Last Year’s Records
Texas – 90-72
Oakland – 81-81
Los Angeles – 80-82
Seattle – 61-101
Last Year’s Records
Texas – 90-72
Oakland – 81-81
Los Angeles – 80-82
Seattle – 61-101
Continuing on with my look at each organization and their Face of the Franchise, the AL West…
The next prospect up for review is Nick Franklin of the Mariners.
How Acquired: Drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 1st Round (27th pick) of the 2009 draft.
Age as of 4/1/11: 20
Scouting Reports and Statistics
The Baseball Cube
Tm Lg Lev G R HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Clinton MIDW A 129 89 23 65 25 50 123 .281 .351 .485 .837 WestTenn SOUL AA 1 3 0 0 0 1 1 .667 .750 .667 1.417
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Hardball Times: #2 (SEA – 2011)
Deep Leagues: #31 (Overall – 2011), #3 (SS – 2011)
Project Prospect: #3 (2B – 2011)
Bullpen Banter: #3 (SS – 2011)
Baseball America: #3 (SEA – 2011)
John Sickels: #3 (SEA – 2011) B
Baseball Prospectus: #3 (SEA – 2011), 4 star
Scouting Book: #8 (SS – 2011), #86 (Overall – 2011)
Top Prospect Alert: #2 (LAA – 2011)
Franklin was drafted out of high school by the Mariners in 2009, and signed for a $1.28 million bonus. He had signed to play baseball at Auburn, but the Mariners were able to pay him enough to make him reconsider. He appeared in 16 games in 2009, but made his full season debut in 2010. He played all but 1 game in 2010 in the Midwest League, with the Mariners’ affiliate in Clinton. Despite being a first round pick, I have to imagine that the Mariners were extremely pleased with his performance there: .281/.351/.485 with 22 doubles, 23 home runs, and 25 stolen bases. Franklin played the entire 2010 season as a teenager (19 years old), and as such posted the 3rd highest home run total in the past decade by a teenager in the Midwest League. The lack of plate discipline (53 walks vs. 132 strikeouts in his career) is a bit concerning, but the walk rate is solid (8.7% in 2010).
From ProBallNW’s scouting report prior to the season:
Franklin is a very balanced player with no outstanding tools or skills and no glaring weaknesses either. While that isn’t sexy, that is certainly valuable. He should hit enough that his ability to start should come down to his defense. Scouting reports vary (as they often do with defense) but he has good actions and footwork and is at least an average defender going forward.
Prospect Insider had this to say about him, and it makes me very excited to see what he can do next:
Yep, a 49-year-old home run record may go down to a “pip-squeak of a physical specimen,” as one scout put it jokingly, but that’s the biggest reason Franklin is a legit bg-league prospect; He’s smart, works hard, understands the game and brings all the leadership skills and intangibles to the ballpark every single day. He’s methodical in his work and appears to be a bit of a perfectionist, holding himself to a very high standard.
Overall, I think he’s going to be one of those prospects who is going to be a very solid player, and where the tools and build may fall slightly short of some of the other top prospects out there, but it sounds like he has the mental makeup to work through them and excel.
It sounds like Franklin could very well start the season at AA in 2011, and could very well be moving quickly up the chain. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of consensus about whether or not he can stay at shortstop, but it seems that regardless he should be in the middle of the infield.
Prediction for 2011
.285/.345/.475, 21 HR, 15 SB
2012 seems pretty likely for Franklin. The Mariners don’t really have a lot going on at the Major League level at either the shortstop or second base, and a strong performance by him could lend itself to a call up in 2011 at some point.
