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2011 Offseason – Shortstop Monday, November 22, 2010

Posted by jkcmason in Mariners.
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Just like every other infield position that we have already covered, the Mariners got very little production out of their shortstops last season.

Jack Wilson – 193 At Bats – .227/.278/.294 – 0 WAR

Josh Wilson – 361 At Bats – .242/.282/.316 – -0.3 WAR

Jack Wilson is signed for one more year at $5 mil, and would not likely be easy to trade at this point.

What I would do

Shortstop is commonly considered the most valuable position in MLB. There are very few teams that have a suplus of players at SS and there is a lot of need at this position. The Mariners are one of many teams that are in need of help at this position. The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox have Jason Bartlett and Marco Scutaro available. Though Bartlett would be a solid improvement, he will not come cheaply, and Scutaro is already 35 years old.

There are three main problems for the Mariners in trading for a shortstop.

1- Neither of these guys are a permanent replacement. Scutaro is nearing the end of his career and Bartlett is a free agent after 2011, and will be 32 at that point.

2- The Mariners are rebuilding and will not have a lot of Major League ready talent that they don’t treasure.

3- The Mariners have a lot of holes to fill, and only a little bit of money to do it with.

Since shortstop is such an expensive position to improve upon I would suggest that the Mariners try to take advantage of there Rule 5 draft position to try and fill this. Does anyone remember Luis Ugueto? Hopefully the Mariners could find a young decent fielding middle infielder that isn’t quite ready for Major League ball to fill in for when Jack Wilson is injured.

What I expect the Mariners to do

As I was writing this I looked over to mlbtraderumors.com and find that the Mariners have signed Luis Rodriguez. Luis Rodriguez is a switch hitting 30 year old middle infielder with a .293/.364/.493 line in AAA for the White Sox. Nice sign GMZ. I like it. Sounds like a mix of Wilson and Rodriguez could be in our future. The Mariners also signed Sean Kazmar a 26 year old right handed shortstop who batted .275/.326/.381 for the San Diego Padres AAA affliliate.

Luis Rodriguez – http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/11/minor-deals-joaquin.html

Sean Kazmar – http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/11/minor-deals-phillies-sign-dan-meyer.html

My Suggestion- Jack Wilson / Rule 5 pick

Mariners Current Move- Jack Wilson / Luis Rodriguez

I believe that the Mariners might have already bested me on this one.

2011 Offseason – Third Base Monday, November 22, 2010

Posted by jkcmason in Mariners.
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In 2010 Jose Lopez was the everyday 3rd baseman for the Mariners, and unfortunatley he had a rough season. After the trade rumors of the offseason, the move to third base, and all of the talk about how he doesn’t fit as the typical Zduriencik player… he failed. To be honest I don’t blame the guy. At the age of 26 he hit 25 homeruns and knocked in 96 RBIs. What happens next? Dustin Ackley is drafted, signed and moved to 2B and Chone Figgins signed as a free agent to a long term contract and moved into his position. If I were Jose Lopez, I wouldn’t feel the most secure, and it might get to me a little. He did play pretty well defensively at 3rd base, but that wasn’t enough.

Does Jose Lopez deserve another shot? Yes, and he will likely get it… just not likely with the Mariners.

What I would do

As I stated in the second base portion, I wouldn’t move Chone Figgins over to third. At least not until Ackley is called up part way through the season. Figgins is a better defensive second baseman than he showed last year, and having a hole at third base is an opportunity to add an impact bat into the lineup. Having a hole at second base is a chance to find a backup infielder.  I hate the term “stop gap”. The idea of bringing a player in that will hold down second or third base until Dustin Ackley is ready annoys me. I like the idea of giving someone a chance that could actually turn into an impact player. We know that players like Nick Punto, David Eckstein, Jerry Hairston Jr., Felipe Lopez, and Christian Guzman are stop gaps.  They aren’t going to help the team when they step to the plate.

The Mariners should trade for Alex Gordon to play 3rd base for the beginning of the year. The worst case scenario is that he turns into a stop gap type of player or gets hurt. The best case scenario is that he turns into a legitimate middle of the lineup bat like the Mariners need. It wouldn’t take a lot of talent to pry him away from Kansas City and he would be a definate young upgrade to our lineup.

What I expect the Mariners to do

I expect the Mariners to start Chone Figgins at 3rd base next season, and to ignore everything that I have just written.

My Addition – Alex Gordon

Mariners likely third baseman – Chone Figgins

2011 Offseason – Second Base Monday, November 22, 2010

Posted by jkcmason in Mariners.
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The Mariners likely have a lot to be excited about in the near future at second base. Dustin Ackley is proving to be exactly what was expected in the number two overall pick from 2009. In his first full professional season Ackley has shown a lot of promise and athleticism learning a new position at second base and showing his aptitude while at the plate. His plate awareness and bat control show that he could soon be a great asset to the Mariners lineup. It is generally agreed upon that Ackley will make his debut next season, but the Mariners need to prepare to start the season with him in AAA.

Chone Figgins was the starting second baseman for the Mariners last season and was a large let down. Many believe that Figgins should move to third base this season where he proved to be a plus defender two years ago for the Angels.

What I would try to do

I would do what I could to keep Figgins at second base.  I do realize that the stats point to Chone being a better defensive 3rd baseman than he is a 2nd baseman, but in this case I don’t think that the stats are telling the complete story.  Figgins has a quick first move quick or he couldn’t survive at the hot corner, Figgins is fast and has good range, Figgins has great hands when he wants them, and Figgins has good foot work around the bag.  He has all of the tools to be a quality 2nd baseman, but last year he lacked the motivation.  He was playing for a losing team and a manager he didn’t like, which made it hard for him to concentrate and give his full effort.

The second reason to keep Chone Figgins at second is the quality of bat that you could bring in at 3rd base is a lot better than the bat you could bring in at second. 

What I expect the Mariners to do

With Ackley close to ready and Figgins unhappy, I expect the Mariners to move Figgins to 3rd base and find an inexpensive fill in to start the season at second.  They will likely find a player that would have the ability to play both positions up the middle so that when Ackley does get called up, the player could be used in a utility role.  Jerry Hairston Jr., Felipe Lopez, Nick Punto, Christian Guzman, and David Eckstein are potential candidates for this role

My 2nd Baseman – Chone Figgins

Mariners Addition – Jerry Hairston Jr.

2011 OffSeason – First Base Sunday, November 21, 2010

Posted by jkcmason in Mariners.
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I know that every Mariners fan wants a winning team right now, but there has to be some excitement for the young talent that is Zduriencik is getting and the chance to watch them grow into what could be a solid base for winning in the future.  With eight of the nine minor league teams going to the playoffs, there is a lot of talent to be excited about.  Justin Smoak is definitely one of the younger players that you should keep an eye on.

At the end of last season Smoak started to show the ability at the plate that we were hoping for when the Mariners received him in the Cliff Lee deal. After rosters expanded and Smoak was recalled in September and October, Smoak provided a .340/.421/.580 line at the plate showing more power and patience. I don’t expect him to maintain at that level for this next season, but he definitely looks to be one of the better bats in the Mariners lineup.  Justin will turn 24 this offseason and likely has his best year ahead of him. It would be hard to imagine a scenario without injury where he isn’t the opening day first baseman.

Last Year
Casey Kotchman – 414 At Bats – .217/.280/336 –  -1.1 WAR
Justin Smoak – 113 At bats – .239/.287/.407 –  .1 WAR

It is not hard to see that the Mariners should be improving at first base even without making any changes.

My 1B Solution – Stay with Justin Smoak

Mariner’s expected 1B Solution – Stay with Justin Smoak