We were just informed that former Mariner (actually a two-time Mariner) Brian Sweeney has signed a minor league contract with the Mariners. He will not be one of the 25 non-roster invites to Major League Spring Training, and will participate in minor league camp when pitchers and catchers report to Peoria, AZ March 3 (the MLB and non-roster invite Pitchers & Catchers report Feb. 11).
As Mariners.com beat writer Greg Johns reported earlier today, Sweeney went 5-5 with a 4.34 ERA in 32 appearances (8 starts) with AAA Buffalo in the New York Mets organization. He participated in Major League Spring Training with the Diamondbacks.
Sweeney came up through the Mariners organization after being signing as a minor league free agent in 1996, and made his Major League debut for Seattle in 2003. In 2010 with the Mariners, he posted a 3.16 ERA (13 ER, 37.0 IP) in 24 relief appearances. He has also played with the San Diego Padres (2004 & 2006) and played three seasons in Japan.
Brian is truly one of the really good guys that has ever worn a Mariners uniform, and we are happy to have him back in the organization.
Noesi made his Major League debut last year at the age of just 24 but he certainly had to wait for his time to come after he was called up. He began the season in the Triple-A before being brought up to New York on April 13. Unfortunately, he was sent back down to the minors on April 22 without ever making an appearance. After he was recalled on May 13, he still had to wait five days before making his MLB debut, but it was worth the wait. Noesi tossed 4.0 shutout innings in a 15-inning affair against the Baltimore Orioles, earning the win in his debut.
Here’s a fun fact about Noesi’s first game: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Hector became the first Yankee to win his first big league appearance in relief while pitching at least 4.0 scoreless innings, and the first Major Leaguer since Jim Brower for Cleveland on 9/5/99 at Baltimore (4.1IP). He was also the first pitcher to do so in an extra-inning game since Kansas City’s Scott Bankhead on 5/25/86 vs. Chicago (AL)
The Esperanza, Dominican Republic native, will enter camp with a shot to be part of the Mariners starting rotation. As you probably already know, Hector split the 2011 season between the Yankees (mostly) bullpen and AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre where he was 1-1 with a 3.28 ERA (9 ER, 24.2 IP) in six games including five starts. Over the course of his minor league career, he is 25-15 with a 3.17 ERA (133 ER, 377.2 IP) with 365 strikeouts (8.7 K/9.0 IP) in 84 appearances including 64 starts.
Noesi might be new to the Mariners organization, but he’ll already be familiar with some of the players that will be joining him in Peoria.
He’ll of course have catcher Jesus Montero with him when he puts on a Mariners uniform for the first time, but he has also been teammates with a number of other Mariners who will join him in Arizona.
Back in 2010, Noesi was named to the World Team of the 2010 All-Star Futures Game where he teamed up with left-handed pitcher Philippe Valiquette (Canada), infielder Alex Liddi (Italy) and outfielder Carlos Peguero (Dominican Republic) to take on the U.S. Team. All four players will be reunited with the Mariners this spring.
Hector spent this offseason playing at home for the Tigres de Licey in the Dominican Winter League where he was 3-3, 2.70 ERA (14 ER, 46.2 IP) with 27 strikeouts in 10 games, all Hector. While there, he continued to get familiar with some future teammates. Joining him on the Licey team were infielder Carlos Triunfel, outfielder Mike Wilson and Peguero.
While Noesi certainly pitched well this winter, he also had other commitments to attend to. According to this report out of the Dominican, Hector used an off-day in the schedule to plan a wedding. You heard that right! With the help of a friend, he purchased a wedding ring, a wedding dress and shoes, all to surprise his future bride with a well-kept secret.
On November 4, 2011, Noesi tossed 5.0 innings while allowing just one unearned run. This might be the only time that he was happy to be lifted from a game and he quickly left the stadium. After his soon-to-be bride, Yeldi, was informed that they were on their way to an activity that they were both invited to, off they went. When they arrived, the surprise of a lifetime came together. Hector and Yeldi were married in front of family and friends.
At some point during the wedding, Noesi was informed that his Tigres had won the game and he was credited with the win.
Not every day that a pitcher gets two wins in one day.
