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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 26, 2008 10:22 AM

Reitsma, Rhodes not making it

Posted by Geoff Baker

Let's clarify exactly what's gone on here this morning, because there have been some moves on the pitching front. Both Chris Reitsma and Arthur Rhodes have yet to be officially cut, but were told by the team this morning that they will not be on the opening day roster. The M's want them to continue with their throwing program in the minors and not try to rush back in time for some March 31 deadline.

We told you this about Rhodes earlier in the week. There was no way the team was going to risk re-injuring him by rushing him back in his comeback attempt. Reitsma is also apparently not as far along as Mark Lowe, who has already thrown in back-to-back games and now looks likely to head north. Rhodes and Reitsma can both refuse assignments to the minors and become free-agents. (correction -- 12:27 p.m.: Actually, they can't refuse. They are both on Class AAA contracts. So, they either play there, or retire. They can also ask team for release, but M's don't have to give it.) Rhodes is apparently sticking with the team's program and will head to San Francisco and Las Vegas with the club and try to throw on consecutive days before resuming his throwing program.

Reitsma, for now, has gone home and will think about his future.

"They are both throwing the ball well,'' Mariners manager John McLaren said. "We want to make sure they stick to their throwing programs.''

Infielder Tug Hulett and Roy Corcoran have also been told they will soon be cut, but are staying with the team for now. That's not really a surprise to anyone.

But today's bullpen moves make clearer what will happen before opening day.

McLaren said it has yet to be decided whether the team will carry 11 or 12 pitchers. But given the shaky health status of the middle relievers and setup men, that would seem a given. The team needs a second lefthander and Ryan Rowland-Smith appears to be the best choice for now. Down the road, towards the end of April or early May, Rhodes could be ready to join the club.

McLaren said he likes the idea of Rhodes and Reitsma, perhaps, waiting in the wings to help the team out after the start of the season. Both pitchers, he said, bring: "A veteran presence, guys who have been there and done that. We could have used that last year, especially when we were going through some bad streaks.''

He added that Rhodes this spring looks "as good as I've ever seen him. We don't want to set him back because of a March 31 deadline.''

That said, no guarantees of joining the club by a certain date have been made to either pitcher. On Brandon Morrow and his sore shoulder, McLaren wants to see him show better control but does not envision having to put him on the disabled list.

So, in my book, the team, still goes with 12 pitchers.

You would see a bullpen of:

J.J. Putz
Eric O'Flaherty
Sean Green
Brandon Morrow
Mark Lowe
Ryan Rowland-Smith
R.A. Dickey

I still think the team will go with Dickey over Baek. But that's a tough call. Baek has pitched very well down here. But I've never been convinced the team is sold on Baek, for whatever reason. And that goes back beyond this year. The possibility of Dickey's rubber arm looks good with a bullpen this uncertain health-wise.

But we've been wrong before. Let's see how this plays out. McLaren wants to have it settled by tomorrow, but isn't sure it will be. Interesting in any event.

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Posted by Adam

10:41 AM, Mar 26, 2008

I'm really surprised Lowe is likely to make the team. If he's 100%, it would be WONDERFUL to see the M's send Morrow down and start making him a starter. Maybe they get lucky and he's ready by the AS break to take over for Washburn.

Of course, there are jobs to save, so it likely will not happen.

Posted by Adam

10:46 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Said McLaren:

Both pitchers, he said, bring: "A veteran presence, guys who have been there and done that. We could have used that last year, especially when we were going through some bad streaks.''

PUKE. Just like Rick White and John Parrish, eh Mac? This man just doesn't get it. I'm surprised he didn't say that they have "been through the wars."

Re: the bullpen - That's a pretty good pen, though I still say losing Sherrill is a big blow. I like the idea of having Dickey and RRS in there, both can go three-plus innings and even start in a pinch.

Still rooting for Morrow to go to Tacoma to start.

And they need to trade Baek in order to get somthing for him.

Posted by Snowbound

10:47 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Is making Morrow a starter suddenly going to improve his command? I just don't see where making Morrow a starter is all that pressing, if he can't throw strikes for an inning or two, what's he going to be like going 6 or 7 innings... his best bet is to try and improve his command in short stints as a reliever where he can escape jams with his overpowering fastball.

