Updated Oct 14, 2012 - 11:16 pm
Seattle Mariners Blog with Shannon Drayer
Monday, December 9, 2013 @ 8:14am
By Shannon Drayer
The Mariners released the following statement from general manager Jack Zduriencik Monday morning regarding an article that ran over the weekend in The Seattle Times:
Over the years, we have chosen to take the high road in talking about former Mariners personnel. It hasn't always been easy but we always felt it was important to do so, not just for the club but also for the individual. And in every case, it proved to be the right way to handle things. However, we believe the comments made by former members of our organization that appeared in the Sunday Seattle Times require a brief response.
Eric Wedge, our former manager, criticized our organization, accusing Howard Lincoln, chuck [sic] Armstrong and me of meddling.
Everyone in our organization, including Howard and Chuck, is focused on putting a championship team on the field. We all care very deeply about this team, just like the fans do. We all see when the team is playing well, and when it isn't.
I've worked for several Major League organizations. Our upper management has suggestions and asks questions, just like CEOs and presidents in other organization do, all to be helpful and contribute to the goal of winning. We all want to win as soon as possible.
When there are areas that need improvement, it's my job to ask questions, suggest ideas and give direction to the field staff. When our upper management has questions or suggestions, it's my job to respond to them. I don't believe meddling is a fair portrayal.
One good example is the issue of the Mariners doing extra work last September. That suggestion was mine. Everyone in the baseball department thought this would be a good teaching time to help us improve our fundamentals with a young team, and help set the tone for spring training.
Howard, Chuck, Eric and I met every five to six weeks the past couple of seasons to make sure we were all on the same page. Never once did Eric complain about our communications during those meetings. In fact, we all agreed that this was a good time to offer and share ideas.
Eric approached me numerous times throughout the year expressing his desire for a long-term contract. Even the day before he quit, Eric called a meeting with me and demanded a contract extension.
I can also say that our current statistical analysis group is doing excellent work. Our dedicated staff and the tools they are using are a key component in our decision making process, and are light years ahead of where we have been. I am engaged with their work on a daily basis and very excited in the improvements made.
We have never deviated from our rebuilding plan. We have stayed the course, and we now have a talented group of young players. We are hard at work looking into every option to add to this core group, as we said we would, and we are looking forward to 2014 and beyond.
Sunday, December 8, 2013 @ 11:07pm
By Shannon Drayer
The Mariners should be very busy at the winter meetings as there are still many roster needs to fill. I will not be at the meetings this year but will do my best to keep you posted on what I am hearing and what is being reported from the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel, which will be home to nearly all of baseball the next four days.
The Robinson Cano deal is not official and will not be until he passes the physical. That is expected to take place Monday. I have yet to hear whether or not the press conference for his signing will take place here in Seattle or at the meetings. They could possibly do two with an introductory press conference taking place in Seattle next week. We will just have to wait and see.
Once that physical is passed and the contract is signed, the Mariners can cross "best free-agent hitter" off their list and move on to other needs. Of most concern is the outfield. If the season were to start today, Seattle's outfield would be Michael Saunders, Abraham Almonte and Dustin Ackley. Obviously some work to be done there.
Trading top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker for Rays ace David Price wouldn't be a worthwhile move for the M's. (AP)
Another need is starting pitching.
David Price is available and the Mariners match up well with the Rays provided Seattle is willing to part with Taijuan Walker. I hope we do not see this for a number of reasons, the first being if Walker is my most valuable trade piece I sure as heck am not giving him up for another starting pitcher, let alone for one that you would have for only two years.
This is not Cliff Lee, Part II. Lee was traded for extra pieces the Mariners somehow had in the farm system at the time. This is different. Not only would they have to give up talent but they would have to also give up dollars. All for how many more wins over what Walker could possibly put up?
Another problem with trading Walker for Price would be that you still have a hole in your starting rotation. When I heard that general manager Jack Zduriencik's plan was to add another pitcher I thought it was to fill out the rotation, giving them three established pitchers at the top with two prized prospects at that bottom. If you trade Walker, Erasmo Ramirez is in your rotation and you have lost your depth of starting pitching. There are some good options remaining that aren't going to cost you players. Bartolo Colon would be one of those.
The final reason I don't make the trade with Tampa Bay is simple. Tampa Bay likes Walker and a number of other prospects. You know what that says to me? You are on the right track. If the Rays like those players, the Mariners should like those players. Hang on to them. Or at least don't give them all up for two years of a pitcher.
Zduriencik has also said that it would be nice to add another arm to the bullpen, and I agree. Up until last year, building a bullpen out of nothing seemed to be strength of this organization. Now they need a little help. Last year they got caught short in the depth department. No one was ready when Tom Wilhelmsen faltered. Oliver Perez was a second-half disaster last season and most likely will not be back. They have some nice young arms coming but could use an established arm to if not close at least provide a safety net for Danny Farquhar.
Those pitchers are going to have to throw to someone not named Mike Zunino occasionally and that person has yet to be found. Catcher is another area of concern in terms of depth, and Zduriencik needs to pick up at least one.
Last but not least, after the year of the first baseman/designated hitter roster, the team actually needs a DH. One name you haven't heard at all this winter is Kendrys Morales. There flat-out aren't a lot of teams that need a DH, let alone one they have to surrender a draft pick for. It will be interesting to see if Morales falls back to the Mariners. I have said all along that I believe that Zduriencik has a very specific price that he will pay for him and then be content to take the draft pick if Morales signs elsewhere. I don't think this has changed. I wouldn't be surprised if Morales is one of the later signees of the offseason.
It is quite a list of needs. The good news is that Zduriencik should still have a good amount of money to spend to round out the roster. We should see a trade or two as well. With the number of signings leading up to the meetings there is a good chance we see more actually get completed at the meetings this year than we have in the recent past. It should be a very busy week.
Friday, December 6, 2013 @ 3:22pm
By Shannon Drayer
A look at what others are saying about the Mariners' reported agreement with free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano:
Initial reactions to the news:
• "I was surprised. It just seemed like at some time the Mariners had to do something dramatic here. This was a desperate team in a very good division that really needed offense in several different positions. The best free agent available and they took him from the New York Yankees. I think this is the start of the Mariners moving forward. They obviously have a lot more work to do to surround Cano with some more offensive players, but it has got to start somewhere." – ESPN's Tim Kurkjian on "Bob and Groz"
• "The first thing you think about is the money. I mean, you go. 'Wow. Hold on, 240?' That's a lot of money. That's one of the richest contracts in all of baseball. Then you have to sit back and start looking at why. I wasn't excited about the deal, I said so on our air a couple days ago because I thought you could take that type of money and be able to spread it around. But I think now that I've had some time to absorb it, understand the contract a little more and see where the state of Mariner baseball is at, you had to get a player in there that's going to make other players want to come to Seattle, and you have to overpay for that. And they may have overpaid a bit, but you got a great player in Robinson, and that's the one thing you can't debate is how great a player he is." – MLB Network's Harold Reynolds on "Wyman, Mike and Moore"
• "I think it is a great move for Seattle. Everyone is going to break down the contract in terms of years and money, but you have to think about the cost of acquiring a player. And to get Robinson to leave the New York Yankees you are going to have to outbid the New York Yankees, and that's not easy to do. The question is how much is enough to acquire the player, and I think the Mariners understood that the difference is going to be about $70 million to convince Robinson Cano to leave New York." – Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci on "Brock and Danny"
On the reported length and total value of the contract:
• "This one isn't going to work out very well six or seven years from now, but that is not what the Mariners should be worried about now. They have to get back on the market immediately. This is the time to start to add some expensive pieces and make this organization more viable. I applaud them for trying, no matter how much of an overpay this may be.
• "In today's Major Leagues, all these contracts are ridiculously high. These payrolls are getting way out of control but with TV money, teams can afford this. The Mariners are all in now and that means they need to do more now, and they need to do it this winter, not next winter." – Kurkjian
• "I think in this case the Mariners wanted Robinson Cano more than the Yankees. And right now the Mariners are obviously a better team and a more relevant team at a time when the fanbase had started to check out on them and for a team that doesn't have anybody other than King Felix signed beyond next year and with lots of money coming down the pike in terms of TV revenues. It really was a step the Mariners had to make. There was no guarantee they could convince him to leave, but in terms of a business plan it was a great move." – Verducci
On Cano on and off the field:
• "There basically hasn't been a better player when it comes to advanced metrics than Robbie Cano over the last seven years. When you watch him play you are just dazzled with just how strong he is and how nimble he is. He can play the piano and he can move it, too." – Kurkjian
• "When you look at what he has done, his numbers? Obviously he is going to produce. And he has missed how many, 13 games the last season? You know he is going to play." – Ken Griffey Jr. to Shannon Drayer
• "Robinson Cano is a very durable player. He's a guy who has put up the numbers year after year without missing really any games. You're not going to find his offense at second base anywhere else in baseball. He has one of the strongest arms of any second baseman. I really felt in watching him in the WBC, for the Dominican Republic he became the team leader and he was very deferential with the Yankees knowing it was Derek Jeter's team – in fact got knocked for playing the game not hard enough – but when I watched him play for the DR and he was really the de facto captain, he was in every way a leader on that team and I think you will see more of that in Seattle than in New York." – Verducci
• "One of the greatest defensive players you'll ever see. I mean, he's amazing. You can look historically with him and you're not going to find many guys who can do the things he does. The great range up the middle, to the left, tremendous arm, pivots off the chart. You're going to see that in flawlessness that is amazing to watch every day. He brings it every day. The other thing on the offensive side, you're going to see a great bat. The guy is as good a hitter as you're going to see in Major League Baseball. He's consistent throughout the year, he's going to hit you 30 home runs, he's going to hit .300, he's going to be consistent all year. He's not going to have peaks and valleys where he's hot one week and he's cold for two. That's not how he does it. He does it consistently throughout the year. You can count on that.
"He's a great kid in the community. He understands his place. I think the one thing you'll see from him is genuineness. He is genuine, great human being. I've watched this guy hop on the subway, he's that humble. He doesn't have to fly on the private jet. He handles his money well, he handles himself with class. He reaches out in communities, and he's bilingual. He speaks fluent English and Spanish. I think that's important in today's game and society. I know a lot of people are hearing that he wants to be a global icon, and caught up in all the hype and different things like that, that's far from who he really is about. I think when you get to know him, he is a quality human being." – Reynolds
On the chances of this move catching the attention of other free agents:
• "I think now you can actually say, 'Hey, listen, you want to come play for the Seattle Mariners for the next seven years then you are going to have Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano, two guys who are probably going to go into the Hall of Fame with Seattle Mariners caps on and maybe get this franchise to a World Series. You want to hop aboard that train. We are a lot more attractive today than we were yesterday.' " – Verducci
• "The next free agent may now look at it and say the Mariners are serious. The worst thing you can be is irrelevant. People not coming to watch you and players not wanting to go a certain place and I think that was what Seattle had become, but now they have drawn a really big hitter there. We will see where they can go from there. This has to be the starting point; they can't stop here." – Kurkjian
• "When one guy produces, it snowballs. He can't do it alone, but there will be other moves. It could be an exciting few weeks. He is a proven winner, he has played on championship teams. It can help in bringing in other players. You hope it gets people to say, 'Hey, the Northwest is not bad.' " – Griffey
On protection in the lineup for Cano:
• "It has to be a guy that they can't just sit there and say, 'We don't care, you are going to first base.' That guy could be there in free agency, it could be there in trade, it could be on the team. I am a firm believer that Justin Smoak can do it. He just needs to settle down. You have got to remember that he is a switch-hitter and that is double problems. They talk about Chris Davis; he is Chris Davis. I am not trying to put any pressure on him but he has a good eye and he will hit. He's had four hitting coaches in four years and he is trying to figure it out and trying to please everyone. Just settle down and go out there and have some fun. It's not fun when you are struggling, but it is in there. You don't need a guy who hits home runs behind Cano; you just need a guy who hits." – Griffey
• "Enjoy it. You got one of the best players in the game. You took him away from the New York Yankees, and the team is not done yet, by the way." – Verducci
Friday, December 6, 2013 @ 7:27am
By Shannon Drayer
The team has yet to confirm, but after a morning of reports of the Mariners' talks with Robinson Cano breaking down overnight, there are now multiple reports of a done deal. Bob Nightengale of USA Today is reporting that the Yankees have confirmed that they have been told Cano is signing with the Mariners.
Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes was the first to report (in Spanish) that the Mariners and Cano had agreed to a 10-year, $240 million deal pending a physical that is scheduled to take place Monday.
What happened in the meetings between the two sides Thursday night is up for debate although a source with knowledge of the negotiations tells me the "explosive breakdown" characterized by several media outlets that took place is not accurate. The resulting agreement would seem to back that up.
|• Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci||• 710 ESPN's Shannon Drayer||• Tim Kurkjian of ESPN||• Harold Reynolds of MLB Network|
It is a staggering amount of dollars for any team, but the Mariners have placed themselves in position to make such a move with general manager Jack Zduriencik rebuilding the farm system and going with a large number of cost-controllable players the last two years as well as the new TV deal. The Mariners had money to spend.
And they are not done. Sources tell me that they are still active on a number of free-agent fronts and are determined to land another middle-of-the-order bat. That bat could be Mike Napoli, who they showed great interest in last year. Nelson Cruz has been on their radar as well. Moves still must be made with the outfield and they will attempt to add pitching as well.
Cano is the first domino.
Thursday, December 5, 2013 @ 12:43pm
5 p.m. update: A source confirms that full Cano's representation, including Jay-Z, is also traveling to Seattle to meet with the Mariners.
One thing is certain: The fact that Robinson Cano is making a trip to Seattle means negotiations for the prized free agent are at a new level. For exactly who is impossible to say.
At first look, the fact that the player is ready for a face-to-face meeting with the Mariners would indicate that there is genuine interest. There very well could be, but make no mistake-- in situations like these, an agent wouldn't hesitate to put his client on a plane if it could ultimately make him tens of millions more. This could be a shot across the bow to the Yankees. I think the biggest question in the Cano saga is whether or not the Yankees will blink.
It would be hard to believe that staying a Yankee is not the preference of Cano or Jay Z who owns the agency that represents him. Cano can be what they both want him to be in the Big Apple. The Yankees have drawn a line in the sand, however. They will go only so far for Cano and for now it appears they are not interested in going over $200 million. I think we all understand that the only way the Mariners will have any chance of signing Cano is if they over-pay him. Over-, over-pay him, most likely. Just what are those extra dollars worth to Cano? As I have said before, I don't think it is just a matter of Cano's interest in this case.
This is also about Jay Z's new agency. He needs to make a splash with this client. It would appear that there was some face-saving going on last week when all of a sudden a denial of the initial $300 million pricetag came out. Cano is going to come up shy of that number. That number could be $100 million off. How does Jay Z look coming up that short in his first negotiation? What about $30-$40 million short?
If the Yankees stick to their guns and the Mariners' guns are a-blazing, will Cano and his representation take the more lucrative deal?
At this point we do not know what the Mariners' offer or ceiling is. The ESPN Deportes report indicated that the team would be willing to pay $230-$240 million. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is reporting that Seattle has not offered over $200 million. That's not to say the first number is not right or the second will not go up. It still could be somewhat early in the game. Or not.
Thursday, December 5, 2013 @ 11:53am
By Shannon Drayer
Willie Bloomquist had other offers on the table. He also knew Arizona was interested in bringing him back, but when the phone call came from agent Scott Boras with an offer from the Mariners, Bloomquist had no question about which direction he wanted to go.
"I had no reservations about saying take it, take it now," Bloomquist said Thursday from his home in Arizona. "The opportunity to come back home, the Mariners presented that to me. I was certainly excited to have that happen."
Having a two-year offer was also a positive both in terms of security and comfort in his new (and old) clubhouse.
"It allows me to hopefully take on a little bit more of a leadership role knowing I am going to be around these guys for a couple of years at least," he said. "This is, from what I understand, a very young and very talented team. Hopefully, the fact that I am a little bit older and have been around a little bit I might be able to establish myself [in] a little bit more of a leadership role and help these guys reach their full potential, whatever that might be, help point out things I have learned over the years."
While largely unfamiliar with the current team – Felix Hernandez is the only remaining teammate from when Bloomquist was last with the Mariners – he did have conversations with former hitting coach Dave Hansen as well as outfielder Raul Ibanez, who told him he would be a great fit.
"Everyone has said I think you [have] the type of mentality that maybe they can learn from, and hopefully I can bring that to the table with this organization," he said.
Bloomquist did drop a little bit of the "grittiness" that he is known for in the interview, at one point saying that if you give less than 100 percent you are a disgrace to the uniform. That is still there. What has changed is that he knows himself and his limitations better than he did in his first go-round in Seattle.
"When you are young and breaking in, I was just so gung-ho in wanting to play, wanting to play, wanting to play," he said. "I still have the same role, but I have more embraced that role, accepting what I am capable of doing and what I am not. Early in your career, in that situation, you are not quite sure what you are capable of doing because I had really never gone out and played every day and had that opportunity."
He got that opportunity in stints with the Royals and Diamondbacks.
"It made me a better player to realize that the Mariners are not signing me for my power numbers," he said. "Sometimes it takes going out and playing to know what you can and cannot do."
He feels he still has plenty to bring to the table and will do so completely healthy after dealing with a pair of injuries last season. The broken hand he suffered when he got hit by a 94 mph fastball is completely healed and the oblique strain is behind him. He is excited about the prospect of coming home to the team that wanted him both coming out of high school in Port Orchard, Wash. and college at Arizona State. He is also excited to see what other additions general manager Jack Zduriencik makes to the Mariners.
"I know in talking with Jack, he still has some stuff up his sleeve that is going to make us a better team," Bloomquist said with a slight chuckle. "I think with the moves that are in the future, what they have with the good 1 and 2 punch at the top of the rotation, we get going in the right direction, this could be a dangerous team."
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 @ 5:53pm
By Shannon Drayer
While everyone else on the baseball planet seems willing to talk about Robinson Cano and the Mariners, general manager Jack Zduriencik understandably is not.
"That's the nature of this call, to try and give you as much of an update as I can without saying anything," he said with a laugh.
Zduriencik and the Mariners' contingent will head to Orlando, Fla. this weekend to take part in the meetings. Just what will be left on the board at that point remains to be seen as a flurry of signings and movement has already taken place. Zduriencik said that he and others are not surprised by the aggressive market, saying that early on it was apparent that teams had a good idea of what their needs were and what they wanted to do.
"At the general managers' meetings we heard in a lot of discussions that they would like to get it done before they get to Orlando," he said.
As for what he would like to get done with his club, Zduriencik repeated what has been reported multiple times, that he is looking for a couple of bats, a starting pitcher and perhaps an arm for the bullpen.
Regardless of what gets done or doesn't get done on the free-agent or trade markets, Zduriencik still points to the young core of players as the key factor to any improvement with the Mariners.
"I do think there is a learning curve there and I hope we get to the point where these kids realize they're big leaguers and they are more prepared than they ever have been," he said. They all got their feet wet last year or the year before. Even though it is a real young group of kids, I hope that the fact that they have experience takes them to the next level."
The young players will need help, however, and free-agent help is becoming more and more scarce with teams preferring to lock up their big bats rather than let them reach free agency. This year's market was light. Next year's will be worse. Zduriencik has indicated in the past that when the time was right he believed the organization would support him in a quest for a big-impact player. It appears that time is now.
"When we got here it was a goal to get to where they have young, inexpensive players throughout the lineup, and I think we have accomplished that goal," he said. "I have also thought there would be a time we have to augment this club, and I think we are at that time. I think I have a lot of support. It made an interesting winter, led to a lot of interesting conversations and we will see where it ends up."
The door is also open for trades, but reluctantly.
"You would prefer not to but you never know how that is going to turn out," Zduriencik said. "You don't know how you are going to cross that bridge until you have discussions that get very specific in terms or players. We like what we have but you have to always keep the door open."
He has both currencies needed in this sport – dollars and young players. He would rather give up the former. The question now, is who will take it?
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 @ 11:18am
By Shannon Drayer
Thousands of homeless and disadvantaged children in the Puget Sound area will receive toys this Christmas thanks to Mariners broadcaster Rick Rizzs and Toys for Kids. The charity, founded by Rizzs and former Mariner Dave Henderson and supported by the Seattle Mariners RBI Club, has been providing Christmas presents for area children since 1995. On Wednesday morning, representatives from 18 organizations cleaned out the shelves at the Bellevue Toys"R"Us thanks to Rizzs and Toys for Kids.
The sight was impressive. Volunteers from each organization roamed the aisles with lists in hand. Each organization was given an amount to spend and all had a strategy as there were different needs and different age groups to cover. Teresa Everett from Atlantic Street Center dispatched an army of volunteers to every corner of the store with specific instructions for just what to get for the 1,500 kids they were buying for. None of this would be possible without Rizzs, according to Everett.
"It means everything," she said. "I joke with the director and say if we ever lose Rick and Toys for Kids I can't do this anymore. It is the bulk of our toys that we receive. It is the largest single donation that we get to our agency. It means everything."
Everett and Atlantic Street Center came to the attention of Rizzs six years ago when he saw their story on the evening news. The center lost its major funder of toys just a week before their holiday party. Rizzs picked up the phone and called the organization and said that he had heard that they needed help. The news was too good to be true for Everett.
"I put Rick on hold, I didn't believe it was him on the phone!" she said with a laugh. "But he came through for Atlantic Street Center and the Mariners and Toys for Kids have been friends of Atlantic Street ever since."
Everett remembered the first trip to the toy shopping event and how they arrived not knowing what to expect. They walked down the aisles, taking a toy here and there, sometimes putting them back. With less than two hours to shop before the store opened to the public, Rizzs realized they needed some help.
"Tell me one thing that you need," he told the women.
"Soccer balls," they replied.
"Great," responded Rizzs, who then emptied an entire shelf of soccer balls into their cart.
"That's how you shop," he told Everett. "Get what you need and let me worry about it."
Everett is now a veteran of the annual shopping trips. Her army of volunteers had overflowing carts lined up from one end of the store to the other. It was a sight that put a smile on Rizzs' face.
"It's like playing Santa Claus every year," he said. "This year we had our best ever dinner and auction. We raised almost a quarter of a million dollars and now we are buying toys for 18 different homeless organizations for over 7,000 homeless kids and kids in hospitals. To see all those toys in baskets? Those toys are going to be in the hands of kids that normally wouldn't get a toy at Christmas time. But we are there to help out these agencies, these moms and their kids at a special time of year."
It is clearly a special time for Rizzs, too. Throughout the year he gathers donations from organizations and ballplayers for an auction at the annual Toys for Kids dinner. On Wednesday morning, he oversaw the shopping event, greeting each representative by name and helping them check out, making sure that they had spent their full allotment. He has a special appreciation for those who are helping the kids.
"It's amazing to know what they do for their organizations," he said. "People that they help all year long and now we come along at this time of the year to help these kids. If you really take a look around you see that there is such a need in our community. People who have had a rough time, whatever their circumstances may be, can't afford not the luxuries but certain necessities in life and not being able to afford a toy for their kids? We are here to help out."
For more, visit rickstoysforkids.com.
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