Here is the latest Mariners’ winter-league update. I see that Stefen Romero continues to rake the ball (10-for-21 with a .667 slugging percentage in five games in the Arizona Fall League) — and Vinnie Catricala, coming off a disappointing Triple-A season, is still struggling (2-for-20 in the AFL).
The Mariners lucked out — or to put it another way, Michael Saunders and Justin Smoak were unlucky — when the cutoff point for Super 2 arbitration status was determined yesterday. The cutoff to be eligible for arbitration this year is two years and 139 days of service time. Saunders has two years and 138 days, so he misses by one day. Smoak is at two years and 113 days — but, remember, he spent nearly three weeks in the minor leagues this year. I don’t think he would have made it even if he had not had the minor-league stint, but it would have brought him agonizingly close, like Saunders. What this means is Saunders and Smoak won’t be eligible for arbitration until after the upcoming season, and won’t be part of the group of players that gets four years of arbitration, rather than three, before qualifying for free agency. The significance is that the Mariners can now determine the salary for those two players, rather than an arbitrator in a process that usually provides players a substantial raise. The club now is bound only by the minimum MLB salary of $490,000.
Reader Darren Warner called to my attention an interesting coincidence: the two most prominent “Rauls” in baseball history — Ibanez and Mondesi — each are sitting at 271 career homers. Mondesi is out of baseball, but I don’t think Ibanez is ready to hang it up, so that figure won’t hold for long, but right now, they have pretty similar career stats: an .810 OPS for Ibanez, .815 for Mondesi. So there you go. Baseball stats never cease to amaze.
According to reports that are coming out, Don Wakamatsu is a candidate to replace John Farrell as Toronto manager now that he has moved on to the Red Sox. No surprise in that Wakamatsu was Farrell’s bench coach with the Blue Jays and has managerial experience with the Mariners. And now that Ozzie Guillen has been fired as Marlins’ manager, there’s another opening. Former catcher Mike Redmond, who grew up in Spokane and attended Gonzaga, appears to be a leading candidate, and former Mariners pitching coach Bryan Price is also being listed as a candidate in Miami. Price, currently Dusty Baker’s pitching coach in Cincinnati, once interviewed for the Mariners managing job (after Lou Piniella left); I’ve always felt he would make a fine manager.
Finally, I want to call to your attention to the ceremony that will take place on Nov. 3 at the Sea-Tac Marriott, from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., honoring the inaugural Hall of Fame class of the Washington State American Legion Baseball Foundation. I’m a huge fan of American Legion baseball, having broken into this business with the Yakima Herald-Republic in the late 1970s and 1980s, when the Yakima Beetles legion team was just about the biggest thing in town. (Dave Edler, a Beetles star from that era and the Mariners’ Opening Day third baseman in 1981, is in this Hall of Fame class).
Lately, I’ve been following the Lakeside Recovery team from Bellevue that made it all the way to the Legion World Series this year in Shelby, N.C., finishing third. I’m told there will be 143 American Legion teams in Washington State in 2013, an increase of 14 percent, with several new teams forming in the Seattle area. That’s good news.
The inaugural class features three members of the National Hall of Fame in Cooperstown — Earl Averill, Ron Santo and Ryne Sandberg — as well as Seattle legend Fred Hutchinson, and long-time major leaguers John Olerud, Mark Hendrickson, Lyle Overbay, Bud Black, Mel Stottlemyre Sr., and Dave Heaverlo. Others who will be inducted on Nov. 3 (a group that includes volunteers, umpires, coaches and commissioners, as well as players): Edler, Bryan “Busher” Lewis, Spedo Southas, Mal Walton, Jim Clem, Bob Coluccio, Curt Daniels, Steve Kline, Verne Hayertz, Brian Munhall and Mike Trout (not the Angels star, but rather a long-time Legion official). The 1953 Yakima team that won the World Series will also be honored.
For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to the Washington State American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame website, email Legionbaseball@comcast.net, or call
State Commissioner Don Hays (1-360-269-6528).