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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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March 29, 2008 11:53 AM

Mariners set roster, with some surprises

Posted by Larry Stone

It was a weird scene this morning at Cashman Field, with the Mariners' brass huddling in the bowels of the stadium, and a mixture of elated and devastated players as they learned their fate to start the season.

The most dejected was R.A. Dickey, who in a weird twist found himself optioned to Class AAA Tacoma. Here's how that came down: the Mariners swung a deal with the Twins, sending catcher Jair Fernandez to Minnesota in exchange for the Twins rejecting Seattle's offer to return Dickey to their organization. As a Rule 5 selection, the Mariners had to offer Dickey back to the Twins before sending him to the minors. Dickey also was available via waivers to the other 28 clubs, but surprisingly was not grabbed by anyone. Dickey, who pitched great all spring, was truly stunned and disappointed to be going to the minors, but took it like a pro.

The Mariners decided to keep an 11-man pitching staff, and with Dickey out, the beneficiary was Cha Seung Baek, who makes the team. The Mariners simply didn't want to risk losing Baek, who was out of options. Also making the team was Ryan Rowland-Smith, giving them a pen of J.J. Putz, Erik O'Flaherty, Mark Lowe, Sean Green, Rowland-Smith and Baek.

That means that they will keep five reserves instead of four, and the five are...drum roll...Willie Bloomquist, Miguel Cairo, Jamie Burke, Mike Morse and Charlton Jimerson. The happiest people in Vegas (outside the casinos, anyway), were Morse and Jimerson, who made a major league roster out of spring for the first time in their career. The odd man out was Greg Norton, who was re-assigned to minor league camp and will apparently report to Tacoma.

The Mariners now are down to 26 players. All those people who had Anderson Garcia as the last man to be cut for the roster, take a bow. For some reason, Garcia is still around, but the right-handed pitcher will be cut shortly.

Interesting moves that I'm sure will be heatily debated by you folks. Not sure if they really need a five-man bench, but the fact that Dickey got to stay in the organization I'm sure was huge in their decision making. I think the biggest factor of all was not wanting to lose Baek, who essentially is their sixth starter, insurance if one of the Big Five goes down. As for Dickey, I have no doubt we will see him in Seattle before the year is through.

We also chatted with Brandon Morrow, who seemed on board with the decision to send him to Double-A West Tennessee to regain his form. He was encouraged that his shoulder feels good and he's throwing hard. He expects to be back with the team soon.

That's a lot to chew on. Have at it.

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Posted by moira

12:24 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Is "heatily" a word? I kinda like it, maybe it should be. Surprised to see Jimerson over Norton; interesting choices all around. Glad to hear that Morrow is in good spirits. I think we're all ready to start playing for real!

Posted by NB

12:29 PM, Mar 29, 2008

God this team is stupid. Miguel Cairo over R.A. Dickey. Take a bow morons.

Posted by OlyHomer

12:33 PM, Mar 29, 2008

I like who things finally shaked out. They got to keep Dickey which was great. With Johjima and Clement around they don't really need a catcher. Now they got three speedy guys off the bench and Morse seems to be able to swing the bat. If Baek does horribly they can release him and bring up Dickey. I wasn't so sure of Dickey but after the five innings in SF I was impressed. They got 3 bench guys who can play many positions (Bloomquits, Cairo and Morse).
Lets get 2008 started!!

Posted by Tony S

12:34 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Great coverage, thanks for the updates. You guys are great.

I like Jimerson for speed and keeping Cairo basically eliminated Norton's presence in terms of locker room advice for the young guns. Cairo will really need to prove himself to the team and to the fans though. I would have cut him.

Overall, this worked out well. We didn't lose Dickey to waivers so I'm not as disappointed. I like his story and I'm sure he'll get called up if he keeps at it.

Posted by oregongal

12:36 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Wow, I know there's an anti-knuckler bias, but I'm shocked that no one picked up on Dickey. Good for us. Thrilled for Jimerson as a person. So now we have speed on the bench. Not sure that's our major need, but it'll be fun to watch.

