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December 9, 2013 at 7:27 AM

MLB Winter Meetings Day 1



11:11 p.m.

Closing up, but big congrats to Tim Hevly of the Mariners, who was named the recipient of the 2013 Robert O. Fishel Award for Public Relations Excellence, presented this evening during the Baseball Winter Meetings.

After dealing with the issues of college sports and the lack of access, the Mariners media relations staff makes our lives pretty easy in terms of getting us players and providing us with stats and helping us do our jobs.

From the press release … 

The Robert O. Fishel Award, named after the longtime baseball executive, goes to the “active, non-uniformed representative of Major League Baseball whose ethics, character, dedication, service, professionalism and humanitarianism best represent the standards propounded by Robert O. Fishel.”  Fishel, an executive with the Cleveland Indians, the St. Louis Browns, the New York Yankees and the American League Office, was the inaugural winner of the Award in 1981.

Hevly, 44, just finished his 24th season with the Mariners, including his 16th as the head of the Baseball Information Department.  In his current role, he is responsible for overseeing all aspects of public and media relations as they relate to the Club on the field and working with the General Manager, the baseball operations staff and upper management, in conjunction with the rest of the communications team, on internal and external communications issues.   During his time with the Mariners, Hevly has contributed to the PR efforts for the opening of Safeco Field in 1999, the 2001 All-Star Game, and the club’s four Postseason appearances (1995, 1997, 2000-01), including its memorable 116-win campaign in 2001.

8:04 p.m.

Thanks to  everyone who participated in the chat. It was entertaining as always. The Mariners like Shin Soo-Choo, but so do many other teams as Ken Rosenthal reports here. 

5:42 p.m. 

A few more notes from Zduriencik’s meeting with the media

On any possible effect of the Times story on free agent negotiations or as a distraction?

“Our focus is totally on making this club better,” he said.  “We’re going to try to do what we can here, continue our meetings with the agents and focus on baseball.”

Zduriencik admitted that his current roster and possible projected line-ups is a little too left-handed heavy. And ideally they’d add a right-handed bat.

“It would be very important,” he said. “That could very well be our main focus.  But I also think if you can add talent, you just have to take a chance. Even though we are more left-handed oriented than I’d like to be right now, you still have to try to improve your club. But preferably a right-handed bat would be better.”

Zduriencik was also very candid on possibly bringing back Raul Ibanez as a bat off the bench and maybe a platoon situation DH. But it’s not a priority right now.

“We’re very fond of Raul,” he said. ” We have to sift through some things at these meetings, primarily because we are so left-handed. As much as he and I would like to get something done, I think we need a little more time to figure out how we’re going to allocate and what opportunities present themselves here. And that’s hard to say because he had such a good year and he’s such a great guy. But we certainly again are touching all of our bases on a lot of players.”

4:55 p.m.

We just got done meeting with general manager Jack Zduriencik. Quite a bit of stuff to sift through, but the biggest piece of news was his comments about trade rumor surrounding top prospect Taijuan Walker.

“I don’t have any intentions of trading Taijuan Walker,” Zduriencik said. “You listen to any opportunities that present themselves and you go into discussions with a lot of people. And his name will come up. Why wouldn’t it? As do a lot of our guys, quite frankly. But Taijuan is high profile because he’s rated our top prospect. So if I was a club out there, why wouldn’t I ask about Taijuan Walker? That would be a smart thing to do because you never know where it’s going to take you. But I have no intentions of trading him.”

3:52 p.m.

There are rumors that free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz turned down the Mariners’ offer of 5-years, $75 million. That’s a lot of money for a guy that’s 33 and coming off a PED suspension and doesn’t hit well outside of Arlington. It may actually be a good thing for the Mariners. Cruz is being rumored to be interested in going to Baltimore.

1:56 p.m. 

Tony Blengino did a radio interview on Sirius with Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette talking about the story in the Seattle Times.

“It’s not like I was chasing around reporters trying to get this story out there,” Blengino said.

He’s sticking by what he said in it.

“That article was the tip of the iceberg,” Blengino said.

1:48 p.m. 

In this story by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, there is an interesting paragraph where the Mariners were apparently bidding against themselves.

By mid-day Friday, Seattle had heard that some team bid nine years and $225 million for Robinson Cano, so the Mariners upped their bid to $240 million and 10 years before apparently realizing the initial bid had come from themselves, too. 

This is interesting and a little surprising. Seattle had always seemed to be the top bidder in this. I hadn’t heard anything like this, but it isn’t impossible to happen. It’s happened to many teams before.

12:47 p.m. 

Ken Rosenthal tweeted out that the Angels are considering trading Mark Trumbo. But it sounds as though the club would want quite  a bit in return. Yes, he’s a right-handed bat to fit the lefty heavy order, but there are many red flags – a .294 OBP – on Trumbo beyond the homers.  And ask yourself what you are willing to give up to get him.

12:51 p.m. 

Roy Halladay signed a 1-day contract with the Toronto Blue Jays so he could announce his retirement. He’s on the podium right now doing a press conference. He’s a pretty classy guy, and it’s kind of sad to see injuries end his career. I got to see Halladay pitch a few times, the guy was a beast on the mound.  Loved this story by SI’s Tom Verducci about Halladay.

12: 28 p.m.

Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik released a statement addressing some of the accusations that former manager Eric Wedge and former special assistant Tony Blengino made about the upper management and the way the organization was run. Zduriencik did so in hopes of moving on forward and not letting it be a distraction.

You can read the entire statement in a separate blog post.

12:24 p.m. 

Talked to a few baseball people and most didn’t believe that the story about upper management dysfunction would have any effect on the Mariners in negotiating with free agents. Most baseball stick together. And the idea of airing of the club’s dirty laundry in that format seems to be taboo in their thinking. It seems many people are siding with Zduriencik.

10:52 a.m. (Mickey Time)

Tony LaRussa took some questions after the press conference. While everyone was asking about past, I was able to sneak in a question about this future. He talked about working the commissioner’s office since retirement, but he wants to go beyond that and get into a front office position .

“I miss the winning and losing without missing the dugout,” he said. “So someday I’ll be back in the game.”

Would that someday include president of the Mariners?

“Those decisions are made by other people,” he said. “But I’d like to be part of of the competition again. That place has got great potential.”

10:33 AM (Disney Time)

Good morning from the luxurious and very maze-like Swan & Dolphin Resort. It took a little while get credentials and find the media work room, which you can see in all of it’s glory. It would be difficult to find a collection of more poorly dressed middle-aged people. It looks like the room threw up khakis and plaid.

Right now, the veteran’s committee has announced the inductees for the hall of fame. They are Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre. That’s a pretty good group of managers. I’m going to try and catch up with LaRussa and ask him about his interest in the job.

A quick note on the David Price rumors. You can add the Los Angeles Dodgers to the teams interested in Price, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times. As the story says, the Dodgers are a bit of a longshot. They don’t have a prospect along Taijuan Walker’s level to offer up.




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