You’re Traded, You’re Traded… Everybody Is Traded

December 11, 2014

If you wear a baseball uniform for a living and you weren’t traded this morning, you are probably feeling a little unloved.

The Winter Meetings went off the rails overnight, with a wild series of trades and signings. There was a Rule 5 Draft, too.

The Dodgers completely remade their team. San Diego got Matt Kemp. Detroit gave up a top pitcher (Rick Porcello) to get Yoenis Cespedes. The Marlins are acquiring players left and right. I think the White Sox now have every relief pitcher in MLB. The Red Sox picked up three starting pitchers in 12 hours.

It seems like everybody was frantically making moves at the end of the meetings, but the Mariners were quiet. Seattle’s area of need – a corner outfielder – is still readily available and there was no need for the team to rush into a deal during the meetings.

As for the Rule 5 Draft, no Rainiers players were selected – in fact, the Mariners organization did not lose a single player.

The Mariners did make a pick: they selected left-handed pitcher David Rollins from the Houston Astros organization.

Rollins pitched for Double-A Corpus Christi last year, working as both a starter and a reliever. He posted a 3.81 ERA in 78 innings last year, with 77 strikeouts and 22 walks. He reportedly sits 92-to-95 MPH with his fastball.

Per Rule 5 Draft specifics, Rollins must make the Mariners opening day roster and stay on the major league team all year – or else he is automatically offered back to the Houston Astros.

So the Mariners will take a very close look at Rollins during spring training and see if he can help them as a lefty reliever. Because the Mariners are going for it in 2015, they will not keep Rollins around as a future project – he’ll have to contribute in 2015 in order to stick around. If it doesn’t appear that he can help the M’s win this year, he’ll go right back to the Astros in March.

Links:


More Winter Meetings News

December 10, 2014

It’s Winter Meetings Wednesday, which is the final full day of the meetings. Things are starting to heat up, as a lot went on overnight.

The Chicago Cubs signed Tacoma native Jon Lester to a six-year contract reportedly worth $155 million. That covers his age 31-through-36 seasons. The Cubs also traded two low-level minor leaguers to Arizona for catcher Miguel Montero. Clearly, Theo Epstein and the Cubs think that their fortunes are going to turn around in the near future.

Mariners division foe Houston decided to do something about its beleaguered bullpen, signing quality free agent relief pitchers Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson to two- and three-year deals, respectively.

Some teams (example: the Mariners) always seem to have some new hotshot relief pitcher (or several of them) coming up through the farm system and are able to easily build a bullpen on the cheap. That simply hasn’t worked out for the Astros, so they are spending some coin to get it done.

The Pirates re-signed veteran starter Francisco Liriano to a three-year contract. That’s an interesting story: the Pirates grabbed Liriano off the scrap pile following his dreadful 2012 season, and he has delivered two outstanding seasons in the Pittsburgh rotation and the Pirates are now hoping for three more.

There will be more moves today, and then the meetings wrap up tomorrow with the annual Rule 5 Draft (there is a Rule 5 Draft preview down in the links).

Nothing has happened on the Mariners front just yet, but I did get an update on the Rainiers from one of my co-workers who is down there.

Ashley Schutt handles the Rainiers baseball operations and also runs the team store, and she said she had a good meeting with the New Era representative looking at some cool new hat designs for the team store.

She was about to hit the Baseball Trade Show, which has on display everything and anything you can imagine that is baseball-related. She will meet with the people who make the Rainiers uniforms, see new products for the team store or season ticket-holder giveaway items, and try like heck to avoid creepy travelling mascots for hire.

Links:

That’s it for now.


Quiet Start To Meetings For Mariners

December 9, 2014

The first day of the Winter Meetings came and went with barely a peep from the Mariners.

There were some rumors that the Mariners were “the leader” to sign free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera, but when meeting with the media late on Monday afternoon General Manager Jack Zduriencik said that they are not close to any deals.

There is a lack of urgency for Seattle right now, because they already signed Nelson Cruz before the meetings even started.

The team definitely needs one more major league outfielder, and I suppose they could use a left-handed reliever (they could just keep it in-house and go with Lucas Luetge in this spot).

Other than that the roster is pretty much set. Jack Z can afford to be patient as he watches how the off-season moves play out around baseball.

Elsewhere, there was some action.

The White Sox have been very active, signing the top “proven closer” on the market in David Robertson, and trading four prospects to Oakland for Jeff Samardzija.

I think the White Sox activity is at least partially spurred by the Kansas City Royals run to the World Series last year. Chicago had the AL Rookie of the Year in Jose Abreu but their pitching staff (especially the bullpen) was awful and they only won 75 games.

