Mark Trumbo and a Mariners-Style Player

Some thoughts on the Trumbo trade:

The M’s biggest offensive problem has been players underperforming. The general strategy, we felt at the beginning of the season, was sound enough. Trumbo fits the model that we had at the outset and has performed even with expectations thus far. To some degree, the trade is rearranging deck chairs, unless you’re confident that the current roster won’t regress. Basically, if we believe the plan was good at the start of the season, then the plan is still good generally, but this move could be a patch in a positive fashion.

People hate on the deal because Trumbo is a very “Mariners” player — high SLG, low OBP — but I also wonder what high-OBP guy is actually available and what the price would be. Many of the players at the top of the list for 2014 OBP leaders are among the most valuable in baseball; you’re not trading for McCutchen or Stanton. The M’s did get a nice deal on Seth Smith, though. You wonder if they even talked to Nori Aoki. You might have wanted them to have a look at Dexter Fowler, who was traded for Luis Valbuena (both of whom were top-60 OBP guys) or Perhaps Ben Zobrist. At that point though, we’re talking about a bunch of trades and roster turnover from a team that was almost there last season. It might not make a lot of sense unless you think Jack Zduriencik is Billy Beane.

I would also submit that it would take at least two high OBP guys to overhaul the offense to my preference, so while it would be nice to have a single guy like that, one bat won’t change the team in its entirety either.

When people complain about the “Mariners-style” player, I always want to remind them that the amount of resources actually committed to these players really hasn’t been all that great. There’s been a guy every year or so, but the alternatives have not been amazing. Yeah, I probably preferred having Michael Saunders play over Michael Morse, but this is the same team that gave ABs to James Jones and Abraham Almonte. The Mariners made serious commitments to Franklin Gutierrez, a premium defensive CF at the time, Chone Figgins, who was thought to be a high OBP guy, Ichiro, Robinson Cano, King Felix, and now Nelson Cruz.

If the Mariners believed strongly in a dingers-only offense, where were the multi-year commitments to Russell Branyan and Raul Ibanez? I think the more likely explanation is that quality OBP guys can cost a lot, whether that’s in money or years, and slugger types are cheaper precisely because they break down and are more risky. The M’s have been too flawed and/or haven’t developed young talent enough to be an effective back up plan.

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