So, if saying "Rabbit Rabbit!" on the first day of the month is supposed to bring you good luck, does saying "Pumpkin Pumpkin" on Halloween have the same effect? Well, I've got my porch light off, the kid trick-or-treated, and hot-buttered Harvey's and Spiced Rum poured in cups for both the wife and me. I keep queuing posts, and deleting them since I can't seem to finish them, but I'm going to commit to finishing this one tonight, so I can get back to my regularly-scheduled offseason photo-blogging...
Now that players are formally filing for free agency, and players' options are being declined, we're starting to get a better picture of who's out there for the offering (of a very expensive contract...). The phrase "Freely-available talent" takes on a whole new meaning. Over at LookoutLanding, the diaries are flooded with the fruits of the readers' rosterbations. (I like Deanna's the best -- and marc w does definitely deserve a promotion 'round here!) I'm not sure I'm going to put the effort into coming up with a "Splash" list like I did during the 2004 offseason. But I will use Blogger's storage space to come up with my offseason plan. Of course, since there's technically three other authors here, I'm sure we could whittle down one master plan for recommending to the M's. Not that the M's would listen, of course, but hey. This is what baseball geeks do both during and between seasons...
I'm going to approach this using MLB4U's free agent list, which seems to be pretty OK. There are still some folks whose options haven't been decided upon yet, so I'm really going to have to tweak this, if some of those guys become available. And, while I would like to fantasize about the M's shelling out $150 million + on the roster, and all of those players indeed lusting after the M's money, I do realize that neither of those things are reality, so I'm going to try and guess, like always, within reason a) who might be interested in joining the M's and b) who the M's might be interested in spending money/players on.
First, let's look at what we have for sure.
1) CF/RF -- Ichiro. He's staying. He's not going to be traded. 90% sure he's in CF, but he may get some time in RF.
2) SS -- Yuniesky Betancourt.
3) 2B -- Jose Lopez. He may still be growing, but there's enough potential there to give him the starting job. Possible trade chip, in the right, blow-the-M's-away offer. But probably worth less to other teams than to the M's.
4) DH/LF -- Raul Ibanez. The M's front office's favorite son. No way he's traded. Good fit for Seattle, so I'm not anxious to get rid of him. I'd keep him as DH myself, and limit his time in LF, but he's a starter on my team.
5) C -- Kenji Johjima. He's the starting catcher. He's a good one. Happy he's here, specially if it helps bring Dice-K in...
6) 3B -- Adrian Beltre. Finally starting to show that he can handle the AL. I'd seriously be surprised if he was able to pull another 2004 out of the hat, but even if he doesn't, he's still one of the top 3B-men in the league.
7) SP -- Jarrod Washburn. No way anyone takes his contract off our hands. Not sure the M's are that excited about getting rid of him either, really. I don't like the contract, and as much as guys much smarter than I am don't really like him, I still am OK with Washburn as a Mariner.
8) SP -- Felix Hernandez. Still has LOTS of room to grow up, but he's not quite on my "Freddy Garcia SITH List" quite yet.
9) CL -- JJ Putz. Wow. Did he come into his own, or what?
10) UTIL -- Willie Bloomquist. He just won't go away, so we might as well deal with him.
11) OF/DH -- Chris Snelling. How much he sees action will depend on a) his health and b) Hargrove's favor. Bavasi won't trade him, and he's out of options so he's staying in Seattle.
12) RP -- Mark Lowe. No telling how he'll recover from his surgery, but he likely will be back. If he is, he will be in Seattle. Update 11/1/06 -- apparently, the "Pumpkin Pumpkin" thing didn't quite work. Looks like Lowe's surgery wasn't all that successful, and his career may be in jeopardy. Darnit.
All of the above players are staying put, and they should stay put. If any of them are traded, it's going to be a blockbuster move, and I really don't expect that to happen. The following players could either possibly be traded or I'd like to see what we could get for them .
13) 1B -- Richie Sexson. Even more possible that they'd trade Sexson than Lopez, but he's staying put in my team. I might explore the trade market, but for now, I'm keeping him. He may be entering his decline phase, but the M's would really miss his run production. He's a frustrating player at times, but I honestly don't believe there's anyone out there available to the M's that would replace what he'd give us in 2007. Looking towards 2008, though...
14) RP -- Rafael Soriano. Certainly the near-impaling decaptiator off of Vlad's bat adds some element of concern. He'll get some action in the winter leagues, I'm sure, to get back up on that proverbial horse. He's got a TON of trade value, and while I do like him, I'm not as attached to Soriano as I am some other guys.
15) RP -- Julio Mateo. Were it up to me, I'd count his ~$1 million contract as a sunk cost and see if we could give him to LALALA or Texas. Should be pretty clear by now that he's not one of my favorites. Won't have much value, and Hargrove's affinity towards him seems to mean he's staying around.
16) RP -- George Sherrill. Of course, being his biggest non-related-by-blood-or-marriage-or-M's-payroll-like-Corey-Brock-is fan, this may be odd for some of y'all to read. However, I'm more concerned about George's success and happiness in the majors than I am that he stay a Mariner. If the M's were able to sweeten the pot by adding him into a trade to a team that would treat George well (and use him properly) and improve the M's, then I'd be all for it. I believe he's shown enough to prove that he belongs in the majors, even if it is merely as a LOOGY (though I believe he could still close in the majors).
17) UTIL -- Mike Morse. Doesn't have much trade value, but might be a good throw-in piece to seal a deal.
Other players that are more-than-possibly gone.
18) 1B/DH -- Ben Broussard. Either a trade chip, or a non-tender. Not sure how much help he'll be in Seattle. Certainly is better than what he showed while in Seattle, but if they trade Sexson, I'm not sure he'd be a good alternative.
19) 1B/DH -- Eduardo Perez. I actually like Perez, and see the value he provides beyond his performance on the field. Of course, the M's are leading the league in underperforming clubhouse leaders that cost waaay too much, so it wouldn't surprise me to see the M's keep him around.
20) CI, DH -- Greg Dobbs. Hargrove loves the guy. As does someone in the front office, too. Not sure he'll be gone, but, really, he probably should be.
SP -- Joel Pineiro. What a waste. Had a lot of promise, but just never seemed to put it together.
SP -- Gil Meche. I'd like to keep him around, but not at the price some GM will be willing to spend on him.
Not sure what'll happen with these guys, but could be potentially useful, if things don't quite work out on the market.
21) SP -- Cha Seung Baek. Of the guys in the M's org likely to stick in the rotation and be somewhat useful, Baek leads the charge. I'd plug him into a rotation spot and go after two high-quality starters myself.
22) SP/Long RP -- Jake Woods. Meh. I wouldn't count on him for anything, but the M's probably will.
Other folks in the minors that might be useful to the M's big-league roster at some point in 2007:
OF -- Adam Jones. Needs some more playing time in Cheney. Will definitely see time in Seattle in 2007.
1B/DH -- Bryan LaHair. Rising a bit in prospect-dom. I agree with Dave Cameron who says he's pretty much a hit-it-to-one-spot hitter that likely would struggle in the majors. But, you never really know, do ya...
RP -- Emiliano Fruto. Not a favorite of mine, but still will be somewhat useful, I suppose.
RP/SP -- Ryan Feierabend. Close to the majors, indeed. Can't wait to watch him in Tacoma.
So, assuming the M's keep Baek and Woods around, that leaves three spots to fill for certain -- one backup catcher and one or two starting pitchers. Remove Mateo, Dobbs, Morse, Perez and/or Broussard, and the M's have a little more flexibility.
More rosterbation later...