Rather than go with something new every day and quickly extinguish the list of synonyms for "wrap-up", I'm just not going to try and think of any at all. Without further ado:
This is why I both love and absolutely detest the offseason. There's speculation being passed off as fact everywhere you turn, and it's virtually impossible to weed through all of it and pick out what's actually true. Here we have two different authors from two different papers saying opposite things on the same day. One of them has to be true, but right now I don't think we have any way of knowing which. The first one certainly sounds more legitimate, yet the second is more casual and matter-of-fact, as if the Mariners' pursuit of Igawa is a given. So who knows?
One of the ideas I've been toying with for what seems like years is keeping track of which authors report which rumors, and how many of these rumors come to fruition. It'd give us an easy and direct way of figuring out who to trust the most. It sounds a lot easier to do than it actually is, though, so if someone else feels like assuming that burden, more power to you. The first person able to sort out all the offseason crap is going to be a wealthy man (or woman), and as much as I'd like to be that guy, it's just too much for me to handle.
Anyway, I certainly hope the Mariners end up in the Igawa bidding - he looks like one of the only potential bargains (or at least decent values) of the winter, a #3/4 pitcher who wouldn't command #2 money. Smart front offices with a need for pitching will turn away from the free agent market and set their sights either (A) overseas, (B) in the minors, or (C) on other teams as trade partners, as those are the places where good deals are still available. Just look at the numbers being floated around in the articles this morning. Jason Schmidt wants $14m a year. Gil Meche is already being offered deals in the 3-5 year/$9m per range. Ted Lilly and Adam Eaton are meeting with everyone, and Tomo freaking Ohka is suddenly being looked at as a multimillion dollar "value" instead of as the $1.5m #5 pitcher he really is. Believe me when I say this: no good is going to come out of this year's free agent pitching crop, at least not from the upper tiers. Spending is going to be insane, and the Mariners would be wise to not even bother.
My favorite indication of just how crazy everyone's getting? From Larue's article:
Usually, when teams suspect a player will be let go rather than offered arbitration, they wait for that to occur.
This year, at least two teams have contacted Seattle about trading for Piñeiro, whose earned run average has gone from 4.67 to 5.62 to 6.36 in the past three seasons.
Joel Pineiro is easily one of the worst starting pitchers in Major League Baseball. And people want to trade stuff for him. GM's are identifying Pineiro as someone who could actually help their teams get better. I don't need to spell out for you just how ridiculous this is. It's like getting invited to a Halloween party the morning of the 31st when all the costume shops are sold out, so you stick yourself with a needle and go as 'a guy with dysentery'. Sure, you have your costume and you spend the whole night feeling all smug about how clever you are, but you'll regret it a day or two later. The difference is that, where dysentery kills one person at a time, Pineiro kills thousands.
Not much else out there. The Mariners bought out Eduardo Perez to make him a free agent, but he may still re-sign at a lower salary. And ownership supposedly approved a payroll increase into the upper-$90m range, but if the front office goes after free agent pitchers like it looks like they will, they'll reach their limit quicker than you think.
I've been dreading a Matsuzaka-less offseason for a while, now. The potential is still there for the Mariners to have a good winter, but I'd be lying if I said I think they'll pull it off. At this point, the best we can hope for might be that they sign a few guys to the least bad contracts and go from there. It doesn't have to be that way, but I'm afraid that may just be our reality.