Mariners Mini Morsels: August 13

From Mike Curto’s blog:

A quick note on a guy who deserves one: Nate Tenbrink is (not literally) on fire right now. He was 4-for-5 Saturday, with a two-run double.  Since the all-star break, Tenbrink is batting .386 with five home runs and 12 RBI. The guy plays every position on the diamond except pitcher and catcher – and who knows, maybe he can play those, too.  Yes, he strikes out a lot – but he mitigates that by drawing a lot of walks, and he’s got some pop with 12 homers and 35 extra-base hits this year.  He’s someone for Mariners fans to keep an eye on, as he could end up as an offence-oriented super-utility guy someday.   

Danny Farquhar is 4 for 4 in save opportunities so far.   Rick Randall of Seattle Clubhouse puts it down to his developing an effective curveball. He notes that Farquhar has been mainly a fastball/cutter/slider pitcher for most of his six-year career, and he’s done well enough with that mix. But he was hit hard early in the big leagues both this year and in his brief three-game debut for the Blue Jays back in 2011.  From the Corner of Edgar & Dave offered this from pitching coach Carl Willis on Farquhar’s curveball: It “raises his ceiling” and will “allow him to pitch more meaningful innings.”  The result is that the 26-year-old rookie currently ranks 6th in MLB in strikeouts-per-nine at 13.6 and 7th in MLB in strikeout percentage at 36.4%.  (Horace Brand Farquhar, 1st Earl Farquhar GCBGCVOPC (19 May 1844 – 30 August 1923), was a British financier, courtier and Conservative politician.  He died broke and childless and his title died with him.  Danny Farquhar is a Louisiana Cajun and no relation to Horace.)

Hillel Kuttler of the NY Times reported on something different. 

“Standing in the outfield before a May game in Anaheim, Calif., Orioles Manager Buck Showalter did not like what he saw in Zach Clark, but it had little to do with Clark’s mechanics or repertory.  Showalter noticed that Clark had gnawed his fingernails, hardly ideal for an aspiring knuckleballer.  “You may want to stop doing that,” Clark recalled Showalter telling him.  Clark eventually had acrylic nails applied to the middle three fingers of his right hand, so he could dig into the ball and release it as if it were a balloon. “Trying to explain it was weird,” Clark said of his visit to a Maryland salon.

Although the Orioles did not put a manicurist on the payroll, they did sign a consultant for 2013, Phil Niekro, who won 318 games in a 24-year career, riding the knuckleball from the moment the Milwaukee Braves signed him in 1958.

Niekro’s assignment is to help the Orioles transform three pitchers into full-time knuckleballers: Clark, 30, now with Class A Frederick, Md.; Zach Staniewicz, 27, in the rookie Gulf Coast League; and Eddie Gamboa, 28, of Class AAA Norfolk.

Neat Tweets

If Aaron Harang and Joe Saunders continue to start games for the Ms they could end up propelling us into the top 10 draft picks for next year.  We were tied with the Padres for the 9th and 10th picks until Felix pitched us into a tie with the Rockies for the 12th pick.  If we can lose our way into the top 10 we can sign a free agent with draft compensation and not lose our first rounder.  We’d lose our 2nd round pick but we have a competitive balance pick right after the 2nd round.  You can follow the race on MLBTR Reverse Standings 2014 here.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has an Ms recommendation:.

“Just sayin’, but the Mariners appear well-positioned to make a run at Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury in free agency.  The M’s are deep in young, affordable position players, with a mere $33.257 million committed to their 2014 payroll, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Ellsbury, who is from Madras, Or., and attended Oregon State, could fill two voids, leading off and playing center field.  Michael Saunders is not a center fielder, and Dustin Ackley has not proven to be a long-term solution. Remember the emphasis the M’s placed on defense not long ago? These days, they’re occasionally using an outfield of Raul Ibanez in left, Saunders in center and Michael Morse in right.  The addition of Ellsbury would upgrade the defense, ignite the offense and energize the fan base. The M’s struck out on Josh Hamilton last offseason. They might have a better shot with Ellsbury, whose agent, Scott Boras, generally seeks the best market deal.

From the “where are they now?” file: According to MLBTR the Pirates have signed catcher Kelly Shoppach to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Indianapolis, the team announced via press release. The 33-year-old Shoppach recently opted out of a minor league pact with the Nationals that he had signed after being released by the Mariners earlier in the year. Shoppach originally signed a one-year, $1.5MM contract with the Mariners this offseason, of which Seattle still must pay the majority. He drew interest after opting out of his deal with the Nats, reportedly receiving an offer from the Cardinals.