Posted on: August 4, 2011 7:30 pm
By Evan Brunell
The Mariners have an open roster spot after culling two hitters from the team in Greg Halman and Jack Cust.
Cust, the longtime A's DH who has fallen on hard times and inked a deal to join Seattle in the offseason, but hit just .213/.344/.329 in 270 plate appearances with just three home runs, 30 less than what he hammered in 2008. Halman, meanwhile, came up from the minor leagues after healing a left wrist fracture and producing in the short time he was in Triple-A. The 23-year-old floundered at the bigs, however. Halman was sent down as he had lost much of his playing time to Casper Wells, who was acquired at the trade deadline in the Doug Fister trade with Detroit.
As for who will step into the DH spot, there are conflicting reports. Greg Johns of MLB.com is convinced it's Wily Mo Pena, while Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune is betting on Trayvon Robinson, also acquired at the trade deadline, but this time from the Dodgers in what was a baffling deal.
Robinson's power is certainly ready for a promotion, as he's slammed 26 homers down on the farm, posting an overall .289/.374/.552 mark in 428 plate appearances, with 12 of those in the Seattle organization. The knock on his game is making contact, as he also strikes out at a high rate, with 126 whiffs. If Robinson can maintain a .250 batting average or higher, he should turn out to be a great hitter. Any lower will sap his value, and he could end up having a tough go of it int he early going of his career like Chris Davis.
Pena (pictured), meanwhile, has power in spades but like Robinson, strikes out far too much. He can launch a fastball into the stratosphere, but continues to struggle with breaking balls and plate discipline. Arizona brought him to the majors for interleague play to function as the DH, being called up for the minors in his return to the bigs, last appearing back in 2008 with the Nationals. His power was on display with five home runs in 46 plate appearances, but hit .196 with 19 strikeouts. Pena would certainly inject power into the middle of Seattle's lineup, but he continues to look like the overmatched youngster of his earlier days.
The Mariners are expected to announce the replacement in advance of Friday's game.
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Posted on: April 26, 2011 9:08 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2011 9:09 pm
By Evan Brunell
Without even knowing any more about Cust, that says all you need to know about Seattle's historically inept offense last season and its odds of improving this year.
Indeed, Seattle currently ranks 27th in baseball with just 78 runs scored, and it's hard to imagine the Twins remaining 29th, plus the Orioles are a better team than they have showed so far and are just one run behind the Mariners. It will be a surprise if Seattle finishes any higher than 29th, and even then it will be thanks to the Padres' own inept offense.
Once upon a time, Cust may have actually been viewed as an offensive upgrade, but those days are long gone. Formerly a minor-league lifer who did nothing but mash, Cust finally got his shot at age 28 in 2007 for the A's when he hit .256/.408/.504 with 26 home runs, then followed it up with a 33-homer campaign. Things quickly went south the next two years. While Cust did keep up his power by cracking 25 blasts in 2009, it was a significant enough drop to combine with a .240 batting average in making him not all that valuable. Cust recovered last season by producing a .272 batting average, but lost all semblance of power with just 13 round-trippers.
The Mariners signed Cust, no doubt hoping for a return to his 25-homer ways even if that meant a low batting average. Instead, the M's receive a punchless, hitless DH currently hitting .11/.326/.186.
Baker goes through several scenarios and concludes that if Cust stops hitting, he'll lose his job in mid-May once the Mariners return from an East Coast trip.
Cust could yet rebound, but it's extremely unlikely. Baker believes Seattle could DH Milton Bradley, which would free up an outfield spot for Franklin Gutierrez -- provided he's returned by the time of Cust's demotion from a mysterious stomach ailment -- and shift the Ryan Langerhans/Michael Saunders platoon to let. If Gutierrez isn't back, that could open up full-time spots for Langerhans and Saunders.
The other candidate for DH, as Baker thinks? Adam Kennedy.
Yeah, the average second baseman back in his heyday for the Angels who is now a backup. That Adam Kennedy. Tells you all you need to know about the state of Seattle's offense.
Fortunately, things could be getting better soon. Justin Smoak just returned from a stint on the bereavement list and appears in the process of delivering on his potential, plus top prospect Dustin Ackley could be manning second by June. It won't suddenly reverse the fortunes of Seattle's offense, but at least the M's will have one less position to worry about while seeking offseason upgrades.
