In The First Round, Seahawks Draft An Extra Third Round Pick & An O-Lineman

MOTHER OF GOD does the draft take for-fucking-ever!

Hey so funny story, the Seahawks traded back from 26 to 31, to allow the Super Bowl champion Broncos to draft their quarterback of the future, Paxton Lynch.  It made a long day that much longer for Seahawks fans itching for their favorite team to draft Myles Jack make its selection finally.

And then they did.  Germain Ifedi, offensive lineman, Texas A&M.  He’s apparently played right guard and right tackle, and is apparently super athletic.  6’6, 324 pounds, long arms.  So, yeah.  Seahawks see him as a right tackle at the moment, so I guess we have some competition for free agent signee J’Marcus Webb.

On paper, this looks like the Seahawks just re-drafted James Carpenter.  I would say probably a higher upside, someone who should hopefully fare better in pass protection should he manage to stick at right tackle, but in the end a really big body who’s a little raw and in need of some coaching up of his technique.  If he can come in, start right away, make a positive contribution AS a tackle (and not a guard), and most importantly stay healthy, then I think we’ve got a winner.  But, if he comes in all broken down, has to miss half his rookie year due to injury, and is forced to play catch-up in year two like Carpenter was, then I think it’s safe to think, “Here we go again.”

But, you gotta look at it like this:  #1 need for the Seahawks coming into this draft, without question, and by a million billion miles, was and is offensive line help/depth.  Coming in, we were looking at Gilliam, Britt, Lewis, Glowinski, and Webb.  Also known as:  “Never Started At Left Tackle”, “Turnstile Everywhere He’s Played”, “Projects As Career Backup Center”, “One Career Start To His Name”, and who can forget ol’ “Mediocre-To-Terrible Everywhere He’s Played”?  So, if you’re a Seahawks fan, and you’re mad at this pick … I mean, are you blind?  Are you mentally ill?

This draft pick makes Simple Jack's eyes rain ...

This draft pick makes Simple Jack’s eyes rain …

What do you want?  Do you want the Seahawks to address their weakest position – a position that Seahawks fans ACROSS THE BOARD have bitched about non-stop for the last four-plus years – or do you want them to take “Best Player Available” even though they’re kinda set on that position and that side of the ball.

Yes, yes.  I watched the draft like you did.  I saw Myles Jack fall and fall and fall.  It was a little shocking and a little sad, but then again he did pick UCLA over UW, so fuck him!  He doesn’t even really play Bruce Irvin’s position anyway; we would’ve had to move K.J. Wright over to make the whole thing work, and on top of it we’d still be in this pickle with our O-Line.

No, you gotta draft for need.  That’s what the draft is for, to fill NEEDS!  Will Ifedi be good?  Will he start as a rookie?  That remains to be seen.  Given his pedigree, his draft slot, and his build, I’d say there’s a very good chance Tom Cable is able to coach him up to his satisfaction, to where if he’s not our starting right tackle, then he’s at least a starting guard.  Regardless of the details of where he ends up, you know the Seahawks are going to go with the five best offensive linemen that we have.  I think it’s a LOCK that, if he stays healthy, Germain Ifedi will be one of those five linemen.

Sight unseen, I’d be willing to bet at the VERY least he’s better than Justin Britt right this minute.  I also think there’s a better than good chance he’s better than Webb right now, but if not now, he should be come September.  So, there you go, one hole on this team will be filled by this pick.

Weakside linebacker was NOT a hole!  Shit, Myles Jack will probably still be there in the second round for us anyway!  Didn’t you hear?  His knees are about to explode!

The cherry on top of this day ends up being the extra draft pick we got.  For Denver to move up five spots, they had to give us their third rounder, which now means we have three third round picks at the end of the round (our original at 90, Denver’s at 94, and a compensatory pick at 97).  Which means we’re looking at A LOT of action at the end of the day today.  Or, who knows, maybe the Seahawks package something to move up?  Our pick in the second round (56th overall) is pretty nice, but what if you package that with a third rounder to move way up?  Just sayin’ …

Look, yeah, I’ll admit it, Myles Jack was tempting.  That’s a Top 5 talent that just slid all the way out of the first round.  That’s a potential game-changer for whoever has the balls to grab him.  Even on a team like the Seahawks, if they make that pick, you FIND A WAY to get him on the field, regardless of who you’ve already got on your roster.

But, you know what?  I’m not going to rant and rave that he’s not here.  There’s an obvious risk, without an obvious need for his services.  I’m sure he’ll be snapped up by Tennessee with the second pick in the second round and they’ll further be known as The Team That Won The Draft.  You have to admit, trading for a bunch of draft picks, then trading again to move up and grab one of the top left tackles, and THEN having the best defensive talent in the entire draft drop to you in Round 2 is the thing that GM of the Year awards are made for.  So, chin up everyone!

Howard Lincoln Is Finally Gone!

I know, I know.  Can’t let emotions totally cloud the big picture.  If Howard Lincoln had never come into our lives – in a Seattle Mariners sense – there most likely would no longer BE a “Seattle Mariners” to kick around.  In 1992, while working for Nintendo, Howard Lincoln helped facilitate the sale of the Mariners from Jeff Smulyan (evil fuck, who wanted to move the Mariners to Florida, in the time before the Rays and Marlins existed) to an ownership group who wanted to keep the Mariners in Seattle (led, obviously, by the Nintendo corporation).

Part of me will always wonder if that was indeed a good thing.  I mean, shit, I didn’t become a Mariners fan until 1995!  If you’re telling me there’s an alternate universe where I never would’ve become a Mariners fan in the first place, and been saved 20+ years of heartbreak, I might sign up for that in a heartbeat!  Yeah, there have been some good memories sprinkled in there, but for the most part it’s been nothing but misery, with the last 10+ years nothing but stinking, puking misery.

Is it better to have lost and never loved?

Better question:  is there ANY chance the city learns its lesson by having the Mariners move to Florida in the early 1990s, and somehow scraps together to save the Sonics before they leave in 2008?  Because, if that’s even remotely true, then I’m buying a time machine and setting some shit into motion.  Butterfly Effects and whatnot …

I’m getting off-topic again.  This is about Howard Lincoln, and how happy we are that he’s leaving later this summer.  Retiring, to be accurate, so it’s not like he gets the public de-pantsing that he so richly deserves.  But, beggars can’t be choosers.

On September 27, 1999, Howard Lincoln was named Chairman and CEO of the Seattle Mariners.  I don’t have the foggiest idea what his role with the club was prior to that, but it stands to reason that he didn’t have nearly as much power as he would wield thereafter.  About a month later, on October 25, 1999, he hired Pat Gillick to be the team’s general manager, and from that point, the Mariners enjoyed their greatest regular season success, from 2000 through 2003.

After the 2003 season, Pat Gillick left for a less aggravating life.  While he was able to build a steady winner in Seattle, he was unable to make the moves when it counted, and make no mistake:  that was ALL on ownership.  That was ALL at the hand of Howard Lincoln.

Lincoln’s been a greedy old miser from day one.  The Mariners, even at their best, always felt they were spending “too much”.  Gillick was never fully given the resources needed to push this team into the World Champion realm, and for that, we have Howard Lincoln to thank.

Once Gillick left, the bottom completely dropped out of this organization in 2004, and from there, it’s been a long, painful run of baseball.  Whereas Gillick was reluctant to mortgage the farm, his successor did everything he could to give away all of our young talent for as many magic beans as other teams could throw in our faces.  Better to trade prospects for veterans than to add salary via free agency!  Then, when we crashed and burned in 2008 – after an endless string of baffling trade decisions from Bavasi got him fired – the focus of the organization shifted to “Build From Within”.  Or, you know, the exact opposite philosophy of our reigning GM.  We brought in Jackie Z – who we thought knew his head from his ass when it came to drafting – and shrunk payroll to almost nothing as we rushed our prospects to the Bigs, only to watch them fail time and time again.  AND YET, even though that failed miserably (save Kyle Seager), after a few years, the Mariners switched philosophies yet again!  Starting with Felix, and then Seager, and then Cano and Cruz, the Mariners tried to pad out what little home-grown talent they had with veteran free agents.  Ultimately, the organization cratered yet again in 2015, and it was time for yet another shakeup.

I mean, shit man, when a guy like Howard Lincoln forces out the smartest baseball men this organization has ever known in Pat Gillick, and Lou Piniella the year before, isn’t that a red flag?  Doesn’t that tell you right there that Howard Lincoln doesn’t know shit about the game of baseball, and shouldn’t be in charge of a baseball organization?

Well, he shouldn’t be in charge if the goal of that organization is to WIN.  Which, obviously, was pretty low on the priorities list, regardless of what they’ll tell you in press conferences and interviews.  If your goal is to make MONEY, then by all means, Howard Lincoln is your guy.  He’ll rule the pocket book with an iron fist, turn Safeco Field into a Chuck E. Cheese playland, and spend all his free time pissing down our legs and telling us it’s raining.

Howard Lincoln has NO FUCKING CLUE how to run a world-class baseball team.  Plain and simple.  Is he better than the guy who’s trying to take the team and move it to Florida?  Yeah, sure, I guess.  But, that’s a pretty low fucking bar to clear!

And, I’m not saying you have to spend $300 million a year on payroll.  You don’t have to go hog wild and buy all the free agents every single offseason.  That’s not the point.  The St. Louis Cardinals don’t do that, and they’re probably the organization I respect the most in all of Major League Baseball!

No, see, the idea is to surround yourself with competent baseball professionals, and let them do what needs to be done.  Don’t constrict them with your constant meddling, don’t put the payroll on lockdown out of principle, don’t hire a new field manager every two fucking years, and don’t change your organizational philosophy every five fucking years!

  • If you have a good team, but they’re a piece or two away from being World Champions, give your GM an opportunity to make a deal at the deadline, even if it means picking up some extra salary
  • If you’re going to smartly and patiently build from within, then BE smart and BE patient!  Don’t rush them to the Major Leagues after a year in the minors
  • If you’re going to start making splashes in free agency, then make the right kinds of splashes, and try to find undervalued diamonds instead of falling all over the first big name you see
  • And, if your moves don’t pan out, maybe don’t keep forcing them out there time and time again expecting different results

Howard Lincoln, you’re a putz, and I’m glad you’ll be gone.  It’s time to stop running the Mariners like a corporation and to start running them like a baseball organization.  Bring in smart baseball people – at all levels, all the way down through the minors – and let them do their jobs.  Let the GM set the tone, and dictate how we’re going to be teaching and coaching our youngest players.  Be hands off, and be open to new ideas, because the baseball people know baseball, and the business people have no business meddling in their affairs.

There’s probably a lot I don’t know about Howard Lincoln and how he ran this team.  I wouldn’t be shocked if I’m slandering the man’s name throughout this piece with half-truths and outright fabrications.  But, you know what?  When you take a team from baseball’s elite, and drag them back down to the lowest lows (at times, even worse and more embarrassing than we were in the 70s & 80s), to the point where, as a fan, you almost WISH the ownership group would just sell them to another city, so you didn’t have to watch this bullshit anymore … when you’re that TERRIBLE at your job, you don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.

And when you do everything in your power to block the Seattle Sonics from returning with a new arena, then I have to admit, this is only the SECOND-happiest moment of my life (as it relates to Howard Lincoln).  The #1 spot is reserved for when I can finally piss on that man’s grave.

The Mariners Are Crushing It Right Now

I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but God damn is 7pm too late to be starting a weekday baseball game!  At least, for someone like me, who has to wake up at 5:30am every day.

Hi, my name is Steven, and I predicted the Mariners would lose yesterday.  I also predicted a losing homestand, and while that very well could still come to pass, for the time being I’m happy to be so wrong.  For what it’s worth, I see nothing but bad things coming in tonight’s game, what with McHugh generally owning us, and Iwakuma generally being a mixed bag, so thank me for the big win long after I’ve gone to bed from exhaustion.

Last night’s game was so much fun (hence why I stayed up until all hours of the night 10pm or so) because it was so unexpected.  I’ve never seen Dallas Keuchel NOT murder us in our sleep, which meant for the Mariners to be in it, we would’ve needed a Herculean shutout effort out of our starting pitcher, and hopefully some timely late-game hitting against their bullpen.  Since I have to figure the Astros are so well-regarded (in spite of their bottom-feeding record) in part because they probably have a solid bullpen, and since Karns didn’t look like the type of pitcher who could shut down a quality Houston offense, I made a point of remarking on Twitter that last night’s game felt – going in – like a loss 99 out of 100 times.

Well, apparently we live in the lone universe where the Mariners actually WIN that game.  And, truth be told, it was a Best Case Scenario game in every aspect.

Nathan Karns was mostly economical with his pitches, for the first time all year, and would’ve gotten through 7 innings while throwing less than 100 pitches if Robbie Cano had only remembered there was 1 out in the inning and not 2, and turned that sure-thing double play.  Even with that brain fart, Karns was able to rack up his 6th strikeout of the game with no damage done.  No runs, 2 hits, and 3 walks rounded out his line on the day, which makes it easily his best game of the season, and arguably the best game he’s had since September 2014 (when he also went 7 innings of shutout ball, with 2 hits, 2 walks, and 8 strikeouts).  I mean, I can’t say enough good things about Karns last night.  Four of his seven innings went 1-2-3 (and he would’ve had five such innings if not for Cano), and when he did get into a little trouble, he was able to squash it before they were able to rally for a big inning.

Karns’ success, especially early in the game, was critical, because the Mariners only had one baserunner through 3 innings.  We were finally able to scrap a run in on an RBI single in the 4th, before blowing the game wide open with a 4-run fifth.

Ketel Marte was phenomenal last night, and really showed the full strength of his game in all facets.  He went 3 for 5 with a double and 2 RBI, really driving the ball well up the middle.  He also scored three times, running well on the basepaths, and flashed a plus glove in the field.  Marte has been on a nice little hot spurt over the last six games, batting .400, with 3 doubles, 2 RBI, and scoring 7 times, to bring his season slash line to a whopping .265/.301/.309.  Granted, it’s not much, and it’s still REALLY early, but it beats the hell out of his line before this 6-game stretch:  .186/.250/.186.

If the Mariners are going to go anywhere this year, I won’t put it on any one person, but I will say this:  they need to drastically reduce the number of black holes in their lineup.  I think we’ve been more or less confident in our veterans (Cano, Cruz, Seager, Smith, Guti, Lind, Aoki, and Iannetta), but one spot you couldn’t help but be concerned about was short stop.  They were putting a lot of pressure on the kid, first by not really featuring any semblance of competition going into the season (and thus simply handing him the keys to the starting job from Day One), and then making him such a focal point of the offense by frequently featuring him at or near the top of the lineup.  Considering he’s a holdover from the Jackie Z regime, I mean, who could blame you if you had doubts about the kid?  And, as I’ve stated already, it’s still early in the season.  You could STILL have doubts and still be 100% valid in your opinions.

I know I’m inviting all sorts of jinxes into the mix here, but if I can be a dreamer for a minute:  it would be SO DAMN HUGE for Ketel Marte to pan out!  Oh, can you imagine it???  Another homegrown talent in the everyday lineup?  Bringing the grand total to TWO players, with Seager?  But, to nevertheless have a cost-controlled force at an important defensive position, who can get on base, hit for a bit of power into the gaps, and abuse opponents with his speed?  I’m not saying he’s ever going to be an MVP.  He might not even make an All Star Game in his career or win a Gold Glove.  But, if he could just be an everyday starter at the top of our lineup, who teams have to worry about keeping off the basepaths, because once he’s there you know he’s going to do everything in his power to score on you that inning … it just gives me the feels like you would not believe.  A big, raging, veiny, throbbing case of the feels.  Right in my pants.

… Allow me to redirect this thing back to last night’s game, if I can.

Keuchel was able to get through six innings before his pitch count dictated that he needed to be relieved.  From that point onward, the Mariners used their finishing move to rip the spines out of the Astros.  Starting in the bottom of the 7th, where a single, an error, and a single loaded the bases for Robinson Cano, who to that point had the aforementioned gaffe in the top half of the inning by forgetting how many outs were made, as well as the baserunning mistake-turned-happy-accident as he was caught in a rundown in the 5th inning, allowing Marte to score from third base when the other team wasn’t paying attention (made all the happier by Cano successfully advancing to second base on the fielder’s choice to throw home in vain).  You could’ve easily argued that this was just one of those games where Cano’s head wasn’t totally in it.

As a fan, part of me wants to rant and rave on the topic.  I mean, dude makes $24 million per year.  He’s been in the Majors for over a decade, save your mental days off for your ACTUAL days off!  But, what are you gonna do?  It’s not a popular saying by any stretch, but that’s why people say he’s just Robbie being Robbie.  He’s so good, so naturally gifted, that he can often play the game on auto-pilot and get away with it.  It’s just that, when he gets caught, it’s out there in the open for all to see, so it’s magnified by a million percent.  And, obviously, his high salary isn’t going to win him any sympathy – not that I’m saying he deserves sympathy when something like that happens; he very rightly deserves to feel embarrassment, in hopes that it doesn’t happen again anytime soon – but with Robbie, you take the good with the bad.  Because the good SO FAR OUTWEIGHS the bad, it more than makes up for an error here, a baserunning mistake there, and the occasional brain fart as noted above.  Is it frustrating, as a fan?  Sure.  I mean, if he’s this good and this accomplished playing on auto-pilot, just how high is his ceiling REALLY?  But, as a guy who works 40 hours, 5 days a week, I can relate to a guy whose head isn’t in it every minute of every workday.  Some days are just better and more focused than others; that’s the way it goes.  I’m really good at my job too, and oftentimes I can run on autopilot for a while.  As a result, occasional mistakes are made.  But, hopefully the embarrassment and shame of failing will ultimately help me in the long run, just as I would hope it helps him.

Anyway, as I said, you could have argued that Cano just wasn’t all there last night.  But, in that bottom of the 7th inning, with the bases loaded and only 1 out, Cano worked an at-bat for the ages.  If the stakes were higher – if we were in a playoff game, or even if the game was merely closer than the 5-0 affair it was at the time – we’d all be talking about how it might go down as the finest at-bat ever registered.  He laid off of a low-and-inside fastball for Ball 1, then laid off of a low-and-outside changeup (one that had been called a strike on him earlier in the game by the ump) for Ball 2.  He fouled off a fastball, then took a borderline fastball inside to make the count 3-1.  He then proceeded to foul off four consecutive fastballs – all in the strikezone, both inside and outside – before, on the 9th pitch of the at-bat, drilling a fastball right at the bottom of the strikezone to right-center field for a grand slam.  Just, fucking brilliant.

The M’s ended up getting dinged by an error and a couple of walks in the top of the 8th, but we were able to hold them to the lone run, and played a little add-on against the Astros’ backup catcher in the bottom of the 8th, who came in to pitch and did a VERY un-Sucre-like job in the role.  11-1 victory, a fourth consecutive series win, and an opportunity for a sweep tonight (which, as I said at the top, is probably not going to happen, so take my words for what they’re worth).

All in all, a helluva game, and a helluva start to the season for the Mariners.  11-9, first place in the A.L. West by a half game, the bullpen has been great, the starters have gotten better as the season has gone along, and the hitting is starting to come around.  I don’t want to start counting my chickens or anything, but it’s starting to look like this season could be a lot of fun.

A Look Back at the Impressive Draft History of the John Schneider Era

With the draft coming up in a couple days, it’s always fun to look back at all the success the Seahawks have had in their current regime, overhauling a franchise in the toilet and propping it up as world champions.  You don’t get this good, this fast, without some remarkable drafting and some remarkable coaching.  Who can say if all of these guys would have been just as good under the tutelage of lesser men?  What we know is that a lot of these guys panned out in a big way, thanks to the system we have in place.

To give the full picture, you actually have to go back to the 2009 draft, when we had Jim Mora Jr. as our head coach and Tim Ruskell calling the shots on the personnel side.

