Wednesday, January 12, 2005

M's Pondering Next Move 

Two articles of interest in the local press today. At the PI, Mike Hargrove considers how best to use his assets in the lineup. Over at the Times, Bob Finnigan has quotes from GM Bill Bavasi speculating on the M's next moves.

The funny thing about the Finnigan article is the opening paragraph.
While the Mariners' search for additional pitching might require a trade, especially during training camp, it will not be the hotly rumored deal involving outfielder Randy Winn.
What is funny about this is that no details of this "hotly rumored deal" are mentioned in the article. I have searched far and wide for a hotly rumored deal, only to find blogosphere and forum speculation or guesswork, but nothing that would think Bill Bavasi or Tim Purpura were involved.

But so far, there have not been talks with the Astros. That's not to say that things won't change. Obviously it does mean that neither team is dying to talk with the other... yet.

Bavasi says about dealing with Houston, "There's nothing to it. We haven't had talks with them." He indicates a willingness to trade, but only "if we're looking to significantly upgrade our pitching."

In the meantime, talk drifts to aged veterans Aaron Sele and Pedro Astacio. Again Bavasi says exactly what we want to hear. "We've had similar conversations with a lot of guys. We'd be looking at signing guys to minor-league deals with an invited status in camp." Essentially, this means we won't do anything stupid like give a guaranteed contract to Sele, Astacio, or any veteran pitcher (Shawn Estes and Esteban Loaiza have signed elsewhere), but we do hope to bring one or two into camp with a chance to earn a spot in the rotation. We'll leave an analysis of Sele and Astacio for a future exercise, then.

While his GM is looking to upgrade pitching, manager Mike Hargrove has been pondering lineups. Most of this article is listing out the problems and saying nothing will be solved until April (as it should be). The most interesting thing from this article are the quotes from Hargrove.

"I think that given the abilities we've got, I'm going to be able to use the DH spot as a day off. I've talked to Raul, and told him he's not penciled in as the DH. He can play a little outfield, a little first base and some DH. His strength is to swing the bat." I'll miss Edgar as much as anyone. But at the same time, it will be nice not having your best hitter locked into the DH role because he can't play the field. This is a huge upgrade in flexibility for the manager and the GM.

"Based on what he did last year, Reed's competing for that job [centerfield] in spring training. He doesn't have to go out and have a great spring to win it. But it will make it tougher on me and on him and on everybody if he goes out and has a bad spring. I'm counting on him being on the club and on him playing center field for us. But it's not like Ichiro. With Ichiro, I can say right now he's the right fielder and he's the leadoff hitter. With a young kid like Reed, I can't say that. We'll have to see. I can sit and look at lineups until I'm blue in the face, but until I get to spring training I won't know. Raul could be the DH the majority of the time, but he might not. For me to come right out and say Winn is our left fielder and Raul's our DH 95 percent of the time won't work. I could say that, but come April, it could be entirely different. All I know is that they will both play." Sure sounds like Hargove wants Reed to be our center fielder on Opening Day.

Hopefully, our beat writers, in the near future, will begin asking Bavasi and Hargrove questions about our rotation and bullpen. With lefty Chris Hammond (ERAs for past three years of 0.95, 2.86, 2.68) signing for $750,000 with the Padres, there seem to be some bargains out there that would give Hargrove more flexibility in building his bullpen come March and April.

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