That would be newest Mariners pitcher Carlos Silva and his wife, Maria, married on Dec. 1 in Venezuela and having just received a $48-million wedding gift from Mariners GM Bill Bavasi. The four-year deal includes a $5 million signing bonus and a mutual option for a fifth year at $12 million. The buyout for the club on that would be $2 million, which, like the signing bonus, is already factored into the $48 million. By the way, Johan Santana was in the wedding party. Yeah, that Santana. He and Silva are best pals. No, don’t go getting any ideas. Sure, they talk. But Santana isn’t about to make a $125-million decision based on that. Stick to Erik Bedard for big trade hopes for now — and discount those “We don’t have to trade Adam Jones to get him” rumors. A big bat like Jones, in a large African American community, is exactly what the O’s need.
So, anyhow, life is good for Silva. He knows it, too. Listen to him speak right here.
“Thanks to God for this,” he said. “It’s like a blessing.” Amen to that. Now all he has to do is show he’s worth all that cash. By the way, Silva and his wife, who hails from St. Paul, Minn., are off to Venezuela in the morning. They put on an annual Christmas benefit in his hometown and are doing so again on Saturday, giving out toys to needy youngsters. Game jerseys too. Bavasi apparently offered up a bunch of Mariners garb when told about the benefit. A nice gesture. Then again, with all he’s already given Silva, how much could a few game shirts hurt?
In all, Silva seemed like a pretty decent guy when I chatted with him after today’s press conference was over. I asked him all about the split-fingered fastball he’s been working on in order to help him solve the mystery of lefthanded batters. As you may know, lefthanded hitters tend to have an upper hand at Safeco Field and Silva’s platoon splits against southpaws are not all that impressive:
Vs. LHB .294 avg., .338 on-base pct., .472 slugging pct., .810 OPS
Vs. RHP .280 avg. .296 on-base pct., .392 slugging pct., .688 OPS
Obviously, the lefty numbers need plenty of work. Silva told me he began using the split-fingered pitch more against lefties in the second half of the season. The ball starts in on lefties and then floats away from then. He also busted them inside more with his four-seam fastball. Before, he was throwing his trademark sinker too much and lefties had been setting up and waiting for it on the outside corner.
If Silva can figure lefties out consistently, he may provide better value than his numbers indicate. And that would be a very good thing for the M’s, especially if he’s only a No. 3 or No. 4 starter in a rotation fronted by Erik Bedard — still being pursued on the trade front — and Felix Hernandez.
A lot was said at the press conference. No, the photo above isn’t Bill Bavasi saying “I just played Santa Claus, you owe me!” Hear what he really said, starting with this clip.
For the commenter who stated earlier that Josh Towers would have been an identical pickup to this one, for far less money, I could not disagree more. I watched Towers closely in Toronto. He put up Horacio Ramirez-like numbers just two years ago and has been below league average in three of the past four seasons. He’s gone seven or more innings in just four starts the past two years after doing so 13 times in 2005. Check out the number of innings Towers has averaged per season. Folks have him figured out. Sorry, but no-dice on that one.
Silva may not be a Cy Young Award winner, but he brings more stability to the middle and back-end of the rotation. Bavasi says he’ll use Brandon Morrow/Ramirez as the fifth starter for now, with the loser of that battle in spring training becoming a bullpen long man. Unless, of course, Morrow gets traded for Bedard.