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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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July 11, 2008 11:53 AM

Bidding war launched?

Posted by Geoff Baker

Just arrived in Kansas City. Spent the night in Houston just to get a little bit closer to here in order to not have to wake up at 4 a.m. to get here by 4 p.m. Not a while lot of direct flights here, across the two time zones, that fit with our needs and schedule. So, I opted to fly to Houston, arrive there at midnight and get a good night's sleep before the two-hour hop-over to here. But I made that flight to Houston last night with about 10 minutes to spare, thanks to the ninth-inning collapse by the Mariners in Oakland. The quick version is, I wrote my game story on the train from Oakland to San Francisco, which had the night's last flight out to Houston leaving at 6:25 p.m. It's an hour train ride from Oakland to SFO Airport (longer if you drive in rush hour traffic). It's a quarter-mile walk to the train station with luggage. Needless to say, I didn't have time to draw you up any colorful stat boxes.

Anyway, remember a couple of days ago, when we discussed the M's need to get a bidding war started over Erik Bedard? Well, let the bidding begin. First off, it looks like the career of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Mark Mulder, one of the Big Three from the Oakland A's heyday earlier this decade, is done. With that pitching loss, Cards manager Tony LaRussa is hitting the panic button and putting some public pressure on his GM to do something.

Doing something could mean getting into a bidding war with the Philadelphia Phillies over Bedard.

But here's the catch. New Cards GM John Mozeliak has already said he isn't going to make reactionary moves. Well, that stance is going to feel pressure as the days tick by towards the July 31 trade deadline.

There is a trend by newer GMs, especially those committed to rebuilding from within, to resist the temptation to spend big bucks on free agents or do mega-deals at the deadline. Hey, after seeing what just happened to the Mariners after going all-in on Bedard, who can blame them?

But it's one thing to talk tough. Quite another to do it and watch as your team loses games in the nights leading up to the deadline.

We're seeing a kind of similar thing take place in Tampa Bay, where Rays GM Andrew Friedman keeps insisting he isn't in a hurry to give up tons of talent to bring in arms that can help his staggering bullpen.

It will be interesting to keep an eye on both situations and see what happens next. Not only from a Mariners perspective. But just insofar as how it relates to what GMs do going forward. If the Cards don't add an arm and fall out of the race, or if the Rays keep blowing late leads and eventually squander their division advantage, it could provide a lesson to future GMs. That there may be such a thing as being too cautious, too focused on the future at the expense of the present.

Conversely, if the Cards can hold out until some injured arms return in August, and should the Rays manage to make the playoffs while not giving away any of their core of young prospects, it could send the lesson in the other direction. That maybe holding off and not making the July 31 trade deadline into an annual circus really is the smartest way to go.

There is, of course, a third way. That would be for the Rays to hold off now, miss the playoffs, then make the playoffs again and again. Or contend for several years down the road.

That third route is laden with risk. For one, you need a patient fan base, an owner willing to stand behind you and wait and a future that unfolds the way you see it. There are no dynasties left in baseball. Maybe a handful of teams that make the playoffs year after year, yes, but even they are not guaranteed to make the post-season on a continuous basis.

It's a risk. And it's not your job, or mine, at stake.

That's why this year's deadline should be particularly interesting to follow. Even after it's come and gone.


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Posted by BrianL

12:05 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Interesting post, Geoff.

It does seem appear that the dynamic of the trade deadline has changed over the last few years. It's been a while since we've seen a monster deadline deal. Most of the moves have been rather run-of-the-mill. Mostly it's a club needed to shore up depth at a certain position.

If the Rays do make a move, it will probably be for another bat, perhaps a bullpen arm. They won't, however, move a lot of talent to fill those needs.

Posted by ethan

12:13 PM, Jul 11, 2008

hopefully in return we can obtain a time machine and go back and fix this organization.

Posted by Ben

12:21 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Has there been any talk about trading Putz? I love the guy - but he is a valuable trading piece and there are some teams with good young players that need to solidify that bullpen.

I do think that Morrow would work as a closer, but probably should not be in that role however.

As for the Cardinals, maybe trading for someone like Washburn is enough of an adjustment for them. This could be an exciting time for the Mariners if they can get some good talented, league-ready young players with some pop... we shall see.

Posted by casetines

12:22 PM, Jul 11, 2008

I dont know how serious the bidding war is going to get for Bedard.

