Monday, December 31, 2007

Red Sox/Yankees Trading Game

I keep asking myself to stop writing about Johan Santana. It's unlikely that he'll become a Mariner, but he still manages to take up about 15% of my offseason posts. It all comes down to the fact that there is absolutely nothing to write about in baseball between Christmas and New Years, but it's always fun and easy to speculate about the best pitcher in baseball.

I have no idea why the Minnesota Twins are even bothering trying to trade Johan Santana to the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees.

Everyone knows Boston doesn't need him. They just swept the Colorado Rockies in the World Series last season without him. Boston already has a solid rotation filled with the likes of Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield, not to mention young studs Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz competing for the final spot, so why would they need to deplete their farm system in order to get Johan? Sure, the current Red Sox rotation with the addition of Johan Santana would assure playoff dominance, but the real reason they are persuing Santana is no secret. If Boston didn't get involved, Santana would already be trying on his new Yankee uniform, improving their team dramatically. Ideally Boston would just like to drive up the price so that the Yankees bow out, which almost worked, but I think they would indeed go as far as acquiring Santana just to ensure that the New York Yankees miss their man.

The Yankees do actually need Johan, but they are unwilling to give up the players Minnesota craves. The problem is this: as soon as the Yankees up their offer the Red Sox will do the same, and it appears that Boston can offer better packages. I can seriously see the Twins getting tired of the game and looking elsewhere.

The New York Mets and Seattle Mariners are the other two teams that come to mind still vying for Santana's services. If the Twins' front office truly did get sick of dealing with the Yankees and Red Sox I would think that the New York Mets would be the favorite. They've got some good young players they could send to Minnesota, and it would be a smart move for the Twins to move Johan Santana to the National League so that they wouldn't have to run into him in the playoffs for the next 5-7 years.

It would also be a good move for baseball. The National League already added Dan Haren this offseason, and adding Johan Santana would start restoring the balance of the two leagues. The more dominant pitchers there are in the National League, the more dominant hitters will be required. Currently most of the great pitchers are in the American League, meaning most of the great hitters (especially power hitters) are in the AL as well, but that's not what this post is about.

The point of this post is to bring up the possibility that the Minnesota Twins could give up on Boston and New York and move on to the other teams. If this happens it would be good news for the Mariners, because we've got some good players to offer and might be able to get a deal done with players like Jacoby Ellsbury and Phil Hughes unavailable. The Mariners are still in talks with Minnesota, so who knows what could happen. Jayson Stark mentions that a deal could take weeks, and as Spring Training approaches I could see rookie Minnesota GM panicing and moving Santana to the team who makes it easiest for him. That team could be the Mariners.

Who knows... [Jo-San]

View all Bleeding Blue and Teal posts related to Johan Santana JO-SAN

Thursday, December 27, 2007

M's Still in on Bedard, Santana

No Mariner transactions were made during my brief week-long hiatus, but a few rumors still managed to surface before Christmas.

The Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune have both reported that Seattle is still in on the Johan Santana talks. I haven't written much more than a blurb about Santana in three weeks (except for this MVN post), but figured the Mariners would still be trying to get him as long as the door was still open. The Globe wonders if Seattle could offer enough money, and the Carlos Silva signing certainly complicates that, but the Mariners have a ton of cash coming off the books in the next 2 seasons and I think they could make the deal.

More good news for Seattle is that Minnesota appears to be lowering the price slightly, as the New York Times reports that the Twins may be considering a Yankee offer of Phil Hughes, Melkey Cabrera and Jeff Marquez. This probably means Seattle could get a deal done based around Adam Jones, Brandon Morrow plus one or two quality youths such as Jeff Clement, Wladimir Balentien, Mike Morse, Jose Lopez, Ryan Feierabend, Yung Chi Chen or any other player in the minor leagues. At this point I believe that there is no price too high for Johan Santana. He will not be traded unless he can sign a 5-7 year contract extension, and Seattle could put together a championship caliber team in that time frame, even after selling the farm.

It has been widely reported that Johan Santana and Carlos Silva were best friends in Minnesota. While I wouldn't use this as the main argument for why Santana will end up in Seattle, the Silva signing would certainly look a lot better if he could convince his buddy to migrate West.

As far as Erik Bedard goes, the Chicago Tribune went on to mention that Seattle's current offer includes Adam Jones, Jeff Clement and Yung Chi Chen. It's hard to know what to believe, but this makes sense. Adam Jones is the centerpiece, obviously, while Clement and Chen would fill holes on the current Baltimore roster. Jeff Clement would take over at DH as incumbent Jay Gibbons has been awful, not to mention the appearance of his name in the Mitchell Report. Chen would become the team's new second baseman pending a Brian Roberts trade.

I was pleased that Wladimir Balentien and George Sherrill were not mentioned, but I would be very disappointed if we had to part with Jeff Clement for anything less than Johan Santana. I would much rather send Brandon Morrow to Baltimore as Clement could be a very important part of Seattle's current and future offense, not to mention our finances. I detail the benefits Seattle would gain by platooning Clement and Jose Vidro in this post I did for Caffeinated Confines.

Erik Bedard's contract expires after the 2009 season, but Brandon Morrow is still expendable for three reasons:
  1. By the 2010 season Seattle should have a whole new crop of minor league starting pitchers ready to contribute in the major leagues. Top pitching prospects such as Phillipe Aumont, Chris Tillman, Ryan Rohrbaugh, Tony Butler, and Juan Ramirez could in Seattle by then.
  2. There will be some high quality arms available via free agency in the next couple of offseasons, possibly including aces like Johan Santana (if not traded), Ben Sheets and C.C. Sabathia (if not extended), not to mention tons of other good 2-3 slot guys that will be free agents.
  3. Erik Bedard can be dealt next offseason or at the '09 trade deadline to help restock our minor league system if Seattle isn't winning.

I think Seattle is a serious contender for Bedard, and he would be a nice addition whoever we send over. I am also very encouraged that Seattle is still in contention for Johan. [jo-san er-bed br-mor je-cle]

View other Bleeding Blue and Teal posts related to: Johan Santana - Erik Bedard - Jeff Clement - Brandon Morrow

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Back in Business... For Now

In my last post I announced my move to the MVN network. I was supposed to write for Caffeinated Confines, Transaction Guy and Padres in Training. I've written a couple posts each for Caffeinated Confines and Padres in Training, but was never set up to write for Transaction Guy as implied.

MVN requested that I stop writing this blog so that there wasn't a conflict of interest or anything like that, but I think it's safe to keep writing about Hot Stove action, as my weekly Caffeinated Confines limit is too small to write about rumors and Transaction Guy is unavailable to me. If MVN has a problem with it I'm sure they'll let me know.

I hope some of you can re-find this page. It's amazing how fast you can lose readership. My daily visits dropped about 90% when I announced the move, which was good because I had a lot of regular readers. I hope you can find your way back.

I'll continue to write about the rumors and other Mariner related content, while still posting a couple times a week for Caffeinated Confines. So far I've only written two posts for them: One More Slot to Fill, regarding the Mariners need to fill one more rotation spot after the addition of Carlos Silva, and Seattle Counting on Lopez/Sexson Comebacks, addressing the Mariners need for solid seasons out of Richie Sexson and Jose Lopez.

Can't wait to hear from you again.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dear Everyone,

I want to thank everyone for taking time to look at this blog. It hasn't even been a month and a half and I've already gotten a pretty decent following. Thanks for your support, but I have been approached by MVN (Most Valuable Network) and will begin writing for at least 2 pages on their network:

I was skeptical at first, and talked to a lot of people around the blogosphere, including current and former MVN writers, about what I should do. If Bleeding Blue and Teal had been around longer I wouldn't have made the jump, but since this blog is so young I feel like I can afford to take a chance. If MVN doesn't work out, I can come back here and be at this same level in 40 days or less. It makes much more sense to do this now than a year down the road. Another reason why MVN seems like a good idea is the fact that I won't have time to be posting 10 blogs per week anymore. I'll be starting school and a new job within the next couple of weeks, so it's time to slow down a little bit. The other bloggers on MVN should make up the difference. Hope to see you over there.

