Closed Until 2012

December 28, 2011

Just wanted to let you know that we are on break this week.

The Rainiers office always closes during the week between Christmas and New Years - it’s a thank-you to employees for working all of those holidays and weekends during baseball season.

So, unless something big happens this week, there will be no new blog posts until January 2.

Back to staycation. I’m starting season one of The Wire, Pac-12 hoops begin conference play tomorrow, and Mom gave me Infinite Jest for Christmas.

Looks like I won’t be going outdoors for a while.


Cold Stove League

December 22, 2011

It’s been a very, very quiet week in baseball news, but we do have a few tidbits to pass along:

  • Former Rainiers and Mariners catcher Rob Johnson signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets. He’ll go to spring training and compete for a major league job.
  • Jayson Stark has his annual end-of-the-year column about all of the strange stuff that happened in baseball this year.
  • Speaking of strange stuff, here is a free Baseball Prospectus column on the weirdest baseball injuries. Always a fun treat!
  • In the PCL, the Iowa Cubs have a new field staff, including manager Dave Bialas.
  • Here is something cool: the Omaha Storm Chasers are going to put up a statue of Bob Gibson in front of their one-year-old ballpark. Gibson has lived nearby for over 40 years.
  • In Boise, the GM of the short-season team is not pleased about rumors of a Triple-A stadium being built. One of his arguments is a fallacy: if Southwest serves the Boise airport and they have ten daily flights to Salt Lake City, travel will not be a problem for PCL teams.

Is this the calm before the storm? Will the Prince Fielder decision be made over the holiday week between Christmas and New Years – traditionally a shut-down period for baseball team offices? I have a gut feeling it will.


Complete 2012 Schedule Announced

December 20, 2011

The Tacoma Rainiers complete 2012 schedule is out – you can view it here.

It looks like a decent schedule; very similar to recent seasons.

Two notable changes: we open at home, which has been a rarity over the years, and we have three stints where we play the same team every day for at least a week.

That last part is very odd: we play seven straight games against Salt Lake, eight straight against Tucson, and eight in a row against Las Vegas. I wonder why they did that. What was the reasoning? Is this done on purpose?

On the plus side, a lot of teams scheduled afternoon games on getaway days. This greatly improves our travel.

Now, please allow me to dream…

If I was granted the ability to make one reasonable change to the Pacific Coast League, it would be this: let’s start the season four days earlier, and add four days off during the season. Going from one day off a month to two days off a month would be a huge lift for everybody who travels in the league. It would also benefit the fans, who would see less sleepy zombie baseball (and hear less sleepy zombie announcing).

Alternately, we could drop from 144 games to 140 games and accomplish the same thing. That would be harder to get the teams to agree on, so let’s just start four days earlier instead.

What do you say, Branch? Can I be commissioner for a day and make this change?

Links:

  • Super-awesome congratulations go out to now ex-Rainiers assistant trainer Jeremy Clipperton, who scored the head trainer job with the Memphis Redbirds. He’s been an awesome guy to work with the past two seasons, and we’ll miss him.
  • Lots of reports – though nothing official yet – that the Mariners signed left-handed reliever George Sherrill to a one-year free agent contract. A former Rainiers pitcher who was discovered toiling in independent leagues by super-scout Charlie Kerfeld, Sherrill has become one of the toughest left-handed relief specialists in the game.
  • As you know by now, the Texas Rangers won the rights to Yu Darvish. The AL West gets even tougher – but Dave Cameron tells us not to freak out.
  • The Cleveland Indians had a really great mound visit.
  • In the PCL, Ron Hassey was named manager of the New Orleans Zephyrs. A member of the 1979 Tacoma Tugs and a former Mariners coach, Hassey has – get this – never even been to New Orleans before.

With the Pujols and Darvish deals done, Prince Fielder is the last remaining superstar free agent. Please please please please…..


Reading List

December 15, 2011

I just finished reading James Hirsch‘s outstanding biography of Willie Mays, The Life, the Legend, and it occurred to me that I’ve never written the baseball books post. Time to remedy that.

I have hundreds and hundreds of baseball books. I have more baseball books than I have shelf space for, so they pile up on the floor, making for a rather untidy office. Does anybody have an extra bookcase they could give me?

Here is a list of ten baseball books that I especially enjoyed. You could call this my recommended reading list, I suppose.