Around this time last year, I went through and reviewed the case for a number of players for the Hall of Fame, and whether or not I thought that they deserved to be enshrined in the Hall. I’ll be doing this again this year, and for players I reviewed previously, I will revisit my vote and see if it has changed in a year’s time. Theoretically, this should remain the same, but there’s always a chance I am now a whole year wiser than I was last year. Today’s candidate is one that I looked at last year, Edgar Martinez
Martinez was eligible for the Hall for the first time in the 2010 class (2009), and you can find what I wrote last year below. He finished the voting last year with 195 votes out of a possible 539 ballots (36.2%). He seems likely to pick up more votes for this year’s election, but honestly I’d be pretty shocked if he came even remotely closer to 75% than he did last year. Continue reading
Back during Spring Training, I took a look at each team and made predictions about how each team would do and how I thought their season would go. This was the first year doing this, and I figured now was a good time to take a look back and see how it went. I reviewed the AL East and AL Central previously, and now it’s on to the AL West.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Predicted Record: 86-76 Actual Record: 80-82
I’m not entirely sure what happened with this team. The only event that I can pinpoint that stands out as a major turning point in the season was the loss of Kendry Morales for the season back in late May. Their pitching seemed suspect at the beginning of the season, and might have been worse had it not been for the midseason acquisition of Dan Haren from the Diamondbacks. The Angels continue to develop solid players though, with Peter Bourjos coming up after the All-Star break and should continue to develop next season. This team needs a bit of help in the offseason, but should do well and spend what is needed to do that.
For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.
Team #3: Seattle Mariners
General Managers(since 1994)
Woody Woodward (1994-1999):458-445
Pat Gillick (2000-2003):393-359
Bill Bavasi (2004-2008):359-451
Jack Zduriencik (2009):85-77
All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.
|Position||Name||Acquired||Years with Org.
||Stats with Organization
|C||Jason Varitek||1994 – 1st Rd (14)||3||No Major League Appearances with Org.||Traded to SEA – 7/31/97|
|1B||Raul Ibanez||1992 – 36th Rd||8+5||986 gm, .284/.346/.464, 127 HR, 547 RBI, 21 SB||Left via Free Agency – 12/21/00, 10/30/08|
||Int’l FA – 2000||10||1 All Star Appearance
853 gm, .266/.297/.399, 77 HR, 422 RBI
|Currently with Org.|
|3B||Alex Rodriguez||1993 – 1st Rd (1)||7||4 All Star Appearances, 4 Silver Sluggers
790 gm, .309/.374/.561, 189 HR, 595 RBI, 133 SB
|Left via Free Agency – 10/30/00|
||Int’l FA – 2002||4||No Major League Appearances with Org.||Traded to CLE – 6/30/06|
|LF||Shin-Soo Choo||Int’l FA – 2000||6||14 gm, .069/.182/.103, RBI||Traded to CLE – 7/26/06|
|CF||Adam Jones||2003 – 1st Rd (37)||4||73 gm, .230/.267/.353, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 5 SB||Traded to BAL – 2/8/08|
||Int’l FA – 2001||10||2001 AL MVP and Rookie of the Year, 10 All Star Appearances, 9 Gold Gloves, 3 Silver Sluggers
1564 gm., .331/.376/.430, 89 HR, 550 RBI, 88 SB
|Currently with Org.|
|DH||David Ortiz||Int’l FA – 1992||4||No Major League Appearances||Traded to MIN – 9/13/96|
|SP||Felix Hernandez||Int’l FA – 2002||8||1 All Star Appearance
69-51, 3.23 ERA, 1124.1 IP, 1019 K, 347 BB
|Currently with Org.|
||2006 – 1st Rd (5)||3||8-12, 3.96 ERA, 197.2 IP, 204 K, 128 BB||Traded to TOR – 12/23/09|
|SP||Joel Pineiro||1997 – 12th Rd||11||58-55, 4.48 ERA, 996 IP, 658 K, 327 BB||Left via Free Agency – 12/12/06|
||1991 – 8th Rd||6||2-4, 6.96 ERA, 53 IP, 39 K, 20 BB||Traded to SEA – 7/31/97|
