Tag:Mariners
Posted on: December 8, 2008 10:24 pm
 

Mariners open up shop

LAS VEGAS -- Yes, it's true, the Mariners have made J.J. Putz available.

Then again, it's probably more accurate to say that the Mariners have made just about everyone on their roster available.

Faced with a major rebuilding project, new M's general manager Jack Zduriencik is open to trading anyone but Ichiro Suzuki or Felix Hernandez, according to people familiar with his plans. Not surprisingly, Putz is drawing the most interest so far.

Category: MLB
Posted on: October 22, 2008 6:10 pm
 

M's job is a tough, Zduriencik's a good choice

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jack Zdurencik isn't well-known, and he has an easy-to-mispronounce name (it's zur-EN-sik).

But he might just be the perfect guy to take on the mess that's the Mariners.

"I guess that means they're going back to scouting and development," one scout said Wednesday, as word circulated that the Mariners have hired Zduriencik as their new general manager.

You'd think that's what it means, since the 57-year-old Zduriencik's background is in scouting and development. He was in charge of the Brewers' successful scouting operation for the last nine years, and under his guidance the Brewers drafted the core of the team that ended Milwaukee's 16-year playoff drought.

If this is the guy you pick to run your ballclub, presumably you're committed to building a winner from the ground up, rather than trying for a quick fix.

The quick fixes haven't worked in Seattle, that's for sure. This is a team that believed it was one trade away last winter, and reacted by surrendering young players in a deal with Baltimore for pitcher Erik Bedard. The Bedard deal was a miserable failure, but it wasn't the only one in recent years in the Pacific Northwest.

Now it's Zduriencik's turn, and now the Mariners will -- apparently -- try to build a winner. One look at Seattle's 2008 record (61-101) will tell you there's a lot of building to do.

One positive from that record: the M's will have the second overall pick in next June's draft, behind the Nationals.

With Zduriencik in charge, maybe they'll know what to do with it.

Posted on: October 4, 2008 12:51 pm
 

The marathon vs. the sprint

As he tried to explain what's happening to the Cubs, Mark DeRosa said the other day: "We were the best team in the marathon. We need to be the best team in the sprint."

DeRosa got it right. In the wild-card era, history shows that the best team in the 162-game marathon often can't make it through the one-month October sprint.

In fact, in the 13 years of the three-tier playoff system, only three times has the team with the National League's best 162-game record represented the NL in the World Series. The Braves did the double in '95 and '96, and the Cardinals made it in '04.

Meanwhile, the "best team" has been knocked out in the first round four times.

The story is a little different in the American League, where six "best teams" have made it to the World Series in 13 years (counting the '07 Red Sox, who tied for the best record with the Indians). But even there, four "best teams" have lost in the very first round.

Who knows why this is true? Maybe it's that a short series is too much of a crapshoot. Maybe it's that the "best team" is often the first to clinch (as the Angels and Cubs were this year), and loses its edge through too many meaningless games leading up to the playoffs.

It is unusual for the team with the best record to exit the playoffs in a three-game sweep, which both the Cubs and Angels are in danger of doing. It has happened, but only twice. The 2000 White Sox (95-67) were swept by the Mariners, and the 2001 Astros (who tied for the best record at 93-69) were swept by the Braves.

As for a 100-win team like the Angels losing in the first round, that's surprisingly common. The Angels would be the ninth 100-win team in the last 11 years to fail to make it out of the first round.

Posted on: July 29, 2008 1:20 pm
 

Are Dodgers interested in Paul Byrd?

The Indians haven't been optimistic that they'll find someone to take Paul Byrd off their hands, but perhaps the Dodgers will bite.

A Dodger scout who had been in Cleveland watching Casey Blake was told to stay in town through Monday night's game, and he was watching as Byrd threw seven shutout innings against the Tigers.

Byrd is 4-10 with a 5.28 ERA, but he has won two straight games. The start before he beat the Tigers, he allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings against the Angels.

Besides, said another scout who watched Byrd Monday, he'd be an even better fit for a National League team.

"I would take Byrd, especially if I was a National League team, because the (other) NL teams haven't seen him," the scout said. "He pitched well (Monday). He would have beaten anybody."

The Denver Post has reported that the Rockies have talked to Cleveland about Byrd, but the Rockies did not have a scout watching him Monday night.

*****

The Mariners have yet to make a trade, but  you'd think they should be able to make several before Thursday's 4 p.m. deadline.

One name to keep in mind: Arthur Rhodes.

The veteran left-hander hasn't allowed a run in 11 2/3 innings since the end of May, and he was impressive in an inning Monday night in Texas. The Brewers, who definitely need bullpen help, were among the teams in attendance (so were the Tigers).

"He had a very good slider, he was throwing 92 and his arm angle was good," said a scout from another team. "He was outstanding."

*****

The Mets have reason to be concerned about John Maine, who is to have an MRI on his right shoulder today in New York. While Maine didn't want to leave Monday night's game against the Marlins, Mets officials got worried when he had trouble getting loose in 85-degree heat.

The Mets do get one break if it turns out that Maine's injury isn't severe. With off days Thursday and Monday, and with Pedro Martinez returning to pitch this weekend, they could conceivably go nearly two more turns through the rotation before they would need to pitch Maine or find a replacement for him.

In any case, the Mets continue to chase both relief help and a corner outfielder. It's not clear which one should be a bigger priority. In fact, one Mets person said that seems to shift from day to day.

*****

The Marlins keep looking for catching, but they keep running into roadblocks. They felt that Texas's price for Gerald Laird was too high, and when they asked the Giants about Bengie Molina, they were supposedly asked for three top prospects who they wouldn't give up.

Maybe they can revisit Pudge Rodriguez, especially if the Tigers have a couple more nights like Monday.
Posted on: July 26, 2008 12:38 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2008 2:03 pm
 

Dodgers to get Blake from Tribe

The Dodgers have agreed to a trade with Cleveland for third baseman Casey Blake, CBSSports.com has confirmed.

The Indians will pay part of Blake's $6.1 million contract.

The trade, announced early Saturday afternoon, sends catcher Carlos Santana and right-hander Jon Meloan to the Indians. Santana is the key to the deal for the Indians. In 99 games this season at Class A Inland Empire, he's hitting .323 with 14 home runs, 96 RBIs and more walks than strikeouts.

Blake has been hot over the last month, with a .347 average, four home runs and 12 RBIs in his last 21 games. The Dodgers had been looking for a shortstop, but with the market thin at that position, they shifted their focus and obtained Blake to play third base and give them an offensive boost.

Dodger third basemen have batted .245 with seven home runs and 46 RBIs. All three totals are among the lowest in the majors this year.

Blake has been coveted by several teams, in part because of his ability to play multiple positions. He's played third and first for the Indians this year, and as recently as 2006 he played 93 games in the outfield.

The trade is more bad news for the Mets, who had pursued Blake as an outfielder and had also tried to trade for Xavier Nady, who was instead dealt from Pittsburgh to the New York Yankees Friday night. The Mets could turn to Seattle outfielder Raul Ibanez, who they've already discussed, even though they would prefer to acquire a right-handed hitter.

The Mets have been hindered in trade talks by their lack of depth in position-player prospects.

"There's only one position player in the system," said one scout who knows the Mets organization.

The player he referred to is outfielder Fernando Martinez, who is at Double-A Binghamton but has been out of the lineup with a right hamstring strain.
Posted on: July 23, 2008 4:02 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2008 7:26 pm
 

Phillies focus on Grabow, Sherrill

The Phillies, who had been among the more aggressive teams pursuing Colorado closer Brian Fuentes, have shifted their attention to Pittsburgh left-hander John Grabow and Baltimore lefty George Sherrill, according to sources.

Phillies special assistant Charley Kerfeld has been in Houston watching the Pirates, and the Phillies had three different scouts in to watch the Orioles during their current homestand. While the Phillies have also shown interest in Pittsburgh outfielder Xavier Nady, a deal for Grabow is considered a much stronger possibility.

