Rainiers Add A Bat, Win Game, Lose Relievers

April 11, 2013

Infielder Nick Franklin made his belated 2013 debut last night in Sacramento, and his impact was immediately felt.

Franklin went 2-for-5, collecting hits from both sides of the plate. His RBI double in the top of the 7th off left-handed reliever Jordan Norberto was a big hit in Tacoma’s six-run rally that led to a 7-4 come-from-behind victory.

The recovery of Franklin (he was out with an illness) improves the team defensively, too – he was involved in three of Tacoma’s five double plays last night. The club was playing Nate Tenbrink at second base, and he has very little experience at the keystone. Now Tenbrink can slot in at the corner positions he is more comfortable playing.

Tacoma (5-2) is going for a rare four-game road sweep at Sacramento tonight at 7:05. Tacoma starts RHP Jeremy Bonderman (0-0, 5.40) against Sacramento RHP Dan Straily (first PCL appearance of the year). The broadcast is on 850 AM and streaming right here – tune in at 6:50, as I expect to have Mike Zunino on the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show.

Now we have a trade: just announced, the Mariners traded Tacoma reliever Steven Hensley to the Colorado Rockies for major league starter Aaron Harang.

Hensley appeared in two games for Tacoma this year, allowing one run in 2.2 innings for a 3.38 ERA. He had his ups and downs last year, with the highlight being his 4.1 shutout innings in that crazy 18-inning game against Sacramento.

Steven is a super-friendly guy and we wish him the best with the Rockies. Presumably, he’s going to Colorado Springs. I hope he packed his winter coat on this road trip!

Tacoma is short in the bullpen tonight. Lucas Luetge does not report until tomorrow (he couldn’t pitch tonight anyway due to his prolonged outing on Tuesday versus Houston), and both Hensley and Bobby LaFromboise are gone. The Mariners designated Kameron Loe for assignment, he might clear waivers and come to Tacoma but that won’t be known for ten days.

The Rainiers now have an open roster spot. I’ll let you know when it gets filled.

The Rainiers home opener is Friday at 7:05, with fireworks after the game. There are still some tickets left for all of opening weekend – come out and see these guys, this is a really good team right now.

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • The Mariners lost to Houston, and Michael Saunders injured his right shoulder.
  • Greg Johns writes that if Saunders has to go on the disabled list, Endy Chavez could get the call-up.
  • Bobby LaFromboise did get called up, and he pitched a 1-2-3 inning with a pair of strikeouts in his major league debut. Nice job, Bobby!
  • For ESPN Insiders, Buster Olney has more on Mike Zunino.
  • Chicago Cubs top prospect Jorge Soler charged the opposing dugout wielding a bat. He’s going to get suspended for a while.
  • In the PCL, former Rainiers infielder Luis Rodriguez drove in seven runs, hit a grand slam, and had the go-ahead RBI in both games of Salt Lake’s doubleheader sweep of Reno. Wowza.
  • The ball was flying out of Chukchansi Park – there were five homers in Fresno’s 6-3 win over Vegas.
  • The Sacramento Bee has a feature on new River Cats manager Steve Scarsone.
  • Oklahoma City’s Jarred Cosart was dealing in a 3-1 win over Nashville.
  • Round Rock starting pitcher Justin Grimm got the call to the big leagues.
  • Omaha swept a doubleheader at Albuquerque, winning both games by a score of 6-3. That makes it very difficult to determine which one was game one and which one was game two.
  • New Orleans scored four runs in the top of the 12th inning and was still batting when the game was suspended due to rain in Memphis.

Goodness gracious, we’re going to have good food at Cheney Stadium this season. First Ivar’s and Kidd Valley, now pizza from The Hub? Awesome!


Reaction To Vargas – Morales Trade

December 20, 2012

Yesterday afternoon the Mariners made their first impact move of the off-season, trading starting pitcher Jason Vargas to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for slugger Kendrys Morales.

This is an interesting trade between division rivals, and it appears to be one of those trades that makes a lot of sense to both sides. Morales was expendable for the Angels, because they just signed Josh Hamilton and it created a backlog of hitters.

