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December 21, 2007 at 5:54 PM

George Sherrill, #52 and other questions

OK, almost set to leave for my Christmas break. Yes, even us bloggers are allowed to take those. We’re not to the point yet where this blog will be up and running like it did all of last season. But it’s been fun having a mid-winter interlude and trying out some new stuff with all of you. On to your questions…
Q. Did I miss where George Sherrill has worn #52 the whole time he has been up and down with the M’s, yet Silva is now wearing it?
Geoff!! Tell me the details… what did Silva buy Sherrill for the number… or is Sherrill already on a plane to Baltimore??????????
A: No, he’s not. I just got off the phone with Sherrill in Tennessee and he seemed to find the whole #52 thing a little amusing. No, Carlos Silva did not call him up beforehand and ask him about wearing his Twins number in Seattle. The typical thing is for players to work these things out at spring training. Usually, the incoming guy will do something nice for the incumbent if he really wants to wear the number. Even superstar guys do that for PR reasons. Sherrill doesn’t sound like he plans to make life difficult for Silva: “I guess he’s the more proven guy, the more established guy,” he said. “He’s the guy they’re paying the big money to, that they’re counting on. If he wants the number, who am I to say no?”

Sherrill is actually being very charitable. The numbers he put up last season at least merit a one-on-one sitdown with Silva before any number changes are made. By the way, yes, Sherrill is following the daily trade rumors like all of you — via the paper. He’s heard about possibly being dealt to Baltimore in an Erik Bedard package. He shrugged it off as “part of the business” and noted that he at least knows one player on that team. He and Jamie Walker, the main bullpen lefty for the O’s, both went to college together at Austin Peay State.
Q: I think you had stated that the m’s are unlikely to go after Santana because of his 120m/20+per price tag. Could you please shed some light on the logic behind this? I would much rather have a future young HOF in Santana and a rookie rather than Bedard and Silva.
A: Well, they are now locked into paying $12-million per year for Silva. Throw another $20 million per season on top of that for Santana and you’ve got the makings of a payroll about to go bust. With Bedard, you get a guy who will cost you a fraction of that for the next two years, then can free up more money once Jarrod Washburn’s deal comes off the books. I suppose you could always acquire Santana now and deal Washburn to free up payroll room. But that’s a lot of deal swinging that will have to be done by this organization. Look how long it took them to get one signing accomplished. I just think there are a lot of payroll issues that come attached to Santana that you won’t find with Bedard. Hey, I’m with you on the Santana-rookie pitcher combo. Just don’t know whether it’s realistically doable.
Q: Reports say Mark Prior is looking for a 1 year deal. Similar to the Mariner’s offseason past, do you think the signing of Carlos Silva, a Toyota of ballplayers, gives the team flexibility to explore new fronts like the one mentioned above? Last year’s signing of Miguel Batista and the 1 yr contracts to Jose Guillen and Jeff Weaver come to mind.
A: No, JP, I don’t see that happening unless this team gets really desperate. If you don’t trade for a frontline ace, then Brandon Morrow is the fifth starter. No point bringing in a reclammation project like Prior. That would be some real finger-crossing, not serious planning. In a case like that, you’re closing your eyes and wishing for the best. Realistically, he’s not going to transform this rotation beyond what it is. In that case, you develop Morrow — so there’s no room for Prior. Bring in Bedard and you’ve got a pitcher better than anyone on staff. No finger-crossing, wishing or anything, He simply is better. In that event, you break Morrow in as a long-reliever/spot starter, the way I watched Toronto do with Roy Halladay in 1999, or you trade Jarrod Washburn to free up room and money. But no. Those one-year deals aren’t what this team is looking for. It has to start building towards something. Even if it is only two years and hoping for an extension with Bedard. The one-year fill-in spots are all taken up.
Q: As Jeff at LL points out, (Josh) Towers could be washed up, or he could be a victim of bad luck. After all, in 2007 he posted the best swinging strike percentage of his career (a rate which is superior to Silva’s, by the way). So, he still has the stuff.
A: Jeff made a compelling case over at LL, yes. Thing is, there comes a point where you have to see the forest for the trees, There comes a time when a pitcher performs so poorly, in front of people who know this game well, that all the peripheral stats in the universe will get ignored. And rightly so. To say that much of what Towers has gone through the past two years is largely the result of the fielders behind him is a little extreme. Toronto had one of the best defenses in baseball last season. If they weren’t catching up to all the balls hit off Towers, it’s probably because the balls were being hit too hard. Yes, the swinging strikeout rate was unusually high for Towers. Could be a sign he isn’t washed-up, as you say. Or, quite possibly, the hitters were salivating at the chance to boost their slugging numbers off him and swung away wildly. I saw that happen a lot as 2006 progressed. Towers has to be picture-perfect in spotting his fastball for his game to work. If he’s even a half-inch off target, his stuff tends to get rocked. Think Jeff Weaver last April. I like the new defensive stats that are coming up, but I think it’s stretching the point to suggest it wasn’t really Towers’ fault he lasted only two or three innings in a bunch of starts. Well then, whose fault was it? At some point, even if the fielders aren’t making outs on every ball put in-play, the good pitchers find a way to work out of trouble.
Q: Geoff — Question: Who was in the bidding for Silva and how much were they offering… other than the Twins? Did the M’s just pay what they had to pay to sign him quickly or did they really negotiate the best deal they could?
A: The KC Royals supposedly offered four years as well, but the per year offer by Seattle appears to have blown them out of the water. Here’s a summary from the KC Star this morning: “Free-agent starting pitcher Carlos Silva, once a target of the Royals, signed a four-year, $48 million contract with the Mariners. In recent days, Royals executives had realized that the price of Silva — and, by extension, other second-tier starters — was growing too high.”
In recent days would be when the M’s went to $12 million per season. I’d guess the Royals were at about $10 million — roughly what they offered Hiroki Kuroda. No, the Mariners did not hammer out the best deal, They overpaid in order to get the guy the wanted — fast. Once Kuroda was gone, they didn’t want anyone else getting too serious on Silva.



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