Tag:Seattle Mariners
Posted on: October 15, 2010 8:40 pm
 

Mariners hire a manager? Yawn

Who's the next manager of the Seattle Mariners in three or four seasons? Manny Acta?

For the second time in six years, the Mariners have dipped into the Cleveland discard pile to hire a skipper. Mike Hargrove in 2005, and Eric Wedge, according to several reports, on Friday.

Following a bitterly disappointing 2010 season, the Mariners could not have made a more uninspiring hire.

Last time anybody checked, the Indians weren't exactly overstocked with World Series-winning managers.

But it goes beyond what surely will be an avalanche of Cleveland jokes.

Wedge is a good teacher and a fine organizational person.

As a manager? His 2007 Indians team blew a 3-1 advantage to lose the ALCS to Boston, then they largely underachieved over the next two seasons. Which, much as he didn't want to, pretty much forced general manager Mark Shapiro's hand to fire him.

Wedge had his moments in Cleveland, but he never could get the Indians past that certain point. The roaring 93-65 season of 2005, when the Indians nearly overtook the White Sox in the AL Central, was followed with a crash-and-burn fourth-place finish in '06.

He comes across as uptight, and he's a zero as a personality. Which, is no small thing in today's game. The manager is the face of the organization. Hiring Bobby Valentine, now that would have given the Mariners personality.

Wedge just leaves them knee-deep in anonymity and, largely, irrelevant. And if they don't win, that will include in their own town.

(On another note, guess this means Milton Bradley does not fit into the Mariners' plans for 2011. The Indians were forced to trade him in 2004 after Wedge removed him from an exhibition game for not hustling and Bradley went ballistic. The volcanic explosion was spectacular, complete with Bradley dressing and leaving the ballpark during the game via cab ... even though his SUV was in the parking lot. He came back to retrieve it the next day).

Posted on: October 12, 2010 2:51 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2010 4:54 pm
 

Thoughts on Game 5, Rangers-Rays

There is nothing like a Game 5 (or Game 7) in sports, and nothing like the pitch-by-pitch tension that builds in an elimination baseball game with the October leaves changing and Halloween costumes in the stores.

Tonight's Rangers-Rays game is so big, Tampa Bay not only removed the Tropicana Field tarp and put 5,000 extra tickets on sale, the Rays sold 'em!

Seriously, some thoughts as we count down to first pitch tonight of what should be a priceless matchup (so to speak) between aces David Price and Cliff Lee.

-- Texas can say what it wants about having Lee on the mound, and there is no question he's The Man. But it would be more of a guarantee if Tampa Bay was pitching some slob not named Price. Unless you're wearing a Rangers uniform, you'd much rather be in the Rays' cleats tonight: Price on the mound, bats coming back to life, the momentum of winning the past two games in your back pocket and what will be a thunderous, sold-out crowd behind you.

-- Crazy how things work out, and how perfect is this: Price, the man who sparked a controversy in Tampa by criticizing the Rays' fans via Twitter for not showing up on a potential clinching game in late September, pitching in front of not only a sold-out crowd tonight, but a crowd that voraciously snapped up those extra 5,000 tickets. This is a chance for burned bridges to be rebuilt, a chance for Price, 25 and as good a pitcher as there is in the game, to stand tall now that Tampa fans have put their money where Price's mouth is.

-- Maybe you don't realize this, but here is how rare a Game 5 is: We haven't had one since 2005, when the Los Angeles Angels beat the Yankees 5-2 in Anaheim to advance to the ALCS against the Chicago White Sox. Not only that, there's been very little drama in the Division Series' since '05, period: Entering this fall, a total of 11 of 20 series since then have been 3-0 sweeps.  Last fall, Game 163 between the Tigers and Twins -- not a Game 5, but an elimination game nonetheless, was by far the most exciting game of the entire postseason. It was all downhill after that.

-- The home team has yet to win in this series. Only once before has a team won the first two games of a best-of-five postseason series on the road and then gone on to lose: the 2001 Oakland A's, who played the New York Yankees. Texas will do everything tonight to make sure that changes, and don't be surprised to see manager Ron Washington call on starter C.J. Wilson if, for some reason, Lee is off.

