Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Seattle Mariners: 11 Players Who Will Be Fighting for Roster Spots This Spring

<robinson cano fangraphsp>Stefen Romero/Abraham Almonte/Xavier Avery

Seattle's outfield depth chart is a big question mark. Michael Saunders, Franklin Gutierrez and Dustin Ackley can be safely penciled in as starters, but other than that, the depth is unknown.

As mentioned earlier, Hart and Morrison can be dispensed as outfielders, but it should be done so sparingly because they aren't good defensively. Bloomquist can still play some outfield, but he's been used primarily as an infielder over the last couple seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Abraham Almonte, Xavier Avery and Stefen Romero all have a chance to make the Opening Day squad, but there will likely only be one backup outfield position available.

Almonte played in 25 games last season. He was unimpressive at the plate and made four errors in 38 chances. Almonte is only 24 and hit .314 with 11 homers in 94 games for Triple-A Tacoma last season, so his outlook is promising. Another stint in the minors leagues wouldn't hurt, though.

Avery came over in the trade with the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Michael Morse last season.

The former second-round pick has seen action in 32 big-league games and is very raw offensively, but he has speed and put up an excellent zone rating of 11.904 in 216 innings, which translated to a minus-1.4 UZR, per FanGraphs, due to poor arm strength. Avery is also 24 and was a superior base stealer in the minors, which would be helpful to a Mariners team that stole just 49 bases in 2013.

Romero hit .306/.357/.506 in 1,296 minor league at-bats (330 games) and displayed some power. Although he's never played in a major league game, based on stats alone he's the most ready to step into a reserve role. He's also changed positions several times, playing five different spots on defense in the minors.

Spring training will ultimately determine the fate of these three for at least the beginning of next season but don't be surprised if the outfield is a never-ending carousel.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Jax Taylor Makes Out With Blonde Woman at Hotel - Who Is She? Report

Things don't seem to have worked out between Vanderpump Rules stars Jax Taylor and Stassi Schroeder. But there's never any doubt that Jax has plenty of ladies clamoring for a chance to date him, as this latest sighting proves.

Jax was reportedly spotted making out with a beautiful blonde woman at the HBO Luxury Lounge at the Four Seasons in L.A. over the weekend, according to Life & Style. Jax and this new mystery gal had apparently been looking at pandora jewelry earlier that day. Then, they were seen getting quite frisky.

"She was all over him, tickling his back," says an onlooker. "They were making out in the line to get their cars!" Yowza.

It will be interesting to see if this turns into a relationship, or if this is just a fling. In Season 2 of the show, Jax - who reportedly hooked up recently with Shahs of Sunset star GG Gharachedaghi - points out that he has been bouncing around from woman to woman since his split from Stassi, and Jax has even sought treatment for a possible sex addiction.

It's becoming clearer and clearer that Jax and Stassi probably won't end up together, as she is currently in a steady relationship of her own. But now that we've gotten word that Vanderpump Rules will likely return for Season 3, we wonder if we'll maybe see Jax introduce his new blonde to Stassi in the future. Maybe Jax met his blonde pal in class?

Do you think things between Jax and this lucky lady will last?

Ex-Ravens running back Damien Berry denies putting Super Bowl ring up for sale

Former Ravens running back Damien Berry denied putting his Deal Today Bowl XLVII ring up for sale, telling The Baltimore Sun that the pending auction wasn't authorized by him.

Berry said a friend put the ring up for sale without his knowledge, selling the ring to an undisclosed third party that later sold it to Goldin Auctions.

"I would never knowingly sell my Super Bowl ring," Berry said. "I'm not that kind of guy. That's not me. The ring means a lot to me and I want to do whatever it takes to get it back. This isn't what I'm about."

However, Ken Goldin, the founder of Goldin Auctions, told The Baltimore Sun on Saturday night that he has a copy of a sales agreement with Berry that includes witnessed, notarized documents for a chain of custody that will be made available to the winning bidder of an online auction conducted through www.GoldinAuctions.com.

Goldin said that his company conducts extensive research and verification of all items, and wouldn't sell anything that it's not authorized to make available for auctions.

A source familiar with Goldin Auctions' business practices said the company conducts extensive background checks to ensure that there's paperwork backing up the legality of all sales.

The minimum bid for Berry's ring -- pictured here on the Goldin Auctions website -- is $15,000. As of Saturday night, the highest of five bids was $36,603.

A former University of Miami player, Berry spent the 2012 season on injured reserve with the Ravens before being cut prior to the start of the 2013 regular season.

Berry expressed embarrassment about the ring being up for sale.

"This isn't a good look, I know that, but I swear this didn't start with me," Berry said. "I have a lawyer who's working with me to try to get the ring back. I was shocked when people starting coming at me on Twitter about what's up with my Super Bowl ring. It's definitely upsetting, but everything will be all right."