PS: In all probability there will be a BBT revival/overhaul in the future. Stay tuned...

PS2: Seattle signed Silva.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mariners Close with Silva?

Ken Rosenthal reports that our Seattle Mariners are in serious negotiations with free agent starter Carlos Silva, and thinks the contract is worth $44M over four seasons.

This may not be the popular choice among Mariners fans, but did we really expect anything different? Bavasi is taking the money Kuroda wouldn't accept and offering it to the next best (healthy) free agent starter.

Silva is nothing special. He doesn't strike anyone out, and relies on his defense to get the outs for him. Most of the balls are hit into the ground, so Seattle's strong left-side defense should help him out. Despite being a "ground ball pitcher" Silva still gives up quite a few home runs. Pitcher friendly Safeco Field should be able to take a couple of ticks off his ERA, but not much. Silva's career ERA is 4.31, which isn't horrible, but this is not the guy you want to be giving $11M annually. His only major draw is that he could possibly give you 200 innings.

We all knew this is how much he'd cost, this is simply what happens when the market gets picked clean. Think Vincente Padilla's 3 year/$33M contract he signed with the Rangers a couple years back.

I predict the Mariners will get Silva. I have been thinking that he would be the next target, but Prior and Colon are sexier to talk about (if Bartolo "Boogie Bear" Colon can be sexy). If this goes through the Mariners will have a solid back-end of the rotation guy to slot on either side of Jarrod Washburn.

I think that the fact Bavasi isn't taking a risk on Prior or Colon means he may still be focusing on Erik Bedard. Bedard, Hernandez, Batista, Washburn and Silva would be passable. Sorry for the brevity of this post, I have a lot going on today. [CA-SIL]

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mariners after Blanton?

I've heard people throwing this around for quite awhile, but didn't give much thought to it. I figured Oakland GM Billy Beane wouldn't trade within the division, but Buster Olney reports that the Mariners are pushing hard for Joe Blanton. The price? Adam Jones.

My first thoughts on this were against the trade. While many doubt Jones' superstar abilities, it is still scary to trade him to a division rival. However, this could be a very good trade for the Mariners.

Blaton is young at just 27 years old, cheap as he made just $380,000 last season, and durable. He pitched 230 innings last season and right around 200 the two seasons prior. Blanton's stats are comparable, if not better, to Angels' ace John Lackey through age 26. Blanton has posted ERAs under 4 in two of his three full seasons. If Seattle did decide to acquire Blanton, it would give them a very capable pitcher to slot behind Felix Hernandez, and they'd be able to keep Brandon Morrow, Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien.

A possible rotation could look like this:
  1. Felix Hernandez
  2. Joe Blanton
  3. Miguel Batista
  4. Jarrod Washburn
  5. Brandon Morrow or free agent

Sending Adam Jones to a division rival is a stiff price to pay, but could be well worth it. If the Mariners are truly trying to win right now then this could be a good move. Oakland is completely rebuilding, and they already have a good young team after the Dan Haren trade, however, they won't be ready to compete for a few more seasons, even with the addition of Jones. That would give the Mariners a couple seasons to try and win and develop Wladimir Balentien or another young outfielder before Adam Jones could really hurt us at all.

There is a chance that Adam Jones wouldn't hurt us all that much anyway. There has been a lot of talk doubting his superstar potential. Some have compared him to Ken Griffey Jr, but I think he maxes out somewhere between Mike Cameron and Torii Hunter. The bottom line is you don't know how Jones will turn out, so you might as well trade him for a top starter while his value is high. It's a risk sending him to Oakland, but you still maintain a good core of young players by retaining Wladimir Balentien, Brandom Morrow and Jeff Clement.

I think this is a trade worth making, especially if no one else is available at the right price. There is also the chance that Blanton could be had for less, and Jones is just the first name Oakland threw out there. [JO-BLA AD-JON WL-BAL]

It's a good thing Jason Ellison is no longer with the Mariners. I wonder if Ichiro has anything to say about it.

Mark Prior's Injury

In my last post I was pushing hard for the Mariners to ink one or two rehab projects, one of them being Mark Prior. I know Prior is injured, but I was under the impression he'd be ready to go fairly early on in the season, maybe missing a month or so. I saw a post on Mariner Nation citing an AP article in the Kane County Chronicle as saying "Prior, still recovering from mid-April arthroscopic shoulder surgery, will likely miss some, if not all, of the 2008 season." It does indeed say that, but doesn't go into any details. This was the first I had heard that he could miss that much time, so I decided to investigate.

4/25 - An article from a day after the surgery suggests that Prior "could be back on the mound next Spring." Since the surgery had just occurred, there was no real timetable for his return.

8/26 - An article from Chicago's Daily Herald had Prior ahead of schedule with his recovery. Prior and the Cubs seemed optimistic, hoping to be ready for Opening Day.

11/13 - Mark Prior was activated by the Cubs from the 60-day disabled list. At this point Chicago was still trying to make a deal with him, so this could be a sign that he was making progress. If they knew he wasn't going to be ready til the latter part of the season they would have kept him on the 60-day, keeping a roster spot free. This is speculation, and you could make the case that the Cubs could put him back on the 60-day later on.

12/13 - Prior's doctor expected him to be ready for MLB action in mid-May. Josh Boggs, Prior's agent, added, "If you want to be conservative, tack a few months onto that." This is at the bottom of a Carrie Muskat report.

There wasn't a lot ot go on, but it's supposed to take about a year for Mark Prior to recover from this surgery. He's been throwing since September, so it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to see Prior on a mound before the regular season begins. My guess is that he'll rehab in extended Spring Training, followed by some time at rookie ball or low-A. After his arm is strong again it's just a matter of shaking off over a year's worth of rust in the minor leagues. There is no way to determine how long it would take Prior to get his control back, but I think it's safe to say that he'll be ready by June at the very latest.

If his rehab is going well I still don't think it would be a bad idea for the Mariners to gamble on him. He's been pitching with significant damage in his right shoulder since 2004, and we've only seen him healthy during one season (2003: 18 wins, 2.43 ERA). The extent of his shoulder damage was unknown before this surgery, and that's why he kept getting hurt. Prior's good mechanics saved him from having even worse damage, and could help him stay healthy from now on. The surgery could be a turning point in Prior's career, now that all the damage has been fixed and the scar tissue has been removed. The Mariners don't have many good options left, so I think he would be a nice gamble in that 4 or 5 spot, especially if Erik Bedard is acquired. The Mariners could even use the opportunity to dish out 8 or 9 starts to the likes of R.A. Dickey, Cha Seung Baek, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Ryan Feierabend or Robert Rohrbaugh for big league experience.

Remember, Mark Prior wouldn't be signed to be this team's ace. He's no Johan Santana or Erik Bedard, but he could solidify the back end of the rotation, even if he's not at this best. I would love Seattle to be able to get Santana or Bedard, with Bartolo Colon as my next choice after that, but Mark Prior could be a nice one year bridge to a thicker free agent market next offseason. [MA-PRI]

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Minor Matters: Robert Rohrbaugh

Hello everyone! My name is Chris, and I am a die-hard Mariners fan stationed in South Texas. I will be attempting to cover all M's Minor League news, so stay tuned for news and reports from our farm system.

Given the state of the Mariners’ farm system in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, no one really expects their current farm hands to have an impact anytime soon. Granted, there are not too many in the system that can have an immediate impact, but there are a few here and there. One such player that could help the Mariners in the very near future, possibly as soon as 2008, is LHP Robert Rohrbaugh.

While management seems to think that there are very few options to fill our starting rotation from inside the organization, I submit to them the possibility of giving Rohrbaugh an invite to Spring Training. Seattle drafted Rohrbaugh in the 7th round of the 2005 Amateur Draft out of Clemson University. In the two and a half years since being drafted, he has excelled at every stop within the farm system. A quick look at his professional stats:


The numbers show that his advancement through the system has been well deserved, and if the pattern is followed, could be eligible for an invite to the show in mid-2008. Unfortunately, he is not currently on the 40-man roster, so is not eligible to be called up.

