Wish lists for Mariners’ fans, once again, have not been filled
as Christmas approaches.
Catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli was available. Gone to Boston (3 years, $39 million).
Catcher Russell Martin was also believed to be on the radar. Gone to Pittsburgh (2 years, $17 million).
Outfielder Josh Hamilton. The M’s pitched a deal, but it wasn’t enough. Gone. Hamilton moves from the rival Rangers to the rival Angels (5 years, $125 million), where he’ll be just another potent bat in the lineup.
Outfielder Justin Upton. Thought to be available, Diamondbacks keep promising young player who seemed available for the right price early on in free agency.
So far, outfielder Jason Bay and utility infielder Robert Andino have been the only new additions for Seattle.
Excited about those moves? Didn’t think so.
Seattle could still have interest in outfielders Nick Swisher, who visited Cleveland Tuesday, and Michael Bourne, who was Atlanta’s starting center fielder last year.
Bourn, 29, is a speedy left-handed hitter. He’s stolen as many as 61 bases twice for Houston, and is a career .272 hitter. Swisher, 32, is a left-handed corner outfielder who brings power (207 homers in his last eight seasons with the A’s, White Sox and Yankees) to the table. Seattle’s bringing in the fences and is desperate for power, but the M’s don’t really have a burner and Bourn’s a legit leadoff guy.
The outfield needs an upgrade, unless you’re happy to go into the season with the five-headed monster of Jason Bay-Casper Wells-Michael Saunders-Mike Carp-Franklin Gutierrez.
Didn’t think so?
Bourn or Swisher?
Would either make a difference?
How about this suggestion?
Some say the Royals are still in the market for pitching. Package one of the pitching prospects (Taijuan Walker or Danny Hultzen) for Kansas City third baseman Alex Gordon (23 HR, 87 RBI, .303/.376 on-base percentage/.502 slugging percentage in 2011; 14/72/.294/.368/.455 in 2012). Move Kyle Seager to second and Dustin Ackley moves to left field, or even center field.
Baseball fans in Toronto, meanwhile, have reason to be buying tickets to Blue Jays games for Christmas presents. The Red Sox and Yankees don’t seem so threatening any more. The Rays, despite a glut of talented players, haven’t broken through and while Joe Madden’s as good as it gets when it comes to managers, there’s no reason to think they will? And no one will be surprised if Baltimore pulls an Arizona by going from first to last.
The Blue Jays took a look at the lay of the land and seized the opportunity to make a serious run in the NL East. If you haven’t been paying attention, Toronto added a lot more than knuckleball sensation R.A. Dickey.
Toronto picked up pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, and shortstop Jose Reyes in a blockbuster deal with Miami. They’ve all got huge guaranteed contracts. They also added outfielder Melky Cabrera, who was in the midst of a career year with San Francisco before being busted for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Mix those newcomers with Edwin Encarcion and Jose Bautista, two legit 40-home run guys in the their prime, future star and third baseman Brett Lawrie, and pitchers Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero, and you’ve got championship ingredients.
The Jays payroll was at $83 million a year ago, and is expected to surpass $120 million this year.
Yeah, the Jays are taking a gamble. But it seems like it’s a gamble that makes sense.
The Mariners and Blue Jays joined the American League as expansion teams in 1976. The Mariners are still looking to get to a World Series. Toronto has won two titles, and seems a heckuva lot closer to a third after some serious wheeling and dealing during the offseason.