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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 5, 2007 10:06 PM

Heading home

Posted by Geoff Baker

IMG_1878.JPG

This is the scene around me in the media room as I type out this post. The annual winter meetings at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center won't be officially over until after tomorrow morning's Rule 5 draft. But it sure feels like they're done.

Here's the scoop on the M's for now...

It looks like they may have offered that fourth year to Japanese free agent Hiroki Kuroda. GM Bill Bavasi spoke to us tonight and confirmed that his club had upped more than one offer to free-agent targets. Bavasi wouldn't name names, but when asked about going from three to four years on a pitcher, he offered up this tidbit:

"Sometimes you have to assume that you're signing the right guy,'' Bavasi said. "If you're going to go out and sign a free agent pitcher you have to have the confidence to feel like you're singing the right guy.

"And if you are and he's healthy, and you think he's going to stay healthy,'' he added, "why wouldn't you want to have him for three or four years? Because the market keeps going up. In that third and fourth year, you may have a very cheap option.''

Yes, he said, it is obviously a risk. If the pitcher goes down in Year 1, it could be big trouble. But as Bavasi said, a pitcher who stays healthy through those latter years could be yours for significantly below market prices. That said, it's still a risk given the uncertain nature of pitchers' arms.

That fourth year takes the package up to the $40 million range, if indeed it's what the M's did today. Bavasi never gives names or details of anything he's in the midst of negotiating, but he seemed to be suggesting strongly that he'd gone that fourth year. If I'm wrong, it's all on me. Kuroda, as far as I know, is still planning a tour of prospective cities next week.

Despite what you may have heard or read, the Mariners are not back in on the Johan Santana talks any more than they were yesterday or two days ago. They are on a back burner. The Mariners could get back into the mix as a fallback plan should talks completely fall apart between the Twins and Red Sox (or Mets), but for now the M's are Minnesota's Plan C or D. Or maybe zero. They are not in-play. Do not believe anything else.

Bavasi says his team is "in-play" on only one of the three pending deals for top pitchers Santana, Dan Haren and Erik Bedard. We know it's not Haren, since Bavasi is loathe to deal in the AL West, and we know it's not Santana.

That leaves Erik Bedard. The M's, I'm still told, are the best fit as a trade partner where the Orioles are concerned. That's not from Bavasi, it's coming from the Baltimore side. There is still a gulf between what the O's want and what other teams are willing to pay.

Baltimore wants major league ready pitching in the Bedard deal, as do the Twins for Santana. We saw the Dodgers balk at offering set-up man Jonathan Broxton to the O's. Bavasi and the M's will try to find the right fit without hurting themselves for years to come.

Again, there is a gap that needs covering here. Seattle is viewing the mega-deal that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers as one that cost Detroit two good prospects -- Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller -- and four decent minor leaguers.

In their view, the Tigers got two "monster players" for only two top prospects and filler. So what is the price, they wonder, of one "monster player" that Bedard or Santana, would represent.

When you look at that line of thinking and the pricetag being asked by Baltimore and Minnesota, you realize why no trades are getting done here. Will things change? It might. If Seattle wants Bedard badly enough, it doesn't matter what Bavasi and the Mariners think of the prospects in the Detroit-Florida trade. All that matters is what the O's and Twins think.

If they feel the Tigers gave up six top prospects, then their opinion is all that will count. The price will be at least three top prospects for one "monster" pitcher. Not one or one and a half. Follow?

The good news is, from all I'm hearing, nobody has trumped anything the M's have put forward. The bad news? O's president Andy MacPhail still doesn't like what he's been offered. And the beat goes on...

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Posted by Zach C

11:40 PM, Dec 05, 2007

I'm wondering, could the Ms pull off a blockbuster of their own? Bedard,Roberts for Jones, Marrow, Balentien, Lopez and some fillers. If it can be done, I would have absolutly no problem with it. You get two cheap stars that are here for a while, and the FO could still persue another OF and afford Kuroda.

