Cookie Monster, Wily Mo Pena, and J.D. Drew

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One of these things is not like the others
One of these things just doesn’t belong
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Sesame Street, “One of These Things”
A recent Sports Illustrated poll asked 380 major leaguers to name the player who “gets the least out of the most talent” and the results are pretty interesting:
1. Wily Mo Pena
2. Daniel Cabrera
3. Elijah Dukes
4. J.D. Drew
5. Mike MacDougal
Perhaps not surprisingly four of those five guys last played for the Nationals, with Dukes and MacDougal still on the team, and the only non-Nationals player on the list looks like the answer to one of those “which of these things is least like the other four?” test questions.
Pena is a career .257/.303/.443 hitter and at 26 years old is a free agent after being let go by three teams in two seasons. Cabrera owns a 46-64 record and 5.09 ERA in 881 innings and is currently pitching at Triple-A after being cut by the Nationals. Dukes is a former top prospect with off-field issues who’s hit .234/.337/.423 through 208 games in the majors. MacDougal is currently the Nationals’ closer and is in one of his “effectively wild” stages after being a mess in four seasons with the White Sox.
And then there’s Drew, who somehow gets lumped in with that foursome despite being an All-Star last year, finishing sixth in the MVP balloting in 2004, posting the 25th-best OPS among active hitters, and playing 1,316 games over 12 seasons in the majors. Drew has missed lots of time with injuries, rubs some people the wrong way with his laid-back demeanor and patient approach to hitting, and hasn’t become the superstar that many people expected when he was a top-five pick in back-to-back drafts.
However, at the end of the day he’s a .282 career hitter with a .391 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage who figures to end up with around 1,800 hits, 275 homers, and $100 million in earnings. To call Drew a disappointment is one thing, but equating him to complete busts like Pena and Cabrera while suggesting that a 12-year veteran with a .900 OPS “gets the least out of the most talent” is all kinds of silly. Drew has more career value than Pena, Cabrera, Dukes, and MacDougal combined, and it isn’t particularly close.

Orioles re-sign Paul Janish to minor league deal

SARASOTA, FL - FEBRUARY 28:  Paul Janish #15 of the Baltimore Orioles poses during photo day at Ed Smith Stadium on February 28, 2016 in Sarasota, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Orioles signed free agent shortstop Paul Janish to another minor league deal on Saturday, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The contract includes an invite to spring training.

It’s hardly a surprising move for the Orioles, who have released and re-signed the 34-year-old infielder to multiple minor league deals over the past two years. A perennial Triple-A player, Janish slashed .242/.282/.303 with four doubles and a .585 OPS in two campaigns and 28 games with the Orioles. While he won’t be in line for a full-time role in the majors this season, he profiles as a solid defender and should give the team some infield depth alongside fellow veteran infielders Robert Andino, Johnny Giavotella and Chris Johnson.

Drew Smyly brings youth and experience to Mariners rotation

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Trades don’t surprise Drew Smyly anymore.

At age 27, the Seattle Mariners left-hander has been dealt twice. The first swap sent him from the team that drafted and developed Smyly, the Detroit Tigers, to the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason 2014. That trade landed star pitcher David Price in Detroit.

“I was surprised by that one,” Smyly said.

The most recent trade involving him came in January, when the Rays shipped Smyly to Seattle for three prospects in one of many moves by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. Smyly immediately joined the Mariners’ projected starting rotation, and is having fun getting to know his new teammates at spring training by way of manager Scott Servais’ clubhouse icebreakers.

Servais thinks Smyly is a solid fit as a still young yet experienced pitcher.

“One, being where he’s at in his career age-wise and service time, he’s kind of at the point where, put him in the right environment … very good defensive outfield, he’s a fly ball guy, maybe he does step up and take the next step,” Servais said. “Getting out of the American League East certainly should help him, but there’s no guarantees. Our division’s pretty tough.”

Servais suggested that another Arkansas native, ex-big leaguer Cliff Lee, might have helped sell Seattle on Smyly. Lee is a former Mariner and the two share an agent.

Smyly went 7-12 in a career-high 30 starts last season in Tampa, but won five games from July 30 to the end of the season after starting out 2-11. From May 21 to July 18, he lost seven straight starts.

“Pitching’s tough, you know,” Smyly said. “To manipulate the ball, to make it do different things, to put it in the strike zone with hitters that know what they’re doing. … I just had a rough stretch but I show up at the field every day, play catch and work on my craft and you know, that’s going to turn around one day.”

The 32 home runs Smyly surrendered in 2016 figure to be reduced in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

“It can only help,” he said. “But it’s still going to be up to me to execute pitches and pitch well.”

Smyly is set to join the U.S. World Baseball Classic team shortly. Before that, he’ll make his first spring training start in the middle of next week.

“It’s an honor to be able to put your country on your chest and play with some of the guys on that team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it big time.”

NOTES: Servais plans to roll out what figures to be Seattle’s opening day lineup in the spring training opener Saturday against San Diego. It’s OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, OF Mitch Haniger, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Mike Zunino and OF Leonys Martin. … Servais said Cano and Cruz will play a little more than is typical for early spring games, as the two will depart for the World Baseball Classic in early March. … LHP Ariel Miranda will start Saturday, then RHP Chris Heston Sunday, RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday and ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.