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December 23, 2008 at 11:16 AM

Burke re-signed by M’s

Mariners catcher Jamie Burke just got an early Christmas present, being re-signed to a minor-league contract by the team. This gives him a shot at earning a job in spring training. The Mariners still don’t know whether Jeff Clement or Kenji Johjima has what it takes to make it through a full season behind the plate. Clement still has plenty to prove as a catcher, while Johjima failed to hit anything last year and now sees his career in trouble unless he can rebound.
Burke gives the team some insurance in that regard. He was regarded as the team’s top defensive receiver the past two years and showed an ability to hit despite limited playing time.
“I think if anything else, he gives us a very dependable guy who can come to spring training and compete for a job,” Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told me. “He’s been with us before and we know him. He knows our staff.”
Not the perfect holiday gift, as I’m sure Burke would have preferred a major-league deal. But this is a first step towards his getting another crack at a major-league job he loves.
This doesn’t automatically mean the team will start the year with three catchers. It just means the M’s will have some depth at the position should Johjima or Clement not be cut out to handle catching or playing every day. Given their final numbers last season, that’s still very much up for debate.
“There are a lot of different scenarios and you can look at it different ways,” Zduriencik said. “I definitely think it will have to wait until spring training.”
By the way, some of you asked me about a weather update. Let’s see, it snowed a few days ago. And the way things are going, we might have safe roads by next week if we get a really warm stretch of weather. Or, all this snow that’s been allowed to pile up could start backing up sewer systems and flooding streets.
Here are two excellent takes on the situation, the first from our consumer affairs reporter, who looked into the differences between using salt to melt ice on streets and sidewalks and going the cheaper, some say more environmentally friendly way of employing sand and de-icer. My own experience growing up in a winter climate is that salt is by far the more effective tool. Any of you who’ve tried to walk over an icy sidewalk with one or the other employed on it could easily tell which one works better. And since it only snows, according to most of you, a handful of times per decade in our city, how bad for the environment, long-term, could using salt in a rare storm actually be? I mean, that’s not going to have the same impact as Minneapolis trotting out salt 100 days per year. And is it worth risking human life to go the less-effective, cheaper route? Tough questions. Somebody should answer them with more than theories because the city is a mess. And it’s going to be that way for a while because the current plan hasn’t worked. I don’t claim to be an expert on the salt-sand debate, but others who are don’t seem ga-ga over our city’s approach.
And then, there’s a second story from some of our news reporters who spoke to people at SeaTac Airport. The drive out there, by the way, is abysmal. But pertaining to our discussions yesterday, the Alaska Airlines rep quoted in the story about de-icer fluid sure makes it sound like a supplier and logistics issue. She talks about delivery trucks supplying her airline being stuck on Snoqualmie Pass, which might partly explain why some airlines — like Northwest — kept operating flights (albeit canceling a bunch as well) while Alaska totally shut down operations out of Seattle on Sunday. The solution? Keep a bigger supply of de-icer fluid on-hand in wintertime. Or, face the wrath of your customers.
Photo Credit: Rod Mar/Seattle Times



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