CLEVELAND – The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Mariners look a little different.
The addition of Austin Jackson from Detroit and Chris Denorfia from San Diego is about what I thought we would see – not the names I thought we would see, mind you – but the full scope of the deals is the direction I think they have been going for some time.
In reading the comments on the previous post, I think a number of you understand and approve of the moves. For those of you expecting more, I think what you wanted was flat-out not available.
One impact bat was traded today: Yoenis Cespedes in the Jon Lester deal. Giancarlo Stanton is still a Marlin. Troy Tulowitzki is still with the Rockies. Billy Butler is still a Royal. Alex Rios is still a Ranger. There was no hitter equivalent of David Price or Lester on the market, and Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik did the right thing in not adding either of the two in an attempt to improve the club or make a splash.
At the end of the day, Zduriencik added two players that are upgrades in his outfield, and he held onto his prospects either to further develop or perhaps move in the offseason when more is available.
Zduriencik not moving prospects was a hot topic of conversation with the national media earlier this week. He said he would not be pressured into doing so and sent that message loud and clear in multiple interviews following the deadline.
“There were people out there that really thought the Mariners are prime targets. ‘Hey, they are in a pennant race for the first time in 10 years, they are going to give up the farm.’ There was a little bit written about that,” he said. “We were not going to do it and it probably didn’t make a lot of people happy, but I don’t care. If a few guys get ruffled in the feathers, that’s their fault. This is our property, these are our players, this is our organization. That’s our focus.”
In his interview for the pregame show on 710 ESPN Seattle, Zduriencik said that while it was tempting to look at the prized pitchers who were moved today it ultimately did not make sense for him to move his prospects for those players.
“There were a couple of factors tied to that,” he said. “Number one, assuming large contracts and years in some cases, or no years. I think in both instances it wasn’t what we should be doing from a philosophical standpoint. We have good pitching. We can always get better but our focus was to try to add offense and you always try to do the best and retain as much as you possibly can retain. In these deals I think we dealt from strength.”
That’s certainly true in the case of Jackson. Nick Franklin was a player without a position on the big-league club. Center fielder and leadoff hitter are positions that were never really addressed in the offseason. Abraham Almonte was clearly not the answer, and while James Jones has shown good tools and flashes of ability, he has struggled mightily in the last month. He may need that time he missed in Triple-A to fix his approach and better tailor his game for the big leagues.
While the Jackson move is not an overwhelming one, it is a huge improvement. The Mariners’ center fielders have put up the second-worst numbers of any position in the lineup this year. Defensively they have been nine runs below-average. Jackson, at his worst, plays average. While his defensive numbers have slipped a bit this year, he has been playing in one of the biggest outfields in baseball. He can handle center at Safeco Field.
Manager Lloyd McClendon now has two right-handed bats and two hitters he believes can drive in runs in key situations. In the absence of the monster bat that was not available, this is what was needed. We have been talking about this for the last month. With the pitching they have, this team does not need to score five or six runs to win a game. They need three or four, and these moves should help.