Posted by shane/olympia

11:56 PM, Dec 05, 2007

andrew jones is a dodger for anyone that wants to know, atleast he sttayed in the NL

what about this

Balentine - marrow - rob johnson - lopez - washburn

for bedard - roberts - baez - - roberts and bedard on the blocks and baez could setup putz
bedard - would be the ace
roberts - gives the m's the second spot in the lineup the m's have been experimenting with and leaves vidro expendable to make room for clement on the roster
baez would be added to the pen

sign bartolo colon and kuroda

gives you

Bedard
felix
colon
bautista
kuroda

6th spot goes to RRS - Baek - Horcaio

1b - sexson - broussard
2b - brian roberts - bloomquist - chen
3b - beltre - bloomquist
ss - uni - bloomquist
lf - raul - broussard - morse
cf - ichiro - bloomquist - reed
RF - jones - broussard
C - Joh - clement
bench could be broussard, willie clement, vidro,lorretta, chen lahair, jimerson, morse reed

line up

ichiro
roberts
beltre
raul
sexson
jones - jones will get to leadoff innnings behind sexson
broussard
joh
uni


its all one cray idea but i like it

any thoughts?

Posted by Al

12:02 AM, Dec 06, 2007

Shane,

Balentein, Lopez, Johnson, and Washburn wouldn't even get you Bedard. The Orioles certainly aren't going to throw in Baez and Roberts.

If you swapped out Balentein for Adam Jones, that would (my opinion) be enough for Bedard alone, maybe. That's too high a price, but that's what the O's would be asking. Besides, jettisoning Washburn still would leave us with 2 voids in the rotation. No way Bavasi does this.

Posted by Zach C

12:03 AM, Dec 06, 2007

I don't think the Ms could get away with keeping Jones, but if so all the better.

I don't know if the FO takes this into consideration, but there would only be one lefthanded pitcher in the rotation, thats a problem.

I would take Vidro over Broussard at the DH any day.

Posted by Tictac

12:13 AM, Dec 06, 2007

I have this sneaking suspicion that J.J. is gonna be snuck in a deal for Bedard. Baltimore wants major league ready pitching, coupled with Bavasi's mandate to get this trade done, which will equal a coup for Baltimore.

I think Baltimore will fleece us for:
Jones, Putz, Sherill, Morrow all for Bedard

I hope I'm crazy, and maybe since I'm up too late I am, but I just get this feeling...

Posted by shane/olympia

12:18 AM, Dec 06, 2007

thats why its a crazy idea

so what if baez was cut from the deal - any closer
what if they got a cheap .300 switch hitter in vidro

o's would get 3 starters and maybe 5 in a year or so with how it is and vidro could be a solid pinch hitter

i think another good question is the O's looking to wipe the slate clean and get young or try and compete in the AL east (impossible they are doomed for ever)

so
balentine - morrow - lopez - washburn - johnson - vidro

for bedard and roberts

the more players the m's unload the more they can go and use the money they have now

on pitchers like colon - kuroda - silva - fogg - clement - livian herndez - jason jennings - loshe - jon lieber - freddy garcia

outfielders to replace raul in the field
fukadome - corey patterson - mike cameron -

also while looking at relif pitchers the m's should sign everyday eddie to a minor league deal

Its all one crazy idea

so is this any better

Posted by Lance

12:22 AM, Dec 06, 2007

The Twins are simply using the Mariners in a desperate effort to create a market for Santana, where what once was is quickly diminishing to little now that the Yankees have pulled out. That's really nothing that other teams haven't done with Seattle over the years, pretend Seattle is in a paticular deal when, in fact, they're not.

Posted by David

3:40 AM, Dec 06, 2007

Roberts is an All-Star second baseman and a favorite of Angelos...you would have to blow them away just to get him. To include Bedard in the deal would cost the farm. The players suggested so far are no where near the farm. Also, Baez is on the DL for most of 08...forget that idea.

Posted by Z4EC

4:28 AM, Dec 06, 2007

"fukadome"


WTF.

Umm...I haven't followed baseball since the season was over. Is that a real name or is it meant to be a joke? fucka do me?

Posted by sundodger in sodak

6:02 AM, Dec 06, 2007

it cracks me up how fans in hot stove league discussions think that a smart GM would take any team's baggage. no one is going to take washburn off of our hands. landing bedard is going to take a something that will be painful for fans. we will lose 2-3 prized prospects, and probably a regular on top of that, if not more. the question is whether bavasi built up the team enough to withstand that kind of hit. detroit will be able to pull it off. i'm not sure the mariners have enough to pull off the trade. but i like a rotation with bedard, felix, kuroda, batista, and washburn.

