Mariners Must Counter

The news broke late Friday night that the Los Angeles Angels agreed with the San Diego Padres to acquire all-star closer Huston Street and minor leaguer Trevor Gott in exchange for minor leaguers Taylor Lindsey, R.J. Alvarez, and Elliot Morris. This deal solidifies the Angeles already strong bullpen. The pressure is now put on the Seattle Mariners to make a counter move to improve their ballclub because of the moves that the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Angles have made.

The A’s took baseball by storm by acquiring both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to go along with Sunny Gray, Scott Kazmir, and Jessie Chavez. Many believed that this move put the Athletics as the team to beat in the American League. It was known that the A’s were looking for a starting pitcher but when they acquired both from the Cubs it put the A’s ahead of both the Angels and the Mariners. The A’s were able to add Samardzija and Hammel to baseball’s best team and now this is a team with a potent lineup, great starting pitching, and a solid bullpen. The Oakland Athletics are one of the few teams in baseball that do not have a flaw.

Now the Angels have countered the A’s move by adding a piece they desperately needed in Huston Street. Joe Smith had been the Angels closer and was doing an admirable job saving 15 out of 19 games but he has never been a closer in his career and does not have the stuff to be a dominant closer. Smith, being a submarine pitcher, has very different numbers against lefties and righties. Lefties were hitting .230 against him while righties were hitting .143. Smith can now go back into a situational role and face mainly right handed hitters, which he has solid numbers against. Huston Street comes to the Angles as one of the best closers in 2014 as he has converted 24 of his 25 save opportunities. Street has been one of the most consistent closers in the past decade as he ranks 5th among active closers in saves with 258.  The Angels appear to be a postseason contender as they have the second best record in baseball with a record of 58-37 and now they have a guy to turn to in the 9th inning that is experienced and can get the job the done. Street is now a part of a solid Angels’ bullpen with names like Jason Grilli, Joe Thatcher, and Kevin Jepsen.

Now it is Seattle’s turn to make a move in order to keep up with the A’s and Angels. I think it is safe to say that Seattle doesn’t have a chance at winning the A.L. West as they enter today 9 games back from the A’s but they are leading the second Wild Card spot by 2.5 games. They have to make a move before the July 31st deadline to improve their ballclub. The one big piece they desperately need is a right handed power bat and if you watch a lot of games it is tough to find right handed power bats. Seattle went out and shocked baseball before the Winter Meetings by signing Robinson Cano to a monster 10 yr / 240 Million dollar deal and he has had a solid season. But you had to question what the Mariners were doing when they did not go out to sign a right handed bat to compliment Cano and they still have that same problem on July 19th. I was confused when Nelson Cruz signed a 1yr / 8 million dollar deal with the Orioles as to why the Mariners did not make a run at him. Cruz has only gone out and hit .283 with 28 HR and 74 RBI. Tell me that wouldn’t look good in the middle of the Mariners lineup. If the Mariners were willing to sign Cano to that huge contract, why would they not go out and get a bat that can protect Cano. The Mariners can only second guess themselves when it comes to not signing Nelson Cruz but they still have the opportunity to pick up a bat before the deadline. There has been a lot of talk lately about the Mariners being interested in David Price and Ben Zobrist. Although Price would be a great addition to the Mariners team, they do not necessarily need another starter as they have the 3rd best team ERA (3.13) in baseball. As tempting as a rotation of Felix Hernandez, David Price, and Hisashi Iwakuma sounds, they would have to give up a lot of young talent to acquirer David Price. When looking at Ben Zobrist, he is not the power bat that is needed to help this struggling Mariners lineup that ranks 21st in runs scored.

My suggestion is go out and make a big splash and get Matt Kemp. It is well known that Kemp is unhappy in LA as he is not playing every day and when he does he is not playing center field. Kemp has shown he has recovered from the ankle injury and has shown glimpses of what he has done in the past. Kemp had a huge year in 2011 but has battled injuries in each of the last 2 seasons. This season he is hitting .266 with 8 HR and 35 RBI while not playing every day. He is still that same ballplayer and I think a change of scenery could get him back to his old self. Kemp would look really good in the middle of that Seattle lineup protecting Robinson Cano.

My advice to the Mariners: go out and get Matt Kemp because both the A’s and the Angels have gone out and improved their team. It’s time for the Mariners to do the same.



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