In no particular order:

A False Spring by Pat Jordan. Jordan was a hot-stuff high school pitcher who signed a professional contract and entered the low minor leagues as a teenager. Far from home for the first time in his life, he struggles on the field, questions his coaches, experiences self-doubt, gets injured, and flames out. Luckily, he could write – and this book is an extraordinarily well-written journal of a young man experiencing failure. 

The Bronx Zoo by Sparky Lyle. First came Jim Brosnan, then came Jim Bouton, and then we had Sparky. I think each generation has its favorite player-author. Bouton’s Ball Four remains the class of this field, but my contemporary was The Bronx Zoo. I read this as a teenager, and unlike Bouton’s book in this one I knew who all of the players were. This book details the New York Yankees 1978 season in a day-by-day diary. As it was being written, Lyle had no idea that the Yankees were going to pull off a miracle comeback and beat the Red Sox in a one-game playoff. The book contains hilarious anecdotes on George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson, Lou Piniella, Mickey Rivers… you name it.

Maybe I’ll Pitch Forever by Satchel Paige. If you’ve never read Ol’ Satch’s autobiography, add it to your list. His stories from the Negro Leagues and barnstorming days are classic baseball tales, and then he becomes the oldest rookie in MLB history. Highlights include the story of when Ol’ Satch called in his outfielders, and of course his legendary list entitled “How To Keep Young.”

Babe: The Legend Comes To Life by Robert Creamer. This is the Mount Everest of baseball biographies. It’s difficult to imagine just how popular Babe Ruth was in the 1920s and 30s – until you read this book. Creamer spent decades as a writer for Sports Illustrated; he was an extremely talented sportswriter. He wrote this book in 1974.

Baseball Dynasties by Rob Neyer and Eddie Epstein. Full disclosure: Neyer is a friend of mine. This is an excellent and entertaining work that reviews and compares the 25 best teams in MLB history, and the authors reach a conclusion deciding which was the best of all-time. While the authors do use advanced statistical analysis to compare the teams, stats are a mere fraction of the book: there are plenty of stories and historical anecdotes about each of the great teams. Unfortunately, this book was published in 2000 – one year before the Mariners won 116 games.

Veeck as in Wreck by Bill Veeck. Veeck was baseball’s great promotional owner. He bought and sold teams, battled with baseball’s old guard, and tried all kinds of marketing tricks. Veeck was the first to put names on the back of uniforms, he invented scoreboard entertainment, he oversaw Disco Demolition Night… this is the man who signed Eddie Gaedel, a dwarf actor, to a major league contract and sent him to the plate (he walked on four pitches). Veeck had a wooden leg with an ashtray built into it, for crying out loud. All of the stories are in here, and it’s entertaining.

The New Historical Abstract by Bill James. James gets pigeon-holed as a stats guy, but he can really write. This book is a class in baseball history, with enough entertaining sidebars to keep you turning the pages. I actually try to avoid this book because if I open it up to a random page and start reading, there goes the afternoon.

Moneyball by Michael Lewis. Don’t go see the movie – read the book, its way better. Seriously. Lewis is such a great writer that he makes seemingly boring subjects exciting. One of the fun parts of watching PCL baseball over the last ten years was seeing all of these draft picks in Sacramento. The chapter on Gig Harbor resident Scott Hatteberg is outstanding.

Dollar Sign On The Muscle by Kevin Kerrane. Kerrane, a university professor, delves into the mystery of baseball scouts. In 1981 the Phillies gave him access to their scouts, and he spent the year meeting with them. The scouts share stories on their hits and misses, and the book also gives a history of baseball scouting. If you are interested in scouting, or if you want to read some great scouting stories, this is a good read.

Hoopla by Harry Stein. The only fiction on the list, this is historical fiction. Stein uses a duel first-person narrator structure: one narrator is Buck Weaver of the Chicago White Sox, and the other is a fictional newspaper writer who breaks the story of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Both characters are brilliantly developed, and the author does a wonderful job presenting the era. This book has been out of print for decades and is nearly impossible to find in a bookstore – but you can order it online with ease.

One bonus book, Mariners style:

Out Of Left Field by Art Thiel. As far as I know, this is the only history on the Seattle Mariners. From the expansion days to the ugly teams in the Kingdome to the miracle of 1995 to the building of Safeco Field to the 116 wins – it’s all in here.