-- This either works in Tampa Bay's favor -- or in Texas', if you figure odds are that this eventually will change: Never before in major league baseball history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, has there been a postseason series in which the road team has won every game in a best-of-five series.

-- In Game 1, Lee threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of 27 hitters, and threw 76 strikes out of 104 total pitches. The Rays ranked third in the AL this season with 802 runs scored, but only 13th with in hits -- only Seattle, in the AL, had fewer. That partly explains why the Rays were no-hit twice this summer. And it explains how steep their challenge is tonight: They cannot expect to get extra runners on base via walks. They must be aggressive in swinging at Lee's strikes -- but it's a fine line between being aggressive, and coming too far out of their game.

-- From Texas' perspective, taking an early lead is a must. That would take the Tampa crowd out of the game, it would allow the Rangers to settle in and it might give Lee all he needs. "I think it depends on how many runs is put on the board when you score first," Rangers manager Ron Washington said Sunday in Texas while looking toward Game 5. "If you put one run on the board, you figure you can catch up with that. You put two runs on the board, you figure you can catch up with that. As long as it doesn't get past a grand slam, I think you're in good shape."

-- More Washington: "This was a five-game series when it started, now it's a five-game series. They proved they can beat us on our field, we proved we can beat them on their field. This is what it's about now. They have the right person they feel that's going to be throwing ... and we certainly feel the same way. So it's a matter of going out there, getting Cliff some runs, and if we get him some runs, he'll take it to the finish line. That's what it's all about."

-- Great stuff from Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler on Game 5: "Everyone understands it's just one game now. It's the same game, there's just more cameras. The bases don't eject out of the ground. Guys aren't throwing 150 miles an hour. There's a little more intensity." Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena agreed that there will be no ejecting bases in Tropicana Field tonight, but, as he said, "I can't deny it, it's going to be pretty exciting. It's not as easy to control your emotions. It's fun. It's fun to be a part of it."

-- Tampa Bay's attitude? "We came here facing our elimination," catcher John Jaso said as the Rays dressed after Game 4 to fly home to St. Pete for Game 5. "And we still are facing our elimination." So far, so good with that.

-- The Rangers, for one more day at least, remain the only team in baseball never to have won a playoff series. Someone asked Lee the other day about pitching for a team with such a "sorry history." "I've heard something about that," Lee deadpanned during a post-Game 4 news conference the other day. "But that really doesn't matter to me that much, to be honest. This is a different team than has ever played here. It's a whole different set of circumstances."

Likes: Game 5, for "all the marbles" (as Texas third baseman Michael Young says). ... Bobby Valentine in line to manage again, either in Florida or Seattle. Great fit in either place, but especially the Mariners with their Japanese ownership and Bobby V's ties to Japan. ... Sandy Alderson interviewing with the Mets as a potential general manager. I disagreed with many things Alderson did as president of the Padres, but he would be a great fit with the Mets, who need an adult to run that sorry franchise. Allard Baird, who interviewed Monday, would be a very fine choice as well. ... The Jim Joyce Twitter controversy that erupted on Tuesday. Suddenly, the umpire showed up with a new Twitter account and several tweets that looked authentic -- until MLB-PR tweeted that it was not the real Jim Joyce. ... Baseball working with Stand Up 2 Cancer. ... I don't plug a whole lot of things like this, but if you have a minute to vote in this Pepsi Refresh Project, Gabby's Ladder is a terrific organization for bereaved children in Michigan and Ohio that could really use a helping hand.

Dislikes: Glee.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"If the businessmen drink my blood
"Like the kids in art school said they would
"Then I guess I'll just begin again"

-- Arcade Fire, Ready to Start

Posted on: September 15, 2010 9:00 pm
 

Keepin' the faith with the Padres

DENVER – "Believe", read the T-shirts the San Diego Padres are wearing around the clubhouse and underneath their jerseys these days. And this is how much faith All-Star Adrian Gonzalez has in the Padre pitching staff:

"If we score four or five runs a game the rest of the way," Gonzalez said after the Padres won two of three in Coors Field, "we're going to win the West."

Runs always have been at a premium for the Padres, but never so much so as over the past couple of weeks, when they fell into a 10-game losing streak and struggled to pull themselves out of it.

Until they scored six runs in Monday's opener here, they had gone 16 consecutive games scoring four or fewer runs.

But they continue to lead the majors in pitching (3.22 ERA). The Padres top the majors in bullpen ERA (2.78), and they're third in starters' ERA (3.64), just behind Oakland (3.52) and St. Louis (3.54).

"We're going to win this division with our pitching," Gonzalez said, emphasizing that the onus is on the hitters.

Taking two of three games in Colorado from a team that was riding a 10-game winning streak and owns the second-best home record in the majors (51-24), Gonzalez said, allowed the Padres to regain their breath.

"We're in good shape," he said. "I like the fact that we've got C.Y. [Chris Young] back, the pitching staff still doing what they're doing ... offensively, Luddy [Ryan Ludwick] is coming around, Miggy [Miguel Tejada] swung the bat well this series.

"We're going to score runs. We're going to be good."

Likes: Coors Field is hell on pitchers, but it's a pretty park. ... This NL West three-way with the Padres, Giants and Rockies is great stuff. ... The division might have tightened significantly over the past week, but you'd never know it from talking to Padres manager Bud Black. Calm and cool, he's living up to his old nickname, Mr. Freeze. ... Great run along the Cherry Creek on a hot day in Denver. It's been in the 80s all week. Beautiful. ... The AL Cy Young debate. You take CC Sabathia's workload and success? Or Felix Hernandez's singular dominance? It's going to be a good one. ... Southwest Airlines. One of the few airlines that treat you like an actual human being. ... Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.

Dislikes: Legendary scout Al LaMacchia passes away at the age of 89. Among many, many others, he signed Cito Gaston and Dale Murphy.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"The rain kept drivin' but the Caddy kept on burnin' rubber
"We kept on drivin' till we ran into some fog cover
"We couldn't see a thing somehow we just kept on goin'
"We kept on drivin' all night long and then into the mornin'
"Before it finally lifted when we looked to see where we was at
"We're starin' at a Colorado state policeman trooper's hat go"

-- Bob Seger, Get Out of Denver

Posted on: July 26, 2010 4:35 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2010 2:44 pm
 

Marlins, Rangers continue talking Cantu

Talks between the Marlins and Rangers for slugger Jorge Cantu have reached the point where if a deal happens, it probably will happen in the next day or two, according to two major-league officials with knowledge of the discussions.

The Rangers are in full-throttle, pedal-to-the-metal mode with a seven-game lead in the AL West. One club source says the belief is that now is the time to push because this current Rangers team is showing that it's ready to win now.

The Texas front office believes it too, given the acquisitions so far of ace Cliff Lee and catcher Bengie Molina. If the Rangers can add Cantu to their lineup, as one scout says, they would add "probably the least-known 100 RBI guy in the game."

With the Angels having acquired right-hander Dan Haren from Arizona on Sunday and Seattle having dealt Lee to Texas earlier this month, the AL West is putting on quite a trade-deadline show this summer.

In the deal currently being discussed, Texas would send two minor-leaguers to Florida for Cantu. The Rangers would have to get the OK of the Commissioner's Office before any deal takes place because Cantu is owed about $2 million yet for 2010 and the Rangers, of course, are in bankruptcy court as their sale is pending.

However, Cantu also would be a perfect stretch-run pickup for the Rangers because there are no money issues after this year -- Cantu will become a free agent.

Meantime, while the Marlins have other issues -- such as, at 49-49 and eight games behind Atlanta in the NL East, they're trying to determine whether they're in or out of the race -- trading Cantu somewhere appears close to a fait accompli. The Marlins also are engaging Colorado and San Francisco in discussions.

