Restoring the rosters: No. 1 – Seattle

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
No. 13 – Cleveland
No. 12 – Minnesota
No. 11 – Arizona
No. 10 – Los Angeles (AL)
No. 9 – Toronto
No. 8 – Boston
No. 7 – Colorado
No. 6 – Montreal/Washington
No. 5 – New York (AL)
No. 4 – Philadelphia
No. 3 – Atlanta
No. 2 – Los Angeles (NL)
We finally made it. Here’s what, in my estimation, is the best roster that can be produced using only players originally signed by each team. That the Mariners top the rankings was certainly an unexpected result. Everyone knows about the superstars the organization has produced, but this is an outstanding club top to bottom.
Rotation
Felix Hernandez
Derek Lowe
Gil Meche
Joel Pineiro
Ryan Rowland-Smith
Bullpen
Rafael Soriano
Brian Fuentes
George Sherrill
Ryan Franklin
Matt Thornton
J.J. Putz
Mark Lowe
The rotation doesn’t quite match up with the Dodgers’ group, but there’s a true ace in King Felix and I don’t think Pineiro’s big season is a fluke at all. He’s actually the No. 2 starter in this group right now. Rowland-Smith claims the fifth spot over Brandon Morrow, Mike Hampton and Chris Tillman. The underrated left-hander has gone 6-4 with a fine 3.68 ERA in 22 career starts for Seattle.
The incredible bullpen includes four pitchers who have spent the bulk of this year as closers, plus one of the game’s top lefty setup men in Thornton. Morrow, who opened the year as Seattle’s closer, doesn’t even crack the list. Not does Damaso Marte, who is less than a year removed from getting a $12 million deal with the Yankees.
Lineup
RF Ichiro Suzuki
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
LF Shin-Soo Choo
3B Alex Rodriguez
1B Raul Ibanez
CF Adam Jones
DH David Ortiz
2B Jose Lopez
C Jason Varitek
Bench
OF Ken Griffey Jr.
INF Omar Vizquel
INF-OF Willie Bloomquist
C Kenji Johjima
Yes, David Ortiz — or David Arias, as he was known then — was originally a Mariner. After he hit .322/.390/.511 for low Single-A Wisconsin in 1996, he was traded to Minnesota for Dave Hollins.
Cabrera was traded for Eduardo Perez. Choo was traded for Ben Broussard. Jones, Sherrill and Tillman were traded for Erik Bedard. Varitek and Lowe were traded for Heathcliff Slocumb. Soriano was traded for Horacio Ramirez. Thornton was traded for Joe Borchard.
Even with Varitek, Griffey and Vizquel long past their primes and Ortiz obviously on the downside as well, this is an excellent lineup with no real liabilities. There were no tough calls to make, except perhaps at catcher. But Varitek and Johjima should split time rather evenly there.
I’m not sure Griffey is really worth the bench spot at this point. Greg Dobbs is probably the better option, and there’s also Jeff Clement. Still, he is Griffey. Ramon Vazquez was a possible alternative to Vizquel and Bloomquist.
Summary
So, the No. 1 team in baseball at producing talent hasn’t gone to the postseason since 2001 and has never played in a World Series. Since a strong four-season run that ended in 2003, the team has finished in last place four times. This is shaping up as just the second season over .500 in six years.
Something else happened after 2003. Pat Gillick stepped down after a four-year run with the Mariners and was replaced by Bill Bavasi, who will have to go down as history as one of the worst general managers in baseball history. Cabrera, Choo, Jones, Sherrill, Soriano and Thornton were all shipped off on his watch. Also, there was the Carlos Guillen-for-Ramon Santiago deal, which, while meaningless in these rankings, qualifies as another extreme example of Bavasi’s incompetence.
The Mariners are just now beginning their recovery from a Bavasi era that lasted far too long and never even should have started in the first place. New GM Jack Zduriencik was largely responsible for the talent infusion in Milwaukee, and he’s off to a good start in Seattle. The team probably won’t take quite as much of a step forward in 2010 as it has this year, but things are clearly looking up, even if just six of the 25 players here are still around.

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.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.