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Four-ish Mariners Worth Trading

I am enjoying the M's youthful surge towards .500 as much as the next fan, but I'm also realistic. This team isn't going to contend this year. They might not be that far away though. Next year doesn't seem like as big of a stretch these days. Still, the Mariners can sell at the trade deadline and feel fine about their decisions. It looks like few teams are willing to sell, and asking prices are high, so perhaps the Mariners could swing some nice deals in this market.

With that said, the Mariners don't have to make any moves. Their roster is already in decent shape for the offseason. The Mariners basically have veterans with expiring contracts, rookies under team control for multiple years, and King Felix. In other words, they will have money to spend in the offseason, and because enough of the rookies look pretty solid, only a handful of positions to fill.

There are still some Mariners I would shop around, including one surprise option that I doubt many would agree with. Without further ado, the M's I'd shop around:

More Swing Analysis: Chris Davis vs. Yoenis Cespedes

I had some fun with the swings at the Richard Sherman celebrity softball game, particularly as celebrities participated in a home run derby. So, I had some more fun, this time with the MLB home run derby.

The short version of my analysis: MLB sluggers are very good at hitting home runs, and exponentially better than local football and basketball stars.

The longer version of my analysis: I don't feel like going swing-by-swing through all eight derby contestants. However, Chris Davis and Yoenis Cespedes are a fun pair to contrast. Davis is a Paul Bunyan-esque 6'3" and 225 pounds from the left side of the plate, in the midst of a breakout season (after 2012 looked like a breakout season for him). Cespedes is a 5'10", 210-pound chiseled specimen from the right side of the plate struggling in his second season as a pro, though he far from struggled in the home run derby. Davis and Cespedes are both sluggers, but how similar are they? And why would the winner of the derby be the one struggling much, much more during the regular season? I delve into the swings and data searching for answers.

Richard Sherman Celebrity Softball Game: Scouting the Swings

Today I have a legitimate reason to talk about the Seahawks on this blog. Make no mistake, I am a Mariners fan first and foremost, but the Seahawks are very exciting team these days. They have talent and personalities. None are arguably bigger (by either of the previous measures) than Richard Sherman, who this afternoon at Cheney Stadium hosted what he is calling his annual celebrity softball game. Being a Tacoma resident, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to watch local celebrities try their hand at whacking dingers in a slow-pitch game.

The game did not disappoint. It was tied at 20 a side (after 7 innings), and decided by an impromptu home run derby. Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond hit the deciding blast. He, along with several other local sports stars of now and yesteryears competed in a home run derby prior to the game. I used my camera phone to take snapshots of as many of the stars as I could to evaluate their swings. What I offer below are my scouting reports on celebrity swings, based on what I saw (with pictures included). I have listed in them in reverse order from worst to best stroke:

9. Kam Chancellor

Chancellor is known for punishing receivers, and he tried to punish softballs with similar fervor.  It didn't work out though. His two main mechanical flaws can be seen here. First, Chancellor steps in the bucket to a degree that's hard to fathom. He started with a pretty straightaway stance, but look at where his front foot is as he begins to swing - it's nearly out of the batter's box to the third base side! This cuts off the entire outer half of the plate and sets him up to be a dead-pull hitter. The second big flaw is in Chancellor's hands. We can see that they are nearly belt level as he sets to swing, meaning anything in the upper half of the strike zone is impossible for him to get to. That leaves Chancellor with a small zone down and in where he can hit the ball. Predictably, he struggled to square up the pitches, despite his obvious strength and intent to hulk smash anything that crossed the plate.

Worldly Currency

Today has been an especially busy day in baseball, with the Cubs at the center of some wheelings and dealings. A recap of the Cubs morning:
  • Cubs acquire RHP Jake Arrieta, RHP Pedro Strop, and international bonus money from the Orioles for RHP Scott Feldman and C Steve Clevenger
  • Cubs acquire RHP Matt Guerrier from the Dodgers for RHP Carlos Marmol and international bonus money
  • Cubs acquire international bonus money from the Astros for 2B Ronald Torreyes
There are multiple layers to each deal (the first two in particular), but the common thread can't be ignored. The Cubs have added almost $1 million in international draft bonus money to their allotted signing pool today, conveniently the first day international free agents can sign with MLB teams.

International free agency used to be a free-for-all with no regulation whatsoever until the new Collective Bargaining Agreement kicked in a few years ago. Now each team is given a series of international bonus slots - one step sort of a draft, but certainly parallel to the recommended slot system MLB uses in the amateur draft. The common wisdom is that this is a transition step from an open market to an international draft.

The reality is that an international draft is likely in the next CBA. However, I think MLB might have stumbled into a pretty cool system.

The Next Wave

The recent wave of promotions from AAA Tacoma has altered the M's farm system as much as the MLB roster. There aren't many of the M's top prospects that haven't been in the majors at this point. We are down to the big three - and of those three, I don't think Danny Hultzen stays down in AAA the whole season.

So who is worth watching in the M's farm system at this point? I have compiled a starting lineup, along with a left-handed and right-handed pitcher, with the following conditions:
  1. No 2013 draft picks included
  2. Nobody in AAA Tacoma included
The Mariners still have talent in the farm system, even with the limitations I've put on my search. Here are some players worth keeping an eye on, because some of them are bound to make the majors. Consider them the next wave of Mariners prospects: