Just walking through the casino after lunch with John Hickey, we came upon a gaggle of former Mariners with Lou Piniella, Bob Melvin and Bryan Price all having some conversations. Didn't have my camera for a picture.
Of course, we butted our way in. Pretty cordial stuff really. Lou did say that he loves Raul Ibanez, pronouncing it EYE-Bahnes as only he can, and what a great "kid" he is. But the first thing he asked us, "Can he play right field?"
Um, well, um, well, he can play it. Can he play it well? Well that's a whole other issue. And that may be the determining factor in offering him a contract. The Cubs already have Alfonso Soriano in left field, and he isn't winning a gold glove any time soon. Lou said that they are planning to move Kosuke Fukudome to center field, leaving an opening in right.
That being the case, it seems logical that Bobby Abreu is a better fit for the Cubs.
Also, J.J. Putz's name was brought up by Price, and Lou said, "What's he making?" When told it was 5.5 million this season and 9 next, Lou raised eyebrows in interest and smiled - enough said. Now, let's not add the Cubs to the J.J. rumor mill, even if they didn't try to re-sign last year's closer, Kerry Wood, and seventh-inning set-up guy Bobby Howry to free agency. They still have Carlos Marmol, and that's enough.
But really, Lou's reaction to J.J.'s salary and his possible availability is just a reminder of some of his value.
The D-Backs need bullpen help of a different nature - specifically a left-handed set-up man. They currently are looking at Arthur Lee Rhodes, and Price said he'd be a good fit, particularly because Arthur is older and is comfortable being a leader and making the younger guys accountable. The D-Backs lost that presence when reliever Brandon Lyon opted for free agency.
Price said, "Lyon would be good for (Seattle)." Sorry BP, the Mariners need hitters.
We will be meeting with GM Jack Zduriencik in about an hour.