The Mariners, desperate to rid themselves of as many useless Carl Everett plate appearances as possible, traded away a fairly talented prospect for the rental services of Eduardo Perez. This move can be interpreted in two different ways:
1. The M's are smart for making a move that is guaranteed to improve their offense and their bench, due to the weakness that is the American League West divisional race; even at the expense of a talented youngster.
2. The M's have tricked themselves into thinking they have a shot at contending for the rest of the season thanks to an out-of-character June that pushed them back into the race, and have paid for their transgression by surrendering a talented young player to the Tribe in exchange for a complimentary piece.
Personally, I think both rules apply. Yeah, I know; it's kind of a copout, but there is truth in both. The Mariners are back in the race after a 14-4 run through National League teams (next best divisional record against the NL was 8-10, by the first place Athletics). They identified a weakness -- one that should have been easily identifiable before it was signed in the first place, but I digress -- and they upgraded.
Eduardo Perez made up the lefty masher portion of a platoon in Cleveland, along with regular first basemen Ben Broussard. The two combined to hit .320/.361/.562 with 18 homeruns; obviously, some of the better first base production in the league, and a fine platoon. With Cleveland General Manager Mark Shapiro realizing that 2006 is a lost cause, he dangled Eduardo Perez in the face of a team willing to give up viable young talent to acquire his services.
Asdrubal Cabrera was the #6 Mariners prospect in the 2006 Baseball America Prospect Handbook. He was rated a "B" by John Sickels in his 2006 Baseball Prospect Book. Baseball Prospectus 2006 was fairly optimistic about Cabrera as well. Overall, he was a solid looking prospect prior to the season, even though at age 20, he was rushed to Triple-A. Cleveland should probably send him down to Double-A to settle in, but that's another story.
It's obvious Seattle gave up what is potentially a very solid player in exchange for half a season of a part-time player. To be fair, they have Yuniesky Betancourt and Jose Lopez manning the middle infield, and it's not like either of those two are grizzled veterans yet. Perez does give them a very good option against lefties, both starting and off the bench. He has manhandled them to the tune of .330/.355/.693 this year, and .297/.386/.590 since 2004. Carl Everett on the other hand is "hitting" .161/.246/.274 against southpaws, and .263/.336/.418 against righties. Neither is impressive, but the line versus lefties was certainly a situation in dire need of fixing. Something tells me Roberto Petagine would be capable of at least that line against righties, but the damage is done I guess, and I don't see Seattle accepting Everett as a sunk cost.
As for Seattle's position as a contender out west, it is entirely predicated on the belief that Adrian Beltre has found his groove, Richie Sexson's early season slump is over, and Ichiro! has returned to slap singles and rain down chaos on opposing teams. Granted, in June, all three had huge months:
- 6/1/06 -- 7/2/06
- Adrian Beltre: .310/.380/.578
- Richie Sexson: .266/.331/.560
- Ichiro Suzuki: .410/.459/.598
- Raul Ibanez: .327/.413/.692
- Kenji Johjima: .345/.394/.632
- Carl Everett: .183/.247/.310
- Jose Lopez: .283/.339/.443
- Yuniesky Betancourt: .281/.317/.417
- Jeremy Reed: .204/.253/.376
Adrian Beltre is the wild card of the bunch; has he finally corrected his swing and figured out how to hit again? Or is this just a blip on the radar to be followed up by another few fruitless months? If Beltre can keep it up -- earning the big money contract Seattle gave him -- then the Mariners offense is a bit more potent.
Even if the Mariners offense is for real, they need help in the rotation. Gil Meche has put together a very good (surprising) season, and Jamie Moyer looks mostly rejuvenated. Felix Hernandex is finally starting to come around, posting a 3.38 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 0.78 HR/9 and a K/BB of 4.83 over his last five starts (34.7 IP). Jarrod Washburn was very shaky in June, and Joel Pineiro looks like...well, Joel Pineiro. If/when the Athletics get healthy, as well as if/when Adam Eaton and Mark Teixeira come around in Texas, the Mariners are going to have more trouble than before, especially if they don't continue to build for this year.
They spent the money on big name free agents the past two winters, and now they've dealt away a quality prospect for a role player. The Mariners have to go the rest of the way with this, and seize the opportunity a weakened AL West has given them. Of course, I don't advocate making any kind of dumb prospects-for-veteran exchanges; quality transactions are necessary. Remember, the Angels just might be back in this thing in 2007, and things won't get any easier from there on out. The Mariners front office has decided that the time to strike out west is now; all that's left is to find some quality pieces to add on in the rotation or lineup. Easy stuff, right?