Tag:Jason Vargas
Posted on: July 25, 2011 9:07 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 1:17 pm
 

M's want a win -- but they don't want out

NEW YORK -- Felix Hernandez said Monday that his feelings haven't changed. He still wants to be a Mariner.

He still wants to remain a Mariner.

"Why not?" he asked me.

Why not? I can think of 15 reasons why not, 15 reasons why the Mariners must be the most miserable team to play for right now.

Make that 16 reasons now, after a 10-3 Mariner loss to the Yankees that was so ugly that it seemed to explain the 15 straight losses that came before it.

If you believe King Felix and his teammates, they don't agree with me. They don't want out. They just want a few wins.

They want one win -- fast.

They've set a club record already, with 16 straight losses. They've lost more consecutive games than any team since the 2005 Royals lost 19 in a row, more consecutive games than all but six teams in the history of the American League. They've lost fans, they've lost admirers, and they've lost believers among baseball people who had started to think a month ago that general manager Jack Zduriencik might be building a future contender.

"Their offense is absolutely non-existent," said one scout who watched the Mariners last week. "They've got Miguel Olivo hitting cleanup -- Miguel Olivo! [Justin] Smoak is still sort of a prospect. And Chone Figgins? I might as well be playing third base for them."

Olivo hit cleanup again Monday night, going 0-for-4 to drop his batting average to .220. It was the 36th time he has hit cleanup for the Mariners this year, after hitting cleanup a total of 11 times in his nine previous big-league seasons.

You'd think that any player who could get out would want out. You expect to walk into the Mariner clubhouse and see players checking the CBSSports.com Eye on Baseball blog.

It's not like that, or at least it wasn't like that Monday.

"I'm very proud to say I'm a member of the Seattle Mariners," Doug Fister said.

Unlike Hernandez, who the Mariners have consistently declared off-limits in trade talks, Fister seems to have some chance of getting dealt this week. The Tigers and Reds scouted him last week in Toronto, and the Tigers continue to have a scout following the Mariners. Fister starts Tuesday night against the Yankees, with the weight of the 16-game losing streak transferred to his shoulders.

The Mariners seem more interested in talking about Jason Vargas, the pitcher who started against the Yankees on Monday. Vargas allowed eight runs (four earned) in four innings, in an outing that wasn't as bad as all that, but wasn't real good, either. Fister has more value. Erik Bedard, who comes off the disabled list to start Friday against the Rays, could have value, as well.

Both Fister and Vargas have losing records with a decent ERA. Fister is 3-11 despite a 3.30 ERA, and he's 0-6 since the beginning of June, with a 3.38 ERA and a .578 opponents OPS.

As that scout said, the Mariners' offense is basically non-existent. It's why their 43-59 record isn't exactly a surprise, even if the way they got there is.

The M's were 43-43 when the losing streak began. They were just 2 1/2 games out of first place.

If you'd asked shortstop Brendan Ryan then if there was a chance that they'd lose the next 16 games, he'd have told you no.

"Zero percent," Ryan said. "I don't even know how many stars have to be aligned for this to happen. It's Friday the 13th, and a full moon. Every day.

"With our pitching staff, it would have been much more believable to win 15 in a row."

The strong starting pitching is the reason the Mariners got to 43-43 in the first place. But even then, they seemed to be playing over their heads, an idea that manager Eric Wedge basically agreed with Monday.

"I don’t think we were as good as we looked back then, and we're not as bad as we look now," Wedge said.

Wedge pointed to the Mariners' young talent (eight players have made their big-league debut with the M's this year), and insisted that the long-term plan remains solid.

"Grand plan, big picture," he called it. "We're building something here."

And he said this 16-game losing streak will end up being part of it.

"We'll be stronger for it," Wedge said. "This is something you'll never forget, that you'll draw from. Having lived through this makes you stronger.

"Believe you me, they'll be a whole lot tougher after going through this."

Perhaps they will be, but the way the Mariners have played over the last week isn't exactly encouraging. Three times in the last week, they had runners get picked off (including Ichiro, who fell for the third-to-first move that never works).

But they don't seem to be blaming each other, and they don't seem to want out -- at least not openly.

"We've got a good group," Wedge said. "They're together. They're good teammates."

They may be good teammates, but they're not a good team.

At this point, maybe they should trade King Felix, but they don't want to. And if you believe him, he doesn't want out, either.

Not even after 16 in a row.



