September 11, 2013 at 8:43 AM
Regardless of his sub-.200 batting average, Brendan Ryan left his mark on Mariners baseball. Ryan is one of the best infield gloves we’ve ever had the chance to witness in a Seattle uniform, making him a runaway winner of the Fielding Bible Award last season as well as a Gold Glove finalist. In fact, it’s safe to say that Ryan losing the AL Gold Glove to J.J. Hardy of the Baltimore Orioles last season is one of the reasons they have radically overhauled the judging criteria for that prize this year.
On defense, Ryan had no peer.
Offensively, he was challenged. He knew it, you knew it, I knew it. Heck, we all knew it. On a great team, he’d be a valued asset you could live with — well, maybe if the batting average was about 30 points higher — but on this Mariners team, there was no sugar-coating it. He became a liability. That’s why he lost his job to Brad Miller a few months back and why he was traded last night to the New York Yankees for a player-to-be-named later. Ryan won’t be eligible for post-season play even if he helps the Yankees get there, but at least he’ll have a front-row seat to some interesting baseall rather than seeing his former Mariners team get clobbered by the worst team the sport has to offer.
I’m not here to kick Ryan as he’s headed out the door. Yeah, he’s one of the reasons this team was so bad this season. But he’s got company. And he’s taken enough guff from folks over the years that he doesn’t need any more of it from this corner.
That’s why it’s tough not to root for the guy. Despite all of what he’s had to take without flinching — the comments about his attention deficit disorder, the dissing by former teammate Chris Carpenter in St. Louis, the Gold Glove loss to Hardy, the Mendoza Line jokes and the ignomity of being benched in favor of a player practically straight out of Class AA — Ryan has remained true to himself.
He’s a good guy. Not just because he talks to the media, but because he is. And believe me, we’ve had enough allegedly-talented, not-so-nice guys pass through this so-called family-friendly franchise in recent years that we can appreciate the difference.
April 11, 2013 at 12:12 PM
ADDITIONAL NOTE 12:25 p.m.: The Mariners just announced they have traded for starting pitcher Aaron Harang. Seattle sends right-handed pitcher Steven Hensley to the Rockies and has DFA relief pitcher Kameron Loe. I’m not going to write a whole new post on this, since what I described below seems to be playing out. I would expect Blake Beavan to slide into long relief role and for Harang to take his spot in the rotation. We’ll see what the Mariners decide to do with that a little later.
Watching Blake Beavan get lit-up by the Houston Astros last night was apparently too much for the Mariners to let go without a response. They were already dealing with consecutive beatings handed to Brandon Maurer and can’t afford to give away two games out of every five before they even take the field.
So, today, according to Ken Rosenthal at FOX, the Mariners have gone out and reached a deal to acquire veteran starter Aaron Harang, 34. He was acquired by the Rockies from the Dodgers just five days ago and then immediately designated for assignment.
The Rockies were on-the-hook for $2.75 million of Harang’s salary and only acquired him so they could offload Ramon Hernandez’s $3.25 million contract to the Dodgers in that trade. Harang also has a $2 million buyout for 2014 attached to his deal, meaning he would still be guaranteed $4.75 million by the Mariners — hence the additional cash the Rockies will send over in the deal. And therefore, the need for MLB to approve the deal before it is officially announced.
The Mariners, I’m told, have also thrown in a minor league pitcher not on the 40-man roster. The Rockies only want to clear money with this move. They don’t want to have to take a player off their current 40-man roster to accomodate any trade return for Harang.
April 9, 2013 at 9:24 AM
There have been a handful of pieces put out in the blogosphere of late already revisiting the John Jaso-for-Michael Morse trade by the Mariners and asking whether Seattle fans overreacted to the prospect of trading a part-time catcher for a full-time middle-of-the-order hitter.
I already gave you my impressions when the deal first came out. And let’s not get too worked up over Morse’s home run totals so far. The season just started. Plus, Jaso has been hitting when he does get on the field, though his catching has looked just as suspect and is something he was spending extra time working on before games when we were down in Oakland last week.
But regardless of any opening-week stats, one thing I keep seeing overstated, I think, on Jaso’s behalf was the remaining years of club control the Mariners would have had had they held on to him. The Mariners could have held on to Jaso for two more years after this one had they wished.
