Morpheus appears. He sits you down in a chair, but this time, instead of simply a red and blue pill, he pulls out a bottle of six differently colored pills and asks you to take one
With current state of affairs for the Seattle Mariners, some "pills" may be welcome. Not just in years past, but for this spring as well it seems to be one step forward then a minimum of one step back.
Reports earlier today said Taijuan Walker will be shut down for the next week and will hopefully settle down the inflammation in his shoulder. This may be nothing to fret, or it could present a worrisome situation.
While you're sitting there reading this or staring at the Gameday screen for spring training games, Morpheus implores you to look at the pills. Below are the pills that will represent the paths the Mariners could take. Here are the scenarios, and at the end of this article is a poll that you can take that will represent which pill you reluctantly take (or maybe you take none at all ...).
Blue pill: Sign Kendrys Morales
Rotation problems abound, you say to yourself, "Well, if we score more runs than our opponents, we'll obviously win!" Who care if you give up seven runs on a regular basis? Score nine each game and you'll be fine! Morales will provide more pop. With Cano and Kendrys, what can go wrong?
Morales led Seattle in six offensive categories last season including batting average and RBIs. Seattle would be familiar with Morales, and signing him would possibly force Jack Zduriencik's hand to trade Justin Smoak or Logan Morrison.
Morales in DH, Hart at first base, whoever is left of Smoak or Morrison platoon with Hart at first, new piece in right field. Wouldn't be the worst scenario in the world.
Blue pill pros: Potential increased offensive output, could open up trade, Morales may take less than original qualifying offer; Blue pill side effects: no help to hurting rotation, more of a logjam at 1B/DH
Red pill: Sign Ervin Santana
Reports say free agent pitcher Ervin Santana does not expect to lower his asking price. Similar starters accepted deals of around four years and $50 million, but perhaps Santana still expects a certain baseball team in Canada to pay him nine figures, or at least that's what Scott Boras hopes.
Santana would definitely be an upgrade for this rotation, but I have doubts his production will continue. He does have two 16-win and a 17-win season in his career and seemingly came out of nowhere last year to post a 3.24 ERA, a career-best.
He's 30, though, and Baltimore gave $50 million to the similarly-aged Ubaldo Jimenez, but $50 million is a lot less than $100 million.
Red pill pros: potential No. 2 starter, could save bullpen from being overused early in season; red pill side effects: possible overpay for only a potential No. 3 starter, loss of draft pick
Purple pill: sign both Santana and Morales
Purple pill pros: definite upgrades on both sides of the ball, draft pick already lost signing one, so might as well sign the other; purple pill side effects: Santana may not budge on price, so a lot of money will go into both, could signal a "win-now" mode for which franchise may not be ready
Beige pill: sign Joe Saunders
"Safeco Joe" underwhelmed last season for the Mariners. It seemed like a great deal: an innings-eater with great career numbers at Safeco Field. What occurred was a career-worst for Saunders with an 11-16 record and 5.26 ERA.
The pill has that weird fish odor smell. It might cause more indigestion than it could help, but hey, he could be a .500 pitcher, he's left-handed, and could come extremely cheap.
Beige pill pros: cheap, left-handed; beige pill side effects: Joe Saunders
Green pill: trade Nick Franklin
The New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays have inquired on the potential Tacoma-bound Franklin. While the Mets seem to have more for the Mariners to pull the trigger, Franklin projects to be a 2.5 to 3.1 WAR for 2014 according to Fan Graphs.
Green pill pros: increase minor league pitching depth, potential ML OF in return; green pill side effects: lose possible 3 WAR, watch Nick Franklin become next Asdrubal Cabrera
Orange pill: Keep Franklin, possibly convert to super UTIL
Rumblings about Franklin becoming a utility player aren't new. Ben Zobrist is an interesting comparison. Franklin also just hit his first spring training home run while I'm typing this post.
Both are switch hitters, and Zobrist has learned how to play multiple positions to keep a starting job. Zobrist projects to have a much higher WAR than Franklin in 2014, but this could be due to his ability to play all over the field.
Orange pill pros: potential for next Ben Zobrist, could help outfield situation; orange pill side effects: failed experiment would create more problems for depth
Take no pills
Give a big middle finger to Morpheus. None of these pills look appealing, and the side effects are too detrimental.
We have plenty of depth. We have Robinson Cano. Justin Smoak will hit 30 home runs this season. Hart's knees will hold up throughout 162 games. Iwakuma will be back in late April and win 15 games. Walker's shoulder problems are minimal. We'll be fine.
Which pill would you take? Would you take any at all? Is there another drug store with other pill options in this fantasy world where you know Morpheus?