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July 5, 2010 at 11:56 PM

Dismal clubhouse mood after latest defeat, but Felix Hernandez looks poised for another Cy Young challenge

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Yeah, this one was ugly. The Mariners botched one for Felix Hernandez. Frankly, I don’t see why Hernandez can’t be a frontrunner in this Cy Young Award race in another few weeks if he keeps pitching like this. But his team will have to help him out by getting him some more wins so other folks will start to notice him. He’s been invisible on the main stage, especially with Cliff Lee overshadowing him, but his path to success this time has been much like in 2009.
He took off in mid-May and really hasn’t looked back.
“I think so,” Hernandez agreed when I asked him about the similarity. “I feel pretty good right now. The key is just to throw strikes and get ahead of the hitters. That’s what I’m doing. I feel pretty good right now.”
Hernandez insists he isn’t miffed about the all-star snub. Said all the right things about how his job is to help his team win. Don’t believe any of it. Hernandez is a guy who motivates himself off stuff like this. He’s miffed. And if he takes it out on opposing teams, then Seattle will have another Cy Young race to look forward to even when Lee gets traded.
By the way, I ran into Erik Bedard in the clubhouse. He told me he’s very disappointed about the setback and not being able to pitch tomorrow night.
He said he was told by a doctor to rest his arm a few days until the swelling goes down a bit and then, once it does, he can resume throwing. No firm timetable has been given, but I’d rule out seeing him before the All-Star Break at this rate.
OK, back to the Lee stuff.

For those now advocating, more and more, that Seattle hang on to Lee and take the draft picks, are you nuts? That’s what losing teams in losing cities do. Take the picks now and, if the Yankees sign Lee, you’ll probably get the 30th overall pick for him next June — 11 months from now. After that, you face at least three more years (at least four in total from today) for that barely first-rounder to maybe mature into something.
You might not like what the Twins, or whatever other team, is offering up right now, but it’s better than waiting four or five years on a crapshoot. That’s how rebuilding plans go on and on forever. Like they do in towns that never win anything. Like this one. If this city is ever going to win anything in baseball that matters, the guys running this team are going to have to get deals like this done.
The Mariners took the two draft picks for Raul Ibanez two years ago. They got Nick Franklin with one and he’s progressing well as a minor league shortstop. Won’t be here until at least 2012, though, if then. Steven Baron? He got demoted back to rookie level ball in Everett recently. You never know with draft picks, no matter how high.
So, while the M’s might not be able to fleece anybody in the Lee trade — because he is, after all, a rental — they still have to get at least two players who may be able to fill some lineup vacancies within a year or two. And yes, that’s better than taking two draft picks who might fill those vacancies in four or five years from now (three or four years from the time they are drafted).
Other teams know Jack Zduriencik doesn’t want to take the picks, no matter how good he is at drafting. That’s why they aren’t stampeding to give up the farm just yet. They know that Zduriencik has to deal now, because if he takes the picks, he might be with another team by the time those picks see the light of day. He doesn’t have as much leverage as some people think he does because of that fact.
But he’s still the one holding Lee. So, he does have some leverage.
Zduriencik has to get moving on this rebuilding job and the way to do it is to get some pieces right now. This isn’t Raul Ibanez he’s trying to deal, it’s arguably the best pitcher in baseball. He has to get some value that will help him out at some point soon. Taking the draft picks would squander Lee’s value.
That’s all I’m going to say about it tonight.



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