||1996 – 1st Rd (22)||10||55-44, 4.65 ERA, 815.1 IP, 575 K, 363 BB||Left via Free Agency – 10/31/06|
||Int’l FA – 1992||8||0-1, 9.35 ERA, 8.2 IP, 3 K, 6 BB||Left via Free Agency – 10/18/00|
|RP||Matt Thornton||1998 – 1st Rd (22)||7||1-6, 4.82 ERA, 89.2 IP, 87 K, 67 BB||Traded to SEA – 3/20/06|
|RP||Rafael Soriano||Int’l FA – 1996||10||4-8, 2.89 ERA, 4 SV, 171 IP, 177 K, 53 BB||Traded to ATL – 12/7/06|
|RP||Ryan Franklin||1992 – 23rd Rd||13||35-50, 4.34 ERA, 811.1 IP, 427 K, 238 BB||Left via Free Agency – 12/21/05|
|RP||J.J. Putz||1999 – 6th Rd||9||1 All Star Appearance
22-15, 3.07 ERA, 323 IP, 337 K, 104 BB
|Traded to NYM – 12/11/08|
|CL||Brian Fuentes||1995 – 25th Rd||6||1-1, 4.63 ERA, 11.2 IP, 10 K, 8 BB||Traded to COL – 12/16/01|
||Int’l FA – 1984||9||1 Gold Glove
660 gm, .252/.309/.303, 6 HR, 131 RBI, 39 SB
|Traded to CLE – 12/20/93|
|BN||Greg Dobbs||Amat. FA – 2001||5||100 gm, .257/.291/.351, 2 HR, 32 RBI||Selected off waivers by PHI – 1/15/07|
|BN||Yuniesky Betancourt||Int’l FA – 2005||4||588 gm,. 279/.302/.393, 27 HR, 202 RBI, 24 SB||Traded to KC – 7/10/09|
|BN||Jeff Clement||2005 – 1st Rd (3)||4||75 gm, .237/.309/.393, 7 HR, 26 RBI||Traded to PIT – 7/29/09|
||Int’l FA – 2002||6||18 gm, .245/.315/.347, RBI||Traded to CLE – 12/11/08|
June Amateur Draft
The Mariners have actually not been as active in the draft as I thought they had been. Clearly, the retirement of Ken Griffey Jr in the middle of the season removed him from this team, although to be honest he probably would have only been a bench player like he was in real life. The Mariners are unfortunately not seeing nearly as much success as they be expected to considering the quality level of the players listed here. Alex Rodriguez has clearly been the best player to this point overall, at least coming out of the draft. But the story for a lot of these players has been that they achieved their greatest success while with other teams. Morrow is very rapidly turning into a top starting pitcher, Lowe and Varitek were both traded short-sightedly to the Red Sox for a reliever, and of course the group of players who were dealt to acquire Erik Bedard (Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, among others).
International Free Agency
The Mariners have clearly done their best work in the international market. Ichiro, while not an amateur free agent, has clearly been the cream of the crop and has helped to define the organization ever since he arrived. But there have been so many other excellent players that were brought in by the Mariners as well, with King Felix Hernandez probably providing the most to the team while on the team. They have had some solid players go through the organization via this method as well, but unfortunately the story is very similar to the amateur draftees. The two that stand out to me are Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo, who were traded for a pair of platoon first basemen in Eduardo Perez and Ben Broussard. Both were just prospects when they were traded, but have turned into at worst solid major league regulars.
A. The Mariners are one of the few teams where I had to ignore quite a few players. There were probably another 10-15 players that could very well have ended up on the rosters of other organizations further down the list. I think that they did receive quite a bit of production from these players, and clearly the one who retired (Griffey) also helped the team stay in Seattle practically. They had an All-Star closer in J.J. Putz, a clear Ace in Felix Hernandez, and a future Hall of Famer in Ichiro Suzuki. Every position has someone who has become a major league regular, as well as players on the bench who have in some capacity as well. The pitching staff has 5 pitchers who have closed for at least some time in their careers, and a solid pitching rotation as well. Overall, they were immediately on my mind as one of my top teams overall.
