Dodgers likely to stick with Javy Guerra as closer

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Javy Guerra did an excellent job stepping into the Dodgers’ closer role as a rookie, converting 21-of-23 saves with a 2.31 ERA and 38/18 K/BB ratio in 47 innings after replacing Jonathan Broxton.

Kenley Jansen was even better in a setup role, setting the all-time record for strikeouts per nine innings while holding opponents to a ridiculous .159 batting average.

Jansen’s dominance led to some speculation that he’d be given an opportunity to supplant Guerra in the ninth inning, but today manager Don Mattingly told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that he’s “going into camp thinking Javy is the guy.”

That could change in a hurry, of course, and having Jansen available to pitch any inning and any situation could potentially be more valuable to the Dodgers than limiting him to the ninth inning with leads of 1-3 runs anyway. Either way, if Jansen pitches like he has while posting a 2.12 ERA and 137 strikeouts through his first 81 career innings I’d be surprised if he’s not closing games at some point. Guerra is good, but he’s great.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?