The Angles needed a starting pitcher, the Mariners have plenty of starting pitching prospects and needed a hitter, and here we are.

Both players are free agents after the 2013 season, so this deal is unlikely to have long-term ramifications.

I really like it from the Mariners side. They desperately needed a hitter who is a power threat in the lineup, and now they have one.

One side effect is that the arrival of Morales is going to put pressure on Justin Smoak to make the team. Smoak has one minor league option year left, and could end up in Tacoma if he does not have a productive spring training. With all apologies to Justin, if this happens, we’ll take him!

Reaction to the trade:

  • The Seattle Times has a news story on the trade from Geoff Baker, who also has a blog post on how the trade came into focus.
  • The esteemed Larry Stone calls the trade a “win-win.” He also notes that the Mariners are expected to save roughly $2.5 million on salary with this move.
  • The News Tribune has a news story on the trade from Ryan Divish, who provides much deeper analysis of the trade on this blog post. He also talks about the starting rotation, and who is available on the market to take the Vargas slot. I think he left out a key name on the list of in-house candidates: Charlie Furbush has a lot of starting experience and the M’s are deep in left-handed relievers to fill his bullpen spot.
  • Jack Z talked about the trade with Mitch on KJR this morning, here is a link to the interview.
  • The trade sent Dave Cameron into a writing frenzy over at USS Mariner. In this post he tries to figure out how the pieces fit together now (and also takes a tweet of mine way out of context as a joke), and here he writes that the trade probably leaves Mike Carp dangling in the wind.
  • At Lookout Landing, Jeff Sullivan posted his thoughts on the deal.
  • On an ESPN video interview, analyst Keith Law likes the deal and still thinks the Mariners are trying to add more offense.
  • Rob Neyer asks the question, what does Kendrys Morales do for the Mariners?
  • If you are a Baseball Prospectus subscriber, here is their analysis.
  • In the PCL, the Reno Aces announced their coaching staff. Brett Butler returns as manager, ex-Mariners starter Mike Parrott is back as pitching coach, and the new hitting coach is Greg Gross. Gross, parrott butler.
  • 2012 PCL Pitcher of the Year John Ely was traded by the Dodgers to the Astros yesterday, opening up an opportunity in the majors for him. Ely went 14-7 with a 3.20 ERA with 165 strikeouts last year, leading the league in all three categories for the “pitcher’s triple crown” – and he did that despite pitching on the moon in Albuquerque.
  • Anyone who buys the Rainiers 12 Days Of Tacoma Pack today gets entered to win a chance to throw out the first pitch at a 2013 Rainiers game. Info is here, you can buy it here or just call 253-752-7707.

Tomorrow Baseball Prospectus releases their Mariners Top Prospects list, and I’m told it will be different and interesting. Looking forward to that…


Huge Comeback!

July 31, 2012

Tacoma trailed Tucson 8-0 going to the sixth inning. Who would have guessed that Monday night would turn out to be one of the most fun nights of the season?

Tacoma scored a season-best nine runs in the sixth inning, Carter Capps made an electrifying Triple-A debut, and the Rainiers went on to beat Tucson, 11-8.

The nine-run inning was an absolute monster. I went through the entire blow-by-blow in the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune – first link down below – and I’m not going to re-type it here. The big hits were by Guillermo Quiroz (bases loaded double to make it 8-5), Justin Smoak (line drive single for 8-7), and Luis Jimenez (rope to wall plus RF error, giving Tacoma a 9-8 lead).

After tremendous relief showings by Brian Sweeney and Brian Moran, Capps entered with a runner at first base and no outs in the eighth, protecting a two-run lead. Capps quickly retired three straight batters, striking out two.

He returned to the mound to open the ninth, and struck out Jeremy Hermida to open the inning. He was then mysteriously removed from the game, leading to speculation that his Triple-A debut may in fact be his only Triple-A game for a while.

Capps average 99 miles per hour on the radar gun that the Rainiers use to chart pitches, and he topped out at 100 mph.

