Report: M's, King Felix talking extension

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felix.jpgAs our own Craig Calcaterra noted on Twitter from the winter meetings in Indianapolis, “there’s a reason he gets all the news.”

Ken Rosenthal of reports that the Mariners have initiated long-term contract discussions with ace Felix Hernandez, but the two sides seem “far apart” at the moment.

Hernandez, 23, is under team control
for two more seasons. He’ll likely seek somewhere around $20 million
per season, so the Mariners’ four-year, $45 million offer won’t get it
done. According to Rosenthal, Hernandez is willing to go year-to-year
in arbitration before seeking a “C.C. Sabathia-type contract” in free

Hernandez earned $3.8 million last season and figures to earn somewhere around $7 million in 2010.

Aside from Zack Greinke, Hernandez was arguably the game’s best pitcher in 2009. The young right-hander was 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA, 1.14 WHIP
and 217 strikeouts in 238 1/3 innings pitched. 29 of Hernandez’s 34
starts were “quality starts,” leading the majors. He finished second in the AL Cy Young, earning two first-place votes.

On the surface, today’s report doesn’t give us a lot of information, but with the rumored signing of Chone Figgins, it’s clear that the Mariners are committed to winning.

Mike Trout has yet to strike out this spring

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Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.

But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.

To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).

According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.