Tag: Joe Saunders

10 Early Season Seattle Mariners Storylines to Follow Most Closely

As the 2013 season begins, the Seattle Mariners, like many teams, have several story lines to monitor moving forward. Whether they are at the major league level now, or on the verge of being there, Mariners fans will have plenty to think about other than the win-loss record.

It is far too soon for fans to start worrying about anything since it’s only one series into the season, but there are still plenty of things that could be taken away after just four games in Oakland.

With that in mind, here are the 10 story lines Mariners fans should be keeping an eye on early in the 2013 season.

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Seattle Mariners: 5 Key Takeaways from Spring Training

This spring, the Seattle Mariners have been, dare I say, entertaining. 

As an organization, there are quite a few positive signs to point toward for the future, but what about this season?

With a mix of youth and experience, the team seems keen on taking a positive step forward toward competing in the American League West.  

Do they have a shot to put up a fight against the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers and Oakland A’s? 

Or will they be fighting to stay out of the division cellar with the Houston Astros?

Although it’s always hard to place much value on what happens in spring training, for fun I wanted to see what are some of the key takeaways we’ve seen from Mariners camp as we approach Opening Day. 

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Seattle Mariners: Projecting the Starting Rotation for 2013

The starting rotation for the Seattle Mariners is far from set as the team gets ready to start spring training for the 2013 season.

Would it be a stretch to suggest that only two spots are assured at this point?

Felix Hernandez. Ace. Top of the rotation. In process of signing huge long-term deal. Check.

Hisashi Iwakuma. Signed two-year deal. Probable second or third, depending on other performances. Check.

Joe Saunders. One year-deal. Represents veteran experience, though there are no guarantees. Check?

Beyond that? Take your pick. Blake Beavan. Erasmo Ramirez. Hector Noesi. Jeremy Bonderman. Taijuan Walker. James Paxton. Danny Hultzen. Brandon Maurer.

Now you can add Jon Garland to the mix, as tweeted by Geoff Baker.

For those of you scoring at home, that is nine pitchers for two spots, and there could theoretically be more. Who will be the odd men out?

This really could be a sort of open tryout for those spots. Seattle currently has a penciled-in depth chart, but that could be completely negotiable.

There are positives and negatives to every one of these pitchers.

Blake Beavan is currently listed in the rotation, but he will arguably need to pitch well in order to keep that spot. His consistently high ERA and his propensity to give up the long ball have some wondering if he has reached his ceiling or if he is poised for a breakout year.

Erasmo Ramirez looked good in September, but he will also be auditioning for his spot in the rotation. Obviously the Mariners like what they see in Ramirez, but the youngster has a very limited body of work. He could theoretically lose his job in Arizona.

Hector Noesi seems destined for the minors unless he puts together an impressive spring. The add-on to the Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda trade was dreadful in 2012, which means that he will need a rebound performance in order to stay on the roster.

Jeremy Bonderman and Jon Garland bring veteran savvy to a staff that could probably use some experience. Unfortunately, Garland has not pitched since 2011 and Bonderman has not thrown since 2010. Therefore, “veteran savvy” might be a nice way of suggesting that both are barely hanging on. Both will either have to pitch very well in Arizona or win jobs by default if no one else steps up.

At the risk of lumping the rest into one group, there is a common theme with the highly-touted youngsters. Now is the time where we see which players are ready, close to ready or need another year or two of seasoning. Will there be a breakout performance? You have to suspect that Seattle would love to see a Taijuan Walker step up, dazzle and win a spot in the rotation.

Still, there will be caution about rushing the young arms. This is why guys like Bonderman and Garland are in camp. The veterans may represent the future for this team, but they might serve as placeholders until the young arms are ready. At the risk of being insensitive, the veterans are a bit more expendable at this point.