There, that should keep you busy for a while. All eleven book reports are due on my desk by Opening Day.


Additions and Subtractions

December 14, 2011

We had a few moves in the last 24 hours that will alter the Tacoma Rainiers roster in 2012.

First of all, the Mariners removed reliever Dan Cortes and catcher Chris Gimenez from their 40-man roster, and both are now free agents.

Cortes, it turns out, is injured. Apparently he had a fall and injured his shoulder shortly after the completion of the season, and he’s going to be out of action for a while. It will be interesting to see if the Mariners try to re-sign him to a minor league contract.

While I have no inside information, I suspect the Mariners will try to re-sign Gimenez to a minor league deal. He earned a lot of respect by gutting through a game behind the plate with a strained oblique muscle, and we know that he and Eric Wedge get along well.

Then, the Mariners signed veteran relief pitcher Josh Kinney to a minor league contract, and invited him to big league spring training.

Kinney, 32, will compete for a spot in the Mariners bullpen. He was a St. Louis Cardinals prospect who contributed down the stretch and in the playoffs as a rookie in 2006, but he went down with an injury and missed all of the 2007 season after having “Tommy John” surgery.

From 2008 until now, Kinney has been bouncing between Triple-A and the majors. Last year he pitched in 49 games for Charlotte (2.77 ERA), and 13 for the Chicago White Sox (6.62).

Kinney pitched in the PCL for Memphis in 2005, 2006, 2009, and 2010. In 2010 he had a 1.80 ERA in 60 innings pitched, recording 17 saves.

A few links:

  • Here is more on the injury to Dan Cortes, from Geoff Baker’s blog.
  • Greg Johns has more on Josh Kinney, along with the list of all minor league free agents the Mariners have signed to date. 
  • It looks like Lou Piniella is getting back into baseball – as a Yankees analyst for the YES Network.

I just finished an excellent baseball biography, which led to an idea for an upcoming post: my favorite baseball books. It will go up soon.


Familiar Faces

December 12, 2011

The Mariners signed two familiar players to minor league contracts, inviting both to major league spring training.

Returning to the organization are veteran reliever Scott Patterson, and catcher Guillermo Quiroz.

You know Patterson – he’s been the tall, gangly rock of the Rainiers bullpen for the last year-and-a-half. All he has done is put up numbers and get hitters out, using his unique over-the-top throwing motion that appears even more deceptive due to his 6-foot-7 height.

The Rainiers are happy to have Patterson back in the picture: in addition to his excellent on-field performance, the 32-year-old is often one of the first players in line to sign up for the various community appearances and autograph signings during the season.

Patterson is also a character. He gives hilarious half-ironic, half-serious pep-talks to the team – if we are on the road and there is a bus to the ballpark and that bus has a microphone system, I know we are in for a treat. You can tell what kind of guy Patterson is just by reading the good-natured shot somebody took at him on his Wikipedia page.

Quiroz is another returner to the organization, although he spent 2011 with the Padres Triple-A club in Tucson. Quiroz has appeared in a few games for Seattle over the years, but has spent most of career in Triple-A.

Quiroz has played for Tacoma for parts of three seasons: 2006, 2009, 2010. Quiroz works hard and is respected by the pitching staff. He usually provides some offense, too, but last year he struggled to a .240 average with Tucson.

Here’s a little-known fact about the catcher everyone simply calls “Q”: he helped lead Maracaibo, Venezuela to the Little League World Series championship in 1994. After that series, Quiroz became one of the most sought-after players in Venezuela and many teams vied for his services once he was eligible to sign a pro contract.

We’ve talked about how catching depth was a problem for the Mariners last year; they are obviously addressing that now.

Catchers With AAA or MLB Experience

  • 2011: Miguel Olivo, Adam Moore, Chris Gimenez, Josh Bard.
  • 2012: Miguel Olivo, John Jaso, Adam Moore, Chris Gimenez, Guillermo Quiroz, Ralph Henriquez.

As you can see, the Mariners are much deeper now and should be able to withstand injuries at the game’s most demanding position. Henriquez is just 24 and got his first Triple-A experience last year – he could open the season in Double-A and be ready to move up when the inevitable injuries occur. Gimenez has additional value because of his ability to play multiple positions, which could allow either Seattle or Tacoma to carry him as one of three catchers.

