Leaving Orlando-Final Thoughts

I didn’t file a blog yesterday just to find out who’s paying attention and who isn’t. I hope you missed me.

Anyway-here I am again. The final day in Orlando. But there are some crumbs remaining from yesterday that still must be swept.

The Seattle Mariners have been feeling great pressure to change their fortunes. And they are spending a fortune to make those changes.

After signing Robbie Cano, the Mariners have picked up both Logan Morrison from the Marlins and Corey Hart from the Brewers. Both are slated to play in the outfield, leaving Justin Smoak to continue playing 1B. Of course, that may change during Spring Training.

Morrison cost the Mariners promising right-handed reliever Carter Capps.

I am a fan of the hard-throwing Capps. I think he has upside as a late inning reliever. If he refines his command, he might even become a closer one day. He’s only 23, but he struggled on the big league stage last season. He needs more time to develop.

Morrison is a big guy at 6-foot-4, 235-pounds. He hits left-handed.

Hart is the big prize in my opinion. The Brewers really wanted him back. He suffered from injuries to both knees and will be working hard to regain his prior form as an impact right-handed power hitter. He can be a game-changing bat in the middle of the lineup. But he will be faced with a vast home field that doesn’t play well for power hitters.

Incidentally, Morrison also had two knee surgeries himself.

So in a very short time, the Mariners have added some impact bats to their arsenal. Both coming off bum knee issues and both looking for a fresh start.

The deal is not yet official.

The Hart deal sends the Brewers back to the drawing board to find their first baseman. It could very well be former Rays hitter James Loney, himself a free agent.

For me, the three new Mariners represent an upgrade on the overall roster, but it also leaves roster questions. Who goes or loses a job when Morrison and Hart are added?
With Morrison and Hart at the corners, does Dustin Ackley stay in center? That might not be the best defensive outfield we’ll see this coming season. I’m trying to be kind here. Do they try to re-sign the fine fielding Franklin Gutierrez to patrol center? Can he stay healthy? He’s been put on the shelf in winter baseball due to illness. What happens to Nick Franklin? Is he now just a spare part infielder? Or do they trade some of the guys on the edges?

Yesterday there was a luncheon with managers. I sat at Kirk Gibson’s table with three Dbacks public relations guys and 4 other writers. It was fascinating to watch Gibson get the opinion of those at the table without giving much information in return. I came away convinced the club is still chasing a top notch starter, but it may not happen here at the Winter Meetings or this week. I think they want Matt Garza.

The afternoon was highlighted by a Scout Of The Year reception. 4 awards are given, spread throughout the country. I was thrilled that my mentor from my time with Seattle, 92-year-old Bill Kearns won an award. He’s a wonderful man and he taught me a great deal. I have never-and I mean never-heard Kearns say a bad word about anyone.

They had some nice food at the reception. But for some reason, I haven’t been hungry. I nibbled on turkey and had a great chocolate chip cookie. Actually, I’m hungry right now. Haven’t eaten yet today.

They served the same meal at the manager’s lunch that I had the day before at the MLB Awards lunch. Some type of pasta with tomato sauce and frayed chicken. Yikes! The rolls were great because they had sunflower seeds on them. I just nibbled at the pasta. Generally, I love pasta. But not this type.

Last night the boss took us to a great Cuban restaurant in Celebration. It was more food than I can eat. But the stories of our MLB.com veteran reporters were legendary. I just sat there and listened and laughed. Believe me when I tell you these guys could stay up all night and reflect on their days on the beat. Just great, great writers. And wonderful guys.

I drove to the restaurant. It took me 15 minutes to find my rental car here in the hotel. I was embarrassed, but finally found it. Thanks to Siri we found the restaurant.

This morning was the Rule 5 Draft. Not much action. And most players don’t stick that are selected in Rule 5. But it’s fun to watch. It’s like a lightning round on a game show. Blink and you’ll miss a selection.

I leave this afternoon for my home in Phoenix.

It’s been a great four days here at the Winter Meetings. I’ll continue to write the blog and post scouting profiles on MLBPipeline.com and MLB.com until Spring Training. Then-I’m off to Florida as well as watching spring games at home in the Valley of the Sun.

So keep up with he. And as always, thanks. And I hope you’ll follow me @BerniePleskoff on twitter.

That’s it. I’m done.