Hot Stove League and the frustrating wait.

So the winter meetings have come and gone.  It’s time to see whether your Seattle Mariners will be winners or bystanders. Just talking about the M’s these days raises such levels of bile and distrust in me–let alone the angry legions of front office haters that have been front office haters for years.  I think this is the year when I’ve finally lost it and believe they just need to get something done dammit.

Of course this is the season of the Hot Stove League, and the HSL is nothing if not filled with rumors stocked by Major League Trade Rumors.com and reporters like John Paul Morosi over at Fox Sports.  It’s hard to know what to think of the stuff that’s spewed through cyberspace.

Something that’s not a mystery is that the Mariners need hitting.  Preferably including some thump.  Though some of the M’s young ‘ens progressed and showed future promise, few showed signs of providing the kind of power a team can count on everyday.  Dustin Ackley regressed offensively.  Much as I really like Brendan Ryan’s glove, he is an offensive black hole at shortstop.  Justin Smoak made his annual September surge.  He’s one I’m really conflicted about because I believe he’s going to figure it out and be a switch-hitting monster.  I’m just not sure the M’s can or will wait long enough for that to happen.  He’ll be back with the Rangers hitting 40 dingers and we’ll have–a Mike Carp clone.

The M’s, in their search for hitting are mentioned with a lot of guys who are first base/DH types.  Billy Butler, Mike Morse, Garrett Jones.  Yes I want to get more clout at the plate, but they need to have a position.  Not some guy who can really only DH and then transform into a statue with a glove on one hand a couple days a week.  Unfortunately the M’s signing of Jason Bay conjures just that sort of image for me.  An outfield version of Chone Figgins-without the athleticism. And multiple injuries.  And three years of launch failures with the Mets.

Though not official, it is expected the M's will announce the signing of Jason Bay this weekend. Lucky us

Though not official, it is expected the M’s will announce the signing of Jason Bay this weekend. Lucky us.

My big hope is the M’s will sign Nick Swisher.  Swisher is a right fielder with some pop.  His slash line is .272/364/.473.  He plays his position well, but can also shift to first base if Justin Smoak implodes again.  Swisher is a bonafide grinder at the plate, can really work through an at-bat, and I believe he could be a great example for the M’s young and largely clueless hitters.

Nick Swisher is leaving the Yankees for--could be for Seattle.

Nick Swisher is leaving the Yankees for–could be for Seattle.

I know Josh Hamilton is the hitter for the masses.  No question Hamilton is a good hitter with the kind of power the M’s haven’t had in many years. However, he is an all or nothing kind of guy, not a role model. Jon Paul Morosi writes that signing Hamilton only makes sense if the M’s pick up at least one other hitter. Morosi notes that Hamilton can’t carry the hitting weight by himself, that a number four hitter is really needed and for Hamilton to be a run producer, the M’s will need have much more effective one and two hitters.  The M’s had the lowest OBP of any team from the top two spots in the order.

Could Josh Hamilton be the savior for the M's.  Or just another hitter with a big glass jaw?

Could Josh Hamilton be the savior for the M’s. Or just another hitter with a big glass jaw?

The best of all possible worlds would be if the M’s could come up with two bats.  They are anything but certain in the outfield, with Saunders and possibly Gutierrez if the latter can stay healthy.  Bringing in Hamilton and Swisher, or adding Michael Bourn or some other veteran outfield bat would add a lot to this team.  It’s not as though the farm system is on the verge of adding a productive outfielder to the mix. If the M’s could add a more productive bat on the infield via trade that would be fine too.  They definitely have some chips with the Big Three pitchers, Nick Franklin and other prospects to deal.  With the exception of Felix, none of the young players should be off limits either.

Michael Bourn is the best defensive outfielder on the market and could make the M's an all-world outfield.  He doesn't have the bat they need.

Michael Bourn is the best defensive outfielder on the market and could make the M’s an all-world outfield. He doesn’t have the bat they need.

In order to recapture the interest of M’s fans, General Manager Jack Zdurencik must act.  I like him.  He can be creative.  He’s re-stocked the farm system, and is rebuilding the team the right way.  I’m just as certain the M’s are aware they’ve lost more of their fans, including season ticket holders, than any other team in baseball over the last ten years. In terms of popularity,  this team is in freefall.  Last summer I was in Baltimore and caught an Orioles game.  The O’s were just out of first place in the east, and it was a gorgeous day in Camden Yards, arguably the nicest ballpark in America.  There was nobody there. In the middle of a pennant race.  Spending 14 years out of the running left their fan base dry.  Making the playoffs can make a difference, and it’s the kind of difference maker the Mariners need.  This offseason must point them in that direction.

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One thought on “Hot Stove League and the frustrating wait.

  1. Kevin, I am all for the Mariners acquiring hitting. I am hoping that we don’t have to trade away any of our top 10 prospects in order to do so. However, I will be realistic and say that if this team hopes to improve on the disaster that has been the last three years, it is going to come with a large price – either selling away the farm or increasing payroll to triple digits and beyond.

    In an ideal world, both Hamilton and Swisher would fall into our laps. We’d move a few major league pieces and some middle tier prospects to pick up a third hitter (someone who can bat leadoff) and possibly sign a low-risk high-reward type of starting pitcher to take our 4th or 5th spot. Something that Millwood did just fine last year.

    Signing Hamilton and Swisher would prove to the fan base that the team wants to win, not just line their pocketbooks. I read that the attendance had declined more than any other baseball team in the US and then the front office goes and raises ticket prices for this season. If they put out another .220 hitting team, I am afraid that the Safe will be empty all summer long.

    Jack has something up his sleeve, I know it. Jason Bay will not be the free-agent acquisition of the winter. I like Bay. Bay went to Gonzaga while I was there. He is very personable and will fit right into the Seattle scene. I am hoping he can put together a little bit of a resurgence and be a serviceable bench bat for us. Either that or I envision him pulling a Carlos Guillen. Struggling most of Spring Training and then disappearing off the face of the earth when rosters are set.

    Michael Bourn scares me. He reminds me a lot of Chone Figgins. Especially when his strikeout rate is what it is for a leadoff hitter.

    Hopefully something happens soon. The fan base is getting restless and demands that Jack Z does something quickly and something worthwhile.

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