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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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February 16, 2008 12:42 PM

Sights and Sounds: Day 3

Posted by Geoff Baker

You asked us for some video of new pitcher Erik Bedard throwing his bullpen today and we've obliged. You'll see Bedard in the first three video scenes from today's selection, warming up alongside Felix Hernandez.

Some additional video shows catcher Kenji Johjima getting to know Carlos Silva. An interesting scene in that the Japanese-speaking Johjima is conversing with the Venezuelan-born, Spanish-speaking Silva. Interpreter Antony Suzuki is there to translate from Japanese to English, because Silva speaks the latter language as well. Lots of lingo going on, though the end-of-conversation fist-pump is universal.

There's a pitcher's view of Jarrod Washburn (No. 56) after that, then a catcher's view of Washburn.

Today's catcher drills focused on blocking pitches in the dirt.

The final footage is of closer J.J. Putz batting balls towards a group of his fellow pitchers. Catch the last one, where Cha Seung Baek makes a leaping catch and is congratulated by teammates, who refer to him as "Chewy". Putz kids around with Baek and lets the bat fall to the ground at the end after pretending to hand it to him.

By the way, the M's have claimed pitcher Anderson Garcia off waivers from the Phillies and added him to the 40-man roster (there was a spot open). The 26-year-old right hander is 29-31 with a 3.85 ERA in 221 minor league games over seven years, including 39 starts. The team is looking at him as pitching depth for now. In other words, he'll likely start the year in the minors, but if some injuries pile up, who knows?

UPDATE 2:08 p.m. -- To answer some questions: No, the M's did not forego a year of Bedard with yesterday's on-year deal. He is under club control one more year. If the two sides don't reach a multi-year pact by next spring, he'll agree to another one-year pact or head to an arbitration hearing and have the one-year amount decided for him. Either way, he stays with the M's at least through 2009.

The catcher wearing No. 71 is Jair Fernandez, born in the Colombian city of Cartegena, which I thoroughly enjoyed visiting back in 1995. Had my first meal in a Japanese steakhouse there, too. But I digress. Fernandez is 21 and hit .260 for Class A Wisconsin last season.

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Posted by Get Griffey

1:13 PM, Feb 16, 2008

Terrific stuff Geoff!!

Posted by CrustyJuggler

1:19 PM, Feb 16, 2008

There is no way you can keep this stuff up. No way!

...I hope you do though.

Posted by Go Mariners!!!

1:22 PM, Feb 16, 2008

Sights and Sounds = AWESOME! Thanks Geoff!!

Posted by Get Griffey

1:22 PM, Feb 16, 2008

Quick question, did the one year deal with Bedard negate the two year one?
Or dose the one year thing just mean he is with us through 09 but can be up for arbitration for his second year with us?

Posted by LB

1:35 PM, Feb 16, 2008

Great footage, Geoff. Thanks. Had a question: who's the 4th or 5th catcher I've seen in some of the video--no. 71? Come to think of it, it'd be great to see an entire roster listing of all who's coming to Peoria. If you have it.

Posted by Maui Mariner

2:04 PM, Feb 16, 2008

Man this is great stuff.
The pop of the ball on leather, the crack of the bat............the wacko Putz! Ya gotta love it. I can almost smell the fresh cut grass. Oh that's because I just mowed the lawn.
Keep it up Geoff, you da man!

For some odd reason I am getting excited about Wash. Last year when Felix went down he stepped up and was lights out so it just seems to be a motivational thing.

A killer season shaping up right before our eyes thanks again to Geoff.

Gooooooo M's

Posted by Vegas M

2:49 PM, Feb 16, 2008

This might be the best thing you've ever done. Ever. Me and my buddy are going to be down there the first weekend and we're taking you to the Pink Pony. Steaks and drinks on us. Again awesome job.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

3:03 PM, Feb 16, 2008

Rodriguez holds a 9 a.m. meeting daily with players to discuss what will be worked on and expected. On-field stretching begins at 9:30, followed by a catch session at 9:45, and then players break into groups of four at 10 a.m. for rotating drills on four fields.

While the pitchers take fielding drills, the catchers go over defensive strategy and catch bullpen sessions. By 11:15 a.m., the pitchers begin conditioning exercises, while the catchers head off for batting practice and eventually their own conditioning drills.

It all ends by 12:25 p.m., at which point Rodriguez grabs a quick lunch before mapping out his plans for the next three days.

3 1/2 hours you gotta be frickin kidding me. What a joke. These guys need to get real jobs.

Posted by ET90210

4:12 PM, Feb 16, 2008

Saw this 25 and under team, very cool. King Felix made the rotation.

http://mlbfleecefactor.com/2008/02/16/dream-teams-baseballs-top-youngsters/

Posted by Adam

4:23 PM, Feb 16, 2008

If McLaren is reading the blog, I've got one question:


Hey Mac: Is outfield defense important?