Lots of people on the internet try to rank every organization’s minor league prospects. These are always fun lists to read – everybody wants to get excited about the future, its human nature.

There are four national prospect analysts whose rankings I pay attention to. These guys have been analyzing prospects for years, they have contacts throughout baseball, and they have track records of success. My Big Four are Baseball America, Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law at ESPN.com, and John Sickels.

Sickels posted his Seattle Mariners Top-20 Prospects on Friday, it’s free, and here it is.

On a personal note, I have no real opinion on these rankings. I never see the players until they reach Triple-A, so how could I have an opinion on, say, LHP James Paxton? I know he put up good numbers in Double-A last year, I know that I’ve heard a bunch of good things about him, I’ve read a little about his background – but how do I know if he’s better than, say, Erasmo Ramirez? I’ve seen one pitch in Triple-A, I’ve never laid eyes on the other. I don’t know who is better.

For me, these rankings are simply excellent entertainment.

Links:

  • Geoff Baker has one of his patented Long Geoff Baker Blog Posts comparing the Seattle Mariners to the Toronto Blue Jays, who are in a ten-year rebuilding plan. There is a lot of interesting history in here, and the comparison does have some merit. Let’s hope he’s wrong.
  • Larry Stone writes that despite the Angels and Rangers moves, the Mariners should not trade Felix Hernandez.
  • Lots of new entries over at USS Mariner, where Dave Cameron comments on players the Mariners are rumored to be interested in, and discusses extending Michael Pineda’s contract early. Now that he’s “official,” Cameron is churning out content!
  • Florida Marlins catcher John Buck had a crazy week – he was hunting in the wilderness while his team signed three star free agents, and then he saved two old ladies from a smoldering car. How was your off-season?
  • Federal Way native Travis Ishikawa, the former SF Giants player, has signed a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers.
  • The Ryan Braun story came out of nowhere. Here is a look at his defense.
  • Former Tacoma Tigers pitcher Jose Rijo is on the lam in the Dominican Republic.
  • Sorry, ladies: Joe Mauer is engaged.
  • Lots of off-the-field PCL news out of Tennessee: the Nashville Sounds have a preferred site for a new ballpark, and the Memphis Redbirds have improved their debt situation and may be placed on the market.
  • We’ll wrap it up with some rumor mongering: is Boise a future PCL city?

Probably won’t have an update on Tuesday due to another project, but should be back at it on Wednesday.


Deja Vu All Over Again

December 8, 2011

Wow. Didn’t see that one coming – but it feels eerily familiar.

Albert Pujols signed a 10-year contract, worth a quarter billion dollars, with the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim).

Then, the Angels tacked on CJ Wilson, just for kicks.

The Pujols signing immediately reminded me of this time of year in 2003, when Vladimir Guerrero was the biggest free agent hitter on the market. I was hoping the Mariners would make a play for Guerrero, as he was my favorite player in MLB at the time. I was not happy when the Angels signed him.

Here we are, eight years later, and an almost identical situation plays out. Except Felix Hernandez is my favorite player, obviously, but Pujols is my #2. At least he was – it’s going to be hard to root for him in an Angels uniform, that’s for sure. I guess I need a new #2.

Obviously, we now have two giants in the AL West, in Texas and LAA. This clearly makes the Mariners rebuild process more difficult, but it’s not worth getting too worked up about. Scratch that – I just checked, the Angels won the AL West five of their first six seasons with Guerrero. Uh-oh.

Hey – they added an additional wild card team!

Also, the Rule 5 Draft was this morning. The Mariners selected Double-A left-handed reliever Lucas Luetge from the Brewers organization. If he makes the Mariners, he’ll slide in right behind Josh Lueke on their all-time alphabetical roster.

Luetge must be held on the major league 25-man roster all season long, or else be offered back to the Brewers. We’ll never see him in Tacoma.

Did you know that the Rule 5 Draft has virtually no impact on Triple-A baseball?

The players drafted in the major league portion can’t be sent to Triple-A. There is a minor league phase of the draft, but it is typically used to draft lower-level minor leaguers and fill roster spots in Class-A and Double-A. The Mariners made no selections in the minor league phase this year.

