Horner Named T-Rats Manager
Here's one that caught me a bit off-guard, Jim Horner has been named the '06 manager of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
. This comes months after Horner was named as the Aquasox '06 manager. The T-Rats '05 manager, Scott Steinmann, will remain in Arizona in '06 for personal reasons, according to the same release.
I guess this raises the question of who will manage the Aquasox this year. They could promote Dana Williams from Peoria and have Steinmann take over Peoria, if he's up to it, or if he isn't, they might bring back Pedro Grifol, who has been the Aquasox manager in years past.
Interesting twist with the minor league season now less than a week away.
Curious about how Quiroz was going to fit on a full 40-man roster? Wonder no longer. In the official announcement
, it's stated that LHP Luis Gonzalez has been returned to the Dodgers to make room for him.
This leaves the final spots in the bullpen as a three-way battle between Woods, Harris, and Fruto. Woods is pretty much in, I'm assuming, and when Lawton comes off his suspension, we'll probably see Harris back in town, if not sooner.
Sometimes I neglect the blog a bit, opting to post at SportSpot
instead, but to recap here, the M's claimed catcher Guillermo Quiroz off waivers from the Blue Jays, according to RotoWorld.
Quiroz used to be one of the Jays top ten prospects as recently as two years ago, and was given a $1.2 million signing bonus when he agreed to his first contract, which is quite rare for any player coming out of Latin America. The descriptor you'll hear most often about him is that he's a "catch and throw" type, which isn't a bad distinction, as he has the the arm and accuracy to nail runners trying to steal and is generally regarded as a plus defender. His offense has been a bit flakey, however. He has a long swing and tends to strike out a bit as a result, but the bonus is that he's likely to provide more power than Rivera would, if nothing else. He might even draw some more walks, but power is the clear upgrade here. If he provides much more than just that, I'll consider it a bonus.
He's basically a low-risk flier in lieu of a guy who may need a little more triple-A seasoning. Backing up Johjima isn't that great a job anyway, because Joh is going to be taking a sizable amount of the workload and there isn't much time for growth or development playing once or twice a week. Rivera, on the other hand, will get a chance to see regular time in Tacoma's lineup.
Catching is starting to become a hot commodity in baseball because there aren't too many guys who are interested in the job anymore, what with the obvious wear and tear. We got quite a ransom for Torrealba alone, and if Rivera starts to develop a little more with the bat, then he becomes an interesting trade piece. The same applies for Quiroz, if he manages to distinguish himself in what few opportunities he has (should we suggest that Pentland might fix him too?).
The only question is where to put him on the 40-man...
Oh, and speaking of ransom... Cody Ransom got traded to the Astros for cash. Not that there was much room for him with the Rainiers anyway, but if someone wants him more, they can have him.
Second to Last Cut
Scheduled to head out of town tomorrow, the Mariners have made one of their final spring training cuts
. The breakdown went like this...
Optioned to Triple-A Tacoma:
UT Mike Morse, RHP Clint Nageotte
Re-Assigned to minor league camp:
RHPs Kevin Appier, Scott Atchison, Francisco Cruceta, and Sean Green, IFs Greg Dobbs, Jose Morban, Cody Ransom, OF Adam Jones, and C Corky Miller.
There are now 29 players in camp, with OF Joe Borchard and DH Roberto Petagine making the roster as bench players, Rene Rivera as the backup catcher, and LHPs Jake Woods and Luis Gonzalez and RHPs Jeff Harris and Emiliano Fruto fighting over the remaining two roster spots. The math may seem a little wacky there, but keep in mind that Lawton has his suspension to serve and Chris Snelling, who might end up on the 60-day DL, is still with the team, officially.
There were a few surprises for me on this list, as I had figured Corky Miller won himself a spot and a fan following at the MLB.com message boards after getting the game-winning hit, but the whole "not being on the 40-man" thing worked against him in that area, and Rivera is their man.
