“If he [makes the team], great,” Zduriencik said. “Great for Jesus Montero, great for this organization. But at this time, if you are bringing him in here and counting on him, I think that’s a little too risky at this point. You know he’s a talented player, but he does have [Minor League] options, he’s switching positions and I think at this moment in time you can’t necessarily count on him. I’m not saying he won’t come in and be ready to roll and all of the sudden you are looking at the Jesus Montero you thought you acquired, but I think you’d be foolish to say you are counting on this guy. He’s been through too much the last year and he has too much to prove to all of us.”
“I got a lot of criticism for supporting the move, (signing Cano) but here’s the thing: The Mariners have more money than God. Pretending otherwise is just silly and misleading,” Keri said. Source: Jonah Keri at Grantland via Shannon Drayer at My Northwest
Their search for right-handed-hitting outfielders could bring the Mariners back to a familiar figure, as general manager Jack Zduriencik acknowledged Tuesday that the club is talking to free agent Franklin Gutierrez. The Mariners declined a $7 million club option last month on a contract that would have kept Gutierrez with the team this season, but are willing now to talk about a smaller one-year deal with the oft-injured center fielder. Gutierrez, 31, played just 173 of the team’s 486 games over the past three seasons due to a variety of injuries and illnesses, many of which he’s since attributed to an inflammatory condition called ankylosing spondylitis. The 2009 American League Gold Glove winner believes he finally began dealing with that condition with medication after being diagnosed in midseason last year, but an attempt to play winter ball in Venezuela recently was cancelled when he became sick again. The Mariners obviously couldn’t count on Gutierrez, but could bring him back on a low-risk salary and see how he performed.
Zduriencik said Ackley can be viewed now as a full-time outfielder, though he “still has some things to prove” after a horrible start to his 2013 season led to a .253 batting average.“He played a nice outfield for us,” Zduriencik said. “The guy can run. He doesn’t have a great throwing arm. But if this guy becomes the hitter we think he will be when we drafted him, then we’ll all be happy with that.” Source: Greg Johns at MLB
“I think Seattle will be one of the most active teams,” he said. “It might be next week that we see a really big shoe drop for the Mariners or somebody else. Because frankly, if you get Cano and nobody else, it doesn’t make any sense. Now you are a pretty good team but not a very good team. You can’t stop now. I would keep going. Maybe it doesn’t happen between now and Thursday but within the next seven days I feel pretty confident you are gong to see some pretty big news.” Source: Jonah Keri at Grantland via Shannon Drayer at My Northwest
Sources:Mariners interested in free agent reliever Fernando Rodney. He has a good relationship with Lloyd McClendon from time in Detroit. From: Jon Morosi at Fox Sports
AL West Commentary
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto summed up Tuesday’s tough-but-necessary three-team deal this way: “Yesterday we needed to do something to solve our pitching, and now it’s a matter of what we want to do.” By sending Mark Trumbo to the D-backs, the Angels gained two young, controllable left-handed starters in Tyler Skaggs, 22, and Hector Santiago, 25, while clearing about $4 million in payroll. Now they can really hit the free-agent market.
The Angels have roughly $20 million of wiggle room before hitting the luxury-tax threshold of $189 million, and Dipoto said they’ll be “very aggressive with how we fill our pitching needs.” The Angels have five Major League starters, but three of them — Skaggs, Santiago and Garrett Richards — have Minor League options. They’d like to add a free agent — Matt Garza is still believed to be high on their list — and as Dipoto added, “It never hurts to create some payroll flexibility.” To replace Trumbo’s offense, Gonzalez suggests the Angels will likely turn toward a relatively inexpensive hitter, like Raul Ibanez or Michael Morse. Source: Alden Gonzalez at MLB.com
So they said
“You can have all the managerial skills in the world, if you don’t have talent, it really doesn’t make a difference. The players make the manager; the manager doesn’t make the player. I can obviously complement them and try to bring the best out of them. But Chuck Tanner told me a long time ago donkeys don’t win the Kentucky Derby. Thoroughbreds do. You’ve got to have thoroughbreds out there.” Source: Lloyd McClendon via Ryan Divish at the Seattle Times
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Any team trading for Trumbo thinking they’re getting an offensive monster is severely mistaken. From: Dave Cameron at FanGraphs (Evidently the Diamondbacks don’t read Dave’s stuff.)