If they dont involve the name Colby Rasmus in St Louis, then I wont listen if Im the GM. You have to hold your ground and not get run over because everybody knows that the panic button has been hit.

Posted by Bill

12:23 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Maybe the Cards are in the exact situation the M's were in last year, where no one gave them a chance and then all of the sudden they turn out to be in a penant race. But that's where they were 2 years ago when they won the series.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

12:29 PM, Jul 11, 2008

This is very interesting to me, b/c I've long been bemused at why people are so enamored of the moneyball-era Oakland As. This whole notion of "building a contender" doesn't seem to translate to "building a World Series champion".

I.e. Name the last time the As were world champions, and the fiscal / staffing / organizational philosophy that got them there.

I'd also be pretty frustrated to be an Angels fan - sure, they've been division champs in a flimsy division pretty consistently for the last few years, and won it all 6 years ago, but apart from 02 they seem to get run over pretty solidly in the postseason. Haven't they been one-and-done for some time?

And the White Sox went from world champs one year to pretty lackluster the following year.

And so on and so forth, as McLaren would say.

What I'm getting at is, what trade deadline deals have there really been in the last 10 years that had a direct impact on the postseason? Either where everyone knew it would at the time, or only in hindsight, as in "picked up in July, hit series-winning HR in LCS in October"?

My lack of baseball history is showing here, I'm sure... but it seems like midseason trades may affect a team as far as being able to rest some pitchers or take pressure off some guys, but not much difference otherwise.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

12:32 PM, Jul 11, 2008

I think Washburn and Putz would be a decent trade package together for an NL team, if you can get 3 - 4 prospects with at least one solid OF bat in there.

Washburn and Putz. Sounds like a law firm in a Saturday Night Live sketch.

Posted by NB

12:32 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Maybe the Rays should trade B.J. Upton for Octavio Dotel.

Cheap shot I know but couldn't resist.

Posted by stango

12:35 PM, Jul 11, 2008

I doubt if we can manage to get a blue-chipper like Rasmus for Bedard. Look at what Oaland got for Harden, who is basically the same pitcher, except RH, younger, slightly better numbers, but actually less durable.

I don't think that anyone is ready to say that Beane got a bad deal, but it was nowhere near the haul McPhail got for Bedard.

We should hope for a future mid-rotation starter and a player or two with potential.

However, if we wait until the offseason, giving Bedard a chance to actually pitch some innings (maybe), we might be able to get more.

If I'm a Cards fan, I'm seriously pissed if my team trades Rasmus for a sometime starter coming from a team desperate to unload players.

If we can swing it, I'd do it straight up in a heartbeat.

Posted by Ben

12:40 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Rasmus not being worth Bedard? Rasmus hasn't done anything in the majors yet. he's less of a trading chip than Adam Jones was and we had to trade Jones plus 4 others just to get Bedard.

I think you're not thinking realistically in baseball terms. Bedard's worth is much higher than a prospect like Rasmus - but it depends on what else is in that package... obviously we're not going to get back what we gave up... but getting one top tier propsect with some other potentials is not out of the question.

Posted by joey

12:42 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Geoff: Please ask Mariner management the following question: Did management at least give Sexson a warning about changing and improving his body language and his attitude before termination? Most businesses give employees a warning and chance to correct some flaws before termination. Obviously, most people do not get a second chance with major sins (stealing or physical violence or threats or intimidation). But in Sexson’s case, I would have given him at least one more chance to support whatever lineup was submitted for that day. This attitude adjustment requirement is a of course independent of performance. What do you think? Perhaps, Sexson should and would have been terminated regardless of attitude and body language. The attitude criticism or accusation may have been merely an excuse. I do not know. Some people can hide their unhappiness or true feelings better than others. But as long as players are not constantly back-stabbing and questioning management, that should be sufficient.

Posted by BrianL

12:48 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Chris, you have to realize that the playoffs are a real crapshoot. Look how far the Rockies got last season. No one would have predicted the Cardinals to win it all a few years ago.

The most a team can really do is maximize their chances to make the playoffs. From there, it gets dicey.

Posted by stango

12:50 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Chris:

Your analysis of the tendency of deadline deals to have little affect on the post-season seems pretty much spot on. It seems like, as often as not, the impact player is just that sort of overlooked acquisition of a depth player, sometimes after July 31, like Vince Coleman in '95.

What was the big splash last year? Texiera? What happened to them?

