Could Ichiro be on way out in Seattle? (cont.)
If the Mariners have their way, several players will avoid further embarrassment by being shipped out of town. They're all supposedly on the block. But does anyone want them? Here's a look at the market for some Mariners veterans:
Ichiro, outfielder: "I don't know if ownership would let them trade him,'' one GM said. If they did, "big market teams might consider him." That $90-million contract is looking high now, though, that Ichiro's numbers have fallen so badly (.288 batting average from .351 last year). A draw anywhere, but still may be worth more to Seattle.
Felix Hernandez, pitcher: Could bring a King's ransom if he's actually offered around. If he is, it would upstage C.C. Sabathia's deadline availability.
Erik Bedard, pitcher: Back spasms are keeping him out now, and prickly attitude isn't helping either. His value was high when Seattle sent top outfield prospect Adam Jones, reliever George Sherrill and others to Baltimore for him, and while it's down some, he has the talent to still bring back a couple strong young players. But as one GM pointed out, "He has to get healthy first.''
Miguel Batista, pitcher: "Might have more value as a reliever or in the National League,'' one GM speculated. Still, an awful year means he wouldn't bring much back.
Adrian Beltre, third baseman: Contract's a bit high, but one GM said, "It wouldn't surprise me if they found a fit ... he's an unbelievable defender.''
Raul Ibanez, outfielder: Solid guy and solid hitter "would have value,'' according to a GM.
Kenji Johjima, catcher: The $25-million, three-year extension made little sense with top prospect Jeff Clement nearly ready to play. And it should make Johjima untradeable.
Richie Sexson, first baseman: Candidate for release. But many believe he'll wake up once he leaves his hometown team.
Carlos Silva, pitcher: There's just no relationship between his ability (limited) and price tag (sky-high, at $12 mil per). They're stuck.
Jose Vidro, DH: Yet another candidate for release.
Jarrod Washburn, pitcher: Pitching better lately, and if the Mariners would offset half that $9-million salary, they could possibly find a taker.
Around the Majors
One team in excellent position to trade for a starting pitcher should be the Brewers, who are stacked with prospects. Scouts have converged on their Double-A team at Huntsville, Ala., where several big-time prospects, including first baseman Matt LaPorta, catcher Salome Angel, third baseman Mat Gamel and shortstop Alcides Escobar, play. Kudos to scouting director Jack Zduriencik, whose picks also include Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and many others who have made the Brewers a hot young contender.
All three AL East contenders (Red Sox, Rays, Yankees) and a half dozen others are among those believed to have shown interest in C.C. Sabathia, whose availability will depend on the injury-depleted Indians' ability to stay in the AL Central race.
I'm a little late to the party, but man, Ryan Ludwick (.606 slugging) is tearing it up for the Cardinals.
Marcus Thames is a great guy with decent power and shouldn't lost time to justify Gary Sheffield's contract.
Don't look now, but the Tigers are finally starting to play to their ability.
I hope Pirates pitcher Tom Gorzelanny (55 walks in 77 innings) doesn't get too close to Pirates broadcaster Steve Blass, who contracted the first known case of Steve Blass Disease.
The differences between Willie Randolph and his replacement, Jerry Manuel, already are obvious (though the team doesn't look any better so far). Whereas Randolph revealed little, Manuel says what's on his mind. Lately, it's been the struggling Mets offense. He is perturbed that so many Mets players have been swinging at balls out of the strike zone, and did something Randolph never would have done, which is mention the name of the coach in connection with the terrible offense. Manuel said, "We have to sit down with HoJo [Howard Johnson] and have a different plan of attack than we've had.'' The $140-million Mets are 20th in OPS. Manuel also earned an ejection in game No. 7, something that should please his Mets bosses, who wanted to see more emotion from Randolph.
One of the reasons pitching coach Rick Peterson went out with Randolph was the belief that Peterson wasn't connecting with top young pitcher Mike Pelfrey. Peterson wanted Pelfrey to use an "array'' of pitches. But other Mets officials believed Pelfrey should consider himself a power pitcher.
Despite the differences, Peterson's pitchers weren't bad statistically (which should particularly please him, as he's numbers oriented). Someone should pick Peterson up, and the team that needs him most is the Giants, who are still getting almost nothing out of Barry Zito for $126 million.
Even if the Mets continue to struggle, despite what outsiders may suspect, Mets GM Omar Minaya would be safe into next season. Owner Fred Wilpon recently gave Minaya a vote of confidence, and that's one such vote I believe.
Jeff Weaver and Julian Tavarez hit the free-agent market together Tuesday. Aren't the Rockies always the ones supposedly interested in Tavarez? Weaver isn't that far removed from World Series stardom, and it's hard to believe considering the pitching shortage, that he couldn't help someone.
I don't want to read another word about Carl Pavano until he actually gets on a mound. During Pavano's Yankees tenure, he's changed agents (three times) almost as many times as he's won (five victories).
Great MLB cause: Helping veterans
Major League Baseball is doing its part to support veterans by promoting Fred Wilpon's Welcome Back Veterans charity. MLB players will wear the Stars & Stripes cap and a "Welcome Back Veterans.org'' logo on the July 4 weekend and on Sept. 11 to bring awareness to the charity, which aims to raise $100 million and provide 100,000 job opportunities for veterans.