OK, now a more serious note about the Mariners’ team meeting. Ken Rosenthal is in Baltimore and is talking to Mariners’ players. Here’s Mike Sweeney:
“We will support and fight and take a bullet for
Ken Griffey Jr. if we have to. He’s our teammate . . . Nothing is going to divide this clubhouse,
especially a makeshift article made up of lies.“
Sweeney went on:
“We don’t think there are two players who said that (about Griffey sleeping). I challenged everyone in that room — if they said that — to stand up and fight me. No one stood up.
So Mike Sweeney has either (a) accused Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News-Tribune of making up a story; or (b) has decided that browbeating and intimidating his teammates into agreeing with him that it never happened is the best way to make the story go away.
Not exactly the coming-together moment I would have expected after all of this, but hey, it’s their team. If they want to create their own reality, let them do it. Personally, if it were my team, I’d try to make this a teaching moment to the young players about keeping dirty laundry in-house instead of telling reporters about it and have everyone leave the meeting talking about the past being the past, how it’s nobody’s business and about how all that matters now is baseball.
But make no mistake: If what Sweeney says happened in that team meeting really happened, the Mariners are now less a baseball team than they are Ken Griffey’s P.R. firm.
UPDATE: Here’s a story describing Griffey’s response when asked point blank if he was sleeping in the clubhouse. There was an initial forceful denial, but it was followed up with what sounds like some serious equivocation to me. Obviously you can judge it for yourself, however.
My thoughts on the ultimate truth here: why on Earth would two players make up a story about all of this. Alternatively, why would a reporter make it up?
Whatever the answers are to those questions, I think the way the team appears to have handled the aftermath is pretty poor.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.