No story that develops today will make me happier than this one: My baseball idol, Sandy Koufax ,is returning to the Dodger organization. He had a falling out with the Dodgers during the dark McCourt days, which led him to spend spring training in the camp of the Mets, whose owner, Fred Wilpon, was a classmate of Koufax’s at Lafayette High School in Brooklyn. It was great to have him working with players, but I’d imagine even Mets’ fans would agree that Koufax belongs with the Dodgers. And now he’s officially a special advisor to the chairman, and will work with Dodgers pitchers in spring training. Hmmm, might have to find my way to Glendale, Ariz.
By the way, I shot the above picture of Koufax talking to R.A. Dickey and minor-league field coordinator Dickey Scott two year ago when I went to the Mets’ camp in Port St. Lucie. I didn’t realize I’d have TWO Cy Young winners in the photo.
Moving on, Ken Rosenthal of FOX has a piece up about the Mariners continuing to talk to Felix Hernandez about a contract extension. It’s always encouraging to hear that, but I’m not sure there’s much new here, as Rosenthal notes that “no deal is close” and describes the two sides as “dancing” but “not deeply engaged.” In other words, pretty much status quo. One interesting tidbit is a source saying the Mariners are weighing a four-year, $100-million proposal (the same offer they reportedly made Josh Hamilton, interestingly).
On the open market, I think it’s pretty likely that Hernandez would command more than that, particularly in length of contract, if he continues down the path he’s on. But Hernandez doesn’t hit the open market for two more seasons, so I think that sounds like a pretty fair framework for an extension. The Mariners would be absorbing some risk by extending him now, and committing to Hernandez until 2018. If he got hurt, or began a decline — neither an unreasonable outcome for any pitcher — they could end up having to bite the bullet. Hernandez would get security (if his current five-year, $78-million deal doesn’t provide that for the rest of his life, and his kids’ lives), and the chance to hit the market again, at age 32, and make another killing if he’s still pitching at a top level. As Rosenthal points out, under this scenario Hernandez would have made $183.1 million in his career. If he’s happy living in Seattle, as seems to be the case, and he’s satisfied with the direction of the team (no way to know that right now), then I believe, as I have all along, that something will get worked out. Even if Hernandez isn’t maximizing his earning potential.
Speaking of the direction of the team, they have the makings of a monster rotation if Hernandez stays around. MLB.com named Taijuan Walker as the No. 2-rated right-handed pitching prospect in baseball, and put Danny Hultzen at No. 2 and James Paxton at No. 5 among lefties.
Tomorrow is the Mariners’ annual spring training luncheon, with appearances by Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge, trainer Rick Griffin, as well as other executives and perhaps some players. So stay tuned here for a lot of Mariner info in the afternoon.