Willie Ballgame comes in all shapes and colors!
What it comes down to is that the Mariners gave away Travis Blackley so that they could shed Rey Ordonez and get Jeremy Reed regular at bats in Tacoma. Seems like an okay idea until you realize that guys like Ellison are everywhere. There's probably one in your crawlspace right now. There's nothing special about any of them, so it doesn't make sense to give up something of potential value in exchange.
Not that Blackley was really setting the world on fire or anything, but a 24 year old starting pitcher coming off a decent season in AA is always worth more than a 29 year old backup outfielder. The Mariners may have decided that they wanted to give Blackley a fresh start somewhere else, but dishing him for South Kitsap's own Jason Ellison smells too much like a publicity stunt, and not enough like a smart baseball trade. Mind you, I don't think the front office actively seeks out local players with the intent of fitting all of them onto the roster, but do I think Ellison's background made him more attractive? Hell yeah I do. People are going to love Jason Ellison, and while that's good - certainly better than the alternative - it's a pretty weird way to build a ballclub. If nothing else, I guess, at least the front office is limiting its fan favorites to minor roles. As long as the team's comfortable starting talented timebombs and keeping its soft and cuddlies on the bench, then I suppose things could be worse.
Anyway, Ellison's your typical speedy contact hitter without much power, and while that can get you by in AAA, it doesn't work so well in the Majors - he's a career .255/.305/.367 bat over 447 NL AB's. And as a right-handed bat, Safeco's not going to do him any favors. He's not a black hole in the lineup when given a spot start, but he's pretty close. No, his value doesn't come from his bat, but from his glove - after getting a lot of time in center for the Giants in 2005, PMR rated him the top defensive CF in baseball. That's probably not true, but with little other information at our disposal, I think we can be fairly comfortable saying that Ellison's glove is an asset in center. And that's neat. The issue, of course, is that Ichiro's already phenomenal and never misses a game, so it's a peculiar addition with little apparent motive, but there you go. Ellison plays a mean outfield, and it's his defense that keeps him from being a true replacement-level player.
What probably happens now is that Ellison becomes the #4 OF, Willie Ballgame switches back to utility guy, and Rey Ordonez's sorry ass gets bumped. That's good; the big league team got a little better without having to lose anyone important off its roster. At this point, I'll take any upgrade I can get. The concern is that the Mariner organization as a whole gave away more value than it got back, but baseball's a game of probability, and there's a 90% chance that Blackley never does anything ever again. So whatever. They gave away potential distant value for definite short-term value, and while I'd hate to make a series of those trades, making one in isolation isn't that big of a deal.
See ya, Rey. I told you it wouldn't last.