Mariners Mini Morsels: December 17

The Ms better get something in return for those beautiful eyes.

Source says of Yankees inquiry on MarinersAckley: “No traction there.” From: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports

 

The PiratesBrewers and Astros still need a first baseman, and at least four are available via trade — the Rangers’ Mitch Moreland, Blue Jays’ Adam LindMets’ Ike Davis and Mariners’ Justin Smoak. The good news for the Pirates is that all four could be a left-handed complement for Gaby Sanchez (Smoak is a switch-hitter). The Brewers, too, are in an advantageous negotiating position, though they might choose to take a look at Hunter Morris, who has hit 52 homers at Double A and Triple A the past two seasons. Morris, like Juan Francisco, is a left-handed hitter. The Astros could look at the NationalsTyler Moore, who played for ‘Stros manager Bo Porter in Washington when Porter was a coach with the Nationals. Source: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports

 

Hart is aware of Safeco’s reputation as a tough park for right-handed hitters, but some of that was alleviated last year when the left-field fences were brought in. And Hart’s initial peek at the park yielded no shivers despite chilly December temperatures that aren’t unfamiliar to a player from Milwaukee. “You hear all this stuff, but I walked out there and it looks fine,” Hart said. “It looked like right-center might be big for a right-hander, but usually if I hit ’em, they go out no matter where it’s at. I don’t hit it a foot over; I hit it pretty far over. So I’m not worried about that. And you play half your games on the road anyway, and this league has some good hitter’s parks.” Source: Greg Johns at MLB

 

On Taijuan Walker: “He’s ready. I think we saw that starting around last June, but it was good that he got more innings in Triple-A. It just got to a point where — at least for me — it was tough to hold him back. He was ready for more challenges. That doesn’t mean he’s 100 percent ready to do everything. He’s still learning, and he’s hungry to learn. He’s a tremendous kid, and I think he’s ready to pitch in the major leagues.”

On James Paxton: “All of a sudden, about the middle of this year, the delivery, the curveball, the changeup, the fastball command — everything came together. That came from all of his hard work, his continuing to stay at it. He came up and pitched very well in September. He’s still got some things to learn, especially hitters in the league. But with the kind of student he is, there’s never been a doubt in my mind that he would figure it out.” Seattle Mariners pitching coach Rick Waits as interviewed by David Laurila at FanGraphs (Read the whole interview here.)

 

The Mariners are considering bringing back Franklin Gutierrez on a 1-year, incentive-laden deal. It would be a low-risk investment, but even adding another outfielder might not be a bad idea. Right now, the Mariners only have Michael Saunders in center field. Dustin Ackley started 46 games in center field last season, but the Mariners seem to view him more as a full-time left fielder and a part-time center fielder. Also having a strong defensive outfielder would be good as a late-inning replacement. Ryan Divish at the Seattle Times

 

AL West Commentary

Want to know why the Angels are interested in signing Raul Ibanez to be their DH? Check out Ibanez’s career slash line at Angels Stadium: .349/.407/.522 in 327 plate appearances. The Angels believe that they can sign both Ibanez and right-hander Matt Garza and barely remain under the $189 million luxury-tax threshold. Their savings of $4 million in the Mark Trumbo trade helped. Source: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports

 

So they said

 “Man, you can’t pitch inside any more. Batters come to the plate wearing more protective gear than a soldier in Afghanistan. You know what happens after most home plate collisions? The runner and the catcher get up, pat each other on the ass, and play goes on. Players know when a guy on the other team doesn’t do it right or wrong. If he does it wrong, that gets taken care of the next time the guy comes to bat.” —Pete Rose

 

Mariner’s potential off-season targets

It’ll be really interesting to see if a market develops for Ubaldo Jimenez, or if he’ll turn back to the Indians looking for a deal. From: Buster Olney at ESPN

 

