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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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August 15, 2008 9:06 PM

Silva medal

Posted by Larry Stone

Not much good can be said about this game. Much of the talk afterward was about Carlos Silva's continuing struggles. He is now 0-5, 8.03 in his last eight starts (40.1 ip, 36 er, 61 hits, five homers, .351 opponents average). He is a sinkerball pitcher who is too often throwing the ball thigh high, as Jim Riggleman put it. I'm no Leo Mazzone, but that's not good.

Riggleman said that Silva will remain in the rotation for now. He said that he throws great bullpen sessions between starts, and before starts. Something just happens when he gets in the game. Again, I'll go out on a limb and say, not good.

What did Silva say about it all? Nothing. He declined to comment. He seemed to be upset about the way his outburst last week was portrayed, but I'm not quite sure what that's about. No question he's highly frustrated, and it might have been a smart thing to clam up.

Riggleman said that he argued Ichiro's non-catch mainly because Ichiro was so upset, and that rarely happens. He admitted that he had a bad angle from the dugout and was "arguing blind,'' in his words. The ejection was because "you argue a point enough, they're not going to continue to listen."

Beltre and Lopez were taken out to save their legs on the unforgiving Metrodome turf, nothing else. Beltre is apparently having some leg problems, and may DH Saturday or Sunday.

Liriano, BTW, was quite impressive -- not as overpowering, perhaps, as in 2006, but his changeup was outstanding. He's a huge weapon for the Twins to catch the White Sox. All they need is Jarrod Washburn, and the division is theirs.

See you tomorrow.

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August 15, 2008 5:12 PM

Thoughts from Pelekoudas

Posted by Larry Stone

Just got off the phone with Lee Pelekoudas, who is not in Minnesota. I reached him in Jackson, Tenn., where he is visiting the Mariners' Class AA West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx minor-league affiliate.

Pelekoudas will flat out not discuss trade rumors or waiver dealings. He wouldn't talk any specifics of the Washburn situation, or even confirm that Washburn was placed on waivers. So it was impossible to get some of the answers I want to get, and I know you do, too.

But he did want to get the point across, again, that the Mariners are not looking for salary dumps, but, rather, talent. That would be their explanation for the hard line they are reputed to be taking in trade negotiations. Obviously, there is a significant portion of fans who believe that the Mariners would be well-served just to get Washburn's $10 million off the books for next year, regardless of the return. The Mariners clearly disagree, because they just had a golden opportunity to do just that.

Pelekoudas also hinted that there could be a larger trade down the road, one in which the Mariners might even take on salary to get a better player .

One last thing: I clarified the rule regarding putting a player back on waivers after he has been pulled back. That can't be done for 30 days, it turns out. So in the case of Washburn and Raul Ibanez, the 30 days would put them beyond the Aug. 31 deadline for postseason eligibility. That makes it extremely unlikely either of them will be dealt prior to the offseason.

At any rate, here's what Pelekoudas said:

"In general, on the issue of dumping salaries, our goal here is to get better. Even back to the trade deadline, and moving forward, we want to get players back that will make us better now and in the future. Money can give you flexibility, but there's no guarantee you can turn that flexibility into anything.

"I've said all along, with players under our control that people are assuming we want to move, we'd like to get value back for them. We want to get the best deal we can get for them, now or later. Other deals may come along and develop into something larger, and even involve us eating some money to get players that make us better.''

So there you have it, straight from the GM's mouth. Now I'm going to get back to watching Francisco Liriano mow down the Mariners. I'd say he has a pretty good sinker working -- nine ground balls outs out of the first 11 outs.

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August 15, 2008 4:46 PM

Game thread, Aug. 15, Mariners vs. Twins

Posted by Larry Stone

Update, 6:46 p.m. : Jim Riggleman just got tossed for the first time as Mariners' manager, and it looked like he had a good reason to be upset (beyond Carlos Silva's bad pitching). Ichiro caught a popup by Adam Everett for what seemed to be the second out of the fiftah, then dropped the ball as he was making the transfer to toss it in. The first-base umpire, Mark Wegner, ruled no catch. Looked like a bad call to me. Riggleman thought so, too, and must have said a magic word to get tossed.

Carlos Silva, tonight's starting pitcher, returns to Minnesota for the first time since he left as a free agent. It's not exactly a triumphant return, what with the 4-13 record and the 5.93 ERA. I hear that Silva hosted a team party yesterday (for the Mariners, not the Twins). No word on whether he threw anyone up against the wall.

I'm looking forward to seeing Francisco Liriano, who was so brilliant in 2006 before undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Lineups (I'm going to take this nice and slow)

Mariners

Ichiro RF

Miguel Cairo 1B

Raul Ibanez LF

Adrian Beltre 3B

Jose Lopez 2B

Wladimir Balentien CF

Kenji Johjima C

Jeff Clement DH

Yuniesky Betancourt SS

Carlos Silva P

Twins

Denard Span RF

Nick Punto 2B

Joe Mauer C

Justin Morneau 1B

Jason Kubel DH

Delmon Young LF

Brian Buscher 3B

Adam Everett SS

Carlos Gomez CF

Francisco Liriano P

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August 15, 2008 4:37 PM

Bonser rumor shot down

Posted by Larry Stone

Just talked to Geoff, the maestro of blogs, and he suggested I put this on a separate entry, because it may be getting lost at the bottom of the original Washburn post..

To reiterate, I'm told by a baseball source with knowledge of the Mariners' talks with Minnesota that contrary to what has been written elsewhere, Boof Bonser's name never came up. And also, Nick Blackburn's name was pulled from discussions very early in the process by the Twins, so speculation that the Mariners were asking for Blackburn is also not accurate.

