Mariners Mini Morsels: February 16

“The feel (on my pitches), I feel like, is back to where it was,” Scott Baker said. “Not that you can’t be a serviceable pitcher before that feel comes all of the way back. But it definitely feels good coming out of my hand.” Source: Bob Dutton at The News Tribune


Baltimore also remains linked to Nelson Cruz, and Texas appears willing to retain him if his price falls significantly. Indications are Cruz would prefer those locations, which have hitter-friendly ballparks, over the Mariners. Even so, many industry insiders expect circumstances to push Cruz back toward the Mariners. “The best deal he can get will still probably be Seattle,” an official from a rival club said. “They need what he can deliver, but they’re in the driver’s seat unless an injury creates a need on another team.” The Mariners know all about that. Source: Bob Dutton at The News Tribune


According to USAToday  [Justin] Smoak’s deal will pay $2.63 million for 2014. If he accumulates 525 plate appearances this season, the ’15 option kicks in at $3.65 million, with a $150,000 buyout clause. The 27-year-old hit .238 with 50 RBIs and a career-high 20 home runs last season, despite being placed on the 15-day disabled list in June with a right oblique strain. He hit 17 of those homers in his final 85 games after coming off the DL on June 18.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder played in 131 games last year and led the team with 30 two-out RBIs, while also ranking fifth among American League first basemen with a .995 fielding percentage. His .334 on-base percentage and .412 slugging percentage were both the best of his career. Smoak is in his first year of arbitration eligibility. If the Mariners exercise the 2015 option, he’ll have one more season of arbitration before becoming a free agent in ’17. Source:Greg Johns at MLB


In 2013, Charlie Furbush established himself as one of the Mariners‘ most reliable relievers. The lanky lefty made a team-high 71 appearances, posting a 2-6 record with a 3.74 earned-run average. The numbers aren’t eye-popping, but dig a little deeper and they get impressive. Opponents hit just .199 against Furbush, and lefties hit just .173 with five extra-base hits. In 65 innings, Furbush struck out 80 batters with 29 walks. The average of 11.08 strikeouts per nine innings ranked 14th in the American League. He stranded 39 of the 57 runners inherited (69.4 percent), which was second best in the AL.

“I saw him when he pitched against us, he was pretty darn good,” said McClendon, who was the hitting coach with the Tigers last season. Source: Bob Dutton at The News Tribune


Fernando Rodney reported to spring training on Wednesday and passed his physical, clearing the way for the Mariners to add him to their 40-man roster and announce his contract. “It feels good to be here,” Rodney said. “You guys know my situation. I just try to come in and close the game. I think we have the right guys here.” Source: Jose M. Romero at the Detroit Free Press  (What he was probably thinking was “For $14 million I’d have signed with the Confederate Army team, these clowns ain’t no different than those in any other circus. Now get outta my face while I count my money.”)


McClendon says he plans to be “very cautious” in using Corey Hart and Logan Morrison because of their injury history. From: Bob Dutton at The News Tribune


McClendon said Mike Zunino is working with hitting coach Howard Johnson on some swing changes. Zunino’s stance is a little more upright/open. The hope is the changes will put Zunino in a better/more consistent launch point. Should help him with hitting off speed pitches. Zunino was in the cage early this morning working on those changes. From: Ryan Divish at the Seattle Times


Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon wants 1B Justin Smoakto be a good hitter, not a home run hitter. What that entails is using the whole field, driving balls to the gaps and being a good two-strike hitter.” 1B Justin Smoak reacts to acquisition of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison by saying he feels a starting job is his to lose. From: Bob Dutton at The News Tribune


McClendon on RHP Erasmo Ramirez: “Ideally for us, we’d like to see this guy as a starter. Keep him in a starting role and let him flourish.” From: Bob Dutton at The News Tribune


AL West Commentary

Angels LF Josh Hamilton reported at 240 lbs, 28 more than last year, said he feels a lot stronger and expects to hit .300 with 30 HRS, 100 RBIs. From: Mike DiGiovanna at the LA Times

(They will just pitch him a foot further outside.)


The Texas Rangers first tried to get Tommy Hanson as part of what was a franchise-changing trade seven years ago.

