Slugger traded from Angels to Mariners

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Slugger traded from Angels to Mariners

From Comcast SportsNetSEATTLE (AP) -- The Los Angeles Angels got the pitching depth they wanted. The Seattle Mariners got the power-bat they so desperately needed.Two foes in the AL West found a way to work together Wednesday when the Angels traded switch-hitting slugger Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners for left-hander Jason Vargas, filling needs for both teams.The 29-year-old Morales became expendable after the Angels agreed to a deal last week with free agent slugger Josh Hamilton. The Angels had been looking for a pitcher after losing Zack Greinke and Dan Haren to free agency and trading Ervin Santana.The Angels added a left-hander to their rotation, while Seattle got a hitter that can instantly take a spot in the middle of its order."We were going to try and come up with some type of offense and I think this worked out in a positive way," Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "Both players are at the end of their contracts."Getting Vargas reunites the lefty with his former Long Beach State teammate Jered Weaver at the top of the Angels' rotation. The duo played college ball together in 2004 and now will be counted on in helping make the big money the Angels spent on Hamilton and Albert Pujols last season pay off."I'm back home in California now," Vargas said. "It's perfect."Vargas grew up in Southern California where his father coached high school baseball. He used to watch his second cousin, infielder Randy Velarde, play for the Angels in the late 1990s.Vargas led Seattle in wins last season, going 14-11 with a 3.85 ERA and pitched a career-high 217 1-3 innings. The 29-year-old is 36-42 with a 4.09 ERA in four years with the Mariners."Jason was what we were looking for on the market this year: just a steady reliable left-hander who can go out there. He's got a history of pitching a high volume of innings and clearly I think we make ourselves a little bit better just in that we don't have to face him because he's given us fits," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "So we're thrilled to make the deal. We feel like this makes us a better, more complete and balanced team."In his career, Vargas is 5-4 with a 2.65 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 85 innings pitched against the Angels.A flyball pitcher, Vargas is excited to have an outfield that includes Rookie of the Year Mike Trout and Hamilton."Those guys out there behind me is outstanding," he said.Morales hit .273 with 22 home runs and 73 RBIs last season after missing the entire 2011 season after breaking his leg early in 2010 while celebrating a game-ending grand slam against the Mariners. Morales was at his best later in 2012, hitting .275 with 11 homers, 28 RBIs and an OPS of .827 over the final two months. Among its regular starters, no Seattle hitter had an OPS higher than .738 for the 2012 season.Morales said his leg got progressively stronger through last season and has felt 100 percent during offseason workouts."It's allowing me to work this offseason for the first time since about two years back," Morales said through an interpreter. "Following workouts and what I'm doing, I'm feeling no pain, no inflammation. So at this point I would say I feel 100 percent."Morales could quickly become the most productive hitter in the Mariners lineup. He would have led Seattle in home runs and been second in RBIs last season and could be even more potent with the Mariners bringing the fences closer in the outfield.In 34 career games at Safeco Field, Morales is a .292 hitter with a .904 OPS, seven home runs and 23 RBIs."I thought it was a situation where we could acquire a middle of the lineup bat, and a switch hitter. And here is a guy who played in this division, here is a guy who knows the American League. I thought that was really good," Zduriencik said.Zduriencik said the conversations with Dipoto became serious on Tuesday morning and the deal was wrapped up by midday on Wednesday.The acquisition of Morales will instantly boost Seattle's offense but also creates a log-jam of with catcherdesignated hitter Jesus Montero and first baseman Justin Smoak. Morales started just 28 games at first base last season, but Zduriencik said they are confident he could play in the field. He's also hopeful that Montero comes to spring training ready to be the everyday catcher."As long as we create competition and as long as we have these pieces in spring training we'll see what happens," Zduriencik said. "I don't have the exact answer. We've certainly talked about a lot of scenarios and feel very comfortable that there will be enough at-bats to go around for all these guys but at the end if you've added a piece that you think makes your club better, that's just better."Morales and Vargas each are eligible for salary arbitration and can become free agents after next season. Morales made 2,975,000 and Vargas 4.85 million last year.

OTA observations: Brady holds side sessions with new weapons

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OTA observations: Brady holds side sessions with new weapons

FOXBORO -- The Patriots went through their third OTA of the week on Thursday. It was the first that was open to members of the media and lasted approximately two hours.

Here are a handful of observations from the afternoon of work the Patriots put in under the sun on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium . . . 

* The Patriots sported practice jerseys during the workout, which was noteworthy because in years past they have worn blank t-shirts during OTAs and minicamp. With the offense in white and the defense in blue -- and with every player assigned a number -- it made identifying players much easier. Why coach Bill Belichick opted to go this route is unclear, and it remains a possibility that the players will go without jersey numbers later in the spring. Still, it was a welcome sight for reporters trying to track the proceedings. Quarterbacks wore red non-contact jerseys and each player wore helmets and shorts. 

* Belichick appeared to make his players re-start the practice after they finished up their stretching period in a fashion that didn't satisfy the head coach. After breaking into position groups briefly, Belichick ordered players to get back into their warmup lines and finish more crisply. 

* With Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis all absent from the practice, new Patriots weapons were given a chance to take extra reps. Running back Donald Brown was lauded by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels after completing one particularly well-run route -- a slant-and-go, Martellus Bennett was the beneficiary of several targets from Tom Brady in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work. 