Posted by Neil

10:49 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Is there a thought to trade Baek? With a decimated staff, St. Louis seems a reasonable destination. LA Angels would be interested too, but let's not strengthen the enemy.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:51 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Both pitchers, he said, bring: "A veteran presence, guys who have been there and done that. We could have used that last year, especially when we were going through some bad streaks.''

So part of what would have righted last season's slumps... would have been more veterans.

Excuse me.


thank you.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:55 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Adam, Neil - Don't give the f.o. any more encouragement regarding trading Baek! (Even though that's got to be a possibility.) Knowing these guys, they'll end up getting some 39 year old "veteran presence" who is a great clubhouse guy but can't hit his weight.

Am I the only one who feels really good about our pitching this year, to the point that it's not getting enough credit nationally? If our starters go deep, the pen overall used and paced better, Dickey the real deal, Lowe healthy, J..J continuing to be J.J. ... I think they may just overcome any offense deficiencies...

Posted by jujay

10:57 AM, Mar 26, 2008

I think reitsma definately fits into the rick white veteran category, but I still like rhodes and would like to have him in triple as an option if anyone goes down

Posted by Neil

10:59 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Agreed, Chris, but if it's "trade" vs. "lose on the waiver wire," I choose trade. Sure Baek will go on to win the Cy Young, but at least we'll have a feel-good story about a knuckleballer.

Anyone else notice Asdrubal Cabrera is getting a ton of press in Cleveland? What's Eduardo Perez up to these days?

Posted by jujay

11:00 AM, Mar 26, 2008

I like Baek but our staff looks great without him...I'd be happy to get a AA prospect for him to help rebuild our farm a little bit, same with jimerson if possible

Posted by reality3

11:01 AM, Mar 26, 2008


What has happend on the Reed front?

Posted by Jay

11:04 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Nobody will give you a live body for Baek when they know he's out of options and you're going to have to cut him in three days anyway. Get trading him out of your minds...

Posted by Jay

11:11 AM, Mar 26, 2008

And I don't understand entirely the Rhodes love-fest. He had a pretty poor season in the "pitching rich" NL in 06, then blew out his arm, and I'm supposed to believe that he'll really help us? And I know he's a sentimental favorite, but when I look back on him, all I remember is David Justice owning him in the playoffs when it really mattered...

Posted by PayClayBennett

11:28 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Both of these guys suck - period. Washed up, used, trying to hang on and soak some more veteran millions. Puke is right as Adam said. Mac's giving the media line on a couple of old vets, but the reality is neither one of these bozos deserve a MLB job, let alone an investment in a "throwing program."

Cut 'EM!!!!!

P.S. This blog security sucks. Wrong text with no explanation every time, 1st post. Been that way forever - anyway someone could take a look at that?

Posted by scrapiron

11:49 AM, Mar 26, 2008

From what I've seen of Rhodes, he's looked as good as I've seen in years. Still has that deceptive delivery and his velocity is looking good. He took the cut like a true veteran, realizing that a little more work would be good for him. Class guy, I hope he makes it back. I think we'll see him in Seattle in May.

Reitsma is a little shocking to me. Why would he go home to think about it rather than just put in the extra work like Rhodes? Did he really think he had to make the opening day roster or he was done? Honestly, I haven't been too impressed with him in spring, maybe he doesn't have any more to give. I thought with a little more work he might be ready by May as well. Maybe he can't come back from surgery like he expected.

Lowe making the opening day roster? Amazing. Last year they thought his career might be over. What a comeback.

Posted by openup58

11:53 AM, Mar 26, 2008

I am tired of people saying losing Sherrill was a big blow to the bullpen. Have you ever taken the time to look at his stats? Last year he was off to a nice start, but his post All-Starstats are the same as his career stats. High era, high WHIP. This guy had a half season of good pitching in SEA and it wasn't the 2nd half. Sure he could end up being the next stud closer in baseball, but his track record and career stats show he was a below avergae relief pitcher. So any of our nice you LH RP's can easily fill his shoes and we wont miss him as nearly as much as we will miss the power and RBI's of jose GUillen...that was the biggest loss!

Posted by Adam

11:54 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Jay - Explain the Broussard trade, then. If a team wants Baek, but doesn't want to have to hope to get him on waivers, they will make a deal.

We won't get much, but Baek can be traded.