I can only recall, off the top of my head, one time the Mariners used the minor league phase to select a Triple-A player: at the 2004 Winter Meetings, the M’s drafted first baseman Aaron Rifkin from the Yankees Double-A team in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. Rifkin was our everyday first baseman in Tacoma in 2005, and he hit .258 with 14 home runs. Tacoma had a great team that year, reaching the PCL championship series, and he was a big part of it. It was Rifkin’s only Triple-A season, and he never played in the major leagues.

Pujols reaction:

Non-Pujols Links:

  • Scott Boras – the agent for Prince Fieldermade it very clear that he views Seattle as a possible landing spot for any superstar free agent.
  • The top pitcher in Japan, Yu Darvish, is coming to the states – and he’s going to be very, very, very expensive.
  • If you are really into the Rule 5 Draft, Baseball America has the results with brief scouting reports on the players selected.
  • In the PCL, we have reports out of Fresno that the Grizzlies will have a new manager this year.

That’s it for today.


Pujols, Pujols, Pujols

December 7, 2011

That’s all we are hearing from Dallas.

Albert Pujols is down to two teams: re-signing with his St. Louis Cardinals, or moving on to the Florida Miami Marlins.

If you are a Mariners fan, and you want the M’s to sign Prince Fielder, you need to hope that the Marlins catch Pujols.

If the Marlins lose out on Albert, they are going to make a big push for Fielder – and the Marlins have an open checkbook right now. If they wanted to, the Marlins could offer Fielder a similar amount to what they offered Pujols – and that would blow the other competitors away.

As much as I want the Mariners to sign Fielder, I still have a problem rooting for the Marlins to sign Pujols. Pujols has been one of my favorite players for ten years now – I’m in awe of his hitting talent – and it’s hard for me to picture him in anything other than a Cardinals uniform.

Stay tuned.

Links:

  • Mariners GM Jack Z,  via the Seattle Times, tells us to slow down on the whole Prince Fielder thing.
  • Larry Stone correctly says that if the Mariners do sign Fielder, they should not trade Justin Smoak. I agree entirely – this team needs more than just Fielder to start scoring runs; they need as many hitters as they can get. Fielder at 1B, Smoak at DH, and Mike Carp in LF is just fine by me.
  • Once again, here is Geoff Baker’s Mariners blog. He’s frequently updating it from the Winter Meetings.
  • It looks like Erik Bedard, a free agent, is going to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • We’ve poked good-natured fun at the International League before, but this Scranton-as-a-homeless-team thing they have going on this year sounds like a real nightmare. This is going to be a tough, tough season for them.
  • This is kind of fun: a run-down of some of the items being marketed at the Baseball Trade Show at the Winter Meetings. I’ll take one full-body Wiffle Ball bat suit, please.

More tomorrow – we’ll have the Rule 5 Draft, I’m sure the Mariners will pick somebody in that.


Just Three Letters Away

December 6, 2011

Sometimes, out of the corner of your eye, the word “Marlins” can look like the word “Mariners.” Which could startle you, if you woke up and misread a tweet reporting that the Marlins are close to signing Albert Pujols to a 10-year contract.

Ten years!

He’s 31 years old right now. It sure seems like the Marlins would be paying Pujols a lot of money when he’s 40, and can’t DH because he’s in the National League.

Still, the Marlins are banking that a lineup of Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Pujols, and Mike Stanton can lead them to multiple playoff appearances and possibly a World Series title.

The scuttlebutt as I type this is that a deal might get done tonight. Talk about a shocker!

All is quiet on the Mariners front, as Jack Z and his staff are very tight-lipped about their plans. However, that doesn’t stop persistent rumors that the Mariners are very interested in signing Prince Fielder.

Winter Meetings links:

  • Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times has a story on the Prince Fielder situation, and how the Mariners might fit into it. Baker is in Dallas and he is putting up a lot of content on his blog.
  • Before you get too excited about the prospects of Prince Fielder, you should read Larry Stone’s cautionary reminder that Mr. Boras has not yet played his hand. 
  • Larry LaRue has a blog post with a round-up of some rumors out of Dallas, including a note that the Phillies may sign former Rainiers reliever George Sherrill.
  • In his meet-the-media session in Dallas, Mariners manager Eric Wedge said, among other things, that he might move Ichiro‘s spot in the batting order – and he has talked to Ichiro about it.
  • Leave it to Shannon Drayer to provide a thorough story on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and how the Mariners view it. She has some fresh insight on the changes to the international free agent market.
  • The biggest rumor sweeping the Winter Meetings relates to a mystery pool.
  • Mariners VP of International Scouting Bob Engle will receive the Scout of the Year award on Wednesday. The story from Greg Johns has a lot of good quotes.
  • Best of luck to former Rainiers third baseman Matt Mangini, team MVP of the 2010 PCL championship club. He signed a minor league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays today.

