Price right for Mariners

Few people have been as important to the Mariners' success over the past four seasons as pitching coach Bryan Price. Seattle recently locked up Price to a two-year deal, and TheInsiders had a chance to catch up with him to get his thoughts heading into 2004.

Pitching coach Bryan Price, who just got a new two-year deal, is holding out hope that there won't be too much turnover on the Mariners' pitching staff.

The only veteran sure not to be back is RHP Armando Benitez, but LHP Arthur Rhodes and RHP Shigetoshi Hasegawa are both free agents. And RHP Freddy Garcia, who beat the Mariners in salary arbitration last year, will command something well in excess of the $6.875 million he got this time around and may be traded as a result.

The Mariners announced Friday (Oct. 10) that Price was getting a new two-year contract that will make him one of the most highly compensated pitching coaches in the game.

And while Price is delighted with his new deal, he spent much of his time talking about his pitchers. He's aware there is a chance anywhere between one and four of the key members of the staff could be elsewhere in 2004.

"I'm very pleased with where we are," Price said. "We've seen guys come up from the minor leagues and really do the job right away. I don't think there's an organization with better (pitching) prospects anywhere. If there is, they'd better be prepared to go to the postseason soon."

"We've had important additions, but the key to our success this year was the success our younger guys had. Guys like Julio Mateo and Rafael Soriano have made for a real nice influx. There is going to be more room for pitchers from the system to come in and help us, although I know Shiggy and Arthur like it in Seattle and would like to stay if it works out."

The deal to lock up Price has been in the works with the Mariners highly motivated to keep in house the man under whose watch the pitching staff has blossomed so nicely.

When Price arrived on the scene in 2000, the club was coming off a 79-83 season in which the team ERA was 5.24. That fell to a 4.49 in 2000, to a league-best 3.49 in 2001, rose to 4.07 in 2002 and swooped down to a second-in-the-AL 3.77 for 2003.

The Mariners have won 393 games from 2000-03, more than any franchise during those four seasons. And while an infusion of free-agent pitching has much to do with the improvement, Price's ideas and rapport with the pitchers is considered a major contributor.

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