Mariners Mini Morsels: February 20

Logan Morrison worked at first base during infield drills, along with incumbent starter Justin Smoak. Robinson Cano and Willie Bloomquist were the second basemen on the main field for the infield session, with Brad Miller and Nick Franklin at shortstop and Kyle Seager working by himself at third. Corey Hart worked with the outfielders. Source: Greg Johns at MLB


Wireless password at Mariners facility is EdgarHOF. From:Andy Martino at the New York Daily News


It was sad to see Franklin Gutierrez, one of the game’s true gentlemen, re-sign with the Mariners but then realize he could no longer perform because of autoimmune problems. Gutierrez decided to give the guaranteed $1 million he signed for back to the Mariners, feeling it was the right thing to do. He’s now on the restricted list, but his chances of playing again appear slim. Source: Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe


Kudos to the Mariners for spending some of their gigantic stockpile of local TV money to upgrade their lineup, stealing Robinson Cano from the Yankees and securing a handful of other bats as well. But while the M’s certainly improved by adding Cano, Corey Hart, Logan Morrison, and potentially Nelson Cruz, the starting rotation figures to be this team’s Achilles’ heel. Coming off a terrific 2013 campaign, Hisashi Iwakuma is sidelined until at least mid-April with a finger injury, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be in top form when he returns. Top prospect and potential no. 3 starter Taijuan Walker seems to be pitching well, but he’s already faced a health scare this spring. Fellow rookie James Paxton isn’t facing health concerns, but he’s inexperienced. And scrap-heap pickup Scott Baker has made just three big-league starts since 2011. If the M’s truly intend to challenge the top dogs in the AL West this year, they’d do well to keep spending and make a late run at Santana to bolster their Swiss cheese rotation. I love Felix Hernandez to pieces, but even the King can’t be Old Hoss. Source: Jonah Keri at Grantland  (Ranked M’s as the 19th best team.)


After working at second base in Tuesday’s infield drills, utility man Willie Bloomquist on Wednesday moved to third base and took grounders alongside Seager. Bloomquist can play second, short and third as well as the outfield, which is why McClendon welcomes his veteran presence. “That was my first signing when I got here,” McClendon said. “That was the first guy I thought we needed to go after, because this guy is so important to a ballclub. To have a veteran guy that can move around and do a lot of different things really gives you options on a daily basis. Particularly with the traveling we do, I thought it was really important we target the right guy, and I think we got the right guy.” Source: Greg Johns at MLB


AL West Commentary

In a must-read piece for ESPN The Magazine (Click link to read.), Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus provides a riveting look into the Angels‘ efforts to turn around the organization’s languishing farm system. Focusing on the philosophies of assistant GM (and former big leaguer) Scott Servais, Miller explores how the Halos hope to emulate the shockingly simply methods of the Cardinals while infusing deep, data-driven analysis into their player-development efforts. Source: Jeff Todd at MLB Trade Rumors


So they said

It’s not that Mike Trout is — or will be — the next Jeter. It’s that he seems willing to try. From: Tim Brown at Yahoo! Sports


Mariner’s potential off-season targets

Sources:Red Sox talking to Capuano. Small sample, but Capuano did well as RP for Dodgers, including three scoreless innings in Game 3 of DS. Red Sox looking for swing type. From: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports


Orioles seem to prefer Cruz to Morales. Mariners also figure for Cruz if they save on SP with Capuano. From: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports


Rangers GM Jon Daniels made it clear the Rangers would like to have Cruz back — on reasonable terms — but are prepared to go with what they have in camp. The question, as time moves on, is what those terms are and how far other clubs, such as the AL West rival Mariners, are willing to go for Cruz, who is represented by Adam Katz.

If Cruz falls into a financial range with which Texas is comfortable, Daniels could make manager Ron Washington‘s day by making the 33-year-old slugger his primary designated hitter in a familiar environment conducive in all ways to his needs. “We’ve touched base every week or so,” Daniels said. “Nellie’s highly regarded here. We have a good relationship with Adam. We made our moves [for Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo] and kind of expected [Cruz] to sign elsewhere. But we’ll see where it goes. It’s a unique situation for him as a free agent.

“When we made our decision to sign Choo [seven years, $130 million], it was with the understanding that [Cruz’s] best opportunity would be to sign elsewhere. I don’t know what’s going on with other teams and Nellie.”