As for Fuentes, there's still some question about whether the Rockies will trade him. Even if they do, the Phillies now consider him too expensive in terms of the players they would have to give up.

The Orioles seem increasingly likely to trade Sherrill. The Baltimore Sun reported that both St. Louis and Milwaukee have shown interest, but the Angels might have a better chance to get him by offering shortstop Erick Aybar. As one scout who has followed the Orioles said: "Baltimore is dying for a shortstop, and Aybar could be a regular for them."

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail has told people that his phone has been ringing off the hook since Sherrill pitched so well in the All-Star Game last week.

*****

One scout who has watched Seattle regularly this season said that while he doesn't really like left-hander Jarrod Washburn, he still thinks Washburn would be a decent fit with the Yankees.

"That's who he needs to pitch with, because he needs runs," the scout said. "He's another Bill Bavasi mistake. If the Mariners can get rid of Washburn, they should. If they get rid of him, that would help whoever gets that (Seattle GM) job next year."

*****

The Mets know they have little chance of winning without closer Billy Wagner, and they also know there's no way they have enough chips to trade for someone who could successfully replace Wagner if he can't pitch. That's why they still list a corner outfielder, preferably one who bats right-handed, as their primary need, with relief help and even another starting pitcher behind that.

The Mets have talked about Nady and also Jason Bay, but it's doubtful they have enough to get either one from the Pirates. It might be more realistic to think that they could get Casey Blake from Cleveland, or Austin Kearns from Washington. Seattle's Raul Ibanez has also been discussed, even though he bats left-handed.

 

Posted on: July 23, 2008 4:02 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2008 7:26 pm
 

Phillies focus on Grabow, Sherrill

The Phillies, who had been among the more aggressive teams pursuing Colorado closer Brian Fuentes, have shifted their attention to Pittsburgh left-hander John Grabow and Baltimore lefty George Sherrill, according to sources.

Phillies special assistant Charley Kerfeld has been in Houston watching the Pirates, and the Phillies had three different scouts in to watch the Orioles during their current homestand. While the Phillies have also shown interest in Pittsburgh outfielder Xavier Nady, a deal for Grabow is considered a much stronger possibility.

As for Fuentes, there's still some question about whether the Rockies will trade him. Even if they do, the Phillies now consider him too expensive in terms of the players they would have to give up.

The Orioles seem increasingly likely to trade Sherrill. The Baltimore Sun reported that both St. Louis and Milwaukee have shown interest, but the Angels might have a better chance to get him by offering shortstop Erick Aybar. As one scout who has followed the Orioles said: "Baltimore is dying for a shortstop, and Aybar could be a regular for them."

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail has told people that his phone has been ringing off the hook since Sherrill pitched so well in the All-Star Game last week.

*****

One scout who has watched Seattle regularly this season said that while he doesn't really like left-hander Jarrod Washburn, he still thinks Washburn would be a decent fit with the Yankees.

"That's who he needs to pitch with, because he needs runs," the scout said. "He's another Bill Bavasi mistake. If the Mariners can get rid of Washburn, they should. If they get rid of him, that would help whoever gets that (Seattle GM) job next year."

*****

The Mets know they have little chance of winning without closer Billy Wagner, and they also know there's no way they have enough chips to trade for someone who could successfully replace Wagner if he can't pitch. That's why they still list a corner outfielder, preferably one who bats right-handed, as their primary need, with relief help and even another starting pitcher behind that.

The Mets have talked about Nady and also Jason Bay, but it's doubtful they have enough to get either one from the Pirates. It might be more realistic to think that they could get Casey Blake from Cleveland, or Austin Kearns from Washington. Seattle's Raul Ibanez has also been discussed, even though he bats left-handed.

 

Posted on: July 17, 2008 5:31 pm
Edited on: July 17, 2008 7:27 pm
 

Trade talk, and answering questions

It's no real surprise to see Tony Clark going from San Diego back to Arizona. Clark is from San Diego, but he has lived for years in the Phoenix area and very much wanted to get back there. The Diamondbacks needed help off the bench, and also the veteran presence that Clark brings, and the Padres have reached the point where they realize they don't have a chance this year.

