Ellison Dealt Closer To Home




The Deal
Faced with the prospect of trying to squeeze three out-of-options players onto their Opening Day roster, the Giants opted instead to deal center fielder Jason Ellison to the Mariners for lefthander Travis Blackley.
The Big Leaguers
The righthanded-hitting Ellison, who lives in Issaquah, Wash., about 20 miles from Seattle, comes to the Mariners with a career big league batting line of .255/.305/.367 in 447 at-bats spread over four seasons. His most extended stay came in 2005 as he covered for an injury to Barry Bonds, and he brings solid defense at all three outfield spots, a strong throwing arm and above-average speed to his new club. Ellison, 28, has hit .305/.372/.417 in 632 minor league games, having spent parts of the past four seasons with Triple-A Fresno and skipping Double-A entirely.
The Prospects
The Australia-born Blackley, 23, rated as the Mariners' top lefthanded pitching prospect in 2004 and 2005 before having shoulder surgery that wiped out his 2005 season. Blackely returned in 2006 to make 27 starts between Double- and Triple-A, showing the same plus changeup he had prior to tearing his labrum. His fastball velocity dipped into the mid-80s, though he retained his aggressive edge on the mound. Blackley logged 26 big league innings in 2004--though they were accompanied by an unsightly 10.04 ERA--but has fared much better in the minors, posting a 3.44 ERA with 571-232 strikeouts-walks in 628 innings.
Quick Take
Because the Giants also had to keep outfielder Todd Linden and first baseman Lance Niekro or risk losing them to waivers, Ellison comes to Seattle at a low cost. With Ichiro Suzuki entrenched in center field, Ellison will fill in on the corners and provide insurance in case of injury to Jose Guillen. His presence also allows top prospect Adam Jones to develop at his own pace in Triple-A Tacoma.

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