If you had suggested when spring training opened, or really any time during the Cactus League season, that Fruto would be in the mix at the end, I wouldn't have bought it. I'm still hesitant to hand him a job, and the spring training stats
would be the damning evidence there, but I'm still not convinced he has the maturity to handle a big league job just yet. He's struggled with such issues over the course of his minor league career and last season was the only one where he overcame it for any length of time. I'd keep him in Tacoma for a while to work on building his confidence, but if they have to go with a RHP, he's younger and has better stuff than Harris, not to mention he's on the 40-man.
Overall, Woods has been pitching himself into contention lately, and I don't think that they want to give up on Gonzo after trading their most recent hard-throwing lefty project. It wouldn't surprise me too much to see Woods and Gonzo go north with Sherrill, not that we need three non-closing lefties, but I wouldn't put it beyond them to try it.
News Around the Minors (3/27/06)
Well, we're getting on the end of the slow period now. In another week, we'll have baseball to talk about again, and shortly after that, minor league baseball, with a few interesting debuts to look forward to this season. I'll comment on the rosters fully as I get to them, but first, let's take a look around to see what other sites are up to.
Let's start off with Baseball America, where they've been running some features on possible draft prospects, including Mill Creek native OF Travis Snider
and Washington RHP Tim Lincecum
. I wouldn't mind seeing either drop to the M's in one of their picks, even though Lincecum's motion is supposedly terrifying and Snider's committed to ASU. If I have the opportunity one of these weeks, I'd like to head over and catch either of their games, see what everyone else is talking about.
At MiLB.com, there's a the second in the series of player journals by Adam Jones
. True, he hasn't been reassigned yet, and that is a little odd, considering how little he's played. Then again, Snelling hasn't been optioned either, or injury rehabbed, whatever they do with him. They may keep Jones and the other NRIs around just long enough to take on the last split squad day. In fact, if you look on the NRI list
now, there are a few interesting names on the list, including some in odd roles. Catcher Brent Johnson? Infielder Casey Craig? Stay tuned.
Speaking of catchers, the Everett Herald had a feature yesterday on the M's minor league coaching instructor, Roger Hansen
. Worth a read.
According to the latest Mariners notebook at MLB.com
, there are going to be a lot of minor leaguers on the mound in Felix's stead for today's game against the Cubbies, including LHPs Thom Oldham, Jake Woods, Luis Gonzalez, and Eric O'Flaherty, along with RHPs Aaron Looper and Stephen Kahn. The token established major leaguer for this game will be RHP Rafael Soriano.
For the rest, we have assorted gatherings for fans of each minor league affiliate. The Missions are scheduled to have their fan fest and hiring fair
on April 1st, so those of you looking into that line of work mightb e interested in checking that out.
The Sixers have their own Meet the Team party scheduled for April 3rd
The Timber Rattlers will have their fan fest scheduled for April 4th
, if you're up in Wisconsin. Also, check out the new T-Rats site, which is part of the new wave of team sites based at MiLB.com. Kind of cookie cutter, but it does have a little more to it, and the alternate Post-Crescent site is still active.
Of course, if you're closer to the M's than any of these other teams, it may be more convenient to check out the hiring fair the Aquasox are running on April 8th
. Just be sure you're aware of the various signups.
Earlier this morning, RHP Jesse Foppert was optioned to triple-A Tacoma
on the heels of his worst spring training outing to date.
Up until yesterday, I had been reserving a bit my judgment on him, thinking that he might continue to build up arm strength and develop some servicable velocity by the end of spring training. I wouldn't have been against the idea of using him in a swingman/sixth starter type role, but the game against the A's just magnified every flaw in his in-game routine until they blew out of proprtion. He kept missing high with his pitches and fell behind hitters rather easily. There was sizable gap between strike one and strike two even as far as pitch counts went. Now, I don't have any qualms about sending him down to Tacoma to work things out away from the spotlight. Best of luck to him down there.