Tube Socks Again? Merry Christmas from the Mariners!

Cust rhymes with bust? Uh-oh!

It’s that time of year again, when the instead of the shiny new remote control car we always wanted (Justin Upton, Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey III etc.) the Mariners decide to get us something a little more crappy practical: underwear, fleece pajama pants and tube socks! Here’s a look at what the M’s left under the tree for their fans this holiday season:

Jack Cust: With a limited amount of cash to spend this offseason (thanks for nothing David Aardsma’s hip) Jack Cust will likely be the Mariners’ biggest acquisition in both impact on the field and all-around girth. While Cust isn’t exactly a household name outside of the AL West, he is a suitable replacement (Cust posted a .272-13 HR-52 RBI-.395 OBP line in 2010) for Russell Branyan, and does two things that the Mariners struggled to last season: draw walks and hit home runs. If all goes as planned, the M’s new DH will start the year hot and allow me to cash in on my garage full of “I lust for Cust” t-shirts. Jackpot!

Miguel Olivo: It’s hard to belive that the Mariners could do worse at catcher in 2011 than the Rob Johnson/Josh Bard/Adam Moore monstrosity that they put on the field last season, but with the signing of free agent Miguel Olivo, it looks like they’ll give it a try. Olivo had a memorable first go-round as a Mariner during the 2004-2005 seasons in which he hit .200 and .151 respectively, so it’s easy to see why the front office was enamored with him. Olivo is a decent defender behind the plate but he never met a pitch he didn’t like (career 800/125 strikeout-to-walk ratio) and his power doesn’t translate well to Safeco Field. This is going to be a regular dumpster fire…

Brendan Ryan: It appears that Sauron, not Jack Zduriencek, is running the Seattle Mariners because with the addition of Brendan Ryan to a lineup that already includes Jack Wilson the M’s now lead the league in goblins. Why couldn’t we have at least signed a goblin that can hit? The St. Louis Cardinals were eager to jettison Ryan after a season in which struggled at the plate, hitting just .223 with 2 HR’s and 36 RBI’s, and the Mariners obliged (they hate offense after all) by sending away Mikael Cleto for the slick fielding utility man. Hopefully for M’s fans Ryan will simply serve as a stopgap until Dustin Ackley is called up because another season like the last may prove too much for the fragile Seattle psyche. WNBA Championships only do so much for a city.

Time to throw away the wrapping paper…and any hopes for a successful 2011 season.

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What’s Werth Worth: Nats Makes Big, If Expensive, Free Agent Splash.

Jayson Werth is good, but is he $127 million good? The Nats seem to think so.

In a move that every general manager except Bill Bavasi (who tweeted that the deal was “just about right”) found utterly baffling, the Washington Nationals signed free agent right-fielder Jayson Werth to a 7-year, $126 million dollar (for those mathematically challenged readers, that’s $18 million per year) contract.

Yes the Nationals have to overspend on free agents because they’ve long been a doormat in the NL East, and yes Jayson Werth is one of the top five players on the market this offseason, but he’s also on the wrong side of 30 and more likely to contend for the WWE Heavyweight Title Belt than an MVP at the tail-end of the contract.

Werth is coming off back-to-back solid seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies (the first two full seasons of his career) in which he averaged 31 HR’s, 92 RBI’s, 17 SB’s and 102 runs (leading to a WAR of 5.2, 8th best in the NL, in 2010). The lanky outfielder is a classic 5-tool player whose combination of power, speed and defense makes him one of the most well-rounded players in the league. No one doubts Werth’s talent, and he’s certainly an upgrade over the Roger Bernadina/Jason Maxwell combo in right field, but he’ll be 32 in May and scouts worry that Werth’s best days may already be behind him. That’s not to say he won’t be productive the next few seasons (though Philadelphia is a hitter friendly park whereas Nationals Park is closer to neutral) but how will he produce in 2015, 2016 or 2017 (assuming the Mayans are wrong) when he’s in his late 30’s and still making $18 million a year?

It’s understandable that the Nationals wanted to make a move to appease their fan base after another dreadful season in 2010 but this contract could be a major albatross for the organization in a few years when Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg develop and the team is ready to challenge for the division. It’s not quite Richie Sexson bad, but Werth’s contract isn’t far off, and it doesn’t make the team much more competitive than they were in 2010.

All the deal really accomplishes is adding to the National(s) deficit. How fitting…