Doin’s are transpirin’ down at the Winter Meetings this week. Trades, free agent signings, old white men staring at their Twitter machines, speculation, rumor-mongering, boozing, sex with prostitutes: the Winter Meetings truly have it all!
In between marathon orgy sessions (I imagine a harem of voluptuous, full-bodied women of color), the Mariners brass came up for air long enough to sign Corey Hart to a 1-year deal worth $5 million (if he turns into Michael Morse) with incentives worth up to $13 million (if he turns into Edgar Martinez).
If you don’t know who Corey Hart is: he played for Milwaukee for a bunch of years. He hit a bunch of home runs, struck out a ton, played outfield and first base, and most importantly of all: bats right handed. Most of his career, Hart was a right fielder. There were sporadic runs in left field (which is still a possibility) and center (which is absolutely out of the question). It looks like Hart shifted more to first base in 2012, and that presumably is where the fans would want him to play (when he’s not DHing).
I have a feeling that’s not necessarily going to be the case. I have to imagine there was a decent amount of interest in his services: who wouldn’t take a buy-low flyer on a guy who has his kind of power? Therefore, I have to imagine that part of his deal meant at least a promise of him getting to play outfield. I’m not going to sit here and say he’s worth a damn as an outfielder – by all accounts, he’s no better than Morse with the glove – but if this team hits Spring Training with Smoak, this Logan Morrison guy, and whoever else we take a chance on … I mean, they can’t ALL play first base and DH!
If we’re lucky, we figure out a way to package Smoak and Franklin into something useful and we hand the first base job to Hart full time. If we’re not, then you better get used to Hart’s name in that right field spot.
Either way, there’s not a whole lot to hate about this move. The Mariners needed a bat from the right side, they needed some power to play either ahead or behind Cano, and quite honestly we need some REAL Smoak insurance, so we can ship his dumb ass off at a moment’s slumping!
The other big deal of the day was Carter Capps going to the Marlins for Logan Morrison. Carter Capps is a right-handed relief pitcher who had a 100mph fastball that lost some of its MPH last year. He also had wicked movement, but didn’t know how to harness it, and as a result gave up home runs. He also didn’t have anything to combat left-haned batters, and as a result gave up MORE home runs. Eventually – if his arm doesn’t crap out, which it very well might – he will figure his shit out and be a pretty solid closer for someone. Was that going to be 2014? Probably not.
Logan Morrison is a guy who has yet to really play a full season as a starter in the Major Leagues. His hitting numbers are pretty underwhelming (bringing up visions of the endless string of AAAA outfielders the Mariners have had the last few years), but he looks like a guy who could potentially have some pop in his bat. He’s a lefty, so that should only help his cause while playing in Safeco. He started his career as a left fielder, but more and more he’s been dividing his time with first base, so I don’t know what to tell you. He’s another guy no one trusts in the outfield, which kind of gives us a big ol’ logjam when you factor in Smoak’s existence on this team.
Obviously, the moves are far from over. Right now, they’re saying all the things they’re supposed to say (i.e. that Smoak is in line to be this team’s starting first baseman), but I wouldn’t buy it. At the VERY least, we’ve got Hart as a RF/DH type and we’ve got Morrison in here to do battle with all the other iffy guys on this team (Ackley, Saunders, Almonte, probably Guti if he’s re-signed on the cheap, and of course Smoak).
When last I spoke of the Mariners, I was of the opinion that the Mariners had two really good everyday players – Cano & Seager – and nothing about these deals changes that. In Hart, we certainly have a guy who will be an everyday player, but we don’t really know where he’ll fit in the field, and we don’t really know how long he’ll be healthy. Will he bounce back and play most of a full season like Jason Bay? Or, will he immediately get re-injured like Mike Morse (because: Mariners Curse)?
If you want to look at how things are shaping up, I’ll bite. Cano & Seager are the stars. Miller, Zunino, and Hart are all guys you can be realistically optimistic about. Then, we have Smoak, Ackley, Saunders, and Morrison who you probably shouldn’t set your sights too high about. If those last four guys do anything but disappoint, then GREAT! But, if they’re not traded away, I wouldn’t expect a whole lot.
Which is why you have to believe the team is still going to go after another big bat or two. Hopefully via trade (and not via Nelson Cruz).
It’s still mighty early in the Hot Stove process, but thus far color me impressed. The Mariners – while still embarrassing themselves – aren’t TOTALLY embarrassing themselves!