Baseball Best Practice

“Trading players you have for a long time for one year or two years of service [from a player] doesn’t work and doesn’t make sense,” [Braves GM Frank] Wren told Jerry Crasnick at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]

 

“The role of a starting pitcher is to win the game, and I think that has been lost a little bit over the years. There are a lot of stats you can throw out there, but ultimately, that’s what a starter’s focus should be. If it isn’t, he’s not going to be the pitcher he can. And if you’re a reliever, keep the score exactly where it is. Whether you’re facing one batter or going nine innings, your job is to win the game. That’s what we want to emphasize here. Nothing else really matters. Our goal isn’t to get a little better this year. Our goal is to win it all.” Seattle Mariners pitching coach Rick Waits as interviewed by David Laurila at FanGraphs

 

International

The man at the center of the posting system drama finally broke his silence, and it was music to the ears of MLB fans and executives.Masahiro Tanaka, who went 24-0 on the mound for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles this season, wants to try his hand at pitching in the majors. Tanaka stated his wishes during a meeting with Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles president Yozo Tachibana Tuesday morning and during a news conference that afternoon.

“Today I told the team that I want to play in the majors next season,” Tanaka was quoted as saying by Sports Nippon during the news conference in Sendai. “I appreciate (president) Tachibana for giving me the chance to speak with him.”

The ball is now in Rakuten’s court as far as whether or not to honor Tanaka’s wishes and make him available to MLB clubs. The team had been widely expected to post the star pitcher this offseason, but changes to the posting system, which now places a $20 million cap on posting fees, has caused Rakuten officials to reconsider their options.

“They took it very seriously and listened to me well,” Tanaka said about the reaction of team executives to his wishes to be posted. “We’ll keep having discussions on many issues. We’ve communicated with each other well.” Tachibana has said his priority was to try and keep Tanaka in Japan. “We have talked many times,” Tanaka said. “It was today that the new posting system was agreed to officially, so he asked me for some time to consider it.”

Tanaka is coming off a historic season for Rakuten. The right-hander was perfect with one save during the regular season and ran his overall record (including the postseason) to 26-0 before suffering his only defeat of the year against the Yomiuri Giants in Game 6 of the Japan Series, during which he threw 160 pitches in a complete-game loss. Tanaka finished the regular season with 183 strikeouts and a 1.27 ERA in 212 innings. He set a new record for consecutive games won in a single season (24) and also for consecutive games won (30) and consecutive regular-season games won (28), with the latter two records dating back to Aug. 26, 2012. The 25-year-old ace led the Eagles to their first-ever Pacific League pennant and Japan Series title this year, and took home his first PL MVP and second Sawamura Award (The Japanese equivalent to the Cy Young Award.) “I have been hoping to go to the majors in the future,” Tanaka said. “But after finishing the season and when thinking about the next season, I wanted to try to challenge myself on a new stage.” Source: Jason Coskrey at the Japan Times

 

In a case like Masahiro Tanaka’s, the new posting system makes the deal significantly better for the player and significantly worse for the team. So the incentive for the player to go and for the team to hang on have both increased. I think this could drive a wedge between the player and team, which we’re kind of seeing with Tanaka and Rakuten right now. Patrick Newman at NPB Tracker  

 

The Golden Eagles are under no obligation to make Tanaka available to major league teams and could retain him for another year or two. Tanaka, 25, is expected to learn his fate Tuesday, when he is scheduled to meet with Golden Eagles officials. Sankei Sports, a Japanese sports newspaper, reported that Golden Eagles owner Hiroshi Mikitani has decided to let Tanaka go to the major leagues. However, the report didn’t contain direct quotes from Mikitani or any other high-ranking Golden Eagles executive. Source: Dylan Hernandez at the LA Times

 

By The Numbers

Edgar Martinez had a .400+ OBP every year from 1995-2003. That’s ages 32-40, including a .479 mark in 1995. From 1995-2001, Edgar’s OBP was over .420 every year, and three times it was over .450. Source: YCPB You Cant Predict Baseball