Cliff Lee. Cliff Lee came to the Mariners via the Phillies and came to the Phillies via the Indians. In 2008, Lee and Laffey were competing for the 5th spot in the Indians rotation. Lee won the job and then went on to win 22 games and the Cy Young. This leads me to believe that whoever beats out Laffey for the 5th spot in the rotation will win the Cy Young. Everything will come full circle.