Why the Mariners shouldn't consider trading Felix Hernandez
Sam Thomsen is a 15-year-old freshman at Liberty Bell High School in Winthrop whose passions are baseball, the Mariners and writing. He has been following the Mariners since he could walk.
“It’s painful, but it’s time the Mariners did something they’ve avoided for years: Trade their ace," wrote Sports Illustrated's Joe Sheehan in the Aug. 27 edition.
Come on, Sports Illustrated. You think the Mariners should trade Felix Hernandez, not only their ace, but the best pitcher in baseball?
Sheehan suggests the Mariners trade Hernandez for a package of “promising” prospects, thinking it would “accelerate the rebuilding process.” Outrageous! The best way to rebuild a team like Seattle, which hasn’t made the playoffs in 10 years, is to add good players at each position.
In Hernandez, the M’s have a premium, four-star, juggernaut. Fans call him The King, and for good reason. Felix is an American League Cy Young Award winner. He’s widely considered one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Forget the statistics for a moment and think logically. Why trade the best pitcher in baseball for prospects? Prospects?! GIVE ME A BREAK! Prospects are unproven. A gamble. Maybe you win, maybe you lose.
Just think back to the 2010 Cliff Lee trade.
Pitcher Cliff Lee — a master of his craft, and one of the best in the majors — was sent to Texas for a prospect, first baseman Justin Smoak. While Lee helped lead Texas to the World Series that year, Smoak has been listless in Seattle, putting up atrocious numbers. He batted only .217 last season.
Last winter, the Mariners made another foolish trade – for prospects.
Michael Pineda was a powerful first-year pitcher on the rise, with a fastball that sometimes hit 100 mph. Think Felix in three years. Last winter, the Mariners dealt Pineda to the Yankees for a pair of prospects. One of those prospects, catcher Jesus Montero, played his first full season in the majors this year with marginal success. The other, Hector Noesi, pitched so poorly that he returned to the minor leagues. True, Pineda's season was cut short by arm problems that led to surgery, but he has the talent to carry a staff.
Following the Mariners' horrible results trading for prospects, the team bit the dust once more, last summer.
On July 23, the Mariners dealt future Ichiro, a future Hall of Famer, to the Yankees for prospects Danny Farquar and D.J. Mitchell. In the worst recession since the great depression, the Ichiro trade hurt Seattle’s economy. Ichiro was a draw. People went just to see him extend his bat, pull up his right sleeve, and smack the ball for base hits.
Seriously, Seattle, where’s the loyalty? Ichiro gave the Mariners 11 great seasons, with a career .322 average. Not to mention, just yesterday, the Mariners released Mitchell to make room on the roster for Raul Ibanez. So they threw away one of the “prized” prospects in the trade.
To be fair, in rare cases, prospect trades do work out. For example, in 2007, the Rangers sent star first baseman Mark Teixeira to the Braves for pitchers Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz and shortstop Elvis Andrus. While Teixeira was an All-Star in Atlanta, Harrison, Feliz, and Andrus have lifted Texas to two pennants since.
But that’s the exception, not the rule. Prospects hardly ever pan out, and so the Mariners should keep the superstar they have.
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik seems to think — or at least flirt with the idea — that a Hernandez trade could bring a pair of pennants to Seattle.
Don’t do it, Jack. Don’t trade The King. History shows the prospects you acquire have a high likelihood of bombing at the major-league level.
But, if you do trade The King, make something out of it.
If Felix’s trade value is really higher than ever, get proven superstar players like Robinson Cano or Teixeira, in exchange. Superstars are the only way the Mariners are going to win pennants. Superstars will stabilize the team, unlike risky prospects, when exchanged for a player the caliber of Hernandez. Hernandez is a bona-fide superstar. Don’t trade him for anything less than the best!
Face it, Mr. Sheehan, you underestimate Hernandez’s value to the Mariners.
It’s time to eat your words.