Looking at the numbers, and given a strong Spring should he be invited, I believe it is possible, though maybe not probable, for him to take over the #5 spot in our rotation. He has a fairly decent BB:SO ratio (almost 1:3), and has shined in two leagues that are known to be strong hitter’s leagues. Indeed, he has been at his best in the Cal League and the Pacific League, which are normally very good hitter’s leagues.

There are other indications that giving him a shot may give us a good #5 starter as well. For one, he gives up fewer hits than innings pitched, and is fairly durable and dependable. He is also a very efficient pitcher, and will work deep into most ballgames. In his last 10 starts at Tacoma, he worked into the 7th inning in all but one, and also had back-to-back complete game shutouts, against Memphis and Oklahoma City.

Rohrbaugh has, in scout-speak, three plus pitches, as well as one developing pitch. His fastball comes in at the 87-93 range, and he uses it well to set up his curve and slider. He is also fast developing a plus-plus changeup, that is quickly becoming his best pitch.

It is my firm belief that, should he be given a shot in 2008, he could very possibly give us a reliable #5 starter, or at the very least, another option, should free agents or other internal options not pan out. [RY-ROH]

Kuroda Official, What's Next?

Kuroda to LA; Bedard, Colon and Prior should be on Mariners radar.

New reports have made this sound more "official": Hiroki Kuroda has signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The deal is pending a physical. I'm going to go ahead and believe this report, maybe I'll be wrong. This is the second consecutive offseason that the Dodgers have spurned us by signing one of our "sure thing" targets (Jason Schmidt).

I had been skeptical of all the rumors and reports that Kuroda had chosen the Dodgers, simply because Seattle had much more money on the table. The Mariners were reportedly offering 3 years/$33M and Los Angeles had a supposed offer of 3 years/$30M.

It makes much more sense now, as Kuroda's contract appears to be 3 years/$36-40 million. Depending on what the final figure will be, Kuroda should make $12-13.3M annually. That is simply too much for him, and I am glad the Mariners didn't offer that much. Kuroda is too much of a gamble. Sure, he could end up the greatest Japanese starter in the major leagues, but more than likely he'll become a mediocre or flat out horrible pitcher like the ones who came before him.

This is the second time in recent years that Seattle has offered far to much money to a starter, just to be outbid anyway. Anyone remember Seattle offering a contract that would make Barry Zito the richest pitcher in MLB history, only for him to accept an even bigger contract?

This is a big whiff for the Mariners, but it was simply out of their control. You can't blame Bavasi for this one. If you think he should have offered more than $13M for this guy you are definitely in the minority. Kuroda was a big piece of the Seattle offseason puzzle, but he wasn't going to get Seattle to the playoffs alone. Who's next on the Mariner radar?

I already wrote a post like this when the original Kuroda report came out a couple of days ago, but it was basically a list of available pitchers, a post that has already been overused on this blog. I went ahead and started over:

If I was Bill Bavasi this is where I would take a risk. He's been unable to get Johan Santana and Hiroki Kuroda, so it's time to look outside of the box. The bottom line is that, despite 2007 success, we're not on the fringe this year. We need more than a Carlos Silva. We're going to either contend or not, so I think to look at the pitchers that are either going to dominate or spend the season on the DL.

First up is Erik Bedard, just because he's already been mentioned as Mariners candidate. Bavasi may be tempted to panic and offer too much after the loss of Kuroda, but if he stays patient the price will could down. Keep negotiating, Bill, and we might come out with an alright deal.

Meanwhile, Bavasi needs to be working on other deals. Bedard is enough of an injury risk, but I'd look at two other guys that may be even more of a risk: Bartolo Colon and Mark Prior. If healthy, either of these guys can put up Cy Young caliber seasons. They can also be signed to short contracts. They won't come at a discount, but the one or two year deal still drops them into the "low risk, high reward" category. Seattle hasn't been linked to Colon since mid-November and there has been no reported interest in Prior.

If the Mariners landed Bedard and Colon or Prior they would have a rotation that looked like this (plus 2008 potential):

Erik Bedard (15+ wins, ERA in low 3's if healthy)
Felix Hernandez (15+ wins, ERA around 3.50)
Bartolo Colon/Mark Prior (15+ wins, ERA between 3 and 4 if healthy)
Miguel Batista (10+ wins, ERA between 4.00 and 4.75)
Jarrod Washburn (around 10 wins, ERA in the low-t0-mid 4's)

If healthy, that is as good of a starting rotation as you'll see anywhere. I know it's a big if, but what do the Mariners have left as far as options? Bavasi could be tempted into getting guys like Matt Clement or Jason Jennings, but they are injury risks too. It's take a risk or go young. Either would be alright by me, but we won't contend with two unproven youngsters in the rotation. If we take that risk and both guys get hurt, then we go young anyway! It's a win-win, either we'll contend this season or we'll develop young pitchers. Mr. Bavasi, please get two of these three guys: Erik Bedard, Mark Prior, Bartolo Colon.

It's a better option than anything out there. Please do not bring up Livan Hernandez, because that guy will be eaten alive in the American League (think Jeff Weaver). [HI-KUR BA-COL MA-PRI ER-BED]

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hot Stove: Haren Impact, Kuroda Latest

One starting pitcher the Mariners wish they could have acquired is former A's starter Dan Haren. Of course, GM Billy Beane was smart enough to trade him out of the AL West. Haren was dealt earlier today to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a bundle of prospects.

This is good news for the Mariners for several reasons:

  1. Seattle no longer has to face Haren five times a year. Though they were able to defeat him three times in 2007, he still had a 3.18 ERA against our Mariners.
  2. The A's slip farther into rebuilding mode, meaning they won't be competitive in 2008. Oakland made a good trade, but only received one truly great prospect and no major league ready pitchers, so they could be out of contention for the next few seasons as well.
  3. Haren won't be helping any of the Mariners' competitors in the pennant race next season. The Mariners' competitors being any team that may contend for the AL Wild Card next season, a list that could include up to six or seven teams.
  4. The Diamondbacks may now be out of the Hiroki Kuroda bidding.

For details on this trade, visit this article.

Speaking of Kuroda,'s Jim Street admits to being misinformed about the supposed 3 year/$33M deal the Dodgers signed with the Japanese free agent. This article says that Kuroda is very close to a decision, and Joe Urbon, one of Kuroda's agents, said a decision should be made by Sunday. Check back here throughout the weekend and I'll let you know where he's heading once it's announced.

View other Bleeding Blue and Teal posts related to Hiroki Kuroda [HI-KUR]

Sorting Through Kuroda Rumors

There have been a lot of rumors and reports that free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda has signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. No official announcements have been made, however, and we haven't heard anything about him since Tuesday night. Here's what we have:

12/11/07 - 7:30 PM PST - Seattle Times' Geoff Baker (scroll down) brings up rumors out of Japan that Kuroda was to sign with the Dodgers. After making some calls Baker decided that these were completely untrue.

12/12/07 - Early Morning PST - Kyodo News says that Kuroda told his former team, the Hiroshima Carp, that he planned on signing with the Dodgers.

12/12/07 - 1:23 AM PST - Seattle P-I's John Hickey reports the Kuroda-to-LA deal as if it is fact, citing "reports out of Japan".

12/12/07 - 10:27 AM PST - Baker maintains that Kuroda hasn't made up his mind yet, and is simply flying to Los Angeles to meet with his agent Steve Hilliard, who is currently in LA.

12/12/07 - Early Afternoon PST - A Hiroki Kuroda quote surfaces on several media outlets. "I still haven't narrowed down which team I will play for," Kuroda told reporters before his flight to LA. "My agent is in Los Angeles, so I don't know anything until I get there and meet him."

12/12/07 - 4:53 PM PST -'s Ken Gurnick cites these same "reports out of Japan" in saying Kuroda is strongly leaning towards the Dodgers. He went on to say that the Mariners have offered 4 years/$40M and the Royals have offered 4 years/$45M.

