Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Updates from Winter Leagues 

John Hickey has a new article at the PI that sums of the Mariners winter happenings. Here is my summary of that summary:

Matt Thornton showed up strong with 14 K's, 3 walks, and a 1.54 ERA in 10 games as reliever. Look for him to battle for a bullpen spot this spring.
Felix Hernandez did not pitch over the Winter as the M's are being very careful with him. The M's would like him to get more work in the minors, but a mid-season callup is quite possible.
Rick Guttormson is another indy-league pickup (see George Sherrill, Bobby Madritsch) who may be pitching for the M's next year. He went 5-2 with a 1.15 ERA and 4 saves in 21 games, with an awesome 38 strikeouts and 11 walks in 31 1/3 innings with Lara. Whoever is in charge of scouting the Independent Leagues deserves a raise.
Julio Mateo looks to be coming back strong with a 2.84 ERA in six games.

Jose Lopez struggled defensively (15 errors in 56 games) and that probably guarantees him to start the year in the minors to work on that part of his game, rather than being on the bench in the majors.
Justin Leone saw his bad luck continue with a .224 average and 2 home runs in 19 games before leaving due to a food-related illness. Meanwhile, he saw Adrian Beltre signed at third, and Willie Bloomquist stay with the team.
Greg Dobbs also suffered from the signing of Beltre, but may have the edge over Leone in the race back to the big leagues, as Dobbs started his career in the outfield.

M's may be looking to sign Pedro Astacio, who has also gotten interest from the Rangers and Rockies. Astacio certainly has significant upside, and looks to be a much better idea than the NRI given to former Mariner Aaron Sele. According to the Denver Post, the Rockies are a longshot with the Rangers and Mariners having already submitted offers. Astacio had a strong 6-inning, 2-run outing on Friday in Winter League play and is pitching today for Estrellas in the playoffs.

Astacio underwent surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder in June 2003 and has appeared in only five games since, all for the Boston Red Sox last September. He pitched 8 2/3 innings, allowing 10 runs on 13 hits with five walks. He has a career record of 118-109 with a 4.61 ERA, most of that with the Colorado Rockies. He won a career-high 17 games for the Colorado Rockies in 1999. He was 12-11 with a 4.79 ERA in 31 starts for the Mets in 2002.

Hot Stove Recap
Elsewhere in the Seattle media, Larry Stone's bravely picks the Hot Stove winners and losers. His basis seems to be purely a comparison of the previous year's roster to the current year, with value for the dollar not at all taken into account. His inclusion of the Reds as a "winner" seems questionable. The Reds may be a winner by increasing their payroll by $22 million, but when most of that goes to signing Joe Randa and Eric Milton, then you have to feel sorry for Reds fans. And to list the Red Sox as simply treading water due to fears about losing "chemistry" by replacing Pedro, Lowe and Cabrera with Clement, Miller, Wells, and Renteria seems a bit of a reach.

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