Many moons ago I graded the 2010 Mariners offseason, then revisited my awful scores midway through the year and now here we are back in spring training. How time flies.
Following a 101-loss year that might have been even more depressing than the debacle from several years ago Seattle fans aren't optimistic entering the Cactus League. Most prognosticators peg the M's for around 75-80 wins. Considering the Mariners play in the weak AL West that means people think they'll suck. Not be historically bad but bad enough to consider October baseball a longshot.
This winter Jack Zduriencik played it safe. No huge free agent splashes or blockbuster trades. Instead of Chone Figgins and Cliff Lee it's now Jack Cust and a bunch of average arms. Zduriencik looks to build for long-term success instead of going all in for 2011 like his former employers, the Milwaukee Brewers. While this is a sound strategy there's a strong chance the current GM may not be around in a few years. After all, Chuckles and Howard have a history of tinkering.
But that's another topic. Without further adieu let's take a quick look at what the Seattle Mariners did this past offseason:
Traded 3B Jose Lopez for RHP Chaz Roe
The free-swinging dunce was going to leave as a free agent anyway so the Mariners got a low-risk, low-ceiling arm for nothing. I couldn't bear seeing Lopez hit another lazy pop fly on a 2-0 slider in the dirt. (B-)
Traded RHP Maikel Cleto for SS Brendan Ryan
Cleto is an interesting but raw flamethrower. Ryan is a bit of a reclamation project who could prove to play a pivotal role in the middle infield. Incumbent SS Jack Wilson has a history of getting hurt and 2B will be in flux until Dustin Ackley comes up early summer. Ryan's known for his good glove and decent contact rates. Considering the dearth of shortstops in the organization the M's had to make this move. Even if Brendan turns out to be nothing more than average that's way better than Jack & Josh Wilson and Yuniesky Betancourt. (B-)
Traded C Rob Johnson to San Diego Padres
I'm sure no one in Marinerville will miss the passed balls but RoJo supposedly had a good rapport with the starters and showed patience at the plate. Adam Moore still hasn't demonstrated he can be a starting catcher. Then again, neither did Rob. (C)
Signed free agent DH Jack Cust
Injury risk. Liability with the glove. Powerful and patient hitter who can take advantage of Safeco Field. He's like a white, sane and cheaper Milton Bradley! Cust instantly entrenches in the heart of the lineup. My favorite move. (B)
Signed free agent C Miguel Olivo
THE GLORIOUS RETURN OF ONE OF THE CRAPPIEST CATCHERS IN TEAM HISTORY. And that's saying something. Who the f knows if Olivo 2.0 will be any better? But we do know he's a big pull hitter. Not exactly a successful recipe for righties but whatever. As long as he handles the staff and catches the ball... that'll be more than what Mariners backstops have done the past two years. (C-)
Signed free agent 2B Adam Kennedy
A year ago I would have lauded this as a nifty little acquisition with moderate upside. Now it's just the Mariners being the Mariners. He'll hang around the bench, spelling Ryan at 2B until Ackley comes up. (C)
Traded 2B Matt Lawson for LHP Aaron Laffey
This just happened yesterday. The bullpen could use softy-tossing southpaw. I liked Lawson as he tore up Double AA last year after being acquired in the Cliff Lee deal. But he's already 25 and a future utility guy. A ho-hum deal. (C)