Rumors, rumors, rumors. The Yankees have added all-stars Bruce McCann and Jacob Ellsbury, and rumor has it they could let Cano walk. Rumor also has it the Seattle Mariners have offered Cano 8 years and $200 million. But would Cano fit in with Seattle?
Seattle has wanted to make a splash with a free agent the last two years, going after Josh Hamilton in 2013 and Prince Fielder in 2012. I sense they are willing to overpay in order to strut like a happy rooster that they can land a top tier free agent. Mariner fans would love to get Cano, just as they were thrilled when the M’s landed Adrian Beltre.
Beltre was coming off a 2004 season having hit .334 with 48 homers and 121 RBIs. While that looked like a great bat to land, it was his career year. In 2003 he hit .240 with 23 homers and 80 rbis and his seasons prior to 2004 were along the lines of what he did in Seattle from 2005-2008. Beltre left for Boston, then Texas, where he became a solid hitter, much better than his Seattle days.
Landing Cano on the surface seems better because he has a track record of success. In nine seasons with New York he has hit at a .309 clip with 209 home runs. The question is whether he could duplicate those numbers with Seattle. The reason being the Yankees lineup is littered with major league hitters. With Seattle Cano doesn’t have the same protection in the lineup, thus teams are likely to pitch around him.
Still it is worth the risk because landing Cano may open the eyes of other free agents, like Curtis Granderson. New York now has Ellsbury for centerfield. The Mariners need outfielders as they have only three returning from 2013, Dustin Ackley, Abraham Almonte, and Michael Saunders. The other outfielders on the 40 man roster are minor leaguers or somebody like Carlos Peguero who has not impressed enough to be in the mix.
If the Mariners want to make a splash, landing both Cano and Granderson would be like a tsunami. It is fun to dream in the offseason before reality sets in, don’t you think.
Willie Bloomquist, the South Kitsap High School grad (Port Orchard, WA), is back in his home state with his first team, the Seattle Mariners. He was the top Mariner utility player for seven years, from 2002-2008, then signed as free agent with Kansas City because he wanted to play everyday.
In his first tour of duty with Seattle he batted .263 in 540 games with a mere 6 home runs, but he did steal 71 bases. Playing in 125 games for KC in 2009 he hit .266, but the next season was back to his utility role and on September 13th of 2010 was sold to Cincinnati where he played in eleven games. The last three seasons he has been with Arizona, signing as free agent in 2011.
He hit better in Arizona, batting .289 in 225 games, including .317 in 2013 in 139 at bats. He has no power, and in his last 19 stolen bases, he has been caught twelve times, so his legs are not what they once were.
So are the Mariners doing the right thing bringing in a 36 year old utility player?
I was never enamored of Willie, primarily because when I was at games where he played, he did little or nothing, though I do think I once saw him hit a home run, but my memory may be clogged with senility, however, I think the signing is good.
First every team needs a utility player and it is preferable to have an older experienced player than a young player for Seattle, as the Mariners have enough youngsters in their cute sailor suits. Willie is a good fielder, can play all infield positions and the outfield, and has that elusive, required, mysterious, baseball cliché, ‘veteran experience.’ He can mentor and tutor Franklin and Miller, showing them tricks of the trade, imparting wisdom like Yoda, only with better sentence structure.
No he is not a big signing, it is nothing close to blockbuster, not someone whose presence will make a big difference. But he fills a need and he can still play when called upon. It is early in the offseason for signings and trades, and there may be exciting news coming from the Mariners before spring training, but in the meantime, welcome back Willie.
There have been four complete game shutouts of 18 innings, all four coming in the BPC era (Before Pitch Counts). It is hard enough for a starting pitcher to get a shutout these days, so an 18 inning complete game shutout will never, ever, occur again. John Montgomery Ward pitching for the Providence Grays was the first to achieve the feat on August 17, 1882, beating the Detroit Wolverines 1-0.
The second 18 innings shutout ended in a 0-0 tie and came on July 16th, 1909, by Detroit Tigers pitcher Ed Summers, who gave up seven hits to the Senators. Speaking of the Senators, Hall of Famer Walter Johnson, who threw a record 110 shutouts, pitched the third game, this against the Chicago White Sox, May 18th, 1918. Lefty Williams of Chicago also went the distance, losing the game in the bottom of the 18th. Unfortunately, like the previous games, there is no play-by-play account of how the winning run scored, but Eddie Ainsmith, Senator catcher, scored the winning run, but there was no rbi credited and there were no errors in the game, the run scoring with one out. Time of game for this 18 inning marathon was 2:50 which would be five innings in a Yankee-Red Sox game. Johnson gave up ten hits and struck out nine.
