Posted on: December 16, 2009 2:32 pm

The value of Cliff Lee

When everything is done and the press conferences have been held, Cliff Lee will have been traded twice in five months.

What's funny is that some people in baseball were already asking Wednesday whether he could be traded again.

"If [the Mariners] wanted to, they could definitely get back more than they gave up to get him," one executive said.

The same executive acknowledged that the Mariners -- who are definitely in win-now mode -- are highly unlikely to even think about trading Lee. Pairing him with Felix Hernandez atop the Seattle rotation makes the M's a serious threat to the Angels and Rangers in the American League West, so it doesn't even make sense for them to trade him now.

But what if the Mariners don't get off to a good start in 2010? What if they don't see a real chance of signing Lee long-term, especially while they're also trying to lock up Hernandez?

Well, with Lee headed for free agency at the end of the 2010 season, he could be one heck of a July trading chip again, couldn't he?

Think of it that way, and the Mariners have two big ways to be winners in this deal: Lee helps them win (entirely possible), or Lee brings back more than the Mariners gave up to get him.

"The Mariners just didn't give up a lot," another executive said. "[Phillippe] Aumont has a good arm, but he's a 20-year-old who is already a one-inning pitcher. I just don't know how he develops that way."

Two other Lee-Halladay trade thoughts:

1. Lee loved being with the Phillies, but the move to the Mariners could help his value as a free agent. For one thing, he'll be able to prove himself back in the American League, regarded as the tougher of the two leagues. For another, he'll be pitching in a big ballpark, with an outstanding defense behind him. And he'll be pitching for a team that has shown a willingness to spend.

"If Cliff Lee wants a big contract, he went to the right place," one of the executives said. "He's a fly-ball pitcher in a big ballpark, with Ichiro and [Franklin] Gutierrez playing the outfield."

2. For all those still debating the Phillies' end of the deal, the main point to remember is this: As much as the Phillies liked Lee, they have always liked Halladay more. It was true in July, and it's true now.

"He can beat the Yankees," one Phillies person said, which reminds you of where Philadelphia's focus is right now.

It feels funny to put it that way, since Lee beat the Yankees twice in the World Series (getting both Phillies wins). Over the last two years, including the World Series, Lee is 4-1 against the Yanks, with a 2.31 ERA.

The only difference with Halladay is that he has proven his Yankee dominance over a longer period, and that he's strong enough that the Phils could ask him to start three times in a seven-game series (which Lee didn't do).

In 37 career appearances against the Yanks, Halladay is 18-6 with a 2.84 ERA. Over the last two years, he has faced New York 11 times, going 8-2 with a 2.54 ERA.
Category: MLB
Posted on: December 14, 2009 4:09 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2009 10:54 am

Halladay to Phils, Lee to M's close

A three-team blockbuster that would send Roy Halladay to the Phillies and Cliff Lee to the Mariners is nearly complete, CBSSports.com has confirmed.

A few final details are still to be finalized, but Halladay is expected to sign a contract extension that will pay him about $60 million for three years, with vesting options beyond that. The Phillies will send three prospects to the Blue Jays in exchange for Halladay, including pitcher Kyle Drabek and outfielder Michael Taylor. They will receive three prospects from the Mariners in exchange for Lee, including pitcher Phillippe Aumont.

The Phillies have aggressively pursued Halladay since July, when they couldn't come to an agreement with the Blue Jays and instead acquired Lee from the Indians. The Blue Jays have changed general managers since then, and the new regime went to last week's winter meetings eager to deal Halladay and get younger players in return.

The Jays' desire for young talent made a trade with Philadelphia complicated, and the Phillies' payroll constraints made it even more difficult. It's believed that the Phillies couldn't fit both Halladay and Lee into their 2010 payroll, so to acquire Halladay they also needed to make the deal to trade Lee.

Halladay and Lee are both Cy Young winners, and between them they have three 20-win seasons (two by Halladay).

The Mariners had hoped to add a top-level starter to a rotation that already includes Cy Young runner-up Felix Hernandez. They had been talking to free agent John Lackey, but with Lackey headed to the Red Sox, they were able to shift their focus and agree to the deal for Lee.