Teams that have talked with the Rangers in the last 24 hours say Texas feels Shin-Soo Choo is going to be far too expensive for them. From: Buster Olney at ESPN (If true they will be out on Tanaka too then.)
Teams in Nelson Cruz hunt don’t get sense we’re near finish line. Rangers, Mariners, and Orioles among teams that look to be still involved. From: Jason Stark at ESPN
Important takeaway for market at large:Tigers are less likely to land Shin-Soo Choo, with Rajai Davis’ imminent arrival. From: Jon Morosi at Fox Sports
Five teams have emerged as the most serious suitors for Los Angeles Dodgers centerfielder Matt Kemp: Seattle, Detroit, Boston and two unidentified National League teams. As trade talks between those five clubs and the Dodgers proceed, Kemp is beginning to lessen concerns about his recovery from ankle and shoulder injuries. He recently shed the walking boot he had been using for the left ankle that was surgically repaired in October.
He has begun upper body workouts, which he had been unable to do before last season until January. He underwent a procedure on his left shoulder in October prior to the ankle surgery. The Dodgers expect Kemp to be ready for spring training. They have been telling clubs they are prepared to play next season with Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig splitting 1,800 or so at-bats for three outfield spots. Both clubs have pursued Kemp with the idea that Los Angeles would kick in some of the $128 million owed to Kemp over the next six years.
Too many “complications” to make a Matt Kemp deal work for the Red Sox according to an industry source, most notably recovery of ankle. From: Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe
(The reference is to the microfracture surgery Kemp underwent on the talus bone in his left ankle. This is a weight bearing bone and microfracture surgery can be tricky. It is a realistic possibility that it might not heal right or that it could break again and essentially end his career. He’s the epitome of high risk, high reward and it’s somewhat telling that the Dodgers are willing to trade him. Grady Sizemore had a problem with it. From his Wikipedia listing: “Sizemore had microfracture surgery on his right knee in September , after a previous arthroscopic procedure in 2011 was unsuccessful in healing his ailing knee.”)
The Phillies have indicated to other teams they are ready and willing to talk about Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in trades. From: Buster Olney at ESPN
Other rumors have the Mariners linked to Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison and perhaps ready for round two with Franklin Gutierrez. Enrique Rojas of ESPN: Deportes reports that Gutierrez is looking for a one-year, incentive-laden contract. Source: Shannon Drayer at My Northwest
The Astros are one of a handful of teams who have talked with reps for Grady Sizemore, who hasn’t played since 2011. From: Brian McTaggart at MLB.com
Colby Rasmus is on the market and has been offered to two teams by the Blue Jays for starting pitching. Source: Bob Elliott at The Toronto Sun
(Rasmus is entering his final year of arbitration.)
Baseball Best Practice
There are so many little things that can win or lose a ballgame. You know, when you talk about trying to close the gap, we have to be on top of our game particularly when it comes to base running throwing to the right bases. Moving runners. Even when you make a strikeout. Even when you strikeout, is it a tough out? Is it a productive out? There are so many things that we need to shore up, and we’re going to try to address not only in spring training, but throughout the year.
I think one of the dangers, particularly when you have a young club, even when you win games, not to address the things that you did wrong can carry over and cause you to lose a game the next game. So we have to be careful how we go about our business, understand that we’re going to have constructive criticism to make us better and to close the gap on those teams that are “maybe a little bit more talented than we are.” Source:Lloyd McClendon via Ryan Divish at the Seattle Times
Q. What is your feeling on early work during the season? It seemed to be an issue around the club last year.
”I don’t know whether or not it was an issue with this club. I do know my background and how I go about my business I think is a valuable tool for you. I believe players are creatures of habit. When you can go out and work on your craft and work in a quality manner, not so much quantity, but certainly quality, I think it’s going to help you as far as in‑game preparation, in‑game reactions, and in‑game results.
