Mariners Mini Morsels: February 1

Wild Thing.

Is a classic baseball movie series about to get a fourth installment? The possibility is out there according to one of the stars of the original films.Bob Uecker spoke to Tom Haudricourt at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about the chances for a fourth movie in the popular Major League series, and indicated that another movie could be in the works.

“They’re talking about it. Have asked me if I’d be in for it. I told them I would,” Uecker revealed. Uecker of course portrayed drunken baseball announcer Harry Doyle in the original movies. “Juuuust a bit outside.” Who can forget that classic line? Source: Dan Zinski at Call To The Pen

 

Jim Bowden at ESPN says that “sources are telling me that the Mariners may make an offer to Nelson Cruz” and that they may well do it before the week is out. Seattle’s general manager Jack Zduriencik has indeed previously expressed interest in Cruz: “Would I like to have him here? Absolutely… But how much do you have to pay him, how many years is it going to be and are you willing to lose another draft pick?”
Buster Olney at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended] thinks the team would be better off waiting a few days to make any offer in order for the deal to not get lost, given the fact that the city of Seattle’s attention is currently directed elsewhere. “It makes sense for the Mariners to again dip into free-agent waters, with Nelson Cruz seemingly a perfect fit. But it would also be logical for them to wait until after the Super Bowl to make this move, to get out of the shadow of the Seahawks so that their next deal gets the most attention possible,” Olney writes.

 

Spring Training is right around the corner, with Mariners Pitchers and Catchers reporting for duty in Peoria, Arizona in 13 days. The annual tradition of “Truck Day” is underway at Safeco Field, as a semi is packed with equipment and luggage heading South for Peoria. The truck is expected to reach Arizona sometime Sunday night, and will be unpacked next week in the newly remodelled spring training facility. Source: From the Corner of Edgar & Dave  

 

AL West Commentary

A’s outright OF Corey Brown to Triple-A, but he elects free agency. From: Jane Lee at MLB.com

 

First, starter Derek Holland went down in a freak accident at home. Now, the Texas Rangers have lost a reliever in a non-baseball-related accident. Scott Merkin at MLB.com reports that pitcher Joe Ortiz suffered a broken foot when a motorcycle driver ran over his foot near his home in Venezuela. He had surgery Friday morning, and the Rangers expect him to miss up to three months. In six Minor League years, Ortiz has an ERA of 2.35, making him a candidate to make the roster out of Spring Training this year. The expected three-month layoff will put his return at the end of April or beginning of May. Source: Raymond Bureauat Sports Injury Alert

 

Looking to potentially catch lightning in a bottle, the Texas Rangers have signed Daniel Bard to a minor league deal according to Jon Heyman at CBS Sports. There is no indication whether or not Bard will receive an invitation to Spring Training. Bard spent parts of five seasons with the Boston Red Sox, compiling a 3.67 ERA and 1.220 WHIP across 257.1 IP. The first three years of his career he was highly effective out of the bullpen, making 70+ appearances in each of the 2010 and 2011 seasons with a combined WHIP of 0.982. Some changes to his mechanics and struggles began, ultimately sending Bard into a spiral in which he’s appeared to lose all confidence. He walked 45 batters in his last 60.1 IP in the Major Leagues and then followed it up with 56 walks in 47.1 IP in the minors. Source: Aaron Somers at Call To The Pen

 

Astros RP Jesse Crain is expected to throw for the first time on Monday as he returns from surgery. From: Evan Drellich at the Houston Chronicle

 

Astros pitcher Mark Appel is recovering well after undergoing an appendectomy on Thursday in Houston. From: Brian McTaggart at MLB.com

 

Draft and Prospects

One of the Mariners’ future stars is Chris Taylor, a shortstop/second baseman who has speed, plus the ability to field well and provide “small ball”-type offense. More» Source: Bernie Pleskoff at MLB Pipeline  

 

Baseball Best Practice

Team officials are forbidden, by collectively bargained rules, to say for the record whether they are or are not in negotiations with a particular player, and agents are supposed to be bound by similar rules — of indicating a team has interest when it has none, in fact. But there has been a tsunami of disinformation dispensed through media outlets this offseason, especially in the past month, raising the question of why there are any rules at all. “It’s amazing how much stuff out there is flat-out wrong,” said one club official. Source: Buster Olney at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]

 

International

“Now the Yankees’ star free agent will be able to join the team at spring training with everyone else,” [New York Senator Chuck] Schumer said. “As a lifelong Yankee fan who is hoping for another World Series this year, I could not be happier.”

