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Time will tell on recent Mariners' trades

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
New Mariners starting pitcher Charlie Furbush won his first game against the A's on Wednesday. He and left fielder Casper Wells are two trade acquisitions already proving their worth. It’ll be a while before the other new players will get the chance.

You have to give up a lot to get a lot. That's what sports analysts are saying about the choices the Mariners made at the trade deadline last weekend. They gave up four pitchers for six players. Starting pitcher Erik Bedard is now with the Boston Red Sox and starter Doug Fister is a Detroit Tiger.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says the players the Mariners got in return look good on paper. But how will they look in the field and at the plate?

Hit the ground running

Starting pitcher Charlie Furbush won his first game with the Mariners on Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics. And left fielder Casper Wells performed well in the field and at bat during that same game. But Art says it's too soon to call the trade a success.

"That's the trap that we media types always get into is instant analysis and saying 'yea' or 'nay' to something that's going to take years to play out."

Tough choices

Art says he wasn't surprised that pitcher Erik Bedard was traded. But he says the departure of Doug Fister to Detroit is going to hurt the Mariners. He says Fister is a strong starter and a 10-year Major Leaguer. Detroit recognized that. They're in a pennant race this year and the Mariners had what the Tigers felt might be their edge.

"In order to get, you have to give. And they got enough young people back – with bats – that some sacrifice had to be made and that was Fister. I think he's going to be a star."

Young players have potential

In exchange for Fister and Bedard – and relievers David Pauley and Josh Fields – the Mariners gained a total six players. Furbush and Wells were added to the rotation right away. Art says the rest will be playing in the minor leagues for at least a year, if not two. 

Those players are outfielders Chih-Hsien Chang and Trayvon Robinson, third baseman Francisco Martinez (a 20-year-old hot prospect), and a top minor league player in the Detroit system who will be identified on Aug. 16 – after he's spent one year with the Tigers. The Mariners are very excited about this guy. (Update: The Mariners sent outfielder Greg Halman to Class AAA on Thursday and are expected to bring up Trayvon Robinson Friday.)

But Art says he's seen it before. He points to the Mariners' trade with the Mets a few years ago in which they acquired pitcher Jason Vargas and center fielder Franklin Gutierrez. Those two players initially looked great, but have faltered recently.

Can the Mariners break the pattern?

The M's are one of two teams never to have made it to the World Series. Art says one of the reasons is that they always wind up out of contention in the middle of the year and trading their veterans for prospects. They were forced to do it again this season.

In a few years, we'll know if they made the right choices. Art says passing judgment sooner than that is foolish.

"Prospects are suspects until they prove themselves for a long time at the Major League level."

You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest.

Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.
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