People, DON'T PANIC!
News today that Giles has re-signed with the Padres sent lots of armchair M's GMs scrambling. Certainly Brian Giles would be a good fit at that contract with the M's. I've believed all along, though, that no matter how much dough they threw at him, he'd never become a Mariner. He's had them in his no-trade clauses, and has repeated several times that he didn't want to join Seattle.
Earlier this week, too, Esteban Loaiza crossed over to the dark side and joined our AL West archrivals, the A's. That followed the trades of Thome and Delgado, two targets the M's reportedly were looking to trade for.
The free agents and trading targets get snatched up, and the anxiety level increases for M's fans everywhere. One of my heroes once said: "Be Not Afraid!" The pickin's aren't quite day-after-Thanksgiving slim. Yet.
As I convinced myself over at Dr. Detecto's laboratory, the M's would be best served to upgrade their rotation. In this year's FA market, it'd be easier to upgrade the runs prevented total than the runs scored -- and by that I'm talking about through pitching. Both Burnett and Millwood are still available for the taking. It's not time to panic until both of these guys are off the board, and neither of them come to the M's. I'm quite confident that Bavasi's positive relationship with Boras will keep us in the running for Millwood (and the other pitchers in his portfolio, who, while not really quite in Millwood's echelon would still be upgrades over our current rotation) until the end. Although Burnett would be my first pitching target, I'm confident he'll reel in a monster salary that would be too risky for me to be comfortable with. My stretched-to-the-limit-in-a-HUGELY-over-inflated-market maximum would be 5/$70 million for Burnett. I wouldn't like it, but if that's what it takes, that's as high as I'd go.
What if we were able to land both of them? We've got some chips to trade to pull in a regular left fielder. Jacque Jones will be too expensive, and isn't a good fit. Jeromy Burnitz is my first choice, but if we are somehow able to miraculously land both Millwood and Burnett, there wouldn't be room for the $3-4 million I'd throw at him for a year or two. I'm sure Bavasi could find a match in the trade market.
Seriously though, folks -- DON'T PANIC! There's lots of time left on the clock, and lots of options yet. It's not like January 2004, when most of the free agents had already signed, and Kazu decided to go back to Japan, leaving the M's with an extra $8.5 million to spend in a nearly-empty candy store. I trust Bavasi, who knows his job is under serious scrutiny, and even, to a certain extent, Howard Lincoln, who's a shrewd businessman, and knows he needs to improve the RIS* bottom line...
Edited 10:33 a.m. 12/1/05 to add:
According to Corey Brock, the M's are interested in reacquainting with Ron Villone. Now, if that happens, it may be time to panic. The M's have shown that they're not going to let Thornton go. I know that George just absolutely dominates lefties (okay, sample size here...), but he handles righties better than his 2.06 WHIP in 17 innings shows. Now, I'm sure he's probably fine with any role, as long as he's in the majors. But, folks, I'm telling you. He's got closers' stuff. He's much more valuable to the M's as a relief ace (i.e. setup guy/closer) than merely as a LOOGY.
So, if RV comes back, I'm a little bit nervous that they'll bump George back down to Tacoma (because he's still got options) instead of carrying 4 lefties in the 'pen. If they bring back RV to replace Nelson or Shiggy (or Mateo, if he's traded), then George is probably safe in Seattle (as a LOOGY). RV is probably the pitching equivalent of Mark Maclemore or Stan Javier, and I'd definitely rather have him back than Thornton, Nelson or Shiggy. But, if it means that George is sent to Tacoma, or (less so) continues to be relegated to the LOOGY role, then I'm either completely ticked or, at least, not so thrilled.
*Rumps In Seats