Obviously, the major news coming out of baseball today is this very, very lengthy story in the Miami New Times about several baseball players – Melky Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez,Gio Gonzalez Nelson Cruz and others – receiving performance enhancing drugs.
I’m not going to sit here and pontificate about this. Players cheat. They always have. They always will. If a player believes he can gain any sort of advantage, he will take it. Why? The dollars involved are just too great. It doesn’t make it right. But it’s just a fact. I doubt my opinion of Alex Rodriguez will be lowered because of this recent accusation. I’m not sure it can get much lower. We will be hearing about this often for the coming months.
Now onto more pressing issues …
Veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach is in town meeting with the Mariners this week. Obviously, it seems like a good fit for the Mariners. But is it a good fit for Shoppach? It does seem like he could see plenty of playing time as a late inning defensive replacement for Jesus Montero. The Mariners also very conscious of the fact that Montero wore down mentally and physically after catching several games in a row. So there are opportunities for Shoppach to start games. Manager Eric Wedge also managed Shoppach in Cleveland.
For me, there aren’t many ways to statistically measure catching defense. And of those ways — throwing out runners, passed balls (don’t you ever use catcher’s ERA, ever) – that’s about 1/10th of the responsibilities of the position. And because of that, any stat – namely Win Above Replacement player (WAR) – that uses a defensive metric is kind of flawed when it comes to catchers. So much of a catcher’s responsibility cannot be measured or quantified with numbers. I was converted to catcher in college (ate my way out of second base), and played the position for three years. The amount of things that went into just one game were overwhelming – and that was at the NAIA level. So at the big league level? It’s ridiculous. It’s why I kind of just shrugged my shoulders on WAR comparisons of John Jaso and Mike Morse.
One thing that would be interesting is the 40-man roster move the Mariners would make if they sign Shoppach. Who do they designate for assignment? Would it be another young player like Yoervis Medina, or would the Mariners part ways with Mike Carp, who seems to have no place on the team.
As for other free agents …. outfielder Michael Bourn met with the Mets (see what I did there?). If you notice in the Sherman story, he views it as a long shot. Why? Well according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Bourn’s agent – Scott Boras – wants 5-years at $15 million per year. And if anyone knows what Boras wants, it would be Heyman.
From what I’ve been told, there hasn’t been a ton of discussion about Bourn in the Mariners’ front office. I’m guessing the idea of $75 million is a little too much of a commitment, particularly with their push to sign Felix Hernandez to a contract extension. Of course, that could change if the asking price went down a little. But how often does Boras’ asking price go down? Would Bourn help the Mariners? Yes. He would give them a legitimate lead-off hitter that they don’t have and another defensive presence in the outfield. Having Bourn and Gutierrez in the same outfield could offset any defensive issues in left field. But I’d be surprised if they go this route. And it’s not because they are worried about giving up their first round pick (No. 12 overall) as compensation.
The Mariners are still hoping to add a veteran pitcher as well. Joe Saunders’ name has been mentioned outside sources, but it doesn’t sound like the team is interested in overpaying. Lohse’s asking price is also way too high for his value …. here’s a list of other pitchers that are unsigned. Any names that interest you?