Now they have signed the free agent right-hander to a one-year contract in their search for depth in a rotation dealing with injury concerns. Hanson signed Friday, two days before Rangers pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Surprise, Arizona.“He’s a guy we followed for a long time,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “Probably back to the Mark Teixeira trade in ’07, followed his career and happy to have the opportunity to bring him in and looking forward to seeing him compete.” The 27-year-old Hanson was 4-3 with a 5.42 ERA in 15 games (13 starts) in a difficult season with the Los Angeles Angels that included a right forearm injury and the death of his stepbrother.

“Mentally, I don’t think I was where I needed to be last year,” Hanson said.“It wasn’t only me. My whole family was dealing with that. It’s hard to see your family struggle. It’s difficult, something I don’t really like to talk about. I feel like I’m in a lot better place now than I was last year.” Hanson said he’s glad that is in the past. Physically, he said he feels great after two months of throwing. Source: Sports Illustrated 


Angels owner Arte Moreno met with officials from the City of Tustin last week to discuss the possibility of building a new baseball stadium, a team spokesman confirmed Saturday. One potential site would be the decommissioned Marine Corps Air Station, which would be accessible via the 5, 405 and 55 Freeways and is across the street from the Tustin Metrolink train station.

“We did have an initial meeting with Tustin,” said Marie Garvey, a consultant retained by the Angels to handle stadium negotiation issues. “We’re still in discussions with the City of Anaheim, but we have to take a long-term view and explore all of our options to insure we have certainty for the future.” Moreno said Friday that negotiations for a new lease for Angel Stadium are “at a stalemate.” He is clearly frustrated by Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait’s reluctance to accept a proposal in which the Angels would spend $150 million to renovate the stadium in exchange for a 66-year, $1-a-year lease to develop 155 acres of land in the parking lot. Source: Mike DiGiovanna at the LA Times


Mark Mulder‘s comeback with the Angels is over before it began. The LHP suffered a ruptured left Achilles doing agility drills. The Angels were extremely enthused by his throwing sessions and confident he would pitch this year. Mulder’s Achilles surgery has 5-8 month recovery. He hasn’t ruled out trying to pitch again. Was “so excited because I knew I could help the team. I tell these young guys to take advantage of this opportunity because it can be taken away in a heartbeat.” From: Mike DiGiovanna at the LA Times  (Once again demonstrating how cruel this game can be to those who try to master it.)


So they said

‘On and off field, he’s [Derek Jeter] the way you want your kids to grow up, Only Jesus is perfect, but he’s pretty close to that guy.’” From: Mike DiGiovanna at the LA Times


“You think about it, how big of a role media plays in this sport and in everyday life now,” said [Orioles] reliever Tommy Hunter. “It definitely takes a toll on you … It’s just about sticking with yourself, and being who you are, and continuing to grow. It’s so hard to do that in a failing man’s sport. Source: Peter Schmuck at the Baltimore Sun


By The Numbers

Immediately following the Yanks signing of Tanaka to his $155 million deal, Vegas moved NY from 20/1 odds to 12/1 to win the World Series. From: Gabe Kapler


Craig Kimbrel at the outset of his career: 381 strikeouts among the first 883 batters he faced. From: Buster Olney at ESPN  (Boy, talk about lucky.)


Kimbrel’s ERA in 2012 was 1.01…in 2013 was 1.21…Mariano Rivera never finished a season with an ERA as low as either one of them. From: Jim Bowden at ESPN



Alumni News

Indian’s GM Chris Antonetti confirms Aaron Harang signing. “He’ll compete for a spot in the rotation,” said Antonetti. From: Paul  Hoynes at the Cleveland Plain Dealer


Watched Aaron Harang’s bullpen session today. Command was excellent. Accuracy is his thing, of course. From: Jon Morosi at Fox Sports

(Wow, he sure fooled me.)


Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman doesn’t look or act much different than the 19-year-old kid who showed up for spring training at Fort Lauderdale Stadium fresh off the blockbuster Erik Bedard deal with the Seattle Mariners in 2008, yet just about everybody who watched him win 16 games last season marvels at his dramatic transformation. Source: Peter Schmuck at the Baltimore Sun