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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mariners Trade For Pittsburgh's Jack Wilson And Ian Snell

One of the most wholly inexplicable trades I've heard tell of for some time: the Mariners are sending AAA catcher Jeff Clement and SS Ronny Cedeno and three minor league pitchers, Nathan Adcock, Brett Lorin and Aaron Pribanic, to the Pirates for SS Jack Wilson and right-handed starter Ian Snell. Like Juan Pierre, Wilson has always (to me, anyway) had the smell of a guy whose destiny was to be overrated, both defensively and offensively. Wilson's low OBP but relatively high batting averages ensured the latter; while I can't currently get to Fangraphs (it's apparently being slammed by furious/curious Mariners fans) to look at his UZR, the Rate2 numbers at BPro tell the story of a mediocre-to-good defensive shortstop. As for Snell, his problem has been walks. This year his K/BB ratio has been 1.18, as close to unity as he's ever been in his career. At 27 you wonder if he's ever going to figure it out.

As for what the Pirates are getting ... holy cow, Clement was the Mariners' first-round pick (#3 overall) out of USC in 2005, and they're giving up on him? He had season-ending knee surgery in early September last year, and a terrible spring; the M's apparently had soured on him as a defensive catcher as well, giving 2004 fourth-rounder Rob Johnson (career major league line .201/.265/.319) the nod as reserve catcher. The word was Seattle was trying to remake Clement as a first baseman, as his bat seemed strong enough for the position, but he forgot how to hit in spring training this year, which put him on the outs with the organization. Ronny Cedeno ... well, his .167/.213/.290 line in 206 plate appearances as a 26-year-old is pretty damning. As for the three pitchers, they look all to be roughly the same guy, can throw strikes, not doing it consistently, having varying levels of success at it, and none getting past high-A ball, i.e. none of them will be ready for the Show for at least a couple years. Just off the cuff, it looks like quite a steal for the Pirates, who have been said to be shopping Wilson for years now.

More reaction from Lookout Landing, which has a bunch more to say about the three pitchers shipped off to Pittsburgh, especially Lorin, whom Jeff calls "[t]he prize of the three-headed pitching bounty".

Update: U.S.S. Mariner reposts Dave Cameron's analysis of the deal at the still-slammed Fangraphs website. He has the reverse take on Wilson — an underperforming offensive player with an above-average glove who hasn't got a lot of years left in his career at 31.

Pittsburgh is the easy winner of this deal, as they get some interesting young talent and shed some salary without losing much that will hurt them. The Mariners could still salvage this by moving Wilson before Friday’s deadline for a younger SS with more long term potential, but if they stand pat with Wilson as the team’s shortstop for 2009 and maybe 2010, color me disappointed.

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