Seager’s Gold Glove A Rainiers-Mariners First

November 6, 2014

Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager was honored with his first Gold Glove award on Tuesday, and it marked a first in the long Tacoma Rainiers/Seattle Mariners relationship.

After twenty years of affiliation, Seager became the first former Rainiers player to win a Gold Glove as a member of the Mariners.

There have been other players who played in Tacoma and won the Gold Glove – but they have all done it with other teams after a trade or free agency. Adam Jones is a perfect example – he won his fourth for Baltimore on Tuesday.

But nobody came up though the Mariners farm system, stopped in Tacoma on their way to the big leagues, and won a Gold Glove for the Mariners in the last 20 years. Until now.

The award is a result of the hard work Seager put in to improve his defense, which was pretty solid but not raved about when he was in the minor leagues.

There have been a few players who won the Gold Glove earlier in their careers who played for Tacoma on rehabilitation assignments, and I figure we should mention that.

Ken Griffey Jr. jumps to mind as one, and then there is the curious case of Franklin Gutierrez.

After being acquired in a trade, Gutierrez won the Gold Glove for Seattle in 2010. He then played in a whopping 75 games for Tacoma on various rehabilitation assignments from 2011-2013.


  • Here is the report on Kyle Seager winning the Gold Glove. He got the news while on vacation.
  • A pair of Mariners won Player’s Choice Awards. The major awards will be announced next week.
  • The M’s are taking a look at Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, Jon Heyman reports.
  • The PCL’s 2014 leader in Earned Run Average was traded yesterday. Nick Tropeano went from the Astros (Oklahoma City last year) to the Angels in a deal for Federal Way native¬†Hank Conger. I believe the Angels are hoping Tropeano makes the big league rotation out of spring training.

I’m off for a few days. We’ll be back with a new post on Tuesday.

Free Agent Season Starts

November 3, 2014

Now that the World Series is five days in the rearview mirror, the Hot Stove League is underway.

The Mariners will once again be looking for right-handed hitting – specifically a player who can hit in between left-handed batters Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager in the lineup. An outfielder or 1B/DH type would be ideal.

There will be plenty of reports on the Mariners big league moves, and we’ll link to them all winter long.

Seattle will also try to sign some players to help the Rainiers, and serve as depth for the major league club.

Specifically, I figure the Mariners will try to sign a couple of Triple-A starting pitchers who have some MLB experience. You just can’t have enough of these guys.

They will also look for a veteran catcher in the Humberto Quintero/Guillermo Quiroz mold, and probably some experienced bullpen help.

I doubt if they will be very active trying to sign free agent infielders or outfielders for the Rainiers – it seems that the organization is well-stocked in these areas. Maybe one veteran outfielder, like Cole Gillespie last season?

We’ll be following it all winter.

As soon as I finished typing the above segment – I mean literally right away – the Mariners announced that they have claimed 26-year-old utility infielder Carlos Rivero off waivers from Boston.

Rivero made his MLB debut last year, getting into four games for Boston. He had good Triple-A seasons in 2012 (Syracuse: .303-10-64) and 2014 (Pawtucket: .286-5-36 in a half-season).

Rivero has been passed around 40-man rosters and is out of options. He’d have to clear waivers before he could ever play for Tacoma.

One move over the weekend made me happy: the Detroit Tigers announced that they re-signed Mike Hessman to a Triple-A contract.

Hessman is the active minor league home run king, with 417 career minor league dingers. He also is the all-time International League home run leader – he has 272 in that league alone.

I figured that the 36-year-old Hessman might retire after reaching 400 and claiming the IL title last season, but instead he is back! Maybe he’ll go for 500.

We won’t see him in 2015; he’ll be with Toledo. Hessman led the PCL with 35 home runs for Oklahoma City in 2012 and that was his only season in our league.


World Series Reading List

October 30, 2014

We were treated to a magnificent seventh game of the World Series last night, and I hope you had a chance to watch it.

Madison Bumgarner was terrific throughout the series, and then he delivered the knockout blow with five scoreless innings from the bullpen last night.