Posted by sundodger in sodak

6:02 AM, Dec 06, 2007

it cracks me up how fans in hot stove league discussions think that a smart GM would take any team's baggage. no one is going to take washburn off of our hands. landing bedard is going to take a something that will be painful for fans. we will lose 2-3 prized prospects, and probably a regular on top of that, if not more. the question is whether bavasi built up the team enough to withstand that kind of hit. detroit will be able to pull it off. i'm not sure the mariners have enough to pull off the trade. but i like a rotation with bedard, felix, kuroda, batista, and washburn.

Posted by sundodger in sodak

6:02 AM, Dec 06, 2007

it cracks me up how fans in hot stove league discussions think that a smart GM would take any team's baggage. no one is going to take washburn off of our hands. landing bedard is going to take a something that will be painful for fans. we will lose 2-3 prized prospects, and probably a regular on top of that, if not more. the question is whether bavasi built up the team enough to withstand that kind of hit. detroit will be able to pull it off. i'm not sure the mariners have enough to pull off the trade. but i like a rotation with bedard, felix, kuroda, batista, and washburn.

Posted by ricofoy

6:27 AM, Dec 06, 2007

Here's my last word on Guillen - until he has his inevitable blow-up at KC. Then I'll be sure to tell you all " I told you so". ;)
I was referring to the little jabs he would throw out there about the FO. I don't remember all the quotes but they went something like this.." I hope they know what they're doing", "They better not do anything stupid" etc, etc. Nothing major and frankly there's truth behind the comments, but if you were the GM would you want to hear 3 years of chirping from some nitwit questioning your moves?
And I also would like to ask all the Guillen lovers - he is now a known drug cheat. Where's the outrage? For all anyone knows, he was using last year and yet much of what I read is " we wish him well". I guess for some of you the end justifies the means.
Everyone hates Bonds but did he do anything different than Guillen besides putting up monster numbers and breaking sacred records. NO!
They're both cheaters and always will be.

Posted by Mr. X

6:34 AM, Dec 06, 2007

"I don't know if the FO takes this into consideration, but there would only be one lefthanded pitcher in the rotation, thats a problem."

Was that a problem for the Boston Red Sox? They didn't have a single lefty starter until Lester came back and made a grand total of 11 starts. Okajima, Lopez, and Romero were the lefties in the pen during the year. How about we just get some good pitchers on the ballclub?

Posted by eastcoast

7:19 AM, Dec 06, 2007

This is a departure from my previous posts. However, before anyone calls me out for flip-flopping.. I consider it more rethinking your strategy following the non-developments in the winter meetings. And it sounded pretty good and logical in my head... so see what you think.


For once, I am not going to bash BB. In fact, I'll give him credit for testing the waters for any and all TOR guys, while recognizing that the O's and A's are trying to see just exactly how many prospects they can get for their SP, and then pulling back. This happens every year at the winter meetings - and I fall for it every year. But truthfully, I don't think that Beane or McPhail had any intention of trading their horses, even for Morrow, Jones, and Balentien or Clement. So, I have come to the realization that the M's are likely not going to get Santana, Haren or Bedard for the above reasons. Without that top line starter to go 1-2 with Felix, the chance of the M's winning the division and/or the wild card goes just about out the window for 2008. And for those who want to win now, I have been a M's fan since their inception, and no one wants them to win more than I do.


But consider the following:
Ibanez has one year left on his deal (for $5.5m), and his value is probably no higher than it will be now. Trade him for a SP, perhaps Sean Marshall or Cliff Lee (I prefer Marshall if the Cubs don't sign Fukudome and need OF help b/c he has more potential upside). We start the season with Balentien and Jones surrounding Ichiro, and just let them play. The IF is Beltre, Yuni, maybe Lopez, and uugghhh.. Sexson. Joh is the C and Vidro the DH. Clement is on the club and flips b/t C and DH, maybe a little 1B though I don't know if that even possible. Even if only 1 of 4 (or whatever) prospects becomes a MLB everyday player, then one of those three young guys is going to step up and deliver. Who knows, maybe two..


