Adrian Beltre is out. Chris Woodward is in. Chris Woodward's not any sort of long- (or even medium-) term answer. So as long as the Mariners are hanging around the fringes of the pennant race, people are going to speculate about the M's acquiring an established third baseman.
Case in point: The Tacoma News-Tribune's John McGrath suggests -- after a long allusion to Piano Legs Hickman, for which McGrath scores big bonus points -- that the Mariners have nobody in the organization who can take over at third base, and thus should look outside the organization, and McGrath's gaze alights on Greg Dobbs.
Meanwhile, Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Mariners have "have engaged in preliminary discussions with the Padres about third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, according to one source with knowledge of the talks."
Now, don't get me wrong: both of those are fascinating ideas. They just wouldn't lead to many (if any) extra wins for the Mariners.
Like Raul Ibanez, Dobbs saw his hitting stats jump after leaving Seattle for Philadelphia. Two stat lines:
American League (Seattle), 2004-2006: .257/.291/.351
National League (Philadelphia), 2007-2009: .278/.327/.463
Dobbs wasn't even a great hitter in the minor leagues. The only place he's ever hit, really, was in Double-A way back when, and in 2007 and 2008 in a hitter's park in a (relatively) weak league. If the M's could have him for a song? Sure, why not. He's better than Woodward. But so much better that anybody should trade a legitimate prospect for him.
Kouzmanoff's a different case, of course. He's younger than Dobbs, and did some pretty impressive things not so long ago. But there's that same moving-from-the-National-to-the-American thing, plus the little matter of the sub-.300 on-base percentage over these past two seasons. And finally, Kouzmanoff is just adequate with the glove, at best. Just like Dobbs. And like Dobbs, Kouzmanoff would be just a small improvement over Woodward, but with a tad more upside because of his relative youth.
Dobbs can probably be gotten for little of value, considering that he's been reduced to mostly pinch-hitting appearances. Getting Kouzmanoff would probably mean giving up at least a Grade B prospect, and possibly a B+.
Bottom line: The Mariners really shouldn't give up much of anything. Not now, when they're in third place in early July. If they're still close to first place in late July and their starting pitchers are healthy and happy, then maybe they can seriously considering trading away a lot of future for a little bit of present.
Now, though? It's all just idle talk, or should be.