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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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August 2, 2007 6:44 PM

Answering some questions

Posted by Geoff Baker

Just thought I'd respond to some of your queries. Before I do, here's a look at how the media covering the Angels is looking at the AL West race. Shades of 1995 all over again. So, enjoy it. You folks aren't the only ones stressing about your favorite team. Amazing how things sometimes look very different from the other side, isn't it?

It was "Vogel" who emailed me that link and i see he just posted it down below. Oh well, now you have two links.

To "OC Jeff'', I will say that Jose Guillen is the only one to have come out so directly in his opposition to the Adam Jones promotion. Is he the only one who feels that way? I highly doubt it. I've had at least one other player tell me privately that the team doesn't need a minor leaguer to jumpstart the offense. Other players have made on-the-record statements about the clubhouse chemistry being very good as is and not to mess with it. These weren't directly in reference to Jones, but he was being heavily talked about at the time. Do I expect to see the M's form a united front around Jones to "protect'' him tomorrow? Yes, I do. They won't be helping themselves by putting added pressure on him.

To "Traveler'' you are correct in noting the difference between Guillen seeking me out versus the other way around. I was on a very tight deadline because of the four-hour game and the last thing I wanted to do was start taking a clubhouse survey about the move. But I don't think he was trying to sabotage the team in any way. I think that, in his own way, he was standing up for the guys already on the club. His previous problems, in Anaheim, came when he criticized his own pitching staff for not throwing inside enough to "protect'' their hitters from getting plunked. This time around, he was defending his teammates from the idea of losing playing time. There is a difference.

Is Guillen going to lose playing time to Jones? I doubt it, as Guillen leads the club in RBI, has a cannon arm in right and has hit near the middle of the order since the team began contending. Taking him out of the lineup would be a foolish move on the M's part. That said, could the arrival of Jones impact contract talks with Guillen? I could imagine so. That said, last I heard, they were going well and the club was dangling something like two years plus an option. Heard Bill Bavasi on the radio saying there were no extension talks and he didn't know where these things get started. Oh I don't know, I suppose we all just pull it out of our ears. Remember, many of you were wondering a couple of days ago why we wrote that Jones would be up by Friday when the team seemed to be indicating otherwise.

Consider it a lesson. Don't take everything that is said too literally. Read between the lines a little.

The team was saying very nice things about Richie Sexson all month before sitting him down the other night. Sort of like what your moms told you. If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all. My mom tried to tell me that, but I told her I'd lose my job and have to move back into her basement so she quickly stopped.

But the M's subscribe to that notion, which is nice. They gave Sexson and Raul Ibanez the entire month of July to pull it together. Whatever happens next, don't claim to be surprised.

For my part, I know that unless Sexson has a multi-hit game against Jon Lester, he probably won't play again in the Boston series as anything but a pinch-hitter. Jon McLaren is too classy to say it out loud, but the platoon is on until Sexson hits his way out of it. Read between the lines.

For "Paul B" yes, those relievers did save the day, but two of them did it after creating their own messes in the first place. Would be like me setting a house on fire and then taking credit for putting it out with a garden hose. And as some of you already mentioned, Vlad Guerrero appeared safe at first base, which would have scored that 10th inning run. Hey, I liked the job the relievers did after that, but if you're going to make a case for lights-out bullpen performance, this probably wasn't the night to do it with. Gutsy? You bet. But shutdown relief pitching? Hardly. From J.J. Putz on down, it seemed shaky at times.

To "NW Baseball Fan'' you can't compare Putz to Goose Gossage. They pitched in different eras. Back when Gossage played, starting pitchers used to throw 20 or 30 complete games a season and pitch 300 innings. I had a long conversation about this once with Rick Langford, formerly of the Oakland A's and whose arm was burned out because of his incredible workload. Different eras, different training methods for pitchers all through their careers.

Today's era of specialization for relievers means only a select few closers can do what Gossage did. Mariano Rivera is a guy who can go multiple innings and still be successful, though the Yankees have limited those as he gets older. Putz has only blown two saves, so I'm not panicking. But again, I saw what happened to B.J. Ryan last year in Toronto and Ryan had looked strong as a horse right up until that late-July period.

Anyone want to see Putz on the DL all of next season? Me neither. When I say don't use him in the eighth, I am obviously referring to multi-inning saves. If there is a high leverage situation in the eighth, then by all means, bring him in if you think that's the game right there. Just don't send him back out in the ninth. You have to save his arm. As Miguel Batista keeps telling me in some of our longer conversations, each arm only has so many bullets in it. You have to save those bullets for when you really need them. Because once they run out, you're shooting blanks, or something like that. Know who told him that one? Sandy Koufax.

I happen to think Sandy and Miguel are right on the money. I'm sure if we asked Goose, he'd agree too. No more multi-inning saves for Putz until at least September. Why risk it?

Hey, what do you know? Barry Bonds is up. Time to go get a drink of water. I could care less. But my colleagues here at The Times seem real excited about it and are gathered around the TV. I think maybe I should write a story so they can edit it or something. Find them something meaningful to do. I feel badly for Hank Aaron, a voice of reason and dignity in a messed up world.

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