The Mariners have officially signed right-handed pitcher Kevin Millwood to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training. Here is the official news release with a quote from Jack Zduriencik:
SEATTLE, Wash. (Jan. 24, 2012) — Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Jack Zduriencik announced today the club has signed veteran right-handed pitcher Kevin Millwood to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training.
Millwood, 37, is a veteran of 15 Major League seasons with the Atlanta Braves (1997-2002), Philadelphia Phillies (2003-04), Cleveland Indians (2005), Texas Rangers (2006-09), Baltimore Orioles (2010) and Colorado Rockies (2011). He has compiled a career record of 163-140 with a 4.10 ERA in 423 appearances (415 starts). Amongst active pitchers, Millwood ranks 5th in innings pitched (2,559.1), strikeouts (1,976) and games started (415), 9th in wins (163) and T12th in complete games (21). He also has a no-hitter to his credit on April 27, 2003 against San Francisco when he was with the Philadelphia.
“Kevin brings a great deal of experience as a veteran pitcher and will compete for a spot in our starting rotation,” said Zduriencik. “His leadership and experience will be a benefit for our young pitchers and we look forward to seeing him in spring training.”
Millwood spent one season with Mariners manager Eric Wedge and pitching coach Carl Willis with Cleveland in 2005, and won the American League ERA title with a 2.86 mark (61 ER, 192.0 IP).
He split last season between the New York (AL), Boston and Colorado organizations. He made 9 starts with the Rockies from Aug. 10-end of the season, going 4-3 with a 3.98 ERA (24 ER, 54.1 IP). He also pitched for AA Trenton (1-0, 0.00) and AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre (1-1, 8.00) in the Yankees organization and AAA Pawtucket (5-1, 4.28) in the Red Sox organization.
The Mariners have now signed 16 players to minor league contracts with invites to Major League Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers will report to Peoria, AZ for physicals on Feb. 11 (first workout 2/12) and position players are scheduled to report on Feb. 17 (first full-squad workout 2/18).
We just got done with the conference call with Jesus Montero and Jack Zduriencik, and we will post some quotes from that shortly here at the blog.
We just got a chance to meet Jesus, and he is a very impressive young man. He is very excited about being a Seattle Mariner and can’t wait to get to Spring Training.
And here is the first photo of Jesus Montero at Safeco Field.
I also had a chance to catch up with Jesus and ask him a few questions:
5 Questions with Jesus Montero:
1. What is your favorite movie? The Terminator
2. Who is your baseball idol? Sammy Sosa
3. What is your favorite kind of music? Salsa
4. How would you like to be known as a player? The complete player who can catch and hit (and with a smile he said for power!)
5. What is your dream car? Lamborghini (he loves the sport of drag racing, but does not participate — too fast he says)
The Mariners officially completed the 4-player trade with the New York Yankees, acquiring C/DH Jesus Montero and RHP Hector Noesi in exchange for RHP Michael Pineda and minor league RHP Jose Campos.
Montero and Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik will be on a conference call at 2:30 p.m. PT today, and we’ll pass along some quotes from that and hopefully get a chance to ask Jesus some questions to share on the blog.
And here is how Jesus will look in a Mariners uniform (use photoshop of course).
MARINERS ACQUIRE JESUS MONTERO, HECTOR NOESI FROM NEW YORK YANKEES
Mariners send RHP Michael Pineda and RHP Jose Campos to New York.
SEATTLE, Wash. — Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager Jack Zduriencik announced today that the club has acquired catcher Jesus Montero and right-handed pitcher Hector Noesi from the New York Yankees in exchange for right-handed pitcher Michael Pineda and minor league right-handed pitcher Jose Campos.
“With this trade we feel we have acquired a premium offensive talent that has the potential to hit in the middle of our lineup and grow with our other young players,” said Zduriencik. “It is also beneficial that we were able to acquire a Major League- ready pitcher with six years of control and who will compete for a spot in our rotation.
“It was very difficult to part ways with Michael (Pineda) as we are extremely proud of what he has been able to accomplish in our organization. He is a special young man and we wish him the best of luck with the Yankees.