“My office works tirelessly to help constituents every single day, but it’s not often you get a call from a constituent like the New York Yankees,” Schumer said. “You see, the Yankees called me a couple of days ago to say they were worried about Masahiro Tanaka getting to spring training on time due to the length of time it can take for foreign players to get a visa. “Foreign baseball players apply for something called a P-visa and the whole process can take up to a month; but with pitchers and catchers reporting on February 14th, it was very possible he wasn’t going to make it. So I made sure we had someone go to the mailroom at USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), pull his application and get it processed quickly – something I have done in the past for the Mets as well, when they had a similar issue with Jose Reyes.” Source: Anthony McCarron at the New York Daily News

(New York players not only get special treatment, but they brag about it. So much for equal treatment under the law.)

 

Baseball History

Nowadays we are hearing a lot about how the pitchers seem to have an advantage against the hitters. Hit totals and batting averages are said to be down and pitchers are stronger than ever. Some put it down to hitters being forced off PEDs. Well there may some truth in that; however pitchers and all players are larger physically than they were 50 years ago. (I was 27 years old and 6 feet even at the time and was taller than most then, now not so much.) The thing is that this is not a new problem. It has happened before, in the 1960’s. In the March 24, 1969 issue of Sports Illustrated William Leggett wrote From Mountain To Molehill, saying that: “When baseball decided to lower the pitching mound to help the hitters, the change seemed minor, but there were signs last week that it may have a major effect on the pastime.”

“The mound was lowered to try to help return hitting to baseball, since 1968 was completely owned by the pitchers. Highlighted by the excellence of Denny McLain, who won 31 games for the Tigers, and also by Bob Gibson of the Cardinals, who pitched 13 shutouts, pitchers took charge from the very beginning. Only by putting on a strong surge late in the season did Carl Yastrzemski of the Red Sox lift his batting average to .301, the lowest figure to win a batting championship in the history of the game.”

“What has happened so far is that spring training has been a hitter’s festival. Imagine 54 runs being scored in the first three games of the Arizona exhibition schedule, or the New York Mets pounding out 22 hits in a single game. And all those strikeouts that seemed so dominant last March and early April are now a relic. The games might not be any faster this year, but they certainly are more interesting. Sometimes they recall jai alai more than baseball.” MLB changed the rule on mound height (which had been somewhat ignored by the teams to that point) and reduced them from 15 inches high to 10 inches.

Leggett wrote that:“A slight reduction in the strike zone and the experiment involving pinch hitters received more publicity during the off season than the lowering of the mound. Last year’s strike zone was from the top of the shoulder to the bottom of the kneecap, but it is now from the armpit to the top of the kneecap. So far there is little evidence that the changed strike zone has had any effect at all, or that indeed the umpires are paying any attention to it. The idea of using a “designated pinch hitter” in place of the pitcher has certainly not been universally accepted, even as an experiment. (Many teams, particularly in the National League, believe that the pitcher should bat in spring training because he is going to have to hit for himself once the regular season begins.)” The whole article is a great read about when the game changed in several ways at the same time and can be found here. The game has actually been accommodating changes since it started as a game called Rounders here in England at least as far back as the 1700’s.  If the pitchers have an advantage then knock them down a few inches. Five inches was enough last time. maqman

 

Alumni News

The Angels agree to a minor-league deal with catcher Yorvit Torrealba. It’s a good spot for him. From: Jon Heyman at CBS Sports

 

Chaz Roe, DFA by Rangers yesterday, on waivers with fate likely decided tomorrow. If he clears, likely he elects FA. Mutual interest with Texas. From: Chris Cotillo at MLB Daily Dish

 

“I feel good.” —Yakult’s [Wladimir] Coco Balentien said today after hitting 6 homers in BP….BP, people!!! From: The Japan News