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July 25, 2009 at 4:23 PM

Let the trade season begin

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UPDATE 5:08 p.m.: Just up from the clubhouse with some news. First, it looks like Erik Bedard might be hurt again. Bedard met right after the game with Don Wakamatsu and Jack Zduriencik, who both feel something is not right with his arm. They are going to get him checked out tomorrow. Bedard left the clubhouse without talking to the media. Also, Jason Vargas will start tomorrow.
Not to be fatalistic or anything, but a look at the scoreboard from today tells you all you need to know about what the Mariners will be doing by the time July 31 rolls around. The Mariners were destroyed today, by a 10-3 score — they got some runs in the ninth when down by 10 — that was more reflective of the contest itself than a 9-0 defeat on Friday night.
Rarely have I seen a team’s playoff hopes take such a beating in so short a time. Just 24 hours ago, this team was brimming with optimism and fans were debating the ‘buy” or “sell” quandry at every turn. But that was when the M’s were 5 1/2 back in the division and 4 1/2 out in the wild-card race. Narrow the gap a little to, say, 4 1/2 and 3 1/2 back with two months to go and, hey, you’re a buyer.
But now, at 7 1/2 games out in the AL West and six games (and counting) back in the wild-card and a realistic team starts to see the writing on the wall. The trade deadline is six days away. You can’t gamble your future away on false hope. And these two games lost in the standings in less than 24 hours take Seattle’s playoff hopes from modest to nearly impossible. And a good front office is paid to make the tough calls.
On the trade front, Reed Brignac is indeed in the Durham lineup for Game 2 of that doubleheader, so it would seem that the three-way trade rumor that broke early this morning is not going to transpire today. If Cliff Lee gets pulled from tomorrow’s start, we can strike up that band, but not yet. Still, I’m hearing some interesting rumors where the Mariners are concerned.
But these two losses do mean something for the M’s as the deadline nears.

Barring a miracle, like the Mariners gaining, say, three games in three days on the Angels, the front office will have a clear indication of where Seattle’s playoff hopes stand. Don’t forget, 1995 was a long time ago and a once-in-a-generation thing for a franchise. You get a half-dozen games out with two months to go, history shows that you can all-but-forget-about post-season play.
Now, if Jack Zduriencik had a back pocket deal for, say, Jarrod Washburn, that would bring him a better haul than he’d get holding on to the lefty, heck, he might as well pull the trigger.
Here’s something to think about, completely my speculation right now, but showing you how this stuff works. Let’s say there really was a three-way deal in the works between Tampa Bay, Cleveland and the Mariners and that Zduriencik was going to acquire Brignac and Scott Kazmir in a deal that would send Brandon Morrow, Jeff Clement and pocket change to the Indians. Maybe the M’s were all set to pull the trigger and that’s why Brignac was pulled.
But maybe, as well, before finalizing a deal, Zduriencik wanted to see what Erik Bedard and company could do today. And then, after Bedard pulled a three-and-flee and the team fell behind 10-0, the M’s got on the phone and screamed “Hold everything!” and that’s why Brignac is back in there right now.
Maybe the M’s had a Plan B for acquiring a shortstop that involved trading Washburn, and or Bedard, and holding on to Morrow, if they fell out of contention? Hey, anything’s possible. Happens all the time.
And this game likely put the stamp on any doubts the team might have had.
The Mariners now see they can’t count on Bedard to help carry them as an extra top-of-the-rotation arm. They see how far back they’ve fallen. And they now know, if they get a really good offer for Washburn, Bedard, or Branyan, they might as well make it. There really isn’t much to lose. You can always rent them out and then try to re-sign Branyan or Washburn after the season.
Makes no difference.
It’s still going to be an interesting trading season for the M’s. Maybe even more interesting than had they remained in it. And it should continue beyond July 31. As Larry Stone pointed out last week, there are some guys, like Bedard, you could try to slip through waivers in August if they generate a little more value in the weeks ahead.
But as far as keeping everyone and trying to add extras, that ship appears to have sailed.
All bets are off now and I’d say anyone not named Ichiro or Felix Hernandez (OK, Franklin Gutierrez, too) is fair game on the trade front.



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