Posted on: July 25, 2011 7:44 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 8:59 pm
 

Rays won't deal Shields, would talk others

In the ever-evolving trade market for starting pitchers, quite a few teams were holding out hope last week that the Rays would make All-Star James Shields available.

No such luck.

The Rays have now told teams that they won't discuss Shields, and also that David Price and Jeremy Hellickson are off-limits. At the same time, according to sources, they would be willing to talk about Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis, their other two starting pitchers. And, of course, the Rays are willing to discuss outfielder B.J. Upton.

The Rays have continued to hold out hope they could stay alive in the wild-card race, but after losing two of three to the Royals, they began play Monday 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees.

The Tigers, Reds, Cardinals and other teams had shown interest in Shields, with the Tigers sending two scouts to see his start against the Yankees last Thursday. It doesn't appear that the Tigers are nearly as interested in either Niemann or Davis.

The Tigers continue to follow almost every starting pitcher available. They scouted Seattle's Doug Fister and Jason Vargas last week in Toronto, and have a scout watching the Mariners again this week in New York. They have had scouts present at least the last two times that Aaron Harang started for the Padres, and they've also watched Hiroki Kuroda, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Marquis, John Lannan and Derek Lowe, in addition to Shields and Ubaldo Jimenez.

The Tigers don't match up well with the Rockies on Jimenez, and Guthrie and Lowe seem to be further down the list for them. It's believed that they have strong interest in Kuroda, but it's still uncertain whether he would consider waiving his no-trade clause for them (or for anyone else).



Posted on: July 24, 2011 9:01 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 11:16 pm
 

3 to Watch: The White Sox (or white flag) edition

The White Sox are having the most disappointing season in baseball. The White Sox could still win the American League Central.

The White Sox could be 1 1/2 games out of first place by Wednesday. Or the White Sox could be sellers by Wednesday.

It's a time of year where things change quickly, with teams assessing their needs and chances daily.

Even by that standard, the White Sox are a team to watch this week.

They begin the week two games under .500, and 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Tigers. The Tigers are in Chicago for three games starting Monday night.

By the time the series ends Wednesday, the White Sox could be a true contender. Or they could be so far out of it that they go into full sell mode, looking to deal a pitcher like Edwin Jackson and perhaps outfielder Carlos Quentin.

Or maybe they're still left guessing whether they're in it or not. Maybe all they can do is to contemplate possible deals like the one the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Sunday, where they would trade a major leaguer for another major leaguer (in this case, a pitcher like Jackson for Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus).

There are other teams to watch this week, notably the Rays, who have fallen 6 1/2 games out in the wild-card race after losing two of three in Kansas City. But the Rays were already telling teams that they don't plan to move pitcher James Shields.

But no team has been as disappointing this year as the White Sox, and no team will be as interesting to follow over the next few days.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Partly because of the trade deadline, and partly because Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee won't start in the series, the Giants' visit to Philadelphia doesn't feel as big as it probably should. It's still worth watching, and it's worth noting that the Phillies allowed fewer runs over the first 100 games of the season (332) than any team since the 1989 Dodgers. Vance Worley is one of the surprising reasons for that, and Worley faces Tim Lincecum in Giants at Phillies, Tuesday night (7:05 ET) at Citizens Bank Park.

2. The White Sox began the second half by beating Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer on back-to-back days in Detroit, then missed a chance to sweep the series when they lost to Brad Penny. They get Verlander and Scherzer again in this series, with Verlander facing Mark Buehrle in Tigers at White Sox, Tuesday night (8:10 ET) at U.S. Cellular Field. Also worth watching: Jake Peavy's velocity when he faces the Tigers on Wednesday. In Peavy's last start, in Kansas City, his average fastball was below 90 mph.

3. The Mariners are also a team to watch this week, and not just because they've lost a club-record 15 straight. On a market short of starting pitcher, the M's have made Jason Vargas and Doug Fister available, and those two start Monday and Tuesday against the Yankees. They have not made Felix Hernandez available, and they're hoping that Felix won't be trying to break a 17-game losing streak when he faces Phil Hughes in Mariners at Yankees, Wednesday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees will be hoping that Hughes looks a lot better than he did in his last start, last Friday against the A's. The M's have won each of Hernandez's last five starts against the Yankees.



Posted on: July 24, 2011 9:00 pm
 

3 to Watch: The White Sox (or white flag) edition

The White Sox are having the most disappointing season in baseball. The White Sox could still win the American League Central.

The White Sox could be 1 1/2 games out of first place by Wednesday. Or the White Sox could be sellers by Wednesday.

It's a time of year where things change quickly, with teams assessing their needs and chances daily.

