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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

September 15, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Doug Fister’s surge, Mike Cameron’s dismissal, and other notes of interest

fistertigers.jpg

(Photo by Associated Press)

Several stories with Mariner angles have caught my eye the past couple of days.

First was ESPN’s Buster Olney raving about Doug Fister, who has been sensational since joining the Tigers in a trade that brought the Mariners Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Chance Ruffin and minor-league third baseman Francisco Martinez. The first three are in the major leagues, and Martinez hit .310 with a .481 slugging percentage in 33 games at Double-A Jackson after the trade, so the Mariners appear to have made a good haul. In a couple of years, this trade might look great for Seattle. But Fister has been vital to the surging Tigers, going 5-1 with a 2.28 ERA in eight starts, including a 13-strikeout game against the Indians. Fister has pretty much worked himself into the No. 2 spot in the Tiger rotation behind Justin Verlander.

I can’t link to Olney’s story, because it’s behind a pay wall, but he notes: “If the Phillies’ deal for Hunter Pence has turned out to be the best pre-July 31 deadline deal for any National League team, Dave Dombrowski’s acquisition of Fister has been the best trade for any American League contender.

It was disturbing to read that Mike Cameron, one of the favorite guys I’ve ever covered, was dumped by the Marlins with 2 1/2 weeks left in the season for what they termed “conduct detrimental to the team.” Now word comes out that the problem was a verbal altercation between Cameron and a flight attendance on the team’s charter. Obviously, I have no idea what happened and how serious the incident was, but if this turns out to be the end of Cameron’s career — quite possible — it’s a sad way for a fine player and (from my interactions) classy guy to end.

Eliezer Alfonzo, now with the Rockies, received a 100-game suspension after testing positive for the second time for a performance-enhancing drug — a result he is contesting. Alfonzo spent last season in the Mariners’ organization, playing 48 games for Class AAA Tacoma and appearing in 13 games with the M’s.

Remember Bryan LaHair, the one-time Mariners’ first-base prospect who hit .250 in a 45-game tryout in 2008? LaHair has been in the Cubs’ organization the past two years, and this season was the Pacific Coast League’s MVP after hitting .331 with 38 homers and 109 RBIs for Iowa. LaHair is now up with the Cubs and is hitting .488 (11-for-24) in nine games. The new wrinkle is that numerous Japanese teams have interest in LaHair, which could provide a hefty payday for the 28-year-old. But he must decide if he is on the verge of getting a legitimate shot with the Cubs.

And one other ex-Mariner note: Anthony Varvaro wasn’t very impressive in a brief major-league stint last year, giving up five runs in four innings over four games. The Braves picked him up on waivers when the M’s removed him from their 40-man roster, and now he is opening eyes in their bullpen. In 12 games, Varvaro has a 2.87 ERA in 15 2/3 innings, allowed just 12 hits and striking out 19. He could be part of their playoff roster — along with another Mariners castoff, Eric O’Flaherty, who has a ridiculous 1.05 ERA in 73 games.

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