So, how much would that really have been worth?
February 20, 2013 at 9:43 AM
Many of you have written in asking who the Mariners are likely to get in the Mike Carp deal. I can tell you that the Mariners are looking to pick from a list of four non-premium minor leaguers, all in the lower levels. In other words, no “A” level or even “B” level prospects. Also, nobody from Class AAA or AA.
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told me he was negotiating with four clubs at one point, then it got down to two at the end. Zduriencik didn’t name the clubs, but we know one was the Boston Red Sox and I’ll assume the Twins were another since they were linked to Carp in various reports.
Anyhow, that’s what you get in deals like this one.
February 20, 2013 at 7:20 AM
Mike Carp has been sitting “in limbo” in his Los Angeles area home waiting for the Mariners to trade him someplace. Yesterday, he was told that place would be the Boston Red Sox. He just had to wait until this morning for all the paperwork to go through. Now, he’s getting ready to head to Fort Myers, Fla. for spring training and excited about the opportunity.
“It’s definitely a better opportunity for me than staying in Seattle as far as their needs go and my chance to get as many at-bats as possible,” Carp told me moments ago.
The Mariners will get a player-to-be-named in the deal, or cash considerations.
Carp said he’s been told he’ll be used at first base, in left field and at designated hitter, so he will have a shot at quite a few at-bats if things go as planned.
February 13, 2013 at 4:28 PM
The Shawn Kelley era was officially closed in Seattle today when the Mariners traded the relief pitcher to the New York Yankees for minor league outfielder Abraham Almonte. Kelley had been designated for assignment last week.
The Dominican-born Almonte, 23, was not a top Yankees prospect by any means but does play all three outfield positions and that’s an area where Seattle lacks depth in the upper minors.
Almonte reached Class AA last season and split his time fairly evenly between all three outfield spots.
When you look at the Mariners right now, there aren’t many guys who can play center if needed who aren’t already at the major league level, so yes, this can be considered a depth move. Franklin Gutierrez could be gone in a year and after that, you have Michael Saunders and Casper Wells and not a whole lot on the center field radar in the organization after that.
January 28, 2013 at 9:12 AM
Great to be back in town after a couple of weeks overseas. While I was away, I watched with interest as the Mariners attempted to upgrade their offense, getting rejected by Justin Upton before trading for Michael Morse. There were many things I wanted to write at the time, but with only texting capabilities, a few blurbs on Twitter were the best that could be managed from the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Looking at it now, the Mariners have as intriguing an offense as I can remember since I started covering the team late in 2006. They have clearly upgraded the middle of their batting order with both Morse and Kendrys Morales, while the wild-card to all of this is what moving in the fences could do for the club as far as power potential. When you look at the money involved, the Mariners effectively pulled off the acquisitions for a money cost of about $2 million between what they are paying Morales and Morse compared to the arbitration awards given Jason Vargas and John Jaso — the players given up in trade.
For my part, Vargas at $8.5 million is too pricey for a team determined to keep payroll below $100 million, so that’s a no-brainer and he should do well in Anaheim with a team that can afford that for a mid-rotation lefty. As for Jaso, I know there was a lot of teeth-gnashing locally over his departure, but again, the Mariners were not the type of team that were going to benefit the most from his services.
Jaso’s fate with Seattle was pretty much sealed the minute the Mariners made catcher Mike Zunino their No. 1 draft pick. With the idea to fast-track Zunino to the big leagues in a year or two — and 23-year-old Jesus Montero around as last winter’s big trade acquisition — there was not going to be enough playing time for Jaso a season or less down the road. The Mariners actually explored trading Jaso at last summer’s July 31 deadline and even after that and were somewhat surprised not to find much demand for his services.
One Mariners official I spoke to about Jaso in December told me the club had thought he profiled as the perfect addition for a National League contender, given how many more pinch-hitting opportunities he could have had in that league. The Mariners valued Jaso highly in exactly the role he was used in — as a part-time catcher and stellar late bat off the bench. They knew that part-time success in a limited number of at-bats does not always translate to the same numbers when playing time increases to 500 or 600 at-bats in a full-time role. That factor, plus Jaso’s defensive limitations behind the plate (one reason he caught consecutive games only three times all season) meant he was never going to be afforded a full-time opportunity by the Mariners.
And that’s why the team spent most of this off-season including him in trade proposals — from the late November talks with the Pirates about a deal for outfielder Garrett Jones that we reported on, to the Upton negotiations with Arizona, then, finally, to the Morse trade. Going forward, I think the A’s are the perfect AL club for Jaso. They are coming off a division title and hoping to contend again, wanted a second catcher to go with young Derek Norris and stand to benefit greatly from having a steel-nerved Jaso come off the bench late — given all the close games their still-young squad played last year.
If Jaso can develop beyond a part-time role in Oakland, then good for him. Point is, he was never going to get that chance with Seattle given the big commitments the Mariners have already made to get both Zunino and Montero. And as a backup catcher/pinch-hitter, Jaso’s $1.8 million arbitration award is about the limit a lesser-payroll team would want to spend for that. Jaso will be getting pricey his next two club controlled years if he indeed has peaked in the role best-suited to his abilities, so, the trading “three years of Jaso for one year of Morse” has been, I think, a tad overstated.
So, enough about Jaso. Now, on to the Mariners moving forward.
January 16, 2013 at 5:46 PM
Geoff Baker is on vacation and Larry Stone is otherwise occupied at the moment.
But we wanted to make sure to pass along the news of the day, that the Mariners have acquired outfielder/first baseman Michael Morse from Washington in a three-team deal that sent catcher/first baseman John Jaso to Oakland.
Here are some details.
Mariner general manager Jack Zduriencik and Morse each just spoke to the media, and Morse, who played for the M’s from 2005-08, said “I’m so excited, words can’t describe what me and my family are going through right now. Seattle gave me my first shot and this is where I became a man so I’m glad to be back home.”
Zduriencik said adding Morse gives the Mariners another power bat for the middle of their lineup and said he was confident that Morse will return to his 31-homer form of 2011 after being bothered by a lat muscle injury last season.
Losing Jaso means the Mariners need some more backup catching, and Zduriencik said the Mariners “will definitely be shopping” to add depth there behind Jesus Montero.
Jaso can play a corner outfield spot or first base, something the Mariners appear to have a lot of right now. Zduriencik said for now he will not pigenhole Morse into any one spot but will wait to see how it unfolds in spring training. But he said he expects Morse to be an everyday player.
Morse has one year left on a contract that will pay him $6.75 million this year.
January 7, 2013 at 4:06 PM
We’re now almost a week into the New Year and still have not seen resolution to the Mariners’ ongoing quest to add a bat. It was a week ago today on New Year’s Eve that word first broke the Mariners might be in on a trade for Andre Ethier of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Since then, nary a word. The rumor-du-jour of the past few days is that the Mariners are trying to deal for outfielder Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks. That’s still generating buzz as of today. I can tell you that in conversations with a source last week, I was told that the Mariners continue to shop for a corner outfield/power bat on the trade front and that this is taking priority over any free agent quest for now.
Makes sense. Until the Mariners determine what they can actually get via trade — and whether or not a pitcher will also come with that bat — it’s tough to make a call on who to spend the free agent money on.
The trick here will to not be fooled into waiting too long for the market to play out. We saw a bit of that last year when the Mariners hung in on Prince Fielder — waiting to see whether his market would drop to much lower levels — then ran out of time to sign anybody else.
Anyhow, if the Mariners do make a deal, it could very well involve one of their top prospects. Some of you might know something about those, while others may not. One of the better primers I’ve seen out there on the team’s top-5 prospects was just put out right here by local writer Rick Randall.
His list has:
1. Taijuan Walker
2. Mike Zunino
3. Danny Hultzen
4. Nick Franklin
5. James Paxton
I have no problem with the list. In fact, I get a little bemused when I see lists that have already bumped Big 3 member James Paxton out of the top-5 despite the fact he did little last season to merit such a drop. If we were to go off command issues as a docking point, Danny Hultzen could be ousted as well. Paxton could very well be the most major league ready of any of the Big 3 depending on what he does this spring. Bottom line: a few starts in the Arizona Fall League won’t make or break his career. Nor do they erase what he did in the second half of last season in AA. We’ll learn more this spring, but he’s still in my top-5 list and Randall’s as well.
Now, we can quibble with the order of some of the prospects — I wonder about Taijuan Walker at No. 1 since he’s yet to pitch an inning of Class AAA ball — but most lists have him in the top-2 and he’s definitely being hyped about as high as the hype machine can possiblly go. His youth (age 19 last season) has everything to do with it, since Paxton and others had better AA numbers. The higher the perceived upside, the better the rankings usually go.
And when you’re playing the prospects game, it’s as much about hype and hope as it is about facts.
Some of what I liked about the list is that it’s more up-to-date on recent developments than other top-10 or top-5 compilations involving the Mariners. Many of those were done by national publications that miss a lot of the local intricacies. On Randall’s list, you see mentioned up-top the ongoing debate about whether Nick Franklin really has a future as a major league shortstop. Based on what I’ve heard, I’d be very suprised if he did — especially here in Seattle.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Randall points out. But it limits Franklin’s possibilities with the Mariners and if we’re discussing trade bait, that element certainly must come into play here.
January 2, 2013 at 11:01 AM
About 48 hours ago, I got into a panic concerning the Mariners. They weren’t really going to pull off a trade on New Year’s Eve, were they? For Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier? I mean, such Dec. 31 deals have been known to happen before, though rare. Despite the rumors percolating at the time, I came away satisfied nothing was going down that night. Now, we’re into Jan. 2 and there’s still no deal. But does that mean the Mariners are done on the Ethier front? Not so fast.
My first reaction to the Ethier rumor was that it was ridiculous. I mean, he’s owed five years, $85 million and if the Mariners really wanted to spend that much on a corner outfielder, they could have done so for less and signed Nick Swisher. After all, Swisher has more positional flexibility and can hit from both sides of the plate without massive platoon splits like Ethier has. Sure, the Mariners would have given up their 12th overall draft pick next June as compensation, but they will have to give up young talent in any event just to get Ethier.
I mean, what’s the goal in baseball now, anyway? To keep collecting draft picks? I understand the value of top-five, or even top-10 picks. But where’s the cutoff point when it starts to impede decision-making on bettering the team that will take the field next year and the year after that? After all, Blake Beavan — who now gets made fun of on some local Mariners blogs — was a 17th overall pick. Phillippe Aumont, now a bullpen guy, was taken 11th overall. You can make fun of Bill Bavasi for the Aumont pick, but Beavan was taken by the Jon Daniels regime in Texas. So, you tell me, is it worth passing on Swisher or Michael Bourn in order to save a potential fifth starter or eighth-inning setup man for the year 2016? Now, before you go off on me, I realize there is pool money associated with the pick under a new draft system and the Mariners would lose some signing flexibility there in other rounds. And I also realize it’s possible Jack Zduriencik (the guy who went ahead and signed 20th overall pick Josh Fields in 2009 rather than letting him go back into the draft and picking again) could make better use of this coming first-round selection. All I’m saying is, when you get out of the top-10, you’re taking your chances. This isn’t quite the “get better quickly” thing the Mariners have had going for them in three of their last four drafts with top-3 picks.
And besides, to get Ethier, the Mariners would likely wind up trading away a young player or two whose value would be the rough equivalent of a first-rounder taken in the 10-20 overall range. One that wound up working out, in any event. Fields sure didn’t, since he was just claimed for next-to-nothing as a Rule 5 pick by the Houston Astros. Maybe now he’ll finally make it to the mound at Safeco Field.
So, those are my reservations. If you’re going after Ethier, why not a cheaper Swisher?
And for me, that’s the key to any Ethier deal. Offsetting not only the cash aspect of it, but also the talent aspect as well, so that you don’t have to keep asking “Why not Swisher?”
One of the things we’ve seen with the latest rumors is that there is more of a multiple-player aspect to them. And for me, that’s what takes them from mere fodder into the realm of plausible.
Because if you’re going to ask “Why not Swisher?” one of the answers would be: well, he’s only one guy.