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.