They must be thinking, “hey if we can get this pitching straightened out and get to 87-89 wins we can take a Wild Card. We’ve got Chris Sale and now Samardzija –  maybe we can make a run through the postseason like Kansas City.”

It’s not a crazy scenario at all.

Links:

  • Ryan Divish’s report from the Winter Meetings explains in detail why the Mariners might be best off waiting to see what happens with Melky Cabrera. In a nutshell, it seems like the market for Melky is hard to pin down right now.
  • Here is Divish’s rolling blog post for Tuesday- he’ll have a few updates over the course of the day and into the evening.
  • The Mariners are not going to give up a top pitching talent in exchange for one year of outfield help, Bob Dutton writes.
  • Dutton has all kinds of notes from the first day of the meetings in this report. Of note: the Mariners are bullish on catcher John Hicks, who I expect to be with the Rainiers to open 2015.
  • There is some demand for Mariners shortstops.
  • Greg Johns raised an interesting point: the recovery timeline of Willie Bloomquist (he had knee surgery) is an important factor when considering if the M’s may trade one of their shortstops.
  • Tracy Ringolsby put on his cowboy hat and told some stories about the old days of the Winter Meetings.
  • Every year they name a King Of Baseball – this honor is bestowed upon an elder statesman who has spent his entire life in the game. Texas League lifer Bill Valentine was the winner this year – and he told some stories.
  • Serious facility problems in Bakersfield and High Desert are among the biggest issues Minor League Baseball is trying to solve at the Winter Meetings. The Mariners are now affiliated with Bakersfield (just to be clear: the Mariners have nothing to do with the problems there).
  • Looks like baseball might return to the Olympics in 2020.
  • If you were the sole heir to a relative who passed away, and you unexpectedly found this $400,000 Honus Wagner baseball card in the deceased’s attic, how long would you keep it for before selling? I think I’d show it off for a year and then sell, sell, sell!
  • There is a new lawsuit regarding minor league player salaries. If this is a subject that interests you, here is an easy-to-read article on Fangraphs which explains the suit and the expected outcome.

I wish all of the people at the Winter Meetings would stop posting pictures of San Diego. I look outside my window in Tacoma and it is miserable here today!


Winter Meetings Previews

December 7, 2014

Baseball executives landed in San Diego today and the Winter Meetings are underway. Thus, we have a rare Sunday afternoon blog update.

What we have here is a round-up of stories – both Mariners-related and nationally – about what to look for as the meetings get underway.

Links:

Next blog update will be late Monday if the news warrants it – if not, we’ll have a full post on Tuesday with all of the latest tidbits and links.


Brian Moran Selected In Rule 5 Draft

December 12, 2013

The Mariners and Rainiers lost left-handed reliever Brian Moran today, as he was drafted away from the organization. Moran spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons with Tacoma, and he represented the Rainiers in the Triple-A All-Star Game in July.

Moran could return to the Rainiers next year – this gets kind of confusing, but let me explain…

This morning at the Winter Meetings, the Toronto Blue Jays drafted Moran with the fifth pick in the Rule 5 Draft. The Jays then traded Moran to the Los Angeles Angels (in exchange for about $250,00 in additional international free agent spending cap room – not actual money, but the ability to spend money on Latin American teenagers).

The Angels added Moran to their 40-man major league roster, and he will go to spring training with them. But here’s the kicker on the Rule 5 Draft: Moran must make the Angels opening day roster, and stay in the major leagues (on the 25-man roster) all season long. They can put him on the disabled list if he’s injured, otherwise he must stay in the majors, on the active roster, for the entire 2014 season.

If Moran pitches poorly and the Angels decide they can no longer keep him in the majors, they have to put him on waivers. Any of the 28 other teams (all but Seattle) can claim him off waivers, but the claiming team must continue to follow the rules and keep him in the major leagues. If no team is willing to do that, Moran clears waivers and is offered back to the Mariners – and the Mariners would have the freedom to send him to Tacoma.

This is a huge opportunity for Brian. It’s the major league shot that the Mariners have not yet given him, and this will be the most important season of his career so far. We wish him the best – hopefully he’ll stick in the big leagues. But hey, if he doesn’t – we’ll take him back!

