Notebook: Trade Ichiro Now?
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on February 28, 2007
The title “Would You Trade Ichiro?” is another story for another day – let’s say, late June or early July – but the addition of the term “NOW” at the tail end makes the question a little more interesting, at least as we sit and await the start of the 2007 season.
Whether you would or would not trade Ichiro after it’s clear the M’s are not going to compete in 2007 – and perhaps as the club, and the fans alike, learn how possible or impossible it will be to extend the all-star’s contract, is completely irrelevant in response to this particular question.
Would you trade Ichiro NOW? Would you accept a group of prospects and/or zero-to-threes in return for Ichiro on March 1?
Let’s gather up a few scenarios, totally speculatory and near-fantasy like on my part, but just for fun…
If the Boston Red Sox offered prospects such as CF Jacob Ellsbury, LHP Jon Lester and RHP Clay Buchholz, does it even make you blink?
What if the Chicago Cubs offered CF Felix Pie, LHP Donald Veal and LHP Rich Hill, is that enough for Ichiro?
Neither deal is exciting? I agree.
But what if the New York Yankees called and offered OF Jose Tabata, 3B Alex Rodriguez and OF Melky Cabrera for Ichiro and Adrian Beltre? I think I’d have to blink pretty regularly at that idea.
How about the Dodgers as players in the Ichiro sweepstakes? Starting with RHP Brad Penny or southpaw prospect Scott Elbert, LAD could put together a pretty darned good deal.
OF Matt Kemp is an interesting young talent, as is 1B James Loney, who is a perfect fit for Safeco Field; a spray hitter with the ability to hit the gaps to the opposite field and pull liners and fly balls deep to right field.
If LAD still has a little thing for Beltre, maybe he could be involved in this one, too. But only if the Dodgers are sending third base spect Andy LaRoche up north, too.
The Mets probably aren’t all that into the idea, because they are saving their top trade pieces, Lastings Milledge and perhaps Philip Humber, in case they get the chance to make a deal for a legit frontline starting pitcher.
Whatever the Mariners decide to do – trade Ichiro or not – they need to take a look around the league and ask for the moon, because more than one club can afford to lasso the beaming rock and mail it to Safeco.
But what would you do?
Speaking of Prospects:
Mets No. 1 prospect Mike Pelfrey is not going to be traded, unless the Cardinals beg the Mets to take Mr. Pujols off their hands. The Mets love their 2005 first-rounder, and they should. Low-90s heat with a 2-seam heater that has plus sink, and a four-seamer that tops out at 99. Oh, and he’s already mastered the art of the change-up.
New York also has two of the most intriguing young outfield prospects in all of baseball in Carlos Gomez, 21, and Fernando Martinez, 18. Gomez has a shot to see some big-league time this season with a strong showing in AAA to start 2007, and Martinez may start his season, at 18 years old mind you, in AA.
Martinez, a lefthanded bat, has plus power and could be among the top few prospects in the game very quickly.
Gomez is the Mets center fielder of the future and has every tool, including above-average power, that one could want in a player. If Carlos Beltran is around for his entire contract, Gomez’s throwing arm is plenty strong enough to warrant time in right field.
The luster has warn off the Anaheim Angels farm system, just a bit. Dallas McPherson and Casey Kotchman have yet to prove they could stay healthy and catcher Jeff Mathis struggled mightily in the big leagues last season.
It should be noted that Kotchman’s issues have been more of the illness type than the injury type, however, and if he can get back on the field consistently, there is no reason he can’t become an all-star.
Mathis is still a very good catching prospect, too, and we can’t forget about the likes of Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, Jered Weaver, Nick Adenhart and Brandon Wood. The Halos are still loaded with young talent.
The Kansas City Royals are no longer the laughing stock of baseball. Trust me, their days of 95 losses are over. New GM Dayton Moore is no dummy, even after inking Gil Meche to perhaps the worst contract of the offseason.
So why are they not going to be laughed at anymore? Six words: Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Luke Hochevar.
Gordon may be the game’s best prospect, and is the closest thing to a surefire talent that minor league baseball has to offer. Billy Butler can’t do a lot of things. He can’t field or throw, he doesn’t run well and I hear he has a hell of a time telling a joke correctly.
But the dude can rake. The Royals have two legit MOTO bats that are just about ready for the show, and with the addition of Meche, who, let’s face it, is an upgrade over what they’ve had, regardless of the money and his lack of success in Seattle, the return of Zack Greinke and the possible mid-season addition of last year’s top pick, Luke Hochevar, KC’s rotation isn’t all that stanky afterall. At least in the “ability” department, and that will give the club, and that improving offense, a fighting chance, which is something they haven’t had in years.
And THEN He Mentioned the Mariners:
I got into a conversation with a farm director over the weekend and we began talking about the droves of good young talent in the game today. The dicussion went quickly to pitching and when it sunk into the area of prep draftees and those top talents projected to be playing in A ball in 2007, he went out of his way to mention that the Seattle Mariners appeared to be in good shape in that area.
“Their system isn’t terrible, it really never was in my opinion,” he said. “They just lacked, and still do really, enough of it (talent) ready to come help a good big-league club win or a mediocre roster to compete.”
“Their overall talent corps is solid, albeit four years away and full of risk. But that’s what the game is about. Seattle has done pretty well for themselves in the draft.”
Churchill: “Do you know much about the three Latin kids they inked? Carlos Triunfel, Mario Martinez and Juan Carlos Ramirez?”
Farm Director: “Not a lot, but I have heard a lot of great things about Triunfel. Our guys wanted him really bad, too, but we just didn’t get on him quick enough. Is Ramirez the power arm? Yeah, our Venezuelan Area guy was kinda teed off about not signing him a few years back. We were right there, and I know he throws hard and is just a kid still.”
Churchill: “Honestly and objectively, what do you, and perhaps others you have conversed with, think of the M’s system?”
Farm Director: “It’s not great. Their best talent is at the very top in Jones and the kid from SC (Clement), but they don’t have any depth up there. Their best guys after that are so far from being contributors. I think that their second and third-rounders (Butler, Tillman) might be better prospects than Morrow, and I saw a lot of Morrow, I was the West Coast coordinator last year and he was explosive.”
“All in all, I’d say they grade about average, but they are on the right path, kind of like we are. We had gaps, and now we’re filling them every year with really good kids. Seattle has as many big-league caliber teenagers as anyone.”