12/12/07 - 9:26 PM PST - Jim Street Reported that Kuroda had signed a 3 year/$33M contract with the Dodgers. He said the Mariners were offering 3 years/$36M and bumped that up to 4 years. Street cites three reasons why Kuroda would rather sign with the Dodgers: the Dodgers will play their 50th anniversary season in 2008, Joe Torre is the manager and Kuroda feels the Dodgers are a stronger contender.

There are other reports besides those, but they all say pretty much the same thing. I don't think anyone knows what is truly going on, not even Kuroda. It is now the 14th and we still haven't heard anything concrete about a signing.

One Asian based source told me that the Japanese and Asian media are doing the same thing we're doing over hear, just running with the latest rumor. None of the stories have any backbone and are based on second hand information. Sure, Kuroda could be leaning toward LA, but it's not a done deal yet, and the Mariners, Diamondbacks and Royals aren't going to let him get away that easily. We should know as early as today, but will likely have to wait until after the weekend.

View other Bleeding Blue and Teal posts related to Hiroki Kuroda [HI-KUR]

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mitchell Report: Time to Move On

For the last few days I've been dreading the arrival of the Mitchell Report. There is a million places where you can find the list of names that appeared in the report, so I'm not going to waste time or space going into the specifics. That is not what this blog is about.

This report was not produced for disciplinary reasons, or to ruin any reputations. This report was made so that baseball can move on. I strongly agree with Senator Mitchell that this a time to move forward, as the only way we can escape the "steroids era" is to start fresh. So much time and energy will be wasted debating whether or not Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens should be banned from the Hall of Fame and not enough time spent on fixing the problem.

The debates are pointless. Many of the names listed in the Mitchell Report were produced by men who were facing jail time unless they cooperated. It is all hearsay, and none of the information from the report would stand up in a court of law, so why get worked up over it? Many people are looking at this all wrong. Too many are trying to turn this into a witch hunt, and not enough people are taking this opportunity to improve our game. The bottom line is that it happened, baseball has been tainted by steroids and other performance enhancing drugs for the last decade or so, but the "steroids era" will not kill baseball unless we let it. There have been other scandals throughout baseball history that are worse than this. Yes, individual records were broken illegibly, but the steroid epidemic was so wide spread that I doubt it substantially effected win-loss records. Another Black Sox scandal would be much more difficult to overcome than this.

To me it's understandable for a lot of these guys to take steroids. To these players, baseball is a job, a business, their livelihood. Now, if you're a team's starting second baseman and you're making pretty decent money and suddenly you lose your job to a steroid user, what do you do? You need an edge, right? Two wrongs don't make a right, but I can understand the temptations of a competitive edge, especially with money on the line. That stuff happened, but there's nothing we can do to change it. Latin American ballplayers are given steroids from the time they're 14 years old so they look good for American scouts. Steroids is highly addictive, so you think those players can stop once they become professionals? We can't change the fact that those things happened, and way too much effort is being put into a lost cause. It's time to move forward. We can't help what happened 10 years ago, but we can work on moving forward so that future children's spirits aren't crushed when they find out their favorite player, their hero, is a cheater.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Broussard Trade, Non-tender Info

The Seattle Mariners had four non-tender candidates going into tonights deadline: George Sherrill, Horacio Ramirez, John Parrish and Ben Broussard.

There was never any doubt that Sherrill was going to be brought back, as he was solid as anyone in last year's bullpen. The only other player retained was Horacio Ramirez. Shocking to some, but I figured this would happen. Bavasi doesn't want to give up on HoRam just yet, not after giving up Rafael Soriano for him. It's not a bad idea to keep him just to compete with the other starters.

John Parrish and Ben Broussard are finished in Seattle. Parrish was non-tendered, no surprise, but Broussard was actually traded. This is a good move by Bavasi, because at least they got something back for him. Broussard was sent to the Texas Rangers for 2B/UT Tug Hulett. Hulett is nothing special, but should be able to challenge Jose Lopez at second in Spring Training. He's left handed, which is always nice, and can play third base as well. He's got a little pop, and knows how to draw some walks. Tug's father, Tim Hulett, was a 12-year major league veteran. You can read a little bit about Tug here. Does anyone else look at that photo and think Dustin Pedroia?

Broussard couldn't be happier right now. He now plays just a couple of hours from his home, and will get much more playing time. He should find himself in a platoon situation with Chris Shelton, something he is accustomed to after sharing at bats with Eduardo Perez in both Cleveland and Seattle. [GE-SHE HO-RAM BE-BRO TU-HUL]

Intriguing Non-tenders

The non-tender deadline is fast approaching and several interesting players are now free agents. Here are a few that might catch the Mariners' eye:

Mark Prior, SP - There was some speculation that the Mariners may try and get Mark Prior as part of a Raul Ibanez trade during the Winter Meetings. Now he is a free agent and is sure to draw interest from several clubs. The Mariners could be interested, especially if they miss out on Hiroki Kuroda. Prior may not be ready to start the season, but could be an impact pitcher from the back of the rotation if he can stay healthy.

Kiko Calero, RP - The Mariners could use another arm in the 'pen, but they don't seem too worried about it right now. They haven't been linked to a single free agent reliever this offseason, so Calero could be scooped up before the Mariners get to that part of their to-do list. Calero has been pretty good for the A's, sporting a 3.55 career ERA despite posting a 5.75 during an injury plagued 2007.

Kevin Mench, COF - Some of the guys over at Mariner Nation love the idea of bringing in Mench, who is now a 4th outfielder at this point in his career. His role with the Mariners would be to platoon with Raul Ibanez, starting against lefties. Mench has made a career of mashing lefties, batting .305 with a .924 OPS against them. The reason I am of the opposisition is this: if you're going to bring in someone to platoon with Raul, or an everyday left fielder to move Raul elsewhere on the diamond, you might as well get someone who can flash some leather. Mench isn't much (if any) better than Raul in the field.

Emil Brown, OF - Another guy that would platoon with Raul. He hit .317 against lefties last season and would be a better defender than Mench. However, he still isn't enough of a producer for the Mariners to seriously consider, though they could think about it.

Aaron Miles, 2B/UT - The Mariners have brought up several times they wanted to challenge Jose Lopez at second base during Spring Training. Miles could be someone to do that, though if he did win the battle the Mariners wouldn't have made much of an improvement. Miles hit .290 with a .676 OPS last season. Lopez hit .252 with a .632 OPS while at his worst.

Chad Durbin, SP/RP - So-so as a starter last season for the Tigers, about the same as a reliever. If the Mariners get desperate enough for a starter his name could come up.

Darrell Rasner, SP - A pretty decent Yankee pitching prospect, however he's behind Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy in the pecking order. He may not be an impact player next season, but wouldn't be a bad pickup for any MLB team.

I'll continue to update this list as interesting names come out. I'll have a separate post for the Mariners non-tender candidates.

Tejada Trade Ripple; Kuroda

Miguel Tejada was traded to the Astros today. This trade effects both the Mariners and the Angels.

Let's start with the Angels. It seemed almost certain that they would acquire Miguel Cabrera from Florida, and the general consensus was that they would get Miguel Tejada if they failed to do so. I know I wasn't the only one certain that would happen. Detroit swept in and stole Cabrera, and there wasn't a lot of Tejada-to-Angels rumors after that. Cabrera is a Tiger, Tejada is an Astro, this is good for the Mariners. Yes, the Angels are still the superior team right now, but adding either one of those guys would have taken their lineup from very good to unbeatable. The Angels may regret moving Mariner killer Orlando Cabrera in anticipation of a deal.

It took quite a bit for the Astros to obtain Tejada: four major league ready players (two starters, 2 relievers, 1 outfielder) and a AA third baseman. We all knew Baltimore was asking a lot for their players, and this just means the prices haven't come down yet. As of right now it would still take far too much to get Bedard, so Bavasi needs to keep calm until they do. If Bavasi wanted to get a deal done today it would require Adam Jones, Brandon Morrow, George Sherrill and Wladimir Balentien, but I don't think that will be the final deal. It may take 4 or 5 players, but hopefully not of that caliber. The addition of Luke Scott may also lower Baltimore's interest in both Mariner outfielders, which isn't a bad thing.

