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July 10, 2009 at 9:13 AM

Deals involving Mariners shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez not automatically related

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Forgot to mention this one last night, but Mariners third baseman Chris Woodward, seen above working on his fielding yesterday, really deserves some credit, along with Jose Lopez, for last night’s victory. Both Woodward and Lopez had been unable to make some key plays during a loss on Wednesday. But last night, they came through huge. Woodward made one of those barehanded plays he’d failed to come up with in the prior loss. And Lopez made an intelligent play during a rundown and nabbed the lead runner at third to end a sixth-inning rally with no further damage.
I’ve seen Lopez hesitate on such rundowns before. This time, he knew exactly what to do. He ran towards the runner, pumping his arm, to ease him away from home and back to third. Then, he fired a strike to the bag and nabbed him. That’s focus, knowing the situation and contributing to a win.
Speaking of the infield, let’s take a look at what’s going on with all that Yuniesky Betancourt and Freddy Sanchez talk.

As I mentioned last night, the two are not necessarily related when it comes to potential deals. What leads me to believe this is that Betancourt was held out of the Class AAA game last night, appearing to signal that a deal might be imminent.
The fact that Marc DelPiano, a Pirates special assistant to the GM, only arrived here for last night’s game, appears to signal that a deal for Freddy Sanchez might not be as imminent. After all, if DelPiano was scouting the Mariners ahead of a potential deal — which I’m told he was — he would have been here a lot sooner if that deal was to go down in the next 24 hours or so.
You following?
The scouting done this weekend would appear to be ahead of a deal planned for, say, after the All-Star break. After all, DelPiano still has to do some actual scouting, file his report, then discuss things with GM Neal Huntington. Seems like that would be for a deal apart from something involving Betancourt, who, if he was pulled last night ahead of a possible trade, seems poised to be moved a lot more quickly.
Another thing to keep an eye on is the fact that Sanchez has a lower back issue and has not appeared in a game since July 2. So, it’s been a week. If you’re going to trade for him, you’ll want to see him in action a bit first, to make sure this isn’t another Mike Sweeney situation you’re acquiring.
So, that again leads me to believe nothing with Sanchez will get done before the break.
Where, in Betancourt’s case, you don’t pull him unless a deal is imminent.
Now, we’ve seen situations like this before, where a guy is pulled, a deal falls through and the player is back on the field a day later. It happens. So, let’s keep an eye on what is done with Betancourt from here.
As we told you last night, the Pirates are said to have interest in Class AA outfielder Greg Halman, as well as Wladimir Balentien. But if it’s Sanchez or shortstop Jack Wilson coming here in a deal, the M’s would have to make a financial investment.
Wilson has another $3.5 million or so left on his current one-year deal, while Sanchez is to make just under $11 million between now and the end of next season if a 600-plate-appearance vesting option kicks in.
As we told you back in June, the Pirates have heard Betancourt’s name come up before in discussions with the Mariners about a possible Wilson deal. They nixed the idea because of the salary owed to Betancourt and aren’t really all that keen on him. But he could still be included in any Pittsburgh deal just to offset salary money that would be taken on by the Mariners.
Still, the fact Betancourt was pulled this early on leads me to believe any deal involving him might be separate from something done with Pittsburgh. One NL scout I spoke to last night told me there are a bunch of teams who, believe it or not, might get in on a Betancourt deal because there is a demand for shortstops right now.
And let’s face it. There is nothing stopping the Mariners from moving Betancourt in a separate deal with another team now, perhaps to offload some salary, ahead of any potential Sanchez move, knowing they’d be taking on money. Even if nothing was to happen with the Pirates later, it’s not like moving Betancourt now is a huge risk, since he’s contributed little to the big-league team this year.
I know this is frustrating. It is for me, too. But that’s what happens this time of year. Deals are fluid things that can change hour by hour. Remember all the J.J. Putz-to-Detroit rumors at the winter meetings? Turns out it nearly happened in a three-way trade with Tampa Bay that wound up falling through at the 11th hour, when the M’s then turned around and made the Franklin Gutierrez deal. Stuff happens. Bet you even Jack Zduriencik isn’t completely sure how it’s all going to turn out.
We’re trying to take a stab at what’s going on because it is highly unusual for a healthy player to be pulled from a game like Betancourt was with no explanation offered to the AAA manager.
So, you can either ignore the situation, relax in the sun and pretend nothing is happening. Or, you can do your job and try to figure some things out.
We’re trying. And as we hear things, we’ll let you in on it.

Comments | Topics: Chris Woodward


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