Batista sees rosy future for Mariners
Miguel Batista, formally introduced Thursday at Safeco Field as the Mariners' newest pitching acquisition, dreamily envisioned a scenario...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Miguel Batista, formally introduced Thursday at Safeco Field as the Mariners' newest pitching acquisition, dreamily envisioned a scenario where he was pitching in Game 7 of the World Series "and the Mariners are up."
Batista, perhaps invigorated by the signing of a three-year contract believed to be worth $25 million, also used the term "dynasty" to describe the outlook for his new club.
But such a prosperous future doesn't coincide with the conclusion of many fans and analysts, who have panned the team's winter remodeling job.
The latest roster shuffle could occur today if the proposed acquisition of 32-year-old switch-hitter Jose Vidro from the Washington Nationals in a trade for outfielder Chris Snelling and pitcher Emiliano Fruto is finalized. The players must pass their physicals before the deal becomes official.
Vidro, who hit .289 last year with seven homers and 47 runs batted in, is expected to become the full-time designated hitter. He would join the 35-year-old Batista, much-traveled outfielder Jose Guillen and former Braves left-hander Horacio Ramirez (obtained in a trade for reliever Rafael Soriano) as the major additions to a team that has finished in last place for three straight years.
Asked if he was concerned about negative fan reaction, general manager Bill Bavasi replied: "I'm the one dealing in the market. I know what the market is. I know what's available. The reaction is probably a whole lot different if I drag you with me for a month, and you see what it's like.
"That's not an excuse, just a fact. ... To say I'm not concerned [about fan reaction] is just rude. That's not the way I am. But is it going to color the way we try to manage a payroll and try to manage a roster? God, no.' "
Bavasi acknowledged that the exploding free-agent salaries this winter changed the Mariners' initial expectations that they could obtain two starting pitchers and two position players via free agency. He said the entire industry badly misjudged the market place.
"We're always wrong," he said. "But we've never been this wrong. That was frustrating. There were a lot of clubs flush with money, and they've used it."
Once that realization hit, it likely thwarted the Mariners' chances of getting one of the two top-of-the-rotation starters on the market, Jason Schmidt or Barry Zito. Schmidt signed with the Dodgers for $47 million over three years, while Zito remains unsigned.
"We felt it was more important to get depth," Bavasi said. "We were not going to make it with just one guy."
Bavasi refused to confirm or even discuss the reported Vidro trade. But speaking in general terms, he indicated that the M's believe it is prudent to acquire proven veteran players, even if it is at the expense of young players with potential.
"We're trying to build a club that is ready to win a lot more games than the last couple of years," he said. "To do that, I don't think we can completely bet on kids."
In Batista, the Mariners get something of a renaissance man, the published author both of a book of poetry ("Feelings in Black and White") and a novel, "The Avenger of Blood," which tells the story of a 14-year-old boy on trial for being a serial killer.
The Mariners are more interested in the pitching part of Batista. Bavasi lauded his combination of "effectiveness and stamina. That's not easy to find, as you know if you watched our club last year."
Batista, a native of the Dominican Republic who went 11-8 with a 4.58 earned-run-average for Arizona in 2006, said 20 clubs pursued him.
"I had a lot of options," he said. "I want to play in a place where I can help build something. I think they're building something very special here."