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Ranking Your 2011 Mariners

The big news today is basketball related, with Isaiah Thomas announcing, rather unexpectedly, that he will indeed forgo his senior season at UW. He’s off to the NBA, which sucks for Husky fans. Time will tell whether this is a wise decision by IT, but I’m happy for him. Next year’s expectations will be lower now, and it could very well be our last year watching Terrence Ross, but the team should still be good, and contend for the conference yet again.

With that news, I’m officially closing basketball talk on the blog, until at least the draft in June. Why? Because today is opening day! As Andrew noted, things have been dry on here lately, but nothing like some M’s baseball to stir conversation. In case you have not heard, the 25 man roster is official. Looking over the team last night, I started ranking guys in my mind, and that’s what this post is all about. In addition to ranking the 25 man roster, in terms of most valuable to the team in 2011, I’m also throwing 3 more guys into the conversation: Ackley, Gutierrez, and Aardsma. The latter two are on the DL, and Ackley will probably be up sometime in June, so they belong on this list too.

    Ranking the Roster (Most Valuable to Least Valuable)

1- Felix Hernandez—He is the King of Seattle, and the best pitcher on planet Earth. Yes, Felix is the Mariners’ most valuable player. Go away trade rumors!
2- Ichiro—The team’s best hitter and most valuable everyday player. Also, the coolest Mariner ever.
3- Justin Smoak—I want to fall in love with Justin Smoak, and so does this city, but he has a lot to prove. IMHO, this guy is the lynchpin to the M’s offense in 2011.
4- Franklin Gutierrez—I fear for Guti’s long-term health with every day that passes without an explanation, but assuming this mystery stomach ailment gets treated, Guti is the team’s best defender, and a top 5 hitter, a valuable asset indeed.
5- Milton Bradley—Depending on which Milton shows up, batting 3rd, Bradley could easily lead the team in production this year. But can he stay healthy AND out of trouble? I wouldn’t bet on it.
6- Erik Bedard—Hard to argue that a guy who did not pitch last year could hold much value, but IF healthy, Bedard provides huge value to this team. And IF his spring performance is an indicator of what’s to come, his worth is as high as a #2 starter.
7- Chone Figgins—This guy had better bounce back, and I expect he will now that he’s back at 3rd and settled into Seattle. The M’s should be annoying to play, and Figgy leads that annoyance.
8- Jason Vargas—I still don’t think of Jason Vargas as a #2 starter, but he earned this spot after last season. Can he provide an encore?
9- Jack Cust—Batting clean-up for your Seattle Mariners…Jack Cust. Really? You better believe it! He will strike out a ton, but I gotta think he is an upgrade at DH, and he is an awesome interview.
10- Miguel Olivo—The team’s main acquisition this winter, Miguel can’t be worse than our catchers last season, but he must improve on his first go around in Seattle if he is to win over the fans. Continue reading

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Mariner Roster Notes

Sorry for the lack of content here lately.  I can’t speak for the other good guys, but it’s been a really busy time for me.  Luckily, the best day of the year is just around the corner.  Baseball opening day is April 1st, with the Mariners in Oakland to start the year.  The home opener is a week later on the 8th against Cleveland. 

The roster is almost set, so I thought I’d give my thoughts on a few things:

  • The biggest surprise development of camp hasn’t been a good one.  The news came early that Franklin Gutierrez has been dealing with stomach issues that likely contributed to his poor second half in 2010.  Doctors thought they had a diagnosis and treatment plan, but three weeks or so later, Guti’s not feeling any better.  It now seems likely that he’ll start the year on the disabled list.  To be honest, I’m already writing him off for the season.  He might play, but I’m not expecting a breakthrough or anything.  I hope I’m wrong, but it doesn’t seem like a good situation at all.  On the field, there are two ways to look at this.  First, Franklin from 2009 is a huge loss.  Getting him back to or past that level would have been a huge improvement to the team.  That wasn’t a given no matter how healthy he is, though, so replacing 2010 Guti shouldn’t be that hard.  He’s still excellent defensively, but I think Michael Saunders and Ryan Langerhans can provide a reasonable facsimile in that aspect.  Looking at the other outfielders not named Ichiro… Continue reading

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M’s Acquire Aaron Laffey

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.

Andrew

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