'Los the Key to the M's Winter Success?

When the objective is to add power into a mediocre lineup, you have to look to the pile of free-agent sluggers and see who fits best. The M's are doing just that.

When another necessary ingredient is an anchor to an otherwise empty batting order, you look to some of the league's best hitters over the past several years and see which of those bats are available that could slide right in and take over.

Two dire needs, two separate players, right?

That isn't the case for the Seattle Mariners this winter.

Carlos Delgado, who sports a career .389 average at Safeco Field with six home runs in 19 games, could be the missing piece to the M's offensive puzzle. General manager Bill Bavasi has the former Toronto Blue Jays slugger in his crosshairs as the Mariners' top free-agent target.

The club reportedly has inquired about Delgado's interest in the Mariners as well as his thoughts on sliding up a spot in the batting order.

Washington native Richie Sexson is also still a possibility, though recent published reports that the M's are seriously considering the idea of adding both Delgado and Sexson and splitting the first base and designated hitter duties between the two, are pre-mature and so far baseless.

"They are certainly in on those two and Glaus," said an American League representative. They are thought to be more interested in the third baseman then the DH spot but that could change after the winter meetings get going."

As the club awaits those winter meetings in Anaheim, California beginning December 10, they continue to scour the market for smart, quick, but not short-term fixes in the batting lineup and the pitching staff.

"The Mariners are attractive to a lot of pitchers because of Safeco Field," a National League scout said. "If they are going to spend the dough on a pitcher they won't have problems finding the right guy to give it to."

The same NL scout believes the Mariners should concentrate first and second on repairing the offensive woes and seek the pitching only after they know that they have the bats to support said pitching.

"You really can't fix everything in one try," he said. "If you get it all done than more power to you but putting too many eggs into too many baskets can hurt the chances of landing any of them.

"The M's should be thinking about three steps; 80 wins, 90 wins and the playoffs and then the title run. This isn't the NFL, going from worst in the (AL) West to winning it all just isn't likely. I wouldn't feel comfortable spending valuable money just to say I spent it. Grab Delgado and go for Glaus or Sexson over (Carl) Pavano or other starters."

The Mariners front office is in a bit of a catch-22. If they spend big money and fix the offense and the rotation but those players either fail, somewhat, or they are perceived as overpaid, the uproar will continue. If Bavasi and Lincoln do not extend themselves and actually get something done-and something big- then the Mariners faithful will once again head into the season with great disappointment.

Hopefully, for the sanity of all involved, Bavasi and Lincoln will hand the paychecks to the right individuals.

  • The negotiations between the Mariners and catcher Dan Wilson, the last remaining player from the 1995 team, aren't progressing as both sides would have hoped. Rumor has it that Wilson would like the contract to reflect the 36-year-old as a starter, should he start the majority of the games in 2005.
  • The M's other free agent, left-hander Ron Villone, is entertaining offers from other clubs and though he would like to return, the M's haven't been willing to extend the length of the contract past one season.

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