The Marlins are comfortable with the idea of Chris Coghlan playing third base -- or, while he's on the disabled list with a knee injury, with Wes Helms there -- and they think Logan Morrison is ready for the majors. Morrison has been playing left field in recent games for Triple-A New Orleans and is hitting .306 with six home runs, 44 RBI and a .424 on-base percentage in 67 games.

Their feeling is, if they do trade Cantu and the trickle down effect includes Morrison, Coghlan and Helms, it won't hurt them while they make a run at it this summer.

Posted on: July 15, 2010 2:34 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2010 3:07 pm
 

Hey Gregg: Go back to the football fields

So my good buddy Gregg Doyel wants steroids back in baseball?

He wants artificially inflated behemoths flexing their muscles? He wants brawny Jolly Green Giants feeding us red meat and cheap thrills?

Hey, Gregg, we've already got that.

It's called the NFL.

I know, I know. They've got a steroids policy over there, too, and they had it long before baseball and yada, yada, yada.

What are we supposed to be, stupid? It's normal for guys to grow to 6-7 and run the 40 in two seconds flat?

You want juice, go watch Cowboys-Raiders. Or tour a Tropicana plant.

Leave baseball alone.

Go ahead, take your shots at the "purists". Compare the low-scoring games this summer to a Spain-
Netherlands World Cup match. Me? I think the sound of too many vuvuzelas have damaged your thinking.

Steroids and greenies? Really?

I mean, I know you've always lived just one area code away from the cuckoo's nest, Gregg, but I thought you were more responsible than this. What are you doing tomorrow, teaching the neighborhood kids how to make moonshine?

What I get tired of is, there is little appreciation for subtlety anymore. Anywhere. You can't go to a movie without things blowing up onscreen every two minutes. Everybody's yelling at everybody on radio and cable TV, from the ESPN shout-fests to CNN's Nancy Grace.

Must we be smashed over the head with a sledgehammer each way we turn in life anymore?

Must everything devolve into Short Attention Span Theater?

If you want to zing Tuesday night's All-Star Game, here's where you go: Joe Girardi's managing. To be given a 34-man roster and still be exposed by failing to have a pinch runner at the ready for David Ortiz in the ninth inning was flat-out embarrassing. If Girardi's Yankees play in the World Series this October, all he has to do to learn why they don't have home-field advantage is look straight into the mirror.

Baseball made several tweaks to this year's game and still couldn't get it right: What's needed is smaller rosters, not larger ones, and stars like Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki and Joe Mauer actually still being in the game when it's on the line in the late innings.

Even commissioner Bud Selig was rhapsodizing earlier Tuesday about the days when Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente played the entire All-Star Game. Well, duh. That's how you juice this thing back to the level it once was.

Still, Tuesday night's game had some terrific moments. The best of which was Scott Rolen's intuitive read of a single to center and busting it all the way to third to spark the NL's winning rally. It was the kind of key play that too often was rendered meaningless during the Steroid Era as everyone sat around and waited for three-run homers.

No, other than Girardi's death-wish managing, the only folks who couldn't enjoy this, I'm sure, are the ones who complained that there still weren't enough things blowing up in Iron Man 2. Which, no, I didn't see. The first one was lousy enough.

Anyway, Gregg, I could go on from here, but my guess is I've lost you already, my friend. You're probably already salivating over Cowboys-Raiders.

It's OK, though. I still look forward to covering the World Series with you in October. And being the generous guy I am, I'll make you a deal: If a pitching duel breaks out, the Red Bull and No-Doz is on me. OK?

Oh, one other thing: I don't completely disagree with everything you wrote in this whack-job of a piece. The Tiger Woods line? Excellent.

Posted on: July 9, 2010 5:03 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2010 5:38 pm
 

Rangers acquire Cliff Lee from Seattle

The Cliff Lee talks went from whirlwind to nuts on Friday, with a deal with the Yankees moving from nearly done to essentially falling apart by Friday afternoon, leaving the door open for the Texas Rangers to swoop in and acquire Lee for a package of prospects centered around first baseman Justin Smoak, according to CBSSports.com sources.

The Rangers will receive Lee and reliever Mark Lowe in exchange for Smoak, minor-league second baseman Matt Lawson and two minor-league right-handed pitchers, Josh Lueke and Blake Bevin.

Seattle also will send cash to Texas, a sum said by one source to be "in excess of $2 million", to cover part of the $4.5 million owed Lee through the rest of 2010.

The Rangers, according to one club official, were feverishly working much of the day toward striking a deal to acquire Seattle's ace left-hander, the prize pitcher on the trade market this July. The offensively challenged Mariners were looking for good, young hitters, and the Texas farm system is stocked.

The news, expected to be formally announced later Friday, caps a wild day of rumors, talks and speculation.

With Lee scheduled to pitch against the Yankees on Friday evening, the day started with New York moving into position to strike quickly to bring Lee to the Bronx, according to sources. The Yankees were deep in discussions Friday morning to acquire Lee for a package centered around catching prospect Jesus Montero and minor-league second baseman David Adams.

When those talks broke down -- or, more likely, causing those talks to break down -- the Rangers were exceptionally aggressive. Texas was working with the benefit of one of the game's most well-stocked farm systems, and the acquisition of Lee makes first-place Rangers strong favorites to win their first AL West crown since 1999.

The Rangers have called a 5 p.m. CDT press conference to announce the deal. 

Posted on: July 2, 2010 9:11 pm
 

Jimenez, Price aligned for All-Star Game

If American League manager Joe Girardi chooses to start Tampa Bay's David Price in the July 13 All-Star Game -- a very real possibility given that Price led the AL in ERA (2.44) and wins (11) on Friday -- the coast is clear.

And if National League manager Charlie Manuel gives the nod to Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez -- which seems a slam dunk -- that should work, too.

In the first season in which baseball will deem ineligible any starting pitcher working on the Sunday before the All-Star break, the view from several days out looks pretty good.

Of the top AL starters, only the Angels' Jered Weaver (who leads the majors with 124 strikeouts), Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann and the Yankees' CC Sabathia currently are projected to start for their clubs on that Sunday.

Among the NL's top starters, only the Mets' Mike Pelfrey is slated to start on Sunday, July 11. But depending on what manager Jerry Manuel does with his pitching on the club's off-day on Thursday, July 8, that could change.

Price, a serious candidate to start for the AL, is scheduled to make his final pre-All Star start for Tampa Bay on Wednesday, which would leave him plenty rested for the Anaheim game. And if Girardi looks in a different direction, Seattle's Cliff Lee (last first-half start next Friday), Boston's Jon Lester (Friday) and Clay Buchholz (Tuesday), the Yankees' own Phil Hughes (Friday) and Texas' Colby Lewis (Wednesday) all should be eligible.

Jimenez makes his final pre-All Star start on Thursday and, assuming good health, should be a foregone conclusion to start for the NL in Anaheim.

As for the rest of the NL's top starters, things are setting up very nicely for Manuel: Florida's Josh Johnson (final first-half start slotted for Wednesday), St. Louis' Chris Carpenter (Friday), Adam Wainwright (Saturday) and Jaime Garcia (Thursday), Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (Saturday), Atlanta's Tim Hudson (Friday or Saturday), Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo (Friday), the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (Thursday), San Diego's Mat Latos (Wednesday) and San Francisco's Tim Lincecum (Wednesday) and Barry Zito (Thursday)  all should be fresh for the game.

Likes: Great move by Texas acquiring catcher Bengie Molina. Look out, this is the strongest team the Rangers have had in several years. ... The wheels came off the wagon horribly in Arizona, but make no mistake: Fired general manager Josh Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch are good people. ... New Arizona manager Kirk Gibson's first game in the dugout, of course, is against the Dodgers. Who else? ... The All-Star break just around the corner and Texas, Atlanta, Cincinnati and San Diego in first place. ... The new concert DVD from Bruce Springsteen and the E St. Band, Live in Hyde Park. Very, very good. Great song selections, tremendous playing and some breathtaking camera work of both the band's work and the crowd in Hyde Park. ... Quaker Oatmeal Squares for breakfast. ... Ben & Jerry's Milk and Cookies ice cream.

