Tag:Seattle Mariners
Posted on: May 9, 2010 7:33 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2010 11:01 pm
 

The AL Worst

Dallas Braden's exquisite perfect game for Oakland on Sunday notwithstanding, no division in baseball has been as disappointing as this motley crew (though the NL Central should not be overlooked, what with the Cubs, Brewers and Astros).

The AL West this year is Conan O'Brien in his last few days on The Tonight Show. Not nearly as funny, but every bit as beleaguered.

How rough is it out there? They nearly had to delay the first pitch of Friday night's Angels-Mariners game because both clubs held meetings to discuss, they were scuffling so badly.

The weekend started with the Angels dragging a seven-game losing streak to Seattle, where the Mariners greeted them with a six-game losing streak of their own. Seattle skipper Don Wakamatsu closed the doors to address his team before the series started while the Angels held a players-only meeting.

For the Angels, who normally under manager Mike Scioscia only hold team meetings to divide up playoff shares, it was their second meeting in less than 24 hours. Scioscia had briefly closed the doors to address the troops the night before in Boston, where Los Angeles had been swept in a four-game series for the first time since 1967 which, for the Red Sox, goes all the way back to the Impossible Dream and Jim Lonborg pre-skiing injury.

Already, the Angels, who miss Chone Figgins and John Lackey more than they acknowledge, are closing in on a club record for meetings in a season. They don't need another alternate jersey so much as they need an appointment book.

Last time the Angels and Mariners met with each club at least six games under .500? According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was way back in 1994.

By Sunday, that had changed because the Angels, behind Jered Weaver's 7 1/3 shutout innings Friday and Joe Saunders righting himself Saturday, took the first two games of this pillow-fight to climb to within four games of .500 -- and push Seattle's losing streak to eight in a row.

Obvious answer to the light-hitting Mariners' woes, of course, was to fire hitting coach Alan Cockrell, which Seattle did before Sunday's game. It's not Cockrell's fault that a single can of Mountain Dew contains more pop than the Mariners' lineup, which was last in the majors with a hard-to-believe paltry sum of 10 home runs.

The White Sox's Paul Konerko has more than that by himself (13), while five other big leaguers have equaled the M's total by themselves: Toronto's Alex Gonzalez, Baltimore's Ty Wigginton, the Dodgers' Andre Ethier and Arizona's Mark Reynolds and Kelly Johnson.

While the power outage cannot be blamed on Cockrell -- he didn't construct a lineup that has Franklin Gutierrez, Jose Lopez and Casey Kotchman in the middle -- the M's figured they had enough other evidence to sack him: Last in the AL in team batting average (.225), on-base percentage (.302), slugging percentage (.315) and runs scored (94).

Wretched? Eight Mariners in the regular lineup are hitting worse than .220.

Ugh -- and it's no picnic elsewhere in the division.

Texas is in first place, but every day "owner" Tom Hicks fails to pay his bills leaves the creditors barking more savagely, demanding that major-league baseball seize the franchise from Hicks and facilitate a sale. The Rangers franchise was supposed to have been sold by early April, and baseball taking control is a very real possibility. Turns out, whether or not the Rangers can afford a summer's worth of baseballs might be the least of their issues.

Oakland? In the muck of the AL West, the A's have been the most pleasant story going. Their only crime so far is guilt-by-association in this haggard division. That, and having nine players on the disabled list, their most since May, 2008. Which pretty much makes running in place a goal, not a detriment.

Ah well, what the AL West lacks in looks, it should make up for in sheer competitiveness this summer. At one point last week, the four clubs were separated by a mere half-game. And right now, looking through the one-way glass at the perp walk, it doesn't look like anybody here will be running away anytime soon.

Posted on: April 5, 2010 12:37 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2010 4:08 pm
 

Beckett: Four more years (in Boston)

Fresh from their Opening Night pounding of the dreaded Yankees, the Red Sox this afternoon formally will announce a contract extension for ace Josh Beckett, $68 million over four years.

As colleague Danny Knobler chuckled when we talked not long ago, not bad for a pitcher with a 9.64 ERA. That's where Beckett's stands now after the Yankees clubbed him for five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings Sunday night.

In all seriousness, though, the larger meaning of this beyond New England's boundaries is that it continues to emphasize the most important thing in today's game: You'd better build your team with young pitching, because less and less of it is available on the free agent market. At least, fewer impact pitchers are getting out there.

Beckett and Roy Halladay each was supposed to be a free agent next winter. Not now: The Sox have locked up Beckett, and the Phillies over the winter acquired Halladay from Toronto then signed him to a three-year, $60 million deal.

Two other key pitchers had their free agency delayed over the past several months, too, with Detroit signing Justin Verlander to a five-year, $80 million extension and Seattle signing ace Felix Hernandez to a five-year, $78 million deal in January.

Posted on: December 29, 2009 4:35 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2009 5:21 pm
 

Bay-watch finished, Mets' winter looking up

Whether he wants to or not, slugging outfielder Jason Bay is on the verge of becoming a New York Met. Bay and the club have agreed to terms on a four-year contract worth $66 million, CBSSports.com has confirmed, with a fifth-year option that could boost the package into the $80 million neighborhood.

The deal is pending Bay passing a physical examination and, as such, the Mets are not confirming that an agreement is in place.

Barring any surprises with Bay's physical, the move will accomplishes one of the Mets' chief offseason goals, which was adding a slugger who will man left field and make manger Jerry Manuel's lineup more dangerous. It also should silence critics who were chattering that the Mets' dalliance with Bay was "just for show", a transparent attempt to placate their fans while making an offer they knew Bay would not accept.

In the end, they got it done.

Now, regarding the "wants to" part: The Mets made their initial offer to Bay coming out of the winter meetings in Indianapolis some three weeks ago and have been waiting for an answer ever since. Speculation, of course, has been strong in some quarters that Bay must not have wanted to become a Met very badly because, if he did, talks between him and the club wouldn't have dragged along for so long.

But in a chilly winter on the free agent market in which Boston cut bait with Bay and signed outfielder Mike Cameron, and Seattle, San Francisco and the Yankees -- all clubs looking for a big, middle-of-the-order bat -- Bay's options pretty much dwindled to just one. And that one was located with a Queens ZIP code.

However Bay was delivered -- and there's a lot of dollars here to sooth any disappointment the Canada native might have felt when Seattle didn't step up, or when Boston pulled its offer -- there is no doubt that it's a victory for the Mets.

It's not a guaranteed victory, because we've been through this before with them: They traded for Johan Santana two winters ago and signed free agent closers Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz last winter and failed to make the playoffs both years. Much to their fans chagrin, the Mets have proven in recent years that they're a different breed and often add up to less than the sum of their parts would appear.

But they have needs to fill as the time since their last playoff appearance (2006) lengthens and the back-to-back NL champion -- and Mets' NL East rival -- Philadelphia Phillies (who already have traded for Roy Halladay and signed Placido Polanco this winter) continue to swing for the fences.

Though he's now 31, considered a mediocre outfielder and batted just .267 for the Red Sox last summer, he also walloped 36 home runs and finished with 119 RBI.

With a healthy Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran (it's never too late to start knocking on wood in advance of opening day with them) and with slugging third baseman David Wright, Bay will give the Mets another presence that should make life difficult for opposing pitchers.

But their job is not finished. They still need a catcher -- free agent Bengie Molina remains the most logical bet -- and pitching (bullpen help, especially).

With the Mets, the job is never finished. But with Bay poised to change his workplace address to Citi Field, ever so cautiously, there again is hope.

Posted on: December 16, 2009 6:51 pm
 

Blockbuster breakdown

Nine players, four teams, two Cy Young winners, one three-minute breakdown of what undoubtedly will be THE blockbuster trade of the offseason:

Seattle

Gets: Lefty ace Cliff Lee, the 2008 AL Cy Young winner and ace pitcher in this fall's World Series.

