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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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December 3, 2007 6:43 PM

Bavasi scours for two "horses"

Posted by Geoff Baker

IMG_1840.JPG

No, not the horses pictured above. We're talking about mound horses. Pitchers. Guys for the starting rotation. The ones in the photo are two that were staring at me as I tried to wind my way back to the media room here at the Gaylord Opryland resort and convention center. Lots of that kind of stuff around here. Anyway, the Mariners are into "Plan B" mode in their search to upgrade two of five rotation spots, having left the Johan Santana sweepstakes to the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. GM Bill Bavasi is said to have asked the Milwaukee Brewers about Ben Sheets and Brew Crew GM Doug Melvin did tell his team's beat reporters he met with "a West Coast" club today.

The Brewers need a corner outfielder, but also a catcher who is ready or almost ready for the big leagues. There would seem to be a bit of a match there with Jeff Clement. Remember, the Brewers only have Jason Kendall around for one year. A guy dealt to Milwaukee would be Kendall's backup in 2008 with a look at taking over the starting job by 2009. Milwaukee also needs relief pitching. Too early to say whether anything will develop out of that.

There have been a handful of rumors about a possible deal with Cleveland involving Raul Ibanez. The way this rumor goes, pitcher Cliff Lee would be coming back the other way. There is somewhat of a fit here, since the Indians have been looking for a corner outfield bat that hits lefthanded. And a platoon of Ibanez against lefties wouldn't be a problem for the Indians either, since they have a slew of righthanded bats who could fill that role.

Any real hang-up to Ibanez-Lee, however, at least from Cleveland's side, would be in the contracts. Ibanez only has one year left on his deal -- at $5.5 million. Lee, on the other hand, is under control for at least two more years at $3.75 million in 2008 and $5.75 million in 2009. There's also a club option for $8 million in 2010, so that's a lot the Indians would be giving up for an outfielder in his mid-30s with only one year left on his contract.

Lee had an off-year in 2007 and it's questionable how much he fit in Cleveland's plans. But the guy went 18-5 in 2005 and won 14 games in 2006. His ERA+ was above league average the three seasons before this past one. He's still only 29 despite being somewhat stubborn when it comes to what he does on the mound and how well he listens to coaches. At least, that's the word out of Cleveland. I don't know, that seems like a lot for the Indians to give up for merely Ibanez. I don't see it happening, but we'll find out.

Then, there's Erik Bedard. The Baltimore folks I talk to say that O's president Andy McPhail wants a bunch of major league ready, cheap young position players. Just think Adam Jones, Jeff Clement, Brandon Morrow and more. Morrow's not a position player, remember? They likely want \more than folks want to part with for a pitcher who's yet to throw 200 innings in a season. Yes, Bedard is one of the best in baseball when healthy. But, so is Rich Harden. Therein lies the problem of giving up the farm. The M's are in on Bedard, hoping for the price to come down.

Here's the thing. We likely won't know more until after Santana's deal happens. Plenty of people assume the loser of the Santana sweepstakes will go after Bedard as well. I'm not so sure about that. I spoke to a Red Sox scout an hour ago and he told me his team will likely go after Oakland's Dan Haren ahead of Bedard. The same scout also had the feeling the Orioles would be unlikely to deal Bedard within the AL East.

If he's right, the market for Bedard would likely come down. At least, down from the rumor of at least three, possibly four young players. Should be interesting to keep an eye on what happens. The Mets and Dodgers have had interest as well, so we'll see if they can keep his cost high.

One thing worth noting is that conversations between the O's and Bedard have cooled in recent days in regards to him getting an extension by the team. Bedard is under contract through 2009, but the team would be pressed to deal him before then -- especially if Santana helps set the market for a horde of prospects in return.

So, that's it for now. No real movement to report. We meet with Bavasi at his suite in less than an hour. I know what he'll tell us. He's still looking. Looking for some horses. Two of them.

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Posted by Kyle in Kentucky

7:36 PM, Dec 03, 2007

Very clever with the picture Geoff...well done. Sheets for Clement (and another one or two??) intrigues me. That seems like it may be very possible to do. I'm not a fan of Ibanez for Lee (unless his first name was Carlos or Derek). The way I see it, you'd be trading a consistent-game for an inconsistent-injury prone-hard head. Don't like the odds there.

Posted by byebyeIbanez

7:45 PM, Dec 03, 2007

I like the idea of getting Ben Sheets but I'd rather give up Johjima (however unlikely that is) just because Jeff Clement is going to be a big time power hitter for us especially at Safeco and it would suck to lose him.