As a seller (finally!), the M's can hope to take advantage of such a feeding frenzy, if one exists. It doesn't matter to me if a trade we make has any impact on the postseason whatsover.

I'd be disappointed if we can't find a taker for Ibañez, Washburn, and Putz. Yes, Putz. I mean, what do we need a closer for?

I'm open to trading everyone for the right package.

Posted by Ben

12:52 PM, Jul 11, 2008

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/rumors/post/Seattle-s-Ibanez-drawing-interest-from-Mets?urn=mlb,93369

Also - any word on this rumor - Ibanez being pursued by the Mets? I don't know the prospects that are mentioned in that little article, but if they're good and we can "lease" Ibanez for the rest of the season - that would be good i suppose.

Posted by Capo

12:55 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Geoff, At this point I am against trading Bedard. I think the best course of action is to let him get healthy and look forward to a strong second half. After that, maybe try to deal him in the offseason, or finish up his contract and take the picks in the amateur draft.

What I think the better idea is, is to try to package a few guys with decent value with guys like Washburn, Silva, and Batista.....to try and clear those awful salaries off the books. If it requires sacrificing guys like Yuni, Lopez, Reed, or Ibanez, so be it........those guys have marginal trade value under normal circumstances, but put together with a filler Starting Pitcher, they might allow us to clear enough salary to make a difference this offseason.

Posted by stango

1:01 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Ben,

I'm not at all saying that Rasmus isn't worth Bedard, for us, that is. I just think that STL would be crazy to trade their best prospect for him. The fact that we sent AJ (which at the time I was against) and other very good prospects for him has nothing to do with this discussion whatsoever.

Obviously, he's only in AAA, and hasn't been tearing the cover off the ball this year, I guess I was more speaking about this particular situation. Bedard has a history of injuries and St. Louis isn't really that good.

It is much more relevant to look at the current market, and the A's just sent a very similar guy to Bedard for a package that included no one with the type of ceiling/potential as Rasmus (BaseballAmerica's pre-season #5 prospect, but they're certainly not always right).

The A's also traded to a team that looks and feels very close to winning it all. I would be pleasantly surprised to see a team overpay for Bedard in the way that we did.

Posted by SDF Mariner

1:04 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Any chance Putz gets dealt when he gets off the DL?

I know we all love Putz, but he's truly only had one year of dominance and we just drafted a supposedly soon to be MLB ready closer. If we could add some depth to our minor league system at the expense of sending Putz to the Rays, I'd be all for it.

Posted by Jonathan

1:08 PM, Jul 11, 2008

I'm fully against trading Putz unless we're ready to make Morrow our full-time closer.

If we want Morrow in the rotation we probably need a healthy RRS and Putz so our bullpen isn't garbage.

Oh how I miss Rafael Soriano imagine Putz netting us some prospects -- a rotation of Felix, Bedard, Morrow, RRS and Dickey with Soriano closing.

Posted by stango

1:09 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Ben:

Thanks for the link. Never heard of those guys either. Ibañez would probably only net a mid-level guy or two, anyway. You never know with those guys, though.

I love how they put up a picture of Beltre for an article about Ibañez. We're so irrelevant!

Posted by Jonathan

1:10 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Bleh I forgot about Fields. Is he our closer of the future? I guess I want to see him pitch at this level before we anoint him that.

Posted by Donovan

1:19 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Joey - Sexson's attitude is and was irrelevant. He was cut because he is stuck in a bottomless pit, he's three months from being out of contract, and we couldn't trade him. It should have happened a month ago. Riggleman's comments were solely for the purpose of serving notice on his team that he isn't going to tolerate whining or entitlement expectations from underperformers. That notice was also overdue.

If Pelekoudas can't get a monster package for Bedard, I sure hope he hangs on to him. He will still have plenty of value after the season. Ditto Washburn. If somebody wants a pitcher in July, they should expect to overpay, not just make a fair deal. Otherwise, wait it out. Trading Raul now makes more sense, unless they want to sign him to DH next year. Also - Cot's contracts site states that Wash has limited a no-trade clause. Anybody know what his rights are? He's not a 10 and 5 guy.

Posted by stango

1:25 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Donovan,

I agree that we should hang onto Bedard, unless there's someone to overpay, which is unlikely given how his year has been, stamina-wise.

I disagree about Washburn. We need to dump him now for almost anything. He's owed 10 mil next year, and he has had a better stretch in his last 4-5 starts than I remember since he's been here. His WHIP has gone up every year since 2002, and I don't foresee some sort of magical long-term turnaround for him. Regression to the mean is only a matter of time, and if someone will trade for him (and his salary) while he's hot, I say, YES, YES, YES!