Posted on: March 20, 2011 10:02 pm
By Evan Brunell
We're getting to the part of spring training where players on the bubble who are given serious consideration for a job start looking for pink slips in their locker. Just one good (or bad, as Andrew Miller will probably find out) day could be enough to swing a decision. So who helped and hurt themselves today?
1. 3B Brent Morel, CHW: 4 AB, 2 H. Morel's day at the plate was nothing to write home about, but he received good news earlier in the day when manager Ozzie Guillen told the youngster he had won the third base job. Morel's known for his glove more than stick, but he should be able to hold his own on offense. Now, Mark Teahen will be bumped to a backup role and certainly is available in a trade.
2. CF Chris Heisey, CIN: 6 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 2 RBI, 2 K. Heisey appears to have won the fourth outfielder's job in Cincinatti, besting Fred Lewis and Jeremy Hermida. The 26-year-old also impressed off the bench as a bench player, although he struggled when drawing the starting assignment. He could eventually emerge as a starter, but a career as a solid No. 4 outfielder appears more likely.
3. SP Charlie Morton (pictured), PIT: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K. Where did this come from? Morton has a 1.29 ERA in spring training after finishing last season with a 2-12 record and 7.57 ERA in 17 starts as a 26-year-old. However, Morton has likely fought his way into a rotation spot by dint of his excellent spring in which he has punched out eight and walked just one in 14 1/3 innings.
1. DH Jack Cust, SEA: 4 AB, 1 H, 1 RBI, 3 K, 4 LOB. Seriously, this is a typical Cust line right here. Cust is known for a low batting average, strong eye and solid to good power (he banged two homers on Saturday). Cust is going to be looked upon to help Seattle move past their brutal offensive season last year, but his power has been largely dormant the last two years.
2. SP Andrew Miller, BOS: 0 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 0 K. There's been plenty of ink written about the promise Andrew Miller has and how Boston may be the place for him to put it all together. One start doesn't make that go away, but this brutal outing underscores just how long to go Miller has to be anything of value to the big-league team. The odds are still stacked against him. Miller had long odds to make the Red Sox bullpen anyways, and this outing may have just sealed his fate.
3. SP Edinson Volquez, CIN: 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 3 K. Volquez has never been one known for control, but he seems to have particularly struggled with it on his return from Tommy John surgery. That's not uncommon, but for Volquez to continue to have these issues speaks to a larger issue, whether that's a tougher time in returning from the surgery or an underlying issue of dude just not having command at all. Given the Reds lack a frontline ace despite not wanting for depth, Volquez's struggles are concerning.
Posted on: February 26, 2011 12:52 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2011 1:06 pm
Posted by Matt Snyder
WAINWRIGHTED: Let's face it, things are kind of (read: really) slow during the early weeks of spring training. We've got beat writers tweeting play-by-play of intersquad scrimmages, people making fun of people overreacting to Tim Lincecum's outing (though, at this point, I'm not sure anyone takes these early outings seriously) and one of the biggest news stories is a free agent for next season.
So when a star starting pitcher goes down injured, the aftermath is sure to linger. To the point that Kevin Millwood is a wanted man.
And rightfully so.
The Cards appear to be dead-set on Kyle McClellan entering the rotation. Manager Tony La Russa looks at him as a "real weapon" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch ) and notes he's paid his dues. Which he kind of has, but the flipside is that, in the process, McClellan has become one of the better set up options in the majors. He posted a sparkling 2.27 ERA last season in 68 appearances. Removing him from the bullpen in favor of the rotation leaves a gaping hole in the late innings.
