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 FOXSports.com 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
agency.

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.
 

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.