With injuries already sidelining two of Seattle’s top hurlers in Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said Saturday “it remains to be seen” if his club has enough starting pitching heading into the regular season. Zduriencik said the good news is neither pitcher is expected to miss significant time. In the meantime, a couple starters will get an early opportunity to show what they can do. The Mariners have two proven veterans — Scott Baker and Randy Wolf — in camp as non-roster invitees attempting to come back from 2012 Tommy John surgeries.
Additionally, a young group of prospects — Brandon Maurer, Erasmo Ramirez, Blake Beavan and Hector Noesi — have all gained some experience in the past season or two and will have a chance to grab jobs.
“You’re hoping something real positive comes out of Baker and Wolf,” Zduriencik said. “Those are veteran guys that have been around a while. They’ve got every opportunity to make the club here. Brandon Maurer has to get back on the mound and start throwing again. We’ve got Erasmo, Beavan, Noesi. Let ’em all compete. It sounds like we’ve been through the worst with these pitchers in terms of the two that have had setbacks. But the bright side is they should recover nicely and it’s going to make for an interesting camp for everybody else that’s in there. It sounds like we’ve been through the worst with these pitchers in terms of the two that have had setbacks. But the bright side is they should recover nicely and it’s going to make for an interesting camp for everybody else that’s in there.” Source:Greg Johns at MLB
“I feel good,” said [Scott Baker] the former Twins starter. “It’s that two-year mark [after surgery]. You keep hearing it and hearing it. I’m coming up on that and now that I have experienced it, I see there’s a reason people talk about that. I feel like I’m able to go out there and let the ball fly without any adverse affects, and that’s a good feeling.”
Veteran lefty Randy Wolf makes his debut as the Mariners face the Indians at 12:05 p.m. PT in Goodyear, Arizona. It will be Wolf’s first action since Tommy John surgery in October 2012. Source: Source:Greg Johns at MLB (Given Baker’s statement it would seem Wolf won’t be fully back this season.)
Paxton, 25, could figure prominently in the Mariners’ pitching plans after going 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA in four September starts last season, as long as he shows the same consistency this spring. He says he’s “just trying to pick up where I left off last year.” His first showing certainly reinforced that.
“Getting those four starts in September last year was big for me,” Paxton said. “It was really a confidence booster, having the success that I had. That was big, and taking it into the offseason feeling good, just knowing I can go up there and do that and compete at that level, was a big plus for me.”
Paxton said he threw mostly fastballs and cutters in his efficient 19-pitch outing, with just one curveball and no changeups.
“Those will come,” he said. “I was just working on getting that fastball command back. I want to play with the cutter a little more to get it game ready. It was good.”
Manager Lloyd McClendon was equally pleased. “The young man has talent and he’s capable of doing things,” McClendon said. “He pounded the zone down and that was pretty impressive.” Source: Greg Johns at MLB
“Robinson Cano [of the Mariners] is a guy that, hey, we’re going to pitch around him, bottom line.” Texas Ranger catcher J.P. Arencibia to Jon Morosi at Fox Sports
All the Seattle Mariners needed to become relevant again was Robinson Cano. Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik also made some other shrewd moves, signing free agents Corey Hart and Fernando Rodney, as well as trading for Logan Morrison. But those moves won’t be enough to overtake the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics or Texas Rangers in the tough American League West. That’s why they should take advantage of the depressed markets for free agents Ervin Santana and Kendrys Morales, who can make them a wild-card contender.
I believe three years and $36 million for Santana and one year at $10 million for Morales should be enough to sign both of them. Zduriencik could easily mitigate any cash-flow concerns by back-loading Santana’s contract and perhaps deferring some of Morales’ deal. These two moves not only would position the Mariners as a better overall team, but they would offer Seattle a chance to compete for a divisional title, as well as being a legitimate wild-card contender. Source: Jim Bowden at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]
(I’d rather have 3 years of Morales and one of Santana myself, but I doubt the two of them make the M’s playoff contenders this season. Not that it is impossible, just improbable, as is Bowden’s estimated cost. The Mariners are an 84-win team now based on Fangraphs Depth Charts, and Santana and Morales together would probably only add 4 WAR tops over and above whoever they replaced. An 88-win team will need some luck to get even the 2nd AL Wild Card ahead of the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Angels, Royals and Orioles.)
