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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 25, 2008 8:51 PM

Lowe blows it in 10th

Posted by Geoff Baker

Jeremy Reed looked to have saved the night for the Mariners with an RBI single in the 10th, but Mark Lowe loaded the bases with two out in the bottom of the frame and served up a first-pitch single to Joe Inglett that loses it for Seattle.

Inglett's ball went off the glove of a leaping Ichiro. Two runs came in and Seattle loses 5-4. That kind of night.

"I think I read it,'' Ichiro said, through an interpreter, of how he played the ball off the bat.

"I have to catch it like that because it touched my glove,'' he said.

In other words, he timed his leap OK. Feels it was his play to make.

On to J.J. Putz. who blew a save in the eighth. Putz had trouble getting his splitter over to the first three hitters, made an adjusment, then got out of the rest of the inning unscathed. But he allowed the tying run to score.

"The toughest thing with being a reliever is you don't have a lot of time to be able to find things,'' he said. "You've got to be quick. Today, I wasn't quick enough.''

Putz still took plenty of positives out of the outing. It wasn't perfect, but he eventually did find the splitter. With more outings, he feels it will come to him quicker.

"It's just one of those things where the more you throw, the more out of it you get, the better,'' he said. "Obviously, the better you're going to be with stuff, command and everything like that. I had it the other day against Boston. I threw some great splits there and then today, for whatever reason, it was flat early.

"But I was able to make an adjustment. It could have been a lot worse.''

Not much else to say. Miguel Batista came out of the game mid-batter because he "was gassed'' is what manager Jim Riggleman said. Riggleman later pulled Arthur Rhodes after a passed ball had moved a runner into scoring position with him facing a righty hitter. That's a potential positioning problem with fielders and you're better off having a righty in there.

By the way, Lowe was set to go up to three innings. Riggleman then would have put R.A. Dickey in and gone with a combination of relievers tomorrow. No Jamie Burke. Jeff Clement isn't healthy enough to catch yet and Burke was the only catcher left.

So, that's six losses in a row. Going to be a long final two months, I suspect.

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July 25, 2008 6:53 PM

Mariners at Toronto Blue Jays: 07/25 game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

jays0725 027.jpg

It's now a 3-3 game in the ninth after J.J. Putz allowed three straight hits to open the eighth, including a leadoff double by Lyle Overbay, a single by Rod Barajas and an RBI single by Matt Stairs. Putz then got out of a serious jam with a double play ball hit to Adrian Beltre, who tagged the lead runner and threw on to first. Putz thne struck out Adam Lind to end the threat. But it was not a vintage outing by him. He's got a ways to go.

When was the last time any of you saw a team pull two pitchers in the middle of a plate appearance in the same game? Has happened to Miguel Batista and Arthur Rhodes tonight. We'll see what the deal was.

That Brewers scout was certainly here to see Rhodes. Milwaukee needs relief help and GM Doug Melvin said today that he isn't willing to pay a premium to get it. In other words, no Huston Street, no George Sherrill. But Rhodes would seem a better fit.

By the way, the M's bullpen has gotten awfully thin since this photo below was taken earlier tonight. You've got Mark Lowe left if Brandon Morrow can survive the ninth. Jamie Burke after that.

jays0725 033.jpg

Continue reading this post ...

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July 25, 2008 3:01 PM

Morrow may start in 2008

Posted by Geoff Baker

jays0725 006.jpg

Just when you thought things couldn't get any more confusing in the Brandon Morrow situation, Mariners manager Jim Riggleman now says the pitcher may indeed start in 2008. The way he was talking this afternoon, it's almost like he expects that Morrow will start.

In Class AAA, at least to begin. Riggleman doesn't see Morrow making a transformation out of the major league bullpen. He says the quickest way to get Morrow's arm built up would be to send him to Tacoma for two or three weeks.

It all depends on how quickly J.J. Putz grabs the closer role again. Putz has come back strong from the injury, so strong that the Mariners are now back to discussing Morrow as a starter this year. According to Riggleman, the orgnaization is split right down the middle as to whether Morrow should start now or over the winter in winter ball.

