In a Fangraphs’ Chat, Dave Cameron says that the best thing for the Mariners‘ to do for their offense in 2012 is to trade for a right handed hitting 3rd baseman. According to NBC’s Sports Hardball Talk, the top 10 3rd Baseman according to OPS projections are:
1. Evan Longoria: Look. That’s not going to happen.
2. Alex Rodriquez: A little surprised with how high he is still ranked, but you don’t want that contract.
3. Ryan Zimmerman: Pretty big contract, questions about his defense (and the Nationals are thinking about making him a first basemen), nice bat though.
4. David Wright: Big contract, can’t stay healthy.
5. Kevin Youkilis: Zimmerman like contract, has had injury problems but has still been nearly a 5 Wins (over replacement) player each of the past 2 years.
6. Pablo Sandoval: It’s not happening. Sorry
7. Aramis Ramirez: Just signed very player-friendly contract.
8. Edwin Encarnacion: This obviously means that 3rd Base is a pretty slim offensive position. Not much of an upgrade over Seager.
9. Adrian Beltre: Again, big contract and it’s not happening anyway, I don’t like trading with division opponents to begin with.
10. Brett Lawrie: Evidently the Mariners have tried, and it didn’t work out.
(Was a little surprised Mark Reynolds didn’t make the list, but his defense is so horrible that it offsets his offense. He really should be a first basemen). The only one I would really look at is Kevin Youkilis, as his injury problems may cause the Red Sox to undervalue him just enough to be able to trade for. With that said, not many people would argue that the Mariners are just 5 wins away from a playoff spot. It seems that the Mariners are an under .500 team in 2012, so trading a bunch of prospects for 5 wins makes little to no sense. It seems the best bet is for the Mariners to stay pat, rely on those infield prospects to develop and continue to play Ackley and Seager (who, as I noted yesterday, I think is at least an average 3rd baseman).
Other Mariners Notes: In the same chat, Cameron said he expects that the Mariners will approach Felix Hernandez with a contract extension this off-season. However, if he eventually hits free agency, after the 2014 season, Cameron expects an 8 year 200 million dollar contract from some team (assuming health). This only furthers my belief that the Mariners should trade King Felix in the middle of this year (assuming they are not in contention).
Ken Rosenthal argues that the Mariners should bat Chone Figgins lead-off. I know this argument has been made on this site by others, but I don’t have him in my projected starting lineup. There is one obvious, very huge flaw in this thinking. When you bat a player 1st in the lineup, you are doing so knowing that he is going to lead the team in plate appearances. So naturally, you want it to be a really good hitter, perhaps your best (certainly your best OBP guy). The problem is that Figgins is not that kind of guy. When leading off games, Figgins has a .339 OBP in the first plate appearance. While perfectly fine, this isn’t “best hitter” type (although much better than Ichiro‘s .310 OBP in 2011). For his career, when batting leadoff, he has an OBP of .367, which is pretty good. However, he has very little slugging, and an OPS + of just 108 out of the lead-off spot. My suggestion for lead-off, Dustin Ackley, had an OPS + of 117 in his rookie year. Wouldn’t you want Ackley to get more at-bats than Figgins? This is even assuming that Figgins returns to the form he was in with the Angels. He lead the league in walks in 2009 (and caught stealings), and still only had an OPS + of 111 (one of the rare players to have an OBP better than his SLG). With the Mariners, his OPS + is just 70 in over 1,000 Plate Appearances. I just don’t understand why people want Figgins to be the guy on the team that goes to the plate the most. For some optimism about the 2012 Mariners’ offense, click here.
USA Today has finished their list of top 100 names you need to know. Jesus Montero finished 4th and Seager finished 18th.
Here is a good interview with Mariners’ minor leaguer Willy Kesler, if you are in to that sort of thing. Kesler has 8.1 K/9IP with a 2.21 ERA in his Minor League career (all A + and below). Kesler had a FIP of 3.62 and HR/9IP of .67 in 40.1 innings in A + last year.
According to Keith Law (in his most recent chat), Byron Buxton (a potential top 5 draft choice that has been linked to the Mariners) would be between 21-50 in a top prospect list of he qualified (he doesn’t because he hasn’t been drafted yet).
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Favorite general sports moment: The Texas versus USC college football national championship comes to mind, as does Gary Matthews Jr. catch on July 1st 2006.
Favorite Seattle Sports Moment: King Felix throwing a perfect game against the Rays
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