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December 5, 2007 at 11:58 AM

McLaren meets the press

Sorry for the slow posting today. It’s a busy morning, since Mariners manager John McLaren had his official “meet the media” session with writers at 9:30 a.m., followed immediately afterwards by the manager’s luncheon — which beat writers from his team are expected to attend. Also, that Tigers-Marlins press conference is being held as I post this to announce the blockbuster eight-player deal that sees Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis off to Detroit for six prospects.
Here are some photos of that conference, which, as I said, is still going on.
Here’s a more close-up shot, down below, of Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski speaking at the microphone. To his left is Marlins counterpart Larry Beinfest.
Hear some audio right here of the two GMs answering questions about how this rapid-fire deal came together so quickly. Domrowski is the first to answer any questions.
As for Mariners manager McLaren, he did indeed skip a scheduled trip to Venezuela. Talks about it right here.
It’s not known whether he plans to reschedule. Part of it has to do with his wanting to be here, as the team tries to put a deal together to land Erik Bedard. But there were also other issues he did not elaborate on. Undoubtedly, security is one of those. Venezuela is not the safest place right now and there are legitimate concerns for anybody planning to travel there — especially folks with any kind of money. The Mariners are monitoring the situation closely, as they have a number of top prospects down in the Venezuelan Winter League. Now, those prospects play far away from the bigger cities where kidnapping and random crime are a major concern.
But plenty of major league clubs are scaling back their Venezuelan presence. They just had a controversial vote down there on changes to the constitution that could make Hugo Chavez a president for life. I was in Caracas last year and — to tell you the truth — I’m not sure I’d want to be making a trip down there right now if it could be at all avoided.
McLaren was going to pay a visit to Jose Lopez down there, but that’s now off. I asked McLaren what he would have said to Lopez and he told me: “I’m a Jose Lopez fan. A few things got turned sideways last year (for him).”
Meaning, largely, his brother’s death in a motorcycle crash.
“We just want him to play with passion every night,” McLaren said in a clip you can listen to right here. “He’s got good ability…we just want to maximize his concentration at the plate and in the field. I like him a lot.”
Yes, I have heard rumors the M’s are shopping Lopez here. But I don’t know how much stock to put in those. After all, lots of players are dangled to see what tyhpe of returns they’ll generate. If a quality pitcher was coming back the other way, yeah I’d have to look at it as a GM. And the Rockies could be a good fit, as one of you asked me. They are anxiously seeking a second baseman. They also have a decent, major league ready outfielder in Seth Smith (who plays RF and some CF) that could be offered up in a deal. Had a .909 on-base-plus slugging percentage in Class AAA last season and did well as a late call-up.
Now, this is just me throwing names around. All hypothetical. But the fact remains, if Adam Jones goes in any deal for pitching, the M’s will need to fill some gaps. For what it’s worth, GM Bill Bavasi told me last night that second base was a low priority (behind starting pitching) for him right now as this time I do believe him. So, I wouldn’t get too hung up on Lopez rumors just yet.
McLaren remains hopeful his team can land Hiroki Kuroda, who is expected to visit Seattle next week. The M’s are looking at whether to up their three-year offer to Kuroda — which is roughly the same as what the D-Backs and Dodgers have offered him. During a visit to Japan last month, McLaren says he came away impressed by the 32-year-old pitcher.
“One of the things that impressed me about him is he put a list in front of us of questions,” McLaren said. “And the questions are more about his family than about him.”
Hear what McLaren had to say about his team’s ongoing quest for pitching, Kuroda, and more right here.
The Mariners also hope to land Baltimore Orioles pitcher Erik Bedard, as we kept mentioning last night. Things are still somewhat muddled this morning and this story gives some explanation of the complexities involved in engineering deals of this nature.
The Johan Santana quagmire isn’t helping matters. That expected deal between the Boston Red Sox and Twins has yet to be completed and there was word this morning that the New York Mets are at least being listened to for offers again. Could that mean the Mariners might finally get a serious audience? That’s the big question, isn’t it? One that folks keep tapping me on my shoulder and asking about. Here’s Ken Rosenthal’s take on matters over at Fox Sports. Now, my read on this is that the Twins might be open to listening to the Mariners — especially to jumpstart their talks with Boston. I don’t buy the bit about Seattle looking at Santana in case they don’t get Kuroda. They won’t know about Kuroda until at least next week. Santana could get done well before that.
It will either be Santana or Bedard, not Santana or Kuroda, where the M’s are concerned.
In my mind, Adam Jones, Brandon Morrow and Jeff Clement as a lefty-hitting DH/catcher-in-waiting is as good as the proposals I’ve heard out of Boston. Depending on how serious the Yankees still are, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Red Sox trying to backpedal furiously. I mean, they are the World Series champs. Without any serious competition for Santana, there’s no reason for them to sell their farm system.
More of a reason for teams like the M’s, who have a ways to climb before anyone gives them a ring. I doubt the Mariners have put forth the Jones-Morrow-Clement trio as an offer just yet either. You don’t blow your entire stockpile in the first round of negotiations. But I’m sure, when it comes down to it, that this trio could be a very competitive offer.
Anyway, that’s my take for now.



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