“Through our evaluations, we’ve identified the strength of our organization to be pitching depth, and this helped in our decision to acquire what we consider a premium bat and a potential starting pitcher for the 2012 season and beyond. This trade is also a testament to the job that Bob Engle (Vice President, International Operations) and Tom McNamara (Director of Amateur Scouting) and their staffs have done through scouting and signing of players. ”
Montero, 22, has been ranked by Baseball America as the Yankees top prospect in each of the last three years (2010-12) and the 3rd-best prospect in all of baseball (top catcher) entering the 2011 season. He was also tabbed by the publication as the Yankees “Best Hitter for Average” and “Best Power Hitter”. He was recently selected as the top catching prospect by MLB.com.
Montero made his Major League debut as a September call-up and hit .328 (20×61) with 9 runs, 4 doubles, 4 home runs, 12 RBI with a .406 on-base percentage and a .590 slugging percentage in 18 games. His September performance earned him a spot on the Yankees Division Series playoff roster where he went 2-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI in his only two at-bats against Detroit. Last season in 109 games with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Montero hit .288 (121×420) with 52 runs, 19 doubles, 1 triple, 18 home runs and 67 RBI.
Montero has combined to bat .308 (570×1852) during his rapid rise through the Yankees minor league system. He was selected to play in the 2008 (Yankee Stadium) and 2009 (Busch Stadium) Futures Game. In 2010 he combined to bat .289 (131×453) with 34 doubles, 3 triples, 21 home runs and 75 RBI with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Guacara, Venezuela native was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on Oct. 17, 2006.
Noesi, 24 (turns 25 on Jan. 26), split the 2011 season between the Yankees and AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 30 games, including two starts with the Yankees, he was 2-2, 4.47 ERA (28 ER, 56.1 IP) with 45 strikeouts. With Scranton/Wilkes-Barre he was 1-1, 3.28 ERA (9 ER, 24.2 IP) with 17 strikeouts in 6 games, 5 starts. He was rated by Baseball America as the Yankees 7th-best prospect heading into the 2011 season as was also tabbed by the publication as having the “Best Control” in their system (he was not eligible to be included in their 2012 rankings due to having pitched more than 50.0 innings in the Major Leagues last season).
Noesi has combined to go 30-18 with a 2.98 ERA (142 ER, 428.1 IP) with 401 strikeouts in 97 games, 74 starts in the Yankees minor league system. In 2010 he combined to go 14-7, 3.20 ERA (57 ER, 160.1 IP) with 153 strikeouts in 28 games, 27 starts between High-A Tampa, AA Trenton and AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre and was selected to the World Team roster for the 2010 All-Star Futures Game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. The Esperanza, Dominican Republic native was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on Dec. 3, 2004.
Pineda, 23, spent the entire 2011 season with the Mariners, going 9-10, 3.74 ERA (71 ER, 171.0 IP) with 173 strikeouts in 28 appearances, all starts. In his career in the minors he was 31-14, 2.49 ERA (112 ER, 404.1 IP) with 396 strikeouts. He was originally signed by the Mariners as a non-drafted free agent on Dec. 12, 2005.
Campos, 19, was 5-5, 2.32 ERA (21 ER, 81.1 IP) with 85 strikeouts in 14 appearances, all starts with short-season Everett. In three seasons in the Mariners system, he is a combined 14-10, 3.26 ERA (62 ER, 171.1 IP) with 167 strikeouts in 40 games, including 30 starts. He was originally signed by the Mariners as a non-drafted free agent on Jan. 15, 2009.
With these roster moves, the Mariners 40-man roster is now full at 40.
With the Mariners signing of LHP Oliver Perez to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, the club has added another experienced arm to compete in Peoria for a spot on the Mariners roster. Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Jack Zduriencik said he expects Perez to compete for a spot in the bullpen during spring training.
Although he is just 30 years old, Perez already has nine big league seasons under his belt after making his Major League debut at the age of 20 with the San Diego Padres in 2002.
Perez most recently had a successful stint in the Mexican Winter League where he struck out 19 in 14.1 relief innings with a 0.63 ERA. He spent the entire 2011 season with AA Harrisburg in the Nationals organization after logging Major League service time in each of his previous nine seasons (2002-2010).