Posted by TR

1:29 PM, Jul 11, 2008

If they can move Washburn and NOT owe any of his salary, they should consider it...regardless of what they get in return. The other end of the spectrum would be to move him for a high end prospect (if anyone would offer) but also the M's would probably eat most of his salary next year.

Posted by RustyJohn

1:34 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Screw Bedard- if they keep him, great, they will need the arm next year (with, if the Mariners knew what they would doing, Felix, RRS and Morrow in the rotation).

I want to know why there is not more out there on shopping Ibanez or Kenji- there are about three teams that just developed sudden needs for outfielders- they can get a decent prospect or two for Ibanez who can then re-sign with Seattle next year as DH. In the meantime, the can call up Wlad or Redman to fill the hole.

Marlins and a couple of other marginal contenders need a catcher- if the M's eat a lot of the salary they can dump Kenji on an NL team and pick up a prospect (although probably nothing good).

The goal of this team should be to get younger and rid of some of these contracts, even if they ahve to eat them- trading Bedard while he is injured, particularly if he can contribute next year should be the least of their worries.

Imagine a rotation of Felix, Bedard, RRS, Morrow and whatever sack of crap (Washburn or SIlva) fills out the back end.

Posted by RustyJohn

1:37 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Also think how much better the pitching will be when there is a left fielder that can actually play left field and catchers that can call games.

Posted by BrianL

1:38 PM, Jul 11, 2008

I'd package Washburn and Yuni and dangle them in front of the Dodgers for a while.

Posted by scrapiron

1:39 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Re: the Ibanez trade to the Mets. The three prospects being mentioned are not bad.

Mike Carp, 1b. Bats: Left. NYM #9 prospect. Hitting .311 in the Eastern League with a .850 OPS. Upgrade over LaHair.

Nick Evans,1b. Bats: Right. NYM #10 prospect. Hittting .311 in the Eastern League with a .926 OPS. Ditto as above.

Dan Murphy, 3b. Bats: Left. NYM #15 prospect. Hitting .311 in Eastern League (another one?) with a .854 OPS. Committted 35 errors at 3B in 2007. He doesn't seem like a fit unless they are planning on moving Beltre soon.

Posted by stango

1:45 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Thanks scrapiron.

I'm glad to see someone say "upgrade over Lahair" I have a hard time believing that Lahair will ever be a good, or even average major leaguer. That said, he might be better than Craig Wilson.

It sure is a good thing we waived Norton.

Posted by BrianL

1:45 PM, Jul 11, 2008

I was actually reading up on Murphy a few days ago. Doesn't project to stick at 3B, but he does appear to fit the bill as an average defensive 1B or LF.

Posted by stango

1:48 PM, Jul 11, 2008

I can just see the headline now:

"M's Take the Bait; Trade Ibañez to Mets for Carp"

Posted by scrapiron

1:54 PM, Jul 11, 2008

lol stango, how about "Mariners go fishing for Carp"

Carp actually looks like a good fit. I don't see any high-level first base prospects on any teams in contention. The best 1b prospect was Matt LaPorta who was recently traded. So picking up a mid-level prospect like Carp looks like a decent plan B.

I wouldn't cross my fingers that Ibanez comes back to the Mariners next year though. Remember everyone thought Jamie Moyer was going to come back to the Mariners too, but he ended up re-signing with the Phillies instead. I would think Ibanez would rather end his career with a contender than finishing up with the rebuilding Mariners.

The sad part is that Ibanez is an upgrade over Carp or LaHair at first base, but Geoff reported that no one has even asked Ibanez to play first base this year. Why not?

Posted by Donovan

1:55 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Stango - Point taken. Obviously, an acceptable deal for Bedard vs. Wash are two different things. My fear is that they will send cash plus Washburn in exchange for some long shot prospect. I wouldn't pay to get rid of him. Wash is healthy and pitching well right now. A short-termer who needs pitching this year should at least take responsibility for his 09 salary, and send something of value back.

Add me to the chorus of those who want to see a young team take the field next year. Give me Ichiro, Beltre, and a bunch of hungry kids with talent. I'll take what we have for pitching, with Morrow and maybe RRS moved into the rotation.

Posted by stango

1:58 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Who fishes for carp?!? :>)

I suppose that if the M's were fishermen, they would be (and have been) fishing for carp.