After the game, the Mariners made a bunch of moves:

  • Reliever Brandon League was traded to the Dodgers for Double-A reliever Logan Bawcom and Class-A outfielder Leon Landry. Both young prospects were having tremendous seasons in the Dodgers system.
  • Reliever Steve Delabar was traded to Toronto for outfielder Eric Thames. Thames, who was batting .335 for Las Vegas, will report to the Mariners. Carlos Peguero was optioned to Tacoma.

After these moves, the Mariners need to call up two relievers. One will obviously be Stephen Pryor. The other? Could be the hard-throwing Capps. Could be Chance Ruffin, who has a 2.33 ERA since June 20. Could be David Pauley, who has been in the majors with two other teams this season. Could be Bobby LaFromboise, who needs to be protected on the 40-man after this season anyway.

The trades resulted in the Mariners having an open 40-man roster spot, so they can call up whoever they want.

Personally, I think it will be Capps. It was weird when they took him out of the game with one out in the ninth yesterday, in a save situation – right when the Mariners were announcing the trades. Plus, he throws 100 mph – the other guys don’t.

Tonight the Rainiers take on Tucson at 7:05 pm. You can listen to the final game of the Nine Game Mega Series against Tucson on South Sound Sports 850 AM, and streaming online right here.

The Nine Game Mega Series is tied, 4-4 – this game tonight is for all of the Nine Game Mega Series Tostitos. Tacoma starts RHP D.J. Mitchell (0-1, 1.80) against Tucson LHP Colt Hynes (5-8, 6.05). Neither pitcher has ever started the final game of a Nine Game Mega Series before – but both made their Nine Game Mega Series debuts just five days ago.

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune.
  • Two Mariners relievers were ready to celebrate the team’s fifth straight win – only to find out they had been traded.
  • Larry Stone has a blog post about the prospects the Mariners acquired in the trades.
  • Dave Cameron wrote about the trades for USS Mariner – read it for the analysis, stick around for the punch line.
  • Here are Baseball America’s reports on Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom.
  • John Sickels also wrote briefly about the two new Mariners prospects.
  • Casper Wells – not worried about this year’s trade deadline – talked about the chaos of last year’s deadline.
  • In the PCL, Salt Lake outfielder Cory Aldridge is having a big series and the Bees keep beating Las Vegas.
  • The Tucson Padres are just happy to be playing better baseball.
  • Reno outfielder Adam Eaton hit an inside-the-park home run in the Aces 9-7 win over Sacramento. Bryan Shaw is back in Reno, trying to fine-tune his pitches.
  • Colorado Springs and Fresno were suspended in the second inning of a 0-0 game. The paper ran a Brandon Wood career retrospective. With all of these prospects being traded around at the deadline, it helps to remember Brandon Wood.
  • Memphis prospect Shelby Miller pitched a gem and Victor Marte came down from St. Louis and closed out a 5-4 win over Round Rock.
  • Nashville walked off Albuquerque on a ninth-inning single by Edwin Maysonet.
  • New Orleans beat Iowa, 5-3 – and, um, the Iowa Cubs are 1-10 so far on a 12-game road trip.

Last game in Tucson and then the Rainiers are home for a nice, long eight-game homestand starting on Wednesday night. Oklahoma City comes to town for four games, and then the New Orleans Zephyrs arrive for four more.


Tuesday and Wednesday

July 24, 2012

It’s going to be quiet here on the blog until Thursday – I’m taking two days off from Rainiers radio to cover the big club, so I’m focusing on that tonight and tomorrow.

The Rainiers are hosting Tucson in a four-game series starting tonight at Cheney Stadium. Bob Robertson will handle the play-by-play, with guests Ian Furness (Tuesday) and Mike Gastineau (Wednesday). You can catch the broadcasts on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here.

The pitching matchups look like this:

  • Tuesday, 7:05: RHP Hector Noesi (0-1, 14.04) vs. RHP Jorge Reyes (6-9, 5.34)
  • Wednesday, 11:35 AM: TBA vs. RHP Matt Palmer (6-6, 6.16)

TBA will probably be rehabilitating Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet. Wednesday’s scheduled starter was Andrew Carraway, but he landed on the disabled list with a strained lat. It’s unclear how long he will be out for.

So, the Mariners traded Ichiro.