A clear winner in the deal, in conversations with scouts and executives. Especially in the context of what general manager Jack Zduriencik already has done with the Mariners last year (improved their pitching and defense) and this winter (signed sparkplug Chone Figgins). How would you like to have Lee and Felix Hernandez as Nos. 1 and 2 in your rotation?

At 85-77 after losing 101 games in 2008, the Mariners were baseball's most improved team last year. With Lee and Figgins, that trend continues and should make Seattle instant contenders in the AL West.

The Mariners gave up three prospects in the deal, none of whom is projected to land anywhere near Cooperstown. Lee is a free agent following the 2010 season which, as colleague Danny Knobler notes, could make Seattle winners in one of two ways: Either he can pitch them into the playoffs, or, if the Mariners pull a surprise and flop early, they can trade him in July and probably receive better prospects than they traded.

Philadelphia

Gets: Roy Halladay from Toronto, prospects Phillippe Aumont (right-handed pitcher), outfielder Tyson Gillies (outfielder) and Juan Ramirez (right-handed pitcher), and $6 million from Toronto.

The overriding question being asked by baseball people everywhere in the aftermath of this exchange of Cy Young winners is this: For Philadelphia, back-to-back NL champs with an eye toward a third consecutive World Series appearance in 2010, are the Phillies better off with Halladay than Lee?

Well, are they? It's a very close call, but the answer has to be yes. Lee has bad back-to-back sensational seasons, but Halladay not only has done it longer, but he's the big, powerful horse that most often comes up as the answer to this question: If you could pick one pitcher to win the most important game of your season, whom would it be?

It may seem absurd to go against Lee, who was 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in five postseason starts for the Phillies this year (including 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in the World Series). But while Lee beat the Yankees in October, Halladay has made a career of doing it: Lifetime, Halladay is 18-6 with a 2.84 ERA against the Bronx Bombers.

Not that he'll be facing New York regularly in the NL East, but that's the point: In this game, right now, you measure yourself against the Yankees, and go from there. Halladay can handle them -- as Lee did -- in October. Meantime, Halladay should chew up the NL the way a Toro mows through tall grass.

The clincher, of course, is that the Phillies signed Halladay to a three-year extension with an option for year No. 4, while Lee is headed for free agency. Halladay, for the Phillies, is a better answer both short-term and, especially, long-term.

Toronto

Gets: Three former No. 1 draft picks, right-hander Kyle Drabek (from the Phillies), catcher Travis d'Arnaud (from the Phillies) and  third baseman Brett Wallace (from Oakland).

Take good notes, because this is the last you'll be hearing from the Blue Jays for awhile. They should be nowhere hear contention in 2010. This trade is about stockpiling prospects and, from there, attempting to come up with a core group of controllable, young players who will mature roughly the same time.

It's a fine plan under Toronto's young (32) new architect, new GM Alex Anthopoulos. And whether it works or not, let's just say this up front: This Halladay deal likely will be Anthopoulos' signature moment as Jays' GM. If these prospects produce, he has a chance to look brilliant. If not, the Jays will become even less relevant.

Drabek is a power arm whom the Jays were looking at last summer in the Halladay talks with Philadelphia. Anthopoulos views him as an eventual front-of-the rotation type starter. The GM's hope for d'Arnaud is that he will develop into an All-Star catcher. And the Jays view Wallace as an eventual impact, middle-of-the-order hitter.

Anthopoulos is on record as calling Halladay the greatest player in Blue Jays' history, and to get only one pitcher back in a package for him seems awfully light. Odds are that he will not develop into half the pitcher Halladay is (and that's no knock against Drabek -- there aren't many youngsters who will develop into the next Halladay, or half a Doc).

The Jays do need a catcher and a third baseman. For them, the final evaluation of this deal likely is at least a couple of years away.

Oakland

Gets: Outfield prospect Michael Taylor from Toronto (via the Phillies).

The Athletics pretty much being the afterthought in this deal, good, sneaky work by GM Billy Beane to move in and snag an outfielder he took a liking to awhile ago.