That is why plugging in a veteran like Millwood -- who Dave Duncan could surely make work -- seems like a logical move. Post-Dispatch writer Bernie Miklasz makes a really good case for Millwood. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch )
In other Cardinals' rotation news, it appears Chris Carpenter -- the remaining ace of the former pair of bullets -- could be traded and wouldn't necessarily block a deal. Obviously the Yankees would be in on it, but a nugget from this post is that the Yanks have "told their scouts to bear down on several teams they think could have starters available" before the trade deadline, including the Cards, Braves, A's, Angels and White Sox. (NY Post )
SETTLE DOWN, HE'S FINE: Another effect of the early preseason is the reactions to injuries. Brian Roberts has missed several workouts with neck stiffness. Since there's nothing else going on, it's big news for Orioles camp -- I mean, really, how much could you be following the Felix Pie vs. Nolan Reimold battle for a roster spot? -- but Roberts is actually OK. In fact, he said if it was the regular season he'd be playing. (MLB.com )
THE ON-BASE MACHINE: MLBTradeRumors.com reports that Nick Johnson is working out and expecting a call anyday now, because several teams are "monitoring" the oft-injured 32 year old. He has a career OBP of over .400, so he could help someone's lineup.
FEELIN' CHIPPER: Chipper Jones has been having issues with his surgically repaired knee this spring. He even needed fluid drained after inflammation as recently as Thursday, but Friday was a good day. In fact, he may play in a Grapefruit League game Sunday. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution )
TO-MORROW: Brandon Morrow is as talented as almost any pitcher in the league. We've seen evidence on the diamond, like when he shutout the Rays August 8 with 17 strikeouts and only allowed one hit. Or his 12 strikeouts in six innings against the Yankees. This season, he's looking to achieve "new heights." If he does, watch out, AL East. (Toronto Star )
NOT SATISFIED: With an OPS-plus of 130, Nick Swisher had arguably the best season of his career last season. His .288 batting average and .511 slugging percentage were both career highs for the 30-year-old veteran. Still, it wasn't enough for Swish. He wants more. (NY Daily News )
CHICKS DIG THE LONG BALL: Mike Stanton is strong. We know that. He hit 22 home runs last season in 359 at-bats. In 324 minor-league games, he hit 89 bombs. The potential is there for an elite power hitter. And Friday, he put on a "show" in batting practice. (Palm Beach Post )
CHICKS DIG DEFENSE? Designated hitter Jack Cust is most certainly not known for his fielding prowess, having played only 16 games in the field in 2010. But he flashed the leather this week in practice, to the point that teammates were impressed. (MLB.com )
DURBIN SIGNS: As expected, Chad Durbin has signed with the Indians. The Tribe's rotation is far from set, so one would figure he's going to be prominently in the mix. The righty hasn't started a game since 2007 for the Tigers. (Jerry Crasnick via Twitter )
BEATING WITH THE BRAIN: Are the Cubs smarter in 2011? They think so. (Chicago Sun Times )
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Posted on: February 11, 2011 3:57 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2011 4:38 pm
Mariners outfielder Milton Bradley will not be charged in connection with an altercation with his wife last month in Los Angeles, according to a statement released by the player's attorney.
"The allegations against Milton Bradley were thoroughly investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office," said the statement from Harland Braun. "Both agencies determined there was no basis to file charges and no charges were filed."
Bradley will, however, have to leave spring training for a March 9 meeting with a Los Angeles City Attorney.
"As is customary in domestic cases, the City Attorney's Office has scheduled a private meeting with Milton and his wife to make sure that this type of misunderstanding does not occur again," the statement read.The temperamental outfielder's first year in Seattle was a disaster. He left the team in the middle of a game, leading to a leave of absence, batted .205 and played in just 73 games before August knee surgery ended his season. He's scheduled to make $12 million this season and doesn't even have a starting job, with Michael Saunders penciled in as the left fielder and Jack Cust signed as the everyday designated hitter.
UPDATE: Hold the phones. The city attorney's office tells Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times that the status of Bradley's case hasn't changed, and no formal decision on charges will be made until after the March 9 hearing.
-- David Andriesen
Posted on: January 3, 2011 8:03 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2011 8:18 pm
If there's a surplus of one position on the free agent market, it may be the designated hitter spot.
Jim Thome, one of last season's bargain pickups, is still unsigned, as are Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon. And then there's the not-retired Jermaine Dye, Jason Giambi, Russell Branyan, Jose Guillen and Hank Blalock.
So far this offseason, the Red Sox exercised their option on David Ortiz, the Yankees have said they'll move Jorge Posada out from behind the plate, as will the Tigers with newly-signed Victor Martinez. Adam Dunn will be a first-time designated hitter with the White Sox.
