(Insert Yu Pun Here)

January 18, 2012

Everything is at a standstill in Tacoma today, due to six inches of overnight snow – and that’s just here in the North End, I’m hearing there was even more in other parts of town.

We do expect one big piece of baseball news: today is the deadline for the Texas Rangers to sign superstar Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, presumable for millions and millions of dollars. If they don’t come to terms, Darvish will head back to Japan to pitch this season. Look for the Rangers to get him signed.

There has been a consensus that Prince Fielder would not sign until after Darvish. The thought was that if the Rangers don’t sign Darvish, they will have money to spend on Fielder, so Fielder’s agent has been waiting. The whole thing should end in a few days.

Do you think the Mariners are still in play for Fielder, assuming the Montero trade is completed? If they signed Fielder now, they would have too many players at the first base/DH position: Fielder, Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero. The M’s would have to make another trade – or send Montero to Tacoma, which would seem like a waste, but we’d take him! Another option would be to trade one of the catchers, and spend the 2012 season seeing if Montero can play there.

Snow-covered links:

  • John McGrath has a column about Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson, who will be inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame in late July.
  • Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com has been ranking prospects by position. Mariners appear in his Top-10 lists of right-handed pitchers, left-handed pitchers, and shortstops. Of the three M’s players listed, I believe that Danny Hultzen is the one we are most likely to see in a Rainiers uniform at some point this season.

Be safe on the roads today!


Snow Day

January 17, 2012

The big trade still hasn’t become official. There have been multiple reports that the players involved have not all completed physical exams yet – this is taking awhile because all four players are in either the Dominican Republic or Venezuela.

Once the trade is officially announced, I’ll share my opinion of it.

Remember, the Mariners and Yankees had a deal worked out in 2010 (Cliff Lee for Jesus Montero and other prospects) that was scratched due to one of the prospects not passing a physical. The Mariners were right in that case – the player in question, Yankees minor league infielder David Adams, did not play again in 2010 after the aborted trade, and he managed to play in just 12 non-rehabilitation games last year due to the same lingering injury. The M’s ended up flipping Lee to the Rangers for Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, and Josh Lueke.

So, we’ll wait until the official announcement before I tell you how great or awful I think it is.

Links:

  • Congratulations to friend and longtime Tacoma broadcaster Bob Robertson, who was named winner of the Keith Jackson Award. He’ll be honored later this month.
  • The Mariners will induct Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson into their team hall of fame, which is up to six members.
  • Also as noted in the previous link, the Mariners have settled on contracts with all of their arbitration-eligible players – which saves both sides from a major headache.
  • John Sickels updated his Seattle Mariners Top 20 Prospects list. There is a new #1, due to the trade.
  • Here’s a new one, from Iowa: one of the I-Cubs corporate sales guys played for their new manager.

Check out the new Cheney Stadium playing surface (click to enlarge):

Good thing Opening Day is 79 days away!

 Photo credit: Ashley Roth, official photographer of the No-Name Blog.


Big Trade

January 16, 2012

The Mariners apparently made a big trade with the New York Yankees, as word leaked out on Friday evening that Michael Pineda and Rookie-level pitcher Jose Campos were going to the Yankees in exchange for hitting prospect Jesus Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi.

The trade has not yet been announced by the teams, as the players involved have to pass physical exams – and they are scattered around the globe right now. But there is a story on the Mariners website about it, so let’s assume this deal is going down.

This is a classic challenge trade of a pair of young, extremely talented players.

You know Pineda. The former Rainiers pitcher had a fine rookie season for the Mariners last year, putting up big strikeout numbers and making the all-star team. He struggled a bit in the second half and eventually was shut down by the Mariners coaching staff, simply to protect his young arm.

Pineda has a chance to become a star, and he won’t cave in to the pressure of New York.

The Mariners are banking on Jesus Montero becoming an impact hitter. Scouts are in agreement that the 22-year-old Venezuelan has a great bat and could become a star offensive player. He made his MLB debut last year and hit a few key home runs for the Yankees down the stretch.

Montero is a player without a defensive position, but that doesn’t matter to the Mariners: this team needs a DH, bad. If Montero hits like the experts think he will, the Mariners will have their first proper designated hitter since Edgar Martinez retired.

Catcher is Montero’s listed position, but I doubt he’ll do much catching this year. With Miguel Olivo and John Jaso on the roster, I think Montero will be the DH and he might catch once every week or two.

As for the other players, don’t sleep on Hector Noesi – he’ll have a good chance to make the Mariners starting rotation out of spring camp. The prospect in the deal is Jose Campos, who starred at Everett this year. He’s a 19-year-old with a strong arm and good command, but he is a long way from the major leagues.

This was a trade between two teams that each had something the other needed: the Yankees needed a starting pitcher, and the Mariners needed someone who could hit.

Ideally, Pineda and Montero will both become superstars. I’ll be rooting for both players.

Trade links:

Stay warm today!


Round-Up

January 13, 2012

A few notes heading into the weekend:

  • The Mariners have re-signed minor league free agent designated hitter Luis Jimenez, and you can add him to the list of likely 2012 Tacoma Rainiers. We’ll go through the potential roster here on the blog in February.
  • Larry Stone writes that the Mariners should not sign Manny Ramirez. Larry Stone is wise.
  • I find this amazing: Dan Johnson, who has hit two of the biggest home runs in Tampa Bay Rays history – including one on the final day of the season last year –  needs a job.
  • In the PCL, our division rival Salt Lake is bringing back the same coaching staff they had last year.
  • The Colorado Rockies and Colorado Springs Sky Sox extended their player development contract through the 2014 season.

Less than a month until pitchers and catchers report to spring training!


Street Name

January 11, 2012

Today we get word that the Tacoma Landmarks Preservation Committee is moving forward with plans to try to get the street that leads into Cheney Stadium to be named after recently departed civic leader and baseball man Clay Huntington.

I am in favor of this, and I hope it happens. As we discussed when he passed away, Clay was one of the men responsible for the building of Cheney Stadium, and bringing Triple-A baseball to Tacoma. He supported youth and professional athletics in the Tacoma area his entire lifetime.

Fellow broadcaster Bob Robertson tipped me off that he was part of a citizen’s group trying to get the idea off the ground, and now we have confirmation in John McGrath’s column.

The street – currently named South Cheyenne Street – is the one that winds around the outfield wall, past the Foss High School parking lots, and intersects at S. 19th St.

It would be a fitting honor for Clay.

Links:

  • The Mariners signed veteran relief pitcher Aaron Heilman to a minor league contract. Heilman will go to spring training and fight for a big league bullpen job. He was a solid major league reliever for several years, but he struggled in 2011. At age 33, can he bounce back? We’ll find out soon enough.
  • In his post on Heilman, Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing has a list of the Mariners bullpen candidates. Many of the “Legitimate Competitors” will make up the pitching staff of your 2012 Tacoma Rainiers.
  • Larry LaRue writes that Ken Griffey Jr. is being a dad.
  • Next year’s Hall of Fame ballot is going to be a never-ending story, as many known or suspected PED users will be on it. With Barry Bonds at the head of the class, the heart of this story is going to be in San Francisco – where lead baseball columnist John Shea is already conflicted about his ballot.

Still waiting for this Prince Fielder saga to play out. Is anyone else getting impatient?


So Long & Thanks For All The Jokes

January 10, 2012

One of the funnier members of the Tacoma Rainiers has moved on, and we’re going to miss him.

Left-handed pitcher Chris Seddon was a free agent after the completion of the 2011 season, and he has signed a contract with the Cleveland Indians. It’s a minor league contract, but Seddon was invited to major league spring training.

Seddon spent three seasons with the Rainiers, and they went like this: one average season, one fantastic season, and one rocky season.

The fantastic season was 2010. Seddon went 10-4 with a 3.39 ERA after 15 starts, made the Pacific Coast League All-Star team, and then got promoted to the big leagues for the second half. His work in the first half of the season helped Tacoma build a big lead in the division, and the club held on and eventually won the PCL title.

Off the field, Seddon is known for his dry wit and off-the-grid sense of humor. You can always count of Chris for some sort of caustic, hilarious remark to help lighten up a dreary PCL travel day.

We’ll miss Chris in Tacoma, and wish him nothing but the best with the Indians organization.

Links:

  • Barry Larkin was voted into the Hall of Fame. Larry Stone has the story, along with reaction from Edgar Martinez on his increased vote total.
  • Mariners manager Eric Wedge did an interview with his home town newspaper in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
  • Former Rainiers infielder Sean Kazmar signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets.
  • We need a rainout on Monday, April 9th.
  • The dean of PCL managers Mike Jirschele is returning to Omaha for his 13th season.
  • The Memphis Redbirds are installing a massive video board at Autozone Park.
  • Former Rainiers pitcher R.A. Dickey is climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, and blogging about it for the New York Times. You can access the index of blogs right here.

Has Prince Fielder signed yet?


Hall Of Fame Monday

January 9, 2012

The results of the Hall of Fame ballot will be announced later today – and that’s about the only baseball news expected.

It appears that Barry Larkin has the best chance of being elected this time.

For us Mariners fans, we’ll be looking at Edgar Martinez’s results. Although he does not have a chance to be enshrined this year, it will be important to see if he can increase his percentage of votes. If his numbers start trending upwards, it bodes well for future ballots.

That’s all I’ve got for now – things are eerily quiet in terms of baseball news. Even Buster Olney took the day off from writing at ESPN.com.

I think I’m going to write a sentence that includes the words Tim Tebow just because I need the blog hits. Or perhaps predict an LSU win in an excruciatingly boring 9-6 contest tonight – yawn.

A few links:

  • At the Seattle Times, Larry Stone has more on the process of Edgar Martinez reaching the Hall of Fame. Stone, who has a vote, also included his ballot in this story.
  • Larry LaRue thinks that the Mariners still have a chunk of cash to spend on player payroll.
  • Alvin Dark never played in Tacoma, but he managed exhibition games at Cheney Stadium. Dark managed many Tacoma Giants during his tumultuous time as San Francisco Giants skipper. He recently celebrated his 90th birthday and the SF Chronicle caught up with him.
  • The Las Vegas 51s expect to have the top two Toronto Blue Jays prospects on their opening day roster: catcher Travis d’Arnaud and outfielder Anthony Gose.
  • The Mariners are slowly releasing the names of the players who will be appearing at their annual FanFest later this month. One of the minor leaguers will be Vinnie Catricala, a hitting prospect who I expect to see on the Rainiers this year.

We’ll start looking at the potential Rainiers opening day roster at the end of the month.


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