Both the beat guy and the columnist have pounded the drum for a trade or trades. This morning Larry Stone invoked the magic of 95, rubbing the belly of Seattle’s baseball hoi toi. He talked of the Andy Benes trade which cost the Ms two number one picks for ten games and threw in a couple of other terrible trades. He should have talked about Heathcliff Slocumb in 97, where the Ms traded Jason Veritek and Derek Lowe, the latter who is still rubbing the Ms nose in it…being part of the Brave’s sweep.
How close are the M’s? Could they win it? Since Larry Stone brought up the 95 team, let’s look at the two lineups and see how the team’s contrast:
Catcher Dan Wilson vs Miguel Olivo edge to 95. 1b Tino Martinez vs Justin Smoak edge to 95. 2b Joey Cora vs Dustin Ackley edge to 95 barely. 3b Mike Blowers vs Figgins/Kennedy edge to 95. ss Luis Sojo vs Brendan Ryan edge to 11. lf Vince Coleman vs Various edge to 95. cf Ken Griffey, Jr. vs Franklin Gutierrez edge to 95. rf Jay Buhner vs Ichiro edge to 95. dh Edgar Martinez versus Various edge to 95. sp Randy Johnson vs Felix Hernandez edge to 95. sp Tim Belcher vs Michael Pineda edge to 11. sp Andy Benes versus Eric Bedard edge to 95. sp Chris Bosio versus Doug Fister edge to 11. sp Various versus Jason Vargas edge to 11. Setup Bill Risley versus Chris Ray edge to 95. Closer Norm Charlton versus Brandon League edge to 11.
This is meant to give perspective. The 95 team was the coming out for a team that should have won a World Series sometime between 95 and 99, but for the cheapness of the owners and a lack of pitching to augment Randy Johnson. Alex Rodriguez sat the bench at the end of 95, they played Felix Fermin and then Sojo at ss, because they traded away Omar Vizquel a hall of fame ss because they wanted Arod to play short stop.
The talent on the 95 team was enormous. Nobody except Lou Piniella and Woody Woodward knew it in April of 1995.
This 2011 team is all about pitching and defense. In 2013 players that should be playing and playing better include Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Brendan Ryan. Juries still out on Carlos Peguero and Greg Halman. Olivo will 34 and probably done. They need players to develop to the point that they can hit 3,4 and 5 in the lineup. It is just not there now.
If you trade away people from the last two drafts you gut this team top to bottom and it is where it was when they fired Bavasi. They are not going to get someone that is a credible three, four or five hitter and they are going to arrest the development they have going on now.
This ownership ties salary to ticket sales and marketing bs, not baseball performance. They are paying a guy the better part of $20 million to play rf and he is and has been the worst offensive right fielder in the division for several years. They think he sells tickets. They don’t want to rely on a good team to sell tickets, they want to rely on bobbleheads and posters and other promotional stuff.
$90 million payroll is not bad. It is tied up in Ichiro, Milton Bradley, Jack Wilson and Chone Figgins which accounts for $45 million, give or take a million here or there. Felix is another $11 million, so $33 million to spread around twenty guys puts the team at maybe the cheapest payroll in baseball through twenty guys, not counting the first five, of whom Felix is holding up his end of the deal.
Net net, the underlying question posed by Baker-Stone is will some trades, that gut the Mariners system get this team to the World Series? The answer is no, they are not remotely close.