Wednesday, January 9, 2008

If George Sherrill is Traded...

This goes along with the Caffeinated Confines post I did titled If Adam Jones is Traded, Who Replaces Him? Though Adam Jones figures to leave a bigger hole on the Seattle roster, the question is still valid; If George Sherrill is traded, who replaces him?

There is no straight up answer for this question, however, as Sherrill's 2008 Mariners role hasn't been determined. Personally, I would give him a full-time setup role at this point in his career, though I can imagine Bill Bavasi and John McLaren having an "if it ain't broke" approach and leaving him as the team's LOOGY.

If Sherrill was expected to be a full-time setup man it is possible to replace him internally. Having a righty/lefty tandem covering setup duties is a luxury, not a requirement, and Seattle can use their depth among right-handers to fill the void. Besides J.J. Putz, the Mariners will consider six other righties for non-long relief bullpen roles. These guys include Sean Green, Mark Lowe, Brandon Morrow, Kam Mickolio, Austin Bibens-Dirkx and Jon Huber. Bibens-Dirkx is the biggest longshot at this point, but will be given a long look in Spring Training along with Mickolio.

Bill Bavasi has already announced his intentions to make another bad decision, stating that Brandon Morrow will not be given the opportunity to develop as a starter in Tacoma, but will instead be a part of Seattle's bullpen next year if another starter is acquired. Making the best of a bad move, Morrow would benefit from the long relief role. The Mariners would get the most out of him in a late innings role, however, so it will be interesting to see how badly Bavasi and McLaren are willing to hinder Morrow's development as a starter in order to help the team.

My vote would be to give Morrow one of the setup roles, because I think his real future is in the late innings and not as a starter. I would like to see Mark Lowe as the other setup man, but only if he proves to be healthy and effective in Spring Training. If not, Sean Green would be my next choice, though I would be more comfortable using him as a middle reliever.

It may be slightly more difficult to replace Sherrill if Seattle was planning on making him their left-handed specialist again. Eric O'Flaherty would have likely nabbed the role if Sherrill was still there for insurance purposes. O'Flaherty may be capable, but I'd like him to have one more year of middle relief assignments before being forced to face hitters like David Ortiz or Travis Hafner with the game on the line. Ryan Rowland-Smith was actually much better against right-handers last year, so he will not be seriously considered in that role.

I believe that the Seattle Mariners would turn to free agent Jeremy Affeldt.

From a Seattle P-I article titled Mariners' needs simple: Pitching:
...Medical Lake native Jeremy Affeldt said Thursday his agent has talked to the Mariners and is scheduled to do so again in Nashville. Affeldt, 28, was the lefty setup man for Colorado last season -- a role the Mariners have well-covered with George Sherrill...
Here's what I had to say about Affedt a few days before the P-I article was published. The post, Free Agency: Veteran Relief, was a list of my top five veteran relievers the Mariners could bring in to fill the void left by the very ineffective Rick White, Chris Reitsma, John Parrish and others:
5.) Jeremy Affeldt - The only lefty of this list, Affeldt bounced around in different roles with the Kansas City Royals early in his career and didn't find too much success. This past season he landed with the Rockies and posted a career low 3.51 ERA, including a 1.74 ERA in the hitter friendly confines of Coors Field. He was a matchups guy, only logging 59 innings in 75 appearances, but could be on the verge of a breakout season in a bigger role. He's got age on his side (28) and showed that he can get it done against both sides of the plate (3.65 ERA vs. right, 3.27 vs. left) and in the playoffs (1.69 ERA during Colorado's playoff run, his only mistake a solo home run in the NLDS). Affeldt is the biggest gamble on this list, especially since he's only had success in the National League.
Affeldt hasn't pitched nearly as well as George Sherrill, but I think he is the Mariners' best option to fill the role occupied by Sherrill last season. It would also allow Eric O'Flaherty to continue developing away from the pressures of setup and specialist duty. Obviously Affeldt is interested in pitching for his hometown team, and I believe that he would be Seattle's first acquisition announced once George Sherrill is out of the picture.

The biggest obstacle in signing Affeldt would be the money. There have been rumors that he is seeking about $4M annually, an absurd amount of money for a reliever with his credentials. Sherrill will likely make less than a quarter of that salary, even if he takes his case to arbitration. I assume Affeldt's price will come down, as superior relievers such a LaTroy Hawkins ($3.75M) and Luis Vizcaino ($3.5M) have been signed for less this offseason. [Ge-She Je-Aff Br-Mor]

If George Sherrill is included in a trade for Erik Bedard, Jeremy Affeldt will become a Seattle Mariner. You heard it here first.

View other Bleeding Blue and Teal posts about George Sherrill


Rob T. said...

i agree with you that they will get affeldt. He wants to come to seattle which is probably why he didnt sign with anybody yet.

Anonymous said...

How did O'flaherty do against Hafner and Ortiz last year? I'm sure he faced alot of big dogs like those two. They seemed to put him in, in alot of Pressure situations this last year. And What happened to Arthur anyway?

Rob T. said...

arthur rhodes is a free agent right now.

Anonymous said...

Ortiz has 2 hits in 3 at bats against O'Flaherty last season while Hafner went 0-for-2 with a walk.

The point isn't that O'Flaherty isn't capable, I just think the Mariners should let him develop his skills in the middle relief role for another season so that he doesn't get stuck as a career LOOGY. He could be really good and it would be waste to have him in that role if he proves he can get righties out next year.

Anonymous said...

Good point, I agree with you Jon. If they let him develop, I believe he can become a very dominant pitcher like he was in the minors. I think his performance during the beginning of last year proves that. Thank you for responding to my post.