Why it took so long: For one thing, the Phillies required a negotiating window to enter into a multi-year contract agreement with Halladay, who was on track for free agency following the 2010 season.

Also, and this is why you hear of so many trades anymore that take several days to be announced, contracts are so big now that medical reports never have been so important. Teams anymore are incredibly diligent about making sure the players they receive are healthy, risking humiliation if they don't. It's why the deal between Boston and Texas sending third baseman Mike Lowell to the Rangers essentially was agreed upon eight days ago and still hasn't been completed -- the Rangers are triple-checking Lowell's medical reports.

In this deal, there was concern from Toronto on third baseman Brett Wallace's shoulder due to a previous injury.

Lastly, rules state that the Commissioner's Office needs to approve any trade in which $1 million or more changes hands. That's pretty much become a formality anymore, but it still slows down the process.

What got the deal done: Several facets, but the overriding one was the fact that Halladay clearly wanted to pitch for the Phillies. No small part of that is because Halladay's home is in Odessa, Fla., not far from Toronto's spring training base in Dunedin, Fla. Which is only about 10 minutes from Philadelphia's spring base in Clearwater. Halladay essentially gave the Phillies the old "hometown discount" in signing on the dotted line for $20 million a year and waiving his free agency rights next winter. Remember, CC Sabathia set the bar last winter by signing with the Yankees for seven years and an annual average value of $23 million a season. Next to that, Halladay looks downright generous in the deal he gave the Phillies.

Winners: Seattle, no question. Mariners' GM Jack Zduriencik, who, in barely more than a year on the job, has established himself as one of the most creative minds in the game. Philadelphia, which stands an excellent chance to play in its third World Series in three years in 2010.

Losers: Toronto's fans, at least in the short term.  It's just too bad that the Blue Jays never could win when they had Halladay, because he gave his blood, sweat and tears to that franchise and to that city and he desperately wanted to win there. For his sake and for that of the franchise and its fans, its sad that it never came to pass.

Posted on: December 5, 2009 2:16 am
 

Figgins: Mariners helped, Angels hurt

It is a move that at once improves their own lineup and draws blood from one of their fiercest division rivals: The Seattle Mariners have locked up free agent leadoff man Chone Figgins with a four-year, $36 million deal.

Though the formal announcement likely will not come until the winter meetings next week in Indianapolis because Figgins first must pass a physical, make no mistake: This is a huge get for the Mariners.

One of general manager Jack Zduriencik's main goals this winter is to improve an offense that ranked last in the American League in runs scored and tied for last in on-base percentage and batting average.

An All-Star in 2009, Figgins ranked second in the AL behind the Yankees' Derek Jeter in times reaching base (285), led the AL in walks (101) and ranked second in the AL with a career-high 114 runs scored.

With Figgins atop their lineup, the Angels ranked second in the AL in runs scored. And as things stand now, they do not have a ready replacement for Figgins in the leadoff slot.

While some in the industry expressed surprise that Figgins would leave Anaheim for another team in the AL West that plays in a ballpark that isn't particularly hitter-friendly, the move makes sense on at least three levels outside of Figgins scoring his first major-money contract:

-- Figgins has great familiarity with Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu, who was field coordinator for the Angels' minor-leagues when Figgins was a young player coming up through the system.

-- Mariners bench coach Ty Van Burkleo was a roving hitting instructor in the Angels' minor-league system as Figgins was developing.

-- Figgins' fiancé is from Vancouver, Canada, just a couple of hours' drive north of Seattle.

So. The immediate question now in Seattle becomes, where does Figgins fit into a lineup in which Ichiro Suzuki has batted leadoff in recent years? Maybe second in the order behind Ichiro, maybe lower.

Wherever, Figgins will give the Mariners an added dimension that they lacked in 2009.

In the field, Figgins is expected to fill a hole at third base as free agent Adrian Beltre seeks employment elsewhere. The Mariners offered Beltre arbitration and he has until Monday to decide whether to accept. The expectation is that he will not accept and will become a free agent.

If he does accept arbitration and returns to the Mariners, Beltre probably would play third base and Figgins could play second or the outfield.