Posted by Fin

12:36 PM, Mar 29, 2008

I am glad that they valued Baek enough not to put him on waivers, but to sacrifice Dickey over Miguel "I can't believe it's not Bloomquist" Cairo just again displays the stupidity of the club.

I hope that Morrow doesn't improve as quickly as the media is expecting, so they will slot him as a starter in the minors, and then possibly become a starter next year for the M's once they are done with Washburn. I think it will all depend how Lowe does as J.J. Putz's right-handed setup guy. If he does well the Mariners might re-evaluate Morrow's role.

Posted by scottM

12:41 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Other than keeping both Willie and Cairo, I think this makes sense. Look for Baek to either start indefinitely, if one of the SP's go on injured reserve, or to be traded along with Reed in the near future for a hitter with power. Jimerson makes sense as the fourth defensive outfielder. Dickey is a surprise cut, but I expect to see him in Seattle if any of the other relievers falter.

Actually, this set of bench players, and how they've sent people down, gives the team the most flexibility with what they've got, and with the options being used up for Morse and Baek.

I honestly expect much more fluidity in player use this first full season under McLaren. Namely, the guys who made the cut will feel the pressure to produce or there will be some good replacements in the wings who WILL step in and play. Same with Sexson and Lopez. (We'll see soon enough on that prediction).

I feel badly for Dickey and Norton, but Morse outshone everyone at the plate. And wouldn't you much rather have a Dickey to call up than a desperate late season trade for Rick White?

All in all, this makes sense with what they have. They must be reading our blog comments (except for yours Markus).

Posted by Charles

12:42 PM, Mar 29, 2008

I just heard Dave Niehaus say that they're going to use a platoon in right field with Wilkerson in against righties and Morse against lefties.

Posted by Mike in Meadowbrook

12:51 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Good to see Baek still with the club, to lose him for nothing (with pitching being worth what it is today) would have been a huge blunder. Not sure what Cairo has that Bloomquist doesn't, isn't that like carrying two of the same player?

Who's out when Morrow is back? We are going to want Dickey up here to eat innings too...

Posted by B_A_

1:00 PM, Mar 29, 2008

I would like to see a package trade with Baek and Reed involved for the best player available. Then we can bring up Dickey as our long relief, spot starter if needed. I am sick of individual trades by Bavasi of avg guys, (Randy WInn, Olivo, Torriealba, etc.) and getting no substance players from it. Trade these guys individually and we'll get career minor leaguers in return, or package them and maybe we can get a guy who can contribute, obviously not a super-star, but maybe a back-up 1B, or something similar.

Posted by LAMariner

1:02 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Congratulations to Mariner management. I think they did a fine job keeping all the good talent they could, even if some of it is parked in the minors. The flexibility they have could be very valuable especially if they face an Angels-like situation where several players are lost to injuries OR if some don't perform (like one's intuition would suggest is going to occur) OR if there's an opportunity for a trade. I think the final roster moves are quite creative and make a lot of sense.

Posted by Rain King

1:07 PM, Mar 29, 2008

My Sexson Boo-Birding will now be replaced by We Want Dickey chants.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

1:08 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Other than Cairo of course, I think the moves make sense. I wanted Dickey on the club but as long as the M's keep him I am ok with it. I love the idea of platooning Morse and Wilkerson....maybe it could lead to Ibanez going to 1st or DH.

But I am a little worried about hte moves making sense because the Mariners FO rarely does things that make sense. Maybe they are planning to waive Felix?

Posted by Swung On And Belted

1:12 PM, Mar 29, 2008

If they were reading our blog comments, they wouldn't have kept Cairo. They said he was brought in to help the young guys. Isn't that what coaches are for? If he is so damn important to this ballclub, they should have cut him as a player and hired him as a coach. They've been singing Dickey's praises all winter, then they trade a catcher and needlessly risk losing him to waivers just to keep Cairo. Considering how the bullpen wore down last year, and his ability to pitch on little rest, I don't see why they wouldn't keep Dickey on the roster. It is good to see Morse, Baek, and Jimerson make the cut though.