As for teams with needs, that includes the team Thome DH'd for last season, the Twins, who would like him back. Of course, after putting up the year he did, he feels like he deserves a raise -- especially with his 600th career home run likely coming this season. The Rays, Angels and Rangers also have obvious needs, while the Orioles, Royals and Blue Jays could upgrade at the spot or stay put.
As it stands, here how the current AL DHs line up:
Orioles -- Luke Scott
Red Sox -- David Ortiz
Yankees -- Jorge Posada
Blue Jays -- Edwin Encarnacion
Rays -- Matt Joyce
White Sox -- Adam Dunn
Indians -- Travis Hafner
Tigers -- Victor Martinez
Royals -- Billy Butler
Twins -- Jason Kubel
Angels -- Mike Napoli
A's -- Hideki Matsui
Mariners -- Jack Cust
Rangers -- David Murphy
And here's who is left on the market (2010 AVG/OBP/SLG HR, RBI)
Jim Thome .283/.412/.627 25, 59
Vladimir Guerrero .300/.345/.496 29, 115
Manny Ramirez .298/.409/.510 16, 42
Johnny Damon .271/.355/.401 8, 51
Russell Branyan .237/.323/.487 25, 57
Jason Giambi .244/.378/.398 6, 35
Andruw Jones .230/.341/.486 19, 48
Hank Blalock .254/.319/.349 1, 7
Jose Guillen .258/.314/.416 16, 62
Jeremy Hermida .216/.268/351 6, 29
Troy Glaus .240/.344/.400 16, 71
Mike Sweeney .252/.321/.444 8, 26
Jorge Cantu .256/.304/.392 11, 56
Jermaine Dye (2009) .250/.340/.453 27, 81
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
Tags: 2010 free agency, Adam Dunn, Andruw Jones, Angels, Athletics, Billy Butler, Blue Jays, David Murphy, David Ortiz, Edwin Encarnacion, Hank Blalock, Hideki Matsui, Hot Stove League, Indians, Jack Cust, Jason Giambi, Jason Kubel, Jeremy Hermida, Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, Johnny Damon, Jorge Cantu, Jorge Posada, Jose Guillen, Luke Scott, Manny Ramirez, Mariners, Matt Joyce, Mike Napoli, Mike Sweeney, MLB rumors, Orioles, Rangers, Rays, Red Sox, Royals, Russell Branyan, Tigers, Travis Hafner, Troy Glaus, Twins, Victor Martinez, Vladimir Guerrero, White Sox, Yankees
Posted on: December 21, 2010 4:20 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2010 5:30 pm
Nothing says the week of Christmas quite like remaking the front for the trade of a backup catcher.
But hey, Cliff Lee's signed, Derek Jeter's happy and Zack Greinke's been traded. We're left with Rob Johnson being traded from Seattle to San Diego for a paler to be named or cash.
Johnson was designated for assignment last week to make room for designated hitter Jack Cust on the 40-man roster.
Johnson, 27, hit .191/.293/.281 in 61 games for the Mariners last season. In 2009, he hit .213/.289/.326 in 80 games. He hit two homers in each of the last two seasons.
With the Padres, Johnson will back up Nick Hundley. The Mariners now have just one catcher, Adam Moore, on its 40-man roster.
UPDATE: Kind of a brain cramp, but the Mariners will have two catchers as soon as Miguel Olivo's contract is official.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
Posted on: December 8, 2010 1:46 pm
The fun thing about being at the Winter Meetings is sitting next to people you didn't know before and learning new things.
Well, I know a hell of a lot more about Jack Cust than I ever wanted to know -- such as he had a 53 percent three-true-outcomes rate for his career, which means he either struck out, walked or homered in 53 percent of his plate appearances last season, which is just amazing. -- because I'm sitting next to Dave Cameron of FanGraphs and U.S.S. Mariner , and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier that the Mariners were close to signing Cust.
Well, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com , that deal is done and is a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. Dave said to punch him in the face if it was worth more than $3 million, so I missed out on that opportunity, unfortunately.
So, rejoice Mariner fans, Cust had a .387 BAbip (batting average on balls in play) last season, while still hitting .272, which is just a crazy split. He did have an on-base percentage of .328 and slugged .438 with 13 home runs. He hit 84 homers from 2007-2009.
-- C. Trent RosecransFor more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .