You are the M’s GM for one day

  • By Kirby Arnold / Herald writer
  • Saturday, September 23, 2006 9:00pm
  • Sports

You’ve just awakened from the best dream of your life and realize it’s no dream. You’ve been named the Seattle Mariners’ general manager for a day, and you have the power and the financial resources to change the team any way you want.

So what’ll it be?

A new manager? Another first baseman? Do you focus on pitching or hitting this offseason?

I put the question to a few buddies, and their theories are intriguing:

* Jimbo from Arizona says: “Trade Ichiro and use the money on pitching. The guy makes $13 million. He’s a good value at $3 million, but not at $13 million because he’s not a team player. He’s got 210 hits and 208 of them are singles.”

(Note: Suzuki had 208 hits entering this weekend’s series at Chicago, and all but 34 were singles.)

“With the money I save, I go out and get pitching, sign Jason Schmidt and that Japanese guy (Daisuke Matsuzaka, who went 3-0 and won the MVP award in the World Baseball Classic last spring).”

That’s not all.

“I’d trade Richie Sexson if I could. He strikes out too much and hurts the offense. Move Raul Ibanez to first base, then look for a left fielder who can hit. Put Jeremy Reed back in center field and play Chris Snelling in right.”

Anything else?

“Yes. I’d then fire myself.”

* Long Beach Lad says: “I go out and get two starting pitchers and a corner outfielder, and I mean a guy who can hit. And if it’s me, I move Richie Sexson no matter what it takes.

“As for pitching, Joel Pineiro is gone. I make an offer to Gil Meche, but it won’t be the highest offer he gets, so from there it’ll be up to him whether he wants to stay.

* Mac the Armchair Manager says: “Whatever this team does, they’ve got to bring in a true leader, a veteran player who’s not only productive on the field but is a clubhouse guy. This is a young team that needs someone with passion to lead them. Send the scouts out to look for that person and don’t let them come back until they do.”

* Opinionated Bob says: “Hire Lou Piniella as manager and let him handle the rest. The fans love him here and you instantly build the crowds back up with Lou. Do the math and see how much lower the gate has been without him. It’s got to be five or six million bucks a year, maybe more.”

* Carboy John says: “Just do something that makes me interested in baseball again. There’s nothing about this team that makes me want to follow them.”

* Mukilteo Frank says: “The first thing I’d do is replace the manager, then I’d go for a quality starting pitcher and a power hitter who doesn’t have more strikeouts than hits. Geez, Richie Sexson swings at pitches so far outside that they need Fed-Ex to get the ball back.

“But most of all, I’d get starting pitching. Oakland is one of the last in the league in hitting, but they’re one of the best in pitching (fourth in team ERA) pitching and look at where they are in the standings.”

* n n

Cha Seung Baek will make his final start Monday against the A’s, and even if he doesn’t get out of the first inning, he’ll have earned a chance to make the starting rotation next season.

Baek is 3-1 with a 3.42 earned run average in six starts, and he was pounded only once in a 10-0 rout by the Blue Jays. He lasted just 31/3 innings in that game, and later revealed that his tricep muscle had tightened.

Take away that game, and Baek is 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA.

Who wouldn’t want that in their rotation?

* n n

The Mariners did Joel Pineiro a disservice by giving him what became a spot start last week at Kansas City.

He’d gone a full month without making a start, and in his September relief appearances he hadn’t thrown as many as 40 pitches. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that Pineiro hit a wall in the fourth inning and lost 10-8.

He deserved another start, if only to show what he could do with the added arm strength. Instead, the Mariners, who had said he would start four times before the season ended, immediately pushed him back to the bullpen.

* n n

Jay Buhner spent some time at Safeco Field one afternoon two weeks ago, mostly taking part in a sponsorship endeavor. He also hung out with the Mariners during batting practice doing what Buhner has always done best: needling, joking and putting an arm around several Mariners just as he did his old teammates before he retired.

My how the club has missed that. The Mariners could use not only a force in the clubhouse like Buhner, they need to re-establish the link with the glory years of the organization.

If the Mariners are smart, they’ll invite Buhner hang around a lot next year.

Kirby Arnold covers major league baseball for The Herald

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