A more conservative rotation probably looks like this:

Hernandez, Iwakuma, Saunders, Beavan/Ramirez, Garland

However, what happens if the young pitchers look really good? The rotation might then look like this:

Hernandez, Iwakuma, Saunders, Walker, Hultzen

Is the future upon us? Or will this be a conservative rotation that is filled in with uninspiring but semi-reliable experience?

Let the tryouts begin.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Free Agency: Why Orioles Fans Are Divided over Possible Joe Saunders Deal

Veteran left-hander Joe Saunders is increasingly becoming the source of opposing viewpoints among Baltimore Orioles fans. 

Saunders, 31, was traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks in August 2012 in exchange for reliever Matt Lindstrom.

Since joining the Orioles, Saunders has compiled a 3-3 record with a 3.63 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in seven regular-season starts.

The Virginia native also went 1-0 with an impressive 1.59 ERA in two postseason starts for the Orioles. One of these starts included a stout 5.2 inning outing in Baltimore’s 5-1 victory over the Texas Rangers in the 2012 AL Wild Card Game.

In his seven year career, Saunders is 78-65 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.

Yet with just over one month left before spring training, the Orioles have yet to sign Saunders, even though Saunders has expressed interest in returning to Charm City, ­per Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun.

According to Orioles beat writer Eduardo A. Encina (also of the Baltimore Sun), a major sticking point in negotiations involves the length of contract Saunders and his agent are requesting—three years.

This issue has fostered an increasingly sharp debate between Orioles fans regarding why Birds brass is reluctant to pull the trigger on a midterm contract for Saunders.

Fans that support the Orioles signing Saunders to this length cite three reasons.

First, Saunders is a cool-headed all-star that will solidify a rotation that is unsettled beyond Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen.  Second, Saunders boasts healthy playoff experience the Orioles could benefit from. Third, Saunders has a solid ability to mentor younger pitchers on the Orioles, especially the lefties.

But a second camp of fans argue signing Saunders to a three-year deal is way too long, if not risky.

Fans in this camp think the Orioles potentially have several hidden gems that will be fighting for spots in the Orioles rotation this spring.

And despite Saunders’ upside, giving this southern gent such a contract may prove too expensive in the long run, especially if Saunders does not perform to the level of the big sum of money his contract may entail.

For these fans, a one-year deal for Saunders may suffice. Should Saunders pitch well, then the Orioles may consider long-term options.

So if you were a leader in the Orioles front office, what would you do?  Would you take a gamble on Saunders, even if this gamble may not work out?  Would you sign Saunders to a one- or two-year deal, perhaps as a stepping stone to something bigger downstream?

Or would you do what a third camp proposes: let Saunders walk altogether?

These are tough questions to answer, especially when one considers the highly competitive nature of the AL East in 2013.

But if the Orioles play their cards right, and a little luck falls this team’s way, landing Saunders at the right time and price may benefit this franchise for years to come.


For more Orioles’ Features, Sign Up for B/R’s Baltimore Orioles Newsletter! 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Free Agency: 9 Best Potential Bargains Still Available

The latest free-agent buzz in Major League Baseball has surrounded three clients of Scott Boras, all currently left out in the cold of winter with spring training fast approaching.

Rafael Soriano, Kyle Lohse and Michael Bourn have yet to find new homes this offseason, in large part because all three are attached to draft-pick compensation after their former employers extended them qualifying offers.

Ultimately, Boras may get his clients the paydays they are seeking. However, unless the signing teams finished in the bottom ten in the overall standings last season, it’ll cost them a first-round pick to sign any of the Boras guys.

Rather than pony up the big bucks and a first-round pick, most teams would be wise to do their remaining winter shopping in the bargain aisles.

Need another outfielder but don’t want to shell out for Bourn? Scott Hairston remains available.

Need another starting pitcher but aren’t quite sold on Lohse as a frontline guy? Jeff Karstens, Shaun Marcum or Joe Saunders can provide value in the middle of your rotation for a reasonable sum.

And, if you need another right-handed reliever, Kyle Farnsworth, Matt Lindstrom, Vicente Padilla or Brandon Lyon can pitch at the back-end of your bullpen.

