Mariners Mini Morsels: February 3

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today; so, according to legend, there will be six more weeks of winter. But, for baseball fans, spring does begin early this year when pitchers and catchers for the Diamondbacks (February 6) and Dodgers (February 8) report one week earlier than the other 28 MLB teams because of their season-opening series in Australia. Source: Edward Creech at MLB Trade Rumors

I’ve been a fan of Franklin Gutierrez since he joined the club; he was an amazing center fielder. I’m glad to see that the team signed him for this season, as when he’s on the field he can be special. In trying to figure out what he might be able to contribute this season I googled Ankylosing_Spondylitis, which is the condition he has and must overcome to play baseball at the major league level. I’m no doctor but I can read English and Wikipedia provides more than is easily digested about a very complex and very serious condition, which can affect the spine, other joints and areas of the body. Only Guti and his doctors can know approximately how debilitating his condition is at this point in time as they are progressive and affect individuals differently. It seems from what I could grasp about the condition that he will face some restrictions on how much he can play and will probably have to deal with some pain management issues. I for one will be sending best wishes his way anytime he’s on the field that he can once again show us why he is Death to Flying Things. maqman

Baseball is your spouse. Football is your fling. Baseball requires your constant attention and rewards you for your diligence and loyalty. Football asks that you stop by just once a week, at which point it treats you to a sensory smorgasbord.

“We’re in a lot of businesses,” Larry Baer, president and CEO of the San Francisco Giants, said Friday in a telephone interview. “We’re in the business of winning games, but we’re also delivering content and entertainment.”

It can be a depressing landscape for baseball when folks naturally compare it to football. The key, then, is for baseball to ignore those comparisons. For it to take comfort in its sheer volume of people who come to games and watch them, if not with the same intensity, and in the long-term value of being a spouse rather than a fling.

“One great thing about baseball, especially where we are, we feel like a town center,” Baer said. “People come to our ballpark to celebrate. To mourn. … People want to spend holidays, birthdays, anniversary celebrations with us.

“In the rhythm of your life and your community, baseball occupies a unique place in that respect.” Source: Ken Davidoff of the New York Post

AL West Commentary

Los Angeles Angels — The Angels needed a makeover and GM Jerry Dipoto did a nice job giving them one. A team with enough power, and the likelihood that Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols could rebound, traded Mark Trumbo in a three-way deal with the Diamondbacks and White Sox, and revamped the rotation with young starters Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs (who has some maturing to do). Dipoto also acquired David Freese to play third, which should make up somewhat for the loss of Trumbo, and setup man Joe Smith.

Texas Rangers — GM Jon Daniels is one of the best, and it’s reflected in his work in dealing for Prince Fielder for the middle of the order and then inking Shin-Soo Choo, the best on-base guy in baseball. The loss of [Nelson] Cruz’s righthanded power may be felt, though he could still wind up back on a shorter deal as the DH or in some type of platoon with Mitch Moreland. Don’t bet against Daniels adding another starting pitcher. Source: Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe

Mariner’s potential off-season targets

There are more than a dozen veterans close to the prime of their careers still looking for employment for 2014. As has been written many times before, draft-pick compensation has a lot to do with that in the cases of Ervin SantanaUbaldo JimenezKendrys MoralesStephen Drew and Nelson Cruz. But another reason is that more teams have turned late-winter bottom feeding into a strategy.

As one general manager explained to some agents in early December, his intention was to wait until just before spring training, when the prices were greatly depressed, before plucking somebody out of the ranks of the increasingly desperate. The theory, the GM said at the time, was that teams might not get the best free agents, but they stood a chance to get the best values. More and more teams prefer to wait for the market to fall to them, to snag an established player at a bargain-basement price, rather than reach for a preferred player earlier in the winter.

In the eyes of their rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays have been especially adept at this — having the patience and discipline to know that eventually, some players will grow weary of being asked by anxious family members about where they will sign, and those players will begin to put pressure on their agents to make deals, even at a cut rate. The offseason game of musical chairs is all but played out; there is relatively little cash available, and far fewer jobs, and some players will want a resolution ASAP. Source: Buster Olney at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]

A recent ask on behalf of Bronson Arroyo in the last two weeks was for a three-year deal. Chris Capuano’s asking price — at two years earlier in the winter — is down to one year, according to sources. From: Buster Olney at ESPN via Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs

Oliver Perez is looking for a job. But on Sunday afternoon, he was just looking for three outs. The left-handed pitcher struggled in his first appearance of the Caribbean Series, giving up three runs in the ninth inning of Mexico’s 6-3 victory over Puerto Rico. Perez, who is a free agent, said he is looking for the right deal before he commits. “There are teams that are interested, but there’s nothing finalized and I can’t really speak on that,” Perez said. “I’m here to help lift the level of baseball in Mexico and win the Caribbean Series. It’s an honor to be here.” Source: Jesse Sanchez at MLB.com

You can pick through the free agent scrap heap and find Fernando RodneyJose Valverde, Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos MarmolBrandon LyonMitchell BoggsRyan MadsonJoel HanrahanAndrew BaileyRafael Betancourt (likely to miss all of 2014 after Tommy John surgery), and Bobby Jenks — all guys who have been closers in the majors. Lefty Oliver Perez and righty Luis Ayala are also still available. You can also dig through the rubble and find Paul Maholm, Erik BedardJoe SaundersJeff NiemannJake Westbrook, Chris Capuano, Johan SantanaA.J. BurnettCarl PavanoJeff Karstens, and Tommy Hanson. Could Juan Pierrestill fill a need? Andres Torres? Sometimes the “tack-ons” can produce unexpected success. Source: Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe

Baseball Best Practice

Today, more than half of MLB’s 30 clubs have some sort of timeshare on the table at one or, in many cases, multiple positions. And the Oakland A’s and manager Bob Melvin — referred to by one player as the “King of Platoons” last season — are not alone in employing the practice. “You’re never going to have, more often than not, a perfect player,” A’s general manager Billy Beane said at the Winter Meetings. “It’s just trying to use every bit of the roster that we have.”

