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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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November 12, 2008 11:56 AM

Wakamatsu: M's "can win in a hurry"

Posted by Geoff Baker

NOTE: By the way, Mariners infield prospect Yung Chi Chen, signed in 2004 out of Taiwan, was claimed on waivers by the Oakland A's today. Chen was taken off the 40-man roster so outfielder Michael Wilson could be added to it last week. This is happens when a team is as power-starved as the Mariners. Wilson has some power potential, while Chen was sidelined by a shoulder injury in 2007 and failed to bounce back strongly in 2008. He put up a very poor .638 on-base-plus slugging percentage, courtesy of a .329 slugging percentage, in Class AAA this year. His slugging has dropped noticeably in each full season since high Class A. Not a good sign for a team already clogged with plenty of sub-.700 OPS types at the major league level.

Just got done with the Don Wakamatsu conference call. He spent four hours meeting with GM Jack Zduriencik this morning. Must have gone well, since he stayed an extra half-hour behind closed doors as reporters waited for him on the conference call.

Wakamatsu seems upbeat about the Mariners as a team and did not sound like someone anticipating a full-scale rebuilding job.

"From the outside looking in, this is a club that a lot of smart people around the world predicted would win 90-something games,'' Wakamatsu said.

"Were they wrong or is it a situation where we may need to rethink some things?''

Wakamatsu added that he doesn't see the M's as an old team. Instead, he feels they are mostly young and athletic and that with the right moves and belief system installed "this is a team that can win in a hurry.''

Part of the interview process, he said, involves him figuring out what the M's objectives are. He says it was the same when he interviewed for the Texas Rangers managerial vacancy two years ago.

"Coming into this one...I had these same types of questions,'' he said. "Do we want to win now? Is it a rebuild?''

All that is still being worked out. Wakamatsu said whatever the ultimate answer is from GM Zduriencik, "I think it's more important that we're on the same page in belief system. Where I think we can look at a club and have the right plan of action for it.''

Wakamatsu is half-Japanese and speaks some of the language.

"I took a year in college and that doesn't qualify me for much,'' he said.

The Mariners will now determine just how qualified he is for this job.

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