So the Mariners have finally made a move. No, It isn’t to the level of Josh Hamilton or Justin Upton, but it is a move. And it improves this team, something you can’t necessarily say about the moves we’ve made in the past. The Mariners dealt their number two starting pitcher Jason Vargas to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for 1B/DH Kendrys Morales. Let me give you a little background about our new addition and then why you should like this move.
Bats: Switch Hitter
Last Season’s Stats
- Avg: .273
- At-Bats: 484
- Runs: 61
- Hits: 132
- HRs: 22
- RBIs: 73
- On-Base %: .320
- Slugging: .467
- OPS: .787
I am a fan of this move for several reasons. First off, we all are aware of the historic struggles the Mariners have had with producing runs. Morales will bring some needed pop to the middle of the order. Now it won’t be a vast improvement, just so we’re all clear, but we are receiving a serviceable bat, all while saving about $4 million dollars by offloading Vargas’ $7.4 million that he is set to receive this season. Both players are in the final year of their contracts, but are arbitration eligible, simply meaning the M’s are in control of Morales once his contract expires with the chance of going to arbitration to settle on a contract if they wish to bring him back.
Secondly, I will admit, Vargas was a decent pitcher last season. Posting a 14-11 record with a 3.85 ERA on this team isn’t too bad. The only downside is he was significantly worse on the road, having a 4.78 ERA compared to a 2.74 ERA at home. Several things can account for this. First is Safeco Field, one of the best pitchers parks in baseball. But the walls are coming in this season. I don’t think Vargas would see the same success at home, especially because he is much more of a fly ball rather than ground ball pitcher. He also gives up the long ball more than most, so the walls coming in really wouldn’t help his cause. You could point to the fact that even though his ERA was 4.78 on the road, his record was a respectable 9-6. Then again, don’t you remember how well the Mariners hit on the road (at least for their standards)? That number may be a little skewed.
Former Mariners center fielder Mike Cameron, who played in Seattle for 4 years (’00 -’03), has chosen to retire from baseball after a seventeen year career that included many great memories. Cammy was always my favorite player back in the early 2000’s when the Mariners were the class of the AL West. I was even lucky enough to get an autographed picture, baseball, and vintage bobble head of the guy. Here are a few highlights from his years in Seattle, the first one being commentated by the legendary Dave Niehaus. Just click each photo to see the video.
4/7/00: Cammy robbing Jeter of a HR.
5/2/02: Mike hit 4 home runs against the White Sox, becoming one of only 15 players to do so in MLB history.
Cameron’s Career By-The-Numbers (Seattle numbers in parentheses):
- Batting Average: .249 (.257)
- Home Runs: 278 (87)
- Runs Batted In: 968 (344)
- Stolen Bases: 297 (106)
- 3-Time Gold Glove Winner (’01, ’03, ’06), two of which that were with the Mariners.
- All-Star (’01)
Cammy will always be one of my favorite Mariners and hopefully we can find someone who can carry the same swagger that Mike did out in center at the Safe. Thanks for the memories #44.
Let me preface this article by saying that I did not write it, one of my pledge brothers did. His name is Sean Carr, and he recently started his own blog, and I offered him the chance to guest write for S&O, because here at the printing press we spread the wealth. Like this. He took the opportunity and chose to write about the MLB and the relationship most fans have with the Yankees. It’s a good one and it gets my seal of approval. Without further ado…
In baseball, all teams own players by a contract that pays an annual salary for a specified number of years. When a contract expires, the player bound by that contract becomes a free agent, and, depending on his talent level and successes, will be offered new contracts by various teams that he will have the opportunity to consider and sign. In this scheme, players looking to feed their families, buy their parents’ houses, or simply boast that they make the most millions of all their friends, will often be wooed by the highest bidder. In recent history, the highest bidder has always been the New York Yankees. In 2008, the Yankees spent a combined $209 million dollars on their players, with an average salary of $8 million dollars per player. There was no other team with a combined payroll above $140 million dollars, and the seven cheapest teams were all below $60 million, with the Florida Marlins spending just over $21 million dollars, an average of only $8 hundred thousand dollars per player, all of this according to the financial statements released by the owners of the teams. In simpler terms, in 2008 the average Yankee was being paid ten times what the average Marlin made over the same season. This discrepancy is the cause of one of the most opinionated conversations in sports, the “good vs. evil” view of the Yankees. Baseball fans either love the Yankees for their successes (a record 27 world championships) or hate them, declaring them cheaters for “buying championships” and playing with an unfair advantage, the ability to have the best shot at all the top free agents. These two contrasting opinions lead to heated debates and scathing op-ed pieces across the nation where people tear each other apart over the classic rich vs. poor theme in capitalist America (see “Occupy Wall Street”, or more locally, “Occupy Seattle” at Westlake Center).
First I would like to start out by saying that the frequency with which Stanton or myself have been posting new stuff lately has been sub-par. For those of you that enjoy what we write we apologize that we have both been too busy to get stuff up with both of our college situations needing a lot of attention. But Seattle S&O doesn’t take breaks and so we will be posting as much as we can from here on out. Alas, here is your article.
There are only a few left standing. No, not fans of the Eragon series, but Seattle sports fans who would also call themselves Mariner fans. There is certainly cause for the apathy growing around the Mariners fanbase. The team is well on its way to another irrelevant September, the Mariners are 30th (out of 30 teams) in runs scored, team batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage. Attendance at Safeco Field reflects the team’s awful play with the worst per-game attendance in Safeco Field history at 23,254 fans a game. On paper, the 2011 M’s squad inspires less hope than those Animal Cruelty commercials. At one point this season at a game I attended with my dad, a beligerent M’s fan suggested that the team change its mascot to the Mariner Goose.
Stay seated, Moose, we have bad news. You've been replaced.
How does a team get so bad? With a substantial payroll, rich baseball history, and a beautiful city to lure free agents to, there appears to be no reason that the M’s could be so bad for so long. Many point to the very top, accusing ownership of being too focused on the game experience for fans; making sure that a family of four can have a fun time watching the dancing groundscrew rather than focusing on putting together a winning baseball team. I agree to a certain point, mostly because I puke off the third deck every time I go to a game and see the groundscrew dance, but there also seems to be a lack of focus on winning from the M’s brass. But the point can be made that the Mariners have spent plenty of money on players to try and build a winning team. If Adrian Beltre, Richie Sexson, Carlos Silva, and the countless other free agents the Mariners have brought in the last 10 years hadn’t flunked out, this might be a very different article. But regardless, the team is bad and has been for quite a while. The future is bright though. Not in 2011, maybe not in 2012, but in a few years you are going to see a very competitive baseball team.