“In Detroit, we had what we call our 4 o’clock hour where we go out and do things, whether it was infielders or guys doing some soft tossing on the field or outfielders throwing the bases. I think the game has evolved to the point now where people talk about well you don’t take infield. I think infield is to a point now where because of the demands on the players and because of the scheduling that it may be a detriment because you go out and do your early work. You heat up, you throw, you take batting practice and you come back in for an hour, hour 15 minutes and you cool off. Then to go back out and try to get loose again, take infield, go back in and cool off again, I think it can be a little dangerous. For me, that 4 o’clock hour is very important to get a lot of things done as far as preparation is concerned for the game.” Source: Lloyd McClendon via Ryan Divish at the Seattle Times
Hiroshima Carp right-hander Kenta Maeda has further fueled speculation that he could be posted, as Maeda told Japanese media this week that he wants to play in MLB. Maeda said he has felt that way for some time, but his sentiment grew stronger after his performance in the World Baseball Classic. Maeda didn’t specify whether he hoped Hiroshima would post him this offseason. Maeda, 25, ranked as Baseball America’s No. 7 prospect at the WBC among players not affiliated with a major league team. Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu, who signed a six-year, $68 million contract with the White Sox, was No. 3. Now there’s sentiment that Maeda could be available this offseason once the posting system is finalized. “If it’s 100 percent from him, I think Hiroshima is definitely on board,” said one international director. “They can see the finances behind it. Maeda is not the superstar that Tanaka is for Rakuten or (Yu) Darvish was for Nippon Ham and (Daisuke) Matsuzaka was for Seibu.”
Compared to Tanaka, Maeda doesn’t throw as hard or have a devastating out pitch like Tanaka’s splitter, but he is the No. 2 pitcher in Japan and would go immediately to the majors if posted. This past season, Maeda led Japan’s Central League in ERA and ranked second in strikeouts, posting a 2.10 ERA in 175 2/3 innings with 158 strikeouts (8.1 K/9) and 40 walks (2.0 BB/9). In 2010, Maeda won the Sawamura Award, Japan’s equivalent of the Cy Young. (Tanaka won it this year.)
Maeda is a slightly-built 6 feet, 160 pounds and throws around 87-93 mph with good sink and run, though he doesn’t get great angle on his fastball. He’s a good athlete, which helps him repeat his delivery and thrive when his command, which can be plus at times, is on point. Maeda doesn’t have one knockout secondary pitch, but he has a solid-average slider and mixes in a curveball and a changeup as well.
“I liked Maeda” said a second international director. “He could be a fourth starter at the big league level. I really like his command and he has a good slider. He doesn’t have much plane, he really has to hit his spots, but he has good stuff. It’s not overpowering stuff, but he’ll keep you in games.” Since the new posting system hasn’t been finalized yet, Tanaka and Maeda are still in limbo at this point. But it’s possible another pitcher could soon be thrown onto the market.
Source:Ben Badler at Baseball America
Some slight changes are coming to the limits on international spending next year. For the current signing period (2013-14) that began on July 2 and the previous one (2012-13), teams have been assigned signing bonus pools. However, each team also is allowed six signings of up to $50,000 that are exempt from the bonus pools. When the 2014-15 signing period begins on July 2, those six exemptions will no longer exist. The rule, as outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement and reminded to teams today at a meeting for international scouts, essentially eliminates $300,000 is from what each team can spend without being penalized. As for the rest of today’s two-hour meeting, several sources described it as largely procedural, without much new being disclosed. Teams were not given any new information about the pending posting system with Japan. As one person in the meeting put it: “They said, ‘Here’s your update on Japan: We don’t have an update on Japan.’ ” Source: Ben Badler at Baseball America
Hearing that former Mariner Jason Bay might be headed to Japan to play with Yomiuri Giants. From: Greg Johns at MLB
Mike Morse is said by teams to be looking for $7m/$8m range in his one-year deal. From: Buster Olney at ESPN