Tag: Seattle Mariners

Los Angeles Dodgers v Philadelphia Phillies

Baseball is trashing the paper All-Star ballot


I’m sure someone, somewhere is lamenting this, with said lament being nothing more than an exercise in nostalgia, but good for baseball for joining the 21st century: Major League Baseball is getting rid of the punch card paper All-Star Game ballots.

As the story notes, a memo was sent out to team presidents to this effect. All balloting will now be online. Which is fine given that over 80 percent of all All-Star votes were submitted online already and tens of millions of printed ballots went unused. Getting rid of the ballots saves paper. It also saves the labor of the poor stadium workers who had to toss all of those discarded and unused ballots which littered ballpark aisles and concourses after every game between April and June. Really, we’re all disgusting pigs who treat ballparks like they’re our own personal trash cans. It’s good that some of our slop is being taken away.

I’m guessing some of you, in addition to the nostalgia stuff, will lament the loss of paper ballots by arguing  that the online ballots have made a mockery of All-Star voting. To which I’ll say (a) paper ballots lend themselves to ballot box stuffing too, even if it’s a slightly more quaint version of it; and (b) the continuing insistence of Major League Baseball to tie home field advantage in the World Series to the results of the All-Star Game does far more to make a mockery of baseball than some hacker in Pacific Northwest creating a program to shoot 50,000 votes to, like, Dustin Ackley ever will.

2015 Preview: Baltimore Orioles

Buck Showalter

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The Baltimore Orioles.

The Big Question: Can the Orioles replace the big bats they lost?

The Orioles had a quiet offseason. Which would be fine for a defending division champ coming off a 96-win season if they hadn’t lost their best hitter and, arguably, their third best hitter in the offseason. Here I’m talking about the DH, Nelson Cruz and their everyday right fielder for nearly a decade, Nick Markakis. OK, calling the 2014 version — let alone the post-surgery 2015 version — of Nick Markakis a “big bat” may be stretching things a bit, but in the two of these guys they lost their two most durable players who were 1-2 in on-base percentage on the club and who combined for 1,388 plate appearances, 54 homers and 158 RBI.

That’s a lot to lose, without a lot brought in to make up for it. The only real addition: Travis Snider. Which is actually pretty OK. Snider is past the point where his once can’t-miss-prospect status matters much, but he did show last year that he can be a solid guy, at least against righties. Not great, but solid, and at age 27 there’s a chance he builds on his nice second half of 2014 and finds a way to put together a nice couple of seasons.

But the real answer to that question is not about who they brought in, but who they get back: Manny Machado, Matt Wieters and, for all practical purposes, Chris Davis.

Machado missed half the season with a knee injury. Wieters missed all but 26 games due to Tommy John surgery. Machado, however, is healthy again and, having already shown he can handle big league pitching at ages 20 and 21, his return to the lineup will be a welcome one. Wieters may start the season a bit late but, assuming no hiccups in his recovery, should be back for most of the year. His arm may be a question mark at the moment but he was hitting the cover off the ball when he went down last year.

Davis may be the most intriguing of the returning triumvirate. He managed 26 homers last season despite a putrid average and OBP, and his suspension for Adderall was the moldy icing on the garbage cake. He claims now that his troubles last year were due to a strained oblique that is now healthy and he has a therapeutic use exemption for the Adderall, which he claims helps his focus. That remains to be seen, but it’s hard to see how he could get much worse than he was in 2014.

So, Cruz and Markakis gone, Snider, Machado, Wieters and an improved Davis in? There are a decent amount of “ifs” in there, but yeah, that’ll do.

What else is going on?

  • While the bounce back candidates are something to wish on, O’s fans had best prepare for a candidate for regression. Steve Pearce was a godsend for the O’s when Machado and, later, Davis went down, hitting .293/.373/.556 with 21 homers in 102 games. You think that’s happening again? Think again. Also maybe think about whether, if Pearce falters, Showalter has the will power to avoid playing Delmon Young more than he should. Young was pretty spiffy last year, but he was also used sparingly. The more Young is used in 2015, the less the O’s plans have gone according to expectations.
  • The rotation remains a strength in 2014. A thousand “can the Orioles win without a true ace” columns were written last year and a thousand more are likely to be written this year, but a team can do just fine without one of those true ace-types as long as they have four or five good pitchers like the O’s have in Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, Miguel Gonzalez and Kevin Gausman.
  • Oh, a name was missing from that list, was it? Yes, it was: Ubaldo Jimenez. Nope, last year’s biggest acquisition doesn’t crack this rotation if reasonable expectations hold. But sure, Jimenez could bounce back and be useful. If so, wonderful. Especially in a day and age when pitchers drop like flies. But he doesn’t have to in order for the O’s to be successful, and that’s a nice luxury for everyone who doesn’t have to sign his checks.
  • The Orioles’ bullpen has a lot of moving parts at the moment, including Rule 5 additions and guys without options. But they also have a lot of talent and Buck Showalter has shown that he is the absolute best in the business dealing with the moving parts of a major league bullpen. Really, that’s been the story of this club for the past several years and gives the O’s a big advantage over teams with young, low-experience managers who never had to, you know, learn how to manage bullpens, which is just as much art as it is science, it seems.

Prediction: A lot of uncertainty here, but let us not forget that there’s a lot of talent too. I didn’t even mention Adam Jones above, and he’s pretty great. The defense up the middle is nice. The rotation, as mentioned, is solid. And the O’s have one of the best managers in the game. In a division where everyone else is either down or dealing with some key injuries that should still make them the favorite to win it. First place, AL East.

Chris Taylor to miss 4-6 weeks with broken bone in wrist

San Diego Padres v Seattle Mariners

Chris Taylor has been competing with Brad Miller for the Mariners’ starting shortstop job this spring, but he’ll now begin the season on the disabled list.

Greg Johns of MLB.com reports that Taylor will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his right wrist. The 24-year-old suffered the injury when he took a pitch off his wrist in the sixth inning Friday against the Brewers. The pitch was ruled as a foul tip and Taylor actually completed the at-bat by reaching on a single. However, tests later revealed the bad news.

Taylor batted .287/.347/.346 over 151 plate appearances as a rookie last season and was off to a nice start at the plate this spring. He’ll have to wait to push Miller for the job.

Troy Tulowitzki dazzles at the plate and in the field in his second Cactus League game

tulowitzki getty

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was eased into activities this spring after undergoing season-ending surgery last August to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. But he made his 2015 Cactus League debut on Monday and then truly made his presence felt in his second Cactus League game on Wednesday …

Tulo hit his first spring homer off Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez in the top of the first inning …

And then he robbed Kyle Seager of a hit with this leaping grab in the bottom of the first …

Tulowitzki also drew a walk in the top of the fourth before getting subbed out of the game in the fifth. The 30-year-old has averaged just 88 games over the last three seasons, but he looks to be 100 percent heading into 2015. Tulo was batting .340/.432/.603 with 21 home runs in 91 games last year before the hip injury and probably would have challenged Clayton Kershaw for National League MVP if his health cooperated.

Surprise: Michael Saunders may actually play by Opening Day

Michael Saunders

Some bad news for the Blue Jays yesterday involving Marcus Stroman is now leavened by at least a little bit of good news involving Michael Saunders:

Saunders was initially expected to miss all of the first half of the regular season after tearing the meniscus in his left knee. Then his prognosis was upgraded to missing 5-6 weeks which would’ve kept him out of most of spring training and delayed the start of his season. If Morosi is right, that timeline is upgraded even more.

Saunders was acquired from Seattle back in December for J.A. Happ. He has battled injury at times, but he has a 111 OPS+ since the beginning of the 2012 season and won’t be a free agent for another two years. The Jays are counting on him to be a key part of their outfield. And now, instead of a half season of his work, they appear to be getting a full year.