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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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April 22, 2008 4:29 PM

Putz back, Dickey down

Posted by Geoff Baker

The Mariners have activated J.J. Putz off the DL, while R.A. Dickey gets optioned to Class AAA Tacoma. I don't understand the latter move all that much. Dickey pitched well the other night in Anaheim. One bad pitch cost him three runs and the game. Still, Baek has made similar bad pitches with lesser results. He does not seem comfortable coming in as a long man, which he will be if Erik Bedard now starts Saturday, as expected. Dickey is useful as a starter or a reliever. He gives you flexibility. So, the team now sends him to AAA where he has no use whatsoever.

Actually, I do understand the move. The club does not want to outright Baek to Tacoma and risk losing him to another team on waivers. Dickey has options left. But in this case, though, I'm not a fan of what's going on. Dickey helps this team right now and his flexibility might be his biggest asset. But this move negates that flexibility. Baek's greatest asset is as a starter. Right now, there's no room for him to start. So, in effect, he clogs up a roster spot.

This smacks of the team taking the "easy'' way out and trying to keep everyone, instead of putting the best guys out there.

ADDTIONAL COMMENTS (4:52 P.M.): For Jon B., if Bedard's health becomes a long-term issue, you could use Dickey as a swing-man in the bullpen and rotation. Have him be the long-man for now, which he'd be better at than Baek, then move him back to starting if Bedard goes down again. Dickey looked about as good as Baek as a starter as well and the knuckleball is not as prone to lefty-righty differences. I'd say it's better than a rotation with four righties and a lone lefty in Jarrod Washburn. If you want, you could call up Ryan Feierabend from Tacoma and have him start for a while, giving the rotation a second lefty, while Dickey becomes the long man. Either way, Baek is the least desirable option. Right now, he's going to sit and then come in to a role he's ill-suited for if a starter implodes. If a starter goes down, you'll have a guy who -- at best -- is Dickey's equal in the rotation. I know that keeping Baek gives you one extra body, one added option if the rotation thins out. But Dickey fills two roles at once -- long man and starter. Every day he spends at Class AAA is another day his value can't be maximized.

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