I was stunned by this, just like most of you guys. I thought for sure that Ichiro was a Mariner For Life. I actually expected the Mariners to sign him to a contract extension for next year, even though it probably wasn’t in the best interest of the team.

There is no question that Ichiro’s skills are starting to fade. He is such a speed-based player that “losing a step” really brought down his overall production.

Still, he is one of the greatest players in Mariners history, and watching him play the last 11 years was a true joy.

I remember spring training 2001, when Lou Piniella expressed concern that Ichiro wasn’t going to be able to hit. I was at the game in September of 2004, in the left field foul pole seats where The King’s Court is today, when Ichiro broke the single-season hit record.

He brought us a lot of great memories. Since the Mariners aren’t in it this year, I might – might; don’t hold me to it – root for the Yankees in the playoffs, just for Ichiro to get to a World Series. Ugh, it pained me just to write that sentence. I need to do some soul-searching on this one.

In return for Ichiro, the Mariners received two Triple-A pitchers: D.J. Mitchell and oft-traded reliever Danny Farquhar.

Both pitchers are joining Tacoma. Mitchell is a starter, Farquhar a sidearm reliever. They are expected to arrive on Wednesday – but I’m not sure if they will arrive in time for the 11:35 AM game. No roster moves will be made until these guys actually show up; they were on a road trip in the International League – in fact, they played for a homeless team, the “Empire State Yankees.” More on that later this week.

Also, Justin Smoak has been optioned to Tacoma, the Mariners are activating Mike Carp from the DL tonight, and they have one more roster spot to fill before tonight’s game.

So, we’re getting a flurry of transactions here – and the trading season is just getting underway! Deadline time is always wild at the Triple-A level.

Quick links:

  • My Rainiers game story for The News Tribune on Tacoma’s 9-1 loss in Colorado Springs on Monday, in which Danny Hultzen struggled.
  • The Seattle and Tacoma papers are chock-full of Ichiro coverage – just hit their front pages for tons of stories.
  • One Ichiro story you must read, that you might have missed: columnist and Mariners historian Art Thiel weighs in right here.
  • Sacramento’s Dan Straily kept it going last night, shutting out Tucson as the River Cats avoided a sweep. Straily is keeping them guessing.
  • A column from Las Vegas about the late, great Bob Blum.
  • Salt Lake beat Fresno last night, 1-0, and the only run of the game scored on a balk. Baseball!

We close out with a big, warm “Goodbye” to long-time Rainiers front office employee Mallory Beckingham, who is leaving the organization to pursue other opportunities. Best of luck down the road, Mallory, and come back and see us – you will be missed.


A Necessary Evil

January 24, 2012

The big Mariners-Yankees trade was officially announced by the teams yesterday afternoon, and there were no surprises.

Michael Pineda and Jose Campos go to the Yankees in exchange for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi.

The thought of trading a young, emerging star pitcher like Pineda was certainly hard for a lot of Mariners fans to take. Even here in the Rainiers front office, a lot of employees were not happy to see Pineda go.*

But the Mariners had to do something.

This team has had the worst offense in Major League Baseball for two years running. While Dustin Ackley and Mike Carp provided some late-season hope that the offense might improve, the Mariners still have a long, long way to go to field just an average lineup in the American League.

They needed a hitter desperately, so they traded for one in Montero.

Montero is expected to become a  middle-of-the-order power hitter – exactly what the Mariners need. These types of players don’t come around very often, and the Mariners took the opportunity to grab one with six years of team control before free agency. To do this, they had to move a premium player – and that was Pineda.

The Yankees needed pitching, and the Mariners needed hitting. Each team had a young, emerging star that fit the other club’s need.

Public opinion seems split on the deal.

In one of his blog posts right after the trade was announced, Larry Stone wrote that according to the comments on the Times site, Mariners fans seemed split 50/50 on the deal. Then Stone went and looked at some Yankees sites and saw that their fans were also split 50/50 on the trade. That seems to mean it’s an even trade.

Check back in six years and we’ll see who won the deal. But for now, I see it as a trade that needed to happen.

