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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

December 12, 2007 at 10:27 AM

Lots of action this morning

UPDATE (2:36 p.m.): Hiroki Kuroda has now stepped into the fray to refute those reports from Japan that he was about to sign with the Dodgers. Here is a link to a story in the East Valley Tribune, from Arizona. Lest we forget, the Diamondbacks are still vying for Kuroda, along with the Mariners, Dodgers and Royals. Kuroda left Tokyo for Los Angeles to meet with agent Steve Hilliard, who is to apprise him of where things stand.
“I still haven’t narrowed down which team I will play for,” Kuroda told Japanese news outlets before leaving from Narita airport in Tokyo. “My agent is in Los Angeles, so I don’t know anything until I get there and meet him.”
10:27 a.m.: A big trade by the Baltimore Orioles and Houston Astros, in which shortstop Miguel Tejada is off to Houston in exchange for five players. More on that in a moment…
Still no word on who free-agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda is going to choose. Yes, it’s true that he flew from Tokyo to Los Angeles last night. But it’s important to keep in mind that his agent, Steve Hilliard, is currently in California weighing several different offers. Kuroda flying to LA doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to sign there. Just that his agent wants him by his side when the final choices have to be made. After that, it’s a short hop on a smaller plane to Seattle — or anywhere else if the Dodgers don’t win out.
Could it be that Kuroda is leaning towards the Dodgers? Sure, it could be. But when I got off the phone last night, I’d been assured backwards and forwards that the reports coming out of Japan were not accurate. I wouldn’t have written what I did so emphatically if I didn’t trust in who I was talking to. Did I think, in the middle of the night, that I was about to get burned? Once or twice. It happens. But we are heading towards the middle of the day and nothing has been announced, so I will trust in what I heard and assume Kuroda is still up for grabs.
Now, if he hammers out a deal in the next few hours and it gets announced at 4 p.m.? Or at 9 a.m. tomorrow? Nothing I can do about it and I guess those initial Japanese reports would be “accurate”. But I’m just trying to pass along the best information (the best I can get) to you. It goes a little deeper than doing a “Google” search for Japanese media outlets on my computer, trust me. You all deserve better. When we have real news to bring you, like anyone close to these talks actually confirming a deal is done, or about to get done, you’ll get a story in our paper and a blog entry.
On to Tejada, it’s not yet clear how this morning’s trade impacts the Mariners in their pursuit of Erik Bedard. On at least one front, they come out OK, since we now know the O’s are not going to package Bedard and Tejada together.
Baltimore picks up outfielder Luke Scott, pitchers Matt Albers, Troy Patton and Dennis Sarfate, and third base prospect Michael Costanzo. Scott, Patton and Sarfate should all be on the team in April, possibly Albers as well. Scott gives the team a lefty outfield bat it had been looking for.
Scott packs some punch, but I don’t see this deal precluding the Orioles from obtaining Adam Jones in a Bedard trade. The O’s need more than one outfield bat to join right fielder Nick Markakis. Albers and Patton are both getting their feet wet as starting pitchers in the majors, while Sarfate is a starter, but has been used strictly in relief in two major league stints. He’s been called a “one-pitch” pitcher with a blazing fastball, which could help some of Baltimore’s late-inning relief needs. But he isn’t the total relief answer. In all, I’d say the O’s are still in the market for some strong Bedard returns to help them out next season. They did OK in this deal, with Costanzo a well-regarded prospect and Patton coming off his rookie season as a 21-year-old.
Several of you have been asking why the M’s didn’t go after Kosuke Fukodome to play in left field. Here’s my best guess as to why. A $48-million package to fill a position the M’s already have a 100-RBI guy at seems a tad excessive. If the Mariners weren’t already looking to sink eight figures into upgrading their starting rotation, I’d feel differently. But there is a point where you have to say “enough’s enough” and keep that wallet closed. Otherwise, you wind up backloaded into a bunch of contracts that paralyze you going forwards. Dropping nearly $50 million to bolster outfield defense at one position seems like too much for the M’s to contemplate. Especially when pitching has to be this team’s priority.



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