Bits: Catcher rumors, Safeco renovation, trade speculation
Written by Jon Shields on November 26, 2012 @ 11:59PM      Jump To Comments

Abelimages/Getty Images North America M's connected to free agent catchers Russell Martin, Mike Napoli

FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal:

While the New York Yankees remain the favorites to sign Russell Martin, they are not the only team pursuing him.

The free-agent catcher also is drawing significant interest from the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Pittsburgh Pirates, according to major-league sources.

Martin could be the fallback option for several teams vying for the services of Mike Napoli.'s Jim Bowden and CBS Sports' Jon Heyman each tweeted last week that the Mariners were in on Napoli.

Here's a snippet from one of Jeff Sullivan's recent Napoli-themed posts over at Looking Landing:

There are, I think, two ways that people might respond to the Mike Napoli/Mariners rumor. They are:

(1) All right, the Mariners need some dingers!

(2) Napoli has those old-player skills. A four-year contract now would be a disaster -- he's going to break down.

As far as #1 is concerned, yes, Napoli would provide for the Mariners some thump. He is a power hitter who looks like a power hitter, and who whiffs like a power hitter. Even as Napoli ages, it's unlikely that he'll lose his ability to hit home runs often enough for it to be remembered that sometimes he hits home runs.

As far as #2 is concerned -- I'm guessing this is what would be the consensus response if the Mariners were to sign Napoli for four years. A 31-year-old catcher with an unathletic body who walks, strikes out, and goes deep? It just feels like Napoli doesn't have very long to go. Richie Sexson, remember, came apart at 32. Sexson and Napoli are not dissimilar hitters. I'm not going to deny that this is my most prominent feeling right now. I'm not in love with the idea of Napoli for four years. But maybe Napoli wouldn't require four years, and also, we have to remember about the uncertainty. When people criticize free-agent contracts, oftentimes they come off sounding overconfident. We don't know. We never know, and we think we know better because can identify "old-player skills," but that doesn't mean nearly as much as we wish. We are a species that absolutely sucks at telling the future, yet convinces itself over and over that it's able to tell the future.

USS Mariner's Dave Cameron is leaning #2 as well:

And Napoliís not exactly a sure thing himself. The massive spike in his strikeout rate should scare you. The fact that he only hit nine doubles last year should scare you. The fact that heís a catcher on the wrong side of 30 should scare you. Maybe he goes Josh Willingham on the league and shows everyone that the strikeout rate wasnít a trend, but thereís some legitimate downside to giving him a long term deal. Given his age, his body type, his skillset, and the fact that heís already logged 4,000+ big league innings behind the plate, counting on him to be a productive player in 2014 and beyond is a gamble. At the right price, it might be a gamble worth making, but if youíre outbidding the Red Sox, itís probably not the right price anymore.

John Jaso had a career partial-year after slowly fighting his way out of Eric Wedge's dungeon, but still may not be considered a number-one option by Mariners decision-makers. Napoli's experience at first base could be a draw for the Mariners as they look for Justin Smoak insurance and creative ways to keep Jaso in the lineup against right-handed pitchers.

M's don't stop at bringing fences in, install largest video screen in baseball

Seattle Times' Brier Dudley:

Last week the team began work on what will be the biggest video display in Major
League Baseball and one of the largest in professional sports. It's the centerpiece of the biggest upgrade to the ballpark since it opened in 1999 and a technical marvel that could become a tourist attraction on its own.

At 201.5 feet by 56.7 feet, the display is nearly a block long and wider than the record-holding jumbo display at Dallas Cowboys Stadium. It's ten times the size of the ballpark's current video screen and has a viewing area of roughly 2,182 42-inch TVs. [...]

Work has already begun to dismantle the ballpark's original scoreboard. The new display should be operational in March, in time for the April 8 home opener versus the Houston Astros.

It's replacing a cluster of displays and signs, including a 26 by 46 foot standard-definition video display, billboards and a matrix board displaying stats.

Instead of simply upgrading the old panels, the Mariners opted to install a single large display. The Panasonic HD LED system can be reconfigured digitally to have the look of a traditional scoreboard, with riveted panels that reflect the ballpark's architectural style. [...]

The display is the biggest portion of $15 million that the team is spending on maintenance and improvements to the field for the 2013 season. That includes the relocation of the outfield fence and other amenities that will be announced later, but it's mostly the big display. [...]

Mariners spokeswoman Rebecca Hale noted that the upgrades are covered by a different budget than team operations, so they won't affect plans to boost the team payroll and make it more competive. [sic]

Renderings at the Seattle Times link. You can read the official press release here. In case you've already forgotten, here is the display that it's replacing.

Maury Brown provided a comparison to other MLB video screens over at Biz of Baseball.

Safeco Field, Seattle Mariners: 56.7' x 201.5' - 11,425 sq. ft.

Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City Royals: 105 x 84' - 8,820 sq. ft.

Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia Phillies: 76' x 97' - 7,372 sq. ft.

Minute Maid Park, Houston Astros: 124' x 54' - 6,696 sq. ft.

Comerica Park, Detroit Tigers: 94' x 65' - 6,110 sq. ft.

Bonus stat (Cowboys Stadium, Ft. Worth, Texas: 160' x 72' - 11,520 sq. ft.)

In alternate universe, M's swing deal for Justin Upton and Shin-Soo Choo

ESPN SweetSpot's David Schoenfield spent Friday playing Major League match-maker, suggesting five blockbuster trades for various teams around baseball. One involved his rooting interest, the Seattle Mariners.

Arizona Diamondbacks trade RF Justin Upton and RHP Trevor Bauer and receive SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RHP Vinnie Pestano and OF Michael Saunders

Cleveland Indians trade SS Asdrubal Cabrera, OF Shin-Soo Choo and RHP Vinnie Pestano and receive RHP Trevor Bauer, LHP Danny Hultzen and RHP Hector Noesi

Seattle Mariners trade LHP Danny Hultzen, OF Michael Saunders and RHP Hector Noesi and receive RF Justin Upton and OF Shin-Soo Choo

Fair or foul? Is Hultzen's upside and Saunders' rising stock too much to give for Upton, who is coming off a down year, and Choo, who has slipped a bit from his 2008-2009 peak and would only be under contract for one season?