Links:

  • Leading off, it’s the Seattle Times recap of the trade, with quotes from many of the subjects.
  • In the two-hole, John McGrath writes that a former Tacoma Rainiers player helped Jesus Montero with his work ethic.
  • Batting third, Montero was a guest on the Mariners Hot Stove League radio show last night. You can listen to the podcast here - Montero comes on shortly after the 19-minute mark.
  • Cleanup man Jeff Sullivan has a little off-the-cuff trade background.
  • Up fifth is The New York Daily News, which sent a writer to the Dominican Republic to visit with the newest Yankee, our old pal Michael Pineda. This is an excellent story adorned with photos of Pineda’s family and hometown.
  • Hitting sixth, the Mariners made the signing of starting pitcher Kevin Millwood official.
  • Batting seventh, former Rainiers (and Cal Bears) pitcher Brandon Morrow is getting paid. Hey, buddy, how ’bout a loan?
  • In the eighth spot, there are lots of rumors that Prince Fielder may sign today. Larry Stone opinionates that Baltimore could be his landing spot. Of course, The Onion has figured out exactly why this is taking so long.
  • And batting ninth, Ken Griffey Jr.’s son Trey is going to play wide receiver at the University of Arizona.
  • And there are more than nine links. So much for that plan. John Sickels ranked the MLB teams by strength of farm system, and he has the Mariners #4.
  • The Mariners PR Department now has a blog, called The Voice of the Mariners.** You might want to bookmark it – I’ll see if I can figure out how to add it to the blogroll on the right.
  • College baseball starts soon – here is the pre-season Top 25 from Baseball America. Oregon State is the only Pacific Northwest school to make the list.
  • In the just-invented super-duper unlucky 13-hole, baseball historian and amateur movie buff Rob Neyer writes that “Moneyball” received four Academy Award nominations.

That’s it for today – should have a lot of good blog content later this week.

* especially to the Yankees.

** did the Mariners PR Department win a bet with Rick Rizzs to take that name?


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!


Rainiers News

August 1, 2011

We’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to get to, so let’s dive in – bullet-points style.

  • The Rainiers beat Las Vegas yesterday, 4-3. Tacoma had good starting pitching from Luke French, and Scott Patterson delivered a 1-2-3 ninth inning for the save. The Rainiers took advantage of a Vegas mistake: third baseman Brett Lawrie booted what would have been an inning-ending double play grounder in the sixth, and the next hitter – Carlos Peguero – launched a three-run homer to give Tacoma the lead.
  • First place Reno lost in extras at Fresno, and the Rainiers are within 9.5 games of first. Still a long way back, but if the team can make up a few more games before the August 20 series at Reno, things will be interesting.
  • It’s August, and this is when Daren “Augie” Brown* shines: his Tacoma teams are 60-39 in the month of August, and that includes a 1-7 mark last year before ol’ Augie was promoted to Seattle.
  • Yesterday, Tacoma activated infielder Luis Rodriguez from the disabled list, and sent Luis Jimenez back to Double-A Jackson. Also, infielder Matt Mangini was placed on the Temporary Inactive List and he is away from the team on a personal matter.
  • Today, Tacoma receives outfielder Trayvon Robinson from Albuquerque. He was acquired in the Erik Bedard trade (links below). Robinson hit .293-26-71 for the ‘Topes, and he is a first-year Triple-A player who is a candidate for the PCL Rookie of the Year award. Robinson switch-hits and plays all three outfield positions – Augie told me that he has Robinson hitting sixth and playing center field tonight, although it’s early and he may change the lineup.
  • The Rainiers added starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez from Double-A Jackson, and he will be Tacoma’s starter tonight. Scheduled Tacoma starter Anthony Vasquez is being pushed back a day or two. Ramirez went 7-6, 4.73 in 19 starts for Jackson. In 110.1 innings he walked only 19 batters and struck out 81, but he gave up 128 hits.
  • Pitcher Fabio Castro, who has been on the disabled list since June 20 with a broken bone in his foot, has been pitching at the Arizona complex and is close to rejoining the Rainiers.
  • Start your planning now: we have one of those lunch-break day games on Tuesday to wrap up the homestand, 11:35 AM first pitch. You still have time to “schedule a meeting.” 

