Updated Feb 25, 2014 - 9:41 am
The Bob and Groz Show on 710 ESPN Seattle
Saturday, March 15, 2014 @ 11:05am
Danny Farquhar made a strong case to be the Mariners' long-term closer late last season, notching 16 saves over the final month and a half of 2013 after assuming the job from the struggling Tom Wilhelmsen.
Danny Farquhar, the Mariners' closer late last season, is unsure what his bullpen role will be in 2014. (AP)
But as well as he played down the stretch last year – he blew just two saves and allowed runs in only three of his 24 appearances after becoming the closer – the Mariners signed veteran stopper Fernando Rodney to a two-year, $14 million contract this offseason, pushing Farquhar back down the pecking order in the bullpen.
The 27-year-old right-hander could have taken the move as a slight, but he told 710 ESPN Seattle's "Bob and Groz" that he knows the addition of Rodney is good for the team as a whole.
"Initially I was bummed. I wanted to be the closer as well as everyone else in the bullpen wants to be closer," Farquhar said. "But after thinking about it, I'm like, 'Man, this makes the back-end of the bullpen really good. Just shortens the game.' So for a team standpoint it was a genius move and it just makes us better."
Rodney, who will turn 37 on Tuesday, definitely brings valuable closing experience to Seattle's bullpen. He has 172 career saves, including 37 for Tampa Bay in 2013, and is just two seasons removed from a career year in which he saved 48 of 50 opportunities while maintaining a minuscule 0.60 ERA for the Rays.
The signing of Rodney adds mystery to what exactly Farquhar's role will be in 2014, though Farquhar isn't exactly concerned for his future.
"They haven't talked to me too much about roles. I think the plan now is people are going to work themselves into roles, which is usually how it works on every team I've been on," Farquhar said.
Farquhar seems to be OK with pitching wherever manager Lloyd McClendon and pitching coach Rick Waits decide is best for him, which is all in line with an approach he's hoping to see the team take on this season – one that's more in the mold of the reigning AL West champion Oakland Athletics and less like the star-heavy but lackluster L.A. Angels of recent years.
"You put all these multi-million-dollar guys on a team like the Marlins did and the Angels have, and it doesn't necessarily mean that the team's gonna play well," Farquhar said. "You look at a team like the Athletics, and they're just scrappy, grindy players that get the job done. If we can get to that mentality and stick together, we're definitely gonna win 90, 95 games, 100 games."
Monday, March 10, 2014 @ 6:25pm
The Mariners may not be settled with their 2014 lineup after all.
Reports over the weekend linked the Mariners to having interest in White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo, likely fueled by the team's lack of right-handed power bats. According to CBS Chicago's Bruce Levine, who joined 710 ESPN Seattle's "Bob and Groz" Monday, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik has "always liked" Viciedo and talked to the White Sox as recently as 10 days about him.
White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo (left), who Seattle is reportedly interested in, hit 25 home runs in 2012. (AP)
The outfield situation in Seattle is complicated at the moment, with none of Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, Corey Hart, Logan Morrison or Abraham Almonte guaranteed an everyday starting spot in the field. The outfield group's defense is a cause for concern, though not as prevalent as the prevailing belief that the lineup is too left-handed. Viciedo could at least help address that problem and provide some pop along the way.
"If he hits to his potential, he's a legit guy that's gonna hit 35-40 home runs if he can follow the plan of hitting the ball where it's pitched," Levine said.
That's no guarantee, however. The 25-year-old Cuban export made a splash in his first full season of 2012 by hitting .255 with 25 home runs and 78 RBIs in 147 games. It was a different story in 2013, though -- he slipped to 14 home runs and 56 RBIs in 124 games (though his average did improve to .265).
Additionally, defense has never been a strong point for the 5-foot-10, 240-pounder.
"Not a great defender. He's got a plus-arm in left field -- that's about it. Not too much range. He really should be a first baseman/DH," Levine said.
If Viciedo turns out to be more of a first base/designated hitter candidate, he might run into a playing time issue in Seattle, as both Hart and Morrison figure to spend time at those positions.
He could also prove to cost the Mariners more than they would like to part with. According to Levine, the White Sox are in the market for a young catcher, which Seattle has in Mike Zunino, but the team is unlikely to part with the former first-round pick along with the additional left-handed bat Chicago may require.
Friday, March 7, 2014 @ 12:10pm
Special to 710Sports.com
Four impressive outings to begin his major-league career at the end of the 2013 season and a strong start to spring training this year have led to high hopes for Mariners pitcher James Paxton. With injuries to fellow starters Taijuan Walker and Hisashi Iwakuma, the Mariners are counting on Paxton to deliver upon his potential right away.
Injuries in the Mariners' rotation could bump rookie James Paxton up to the No. 2 spot to begin the season. (AP)
"It really helped me build my confidence. Going up there and having that success showed me that I can compete at that level and that I belong there. It really helped me coming into camp, feeling like I belong in the big leagues," Paxton said.
Bill Krueger, a ROOT baseball analyst and former MLB pitcher, agrees that Paxton is ready.
"First of all, he's left-handed, and that's always a good thing that makes you a more valuable pitcher," Krueger told "Bob and Groz" earlier this seek. "No. 2, he's got a great arm. This is a guy who throws easily in the mid-90s. The third thing I like about him is that he's got a great demeanor on the mound, he doesn't rattle ... he seems to be a guy who needed the competition level to rise for him to bring his game up."
Paxton was initially competing for a spot in the back of the rotation, but that could change. Walker has recently resumed throwing after missing time with shoulder inflammation and Iwakuma injured a tendon in the middle finger of his throwing hand. It's possible that neither will be be ready for the beginning of the season, which could bump Paxton into the No. 2 spot behind Felix Hernandez.
Paxton realizes that expectations are high this year. When asked about his strategy for his third spring start, Paxton said: "To progress with my stuff and get my pitches going. Last time out I threw some more curveballs and the changeup was feeling good and it's just a matter of getting that fastball command where I want it, working my pitches on both sides of the zone."
Paxton struggled with his control for most of the 2013 season as a member with Triple-A Tacoma, walking 3.58 batters per nine innings (the major-league average is 3.3 BB/9) with an ERA of 4.45. In his four starts with the Mariners, he cut his BB/9 to 2.6 and his ERA lowered to 1.50.
Krueger said that Paxton's fastball command will be the key to his success this season.
"I love the way he goes about his business," Krueger said. "The idea that you come with your fastball first and you pitch on both sides of the plate with your fastball and you keep your other pitches in your back pocket for when you really need them. And that's the kind of style that's going to allow him to pitch deeper in games. He's going to get better defense played behind him, and that's the winning formula."
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 @ 10:35pm
Suspending three players before the first spring practice certainly wasn't how Chris Petersen wanted to begin his career at Washington.
"I've been doing this long enough to know that it comes with the job. It's part of the job," Petersen said. "These guys are still young guys that are developing and trying to figure things out, and that's our job is to try to help educate them. As we know and through our experiences, guys are going to make mistakes. Part of the thing is helping these guys figure it out and mature and do things the right way and mature.
"But it's a hard, painful process at times, no question."
The absences of quarterback Cyler Miles and wide receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow didn't come as a surprise as Washington began spring practices Tuesday. That of linebacker John Timu, however, did. The three-year starter and two-time defensive captain was suspended for the first two weeks of spring ball after he was arrested and charged with two misdemeanor counts of vehicle prowling, which were deferred in King County District Court last month.
Petersen did not comment on the specifics on Timu's suspension, though he noted that the alleged crime took place well before Washington's current coaching staff arrived.
"So we deal with it how you're supposed to and you move on," he said.
Miles and Stringfellow, meanwhile, remain indefinitely suspended for their alleged involvement in an assault that took place last month near UW's campus. Neither player has been charged, and Petersen indicated that he'll wait for the legal process to play out before making a decision on their statuses with the team.
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 @ 10:03am
By Brady Henderson
Scott Baker missed all of 2012 following Tommy John surgery then experienced what he called a "pretty major setback" that limited him to three games at the end of last season.
Now he believes the health issues are behind him as he tries to make the Mariners' rotation.
"It's really nice to actually come into a spring training and feel well," he told 710 ESPN Seattle's "Bob and Groz" on Tuesday, "and I feel like I'm kind of getting back to my old self."
That would be a good thing for the Mariners, and not only because of the fact that Baker, 32, averaged 11 wins during the five seasons before his elbow surgery. As Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby discuss in the video above, Seattle's rotation could use a reliable pitcher given all the questions marks it's currently dealing with.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 @ 10:16am
By Brady Henderson
The Seahawks and 49ers have plenty in common, from the division they reside in to the way their teams are defined by strong defenses, physical running backs and young, athletic quarterbacks.
Where the similarities end is in the harmony between their respective head coaches and front offices. While there has been no indication that Pete Carroll and John Schneider have been in anything but lockstep while molding the Seahawks into Super Bowl champions, recent reports have characterized the relationship between their 49ers counterparts, head coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke, as turbulent and potentially untenable.
From Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com:
The men are barely speaking, I'm told, and almost all communication is through email. Harbaugh also has a strained relationship with team president Paraag Marathe, sources said, and he has clashed with many within the organization. It could prove untenable. If anything, the impression I got this week was that the situation there is actually much worse than how it has been portrayed in the media, and helps explain the delay in giving a new deal to the coach, who has two years left on a contract he has outperformed.
That's the who and the what. Those theorizing about the when and the why have cited personnel disagreements dating back to the 2011 draft, Harbaugh's first with the 49ers, and what one 49ers writer, Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee, described as the coach's proclivity for chaos and inability to function without discord regardless of those around him.
Mike Sando of ESPN.com, a guest on Monday's edition of "Bob and Groz" on 710 ESPN Seattle, said the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl and going through the 49ers to do so inflamed matters, helping explain why such dysfunction could exist on a team that has had so much on-field success.
"It's just amazing to me," Sando said. "Over the last three years they've won 41 games, counting the playoffs. No one's won more. They're tied with New England. And you're having issues? That's why I really think the Seattle component is a big part of it."
In the video above, Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby share their thoughts on the 49ers saga and how different it appears to the harmony in Seattle's front office.
Sunday, February 23, 2014 @ 4:28pm
With no new developments on a possible return of the NBA to Seattle, the city is now taking a long, hard look at another option to bridge the gap of time between the seasons of the Seahawks, Sounders and Mariners.
Hoping to ride a wave of momentum after the Winter Olympics hockey tournament, the Seattle Sports Commission will head to Vancouver this week to watch a Canucks game and meet with the city's sports and tourism officials to get more knowledge about the NHL product.
Ralph Morton, the executive director of the Seattle Sports Commission, talked with 710 ESPN Seattle's "Bob and Groz" about the motivation behind the trip, and he explained that it appears to be an opportune time for the city to pursue an NHL franchise.
"I see this town and a thriving community," Morton said. "I think the time is right. I think this community can afford it and everything I hear has been pretty darn positive (about bringing the NHL to Seattle)."
As was the case in last year's failed bid to bring the NBA back to Seattle, a new arena would be necessary for Seattle to gain an NHL franchise. The NHL has already proved to be more realistically viable for Seattle than the NBA, though, by showing an interest in expansion.
"I think it says something the fact that (the NHL) would consider a temporary situation. I think that's a strong statement about how eager they might be to be here in Seattle," Morton said.
Morton believes Seattle fans would take to an NHL franchise much like it has to the Sounders, who regularly set MLS attendance records at CenturyLink Field.
"The sport, to some people it's foreign, but there's a ton of hockey fans in the region. I think it would be a big success similar to MLS coming to town," Morton said. "I also like the idea … similar to what's happened with the soccer, where you create the little I-5 rivalry between Portland and Vancouver for soccer, here's an opportunity with hockey. Imagine those Vancouver games, playing against them. It just kinda has a built-in audience and builds that instant rivalry."
A number of new politicians, including mayor Ed Murray, have recently taken office in Seattle, though Morton doesn't see that as a road block to a potential deal with the NHL.
"I think our new mayor is supportive of the idea. You saw him in the big parade as one of the 12th Men there riding along with some of the (Seahawks). I think they realize the economic impact that sports has on the region. I'm positive from a political perspective that they see the value that this would bring."
The prevailing idea is that Seattle sports fans are more set on seeing a return of the Sonics in Seattle, but Morton believes those same fans could be just as interested in an NHL franchise.
"The Sonics truly were part of our culture, and I think they kinda still are even though they're not here at the moment," he said. "It's interesting, when you hear people and you talk to a group, you might walk in assuming that it's 'Let's get the Sonics back.' But you keep getting a lot of these people who will say, 'We want hockey as much as we want the Sonics.'
"You do have this core base of people because of who we are as a city, where people have moved here from the Midwest, people have moved here from Canada, a little more of an international, diverse city, that we have a ton of hockey fans here. So there's a passionate base that maybe is hockey-first. In my opinion, it would work pretty well here."
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 10:45am
By 710Sports.com staff
Draft analyst seem to be in agreement that this year's crop of prospects is the best in recent memory. Opinions differ, though, as to which positions are the deepest.
Russ Lande of the National Football Post joined 710 ESPN Seattle's "Bob and Groz" Wednesday for a draft discussion, and offensive line was the first position he mentioned.
"I don't think they're going to use a first-round pick on anybody like that," Lande said of the Seahawks, who hold the final pick in the first round, "but I think when you get into that second or third round I think there's some really good football players."
Lande mentioned UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo and Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson as two of the best guards that are expected to be drafted in that range. As it stands now, Seattle doesn't have a third-round pick, having traded it to Minnesota in the Percy Harvin deal.
In the video above, Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby discuss the areas on Seattle's offensive line that the team could improve through the draft.
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