Even by that standard, the White Sox are a team to watch this week.

They begin the week two games under .500, and 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Tigers. The Tigers are in Chicago for three games starting Monday night.

By the time the series ends Wednesday, the White Sox could be a true contender. Or they could be so far out of it that they go into full sell mode, looking to deal a pitcher like Edwin Jackson and perhaps outfielder Carlos Quentin.

Or maybe they're still left guessing whether they're in it or not. Maybe all they can do is to contemplate possible deals like the one the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Sunday, where they would trade a major leaguer for another major leaguer (in this case, a pitcher like Jackson for Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus).

There are other teams to watch this week, notably the Rays, who have fallen 6 1/2 games out in the wild-card race after losing two of three in Kansas City.

But no team has been as disappointing this year as the White Sox, and no team will be as interesting to follow over the next few days.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Partly because of the trade deadline, and partly because Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee won't start in the series, the Giants' visit to Philadelphia doesn't feel as big as it probably should. It's still worth watching, and it's worth noting that the Phillies allowed fewer runs over the first 100 games of the season (332) than any team since the 1989 Dodgers. Vance Worley is one of the surprising reasons for that, and Worley faces Tim Lincecum in Giants at Phillies, Tuesday night (7:05 ET) at Citizens Bank Park.

2. The White Sox began the second half by beating Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer on back-to-back days in Detroit, then missed a chance to sweep the series when they lost to Brad Penny. They get Verlander and Scherzer again in this series, with Verlander facing Mark Buehrle in Tigers at White Sox, Tuesday night (8:10 ET) at U.S. Cellular Field. Also worth watching: Jake Peavy's velocity when he faces the Tigers on Wednesday. In Peavy's last start, in Kansas City, his average fastball was below 90 mph.

3. The Mariners are also a team to watch this week, and not just because they've lost a club-record 15 straight. On a market short of starting pitcher, the M's have made Jason Vargas and Doug Fister available, and those two start Monday and Tuesday against the Yankees. They have not made Felix Hernandez available, and they're hoping that Felix won't be trying to break a 17-game losing streak when he faces Phil Hughes in Mariners at Yankees, Wednesday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees will be hoping that Hughes looks a lot better than he did in his last start, last Friday against the A's. The M's have won each of Hernandez's last five starts against the Yankees.


Posted on: July 22, 2011 7:31 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 7:55 pm
 

Add Fister, Vargas to Tigers' long list

The Tigers have looked at every starting pitcher who is available, and some who may not be available.

It's a long list, and it extends from Ubaldo Jimenez and James Shields to Jeremy Guthrie and Aaron Harang and Hiroki Kuroda. And also to Doug Fister and Jason Vargas.

According to sources, the Tigers had a scout in Toronto this week to watch Fister and Vargas pitch for the Mariners. The Mariners also had two scouts in Detroit. That doesn't mean the two teams are close to a deal, because the Tigers have had scouts watching all of the above pitchers and more.

The Mariners are believed to have made Fister and Vargas available, while telling teams that Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda will not be moved.


For more trade deadline news from CBSSports.com, click here.

Posted on: July 18, 2011 1:41 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 7:04 pm
 

M's may talk pitching (but not that pitcher)

In 12 days, the Mariners went from 2 1/2 games out to 11 1/2 games out. Not easy to do, especially when three of those days were the All-Star break.

In 12 days, the Mariners went from possible buyers to possible sellers. The Mariners have suggested to teams in the last several days that they would be willing to discuss trading some of their starting pitching in exchange for some much-needed hitting.

But not that pitcher. And not that one, either.

The names that have been floated, according to sources, are Jason Vargas and Doug Fister -- and not Felix Hernandez or Michael Pineda.

It's not certain how anxious the Mariners are to make a deal. One source described it more as "throwing bait out there, to see what interest there is." One issue is how much the Mariners value second-half wins that would make their final record look respectable, even if catching the first-place Rangers has already become a huge longshot.

In a market where multiple teams are searching for starting pitching, there could be significant interest. Fister is 3-11, but has a 3.18 ERA and good secondary numbers. Vargas has a 3.68 ERA and is tied for the league lead with three shutouts.

As to what the Mariners would be looking for in return, that's fairly obvious. In their current nine-game losing streak, the M's have scored just 11 runs.

The Tigers, Reds and Indians are all among the teams searching for rotation help. The Indians have continued to prioritize starting pitching, even as their shaky offense suffered another blow when Grady Sizemore went on the disabled list Monday.

 
 
 
 
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