Finally, in a tepid second-base market, Kelly Johnson remains available with virtually no reported interest to this point in the offseason.

(All statistics are from Baseball Reference and all contractual data is from Cot’s Baseball Contracts).

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5 Best Options Left for Seattle Mariners to Improve

With the clock ticking down to the beginning of Spring Training, General Manager Jack Zduriencik and the Seattle Mariners continue to search high and low for ways to improve their roster.

To recap, GM Z has made a slew of minor moves including the acquisition of Robert Andino, re-signing Hisashi Iwakuma and Oliver Perez, and bringing in veteran outfielders Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay.

To date Seattle has made only one “big” move, trading Jason Vargas to the Los Angeles Angels for 1B/DH Kendrys Morales.

With questions still remaining on how the Mariners will improve their roster, GM Z and the rest of ownership have a bevy of options still available to them.

Here’s a look at the top five ways the Mariners can improve before spring training.

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Arizona Diamondbacks Reportedly Close to Trading Joe Saunders

The Arizona Diamondbacks are on the brink of trading starting pitcher Joe Saunders.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal broke the news via Twitter:

The team bringing Saunders in is not yet known, but Rosenthal had reported earlier this week that the Baltimore Orioles were a team interested in the left-hander’s services after he was placed on waivers, so don’t be surprised if that’s Saunders’ new destination.

Saunders hasn’t lived up to expectations in 2012, especially pitching in a weak offensive division like the National League West. In his last start for Arizona, Saunders got rocked for nine runs on 12 hits in only 3.2 innings.

The 31-year-old is 6-10 for Arizona, sporting a 4.22 ERA in his second full season with the team. He was brought over in a trade from the Los Angeles Angels during the 2010 season.

While with the Angels, Saunders had his best season in 2008 when he went 17-7 with a 3.41 ERA in 31 starts. Since then, Saunders has only had one other season with an ERA under four and that was last year when he posted a 12-13 record with an ERA of 3.69 for the division-winning Diamondbacks.

It won’t get any easier for Saunders, however.

No matter which division he goes to, none will be a more pitcher-friendly one than the division in which he currently resides. Whichever team is pulling the trigger for Saunders is taking a pretty big chance.

Saunders will be a free agent at season’s end.

At the moment, Arizona is 64-63 which leaves them seven games out of the NL West lead and 5.5 games out of the wild card. There is still hope for the Diamondbacks season to be a success, but it looks like Saunders will no longer be helping that cause.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Starting Pitcher Joe Saunders Will Return to the Arizona Diamondbacks

After several months of speculation leading to the assumption that starting pitcher Joe Saunders and the Arizona Diamondbacks had parted ways, the two sides have agreed on a one-year contract, much to everyone’s surprise.

Under the terms of the unlikely deal, Saunders will earn $6 million for his services in 2012, rejoining a Diamondbacks team that had reshuffled their pitching staff in the wake of what initially appeared to be Saunders’ departure.

Instead, Saunders joins returning cast members Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and Josh Collmenter, while welcoming Wade Miley and Trevor Bauer from the minor leagues and Trevor Cahill from the Oakland Athletics.

The unlikely reunion of Arizona and Saunders is likely due to both parties’ collective inability to secure greater deals with others than they were able to with one another.

When the Diamondbacks offered Saunders a two-year, $12 million contract in December, he rejected the offer, wishing to explore the free agent market.

Saunders looked from Baltimore to Boston, but was unable to find a team willing to offer him significantly more than two years for $12 million.

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks traded prospects Jarrod Parker, Collin Cowgill and Ryan Cook to the Athletics for starter Cahill and veteran reliever Craig Breslow.

At the time, Cahill was seen as Plan B, the best option to replace Saunders, and join several rookies and prospects in the Diamondbacks starting rotation.

Instead, with Saunders back on the roster in 2012, GM Kevin Towers is hopeful the move will “allow our [prospects] more time in the minor leagues to develop. We don’t think it’s going to be too long before they’re ready, and if there’s an injury we’ve created more depth.”

