Greetings, I'm back from my "break" from the Mariners blog, while Larry is going to go on hiatus for a little while with some vacation time and time away from the blog.
I'm working on a few posts for the weeks (I'm also supposedly taking some vacation time to). But after a weekend with some news, I figured we do a lengthy links post ... or as I used to call them "linkage" posts.
First off though, Chone Figgins will have an introductory press conference on Tuesday at Safeco Field at 11 a.m. You can watch it on www.mariners.com
As most of you know, Ryan Langerhans was not tendered a contract last week and thus became a free agent. He obviously wasn't alone, players like Oakland DH Jack Cust, Rockies 3B Garrett Atkins, Giants 1B/OF Ryan Garko, Braves 2B Kelly Johnson, Yankees RHP Chien-Ming Wang were also not offered contracts.
The excellent site --- MLB Trade Rumors -- has a list of some of the more intriguing non-tenders.
Why is this important as a Mariners fan? Well, the Mariners still have some holes to fill -- 1B, DH, possibly left field, reliever and just bench players. Some of those holes could be addressed during this time.
Maybe signing someone from this group isn't as sexy or as headline-grabbing as Chone Figgins or Jason Bay or John Lackey, but these players make a difference. Just think of last year, when general manager Jack Zduriencik picked up Russell Branyan off the free agent scrap heap. Branyan had a career year - spurred on mostly by a stellar first half - before a back injury took its toll.
Is there another Branyan out there? Well, Branyan and his questionable back are still out there. Still waiting on a two-year contract that may never come. But there are also other players who could legitimately help the Mariners that could be low-risk, low-cost investments. We've seen Zduriencik with his scouting background find contributors where other GMs didn't.
Jonny Gomes' named tossed about, but a player like Garko could be a cheaper, more versatile, comparable option. That's what important about this time for the Mariners. Yes, a player like Figgins will win you games, but it's also vital finding productive players to fill out the roster - guys who can play positions, handle platoon situations and pinch hit that are also valuable.
Here's MLB trade rumors updated list of free agents, including the players that were non-tendered. It's something you may want to bookmark. ESPN has a free agent tracker that's also useful. And if you are wondering about the last salaries of former players, another must have link is Cot's Baseball Contracts.
Speaking of free agents, it appears that the Mariners are out of the John Lackey race. It's reported that Lackey is taking a physical, and will be signing with .... the Boston Red Sox. It's also being reported that Lackey could be signing a deal similar to A.J. Burnett in the 5-year, $80-million range. Would Lackey have helped the Mariners? Yes. Would it have been smart for them to spend that type of money on him? Probably not.
Another big name free agent, who's been linked to the Mariners is outfielder Jason Bay. The Red Sox leftfielder has turned town a four-year, $60-million offer from the Red Sox and his agent Joe Urbon said that he's willing to "move on." Well, if that's the case, expect more scenario's that include Bay coming to Seattle, since he lives in the Kirkland area where his wife is from. I think Jason Bay is a good player but I don't know if his power translates well to Safeco Field. Giving up $60 million for a guy to hit 20-25 home runs and isn't a particularly gifted defensive player doesn't seem like a sound investment to me.
With the Mariners, Angels and even the cash strapped Texas Rangers showing some aggressiveness and players like Bay, who's been also linked to the Angels, out there, JP Morosi of Fox sports says the AL West will be the most " captivating" division to watch in the coming weeks.
Let's get to some Mariners links ...
Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times has an interesting story on the use of Twitter and the baseball winter meetings. I'll admit I was resistant to Twitter at first, as it was just another avenue to maintain along with the blog and the daily stuff. But I relented and found it be quite useful for getting stuff out there fast, particularly from my blackberry. If you want to follow my twitter account it's ... @TNTMariners
Even more useful for people wanting all of the latest Mariner updates is the twitter list created by Dave Cameron of the USS Mariner, which if you follow that list it will include updates from twitter feeds, but also Baker, Larry Stone, Shannon Drayer, Lookout Landing, the USS Mariner and others. I don't know if twitter is taking over the world, but it is taking over baseball coverage.
Speaking of Ms. Drayer, on her blog she wrote that there is still a slim possibility of the M's acquiring Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in a trade. This would be a fantastic get for the Mariners, but unlikely as Shannon also writes. I talked with a source close to the Padres and he said that Gonzalez probably won't be traded in this offseason. He used the idea of Felix Hernandez's importance and popularity to the Mariners as a comparison, and then said that Gonzalez might even be more popular in San Diego.
The M's would have to give up a handful of good players to get him, perhaps at least four, with Brandon Morrow most likely being a part of any scenario. The Red Sox have been interested in getting Gonzalez and made a push at the last trade deadline. Though talks have stalled, it was hinted that Gonzalez would prefer to go to Boston if he is to be traded. New Padres GM Jed Hoyer was assistant to Boston GM Theo Epstein and knows exactly how talented and deep Boston's talent pool is.
Kirby Arnold of the Everett Herald talks to Mariners reliever Mark Lowe, who was the subject of some of the trade rumors over the last few weeks.
Dave Cameron at the USS Mariners writes about a rumor he heard that the Mariners could be looking at Orioles outfielder Luke Scott and writes why that would be a good thing.
Here's a story on former reliever Roy Corcoran, who received a spring training invite with the Astros.
Let's go around the AL West ...The Angels aren't sitting around they are looking at Hideki Matsui as their possible DH.
Jack Cust may not have been tendered a contract by the A's, but Susan Slusser of the SF Chronicle writes t hat he could still possibly return to the team.
Evan Grant writes about the different and better approach the Texas Rangers are using toward to negotiating with free agents.
One of those free agent signings, Rich Harden says he wants to be staff workhorse.
The proposed trade between the Red Sox and Rangers for Mike Lowell could have hit a snag if Lowell needs to have thumb surgery ... meaning that Adrian Beltre signing with the Sox could also not be happening, or at least right away.
And finally, because he's a must read (at least for me), check out Joe Posnanski's stellar blog for his thoughts on the Royals signing Jason Kendall to a two-year contract. It's quite humorous and informative. It will make you thankful you are not a Royals fan, unlike one of my tortured bosses.