Mariners Mini Morsels: October 13

Speaking of great Jewish ballplayers…Sandy Koufax!

“Hold onto your baseball caps! (Or your yamulkes). According to the authoritative Jewish Baseball News, the 14 Jewish players on major league rosters batted .254 during the regular season that just ended. Now compare this to the meager .253 batting average for all other major leaguers. Statistically insignificant, you say? Baloney!! (Hebrew National, of course). Making a Mount Sinai out of a molehill?  I don’t think so. The chosen people? Let’s not go there.

But what about pitching? Here, too, the Jews outperformed the rest of their major league counterparts. The four Jewish pitchers had a 3.61 earned run average compared with the 3.86 ERA compiled by all major league pitchers. (The Hebrew hurlers had a combined 26-20 won-lost record).” —Peter Drier at the Jewish Journal

 

AL West Commentary

Oakland has an option on Coco Crisp for 2014, so he pretty much knows he is going to be in Oakland next season. However, the A’s winningest pitcher, Bartolo Colon, and saves leader, Grant Balfour, are free agents and know no such thing. Both say they want to return, but neither knows what the A’s will offer, or what other teams might be offering.

“It sucks, because you don’t know,” said Balfour, who saved 38 games. “That’s why my last inning (a 1-2-3 ninth in Thursday’s loss) was so important to me. If it was my last inning here, I wanted it to be worth remembering.”

Like Crisp, outfielders Chris Young, catcher Kurt Suzuki and left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson have contract options that the A’s can take or reject. Anderson probably is in the “take” pile. Young, due $11 million, is almost certainly gone. Suzuki, due $8.5 million, is in limbo, but he probably is gone, too.

 

Baseball Best Practice

“I try to keep myself in shape,” [Tori] Hunter said. “I work out, I get myself prepared, I’m a lot smarter at the plate, I’m a lot smarter playing in the field. When you’re younger, you just go out and you play, you go wild. But now I study, I look at percentages; I look at different things like that and prepare myself for the test so I won’t fail. I eat right, I sprint, I still keep my fast-twitch muscles. I do everything I can to prepare myself for the game that day.”

 

So they said

“A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” —Winston Churchill

Mariner’s potential off-season targets

Danny Knobler at CBS Sports writes: “Baseball’s winter trade market will feature a Cy Young winner. Or two Cy Young winners. The Rays will almost certainly trade David Price. But there’s also a very real chance that the Tigers trade Max Scherzer, according to sources. Scherzer hasn’t won a Cy Young yet, but he’s the heavy favorite to win the award in the American League this year after going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA, leading the league in WHIP (0.97) and finishing second to Yu Darvish in strikeouts. So why would the Tigers trade him? Because Scherzer is one year away from free agency and is a Scott Boras client who is very unlikely to sign a long-term deal this close to being able to test the market. The Tigers may make an attempt to sign him after this season, but they realize that it’s unlikely he would accept a deal now.”

Of course any team trading for Scherzer would be confronted by the same problem.

Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane said “it would be foolish not to explore” bringing 18-game winner Bartolo Colon back at age 41. —John Hickey

Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort said he does not intend to trade All-Stars Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez. “The plan is to keep them. Next year, yes. And my plan is to always keep them,” Monfort said to the Denver Post. “Is that the smartest thing in the world to do? I don’t know. But for our fans I think it’s the best thing to do. I love those two guys,” Monfort said. “And if they ever get on a tear … In Tampa Bay, every once in a while, Evan Longoria just carries them and we have two guys who can carry a team.”

This statement will most likely not stop some Mariners fans from rosterbating on trades involving the pair.

 

Aaron Steen of MLB Trade Rumors has produced a Free Agent Faceoff: Scott Feldman vs. Paul Maholm piece that compares the somewhat similar pitchers who will at least for a while be available this off-season.  There’s little chance that they will constrain the market for David Price or Masahiro Tanaka, but GMs looking to fill out the bottom of their rotation could do worse. Speaking of which it seems Joe Saunders and Aaron Harang are still free agents; that’s a shocker. If you read the piece you can also vote for which of them you prefer.  I chose Feldman, which means his arm will fall off as soon as he’s finished signing his contract.

International

George A. King III at the NY Post and Mark Feinsand at NY Daily News have both written stories stating that the New York Yankees are going to be serious players in the Masahiro Tanaka bidding war next month, hoping to fill big holes in their rotation with the Japanese pitcher who wowed scouts this year. “The Yankees have seen him a lot,” said a talent evaluator who watched the 24-year-old, right-handed pitcher late last month for Japan’s Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. Boston, Texas and the Dodgers will be there, too. This guy is very good.

He won’t come cheap. Based on one scout’s opinion, he will cost a team more than Yu Darvish, who put $111.7 million on the Rangers’ tab. The Rangers bid $51.7 million then signed Darvish to a six-year deal worth $60 million. “He is better than Darvish because he is a strike thrower,’’ the scout said. “Overall, Darvish’s stuff might be a little bit better, but this guy knows how to pitch. He is like Kuroda, he has a lot of guts. He throws four pitches but when it gets to [stone]-cutting time, it’s fastball and splitter.’’ Late in games this year Tanaka’s fastball reached 97mph, and he features an overhand curveball that is 20 mph slower than the fastball. Tanaka, who went 22-0 with a 1.23 ERA in the regular season for the Pacific League champions, isn’t eligible for free agency, so he has to go through the posting process that can’t begin before November 1st — which is Tanaka’s 25th birthday. If the Japanese series goes seven games, it will end Nov. 3. Based on several executives’ opinions, the posting price to the Golden Eagles will be in the $60 million range. Feinsand includes the Diamondbacks among the interested clubs. How many others are laying in the long grass is hard to say.

 

Alumni News

If the Tigers and A’s had been locked in a close game in the late innings, Doug Fister was available as a pinch runner. [Detroit Manager Jim] Leyland said he told Fister before the game to be ready just in case. —MLB .com

 

The Yankees sent assistant general manager Billy Eppler and respected pro scout and former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu to watch Tanaka pitch extensively this season. —George A. King III at the NY Post