Now that Saunders is back in town, the Diamondbacks look to come out ahead—Cahill will become their No. 3 or No. 4 starter, and there is plenty of flexibility with Miley, Bauer and other D-Backs prospects.

In the end, both parties will come out as winners.

Saunders, who made $5.5 million in 2011, will still receive a pay raise of $500,000 and will enjoy remaining in Arizona.

For the Diamondbacks, this signing is a best-case scenario: Saunders’ return maintains the gel of the starting rotation, while the club retains Saunders for practically what they offered him in December.

And if Arizona happens to consider a trade at some point in 2012, Saunders’ presence affords the club more flexibility when it comes to starting pitching, whether Saunders is the one traded or not.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Diamondbacks Pitching Staff Too Deep and Too Cheap to Bring Back Joe Saunders

The sports industry is a business.

It is a phrase ballplayers, coaches, teams, bookies and the press know all too well. Money is made and lost based on what happens between—and occasionally outside—the lines.

For 2011 Diamondbacks starting pitcher Joe Saunders, it was a lesson that has been learned time and time again throughout his career.

From his early years spent climbing through the Los Angeles Angels‘ organization to his trade to Arizona in 2010, Saunders was familiar with the dark, economic side of sports.

So when the 2011 MLB season concluded and the Diamondbacks were attempting to avoid arbitration with Saunders, the club offered him a two-year, $12 million contract.

He and agent Greg Genske said “no,” and countered with three years at $27 million.

Arizona never responded.

Saunders was recently interviewed by Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic, stating he “really wanted to come back” and describing his counteroffer as “very reasonable.”

For the Diamondbacks, the decision not to tender Saunders was fairly fundamental.

Saunders had not enjoyed a winning season since 2009 with the Angels, and with 12 wins in 2011, he averaged $458,333 per win—$35,000 more than 21-game winner Ian Kennedy made over the course of the entire season.

For the Diamondbacks, the decision not to meet Saunders’ counteroffer was simple—Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Trevor Cahill, Josh Collmenter and probable fifth starter Wade Miley will earn less than $20 million combined in 2012, or an average of $4.0 million per pitcher.

Saunders is most comparable to Cahill, the pitcher slated to replace Saunders on the D-Backs’ 2012 list of starting pitchers.

Saunders was a 12-13 pitcher in 2011 with a 3.69 ERA and 108 K, while Cahill finished with a 12-14 record, 4.16 ERA and 147 K with the Oakland Athletics.

Saunders, however, had asked for three years at $27 million, an average of $9.0 million per year, while Cahill was already under contract from Oakland to earn just $3.5 million in 2012, $5.5 million in 2013 and $7.7 million in 2014.

Cahill had also seen similar success in 2010, as Saunders had in 2008. Cahill was an 18-game winner two seasons ago, while Saunders won 17 games in 2008.

As far as Arizona and GM Kevin Towers are concerned, Cahill is 2012’s Saunders, albeit at a much cheaper price via this month’s trade with the A’s.

With Cahill, Collmenter and Miley raring to go along with minor league prospects Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer waiting in the wings, the Diamondbacks have several fine options for the pitcher’s position.

As Saunders concluded the Diamondbacks “wanted to go a different direction,” the fact of the matter is that Arizona simply didn’t need to a pay a ~.500 pitcher in excess of seven or eight million dollars.

Arizona’s 2012 pitching staff is simply too deep and too cheap to include Saunders.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Fantasy Baseball: 10 Players off Waivers To Help You Down the Stretch

Fantasy baseball managers are all looking for that one missing piece to put their team over the edge and into the playoffs. However, it is much easier to try to find a diamond in the rough than it is to actually find that diamond.

Nevertheless, here are 10 players (one from each fielding position, one starting pitcher, and one relief pitcher) who have the best chance of both being available in your league and helping you dominate the end of the season.

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