Well, we are now officially one day past the non-waiver trade deadline, and there have been quite a few different trades made. It was definitely one of the more active periods in a lot of years. I wrote up the major trades as they happened, and you can read my thoughts with the links below.
Texas Rangers acquire SP Cliff Lee and P Mark Lowe from the Seattle Mariners for 1B Justin Smoak and 3 minor leaguers
Los Angeles Angels acquire SP Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks for SP Joe Saunders and 3 minor leaguers
Philadelphia Phillies acquire SP Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros for SP J.A. Happ and 2 minor leaguers
1. New York Yankees acquire RP Kerry Wood from the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later or cash
2. New York Yankees acquire 1B Lance Berkman from the Houston Astros for P Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes
3. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire SP Ted Lilly and IF Ryan Theriot from the Chicago Cubs for IF Blake DeWitt, minor league P Brett Wallach and Kyle Smit
4. St. Louis Cardinals acquire SP Jake Westbrook from the Cleveland Indians and minor leaguer Nick Greenwood from the San Diego Padres, San Diego Padres acquire OF Ryan Ludwick from the St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians acquire minor leaguer Corey Kluber from the San Diego Padres
5. Pittsburgh Pirates acquire C Chris Snyder and OF Pedro Ciriaco from the Arizona Diamondbacks for P D.J. Carrasco, IF Bobby Crosby, and OF Ryan Church
6. Chicago White Sox acquire SP Edwin Jackson from the Arizona Diamondbacks for SP Daniel Hudson and P David Holmberg
7. Minnesota Twins acquire RP Matt Capps from the Washington Nationals for C Wilson Ramos and minor league P Joe Testa
8. Texas Rangers acquire IF Jorge Cantu from the Florida Marlins for minor leaguer pitchers Evan Reed and Omar Poveda
9. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire OF Scott Podsednik from the Kansas City Royals for minor leaguers C Lucas May and P Elisaul Pimentel
10. Los Angeles Angels acquire 3B Alberto Callaspo from the Kansas City Royals for P Sean O’Sullivan and P Will Smith
11. Toronto Blue Jays acquire SS Yunel Escobar and P Jo-Jo Reyes from the Atlanta Braves for SS Alex Gonzalez and minor leaguers Tyler Pastornicky and Tim Collins
12. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire RP Octavio Dotel from the Pittsburgh Pirates for OF Andrew Lambo and P James McDonald
1. Texas Rangers acquire IF Cristian Guzman from the Washington Nationals for minor leaguers Ryan Tatsuko and Tanner Roark
2. Texas Rangers acquire C Bengie Molina from the San Francisco Giants for P Chris Ray
3. Toronto Blue Jays acquire 1B Mike Jacobs from the New York Mets for a player to be named later
4. San Diego Padres acquire IF Miguel Tejada from the Baltimore Orioles for minor league P Wynn Pelzer
5. Tampa Bay Rays acquire RP Chad Qualls from the Arizona Diamondbacks for a player to be named later
6. New York Yankees acquire OF Austin Kearns from the Cleveland Indians for ?
7. Detroit Tigers acquire IF Jhonny Peralta from the Cleveland Indians for minor league P Giovanny Soto
8. San Francisco Giants acquire P Javier Lopez from the Pittsburgh Pirates for P Joe Martinez and OF John Bowker
9. Atlanta Braves acquire IF Wilkin Ramirez from the Detroit Tigers for cash or a player to be named later
10. Florida Marlins acquire RP Will Ohman from the Baltimore Orioles for P Rick VandenHurk
11. San Francisco Giants acquire RP Ramon Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox for P Daniel Turpen
12. Atlanta Braves acquire OF Rick Ankiel and RP Kyle Farnsworth from the Kansas City Royals for P Jesse Chavez, OF Gregor Blanco, and minor league P Tim Collins
13. Boston Red Sox acquire C Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Texas Rangers for 1B Chris McGuiness, P Ramon Mendez and a player to be named later or cash
Wow. There’s still stuff coming in as I write this, and in the last hour there have been a lot of these to get done. So who did well here and who didn’t?
