Mariners close to a reunion with Willie Bloomquist

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Willie Bloomquist, who played for the Mariners from 2002-2008, is close to returning to Seattle, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

Bloomquist has hit over .300 in each of the past two seasons as a part-timer for the Diamondbacks, but he totaled zero homers and a modest .725 OPS in 128 games. Defensive versatility makes him a prototypical utility man, although at age 35 he’s lost a lot of speed.

Bloomquist was the Mariners’ third-round pick in 1999 and played 540 games for Seattle before leaving for Kansas City as a free agent in 2009.

UPDATE: Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic says it’ll be a two-year deal worth $5-6 million total, so basically Nick Punto money for two years instead of one.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?