Today Randy Wolf got roughed up in his start today as he attempts to come back from Tommy John surgery. No need to make too much of this. It’s Spring Training and it’s hard to put too much stock into what happens there.
But improving the Mariners’ pitching is something that shouldn’t be ignored. Today the Rangers announced they’ve signed former Mariner rotation hole, Joe Saunders. The Diamondbacks announced they’ve reached a two year deal with lefty reliever Oliver Perez. While Saunders was a turd, Perez was definitely a useful piece–a lefty who could get right handed batters out as well, and it will be a loss to this team no buckets of Joe Beimels, Lucas Luetges and Zach Miners can replace. Two years, four million dollars. Penny-wise, pound foolish. Teams should acquire and keep players that make them better, and Perez would have made the Mariner bullpen, a terrible bullpen last year, better. They will pay Fernando Rodney seven million dollars this year. Is Rodney more than three times more valuable in his role than Perez was in his? Somebody has to get leads to the ninth inning.
The Mariners have few opportunities left to make themselves better. I’m not sold on signing Kendrys Morales as some, such as Robinson Cano, are urging. Morales is a useful bat, but with absolutely no flexibility. He’s a DH, period, the end. Unless they can engineer a trade involving Justin Smoak or Logan Morrison, it isn’t a signing that makes sense.
However, signing Ervin Santana makes lots of sense. Today Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports announced he would be willing to sign a one year contract, probably in the same range as Ubaldo Jimenez, say $12.5 million. In a multi-year deal, such as the four he’s reportedly been demanding, the M’s would be committed to a considerable sum. For a one year deal, the M’s should be running to the front of the line for his services with a bag of cash in each hand.
What do you get with an Ervin Santana? Weellll, sometimes it’s hard to say. Santana has had some monumentally bad seasons. In his nine seasons, he’s had three clankers-2007, 2009, and 2012 were serious stinkers. But in three of the last four, and the other years when he wasn’t putrid, Santana was good for 200+ innings, decent K/BB, K/9 numbers, and ERA+ of 100-127. His Achilles heel is the long ball, even in good years. Buster Olney pointed out another hesitation teams may be having and that is the state of his elbow tendon. Because Santana throws so many sliders, and sliders are so hard on the elbow, there is a legitimate concern for his arm health. Yet, a one year deal carries much less risk, gives the M’s a chance to evaluate their mid-term needs, and determine whether Santana fits in them.
Again, there is no question Santana makes this team better. The rotation is already thin with the injuries to Iwakuma and Walker. There is no guarantee that guys like Scott Walker and Randy Wolf can come back this year from their very serious injuries. We don’t know what we have with James Paxton and Erasmo Ramirez. Sadly, we do know what we have with Blake Beaven and Hector Noesi. There will be injuries. There may be flame-outs. The Mariners will need depth. Let the pitchers from the pile earn their spots. Jack Zdurencik and Lloyd McClendon preach competition. Let them put their money where their mouths are. This is a good signing. Just do it.