Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Columnists


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

Originally published Thursday, July 31, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Print

Larry Stone

Trade situation creates a classic stare down between the Mariners and Yankees

The Yankees' camp is making sure to let the media know that they are under no urgency to acquire pitcher Jarrod Washburn, and if they do so, it will be on their terms. The Mariners are making sure to let the media know that they are under no urgency to deal Washburn, and if they do so, it will be on their terms.

Seattle Times baseball reporter

It's too bad there's not a parallel universe where we can find out how all those unconsummated Mariners trade-deadline deals over the years would have played out.

You know, if Jamie Moyer had agreed to go to the Astros for a package of Houston prospects in 2005 instead of invoking his no-trade rights.

If Tigers owner Mike Ilitch hadn't nixed, at the last minute, an agreed-upon trade in 2000 that would have brought Juan Gonzalez to Seattle for Joel Pineiro.

If the Mariners had received their first choice from Houston in the 1998 Randy Johnson dump, pitcher Scott Elarton, instead of "settling" for Freddy Garcia.

If GM Woody Woodward had insisted to Boston's Dan Duquette that he would give up Derek Lowe OR Jason Varitek, but not both, for Heathcliff Slocumb in 1997.

Alas, we'll never know the outcome of those and dozens of other near-deals that are hashed out each July but never quite come to fruition, for any number of reasons.

The Mariners will be right in the thick of the action (or inaction) today as the 1 p.m. trade deadline is reached — or at least the deadline for making deals without needing waivers.

It's a fascinating dynamic in play: an interim general manager, who might not be in charge of Seattle's baseball operations in a few months, masterminding trade scenarios that could have vast ramifications for the organization's future.

And in the most prominent of the scenarios in play, the opposing GM is a possible candidate this winter to run the Mariners next year.

Lee Pelekoudas has too much integrity to go for the big splash that compromises the Mariners' future. And Brian Cashman has too much integrity to do anything but what he perceives as being in the best interests of the Yankees.

Pelekoudas has a delicate balance to maintain, with the club's overwhelming need to retool played against its equally compelling need to not get fleeced in the process.

You can take it to the bank that other teams are acting on the assumption that the Mariners, and Pelekoudas, are in desperation mode. They smell the potential to execute a rip-off, and who can blame them, based on the Mariners' recent track record on transactions?

advertising

The spin coming from the East Coast — much to the Mariners' irritation — is that Pelekoudas is driving too hard a bargain for two of the team's top trade chips, Jarrod Washburn and Raul Ibanez.

The spin, particularly in the case of Washburn, seems to be that the Mariners should be eternally grateful to have the Yankees willing to take Washburn's 2009 salary off their hands. How dare they have the audacity to ask for prospects, too?

What we have developing here is a classic stare down. The Yankees' camp is making sure to let the media know that they are under no urgency to acquire Washburn, and if they do so, it will be on their terms.

The Mariners are making sure to let the media know that they are under no urgency to deal Washburn, and if they do so, it will be on their terms.

The truth? Both teams are under some urgency to make this deal happen, and I predict it will, despite all the posturing that is going on. One thing I've learned from covering 20 or so trade deadlines is that the dirty work doesn't get done, in most cases, until the final hour. Or later. The Mariners traded Randy Johnson to Houston in 1998 as the clock struck midnight, back when the deadline was 12 at night.

The Yankees are in a fierce battle with the Rays and Red Sox — three teams going for two playoff spots, or maybe even just one, with the Twins and possibly the Tigers still in the wild-card hunt.

The Yankees can bank on the Rays succumbing to their inexperience and the Red Sox getting undermined by the Manny soap opera. But with a rotation that includes Sidney Ponson, Darrell Rasner and 39-year-old Mike Mussina, that's a big gamble.

They need a veteran pitcher, and right now, the revitalized Washburn looks like the best one out there. Cashman maintains the pitching status quo at his own peril.

Then there are the Mariners, who have tremendous motivation to shake things up in the midst of this nightmare season. To stand pat now, with a team heading toward 100 losses, would be unacceptable.

To have a team willing to take Washburn's $10 million salary for 2009 off the Mariners' hands has to be greatly appealing. But the Mariners also need a talent infusion, so it stands to reason they will hold out as long as they can for the best prospect they can.

In the end, I think there's room for compromise to get something done with the Yankees. Mariners ownership could make a big statement by eating some of Washburn's salary in order to secure a top-notch outfield prospect such as Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner.

Some have asked recently why the Mariners would even want to trade Washburn, now that he seems to have discovered a changeup that has made him very effective during the past couple of months.

The truth is, the Mariners are almost certainly going to be in rebuilding mode next year with or without Washburn. Any salary relief and/or prospects can be used to hasten that process. Washburn has done them a major favor with his hot streak, because if he had continued pitching as he was earlier in the season, and past seasons, they would have been stuck with him.

Now Washburn has actually provided them some leverage to take into negotiations. Will Pelekoudas wield it with the sort of skill and cunning that eluded his predecessor in so many deals?

Disregard most of the speculation you've read in the past few days. About 12:58 p.m., it will all become clear.

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

More Larry Stone headlines...

Print      Share:    Digg     Newsvine

About Larry Stone
Larry Stone gives an inside look at the national baseball scene every Sunday. Look for his weekly power rankings during the season.
lstone@seattletimes.com

UPDATE - 10:00 PM
Larry Stone: Young pitcher Michael Pineda offers glimpse of exciting future for Mariners

Advertising

Video

Marketplace

Advertising