January 2014

Here’s a list of team presidents around MLB

83rd MLB All-Star GameAs the Mariners narrow their search for a replacement for team president Chuck Armstrong, the question has been raised as to whether the club should hire a “baseball guy” to fill the position and Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa (pictured) has made it known he’d be interested.

It doesn’t appear the Mariners are headed down that path, as I reported in this story today on Mariners.com. And the reaction of many fans, understandably, is why would you overlook a guy like La Russa?

I’m not going to argue for or against La Russa, but I will present one thing most fans haven’t seen when they ask “Why don’t you hire a baseball guy to run the team?”

Below is a list of the team presidents around Major League Baseball. These generally aren’t household baseball names, for the simple reason that team presidents oversee finances and marketing and sales and legal departments and almost every team in baseball separates those from baseball operations and rely on their GM and baseball ops folks to make the baseball decisions and then present them to the team president and ultimately ownership for approval, if the size of the contracts warrant such input.

Certainly a case could be made that a guy like La Russa would bring another wise baseball mind to any organization, much like Nolan Ryan did with the Rangers. Though it should also be noted that Ryan stepped down last season amid a power struggle in the Texas organization. And otherwise, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another former MLB manager or player among the current list of team presidents or guys holding that type of position.

Would La Russa work out as a team president? I have no idea, though I suspect he’d make a lot more sense as a general manager in charge of baseball operations if he indeed wants to get into a baseball front office. But one thing I do know. The typical MLB team president certainly isn’t a “baseball guy” or a big fan-familiar name, whether you’re talking about the Yankees or the Rays or A’s. Here’s the full list:

Orioles: John Angelos, executive vice president
Red Sox: Larry Lucchino, president/CEO
White Sox: Howard Pizer, sr. executive VP and Kenny Williams, executive VP of baseball operations
Indians: Mark Shapiro, president
Tigers: David Dombrowski, president and GM
Astros: Reid Ryan, president business operations
Royals: Dan Glass, president
Angels: John Carpino, president
Twins: Dave St. Peter, president
Yankees: Randy Levine, president
Athletics: Mike Crowley, president
Mariners: Chuck Armstrong, president
Rays: Matt Silverman, president
Rangers: Jon Daniels, president and GM
Blue Jays: Paul Beeston, president and CEO

Diamondbacks: Derrick Hall, president and CEO
Braves: John Schuerholtz, president
Cubs: Crane Kenney, president; and Theo Epstein, president baseball ops
Reds: Robert Castellini, president and CEO
Rockies: Dan O’Dowd, executive VP of baseball and GM; and Greg Feasel, executive VP of business.
Dodgers: Stan Kasten, president and CEO
Marlins: David Samson, president
Brewers: Doug Melvin, president of baseball ops and GM; and Rick Schlesinger, chief operating officer
Mets: Jeff Wilpon, chief operating officer
Phillies: David Montgomery, general partner and president
Pirates: Frank Coonelly, president
Cardinals: Bill DeWitt, president
Padres: Mike Dee, president and CEO
Giants: Larry Baer, president and CEO
Nationals: Mike Rizzo, president of baseball ops; and Alan Gottlieb, chief operating officer

Mariners to open season on ESPN2

It didn’t take long for Robinson Cano’s arrival to have a little impact on the Mariners’ visibility as ESPN announced its Opening Day lineup Thursday and it will include Seattle’s 7 p.m. PT debut against the Angels in Anaheim on ESPN2.

The Dodgers and Padres will kick off the season on ESPN on Sunday, March 30, in a 5 p.m. PT game. Then the network will follow with five national broadcasts on Monday, March 31:

– Cubs at Pirates, 10 a.m. PT (ESPN)
– Red Sox at Orioles, noon PT (ESPN2)
– Cardinals at Reds, 1 p.m. PT (ESPN)
– Rockies at Marlins, 4 p.m. PT (ESPN2)
– Mariners at Angels, 7 p.m. PT (ESPN2)

How much did Cano’s $240 million signing have to do with that? Hard to tell since the Angels are a pretty good draw with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, but the ESPN press release announcing their Opening Day lineup specifically mentioned Cano’s debut with the Mariners as part of the promotion for that game. So, no, it didn’t hurt.

The game will also be telecast on ROOT Sports, which will carry its own broadcast of the game, but will be available in the Seattle and LA markets on both networks.

Edgar falls to 25.2 percent in Hall of Fame voting

Rangers v Mariners

Patience and discipline were hallmarks of Edgar Martinez’s Mariners career and those attributes are clearly going to be required as one of the game’s premier designated hitters awaits word on whether he’ll ever earn enough votes to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

With an influx of star power onto this year’s ballot, Martinez saw his vote total drop to 25.2 percent when the 2014 results were released Wednesday by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America.

In his fifth year of eligibility, Martinez finished 13th among the 36 players listed on this year’s ballot as his percentage fell to its lowest point yet, in large part due to the arrival of a flank of first-timers that included new inductees Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas.

After no players were inducted in 2013, the Hall gained three new members Wednesday with Maddux (97.2 percent), Glavine (91.9) and Thomas (83.7) all surpassing the necessary voting requirement, with second-year eligible Craig Biggio just missing at 74.8 percent of the vote.

BBWAA voters can select up to 10 players on their ballots, with a 75-percent mark needed to earn induction into the exclusive Hall. Players who earn five percent or more are eligible to remain on the ballot for 15 years, so Martinez will be back for his sixth shot in 2015.

Martinez, who turned 51 last week, was named on 144 of the 571 ballots revealed on Wednesday. But his hopes took an expected hit in the crowded field and things don’t figure to get a lot easier next year when Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Gary Sheffield are among the new additions, with Ken Griffey Jr. and Trevor Hoffman to follow in 2016.

Martinez was named on 36.2 percent of the ballots in his first year of eligibility in 2010, then followed with 32.9 percent in 2011, 36.5 in ‘12 and 35.9 percent in ’13. Thus, Wednesday’s results were the first significant drop for the man whom Commissioner Bud Selig named baseball’s top annual designated hitter award after following his retirement from the Mariners in 2004.

Martinez clearly was hurt by the addition of the big-name newcomers as well as the ongoing argument of the candidacy of a player who performed primarily at designated hitter much of his career.

But even on the crowded ballot, he continued receiving solid support from about a quarter of the voters who recognize the impact of two American League batting titles, five Silver Slugger Awards and seven All-Star berths by a player regarded by many as one of the premier right-handed hitters of his era.

Martinez boasts a career .312 batting average and a .418 on-base percentage and remains one of just 10 players in Major League history to have put up 300-plus home runs, 500-plus doubles, 1,000-plus walks and post a batting average over .300 and on-base percentage over .400.

The others are Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Ted Williams, recent retirees Manny Ramirez (eligible in 2017), Chipper Jones (‘18) and Todd Helton (’19) and the still-active Albert Pujols.

Martinez’s career .418 on-base percentage ranks 21st all-time, his career OPS of .933 is the 34th best in Major League history and he is 44th in career walks with 1,283 and 50th in doubles with 514.

Clearly it’s going to be difficult for Martinez to make the long climb to 75-percent approval in his remaining 10 years of eligibility, but there is precedence. Bert Blyleven, who was elected in 2011 in his 14th year on the ballot, received just 26.3 percent of the vote in his fifth year and then gradually worked his way up as voters looked more closely at his accomplishments.

Bruce Sutter, elected in his 13th year of eligibility in 2006, was at 31.1 percent after five years. Jack Morris came up short this year in his 15th and final shot, garnering 61.5 percent, after climbing from 26.3 percent in his fifth year.

Most players who earn induction move through the process quicker – as evidenced again this year by the trio who made it — and it’s going to take a significant turn of events for Martinez to garner enough growth in his support on future ballots to earn himself a spot in Cooperstown.

Edgar figures to take a step back in Hall of Fame voting

Rangers v MarinersIt’s been widely assumed that Edgar Martinez’s Hall of Fame candidacy would take a hit this year in his fifth time on the ballot and early indications are that indeed will be true when voting on the 2014 ballot is announced Wednesday.

Baseballthinkfactory.org does a nice job of  tabulating votes that are released early by BBWAA writers — and its latest results show Martinez being named on 25.3 percent of the early ballots (with about 32 percent of the expected votes revealed).

If that number holds, it’s a pretty significant drop for Edgar, who was tabbed on 36.2 percent of the ballots in his first year of eligibility in 2010, 32.9 percent in 2011, 36.5 in ‘12 and 35.9 percent in ’13.

It doesn’t come as a big surprise, however, since the main question was how much Martinez would fall on a ballot crowded by two issues – no one received the required 75 percent for election last year, so pretty much that whole field is back, plus the arrival of first-time eligible stars Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Jeff Kent and Mike Mussina.

Maddux, Glavine and Thomas are pretty much sure-fire selections when the ballots are revealed Wednesday, with second-year eligible Craig Biggio also likely to crack the 75-percent barrier.

That’s good news for both baseball and Martinez, since it’ll clear up some of the logjam for writers who can only select up to 10 players on their ballots. But things don’t figure to get a lot easier next year when Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Gary Sheffield are among the new additions, with Ken Griffey Jr. and Trevor Hoffman to follow in 2016.

It won’t be impossible for Martinez to rally in coming years. Bert Blyleven, who was elected in 2011 in his 14th year on the ballot, received just 26.3 percent of the vote in his fifth year and then gradually worked his way up as voters looked more closely at his accomplishments.