Oliver has logged 1,111.2 innings in his Major League career and has struck out 1,126 batters (9.12 K/9), making him just one of eight pitchers in Major League history who have struck out more than a batter per inning (with a minimum of at least 1,000 innings pitched).
Not a bad list:
It has been a busy day in Mariners land this morning. There was the announcement with Dan Wilson and Randy Johnson being inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame this morning, the following news about three players avoiding arbitration, and of course talk of all the snow that is in the forecast for the Puget Sound region.
The latest bit of news was that closer Brandon League, starting pitcher Jason Vargas and relief pitcher Shawn Kelley all agreed to one-year contracts for the 2012 season, avoiding the arbitration process. What is arbitration you ask? Here is one of the best definitions that we have come across:
A player with less than 6 years of Major League service time is eligible for salary arbitration if he:
- is without a contract for the next season, AND
- has been tendered a contract offer by his current team by the tender deadline, AND
- cannot agree with his current team on a new contract, AND
- meets one of the conditions below:
- has been on a major league roster or disabled list for at least three years, OR
- has at least two years of major league service but less than three, AND is among the top 17 percent for cumulative playing time in the majors in this class of players, AND was on an active major-league roster for at least 86 days in the previous season.
What this basically means, is that the services of League, Vargas and Kelley are secured for the 2012 season. All three pitchers will be key contributors for the Mariners in 2012. More information on the three players is available in the official news release:
MARINERS AGREE TO TERMS WITH BRANDON LEAGUE, SHAWN KELLEY, JASON VARGAS
Mariners agree to one-year contracts on all three players avoiding arbitration.
SEATTLE, Wash. (Jan. 17, 2012) — Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Jack Zduriencik today announced that the club has agreed to terms with right-handed pitchers Brandon League and Shawn Kelley, and left-handed pitcher Jason Vargas on one-year contracts for the 2012 season. Per club policy, terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
By agreeing to terms with the three players, the Mariners have no remaining arbitration-eligible players.
League, 28, ranked 3rd in the American League last season posting 37 saves and was selected to play in his first All-Star Game. He went 1-5 with a 2.79 ERA (19 ER, 61.1 IP) in a team-high 65 appearances. His 37 saves were 4th-most in single-season club history, and his save percentage (88.1%, 37-for-42) was 6th-highest.
In two seasons with the Mariners, League is 10-12 with a 3.14 ERA (49 ER, 140.1 IP) and 43 saves in 135 appearances. His 135 appearances over the last two seasons are tied for 7th-most in the American League.
In eight Major League seasons with the Blue Jays (2004-09) and Mariners (2010-11), League has compiled a 17-22 record with a 3.70 ERA (141 ER, 342.2 IP) in 303 relief appearances. He was acquired from Toronto on Dec. 23, 2009 along with minor league outfielder Johermyn Chavez in exchange for right-handed pitcher Brandon Morrow. The Blue Jays originally selected him in the 2nd round (59th overall) out of Hawai’i’s St. Louis High School in 2001.
Vargas, 28, went 10-13 with a 4.25 ERA (95 ER, 201.0 IP) in 32 starts in 2011. The lefty set career highs in strikeouts (131), wins (10), innings (201.0) and starts (32). He ranked tied for 3rd in the AL with three shutouts and was tied for 4th with 4 complete games.
In three seasons with the Mariners, Vargas is 22-31 with a 4.19 ERA (226 ER, 485.1 IP) in 86 appearances (77 starts). He was acquired from the New York Mets as part of a 12-player trade also involving the Cleveland Indians on Dec. 10, 2008. He was originally selected by the Florida Marlins in the 2nd round (68th overall) in the 2004 June draft out of Long Beach State University.
Kelley, 27, saw limited action last season after coming back from partial Tommy John surgery performed on Sept. 1, 2010. In 10 Major League games, Kelley did not allow a run and scattered 7 hits in 12.2 innings. In 15 minor league appearances with AA Jackson and AAA Tacoma, Kelley went 1-1 with a 1.53 ERA (3 ER, 17.2 IP).
Originally selected in the 13th round of the 2006 June draft, Kelley made his Major League debut in 2009. In three seasons with the Mariners he has appeared in 73 games (all in relief), recording an 8-5 record with a 3.66 ERA (34 ER, 83.2 IP).