Links:

  • Here is the Angels report on acquiring Brian Moran, which includes a scouting description from General Manager Jerry Dipoto.
  • The Mariners did not draft anybody in the major or minor league phases of the Rule 5 Draft. Here is the complete draft list – ex-Rainiers infielder Vinnie Catricala was one of the player selected in the minor league phase, he’s now with the Brewers organization.
  • The Rangers made waves in the minor league section of the Rule 5 Draft by selecting Rockies “second baseman” Russell Wilson. Yup, the Seahawks Russell Wilson. This story explains why, and over at Sports Illustrated Jay Jaffe had some fun with it.
  • The Mariners announced a press conference for 3:00 today in which they will officially introduce new second baseman Robinson Cano.
  • Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer tried to find the meaning of the Cano signing.
  • Ryan Divish has a story on the Mariners pending acquisitions of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison. Keith Law shares his opinions on those deals (ESPN Insider). Jeff Sullivan wrote about them, too, and it’s free.
  • In the TNT, Bob Dutton has a winter meetings day three notebook.
  • Former Mariners and Rainiers slugger Mike Morse signed a one-year deal with San Francisco. He was a free agent.

Starting to hear some strong rumors on the identity of the next Rainiers manager – we should have this news officially quite soon.


M’s Grab Hitters In Orlando

December 11, 2013

Today is the last full day of the Winter Meetings, which wrap up mid-day on Thursday with the Rule 5 Draft.

The Mariners are still heavily involved in most of the rumors coming out of Orlando. There is no question they are being very active trying to land additional players. There is word out there that the team has signed Corey Hart to a one-year deal, pending a physical later this week. A Carter Capps for Logan Morrison trade appears to be done, too.

On the minor league side, there are still no reports of the team signing any six-year (minor league) free agents. That doesn’t mean that they haven’t signed any – it’s just that no word has gotten out yet. There will be a few for sure.

The minor league coaching staffs are still not set. One of the Rainiers front office executives at the meetings asked Director of Player Development Chris Gwynn about Tacoma’s coaching staff, and he said he was working to finalize it now. My gut feeling is that we are going to have a trio of new faces running the Rainiers.

There was some huge news in the PCL last night: the City of Nashville gave final approval for a brand new ballpark to be built for the Nashville Sounds. This is great news for the league, and especially for the fans in Nashville.

They have been working towards a new ballpark in Nashville for about a decade. It will be great to see it happen – opening day, 2015!

Links:

  • Here is Ryan Divish’s Winter Meetings Day Three rolling blog post.
  • Notes on today’s Mariners moves.
  • The Mariners don’t have to trade Nick Franklin, Bob Dutton writes.
  • New Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon has already had talks with Robinson Cano.
  • The solution to the Mariners off-field problems is to win, Larry Stone writes.
  • The new ballpark in Nashville is on the way.
  • You can add former Rainiers slugger Luis Jimenez to the list of players signing with teams in Korea. Jimenez will play for Lotte Giants, I’ve been told.
  • The Salt Lake Bees announced their coaching staff - no changes.
  • I am linking to this story on 1950 PCL MVP winner Catfish Metkovich simply because I wanted to type Catfish Metkovich. Twice. It’s actually a quirky old baseball story.

Lots of action, following these meetings. It’s fun to have the Mariners in on almost everybody.


Hey, We Got A Hall-Of-Famer!

December 9, 2013

Baseball’s Winter Meetings began this morning, and one of the first announcements came from the Hall of Fame, which will induct three managers this summer: Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, and Bobby Cox.

Tacoma can lay claim to one* of the three: Bobby Cox played for the Tacoma Cubs at the start of the 1966 season.

Cox was a third baseman as a player, and he spent the entire 1965 season in the PCL with the Cubs affiliate in Salt Lake City. Affiliations changed after the 1965 season, with Tacoma losing the Giants and signing on with the Cubs – and Tacoma inherited their Triple-A third baseman, Cox.

Cox played in ten games for Tacoma at the start of the 1966 season – struggling mightily, going 4-for-34 at the plate. On April 28 he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for outfielder Billy Cowan (who would play for Tacoma and also five major league teams). The Braves assigned Cox to their Double-A team in Austin.

Cox would kick around the minors for a few more seasons, and also get a year-and-a-half in the big leagues before going into managing. He managed four years for Triple-A Syracuse before the Braves would once again come calling – this time to start his Hall of Fame managerial career.

At this point in a blog post like this, I would insert a photo of Bobby Cox in his Tacoma Cubs uniform. However, I am sad to say that we don’t have that photo in our archive. If you have any leads on where to find one, please shoot me a message.

We’ll have lots of links this week as the meetings are on.

Links:

Current plan is to be back with a fresh post on Wednesday, but if any big news breaks from Orlando I’ll chime in on Tuesday.

* I believe Tony LaRussa appeared at Cheney Stadium managing Oakland in exhibition games in the late-1980’s/early 1990s, and he certainly played here with visiting Vancouver in 1968.


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