Sherrill, Strong up

July 31, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 75 Comments 

As seen in today’s game (but not on the transaction wire), George Sherrill’s up. We’ve talked about him before, but this is really cool — Sherrill’s a talented reliever who can help the team a lot, and I’m happy to see him get a chance.

Also, Strong’s up to be the 4th OFer for a while, presumably until Chris Snelling can be called back up. It appears we get to see Ibanez in left and a random DH-of-the-day until late next week.

Game 104, Indians at Mariners

July 31, 2005 · Filed Under Game Threads · 321 Comments 

RHP Jake Westbrook v RHP Joel Pineiro. 1:05, FSNW.

Last chance to avenge Ichiro the old-fashioned way. But then, Ichiro’s been avenging himself pretty well.

OF: Ibanez-Reed-Ichiro, Hansen’s the DH of the day.

If deals are filed but don’t get cleared for a couple of hours, this game might be good for, if nothing else, trying to figure out who’s been punted by who’s missing from the game, or the bullpen.

Down to the wire

July 31, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 160 Comments 

The trade deadline is officially 55 minutes away, but keep in mind that a lot of deals are completed at near the last minute and don’t become public for several hours. As long as the paperwork is in the commissioner’s office by 1 pm pacific time, it beats the deadline. So, if you don’t hear anything at 1:01, don’t panic.

As for the latest news, it sounds like Villone to Florida for Yorman Bazardo is just about done.

Edited to add: Confirmed, the Mariners have dealt Ron Villone to Florida for Yorman Bazardo and Mike Flannery.

The M’s are still asking for a big return for Guardado, and they may or may not get something done on that front.

It sounds like everyone else is going to stick around.

Remaking the team, 2005 edition

July 31, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 119 Comments 

Tomorrow’s game could be just as weird as Saturday’s. It’s interesting to look at how unsettled things are. It’s like spring training as we head into August.

What do we have so far, then?
C: Wiki and Torrealba or Ojeda take over, the other reporting to Tacoma, to be joined by Borders, who gets to hang out at home for a while yet before he has to report to Tacoma (or somewhere else, who knows).
1b: No change
2b: Betancourt’s a defensive whiz of a shorstop playing second, while the heir-apparant to the position is back in Tacoma after (again) failing to hit in the majors in another trail, however short.
SS: Morse is still offering decent defense and hitting for a shortstop, but Betancourt’s already pressing for a job, Bloomquist’s squeezing a couple of positions for playing time, and meanwhile the system’s got another batch of middle infielders coming up.
3B: No change
LF: Doyle’s the obvious choice here. He was sent down on July 26th, though, which means unless someone goes on the DL with some random ailment (which may well happen), he can’t get called up until the end of next week. This may offer the team a chance to play Bloomquist the Ignitor a lot of playing time.
CF: No change, though if Bloomquist’s in left regularly Reed would get to play in those games as well.
RF: No change.

In the meantime, no pitching changes — Foppert heads to Tacoma, replacing King Felix on his promotion. Natanael Mateo’s unlikely to join the bullpen immediately.

But if more trades are in the works, as seems likely, some of this straightens itself out: if Morse is sent somewhere, for instance, Betancourt’s a born shortstop. Catching may sort itself out differently. The bullpen seems likely to be blown up, which could bring up George Sherill, who has deserved a shot at a regular job more than some of these guys.

Going to be a wacky day tomorrow.

Olivo to Padres

July 30, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 98 Comments 

From the Padres’ website:

The San Diego Padres today acquired catcher Miguel Olivo from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for catcher Miguel Ojeda and minor league right-handed pitcher Nathanel Mateo.

Olivo, you know. I think all of us here at the USS Mariner were quite high on Olivo both at the time he was acquired as well as heading into this season, and instead of taking that next step, he fell flat on his face.

Here’s Ojeda’s 2005. Here’s Mateo’s. Perhaps we’re trying to corner the market on right-handed pitchers named Mateo? BP ’05 likes his fastball-slider combo, saying his live, rubber arm (they actually say he has an Everday Eddie rubber arm, believe it or not) could make him a cheap, effective member of sombody’s 2006 bullpen.

In a very small sample, Ojeda has shown the ability to hit lefties (though we used to say that about Olivo, as you may recall). Frankly, the M’s should be overjoyed to have gotten anything at all for Olivo at this point, particularly a potentially interesting arm like Mateo. And for those of you looking for info on him, it appears his first name is actually spelled Natanael, not Nathanel as in the article.

Foppert and Torrealba

July 30, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 152 Comments 

The M’s traded Randy Winn and got a catcher hitting .226 and a Triple-A pitcher coming off arm surgery. Great, we already have those in spades, right?

Wrong. This is a terrific trade for the M’s, swapping a player they did not need for two potentially useful players who make nothing. Obviously, the main reason to deal Winn was to get Chris Snelling regular playing time, which this trade will allow. Even with Winn’s superior defense and the fact that he’s been an underrated performer in Seattle, swapping out Winn for Snelling and saving $4 million, the difference between their ’05 salaries, is a big gain for the M’s. So, had they traded Winn for nothing, it could have helped the club.

They didn’t trade him for nothing, however. They got two players who could help this club and, at worst, have no downside at all.

Jesse Foppert was, as recent as two years ago, the best pitching prospect in baseball (granted, in a thin year for pitching prospects). He rode his 94 MPH fastball and good slider to massive strikeout rates and soared through the Giants system. He was terrific in the PCL at age 22, and then solid for the Giants despite pitching through an arm injury that eventually required Tommy John surgery. He missed most of 2004 and hasn’t regained his old form yet; he’s still throwing 88-91 and his command comes and goes. He’s a work in progress, and will almost certainly report to Tacoma to join the Rainiers.

As a prospect, he’s very similar to Clint Nageotte. Both are fastball/slider pitchers who, when healthy, miss a lot of bats. Both have command issues, and both have seen their stock fall due to injuries. Nageotte’s stuff is mostly back already, so he’s ahead of Foppert on the recovery scale, but he also didn’t have TJ surgery. If Foppert’s velocity comes back, he’s every bit the prospect Nageotte is. If it doesn’t, he’s still got a chance to be effective; his numbers in Triple-A this year show a moderately interesting prospect even with his current stuff.

So, the M’s swapped Winn for a guy who closely resembles one of their better upper level pitching prospects. That’s a nice haul, right? Winn for Foppert by itself is a good deal.

But the M’s also got Yorvit Torrealba, a 27-year-old catcher with moderate offensive skills and a solid defensive reputation. Torrealba has been the Giants backup catcher since 2002, and while he’s never emerged as a guy you want to start regularly, he’s been a fairly productive contributor, and instantly becomes the best major league catcher in the organization. No, his .227 average last year and his .226 average this year aren’t what you look for in a starting catcher, but he’s not allergic to walks and has a bit of power, leading to a guy who isn’t an embarrassment at the plate. His .228 EqA this year is poor, for certain (the worst of his career), but looks Ruthian in comparison to Miguel Olivo’s .136 and Pat Border’s .160.

Torrealba is more than capable of hitting .250/.310/.370 next year while making a half million dollars, giving the M’s a solid option at catcher. In terms of run value over the course of a season, the difference between Yorvit Torrealba and Miguel Olivo this year is the same as the difference between Raul Ibanez and Travis Hafner. It’s a very significant upgrade, and allows the M’s to have an option other than trotting Olivo out there every day and hoping he doesn’t go 0-5.

Torrealba, in a perfect world, is a backup catcher who gets 175 at-bats. For $600,000 or whatever he’s going to make next year, that’s a valuable piece, and something the Mariners lacked.

In exchange for a player the M’s didn’t need, the M’s picked up one they did and an arm with significant upside. They also saved several million in ’05 salary.

There’s no way to view this as anything but a win. Very nice move by Bill Bavasi.

Winn to the Giants

July 30, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 92 Comments 

Jayson Stark just reported on Baseball Tonight that Winn goes to the Giants for Yorvit Torrealba and Jesse Foppert. Added by Jason: Here’s what Foppert has done in 2005.

More in a moment, but this seems to me to be a pretty good deal for the M’s. [Interestingly, Jayson Stark actually had to take a call while on the air to confirm that the deal was done.]

Foppert is a nice addition. He’s had both control and injury problems, but his minor league numbers are solid, and he was considered a top prospect before Tommy John surgery in 2003. Just turned 25, and I like him better than Sean Henn, although I’d certainly trust Dave much more on that.

Edited by Dave: Great move. Foppert and Nageotte are very comparable. I’ll have more later.

Torrealba is nothing special, but he adds much-needed catching depth. Maybe they’re just collecting catchers to see if the M’s can find one they can’t screw up.

PI: “Winn trade imminent?”

July 30, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 90 Comments 

Morosi’s got a piece up on the PI site worth reading.

Hargrove said it was “just a day off,” but one Mariners source said Saturday that there is a 90 percent chance Winn will be moved by Sunday’s 1 p.m. deadline, with the San Francisco Giants a late entry to the market.

The thing reads like Morosi following a trail of footprints with a magnifying glass up to one eye.

Ichiro and Costas

July 30, 2005 · Filed Under Mariners · 9 Comments 

It’s the weekend, so here’s a frivolous link to distract you from rampant trade talk.

Bob Costas was interviewed on the Daily Show, and much of his talk with Jon Stewart was devoted to Ichiro. I don’t have a direct link, but go to their video page and click the Costas interview link. Matters of great weight and import are discussed, such as Ichiro’s favorite expressions in English.

As Jim Rome might say in a different context, trust me, it’s funny.

Game 103, Indians at Mariners

July 30, 2005 · Filed Under Game Threads · 214 Comments 

The approaching trade deadline is the talk of the comments. The below thread’s for that, while this one you can use to to talk about the (non-televised) battle between C.C. Sabathia and Ryan Franklin.

Alternatively, you can gleefully watch the Yankees’ bullpen vaporlock against the Angels. Who knows? You might even see someone get pulled out of the clubhouse and sent to the airport.

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