Cruz appears to have more value in Seattle as a cleanup hitter protecting new superstar Robinson Cano. But what if Cruz can’t find what he’s looking for elsewhere and remains free and within reach? “If that came to pass,” Daniels said, “we would talk about it.” Source: Lyle Spencer at


By The Numbers

Gaby Sanchez and Sam Fuld led the majors with 89 hitless games last season. Source: The Bill Chuck Files


Joey Votto has more career RBI (530) in his 890 career games than Ken Griffey Sr. had (466) in his 1,224 games as a member of the Reds. Source: MLB Play Index


Baseball Biz

Joe Flint at the LA Times reports that: Fans may strike out in battle over Dodgers’ new TV home. SportsNet LA, which is owned by the Dodgers and run by Time Warner Cable, has yet to sign deals to make it available in the majority of L.A. pay-TV homes. Hundreds of thousands could miss out on watching their team on television this season because of a skirmish between its new TV home and local pay-TV distributors. Set to debut Feb. 25, SportsNet LA, which is owned by the Dodgers and run by Time Warner Cable, has yet to sign agreements that would make it available in the majority of Los Angeles pay-TV homes. (Read the details here.,0,1500435.story#axzz2teMfeLlz )

The Houston Astros faced a similar reluctance by local cable providers to sign up with their Comcast affiliated regional sports network, which they own in partnership with the Rockets and Comcast, which lead to their network filing for bankruptcy protection recently. The Mariners approach of buying the controlling interest in an established and affiliated regional network, with significant additional content to provide yearlong viewing, was a much smarter move to my mind. It is not impossible that the Dodgers might not end up as profitable as their new owners expected. Their situation is further compounded by the recently announced intent of Comcast to buy Time Warner Cable, which will face some significant hurdles to be negotiated with the federal regulatory authorities if it is allowed to proceed. maqman

Alumni News

One evaluator who has seen [Joe] Saunders throw predicts he will be steal of February. No one saying he’s a star, but he’s a major-league pitcher. From: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports


Farm Report

The Phillies ratted out a draftee to the NCAA for negotiating with an agent From: Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk


Heading into the second weekend of the college baseball season, Oregon State senior lefthander Ben Wetzler remains in limbo, waiting for the NCAA to rule on his eligibility. Until he is cleared, he cannot play. Several sources have confirmed to Baseball America that the Phillies, who drafted Wetzler in the fifth round last June but did not sign him, told the NCAA in November that Wetzler violated the NCAA’s “no agent” rule. That rule is widely disregarded by baseball prospects, whose advisers routinely negotiate with teams on players’ behalf, against NCAA rules—because that is the industry norm. As an American League scouting director told Baseball America in 2008, “Every single player that we deal with—I don’t care what round you’re talking about—has representation, has an agent.”

And every year, some players drafted inside the top 10 rounds elect not to sign pro contracts, often drawing the ire of the clubs that drafted them. But major league teams almost never attempt to contact the NCAA in order to report potential violations. The Phillies, according to sources, did just that with two players they drafted last year: Wetzler and sixth-round pick Jason Monda, who opted to return to Washington State for his senior year. Monda was cleared to play by the NCAA last Thursday, the day before the college season began. Source: Aaron Fitt at Baseball America


Chat Review – Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs

Comment From Joe: Will the M’s sign Cruz or Santana? Does either vault them into competing for the division?

Jeff Sullivan: They’ll probably sign Cruz. Jeff Sullivan: They will not be good


Comment From Marcus A.: Does Ubaldo Jimenez signing with the Orioles make it more or less likely they sign one of Cruz/Morales?

Jeff Sullivan: I still expect them to end up with Morales.


Comment From RyanS: Next of the Frozen free agents to sign?

Jeff Sullivan: Santana shouldn’t be far off now that Jimenez has clarified the market. Cruz will go whenever he or the Mariners decides to cave on a few million dollars.


Comment From _David: As a Mariners fan would you rather the team be interesting enough while winning 85 but missing the playoffs and retaining the front office, or winning 68 and getting new people?

Jeff Sullivan: Interesting enough. 85 wins suggests some things went well and I don’t trust the organization to hire people any better.


Comment From Marcus A.: Does Nick Franklin not have much trade value, or is the asking price too high?

Jeff Sullivan: Teams don’t buy his defense and long-term power potential, and the strikeouts last year were a problem


Comment From Tom: Do you think an extension for Seager is coming this year?

Jeff Sullivan: I could see it next winter. The M’s probably don’t know what they’re supposed to do with a talented successful young position player.