Indeed, sheer handedness is not always the determining factor we deem it to be.

Earl Weaver was the King of Platoons long before Melvin was, but Weaver’s platoons were based not just on the simple splits but on the velocity of the opposing pitcher and how his hitters fared against the fastball. This is where the increasing intricacy of data does come into play, because now managers are better positioned to put their players in favorable conditions, such as a fly-ball hitter going to bat against a sinkerball pitcher (a match up the A’s have certainly sought to exploit in recent seasons).

All of which is to say that it’s probably harder than ever for the preview magazines to pin down a “projected” lineup for a club because the line-ups are predicated upon any number of varying factors from day to day. And although teams have stopped short of going to 11-man pitching staffs to expand their bench, they have shown a slight-yet-noticeable increase in appreciation for lineup flexibility. “I think every manager would like to do it,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “You just can’t always do it. You can’t ever forget that they’re people. So that’s part of the communication. It’s getting guys to understand that we’re a team, and it’s not all about personal numbers.” Source: Anthony Castrovince at MLB.com

International

Sources confirmed that South Korean RHP, Suk-Min Yoon held a workout for representatives from the Baltimore Orioles, and reportedly the San Francisco Giants this past week. During the workout, Yoon threw a 30-pitch bullpen session, and showcased his fastball, slider, changeup and a curve. (According to Naver Sports Yoon has a nine pitch repertoire.) Yoon struggled during the 2013 season due to a shoulder injury. He posted a 4.16 ERA in 11 starts, and a 3.60 ERA in 19 relief appearances. This workout seems to have occurred to put the injury concerns to rest. Yoon is an international free agent, meaning he won’t require a posting fee or the forfeiture of a draft pick. He is represented by Scott Boras, and has been working out at the Boras Corporation since October. Other teams to be linked to Yoon are the Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, and the Cleveland Indians. A detailed profile on Yoon can be found here. Source: Global Sporting Integration

By The Numbers

A MLB Trade Rumors reader’s poll asked if readers preferred Nelson Cruz or Kendrys Morales as a free agent signing. Of 17,226 votes Cruz received 8,632, or 49.99%, while Morales got 8,634 votes, or 50.01%.

19 of the 32 NFL franchises have won NONE of the past 25 Super Bowls. But over in baseball, where The Same Teams Win Every Year, more than half the franchises in the sport (16 of 30) have won at least one World Series in the past 25 years. Imagine that. And 24 of the 30 teams have played in one of those World Series. The Yankees now have played in only one of the past 10 World Series. In the NFL, on the other hand, the Steelers (three), Patriots (three), Seahawks (two) and Giants (two) have combined for 10 Super Bowl appearances over the past 10 Super Sundays. Jason Stark at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]

Baseball Biz

It’s February, and dozens of baseball free agents are still looking for work. The players union is concerned that club executives may be violating the collective-bargaining agreement by commenting publicly about their negotiating positions.

Some on the players’ side also are expressing growing frustration about how the market is playing out for certain free agents, specifically top starting pitchers.

Rob Manfred, baseball’s chief operating officer, told FOX Sports that the union has not specifically complained to him about the nature of the market, but acknowledged that the two sides have discussed remarks by club executives to the media. “We have had conversations with the union about public comments concerning free agents,” Manfred said. “We have a mutual interest in assuring that there is no excessive commentary.” Rules in the CBA state that team officials cannot communicate through the media the substance of economic terms discussed by players and clubs — the facts of an offer, or whether the club will decline to make an offer. Source: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports

Baseball History

This continues to be one of the all-time weirdest/greatest defensive plays ever. From: Buster Olney at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended] (It’s got my vote.)

Alumni News

Chris Tillman is a fine young pitcher, one who would be worthy of a home in the middle of most big league rotations, so this really isn’t meant to put him down. But he is exactly why the Orioles need another good arm because he’s not in the middle of Baltimore’s rotation; he’s at the top. Source: Mike Petriello at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]

Joel Pineiro, who has not pitched in the big leagues since 2011 with the Angels, is on the comeback trail and is scheduled to start Tuesday for Puerto Rico’s Indios de Mayaguez against Cuba’s Villa Clara team. Tuesday’s outing might be Pineiro’s last chance to impress a big league team and earn a Spring Training invitation. It could also be the last time he ever steps onto the mound in a game.

“I have had 11 years in the big leagues, so I’m not complaining, but I’m not ready to shut it down,” he said. “I’m 35 and I told my wife this would be my last real push at it. I have four kids, my oldest is in middle school, but I still have the desire and love for the game.” Pineiro went 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA in 26 innings in five outings for Ponce this winter in Puerto Rico. For his career, he’s 104-93 with a 4.41 ERA in 335 games (263 starts) since he made his big league debut for Seattle in 2000. Drafted in the 12th round by the Mariners in 1997, the right-hander went 58-55 with a 4.48 ERA in 996 innings for Seattle in parts of seven seasons. Source: Jesse Sanchez at MLB.com