Posted by Mike

1:59 PM, Jul 11, 2008

"The sad part is that Ibanez is an upgrade over Carp or LaHair at first base, but Geoff reported that no one has even asked Ibanez to play first base this year. Why not?"

Because the Ms don't think the problem of Ibanez's defense is as bad as many many many others think.

Posted by scrapiron

1:59 PM, Jul 11, 2008

BrianL - Yeah, Murphy really rakes at the plate. But 35 errors at 3B in 2007 and 17 already at 3B in 2008 tells me that there is no way he can be a third baseman. When a guy is that poor defensively at a position and they haven't moved him to another position in the minor leagues already makes me concerned about what is going on. Please, Mariners, don't trade for another DH!

Posted by Mike

2:04 PM, Jul 11, 2008

"A short-termer who needs pitching this year should at least take responsibility for his 09 salary, and send something of value back."

I just don't see this happening and us getting anything of value. The amount of value we get will likely be proportional to the amount of $$$ we pay. But even if we were to eat all of it, I still don't think too many GMs (remember Bavasi is unemployed) who would give up much even for a free year of Washburn. I hope I'm wrong.

Posted by stango

2:05 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Donovan, I agree one hundred % on tearing it down, but obviously I don't agree on Wash. I think he's maxed out, but enough on that.

I only hope that they hire the GM candidate who is actually honest about the prospects of this team contending next year, and not just go for the guy who says "I think you only need a couple of pieces", since that's what they want to believe. I would like someone who has a long term plan, and not just band-aids.

Someone who can evaluate talent and will look to build for our park, and not just talk about, it would be nice too.

Posted by Top pick in 09 draft

2:12 PM, Jul 11, 2008

I personally don't have a lot of faith in Pelekoudas making a good trade with the few blue chip players we have that may have some trade value (Bedard, JJ, Beltre esp). He may be able to move some of the secondary pieces just to unload some 2009 salary (Washburn esp) but Pelekoudas' specialty has not been in the player scouting or player development end of things - more of the business and salary stuff. He seems to be pretty much a caretaker until a real GM is hired with a strong background in player dev. & evaluation His role now is kind of like the role the salary capologists have helping the GMs in the NFL. Also, RA Dickey has made a good case for taking up one of the back-of-the-rotation slots for 2009 which will be one less piece needed in the rebuilding.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

2:16 PM, Jul 11, 2008

The Mets won't deal for Ibanez with Tatis filling the void of Alou being injured.

Posted by Jeff C

2:20 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Ben, you can't ever compare any potential trade for Bedard with what the O's got from us.

Bavasi gave them everything, including the kitchen sink. No GM will be that stupid for a long while.

Posted by c-boyd

2:40 PM, Jul 11, 2008

M's acquired CRAIG WILSON from PIT

He's going to TACOMA

Posted by stango

2:47 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Craig Wilson is not a major league anymore.

He's hitting .230/.327/.396 in AAA this year.

I can't pretend to understand why we traded for him, but we're better off having him in Tacoma, rather than up here.

Posted by Os fan

3:14 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Bedards trade value is poor at best. I hate to say it. If you were contending would you want a guy who is hurt or wont pitch more than 5 innings . Tell me how does that help a team needing to win now. The ms best trade chip is puttz. Forget about getting anything of value for Bedard. I hope you do but I cant see any other team being as stupid as the Ms.

Posted by BF Loser

3:30 PM, Jul 11, 2008

I agree with J.J. possibly having value and maybe Washburn. I still contend we don't need a lights-out closer being 20 games under .500 (and Brandon can do the job if need be). We should shop those guys as a package for young talent.

WRT Bedard, what if we don't suck quite as bad next year and Bedard is more willing to pitch for our winning team? I know it's a long-shot, but possible.

Better yet, what if he has a contract year and is lights-out next season to win the big FA contract and go retire somewhere at 15-20 Mil a year (like so many guys have done to the Ms in recent times)? Still probably a long-shot, but a better option than getting fleeced by him twice in one year.

Posted by Os fan

3:49 PM, Jul 11, 2008

I agree keep bedard , He will get better in a contract year. Isnt that funny how that works. You are right you dont need a closer at this point in your season. When you acuire young pitchers one or 2 of them will be able to close. tear down the building time. All Ms fans should be shouting for it. The sooner the better. Hay you may find a desperate sucker out there for Bedard . Good luck

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