In addition to ranking second in the AL in runs scored, Figgins also tied for third in the AL with 42 steals and is the only active player in the majors to swipe 30 or more bags in each of the past six seasons.

The biggest question revolves around his durability. At 32 on opening day 2010 and entering his first big contract, will Figgins be as effective in years three and four of this deal as the Mariners hope?

That, though, mostly is a question for down the road. For now, on a Mariners team that ranked as the most improved club in the game last summer and thinks it can contend in 2010, signing Figgins is very good news.

 

Posted on: August 18, 2009 12:17 am
 

Mariners sign Ackley, Padres get Tate

The Seattle Mariners and first-round pick Dustin Ackley have agreed to terms on a contract worth $9.6 million, CBSSports.com has learned. The agreement came just moments before Monday's midnight EDT signing deadline.

Ackley, an outfielder from the University of North Carolina, was the No. 2 overall pick in the June draft and was regarded as the best overall offensive player.

It was a rough day for North Carolina: The Padres signed the No. 3 overall pick, Donovan Tate, to a deal worth $6.25 million, according to CBSSports.com sources. Tate, a high schooler from Georgia, had been offered a full-ride scholarship to play football at North Carolina. Instead, Tate was in attendance at Monday night's Padres-Cubs game in San Diego and was introduced to the crowd at Petco Park before the fifth inning.

Posted on: June 25, 2009 9:09 pm
 

Of Morrow and Tomorrow in Seattle

It isn't often that a team in contention experiments on the fly. But it also isn't often that a club like the Seattle Mariners has an in-between situation like Brandon Morrow's.

The 24-year-old right-hander, transitioning from the bullpen to the rotation, made his third start on Wednesday night against San Diego, threw 87 pitches and continued to build his endurance.

Morrow has provoked fierce debate in Seattle since the Mariners picked him in the first round of the 2005 draft and then installed him as their set-up man to break him into the majors in 2007. When the Mariners fell to 61-101 last year and the back end of the bullpen became less important, many folks began to rightly view Morrow's arm as being wasted.

The Mariners, thinking along the same lines under new general manager Jack Zduriencik, were going to stretch him out and make him a starter this spring. But Morrow missed some time with forearm tightness and that, combined with a bullpen that wasn't taking shape at the time, caused the Mariners to put him back in the pen to open the season.

Flash forward two months, and David Aardsma has emerged as a solid closer (15 saves), Sean White and Mark Lowe have proven serviceable and the Mariners' bullpen ranks second in the American League with a 3.16 ERA.

What the Mariners need now are starters. And that's what Morrow has decided he'd like to be.

"We realize he's a young guy with a very talented arm who needs to develop his pitches," Zduriencik says. "You're not going to do that in the closer's role. We made the decision to get Brandon more innings."

With Erik Bedard out with a sore shoulder and, a couple of weeks ago, with Jarrod Washburn nursing a pulled muscle in his back, it made sense to begin breaking Morrow into the rotation. Currently, manager Don Wakamatsu and pitching coach Rick Adair are limiting Morrow to somewhere around 95 pitches. He threw 87 in Wednesday's no-decision against San Diego.

Chris Jakubauskus, who made eight starts earlier this season for the Mariners, effectively is tag-teaming with Morrow, taking the baton from him in each of his three starts this month.

"There's no question he has the ability," Zduriencik says of Morrow.

Now, the goal?

"At the end of the year we want to say, 'He has X amount of innings, and he's pitched enough for us that we know what he can do,'" Zduriencik says.

Complicating matters, Morrow has diabetes. That brings up questions of just what Morrow's endurance will be as a starter.

Those answers, though, will come later. What the Mariners know right now is they have a young man who throws 97 mph and has a whole lot of potential. They also know they have a handful of other young pitchers who are looking for a permanent niche: Jakubauskus, White, Garrett Olson, Shawn Kelly and Mark Lowe in particular.

"They're trying to figure out exactly what they are," says Zduriencik, who has done an exceptional job in hurrying along the Mariners' rebuilding efforts. "They're fitting into their roles very nicely right now.