There hasn't been any concrete news surrounding Hiroki Kuroda. Late last night I passed along the Kyodo News report that had Kuroda signing with the Dodgers, but there hasn't been anything since. There has been a lot of false reporting this offseason, even from the usual reliable Ken Rosenthal, so a misunderstanding could have occurred. It's been said that Kuroda is indeed flying to Los Angeles today, but to meet with his LA-based agent, not necessarily to sign a contract. The Mariners still have the best offer on the table and a Japanese catcher behind the plate, so I won't believe the Kuroda-to-LA reports until it's official. Just reading that report last night dropped my spirits, but I remain optimistic.
View other Bleeding Blue and Teal posts related to: Hiroki Kuroda - Erik Bedard

Report: Kuroda to Sign with Dodgers!

What a huge whiff for Bill Bavasi and the Seattle Mariners. Kyodo News reports that free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda recently informed his former team that he intended to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and could be in LA to complete the contract later on today.

If this is indeed true, this is a huge loss for the Mariners. No, Kuroda was not the one who would get Seattle into the playoffs, but it was a huge step in solidifying a horrible starting rotation. I will go into the Mariner ramifications if this becomes official. There has been some very poor reporting this offseason, and it should make us all skeptical.

If this is true, the Mariners continue to strike out when it comes to big name, free agent pitchers. I have a post all set for if this becomes official. You can read it here.

View other Bleeding Blue and Teal posts related to Hiroki Kuroda [ HI-KUR ]

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kuroda Only Wants 3

It's been a while since we've had a Kuroda update, almost a week. Last we heard the Mariners had bumped their offer to a 4-year deal, but that is the latest rumor to be disputed. Seattle P-I's John Hickey reports that Kuroda doesn't want any more than three years, citing the desire he might have to finish his career in Japan.

I wouldn't say that the Mariners increased offer was a myth. I think it's entirely possible, especially with some reports speculating that it could take as many of 5-years. I think the Mariners put their 4-year offer on the table, only for Kuroda to realize he didn't want to commit that much.

That is good news for the Mariners, because 4-years is entirely too long guarantee a guy that is such an uncertainty. From what I can gather, the Diamondbacks have an offer of about 3-years/$26-27M, the Dodgers are going with about 3-years/$29-30M and the Mariners are still leading the pack with an approximate 3-years/$30-33M deal on the table. There is reports that Arizona upped their offer, but no specific numbers have come out. The Diamondbacks are a long-shot at this point, anyway.

With all the reports that a Hiroki Kuroda deal could take as much as 4-years/$60M, Mariner fans should be able to take a huge sigh of relief. We should know within the next few days.

View other Bleeding Blue and Teal posts related to Hiroki Kuroda [ HI-KUR ]

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hometown Lowdown: Kenji Johjima

Last Friday I was contacted by Aaron Shinsano at East Windup Chronicle about writing a piece for their "Hometown Lowdown" feature. It'll be a pretty cool collection covering Asian players in the MLB, how they did in 2007 and what to expect in 2008. Akinori Iwamura was the first one covered and they said they had other writers lined up, including Jeff from Lookout Landing (Ichiro). They asked me if I could do a piece on Kenji Johjima and I accepted. Here is the direct link if you'd like to check it out: Hometown Lowdown: Kenji Johjima

Enjoy! KE-JOH
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SP Option: Mike Mussina

Like I said in my previous post, the rumor mill has been slow for a few days. We haven't heard anything new about targets like Johan Santana or Erik Bedard. If neither of those happen, we may have to look in another direction. If Bedard or Santana were obtained, there would be an attempt to sign them long term as they are both just now entering their prime. But what if they don't work out? Someone is going to have to bridge the gap next season.

The New York Yankees appear all set to go with a young rotation consisting of Wang, Pettitte, Chamberlain, Hughes and Kennedy. That leaves two men out, Kei Igawa, who I've mentioned previously, and Mike Mussina. "Moose" had a tough year in 2007, posting a 5.51 ERA, but he's just one year removed from going 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP. Those were numbers similar to his Baltimore days.

Mussina is in the final year of his contract ($11M) and the Yankees would love to move him. He does have no-trade protection, so that makes this deal unlikely. He doesn't want to move, but if he does it's likely going to be to an East Coast team. So far only the Phillies have showed any interest, though the Mariners could make a pitch for him if their pitching situation worsens. The Yankees should be looking for a team to eat his entire salary and throw in a couple mid-level prospects, though it may take more than that in this market. MI-MUS

2008 Free Agent Mariners

It's been a slow couple of days, and there hasn't been a single rumor to pop up since before the weekend. So, what else can we talk about?

The Mariners have a few guys entering their contract years. It is not at all uncommon for teams to trade these type of players, especially if they're not expecting to re-sign them. Here I'll list these players and what should happen with them.

Richie Sexson, 1B - Sexson is going to make $14M in 2008. Sexson hasn't been good enough to earn his checks since coming to Seattle, and the Mariners would love to move him. It was said they were "desperate" to trade him during the Winter Meetings, though no one was interested. Even if a trade partner is found this offseason, it may not be worth it. Seattle would have to absorb a lot of his contract, and wouldn't get much in return. The only benefit to trading Sexson at this point is to make room for Ben Broussard or Raul Ibanez at first or Jeff Clement at DH.

Raul Ibanez, LF/1B/DH - Raul is very affordable and is making just $5.5M this upcoming season. The Mariners would love to keep his bat, but he is a liability in the outfield, and there is no room for him at first or DH as of now. He is also a fan favorite, originally coming up with the Mariners during the Lou Pinella era. Ibanez has drawn interest from teams like the Cubs and Indians, and his production and small salary give him good trade value. It wouldn't be a bad idea for Bavasi to move Raul for pitching this offseason, but I would dread the move as a fan. I don't see Raul having much of a future with the Mariners past 2008, unless he becomes the full time DH.

Kenji Johjima, C - Joh is in the final year of the contract he inked prior to the 2006 season. He will be making $5.2M, and is due for a raise after establishing himself as a top-5 catcher. The future of Johjima will be determined by what happens to top prospect Jeff Clement. If Clement is traded for a starting pitcher this offseason, a new contract for Kenji will become a top priority for the Mariners in 2007. I can't see any scenario that he is traded, unless the Mariners tank and the Jeff Clement era starts early. If Seattle lets Johjima walk, they will receive a first round pick as he'll be a Type-A free agent.

Jose Vidro, DH/1B - Vidro remains a great hitter and a walk machine, but he can no longer run or play second base full time. To me, Vidro would make the most sense to move. Moving Vidro would the allow, as I've previously mentioned, Ibanez or Clement to become the full time DH. The $8.5M owed to Vidro makes him a difficult player to trade, and he has a limited no trade clause. That said, I think a team could make a play for his services at the trade deadline, depending on what their needs are.

Willie Bloomquist, UT - Willie has been the Mariners main utility player for a few years now and the extension he signed after 2006 will be played out after this season. The Mariners wouldn't mind bringing him back again, but with Mike Morse out of options and ready to take on a similar role, plus Bloomquist's desire for more playing time, I doubt he will be back. Bloomquist has said he wants to be a starter, but that may not happen at this point in his career. I see him signing with a National League team next offseason.

Most likely to start 2008 outside of Seattle: Raul Ibanez, because he has the most value.
Most likely to sign an extension before the offseason: Kenji Johjima, as it seems Clement is coming up in trade talks more and more.

All that said, it would appear that all these players may start 2008 in blue and teal.

View other Bleeding Blue and Teal posts related to: RI-SEX RA-IBA KE-JOH JO-VID WI-BLO
Richie Sexson - Raul Ibanez - Kenji Johjima - Jose Vidro - Willie Bloomquist

Friday, December 7, 2007

Save George Sherrill!