Posted on: July 31, 2009 11:32 am
Edited on: July 31, 2009 12:51 pm

Tigers get Washburn, may not be done

The Tigers gave their rotation a significant upgrade by adding left-hander Jarrod Washburn from the Mariners today.

Now the question is whether the Tigers will be able to add a hitter, too. According to sources, the team continues to be active in trade talks, looking to improve a lineup that has struggled for much of the season.

In exchange for Washburn, the Tigers sent left-hander Luke French and minor league pitcher Mauricio Robles to the Mariners.

"This is not a blockbuster, but I think it's a great deal," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I think it's going to be good for both teams. I've been telling people how much I like French, and obviously somebody else liked him, too. I've got to give Dave Dombrowski a lot of credit for pulling this off, him and [Mariners general manager] Jack Zduriencik both."

Washburn adds to what was already a strong Tigers rotation, with Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson, and should give the Tigers a much better chance of holding onto their lead in the American League Central. The Tigers now have three of the top seven pitchers in the AL ERA race, with Jackson second at 2.59, Washburn third at 2.64 and Verlander seventh at 3.16.

Washburn will make his Tigers debut Tuesday night against the Orioles.

The Tigers have struggled scoring runs, but with Carlos Guillen coming off the disabled list, and with continuing questions about the back end of their rotation, club officials decided to make a starting pitcher a priority. Washburn, eligible for free agency at the end of this season, was an obvious target.

"He's pitching the best he has pitched in 6-7 years," said a scout from another team who saw Washburn this week. "The Tigers did well to get him."

The Yankees also showed interest in Washburn. In conversations with other teams, though, Yanks general manager Brian Cashman has been very reluctant to part with anyone on his major-league roster.

French has started five games for the Tigers this year. Including two relief appearances, he is 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA. Robles is a Class A pitcher. Neither was ranked by Baseball America among the Tigers' top 10 prospects last winter.

The 34-year-old Washburn has blossomed this year under the tutelage of Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair (a former Tiger pitching coach). Earlier this season, Adair called Washburn "the best veteran I've ever been around. The ultimate team player."

Posted on: July 29, 2009 1:02 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2009 1:20 pm

Mariners get Snell, Wilson in 7-player deal

The Mariners have acquired both pitcher Ian Snell and shortstop Jack Wilson from the Pirates in a seven-player deal, major-league sources confirmed to CBSSports.com.

Going to the Pirates in the deal are catcher Jeff Clement, shortstop Ronny Cedeno, and three Class A pitchers -- Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin and Nathan Adcock.

Posted on: July 1, 2009 6:58 pm

Bedard to return for M's on Tuesday

NEW YORK -- Scouts searching for starting pitching can set up shop in Seattle next week.

The Mariners announced today that Erik Bedard will return from the disabled list to start Tuesday at Safeco Field against the Orioles. Bedard will then start on July 12, the day before the All-Star break, at home against the Rangers.

Bedard, who hasn't pitched since June 7 because of shoulder soreness, is 5-2 with a 2.47 ERA, making him the best starting pitcher potentially available on this month's trade market. While the Mariners are only 3 1/2 games out of first place, they'll still entertain trade offers for him and for fellow starter Jarrod Washburn.

"People always ask whether we're going to be a buyer or a seller," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "I'd like to be a little of both."

The Mariners had originally talked of starting Bedard during this weekend's series in Boston. Instead, Bedard will throw a simulated game on Friday at Fenway Park, to prepare for Tuesday's start against the Orioles.
Category: MLB
Posted on: February 21, 2009 7:46 pm

Griffey contract includes attendance clause

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Mariners have been selling plenty of tickets since they signed Ken Griffey Jr. on Wednesday night.

That's good for them, and it's also good for Griffey.

Mariners president Chuck Armstrong said today that while some of the incentives in Griffey's contract are based on games played, others are based on the Mariners' season attendance.

