Gutierrez back?

A couple of interesting articles appeared today.  Ryan Divish posted on the Seattle Times Mariners blog, listing free agents still available.  Before his list, however, he shared the Mariners were likely to bring back Franklin Gutierrez on an incentive-laden contract.  They had him plugged in at center field. In another interesting post, Eric Blankenship at Lookout Landing shared his views and concerns about the Mariners defense, and that they desperately lacked a quality center fielder.

Could Franklin Gutierrez re-join the Mariners as a partial solution to their center field vacancy
Could Franklin Gutierrez re-join the Mariners as a partial solution to their center field vacancy?

I’ve lamented the lack of serious center field candidate throughout this hot stove league, and its pretty clear that without any more quality center fielders on the market the M’s will have to be creative or run up the white flag.  If the M’s were to sign Gutierrez to a stay-healthy-or-don’t-get-paid deal, it could be a partial answer to their problem.  The Mariners need a right handed bat.  Gutierrez is right handed.  The M’s don’t want to get stuck with a deal for Nelson Cruz they’ll regret for years and years.  I’m sure Guti gets a one-year deal. Depending on him to play center-field on a daily basis, however, is problematic, given his injury issues.  I’d suggest it’s more likely he’ll play against left handers plus a day or two per week.  Unless he’s traded, I would guess it’s likely the slack will be taken up by Dustin Ackley.  Not my favorite move by a long shot, but at least it’s a step toward a more acceptable situation.

I’ve made my feelings about Gutierrez clear: he’s too prone to serious injury to be counted on as a regular contributor.  This isn’t a one year response, his problems have persisted over the past three seasons.  There is no question that when he is healthy, his bat and his glove make the Mariners better.  My concern, as always, is what happens when Guti goes down, and he almost certainly will.  What is plan B.  It seems to me the M’s are better fixed to fill in with Ackley, Saunders or Almonte, than they were last year with Saunders, Morse, Bay and Ibanez.  Not a lot better, but not apocalyptically bad.  All bets are off if two or more outfielders go down, just as it happened last year.

The Mariners are in a tight spot when it comes to centerfield.  Pickings were thin, and if they really wanted to make a splash, Ellsbury was an obvious choice.  Now that would have been something, eh, Ellsbury and Cano?

Moving past that,  Gutierrez joining Saunders, Ackley, Hart and Almonte in the outfield sounds better than going with Nelson Cruz or going without any outfield reinforcements. With Gutierrez, Hart and Ackley likely sharing at bats at other positions, it’s a suggestion that has merit.

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Why the M’s moves of 2013 seem a lot like the M’s moves of 2014

Yesteraday the Mariners made it official, Robinson Cano joined the team.  Today the M’s gave Cano a little protection in the batting order by welcomingg Corey Hart and Logan Morrison to the team.

Robinson Cano is a great signing. At least today, he is a wonderful acquisition.  He is a middle of the line-up hitter-high on-base, high average, high slugging percentage-who is also a good defender.  Though he displaces other players, notably Nick Franklin and Dustin Ackley, he is the best player at his position in baseball and it’s hard to argue that he makes the Mariners incontestably better.  It is likely that some time down the road his contract will not be something of an albatross, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Robinson Cano at his press conference with the Mariners.
Robinson Cano at his press conference with the Mariners.

I’m not sure how Hart and Morrison move the team forward.  Hart is a big right handed power-hitter, who in the past was capable of 30 homer seasons. Morrison a lefty, with less success in the bigs at the plate.  However they are both guys coming off knee injuries.  They are relatively ineffective outfielders, best suited to play at DH and first base. I mean no disrespect.  Hart could light the world on fire, hit his 30 homers and sign a big contract with M’s or somebody else next year.  Morrison will at least entertain the fans on Twitter, and will hopefully have some success at the plate too.  But I am troubled that these players, mediocre outfielders before their knee injuries, are somehow going to offer adequate defense in Safeco’s big barnyard. I remember this story last year.  Trade for Mike Morse, mix in a little Jason Bay, cover with Raul Ibanez, sprinkle with some magical Franklin Gutierrez dust, and voila! Mariners outfield.