Cliff Lee for Ibanez is also a great move, however I'd settle for Prior if the Indians trade falls through. Hopefully a package of Ibanez and Baek for Cliff Lee would be more than enough, maybe we could even get Betancourt from them to bolster the pen? (I doubt it, but you never know =] )

Posted by jon

7:54 PM, Dec 03, 2007

I do like going after sheets as well, id say why not give them ibanez since they want left handed corner outfielder and someone else for sheets? perhaps a catcher like johnson. would be intriguing. Im not a fan of going for lee but prior could be nice if he got healthy big if there.

Posted by AK-Rowdy

7:56 PM, Dec 03, 2007

Never posted on here before but I'm really intrigued by the idea of Cliff Lee for Ibanez. I thought about mentioning him back at the trade deadline but I couldn't really think about what to give up for him. While last season was bad, he did do well in 2005 and 2006. People here in Cleveland couldn't stop talking about him being their two or three guy for the future. I'd be willing to take a look at Ibanez and someone like Baek for him.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

8:01 PM, Dec 03, 2007

Fantastic coverage Geoff of the meetings. I applaud the Times for sending you out there. I really hope Ibanez is dealt so Balentien plays opposite of Jones in the corners. Prior over Lee, but both pitchers are backline starters. Edwin Jackson has fantastic stuff scouts just salivate over. He's 2 years away from being a #2, #3 starter. Sheets is the next Mo Vaughn, stay away from him. I'd bet a fortune Ben would never pass his physical.

Posted by david h

8:12 PM, Dec 03, 2007

Thanks for so much info in one day, Geoff. Did you have a chance to ask Bavasi about the reasoning for not offering arbitration to Guillen? I'm having a tough time wrapping my head around that one - either an extra draft pick or Guillen on a one year contract seems like a win-win.

Posted by MT

8:14 PM, Dec 03, 2007

Thanks for all the coverage Geoff. After last year's meetings, this is a very nerve-racking event for M's fans.

I've long felt that the Brewers would be good trade partners. They need a catcher (I think Rob Johnson is more of a catcher at this point than Clement is, and I really want to keep the guy around), and relievers. The M's are deep in both. I'd be much more interested in Capuano over Sheets. A healthy Sheets is incredible, but then so is Rich Harden...

Edwin Jackson would be a nice addition to the back of the rotation. Resin, I don't know what scouting reports you've read, but his stuff ain't all that. Low 90 FB, okay curve, ok slider, no idea how to put them over the plate. Tampa's horrid defense may have inflated his ERA, but so did his 5 walks per game. Also, Bavasi has said multiple times he would not start the season with both Wlad and Jones in the OF.

Posted by MT

8:14 PM, Dec 03, 2007

Thanks for all the coverage Geoff. After last year's meetings, this is a very nerve-racking event for M's fans.

I've long felt that the Brewers would be good trade partners. They need a catcher (I think Rob Johnson is more of a catcher at this point than Clement is, and I really want to keep the guy around), and relievers. The M's are deep in both. I'd be much more interested in Capuano over Sheets. A healthy Sheets is incredible, but then so is Rich Harden...

Edwin Jackson would be a nice addition to the back of the rotation. Resin, I don't know what scouting reports you've read, but his stuff ain't all that. Low 90 FB, okay curve, ok slider, no idea how to put them over the plate. Tampa's horrid defense may have inflated his ERA, but so did his 5 walks per game. Also, Bavasi has said multiple times he would not start the season with both Wlad and Jones in the OF.

Posted by david h

8:19 PM, Dec 03, 2007

Another question, this one about the winter meetings generally:


Is the hotel open to the public during the meetings? Can anyone stroll about the floor and try to overhear what's going on (obviously without the direct access to front office personnel that the media has)? I ask because I'm currently unemployed and within a not-unreasonable driving distance, so would find it interesting to see what the meetings are like in person.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

8:21 PM, Dec 03, 2007

Bingo on Bedard. Be patient..this could happen and it could be the best move (other than Ichiro) that the Mairners have ever made.
Bedard is second only to Santana in best available pitchers. If Bavaasi gets this done (at a reasonable cost to the club) than I take back all (ok most) of the horrible things that I have said about him.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

8:21 PM, Dec 03, 2007

Bingo on Bedard. Be patient..this could happen and it could be the best move (other than Ichiro) that the Mariners have ever made.
Bedard is second only to Santana in best available pitchers. If Bavaasi gets this done (at a reasonable cost to the club) than I take back all (ok most) of the horrible things that I have said about him.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

8:30 PM, Dec 03, 2007

David H - You would not be welcome at the meetings. Get a job!