Two ex-Rainiers became World Series champions: Mike Morse and Yusmeiro Petit.

Morse had the go-ahead RBI single in the fourth inning last night, giving the Giants a 3-2 lead that stood up as the bullpens dominated the remainder of the game.

The Giants would not have been in the Series if not for the long relief work of Petit – especially in that 18-inning game against the Nationals in the NLDS.

The game generated a lot of great angles for the baseball writers. I’m linking to the best stories I found today, so enjoy!

World Series Links:

  • Here’s Roger Angell on Christy Mathewson, Madison Bumgarner, and Clayton Kershaw.
  • Michael Powell of the New York Times visited Bumgarner’s father in rural North Carolina.
  • Here’s a fun list of the best World Series pitching performances ever. We have another Christy Mathewson sighting, which is one of the great things about baseball: something can happen today that reminds fans of something that happened 110 years ago.
  • Ken Rosenthal got into the mindset of Madison Bumgarner.
  • One of the crucial moments in the game was a spectacular replay-review double play the Giants turned. Grant Brisbee analyzes the play. Included in that post – the second video down – is the official MLB “statscast” which is quite interesting.
  • Another key play came with two outs in the ninth, when the Giants outfield bungled Alex Gordon‘s single into three bases. Should Gordon have been sent home on the play? Jeff Sullivan scrutinized it for Fangraphs.
  • This story from San Francisco has a section on Mike Morse and his contributions.
  • Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated looks at the Giants off-season situation and future prospects.

Mariners Links:

  • The Angels drafted Rainiers lefty Brian Moran in the Rule 5 Draft last year, saw him go down with an elbow injury in spring training and require Tommy John surgery, and now have returned him to the Mariners. So we could see Moran in Tacoma next year, I suppose.
  • The Justin Smoak situation caused Larry Stone to reflect on the worst moves of the Jack Z administration.
  • Free agency starts Tuesday and Ryan Divish posted the (almost) complete list of available players.

No baseball until… the Arizona Fall League All-Star Game on MLB Network on Saturday. It’s going to be a long winter, eh?

Smoak Moves On; Game Seven Tonight

October 29, 2014

Yesterday the Toronto Blue Jays acquired Justin Smoak on a waiver claim, ending Smoak’s time with the Seattle Mariners.

We saw quite a bit of Smoak over the last few years at Cheney Stadium, and he always provided a solid bat in the middle of the Tacoma Rainiers lineup. Smoak appeared in games for the Rainiers each of the last five seasons, including a 56-game stay in 2014.

Adding up the total numbers, you get just about one full PCL season’s worth of plate appearances. Here is how Smoak hit for Tacoma over the last five years:

  • Games: 120
  • At-Bats: 436
  • Hits: 126
  • Doubles: 28
  • Triple: 1
  • Home Runs: 14
  • Runs Batted In: 70
  • Walks: 75
  • Strikeouts: 95
  • Stolen Base: 1
  • Batting Average: .289
  • On-Base Percentage: .396
  • Slugging Percentage: .454

Those are pretty good numbers for a first baseman in Triple-A. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to approach this level of production in Seattle, and now he’s a Blue Jay.

I enjoyed having Justin on the club. He’s a likable guy and I wish him the best with his new team.

Justin Smoak 2014

Here is some good news: we won the baseball lottery!

We’re getting a World Series Game Seven tonight, and it should be awesome. I know I’ll be stationed directly in front of the television starting at 5 pm.

Do you have a favorite Game Seven?

In recent years, 2001 Diamondbacks-Yankees stands out as a thriller, but my favorite of the last 20 years is 1997 Marlins-Indians. That game saw the Marlins rally to tie in the bottom of the ninth before winning in the 11th. The Indians were loaded with hitting talent and somehow the Marlins won the series. Here is the box score.


