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Q&A With Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing

If you've never stumbled across Lookout Landing, then you simply fail at life. Jeff Sullivan, Graham, Gomez, Devin, and Matt Carruth combine to form the best SBN blog, baseball or otherwise. Luckily enough the Mariners series came quickly so we could do this thing.

During the off-season the Mariners acquired Erik Bedard for Adam Jones, amongst others, and the Rays traded in part Delmon Young for Matt Garza. Of the four players involved, in what order would you preference to have for the next 10 seasons?

Ignoring contracts and all that, I'd probably say (1) Jones, (2) Bedard, (3) Young, and (4) Garza. Bedard's obviously the best player of the four right now, but he's a 29 year old pitcher with an injury history, so he's unlikely to last for another decade. Jones, meanwhile, is young, plays good defense, and has just eaten up the minor leagues. He seems like a solid bet to be a plus player for a long, long time. I like Young, but he hasn't yet proven himself in the field or at the plate, so he's #3 until some of those tools turn into performance. And Garza's bringing up the rear because he's the worst of four guys with all kinds of talent. I'd like to see him start lowering that contact rate. God knows he has the stuff.

John McLaren was the bench coach here for three seasons and nearly took over as manager, instead Joe Maddon got the job and the rest is present state matters. Other than the obvious -- a la every team's fans thinking the manager is a moron -- what are your impressions of McLaren's tendencies and aptitude?

McLaren's your typical old school manager who loves veterans, labels, and talking about aggressive baserunning. He's not one to understand roster flexibility or scenarios in which talent should override designated roles. The only thing that really distinguishes him from 95% of the rest of the managers in the league is that, despite claiming that he has the occasional mean streak, he comes off as a bit of a girl. Or, to borrow from JD, a sensi.

Bill Bavasi is, without doubt, looked upon as one of the most astute and opportunistic general managers in the league, pulling off grand deals like Rafael Soriano for Horacio Ramirez. He’s great, isn’t he?

Bill Bavasi's track record would be nearly spotless if you could take out all his moves and replace them with other moves.

What’s the general feeling on Felix Hernandez’ chances of staying healthy for the long haul?

Generally speaking, I think people try not to think about it too much. I mean, we all get that young pitchers are fragile and that Felix is perhaps doubly so, what with his emphatic mechanics (I should do rap), but as Mariner fans we've invested so much in Felix as our Next Great Hope that we can't really bear to talk about the risks. It's sort of an unspoken understanding, I guess. We know that Felix has a bunch of red flags, but as long as he's pitching, we look forward to his next start in ignorant bliss.

This is why last year's injury was such a jolt. No one was thinking about it. We'd pushed our concerns so far into the backs of our minds that when they sprung back into the forefront, our heads got a rattle. For a few months there after he came back, it was eggshells.

To actually answer your question: the sentiment seems to be that his chances of staying healthy are good. Because they have to be. Because if he gets hurt, we won't know what to do with ourselves.

The Rays are currently pursuing a new waterfront stadium in Downtown St. Petersburg. Can you share any insight on how the Mariners' move to SAFECO Field improved the fortunes of that franchise?

I can't give you any financial figures, because I don't have access to that kind of information, but Safeco's been a huge boon for the franchise. It's a beautiful stadium that gives the Mariners something to be proud of, and as an experience rather than just a place to go for a baseball game, it's been able to sustain pretty good attendance figures despite a run of lousy team performance. The Mariners are a well-oiled money-making machine, and Safeco's a big reason why. Without it, we don't have as high a payroll, and we don't have much to attract potential players.

In 2004, the Mariners went 63-99 and ranked third in the AL in attendance. In 2005, they went 69-93 and ranked fourth. It's not hard to figure out why.


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