1) Jesus Montero C
2) Taijuan Walker RHP
3) Danny Hultzen LHP
4) James Paxton LHP
5) Nick Franklin 2b/ss
6) Francisco Martinez 3b
7) Chance Ruffin RHP
8) Tim Wilhelmsen RHP
9) Vinnie Catricala 3b/1b/OF
10) Phillips Castillo OF
The Mariners look like they’re going to fill the spot that Michael Pineda will soon be vacating. The Jesus Montero deal isn’t official yet but assuming it happens, veteran Kevin Millwood is being signed to take his spot. He’s only getting a minor league deal and he’d get a shot at a rotation spot in spring training.
Millwood pitched in the minors most of last season before he latched on with the Rockies for nine starts. He threw 190 2/3 and 198 2/3 innings in 2010 and 2009 respectively so he can still pile on the innings. 2009 was a solid year but that was sandwiched between five other mediocre at best seasons. I like this because it’s low risk and you have to like the veteran presence.
The Mariners traded another one of their young pitchers but they got a blue chip prospect in return in their trade with the Yankees. The Mariners get stud prospect Jesus Montero and minor league pitcher Hector Noesi for Michael Pineda and pitching prospect Jose Campos.
Pineda was really sharp in his major league debut season in 2011 but Montero is a stud at the plate. Montero raked in a September call up with a .996 OPS in 69 plate appearances and he has a career .867 OPS in five minor league seasons. He’s just 22 as well so there’s plenty of time for him to become an All Star catcher.
Noesi is also major league ready. He had a nice season in his first full season at the Triple A level. He pitches a little bit too much to contact but he was able to keep his ERA at 3.28 last season.
The Mariners look like they got a gem. Jesus Montero was picked as the sixth best prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com. The guy can rake and he’s major league ready, the question is, will he be a good catcher. He got off to a rough start in 2011 but bounced back strong and even had a really nice stint with the Yankees.
Mobility behind the plate is an issue and while he has a solid arm, he doesn’t always move well so it’ll be interesting to see how much base runners attempt to steal on him. Of course if he hits like he should, then people won’t be caring too much about his defense.
HOF voting is set to be revealed in a couple of weeks and it’ll be interesting to see if Edgar Martinez makes any progress. It’s hard to argue with his hitting credentials. He finished with a career .933 OPS and he was amazingly consistent. His 1995 season was incredible and the peak of a great career. From 1990 to 2003 he had an OPS+ of at least 100 and in a lot of those seasons, it was well more then 150.
The counter arguement is that Martinez was a designated hitter. He didn’t play out in the field so many thought he was less valuable but what people fail to realize is how great of a hitter Martinez is. He wasn’t a big home run guy but he still finished with 309. He also had a career OBP of .418 and he had 1,283 career walks against 1,202 strikeouts.
Once one of the top left handed relievers in baseball George Sherrill was signed by the Mariners to a one year deal. He was picked up by the Mariners and spent parts of four seasons there before ending up as the Orioles closer. 2009 was his best season when he had a 1.70 ERA in 69 innings but in 2010, he fell off of a cliff. The Braves benefited from his services last year but the last couple of seasons he’s turned into a true LOOGY (116 games, 72 1/3 innings).
The deal is worth $1.1 million. I like the deal because it’s only one year and not for a bunch of money and if Sherrill can replicate what he did last year, he should be worth it.
After non-tendering Chris Gimenez, the Mariners eventually resigned him to a one year deal that should pay him the league minimum salary. The one nice thing about signing him this way is they won’t have to pay him as much if Gimenez ends up in the minors. As the Mariners backup catcher, he played in 24 games and he hit .203. He can also play first base and some outfield.
Gimenez is best known for his time filling in when Miguel Olivo had a hamstring injury. With a strained oblique muscle, he made a big play in the bottom of the ninth against the Braves but because of it, ended up on the disabled list. He didn’t have a passed ball in 152 innings so he’s solid defensively although his arm is only okay.
John Sickels released his list of the top 20 Mariners prospects and you have to like what you see. Not only do you have a couple of blue chips at the top but you also have some depth here as well. Four of the top five guys are pitchers so that’s some concern because offense is a problem in Seattle but topping the list is Taijuan Walker. The right hander projects to be a front of the rotation starter and Sickels gives him some pretty kind comments.
Number two is left handed pitcher Danny Hultzen. Sickels talks about he has less upside but also less downside then Walker. It’ll be fun if these two make it up and pitch as the number one and number two guys. Rounding out the top five are James Paxton (LHP), Nick Franklin (SS), and Jose Campos (RHP).
The Mariners shored up their offense at backstop today when they traded Josh Lueke and a player to be named later to the Rays for John Jaso. Jaso is a left handed hitter and it’s expected that he’ll be platooning with Miguel Olivo in 2012. His season was partially cut short because of an oblique injury and while he struggled at times at the plate, he still hit five home runs and he hit .224 in 246 at bats.
Jaso does have some potential though. He hit well enough to finish fifth in the ROY voting in 2010 so you’d hope he might bounce back. One thing Jaso is good at is making contact. He has 84 career walks to go with 77 strikeouts and he has been used as a leadoff hitter so the Mariners could be getting a really nice table setter.
It looks like it’s finally a done deal. The American League and National League are going to have 15 teams a piece and the Houston Astros are going to move to the American League West. There’s no word on how the schedule is going to work but I’m assuming we’ll be going with unbalanced schedules so we’ll be seeing them quite a bit starting that year.
The Astros should be bad again but it’ll be interesting to see if that changes between now and then. Of course the Mariners need to shore up their offense before they can talk about competing. Hopefully they’ll be able to capitalize on a weak Astros team and pick up some extra wins.
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