Ruben Amaro doesn’t feel “comfortable” trading Joe Blanton

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When we checked in with Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. last week, he wasn’t in a hurry to deal Joe Blanton. Now? According to what he told Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com today, it sounds like he isn’t willing to deal him at all.

“I don’t feel comfortable doing it,” Amaro told FOXSports.com. “He’s going to pitch for the Phillies, probably for the entire season.”

Doesn’t feel comfortable? If having Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in his starting rotation doesn’t have him sleeping pretty well at night, I’m not sure anything will.

In all seriousness, this is likely a matter of how much money the Phillies are willing to absorb in a potential trade. Blanton is owed $8.5 million over each of the next two seasons and one rival executive told Rosenthal that there was “not a chance” his team would make a deal unless the Phillies were willing to cover a significant part of his salary.

For now, it sounds like Amaro is satisfied with having a pretty good fifth starter in Blanton, but don’t forget, as Craig has said many times before, this guy is a ninja. Can’t put anything past him.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?