Posted by DT

8:32 PM, Dec 03, 2007

OK Billy, redemption time. Deal smart, either trad for excellence, or promote from within. Are you seriously considering Jackson from TB?? thats what the cynics would expect. Promoting from within is better than dealing for crap. Consider giving Rohrbauch a shot in ST, the guys AAA stats were awesome. If we could get both Kuroda and Bedard, it would be worth making some kids wait and season awhile longer.

Posted by Mr. X

8:53 PM, Dec 03, 2007

Speaking of unemployed tax-drains, are there any representatives from some of the other Mariner blogs at the winter meetings?


Nice "horses" picture, it reminds me of a "lefty sock" picture that was floating around a couple of years ago.

Posted by byebyeIbanez

9:07 PM, Dec 03, 2007

DT, relax man. If we trade for Edwin Jackson then it's going to be for a guy like Rob Johnson and Jackson isn't getting a guaranteed spot. If he goes into spring training and earns it then ok, but just because we trade for him doesn't mean he has a spot. Just relax man.

Posted by byebyeIbanez

9:11 PM, Dec 03, 2007

david h -- it's not a win-win when if Guillen accepts a) thats $10 mil you don't want to pay and b) it keeps Jones off the field when you want him to finally play everyday

Posted by Adam

9:20 PM, Dec 03, 2007

bbI - Jones is going to play everyday, regardless of whether Guillen is there or not. Also, as I noted earlier, the "downside" of offering Guillen arbitration is that he stays for ONE YEAR (while Wlad is still not ready) and matches last year's production (and why wouldn't he?). The upside is that he rejects a one-year deal through arbitration because he signs with another team (Royals?) for three years, and we get a top-40 pick.


If the Mariners are so against putting up with Guillen for another year, getting 25+ HRs and 100 RBI, someone with an attitude in the clubhouse, that they are willing to turn their backs on a top-40 pick, they truly are idiots.


And I do Clement-plus for Sheets yesterday. That's a great deal for us. A great deal.

Posted by Kyle in Kentucky

9:26 PM, Dec 03, 2007

For all you Wladimir Balentien lovers out there (and I hope that he would give me the reason to become one someday) he's currently hitting .196 in the Venezuela Winter Leagues. 21 hits in 107 at-bats and only 4 homeruns. He's only 23 still though so by no means am I dogging him. Let's just not get ahead of ourselves thinking he's going to be in the outfield next year.

Posted by -j.

9:53 PM, Dec 03, 2007

Re: Balentien

Do you also see that his SO/BB rate is VERY good. Don't you think that may be the reason he is down there.. to work on his plate discipline? He has a +.150 OBP so that isn't too shabby.

Take Venezuelan league stats with a huge grain of salt since it is basically used as an instructional league.

Posted by Walrus

10:05 PM, Dec 03, 2007

Geoff, Please do not let up on this Guillen story.
IMHO,There is no way to defend this move, based on everything that Bavasi and the rest of the M's FO has said for the past 2+ years.
By letting Guillen go, the M's now NEED another OF, The M's NEED a vocal LEADER and clubhouse LEADER, The M's NEED a clubhouse VETERAN PRESENCE with ATTITUDE, the M's NEED a PROVEN MOTO hitter, and lastly especially considering all these rumors for TOR pitchers - who do the M's turn to in the OF, just in case Bavasi actually trades JONES???

Posted by Lance

10:05 PM, Dec 03, 2007

If it doesn't bring Johan, I'm very much against any deal for a starter that sends Brandon Morrow away. Bedard, Sheets, any name isn't going to do what Morrow's going to do for this team. Bedard is good, but he's no ace. Sheets is also very good, but is too often hurt. They may be names, but a year from now Brandon is going to be every bit the name those guys are.
.
So, what reason is there to believe Cliff Lee is going to have a comeback year? Ad, for the best left-handed slugger we've got? That's also a bad deal. Broussard for Lee makes more sense. But, wouldn't that be strange, to trade Ben back to Cleveland? Maybe they'd make Shin-soo Choo a throw in.
.
Or, better yet, Jose Lopez for Asdrubal Cabrera. I'd do that deal in a minute.

Posted by Patrick F.

10:15 PM, Dec 03, 2007

Sheets would be a good fit, as would Cliff Lee, but parting with Clement and Ibanez seems like two moves in the wrong direction. Ibanez is one of our main RBI guys, plus a left handed bat that plays well at Safeco and Clement is the left handed power hitter of the future, getting rid of him would be a mistake. Clement is the one prospect the M's have that I don't think they should deal, really in any circumstance. Wasn't Cliff Lee sent to Triple A last year? Would Stottlemeyer be able to salvage his potential?

I could see moving Raul, but who do you bring in to replace that kind of production? Jose Guillen? I can understand starting Jones, but the team needs veteran position players to win, in my opinion.

Keep up the good work, Geoff.