Posted by -k

11:55 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Adam - I said i last post that i value your input, but i often disagree with you. This is perhaps the biggest issue in that regard.

Vets ARE the key to winning consistently. Well kind of, GOOD vets are! Edgar was vet, as was Bone when they lead the M's. Arod, Vlad, Big Papi, Santana: all vets. Ichiro s a vet, is he worthless now? Yuni now has 1.5 years under his belt and is considered a vet. should we dump him? what about JJ, has he been around too long for you?

Look at the worst teams in Baseball year in and year out: Texas, KC, Tampa, Pitt, the brewers, the rockies before last year: they are constantly filled with kids.

Obviously, i'm not being completely serious, but hopefully you see my point. The best teams have a mixture of both, not just on their team, but in all parts of the team. The M's have a very old lineup, and it shows. They also have a very young bullpen, and it definitely showed last august. A solid vet in the pen (like a scott shields or Miguel Batista) could have saved the M's some heartache last year.

Notice that i'm not talking about perish or White. Those guys were horrendous, vet or not. You also fail to bring up Ran feierbend, a kid who was equally as bad.

I like to believe that Boston is a good model for the Ms to follow. They have a good mix of both. And Seattle needs to look at that. I think we need some bats in the bottom of the order. But having some experience and consistency in the pen wouldn't hurt either.

As is usually my theme: this is not a black and white issue. Grey is a beautiful color!

Posted by Adam

12:01 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Vets ARE the key to winning consistently. Well kind of, GOOD vets are!

Exactly. And GOOD youngsters are another key to winning consistently. The Mariners think vets are better no matter what.

And the track record speaks for itself.

Posted by Snowbound

12:07 PM, Mar 26, 2008

In regards to Baek if he doesn't make the club.

Alot of different pitchers are being cut or released, along with Reitsma and Rhodes, the Pirates cut Byung Yung Kim, and Jaret Wright, KC released Jorge De LaRosa, Milwaukee release Claudio Vargas.

There are no guarantee's that just because Baek is released someone will immediately pick him up... and right now with him being on the cusp of being released he has no trade value, if someone wants him they'll pick him off of waivers.

Posted by ccsupreme

12:10 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Rotoworld is reporting that Escobar has a tear in his shoulder... it's looking like season ending surgery, he's even talking about retirement over rehabbing. This is Huge. With Lackey out for atleast a month, and Escobar gone for good, LA's rotation is looking pretty bad.

Posted by Snowbound

12:12 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Adam.... if the track record speaks for itself, how do you explain?

Jeremy Reed being the opening day CF in '06
Jose Lopez opening day starter last 2 years
Betancourt opening day starter last 2 years
Morrow being on the club last year
O'Flaherty being on the club this year
Putz taking over for Everyday Eddie
RRS likely making the club this year
Sean Green as well
Felix in the rotation for 2 years

This club is not nearly as adverse to young guys as people think they are, its just they haven't developed any big name talent that has stuck with the club

Posted by -k

12:16 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Adam - I don't completely agree. They've given plenty of young pitchers a shot, especially last year. And having a vet in the pen IS very much needed.

The M's do have a history of not giving young bats much of a chance. That goes back to Lou. He was way worse than Mac in this regard.

My point is that it's the quality of the player, not the age of the player that matters. If Beak is traded for a good player (not a white or parrish) Who cares if it's a vet or a kid?

Your posts perhaps misrepresent your beliefs. your posts suggest that all trades are bad unless the player brought in is a kid.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

12:21 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Snowbound - It's easy to explain the moves that you listed. They didn't have to choose a younger player over a veteran that they had under contract. They had no choice but to go with the young player.

Posted by Jay

12:21 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Broussard was most definitely not traded three days before he was about to be cut, and I'd be willing to bet that he would still be on the opening day roster next week had he not beed traded. Broussard was not out of options, nor was he in danger of being demoted from the 25. Broussard is also a proven major league commodity (albeit one who can't hit lefties). To compare the M's ability to get something for him to their ability to deal Baek is ridiculous.

Posted by Ned

12:29 PM, Mar 26, 2008

New drinking game, every time McLaren says the word "veteran," readers must take a shot of their favorite adult beverage.

