Free Agent Watch: Mariners Sign Joe Saunders, Backup Catcher

One of these things happened a while ago, but I couldn’t be bothered to care.  The other is so damn new, it’s hardly more than a glimmer in Twitter’s rumor-mongering eye.  But, since the right people on Twitter are saying the right things – 1 year deal for Joe Saunders – I feel it’s strong enough to go with.

Kelly Shoppach is the catcher in the title of this post.  He’s been in the Bigs since 2005 (where he had a cup of coffee with the Red Sox), he has a career batting average of .226, he has played in over 100 games only once in his career (112 in 2008) and he managed a robust .261 average that season.  He’s a guy Eric Wedge had in Cleveland, he’s a veteran, he likely won’t be expected to play all that much (40-60 games, I would guess), and he’s a BACKUP catcher, so really, who cares?  He will struggle mightily on Wednesday and Sunday get-away games, BFD.

Keep your expectations low.  Keep them WAY low.  Like, imagine your already-low expectations for this upcoming Mariners season as a whole, and bury those expectations under the requisite 50-feet-of-crap necessary to not drive yourself crazy about how bad this guy is going to be on the few occasions he’s inserted into the starting lineup.  Then, if by the grace of Satan, Kelly Shoppach manages to scrape the edges of a .250 batting average, we can smirk, put our hands on our hips, and exclaim to absolutely no one, “Huh, what do you know?  This guy ISN’T a total waste of space!”

Joe Saunders is the Joe Saunders in the title of this post.  Say it aloud, “Joe Saunders”.  You don’t even need to see the guy play or know anything about his history in the Major Leagues; just saying his name aloud will give you all the knowledge you’ll ever need about this guy.  He has mediocrity oozing out of his pores like a pizza-faced teenager.  He has a career 4.15 ERA in 189 career starts and ALREADY I’M SNORING!

I hope you’re all happy.  You all bitched and you moaned about how boring and pointless Jason Vargas was (aww, who am I kidding; I was right there with you).  Now look at what we’ve got!  His older, whiter, pudgier, less lesbian-looking distant relative with just about the exact same skillset.  He’s like a left-handed version of Kevin Millwood on whatever the opposite of steroids would be (quaaludes, I guess).

On the plus side, he’s on a one-year deal.  Remember how that was the same plus side we had with Millwood?  Remember how that’s not really much of a plus side at all, because it still means we have to deal with this guy for one full season (which is one full season too many, if you ask me)?

Please, young talented starting pitchers in the Minors; please get elite quickly so we can stop signing these guys to 1-year deals!

The best and worst thing I can say about Joe Saunders is that he’s durable.  That’s essentially my point.  Yes, he will eat up innings and give you adequate performances.  But, yes, he will eat up innings and give us eternal adequacy.  Every five days, for the whole … fucking … season.

But, when you pit that against the alternative – a season’s worth of Hector Noesi giving up gopher balls on 0-2 counts – I guess I’ll have to take it, yeah?  Yeah, I guess I will.

Lord help this team if I have to come back and correct this post, lamenting a surprise 2nd season they’ve for-some-reason decided to tack on.

Keep this in mind as we head into Spring Training, as I’m sure I won’t be the only one to bring it up:

  • We replaced Vargas with Joe Saunders
  • We replaced Jaso with Kelly Shoppach
  • We replaced Jaso’s bat (as a DH) with Kendrys Morales’ bat (as a DH)
  • We replaced a revolving door in left field (Wells, Thames, Peguero, Robinson) with Raul Ibanez and Michael Saunders
  • We replaced Ichiro and another revolving door in right field with Mike Morse

Are we REALLY better than we were in 2012?  I, for one, am champing at the bit to dig into this team next week and find out for myself.

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