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August 2, 2007 at 12:12 PM

Keeping up with Jones

Quite a night, wasn’t it? I can see that many of you are wondering about Jose Guillen’s comments regarding Adam Jones. To answer some questions, no he isn’t worried about losing playing time to Jones. I actually did put that question to Guillen in the non-recorded part of talking to him.
“What, are you crazy?” he asked me, then laughed.
I get along pretty good with Guillen. When he tapped me on the shoulder and told me he wanted to talk, I had no idea what he was going to say. After we initially talked about Jones, I asked if I could quote him and he said to go right ahead. Normally, I just quote guys who talk to me, since they ought to realize by now that they are talking to a reporter and it’s all on-the-record. But knowing what a can of worms this could open up, I wanted Guillen to know for certain that I was going to use it and he didn’t mind. He wanted it in the paper.
Sounds to me like Guillen is sticking up for the veterans on the team. Guys like Jason Ellison, Raul Ibanez, possibly Jose Vidro. Nothing wrong with a veteran doing that, but as I’ve written, I don’t agree with him. This team did nothing to get better at the July 31 trade deadline. It has to make the internal moves it has at its disposal to better itself. Even if that means replacing 25th man Ellison with a better 25th man.
Will Jones be this team’s “savior”? I highly doubt it. That’s why I felt the team needed to do more via trades to better itself in a variety of areas. But now that it has blocked itself from doing that, there is no reason to keep preventing itself from making some obvious moves.
Putting pressure on hitters to perform is a time-honored baseball tradition. Richie Sexson is now feeling it and Raul Ibanez will be as well, I’m pretty sure. Jose Vidro responded very well to that pressure when he began to feel it a month ago. Will the M’s all be happy about Jones? Some of them clearly won’t be. But if he performs reasonably well and gives them an upgrade, even as only the 25th man in a fourth outfielder role, they will have a better shot at winning.
That will keep the team happy.
I have mixed feelings about what I saw out of the bullpen last night. In the end, the relievers delivered, though only after issuing some very untimely walks and seeing J.J. Putz look all-too-human. All I will say for now is that I don’t want to see Putz pitching in any more eighth innings for several weeks. Since the All-Star Break, he has looked a little more human. Reminding me too much of how B.J. Ryan looked in Toronto in late-July of last season.
The M’s have to use Putz in a one-inning role and that’s it. If they don’t have confidence that someone else can come in and shut down an eighth inning jam, then they should have made a deal for another reliever before the deadline. But Putz is the best thing this bullpen has going for it. Maybe the Gary Matthews Jr. home run was a lucky, opposite field shot. Or perhaps, it was a sign Putz is feeling some Dog Days of August fatigue. No sense gambling on it being the former. Use someone else in the eighth inning, at least for the rest of this month. Lose the game if you have to. It may be a very tough pill to swallow. But better than having the entire medicine cabinet crammed down your throat in September if Putz truly wears out.

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