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Seattle got Heathcliff Slocumb in a trading deadline deal last year, hoping he'd stabilize a closer-by-committee bullpen that blew 27 saves in '97. While Slocumb did convert 10 of 11 save chances, his 4.13 ERA for Seattle made manager Lou Piniella reluctant to dub him the main man. Abandoning the committee approach this year, Piniella has decided that Slocumb is his closer, so the challenge for '98 is obvious: Slocumb must convert 85% of his save opportunities. The Mariners have decent starting pitching. They have the game's top player. They have World Series talent. But they need relief. They need Slocumb.
What They Needed: Relievers with some hope of getting anybody out. Another proven starter. A leftfielder not named Rich Amaral. A first baseman to replace Paul Sorrento.
What They Got: Long reliever Tony Fossas from St. Louis, first baseman David Segui from Montreal and utility infielders Jeff Huson and Pat Listach. Glenallen Hill has an opportunity to win the job in left.
What it All Means: Let's seethe Mariners bullpen blows 27 games last year, and management addresses the problem by picking up Fossas? Not good enough. Segui and Hill can both hit, but the Mariners didn't need help scoring runs; they need help preventing them.
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