Car Service

The Mariners take an easy step to prevent players driving drunk


By definition, a person who gets behind the wheel of a car while drunk isn’t operating at full mental capacity. I mean, even a guy who hired people whose job it is to keep him safe got behind the wheel while drunk, so you can see that even the outrageously well-reasoned notion of “driving drunk is totally idiotic” doesn’t easily penetrate a drunk’s addled mind.

As such, it’s always more effective to keep the message to the would-be drunk driver simple and direct. Like, say, taking his keys from him. Or calling him cab. Or having a designated driver who will literally sit behind the wheel to keep the drunk away from the controls.  Another way to deal with it is how the Mariners are doing it with their players:

“Two years ago, we came out with cards in English and Spanish giving the numbers of car services players could call for a ride home,” traveling secretary Ron Spellecy said.

“This year, one of the guys at the car service came up with the idea of giving everyone a key fob. I asked our merchandise people, and they said they could come up with one.”

When Spellecy got them he began handing them out to everyone in camp.

I’ve been around people who have had to been talked out of driving drunk. The simplest stuff always works the best. Having a big phone number of a guy whose job it is to drive players and team executives home right on his key chain has to be even more effective than a cab because there won’t be any looking for phone numbers or “I don’t wanna pay for a cab” stuff to get past.  It’s not foolproof of course, but the idea that a player can be so easily reminded that he need only make one phone call, sit back down in the bar and, a few minutes later, have a guy show up in a Lincoln Town car to take him back to his spring condo in comfort strikes me as a great idea.

Good job by the Mariners. Here’s hoping it’s as effective as it seems like it should be.

Angels sign outfielder Rafael Ortega to one-year contract

Rafael Ortega
AP Photo/John Bazemore
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According to the official Twitter account of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the club has agreed to terms on a one-year major league contract with outfielder Rafael Ortega.

It’s worth the MLB minimum, which should be a little north of $507,000 in 2016.

Ortega was once considered a top prospect in the Rockies’ minor league system, but he has made only six total plate appearances at the big league level since signing out of Venezuela in 2008. The 24-year-old batted .286/.367/.378 with two home runs and 17 stolen bases in 131 games this past season for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.

He’ll be in the running for an Opening Day roster spot next spring in Angels camp.

Report: Ben Zobrist’s price tag is currently four years, $60 million

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist will turn 35 years old early next summer, but that doesn’t seem to be putting too much of a dent in his free agent value.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the “sense among interested teams” is that Zobrist’s price is currently hovering around four years, $60 million and it “may go higher.”

There was a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Sunday stating that the Mets have made Zobrist their “No. 1” offseason target, and over a dozen other clubs have linked to him since the World Series ended. That’s the kind of attention you command when you can both hit — Zobrist posted an .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 2015 — and also cover a range of positions defensively.

He makes sense for just about any club looking to contend in the coming seasons.

Wilin Rosario elects to become free agent

Wilin Rosario
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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Wilin Rosario was designated for assignment by the Rockies late last month. Now, according to Thomas Harding of, the 26-year-old former National League Rookie of the Year vote-getter has elected to become a free agent.

Rosario is a bad defensive catcher and wasn’t much better when the Rockies tried him at first base, but he should draw some interest from American League teams looking for a bench bat and part-time DH.

Rosario slugged 28 home runs for the Rockies in 2012 and he’s averaged 26 home runs for every 162 games over the course of his five-year major league career.

He boasts a .319/.356/.604 career batting line against left-handed pitching.

Orioles acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners for Steve Clevenger

Mark Trumbo
AP Photo/Joe Nicholson

As first reported by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma Tribune and now confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mariners have traded first baseman and corner outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Orioles in exchange for catcher and first baseman Steve Clevenger. There is also a second player headed to Baltimore in the deal.

This feels like an admission from the O’s that they’re not going to be able to re-sign Chris Davis, who is said to be looking for more than $150 million in free agency.

Clevenger was out of options and the Orioles have both Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph coming back at the catcher position. Wieters was due to become a free agent but accepted a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Baltimore last month.

Trumbo has always been a low-OBP guy and he rates as a poor defender everywhere he has played, but the 29-year-old has averaged 31 homers and 96 RBI for every 162 games in his six-year major league career. Camden Yards is a much better place than Safeco Field for him to show that power.