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July 31, 2007 at 1:22 PM

M’s no wheeler-dealers

Plenty of rejoicing in Seattle, judging by some of your comments so far today, over the fact the Mariners have done nothing to help the major league club at today’s trade deadline. Time will tell whether that move was the best one. The M’s did make a trade, sending Julio Mateo to the Phillies in exchange for Class AA shortstop Jesus Merchan, a good little hitter from the looks of things. But who knows? He’s in Class AA. So, the M’s add to their prospects pile while shipping away a relief pitcher they were never going to use in Seattle again because of their strong ties to groups that oppose domestic violence. Mateo should fit right in with a Phillies bullpen that includes closer Brett Myers. I’m sure they’ll find plenty to talk about.
The Boston Red Sox, who had a pretty decent bullpen already, just made it better by acquiring Eric Gagne from Texas. Sure, they could have just stood pat. But Gagne now makes that bullpen untouchable from the seventh inning on. And yes, they gave up a bunch of young prospects to get him. We’ll see if that pays off.
So, once again, to recap, the Mariners are deadline spectators at the major league level. There wasn’t a whole lot out there from the starting pitcher perspective and Seattle apparently balked at the asking price of the setup men who were available. Could they make some deals that require a player to pass through waivers first? Sure they could. But it’s doubtful that any moderately-priced bullpen arm (or even an expensive one, given this market) is going to slip through unclaimed. They can try. But it looks more and more like this team is going to try for the playoffs with what it’s got — plus Adam Jones, of course. Might as well make use of him right away since he’s staying put. Come September, I’d like to see some of those other prospect names we’ve discussed today.
Big ballgame tonight. Seattle needs to keep on winning.
To “Scott M.” down below, the reason Mateo fetched far less than the other middle relievers we’ve seen on the market is because he’s not the same. He is awaiting a criminal trial on domestic assualt charges. That places him in a category far different from relievers who are not facing criminal charges.
The fact Mateo was arrested and charged in the first place will set off warning signals to other GMs. That and the complications his pending criminal case could have will lessen his value. More than some people think. And let’s be real. Mateo wasn’t exactly setting your world on fire when he was pitching in Seattle this season. Plenty of posters here were calling for Mike Hargrove’s head when he was being used in high leverage situations.
We’ve now seen today, from the price paid for EricGagne, to Octavio Dotel to Scott Proctor, that the price for a middling-to-great setup man, or even a middle reliever, was going to cost young talent in return. The M’s were not willing to pay the price by parting with their young talent. Not enough of it, anyway. Gagne and Dotel each fetched young pitchers with major league experience. Those will almost always trump a young, unproven bat. Not always, but usually.
I should at least give the M’s credit on one front. They held their position on Mateo. No double-talk here, no caving after-the-fact. They took a tough public stance and stuck to it. That shows some moral character. When all is said and done, my estimation of this franchise and the people running it just went up a whole bunch.
That said, I still think they could have made this team better at the deadline. But as Mick once said, you can’t always get what you want.

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