There are still a lot of holes to fill.  Though there is still plenty of time until Spring Training, Zdurencik has done nothing to address the team’s pitching problems.  Though noises were made about a trade for David Price, and teams are waiting for the dust to clear regarding the Masahiro Tanaka posting (or not) the Mariners must make an add to their rotation. On the Price for Taijuan Walker question, do you do it or not? If the Mariners are looking to win now, of course, you make the trade.  I’m not convinced that’s their plan, but if they are serious about contending you make a deal that includes two former Cy Young winners in Felix and Price and a Cy Young contender in Iwakuma, plus whatever else.   That’s the best rotation in the major leagues. Their bullpen ended the year a shambles, and multiple pieces are necessary to plaster together a relief staff that lost more games than any team in the American League.

Leaving aside the pitching issues, which will hopefully get sorted out, I question that Zdurencik has a big picture vision for this team. Safeco Field is a pitcher’s park, and it should be built with that idea in mind.  Mariners teams should be built around great pitching and an athletic, effective defense, and an offense that values getting on base and running like the wind.  Robbie Cano fits this perfectly, but depending on home runs from a right hander in a park that will always rob one dimensional hitters of their power seems like a mistake to me.

Last year, Zdurencik left Arizona with a perpetually injured centerfielder, and was forced to use players either too old or too ineffective to play the position.  The result was poor outfield defense that sabotaged the pitching and contributed significantly to the team’s 91 losses. Today the Mariners have exactly one oufielder with a year’s major league experience, Michael Saunders.  One more if you count utility player Willie Bloomquist. If they don’t trade him, the M’s are likely to shuffle Dustin Ackley into an outfield spot, leaving at least one big hole. This team desperately needs a talented, veteran center fielder, and no number of Corey Harts, Logan Morrisons, Jason Bays or Raul Ibanezs can change that. Michael Saunders is not a center fielder and Dustin Ackley should not be. Pieces are available to trade for Brett Gardner or Denard Span who don’t hit home runs but are first rate defenders. That the M’s may be considering returning Gutierrez to the team is just ridiculous.  The scrap heaps and bargain bins are not a place to be looking for one of the most important players on the team.  Good teams have good ones, and great teams have great ones.

My fear is Jack Zdurencik simply sees this team as a collection of pieces.  Cano gives them a superstar.  Hart gives them a right handed thumper.  Felix is the face of the franchise.  Kyle Seager and Brad Miller are the gritty young up and comers. But this is not Major League IV: Hope Springs Eternal with the wily veteran pitcher and the flame throwing righty, the catcher with a heart of gold, and an amazing young centerfielder. This is not a team in which the bits all fit together well.  There are missing parts, and it fails to take advantage of the number one unchangeable feature of the Seattle Mariners and that is the vastness of Safeco Field. I will not be duped by the lure of the longball and I am not convinced that Zdurencik has a clue.

What the Cano signing has done

That’s an easy answer, it’s gotten me in front of MLBnetwork’s coverage of the Winter Meetings, I’m constantly updating my open MLBRumors.com tab.  I paid for insider status at ESPNmlb.  If the M’s wanted to get fans energized and excited about baseball, it worked on me.  That the M’s were linked to lots of big names like Matt Kemp, Shin Soo Choo, and David Price is great.  Word came across a few minutes ago that the M’s signed right-handed first-basemen/right fielder Corey Hart to a one year deal.  Hopefully more deals are coming.

Based on information coming out of Orlando today, the Price and Kemp deals are less likely to happen.  The Rays want young first line prospects and plenty of them for Price.  Jack Zdurencik has said he won’t trade Taijuan Walker, which was said to the be asking price for the Cy Young pitcher.  Further, Price’s agent, Bo McKinniss announced that while Price would be willing to negotiate an extension with some teams, the Seattle isn’t  one of them. Thus, if the M’s dealt for him, they are only guaranteed the two years until his free agency.  A steep price to pay.

Today the Dodgers announced they’ll likely hang on to Matt Kemp.  The oft-injured center-fielder, still in an ankle boot at this time, is owed $21 million a year for each of the next six seasons.  It was hoped that for the right combination of prospects the M’s might be able to pry Kemp loose with the Dodgers kicking in a portion of his salary.  Kemp would have been another right handed bat who has played center-field, but it remains to be seen whether he could continue playing at his peak level, or if he would suffer a sharp decline, or simply be plagued by injuries.

This doesn’t mean neither of the deals can be worked out, but there are certainly some down-side risks to the Mariners.

