So, yeah, the response to Wednesday’s “Seattle should probably trade Felix Hernandez” column wasn’t entirely positive. I understand it was a case of raining on the parade, and I’m sorry about that. Still, it was an angle of the story that needed to be covered.
Now that I’ve had a day to think more on the subject and read all of the comments posted in response, I have to say that I’m more firmly in the “should trade” corner than ever.
This is not a team that is a couple of quick fixes away from taking on the Rangers. There is some talent around, but the only likely position player star in the organization is Jesus Montero. While I still think Dustin Ackley is a long-term regular, he has regressed this year. Kyle Seager and Mike Zunino will be nice complimentary pieces, as might some others. But the team needs some star power in the field.
The pitching side is more promising. With prospects like Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen perhaps ready to contribute alongside King Felix next season, the Mariners could quickly assemble one of the AL’s best rotations. Or perhaps not. Even the best pitching prospects are no more than 50-50 shots. If either Walker or Hultzen becomes a No. 2 and the other flames out, the Mariners should still consider themselves lucky.
And that’s why I just don’t see how the Mariners are better off with Hernandez than they would be with the three or four pieces they could get for him. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that they could take a step forward next year and then find themselves in serious contention in 2014, but it would take a serious stroke of luck.
The Mariners have had Felix for eight years now and still haven’t made the playoffs. Here’s what stands out to me: since the beginning of 2010, they’re a combined 48-44 when Hernandez starts. Even when they’re throwing one of the game’s three best pitchers, they’re still barely better than a .500 team.
The Mariners don’t need to trade Hernandez for financial reasons; they need to trade him because they simply need more talent. If they can get a premium young shortstop and a couple of more promising bats for him, they’d be a better bet going forward than they are now. The current one-man team isn’t going to take them anywhere.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Orioles are “making progress” in talks with free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo.
Gallardo has been on the market so long because he has a first round pick tied to him due to his declining the Rangers’ qualifying offer. The Orioles would have to forfeit the 14th overall pick in order to sign him. That has been too steep a price to pay for them all winter, but as we’re mere days away from pitchers and catchers reporting, it’s likely that Gallardo’s price has dropped enough to make it worth their while.
Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons — and had a career-low 3.42 ERA in 2015 — but his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012, suggesting that trouble could be on the horizon.
If the O’s do burn their pick to get Gallardo, it might make sense for them to go all-in with another free agent like Dexter Fowler, given that they’d not have to give up anything else to do it.
First baseman/outfielder Mitch Moreland and the Rangers have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $5.7 million deal.
Moreland requested $6 million and the Rangers countered at $4.675 million, so the two sides settled on the player-friendly side of the midpoint.
Moreland bounced back from an injury wrecked 2014 season to have a career-year in 2015, hitting .278 with 23 homers and an .812 OPS in 132 games. Arbitration eligible for the final time at age 30, he’s set to be a free agent next offseason.
We’ve posted frequently on the topic of the old Tiger Stadium site. If you’ve kept up with it you know that the site, nearly overgrown with weeds and strewn with trash before being rescued by a group of volunteers called the Navin Field Grounds Crew, is now being slated for redevelopment by the Detroit Police Athletic League.
The PAL is committed to keeping a baseball field as part of the development, but they are also, quite unfortunately, committed to putting artificial turf down over the bit of Earth where baseball legends once walked and ran.
Backlash to the plan has begun, however. Not just from people like me or the Navin Field Grounds Crew, who are opposed to fake grass, but to an actual donor to the Detroit Police Athletic League:
With an annual contribution of $50,000 to Detroit PAL’s programs, the Lear Corporation has been a major benefactor of the nonprofit for years. But in light of PAL’s controversial plan to redevelop the Tiger Stadium site with artificial turf, Lear’s CEO is speaking out.
Matthew Simoncini says that Lear is withdrawing its financial support of PAL for its mishandling of this delicate issue.
“I believe the [PAL] plan is severely flawed [and] a terrible use of resources,” says Simoncini. “[It] does not preserve this site and provides [an] unsafe playing surface for the children,”
I’m guessing $50,000 is not the sort of money that will seriously hinder a real estate redevelopment plan, but it’s good to hear someone with a stake in all of this voting with their wallet. Here’s hoping more do and that, eventually, PAL understands that there are some things more important than saving some money at the front end of a project.
Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news …
One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.
Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.
Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.
Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.
Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.