A GRIP ON SPORTS
Want to be right about a baseball trade? Avoid the impulse to make a quick judgment. Read on.
• Three years ago the Mariners made a big trade with the Yankees. They traded away Michael Pineda, a big starting pitcher coming off an impressive All-Star rookie year, for young slugging catcher Jesus Montero and potential-filled starting pitcher Hector Noesi (pictured). It was a deal that was expected to help both clubs, but right away some folks saw it as a win for the M's. They had just secured their future right-handed power hitter they needed so badly, the story went, and received a pretty good pitcher as well. All the Yankees got was a pitcher who was prone to injuries. And, when Pineda went down with a shoulder injury that required surgery, the trade began to be compared to the Ken Phelps for Jay Buhner deal that lives in "Seinfeld" lore. But we know what happened next, don't we? Montero couldn't catch and, turned out, he couldn't hit either once the juice was turned off. He was suspended for 50 games for PED use and used the time to add on a few pounds of fat. Great. And Noesi? He couldn't get anyone out, even if he had an 0-2 count on them. The guy was a human torch, starting fires everywhere. As for Pineda, yes he missed a couple seasons with his torn labrum. But he's back and pitching pretty darn good for the Yankees this year. He seems, as he did his rookie year with the M's, to have a bright future. Montero is laboring to lose weight, rebuild his stroke and learn how to play somewhere other than catcher. And he's doing it all at Triple-A. Noesi? Yesterday the Mariners somehow coaxed the Texas Rangers to take him off their hands. He'll be starting fires for the Rangers instead of the M's. It seems like a good deal for Seattle but, if we've learned anything, it's too early to tell. Noesi could turn a corner – he has outstanding stuff but has never really harnessed it – and become a solid pitcher for Texas. If that happens then the trade that brought him to Seattle a couple years ago will look even worse. And it looks bad enough now.
• WSU: OK, so the Cougars didn't hold a formal scrimmage yesterday. They did hit each other and run plays, so that's better than just doing drills, isn't it? Jacob Thorpe was there to document the action in this blog post and he has a story on a slimmed-down Vince Mayle in today's paper. He also has a morning post today with links. ... No one can figure out the California basketball coaching search, least of all the two big newspapers in the Bay Area.
• Gonzaga: Two games with Santa Clara, two extra-inning affairs. The Zags won Saturday, which evens the series at 1-1.
• EWU: The Eagles' offense is way ahead of the defense right now and that showed in yesterday's scrimmage. Jim Allen was in attendance and he has this story. ... Weber State's newest coach is trying to change the Wildcats' culture. ... Southern Utah's new assistant coach has strong BYU ties.
• Shock: The Arena Football League isn't known for defense. But it was the Shock defense that made all the difference Saturday night in Spokane's 55-27 home win over Portland. Jim Meehan was in the Arena as the Shock lengthened its division lead over San Jose to 1 ½ games and he filed this game story and a blog post. Dan Pelle was also at the game and has the photographs.
• Mariners: It's been a long time since I listened to a baseball game on the radio from first pitch to final out, but that's what happened last night. I had some work to do on the computer so I spent the evening with the radio on. Too bad the M's fell 3-1 to Oakland and Sonny Gray, who seems to have their number. ... It's Sunday so Ryan Divish has his power rankings and a notebook in the Times. ... Can these M's rebuild the trust their fans used to have? We'll see. ... If they can't, the marketing people will have to come up with a few more promotions like this to sell tickets. ... Taijuan Walker will make a start in Tacoma while Blake Beavan heads to the M's to fill-in for the injured James Paxton.
• Sounders: This is the Clint Dempsey everyone expected last season. The Sounders' star – and the MLS' highest-paid player – scored twice again last night to lead Seattle to a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Dallas in Texas. Dempsey was a sight to behold yesterday, though I'm not sure many of you saw it. The FC Dallas players did, though, and admired his play. ... Portland has this tie thing down well.
• It's Sunday at the Masters and I wonder how 20-year-old Jordan Spieth slept last night. It couldn't have been easy to close his eyes with a green jacket dancing in his head. Do you know in 1963 Jack Nicklaus set the record for youngest Masters winner, then, 17 years later, Seve Ballesteros broke it? And 17 years after that, Tiger Woods reset the bar? And, now, exactly 17 years after Woods, Speith has a chance to win at an even younger age? How odd is that? Until later ...