The final game was July 2nd, 1933, and pitched by another Hall of Famer, Carl Hubbell of the New York Giants against the St. Louis Cardinals. Hubbell only gave up six hits and struck out twelve in a four hour, five minute game. Things had slowed down since 1918 and of course this time of game more in keeping with a nine inning Yankee-Red Sox game. Hughie Critz drove in Terry Moore in the bottom of the 18th for the win. Moore was 0-7, but did walk, and there were two outs when the winning run scored.
One of the most remarkable shutouts, only a nine inning 2-0 win for the Boston Braves over Cincinnati, came on August 10, 1944. In a 75 minute game, Braves pitcher Red Barrett threw only 58 pitches and it wasn’t get-away day. Maybe Red an early date with a Baseball Annie in Cincinnati. It should not surprise that throwing 58 pitches in a complete game to know that Barrett had no strikeouts or walks. Today 75 minutes is the number of commercial minutes in a World Series game. And 58 pitches in a nine inning game by one pitcher? Like pitching an 18 inning shutout, never to be seen again.
Chuck Armstrong at 71 has been President of the Seattle Mariners for 28 of the teams 37 years of existence. His last day is January 31, 2014, about two months from now. National baseball writer, Bob Nightengale tweeted that Armstrong was “a terrific person and one of baseball’s most popular men.” But most in Seattle will be glad to see Armstrong leave because of the on field mediocrity that Seattle baseball fans have increasingly become disenchanted with; the Mariners seeing attendance drop dramatically as if Safeco was a Zombie infected detention center.
I don’t know Chuck Armstrong, so will take the word he is a nice guy, but Mariner fans don’t care if he is Santa Claus (many will liken him to Scrooge) because they want a winner and in 28 years Armstrong, rightly or wrongly was held to blame, in fact still is. I think he does need to take blame for many things as each organization, each business, must have success at the top in order to succeed.
What is needed is a baseball man in charge, not a businessman. He may have guided the Mariners to a successful bank account, but those who go to ballgames are not business fans, they are baseball fans.
I had one encounter with Armstrong in the early 1980′s when George Argyros owned the team. I think it was 1984 or 85 because the conversation involved Mark Langston. I was on the Kingdome concourse near a souvenir stand, minding my own business, when I see George and Chuck coming towards me. Out of nowhere George says to me, “Can you believe Mark Langston is not on the all-star ballot?” He did not wait for my answer, it being strictly rhetorical, as he went off on a little rant about how Mark was deserving and how could baseball not put him on the ballot. He said something to Chuck who agreed with George and said he would look into it.
They then walked away, and I was not able to get a word in, that being that pitchers are not on the all-star ballot, they were chosen by American and National League mangers with input from other managers and coaches. I don’t know if Chuck was placating George, or did not want to embarrass George with facts in front of me. If he is a nice guy, the latter could be the reason. But during George’s ownership of the Mariners he was more reviled than Chuck ever has been, owners being better targets.
I am sure Armstrong will get his due accolades because people are nice to those who are nice guys. While I welcome the change, sometimes the enemy you know is better than the one you don’t know. I hope the new president is a real nice guy, one who loves baseball. And I hope he gets fans back to Safeco after he clears out the zombies.
The New York Yankees added catcher Brian McCann, Jhonny Peralta has left Detroit for St. Louis, Ian Kinsler is now in Detroit and Seattle’s division rival, the Texas Rangers, have added Prince Fielder. Seattle has added coaches.
I wondered how a new coaching staff would affect a team. Players are accustomed to working with certain coaches, though that does not mean they always listened to them, so one should not assume the coaches were beloved, nor should one assume they were disliked. Coaches are like teachers, some you like, some you don’t.
In the Mariners change, new manager Lloyd McClendon did a good thing. He promoted four coaches from within the organization, so the players already have a familiarity with them. The hitting coach is former Met and Tiger, Howard Johnson, who was the hitting coach at Tacoma last season and is a known commodity for the young hitters on Seattle’s roster. He has two World Series rings, the Tigers in 1984 and the Mets in 1986, and twice made the all-star team.
The new pitching coach is Rick Waits who has been the Mariner’s minor league pitching coordinator the last three seasons. He knows Mariner prospects like Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Danny Hultzen, Erasmo Ramirez, Steve Pryor, et al. Since pitching tends to be the fine arts of baseball, familiarity with these young arms is a huge plus.