However, the news the Mariners have signed Corey Hart is very positive.  Hart played right field and first base before missing all of last year recovering from knee surgeries.  2012, the last season Hart played with the Brewers his slash line was .270/.334/.501 with 30 home runs and 35 doubles. Defensively, Hart has been a pretty average player according to both UZR and the Dewan system, with slightly above average range and a slightly below average arm.  He also played a lot of 1B after the Brewers lost Prince Fielder in 2012.  Honestly, he wasn’t a great defender there.

He does actually present an interesting problem for Mariners, assuming there are no further moves.  They could play Hart in left field and move Michael Saunders to right, where Saunders has the better arm.  They could decide to move Justin Smoak in a trade, putting Hart there, hopefully a year wiser in the playing first base department. This gives the M’s a somewhat valuable chip to trade., and still leaves a corner outfield spot open for Shin Soo Choo, if the M’s take the plunge on him. There’s still the matter of center field.  With the Yankees glut of outfielders, and lack of a second basemen, Brett Gardner may be available (and we now seem to have a raft of second basemen.)  The Blue Jays say Colby Rasmus could be available for a pitcher.

Still money to be spent and trades to make, though I’m not always sure Jack Z. knows how to make the right ones.  Cano and Hart are in the tank, and both were good moves.

 

 

It’s hard to see the Cano signing as anything but good.

It’s 2013, hardly 90 days from 2014 spring training.  It’s been nearly a decade since this team was relevant in a pennant race.  In that time there’s hardly been a flicker of life.  The long good-bye to the heroes 1995 and 2001 is a generation old.

Reactions are coming fast and furious to the Mariners’ signing of Robinson Cano.  At a rumored $240 million, it is the third highest total contract amount behind A-Rod’s 2001 contract with Texas and Albert Pujols’ signing with the Angels.  Lots of descriptors like overpay, desperate, and ridiculous appear willy-nilly among commentators and bloggers to describe this.  Writers will compare dollars, analyze WAR,  they will compare Cano to other second basemen and free agent signings, decline curves with many comparisons to Albert Pujols.  Pointless.

There are only two numbers the dozen or so remaining Mariners fans need to remember:  71 and 92.  71 is the number of games the Mariners won last year.  If Cano moves the Mariners higher on the win scale, it’s a worthwhile signing. New York fans are right to be angry about Cano’s defection to the Northwest.  I know how I felt about A-Rod leaving for the bucks, and how I continue to feel about him.  Hopefully our new second baseman won’t be quite so disingenuous in his comments to the press. Yes, they can be pissed, but don’t buy for a moment that Cano isn’t a great player and that he won’t help this team get better.  He is a legit middle of the order hitter the Mariners have been missing.

92 is the other number fans should keep in mind. It is the number of wins both Cleveland and Tampa Bay won to win the AL wild card in 2013.  The distance between 71 and 92 is vast, and Robinson Cano cannot help the M’s traverse that gap by himself. This team has much more work to do if they are to take advantage of Cano’s prime years to produce a winner.  Cano will displace Nick Franklin and Dustin Ackley at 2b.  It is incumbent on Jack Zdurencik to use those trading chips he has to add to the offense and bring more pitching to this team.  The Mariners have been associated with Matt Kemp, Mike Napoli, Carlos Beltran, and David Price.  Whether through free agency or trade, the Cano signing must be the beginning and not the end.  (Full disclosure-Napoli signed with the Red Sox, and Beltran signed with the Yankees as I was writing this.  Curse them both.)

But it isn’t enough to just talk about wins and losses.  Cano’s signing and those I presume will follow represent a gesture of good faith.  It is a sign to other desirable free agents the Mariners management has removed their heads from their posterior and may be charting a path toward winning again.  Maybe it will give other desirable pieces a sign that it’s worth listening to offers from the upper left corner.  Just as importantly, it is a sign to we long suffering fans that management has awakened from its long slumber, have found their wallets in Ebeneezer Scrooge’s basement, and are now prepared to augment the mediocre talents of their team with proven veteran talent.  If the spending ends with Cano, all bets are off.  But if they build a real lineup around Cano, we’ll have something to cheer about.

The work isn’t complete yet, but nobody should suggest the Mariners’ haven’t taken a first step toward competition.

 

Is Jacoby Ellsbury the right place to dump $150 million?

