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June 16, 2008 at 5:04 PM

“Nothing is off limits”

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That was the word from Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln and president Chuck Armstrong at this afternoon’s press conference in which he discussed the firing of GM Bill Bavasi. Armstrong said it first and Lincoln repeated that theme throughout the conference and again afterwards. Both he and Armstrong insist they will be considering a wide range of opinions from within and outside the organization when it comes to what they should do next.
That includes trading any player. Even Ichiro. By the way, Ichiro is in right field tonight with Willie Bloomquist in center. I know the team has discussed moving Ichiro back to right. The hope is that the club can acquire a center fielder or perhaps find one in-house who can play every day. Jeremy Reed is one possibility for that rile, at least for now.
“My feeling is that the time has come and gone, really, for some of these players to get going,” Lincoln said. “And I certainly hope and expect that this move will spur them on.”
This team could very well begin a sell-off of players next month. Armstrong was asked if the team was less likely to be active at the trade deadline, given an interim GM.
“Not necessarily,” he said. “But we might be active the other way. We may, instead of trying to acquire players, we may find some good fits where we can help ourselves.”
Armstrong said that “we’re already looking ahead to the future” and told me afterwards that he’ll be keeping a closer eye that usual on all player moves made under interim GM Lee Pelekoudas. Armstrong also said he doubts a new GM will be hired right away, given the commitments some candidates have to other clubs.
“This may well go into the off-season before we make our final selection,” he said.
On manager John McLaren, Lincoln said: “As I sit here, I’m not ready to sing the praises of anybody in that clubhouse.”
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Bill Bavasi did drop by to speak afterwards.
He was asked if he had any regrets, any moves in hindsight that could have helped the team.
“It’s really ironic that the personality we’re missing most is Jose Guillen,” he said. “He could do some strange things at times, but his agenda, at the top of his agenda, was to win.”
Bavasi feels Guillen would have helped some of the problems he’s seen in the clubhouse this season.
Just finished speaking to McLaren, in the dugout, and he says the Ichiro move is a permanent one for now. He’ll be auditioning others, including Wladimir Balentien and Reed, for the center field job. Unless the M’s have a deal pending to bring a center fielder or left fielder here. Maybe Ken Griffey Jr. in left. Maybe Coco Crisp in center. Who knows?
For the record, McLaren says he wants Ichiro to have more fun, like he did back in 2006 when he was still in right field. Of course, McLaren can’t talk publicly about pending trades. So, he talks about Ichiro being happy. Not exactly a priority at the moment, but there you have it.
“I just think he’s a great right fielder,” he said. “I just want to see him get the smile, the zest and everything going.”
McLaren agrees that every player should be fearing for their job.
“So far, nothing’s made sense,” he said. “We’ve talked about it. You hate to see people lose jobs. If it works out that someone wakes up or whatever, good. But we all have to accept our responsibilities, to a man. We’re way beyond — if there ever was any excuse, we’re way beyond it. That’s not even in the equation.”
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