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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 24, 2007 8:12 PM

M's win 4-2, gunning for first

Posted by Geoff Baker

Another night, another nailbiter pulled out by the Mariners. I'm sure your collective hearts can't take much more of this. And it's not even September yet.

The Blue Jays aren't doing their job in Anaheim so far. It's 2-0 for the Angels in the fifth. I should have mentioned before: Roy Halladay is a great pitcher. But he's got just one career win in six starts with an 8.01 ERA in Anaheim. Remember, a Toronto win and the M's are tied for first place.

Back to the game against the Rangers: Kevin Millwood is the type of pitcher you have to bury early when you get the chance. Time and time again, I've seen him hang in there and beat opponents who leave runners on base. We saw it nearly happen again tonight. Nothing to be "ashamed" of, as one of you suggested. The guy has made a career out of this. Ichiro comes through with another three hits, further solidifying his MVP candidacy heading into September. Good thing he's locked up.

How about Jose Guillen? Another candidate for a contract extension? Has he turned up his level of play on this trip or what? A home run, two more big hits and two more RBI. Some of you asked me what's gone on with his contract talks. From what I've been told, they are ongoing. Further talks took place in recent days. Here's what's changed: there is no longer any reason for Guillen to want to get a deal done quickly.

We mentioned earlier in the week about that two-year extension Jermaine Dye signed with the White Sox. There are no longer any big-threat corner outfielders who are going to hit the free agent market this winter. Guillen stands to make a lot of money if he hits the open road. He has the leverage here. The team does not.

What type of deal are we talking about?

Well, the last thing Seattle's front office needed was for Eric Byrnes to re-up for three years, $30 million with the Diamondbacks three weeks ago. Talks between the team and Guillen were well underway by that point with Guillen looking for a quick deal. Talk back then was the team floating two years plus an option. Forget about that now. The Byrnes deal, from this vantage point, now appears to be the guidepost for any talks.

Byrnes and Guillen are the same age. Guillen is hitting .295 with 19 homers and 81 RBI. Byrnes is hitting .300 with 18 homers and 71 RBI. Pretty similar numbers, no? How about career-wise? This will be Guillen's fourth 20-homer season in five years barring an injury. Byrnes has two others and this would be his third. Guillen also has a 100-RBI season behind him and could get that this year. Byrnes never has had one and likely won't in 2007.

Sure, there are other peripherals we can get into, but Guillen comes out on top in most of them from a career perspective. So, what's he worth to you? Should the team keep him, or go to Wladimir Balentien, or Adam Jones, in his spot next year? Raul Ibanez would have to stay in left for that Jones in right thing to work. Anyway, what do you all think? Is the "game face" Guillen has shown up with this month and this week (maybe all season) worth more than the stats someone else could bring here? Are there intangibles at-play?

Is there even a debate to be had here? You tell me.

All I know is, the M's have won four of five to start this trip. And Guillen has played a large role. Getting excited yet?

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