Mariners Mini Morsels: December 22

The Mariners are the team considered most likely to make a play for Price but seem to talk more about what prospects they don’t want to trade (Taijuan WalkerJames Paxton). Agent Bo McKinnis saying Price wouldn’t consider an extension in Seattle could dim the Mariners’ interest, though Price then said he would be “open minded to anything.” Source: Marc Topkin at Tampa Bay Times

 

The Mariners, it would seem, are now in prime position to sign Nelson Cruz with Choo going to Texas. From: Bob Nightengale at USAToday

 

AL West Commentary

Every single team in AL West is improved. Would not say that about any other division. From: Jon Heyman at CBS Sports

 

Texas has added nearly $400MM in future salary obligations to its books during the 2013 calendar year. Source: Zach Links at MLB Trade Rumors

 

The larger point in the wake of the Choo agreement is that the AL West is one loaded division. The Rangers probably are the most loaded club, but consider how each team has improved:

• The two-time defending division champion Athletics added left-hander Scott Kazmir, closer Jim Johnson, right-handed setup man Luke Gregerson and infielder Nick Punto while subtracting outfielder Seth Smith, lefty Brett Anderson and right-hander Bartolo Colon.

• The Angels added third baseman David Freese and left-handers Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago while subtracting outfielders Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos — and remain a front-runner for free-agent right-hander Matt Garza.

• The Mariners added second baseman Robinson Cano, infielder Willie Bloomquist and first basemen/outfielders Corey Hart and Logan Morrison — and remain a logical landing spot for the ex-Ranger Cruz.

• Even the Astros should be more presentable after adding right-hander Scott Feldman, center fielder Dexter Fowler and relievers Chad Qualls and Matt Albers.

But goodness, the Rangers again look like the team to beat. Source: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports

 

Per source, 1st year of Choo deal lower than others, giving Rangers additional flexibility for 2014. Out on Tanaka; other moves would be smaller. In a perfect world: Rangers would get corner UTL man with RH power to round out offense, one more veteran SP for depth, another power RH reliever. From: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports (Oh waiter! Can you take the Mariner’s order now?)

 

Among Ellsbury, McCann and Beltran, the Yankees committed $283M for 15 years. Between Choo and Fielder, the Rangers will pay $268M for 14 years. From: Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports 

 

Dodgers owe Andre Ethier 4/$72 or 5/$87. Not sure Choo is worth extra 3/$58 or 2/$43. From: Dave Cameron at FanGraphs

(I think Dave is right on this one.)

 

With Fielder and Choo, Rangers have won the offseason, will accept congrats from ’13 Jays, ’12 Marlins, ’11 Red Sox. From: Jon Morosi at Fox Sports

 

If you want to nitpick the Rangers after their seven-year, $130 million agreement with free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, you can argue that they lack right-handed power. They’ve parted with right-handed-hitting Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz and acquired left-handed-hitting Choo and Prince Fielder, leaving Adrian Beltre as the primary right-handed threat.

It’s a different look, for sure. It’s a more expensive look, seeing as how the Rangers will pay Choo and Fielder a combined $268 million over the next seven years. It would be difficult to argue, though, that it’s a worse look. Heavens no.

 

So they said

“This is how we compete,” [Rangers GM Jon] Daniels said a few days ago. “When you’re acquiring a player or closing a deal, there’s an adrenaline rush. You gotta make sure that’s not the reason you’re doing it, but it’s fun to deliver a player that’s going to make a difference.

That’s a joy. Any scout that doesn’t get excited about a player he’s going to sign or any coach who’s not excited about working with a player or someone in the front office that’s not excited about a deal makes you wonder. That’s what we do. It has to play out on the field, but it’s fun.” Jean-Jacques Taylor at ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth

 

Mariner’s potential off-season targets

Former closer Mitch Williams offered a comparison of [Grant Balfour] and [Fernando Rodney] last night on MLB Network. He said Rodney has the best “stuff,” though that doesn’t necessarily make him the better closer. Here’s an excerpt:  “When you look at his fastball, 98-99 (mph). This guy doesn’t even have mechanics. He’s like just throwing a rock. He doesn’t pick his front leg up. He just rears back and throws.

Williams went on to laud Rodney for having the “exact same delivery” with his changeup and breaking stuff as his fastball.

“Stuff-wise, there’s no question that Rodney’s stuff is better. But intelligence and being able to put guys away with lesser stuff, that’s Balfour. His location’s better. Sure, 93 mph, but 93 mph that’s elevated in the ninth inning. That is very smart closing.” Source: Roch Kubatko at MASN

 

Scott Boras trying to engage Mets ownership in talks over 2 big remaining free agents, Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales. Drew would be a nice upgrade at SS, but price will be issue after Mets spent $87.5M on Granderson, Colon and Chris Young. From: Jerry Crasnick at ESPN

 

Choo post running tomorrow, but spoiler here: Rangers would make lots of sense for Kendrys Morales. Void at DH, 1st-round pick already gone. From: Jonah Keri at Grantland

 

Colby Rasmus, CF  Toronto Blue Jays Rasmus finished with 4.8 WAR in 2013, ahead of such center fielders such as Adam JonesAustin Jackson and Brett Gardner. Despite missing more than 40 games, he still hit 22 homers and posted a .840 OPS. There are a few teams that could use a player like him, such as the Reds, Cubs and Giants, and the Jays have Anthony Gose ready to play center field in his absence. That would be a downgrade on offense, but Toronto wants to upgrade its rotation and Rasmus is probably the club’s best trade piece when you consider their in-house replacement.
Toronto can be a contender if it can get an elite pitcher, and Rasmus’ value will never be higher than it is right now. Source: Jim Bowden at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]

 

Baseball Best Practice

“Ground-ball pitchers and good infield defense go hand in hand, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “If you’re going to have a ground-ball staff, you’ve got to have good infield defense. We believe those two things are going to come together on our team.”  Source: Evan Drellich at the Houston Chronicle

 

“Why does MLB have record revenues anyway? I would argue that it’s more to with improvements to marketing, analytics and team operational models than anything the players are doing differently.” From: Patrick Newman at NPB Tracker  

 

International

Great Britain’s Michael Roth, who has made his Major League debut for the Los Angeles Angels this year and pitched for GB in last year’s World Baseball Classic Qualifier in Regensburg, spoke up for Baseball reinstatement into the Olympic Games in an article of Inside the Games.

“That would be awesome and I think Tokyo has the power to actually do that,” the 23-year old told inside the games during a visit to the MLB’s Europe, Africa and Middle East headquarters in London. Whoever is leading the charge with the Olympic Committee, they’re going to argue that there’s no need to build a baseball field. We already have the field and all the infrastructure provided by the Japanese League. It’s a big sport in Japan and big business for them – they’re gonna want it in the Olympics and I think they will try and fight hard for it.” Source: Inside the Games

 

By The Numbers

The Rangers left-handed outfielders ranked 27th in OBP last season (.297). Shin-Soo Choo was 4th in the league at .423. ESPN Stats & Info

 

The Astros led the majors in errors in 2013 with 125. There were 20 teams that didn’t reach 100. Evan Drellich at the Houston Chronicle

 

The Rangers dropped from first to eighth in MLB in runs scored [in 2013]. The Rangers scored two or fewer runs in 54 games. Jean-Jacques Taylor at ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth