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2011-12 Mariners Offseason: The Sound and No Hands Clapping

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#1 Royal Reader

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 09:36 AM

So after a year in which it seemed like even acquiring George Carlin and Michael Richards at the deadline wouldn't have allowed them to generate any offense, the Mariners front office has been faced with seeing division rivals LAA sign both the best player in baseball over the last decade and the top starter on the free agent market, while defending AL Champions the Rangers look set to replace the latter with Japanese phenom Yu Darvish. Naturally, fans and local media have been calling for the M's to 'make a splash' presumably by signing the Free Agent likely to displace the most water when entering a swimming pool.

Quite how this one signing is supposed to bridge the gap to a team that was 19 wins better than Seattle before signing a Free Agent considerably better than Fielder (let alone the Rangers) is anyone's guess. On the bright side, the M's do have a number of talented young players such as Michael Pineda and Dustin Ackley to build around.

Speaking of young players with MLB experience, the organization was struck by tragedy as outfielder, and the best prospect to come out of Europe, well, ever, Greg Halman was stabbed to death by his younger brother in his native Netherlands.

The Mariners' most significant transactions to date have been the acquisition of Rays catcher John Jaso, who is likely to work out something close to league average, and veteran reliever George Sherrill, who will almost certainly be used as a LOOGY.

#2 Royal Reader

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 06:25 AM

First bit of real concrete news to come out of Seattle for a while, the M's have signed Japanese FA pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, who started the final of the 2009 WBC for Japan, to round off their rotation. The deal is for $1.5m guaranteed, with incentives which could allow Iwakuma to earn just short of $5m based on starts, total IP and awards. Interesting deal, since the risk seems pretty low (he's earning enough that he could be cut without too much pain if it doesn't work out) though his Japanese numbers seem closer to Kei Igawa than Dice-K or Darvish. Still, fangraphs' Patrick Newman estimated that Iwakuma would be posted for around $10m and earn something in the range of $20m over four years last offseason (before he and the A's were unable to come to terms) and his 2011 was the best season of his career in terms of ERA (though he had a losing record, something that will likely prepare him well for playing in Seattle) so getting him for less than $2m guaranteed and no long-term commitment seems like a good move.

Scouting reports list him as having four pitches, with his fastball in the range of 89-92 MPH and his forkball being his major out pitch.

#3 Royal Reader

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 03:25 PM

The M's have traded Michael Pineda and Jose Campos to the NYY for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi. Noesi's likely to fit into the back of the rotation straight away, but it's Montero who's the prize. From the M's perspective, for this to be worthwhile he likely has to either stick at Catcher or become the next Edgar Martinez (since a DH prospect would have to REALLY mash to be worth giving up a good young pitcher). Interesting to see whether Seattle dives into the FA starter market to replace Pineda in the short term, or waits for next year's bumper crop.

#4 Royal Reader

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 07:24 PM

For all those who like nostalgia, the Mariners just signed Oliver Perez to a minor league deal.

#5 Royal Reader

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 01:05 PM

Couple of small items:

The Mariners have signed Kevin Millwood to a minor-league deal with an ST invite.

Also, BA's top ten Mariners prospect list looks like this:

1. Jesus Montero, c
2. Taijuan Walker, rhp
3. Danny Hultzen, lhp
4. James Paxton, lhp
5. Nick Franklin, 2b/ss
6. Francisco Martinez, 3b
7. Chance Ruffin, rhp
8. Tom Wilhelmsen, rhp
9. Vinnie Catricala, 3b/1b/of
10. Phillips Castillo, of

Montero should make the team out of spring training, since he is an offensive player with a pulse, but the three best pitching prospects are all half a season or further away, barring incredible dominance of the minors out of the gate.

#6 Compass Rosy

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 10:09 PM

Mariners pitchers and catchers (and many more!) reported today but, it was not without heavy hearts - although they are doing their best to keep Greg's spirit alive...

No Grind, No Shine!

Edited by Rosy, 11 February 2012 - 10:10 PM.

#7 Compass Rosy

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 03:39 PM

Granted, only an intrasquad game but, some good signs…

There were a couple of key defensive plays that went largely unnoticed by casual observers of yesterday’s game, but which did resonate with some members of the front office.

How do I know this? I was standing right in front of them shooting photos.

Anyhow, one came on the photo you see above, where catcher Jesus Montero slides to his let to block a pitch in the dirt from James Paxton. There were runners on second and third with one out at the time and the block saved a run from scoring. Moments later, Paxton struck out Casper Wells, then escaped the inning after that.

“I thought he did a good job back there,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of Montero afterwards. “I thought he did a good job of moving around, blocking the ball…and he was catching those young kids with good stuff. Those are live arms and the ball’s getting on him really quick. So, I was really impressed with what we saw out of him.”

#8 Royal Reader

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 12:02 PM

A few interesting things to come out of Mariner camp.

Franklin Gutierrez has some kind of upper-body injury, and has been flown back from Peoria to Seattle for further evaluation.

Hector Noesi has shown some pretty surprising velocity on his pitches in his first ST start, making the rumors that he hit 98mph in the DWL somewhat more believable.

Wedge has decided to give the leadoff spot to Figgins, moving Ichiro out of it for the first time in years, and moving the Japanese superstar to third.

#9 Bob's up sick

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 09:51 PM

Ichiro on offense. Let's see...
- On-base machine (not last year but he's due to rebound a bit)
- Masterful baserunner. Stole 40 bases in his age-37 season
- No track record for power, 2012 FG projections for ISO range from .069-.086

And yet the Mariners offense is so bad, it's not that crazy to move him out of the leadoff spot.

#10 Freddy Linn

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 11:56 PM

Ken Rosenthal on the Mariners' "Big Three" pitching prospects:

Hultzen, the No. 2 overall pick out of Virginia in the draft last year, is next. Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo compares Hultzen to a young Mark Buehrle. When that comparison is related to an M’s official, the official says, “Hultzen has better stuff.”

True enough. Hultzen throws in the mid-90s and has quality breaking pitches. And his overall maturity — he escapes a two-on, none-out jam in the second of his two scoreless innings — could accelerate his rise.

Paxton, a fourth-round pick in 2010 after failing to sign with Toronto as the No. 37 overall choice in '09, is a different kind of lefty. At 6-4, he's inches taller than Hultzen and bears a resemblance to Andy Pettitte on the mound.

Against the Diamondbacks, Paxton pitches the seventh and eighth innings after most of the regulars are out of the game. He walks his first two hitters but allows a run only because of a wild pitch. He ends up striking out four in two innings.

Then there is Walker, the highest-rated of the Mariners’ prospects — and most intriguing.

Walker, 19, is a freakish athlete. At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, he played basketball at Yucaipa (Calif.) High School and was mostly a shortstop in baseball until his senior year. Thus, he was hardly a safe choice when the Mariners selected him as a pitcher with the 43rd overall pick in 2010.

But here’s the thing: Walker is so athletic, he developed a clean, smooth delivery with, seemingly, little effort. He throws his high-90s fastball and power breaking ball with, seemingly, little effort. Hultzen said that some of the Mariners recently stacked a bunch of boxes in the team’s weight room — and watched Walker leap on top of them with, naturally, seemingly little effort.

“The first time I caught him, I said, ‘You know what? That kid is going to be the best,’ ” Olivo says. “Throwing 98-99 with control, good breaking ball, up and down. It’s amazing when you see a kid like that, 19 years old.” Hold on: Isn’t King Felix the best?

“Felix is the best,” Olivo says. “But I think that kid can be in there."

Walker actually reminds Hernandez of someone.

“Me,” King Felix says, smiling. “When I was 19, I was the same guy. Athletic. Throwing gas. Confident.”

And this little tidbit:

Jack Zduriencik was the New York Mets’ farm director in 1995, the year the team began to roll out Generation K — right-handers Jason Isringhausen and Paul Wilson and lefty Bill Pulsipher.

Edited by Freddy Linn, 12 March 2012 - 11:57 PM.

#11 derekson

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 10:17 AM

It seems weird that Olivo would compare a lefty who throws in the low to mid 90s to Buerhle of all people. I'm sure it was meant to be a compliment based on Buerhle's overall success, but it just seems like a terrible comparison.

#12 Bob's up sick

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 09:10 PM

M's released Hong-Chih Kuo yesterday. Which surprised exactly no one.

#13 Compass Rosy

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 02:33 PM

M's released Hong-Chih Kuo yesterday. Which surprised exactly no one.

Kawasaki may make the team. Which will surprise exactly everyone :)

Oh - Wedge announced his starting ro this morning...
(Iwakuma to the pen)

So, for the Tokyo trip...
Noesi and Iwakuma will start the two exhibition games
Opener - Felix, Game two -Vargas

#14 Bob's up sick

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 02:24 AM

Oh - Wedge announced his starting ro this morning...
(Iwakuma to the pen)

I'd rather see Iwakuma in the rotation, see what he can do in MLB as a starter. Beaven was utterly pedestrian last year, in 96 innings. He projects to be utterly pedestrian again this year in maybe 150-ish innings. Iwakuma might prove interesting, Beaven will not be interesting ever--and Iwakuma will probably not be (significantly) worse. Can't we go with the option that at least provides more interest?

Anything to make this team more interesting is I guess what I'm saying. Le sigh.