There has been rumors circulating for the past few days about the possible inclusion of George Sherrill in an Erik Bedard deal. The Orioles have been asking too much for their ace, and this is no secret. Adam Jones, Brandon Morrow, Wladimir Balentien and Sherrill is far too high a price to pay for an injury prone ace who will be a free agent after 2009. You'd almost think that a deal like that could bring in second baseman Brian Roberts as well. Maybe those four Mariners plus Jose Lopez for Bedard and Roberts? Maybe, but this post is about George Sherrill.

How long can the Mariners sustain bullpen dominance if they trade away their second best reliever every season? The second worse trade in Seattle history happened last season, when Bavasi dealt dominant setup man and current Atlanta closer Rafael Soriano for a broken down non tender candidate named Horacio Ramirez. While Bedard is no HoRam, I think that Mr. Bill Bavasi needs to try and keep George Sherrill out of the deal. Sherrill has been the Mariners left handed specialist for a couple of seasons now, but he could be ready for a full-on setup role. It appears he's capable after posting a 2.37 ERA against righties in 2007, virtually the same as his lefty ERA. Of course, 19 innings isn't a lot to go on, though he did have 16 strikeouts. He would certainly be better than the other options at setup. Sean Green isn't powerful enough, Jon Huber isn't experienced enough, Mark Lowe is never healthy enough and Brandon Morrow will most likely be Baltimore bound.

The Orioles are seeking a lefty reliever, whether they can get one in the Bedard trade or elsewhere remains to be seen. But aren't they rebuilding? It seems teams in the AL East not from Boston or New York are always rebuilding, but that's beside the point: why would Baltimore want a guy in his 30s who's just now coming into his element? Yes, rebuilding teams need some veterans around, but the Mariners should have more attractive relievers. How about Eric O'Flaherty? Sure, O'Flaherty isn't quite as good as Sherrill is right now, but he's only 22 years old and already has 71 major league appearances under his belt. He could be really good down the road and it would be sad to see him go, but the Mariners are trying to win right now. Sherrill will be more of an impact player than O'Flaherty. Or, of course, we could always trade them John Parrish back.

I know the Mariners are desperate for a good starter to lineup next to Felix, but protecting Sherrill would be in the Mariners' best interest. If Sherrill is traded it will force Seattle to sign someone like Jeremy Affeldt. Yes, I listed Affeldt as my fifth choice among free agent relievers, but he's still somewhat unproven and much more expensive then Sherrill. The bullpen was a strength last season, let's keep it that way.

View other Bleeding Blue and Teal posts related to: George Sherrill - Erik Bedard GE-SHE ER-BED ER-OFL

Introducing Matt Mangini

This offseason has been slower than any fan would like. You can rest assured knowing that Bavasi hasn't traded away any of our star players for non-tender candidates, or signed any overrated free agents to the biggest contract in Mariners history. Maybe he should, though. At least I'd have something legitimate and relevant to write about!

What can I do on slow, newsless nights like this one? I could take a break, I suppose, and just wait for some actual news, but where's the fun in that? You're reading this because you're bored out of your mind and haven't found a proper way to take care of that Mariners craving you get. I'm not going to let you down! I'm going to get you your fix! Tonight I'll give a brief introduction to one of Seattle's newest prospects, and a highly touted one at that.

Matt Mangini, 3B
6'4" - 220 lbs
22 years old by Spring Training

Mangini was taken by the Seattle Mariners with the 52nd overall pick in the 2007 draft out of Oklahoma State. He was a compensatory pick for the Seattle loss of starter Gil Meche to the Kansas City Royals via free agency. The Mariners are very high on this kid, and some expect him to take over the hot corner after Adrian Beltre's contract is up after the 2009 season.

Most scouts are adamant that the left handed hitting Mangini should develop some extreme power later in his career, though he hasn't shown it yet. If this is true, then Bavasi made a really nice pick. The Mariners have always coveted a lefty power hitter since the departure of Ken Griffey, mostly because lefty power hitters are the only ones (besides pitchers) to take advantage of Safeco Field's dimensions. If Mangini can develop some power over the next season or two, the Mariners may have finally found Griffey's replacement.

Defensively, Mangini is said to have an above average arm and is fairly agile for a big guy. His worst enemy is the bunt, but that is something he can improve on. He's no Adrian Beltre in the field, more of a Troy Glaus type. He could be destined for first or DH later in his career.

ETA: September 2009. Possibly starting in '10.

View other Bleeding Blue and Teal posts related to Matt Mangini MA-MAN

Thursday, December 6, 2007

"Minor" Help - Seeking Correspondent

Seeking one writer who follows the Mariners minor league system from rookie ball to AAA. I'm looking for just one or two posts per month chronicling what's happening with our future: transactions, who's hot/who's not, player profiles, rankings, player MLB ETAs etc. If you're at all interested at being a correspondent for Bleeding Blue and Teal, please send me an email at, even if you feel you're under qualified. This is a perfect opportunity if you've never done much writing before, but want to give it a try.

The posts would start towards the end of Spring Training and continue through the regular season once a month or so. Thank you.

UPDATE 12/15/07 - This position has been filled by Chris Meer. If you are still interested in writing for Bleeding Blue and Teal in any capacity please send a Mariners writing sample to my email. I'll let you know what's going on and if you can help out, otherwise I'll hold onto it until I do need someone.

Rule 5: M's Select Dickey

Seattle used the 12th pick in today's rule 5 draft to select former Texas Ranger R.A. Dickey. Dickey signed a minor league contract just days ago with the Minnesota Twins, and was said to be "stunned" by the news.

R.A. Dickey was a first round draft pick and former top pitching prospect for the Texas Rangers. He had limited success in his career, and began developing a knuckleball. The Rangers gave him their fifth spot in the rotation, where he lasted just one start. Hickey gave up a record-tying 6 home runs in his debut as a knuckleballer, a start that lasted just 3.1 innings. He was demoted to AAA shortly after, where we ended up being the PCL Pitcher of the Year (13-6, 3.72 ERA).

Dickey will compete for the fifth spot in the rotation in Seattle, or may even fit into the bullpen somewhere. If he doesn't, he will be sent back to the Twins along with $25,000.

The Mariners lost just one player this year, AAA pitcher Juan Sandoval.

Note: There has been some conflicting information on the 'net this morning. Dickey has been said to be the 12th pick, 15th pick and 20th pick, depending on where you look. I think the confusion is a result of how many teams actually made a pick. This chart looks legit. I'm also pretty certain that he was taken from the Twins, as some sites are saying he came from the Brewers.

Jones vs. Wlad, Briefly

You look at the title and you the words "no competition" may come to mind. However, Erik Bedard trade rumors got me thinking about this, and my opinion may surprise you. The current offer to the Baltimore Orioles for ace Erik Bedard is unknown, but it contains one of Adam Jones or Wladimir Balenien, possibly both. If the Mariners can get by without losing both of them, who stays?

The obvious answer might be Adam Jones, right? He's been the Mariners top prospect for a few years now and destroyed AAA pitching in 2007. As of right now he's slotted to be Seattle's starting right fielder. Some have called him the next Ken Griffey, but most comparisons are to Mike Cameron, Torii Hunter and Grady Sizemore at best. Cameron, Hunter and Sizemore are all great players, but are not difficult to find. I think the idea that Jones is the Mariners next great power hitter are unfair. I can't see him hitting more than 30 in any given season as a major leaguer.

Wlad is not the same type of outfielder as Adam Jones. Adam Jones is the "do everything pretty well" type of player, while Wladimir Balentien's goal is to be a "do one thing extremely well". That one thing is power hitting. In 2003 Wlad hit 16 homers in just 50 rookie league games and hasn't missed a beat since. He knocked 25 out in high-A, 22 in AA and 24 this past season at AAA Tacoma during his methodical rise through the minors. He has shown some improvement in his walk totals and his strikeouts are steadily coming down. Wlad's favorite player? Manny Ramirez, and it shows. It may be a stretch, but Wladimir Balentien could be a Manny Ramirez with better speed and defense someday. That is, of course, if the strikeouts continue to come down and the batting average stays up. The kid is getting bigger every year and could be a real power threat in the majors.