Armstrong said that ticket sales have taken a hit this winter, after Seattle lost 101 games in a terribly disappointing 2008 season. He said that most fans who haven't renewed season tickets have cited the economy rather than the team's struggles, but the M's still think the Griffey signing will make a big difference.

"Our marketing guy, Bob Aylward, said if we signed him two months ago, we'd have sold a lot more tickets," Armstrong said.

The Mariners have also been selling Griffey jerseys, which are now prominently displayed on the team's website . As expected, Griffey will wear No. 24, the same number he wore when he previously played for the Mariners.

"When I went to Cincinnati, I wore 30 in honor of my dad," Griffey said. "Then I wore 3 for my son (Trey). But on my daughter's basketball team, she wears 24."


How good a player can Griffey be at age 39?

Hard to say. He wasn't all that good last year at 38, but he played most of the year with ligament tears in his left knee. He had surgery last fall, and agent Brian Goldberg said that Dr. Tim Kremchek believes Griffey will be able to play the way he did four years ago.

"I'd take having him play the way he did two years ago, because 2007 was a pretty good year for him," Goldberg said.

Griffey hit .277 with 30 home runs and 93 RBIs for the 2007 Reds.

Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu has stayed away from saying exactly how he'll use Griffey. It's expected that Griffey will play the outfield as much as he can, with the possibility open that he could be the designated hitter.

Posted on: December 10, 2008 5:41 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2008 11:56 pm

Mets get Putz in 12-player deal

LAS VEGAS -- Two days after acquiring Francisco Rodriguez to be their new closer, the Mets acquired J.J. Putz from the Mariners to be K-Rod's setup man.

The Mets and Mariners have involved the Indians in what is a 12-player trade that came together in a little more than an hour, with the needy Mariners receiving seven of the players. But Putz is by far the biggest name in the deal, and his arrival completes what will be a near-total makeover of the Mets bullpen.

"That's a short game, with him and K-Rod," said one American League scout who saw both Rodriguez and Putz late last season.

The Mets showed interest in Putz before they acquired Rodriguez, but the Mariners initially requested Jon Niese in return. Since the Mets see Niese as a part of their 2009 rotation, they were not willing to move him. Later, after the Mets acquired K-Rod, they began work on the eighth inning. Besides Putz, they also had interest in Huston Street, but the Rockies have decided against trading him.

In the deal that was announced late Tuesday night, the Mets receive Putz, middle reliever Sean Green and outfielder Jeremy Reed, all from Seattle. The Indians get reliever Joe Smith from the Mets and second baseman Luis Valbuena from the M's.

Seattle gets six players from the Mets: reliever Aaron Heilman, outfielder Endy Chavez and minor leaguers Maikel Cleto, Ezequiel Carrera, Jason Vargas and Mike Carp. The M's also get outfielder Franklyn Gutierrez from Cleveland.

Putz spent time on the disabled list last year with a rib injury, and when he returned, his velocity and command weren't as good as before. The velocity returned later in the season, although a scout who watched him said he still wasn't as electric as before.

The Mets still need to fill a hole in their rotation. Derek Lowe was their top choice, but with his price climbing to $16-17 million a year, Lowe has moved out of the Mets' price range. The next option could be to bring back free agent Oliver Perez, but he could become too expensive, as well.

The Mets also officially announced the K-Rod signing this afternoon.

"Our goal from Day 1 was to improve our bullpen," general manager Omar Minaya said. "And I can't think of a better reliever than Francisco Rodriguez."

Minaya said that Rodriguez's contract, which will pay him $37 million over three years, includes a vesting option for a fourth year.

The Mets announced that Rodriguez will wear uniform number 75, which is the reverse of his uniform number with the Angels. Johan Santana wears 57 for the Mets.

Coincidence or not, 75 is also the number K-Rod originally hoped for on the contract he would sign this winter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: December 10, 2008 3:56 pm

Cardinals trying to get Putz from M's

LAS VEGAS -- The Cardinals have shown interest in Mariners closer J.J. Putz, and could offer Rick Ankiel and a prospect, according to major-league sources.

Several teams have had interest in Putz, including the Tigers.

Category: MLB
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