The Yankees – Let’s see if we have this right. The Yankees picked up Lance Berkman to be their designated hitter. They added Kerry Wood to help solidify the back end of the bullpen behind Mariano Rivera. And they got both of them for a pair of players that are of no use to the Yankees, and even got some money in the deals? Really? They already have the best record in the Majors, and have decidedly improved their team with both acquisitions. Oh, and they added to their bench depth with Austin Kearns as well.
The Rangers – With a decent lead in the AL West, the Rangers went out and got themselves an ace starter (Lee), a solid catcher who can help them play defense at the position (Molina), a run producing right handed bat who can play two positions (Cantu), a backup infielder who will be able to spell their third baseman and shortstop, and fill in while their second baseman is on the disabled list (Guzman), and moved a player that they had soured on for some prospects. They are the prohibitive favorite in the AL West at this point, now being 8 games ahead of the 2nd place Angels and 8.5 of the 3rd place Athletics. They plugged nearly every gap they had in their team, and will go into the pennant chase with a very good chance of being in the World Series at the end of it.
The Angels – Even though the moves may end up being more for next season, acquiring Dan Haren to give them a very good 1-2 punch in their rotation for “some magic beans” as Matthew Berry put it on the Fantasy Focus podcast was a stroke of genius. Callaspo also gives them a solid hitter to play at 3B which they had sorely been missing. While it may not be enough to catch the Rangers, they gave up very little of value to do both trades.
The Pirates – They took D.J. Carrasco, Bobby Crosby, Javier Lopez, Octavio Dotel, and Ryan Church and turned them into a major league backstop (Snyder), two solid potential major leaguers (Bowker and Martinez), and 2 higher end, albeit risky prospects (Lambo, McDonald). Someone must have put something in Neal Huntington’s coffee that helped out a lot. They did extremely well to turn a lot of random pieces that aren’t really that helpful into all that.
The Royals – Pieces that aren’t for the future: Podsednik, Ankiel, Farnsworth, Callaspo. All moved for players with varying levels of upside who can help with the rebuilding process: Lucas May, Tim Collins, Jesse Chavez, Gregor Blanco, Sean O’Sullivan, Will Smith. Not the most amazing group of players, and definitely no high-end prospects here. But the Royals have a lot of high-end prospects already, and need others to help give them some balance as well with regard to position scarcity and depth overall. Very well done today.
The Padres – They gave up a pair of pitching prospects to acquire a much needed outfield bat, and a utility player who should provide some value over the remainder of the season. Nothing too major here, and definitely nothing that mortgages the future. I like the Ludwick acquisition, as he could see an improvement with a change of scenery. I’m not 100% sold on the Tejada acquisition, but they didn’t really give up that much to get him in my opinion.
The Nationals – The trade of Matt Capps was nice, netting them a very good catching prospect in Wilson Ramos. But the way that they handled Adam Dunn leading up to the trade deadline was inexcusable. They clearly had not made up their mind as to what they wanted to do with him, and in the end they simply ran out of time. They clearly could have gotten more for him had they moved him instead of waiting for his free agency to play out, and the only reason to do that would have been to get him signed to an extension (which they didn’t do either). Not sure what happened here, but we’ll see if this was a really bad plan from the start.
The Dodgers – In a division where they are 7.5 games back of the leader and 5 games back of the wild card leader, the Dodgers decided to go for it, sending prospects Brett Wallach, Kyle Smit, Lucas May, Elisaul Pimentel, Andrew Lambo, and James McDonald (along with Blake DeWitt) to other teams to acquire: the remainder of this season from Octavio Dotel, Ted Lilly and Scott Podsednik, and also Ryan Theriot. I’m pretty sure that if they had offered those players to the Diamondbacks they would have been able to get Dan Haren, Kelly Johnson, and a bullpen arm. I’m also pretty convinced that they could have offered that group to the Mariners and gotten Cliff Lee, Jose Lopez and possibly David Aardsma. I’m not at all impressed with what they did here, and are only one bad week from being completely out of the race.