Posted by scrapiron

12:33 PM, Mar 26, 2008

ccsupreme - If that report on Escobar is true, that's a HUGE blow to the Angels. Hopefully the Mariners can build up a nice lead before Lackey comes back and they can put the Angels in their rear-view mirror.

Posted by scrapiron

12:38 PM, Mar 26, 2008

On Broussard: He went to management late last season and expressed his displeasure with lack of playing time. In the off season they attempted to trade Sexson to open up playing time for Broussard. When they couldn't deal Sexson, they decided to move Broussard rather than let him unhappily rot on the bench.

They even did Broussard a favor and traded him close to his hometown, which Broussard thanked the organization for doing. They basically traded Broussard for nothing in return to reward a player for being a good teammate in a Mariners uniform.

The Mariners did something similar a few years back by trading Bret Boone to the Twins to give him another shot at a comeback rather than allow him the embarassment of being released.

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

12:44 PM, Mar 26, 2008

"Both pitchers, he said, bring: 'A veteran presence, guys who have been there and done that. We could have used that last year, especially when we were going through some bad streaks.'"

See what we mean? Reitsma WAS there last year, and he sucked. Did McLaren forget that? I don't think his injury was the only problem, either. Well, I will give credit where it is due, and give McLaren some credit for not letting Reitsma's veteran-ness overwhelm everything else. I hope Reitsma asks to be released. I have no opinion on Rhodes, really, but I am not sure he's worth more than a very short look in real action.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

12:46 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Its a battle of the breaking ball pitchers in the thin air again. Maybe Meche has taught Bedard how to throw the breaking ball in Arizona? If not lets hope for lots of rain in Seattle this year....

Posted by Bruce

12:47 PM, Mar 26, 2008

ccsupreme and scrapiron,

This may give the M's the openning they need. Even though the AL west has looked pretty darn good so far during the Spring training (well, all except the M's!),1,340320.story?track=rss

Posted by scrapiron

1:11 PM, Mar 26, 2008


Wow, you take Lackey out of that rotation for a month and Escobar out of it permanently and that rotation looks very pedestrian.


That one looks a lot better.

Posted by Adam

1:15 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Your posts perhaps misrepresent your beliefs. your posts suggest that all trades are bad unless the player brought in is a kid.

k - that's not even close to what I said. I said the team doesn't value good young talent nearly as much as they should, and that they put too much premium on veteran players.

Snowbound - that list isn't going to convince me that the Mariners rightly emphasize young talent. I will give Bavasi credit for one thing - he does understand that putting together a good bullpen can be done without spending a lot of money.

But just because the M's have started young players over the years doesn't mean they properly value them vs. vets.

Ibanez, Sexson, Vidro, Rick White, John Parrish, Chris Reitsma, Horacio Ramirez, Jeff Weaver, Jarrod Washburn, Scott Spezio, Rich Aurilia, and others say hello.

Posted by -k

1:21 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Everyone needs to remember that BOTH of these guys were hurt as Mariners. Like it or not, both are being given a chance to get back to the Majors for that reason. At least thats the way i see it. The M's have a long track record of "doing the right thing." and keeping people on the payroll while they rehab.

Plus, what is one of them happens to rebound from their injury and return to form. that could be a huge boost for the team. I don't think it will happen. I believe that neither will ever return to the form they had earlier in their career, but i don't think thats the point of letting them rehab.

Reitsma maybe, but only because he's younger. And i don't mean return to last years form, that would be fairly useless. Remember that last year he was coming off a major injury from the previous year. With him, when i saw return to form i mean from his days in Atlanta. If we could get that version of Reitsma, our 8th inning righty concerns would be over.

But alas, does anyone OTHER than bavasi actually think that'll happen? i didn't think so.

Posted by scrapiron

1:22 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Geoff - McLaren said he wanted the team to be more agressive on the basepaths, but so far Yuni only has one stolen base. I thought they'd push him to get about 20 steals this season. Any word on his progress on stealing?

Posted by Bobby Ayala

7:47 PM, Mar 26, 2008

"And I know he's a sentimental favorite, but when I look back on him, all I remember is David Justice owning him in the playoffs when it really mattered..."

I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way. When Rhodes was in his hay-day with Seattle, that's what I remember. Him blowing it, when it mattered.

That being said he may still be the best option when healthy, but I have never liked the guy.

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