Cano said he was thrilled when the Mariners added closer Fernando Rodney late, but he still has more suggestions. He’d like to see free agent starting pitcher Ervin Santana in Seattle, as well.“He’s great,” Cano said. “The guy’s always pitching; he never gets hurt.” Likewise, Zduriencik is said to also possess admiration for both Morales and Santana, which explains why he has been in contact, off and on, with both players most of the winter. But Zduriencik also has no offers out for either player at the moment, and there’s no sense one is coming soon. There are still some pieces out there, so who knows?” Zduriencik said. “We’re open to talking about anything. We’ll see. You never know. I would never close the door to anything.” Zduriencik is practiced at being noncommittal, but the focus doesn’t appear to be on those two top free agents, at least at the moment. “They’re not here,” Zduriencik said. “This is our ballclub right now. Our concern is what’s in front of us.” Source: Jon Heyman at CBS Sports
AL West Commentary
Evan Grant at the Dallas Morning News on [Rangers manager] Ron Washington’s one-year contract extension: “You can look at this in a number of different ways: 1. It’s certainly a sign that they want Ron Washington here long-term that they gave him an extension at all. The second part of it is the extension’s only a one-year deal through 2015. I think there are two messages that go along with this: One, it ties him in to the same work frame that Jon Daniels is on, because JD is only signed through 2015, Secondly, I think it’s a message to everybody here, from Jon Daniels to everyone down, that this club has not made progress in the last two years. It’s getting farther and farther away from the World Series. The leashes are getting shorter; the time frames are getting shorter, the urgency getting higher. So I think everyone here knows that they are still wanted; this is still part of the organization’s goal, stability, but things have to get moving in a more positive direction again.”
The Mariners are having major rotation problems just as the Rangers are: Hisashi Iwakuma won’t be able to throw for at least three more weeks, and Taijuan Walker can’t throw for another week. It’s really early, and maybe Iwakuma and Walker will be OK. Plus, maybe Derek Holland and Matt Harrison will bounce back quickly to help out. But it seems as if the AL West is opening up for the Angels, as well as the two-time defending division champs, the Oakland Athletics.
Source: Buster Olney at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]
So they said
“Our view is you never turn down your first fortune, especially if you can keep your free-agent years intact at age 29 or 30,”[agent Paul] Cohen said (his clients, include Longoria, Tulowitzki, Tim Hudson and Nick Markakis). “Some guys will outperform their deals, some will under perform and some will get hurt. “You have to be very careful when you’re doing this to not be a cowboy or cavalier because you don’t know when that ‘oops’ moment is going to happen.” Source: Mike DiGiovanna at the LA Times in an article regarding a Mike Trout extension.
Baseball Best Practice
Any time you hear that spring training is meaningless; remember that hundreds and hundreds of decisions are being made based on what happens in Florida and Arizona over the next four weeks. Scouts are filling the seats behind home plate and jotting down observations as they prepare for possible acquisitions. Team staffers meet regularly to talk about who looks good and who doesn’t. A fringe major leaguer who has a great spring can push his way into the conversation about who makes the team, and a fringe major leaguer who looks awful can find himself in the minor league camp by the middle of March. Source: Buster Olney at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]
Major League Baseball Advanced Media on Saturday introduced a revolutionary plan for in-ballpark infrastructure designed to provide the first complete and reliable measurement of every play on the field and answer previously unanswerable analytics questions. The goal is to revolutionize the way people evaluate baseball, by presenting for the first time the tools that connect all actions that happen on a field to determine how they work together.
This new datastream will enable the industry to understand the whole play on the field — batting, pitching, fielding and baserunning — and enable new metrics for evaluation by clubs, scouts, players and fans. There will be something for everyone, far beyond what has been available in the past. Miller Park in Milwaukee, Target Field in Minnesota and Citi Field in New York will be operational for this tracking in 2014. The plan is to start rolling out the rest this season so that all 30 ballparks are operational by 2015 Opening Day.
“The goal over time, and hopefully certainly by this season, is to make these plays available in real time and start the debates,” Mark Newman at MLB Advanced Media said. “But we have to make sure baseball operations sees it and they agree that these are accurate renderings. But this year, fans will be able to see these data and these videos.”
“Just on the field, with the coaching staff and the manager — when you start to look at positioning, and you start to see the exit velocity of the ball coming off the bat, and is he late or is he ahead of a lot of pitches, and then you move your infielders and outfielders accordingly,” [MLB.com analyst Jim] Duquette said. “There’s a speed component to the game from an offensive side, too. You can start to see how quickly they get down the baseline as they make contact, and as they hit a ground ball, or as they hit a double into the gap. If they didn’t score, we always say that the game is a matter of inches, well if he gets thrown out or he is safe at home, you can actually go back and measure it from an evaluation tool, and say, did he get a big enough lead, was he running hard enough, did he take the right angle, you now have the ability to measure that, which we’ve never been able to do.”
Five-time All-Star Steve Sax experienced the new data and said it will be a game-changer for players. “Really, the future of baseball and able to quantify the great things about this game is here now. For players and coaches alike, to be able to judge distances and speeds and ranges and how fast people get there is just an amazing tool that they’re going to be able to use going forward. I just wish they had this when I played.” Source: Mark Newman at MLB Advanced Media (Further details are available at MLBAM introduces way to analyze every play, including a video sample.)
By The Numbers
Ty Cobb (1911) is the only player with 70+ combined doubles/triples and 70+ stolen bases in a season; Lou Brock (1968) only other 60/60. From: MLB Play Index
MLB Trade Rumors asked their readers in a poll if they thought the Qualifying Offer system for free agents should be kept, eliminated or kept but tweaked when the next CBA is negotiated after the 2016 season. 25.95% thought it should be eliminated, 27.7% voted to keep it and 46.35% went for keep but tweak it.