The Orioles – It’s a tough beat, but they were only able to move Will Ohman and Miguel Tejada, and would have been served by moving Ty Wigginton and Kevin Millwood, among others. Unfortunately, neither player has been playing well of late, and had essentially managed to knock their own values down to next to nothing.
The Twins – They needed some help in the bullpen, and really could have used another starting pitcher behind Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano. Unfortunately, they only filled one of those gaps, and at a cost that seems high even considering that the prospect that they gave up had no place to play in the Twins’ future.
The Astros – They were able to get out from under a lot of the big dollar contracts owed to Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, and got back at least a reasonable return. Brett Wallace will slot in at 1B to replace Berkman, and J.A. Happ will fill Oswalt’s slot in the rotation. But time will tell if they get anything other than salary relief for Berkman, and Happ and Wallace will have to be very good to replace the value of Oswalt in my opinion.
The Phillies – They gave up a lot more to get Oswalt than they got back in return for Cliff Lee, who would have played a similar role for the Phillies this season had he not been traded. Oswalt will need to be the piece that moves them over the top for this one to really be a winner for them.
The Diamondbacks – They acquired a pretty good young pitcher in return for Edwin Jackson (Hudson). But they practically gave away Dan Haren, a better pitcher who was not that much more expensive than Jackson. They got back a bunch of garbage essentially for their second catcher Snyder. Crosby is a free agent after the season, and Church and Carrasco are both likely candidates for a non-tender after the season. They also did not move Kelly Johnson and Adam LaRoche, both of whom had a lot of value built up despite poor performance of late. Some of the players they acquired could turn out to be good, but it remains to be seen.
The White Sox – They really could have used a bat, and it sounds like they were trying to get one by acquiring Edwin Jackson. I honestly can’t remember the last time I heard about a player being acquired with the hope of moving him to another team, only to have that other team tell them it wasn’t enough. Jackson is a nice pitcher, but is not that much better than Hudson should be.
Overall, a very exciting trade deadline, and there is still the possibility that we will see a lot more trades before the waiver deadline of August 31st.
Well, it looks like the conversations about him being traded are finally over, as Cliff Lee was finally traded today. With the Twins, Reds, and half a dozen other teams in the conversation yesterday, and the Yankees looking like they were nearly a done deal this morning, it was a bit of a surprise to have this turn out the be the trade:
Texas Rangers acquires SP Cliff Lee, SP Mark Lowe and $2.5 M
Seattle Mariners acquire 1B Justin Smoak, P Blake Beavan, P Josh Lueke, and 2B Matthew Lawson.
Clearly, the Rangers get the ace that their pitching staff needs. By slotting Lee into the top of the rotation, it can really help them push everyone else back a step to a better fit. Their rotation, with Lee, Colby Lewis, C.J. Wilson, Scott Feldman, and potentially Rich Harden later on, seems to me like a real strength now. The team was already well ahead of the pack in the AL West, and I think that with Lee they now are in that group with the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox. The playoffs in the American League are going to be something else.
In terms of fantasy impact, clearly the Rangers aren’t quite the defensive team that the Mariners are, and the Ballpark in Arlington is much more of an offense driven stadium than Safeco Field was. However, Lee pitched excellently last season in Philadelphia, a similar stadium environment. I have no concerns about Lee for the rest of the season.
I did find it a bit interesting that the Rangers asked for Mark Lowe as well, who is out for the season. There had been some concerns as well that the Rangers were going to need to get the full salary paid by the Mariners as well, since the Rangers are in bankruptcy proceedings at the moment. However, it appears that this will not have any impact on the trade.
At worst, the Rangers will have the next 2+ months of Lee, and will most assuredly offer him arbitration and get two draft picks of compensation for losing him. I wonder if they may even be able to sign him long term potentially, as he is from Arkansas originally, and not terribly far away from home.