Tonight’s game is at 7:05 at Cheney Stadium, and you can hear it on 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Erasmo Ramirez in his Triple-A debut against Las Vegas RHP Chad Beck (1-0, 3.60).

Links:

  • Here is the Rainiers game story written by Ryan Divish of The News Tribune.
  • The Mariners made a big trade right at the deadline, sending Erik Bedard and Rainiers reliever Josh Fields to Boston, and receiving two hard-hitting outfield prospects in return. Trayvon Robinson joins the Rainiers, and Chih-Hsien Chiang goes to AA-Jackson (pronounced Chee-Shin Chang).
  • Josh Fields was in the Tacoma bullpen when he was summoned to the dugout in the middle of the first inning. He was told he was traded, shook everybody’s hand, and went inside to pack.
  • And just like that, Blake Beavan secured a spot in the Mariners starting rotation for the remainder of the season.
  • Divish has some rambling thoughts on the Mariners trade activity. More trade analysis: from John Sickels, USS Mariner, and Lookout Landing
  • Larry Stone reminds us that the July 31 deadline is sort of a fake deadline, anyway.
  • New Mariners outfielder Casper Wells talks about getting traded.
  • We have the weekly Minor League Wrap from USS Mariner.
  • Diamondbacks first round draft pick Trevor Bauer has some unusual workout habits – he broke out his foul pole-to-foul pole long toss, with pitching coach Doug Drabek serving as the return throw relay man in center field. Here’s the story from Visalia.
  • In the PCL, Fresno helped out the Rainiers by beating Reno in 11 innings. Edgar Gonzalez had the game-winning hit.
  • Sacramento blew out Colorado Springs, and Graham Godfrey became the PCL’s second ten-game winner.
  • Salt Lake beat Tucson in ten innings, and Alexi Amarista made the play of the game.
  • Jose Lopez is crushing it for New Orleans. He’s hitting .390-5-17 in 21 games for the Zephyrs.
  • Memphis received a great start from Cardinals pitching prospect Brian Broderick.
  • Johnny Giavotella is deserving of a Call Him Up Already! The Omaha second baseman is tearing up the American Conference.
  • Rumblings out of perhaps not-so-baseball-hating Portlandia, where a couple of ballpark proposals are emerging. However, they both involve short-season Class-A teams.
  • I leave you with this story out of the Texas League about minor league kangaroo courts.

That’s it for a busy Monday!

* nickname credit goes to M’s Special Assistant John Boles.


Trade Season Arrives

July 30, 2011

The Rainiers lost the series finale to Sacramento last night, 6-5. Tacoma had the tying runner in scoring position with two outs in the ninth when the game ended.

Tacoma lost three of four to Sacramento, and all four games were decided by two runs or less. After winning 7 of 9 immediately after the all-star break, the team has now lost 6 of 7 for a total record of 8-8 since the break.

On the plus side, Matt Tuiasosopo showed some signs of life at the plate the last two days. He had a key single in the ninth on Thursday, and then last night he doubled off the left field fence with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, before homering off the scoreboard in right-center in the ninth.

Tonight the Rainiers host the Las Vegas 51s in a 7:05 game at Cheney Stadium, and you can hear it on 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts LHP Chris Seddon (6-5, 5.97) against Las Vegas RHP Scott Richmond (6-8, 6.70).

The key player to watch on Las Vegas is third baseman Brett Lawrie, who is off the DL and raking. The 21-year-old Canadian is batting .360 with 18 homers and 59 RBI in 64 games, and he’s been hot lately. Las Vegas also has the leading hitter in the PCL, first baseman David Cooper (.372).

I would also like to point out that the other day, after 102 games, the won-loss record of the Las Vegas 51s was 51-51. Spooky, huh?

The Mariners made a trade today, sending former Rainiers pitchers Doug Fister and David Pauley to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for outfielder Casper Wells, pitcher Charlie Furbush, third baseman Francisco Martinez, and a player to be named later.

Wells and Furbush will join the Mariners, and Martinez is a 20-year-old prospect who is already at Class-AA – let’s go ahead and assume he’ll report to AA-Jackson.

