“The Gnats” made their debut for the Mariners on Monday night, and Chone Figgins and Ichiro were as pesky as expected in Seattle’s 5-3 victory over Oakland.
Figgins stole second base twice, each time advancing to third on throwing errors by A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki. Ichiro stole second once, but was then thrown out at third on another attempted steal with Figgins at the plate. As Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes, the M’s want the pair to communicate better.
There was one occasion last night when Ichiro was thrown out at third trying to steal on a 3-1 pitch. Had Figgins known he was going, he could have bluffed a bunt and drawn third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff towards the plate. But Figgins had no idea, took ball four, and Kouzmanoff held his ground and was at the bag to apply the tag.
Ichiro appeared to beat it by a hair, but was called out anyway.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said today that the pair have been working to improve communication with each other. That’s now going to be stepped up somewhat, likely through visual signals they can give each other.
The Mariners stole three bases on Monday, but were also caught twice (Milton Bradley was nabbed trying to swipe second), so their success rate is going to have to improve. With a batting order this weak, the team just can’t afford to give up base runners.
In other Mariner news, Baker also writes that Cliff Lee played catch without pain for a third straight day, and Erik Bedard is set to throw a bullpen session on Thursday. So pitching help might be on the way, but will there be enough offense?
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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Mets aren’t looking for long-term investment pieces in a trade for right-hander Noah Syndergaard, per unnamed sources. Instead, any deal the club makes will likely center on players who can make a difference for them in 2019 as they attempt to rise from last year’s fourth-place finish in the NL East and make a run at the postseason.
The 26-year-old starter has been a fixture of the Mets’ rotation since he got his start in the majors in 2015. Despite missing nearly the entire 2017 season with a torn lat muscle in his throwing arm, he returned to pitch his third full season in 2018 with a winning 13-4 record in 25 starts, 3.03 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 9.0 SO/9 through 154 1/3 innings and finished the year with his first complete game shutout, to boot. After receiving a $2.975 million salary in 2018, he’s slated for another three years in arbitration before entering free agency in the 2022 season.
So far this offseason, the Padres have been the only team linked to the righty, though they didn’t come close to completing a trade when they first inquired about him back at the July deadline. If the Mets are serious about dealing Syndergaard, as Rosenthal seems to suggest, they could very well look at acquiring another couple of arms to round out their rotation. Assuming Syndergaard is moved this winter, the team will enter 2019 with right-handers Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler, lefties Jason Vargas and (the oft-injured) Steven Matz — and relatively little depth behind the four.