Posted by Maui Mariner

4:51 PM, Feb 16, 2008

Oh Adam, ya gotta hit him with a few soft-toss questions first, then hit him with the fastball.
Let's try this soft-toss curveball.................John, if you had unlimited budget and no concerns about cutting ANY player, which position would you improve before opening day?

Posted by Adam

5:23 PM, Feb 16, 2008

Actually, I'd probably ask him to describe his favorite thing about Jose Vidro...

Posted by Maui Mariner

5:24 PM, Feb 16, 2008

Good one Adam!

Posted by oregongal

7:10 PM, Feb 16, 2008

I know someone already mentioned this, but it's going to take me a while to recognize Felix when he's not in a jersey two sizes too big.

Great stuff, Geoff. I especially like the humanizing influence of seeing some of the teasing/joking between the guys. I'll try to remember that during the season when I'm screaming for some of them to get off the field, out of the stadium, and far away from baseball.

I hear Jeff Pentland sounds like Wilford Brimley. Can you get us an example in the next few weeks?

Posted by Patrick F.

9:07 PM, Feb 16, 2008

Thanks for the video, Geoff. It's fun to watch these guys in action even it's practice.

Nice to see Bedard and Felix pitching side by side. They're going to be awesome.

Posted by John

9:11 PM, Feb 16, 2008

Actually, Adam, I'm glad you asked.
Outfield defense is vital. It's the most important thing on any team, above pitching, hitting and a good defensive shortstop and catcher. It's particularly important at the corners.
I can tell from your question that something is nagging at you, but I can't quite put my finger on it.
Anyway, hope you'll keep rootin' for the ol' home team.
Go M's.

P.S. If you want me to, I'll pull Ibanez.

Posted by oregongal

10:10 PM, Feb 16, 2008

Hey, Adam, I thought of you today. I went to a baseball talk here in Portland and one of the speakers was the Beavers' play by play guy (the Beavs are our Triple A team, a farm team of that "obvious" Seattle NL rival, the San Diego Padres). Even he thinks trading AJ was a mistake. I went up to him afterwards and told him I'd pay attention to the Beavers this season just for that remark. :)

Posted by Adam

12:01 AM, Feb 17, 2008

John - thanks so much for answering my question. Personally, I think pitching and hitting are more important, but it's interesting to hear your insight.

Nevertheless, given your answer, I look forward to seeing the lineup on Opening Day. Obviously, you feel the best lineup is one that weighs both offensive and defensive contributions. It will be great to see a good fielder in LF, with Ibanez at DH.

I mean, it's not too hard too figure out that a strong-fielding LF with even a passable bat is more valuable than Jose Vidro, whom he'd be replacing. Glad to see you are giving us the best chance to win, and not merely letting the veterans run the show.

Thanks again, and all the best in 2008.


P.S. - I love the coaches you've brought in. They've been through the wars...

Posted by Adam

12:04 AM, Feb 17, 2008

Oregongal - Yeah, most of the outside views of the trade which I have read really love Baltimore's end of the deal.

Nice to see a rather unbiased opinion...

Posted by fish93

12:35 AM, Feb 17, 2008

Hey Geoff,

When you showed the catchers view of Wash. was that Morrow next to him. Are the pitchers working on all their pithes now or are they throwing only fastballs to get their arms loose.

Posted by M's in 2009!

7:21 AM, Feb 17, 2008

I'm liking what I'm hearing on Aumont!!!

I wonder if he could make the rotation by 2009? Or even 2010 when either Washburn or Batista's contracts run out. I'm betting on 2010!

Sorry for all the analysis from here down...but I couldn't help myself...

1) Extend Felix now and buyout all arb years
2) Do the same for Bedard
3) Next offseason trade Washburn away for prospects and free up his $10M. A 1 yr contract of Washburn will look pretty good in this pitching market!

THEN next offseason here's all the money freed up based on MLB Baseball Contracts website:

- Sexson's $14M
- Washburn $10M (via trade for prospects)
- Ibanez $5.5M
- Vidro $8.5M ($6M our portion)
- Johjima $5.2M
- Wilkerson $5M (3M Base + $2M Incentives)
- HoRam $2.75M
- Willy Bloomy $950K
- Cairo $850K

I'm counting approx $53M next offseason of freed up money. There's a few players salaries that are jumping in 2009 though:

The question Marks are Bedard & Felix "if" extensions are signed
- Bedard ??!! Definitely will go up
- Felix ??!! I'm sure Bavasi will buyout all arb years & add a few

2009 Players with their contract increases (combines for approx $3.35M in added 2009 payroll)
- Putz goes from $3.5M in 2008 to $5M in 2009 (Jumps $1.5M)
- Betancourt goes from $1.25M in 2008 to $2M in 2009 (Jumps $750k)
- Lopez goes from $500k in 200 to $1.6M in 2009 (Jumps $1.1M)

2009 Players with the same 2008 salary
- Ichiro same salary in 2009 as in 2008
- Beltre same
- Silva same
- Washburn same "if" not traded
- Batista same
- Vidro's option WILL NOT VEST I will guarantee that! Can we say FA on Vidro?