Does anybody else find it funny that a person named Fielder is a baseball player who is famous for something other than fielding?


Fasten Your Seat Belts

December 5, 2011

Baseball’s Winter Meetings officially start today in Dallas, Texas – but many participants arrived last night, and already we have rumors and news.

Three members of the Rainiers front office, plus a representative from the ownership group are in Dallas for the meetings.

Personally, I don’t get to go. While the meetings are fun, there is really no logical reason for the Rainiers to spend a bunch of money and send me out there. 

I went to the meetings twice before I reached Triple-A. Both times were on my own dime, to try to network and get a better job (it worked). Then a couple of years ago, when the meetings were held in Las Vegas (aka: The Greatest Winter Meetings Ever), I flew down on my own just for the party (which was totally worth it).

You can have some almost surreal moments at the winter meetings.

Take the Vegas meetings, for example. All of the action was at the Bellagio – which happens to house my favorite place in all of Vegas. I was walking out of the Bellagio poker room, having just spent the afternoon fleecing some tourists with my Lakewood-developed “raise first, deal with the consequences later” style of Texas Hold ‘Em, and I headed towards one of the casino bars where all of the baseball people mingle, and there they were: Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella, and Tommy Lasorda standing in the middle of a walkway, locked in close conversation, with random Vegas tourists just wandering past them. Only at the Winter Meetings.

While I won’t be there, I will be following the action from the Tacoma Rainiers North End Satellite Office. Here’s a quick update on what has happened so far:

  • The Miami “Don’t Call Them Florida” Marlins are moving into a new stadium, and they have money to spend. Sunday night they signed Jose Reyes to a six-year contract, they also signed all-star closer Heath Bell, and ESPN reports that the Marlins intend to be players in the Albert Pujols market. Can you imagine if they sign him, too?
  • Manny Ramirez applied for reinstatement, and MLB reduced his drug suspension from 100 to 50 games. That’s all swell, but will anybody sign him?
  • The “Golden Era” committee – formerly the Veterans Committee - elected Ron Santo to the Hall of Fame. It’s a shame this didn’t happen while he was still alive. Jim Kaat, Gil Hodges, and Minnie Minoso fell just short in the voting.
  • The Mariners are linked to free agent pitchers Jeff Francis and Jamie Moyer.

Tread carefully when you read Winter Meetings rumors – if they don’t come from a legitimate news network, they may not pass muster. Last night there was a rumor that Prince Fielder had narrowed his list down to three teams, but that was quickly squashed by Fielder’s agent and also one of the alleged teams, which claimed they had no interest. 

Our standard links:

  • If you’ve ever wondered what really happens at baseball’s Winter Meetings, this article tells the story.
  • The Mariners signed speed demon Darren Ford to a minor league contract and invited him to big league spring training. If Ford is with the Rainiers, he’ll do a nice job patrolling our deep center field at Cheney Stadium. Ford hasn’t hit much in the majors so it’s going to be an uphill fight for him to make the big league roster – although Geoff Baker points out that Ford gives the Mariners flexibility.
  • In the Sunday Seattle Times, Geoff Baker had a winter meetings advance on the Mariners and the big fish in the room: Prince Fielder.
  • Larry LaRue of The News Tribune also wrote a pre-meetings piece, in which he suggests that the Mariners may be active traders.
  • Looking for the bigger picture? ESPN’s Christina Kahrl has a run-down of the needs of all four teams in the AL West. 
  • Former Mariner John Mabry joined the St. Louis Cardinals coaching staff.
  • For a flippant and highly amusing take on the Mariners-related Winter Meetings rumors, read this Jeff Sullivan piece.
  • As I mentioned last week, the Rainiers and Forza Coffee Company signed a deal for exclusive coffee rights at Cheney Stadium. Now, they have a special holiday deal for fans – check it out in this release.

Look for frequent – perhaps even daily! – blog updates this week as more news and rumors come out of Dallas.


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