Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mariner News That Has Nothing To Do With Felix

So we heard, watched and read about the Felix extension.  While that was going on, a deal to send Shawn Kelley to the Yankees was being worked out and ended up being announced as officially done not long after the Felix press conference.  Kameron Loe was also signed to a minor league contract by the Mariners the day before, which we kind of figured since he was at the spring training facility before anything was announced.  Mike Carp was also DFA'd when the Joe Saunders signing became official, so there's that.  With that, the jump has arrived, where you may choose to continue or turn back before it's too late.

We'll start with the older news and work our way forward.  Since the Carp DFA was the first thing to happen (I think), we'll start with him.  This move isn't all that surprising, given the Mariners Marianas Trench type depth at the 1B/OF positions.  Carp isn't all that old, turning 27 at the end of June, but he's been consistently hurt and hasn't been a solid producer at the plate even when he has been.  And no, .276/.326/.466 12 HR in 290 at bats is not solid.  That's a pretty good half season, but until he does it over a full season, it doesn't prove anything except he can get hot at the plate.

Seattle decided the best course of action was to take Carp off the roster and see what happens.  Its likely he gets traded in the next few days with another team putting in a claim.  As I said,  he's still young enough he could be an okay regular or a decent platoon guy.  With the veterans acquired over the offseason and Carp being out of minor league options, he didn't have a place on the roster and wouldn't have the playing time to prove he deserved another shot.  The Mariners seem to be all in on Smoak, so taking Carp off the roster was a logical step in the roster construction with the signing of Saunders.  I can't say I'll miss Carp since I have no idea how he would have done, even with past performance, but I wish him luck, wherever he ends up.

Next is Kameron Loe.  One can only assume he'll end up fighting for a spot in the bullpen since he hasn't started a game since 2010 in the minors.  His last major league start was September 3, 2007 with the Texas Rangers.  He's been in the National League since 2010 with the Milwaukee Brewers, compiling a 3.67 ERA in 198 2/3 innings as a reliever.  His average velocity has gone from 89.5 mph in 2010 to 88.4 in 2012.  That's not a huge dip in velocity, so there's nothing to be all that alarmed about.  Really, since he's signed to a minor league deal with an invite, there's nothing to be concerned about at all.  If he's effective, the Mariners have another cheap bullpen guy, a la Josh Kinney in 2012. 

The projections differ by a little more than half a run in ERA, but for a reliever, that's not saying much.  This is one of those moves that's low risk/low reward.  If he completely implodes in the spring and gets released, oh well, it happens.  If he pitches okay, but not good enough to make the team, he'll end up in the minors as backup in case of injury or a younger bullpen guy implodes in the majors.  If he pitches great and makes the team, he'll be a decent middle relief guy that doesn't cost much and won't have a huge impact on the game.  Given how Kinney was used last season after he was called up, Loe will see time in blowouts and low leverage situations unless he proves himself to Wedge if he starts the season in the minors.

Shawn Kelley.  I'll be honest, I was disappointed when Kelley was DFA'd for Shoppach last week.  Considering some of the other players on the 40 man roster, I just didn't get it and still don't.  It would have been nice to see him pitch a full season after fully recovering from his previous injuries, but no such luck.  We all knew he'd end up getting traded, since the chances of him passing through waivers unclaimed were as close to zero as you can get.  I don't think anybody was expecting an actual decent prospect in return and if you didn't, the deal would have done nothing more than illicit a shoulder shrug in reply.

Kelley was traded to the Yankees for an OF by the name of Abraham Almonte.  Almonte is a switch-hitting outfielder with no power to speak of, speed he can use to swipe a few bags and about as much power as a kindergartner with a 34 oz bat hitting bowling balls would have on a baseball diamond.  He can run into the occasional home run, but its more of an accident than anything.  His OBP is respectable, but pretty much all of his experience coming in the low-A and high-A leagues.  He's spent some time in AA, 78 games in fact, but turns 24 in June.  By and large, he's considered an organizational type player, a filler so the minor league teams can field a team during the season.  He'll be lucky to crack a 40 man roster, let alone the major leagues.  So says the prospect nerds that are out there.  A DFA'd player doesn't allow for a whole lot of leverage when it comes to negotiating a deal though, so getting anything other than a bag of used batting practice baseballs is an accomplishment.

And there is your Mariner news of the week, I believe.  If I missed something, I'm sure I did it for a good reason and it will all make sense in the long run.  For now, spring training is upon us.  Where hope is alive and well for every team and the the crushing wave of reality is ready to swoop in to knock us all on our heels.  In all seriousness, we've still got a ways to go before the Mariners get settled with their roster.  There may be surprises, like a rookie coming out of nowhere to put himself squarely in the eye of the fan.  It may be a boring spring with no real surprises or anything of huge importance.  No matter what happens, baseball is back.

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