Clearly, the top piece they acquired here is Justin Smoak. Smoak will be penciled into the 1B spot for the Mariners, and while I think that he will see a drop in some of his power numbers compared to what he would have done with the Rangers, but he should still be a solid 1B. Long term, I can see him hitting .300+ with about 20 homers for the Mariners in a season. I think that his slugging percentage, while it should be slightly lower, should still be solid with the large alleys in the outfield of Safeco Field.
What about the other prospects that the M’s got back?
Blake Beavan is a 21 year old right hander who had been at AA for the Rangers. He has a 10-5 record with a 2.78 ERA and a very respectable 68/12 strikeout-to-walk rate while there. The numbers appear legitimate, as he has a 3.23 FIP this season, and a 5.1% HR/FB rate for the season. As strange as it sounds, he’s was almost an extra pitcher for the Rangers, as he was not even in their top 10 prospects according to Baseball America before the season. I imagine he’s going to still be in AA for the Mariners, and spend next season at AAA. A career 48% groundball rate leads me to believe he’s going to do well in Seattle once he gets there, even without the dominating strikeouts.
Josh Lueke is a bit of an older prospect, only at AA this season in his age 25 season. A closer, he has recorded 12 saves between High-A and AA this season. The strikeouts are a bit ridiculous though, with 62 so far over 38 1/3 innings pitched between both levels. Even at AA he has managed to maintain an excellent rate, striking out 12.5 per 9 innings. I would guess that his ETA is probably next season sometime, as he could be fast tracked up to AAA by the Mariners potentially before the end of the season.
Matthew Lawson seems like a bit of a throw in, as he looks like a solid prospect but nothing amazing. A 14th round pick originally, he looks like he might fit the mold of a good fielding, reasonable hitting 2B. At AA, he has hit .277/.371/.438 this season with 7 homeruns and 3 stolen bases. To me, he’s a bit of a project, as he’s not dominating in the way you would hope he would to be a top prospect, but he is only 24 still and this is his first go around in AA. I think he does have a reasonable chance to be useful at the Majors, potentially as a utility type player.
Overall, I think this looks like a trade that both teams can win over time. The Rangers get the big arm that they need to help propel them through the playoffs, and the Mariners got not only an elite prospect in Smoak, but also top tier talents in Beavan, Lueke and Lawson. Amazingly, the Rangers didn’t really empty the system particularly either, and will still receive 2 draft picks if they can’t resign him after the season. Job well done from both general managers.
Finishing up the review of last week’s trade retrospective about the 1989 trade of Mark Langston to the Expos, I’ll be discussing the 1998 trade of Randy Johnson from the Mariners to the Astros. Johnson was traded on July 31, 1998 to the Houston Astros for P Freddy Garcia and John Halama, and IF Carlos Guillen.
On July 31st, the Mariners were mired in another slump, 11 games under .500 and 10 games out in a poor division. Randy Johnson had made his last start as a Mariner on the 28th, pitching a complete game loss where he struck out 12 batters and only allowed 4 runs. Unfortunately for him, the Mariners only gave him 3 runs, in spite of having a lineup that included 4 hitters with OPS over .900 on that day (Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, David Segui). Johnson was a free agent at the end of the season, and was widely expected to be moved.
The Astros were in a much better place. As they entered play on July 31st, they had a 64-44 record, and were 3.5 games ahead in the NL Central. They had a brutally good lineup, with 5 players having OPS above .850 at this point in the season (Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Carl Everett, Derek Bell, Moises Alou). Their starting rotation was fairly solid, with Mike Hampton leading the way.
The Moving Pieces
Johnson slotted in for his normal turn in the rotation, bumping the modestly effective Pete Schourek to the bullpen for the remainder of the season.
Freddy Garcia was sent to AAA Tacoma where he was slotted into the starting rotation.
Carlos Guillen was also sent to AAA Tacoma, where he was the starting 2B for the remainder of their season. He also was called up for a cup of coffee in September of 1998.
