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Wednesday grab-bag: M's, Sheets, Mets

Nobody in baseball (well, with the exception of Matt Holliday) is having a better winter than GM Jack Zduriencik and the Seattle Mariners. To recap: They've signed Chone Figgins for four years, traded for Cliff Lee without mortgaging their farm system and swapped an unusable player with a bad contract (pitcher Carlos Silva) for a very usable player with a bad contract (outfielder Milton Bradley). And now, they have locked up ace Felix Hernandez for an under-market extension that will pay him around $80 million over the next five years.

In doing so, they also gained significant leverage against Lee, who hits free agency after the 2011 season. With Hernandez locked up, the M's won't feel pressured to retain Lee, whom they could allow to walk away and gain two draft picks.

When you couple these moves with last year's -- particularly the J.J. Putz deal, which netted them center fielder Franklin Gutierrez -- it's easy to see why some folks are already calling Zduriencik one of the game's top GMs.

I know this much: the Mariners, and Zduriencik, are on my list of stories to do this spring.

*Ben Sheets's performance at an audition Tuesday -- his fastball was clocked consistently at 90-92 -- has apparently scared off bottom-feeders who saw the rehabbing right-hander only as a possible bargain-basement option. Yes, this more than likely includes the Nationals. You can expect Sheets to sign with one of the larger-payroll teams, such as the Mets or Cubs -- unless he opts for Texas, which is close to his Louisiana home, and where he'd be reunited with pitching coach Mike Maddux.

*Leaving aside the fact they are probably better off without Bengie Molina anyway, it can't be a good sign for the Mets that free agents are now accepting less money to sign elsewhere. Perhaps this was just an isolated incident, in which Molina chose a slightly smaller dollar figure to return to a place where he was comfortable. But given the Mets' recent history of very public missteps -- not to mention the extreme pitcher-friendly dimensions of Citi Field -- it's fair to wonder whether players, particularly position players, are looking for reasons to spurn them.

By Dave Sheinin  |  January 20, 2010; 11:07 AM ET
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Next: Friday grab-bag: Mets, Phillies, Cabreras


All the rest are good moves, but Milton Bradley will bring that whole team down.

Posted by: AsstGM | January 20, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

The fact that the M's have gone from worst to favored to be first in less than 2 years makes me even more agnry at the Nats for not having the will/skill to add talent to the MLB club.

Bradley may be a victim of mental illness -- he is not merely a jackass, logic of all sorts points to a person in his situation playing the role of happy-go-lucky guy for the big money and sponsors and such, but Milton is not capable of controlling his emotions and he verges on paranoid. IF he can get his head together (I'd have to think that this management has at least treid to get the guy some help), he can produce in a big way. Worst case, the M's waive the guy, which is what they likely would have had to do with Silva anyway. Best case, they get a stud. Nice move.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 20, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

according to park factors, citi field lowers runs, hits and doubles by about 4.5%. but it increases homers and triples by 5% and 20%, respectively. i don't think that qualifies as "extreme pitcher friendly"

Posted by: adampschroeder | January 21, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

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