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Monday, June 28, 2004

Bavasi's Millions II 

This winter will be pivotal if Bill Bavasi wants to stay with the Mariners for much longer. He's going to have a $h!t-ton of cash from the expired contracts of Edgar Martinez, John Olerud, Dan Wilson, and Rich Aurilia, among others, and he's under-budget (I don't care what HowLi says) this season, so fans are going to expect some spending.

The Freddy Garcia trade yesterday could be Bavasi's greatest coup as a GM if he does what he should and re-signs Garcia this winter. Are there any other free agent pitchers on the market that will, with any certainty, outperform Freddy over the next three or four years? The competition boils down to Russ Ortiz of the Braves and Kevin Millwood of the Phillies. Garcia's younger than both and clearly better than Ortiz. I wouldn't have said so a couple of years ago, but Garcia's probably better than Millwood right now too.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a first baseman who scared the pants off opposing pitchers? We could next year if Bavasi decides to make a run at the Blue Jays' Carlos Delgado. How many times a year would he put one off the Hit It Here Cafe plexiglass? Ten? Fifteen?

At third base, L.A.'s Adrian Beltre is available. Seems like he's about 30 or so, doesn't it? He's been with the Dodgers since 1998, but just had his 25th birthday in April of this year. It looks like he's finally approaching the amazing potential scouts noted early in his career. So far in 2004, he's got 19 HR, is hitting .323, and has driven in 52 runs. The biggest risk with Beltre is that the M's overpay him based on his 2004 numbers and disregard his unspectacular numbers prior to this year. With Justin Leone doing well in Tacoma, I would hesitate to sign Beltre for more than six or seven million dollars a year.

The M's could really use some help behind the dish. The best catcher available via free agency this winter looks to be Boston's Jason Varitek. I wouldn't offer Varitek a contract, which means Bavasi will. Varitek is 32 years old, and his offensive numbers, while mildly impressive over the years, can be expected to decline with a move from Fenway Park to Safeco Field. If I ran things, Miguel Olivo, fresh from Chicago via the Freddy Garcia trade, would be the man in 2005. Olivo will only be 26 at the start of next season, and could be re-signed on the cheap.

As for the remainder of the 2004 season, I would shop all the veterans, especially Boone, Spiezio, Randy Winn, and, dare I say, Jamie Moyer. Boone especially could command a significant prospect or two in return, and would open up a few million dollars of additional free agent funds for the winter.

Do we need to re-sign Olivo? I thought he was league-minimum for another couple years...
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