Adam Jones has more value, so trading him and keeping Wlad may make more sense. This may be a risk, as Jones at his very worst would be a Corey Patterson or Jose Cruz type, while Wlad at his very worst is looking at a short career filled with more strikeouts than games played. That's at their very worst, but I expect both to have solid major league careers. If I have to choose one to keep this offseason, right now I'd go with Wlady. Sell Jones while his value is still high and hope that Balentien lives up to his great power potential. You can find another Adam Jones in any draft, even Rule 5's (Josh Hamilton 2006).

Typo caught just in time: Wladimir Bladimir.. a new nickname?

View all Bleeding Blue and Teal posts related to: Adam Jones - Wladimir Balentien AD-JON WL-BAL

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Day 3: Kuroda, Bedard

Another quiet day in the Mariner rumor mill, likely concluding a pretty unproductive stay in Nashville for Bavasi and company. Staying true to this years theme, the Mariners didn't let a whole lot of rumors slip through.

It seems the Mariners were the first to crack in the Hiroki Kuroda negotiations, likely offering a 4th year according to the Seattle Times' Geoff Baker. If all three of the main teams involved (LA, ARI, SEA) stayed with their offers of 3 yrs/$27-33 million then there is no doubt in my mind that Seattle would have won out, but understandably Bavasi wants to make sure he gets at least one of his targets.

Other than Kuroda the only other name constantly linked with the Mariners is Erik Bedard. Geoff Baker ensured us that the Mariners are still the favorite with the best offer on the table, but that still may not be enough for the Orioles. Remember, Bedard is not in his contract year, so Baltimore is in no rush to move him.

That may be it for the Winter Meetings. The Mariners failed to make a move so far, but hopefully they laid some ground work. For someone covering the Mariners that isn't able to attend in Nashville, these Winter Meetings were disappointing because of the lack of rumors. Of course, there were a ton of rumors from other teams and not a lot happened. The big news from today was the Dodgers' signing of Andruw Jones.

Tomorrow is a half day to conclude the Meetings. The Rule 5 draft is the big event, maybe the Mariners can pick up somebody a little better than Sean White this time (doubtful).

View all Bleeding Blue and Teal posts related to: Hiroki Kuroda - Erik Bedard HI-KUR ER-BED

Hot Stove: Cantu, Santana

Apparently the Mariners are looking for a utility infielder this offseason for flexibility and to challenge Jose Lopez at second. Bavasi has already explored Mark Loretta as an option, although he'll likely stay in the National League. Another option could be newly released Jorge Cantu. Cantu came up with the Devil Rays in 2004 and was great, hitting .286 and driving in 117 in 2005, his first full season. He struggled in Tampa Bay after that but came back to life as a Cincinnati Red, batting .298 in his short stint with the team. Cantu can play all four infield positions, and could challenge for the second base job. I welcome any cheap competition, especially if they're former 100 RBI guys.

Ken Rosenthal confirms my suspicion, the Mariners may be back in the fray for Johan Santana. I thought this would be the time to strike, and this would be the perfect way Bavasi could move towards contention.

View all Bleeding Blue and Teal posts related to Johan Santana JO-SAN

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Aces Wild: Bavasi Can't Bust

There was a complete lack of news on the Mariners front from the Winter Meetings today. The Tigers landing Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from Florida was a little exciting, however.

No news is good news? Not at all. The Mariners need some major pitching help. They at least have a 4 and 5 spot to fill, but would love to be able to drop Washburn or Batista down a notch. Here are the aces the Mariners have been linked to and what's new:

Erik Bedard: Yesterday I wrote a blog about how we shouldn't expect a Bedard deal, as his price may be too high. However, the Mariners need an impact pitcher and it appears Bavasi would be willing to part with Adam Jones and Brandon Morrow, along with another prospect. The interesting part is that the Mariners are now considered front runners for Bedard's services, as Baltimore appears to be one of the few teams that are high on Jones and Morrow. It remains to be seen whether or not the Mariners would have to offer Wladimir Balentien as well. Giving up Wlad would make the next Mariner priority an outfielder with some pop, but the Orioles have been rumored to covet Balentien for awhile. I personally think one of Wlad and Jones needs to be retained.

Johan Santana: It's already been reported that the Mariners are out of the running for Santana, and it appears that everyone else besides Boston is as well. That said, this could be Seattle's time to strike. I know it's quite optimistic of me to even bother talking about Johan at this point, but this is how desperate the Mariners are. Bavasi said they weren't completely out of it and could jump back in later on, so I'm still allowed to bring it up. The current Boston offer appears to be Jon Lester, Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie, Justin Masterson and Ryan Kalish. Notice the absence of Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz. Sure, a 5-for-1 trade is always tough to pull off, but I'm still convinced that Bavasi could create some late competition for the Sox now that the offer doesn't contain so many young studs. If Bavasi was going to make a play he'd have to do it right away, as Boston and Minnesota are set to negotiate late into the night.

Ben Sheets: As expected, there really wasn't much behind the Ben Sheets rumors/speculation. He's not unavailable, but it would take quite a deal to move him. The Mariners may have been talking to the Brew Crew about Chris Capuano instead.

Without Dan Haren, those three may be the best pitchers being talked about. I'm disappointed in myself for trying to rule out Erik Bedard so early. I should have known better that Bavasi is desperate to make a move.

Bartolo Colon could almost be considered an ace. The Mariners and Colon haven't been linked in quite awhile now, but there is news that he is seeking a multi-year deal, making him less of a target. As far as Hiroki Kuroda goes, the Mariners may have the best offer out as of now. The Diamondbacks and Dodgers have similar offers, all 3 years/$27-33M, and it may take a fourth year to land him. Kuroda will visit a few American cities after the meetings before making his decision. Hopefully this horrible NW weather we've had lately won't scare him away.

Further reading: Geoff Baker, LA Daily News

View Bleeding Blue and Teal posts related to: Erik Bedard - Johan Santana - Ben Sheets ER-BED JO-SAN BEn-SHE

Ben Sheets' Price Tag

Johan Santana and Erik Bedard's price tags both appear to be similar, starting at Adam Jones, Brandon Morrow and Jeff Clement. Neither Minnesota or Baltimore really wants Clement, so it makes a deal a little bit harder. As a mentioned a couple times yesterday, the Mariners have seemingly kicked off a new trade battle, this one for Milwaukee ace Ben Sheets. It's unclear whether Sheets is actually available or not, the Mets were reportedly told he isn't. Milwaukee, however, could be interested in the Mariners' young catching and relief. The "young catching" is obvious, Jeff Clement, and the relief could be anyone from Brandon Morrow to anyone in the current 'pen. To most fans this seems like a better deal, you keep Adam Jones, everything is great. Although this may be an easier decision for Bavasi, I don't like giving major league ready players who could impact the 2008 Mariners for an injury prone ace in his contract year. Sheets has a no trade clause, so maybe the Brewers would allow him to negotiate long term with the Mariners pre-trade? It's all suddenly worth it. We'll see how this works out in the coming days. I'm really looking forward to watching Jeff Clement play in a Mariners uniform for the next decade, so I'd be really disappointed if he were traded for a rent-a-player.

Tidbits: Mark Loretta may have been targeted by the Mariners as a utility infielder, however he would rather go somewhere he would get more playing time. Ben Broussard alone is not enough to get Edwin Jackson from the Rays, as most suspected.

I'm going to try and refrain from posting about Sheets until something substantial happens, as nothing is anywhere close to concrete. We'll see how it goes, hopefully I'll be able to report on some news here rather than just speculation.