* In 11-on-11 work, Brady went 6-for-9. Jimmy Garoppolo went 8-for-9. Jacoby Brissett went 7-for-12.

* In 7-on-7 work, Brady went 3-for-5. Garoppolo went 2-for-2. Brissett went 2-for-4, and he had one rep where he tucked it and ran. 

* During periods focused on special teams, Brady worked in a few side-sessions with different targets. In the past Brady has used these side sessions to get a little extra work in with a handful of players. Two years ago, he threw to Gronkowski with Darrelle Revis in coverage as Gronkowski worked his way back from a knee injury. Last year, Brady worked with Gronkowski and Scott Chandler together in order to develop some on-the-field chemistry there. On Thursday, Brady worked with two new tight ends -- Bennett and Clay Harbor -- as well as fullback James Develin. In another side session, he threw passes to Bennett, Aaron Dobson, Nate Washington, Malcolm Mitchell. Tight ends coach Brian Daboll ran the show during both periods.

* Brady's business partner and friend Alex Guerrero was spotted on the sidelines of the session. Former Patriots running back Sammy Morris was also present, shadowing running backs coach Ivan Fears. 

* Among the musical artists blared over the speakers during 11-on-11 work to mimic crowd noise were Guns N' Roses, James Brown, Bon Jovi, U2, Kenny Chesney and Desiigner. 

McAdam: More than memories fade from the ’86 Sox near miss

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McAdam: More than memories fade from the ’86 Sox near miss

The Red Sox honored the 1986 American League champions before Wednesday's game, but it wasn't the same.
      
Some 30 years on, the players, understandably, were older and heavier.

Hairlines were receded, or gone altogether, and waistlines expanded. It happens to the best of us.
      
But that wasn't what made the occasion melancholy. And it went beyond the usual nostalgia, that recognition that time eventually catches up to us all, or even the knowledge that some of that team's stars had already passed away (Dave Henderson) while others weren't well enough to appear.
      
No, it was something more. It was the realization that, through no fault of its own, the 1986 American League Championship team will mean less and
less as time passes.
      
The same can be said of the 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox and the 1975 A.L. champs, too.
      
For the longest time, those teams -- each of which won a pennant and got as far as Game 7 of the World Series before coming up short of the ultimate
goal -- were all Red Sox fans had. The near misses. The Almosts.
      
Those teams were lionized, romanticized and celebrated because they came the closest in the modern era to snapping the franchise's championship
drought. A break here, a bounce there, and maybe the string of futility wouldn't have reached 86 long years.
      
For decades, Red Sox fans had to relive how tantalizingly close those three teams got.
      
If only Lonborg had more rest for Game 7 in 1967. 
      
What might have happened if Rice didn't break his hand in September of 1975? 
     
No team got closer than the one in 1986, when the Red Sox were, more than once, one strike away. The champagne was on ice. The clubhouse was
set up for a celebration. Even the Mets, prematurely, saluted the Red Sox as 1986 champions on the scoreboard at Shea Stadium.
      
Then, it all unraveled, from the wild pitch/passed ball, to the  "little roller up along first.....behind the bag!'' That was only Game 6 of course, but the dye was cast that night. Game 7 would end in defeat, too.
      
For decades, that was all the Red Sox and their fans had. And so they toasted their heroes, who fell just short of their goal, relived the misery and staged the occasional baseball equivalent of an Irish wake.
      
What else was there to do? In need of champions, Red Sox Nation settled on the next best thing. Those guys played their hearts out, cried some in the dugout, then held their heads high.
      
Oh, well.
      
Then came 2004. And after that, 2007. And for good measure, 2013.
      
Suddenly, this World Series thing wasn't so complicated after all.

Three titles were notched in the span of a decade.
      
Now, there are happy endings to celebrate. There are Octobers to remember without the cruel plot twists at the end.
      
No more close calls, what ifs or could-have-beens. There were three honest-to-goodness World Series championships to celebrate. Even with three
last place finishes int the last four seasons, present-day Red Sox fans can lay claim to having experienced the greatest era of the team's long history.
      
And that, of course, has served to marginalize teams like the 1986 Red Sox.
      
Teams like that one, like the one lauded on the field at Fenway Wednesday night, are now quaint remembrances of another era in team history. It's like looking at old picture of yourself, decked out in a leisure suit with platform shoes: it seemed like a good idea at the time.
      
So, you smile and remember, ruefully, Marty Barrett and Oil Can Boyd and Rich Gedman. You thank them for their effort, and the memories they gave, even if some of them are still painful.
      
But you don't hold them in the same regard as Dave Roberts or Kevin Millar or Keith Foulke. You remember Clemens, but not in the way you revere Curt Schilling.
      
You still have fond feelings for '67 and '75, and most assuredly, '86, and sometimes, when you think of how they all ended their seasons, how impossibly close they came, you can't help but smile.
      
Now, you have other editions -- three! -- that figured out how to finish it off. You don't have to apologize for throwing them celebrations and you don't have to explain to out-of-towners why it is you're paying tribute to a team that lost when it counted most.
      
And every year, whether you acknowledge it or not, those teams -- none more than the one from 1986 that was feted Wednesday -- mean a little less, fade a little more into the recesses of time and shrink into history.