If all goes well, Vidro and Sexson have reasonable years and we can deal them at the trade deadline for couple prospects each (they will make 8.5m and 14m, respectively this yr - both in their final contract yrs although Vidro has a "vesting option for '09" - I have no idea what that means???). We could also deal Washburn or Batista (both signed through '09 - wash for $20.2m and Bat for $18m).


If Clement shows he can play behind the plate, we know not to re-up with Joh.. who is in the last year of his contract, making $5.2m. Chances are Balentien or Jones will establish themselves as the everyday OF in one corner spot.


So, for '09, you OF is Ich, Bal or Jones, ??.
IF - Beltre, Yuni, Lopez or Chen, 1B - ?? (but Sexson is gone).
C - Clement
DH - ??

SP - Felix, say Marshall, Wash or Bat, maybe Morrow/Aumont


The point being that we then have a large chunk of cash available for '09, a replenished farm system available for trades, and sure... the M's don't win in '08 but you do get to see Clement, Jones, Wlad, and others play ball. I'm interested to see what you guys think, sorry for the long post.

Posted by Merrill

7:42 AM, Dec 06, 2007

Well, ricofoy, I see what you were referring to, I remember those little quotes, too. So I guess I see how your opinion isn't quite as "borderline psychopathic" as Donovan's characterization that I initially agreed with.

Frankly, I'm not a Bonds hater. It's very likely he cheated (Guillen, I mean), but nowhere near proven. I really don't think even Landis is a cheat. I don't trust those drug tests; I think the various testing authorities are incredibly arrogant to believe they've really got it sussed.

But then, it's just like scientists and engineers to be arrogant.

There are just too many variables involved in human chemistry and how individual humans react to stimuli; Landis had no reason to do what they say he did, according to experts, and Guillen's name on a check or on a record isn't proof, merely evidence. Granted, it's strong evidence.

I think a whole generation cheated, some more successfully than others. Hopefully that's cleaned up now, but large parts of entire other generations were on amphetamines and coke. These may not build muscle mass, but they can certainly increase focus and reaction time. I'd say they are performance enhancers. But then, who am I and who cares what I say? Just one man's opinion.

Bonds was always an amazing talent and an amazing hitter no matter the juice, cream, or clear. It wasn't the muscles that dominated pitching that homer-record-breaking year. What did he average, something sick like .350? Crazy, man. That ain't muscle.

I think what happened to McGuire is disgraceful and unfair. He and Sosa saved baseball from itself. Although I want the game clean, I don't care that they were juiced. I reiterate, everyone else was, too. Let's stop demonizing the ones that got caught and move on. With vigilance and ever-evolving testing regimes.

Posted by byebyeSexson

7:47 AM, Dec 06, 2007

Dear shane/olympia, I don't want any lineup that has BIG RICHIE in it, even if it's one game in five. Let's find another roster to put him on...
.
byebyeSexson

Posted by byebyeSexson

7:52 AM, Dec 06, 2007

"it cracks me up how fans" post and post and post the same post.,.
.
byebyeSexson

Posted by faithful

7:55 AM, Dec 06, 2007

The good news is that Bavasi did NOT give away the future for one pitcher. They need to get out from under their aging players; Sexson, Vidro, Ibanez,plus Broussard and Lopez and go with Morse, Morrow, Jones, Chen......

Posted by -k

8:39 AM, Dec 06, 2007

eastcoast - The problem with the proposal you proposed is that the outcome paints a "best case" scenario. The issue is that out of the all the "top prospects" we'd be trying out, historically only 1 or 2 will prove to be major league material, and the other 3 will disappoint, lose all their value, and the team will get nothing for them. So then the team will go into the next off-season with lots of cash, but no decent talent to spend it on. (the free agent class next year is as bad as this one) Plus the farm will be relatively empty.


Why is everyone so interested in bringing up all the kids from Tacoma? They couldn't even win against minor leaguers.

Posted by Blah Blah Blah

8:42 AM, Dec 06, 2007

You heard it here first....If Sexson is the first baseman next season, Im cancelling my season tickets. He has to go, and Ibanez has to go (at least get out of left field).
These winter meetings have been a testament to Bavasis MO.....do nothing and hope old guys get better. I do not understand how Seattle thinks that this team will be better than last season when no changes have been made.