John Stearns, former Mets catcher is the third base coach. Last season when Rainiers manager Dan Brown was promoted from Tacoma to Seattle as a coach, Stearns took over as manger of Tacoma after starting the year as minor league catching coordinator for the M’s. A four time all-star he should be a good mentor for Mike Zunino.
Chris Woodward who played for the Mariners in 2009-2010 was the roving minor league infield coach last season for the Mariner organization. Now he will be the infield coach for the big club and no doubt tutor and mentor Nick Franklin and Brad Miller.
The Mariners have added coaches who can coach up the young players they already have worked with in the minors. These are positive off season moves.
McClendon did bring over Andy Van Slyke from Detroit to be the first base coach. When McClendon was the Tigers hitting coach, Van Slyke was first base coach from 2006-2009 and they were teammates with the Pirates from 1990-1994. He has been out of baseball for four years, but this 13 year veteran, three time all-star, and five time Gold Glove winner, will have no trouble fitting in.
McClendon also brought over Tigers bullpen coach Mike Rojas. He also spent four years as minor league field coordinator with the Tigers and as director of player development. He was a minor league catcher and has managed in the minors with four organizations. That seems like a lot of credential as for a bullpen coach. But what do bullpen coaches do anyway? It is a rhetorical question, so please don’t answer it for me.
On paper this looks like a great coaching staff, maybe one of the best they have had, filled with all-stars and players with rings, all of whom loved baseball, all of whom played it the right way, and most of them know the young players on the Mariners. I hope they do as well as they look on paper.
In Nick Franklin’s first 29 games with the Seattle Mariners he hit .302 with 4 home runs and 15 rbi’s. Not bad for a 22 year old. But as frequently happens, major league scouts find the holes, pass on the reports, and pitchers make adjustments. It is then up to the batter to make adjustments to what the pitchers are doing. Nick had problems adjusting. In the last three months of the season over 73 games, Franklin hit .194, 8 home runs, and 30 rbi’s.
This is the part where managers and GM’s bring out the clichés about youth and growing pains. Mariner GM, Jack Zduriencik has talked so much about the growing pains of Justin Smoak over the last three years that Smoak has developed nasty body scars from all his growing. He leads all of baseball in growing pains and scars.
I find it odd though, that baseball players who have played little league, Babe Ruth, Legion, summer leagues, playing baseball in college, and then spending a few years in the minors, somehow forget how to play the game at the major league level. Yet they throw to wrong base, among other dumb mistakes. Maybe it is lack of concentration. I don’t know, but I just wanted to throw it out there.
As for Franklin, Trader Jack said Franklin was thrown into a pennant race down the stretch. I think Jack knows the Mariners were not in the race, at least I hope so. He was referring to playing against playoff teams like Detroit, Oakland, and Tampa Bay down the stretch. Frankly (no pun intended) I don’t consider playing good teams down the stretch as being in a pennant race. The Mariner players were playing for their jobs, nothing more.
Franklin will be 23 when the 2014 season starts and I hope he wins the second base job in spring training. He has a lot of potential and he did improve to .241 in September after bating .107 in August. But with a new manager and potential trades because of a weak free agent market anything could happen. Considering the Mariners penchant in the past for trading young players who become stars, it is best to hold on to Nick.
Baseball fans know about the dramatic finish to the 1960 World series when Pittsburgh’s Bill Mazeroski hit a walk-off homer to beat the New York Yankees. But in 1927 the Yankees and Pirates had another wild finish, though not as dramatic.
There have been debates on whether the 1927 or 1939 Yankees were the best team in baseball history, so it is no surprise that the 27 Yankees dominated the first three games against Pittsburgh in the World Series, winning the first two games at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, 5-4, and 6-2. They had no days off back then, and the next day at Yankee Stadium, the Yanks won 8-1. Then came game four.
Carmen Hill, 22-11, took the mound for the Pirates and rookie Wilcy Moore, 19-7 for New York. It was the best season either pitcher would have.
Both teams scored one run in the first. The Pirates came on an a single by shortstop Glenn Wright, and the Yankees run on a Babe Ruth single. In the bottom of the 5th, Babe struck again, this time on a two-run homer. In Pittsburgh’s 7th, Pirate catcher Earl Smith led off and reached on error by Moore, Emil Yde pinch ran, and Fred Brickell, batting for Hill, reached on Tony Lazzeri‘s error. Lloyd Waner then bunted them to second and third. Clyde Barnhart, the left fielder, followed and singled in run and Paul Waner hit a sacrifice fly that tied the game, 3-3.