There is little question Jacoby Ellsbury is among the premier free agents this year.  The Mariners desperately need a center fielder, and Ellsbury is one of the very best in the game. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports tweeted the Mariners will sign Ellsbury to a contract costing $21 million per year for six or seven years. Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors recently projected Ellsbury at seven years $150 million.

The lure of attracting Ellsbury to Seattle is huge and it is understandable. The M’s have been on the outside looking in on both of the last two seasons’ big name free agent signings in Prince Fielder and Josh Hamilton.  The team’s performance was poor.  The Mariners don’t look to get better without an infusion of talent.  This team is below league average in starting pitching, defense, and offense.

Not only that, but this team is ridiculously boring.  There is nothing to talk about really.  Yes Felix is great, Iwakuma is steady and Seager is reliable, but there’s nobody on this team that excites the crowd, adds personality to the team and gives us something to love in spite of its inherent suckage.

Ellsbury fills a big need on this team.  He is arguably among the best centerfielders in the game, and has been a key contributer to the Red Sox success.  He is a superb defender, which the Mariners desperately need, and is a prototypical lead off hitter, with good, not great on-base numbers and he stole 52 bases to lead the American League. Though he had a monster 2011 season with 32 home runs and a .928 OPS, it seems unlikely he will repeat those numbers.

Last season’s numbers are impressive.  He is ranked sixth in MLB defensively, with a UZR of 10.  According to the Dewan Zone Rating System, Ellsbury made 84 plays OOZ, or out of zone, demonstrating great range. Just as a basis for comparison, Michael Saunders and Dustin Ackley are the Mariners center fielders  with at least 200 inning at the position.  They are ranked 46 and 52 at the position of 55 eligible, with major negative ratings.  As a hitter, he is ranked fourth among center fielders, behind Mike Trout, Andrew McCutcheon, and Carlos Gomez, worth 5.8 WAR. His 48 extra base hits would rank fourth on the team behind Kendrys Morales (57,) Kyle Seager (56,) and Raul Ibanez (49.) Nobody is close to challenging his stolen base totals.  He would lead the team in batting average and OBP.  In every way Ellsbury would be an offensive leader on the M’s.

So here’s the question.  Is Ellsbury worth those dollars? I’m not saying he isn’t, but the question has to be asked.  At $21 million, or more, he will be the highest paid Mariner this side of Felix.  He would be a fine defender and a top of the order hitter.  His contract would take him to age 36 or 37, at the same time we were beginning to take a more critical look at the really big contract of Ichiro Suzuki.  Let’s be clear, these guys are not exactly alike.  Ichiro was a corner outfielder who was a lousy centerfielder. Even so, he was winning Gold Gloves until his age 37 season in 2010. By this time criticism was leveled at number 51 complaining about his selfishness, but mostly because he was highest paid player on the team.  However, his numbers hardly indicated he could lead the team.  He was not a run producer.  Because he was the leadoff guy and his mates weren’t hitting behind him, he wasn’t even a particularly prolific run scorer.  While Ichiro could transform the 2001 116 game winning team with it’s lineup of thumpers like Edgar Martinez and Brett Boone, he was just a dollar sucker on the 2010 101 game losers.  With a team not known for an efficient offense, is this right place for this team to put a big ol’ chunk of its free agent dough?  No diss intended to Ellsbury–somebody will want him, and doubtless he’ll be a big help to some team.

Welcome Lloyd McClendon: be prepared to duck

The Mariners are hiring Lloyd McClendon to be the manager of your Seattle Mariners.  I wish McClendon the best, I really do.  He was manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2001-05.  The Pirates were terrible, they were doomed to be terrible.  There was nothing McClendon could do about, they were going to suck. After his firing, McClendon went to the Detroit Tigers as hitting coach.  The Tigers do not suck, making it to the ALCS the last three years, and the World Series in 2012. Unfortunately, his time in Seattle is more likely to look like 2001-2005 than the last three in Detroit.

The hiring has brought a collective sigh from much of the blogosphere.  Lookout Landing and USS Mariner are both lamenting the hiring.  Jeff Sullivan went so far as to point out the hiring of six managers with no previous major league managerial experience, and that McClendon’s hiring was disappointing and uninteresting.  Comments to both the LL column by Scott Weber and the Sullivan post showed little enthusiasm for the hire.