Bruce Sutter, elected in his 13th year of eligibility in 2006, was at 31.1 percent after five years. Jack Morris, who is expected to come close this year in his 15th and final shot, has made the climb from 26.3 percent in his fifth year.

If you believe the early exit polling, Morris is going to come up short again on Wednesday. But we shall see. You can tune in to the MLB Network or watch online at MLB.com at 11 a.m. PT to see how things come out, or we’ll update here on the blog as soon as possible as well.

Quintero rejoins Mariners on Minor League deal

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red SoxVeteran catcher Humberto Quintero, who played 22 games for the Mariners last season, has been signed to a Minor League contract by Seattle with an invitation to the club’s Major League camp.

Quintero, 34, hit .224 with two home runs and four RBIs in 67 at-bats for the Mariners in 2013 after signing as a free agent on July 26. He started 19 games while helping fill the void when starter Mike Zunino went on the disabled list for five weeks with a broken hamate bone in his left hand.

With Zunino and Jesus Sucre the only catchers currently on the 40-man roster, Quintero will add some needed depth at that position. Jesus Montero is also on the 40-man roster, but is expected to compete primarily at first base and designated hitter.

Mariners pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report in Peoria, Ariz., on Feb. 12.

Quintero has spent parts of 11 different seasons in the Majors, playing for the Padres (2003-04), Astros (2005-11), Royals (2012) and Phillies and Mariners last season. He played 24 games for Philadelphia in 2013 before being designated for assignment on July 24 and then being picked up by Seattle.

The 5-foot-9, 214-pound Venezuelan native has a career .234 batting average with 20 home runs and 126 RBIs in 468 games. He threw out seven of 14 attempted base stealers while with the Mariners last year and provided the game-winning two-run home run in an Aug. 7 victory over the Blue Jays.

Quintero is the fourth non-roster player signed to a Minor League deal this offseason, joining outfielder Cole Gillespie and right-handed pitchers Ramon Ramirez and Matt Palmer.

Ex-Giants reliever among trio signed to Minor deals

San Francisco Giants v St. Louis Cardinals

Veteran right-handed reliever Ramon Ramirez is one of three players who have signed Minor League contracts with the Mariners this offseason with invitations to Major League camp in February, the club announced Thursday.

Ramirez, 32, has pitched eight seasons in the Majors and played in the 2010 World Series with the Giants, though he spent most of last year in the Minors after being designated for assignment by the Giants in mid-June.

Also agreeing to Minor League deals are outfielder Cole Gillespie and right-handed pitcher Matt Palmer.

The three are not on the Mariners’ 40-man roster, which is currently full, but they will take part in Major League camp in Peoria, Ariz., which opens with pitchers and catchers reporting on Feb. 12.

Ramirez is the most experienced of the group, having pitched with the Rockies (2006-07), Royals (’08), Red Sox (2009-10), Giants (2010-11 and ’13) and Mets (2012).

The Dominican native was a key member of the Giants’ World Series championship club in 2010 as he put up a 0.67 ERA with just two earned runs in 27 innings in 25 relief appearances over the final two months of the year.

Ramirez pitched six games for the Giants last year, posting an 11.12 ERA with nine hits, seven earned runs, five walks and no strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings before his release. But he went 3-1 with a 3.31 ERA in 27 appearances in the Minors and has thrown well in Winter Ball in the Dominican this offseason, with a 3.15 ERA in 21 relief outings for Gigantes del Cibao.

In his career, Ramirez is 23-21 with a 3.42 ERA in 423 relief appearances since signing with the Rangers initially as an outfield prospect in 1996.

Palmer, 34, is a veteran right-hander who pitched for the Dodgers’ Triple-A Albuquerque club last year and went 6-8 with a 3.84 ERA in 25 games, including 22 starts. Palmer last pitched in the Majors in 2012 with three relief appearances for the Padres.

The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder was a fifth starter and long reliever in 2009 with the Angels and went 11-2 with a 3.93 ERA in 121 1/3 innings in 40 games, including 13 starts. But he’s pitched only 20 games in the Majors since and has a career MLB mark of 13-7 with a 4.56 ERA.

Gillespie, 29, is a former Oregon State standout and Portland, Ore., native, who hit .240 (12-for-50) in 25 games last year with the Cubs after being released by the Giants in July. He has played all three outfield positions in parts of three seasons with the D-backs (2010-11), Giants (’13) and (Cubs ’13).

Gillespie has batted .225 with three home runs and 20 RBIs in 78 career MLB games since being selected in the third round of the 2006 Draft by the Brewers.

Like all clubs, the Mariners sign a number of players to Minor League deals with camp invites to add depth and competition in Spring Training and typically a couple land jobs on the Major League roster at some point during the season.

Seattle will likely add a few more veterans to that list, as well as extending Spring Training invitations to some of their own top Minor League players, between now and the start of camp.