John Halama was actually traded as a player to be named later, and not until October 1st. He finished the regular season with the Astros with their AAA affiliate in New Orleans, after having started the season in the rotation for the Astros.
What Happened Next
Randy Johnson really appreciated his move to the National League, and received consideration for the Cy Young award in spite of only pitching 2 months in the National League. He posted a 10-1 record, a 1.28 ERA, and 116 strikeouts in only 84 innings (11 starts), helping lead the Astros to clinch their division. In the postseason, he matched up against the Padres’ Kevin Brown in Game 1, and lost in spite of striking out 16 batters over 8 innings. He started game 4 also, and had another solid outing (6 IP, 8 K, ER), but still took the loss. Unfortunately, the Astros’ postseason ended here, as they lost the series 3-1 to the Padres.
The Net Moves
Astros – First Level
Mariners – First Level
Mariners – Second Level
This to me is one of those trades that worked out pretty well for both teams. The Astros knew that they were likely just renting Randy Johnson for a stretch run, and he pitched beyond their wildest expectations. It would have been interesting to see if they could have gotten further in the playoffs, as Johnson showed in 2001 that he can carry a team on his back in a postseason. The Mariners I thought did pretty well, as they got a top-tier starting pitcher in Freddy Garcia, and a solid if not amazing shortstop in Carlos Guillen.
Next week’s trade retrospective will be about the trade that brought 2-time MVP Juan Gonzalez to the Motor City.
Next up on the trade retrospective is the trade of Mark Langston on May 25, 1989. He was traded to the Montreal Expos with P Mike Campbell for pitchers Gene Harris, Brian Holman, and Randy Johnson.
On May 25th, the Expos were in 4th place in the NL East division, but only 3 games back in that race. It was still early in the season, and there was a possibility that a trade for an impact player could still make a difference in the race. The team had a solid if not amazing offense, and some solid pitching as well.
The Mariners were in 5th place in their division, and despite having a .500 record were already 7.5 games back in the race. Langston had established himself as a top flight starter in the American League, striking out at least 235 batters in each of the last 3 seasons. However, Langston was going to be eligible for free agency at the end of the 1989 season.
The Moving Pieces
Langston slotted into the Expos rotation, and gave the Expos another horse behind starters Dennis Martinez, Bryn Smith, and Pascual Perez.
Campbell was sent to the minors, where he spent the remainder of the season with the Expos’ AAA affiliate in Indianapolis.
Harris, Holman, and Johnson all were slotted into the starting rotation for the Mariners, with Johnson and Holman spending the rest of the season there, and Harris spending part of the season in the bullpen.
What Happened Next
Langston pitched extremely well, posting a 12-9 record with a 2.39 ERA and 175 strikeouts in 176 2/3 IP. Unfortunately, the Expos faded down the stretch, and finished 81-81, good for 4th in their division.
Gene Harris made 10 appearances with the Mariners in 1989, posting a lackluster 6.48 ERA and 1.860 WHIP.
Brian Holman pitched pretty well, going 8-10 with a 3.44 ERA in 22 starts. His control was a bit of an issue, striking out 82 but walking 62. He was still young though, and due for some growth.
Randy Johnson also made 22 starts, posting a 7-9 record with a 4.40 ERA. He also showed some control issues, striking out 104 and walking 70 in 131 innings.
The Net Moves
Expos – First Level
Mariners – First Level
Expos – Second Level
Mariners – Second Level
Expos – Third Level
The Expos got what they were hoping for in terms of production, but unfortunately the team does not really appear to have had much of a chance of competing for that division title. They did receive the compensation picks, and were successful in drafting solid if not amazing players as compensation. Obviously, the Mariners did much better, as Randy Johnson turned into the ace we all know him as. Brian Holman also appears that he might have had a very high ceiling as well had he not been injured. Next week I will go over the Randy Johnson trade in 1998 that sent him to Houston, and which will help to show just how much of a slam dunk this trade was for the Mariners.