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Miguel Olivo, Luis Valbuena Share Dim Shaky Spotlight

The Mariners have been connected to a handful of names so far on a pretty lame Tuesday, but the two most interesting ones, to me, have been Miguel Olivo and Luis Valbuena. And so I will talk about them, because on this website I talk about the Mariners, and the players they have, or may have.

Olivo's name surfaced this morning, and it came as a bit of a shock, as he's played 226 games the last two years and is looking to make a fair bit of money. It's strange to think that the Mariners would be willing to throw some millions of dollars at a 32 year old catcher, and it's stranger still to think that they'd throw those millions at a catcher with one of the worst batting approaches I've ever seen in my life. But Olivo does have some value, and this rumor, combined with the Gregg Zaun rumor, seem to strongly suggest that Rob Johnson is so far out of the organization's current catching picture that he's sitting on a museum bench looking at the picture and muttering wordy critiques to himself to impressive attractive passersby.

One can't help but remember that the Mariners have tried Olivo once before, as he came over from the White Sox in the Freddy Garcia trade. And over 330 trips to the plate, Olivo posted a .218 OBP, which is the lowest in franchise history among 137 guys with 300+ plate appearances. Olivo, in his younger days, was a disaster. But as poor as he was, and as lousy a fit Safeco is for his style, he's posted a .731 OPS over the last five years, only one of which came in Colorado. He has a strong arm and a strong bat, which make him useful.

Don't get me wrong - I don't like the idea of Miguel Olivo. I hate the way he hits, he's getting up there in years, he'll probably cost a fair amount, and he's a righty pull hitter. But then, he's a veteran with power and some defensive skills who'd make Felix happy, and who isn't Rob Johnson. I don't want Miguel Olivo real bad, but I can see the argument.

Later on, in the west coast's mid-afternoon, Shannon Drayer noted that she hears the M's are pursuing Luis Valbuena for their second base hole. This came as a pretty significant departure from what we were expecting - that they'd find some cheap veteran, or perhaps even lean on Josh Wilson and Luis Rodriguez, who are already in-house.

Whether the M's will end up with Valbuena - who is Indians property - we don't know. And, just last season, Valbuena was arguably the worst hitter in the Major Leagues. But this is a guy who held his own the year before at the age of 23, and who's had very good success at the AAA level. Valbuena has clear, if limited, upside.

That the M's are searching for a second baseman implies that they don't think Dustin Ackley will begin the year in Seattle. Which is a good idea for a few reasons, first and foremost being his service time. But Ackley should be up by June or July, at which point the stopgap infielder will be displaced. Were that stopgap infielder to be Valbuena, one option would be that he could become the team's utility guy, or he could even, in theory, move to short, as he's shown good defensive agility in the past. That's possible.

But another possibility would be that, when Ackley comes up, Valbuena could go down to Tacoma, as I believe he has one option year left. With Tacoma, he could continue to develop and improve his stock, becoming either trade bait or a starting candidate for 2012. So there would be a few ways the M's could go. The difference between acquiring a guy like Valbuena and acquiring a guy like, I dunno, Jerry Hairston Jr., is that Valbuena would still kind of count as a prospect, which is more in line with what an organization like the Mariners needs.

The Mariners haven't made any moves yet on Tuesday, but at the very least, they've given us something to think about. Which, in some ways, is kind of the same thing.