Thursday, December 31, 2009

Won’t make 100 blogs this year

Even if this goal was stated in October with a known slim chance of occurring.  I tried, and fell a mere 4 posts short.  At least, I was able to double my output from 2008. 

Over the upcoming weekend, I will enter into 5 years of blogging greatness.  I can say greatness because I only have 3 loyal readers, and one of them is myself.  So, really, who is going to tell me otherwise. 

To a happy and healthy New Year!  Go M’s!

Here’s to 2010!

There has been a lot of discussion about how horrible the previous 10 years have been.  I would have to say it has been one of the more polarizing decades on the political landscape during my lifetime. 

However, this decade has been one of the more eventful ones for me in a positive way.  It all started when I had to work on 1/1/2000 for what turned out to be the biggest hyped waste in computer history.  I later met my wife and was married in 2002.  Moved twice, first to SLC then up to the great Northwest.  I think I had 5 jobs over the course of 10 years.  That does seem like a lot even considering that consumes 3 states.   

Also during the last ten years I achieved a childhood dream of owning a dog.  Of course, no one told me about the high maintenance price I would pay, just kidding. 

One of the brightest moments of the past 10 years was becoming a father.  Words cannot properly describe my joy. 

That is all.  Just wanted to say a few things on how the last 10 years has been a positive time in life with all this doom and gloom lingering around.  I do recognize the historical significance as well, and feel proud to have been around to live through every ache and pain as well as the triumphs.

So long “two thousand and”, onto the 20somethings.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Minor signings in Bard and Cordero

Nothing overly notable, but the M’s continue their offseason buying process.  They signed Josh Bard to a minor league deal and extended an invitation to spring training.  Chad Cordero we actually singed last year where he spent his entire season attempting to return to his all star form in the minors. 

If Cordero’s minor league rehab pays off, we could have a decent closer out of the chute.  Being the closer for the Nationals is a thankless job, but he was able to put up some decent numbers.  In 2007, he had 37 saves in 46 opportunities. not great but not horrible either.  His best year was 2005 with an ERA of 1.82 and 47 saves in 54 chances.  So, we know there is the chance for greatness.

Bard is a bit of a journeyman.  Starting off in Cleveland and now landing with the M’s, teams later.  I am sure they brought him in for his experience to help mentor Adam Moore.  His numbers are not horrible as far as Mariner catchers go, we did have Dave Valle after all.  I suspect we will once again carry three catchers on our open day roster.

Again, progress is good.  With all these moves we are going to have large expectations.  If anything, baseball magazines will start to put us in the post season before Spring Training even begins.  Now, back to get opening day tickets!

Monday, December 28, 2009

22 years and counting

On the December 24th, the 22nd annual football game took place at Whitaker Park.  This game deserves a write up in the Missoulian if you ask me, maybe for the 25th annual game.  Since moving out of the area in 2003, my attendance has been hit and miss.  We see, on average, about 8 guys that are ready to play and partake in the tackle football tradition.  We have 5 or 6 “key” players that attend almost every year, with usually a rotating selection of players to fill out the rest. 

This year, we had 10, and it was awesome.  Myself and the other self appointed “commissioner” tried to go flag football this year.  We were shot down as most see this tradition extending to the pain they have on Christmas morning and sometimes days beyond.  But, we brought some new weapons with us this year, plays.  Most years, the play is “just get open”.   But this year, we had a new wrinkle.  Thanks to my time in city league flag football, the concepts carry over to park football easily.  We had 3 core plays, that we later color coded during our successful run of a “no huddle”.  No one really keeps score, as the game ends on the common “next touchdown wins”, regardless of the pounding or lopsided score. 

All and all, a great game with great friends.  I raise my glass as the tradition lives on for a 23rd year. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bobby Hauck out as UM head coach

This article appeared on the Las Vegas Sun site. 

I still think it is weird for a winning coach like Hauck to be job hunting, but getting to D1 is probably everyone’s dream.  I am aware he came from D1 as a special teams coach at UW.  Now, with 7 years of head coaching under his belt, he can now afford to be a head coach at the D1 level.

This is the third time a UM coach has jumped ship for the big time.  Mick Dennehy left for Utah State and Joe Glenn left for Wyoming.  It will be interesting to see how Hauck does at the D1 level in a very competitive Mountain West division.

So, now what?  Who is going to be in charge of one of the best football programs in D1-AA?  I am not even sure how you would start.  I just hope that UM performs all necessary due diligence and brings in a person that can continue our winning ways. 

I am always a bit leery of change.  But maybe this change can actually finish the job and not be a brides maid two years in a row. 

Brandon Morrow to the Blue Jays?

Apparently, this is almost final.  Morrow to the Jays for Brandon League and a prospect.  The prospect better be good as we still don’t know what Brandon can do, he is only 25. 

I am bit shocked by this move.  Again, this is looking  like the Bavasi cleaning house off season for the Mariners.  Morrow was our first pick in ‘06, just before UW grad Tim Lincecum…in case I have not mentioned that before.  The reason I am shocked because I do not know if the return is going to be worth it.  League’s numbers are not as impressive as Morrows, he has a higher ERA and a lower K/9 rating. 

The prospect is the hold out here. Currently, I do not rate this trade high as I think we could be making an early mistake with Morrow.  As I stated awhile back, trading Morrow at this point only eliminates the comparison to Lincecum. 

Good luck Brandon, I will continue to watch your career. 

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wow, Silva is gone!

What a great Christmas/Hot Stove this has been.  I have long not been a fan of Silva.  I did not tag him enough in my blogs, so I  don’t have a count of how many times I requested that his overpaid arm find a different team.  We traded away Silva for the board game manufacturer Milton Bradley.  Milton is a switch hitting outfielder that offers some depth for the potential vacant left field post. 

This move is a wash on the money front, but I would say it is money better spent.  Silva was a waste from day one.  A consistent .400 to .500 winning percentage pitcher with mediocre stuff.  Bradley comes with his own bag of issues too, his temper.  He has had a roller coaster career, but can produce.  It will be interesting to see how he does in Safeco. 

This Hot Stove as proven to be the “Anti-Bavasi” movement.  Here is a list of known Bavasi moves that are no longer with us: Beltre, Silva, Bedard, and Aumont.  If all these moves work out to make the Mariners contenders, this is going to kill any future Bavasi higherings.  I can see the interview process now.

So Bill, you were able to be the first GM with a team of over 100 losses and over a $100 million pay roll ($117.9 Million to be exact).   One year removed, Jack Z was able to win 85 games with a $98.9 million dollar payroll.  Two years removed, they made the post season.  Where do you see yourself taking our ball club?”

I was dancing today when I heard this news!   

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It is official, Cliff Lee is a Mariner

Title says it all.  What a great offseason, Figgins and Lee.  It is nice to see us be smart in the Hot Stove league.  Well, at least currently we are being smart.

The three prospects that we had to give up for Lee seem to be a perfect choice.  The one that you may want to keep an eye on is Tyson Gillies.  He played in the “Futures” game this past summer and has a lot of speed.  Perhaps a call up within two seasons.

As far as the other two are concerned, Aumont was turned from starter to relief and JC Ramirez can throw hard, but has control issues.  They are all young, so these issues can be addressed in time.  Plus, if Lee walks at the end of 2010 we receive two sandwich picks in the 2011 draft.  Not a bad way to go if you ask me. 

Now I am really excited for next season!  I have a sneaky feeling that we are not done.  I sense something still could happen to Lopez before we start Spring Training.

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Figgins introduced today and other hot stove notes

As everyone waits on the official news regarding Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins was introduced as the newest Mariner.  Again, I cannot stress how pleased I am with this move.  I hope it pans out because it has the potential to be an interesting batting order.

Lackey singed with Boston and the Angels are getting Matsui and his bad knees.  It begs the question, what about Vlad?  So, now you have bad hamstrings with Vladimir, bad knees with Matsui which means two fairly high paid DH’s.  I wonder if Vladimir is able to go somewhere else, cheap. 

I am sure the Mariners are eager to finalize this Lee trade deal.  It appears that the “known” minor league players from Seattle to Philadelphia are Aumont and an outfield prospect in Tyson Gillies.  Toronto is set to receive a previous “untouchable” prospect in Kyle Drabek.  If all this prospect talent makes it to the show, it will be interesting to see who really benefits. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cliff Lee to the Mariners

At the time of this writing, it is not official.  Cliff Lee is rumored to be head to the Mariners.  He would be part of the first “three way” to not be associated with Tiger Woods this month. 

The Phillies would acquire Halladay, the Mariners Lee and Toronto something like four minor leaguers between the Phillies and Mariners.  From Seattle, it sounds like we are rumored to be sending Aumont back to his native land.  I am not sure who else will be leaving the Mariners organization. 

This move has questions.  Lee is eligible for free agency after the 2010 season.  So, the amount of talent leaving the station could come back to haunt us should Lee not sign a long term deal.  Of course, that long term deal would depend on how well he performs back in the AL.

Having a number 2 starter (an ace really) behind Felix is something that everyone should take notice of.  With a hard throwing righty in Felix, and a precision lefty in Lee, we could have one of the better 1-2 punches in the AL.  Oh, and don’t forget Ichiro followed by Figgins in the batting order.

Lackey is suppose to sign with the Red Sox.  With him out of Anaheim, this could bode well for the Mariners in the AL West race.  Of course, the Angels are also associated with rumors surrounding Matsui, yet another M’s killer. 

Look for details to come tomorrow once this trade is official and made public.  I did want to blog earlier, but work got in the way. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rule 5 draft pickup

The Mariners selected Kaneko Texeira in the Rule 5 draft last night.  Judging by the write up on the Mariner site, this could be a steal if it pans out.  Plus, it is always nice to rob the Yankee farm system of some talent.

He did pitch briefly in the majors, going 1-2 with a 2.91 ERA.  The record does not look well, but that ERA is a nice sign.  His minor league stats from this past season at Double-A Trenton are better.  He went 9-6 with a 2.84 ERA.  I am excited to see what he can offer us in the upcoming season.

No Rich Harden and other Mariner notes

Good day and good luck in Texas, Rich.  This high risk/high reward free agent is off the market, pending a physical.  We will see how he does in a hitter friendly park.  If he is “on” for an entire season, Texas would have a legit ace.  If he is “off”, Texas is out only money and probably the post season.  No chance for the Mariners to move forward with the Bedard of 2009. 

We are still in the hunt, remote if anything, for Jason Bay.  Since Harden was signed for $7.5 million for next year, that would indicate the Mariners did have about that much to offer him as well.  Now, they can put that money somewhere else.  Bay would be a great option, should they choose.  Bay did turn down a 4 year, $60 mil offer from Boston, so he is commanding a high price.  Perhaps higher than what he is truly worth. 

Another “Bedard-esk” player would be Ben Sheets.  Also, a player with some history with Jack Z.  Sheets has had some great moments, but also some pretty lousy ones.  The last two seasons of his career have been, what I would consider, solid.  Amassing a 25-14 record with an ERA hovering around 3.40.  This would make a great #2 starter to support Felix.  His strikeout count is not as that great as a healthy Harden, but I will take .7 K per inning average over nothing.   If the dollar figure is right, I am sure Jack will make the proper choice as the winter meetings comes to close.

As of now, Lopez is still a Mariner.  I have a sneaky feeling that this will change prior to 2009 coming to a close.  According to Scott BorASS, the Mariners are still talking about trying to bring Beltre back.  I don’t put a lot of stock in this, but we will see.  It is nice to have a versatile player in Figgins so there really is no pressure on what we would do.  If we do bring Beltre back, move Figgins to second and trade Lopez for your #3 starter, maybe #2.  Not sure if he alone commands enough for a #2 starter with only one good season under his belt on offense. 

Even with the winter meetings coming to a close, talks and negotiations will continue long into the holiday season. 

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Chone Figgins is a Mariner

It is official.  As of this afternoon, Figgins is wearing a Mariners jersey and will bat second behind Ichiro.  If Ichiro was not high on your fantasy roster, he should be this year with a patient hitter right behind.  The deal will put him in a Mariner uniform for 4 years with an option for a 5th.  He will be our everyday third baseman (at the time of this writing) since Beltre did not accept arbitration. 

I am beyond pleased with this pickup.  Between Ichiro and Figgins, I hope to see at least 75 SBs next year.  Now, lets see what the Mariners do with the rest of the batting order this week.  I am still holding out some hope for Jason Bay…some.   

No Greg Zaun, but still Figgins

Zaun signed with the Brewers late last week.  The Mariners have been linked to ex-Mariner catcher Miguel Olivo.  I am not a huge fan of Miguel, but perhaps he has improved, plus he should be fairly cheap.

The Figgins deal could be announced today.  He was supposedly in Seattle for physical yesterday.  Assuming that he passed, this will be made public later today, and a truly awesome signing by Jack.

There was mention of the Mariners being linked to Curtis Granderson trade talks, but I doubt anything will come about from that, just rumors.  That is one thing about the winter meetings, it can be hard to filter out the good rumors from the bad.  Don’t get me wrong, I would love to add a hitter with triple and stolen base potential.  With Ichiro, Figgins and Granderson, we could be very dangerous with the small ball in a ball park that demands that style of play. 

Still waiting on what the rumors on from a pitching perspective.  I have not heard any updates on Harden.  We have also been remotely linked to Edwin Jackson out of Detroit.

So, that is day one of the winter meetings, I wonder what today will bring. 

Friday, December 04, 2009

Mariner Hot stove watch – Dec 4th

Well, the news just keeps getting better and better.  Apparently, the Mariners are “in the running” for what is being considered some of the top FA prospects.  I am bit surprised by this since most fans remember the signings of Sexson and Beltre.  Sexson became a complete waste of space.  Beltre, being a defensive marvel, never was able to achieve his MVP numbers with the Dodgers. 

Chone Figgins.  I love it when the Mariners go after players that kill them as opponents.  Figgins has been a career Angel, and would take a fair amount of money/persuasion to leave the defending AL West champs for a team trying to win that title.  He could do a lot of great things for us.  He is versatile both in the field and a switch hitter at the plate, a nice plus for a team that has questions marks at third base and second base.  I have yet to mention that he can also steal a few bases.  Between Ichiro and Figgins, we could have 100 stolen bases.  The more I look at this, the more I hope this happens!  Looking into my crystal ball, here is what I see as two possible situations.

1. Sign Figgins, trade Lopez for pitching.  With the numbers that Lopez put up last year, he could bring in a solid #2 starter.

2. Sign Figgins and lose Beltre.  Beltre will not accept arbitration, so that puts him out there on the FA market.  Signing Figgins puts less worry on losing Beltre as he can play third, just not as well.

Rich Harden.  Looking into his stats last year, I am bit concerned signing him.  However, his stats (as well as his shoulder and back) do make him an affordable option.  I stated yesterday why I think he would be a good addition to this staff.  I did not realize, but we have some history with Harden, we drafted him!  It was in the 38th round in 1999.  He decided not to sign, then ended up in Oakland two years later.  From an opponent standpoint, he has a 5-2 record with a 1.90 ERA against the Mariners.  As stated here, it would only cost the M’s money this time around to sign Bedard…I mean Harden.

John Lackey and Jason Bay.  Jack Z. strikes me as a “most bang for the buck” sort of a GM.  Lackey and Bay would be commanding large money, that I am not sure we are ready to go there.  Not only commanding large money, but can we compete in a bidding war with Boston, New York and the Philadelphia?  I cannot imagine Lackey not being back in an Angels uniform next year.  Bay is interesting has he is product of British Columbia and a graduate of Gonzaga.  His ties to the northwest is something the Mariners would be banking on to tug at his heart strings.  However, I feel he will go where the money is.   

It is rumored that Greg Zaun could sign by days end.  The four teams on his radar are the Brewers, Rockies, Rays, and Mariners.  This would be a nice affordable pick.  Once the news breaks, I will do what I can to post something.

This is just getting started, we are still a few days away from the start of the winter meetings.  Look for big news around Roy Halladay next week!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Ruskell is out

At 10 AM PST today (December 3rd) Tim Ruskell will resign as Seahawks GM.  The fan base, and I am assuming, the organization is getting exactly what they wanted.  Not much else to say, but here is a local blog that talks about Ruskell’s 5 years history with the Seahawks.  Also, a great Seahawk blog can be found here.

I did not follow the GM hiring process for the Hawks like I did for the Mariners.  I had no idea what Ruskell brought to the table when he was hired in 2005.  Apparently linebackers are his specialty and that is about it.  Lofu was/is his prized draft pick from April of ‘05, time will tell us about Curry and Hawthrone.  Currently, Hawthorn leads the team in tackles (78) with Curry (54) taking up a distant third. 

Will Holmgren be in the running for the job?  Would he actually want the job?  We won’t know much until after this season comes to a close.  Look for an official announcement and full details from the Seahawks in a couple of hours.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

2 new rumors: Zaun and Harden

As I take a tour through the Mariner blogsphere, I have stumbled upon some nice rumors.  Apparently, we are going after an affordable veteran catcher in Gregg Zaun and what could be a surprise pitcher in Rich Harden. 

Gregg Zaun would be a nice addition.  I know I said in my previous post how I am not worried about the catcher position, but I do see a need for some veteran leadership.  Zaun is a switch hitter where Johnson and Moore are both righties.  He would be the third catcher and would probably be in Seattle for only one year.

Rich Harden, now this is interesting.  In my fantasy league several years back, I referred to him as the “Mark Prior of the AL”.  Ironically, he was traded to the Cubs and now the Mariners have their sights on him.  From the sounds of it, he would be affordable.  Almost an affordable Bedard if you will.  Same downside with injures, but a strikeout machine when healthy.  This could cost us about 6 mil a year, rather than 5 decent players.  (Yes 5 is what Bedard cost us, not to mention his overpriced salary).   However, the Red Sox are also in the running, but Harden is from British Columbia, so we may have some regional pull. 

Harden would fill the role as a solid #2, again, when healthy.  Zaun could be a great mentor to our top catching prospect in Moore.  We should know more on the Zaun signing by Friday.  I am not sure when we will know about Harden, but I will keep my eyes open.

Book/Author Review: Tana French

I have raved about my Kindle on this blog before.  I love it.  I am the type of person that needed something this cool to enjoy reading. 

My wife turned me onto a suspense/murder mystery writer Tana French.  She has two book currently out with a third on the way.  The two books I  have read of hers are “In The Woods” and “The Likeness”.  All of her books take place in or around Dublin.  Her writing style is simple and descriptive.  A fast read that allows you to get caught up in the lifestyle of her characters with little effort.  You can easily find yourself melting into the form of the narrating character as they tell the story from their eyes. 

“In the Woods” centers around a Detective Rob Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox.  The story is told from the perspective of Detective Ryan and all the issues that he personally goes through as they solve the murder of a young girl.  “The Likeness” changes course and has Cassie Maddox take you on a thrilling ride on one of her murder cases.  There is a small presence of a timeline here, with “In the Woods” being her first book.  There are parts of “The Likeness” that could seem out of place without knowledge from the first book, just a small FYI.

Both books are without boredom and present you with the dilemma of when you should actually take a break.  For those loyal readers to this blog that need a little suspense in your life, take these two books for a spin.  I have a feeling you will not be disappointed. 

Payroll flexibility

Yesterday I stated that we would not do too much in the Hot Stove season, but apparently, this article has a different spin.  It brings up some interesting scenarios.

Jose Lopez, trade him.  This could be interesting and coming from the “sell high” strategy with his career numbers in 2009.  I would not be opposed to this as I did state I find his defense lethargic at times.  If we trade Lopez, move Tuiasosopo to second assuming we trade Lopez for a third baseman with some pop in his bat.  Not a bad choice.   

I do like Jason Bay.  We could use a hard hitting left fielder, and Bay could fill that void.  If he was our “prized” free agent, I would be happy.

Trade Brandon Morrow?  Wow, this could be an interesting possibility.  I don’t see this happening as Brandon has roller coaster stats that any team should be leery of.  His best game, was his last game of the season.  I am not sure what we would get in return.  Would be looking for quality pitching if we trade him?  Perhaps a solid 3 or 4 starter type?  Trading him would put an end to the Brandon vs. Lincecum debate.  Maybe we will go after the Cuban defector Noel Arguelles. 

A lot of people locally are concerned about the catcher position.  Rob Johnson, a Butte native, is having 3 surgeries this offseason and Adam Moore is too young.  I don’t see this as a concern as we have had many veterans in this post and still had issues.  At this point, what do we have to lose?  Rob states he feels great after his hip surgeries.  He should be ready to go by mid-March. 

Bring on the winter meetings, I want to get this show on the road.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

To Holmgren or not to Holmgren

It appears rumors are flying around the Puget Sound area about our lovely Seahawk GM, Tim Ruskell.  As the article indicates, Tim’s contract is up at seasons end, and there are rumors it will not be re-negotiated.  This, of course, opens the door to more rumors or Mike Holmgren coming back as the GM of the Seahawks. 

A lot of Seahawk fans would like to see Holmgren return to this organization, one he left not even a full year ago.  I think the run to Super Bowl 40 spoiled a lot of fans.  Since that big game, we have not had the success of that magical season and a lot of people are grasping for any answer as to why.  Many people feel that Holmgren is that answer.  I don’t think this is going to really make the “on the field” team that much better.  We had a bad season last year under Mike and we are having another bad season under Mora.  Changing out the GM could help, but we won’t know that affect until next season.  Or, until a combination of draft picks and free agent acquisitions start to right this ship. 

Blogger note:  Mike Holmgren has officially taken the place of Chuck Knox as the fan’s “Best Coach of the Franchise”.  However, this blogger still holds Chuck Knox high in Seahawk greatness. 

Bye bye Bedard and other arbitration news

The Mariners did not offer Bedard arbitration as the deadline came and went at 6 PM PST today.  This is of no surprise.  His time in Seattle has been spent where I predicted it, on the DL.  He did have a few moment of greatness, but the O’s are benefiting from that lopsided trade.  I should be a GM, I feel I could have made better decisions than Bavasi!

We did offer arbitration to Beltre, but he will turn it down.  He is a Scott BorASS client and he tells all of his clients to go free agency.  We could still resign him, however the Phillies and Red Sox are in the hunt, and we cannot compete with that money.  As far as third baseman go, he is second on the Mariners all-time list behind Jim Presley for home runs and RBIs.  (Jim managed the Osprey for the 2004 season).

As the hot stove league ramps up, it will be exciting to see what we plan on doing. In some ways, I feel our management would like to see Beltre go so they can acquire a nice sandwich pick in next summers draft.  Jack Z appears to be big on building a strong farm base, which I fully support.  If Beltre does go, what do the Mariners do?  I could see another free agent replacing Beltre as I feel that Tuiasosopo does not have what it takes.  That could change, but so far, I have not seen much from him.  Of course, he would be replacing a gold glove third baseman.  I did read that we are taking our number 1 pick, Ackley, and trying him at second base starting in January.  Would this mean a move of Lopez to third or first?  I am not a huge Lopez fan of his defense as his play appears to be lethargic at times, but his bat is necessary in our offense.

I predict that we play it fairly simple this off season.  Try to unload some wasted salary (Silva and Batista) and replace that with either farm products or low cost free agents.  How much longer until pitchers and catchers report?