Mariners Mini Morsels: September 30

Terry Ryan will be back next season as general manager of the Twins, he told 1500 ESPN in an interview Saturday.

On the heels of a third consecutive 90-loss season, there has been wide speculation over Ryan’s job security and that of manager Ron Gardenhire. A decision on Gardenhire is expected shortly after the season, according to team sources.

People with knowledge of the situation believe the Twins and Gardenhire have discussed one- or two-year contract possibilities. The manager is said to be wary of signing a one-year deal when it appears the Twins still could be multiple years away from contending in earnest. Sound familiar?  Gardy would be a good choice for the M’s but he won’t be signing for one season, not unlike most decent experienced managers. Meanwhile, the NY Times had a story saying Gardenhire might be gone, although it includes what is the best possible recommendation I can think of; “I think he’s the best manager in the league,” Detroit Tigers Manager Jim Leyland said. “I’ve been on the record in saying that. And I still think that. He runs a great game, and he’s a great people person. I have the utmost respect for Ron, and I think he does a terrific job. When he’s got the cards, he plays them as good as anybody.” If the Twins get stupid it’s time for Z to fetch.

Since the Mitchell report came down in 2007, the New York Yankees have distanced themselves from Roger Clemens. No Old Timers’ Day invitations, no big splashes about all of his accomplishments. It is almost as if they never happened. As if his 83 regular-season wins and two rings as a Yankees never occurred. But on Sunday, Clemens will be center stage as Mariano Rivera receives the final parting gifts of his career. On Saturday, Andy Pettitte’s career ended in dramatic style, pitching a complete game, five-hitter. On Thursday, Rivera had his magic moment in the Bronx. Clemens had similar goodbyes during the ’03 Series before making all his comebacks.   —Andrew Marchand  at ESPN New York

 

Baseball Best Practice

“The budget is fluid. It depends on opportunity. Trades can come up and you can increase budget through trades, too. You don’t only do it through free agent signings.” —Mark Attanasio to Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel

 

Chris Tillman took his work day as planned on Friday and is slotted to start as long as that game still matters to Boston, which is fighting with Oakland for the American League’s best record and top seeding. “It’s an envious spot to be in for them,” [Manager Buck] Showalter said. “I think we owe it to everybody to put our best foot forward. Fortunately, we’re physically able to do that.” —Brittany Ghiroli at MLB.com

 

So they said

“A lot of times these round numbers – they’re just one more than 29, or one point better than .299, but they mean something for a reason,” Moss said. “That’s because they’re hard to achieve, and when you accomplish something like that, it’s something nobody can take away from you.” —Brandon Moss of the Oakland A’s after hitting his 30th dinger of the season against the Mariners. —Joe Stiglich at CSN Bay Area

 

Mariner’s potential off-season targets

Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu has been declared a free agent and been cleared to sign with an MLB club, MLB writer Jesse Sanchez says on Twitter. The first baseman, a client of agent Praver Shapiro according to MLB Trade Rumors, is expected to become one of the most sought-after bats on the market. As Baseball America’s Ben Badler noted earlier,  scouts have already had multiple looks at Abreu given his time with the Cuban national team and in showcases since he left Cuba. His eventual contract could exceed five years and $60MM, but as he is only 26-years old he could eventually be free to sign even a larger deal. He should be major league ready next season.

 

The Hunter Pence contract should function as an important comparable on the upcoming free agent market. Especially with Pence being taken off of it for 5/$90MM, Shin-Soo Choo‘s case for a $100MM+ deal now sounds a lot more defensible. Some questioned Scott Boras’ statement that Choo, never an All-Star, would be a nine-figure player, but you won’t find many people doubting that possibility now.  Boras got rich by knowing the market better than most people associated with the game. He knows all the new media money will inflate free agent values noticeably this off-season. The deal should also help out Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who is currently ranked No. 2 on Tim Dierkes’ MLB Trade Rumors power rankings for 2014 free agents.

 

Aaron Steen of MLB Trade Rumors offers a detailed comparison of two buy-low arms in the coming off-season market. In Free Agent Faceoff: Scott Kazmir vs. Phil Hughes he took a look at two formerly heralded prospects that enter the free-agent market this off-season with big question marks.  Steen notes that, “The major knock on Kazmir is the bizarre trajectory his career has taken. There’s just not many comparables for the 29-year-old, a former top young starter who appeared to be out of baseball but re-emerged this season to post a 3.36 K/BB ratio in 152 innings. Hughes, 27, has always inspired optimism, but he’s never developed into the dominant starting pitcher that many projected based on his size and stuff.”

