Despite this being the slowest trade deadline I can remember, the Mariners were the most active team in the league, so I'm exhausted. As such, prepare for another short recap.
Biggest Contribution: Raul Ibanez, +20.5%
Biggest Suckfest: Joel Pineiro, -45.9%
Most Important Hit: Ibanez single, +15.5%
Most Important Pitch: Peralta double, -24.5%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -52.5%
Total Contribution by Hitters: +0.9%
It seemed like every time the Indians scored, the Mariners came back with a rally of their own, but you can only do that so much in a game before you have to throw up your hands and concede that it's just not worth the effort anymore. That must be what the offense feels like when Joel Pineiro and Matt Thornton are on the mound - you can score a bunch of runs for them, but they're probably just going to give them right back, so is it even worth trying? The Mariner lineup put forth a valiant effort today, but it wasn't enough to overcome a whole lotta crappy pitching. Now this is what 2005 was supposed to be like.
Is Joel Pineiro done as an effective Major League pitcher? Maybe, maybe not, but as weird as it is to see a guy go from quality arm to one of the worst pitchers in the league, it's even weirder to see one of the worst pitchers in the league turn into a quality arm. While the performance decline isn't entirely Joel's fault (see .313 BABIP), his walks are up 10%, his strikeouts are down 36%, and his homers are up 7%. The gist of it is that he's way out of whack and not fooling anyone, which could serve to explain both his high BABIP and his tendency to overthrow when he gets into trouble. There's not going to be an easy solution to the Pineiro problem, and I don't think it would be wise to expect him to make much of a positive contribution to the 2006 Mariners.
Matt Thornton came out of the bullpen in relief of Pineiro and promptly loaded the bases, allowing two runs before the inning was over. So what did George Sherrill do later on? He tossed a pair of hitless innings, walking one and fanning three while throwing 63% of his pitches for strikes. He's got pretty good stuff for a lefty reliever, with a fastball that touches 90 and a reliable slider, but what separates him from Thornton is that Sherrill's also got a consistent release point that allows him to keep command of his pitches. With Villone gone, Sherrill looks good to step in and assume the role of lefty setup man; provided he doesn't bomb, then the Mariners are going to find themselves with another cheap, effective role player for next year's ballclub. Having those guys around frees up more money to spend on important positions, like, say, starting pitcher.
While there's probably more that could be said about today's game, I'm too exhausted to get it all out. Instead, I'd like to take this space to commend Bill Bavasi on what turned out to be a great weekend for the organization. With so few actual sellers out there come deadline time, the market conditions were good for the Mariners to come away with a decent haul. However, everything seemed to fall apart the closer we came to 1pm this afternoon - sellers wanted too much, buyers didn't want to give it up, and the end result was teams like Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh essentially left holding their bargaining chips with nothing to show for them. Bavasi wouldn't be caught in that position, however, parlaying market demand for his available parts into two talented young pitchers with upside and a pair of decent backstops (and, y'know, some minor league relievers). Whether it was Bavasi or Sabean/Beinfest who dreamed up the two main trades we may never know, but what matters is that Bavasi pulled the trigger on both of them, making the team better both now and in the future while saving a little money in 2006 to boot.
The more I think about it, the more trouble I have trying to come up with a negative spin on the weekend transactions. Sure, Torrealba could tank and Foppert/Bazardo could flame out, but Bavasi was able to clear two effective-yet-replaceable players from next year's payroll on top of the players he brought back, which is going to help the team in its offseason pursuit of improvements around the diamond. While it's too bad that he couldn't land a big package for Eddie Guardado, I don't think anyone was expecting to get a potential impact player in return for anyone else on the roster (much less three of them), so that should leave you with a sweeter taste in your mouth.
Well done, Bill Bavasi. You've managed to accomplish the impossible: swing a pair of trades about which even the most negative Mariners fan can't complain. Now relax and go get yourself a drink. You deserve it.
(On the road for a series in Detroit, starting Tuesday.)