Scarcely an hour passed between the time Kate and David officially took over LL, and the announcement of two "major" roster moves for the Seattle Mariners. Is Jerry in cahoots with our new LLeaders? Is this the beginning of a blog takeover, from the inside out? I’m not here to answer those questions (be suspicious, be very, very suspicious), but instead I have the distinct pleasure of a) Writing the first piece under the new regime and b) Bringing great joy to you all on this glorious November day, because…
OF Norichika Aoki has been claimed off waivers by Houston. RHP Nathan Karns has been reinstated from the 60-day disabled list. #Mariners— MarinersPR (@MarinersPR) November 3, 2016
And, perhaps even better*,
The #Mariners exercise their 2017 option on outfielder Seth Smith, and decline their 2017 option on catcher Chris Iannetta.— MarinersPR (@MarinersPR) November 3, 2016
We have never claimed to be an unbiased news source, therefore I have no qualms about sharing my unequivocal joy for these moves because, personally, unless Jerry trades for Yasiel Puig (do it, do it, do it), this is just about my favorite kind of offseason news. A player I abhorred is gone, a player I ardently adore remains, and a player I’ve championed for months may subsequently now get his big shot. So what does this all mean, looking ahead?
In 2017 Nori Aoki will be performing his interpretive dance routines in the spacious grass of Minute Maid Park, though regrettably without the opportunity to scamper-fall up and down Tal’s Hill. We will no longer blink and see him suddenly on the ground in the batter’s box, nor will we get to marvel at his three inch vertical as he leaps futilely to catch home run balls. Let this be the last time his name ever trends on Mariners Twitter.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have another year of the most gloriously, spectacularly dull corner outfielder in baseball. Seth Smith is the kind of guy who hits two grand slams in a season, hits home runs for four games in a row, and plays generally competent baseball, but is also the most likely regular player to be forgotten. He is our Gary/Jerry/Larry Gergich but instead of having a beautiful wife (although he very well may have that, too), his super fun special secret is good ‘ol fashioned dingers.
It’s also worth noting that allowing Aoki to be claimed by the Astros likely means that the front office believes in Guillermo Heredia as their starting left fielder. In limited games, Heredia showed excellent defense, a plus arm, and generally stellar plate discipline. If you put any stock in the AFL he’s been tearing it up down there, and is generally a great piece to have on a team that has not recently been known for its athleticism. This also, hypothetically, puts us one step closer to my 2017 dream: the Seattle Mariners ALL-CUBAN OUTFIELD (yes, it’s best when written in all caps). As Ice Cube likes to say, today [is] a good day.
*In keeping with the general unexciting-ness of Chris Iannetta, I actually forgot to mention him in the initial write up of these moves. This is, oddly enough, the decision I'm most concerned by, if only because it feels like Jerry throwing away all of Mike Zunino's pacifiers and gruffly telling him to buck up and quit being a baby anymore. Like most baseball players, Iannetta was good, but also bad, and is ultimately easily replaceable.
(For all you worrywarts and negative Nancies: Yes, putting full faith in Guillermo Heredia as your starting, everyday left fielder is a scary prospect. And yes, Seth Smith is not, perhaps, the most athletically inclined of right field patrollers. And also, yes, the Mariners roster really isn’t flexible enough to afford to platoon Smith yet again. And maybe if you want to be super gloomy you can go look up Aoki’s unfortunately excellent numbers after he was brought back up from Tacoma, but the sun is shining, the tank is clean, and Mr. Dipoto’s Wild Ride has only just begun. Take it easy.)