Monday, July 25, 2011

An alternate 2011 for the Seattle Mariners

So often, when a ballclub is in the middle of a playoff hunt, when it’s on the cusp of competing, pressure mounts for that club to find a little bit of help finding that elusive title. Trades are often the avenue through which the best, most valuable pieces are added, as the Texas Rangers demonstrated when they rode Cliff Lee all the way to their first World Series. But getting those pieces doesn’t come cheap, and as the Mariners have seen over the last seven years, those trades can cripple a team. Trading prospects is a risky business, and for most of the last decade, Seattle has come out on the short end of the stick.

But imagine if the Mariners hadn't traded away their history in the Bill Bavasi years? What if the Mariners didn't make any trades at all? What would the Mariners look like today?
1b: Mike Morse
Washington Nationals 29 yrs
.313/.360/.550/.911, 90 g, 96hits, 17 HR, 55 RBI
Traded for Ryan Langherhans in 2008.
2B: Dustin Ackley
Seattle Mariners 23 yrs
.297/.347/.505/.852, 30 g, 33 hits, 4 hr, 15 RBI
Drafted by Mariners in 2009
3b: Greg Dobbs
Florida Marlins 33 yrs
.298/.341/.399/.741, 83 g, 68 hits, 3 hr, 27 RBI
Claimed from Waivers in 2007
SS: Asdrubal Cabrera
Cleveland Indians 25 yrs
.289/.342/.492/.834, 98 g, 115 hits, 17 HR, 60 RBI, All-Star
Traded for Eduardo Perez in 2007
LF: Shin Soo Choo
Cleveland Indians 29 yrs
(2010) .300/.401/.484/.885, 144 g, 165 hits, 22 hr, 90 RBI
Traded with Shawn Nottingham for Ben Broussard in 2007
CF Adam Jones
Baltimore Orioles 25 yrs
.286/.327/.487/.813, 97 g, 107 hits, 18 hr, 60 RBI, all-star
Traded with Greg Sherrill, Kam Mickolio, Chris Tillman, and Tony Butler for Erik Bedard in 2008
Current RF: Ichiro Suzuki
Mariners 37 yrs
.268/.315/.318/.633, 100g, 112 hits, 1 hr, 25 RBI, 10 time all-star, MVP
Free Agent 2001
Future RF: Ezequiel Carrera
Cleveland Indians 24 yrs
.281/.361/.281/.642, 15 g, 9 h, 0 hr, 4 RBI
Traded with Juan Diaz for Russell Branyan in 2010
C: Yorvit Torrealba
Texas Rangers 33 yrs
.248/.283/.364/.647, 72 g, 62 hits, 3 HR, 19 RBI
Traded for Marcos Carvajal in 2005
SP: Felix Hernandez
Seattle Mariners 25 yrs
3.47 ERA, 158.0 IP, 148 SO , Cy Young, 2x All-Star
Free Agent 2005
SP: Tim Lincecum
San Francisco Giants 27 yrs
2.90 ERA, 136.1 IP, 146 SO, 2x Cy Young, 4x All-Star
Drafted by Giants in 2006
SP: Michael Pineda
Seattle Mariners 22 yrs
3.64 ERA, 123.2 IP, 123 SO, All-Star
Free Agent 2005
SP: Chris Tillman
Baltimore Orioles 23 yrs
4.69 ERA, 48.0 IP, 32 SO
Traded with Adam Jones, Greg Sherrill, Kam Micholio, and Tony Butler for Erik Bedard in 2008.
RP: Rafael Soriano
New York Yankees 31 yrs
(2010) 1.73 ERA, 62 IP, 57 SO, All-Star
Traded to Braves for Rafael Soriano in 2006
Larger font denotes current Mariners

Above is a list of former Mariners prospects that are now making their mark on the major leagues, as well as the remaining future of the downtrodden club. Only one of them has a batting average lower than Ichiro (currently the Mariner’s BA leader) to date.
There are eight non-Mariner starters on that list, among them a few that are all-stars, who were given away for essentially nothing by good-ol Bill Bavasi. The damage is akin to holding onto a grenade too long. Nearly every player on there is playing better RIGHT NOW than any single player on the Mariners today. And the most shocking thing is the youth of this theoretical, yet completely logical squad.
Only three players are over 30 years old. Five are over 27. This team, the way it is above, suddenly looks like a decade-long division leader, ready to replace Ichiro with the young Ezequiel Carrera, and with an incredible Felix-Lincecum-Pineda starting combo. Power from 1st, 2nd, and SS, all hitting near .300 with a combined 50+ home runs (twice what the entire Mariners team has today). Catcher, Third Base, and relief pitching are still problems. But it is it really a stretch to believe that such a good young squad would be brining the fans back to Safeco? That the Mariners would have a few extra bucks to spend on free agents? (Say, maybe, keeping Beltre?)
Jack Zduriencik doesn’t get off scot-free either. Mike Morse, while no longer a young scamp, is finally showing everyone what M’s fans saw back in his early Seattle days. Today, he’d be far and away the best offensive player the Mariners have. He was traded for a weak-hitting backup left fielder in Ryan Langherhans. The Chone Figgins disaster has devastated Mariners free-agent signing for the next three years. Casey Kotchman fumbled around the Mariners infield last year only to go to Tampa Bay and be a batting league leader. And while it hasn’t hurt yet, The Jack Hannahan for Justin Souza trade isn’t looking particularly good either, as Souza is pitching well at AAA Sacramento and knocking on the door of the Oakland Athletic’s big league club.
It is important to note that to assume the Mariners would be as much better as it seems on paper is a dangerous assumption to make. So many factors, including injuries, coaches, ballpark factors, and clubhouse chemistry, affect the development of youngsters in the major leagues. This is also assuming the Mariners would have been willing and able to resign each of these players as their talent is realized.
Still, those numbers are unheard of around these parts, and haven’t been seen since 2003.
Imagine this team taking the field every day at Safeco. Would the Mariners be leading the division? Would they be the equivalent of the Pittsburgh Pirates, or perhaps even better? There aren’t a lot of Major League clubs these days with more than a handful of .280 hitters. This team would have seven. This offense would be a force, scoring runs for the best starting trio in the league.
Alternate history sucks. 

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