The winter auction also includes former Ravens linebacker Jamie Sharper's Super Bowl XXXV ring, former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis' 2000 Super Bowl trophy and former Baltimore Colts defensive back and kick returner Leonard Lyles' 1958 NFL championship ring.

There are no bids yet on Lewis' personal trophy, but four bids have been entered for Sharper's ring, with a high of is $14,641.

Goldin Auctions says it has sold more than $600 million worth of sports memorabilia, including a Honus Wagner T206 card for a sale of $2.1 million in 2012.

"This is a rare opportunity for a Ravens fans or a collector to own a Super Bowl ring less than a year after it was earned," Gold said in a statement announcing the auction. "NFL Championship rings and Super Bowl rings are coveted by collectors because it is rare for them to become available. That is why we are so excited to offer these unique finds in our 2014 Winter Auction."


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

CES 2014: Yahoo realizing digital media dreams with News Digest, Aviate deal

Summary: If Google and Microsoft are shunning CES 2014, then it makes perfect sense that Yahoo would seize the opportunity to step in.

Ever since Marissa Mayer took over the reins in 2012, there could be one word used to define Yahoo's revolutionized business strategy since then: mobile.

Mayer has also been known to seize opportunities (if not just plenty of startups) that have been abandoned by the likes of some other Silicon Valley giants -- and the Consumer Electronics Show looks to be one of them.

The CEO took to the stage in Las Vegas on Tuesday as the search company unveiled two projects intended to change the face of Yahoo's mobile portfolio, albeit in different ways.

The big ticket item is the long-awaited debut of Yahoo's mystery news project, which has been been hyped up for months now following the widely-reported hires of the likes of New York Times columnist David Pogue and former CBS News anchor Katie Couric.

Finally executing the dream once shared by some of the company's previous chiefs, Yahoo is becoming a fully-fledged digital media property with the introduction of Yahoo News Digest.

Based primarly upon Yahoo's purchase of Summly nearly one year ago for reportedly $30 million, Yahoo News Digest sports a remarkably clean, modern interface, displaying what Yahoo product manager Nick D'Aloisio referred to a blog post as "atoms."

Does this mean "atoms" are the new cards seen on apps like Google Now? Not quite. Here's how they work, according to D'Aloisio:

We've taken summarization to the next level with News Digest, by algorithmically and editorially selecting the important articles and using multi-document summarization to identify the key 'bits and pieces of information'. We've named these bits and pieces "Atoms." Our Atoms assembled from around the web include articles, maps, infographics, Wikipedia extracts, videos, photos and more. Stories contain different atomic units which convey different dimensions of the story from the who, what, when, how, and why of a topic.

Yahoo News Digest is initially only available for iPhone and iPod touch.

But that doesn't mean Yahoo is shunning Android.

Actually, it looks like Yahoo has big plans for Google's mobile operating system this year too with the acquisition of Aviate, a San Francisco-based startup that develops an "intelligent homescreen," automatically organizing apps and surfacing apps that the algorithms within the platform deem most relevant and useful.

Adam Cahan, senior vice president of Mobile and Emerging Products at Yahoo, noted in a blog post that Yahoo will be pinning Aviate as the centerpiece of its Android experience in 2014 and "beyond."

We envision homescreens becoming smarter, more personalized, aware of your context. Aviate helps us bring this vision to life. Aviate auto-categorizes apps on your Android phone and intelligently gathers them into "spaces." By using signals to understand your context - WIFI, GPS, Accelerometer, Time, etc - Aviate automatically surfaces information at the moment it's useful. So whether you're just waking up, driving, at work, or maybe out for the night, Aviate learns your habits and helps anticipate the information and apps you need - making your phone smarter.

Financial terms of the Promotional Code have not been disclosed.

Aviate is still in private beta, but it is being made available in invite-only mode to the first 25,000 people who use code "YAHOO" when signing up.

For a closer look at how Aviate operates (or operated, at least pre-Yahoo), check out the promo clip below:

Screenshots via Yahoo, Aviate

OOPS! Yankees store promotes opening with huge Curtis Granderson photo

New Yankee store coming in the mall, advertised with a player who isn't there any more. @darrenrovell pic.twitter.com/SIkVYrWTuL

- Zach Sterling (@zsterling10) January 2, 2014

curtis granderson mets Granderson isn't in pinstripes anymore. In fact, he's joined the Mets, and has even taken a shot at Yankees fans.

But, apparently, this store didn't get the message.

Zach Sterling tweeted the photo above of a Yankees Clubhouse Store opening up soon. Not sure exactly where this is, but it appears it's on Long Island.

Granderson signed a four-year, $60-million deal with the Mets this offseason. He spent the last four years in The Bronx.