BY SPNW Staff 06:29PM 12/07/2012

Which Bat Makes The Most Sense For Seattle?

The Mariners are reportedly in the mix for Josh Hamilton and Nick Swisher. Question is, which free-agent bat is the best fit for the offensively challenged Seattle Mariners? Vote here.

Nick Swisher has hit more than 20 home runs in eight consecutive seasons. / Wiki Commons

Over the past decade, the Seattle Mariners have ranked last or next-to-last in runs scored eight times, including last in each of the past four seasons. This is a negative feat worthy of the old St. Louis Browns, if not Red Klotz’s New York Generals, a club that once served as Harlem Globetrotters comedic fodder.

During that lamentable span, the Mariners have either signed or traded for many “hitters” only to watch them flail abysmally — to the point where club management eventually opted to pay them not to play. In the last seven years, the Mariners have swallowed/wasted more than $30 million worth of contracts on Scott Spiezio, Richie Sexson, Pokey Reese, Brad Wilkerson, Milton Bradley, Jose Vidro, Jack Cust, Carl Everett, Casey Kotchman and, most recently, Chone Figgins (due to be paid $8 million in 2013 not to play).

Now, for the 10th consecutive year (since 2004, when George Dubya occupied the White House), the Mariners are once again desperate for hitting (we’re wondering what the record is for hitting desperation over the most presidential administrations) – even though they will be moving in the fences from 12 to 17 feet at Safeco Field for the 2013 season.

The Mariners took an insignificant – some might describe it as futile — stab at addressing the issue when they signed Jason Bay, lately of the New York Mets, for $1 million this week ($500,000 guaranteed) this week. The Mariners are reportedly also interested in bringing back 40-year-old Raul Ibanez, which would give Seattle a corner on the market on aging, ineffective defenders.

The most tantalizing possibility remains Josh Hamilton, with whom the Mariners have reportedly discussed a multi-year deal with an annual value of between $20 million-$25 million per-season contract. Although Sportspress Northwest’s Art Thiel has argued persuasively against such a signing, saying that a long-term commitment to Hamilton would make lopsided a payroll that has too many holes to fill, Hamilton might at least make a dent in Seattle’s offensive woes.

If not Hamilton, whose landing spot seems to depend on whether pitcher Zach Greinke is hired by Hamilton’s old club, Texas, the next-best, free-agent possibility seems to be OF/1BNick Swisher, who has hit more than 20 home runs for eight consecutive years. And if not Hamilton or Swisher, CF Michael Bourn is reportedly in the mix. While a dynamic defensive player, Bourne would provide no power on a club desperate for an offensive pulse.

So our question is:




  • maqman

    Hey Art you got a sharp audience here, they mostly agree with me. Post Swish at the dish, then trade Capps or Pryor and another small piece (if needed) for Morse and maybe a $ contribution to his 2013 salary of $6.75MM to give Swish some protection, or vice versa. Morse will be on a walk year, if they like him they can resign him or punt him into the long grass at no further risk. One of the kids should be able to take his role in 2014.

  • RadioGuy

    The one free agent with the ability to lift the offense and sell tickets would be Hamilton, but I just don’t see him choosing to come to Seattle. He’ll get his $20+ million wherever he goes…I just don’t see him signing up to play in a cool, damp climate where the ball doesn’t carry well (for half the season, anyway) while batting in a lineup where he’ll get no protection and see no good pitches. Would you?

    Swisher is decent enough as a second-tier FA, but I’d prefer Ibanez. Neither should wear a glove, but both can give you some power and RBIs as a DH. My preference for Ibanez is that he’s proven he can hit at Safeco, will usually hit for 20 points higher than Swisher with fewer strikeouts, is more recognizable among casual fans and is coming off a down year at $1 million while Swisher is coming off a decent year at $10 million. Don’t discount that last point with the cheapo owners the Mariners have.

    I’d be okay with either Swisher or Ibanez (hell, I’d be thrilled with Hamilton), but Raul seems the best bet to sign with a franchise that counts every penny they get…and they’ve been getting a lot fewer of them lately.

  • The Hamilton deal is being negotiated as a three year deal. It wouldn’t hamstring the club for very long.

  • Westside guy

    The poll choice reads “Nick Swisher: 20+ homers for 8 straight years, and not nearly as costly as Hamilton”.

    How about “Nick Swisher: 20+ homers for 8 straight years and also a decent defender (unlike Hamilton)”?

  • Trygvesture

    Hard to imagine any FA wanting to come to Seattle. Seattle is remote; Seattle has the worst travel schedule in MLB; Seattle has an ownership group famous for being the most ineffectual in MLB ( see ticket sales decline– #1 standing ) an half-empty stadium, a disinterested majority owner who signed over his shares to a corporation, no solid on field performers ( Felix excepted), veterans or even bashers at AAA, no record of winning– a stellar record of losing for a decade, a revolving GM/Field manager door, incessant promises for player acquisitions with incessant excuses for empty handed results, and a reputation as a place for l.o.s.e.r.s. Sad, yes, but true.
    Seattle would need to pay a huge above-market penalty to get anybody who wants a ring to come here. Seattle is cheap in fielding top-drawer players, partly by not recognizing top- drawer players, partly by being balance-sheet boys above all.
    It seems to me they must have a cataclysmic change in the F.O. ( see Nolan Ryan group buys the Rangers) for anybody to take this corporate-mentality ball club seriously as a good place to play. Or, pay more than any other club would consider.
    Or not– and wait for a sale.