Talking Points: Mariners pursue Napoli

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The Mariners flew free agent Mike Napoli into Seattle early last week, before the Thanksgiving holiday. He spent the night and got taken on a tour of Safeco Field and all the usual fun spots before having dinner with team officials.

One thing the Mariners were able to do with Napoli this winter, as opposed to with other free agents in years past, was an aggressive sales push on their plans to move in the ballpark fences.

Napoli has also met with the Boston Red Sox and the Texas Rangers — his former team — and negotiations are expected to continue right on through the winter meetings in Nashville next week.

Napoli is a catcher by trade, but also can play first base and has served as a DH when needed. He is trying to land a three- or-four-year deal and the Mariners would be hard-pressed to get him on the short end of that, given that they aren’t the Red Sox or Rangers.

But that’s the reality of life in Seattle, which hasn’t sniffed a real postseason race in a decade. You have to pay more to get the quality, because better teams will be trying to get those same players.

Napoli would give the Mariners a bat that has already been developed and done things at the big league level.

— Seattle Times

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Southern Cal finished the regular season 7-5. So, that Sports Illustrated preseason cover headline about Matt Barkley — “He didn’t come back to go to the Holiday Bowl’’ — appears so true.

Looks like Barkley will finish up in sunny and scenic El Paso, Texas, at the Sun Bowl.

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Where do the Trail Blazers slot in the current NBA power rankings? Sporting News and ESPN place Portland at No. 21, while Fox Sports has them as high at No. 17.

Sporting News had kind words for center J.J. Hickson. ESPN and Fox likes guard Damian Lillard (there’s a no brainer). ESPN gives props to Nic Batum, but says LaMarcus Aldridge has been disappointing so far this season.

Sports Illustrated places Portland No. 23 and calls its comments “...a weekly shrine to Lillard.’’

Bleacher Report has Portland at No. 19 and Lillard as early frontrunner for rookie of the year.