Redskins

Mariners happy with their offseason additions

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Mariners happy with their offseason additions

SEATTLE (AP) Finding a way to boost the worst offense in baseball was the offseason goal for the Seattle Mariners.

Based on what management had to say Wednesday at the team's annual pre-spring training luncheon, the Mariners think that goal was accomplished with the additions of Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse. They also hope Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez still have some pop left in their bats.

The additional benefit is that Seattle added some veterans who manager Eric Wedge and general manager Jack Zduriencik believe will bring more help to the clubhouse than previous veterans provided for a team trying to build around a young core group.

Last season, many of those young players were put in positions they weren't ready for and the Mariners finished last in the AL West for the third straight year. Wedge thinks it will be different this season thanks to the veteran influx.

``It wasn't really fair to them because with where they were and are in their careers they weren't able to be protected, they weren't in the best possible position to succeed,'' Wedge said. ``But I'm more of an optimist. Because they had to sink or swim on their own they're going to be tougher for it. Because they had to lean on each other and didn't really have that veteran presence in the clubhouse to lean on and help them through it, they're going to be stronger and they're going to be the type of player, both tangible and intangible, that much quicker.

``Even though it was painful at times, for them first and foremost, they didn't give into the fight. They didn't complain about it. If you look at the veterans we had in the clubhouse last year versus the veterans we have in the clubhouse this year, it's night and day.''

Wedge didn't mention the veterans he felt were lacking last season by name, but it's noticeable that the Mariners traded Ichiro Suzuki last July, cut ties with infielder Chone Figgins and decided to let catcher Miguel Olivo walk in free agency. Those moves allowed Seattle the flexibility to make the additions it did in the offseason, although the Mariners failed in their attempt to land free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton.

Instead, the Mariners went the trade route by sending pitcher Jason Vargas to the Los Angeles Angels to bring in Morales, and shipping catcher John Jaso to Oakland as part of a three-team deal that brought Morse back to Seattle.

Combined with the signings of Ibanez and Bay, the moves give Seattle a veteran presence that takes some of the strain off youngsters Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Jesus Montero and Justin Smoak.

``We had to go through that to get these kids experience,'' Zduriencik said. ``But just the fact you got a young kid sitting in the on-deck circle, someone like Raul Ibanez gets up and puts his arm around the kid and says, `I've been in this situation before.' That's a whole lot different than coming from a hitting coach or a manager.''

When the Mariners arrive at spring training next month, they will be a healthy group. Only two players underwent offseason surgery and both Ackley (ankle) and shortstop Brendan Ryan (elbow) have been cleared for all activity.

But there are still areas for Seattle to address between now and the time pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 12. The rotation took a hit when Vargas was sent to the Angels, leaving the Mariners without a true No. 2 starter behind ace Felix Hernandez. The Mariners brought back right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma and have Blake Beavan and Erasmo Ramriez as other likely rotation options, but both Wedge and Zdruiencik expressed a desire to add one more arm.

Seattle has among the best pitching depth of any team in baseball in the farm system, but the most prized of those prospects - Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Danny Hultzen and Brandon Maurer - are all likely to start the season in the minors short of spring training performances that make it impossible for them not to be on the opening-day roster.

The Mariners also need depth at catcher. Montero is the only one on the 40-man roster after the trade of Jaso. Wedge said he thinks Montero has the skills to handle being an everyday catcher, but there needs to be depth behind the plate.

``I don't have any doubt in my mind he can handle it from a talent perspective, that he can handle the role fundamentally,'' Wedge said. ``But being so young and inexperienced, the mental grind - we ask a great deal out of our catchers here - and then the physical grind that goes with it, that is pretty real. But he knows he's coming here to catch.''

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Derrius Guice understands why Redskins fans are frustrated, but he's looking ahead

Derrius Guice understands why Redskins fans are frustrated, but he's looking ahead

Derrius Guice is a very positive person. Unfortunately, he's playing for a team right now that's shrouded in negativity.

The Redskins have played 10 games this season, and they've walked off the field as losers in nine of those contests. They've gotten rid of their head coach, and many are wondering how many other major changes will come.

And when it comes to the fans, many — if not most — are furious with the direction of the franchise. Guice is noticing that, too.

"It just sucks when I score, or someone else scores, and our team posts a picture to Instagram or Twitter and everything under it is just, 'Fire this, fire that, we suck," Guice told JP Finlay in a 1-on-1 interview on the Redskins Talk podcast. "That doesn't help anything."

The running back understands that frustration. However, he wants those who are angry to know one thing: While this current roster is obviously responsible for the 2019 issues, they aren't responsible for the two-decade-long slump that's affected the organization.

"I'm new here," Guice said. "I understand some of these fans have been here 20-30 years, but like, there's a lot of guys on this team that are new. Y'all can't bring all that negativity to us like we've been here 20 years. I don't think that's fair to us players."

That's what makes this situation so difficult for those on the field and those who watch those on the field. Fans have been on this unsatisfying ride for far too long, yet most of the players hopped on a stop or two ago. 

So people who post those hateful comments or send those angry DMs are doing so because they've seen a handful of free agency and draft classes bust, and because they've seen numerous coaches come in and fail, and they've been lied to repeatedly about how "close" the Redskins are. They aren't necessarily trying to take it out on Guice or Dwayne Haskins or Landon Collins, it just appears that way.

Guice, for one, is trying his best to improve how he handles that side of being an athlete. He's also choosing to focus on those who've stayed on his side through what's been a trying first couple of seasons in the league.

For all the negativity he encounters, he's grateful for those who remain positive like him.

"A guy that's been there two years and has only played two real games, there's a lot of fans that have still never left my side since I got drafted," Guice said. "That's something I always have to cherish."

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Report: Phillies sign another National, bring on assistant hitting coach Joe Dillion

Report: Phillies sign another National, bring on assistant hitting coach Joe Dillion

When you win a championship the way the Nationals did, other teams are going to try and capture that magic in any way they can. 

Of course, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg are at risk of leaving town and free agency, but now the Davey Martinez will have to make changes to his coaching staff as well. 

According to Jim Salisbury, the Phillies hired Washington's assistant hitting coach Joe Dillon as their new hitting coach under manager Joe Girardi. 

Working with hitting coach Kevin Long, Dillon helped the Nationals lead the national league in on-base percentage while ranking second in batting average and OPS. 

The Phillies struggled at the plate in 2019, ranking 22nd in batting average, 19th in on-base percentage and 17th in OPS. Despite acquiring Bryce Harper, Jean Segura and JT Realmuto last offseason, Philadelphia boasted an anemic offense under former hitting coach John Mallee. 

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