Mariners Mini Morsels: March 16

Several general managers told me they don’t understand how the Seattle Mariners could give Robinson Cano almost a quarter-billion dollars and then claim not to have the money to bring back Kendrys Morales or make a run at Ervin Santana. Seattle is emboldened by its lucrative local television deal, but many general managers are wondering what the Mariners’ plan is. How does a team spend that much money and go from fourth-best in the division to … fourth-best in the division. The Mariners haven’t really improved at all, and with so many needs they would have been better off spreading the money around. Source: Jim Bowden atESPN [Insider needed and recommended]

(Cano costs the M’s $24 million this season and so far is looking like he’s worth it. Maybe Bowden thinks he gets all the $240 million this year. Maybe the team needs to answer some questions about a number of young players to determine where they need to spend more money Jim, no wonder you’re an ex-GM. Over inflating budgets prematurely leads to flocks of albatross’ just ask the Angels, Yankees and Dodgers. The M’s will need money next off-season to fill the holes left over from this season; it helps a lot if they have some. Santana and Cruz will be free agents again then most likely, along with some better choices.)

“I told Jesus [Montero] he did an extremely good job for us in camp,” said manager Lloyd McClendon. “He worked his tail off. He just had so far to go, particularly coming in so heavy. But he made tremendous strides. He probably made the biggest strides of anybody in camp. But he’s only halfway there. He has to continue to work and continue to do what he’s doing to get himself back to the big leagues.”

He came to camp this spring carrying extra weight, but has worked to lose that in the past few weeks and has hit well, batting .310 with three doubles, two home runs and five RBIs in 29 at-bats over 12 games. First base hasn’t gone nearly as smoothly, and the former catcher committed two errors in the same inning of Wednesday’s game with the Cubs. He’ll get a chance to work more on that in Tacoma. Source: Greg Johns at MLB

Outfielder Stefen Romero didn’t play Saturday, but the 25-year-old has been on a tear of late with a 9-of-19 stretch with two doubles, two triples, two home runs and four RBIs after going 0-for-16 to open the spring. “He’s played well,” McClendon said. “He’s been impressive this spring. I think we all know our need and desire for right-handed bats throughout our lineup. He’s certainly in the mix.”

“At the end of the day,” Zduriencik said, “you have to put what you feel is your best club on the field. You have to make some decisions, and some decisions are painful.” The greater the pain, the deciding factor often is the desire for “inventory.” That’s the word that gets used a lot by club officials, and it entails keeping as many serviceable players as possible in the organization. “

You always try to increase your inventory because you’re going to need players,” Zduriencik said. “There’s nobody who finishes the season with the 25-man roster they had on opening day.” That desire for inventory favors players already on the club’s 40-man roster who are out of options. Players who have options remaining, or who are in camp on a minor league contract, are at a disadvantage. …if a player remains with the club after March 26, his salary is guaranteed through the end of the season. Source: Bob Dutton at Tacoma News Tribune

Seattle leads all teams with 130 runs scored this spring. They are averaging 7.27 runs per game. Source: Shannon Drayer at My Northwest

(SSS Alert) Logan Kensing over 7.0 IP and Carson Smith over 4.2 IP have 7 SO and 0.00 ERAs. Felix also has 7 SO in 8.1 IP with a 4.32 ERA but Erasmo Ramirez has 10 SO in 12.2 IP with a 1.42 ERA, while Blake Beavan has 7 SO in 12.2 IP and a 2.13 ERA, as does Zach Miner in 5.1 IP with a 3.38 ERA. Meanwhile Paxton’s not-so-great outing against the Giants only boosted his ERA to 2.08 in 13.0 IP, while Rodney raised his ERA to 18.8 in 3 IP and Wilhelmsen is only half as bad with his 9.0 ERA in 6 IP. maqman

Despite constantly-swirling trade rumors surrounding Mariners infielder Nick Franklin, one source with knowledge of the team’s thinking says that there is “no urgency” to move the 23-year old.

While recent reports have indicated that the team is in discussions with multiple teams about moving Franklin, it appears as though they would be comfortable keeping him as well. Despite all the interest, a Franklin trade doesn’t seem like a given at this point. Source: Chris Cotillo at MLB Daily Dish

Was told Mets haven’t had any substantive talks with M’s regarding Nick Franklin since winter meetings. Not on the front burner right now. From: Mike Puma at the New York Post

AL West Commentary

The A’s announced Friday that starters Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin will start the season on the disabled list, Parker with forearm tightness and soreness, Griffin with a muscle strain that will require rest for now, but not surgery.
The A’s have Tommy Milone, who won 25 games the past two seasons while in the rotation, and Jesse Chavez, who had a 3.92 ERA in 35 appearances in relief last year but has pitched well while starting this spring, as the likely replacements.
The A’s are already minus Bartolo Colon, their top winner from 2013, who signed with the Mets as a free agent. Sonny Gray, with just 10 career regular-season starts, became the de facto No. 1, followed by Scott Kazmir and Dan Straily.

Source: Source: David Schoenfield at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]

The Angels’ most intriguing start of the spring could come Monday, when Joe Blanton takes his next turn. If Blanton turns in a second consecutive strong performance, the Angels might have to consider whether they can afford to get rid of him.