My response is likewise nonplussed.  I don’t buy the whole McClendon is just another failed retread argument.  The guy did the best he could in an impossible situation in Pittsburgh.  John McGraw couldn’t have won in Pittsburgh.  He was fiery and inspired his players.  Are we saying we can’t use a fiery inspiring field leader at Safeco Field?  C’mon.  Lou Piniella is going to be the next entry into the Mariner Hall of Fame.  If McClendon could channel a bit of St. Lou, wouldn’t that be just a bit inspiring and interesting?  Jim Leyland explained that McClendon was key to the Tigers’ success.  Hasn’t the guy earned another shot?

My lack of enthusiasm isn’t because of McClendon’s perceived failure.  I just don’t think he can do a damn thing for this team.  Unless the front office opens its wallet, and Jack Zdurencik spends the cash wisely, I don’t believe Lloyd McClendon, or Joe Girardi, or Tony LaRussa, or GOD HIMSELF can make this a .500 team, let alone compete for a playoff spot. This is complicated by the perception of this team in the baseball world.  The Mariners are seen as badly run, and not dedicated to winning.  They may have a few interesting bits, but as teams go, it’s as poorly run as any team this side of Jeffrey Loria. Why would Jacoby Ellsbury consider leaving the world champion Red Sox, even for two truckloads of money, to come to the baseball hellhole of the West Coast?  Trading is also a possible way to get talent, but this organization is talent-thin (!?!) and risks blowing more holes in what they have by trading for what they don’t got. And what was the last good trade the Mariners made?  2009?

And I would repeat again-what the fuck is the plan?  How much input will McClendon have into the plan, and will the plan in December 2013 be same as the plan in July of 2014?  If the plan changes will Howie, Chuckie and Jackie let Lloyd in on it?

Perhaps the biggest task McClendon faces is changing the perception of this team.  Not just in the baseball world, but here in the Pacific Northwest.  How does he get someone like me–angry, cynical, alienated, but at core ever hopeful, unable to abandon the home town team I love for another–to care about this team on a nightly basis for 162 games.  All the umpire baiting, base thefts, and promises to play the game the right way won’t make this team a winner, only the talent can do that.

Surveying the wasteland and charting a course for 2014

It’s been a long time since my last post.  The Mariners turned in an apocalyptically bad second half of the season, so poor that I simply lost hope and lost heart.  I finished the schedule with a fire ’em all attitude.  Not like me, really. I’m an eternal optimist, a glass half full kind of guy.  I’ve always been able to find some kind of silver lining in a Mariners season.

Not this year.  In every phase of the game, from the starting rotation, to the bullpen, on offense and defense, the Mariners simply weren’t very good.  With the exception of Hisashi Iwakuma, there really wasn’t a player I can point at and suggest that this guy took a big step forward. The roster Jack Zdurencik constructed this year was so flawed, it is my belief he should have been fired at the end of the season.  Eric Wedge probably should have been fired too, but he made it easy by catching the first bus out of town.

If you check my comments from the beginning of the season, I voiced concerns about depending on a healthy Franklin Gutierrez in center field, and relying on two youngsters to make do in the starting rotation.  I was right, only it was even worse than i feared.  Gutierrez didn’t make it out of spring training, leaving the team without a serviceable center fielder.  Michael Saunders and Michael Morse were both injured early in the year, which left the M’s to make do with the agerific Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez and  Endy Chavez.  Outfield defense was ghastly as Saunders spent much of the year filling in at center, not the position he is best suited for.  The M’s off-season decision to pursue sock rather than a workable outfield left them in dire straits with balls not caught and bonus runs allowed.

I also suggested the team would go as far its rotation took it.  While I questioned whether Hiroshi Iwakuma could hang in for the entire season, he ended up being the star of the show. with his 219.2 innings pitched, his 14-6 record and his 1.006 WHIP.  Felix Hernandez, after inking a lucrative contract extension performed well for four and half months of the season and limped through the remainder for the second year in a row.  The rest of the staff could have been replaced by an ambidextrous  octopus named Willy and been far more entertaining.  Joe Saunders, a major off-season acquisition to replace the traded Jason Vargas was anything but an adequate fill in No.3.  The combination of kiddie corps and has beens run out at four and five were generally hopeless.

I did not foresee the great bonfire nightly sprouting from the Mariner bullpen, but bullpens do often morph quickly from very good to the level of Ray Bradbury’s “firemen.” This year was the Mariners’ turn to watch Tom Wilhelmson and company spark a blaze wherever they went. People can talk up Yoervis Medina and Danny Farquhar as much as they want, but I am not convinced.