Wish I could tell you which players the two teams DID discuss, but I can't nail that down. I think it's fair to assume that they were trying to get quality talent in return, however.

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August 15, 2008 2:35 PM

Washburn: "I'm disappointed"

Posted by Larry Stone

Larry Stone here in Minnesota.

If you wondered about Jarrod Washburn's reaction to not being traded, he wore it on his face as he walked into the clubhouse today. He did not look happy. And, it turned out, he wasn't. He said he found out yesterday about the possible Twins' trade about the same time he found out it wasn't happening.

"I had mixed emotions,'' he said. "I was happy and upset at the same time."

The happiness came from the possibility of being traded to the Twins, which was just about the top team on his list of possible destinations. His home, he said, is an hour and a half drive away.

"If the rumors are accurate, it's too bad,'' he said. "It would have been ideal. It would have been perfect. It would have gotten me to a place that's contending and it's in my own damn backyard.''

On the rumors that the Twins were offering Boof Bonser, Washburn said: "If that was the case, how much more do you think you're going to get? A young guy with a great arm who's cheap.''

On whether he can get back mentally into pitiching for the Mariners this season: "Yeah. My job doesn't change. I have to go out and give my team a chance to win, no matter who I'm pitching for. I'm disappointed, but if I fall on my face the last six weeks of the season, I won't be in anyone's plans next year -- the Mariners or someoone trying to trade for me."

UPDATE: 3:30 P.M. -- The Mariners, following MLB guidelines, have a strict no-comment policy on all matters pertaining to waivers. But I'm told by a baseball source with knowledge of the Mariners' talks with Minnesota that contrary to what has been written elsewhere, Boof Bonser's name never came up. And also, Nick Blackburn's name was pulled from discussions very early in the process by the Twins, so speculation that the Mariners were asking for Blackburn is also not accurate.

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August 15, 2008 10:41 AM

Why Twins wanted Washburn

Posted by Geoff Baker

Some folks out there are having a tough time understanding why the Minnesota Twins wanted to take Jarrod Washburn off the M's hands. This is understandable, given how the Twins have a reputation for building from within with cheap, cost-effective homegrown talent. They have a stable of young pitchers, like Nick Blackburn, who the Mariners have gone after before. Remember the Adrian Beltre talks last month? Yes, Blackburn was a name that came up at that point. Did he come up in the Washburn talks? I don't know. But the M's wanted a starting pitcher in the Washburn deal, from what I was told yesterday. Not necessarily him, though.

This article from the Star Tribune explains yesterday's talks pretty well from the Minnesota perspective.

No, this was not, as we mentioned yesterday, a "block" move by the Twins.

We've had this discussion before, but at this time of year, when playoff berths are up for grabs, teams tend to suspend the normal value judgments made on players. Even the so-called "good" teams have been known to do this. Especially when it comes to relief pitching. Think of what the Boston Red Sox gave up last summer in sending outfielder David Murphy, starting pitcher Kason Gabbard and teenage outfielder Engel Beltre to the Texas Rangers for a two-month rental of a washed-up-looking Eric Gagne.

Does this make Red Sox GM Theo Epstein a moron? No. After all, he still won the World Series. And that's always the goal. Not building a fantasy super-team. The goal is always to make the playoffs, then go as far as you can. The money generated off that can offset tons of moves that look foolish in hindsight.

It's why the Tigers shipped off catcher Pudge Rodriguez for reliever Kyle Farnsworth, of all people.

Why yours truly was not against dealing catcher Jeff Clement for an eighth inning reliever last year. If the alternative is to not make the playoffs, then sometimes you have to swallow hard and bite the bullet on a deal that would otherwise look lopsided. In hindsight, dealing Clement or Wladimir Balentien for Octavio Dotel or Al Reyes would now seem foolish. But how foolish? The M's have a surplus of minor league catchers. Balentien strikes out whenever he isn't hitting a home run. We still don't know how either will turn out. When Adam Jones was still here, Balentien was an afterthought. If the M's make the playoffs last year (had they not blown a 5-0 lead at home to the Angels, capping it with Rick White on the mound, who knows how things might have played out?), then Jones likely remains in Seattle and no one remembers Balentien.

But in truth, the moment Bill Bavasi failed to deal for another eighth inning guy, the 2007 season was over. The team knew it, the gassed relievers knew it. They crossed their fingers and prayed for a miracle. Prayed that Rick White, a washed-up waiver claim, might be their cheap "miracle answer" but he wasn't. The fact White was on the mound pitching in key games shows you just how dire the bullpen situation was. Don't even go by the stats. Talk to the relievers and they'll tell you: the bullpen was teetering on the edge of collpase come August. So, by not picking up a bullpen answer, the M's wrote off their 2007 playoff chance. Now, we're almost through 2008 and still no playoffs. Come 2009, there likely won't be any either.

Still, heck, the M's have Balentien. They have Clement.

Some teams, though, would take the chance of missing the prospects for a playoff shot. Is Epstein incompetent? No, he isn't. Is Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski incompetent? Only if you've lived in a cave the past 20 years without access to baseball coverage.

I'm not writing this to justify my support of a prospects-for-reliever deal last year. You're all going to have your opinions on it and may even be right in the end. I may have been wrong. But I'm trying to explain to you the mentality that goes into baseball decisions this time of year. It's easy to look at one-sided deals and say "That GM must be crazy!'' Or, you can try to understand why things happen this way. Why even brilliant GMs like Epstein can make insane-looking moves this time of year.

Now, on to why the Twins would take all of Washburn's salary and maybe give up even more.


Continue reading this post ...


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