Manager’s 8:00 Meeting, at 3:00

With the 7:10 pm start for the Oakland game manager Scott Servais held his daily press talk at 3:00 instead of the usual 8:00. Nothing particular new, surprising or revealing was shared:

-James Paxton threw the ball better in yesterdays start. Servais felt he was “really sharp ” in the first three innings. In last two innings not so sharp, he fell behind in the count a little but “all in all a good start.”

-Franklin Gutierrez is still out with the flu. No other new cases reported. Catcher Steve Clevenger is “starting to get his weight back” as he recovers from the flu.

Furbush sounds like he will NOT be ready for day one. Servais not real sure when he he will take the next step in coming back.

With 10 games left the regular lineups will be playing more together and deeper into games as in full games, nine innings. Part of this is to start sending down rmaining players who will NOT be on the 25 man roster. Servais stated that would not happen today and he was not real sure when the next move is made. Obviously that is a Dipoto decision.

-Survais feels good about getting to know the players and the players getting to know the staff. He indicated he has received positive feed back from the players regarding relationship and familiarity with each other and staff. “we are in a good spot there…”.

-The staff has its plan in place for the last 10 games. Getting more players playing back to back, more innings (as in nine innings) etc. Getting Mongomery into games in his new role as a LH reliever is critical with Furbush out for a while longer. Omntgomery has shown well but is leaning anew roll. .   Servais “really interested t see how Karns does tonight.” Right now with Paxton and Karns still starting the M’s are using a six pitcher rotation. When the regular season kicks off that will trim back to five starters.

Manager’s 8:00 Meeting, at 3:00

Competition Down to the Wire

With 10 games left to play several roster spots remain in competition. And some of the competition appears to be wide open. Here how things look, at least right now:

  1. Back up / RH 1b The righty first baseman opposite Adam Lind was to be either Doe-Ho Lee or Jesus Montero. This could be the end of Montero’s M’s days. He appears to be out of this race and is out of minor league options. However, Stefen Romero, figures here as an adequate first baseman, back up outfielder and a pretty solid hitter. If the M’s are comfortable with Romero’s glove play he could well be the guy.   Lee has showed well, especially on the defensively. He has shown much better hands and overall D than was anticipated. If Lee is NOT signed by the end of March he can opt out and become a free agent.
  2. Back up catcher. The back up to starter Chris Iannetta was expected to be Steve Clevenger. That is probably still the case but the play of Rob Brantly has changed things a little. Brantly, claimed from the White Sox has made this more competitive than expected.
  3. Fifth Starter The Karns – Paxton competition for the #5 rotation spot has been pretty even all spring. Both have shown positives and both occasional inconsistency. It is easy to just state Karns has mostly pitched better this spring but Paxton has the greater upside. The fact Paxton is a lefty could easily be a tie breaker. The four starters set now are RH Felix, Kuma and Walker. Miley is the only lefty in that first four. All things being otherwise equal the M’s may simply decide two left handers in the rotation are much more desirable that only one. Watching this play out will be interesting.
  4.   Utility infielder The utility infielder may well be determined by how ell the individual plays short and the outfield. Shawn O’Malley has been the poster boy for Dipoto Ball. “Controlling the zone” in every way the switch hitter has hit, stolen bases (sucessfully) walked, on and on. BUT he has not convinced his coaches he can play any significant stretch at short. That seems to be the prime limiting factor for Shawn. Luis Sardinas appears to have the inside track. Among other abilities he has shown he CAN play shortstop for an extended time. Chris Taylor is a know   commodity who can certainly play short and the other infield spots as required. Taylor has fallen short offensively in several opportunities in the majors. The wild card here is Ketel Marte. The presumed starting shortstop has struggled this spring at the plate. It would not be shocking to see him start at Tacoma. Or not.
  5. Bullpen – this is being sorted out over the remaining eleven days. The decision making may be driven more by calendar days than innings pitched. Charlie Fubush is getting healthy but is NOT expected to be ready on day one, maybe day three or four but not day one. His recovery alone will affect several bull pen spots. Others on the mend may be a little later to return. At the same time starter, left hander Mike Montgomery continues his transition from starter to reliever. His success adding a LH to the mix would be difference-maker. Expect the bullpen to be at least somewhat unsettled into the first week of April.

That is where things are. Mangers and GM’s usually have ideas about who they like and who the front runners are in these competitions. No reason to think it is any different here. BUT if Dipoto has really made up his mind on any  of these spots he is not turning his cards over. Not yet.

Competition Down to the Wire

Monday Morning Bits

A few notes from this morning, and talk with manager Scott Serials:

Paxton will start the minor league game Tuesday. It is his day to start and the big league team has an off day. In preparing for the start of the regular season and getting the rotation set the staff decided to keep trying to keep on schedule. Serials looks to to extend Paxton, get five innings out of him.  Last outing he did not get through the third. The issue ultimately is the Paxton-Kearns competition for the number five starter spot.

Luis Sardines will start Monday in centerfield. He is in competition with Shawn O’Malley for the utility IF spot. O’Malley, hitting .556 and doing everything well plays the OF, second and third well. Sardines is considered the better shortstop. The M’s are trying to see if he can serve as a back up outfielder as well. The Ms are looking for max flexibility out of the last position spot.

Stfen Romero, out with back spasms is back in the lineup in left. He is competing with Dane-Ho Lee for the righty spot opposite lefty Adam Lind at first base. Romero has missed about 10 days.

Ianneta has caught most of the SP, learning the new staff but still needs to work with the some of the relievers. A catcher new to a team has a lot to learn in handling, pitch calls etch. To get a day off behind the plate but still get some at bats Ianneta will DH today”.

Ken Griffey Jr. has been in camp the last few days. He spoke to the players as a group earlier in the weekend. He was not talking mechanics.

Monday Morning Bits

Starters Have Good Saturday

Major league managers and general managers will always have concerns. Entering the second half of Spring Training they always look to get things “settled” with the roster, the lineup, the rotation and the bullpen. The Mariners are getting there.

Yesterday, in two Saturday split squad games while losing both games two of the M’s four “settled” starters showed well. Felix Hernandez appeared on track for his  opening day start set for April 4 at Texas. Facing Arizona in Peoria in comfortable 7:10 evening air  Felix went four innings, gave up three hits, one earned run a walk and struck out four. Another couple of spring starts and The King should be ready to go.

Taijuan Walker, the M’s number 3 or 4 starter faced a Royals split squad out in Surprise.   All Walker did is go five innings giving up four hits, one earned run ZERO walks and struck out four. Walker really only needs to sustain his strong level of performance to emerge as a true young star.

Today lefty Wade Miley starts against the Indians at Peoria. Miley ahs yet to go more than three innings so manager Scott Servais will be looking to stretch him out  (as they say) to at least four, maybe five innings. Miley makes up one of the four starters being counted on . He figures to get two more spring starts prior to the regular season.

Managers are hesitant to state things are really set but the first four starters are clearly as set as they can be. Barring injuries or performance issues the starting rotation focus will be the fifth spot. Probably more interesting, maybe even concerning is getting the bullpen settled. That may not be a finished project until April.

Today’s game at 1:10 pm will be televised .




Starters Have Good Saturday

Rainiers Manager Lone Returnee

Pat Listach returns for his second season as manager of AAA Tacoma Rainiers.  We had a chance to talk with his this morning for few minutes. More on his return will follow. But for now know that Pat is almost last man standing. Edgar Martinez, Mariners hitting coach and Pat are the only two returning this season to the AAA and major league coaching staffs for the Mariners. When General Manager Jerry Dipoto stated at his initial introduction there were changes to make he obviously wasn’t not limiting those changes to players.

So even the returning staff, like Pat almost feel like new guys as they get to know new coaches, players, front office staff and most significant new approach and philosophy. When Dipoto said the baseball side of things will change he meant it, and right away. WE will get to view those changes AND results at the Rainiers & Mariners levels.

Things are already a good deal different. The feel around here is those changes will continue.

Rainiers Manager Lone Returnee

Anybody Care About The Worst Behavior In The World?

Think horrible behavior. Now think the NFL. Think the NFL Players Association. Now think Jerry Jones, owner of Americas team, The Dallas Cowboys. Finally, think of the individual who connects them all, one Greg Hardy.

Greg Hardy is a defensive end playing for the Dallas Cowboys. He signed a contract this past March for $11.3 million. As most know, Hardy is a woman beater.

Deadspin published a detailed account of his case last week along with a gallery of photos that show the various injuries victim Nicole Holder suffered to her back, legs, foot, arms, neck and chin in Charlotte a year-and-a-half ago.

Jerry Jones, executive vice president Stephen Jones and head coach Jason Garrett have said repeatedly that the organization did its due diligence before signing Hardy.

Jerry Jones reiterated that stance in a statement released by the Cowboys. “While we did not have access to the photos that became public,  we were and are aware of the serious nature of this incident,” Jones said. “We as an organization take this very seriously.

“We do not condone domestic violence. We entered into the agreement with Greg fully understanding that there would be scrutiny and criticism. We have given Greg a second chance. He is a member of our team and someone who is grateful for the opportunity he has been given to move forward with his life and his career.”

We have given Greg a second chance. He is a member of our team and someone who is grateful for the opportunity he has been given to move forward with his life and his career.”

So what does this all mean?

-“We do not condone domestic violence.” Wow Jerry, what a revealing bit of sensitivity that is!

-The Cowboys organization “did its due diligence before signing Hardy.” Yo Jerry, if this guy passed your due diligence, what were you looking for, the second coming of Idi Amin?

-“We have given Greg a second chance. He is a member of our team…”.

Let’s summarize all this. Per all available information this Hardy guy is scum. You wouldn’t want him living next door, giving someone you knew a ride home or even sitting at the table next to you in a bar. And everyone I know sure as Hell wouldn’t want him on their football team. Never mind why the guy isn’t in jail. This guy epitomizes the worst kind of human behavior there is. And he is getting paid $11.3 million. Because he is a really skilled pro football player.Step up, buy your tickets, cheer, buy the guys jersey.

What does it really mean? Any NFL team and the NFL Players Association would open their arms and welcome The Green River Killer, Ted Bundy and Jack the Ripper. If they were 6’3″, 240 pounds and ran a 4.4.

Anybody Care About The Worst Behavior In The World?

Jesus! (No, not That One!!!)

With all this Pope noise recently I bet you thought I was referring to THAT JESUS. Wrong! Really not even close. I am not sure how you measure closeness to Jesus we are not there. We are referring to Tacoma Rainiers, now Mariners 1B/DH Jesus Montero.  Mariners Director of Player Development announced minor league players of the year for the Mariner organization. Jesus shares that honor with

These awards don’t always mean much but Jesus did have an almost Jesus like years: BA .355, R 70, 2B 18, 3B 6, HR 18, RBI 85, OPS .966. Those are huge numbers, even for AAA. Not all are convinced Montero is really a big part of Seattle’s future but those numbers make 2015 worth noting.

Jesus! (No, not That One!!!)