ROSTER UPDATE: Morse down to AAA to accomodate Perez. For those of you in the Tacoma area who enjoy seeing good defense at short, enjoy your complementary kick in the balls.
Here's what we know:
- Carl Everett sucks against lefties (and righties, but anyway)
- Roberto Petagine is a left-handed bat, so he doesn't make for a great alternative
- Eduardo Perez is one of the top lefty mashers in baseball, a guy I wanted to platoon with Matt Stairs back in the pre-Ibanez days. For his career, he's got an .889 OPS against southpaws; this year, it's 1.048. Used properly, he's going to hit a ton
- Adrubal Cabrera is a 20 year old in AAA
- As a teenager, Cabrera held his own in San Antonio, both at the plate and in the field
- Cabrera has a Major League-caliber glove, but his offense has deteriorated as he's climbed the ladder
- He's blocked by Jose Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt for the next 23482734 years
Cabrera is a quality prospect - John Sickels gave him a B before the year started, and young middle infielders with offensive potential are hard to come by. His current line in Tacoma isn't very encouraging, but he's still not old enough to get himself plastered (at a bar), so you can forgive him for struggling a little bit while being pushed aggressively through the system. In short, he's a valuable player to have hanging around.
That said, he's not a blue-chipper; where Jose Lopez tore up AAA as a 20 year old, and Adam Jones is getting better by the day, Cabrera's having a devil of a time adjusting, hitting .211 with a 15/41 BB/K ratio since pitchers started finding the holes in his swing after a hot April. In rushing him to Tacoma, the Mariners wanted to find out what kind of player they had in Cabrera before the trade deadline, and by now they know that, while he's good, he's not an upper-echelon shortstop.
So they dealt him for immediate help. The middle infield is an organizational strength, so Bavasi traded from depth to shore up a weakness on the big league roster. We've known that Cabrera, like Choo, has been an obvious trade candidate for a while now, so the fact that this went down shouldn't come as that much of a shock. What's more surprising is what they got in return - an old, albeit still productive fraction of a DH. I always assumed that Cabrera would get packaged with some lower-level arms to bring in (say) a #3 starter, a bigger deal that would give the Mariners a reasonably formidable rotation. I didn't see him going straight-up for someone like Perez, a good player who should've come cheaper. In that respect, I'm a little disappointed. Cabrera's better than this.
Still, Eduardo Perez is going to help. The Mariners have been godawful against southpaws this year, with Ichiro being the only regular to post an OPS north of .772. Carl Everett's at .546. Perez instantly addresses a need, probably making the M's one or two wins better over the course of the season than they were a few hours ago. In this division, that's huge. The price was high, but sometimes a team that's playing well for the first time in years has to spend more than it wanted to to make the roster better and improve its chances of winning in the short-term. Welcome to the world of competitive baseball.
This was, of course, avoidable - had the Mariners started the year with Roberto Petagine instead of Carl Everett at DH (and maybe Mike Morse as a platoon mate, or something), they could've gotten better production out of the spot while saving the organization money and a young shortstop. Given that that didn't happen, though, and that Petagine was as likely to assume the everyday DH'ing duties as I am, this is an important move, because it gives Hargrove an easy improvement that he'll actually recognize and trust in the right situations. Everyone knows that Perez is a platoon guy, so he won't be getting any AB's against righties. His presence on the roster essentially eliminates one of the two remaining automatic outs in the lineup.
I liked Asdrubal Cabrera. Well, I like Asdrubal Cabrera, and he could be a good player for the Indians. However, he was never going to be a good player for the Mariners, not as long as Lopez and Betancourt are around, so his only value to the organization was as trade bait. Could Bavasi have done better? Almost certainly yes, but at the same time, by filling a glaring hole, he's suddenly made the team a lot better. It's not a brilliant move by any means, but it's not horrible, so I'm willing to accept it as a necessary consequence of getting to watch a winning team for the first time in forever. As for Cabrera, best of luck in Cleveland. You're a good young player, and they're a good young team. It's a good fit.
What does this mean as far as future moves are concerned? The DH slot is pretty much set, now, meaning Bavasi is unlikely to deal for a LF or another positionless bat. The only remaining obvious offensive upgrade would be in center, where Jeremy Reed looks hopeless but remains young enough to interest bad teams with good CF's. The problem is that there aren't really that many good candidates out there, with Kenny Lofton probably topping the list of "cheap and available replacements." Adam Jones is still a year away and both Choo and Snelling would be awful in center, so there aren't really any in-house solutions, meaning we're stuck with Reed or someone like Lofton for the rest of the year (barring some unforeseen blockbuster). As the only legitimately troublesome slot in the lineup, though, I'm not so sure that we absolutely have to find an upgrade.
I'm guessing that, if/when Bavasi makes more moves, they'll address the pitching side of things, as the team is in desperate need of a #5 starter and a middle reliever capable of missing bats. Joel Pineiro sucks, and outside of the big three, Mateo/Woods/Fruto/Green/Guardado are a weakness. The good news is that improvements shouldn't be too costly or difficult to find, so by all means, let the trade speculation commence.