Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik confirmed yesterday that the team is in "substantive talks" with super-agent Scott Boras regarding a trade with the Colorado Rockies for Coors Field. "It's no secret that we've been looking to upgrade our offense," said the normally reticent GM, "so trading Safeco for a more offensively-minded park just makes sense."
While Zduriencik refused to comment on any specific trade terms, ESPN's Peter Gammons reports that Coors Field is likely to command a premium price. "Coors is a better hitter than Safeco in every important offensive category: Batting Average, and of course Home Runs. It makes sense that the Mariners would love to make a trade. What I don't understand is what the Rockies get out of it. Unless they get the Mariners pitching staff. That might be enough to swing the deal."
Boras has been losing no time in hyping his product with a flurry of media appearances and strategic leaks to the press. "Coors field is clearly THE franchise hitter's stadium in all of baseball," said Boras in a recent interview. "The city that secures this stadium will instantly upgrade its entire hitting lineup, which will translate into increased wins, revenues, and playoff appearances. That more then justifies the 1.3Billion asking price."
Continued Boras, "Stadiums like this come onto the open market only once in a generation. Coors Field has firmly founded itself as the most prolific offensive ballpark ever created. In only its fourth year, the stadium hit 303 home runs, the most ever in a season at one venue. Think what Coors can do now that it's entering its prime."
Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times is strongly in favor of the trade. "Howard Lincoln and the Japanese ownership of this team need to show their committment to 'Win Now.' This trade would certainly do that."
Another reason he likes the trade is that "Coors Field is especially friendly to American League teams." According to Baker, "Since the park's inception in 1995, American League teams have consistently compiled higher batting averages and more hits at Coors Field than the Rockies. So the Rockies wouldn't suffer as much as the Mariners would gain."
Noted sabermetrician Dave Cameron of USS Mariner disputes this last point, saying "It is notoriously difficult to predict how a given stadium will hit after changing leagues. I grant that it would be interesting to see how Coors field would do in the AL. And obviously Minute Maid Field is making the switch from the NL to the AL in 2012, so Coors would not be alone, but we just don't have a large enough sample size to extrapolate good predictive data."
"What we do know," said Cameron, "is that the ball does travel 9 percent farther at 5,280 feet than at sea level. So a warning-track hit to deep center at Safeco (say 400 feet) would travel as far as 440 feet in the Mile High City. And the wind is an even bigger factor. The wind at Safeco often blows in from left center, which is death to right handed pull hitters. Coors field, however, showed an 11.3% bias towards tailwind last year, according to Fieldgraphs. Given a 10-mph headwind, which is close to the average prevailing wind in the United States, the same 400-foot shot down the left field power alley (where both stadiums have the fences at an identical 390 feet) would turn into a 370-foot ho hum can of corn hitting into the wind at Safeco. By contrast, a 10-mph tailwind at coors field turns that same hit into a 430-foot blast."
Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing is taking a wait and see attitude. "As much as my readers may be salivating at the idea of 'Franklin Gutierrez, Power Hitter,' Only time will tell if this trade goes through. My readers are more interested in following the Jeff Francis free agent sweepstakes, or that other guy, whats-his-name, that other free agent."
UPDATE: Rumors now indicate the two sides are close to a deal. The Rockies would receive Felix Hernandez, Michael Pineda, the rights to all future Japanese pitchers ever, and cash considerations. The Mariners would receive a lifetime supply of Coors beer and the stadium. A few sticking points remain, such as whether the statue of Dave Niehaus would stay in Seattle or move to the new stadium, and transportation arrangements for season ticket holders. Boras is apparently considering buying Alaska Airlines with his own money and throwing their services into the deal, in order to bring the two sides together.
LATEST UPDATE: With the recent trade of Michael Pineda to the New York Yankees for Jesus, it's clear that the "king of all stadium trades" deal has imploded. Some analysts now wonder whether the whole thing was an elaborate ruse. The Mariners may have been stalling Boras to prevent division rival Oakland, (who has been openly shopping for a new stadium) from getting Coors Field before the stadium trading deadline.
Sources close to Boras report he is furious, reportedly shouting repeatedly behind his office door, "Fucking Jack! Fucking PLAYED me! He NEVER meant to do that trade!"
Possible confirmation comes from Mariners Insider Shannon Drayer, who reports hearing Jack Zduriencik chuckling to himself over lunch yesterday, saying "heh heh heh. Fuck you, Scott Boras."