There were those in baseball who thought Arizona would be a possible destination for Mark Teixeira, should the Braves trade him. Like Clark, Teixeira has a home in Arizona, and could possibly have been interested in staying there long-term. But Arizona didn't want a full-time first baseman who would take at-bats away from Chad Tracy and Connor Jackson. The Diamondbacks were encouraged by the 25 runs they scored in the final four games behind the All-Star break, and convinced themselves that at this point their offense doesn't need the big-time boost from someone like Teixeira.

It's also no surprise to see the Phillies trade for a pitcher, even though Oakland's Joe Blanton was far from their first choice. The Phils were looking for a difference-maker, and it's hard to see Blanton being that kind of pitcher. The one plus is that he normally pitches a lot of innings, and the Phillies might score enough runs to help him succeed.

Other talk circulating in the baseball world today:

-- The Mariners continue to be open for business, and there has been some talk that they would even be open to dealing young shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. But one official who has spoken to the Mariners said he was told Betancourt was one of four players the M's wouldn't talk about, with the other three being Ichiro Suzuki, Jeff Clement and Brandon Morrow.

-- The Rays' interest in Rockies closer Brian Fuentes has been talked about for days, but a baseball official said Tampa Bay has also talked to Oakland about Huston Street. The Rays are also in on Casey Blake, who could well be traded by the Indians.

-- Even after trading for CC Sabathia, the Brewers are well-positioned if they want to make another deal. Matt LaPorta was the key piece in the Sabathia trade, but one scout said LaPorta was no better than the fourth best prospect on Milwaukee's Double-A Huntsville club. "(Third baseman Mat) Gamel is an impact guy, and so is (shortstop Alcides) Escobar," the scout said. "And (outfielder Michael) Brantley has a chance to be an All-Star. For a lot of people, including us, LaPorta is going to be no better than an average everyday player."

-- One other Milwaukee player to watch is shortstop J.J. Hardy. The Blue Jays are very interested in him, and some people believe that if Dustin McGowan hadn't gotten hurt, a deal could have been made (the Brewers aren't interested in Burnett). There's still a chance, those same people believe, that the Jays could pursue Hardy this coming winter.

-- The Tigers haven't been saying very much about Dontrelle Willis, who was sent to Class A Lakeland more than a month ago (and more recently was in Detroit to have his knee examined). The word is that in Willis' workouts in Lakeland, his control hasn't been any better than it was in Detroit. People familiar situation said Willis has been doing a lot of running, trying to take off some of the weight he has added.

-- While the White Sox are telling people that they're satisfied with their team and unlikely to make any significant moves, there are those who wonder whether they'd deal shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who will be a free agent at the end of the year. Whether he's dealt or not, it's unlikely Cabrera will be with the Sox next year, because rookie Alexei Ramirez is expected to take over at short, his natural position.

*****

Some e-mails, and some quick responses:

From Josh T.: "Did you even watch the (All-Star) game? Did you see any other pitcher pitch? Did you see the defense on each side? All you can talk about is the freakin' Yanks and Boston"

Let's see, the All-Star Game was at Yankee Stadium, the MVP plays for Boston. No, I can't figure out why anyone would have written about the Yankees and Red Sox. You're right. Next time, I'll be sure to feature someone who had a bigger effect on the game. Cristian Guzman, maybe?

From Jason: "You're an idiot to suggest that CC Sabathia isn't an All-Star because he didn't make this year's team. I could make a team out of the players not on this year's (All-Star) roster and beat them in a game."

Sorry, but if you don't make the All-Star team, you're not an All-Star. If you don't believe me, then try to collect that All-Star bonus in your contract without being named to the team.

From Scott: "I don't understand why you included the pitcher from Kansas City (Zack Greinke) in your (On The Block), other than for filler."

We included Greinke because the Royals are willing to talk to other teams about him this month. No, he probably won't be dealt, because it would take a huge package to get KC to actually make a deal, but we thought it was interesting that they're even willing to discuss him.

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