That might sound ludicrous, given how poorly Blanton pitched last year. But the Angels appear short on pitching depth. Without Blanton, the Angels’ depth chart would have seven starters. Of the 30 major league teams, only the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers did not use more than seven starters last season.

For now, the Angels do not project Blanton on their roster. He is not one of the five starters. Blanton, 33, was 2-14 with a 6.04 earned-run average last season. The Angels owe him $8.5 million. They were all but resigned to releasing him after his first two spring outings, in which he gave up nine runs in 52/3 innings. In his last outing, he pitched five scoreless innings, after moving from the first base side of the rubber to the third base side. “Never done it in my life, well, guaranteed I haven’t done it since I was 15,” Blanton said. “I can’t tell you before that.” Source: Bill Shaikin at the LA Times

Colby Lewis last pitched in the majors on July 18, 2012, and his comeback from his rare hip-resurfacing surgery took a turn for the worse in Saturday’s pounding against the Athletics. Making his third spring training start, Lewis didn’t fool anyone. It’s just one start in the thin air of Arizona, but it was about as bad as a pitcher could look and probably means Lewis will eventually be ticketed for time in the minors before getting another shot with the Rangers.

It also means the Rangers’ season-opening rotation could now include Joe Saunders, who had a 5.26 ERA with the Mariners last season (imagine how that will translate to Texas), and Tommy Hanson, coming off a bad, injury-plagued season with the Angels. The Rangers are hoping Matt Harrison will be ready a few weeks into the season, but for now, the Rangers are scrambling to fill slots behind Yu DarvishMartin Perez and Alexi Ogando. Source: David Schoenfield at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]

Mariner’s potential off-season targets

In the aftermath of pitcher Ervin Santana and outfielder Nelson Cruz signing one-year contracts to get to spring training camps, agent Scott Boras said that shortstop Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales — the only qualifying-offer free agents left on the market — do not plan to lower their sights to sign quick deals and are willing to wait until June to find homes if necessary. Source: Jerry Crasnick at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]

Mariners continue to pursue Kendrys Morales and both need each other. However, until price comes down this deal won’t get done. Felix Hernandez told us that he’s been texting Kendrys Morales and he would like to come back to Seattle but business is business. From: Jim Bowden atESPN

Baseball Best Practice

Several executives were so impressed with how agent Casey Close handled the Masahiro Tanaka process that they are considering a push to change the way medicals and physicals are handled for free agents.

Close invited all teams interested in bidding for Tanaka to bring their doctors to L.A. all at once to do all the tests they needed in one location, at one time. Those who wanted to continue bidding after the physicals and medicals were free to do so. Those who wanted to pass could do that.

Reliever Grant Balfour and others have agreed to terms and then failed team physicals, and this has been embarrassing to players, teams and agents. So perhaps the best way to improve the way the industry does business is to follow Close’s model. Source: Jim Bowden atESPN [Insider needed and recommended]

Saturday’s game ended with the Angels turning a 7-6-3 double play. It wasn’t a weird spring-training play. The Colorado Rockies had men on first base and third base with one out, and [Angels manager Mike] Scioscia successfully deployed the five-man infield. Source: Bill Shaikin at the LA Times

An unnamed MLB team has purchased a supercomputer from Cray Inc., which sells machines that range from $500,000 to $60 million, according to BusinessInsider.com.

Cray CEO Peter Ungaro told The Economist that the club wishes to use the device for speedy in-game analysis:

“The team obtained one both because the machine has the capacity to analyse enormous quantities of data and because of the short time in which it can process them. Other technologies, such as cloud computing, could wade leisurely through information, helping managers make choices during the off-season (perhaps concerning which players to add to the roster, for example). Instead, a team can use a supercomputer to process data in time to affect decisions during play.

Ungaro also noted that, while the team wished to remain anonymous, it was an organization that many might not expect.

“The team, which declines to be named, exemplifies an organisation that, five years ago, most people would not have dreamed would need, or even want, a supercomputer,” he says.

While details in the article are vague, the purchase could have been spurred on by MLB’s new player tracking technology that was unveiled earlier this month at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, which can create over 7 terabytes of data to sift through in an individual game. Source: Brendan Maloy at Sports Illustrated

By The Numbers

Fewer former big league pitchers have been given a chance to manage than any other position. There have been 48 former big league pitchers given a chance to manage, including current managers John Farrell in Boston and Bud Black in San Diego, according to Stats LLC. By contrast, there have been 113 former catchers, 104 former outfielders, 75 former shortstops, 72 former second basemen, 57 former first basemen, 56 former third basemen and 124 players who never appeared in a big league game. Source: Tracy Ringolsby at MLB.com

Alumni News

Told that [Yankees manager Joe] Girardi doubted he could make 30 starts this season, [Michael] Pineda shrugged. “I have no control over that,” he said. “If I’m feeling great, I feel ready to go every five days, just let it go. That’s why I’m here. I love pitching. I want to be ready to pitch every five days. If it’s my day, Michael Pineda, I want to be ready. “But he’s the manager. Whatever decision they make with me, I’ll be happy, because they want to take care of me. I want to do my job. That’s my focus, be ready every five days.” All Pineda’s strikeouts were on swings-and-misses Thursday. “That means he’s got deception and he’s locating the ball. He’s hard to pick up,” Girardi said. Source: Paul Hagen at MLB_News