  • Roger Angell is 94 years old, a Hall Of Fame baseball writer, and he’s seen more Game Sevens than we have, so let’s start with his musings on tonight’s contest. His thoughts on the players reaction to last night’s blowout are spot-on.
  • It’s a free week at Baseball Prospectus, and their stats have the Giants as a 59% favorite tonight. However, Rob Neyer says you can throw the stats out the window for tonight.
  • Jonah Keri has a Game Seven preview over at Grantland, with four key factors.
  • The road team is a big underdog in Game Seven, Grant Brisbee writes. This story also serves as a quick review of the Game Sevens of the past 35 years.
  • Ryan Divish has the news story on the end of the Justin Smoak era.
  • John McGrath rehashed the trade that brought Smoak to the Mariners.
  • As usual you can find some good tidbits in Bob Dutton’s Mariners notebook.
  • Congratulations to Salt Lake Bees broadcaster Steve Klauke, who won an award!
  • If you were forced to guess which former Tacoma Tigers player shot himself while cleaning his gun, there is one obvious answer, isn’t there?

OK that’s enough for today. I need four hours to prepare for Game Seven.

Peterson A Prospect All-Star

October 28, 2014

The Arizona Fall League is winding down, with just a little more than two weeks left.

One of the main events in the prospect-filled circuit is the annual Fall Stars Game, which is coming up this Saturday and will be televised on the MLB Network at 5.

It’s sort of a prospect all-star game, except performance in the AFL isn’t really a factor in deciding who plays in it.

The Mariners representative is 2013 first round draft pick D.J. Peterson, who is by all accounts a talented young hitting prospect.

But as his first full season of professional baseball stretches towards November, Peterson has seen his batting average in the Arizona Fall League drop down to .191.

I don’t think the Mariners are concerned about Peterson’s AFL batting average. He’s had a very long first full season, and he’s facing the best pitchers at the very end of it. He’s still likely to see Triple-A at some point in 2015, and if he has a good year possibly Seattle as well.

The World Series moves on to Game Six tonight, but baseball was hit with a tragedy over the weekend.

St. Louis Cardinals top prospect Oscar Taveras was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic on Sunday.

Taveras was considered one of the most talented hitters in the minor leagues, playing in the PCL for Memphis in 2013 and 2014 before reaching St. Louis this year. He never played against the Rainiers – he was out with an ankle sprain when Memphis visited Cheney Stadium in 2013 – so we never got to see him hit in person.

The news of his death was stunning. It was reminiscent of another way-too-soon death that hit closer to home for us in Tacoma, when Greg Halman was killed. That news rocked the Mariners organization, and surely the Cardinals are feeling the same way right now. We send out condolences to the Taveras family, the Memphis Redbirds, and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Just as I was about to “publish” this post, the Toronto Blue Jays announced they have claimed Justin Smoak off waivers. This ends Smoak’s tenure with the Mariners. I’ll have more on Smoak tomorrow.


  • Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook has more on D.J. Peterson, plus a list of the Mariners who will be free agents after the World Series.
  • Ryan Divish has the complete list of Arizona Fall League all-stars.
  • Despite his resurgent 2014 season, Chris Young may not fit into the Mariners 2015 plans.
  • If you are looking for a whole lot of data, here is a PDF of the team-released Mariners Minor League Season In Review.
  • The Atlanta Braves hired Jose Castro as major league Assistant Hitting Coach. Castro was the Rainiers interim manager who won the PCL championship after Daren Brown was promoted to Seattle in August of 2010.
  • Former Tacoma Tigers player and Seattle Mariners coach Mike Aldrete was hired as the Oakland A’s bench coach.
  • Here is a news story on the death of Oscar Taveras. Rob Neyer wrote about some of the others who passed away when they were on the cusp of major league stardom.

We’ll be back with a new post on Wednesday looking back at Justin Smoak – and hopefully we’ll have a Game Seven tomorrow night.

Free Agency Arrives For A Few Rainiers

October 23, 2014

Every day in the off-season I check the baseball transactions, and today I noticed that some minor league free agents are starting to change teams.

A minor league player can become a free agent if he has played six full seasons in the minors without being added to the major league 40-man roster. There are other stipulations for players who were once on a 40-man roster but then taken off of it.