For now, Riggleman is ready to go with a Morrow-Putz combination at closer. He doesn't want to throw either guy three days in a row right now. But -- and here's the catch -- if one guy goes two days in a row, then tells Riggleman he'd like to go three, the manager will oblige. If that guy is Putz, then Morrow will likely be sent down. Even if Putz can only go back-to-back days a number of times, there's a good chance Morrow would be sent out no later than mid-August. After all, who knows when this team will see three straight closing opportunities?

"He would pitch the eighth,'' Riggleman said of Morrow in the event Putz becomes the closer. "But again, we've tossed that some point, does he go in the rotation?''

Riggleman added: "Once we get into August, we'll have a little clearer indication of where we want to go with it.''

And although Riggleman managed in winter ball before, you can tell he's not thrilled with the idea of sending Morrow back there to pitch. Neither is a significant part of the organization, apparently. Last year, when Morrow pitched in Venezuela, there were "times when people were probably holding their breath about it.''

Here's Riggleman's take on winter ball and Morrow:

"It's not that often you're getting your Brandon Morrows down there,'' he said, adding that winter ball isusually a place for top hitting prospects and lower tier starters. "You're just so leery of pitching more innings on that arm that aren't directly affecting the outcome of the Mariners.''

So, that's it for now. Let's see what happens from here.

There's been another rotation shuffle. Carlos Silva's back is still hurting him. So, R.A. Dickey goes tomorrow in his place. Jarrod Washburn goes on Sunday. Felix Hernandez throws the opener in Texas (on his regular rest) and Silva goes Tuesday.

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July 25, 2008 9:05 AM

No-trade clause? Small problem

Posted by Geoff Baker

The final week leading into the July 31 trade deadline is upon us and -- as expected -- this is when things truly start to get serious. As many of you have already heard, the New York Yankees held an organizational meeting in Tampa yesterday to try to narrow down trade targets. Not surprisingly, the name of Jarrod Washburn keeps coming up.

As we mentioned a while back, shedding Washburn makes sense for the Mariners. He's an attractive commodity simply in being lefthanded. He's putting up some strong numbers. He's not going to cost teams an arm and a leg. And he's not really going to help the Mariners win a title next season. Washburn would allow you to eat another 190 innings or so out of the rotation if all goes well. But the team has surplus in lefty starting pitching. Even if Ryan Rowland-Smith doesn't work out, you've still got Ryan Feierabend. It's time to move on.

There's been a hullabaloo of sorts over Washburn's no-trade clause. Some have speculated that Washburn would want a contract extension if he's to go to New York. Of course he'd like an extension based off seven good weeks of pitching. Who wouldn't? It's not going to happen. As you can see from this fan blog in NYC, there's plenty of angst about taking a gamble on Washburn beyond even this season, let alone 2009.

But hey, a player has to try to get the most he can. But, as with all things in a negotiation, once you see the plausible and the totally impractical, you move away from the latter and towards the former. To me, this whole no-trade thing represents a very minor obstacle. Here's how it works: in the majors, players have these no-trade deals inserted in their contracts. It's a negotiated clause and, as in most business negotiations in the non-sports world, if you want out of a contract clause, you have to give something up in return. It's more a token gesture than anything else. Sometimes, you can buy your way out for $50,000. Gets the player an extra car, or a nice round-the-world cruise for the family over the winter.

The thing is, the player worked hard to get the no-trade into the contract. Most of them will be reluctant to give it up for nothing.

So, if you're the Mariners and you have a chance to offload more than $13 million to the Yankees in Washburn's remaining salary, are you going to risk scuttling the deal over a $50,000 payout? Or a $200,000 payout? A $500,000 payout? No, you're not. Well, you're not unless you're really dumb. No jokes please. I'm being serious. Well, a few jokes, but let's not sidetrack the discussion. Even if the Yanks balk at ponying up some cash for Washburn, the M's could always do it if push came to shove. Like I said, they aren't going to blow a cash-shedding move of this proportion over a small fraction of dough.

Continue reading this post ...

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