Posted by byebyeIbanez

10:31 PM, Dec 03, 2007

Walrus -- c'mon man, I am/was Guillen's biggest supporter when he was hear. I loved his attitude and how hard he played the game, his leadership by doing rather than talking. But leaders will always emerge in a clubhouse among players that are together 200+ days a year, it is inevitable. So relax, take a chill pill buddy and enjoy the winter meetings. Gotta love the offseason, don't you?

Posted by Walrus

10:33 PM, Dec 03, 2007

Geoff,
I know I am hammering this Guillen issue, but please try to get Bavasi / M's FO to truly explain this Guillen move.
In my eyes, all I see is this Guillen move completely illustrates how PHONY, DISHONEST, and either idiotic or udderly incompetent the M's FO / Bavasi are. Let me explain...
Phony - 1. From August on, this FO lead fans and Guillen believe that there would be a deal worked out. However, the M's NEVER presented a reasonable proposal to Guillen. 2. The first main reason being mentioned that Guillen was not re-signed was the steroids. Well, they still have 4 players in the M's organization who have been CONVICTED and served time for steroid use - like Morse, and they have 3 players in the organization who have DUI's - like Sexson, and the Mariners continue to promote and commend these guys for their attitude in trying to overcome their past transgressions. This steroids / drugs issue is only used as a PHONY reason to tell the media/ fans, so the M's FO / Bavasi can keep their true intentions hidden.
DISHONEST - 1. As mentioned in prior post, the M's FO / Bavasi has NO ONE in their organization that the M's FO / Bavasi trusts to put in the OF if Jones is traded. Now Bavasi has said he has a plan. However, Bavasi has also said there is a budget that he can not exceed. Thus,IF Bavasi and crew were honestly trying to trade Jones for a TOR pitcher...HOW would they replace Jones, given that Jones costs $300K for 2008...IT is NOT POSSIBLE. 2. IF Bavasi had a plan that included trading, based on the past moves that the M's FO / Bavasi has done, they ALWAYS have to create a space for the move both financially, as well as physically. While there might be moves coming, there still is no where near the cap room for a $20+ mil pitcher PLUS and OF and bench players.
The idiotic and udderly incompetent reasons have been stated many times before by many others on this blog, so no need to make this post any longer.

Posted by Adam

10:33 PM, Dec 03, 2007

Bedard is no ace? Whaaaaaaa?


Come on, Lance. Use some common sense. There is NO WAY that, in one year, Morrow will be the same pitcher that Bedard is. NO WAY. Bedard is the second- or third-best starter in the AL, after Santana.


That's just insane. I'd give up Morrow for Bedard in a nanosecond. I'd give up Jones and Morrow for Bedard just as fast.


Bedard not an ace... Yikes.

Posted by scrapiron

10:39 PM, Dec 03, 2007

The Guillen deal only makes sense if the M's thought no one would sign him and he'd come back to the M's for the $10 mil. Currently it seems very likely that he will sign somewhere, so the M's look foolish.

However, what if the M's think Guillen will come up listed on the Mitchell report and MLB decides to suspend Guillen? This would scare off any potential new teams willing to sign Guillen and the M's would be stuck with a suspended Guillen for $10 mil for maybe half of a season.

Posted by Walrus

10:48 PM, Dec 03, 2007

byebyeibanez,
You are right. Leaders ALWAYS emerge from a group of people together for so long.
So why have the M's FO / Bavasi been saying for 2+ years that they NEEDED a leader and NEEDED a player with an attitude.
Why did the M's sign Everett and Guillen to begin with? It supposedly had NOTHING to do with their skills, but instead that these players had the leadership qualities that Sexson, Ibanez, Putz, Ichiro, Beltre, and etc... did not have, and that the M's FO did not believe would emerge from the current Mariners.
Then, after THE LEADER - THE PLAYER who brought ATTITUDE actually performed and LEAD the team to near 90 wins...this player is not needed to help lead these same Mariners to the play-offs this year.
Where is the honesty and integrity in this move?

Posted by Shupurrs

10:49 PM, Dec 03, 2007

I would love if Bavasi thought like this:
* Clement, O'Flahery and Reed to the Brewers for Sheets
* Reed, Balentien, Sexson, and Washburn/Chris Tillman for Bedard and scraps
* Rob Johnson, Morrow and Baek for Edwin Jackson and Wade Davis
* Ibanez, Jones and O'Flaherty to the Indians for Cliff Lee and Sizemore

Posted by Adam

10:59 PM, Dec 03, 2007

Scrapiron - I don't think anyone named in the Mitchell Report can be suspended, since there was no steroid policy in place until 2006.


I could be wrong, but I think that's correct.

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