Posted by -k

8:52 AM, Dec 06, 2007

Blah blah - It's not the the team hasn't tried to move Sexson, it's just that NO ONE wants him. He has negative value right now. The M's only hope is to let him start the year and hope he plays his value back up so they can trade him. It sucks, everyone admits that, but it's the truth. The M's are now forced to sit back and either wait out his contract (or at least till mid-season of the last year the DFA him) or hope he hits again this year and can gain enough value to be traded.

Posted by scrapiron

9:00 AM, Dec 06, 2007

The Mariners just claimed R.A. Dickey in the Rule 5 draft. His last good year was in 2003 when he logged 116 innings and finished 9-8 with a 5.11 ERA.


Dickey last pitched in 2006 and gave up a Texas Rangers record six home runs in 3 1/3 innings. Yikes!


I'd be fine with this deal if we could send him to Tacoma to get some work in, but we'll have to keep him on the roster all year or lose him. I know he's just going to pitch long-relief in the bullpen, but don't we have better options than this?

Posted by Blah Blah Blah

9:03 AM, Dec 06, 2007

ok, good points. so heres an idea...since no one wants him, cut his ass. eat the salary. he isnt going to produce. the philosophy of hoping that he hits next year hasnt worked for his entire Seattle stay. like i said..thats seattles problem. to much passiveness. to much of the thought of 'heres hoping these guys do better next year'. to much giving guys huge contracts after tehy have one good year.

Posted by byebyeIbanez

9:29 AM, Dec 06, 2007

eastcoast -- It's good to see you come over to the light side (away from the dark side). Now I'm not gonna say that I'm not or wasn't for trading for Bedard but only in a Morrow-Balentien-Green deal or something less. There's no way I give up Jones for ANYONE. Anyways, that was exactly the thinking that I did last night as I lay in bed unable to sleep. You say that Washburn's contract comes up in '09 but I'm damn near positive that it's at the end of this season cuz we signed him in '04 to a four year deal -- '05, '06, '07 and now '08 should be his last. The way I see it, by the time July rolls around we should be (hopefully) sitting in last or at least well off the playoff chase in a position to deal our expiring guys who should be all hot commodities: Johjima ($5 million for a solid catcher? that's a helluva deal in this market), Sexson (we eat half and if he's having a good year who knows what we get), Vidro, Washburn. Coupled with the Dec./Jan. dealing of Ibanez and the team frees up about $42.5 mil (5.5+5.5+14+8+8.5) for 2009. In return we stock up the minor leagues as best we can with good live arms and some outfielders and a 1B or two. Now I'm not saying that we go out in 09 and starting spending wildly with that new money, I'm not saying that at all. I think that would be incredibly stupid. Let's see who's out there. Who knows maybe Santana hits the market somehow, now we have the money to go after him big time. If he doesn't just save it and continue playing our young kids, allowing them to develop and create some real trading value. Because as young prospects without major league playing time their value is significantly less than if they are able to show solid contributing for a whole season. Anyways here's the lineup for '09:
1. Ichiro CF
2. Jones RF
3. Beltre 3B
4. Clement C
5. Balentien RF
6. 1B (sexson gone, could it be Morse?)
7. DH
8. Yuni SS
9. Lopez 2B
Rotation:
Hernandez
Morrow
Aumont
Kuroda (sounds like he's gonna be signed =[[[ )
Butler or Rowland-Smith or another prospect we get in any one of the deals...

Batista goes to pen for long relief

Posted by DT

9:30 AM, Dec 06, 2007

OK, all of you people who have your panties in a knot over the prospect of Richie Rally Killer being in the lineup next year, remember 2 things: next year is the last year of his contract. I'm predicting that the lineup at the end of the season will not be the same as opening day. Richie will either be cut because he sucked again or traded while he's worth something, but i belive Bawussie when he says Richie will be the 1b on opening day. Even without Richie, 1b will be an unsettled position next year. Consider it a transition year.

Posted by -k

9:38 AM, Dec 06, 2007

Blah blah - you're making me feel like a Bavasi sympathizer here, which I'm not. I keep saying he should have been fired years ago!


