The Mariners are flying to Japan on Thursday at noon – and that means it is roster-setting time.
The Mariners have official games next week, in which they will have a standard 25-man roster. They are allowed to bring 30 players to Japan, because there are a few exhibition games against Japanese teams.
Tomorrow – or perhaps even later today – we will know the 30 players chosen to travel. You can bank on the five “extra” players being Tacoma Rainiers when we start up on April 5.
The rest of the Rainiers roster is still very unsettled. We won’t have a real understanding of how that is going to shake down for another two weeks.
We did get word today that the Mariners have announced a starting rotation of Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Hector Noesi, Kevin Millwood, and Blake Beavan. The odd man out is Hisashi Iwakuma, who will work as the long man in the bullpen. In all likelihood, this means that Erasmo Ramirez will open the season in the Rainiers starting rotation.
I like this rotation and the plan behind it. We have three young kids – Felix, Noesi, and Beavan. Vargas has been solid for a few years now. Then we have a veteran in Millwood. Millwood should serve as a role model for the young guys – and if it turns out that he has nothing left in the tank, Iwakuma or Ramirez can step into the rotation.
On top of all of that, I heard positive things from scouts in Arizona regarding Triple-A veteran Matt Fox, who figures to work in Tacoma’s rotation at the start of the season. The general consensus from the scouts was that Fox is a “good depth guy” to have in Triple-A, who can fill-in in the majors if/when the need arises.
- The Mariners released Hong-Chih Kuo on Monday afternoon. This means they are down to
3938 (see below) players on the 40-man roster – but they’ll probably need to clear more space if non-roster players Munenori Kawasaki and Kevin Millwood both make the team.
- Then today, Shawn Camp was released. That means both of the veteran relievers the Mariners signed didn’t make the club – they’re going with a young bullpen.
- Experts took stabs at setting the Mariners opening day roster: Larry Stone here, and Greg Johns here.
- Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer admits that he might be deluded by Spring Training Optimism when it comes to Chone Figgins.
- Justin Smoak says that whatever you do, don’t try to hit home runs!
- Larry Stone reviewed the Mariners history of Rule 5 draft picks. No Roberto Clemente’s in here…
- Peter Gammons filed his Mariners pre-season report.
- We have yet another story in which Felix Hernandez says he doesn’t want to play for anybody except Seattle. I love this guy.
- In the USA, professional baseball teams don’t wear sponser names on their jerseys – but they sure do in Japan. The Mariners and A’s are doing it for their two-game series in Japan next week. The classy Mariners will be wearing a Boeing patch; the A’s are pitching something called “Gloop.” Hey A’s, you’ve got gloop on your shirt!
- Bellarmine Prep graduate Jon Lester was named the opening day starter for the Red Sox.
- From the latest round of minor league transactions from Baseball America: the Phillies released ex-Rainiers Joel Pineiro and Ryan Feirabend, the Mets signed Oswaldo Navarro, and the Mariners released a handful of lower-level minor leaguers including Kenn Kasparek, who pitched in Double-A last year.
- According to my man Doug Pacey of The News Tribune, there’s a smart kid at Auburn-Riverside High School hitting the low-90s with his fastball.
- While the Rainiers are on the road, there is going to be soccer at Cheney Stadium.
Fifteen days until the Rainiers opener!