Hot Stove League Opens

November 4, 2010

Lots of Mariners news today, as baseball’s off-season machinations are in motion.

Wednesday afternoon the Mariners announced that they declined club options on 2011 contracts for Russell Branyan, Jose Lopez, and Erik Bedard; today Casey Kotchman was added to the list. This news was not surprising to close followers of the team. The Mariners may make an attempt to re-sign Branyan for a smaller amount, but I would think they are done with the “let’s sign Bedard and see if he can get healthy” gamble.

Former Rainiers infielder Jose Lopez is still Mariners property because he has not yet qualified for free agency. The M’s could potentially still cut ties with him by not offering him a contract for 2011 – something that has been speculated by many.

With Justin Smoak set to take over first base in Seattle full-time in 2011, there is just no reason to keep Kotchman on the team.

Also in the official press release, we learned that several players with Tacoma ties cleared waivers and were removed from the Mariners 40-man roster. This list included Ryan Langerhans, Guillermo Quiroz, Chris Seddon, Ryan Feierabend, and Sean White. Each of these players has the right to declare free agency – and both Langerhans and Quiroz already have. The rest need to decide soon – I’m not sure when the deadline is, but it may be as soon as this weekend.

Of those players, I think that Seddon and White are most likely to remain Mariners – and potentially Rainiers to start 2011, if they choose to stay. Seddon re-signed with Seattle as a Triple-A free agent after the 2009 season, and he ended up spending about half the season in the major leagues – so I think he probably had a good experience. As for White, he lives in Seattle, he went to UW – it would be a lifestyle change for him to go elsewhere. But, he may decide its best for his career to play elsewhere.

Feierabend is 25 years old, left-handed, and now one year removed from Tommy John surgery. Even though he didn’t have a great 2010 season, he’s going to be a hot commodity on the minor league free agent market. 

Soon, Baseball America will publish the official list of minor league free agents. Some of the names you can expect to see from the Rainiers include Ian Snell, Andy Baldwin, David Winfree, and Mike Wilson. We’ll dive into it more deeply here once it is announced.

Also, we learned that Brian Sweeney was claimed on waivers by Arizona – presumably to fill the “rubber-armed strike thrower at the back of the bullpen” role.

Let’s get to the links:

  • Here is Larry LaRue’s story about the Mariners moves from this morning’s edition of The News Tribune.
  • Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times also wrote about the moves, and then he added some news this afternoon: it looks like Jaime Navarro, the Rainiers pitching coach last season, will be the Mariners bullpen coach. Baker says the M’s coaching staff will be announced shortly – will Daren Brown be on it? Will he be back in Tacoma? Or will he be typing his resume? We should find out very soon.
  • Everett Herald reporter Kirby Arnold filed a story on Michael Saunders and the work he is doing this off-season, and then he followed up with a blog item that includes many good Mariners-related tidbits from the Arizona Fall League.
  • Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson passed away today, at age 76. I did not know Sparky, but he was a dugout fixture in the games I watched in my youth – his 1984 Tigers team was one of the first teams outside of the area I grew up in that I remember rooting for. Here is a very thorough Associated Press obituary.

We’ll try to stay on top of the M’s news here. In the meantime, I’ll be researching that planned historical look at the 1969 Tacoma Cubs next week, so that will be coming eventually.


The Giants Are Champs

November 2, 2010

San Francisco won its first ever World Series Championship last night with a 3-1 victory over Texas, taking the series in five games.

It was Renton native Tim Lincecum who starred yesterday, out-dueling Cliff Lee over eight nearly flawless innings.

In the end, the Giants pitching was just too much for the Rangers. In a five-game series, San Francisco tossed two shutouts and had another game allowing just one run.

It’s a special day in San Francisco – a city that has never had a World Series winner, despite having a team since 1958.

I enjoyed this series. I always like it when a new team wins, and this year that was a guarantee regardless who won it. I also enjoy it when young players are key components, and again that was the case with both teams. And on top of all of that, it’s great to see a local player shine. The only thing missing was a former Rainiers player in the mix.

San Francisco needed 52 years to win a World Series. Seattle has had a team for 34 years without winning it all. Hopefully we can win one without having to wait as long as San Francisco did!

Lots of links today:

  • Tim Lincecum was The Man yesterday, and he was the subject of a national piece from ESPN.
  • For the second time in his career, Edgar Renteria had the World Series-winning hit.
  • The Giants think that their young pitching will give them a chance to return to the World Series soon.
  • Talented writers working on deadline amaze me. Jim Caple turned out this gem following last night’s game. At the end of the story, Caple provides a look at how sports journalists sort of – but not really – stop being fans.
  • Hey, there’s Mariners news, too! Geoff Baker has an update on the Mariners coaching staff.
  • Dustin Ackley is putting up big numbers in the Arizona Fall League, but he hasn’t been stealing bases like the M’s want him to. Kirby Arnold has the story.
  • The second-best pitcher in Japan is coming to the USA. Larry Stone doubts that the Mariners will be interested.
  • Former Tacoma Rainiers pitching coach Ron Romanick got the Oakland job.
  • Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame member Artie Wilson passed away Sunday at age 90. Wilson is an interesting story on many levels – Larry Stone wrote about how he mentored Willie Mays, and his obit in The Oregonian focused on Wilson’s life in Portland.
  • Speaking of Mays, here is his reaction to the Giants win.
  • Baseball Prospectus has a free Q&A with Toronto Blue Jays radio announcer Jerry Howarth. Howarth talks about the two seasons he called games for the Tacoma Twins (1974-75), and how it was his Triple-A manager who helped him break into the major leagues.

Only three and a half months until pitchers and catchers report to spring training!


Mad Bum Gives SF A 3-1 Lead

November 1, 2010

The San Francisco Giants 21-year-old rookie Madison Bumgarner tossed eight shutout innings in Game Four, giving the Giants a 3-1 World Series lead.

Renton, WA native Tim Lincecum will be on the mound tonight in Game Five with a chance to clinch it – but he’ll have to best Cliff Lee to do it.

Bumgarner – who is nicknamed “Mad-Bum” in a shortening of his name, not a nod to a long-standing San Francisco civic problem – changed speeds and kept Rangers hitters off-balance all game. In the parts of the game that I watched, Bumgarner had a particularly nasty change-up, and he had Rangers hitters out in front of it.

As the Series moves on, it’s becoming more clear what the Giants are: a group of three young stud starting pitchers (Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner) and a rookie catcher oozing superstar talent in Buster Posey, surrounded by a rag-tag group of free agents and cast-offs who are having the time of their lives. It’s a fun team to watch.

Game Five is tonight at 5:00 (OK, 4:57. Whatever.). Cliff Lee will be asked to carry the Rangers on his shoulders, and get the Series back to San Francisco. As fun as it would be to see Lincecum win the final game, I think that tonight will belong to Lee and the Rangers. 

Here are the links:

  • The Associated Press story covers all the pertinent details of Game Four.
  • In San Francisco, Bruce Jenkins wrote about Madison Bumgarner.
  • This Dallas columnist is looking for Josh Hamilton to step up.
  • I’m not the only one who thinks Cliff Lee will be in command tonight.
  • Away from the World Series, young players are honing their skills down in Arizona. This is an excellent story about one-time “can’t-miss” prospect Brandon Wood, who is trying to get it together down in the Arizona Fall League. It’s a reminder that, in its heart, baseball is a game of failure.

No Mariners or Rainiers news right now. Look for the Mariners to announce their major league coaching staff soon after the end of the World Series – all we know right now is that the pitching coach will be Carl Willis.


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