Report: Mariners have “serious interest” in Raul Ibanez

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The Mariners acquired Kendrys Morales from the Angels this week in exchange for Jason Vargas, but they aren’t done trying to add bats.

George A. King III of the New York Post reports that the Mariners have “serious interest” in Raul Ibanez. It’s a bit of an odd fit on the surface, as the club already has a bit of a log jam between DH, first base and catcher, but King speculates that Jesus Montero would get the chance to be the regular catcher while Morales would play first base. Justin Smoak could become trade bait under this scenario, as Ibanez would project as the regular DH and occasional outfielder. And don’t forget the M’s also have John Jaso, who is quietly coming off a very nice season.

King hears that the Yankees have kept in touch with Ibanez’s agent, but they are currently focused on trying to add a right-handed hitting outfielder to complement Curtis Granderson, Ichiro Suzuki and Brett Gardner, who all hit from the left side. Scott Hairston remains a possibility, but they are hesitant to give him a multi-year deal.

Ibanez, 40, batted .240/.308/.453 with 19 home runs, 62 RBI and a .761 OPS in 130 games this past season. He was originally drafted by the Mariners back in 1992 and had two different stints with the big club, first from 1996-2000 and then from 2004-2008. The Rangers and Phillies are among the other clubs who have expressed interest.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.