In about an hour, Felix Hernandez will take the hill for the Seattle Mariners for the first time since he pitched the 23rd perfect game in MLB history last Wednesday. The Mariners are expecting a great crowd, and the atmosphere at Safeco Field should be nothing short of electric.
The Time Has Passed
It might have made sense to talk about trading Felix a month ago, when the Mariners headed into the All-Star break with the worst record in the American League. But Seattle is showing real signs of life, having gone an AL-best 23-13 since coming back from the break and putting up win streaks of seven and the current six games.
Part of this recent success has been a schedule that has seen the Mariners sweep the likes of the Royals, Blue Jays, and Twins in recent weeks. On the other hand, the Mariners have also taken series wins against the likes of the Angels and Rays, and the team managed to withstand an east coast losing skid to continue making a push toward .500 baseball.
This is a team loaded with young talent that is not nearly as far from contention as people think.
The King's Court
Felix Hernandez, who is still all of 26 years old, very much wants to be a part of that young core.
From the moment he joined the franchise, Felix Hernandez has consistently stated that he loves the city and has no desire to play elsewhere. He reiterated that point earlier in the week, going so far as to state that he wants to end his career in Seattle. And really, why would he want to leave?
With Ichiro Suzuki now on the Yankees, King Felix is clearly the toast of Seattle. He has found a nice groove with the club, playing in a pitching-friendly environment where he does not have to bring his absolute best stuff on every single pitch. It is a great place for a dominant pitcher to have a long and healthy career, and Felix understands this.
And really, how many kings are interested in disappointing their court?
With the Mariners starting to trend upward, leaving the club makes little sense. King Felix is still young, so why not have him leading a talented roster instead of helping to restock it?
A History of Ineptness
Still, there are some experts who believe that the Mariners should trade King Felix while his value is at its all-time high, believing that this will help speed up the rebuilding process. These people clearly have not taken a look at the trades the Mariners have made throughout their history.
When researching this article, I tried to put together a top-ten list of best deals the franchise has ever made. And honestly, I could not do it, because there simply are not that many from which to choose.
Essentially, the Mariners have made a total of four trades in their history where they clearly came out on top:
1. Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps in 1988 (i.e. the Frank Costanza trade)
2. A package of prospects that included Randy Johnson for Mark Langston in 1989.
3. Jamie Moyer for Darren Bragg at the 1996 trade deadline.
4. Jeff Fassero for prospects following the 1996 season.
There are a few other trades that have worked out okay... but not really. Seattle gets a lot of credit for acquiring Dan Wilson prior to the 1993 season, but they gave up a young Bret Boone in order to do so. The trade for Randy Winn prior to the 2003 season worked great on the field, but it was at the cost of the best manager in club history. The trades that sent Ken Griffey, Jr. and Randy Johnson out of Seattle worked out better than anyone could have hoped, though they still involved the Mariners giving up a first-ballot Hall of Famer in the prime of his career. And the Cliff Lee trade during his 2010 contract year looked brilliant... except for the fact that the Mariners wound up trading him at the deadline.
And these are the good trades in Mariner history. Needless to say, they are easily overshadowed by the list of bad ones. In other words, trading Felix is far more likely to hurt Seattle than help them.
Maybe Jack Zduriencik is different; as the guys at USSMariner have pointed out, he has done an impressive job of trading for role players. But the odds of the Mariners getting anything close to equal value for Felix Hernandez are slim as it is, and Seattle's history of trades should make any Mariners executive weary of sending a franchise icon out the door.
For this reason, the Mariners should not even consider it. Keep the King in Seattle, where he belongs.18852