View all Bleeding Blue and Teal posts related to: Ben Sheets - Edwin Jackson BEN-SHE ED-JAC

Monday, December 3, 2007

Day 1 Recap: No Moves Yet

I decided to take a break for a few hours and came back to pages of rumors to catch up on. Unfortunately there wasn't a lot going on for Bill Bavasi and the Mariners. Here's a few tidbits to toss in before the start of Day 2:

  • The Mariners have "shown interest" in several players, including SP Edwin Jackson, SP Matt Clement, OF/1B Darrin Erstad and 2B Marcus Giles.
  • Seattle was in fact the West Coast team asking about Milwaukee starter Ben Sheets, according to Geoff Baker.
  • Bavasi has been in contact with the St. Louis Cardinals. Not sure who the subject of those talks were, possibly Anthony Reyes?
  • Jose Guillen has signed with the Kansas City Royals, pending a physical.
  • The reason Bavasi pulled out of a potential Santana deal was because he thought the Twins didn't take the Mariners seriously. He says it's not completely over, and thinks the Mariners could jump back in if something happens. I'd give that a 1% chance of happening.
  • Seattle is definitely in on Erik Bedard, but are waiting for the price to go down.

Alright! The Mariners have a full slate tomorrow, hopefully something will get done.

Winter Meetings: Day 1 Blurbs

Late last night I saw something about the Red Sox possibly looking at Ben Sheets as a rotation option. Although I didn't post anything about it here (I did in a couple forums), I had a feeling the Mariners might show some interest. Tom Haudricourt reports that Brewers GM Doug Melvin hasn't yet spoken to any East Coast teams about Sheets, but speculates that Seattle has.

I mentioned in a blog on Saturday that the Mariners might make a push for second baseman Marcus Giles. ESPN's Jason Stark says Seattle has been interested and might make a play if the team trades Jose Lopez. Rotoworld also speculates that the Mariners may want Giles around simply to compete with Lopez.

Geoff Baker's blog from the Winter Meetings mentions that no one is interested in Richie Sexson. He also said that the Cubs' interest in Raul Ibanez may not result in anything until Kosuke Fukodome finds a home.

This is a little late and I blew the prediction, but Hiroki Kuroda won't decide where to play until after the Winter Meetings. A Diamondback official said that the Mariners are still the clear cut favorite, all according to Jim Street.

Don't Count on Bedard

Johan Santana will not become a Mariner this offseason, that's been established. So who is next for the Mariners? All the other teams in search for a top of the rotation pitcher will likely turn to Oakland starter Dan Haren after Santana's destination is finalized. Seattle obviously doesn't have that option, as Haren would never be traded to a division rival. It appears that Orioles pitcher Erik Bedard is next in line for Bill Bavasi's attention. Bedard has been brought up as a Mariner possibility on rumor sites and this blog all offseason, but now that Santana has been ruled out it is Bedard's time to shine.

Don't count on Bedard become a Seattle Mariner, though. It was controversial enough when Mariner fans found out the asking price for Johan Santana would start at Adam Jones, Brandon Morrow and Jeff Clement, but would Bavasi give the same package for Bedard? It would indeed take the same package to acquire Baltimore's ace, according to Mariners insider Larry LaRue. That is far too much. Bedard is about the same age as Santana, also left handed and the ace of a big league staff, but is injury prone (only making it over 30 starts once in his career), supposedly bad in the locker room and with the media, and is unlikely to re-sign.

With catching prospect Matt Weiters on the way for Baltimore, Jeff Clement may be able to be held out in exchange for Wladimir Balentien, which would make me feel a little bit better. I still don't see Bavasi pulling the trigger on this one unless the Baltimore GM realized that Bedard is not in fact Santana and lowers the price. I could part with Wladimir Balentien, Brandon Morrow and one other prospect, but that currently isn't enough to get the job done.

The Mets reportedly offered Aaron Heilman, Philip Humber and Lastings Milledge/Carlos Gomez for Erik Beddard and were denied. They may try the same package with Ryan Church as the outfielder, but that isn't much better. It's hard to prepare a Seattle equivalent, but Adam Jones would have to be in there.

Bedard would benefit Seattle, even in a trade for Jones, Morrow and Clement/Balentien. But with Bavasi seemingly committed to starting Adam Jones in right field, Bedard may not be enough of a return to change that plan. Don't count on Bavasi to make a real move for this ace either.

Sources: Next! Seattle Persues Lefty Erik Bedard, by Larry LaRue ER-BED

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Raul Ibanez Rumors

This offseason there has been three teams interested in the services of Raul Ibanez. The Detroit Tigers are no longer in the hunt, as Jacque Jones fills their outfield void. The Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians continue to show interest during the Winter Meetings. There has been no word on what the Mariners would demand for Ibanez, but it's always fun to speculate.

The Indians could offer either of lefty starters Cliff Lee or Aaron Laffey. Lee has had a pair of very nice seasons with the Tribe in 2005 and 2006, posting ERAs of 3.79 and 4.40 and working over 200 innings in each. Lee struggled a bit in 2007, but some of that can be attributed to an abdominal injury that caused him to miss all of August. Laffey is just 22 years old and only has nine major league starts under his belt (4.56 ERA). Laffey in a groundball pitcher, throwing a high 80s fastball to go along with a sinker and above average slider and changeup. Laffey could benefit from Seattle's stellar infield defense, especially on the left side, and at 22 has huge upside.

It's unclear what the Cubs could offer. Mark Prior is reportedly on the block, but he is extremely injury prone, probably overpriced and a free agent after 2008. Perhaps the Mariners could get Rich Hill in return. Hill had a 3.92 ERA in 195 innings for the Cubs in 2007. If Hill is too much (most likely) Sean Marshall could be a possibility. Marshall posted a 3.92 ERA in just over 100 innings pitched this past season to go along with some stellar minor league numbers.

It has also been reported that Seattle is "desperate" to trade Richie Sexson during the Winter Meetings, contrary to the believe that Bavasi would like to keep him. How does this pertain to Raul Ibanez? The way I see it, Sexson gets dealt it gives the Mariners an opportunity to get some left-handed pop in the lineup besides Ibanez, either by giving the starting first base job to Ben Broussard, or moving Jose Vidro from DH to first and giving rookie Jeff Clement the DH spot. The bottom line is as the only left-handed power hitter in the current Mariner lineup, Raul cannot be traded unless the Mariners find a way to add another one. Another option would be free agent Geoff Jenkins. Jenkins has pop from the left side and has superior outfield defense to Raul, although he is a much more expensive option.

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Edwin Jackson for Broussard, Johnson?

Now that Johan Santana is reportedly out of the picture, the Mariners are looking elsewhere for starting pitching. Tampa Bay starter Edwin Jackson is available, although he is closer to Jeff Weaver and Horacio Ramirez than Johan. Last season Jackson went 5-15, giving up 195 hits over 161 innings en route to a 5.76 ERA.

The reason Jackson is worth pursuing is not because he'd fix our rotation, but because we could get rid of some players that are currently in the way. The Rays are looking for a first baseman and a young catcher. Ben Broussard is very capable of playing first base full time, as he showed in Cleveland, and would like nothing more than the opportunity to do so again. It is nice to have Ben as pop off the bench, but he deserves a shot and won't get one in Seattle. Catching prospect Rob Johnson could be included in the deal as well. The Mariners have a couple reasons to drop Johnson. One, we won't be needing a catcher anytime soon with Kenji Johjima and Jeff Clement hanging around. Two, if Clement doesn't make the major league team in 2008, the lack of Johnson in AAA will give Clement more time playing catcher and less time at DH. Jeff Clement's bat is ready for the bigs, but his defense is holding him back. If he is able to get more defensive work at AAA he could be ready to be a full time major league catcher by the end of the season, or even the trade deadline.

If Edwin Jackson was acquired he wouldn't be a lock as the number five starter. Barring any other moves he'd obviously be competing with the usual suspects: Brandon Morrow, Cha Seung Baek, Ryan Feierabend, Ryan Rowland-Smith etc. He would give us more depth at starting pitching, possibly allowing us to make a trade later on.

I think this would be a decent move. I think it's safe to say that Ben Broussard is a higher caliber of player than Jackson, but he might as well be moved. Otherwise he'll probably just be non-tendered and the Mariners will get nothing for him. Other teams that have been interested in Broussard in the past are Texas and Detroit.

Sources: Mariners out of Santana sweepstakes

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