70 percent of MLBTR readers responding to a poll attached to the story favored Kazmir over Hughes.

 

Danny Knobler at CBS Sports writes that:When this season ends the Rays are expected to explore trading their Cy Young left-hander. The reason is simple. The Rays can’t afford to sign [David] Price to a long-term contract. By the end of this season, he’ll be two years from free agency. If they want to maximize his value, this is the time. The Rays were able to turn Shields into Wil Myers, and you can bet that they’ll be looking for just as big a return (or bigger) for Price. Price is younger than Shields (he’ll still be 28 when next season begins), and he’s won a Cy Young award. And while Price’s overall numbers this season don’t match what he did in his Cy Young year, he has been outstanding since coming off the disabled list at the start of July. Price had a 2.57 ERA over those final 17 starts. Only three regular starters in the American League — Ubaldo JimenezBartolo Colon and Anibal Sanchez — had a lower ERA in that time. In a winter where the free-agent market offers mostly middle- or back-of-the-rotation types, the Rays should be able to do very well with a Price trade. The Rangers have long coveted Price, and would seem to have the pieces to make a trade happen.”

 

The Brewers will exercise outfielder Norichika Aoki‘s option, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports (via Twitter). Aoki’s option is only for $1.5MM (with a $250K buyout) and so, as McCalvy notes, the decision was likely an easy one for Milwaukee. Aoki has produced a combined 4.2 WAR in his two seasons with the Brewers, including 1.7 in a 2013 season in which he’s hit .287/.357/.368. Adam McCalvy at

 

Jeff Todd at MLB Trade Rumors in a Free Agent Faceoff: Tim Lincecum vs. Ubaldo Jimenez piece came to the conclusion that, “Lincecum and Jimenez both have approximately the same age and arm mileage, and have posted similar underlying skill metrics in 2013. The Giants star has had greater highs and less-pronounced lows in his career than his counterpart in Cleveland, but in 2013 Jimenez actually increased his strikeout capabilities and outpaced Lincecum in fWAR (2.6 vs. 1.5).

 

Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors offers a look at what Braves lefty Paul Maholm has to offer, saying: “ He’s shown the ability to rack up around 190 innings with an ERA under 4.00.  If certain teams are focused on southpaw starters this winter, Maholm is right near the top of the free agent list. One of Maholm’s greatest attributes is his ability to generate groundballs.  His 51.8% groundball rate this year ranks sixth among free agent starters with at least 100 innings.  A qualifying offer from the Braves is not expected; so Maholm should not come with draft pick compensation attached. While I once thought Maholm was a good bet for three guaranteed years that seems unlikely now.

 As I’ve mentioned before, the bar for a two-year contract for a starting pitcher is pretty low, with recent examples like Brandon McCarthyJoe BlantonCarlos Villanuevaand Kevin Correia.  MLBTR’s Steve Adams has pointed out the importance of timing, as the two-year offers tend to dry up come January.  Last offseason, Joe Saunders, Shaun Marcum, and Brett Myers were left standing without a multiyear chair, as Maholm was two winters ago.  Though the top end of the free agent market for starters is weak this offseason, there are plenty of hurlers in Maholm’s class, such as Scott FeldmanJason Vargas, Roberto HernandezPhil HughesChris CapuanoJason Hammel, and Saunders. While Maholm could reach as high as two years and $14MM, ultimately I think the southpaw will sign a one-year, $7MM deal.”

 

By the numbers

Ibanez provided some surprising production at age 41, leading the team with 29 home runs while batting .248 with 65 RBI and a team-leading slugging percentage (.499) and OPS (.811). —Greg Johns at MLB.com

 

Clayton Kershaw blanked the Rockies for six innings Friday to improve to 16-9 on the season and lower his MLB-best ERA to 1.83. Kershaw is the first to qualify for the ERA title with an ERA under 2.00 since Roger Clemens came in at 1.87 for the Astros in 2005. —Matthew Pouliot at Hardball Talk

 

In 1998, the Yankees won their seventh straight game to end the season with a .704 winning percentage. The Bombers (114-48) became just the first team since the 1954 Indians (111-43) to play over .700 ball for the entire season. The Mariners would become the second three years later.

 

[Brad] Miller became the first Mariner ever to have three multi-home run games in a rookie season and the first Major League rookie to do so since Ryan Braun of the Brewers (three) and Chris Young of the D-backs (five) in 2007. —Greg Johns at MLB.com