PLEASE DON'T FORGET the $30M that EACH MLB team gets from MLB.com for this year. I don't know when they get the funds available to them, but I would think it would of been Jan 2008, since MLB announced it back in November! Did I forget to mention the new FoxSports contract with added revenue for the M's?

We ARE competitive in 2008, but I'm getting pretty damn excited thinking what the M's can do with approximately $50M freed up money in 2009!!! There's a TON of different scenerio's, but we "could" add a TON of offense next offseason (like Texeira, etc) AND even be pretty competitive for another ACE SP...do I hear Sabathia for $20M of it?!

Can you imagine this rotation in 2010:

Bedard
Felix
Sabathia
Silva
Aumont

Damn people!!!

If you think this was the BEST offseason in franchise history wait until 2009!!!

Posted by helpFelix

7:35 AM, Feb 17, 2008

That's why I was a big supporter of this Bedard trade coming out of the gate...despite giving up Jones & Sherrill.

Who landed and drafted Aumont? Tillman? etc? etc? etc?

That's right Bavasi did!

I have been frusturated since Bavasi has gotten here, but the guy has been great at drafting great guys & working on player development. Our bullpen depth in the minors has been pretty stellar. Yes we took a hit watching 3 decent pitching prospects go (and Sherrill too) in the Bedard trade.

But looking at all this money next offseason, and watching the next 2-3 MLB drafts, to see how Bavasi & Co will draft in 2008-2010 will be interesting. I will be all ears!

Just look at Aumont & Tillman. Tillman's gone, but there's others like Morrow and Aumont.

Though Sabathia would be a nice addition, and one we could afford along with additional offense, we really could conserve that money and land the best offense in 2009 that money could buy.

1. Texeira @ 1B
2. Griffey @ DH
3. Abreu @ RF

We still have money left to spend if we wanted to.

But I have to say though, the BIG 3 that the A's had in the Hudson/Zito/Mulder era is what got the A's to the playoffs every single year. So a BIG 3 of Bedard/Felix/Sabathia longterm would look pretty awesome. The BIG 4 if you add in Aumont in 2010.

Posted by Get Griffey

8:59 AM, Feb 17, 2008

Is Vladimir Gurrero a free agent next year? I thought I heard that he was, in which case with all that money we should make a serious play for him.
If we do well this year we could improve our attractiveness to top free agents like him.

I bet no one would mind having his bad D in our outfield!:)

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:12 AM, Feb 17, 2008

HelpFelix-I understand you support for Bill Bavasi as GM. However, you need a better understanding of seperating the role of what the Scouting Department does from the role of the General Manager. The General Manager does not have much influence over the draft. Bill Bavasi does not fly cross country with a stop watch and radar gun or scout Betancourt in Mexico after he defected from Cuba. Neither did Bavasi scout Felix Hernandez in Venezuela, Johjima in Japan, or scout Aumont in Canada.

In fact, under Bavasi our recent drafts can note the skipping over Lincecum to select Morrow. Or the decision to pass over Troy Tulowitzki in favor of Clement. Our Amateur drafts haven't been without serious question marks. The International Scouting Director was in place before Bill Bavasi arrived landing us players like Ichiro and Sasaki. The constant use of prospects for veteran leadership with less talent is the decision Bavasi has made since 2004.

Posted by bigZdawg

9:43 AM, Feb 17, 2008

Bavasi's fully responsible for the scouting success since he got here, because one of the first things he did was hire Bob Fontaine as Director of Scouting.

Without a doubt, the best move Bavasi has made since he was here.

Fontaine was responsible for drafting the core of the 2002 Angels WS team, and much of the talent there today.

Regarding Clement, we had NO catching anywhere in our system when we drafted him. Rene Rivera was our top prospect, for goodness sakes. Clement was a great choice.

The easiest thing to do is find a player who is successful and still on the board when you drafted. Hindsight is 20/20, especially with baseball drafts.

We gave a lot in the 3 prospects for Bedard, but Fontaine has continued to stock the farm system, and is finding 1-2 guys every year with real potential, not one guy ever 3-5 years, as in past years. This is HUGE. Yes, we gave up some great pitching for Bedard, but look at what we have, an excellent top 5 SP for two more years. Then, assuming we can get extensions with Bedard and Felix, we will have Bedard, Felix, Morrow, and Aumont as our top for for 2010!

I've trashed Bavasi many times, but give him credit for what he is responsible for - rebuilting the farm system and with it, hope for the future beyond free agent signings. The improvement is night and day obvious.

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