Offensively there was some improvement, but not in a knock your socks off fashion.  They were second in home runs, seventh in walks, and eighth in runs scored, but bad at almost everything else, especially batting average where they were dead last in the American League.  Some of it was injuries, some of it was kids, but most of the problem was they just weren’t fucking good enough.

At the end of the day I look at this team, I look at the plan to develop the kids, I look at the players who are here and those who are likely to play regularly next year and all I can do is shriek “Where the fuck are we???!!?  This team has money.  It must spend it, and wisely to supplement

We are year six of Zdurencik’s rebuild and this is what I see:

This team desperately needs an outfield.  Bring back Michael Saunders as a corner outfielder and Abraham Almonte as a number four guy.  I like both these players, but Saunders should not be exposed as a center fielder, and though Almonte could be a regular guy after a season playing in the bigs, he isn’t ready now.  The Mariners must bring in a real, live center fielder.  Empty a dump truck of cash at the door of Jacoby Ellsbury, swap for Peter Bourjos, I don’t care but make it a legit guy who can play the position.  No half measures.  I like Shin Soo Choo, but he is not a center fielder, he’s a corner guy.  Not Curtis Granderson, he used to be a center fielder.  However the quest for a center fielder does not preclude bringing in another outfielder–we need one more not named Raul Ibanez.  I have the utmost respect for Ibanez, I truly do.  He’s a good guy who had a decent year, but he doesn’t play in my outfield, except as a number five guy. We must have another corner outfielder.

Somebody needs to step up on the infield.  I have no problem with Kyle Seager at third, despite his season ending slump.  But the situation at second and shortstop needs to be sorted out.  Note that I did not include Dustin Ackley in the outfield, particularly not at center.  If Dustin Ackley is our centerfielder on opening day, I swear I will give up the Mariners forever, sort of, maybe, or perhaps just as natural disaster coverage rather than sport. No, Dustin Ackley belongs at second base, where he is a fine defender.  If he can also be a productive hitter, that’s where he belongs. I am a Brad Miller fan, despite his defensive limitations.  He brings speed and a productive bat to shortstop.  I also believe many of his defensive issues can be resolved with experience and maturity (but what do I know.) My faith in Justin Smoak is diminished but considering the other problems the M’s have, I don’t go shopping for a first baseman.  Nick Franklin’s situation is tenuous in my book.  He truly looked lost after July, and it’s hard to know whether he is a washout or just needs more seasoning.  I’m opting for Tacoma.

Kendrys Morales, Seager and Ibanez were the only consistent producers for the Mariners last year.  Seager will be back, but the M’s must make an effort to re-sign Morales.  Morales led the team in average, extra base hits and rbi’s and will be better with a stronger lineup.  Ibanez maybe, but I’m unsure of his role.  Raul shouldn’t be relied upon for any defensive position, and I doubt his bat will be very effective if he sits much.  Probably time to part the ways unless he comes back as a DH.

The rotation is a situation that begs for real leadership.  The temptation is going to be to make do with the King, Iwakuma and three youngters.  Dumb, disaster, I can smell doom 162 games away.  This team needs not one, but two more trusted veteran starters.  No reclamation products.  No veterans coming off of bad years hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.  Somebody good. Jason Vargas is available.  Maybe Vargas and a right handed version of Jason Vargas.  That leaves one slot left for Taijuan Walker, James Paxton and Brandon Maurer to fight over.  It gives the M’s some depth in case of injury, or somebody to promote at the trade deadline.  Let these kids earn their way on to the rotation and don’t stick them somewhere they don’t belong. Believe me, I have faith in these guys, and they need to repay that with performance, not some kind of pitching welfare.

Last, but not least, the M’s need to repair their bullpen.  Carter Capps, Carson Smith, Stephen Pryor may all help the Farquhar/Medina regime, but they need some proven veterans to bolster that staff.

If was an M’s decision maker for next year these are my priorities:

1.  Legit center fielder–Ellsbury is fine, but somebody who belongs there.

2.  Two additions to the pitching rotation at 3 and 4, with honest competition between the kids for number five. (Oh and I might consider extending Iwakuma.)

3. Corner outfielder that can get on base, with some power.

4. Re-sign Kendrys Morales

5.  Rebuild the bullpen