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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

Topic: bullpen

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February 14, 2013 at 8:35 AM

Latest Mariners bullpen addition wants…to start again?

Mariners non-roster invite Kameron Loe participates in a pitchers’ fielding drill this morning in Peoria, AZ.

Well, this certainly wasn’t expected when I rolled in to the Peoria Sports Complex this morning in search of 6-foot-8 non-roster bullpen inviteeĀ Kameron Loe. It actually doesn’t require much of a search to find Loe, one of the taller professional athletes not employed by a basketball team.

Turns out, Loe would like to get back to being a starting pitcher again. I didn’t even ask him the question — he offered it up. Thing is, he hasn’t started in the majors since 2007 with the Rangers.

“I’d love to have seventh, eighth inning, or at least help out in close games at the end of the game,” he said. “Eventually, I’d like to get back to being a starter. If they see an opening for me. I either want to be at the beginning of a game or the end of a game.”

Loe did pitch as a starter for the Softbank Hawks of the Japanese League in 2009 after the Rangers released him from their bullpen. He went 0-4 with a 6.33 ERA in his ony five outings.

Then, in 2010, when the Brewers signed him to a minor league deal, he went 4-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 10 starts in Class AAA.

“I was going pretty deep into games,” he said.

But the Brewers needed bullpen help that year, so when Loe was promoted to the majors, it was back to full-time relief work again. Loe held opponents to a 2.78 ERA in 56 outings for the Brewers that year, striking out 46 and walking only 15. That helped earn him two more seasons with the Brewers, first for a playoff team in 2011 and then a disappointing squad last year in which he broke his toe and endured a big slide at the end of the season.

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Comments | More in Free agents | Topics: brewers, bullpen, japan

February 13, 2013 at 4:28 PM

Mariners trade Shawn Kelley to Yankees for minor league outfielder

Mariners relief pitcher Shawn Kelley was traded today for Class AA outfielder Abraham Almonte. Photo Credit: AP

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.

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Comments | More in trades | Topics: abraham almonte, bullpen, kameron loe

February 7, 2013 at 2:37 PM

Felix Hernandez deal still not officially done; Mariners do finally announce Kelly Shoppach move

The Mariners are about to give Felix Hernandez millions more reasons to lift his arms in triumph. Photo Credit: AP

Word is, the Felix Hernandez contract talks are still in their final stages and not officially done. A source told me this within the past hour, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it. This sounds like haggling over last-minute details, not the overall framework of a deal said to be for seven years, $175 million.

Hernandez is the first step — a big one — in what will have to be others by the team if the hope is to contend by 2014 or 2015. The Mariners could win as many as 85 games next season by feasting on the Houston Astros, but they play in an AL West where three other squads could win 95 or more.

Anyhow, we’ll see what else the Mariners do to upgrade long-term once the Hernandez deal becomes official. How are the Mariners going to pay for the Hernandez deal? Well, they’ll be getting the rough equivalent of his yearly salary coming their way soon as part of a new national TV deal, then stand to make an absolute killing in a coule of years on a new local TV deal.

It’s too early to estimate how that deal would compare to the $7 billion signed by the Dodgers recently or whether the overall TV market will change for the worse before the Mariners can do something with their current ROOT Sports contract. One thing to keep an eye on is what happens with bids to obtain a new NBA and NHL team in Seattle. If those teams get here sooner rather than later, it could create competition in the marketplace either by owners of those teams combining to form their own regional sports network (RSN), or another network like Comcast entering the fray to try to buy up rights.

If either were to happen, the market for TV in Seattle could change dramatically. Such a change could prompt the Mariners and ROOT Sports (owned by DirecTV) to get a new TV deal done between them a lot sooner than the 2015 opt-out date the M’s currently have.

In any event, the Mariners stand to make money. Predictions that the bubble is about to burst on the current RSN market in this country have focused more on long-term than the immediate short-term. Nobody really knows. But it’s a pretty safe bet that even with a burst bubble, the Mariners will secure more TV revenue than they currently enjoy and in the process will take the value of their franchise soaring well beyond the $1 billion mark.

For the time being, smaller fish are being fried. The Mariners have finally added catcher Kelly Shoppach as a free agent signing. To clear a roster spot, relief pitcher Shawn Kelley was designated for assignment.

That might be confusing for some, since Kelley just inked a $935,000 deal last week that avoided arbitration. But it becomes less confusing when you consider the team will only owe Kelley one sixth of that amount if he’s released within the next 10 days. Kelley could also be put on outright waivers and claimed, but then the claiming team would owe the entire salary.

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Comments | More in Free agents | Topics: bullpen, felix hernandez, kelly stoppach