Craig Calcaterra

Ichiro Suzuki

The Marlins to sign Ichiro Suzuki

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What has been rumored for a good while is now becoming reality, it seems:

Yesterday it was reported that Miami made Ichiro a one year, $2 million offer.

Though his best years are behind him, Ichiro can still be a useful backup outfielder. He can handle both corners and, while he hasn’t played much center field lately, can probably cover it in a pinch. And he can pinch run. As long as a superstar like Ichiro can be cool with being a bench player, this should work out just fine.

The 16th best GM of all time is . . . Theo.

Theo Epstein
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Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have written a book: In Pursuit of Pennants, which examines how front offices have historically found innovative ways to build winning teams. In support of that, they are counting down the top-25 GMs of all time over at their blog. Since it’s slow season, I’m going to continue linking to the countdown as it’s great stuff we rarely read about in the normal course.

Number 17 on the list was Dan Duquette, who laid the foundation for the 2004 World Series champion Boston Red Sox. But Theo Epstein was on the job when the title happened and he kept the team a winner on through the 2007 championship. Still had his fingerprints on 2013 too, really.

He’s no longer a GM — even if everyone seems to think he is, the job belongs to Jed Hoyer in Chicago — but he is currently building the Cubs up into a winner as well. If Mark and Dan do this list a few years from now, he’s probably higher. For now, though, go read their assessment of Theo Epstein, the 16th greatest GM of all time.

Jesus Montero is in The Best Shape of His Life, Part II

Seattle Mariners v Chicago Cubs
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Back on New Year’s Eve we noted that Mariners “catcher” Jesus Montero had lost some 30-35 pounds. Now it’s apparently 40 pounds, as this more in-depth report from John McGrath of the News-Tribune about Montero’s offseason transformation reveals.

More importantly, it reveals that the Mariners, though they would have every justification to, have not given up on Montero. They have not given up despite his regression as a player, his knuckleheaded antics off-the-field and the fact that, at present, he doesn’t seem to have a position.

He may not play into the Mariners’ big league plans at all this year. But at Triple-A last year an out-of-shape and unfocused Montero hit .286/.350/.489 with 16 home runs and 74 RBI over 97 games. Imagine what a dedicated, in shape Montero might yet do.

James Shields would prefer to pitch on the west coast

James Shields
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Money talks, but Ken Rosenthal reports that, all things being equal, James Shields prefers to sign with a team located on the West Coast. Shields lives in San Diego. The Giants and Padres have been connected to him, but at the moment, the scope of his market is rather unclear.

Also linked to Shields: the Tigers, Royals, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Brewers. At least a couple of those cities have direct flights to San Diego, I imagine. You know, for odd off-day and stuff.

David Price would consider a long-term extension from the Tigers

david price getty
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It was reported last fall that David Price had trouble adjusting to Detroit. And he’s entering his walk year. Does that mean that Price is sure to walk? Not so fast: he made some noises yesterday about how he’ll be more comfortable with the team having gone through spring training, and suggested a future with them:

“[being in Tigers camp is] going to help a lot,” Price said. “Not just being around the big-league guys, getting to know the minor-league guys that are going to be coming up if I did sign an extension here, the guys that are coming up in a year or two years. There’s a lot of Vanderbilt guys in this organization, so that’ll be awesome to be able to know those guys.”

It’s a big year for Price. While he tossed a league-leading 248 innings with a 3.26 ERA and league-high 271 strikeouts last year, there was a sense that he underperformed after the trade. If he has a solid season, he’s right back to the top of a stocked free agent pitching market next winter. If he and/or the Tigers falter in the first half of the season, he could be trade bait.