Here are the players who finished the 2014 season with Tacoma and are eligible to be free agents:

  • Xavier Avery, outfield.
  • Blake Beavan, pitcher.
  • Leury Bonilla, everything.
  • Todd Coffey, pitcher.
  • Logan Kensing, pitcher.
  • Nate Tenbrink, infield/outfield.

One player whose status I am not sure about is infielder Gabriel Noriega, who the Mariners signed from Venezuela in 2007 when he was just 16 years old. The rules are different for international signees, but Noriega was playing in the US in 2008 in short-season leagues and his first full-season league was in 2010.

Just because a player is a free agent doesn’t mean he’s leaving. The Mariners sometimes re-sign these guys – Leury Bonilla was a free agent last year and they worked out a way to keep him.

The Royals rallied to score five runs in the sixth inning, snapping a 2-2 tie and leading to a 7-2 victory over San Francisco on Wednesday night. That evened-up the World Series at 1-1 and greatly improved our chances of getting a six- or seven-game series.

Ex-Rainiers did not factor much in Game Two. Mike Morse was again in the Giants lineup as the DH, and he went 1-for-3 with a single. He’s now 2-for-8 in his first World Series.

One fun fact on Game Two: each of the nine starters in San Francisco’s lineup had exactly one hit. According to ESPN, this was the first time in MLB postseason history that had happened. If they just hadn’t used that pinch-hitter, this boxscore would have been perfect.

There is no game on Thursday and the series continues Friday-Saturday-Sunday in San Francisco. All games start at 5.


  • Felix Hernandez was picked as the top pitcher in the American League in a poll of front office people.
  • The Mariners have three finalists for the Gold Glove awards. Bob Dutton has all of the finalists at each position, and Ryan Divish has advanced defensive metrics for the Mariners candidates.
  • Here’s a day in the life of Mike Morse as he prepared for Game Two of the World Series (it’s in the video).
  • Another former Rainiers player in the World Series is Yusmeiro Petit, and he had a strange path to glory.
  • Mariners fans can look at the Royals with jealousy, Larry Stone writes.

I’m taking a long weekend off and our next blog update will be on Tuesday.

Royals Streak Ends

October 22, 2014

After eight consecutive postseason wins, the Kansas City Royals finally took a loss in the opening game of the World Series on Tuesday night. San Francisco beat ‘em, 7-1.

The game was lacking in the drama department. The Giants scored three runs in the top of the first inning against James Shields, with Hunter Pence connecting on a long two-run homer.

Former Rainiers star Mike Morse started as the Giants designated hitter, and he produced an RBI single in fourth inning that made it 4-0. He finished the game 1-for-5.

Kansas City was down 3-0 in the bottom of the third when they put runners at second & third with nobody out, but Madison Bumgarner escaped the jam and cruised from that point forward.

Bumgarner is a former PCL player who never pitched against Tacoma. Bumgarner made 14 starts for Fresno in 2010, going 7-1, 3.16. Fresno and Tacoma play each other a lot: 16 times each season. Yet in 2010, they played 12 of the 16 games late in the season, after Bumgarner had been called up. The one time they faced each other while Bumgarner was on the club (at Cheney Stadium in June), he was the lone member of Fresno’s five-man rotation who did not start in the four-game series. He spent four days in Tacoma and didn’t pitch – I’m sure he threw a bullpen, and he probably ran some laps. I hope he enjoyed his time in our fair city.

Anyway, I digress. Game Two of the World Series is tonight at 5, and the Royals desperately need a win or else they face the prospect of going on the road to San Francisco down 2-0.


  • Bob Dutton has some notes on Mariners in the Winter Leagues.
  • Mariners pitcher Chris Young was named the American League Comeback Player of the Year. This award is voted on by the players.
  • Former Tacoma Rainiers manager Steve Smith was let go from his job as third base coach for the Cincinnati Reds.
  • Yesterday Hall of Famer Old Hoss Radbourn – who died in 1897 – returned from the grave to preview the World Series. Or as he calls it, the World’s Series.
  • This is fun: Baseball America unearthed a Q&A with Hunter Pence from when he was in Double-A in 2006.


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