Posted by Moose

1:15 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Starting line-up has seriosu holes:
1) Sexson - start counting his K's
2) Pitching - hits allowed due to Ibanez and Wilkerson being slower than Boog Powell
3) INjuries - Putz getsinjured will lose many 1 run agmes


Bavassi still should be held accoutble becuse he gave upmore in player quality for Beddard than the METS gave for Sanata.

Why not trade teh Seattle franchise for the Red Sox and give $400 MIllion extra in cash.

Posted by Tom

1:15 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Worst. Bench. Ever.

Posted by greyguy

1:20 PM, Mar 29, 2008

I would have liked to see a lefty who could pinch hit on the bench somewhere, instead of the useless Cairo.

Posted by will

1:36 PM, Mar 29, 2008

If Mark Lowe pitches well then who gets cut when Morrow's ready? Baek and Jimerson have no options so do they cut Cairo and go with a 12 man staff?

Didn't hear the Morse platoon comment on TV but if it's true I hereby pledge my love for Johnny Mac! ...it's nice to have someone in charge who doesn't blindly pass up talent for experience (discounting Cairo of course)

Posted by dfb

1:39 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Actually great moves overall. They were able to keep just about everyone in the organization so that if one or more of these moves don't pan out they still have the others in the tool chest for later. I gotta say I am shocked Norton didn't make it over Jimerson but again he is still available for later. And they aren't stupid for taking Cairo over Dickey (as long as he wasn't claimed on waivers), Cairo is an insurance policy (and perhaps motivation) for Lopez. If Lopez plays great they can turn Cairo loose later. If they let him go now they might have to find another answer later.

Posted by Bum Knee McGee

1:41 PM, Mar 29, 2008

I get the feeling they'd cut Ichiro before they cut Cairo!

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

1:41 PM, Mar 29, 2008

What a mistake in sidelining Dickey. Its amazing how much interest has been generated in the guy since the Times ran a full page story on him a couple of months ago-- for a blog full of cynical jerks, we all swoon like a bunch of school girls over Dickey like he was the newest Tiger Beat heart-throb showing up at Southcenter for an autograph signing on a Saturday afternoon. (maybe its because we all want to quit our job as a (fill in the blank) and become a baseball player too?) Hey Management, listen up: itís a good thing to give playing-time to guys that are liked by the fans (sells seats, builds excitement for the team, which only has a positive impact on the players). Cairo, on the other hand, will only disappoint this team. But hey, old guys get hurt easily right? Maybe we'll be seeing Dickey for Cairo sooner than we think.

Posted by markus

1:43 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Why Cairo? Why keep Jimerson AND Morse with Cairo? Cairo is officially not a good move for this bench. They have speed and back up OF in Jimerson and Bloomie, they have hitting and IF in Morse and Bloomie. And then they have a guy that really doesn't fill a need in Cairo like Dickey or Norton did. Cairo provides no hitting, and we don't need two or three backups for positions when he could have used another bat.

Why was this club so stuck on keeping Cairo? And what did Dickey have to do to make the club? Oh, that's right, he's not a vet. Thank goodness this club values AARP status over logic.

Cut Cairo!!

Posted by markus

1:47 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Oh, and keeping Cairo does NOT motivate, inspire or push Lopez. That would be like signing David Green to push Matt Hasselbeck. You can't push somebody when you aren't even close to where they are.

Posted by DH Schmginsky

1:50 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Why are the fans cynical jerks? Ladies and Gentlemen; Exhibit A: Cairo
New Season = Same Old Crap

Posted by markus

1:58 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Then Chicago beat writer was talking about what makes Lou so great. He mentioned that Lou doesn't set his lineup early in the year and just leave it. His example was, if Lee is hitting .200 then Lou moves him down in the lineup quickly to keep the whole lineup going and to motivate guys. If a guy still isn't producing then you sit him down and tries out other players, which also keeps the lineup motivated. I thought to myself, 'hey, that sounds like just the opposite of a team I know and love'.

