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December 3, 2007 at 11:07 AM

Meetings underway

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The annual winter meetings have been taking place all morning here and the only deal to report is a minor one involving the Arizona Diamondbacks trading outfielder Carlos Quentin to the White Sox for minor leaguer Chris Carter. No, that Carter doesn’t catch passes. Nor is he the X-files creator. Like I said, there’s been limited action here thus far.
More importantly, for Seattle fans, there’s a report out there that the Mariners have backed out of the Johan Santana sweepstakes. I’ve been trying to confirm it for a while, now. My sources in Minneapolis have yet to tell me this is the case, though the general question being asked in the hallways here is “were the Mariners ever really in it?”
Speaking of hallways, the photo above is of the main mezzanine level where all the print and television media gathers. If it looks a little sparse, it’s because the Gaylord Opryland resort and convention center is so darned big.
I’ll show you some more photos of what this place is truly like a little later on. Some have called it an indoor theme park. Others, in less flattering terms, have described it as “Disneyland for Hicks”. Either way, it’s truly a bizarre place. Massive. Tough to navigate.
The Mariners entourage didn’t arrive here until 11 p.m. or so last night, their connecting flight from Chicago delayed several hours by rain. Mariners manager John McLaren is holding court with Lou Piniella in one of the many hotel lobbies in this place, but GM Bill Bavasi is out of sight. Literally, not metaphorically.
Bavasi has his work cut out for him here. I tend to believe that the M’s have pulled back from talks, given how the battle for Santana appears to be coming down to a two-team dogfight between the Red Sox and Yankees. The hallways are buzzing here about Boston’s decision to include Jacoby Ellsbury in their offer. The Yankees have supposedly set a deadline for day’s end to get a deal done. But I wouldn’t read too much into that. They say a lot and then change their stance very quickly.
Where does that leave the M’s? We’ll see. I hear a lot of talk about lesser deals, like going after Tampa Bay starter Edwin Jackson. My sources in Tampa Bay say he’s projected as a fourth or fifth starter down there at best (not surprising, considering the recent Matt Garza acquisition by the Rays). Jackson is out of options and the team is running out of patience waiting for him to put it all together.
So, he can be had cheap, right? Hold on there. Apparently not. The Rays, according to one source, may be asking very high at this stage. Remember, the market for starters has yet to be established. Teams are usually loathe to be the first ones to set it, especially for lesser tier guys. Santana is one thing. Edwin Jackson quite another. I mean, look at his numbers. Small sample in the big leagues, but, at age 24, nothing to write home about yet. You could argue his ERA last season was quite Horacio Ramirez-like.
Matt Clement? A nice reclammation project. If I hear more on that, I’ll let you know. It’s safe to assume the M’s will be in on just about any pitcher worth having here. But one thing I can tell you, if they balk at going after Santana, I don’t really see them bidding for Erik Bedard either. Not the way the Orioles do business. I’ll poke around and see if I can come up with more.
But as of right now, nobody is talking about the M’s and Santana. For some of you, that’s good news. Others, not so much.

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