For expert analysis of this trade, I have several links below.

In another roster move, the Mariners called up reliever Dan Cortes from Tacoma, optioning Aaron Laffey to the Rainiers. It’s a good thing Forrest Snow was able to finish that game yesterday, or else Tacoma would have a bullpen problem tonight.

Links:

It’s another beautiful day for baseball in Tacoma – hey, that’s three in a row!


Back Home – And Back To The No-Sleep League

July 31, 2010

The Rainiers lost their third straight game in Fresno on Friday night by a score of 9-3. And I’m blaming the losing streak on too much sleep.

No problem though – after three straight nights of 10+ hours of sleep for anyone who wanted it in Fresno, we’re rejoining what I like to call the No Sleep League.

Friday’s loss ended around 10:00, and most players were back at the hotel around 11:15 or so. The team then had 3:45 AM wake-up calls, for the 4:30 am bus to the airport and the flight back to Tacoma. Flying commercial, there is only one flight a day from Fresno to SeaTac that will get us home in time for the game, so we gotta take it – no matter how inconvenient it is.

We did arrive early enough this morning for the boys to get some nap-time in before tonight’s game, so that’s good.

So the Rainiers had virtually no sleep last night, play a night game tonight, and then a day game tomorrow – that’s another short-sleep night. After a good night’s sleep Sunday night with a night game on Monday, the Rainiers play at 11:30 AM on Tuesday – another short-sleep night  - and then, after Tuesday’s day game, take a red-eye overnight flight to Iowa to start an eight-game road trip.

This is going to be a bleary-eyed group by the time we get to Des Moines.

But in the PCL, it’s all about overcoming obstacles – and the Rainiers have plenty of obstacles to choose from right now. Three-game losing streak? Check. Dwindling lead in the standings? Check. Two starting pitchers lost from the rotation? Check. Key players battling injuries? Check. Kid from rookie ball starting a game in a Triple-A pennant race? Check.

Yup, that’s right. Ryan Feierabend was supposed to pitch tonight, but he hit the disabled list with a strained muscle in his rib cage. So instead we are going to start 21-year-old Yoervis Medina, whom you might know was the opening day starter for your Everett Aqua Sox. Yes, your short-season rookie-ball Everett Aqua Sox - four steps below Triple-A on the minor league ladder.

Now, reports are that Medina has good stuff. He’s 3-2 with a 4.20 ERA for Everett, and with 48 strikeouts and 15 walks in 40.2 innings. But this is Triple-A – it would be a shock if he has a successful outing here.

Medina is going to make this one fill-in start and then presumably return to Everett. The Mariners will make all of the appropriate moves to solidify the Rainiers starting rotation – they were just caught in a bind for this one game due to the unexpected injury, and the kid is gonna fill in. Hopefully Medina will throw strikes and survive for four or five innings. 

Tonight’s game is at 7:00, and it’s the opener of a four-game home stand. Reno is scheduled to start RHP Kevin Mulvey (5-6, 5.11). Mulvey beat the Rainiers with an excellent outing after the all-star break. It’s a TV game on Comcast Sportsnet Northwest – channel 179 on most Comcast Digital systems. The simulcast will air on 850 AM and stream via www.tacomarainiers.com. Bucky Jacobsen will be joining me in the booth.

ROSTER UPDATE: Here are all of the moves today. Tacoma was two players under the max before today, because of French’s call-up and Feierabend’s move to the disabled list.

  • Called up to Seattle: Matt Tuiasosopo and Sean White
  • Optioned to Tacoma from Seattle: Justin Smoak
  • Promoted to Tacoma from AA-West Tenn: Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke
  • Promoted to Tacoma from Short Season-Everett: Yoervis Medina

That fills Tacoma’s roster at 24 men. The starting rotation for the homestand is today: Medina, Sunday: Petit, Monday: Pineda, Tuesday: Beavan.

Let’s hit the links!

