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Improving Yuni’s team October 19, 2007

Posted by Brad in commentary.
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The time to praise the Mariners for finishing over .500 (something I did profusely on my LiveJournal) has passed. 88 wins is a heck of a lot better than the 78 they had in 2006, but now the team needs to be looking to make the 2008 playoffs.
MLB Trade Rumors has a nice breakdown of the team’s strengths and weaknesses.
Glaring weaknesses: The back end of the starting rotation and the lack of power. Or, to name names, Jeff Weaver, Horacio Ramirez, Richie Sexson and the combined first half of Jose Vidro and Raul Ibanez.
Strengths : They are locked up in centerfield, third base, shortstop (slightly wishful thinking, maybe) and catcher, and have a stout bullpen and a surplus of corner outfielders and catchers.

So, what should they do? And dashing dreams, what will they do?
Vanquish the Fearsome Fivesome:Weaver and Ramirez will certainly not be resigned (though Weaver did show some improvement in the second half), and someone could be suckered into thinking Ibanez is a quality left fielder. Every team should be wary of the giant from Bush Prairie (Sexson) and Vidro, but their roster spots are too valuable to waste.
Get a pitcher who can throw six innings: Everybody (including the Roseburg, Ore. News-Review) wants the Mariners to get a front-line starting pitcher. Sadly, those don’t exist, at least not on the free agent market. Looking at that list of players, there are very few pitchers I’d rather have than a cheap Ryan Feierabend. Maybe Joe Kennedy, Shawn Chacon, or Kyle Lohse. It’s depressing to think that the team can’t afford Carlos Silva.
(Japanese pitchers Koji Uehara or Hiroki Kuroda might be worth taking a flyer on.) So how will the Mariners get a quality pitcher?
Trade Jeff Clement: The M’s have to trade for that elusive pitcher. Luckily, they have prospects to burn, namely Clement, Adam Jones, and Wladimir Balentien. GM Bill Bavasi will probably trade one or two of these guys before March. It should be Clement. He had a sterling September in Seattle (highlighted by being the pace car for Yuniesky), but he didn’t play an inning at catcher. He could be easily shifted to DH or first, but given that his bat ain’t that fast, The team can groom Rob Johnson to replace Kenji Johjima and lump Clement in a package to send to the Marlins for Dontrelle Willis, or the Brewers for somebody.
Field a fast outfield: Ideally, the team will let Jose Guillen cash in on his 99-RBI season somewhere elsewhere, shift Ibanez to first and DH (if he stays), and give Jones and Balentien the chance to start in right and left field.
Leave the bullpen alone: Brandon Morrow’s going to be converted to a starter, but other than that, the team’s set there. J.J. Putz, George Sherrill, Sean Green and whoever does well in spring training can hold the team together. There’s no need for a Chris Reitsma-like signing.
Dump Willie Bloomquist: Just ‘cuz… they don’t need a million dollar backup.
Sign a good third middle infielder: Jose Lopez fell off the map last year, and needs someone to motivate him to play up to his potential. As opposed to starting pitchers, there are several decent middle infielders. Kaz Matsui’s probably going to be too expensive due to post-season exposure, but Tadahito Iguchi, Tomohiro Nioka, or an aged Omar Vizquel would be interesting additions. Okay, maybe those middle infielders are slightly worse than decent.
And, last and least-likely…
Sign Barry Bonds: This won’t happen, but Bonds would be a good fit for the M’s. A left-handed power hitter who’d be content with DH’ing (probably) and splitting time in left with whichever young outfielder (Jones or Balentien) does worse.

So, my GM-for-a-post 2008 Seattle Mariners would be:
C: Johjima
1B: Ibanez
2B: Lopez
SS: Yuni!
3B: Adrian Beltre
LF: Adam Jones/Barry Bonds
CF: Ichiro!
RF: Balentien
DH: Bonds
Bench:
Jamie Burke, Jeremy Reed, Ben Broussard, <insert middle infielder not named Oswaldo Navarro here>, Charlton Jimerson (for his name and speed)
Pitching
1: Felix Hernandez
2: Jarrod Washburn
3: Chris Capuano, why not?
4: Miguel Batista
5: Feierabend/Morrow
Bullpen:
Putz, Sherrill, Green, Feierabend/Morrow (the latter), Rowland-Smith, O’Flaherty

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