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From today's Sun-Sentinel

 

Return of Benitez is drawing closer

 

By Juan C. Rodriguez

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Posted December 16 2006

 

The Marlins and Giants continue closing in on the framework of a deal that would bring back closer Armando Benitez. Yet it still hasn't reached the medical record review stage.

 

Two key issues: How much of Benitez's $7.6 million 2007 salary will the Giants absorb and what kind of player do they seek in return. If the two sides can iron out those details, a source close to Benitez said the right-hander would have no qualms about taking a physical for the Marlins.

 

LocalLinks

Benitez currently is in his native Dominican Republic, but he is scheduled to return to South Florida next week to continue rehabbing his arthritic knees. During his lone season with the Marlins in 2004, Benitez purchased a home in Golden Beach (north Miami-Dade County) that he still maintains.

 

One member of the Benitez camp said getting him out of San Francisco's cold, damp weather and into South Florida's temperate climate again would alleviate the pitcher's condition.

 

(more marlins news available in the complete story)

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/basebal...-sports-marlins

 

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One thought. Benitez is going to be paid whether he pitchers in San Francisco, Miami or at all. Regardless of how much he may dislike the boo-birds out west, there's almost $11 million on the line for him to get through this season (not retire), he'll suffer through it if he has to.

 

For whatever reason, compatibility, meteorological or otherwise he'd like to pitch here. This is a good thing if he's healthy. If he passes a physical and the Marlins can make the right deal, having AB just might mean a unique opportunity for a lot of young starters to improve their records in '07 and young relievers who have a chance to learn from one of the best while gaining more experience that will serve them well down the road.

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Of course there are other scenarios but I would think Benitez' stay wouldn't be more than a year (the length of his current contract with the Giants) and from what I read his agent implies as much, at least to me.

 

My thinking is by the end of the 2007 season we'll either know who our closer will be in 2008 (Tank, Owens, Nolasco, fillintheblank) or we'll know none of our 2007 candidates made the grade and we'll be searching for more than just a closer in the pen next off-season. (It dawns on me there is a third possibility, that one of the seemingly endless pitching prospects in the Marlins system comes up and takes command of the closers role, but for this discussion I'm ignoring that) Either way, the impression I get is Armando is looking to rejuvenate his demand, here, and use a good situation in Miami as a springboard to a new contract elsewhere. I doubt, considering the uncertainity of his health and how he'll hold up through a full MLB season the Marlins would commit to anything other than whatever portion of the existing Giants' contract they wind up absorbing.

 

And frankly they shouldn't. Armando and Powers know the situation here. The Marlins know the situation with Armando. They both want the same thing 2007, though for completely different reasons.

 

The quote I saw from his agent was this one. There may be more and perhaps I missed one (or rather Google missed one) but this is it...

 

"...Honestly, he was playing [with the Marlins] on a one-year contract, and that's basically what he would be doing this year," said Powers, who watched Benitez convert 47 of 51 save chances with a 1.29 ERA in 2004. "I think that allows players to focus a little bit. He went there with a mission in mind, and I'm sure he'll have a mission in mind this year that's pretty similar."

 

To me, reading that, I get the impression the Benitez camp is not looking for an extension as part of coming here (and even if they did they are already under contract for 2007) or looking past next season as a member of the Marlins. And in my mind, something would have to go terribly wrong for someone already in our organization to not have earned the job by the end of September (or if we're really lucky, October). The single best scenario is Benitez comes in here and saves 25 out of 28 games, provides some presence in the bullpen as a number of young players fight to close out the rest, and through the stability he brings (assuming he's successful) and this competition, Benitez' reputation is restored and someone is crowned closer of the future.

 

Going a little further, I would assume Powers is looking at the situation here with the understanding that payroll will escalate significantly as long as Willis and Cabrera are onboard, and even if it's just Cabrera, still, he's going to deservedly pull down a ton of money, which until a stadium deal is finalized, will make spending $6-10 million a year on a closer impossible. So he comes, he conquers, he goes.

 

I'm throwing all this out because it's a rainy Saturday in South Florida and there's not alot to talk about, perhaps it will serve as a good debating subject for the afternoon.

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I really don't know what to think about this. Being a fan of both teams, I want to see them both come out with something good... If the Giants eat a hefty part of his contract (which I suspect they will), the Marlins are going to have to give something other than Petit. I don't know what the Giants are asking for, but they definitely need pitching (starting and relief)... I would love to see Nolasco come over to San Fran and compete for the 5th spot in the rotation. If the baseball Gods are with us and the Giants end up signing Zito, a rotation of Barry Zito, Matt Morris, Matt Cain, Noah Lowry, and Ricky Nolasco looks damn good.. But that's just me being overly optimistic.

 

As far as Benitez's performance goes, I wouldn't expect what he did in 2004, but I wouldn't expect him to suck as bad as he has the past couple of seasons. He feels very comfortable down here and that plays a huge part in the success of a closer. Obviously, he still has to throw strikes, but I would expect something in between...

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Ugh, if it's a Petit or Pinto for one year of Armando? I wish I was more optimistic about him at this point...

 

Sure, I think he'd have a relatively good chance of having at least '06 Borowski-level performance, but I sure wouldn't expect a Mando of '04, or even Todd Jones '05.

 

 

Unless they're kicking in an awful lot of his salary, I'd almost rather save our trading pieces for moves that could bring longer term solutions.

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I'm abivalent towards this.

 

On the one hand, you have a player who admittedly loved playing here, never really wanted to leave, and is chomping at the bit to come back here to an environment where he's previously thrived.

 

On the other hand, you figure to pay a somewhat premium price for damaged (albeit likely nearly free) goods. Coupled with the fact that this team, thanks to little to no inaction on the part of the front office, is more likely to take a giant step back than a giant step forward, and I understand why many are reluctant to part with value for a year of Benitez.

 

If this is just step one of a domino set of moves, I'm all for it, but if we don't add a centerfielder and upgrade the bullpen further (since this is really just a move to replace Borowski) we're in trouble and this move in and of itself makes little sense.

 

However, if it simply costs one of our 'B' grade prospects, 'Mando could return more than that at the deadline if he's effective and we're out of it.

 

I'd really prefer this to be the last move we make to upgrade rather than the first, that way we can see if we need to replace someone like Nolasco with someone like Petit, instead of just guessing what may or may not happen down the road.

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Petit should not be wearing a Marlins uniform come Opening Day, much less be a part of the Marlins rotation. He was obviously rushed this past season and I think he has to show marked improvement in Albuquerque before he gets the call, and if he gets the call it should only be to start.

 

I don't see Beinfest making this trade as a stand alone. If he pulls the trigger on this trade, he has to have at least trade for a centerfielder close to being finalized. Because a stand alone trade for Benitez without at least upgrading CF will mean the Marlins probably take a step back in 2007.

 

Like some others, I am kind of dreading to see who the Marlins trade off for Benitez.

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What is with the hatred towards pettit? he had one bad year and before this he was elite in the minors. Yes his stuff isnt the best around but it isnt horrible either and he never got a chance to start. He has great movement and control on his pitches and could easly be a good number 3 in the majors.

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