The Seattle Mariners are in the midst of a decade long playoff drought. This drought has driven fans away in droves as attendance has plummeted to its lowest levels since the early 1990s (when it looked like the club was moving to Tampa Bay). Those that are left watching the Mariners wonder why the squad struggles offensively and some….shall we say interesting?…fixes coming to the Mariners organization. Unfortunately for Jack Z it is pretty clear that the fences are not the only problem plaguing the anemic Mariners offense, talent is. So how does one go about fixing the offense? Well there are quite a few ways for that situation to be addressed.
- The Draft: This is the route that Jack Z and the front office have taken so far and it has had mixed results at the Major League level in Zduriencik’s first four years in charge. As a result of this strategy you’ve seen such players as Kyle Seager and Dustin Ackley.
- Trades: Zduriencik has had some success with trades as well especially since it has netted he M’s powerful and promising young catcher Jesus Montero. You also saw him acquire the often injured Franklin Gutierrez in a 12-player trade during his first few months as the M’s General Manager.
- Free Agency: This has been Jack Z’s biggest failing as a GM and it has led to one of the largest black holes on this roster. That black hole would be Chone Figgins which was a move that barely made sense when he was signed (I’ll say it here, my dad was right and I was wrong) and now clearly doesn’t make sense. But when you look at the other signing (on offense) have kind of made sense form a needs point of view, see Olivo, M.
All of that being said it is now time for the M’s too add a bat and begin rebuilding their fan base’s interest in a club that’s had its imaged soiled by incompetent management decisions in the last few months. And this needs to happen fast as there is only a few interesting bats out there for the M’s to look at (and possibly sign). Let’s get to some of those big names available to the M’s through contract negotiations;
- Josh Hamilton: This guy is one big bopper and unlike some of the other names that you will see actually could end up in Mariners uniform; reports say that the M’s are in the running. Hamilton’s long history of drug and alcohol abuse is well reported and deserves consideration, along with his injury history. Last season he played in 148 games and posted a .320 BABIP and had a decent 9.4% Base on Balls rate. But you have to consider how inconsistent he was last season and Brett Miller of West Coast Bias has pretty good break down.
- Nick Swisher: Swisher is probably one of the more intriguing possibilities because of the contract he is demanding, especially when you consider the fact that he will cost whatever team signs him their first round pick. His BB% (12.3), from last season, is higher than I expected but when it is compared to his K% (22.6) it becomes clear that Swisher definitely likes to swing. And when you take a guy who likes to swing and put him in a hitter-friendly park he is going to often get away with mistakes more often; Swisher posted a .360 BABIP at Yankee Stadium and a .291 away from home (still a decent BABIP).
- Melky Cabrera: The third most intriguing bat (in my opinion) Cabrera tested positive for extra testosterone in his system earlier this season and missed 50 games as a result. Despite his suspension he still posted a pretty good BABIP of .365 in a notorious hitters park in AT&T (his road BABIP was .394 and overall was .379). His high K% (12.3) and low BB% (7.3) are of some concern though as it indicates that he doesn’t get on base all that much and strikes out at a high clip; but his ability to hit, and hit consistently, in a pitchers park is something that deserves attention for Mariners brass.
This is one of the thinnest free agent markets I have seen for hitters in my time following Major League Baseball. These three batters are the three most well-known and most likely to produce on the market this off season. If the Mariners can nab one of these players to shore up a weak and inconsistent line-up it could be beneficial to an anemic offense and an apathetic fan base. Obviously the offensive issues are at the top of the list, but Jack Z can go a long way to restoring the fan base by signing a big bat this winter.