"We have a lot of nice arms here. A lot of talented guys. In Brandon's case in particular, he just needs to pitch. And we're making an attempt to get him that opportunity."

Likes: Johan Santana vs. Chris Carpenter on Thursday. ... A new haircut and a home run for Detroit's Magglio Ordonez, within 24 hours of each other. It was a career high 40-game homerless drought for Ordonez, who is auctioning off his hair on eBay for charity. Great line by manager Jim Leyland, too: "If I had hair like that, I'd still be single." ... Excellent (and poignant) piece here at Athletics Nation on the A's 1989 World Series trophy and how it rings hollow today, particularly within the recent and poorly attended 1989 celebration and the Jose Canseco-Carney Lansford war of words. Ugly, ugly, ugly. ...

Dislikes: Sleep well, Farrah. I'll always remember you on the wall of my room as a grade schooler. Me and thousands of others.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I took my baby to the doctor
"With a fever, but nothing he found
"By the time this hit the street
"They said she had a breakdown
"Someone's always tryin'
"To start my baby cryin'
"Talkin', squealin', lyin'
"Sayin' you just wanna be starting something"

-- Michael Jackson, Wanna Be Starting Something

Posted on: May 4, 2009 11:14 pm
 

Corpas near corpse status in Colorado

Manuel Corpas has gone from closer to hanging onto the major leagues by the tiniest piece of dental floss in Colorado.

The struggling right-hander, who took the closer's job from Huston Street last month before giving it back last week, has been charged with three of the Rockies' past five losses and has watched his ERA grow to 6.75.

His most egregious recent transgression was issuing a leadoff walk to seldom-used San Francisco backup catcher Steve Holm to start the 10th inning of a scoreless game on Sunday. Two batters later, Holm scored on Rich Aurilia's single and the Rockies lost their seventh one-run game of the season, 1-0.

There were some who thought he would be diverted to Triple-A Colorado Springs before the Rockies' series in San Diego finishes this week but, as of Monday, Corpas was still in the Rockies' bullpen.

His status?

"He's on the team," Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said.

What's especially frustrating to the Rockies is that Corpas appears to make progress when working in the bullpen with pitching coach Bob Apodaca but it doesn't show up on the field.

"Guys that go down to the pen with him, you see what you want to see, but it's transferring that into the game," Hurdle said.

So for now, the Rockies appear back to Street closing and Corpas working in the ... sixth? Seventh? Only in blowout games until he starts hitting his spots and gets that .409 opponents' batting average in order?

"We're going to have to find places in the game where we can remove him from the flame," Hurdle said.

Likes: Zack Greinke 6-0 with an 0.40 ERA after clipping the White Sox. How about more than 6,500 fans buying walk-up tickets in Kansas City on a Monday night? The kid has allowed just two earned runs in 45 innings this season. The Greinke Express hits Anaheim, Calif., on Saturday night. ... What a weekend for Seattle second baseman Jose Lopez. He punched a game-winning single to beat Oakland in the 15th inning Sunday, two days after he put the exclamation mark on a 14 pitch at-bat against Oakland's Russ Springer with a game-winning single to lift the Mariners to an 8-7 victory. Lopez fought off nine two-strike pitches during the at-bat and, right now, it looks like something special is brewing in Seattle. ... Hey, my daughter's softball team won the 12-and-under league championship on Saturday. Yes, congratulations to ... ready ... Batta Batta Bling. You should see some of the other names in the league: How about Batitude? And my favorite, Green Eggs and Slam. ...

Dislikes: Haven't gotten a chance to see Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. The movie should pack 'em in based on the title alone (though I gotta say, with Matthew McConaughey in it, my first thought is, "rental"). Anybody seen it yet? Is it funny?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Well she was blond and tall
"She was 23
"Brought into the world
"To get the best of me
"And she never paid back
"Half what she stole
"She wanted my money
"So I gave her my soul"

-- Mudcrutch, The Wrong Thing To Do

 

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