It’s difficult to really have any strong opinions on whether the Mariners’ trades at the deadline were winners or losers. I certainly couldn’t give them a grade or anything like that. I don’t know the prospects. I haven’t really seen most of them play – except for Casper Wells and Charlie Furbush on a couple of occasions. Certainly not enough to have an opinion on whether they will be quality contributors.
Anyone that tells you they know more than that is making an educated guess based on statistics and scouting reports. None of us have seen third base prospect Fernando Martinez or outfield prospects Trayvon Robinson or Chih-Hsien Chiang play for an extended period. And even if we had, they have never played a single inning at the big league level. There have been many a prospect that dominated the minor leagues only to fail in the majors – Jeff Clement anyone?
But here’s my one prevailing thought: at least the Mariners, specifically Jack Zduriencik, did something. Because right now, doing anything, doing something is better than doing nothing. To sit and be inactive at the trade deadline would have been disastrous. It would be like 2008, when the Mariners made – one trade at the deadline. One trade! They were 41-67 and dealt Arthur Rhodes to the Marlins for Gaby Hernandez. That was the year where team president Chuck Armstrong vetoed a trade of Jarrod Washburn to the Twins.
The team was flawed, the organization was flawed and they stood there. Of course, they were in transition with then GM Bill Bavasi having been fired midseason. Still, they basically did nothing. A team going nowhere just continued to sink with the same collection of players.
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That’s not the case this season.
Everyone knows the current team is severely flawed offensively and it needed to be addressed.
Now you’ll say, "well what did they get? They didn’t get an established hitter." Of course, they didn’t. Those players aren’t out there. No team trying to make itself better for run at the postseason is going to give up an established bat at the trade deadline.
They got prospects. They got potential. It’s what you get when you trade this time of year. It’s talent. It may not be major-league ready talent at the moment, but it’s talent that is needed to fill some holes in the organization.
Let’s be honest, the Mariners are still trying to restock the organization after what former Bavasi did to it.
You just don’t give up players like Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin Soo-Choo, Adam Jones, even Chris Tillman, and recover immediately.
And to be fair, you have to give up some talent to get talent. But what did the Mariners really give up?
They gave up four pitchers: Doug Fister, David Pauley, Erik Bedard and Josh Fields.
Of the four, the toughest one to lose is Doug Fister.
Yes, the lanky right-hander was 3-12 this season thanks to the worst run support in the American League. The Mariners scored an average of 1.97 runs per game in his starts. That’s just gross. At 27, he was still improving. This year, he started using his overhand curveball more to keep hitters off balance. But his willingness to compete and use his command and location to offset his lack of velocity made him effective. Also Fister worked hard in the offseason on getting stronger and conditioning so he would struggle in the second half of the season like he did last year.
What made him attractive to the Tigers and also to the Mariners besides his improved on-field performance was his contract situation. He’s under club control for two more years, and he makes just under $500,000.
Pauley was a pleasant surprise. One of the most easy going guys in the clubhouse, he had intense side on the mound and flourished in his new role as a reliever. Despite a few recent hiccups, he was probably one of the Mariners best relievers this season. He had 5-4 record with 2.15 ERA in 39 appearances with the Mariners this season. He is currently tie-1st among AL relievers in wins, and second in innings pitched (54.1). He isn’t a power arm, but he has good movement on his sinker, and he can throw four pitches – not something a lot of late-inning relievers can use. And he’s totally fearless with those pitches and will throw them in any situation.
There is some thought that Pauley would ultimately regress to being, well, David Pauley. He isn’t a high strikeout guy – 34 in the 51 1/3 innings. He’s proven to be a good solid reliever. And like Fister, he’s relatively cheap.
Fields was going nowhere in this organization. He has good stuff, but just poor command. His fastball was sitting around 93-94 at Tacoma and his curveball had nasty break and was only about 76-78 mph. That’s a huge change in speeds. He posted a 0-0 record with a 6.23 ERA in nine appearances with the Rainiers. Fields struck out 13 batters in 13 innings pitched, but he also walked 13. It was indicative of the control issues he has had since signing.
“Yeah, command was the big thing for him, just finding it,” Rainiers manager Brown said.
And it wasn’t just a matter of throwing strikes, but also throwing quality strikes.
You wonder if Zduriencik doesn’t regret signing - Bavasi's top pick in 2008 - after he held out for almost an entire year, and instead just taking the pick in that slot in the 2009 draft.
As for Bedard, it was time to go. It just was time to move on. He had value. And the Mariners needed to capitalize on it. If Robinson or Chiang turn into an every day player, they may get more out of Bedard than they did on the mound.
When he was healthy, they guy was fantastic. His curveball might be one of the best I’ve ever seen. The problem is he couldn’t stay healtlhy. It wasn’t his fault. The guy conditioned hard and always kept himself in good physical shape, but injuries happen. And they happened to him frequently. Since joining Seattle in 2008, he made 46 starts, and posted a 15-14 record with a 3.31 ERA. Talk about uneven results.
There is some thought that the Mariners could re-sign him after the season since he’ll be a free agent. It’s possible. But the team will have to gauge risk/reward vs. how much he’ll want in salary. If he pitches well for the Red Sox, his asking price could go up significantly. And if he doesn’t, if he tanks, you have to wonder whether it would be worth bringing him back.
Bedard proved his surgically repaired shoulder is healthy. Had his knee issues not popped up a month ago, and he continued to throw like he had bee early in the season, he would have commanded an even larger haul of prospects. Instead, the Mariners got two outfield prospects in Robinson and Chiang. Robinson has the makings of being an every day player in the big leagues. Will he be Adam Jones? That's hard to say. But the Mariners got something for a pitcher that who may or may not be back next year. Bedard was also going to be owed over $5 million in incentives this year and the reports are that the Red Sox will help pay for some of those incentives.
It was a trade that needed to be made.
If even two of the six players that the Mariners acquired in the two trades turn out to be competent major league players and contributors in the next few seasons, particularly the hitters, then the trades will be win.
Until then, the Mariners did something to make themselves better in for next season. Zduriencik realized that what they have wasn't working and changes needed to be made and talent - young though it may be - needed to be added.
In the end, that's better than simply doing nothing.