Posted by wally

2:15 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Hey, props to prospectinsider for getting it right on Dickey. Ithought he was wrong, and the way McLaren was talking I thought he had a mancrush on Dickey

Posted by Twins Fan

2:38 PM, Mar 29, 2008

You hate Cairo; we hate Punto... wanna make a deal?

Posted by ethan

2:50 PM, Mar 29, 2008

cant wait for Sexson to earn that $15.5 mill with a .204 batting average. His gravestone is going to one day say.."WE'RE STILL WAITING FOR HIM TO COME AROUND.."

Posted by CDA M's fan

2:50 PM, Mar 29, 2008

I am stunned they are keeping the AARP card carrying Cairo over Dickey. Apparently hard work and consistence performance on the field don't mean as much as experience. I think the M's have enough failing veterans in the locker room, Sexson and Vidro, to keep around to mentor the youngsters on how not to perform on the field. Why keep one more.

Bring back R.A. Dickey!

Posted by Faceplant

2:53 PM, Mar 29, 2008

"I just heard Dave Niehaus say that they're going to use a platoon in right field with Wilkerson in against righties and Morse against lefties."


Because it makes SOOOO much sense to platoon a guy who has REVERSE platoon splits.


Meanwhile Ibanez will continue to turn into Nick Punto with horrible defense everytime a LH is on the mound.


Excuse me while I vomit.

Posted by K-Man

3:00 PM, Mar 29, 2008

"Dickey also was available via waivers to the other 28 clubs, but surprisingly was not grabbed by anyone." (snip).
Amazing! Anyone want to guess how in the world that happened? My guess is 28 GMs thought "hey, if this guy can't pass muster for Seattle there must be something wrong with him." Nice work by Bavasi to keep Baek and Dickey both in the system. We have pitching depth like never before.

Posted by Rodeochihuahua

3:16 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Wow. I am surprised about Dickey. Whats the point of spring training and proving yourself if it doesn't matter? Great model to set for your organization.

Posted by RogerC

3:16 PM, Mar 29, 2008

It makes sense to keep CS Baek on the 25 man roster rather than Dickey. Baek has toiled in the M's farm system for years and matched Dickey's performance in spring games. All things being equal it is better for the organization to reward a guy who has been in their system rather than rewarding a new player. But if one had substantially outperformed the other I would feel differently. This also sets up a nice trade if both pitch well during the course of the season. I also like chosing Jimerson for the speed factor, something this team needs.

Posted by Stranded_Mariner

3:57 PM, Mar 29, 2008

I really think that Baek was kept on the team in order to keep him in the organization to package him in a near-term deal (rather than losing him to waivers). My guess is that will occur by mid-May and we'll see Dickey in Seattle for the remainder of the season.

I really don't think Baek is ready to pitch long-relief then turn around and make a spot-start on short notice. Dickey is ready by virtue of being a knuckeballer and a veteran.

And from a veteran presence standpoint, I think Dickey would have been a great presence in the clubhouse. Here's a guy who didn't experience much success in the majors, so he reinvented himself in order to get back. Baek has potential, so I really think the deal was swung in order to keep him long enough to swing a trade. Who knows what kind of interest the front office is hearing about him.

I would have much preferred we keep Norton over Cairo. For a team that struggled so much with situational and clutch hitting last year, it does not seem to make much sense to send him down and have another back-up infielder. Cairo brings a veteran presence, but so does Norton. Bloomquist can play the infield while Morse can as well when he isn't in right field. So there's "1-1/2 " back-up infielders!

Given Lopez's history (but I'm not saying it will repeat this year), we probably wouldn't see him falter until half-way through the season, meaning Cairo would be there for at least half the season before finding out if we need to cut him.

Glad to see Jimerson make the team -- I think he'll prove to be a real base-stealing threat off the bench late in the ball game.

Overall, I think they made some good decisions and some that we'll have to wait and see how they turn out. I think there are some plans in the works to swing a trade (maybe for a better DH) that dictated the moves the Mariners made. Reed and Baek for...

It's nice to have so many options for once. Can't wait for the season!