Sexson didn't just have 1 good year. He's been a 30HR/100RBI guy his ENTIRE CAREER. In fact he's only had 2 bad statistical years. Last year, and the year that he missed all but the first month with a shoulder injury that required major surgery.


NO TEAM will cut a player who is owed THAT much money when there's a chance they might return to the form they've demonstrated over their entire career and thus get some of their value back and be able to be traded.

Posted by ricofoy

9:48 AM, Dec 06, 2007

Merrill, I don't disagree with the borderline psychopathic assessment - I've thought that about myself from time to time. After all, there's a fine line between genius and insanity. lol
Well, I don't agree that everyone cheats or has cheated. I'll always feel bad for the clean kids who maybe couldn't crack AAA because someone on roids blocked them from moving up.
But you're right, time to move on.. until games 14 and 15 while I'm sitting in the RF stands when the Royals roll into town. Jose, I'm gonna let you have it! It will be interesting to see the reception he gets but I'm pretty sure it will be way more positive than negative. Like yourself, I get the sense most folks aren't very bothered by drug cheats in sports.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:14 AM, Dec 06, 2007

Blah blah blah - a) Name Richie's replacement. Ben Broussard's career year isn't equal to Richie's average year. b) Name any team who'd take him. It's obvious from last year and from geoff's comments this week that the M's can't even trade him for a ham sandwich. Richie's a mariner. Period. As much as it makes us cringe.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:18 AM, Dec 06, 2007

And the more I think on it, the more I think the Orioles will go all schizo on us, as is usual in their trades, it seems. If the M's get Bedard, I'll eat my hat. If the M's get Bedard WITHOUT having to do some stupid hella-lopsided deal for him (Putz?!?! good god), I'll eat Bavasi's hat.

Based just on where things are today, I'd lay even money that our opening day rotation will be Felix, Batista, Kuroda, Washburn, Jackson. And the M's will likely have done 4/40 for Kuroda, and something outrageous like Morrow for Edwin Jackson. But hey, at least we'll have AJ in right... to balance Raul in left...

Posted by Mike from Monroe

11:41 AM, Dec 06, 2007

If the O's are using the Detroit/Florida deal as a benchmark for Bedard, why not make it a 2 for 6 deal and go after Roberts as well? It sounds like Roberts may be available and he would be an awesome number two hitter behind Ichiro. Lopez could be packaged in the deal as a major league ready prospect. It sounds like MacPhail wants the farm for Bedard alone and this all may be just a ton of speculation. I don't recall MacPhail making any major trades with the Cubs during his tenure. I'm not sure that Sosa was during his time, but even if it was, Sosa wasn't the commodity he would later become at the time of the trade.

Posted by Zach C

12:05 PM, Dec 06, 2007

Hey, Mike from Monroe

I agree with you (see post #1 haha).

for all u guys who want to get rid of all the vets and go young, that wont happen. Bavasi won't play jones and balentien at the same time, and they arn't ready anyway (marrow is looking pretty good in venezuala tho). No one wants Richie, Ibanez, or Vidro so forget it.

heres what will happen. No teams will take the Ms seriously as they're just testing the market to drive up the price when the Sox or Yanks come calling. The Ms will havto sign two marginal pitcher and the season is a bust.

until ownership gives us more than 110million to work with, it wont change.

Posted by Dan

2:20 AM, Dec 07, 2007

I have been a Mariners fan since the day I was old enough to watch baseball. This is what I was thinking Bavasi should do. Try and dump ritchie either cut him or trade him and go after Tejada and Bedard with moving Beltre over to first. Its sarcastic but Beltre is a machine in my mind and feel he could make the transition over there. Or put tejada over at short and move Yuni over to second. Yes it would cost a lot and we could probably kiss AJ good-bye but I would rather see a gold glove winner and all-star then wait on a prospect. Just my opinion. Overall if Ritchie wasn't 6'7 he would be cutting wood at Home Depot. I also liked the idea of the roberts trade but I think Tejada would be more realistic. I may be out of my mind but all Bavasi is, is a "window shopper". The bavasi legacy of downfall started with the Armando Benitez sign. Personally Bavasi should head back to "Men in Black" because he looks like one of the aliens from there. If nothing gets produced after this year we better start looking for a new GM while Steve Phillips warms up Bavasi's chair on baseball tonight.

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