  • Here is my Rainiers game story from last night’s 9-3 loss. The Rainiers are 18-9 in July. Here are some notes from the Fresno perspective.
  • Larry LaRue gives a little taste of what its like to be a player at the trade deadline – using Luke French as an example.
  • The Mariners are making costly defensive mistakes.
  • Former Rainiers catcher Jim Horner resigned as manager of the Mariners Class-A High Desert affiliate, accepting a job at Texas Tech University. Horner made the move for his family.
  • Dave Cameron says don’t give up on Justin Smoak.
  • I can’t even begin to cover all of the deadline trades here; but if you want a one-stop shop with analysis this is a great place to go. Also, CBS Sportsline is my favorite one-page MLB scoreboard, and their transaction list is usually more current than ESPN and others. Hey check it out now – Jeff Clement got recalled by Pittsburgh!
  • Round Rock released former Rainiers slugger Tommy Everidge. He certainly had a strange season.
  • On the field in the PCL, Salt Lake missed an opportunity to gain a game on the Rainiers. Tacoma still has a five-game lead.
  • Fresno still leads Sacramento by one game in the South. The Grizzlies are serious about winning. Josh Donaldson homered for Sacramento, keeping up the pressure.
  • Current Tacoma opponent Reno lost at home to Las Vegas last night, 12-9. Vegas scored nine runs in one inning, and JP Arencibia hit his 30th home run.

Apparently my post about sleeping in Fresno got the attention of a Fresnan. Fun stuff! I like Fresno, and I like sleeping – I’m well rested right now, thank you!


Nine straight, Deal Going Down?

July 9, 2010

Just another day in Rainiers Land… the team won its ninth in a row last night, phenom Michael Pineda is scheduled to pitch tonight, and the Cliff Lee trade rumors have really heated up.

Much confusion today, as rumors of a potential Cliff Lee trade went flying around. First, many national news services reported a deal to the Yankees for three prospects, but then the scuttlebutt changed and it sounds like the deal might be scratched. Meanwhile, Lee is supposed to pitch for the Mariners tonight, against the Yankees. If Lee does indeed take the hill, it will be interesting to see how he fares with all of that going through his head.

Now there is word that instead, Lee is going to the Rangers. Press conference in 45 minutes – we’ll see!

Triple-A players can be rather attentive to the trade rumors. Well, most are – a few guys work really hard to completely ignore it. But players always know that there is a chance that they might be included in a trade, or a trade of someone else might open a spot in the major leagues for them. Or even worse, a prospect might come over in a trade, and cost you your job in Triple-A. It can be a nervous, anxious time.

So amidst all of this, tonight at 7:00, the Rainiers go for their 10th straight win, it’s Friday Night Fireworks, the weather is perfect – and Michael Pineda is scheduled to pitch!

Last night Matt Mangini got the Rainiers off to an early 4-o lead, doubling and scoring in the second inning before launching a two-run homers in the fourth.

Tacoma starter Ian Snell did not allow a hit until the fifth, and he took a two-hitter into the seventh before things went awry. Tacoma made three defensive mistakes behind him, allowing Joe Borchard to tie the game with a three-run homer.

But in the bottom of the inning Chris Woodward – who made a costly error in the top of the seventh – lined a homer down the left field line, once again putting Tacoma out in front, 5-4.

The Rainiers had excellent relief from Mark Worrell and Levale Speigner, who did not allow a hit in the final two innings to seal the win.

Tonight’s game, like all of them, will be broadcast on 850 AM and streaming online via www.tacomarainiers.com.

Now for the links:

  • Here is The News Tribune’s Rainiers game story from Ryan Divish – nine in a row!
  • Larry Stone turns in this gem about a player who was an all-star and was traded right before the all-star game.
  • Michael Pineda and Greg Halman get shout-outs in this week’s version of the Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet.
  • They will soon start filming the Moneyball movie. Brad Pitt as Billy Beane. Really.
  • In the PCL, Salt Lake is now seven games behind the Rainiers after Vegas beat them last night.
  • Where I officially feel sorry for Memphis RG Steve Selby. Chuck Fick? I’d be calling in sick every fifth day.
  • Oklahoma City lost young slugger Chad Tracy to the disabled list, and some sad news for RedHawks manager Bobby Jones.

Crazy day today, just following the rumors on Twitter. Should be a fun one tonight!


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