And Geoff, thanks for the great blog all Spring. I really enjoyed your insight, interaction with us, and the opportunity to follow the club so closely.

Posted by Patrick F.

5:21 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Does an American League need so many players to come off the bench? I'm not angry by the moves, but a five man bench seems like one too many. I'm really glad that Mike Morse made the roster and will be platooning with Wilkerson.

It seems like sending Morrow to the minors was also a good move. I would've liked to see Dickey as the long reliever, but believe Rowland-Smith and Baek can fill the bill.

I'm excited for Opening Day and a sweep of the Rangers.

Posted by bubba

6:01 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Seems kinda silly to have an all right handed hitting bench...

Posted by Steve

6:12 PM, Mar 29, 2008

I hope that poor Charlton enjoys his week in the majors. The '11 man bullpen' will last until Morrow throws his first first-pitch strike.

Too bad for Dickey, but Bavasi made a great move. Baek would have been snapped up like a goldfish in the piranha tank.

Posted by doc28

6:22 PM, Mar 29, 2008

in general, though some surprising decisions, i like the roster. i do, however, think norton should be on the bench, NOT cairo. i hope they have a short leash for him. it makes no sense to have cairo over norton, as norton is a better pinch hitter, and could spell beltre or sexson at 3B/1B respectively. he also has a lot of power. could they feel obligated because they gave cairo a guaranteed contract? Dickey will be up soon enough. let's see how baek does --it was a tough decision, but you just couldn't take the risk losing him.

Posted by Steve

6:28 PM, Mar 29, 2008

What's all this carping about Cairo. Maybe you guys should let the coaching staff do their jobs?

Stranded mariner is right about Dickey. Baek (and Reed) will be gone by June.

Posted by Tony in Dallas

6:39 PM, Mar 29, 2008

I like the pitching moves...I live in Dallas and have watched R.A Dickey pitch for the Rangers, sending R.A. Dickey to triple A was a great idea. Keeping Baek was a good move...Morrow to AA was another good move. He'll be back with the big club before you know it. Looks like this team will contend. The starting pitching looks solid, bullpen looks ok. I still think the big question is will Sexson and Beltre have big years.

Posted by sonicman28

9:44 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Larry, and any others who care.

Dickey did not in fact have to clear waivers by all the other teams. Once he was traded by the Twins to the M's he is no longer under rule 5 limitations, ie he became property of the Mariners just like any other traded player..

Had the twins not made a trade and the M's offered him back to them and they rejected it, THEN he would have had to clear waivers.

Long story short, Dickey did not have to clear waivers, this is misinformation.

Posted by MT Mariner

10:48 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Baek has potential, SO? Baek has not been consistent when he has been with the mariners. Package Baek, Reed, Sexson, and Washburn for a 1st baseman or for a power hitting outfielder and move Morse to 1st.

Posted by Tom2000

10:57 PM, Mar 29, 2008

Lowe healthy? Morse made the team? Dickey still in the system? Santa Claus came early!

Cairo? I just don't get it.

Go Ms!!!!

Posted by ice

11:11 PM, Mar 29, 2008

sonicman28,

No, Dickey became a Mariner, but was still out of options, so he had to clear waivers to go to Tacoma.

Posted by sonicman28

11:59 AM, Mar 30, 2008

Ice,

Dickey is in fact not out of options as he has only had 2 of his three options used. Remember September roster expansion call ups DO NOT count against a player's options.

Had he been out of options when exactly did he clear the 3 day waiver period, between Thursday night when he pitched in SF Saturday when he was OPTIONED to Tacoma? The answer is he didn't.

Contrary to what has been stated Dickey did not clear waivers, he did not have to as either part of his former Rule 5 status, nullified when he was TRADED from the Twins, or when he was optioned to Tacoma. Once he is called up this year he will then be out of options for next year. He can however be moved back and forth from Seattle to Tacoma all year as part of his final option.

Posted by ice

12:19 PM, Mar 30, 2008

sonicman28,

Dickey used up his 3 options 2003-2005. In 2005 he spent April in the majors.

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