Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Offseason Review: The Seattle Mariners

Seattle's new designated hitter Kendrys Morales
These poor guys.  The Seattle Mariner's have been trying for the past couple seasons to make a splash but have come up pretty much empty.  Safeco Field is an absolute cavern, and consequently a deterrent to free agent sluggers like Prince Fielder or Josh Hamilton, both of whom were courted by Seattle but ended up signing elsewhere.  This offseason they couldn't even bring in Justin Upton via trade even after the Diamondbacks agreed to terms that would ship the slugging outfielder to Seattle for a bundle of premium prospects, including excellent pitching prospect Taijuan Walker.  Not to be discouraged, the Mariners still acquired the services of Michael Morse, Kendrys Morales and a rebuilding project in Jason Bay in hopes of adding some much needed pop to the lineup.  

Seattle's General Manager Jack Zduriencik did flex some of the Mariners spending power by extending their homegrown ace Felix Hernandez through 2019 for $175MM dollars, officially making him the highest paid right handed pitcher in baseball history. This move was criticized by many around the baseball community, but if you consider what the price of premium pitching is, and where it is going, I think you can find a logic in this sign.  First off, there are few better players in baseball that combine age and quality as perfectly as Felix Hernandez.  Secondly, he's a homegrown talent which makes him a perfect candidate to be a player to build around.  Finally, the Mariners farm system is loaded with excellent young arms like Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton who can take away invaluable mentorship from King Felix.

The M's are building in to something formidable, and doing so in timely fashion.  The Rangers appear to be on the decline, and there is only so much time before the Angels age and overspending catches up with them.  The most difficult thing that Seattle has to do with manage their own impatience.  By rejecting the trade to the Mariners, Justin Upton may have saved Jack Zduriencik's job.  The Mariners have their ace and they have their cornerstone, now all they have to do is wait for their young talent to develop and then strike.  It's pretty much a guarantee that Seattle won't see the postseason in 2013, but if they can keep it together for a couple more years, their history of mediocrity will be a thing of the past.

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