Dislikes: It's July, so here comes the July 31 trade deadline, a time that you would think would get a baseball writer's juices flowing. And it does mine, too -- it's fun to see the moves as they're made -- but it's also become one of my least favorite times of the year because there is so, so much wrong information that will be produced this month. And ferreting out the truth from the fiction is next to impossible. The sad, simple fact is the journalism bar at times is lowered today, and this is one of them.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Summer
"It turns me upside down"

-- The Cars, Magic

Posted on: June 3, 2010 8:26 pm
 

A few final thoughts on the travesty in Detroit

Let's start with this: If you have not heard umpire Jim Joyce's agony in the aftermath of his blown call to rob Detroit's Armando Galarraga of a perfect game Wednesday night, you owe it to yourself to listen. Especially if you're hopping mad, looking for somebody to slug and your blood pressure is through the roof:

Listen to Jim Joyce here.

And if some of your hardness doesn't begin to melt just a little after listening, then I imagine you've never made a mistake in your life. It's darn tough not to feel for the man.

Meantime, with the wreckage still smoldering in Detroit, the important thing now is to figure out what lessons can be learned.

Me, I see several (besides baseball needing to look seriously at implementing more replay and better umpires).

I see Galarraga offering an incredible example of class and sportsmanship. "Nobody's perfect," he said Wednesday night. Imagine! This from a 28-year-old man immediately after he <em>was</em> perfect. From a man who is fighting for a permanent spot on Detroit's roster -- he was recently recalled from Triple-A Toledo.

I see Joyce, heartsick and temporarily broken, offering a gut-wrenching apology and exemplifying courage at its finest. Awful day at the office, yes. We all have those. But not all of us are strong enough to shoulder a colossal mistake. Not only did he seek Galarraga out to apologize after he viewed the replay on Wednesday night, he worked the plate for Thursday's series finale, shrugging off baseball's offer to take a sabbatical. And Cleveland manager Manny Acta afterward said Joyce had a great game.

I see class from the Tigers and manager Jim Leyland, who said before the game, "This is not a day to boo a bad call. This is a day to cheer integrity." And: "This is a day for Detroit to shine."

I saw Detroit shine when some of the 28,169 fans in Comerica Park applauded the umpires when they took the field, causing Joyce, a jangle of raw emotions, to cry.

It's terrible the way this all went down. But I'll tell you this: If not for the class of Galarraga, Joyce, Leyland and others, this could have been a whole lot uglier. In a bad situation, they all took the high road and, maybe, made us all think a little bit and re-examine a little bit of ourselves.

For that, baseball owes all of them a debt of gratitude.

Likes: June and San Diego, Texas, Cincinnati and Atlanta are in first place with Oakland lurking nearby. Can never get enough Cinderella stories. ... The Braves are making Bobby Cox proud. ... Glad to hear Ken Griffey Jr. is going to be working for the Mariners sometime soon. The only thing worse than when a superstar's career ends is when he disappears completely. Good for the game when they stay around and remain visible. ... Radical changes to Friday Night Lights as the fourth season is underway (for those of us who don't have DirecTV), and the show continues to crackle with great writing and superb acting.

Dislikes: Too bad Ken Griffey Jr.'s retirement was overshadowed by the non-perfect game fallout. I mean, the Commissioner's Office wound up releasing a statement on the Detroit brouhaha Thursday before it issued a statement congratulating Griffey for a great career. ... Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow lobbying Thursday for baseball to reverse umpire Jim Joyce's blown call and award Armando Galarraga the perfect game he lost. How about you two politicians concentrate on Michigan's future and lowering that unemployment rate?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Yesterday's over my shoulder
"So I can't look back for too long
"There's just too much to see waiting in front of me
"And I know that I just can't go wrong"

-- Jimmy Buffett, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com