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December 7, 2009 at 12:25 PM

Ichiro still the leadoff hitter for now; forget any Jack Cust rumors regarding Seattle

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If you like watching the ML:B Network, here’s a shot of their set that you won’t always get to see. If you like more local flavor, I have a shot of ESPN 710 host Mike Salk on the opposite page as he prepares to continue Brock and Salk. We tried for Shannon Drayer, but couldn’t find her.
Lots of buzz going around about whether the Mets are about to acquire pitcher Edwin Jackson from the Tigers, a team that likes to make early trades at these meetings. The Mariners had looked into acquiring Jackson, but felt the asking price was too high in initial talks. Seattle has made pitching a priority, even bringing the team’s pitching coach, Rick Adair, to these meetings as an extra voice in the room when it comes to acquiring arms.
Few teams bring their pitching coaches to these things. Safe to say, the M’s are serious about landing some arms. Whether Jackson continues to be among those targetted remains to be seen, since there are reports out there contradicting that any deal with the Mets is about to be announced.
By the way, the team’s plan, for now, is to leave Ichiro in the leadoff spot and have Chone Figgins bat second. That could be revisited before the season begins, but one consideration for the team, other that Ichiro’s longtime tenure and status, is that he doesn’t like to take a lot of pitches.
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That’s not exactly what you want from a No. 2 hitter when your leadoff guy is trying to steal second. So, there you go.
Let’s talk Jason Bay again, since there seems to be a lot of discussion about him on the blog.

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There is a line of thinking out there that the reason the Mariners would balk at a Bay deal is because of his defense.
That’s not quite accurate.
When the Mariners first decided to look at Bay as a left field option, they made discreet inquires with Red Sox officials about the quality of his defense. The M’s got back plenty of positive reports on Bay (which is telling, considering the Red Sox would theoretically be competing with Seattle for his services).
As far as Bay’s defense is concerned, the attitude the M’s have is that as long as he’s adequate, he can be a useful addition and anything lacking in the field can be worked on through coaching. He’s not exactly 37 the way Raul Ibanez was. He’s still a healthy and able-bodied guy in his early 30s.
The big concern for the M’s — and yes, there is some — is the pricetag he commands and what that would do to their ability to fill other needs. There’s a domino effect in-play here and the team knows it needs pitching. If Seattle has to go the free agent route, rather than a trade, for Jackson or anyone else, then that’s going to cost.
After that, it depends on what type of free agent the M’s try to import.
If they do go after John Lackey, it would be tough to bring Bay in. If they import Rich Harden, it depends on his final pricetag too. Would Bay give a hometown discount, or command a premium as a cheaper alternative to Matt Holliday for teams unwilling to spend $100 million?
This is the concern about Bay: money, not his defense.
So, what would the M’s look for as an alternative?
Forget about Jack Cust. There’s a line going around that the M’s would look to cash-in on a non-tender candidate after next Friday’s deadline. Cust is not expected to be tendered a contract by the Oakland A’s and there are people in the M’s organization that know him well.
But that’s as far as any connection is going to get.
The signing of Ken Griffey Jr. took care of that. The M’s know Griffey can no longer play the field and don’t feel they can afford to carry two such guys on their roster.
Russell Branyan, for all the comments about his lack of a Gold Glove, still played first base for five months last season. But there is no way the M’s would risk throwing Cust and his defensive sideshow out there.
So, remember that, when listing who you feel the M’s would add as a bat. That player has to be reliable enough to be used in the field. Seattle’s braintrust figures Bay would be reliable enough and that’s why he is still an option.
Cust is a no-go. No matter how cheap he comes.

Comments | Topics: Chone Figgins


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