Bottom of the 9th Johnny Miljus, 8-3, 1.90 ERA, was beginning his 3rd inning of relief work. Earl Coombs led off with a walk. Mark Koenig then reached on a bunt single. Miljus uncorked a wild pitch with the Babe at the plate. I would not doubt that Miljus was feeling some anxiety about facing the Babe who hit 60 home runs that season. With runners at 2nd and 3rd, he gave Babe a free pass. But that brought up another problem, that being Lou Gehrig who drove in 175 runs in 1927. You think Miljus might be feeling more jitters with the World Series winning run at third base and no outs? If he was nervous facing Gehrig it didn’t show as Gehrig struck out, as did the next batter Bob Muesel. That had to bring a sigh of relief. Now there were two outs, one out from extra innings and a chance for the Pirates to salvage at least one game. The batter was Lazzeri who made a big error in the Pirate 7th. But Lazzeri was not the hero. There was no heroics. Miljus threw a wild pitch, Coombs scored, and the Yankees swept the Pirates.
The Pirates got their revenge in 1960 with an even wilder finish.
Since 2005 a computer creates the schedules for each major league team, but from 1982-2005 a husband and wife team made them out. Their fascinating story is in this short film of 12 and half minutes. I think the Stephensons did a better job. http://m.espn.go.com/general/video?vid=9897968&src=desktop
Stefen Romero, 25, homered twice in the Arizona Fall League all-star game, yet is not on the 40 man roster, nor is he listed in the top ten Mariner prospects by Baseball Prospectus. After a promotion to Tacoma he hit .277 with 11 homers. But since he primarily played second and third he is being blocked by Kyle Seager and Nick Franklin. Franklin struggled as a rookie, but the Mariners still like his potential.
Number 2 is D.J. Peterson, listed as first baseman. He only played A ball, so is not ready for the jump. At Everett he hit .312 then .292 at Clinton. He had a combined 13 homers and 47 rbi in 230 plate appearances. I would be surprised if he doesn’t play in Tacoma this year.
Six of the ten prospects are pitchers but they are all young. Victor Sanchez, listed fourth, is 18. Edwin Diaz, number 5, is 19. They are both right handers. Luiz Gohara, number 6, is 17, and Tyler Pike, number 8, is 19 (20 in January). They are lefties. These four are a few years down the road.
Carson Smith, not on the list, has an excellent chance to be in the bullpen. He struck out 71, walking 17, in 50 innings in the Southern League, recording 15 saves and a 1.80 ERA. He is 24 and could make the jump with a good spring training.
Chris Taylor, the fourth Virginia Cavalier they have drafted the last three years, like Romero is a middle infielder. He may be slated for Tacoma. He hit a combined .314 in his two minor league stops in 2012.
In truth, outside of Walker and Paxton, the Mariners best prospects are in their late teens or early 20′s. Walker and Paxton, along with Carson Smith, have the best chance to make the club. By the time the younger players have established themselves as solid, can’t miss prospects, we will know more about Franklin, Brad Miller, and other young Mariners for a possible changing of the guard.
The Oakland A’s, AL West division winners the last two seasons, have been using Moneyball analytics for some time, Seattle hasn’t. They have been a slow to embrace the new age of baseball, but they have been developing a statistical analytics department they want to implement.
Lloyd McClendon, Seattle’s new manger, is old school, but willing to use numbers. He told Shannon Drayer on ESPN Seattle, “I think you would be a fool to not look at the numbers as part of your process to make decisions. But you also have to know your personnel, know what you are capable of doing, and also have to trust your gut a little, too. I think it is a combo of all those things.”
One of the reasons he was hired, according to Mariner GM, Jack Zduriencik, is the willingness to use analytic numbers. But reading McClendon’s quote it does sound he will use them in concert with other factors.
Analytics are good to an extent, but following them exclusively truly makes a push button manager, managing by the numbers. What I loath and detest is when a manger pulls a starting pitcher when he is throwing a 2-hitter in the 7th or 8th and he is right hander and a left handed bat is up. It doesn’t matter he has been pitching with precision, it doesn’t matter he has gotten the batter out twice, the left handed pitcher comes in; as if all of a sudden his pitcher can not get a batter out. This is over managing. My God, he has thrown 90 pitches, his arm is going to fall off.
So Lloyd is right, numbers are helpful, but sometimes the situation says the heck with the numbers.
One thing McClendon plans on doing is impressive. He is going to fly to every players home, meeting them in person to discuss the upcoming season. This is a good idea as every player will have met him, gotten to know him a little, and learn what to expect before camp begins. It should make for an easier transition.