Should He Stay Or Should He Go Now?

Originally published July 14th, 2012

The Seattle Mariners are two weeks away from the non-waiver trade deadline, and like last year, the Mariners could look to capitalize on a seller’s market.  It’s been a painful season for the Mariners.  They’ve struggled to score runs when they needed them most, they’ve battled with injuries to core players all year, and they’ve been missing a veteran’s presence in the clubhouse to help the team stay centered.  Jack Zduriencik tempered enthusiasm for the team’s chances at the start of the year, while promising improvement and development in the team’s core of young players.  Zduriencik has realized there are players on the team not meeting expectations or playing to their potential.  Outside of Kyle Seager, the team’s core of young hitters (Ackley, Smoak, and Montero) have regressed in batting average and on-base percentage.  In a recent interview on KJR 950, Zduriencik acknowledged that the team needed a veteran bat on the squad, but in the Mariners current situation, getting a veteran bat could be easier said than done. 

After failing to make any significant moves for a bat in the free agent market, the Mariners made their biggest splash in the offseason by trading for Jesus Montero.  More than missing a bat, the Mariners missed an opportunity to add veteran leadership to the team.  I wrote in January about the Mariners need to sign a veteran DH.  The Mariners biggest struggles on the field come down to young players understanding how to play the game and how to deal with the adversity of a 162 game schedule.  I wanted the Mariners to sign Johnny Damon.  Look past Damon’s statistics with Cleveland (even though Damon would have the team’s 4th best OBP among starters).  The Mariners need a player that’s been through the rigors of seasons, pennant races, and World Series; they need someone to show them how to play through slumps and how to have fun doing it.  I think the Mariners have a ton of potential talent on the team.  I can’t be any more clear than that.  I’m a long way from giving up on this team or these players, but realize they need some key pieces to help the team pull it together.

Realizing that a team is a few pieces short is a lot easier than getting the pieces, which brings this article back around to the Major League Baseball trade deadline.  The Mariners do not have a single player with more value than Felix Hernandez.  There’s a lot of debate on whether trading Felix Hernandez is the right thing to do or not.  On one hand Felix could bring the team a load of prospects or a veteran bat.  On the other hand, Felix is the face of the Mariners franchise.  Is a bat going to do the team any good if your staff Ace is no longer on the team?

Felix Hernandez should not be traded.  BUT, there are some important things to consider:

  • The King’s Court has been another win in 2012, but outside of the LF corner, fans have failed to materialize.  Out of Felix Hernandez’s 10 home starts, 4 of the games had less than 20,000 fans.  2 of his starts had less than 15,000.  It’s easy to understand given the team’s record (and record at home), but it’s equally frustrating.  The is an ACE, a former Cy Young Award winner, and multiple year All Star.  Felix has earned and deserves more.
  • Would Felix be even more effective and more dominant on a winning team?  I think every fan wants to see Felix on a winning team.  Do I want that team to be the Seattle Mariners?  Hell yes!  But if that’s not going to happen before Felix is a free agent, are we missing an opportunity to see Felix at a completely other level?  What about what we could get in return for one of the game’s most dominant pitchers?
  • Where’s the right fit for Felix?  Get over the Yankees!  Would Felix be a fit in NY?  Absolutely.  But there’s a specific market that would be the perfect home for Felix Hernandez.  The Los Angeles Dodgers.  The Dodgers are a team on the cusp of something big.  Fernando-Mania?  How do you think Los Angeles would respond to Felix Hernandez?  Imagine a one-two-three punch of Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, and Chris Capuano.  Do you think Matt Kemp would like to have a pitcher like Felix on the team?  And how cool would it be to see Felix hit every 5th day too? 

Food For Thought:

Major League Baseball is transforming into a pitcher’s league.  Look at the influx of Perfect Games and No Hitters.  Realize that MLB’s total league ERA has hovered at 4.00 for 3 years.  That’s 3 consecutive years of the lowest ERA in 20 years.  I can’t stress that enough.  There hasn’t been a single year ERA lower than the last 3 consecutive years since 1992.  That’s a crazy stat.

Choose your reason for the HUGE stat differential but understand that Power Hitters are at a premium.  Does the benefit of finding a bat through a trade balance out with the change in pitchers effectiveness and the recent lack of power across the League?

These next two weeks may be the most important two weeks the Mariners have had since trading for Vince Coleman in 1995, only this time it isn’t about this season, it’s about the future.  There’s a lot to consider.  What impact will next year’s almost certain fence changes have on the Mariners offense? Do the Mariners need to trade their Ace pitcher for a veteran power bat, or can they find a veteran power bat with trade of a young unproven high-profile pitcher (or two) and reap the rewards of having both Felix and a bat in 2013?  I think we’ll all be watching Twitter even closer these next two weeks to find out.

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