Moving on, while nothing's been announced officially yet, I've become resigned to the fact that Raffy Soriano really is being swapped for Horacio Ramirez. To believe otherwise is something of an illegitimate pipe dream, and the chances that it doesn't go down are roughly equivalent to those of a bunch of physicists waking up tomorrow and saying "just kidding about gravity." You'd be relying on an awful lot of people being wrong, and given how widespread the story has gotten over the past few hours, that just doesn't make very much sense.
The trade sucked when I heard about it, it sucks now, and it'll suck for the next several seasons. To make things worse, it seemed like after the initial report there was a glimmer of hope that it wasn't true, but then that fantasy came crashing down as well. I've always argued that the easiest way to make somebody happy is to take away something they care about and then give it back. With that in mind, rumors that the deal wasn't legitimate after all sent each of us into a euphoric tizzy. But here's the problem - if you take that precious thing away again, it hurts even more than the first time. So now I'm even more upset than I was six hours ago. This blows.
I want to make one thing clear - although the trade is egregiously lopsided, that's not necessarily what I'm even the most angry about. My biggest issue is that Horacio Ramirez does absolutely nothing that John Thomson couldn't do. Yeah, okay, he throws with the other hand, but at the end of the day you're talking about an ERA in the mid-4's over 180 innings provided the guy stays healthy. And while Ramirez'll stick around an extra year or three, Thomson's track record suggests considerably more upside, and there are guys like him available every winter anyway so it's not like Ramirez's contract status gives him a big advantage. Rather than pay $4m for an established free agent #4 starter, Bill Bavasi decided to give up Rafael Soriano instead. That is a colossal waste of what was easily our most valuable and tradeable asset.
The things Horacio Ramirez does well are greatly overshadowed by the things he doesn't. His control isn't super, he never misses bats, and his groundball rate isn't mindblowingly extreme. He's nowhere close to Chien-Ming Wang's ball-in-play profile, so we can't expect him to have close to Chien-Ming Wang's level of success. He's just a random guy with boring stuff who'd be out of the league if he had to spend a year or two in front of a lousy infield defense. In Seattle he's probably good for an ERA in the 4.50-5.00 range, with a little extra upside given the park and the shortstop. But these aren't advantages of Ramirez's - they apply to everyone, so who cares? Anyone can get lucky. That doesn't make them prudent acquisitions.
As for Soriano...well, I've always loved him, and I wish him the best of success in Atlanta, but it's going to be rough watching him mow people down for someone else. I'll tell you right now that the head injury isn't a concern at all anymore. He feels great, he feels confident, and he's hitting 93-94 in the Dominican Republic as we speak, so there don't appear to be any problems. The question's always going to be about the health of his arm, yet while he hasn't been the most reliable guy in the past, the Mariners managed to squeeze 60 innings out of him before a freak accident at the end of August, so it's not like we're definitely talking about a guy who's on the verge of blowing up. He's a fragile guy who, handled correctly, could and should be a hell of a pitcher for a very long time. And he's not ours anymore. Because of Horacio Ramirez.
Earlier this afternoon, I was pretty sure that the Mariners wouldn't have let Jason Schmidt go to LA for three years if they didn't have something else lined up to patch the rotation. Now I don't know what to think. Either (A) I was wrong, and they weren't as interested in Schmidt as they sounded, or (B) this is what they had lined up. I'm not sure which I'd prefer.
Who knows where this leaves us. The team still needs to add a starter, and nobody's going to come to the ballpark if they have to put up with Felix and a host of #4's, so the front office is going to poke around looking for an arm with name value to try and make everyone happy. The problem is, there aren't many out there. Schmidt was one, but he's gone. Hudson's another, but apparently that ship has sailed. Zito's going to get too many years. Suppan, Weaver, or Meche would be a disgrace. Penny's going to cost a small fortune. And so on. Unless Bavasi pulls something creative out of his ass, the disappointment might not end here. This sleigh ride to perdition may just be getting started.
Given all the prominent Manny and LaRoche rumors we've heard in the past few days, I was more than a little excited that the Mariners might finally do something I love to bring in a major talent. Now though, I can't help but think that the worst part of all this is that there's still plenty more offseason left.
After three consecutive last-place finishes and a promise that 2007 would be different, nobody deserves to be this frustrated during what's supposed to be the most exhilarating part of the offseason. Merry f-ing Christmas.