Like all of Ruskell’s drafts after his first one back in 2005 – where he nabbed Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill, to solidify the middle of our defense – his 2009 class was a huge disaster.  The Seahawks had the #4 pick and wasted it on a bust of a player in Aaron Curry.  Given the downward trajectory of the franchise at that point, you had to wonder where Ruskell found his erroneous sense of job security, as he traded away Seattle’s second round pick (37th overall) to the Denver Broncos for a 2010 first round pick (to further confuse matters, the Seahawks ended up trading 3rd & 4th rounders to get back into the second round – 49th overall – to select Max Unger, the last bit of good from the Ruskell regime).

With that 2010 first round pick, however, the Seahawks would build their dynasty.  As we’re all well aware, the 2009 Seahawks ended up being a trainwreck just like the 2008 variety, leading the franchise to earn the #6 draft pick in 2010.  The 2009 Broncos did their part by going 8-8 and failing to make the playoffs, which meant that their first round draft pick (which was now ours) was 14th overall.

While the 2010 draft wasn’t quite up to the elite level of the 2012 class, it seriously jumpstarted things in a big way.

  • First Round, #6 – Russell Okung (LT)
  • First Round, #14 – Earl Thomas (S)
  • Second Round, #60 – Golden Tate (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #111 – Walter Thurmond (CB)
  • Fourth Round, #127 – E.J. Wilson (DE)
  • Fifth Round, #133 – Kam Chancellor (S)
  • Sixth Round, #185 – Anthony McCoy (TE)
  • Seventh Round, #236 – Dexter Davis (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #245 – Jameson Konz (WR/TE/DE/FB)

Of note is that the Seahawks were originally slated to draft much earlier in the second round, but ended up swapping picks with San Diego (along with giving them a third rounder in 2011) to trade for Charlie Whitehurst.  So, you can’t tell me there weren’t some roadblocks in the early going of the John Schneider era.

Also, it wasn’t all peaches and cream out of Tim Ruskell in the 2009 draft, as he sold off our 2010 third round pick to get Deon Butler in that 2009 class.  The Seahawks also ended up trading back in the 4th & 6th rounds with Tennessee to grab LenDale White and Kevin Vickerson.  Vickerson proved to be an adequate defensive tackle; White never made the roster.

In a much happier deal, the Seahawks acquired their extra fourth round pick (which they used on E.J. Wilson, who didn’t pan out) and managed to get Chris Clemons from the Eagles (who very much DID pan out), and all we had to give up was Darryl Tapp.

More deals to come.  The Seahawks traded away their original fifth round pick to the Jets for Leon Washington and the Jets’ 7th round pick.  But, the Seahawks got back into the fifth round (ahead of their original pick) in a deal with Detroit where we also received some defensive end, where we only gave up Rob Sims (a guard who was never all that good with the Seahawks) and a seventh round pick.  The Seahawks would use that pick to draft Kam Chancellor, locking down their two starting safeties in the same class.

As far as I can tell, the Seahawks didn’t really get much from the undrafted free agent class of 2010, though Lemuel Jeanpierre and Breno Giacomini were both brought in that year.  And, obviously, the Seahawks would bring in Marshawn Lynch via trade during the season.  But, when you look at that draft class, you’ve got 6 key contributors, including 4 starters (Okung, Thomas, Tate, and Chancellor) and great ones at that.

That brings us to 2011, or the mule of the John Schneider draft classes.  It gets a lot of flack for being mediocre, but upon further review was pretty underrated.

To kick things off, the 7-9 Seahawks of 2010 were stupidly allowed into the playoffs by way of winning one of the worst divisions in recorded NFL history.  Even though that team had literally no chance of winning the Super Bowl, it still made some noise with the Beastquake run and the unlikely upset of the previous year’s Super Bowl champion Saints.  Of course, the Seahawks would go on to lose the very next week in Chicago, meaning that for all the hubbub, the Seahawks would end up picking 25th overall in the 2011 draft.

If you were like me, you saw this as a sign of doom.  The 2010 Seahawks were not good.  Not by a longshot.  And, to be hampered with drafting so low in the first round (and in subsequent rounds) would only set things back that much further.  Apparently unable to find a partner with which to trade back, the Seahawks made that selection James Carpenter, who started as our right tackle before getting bumped inside to guard.  Everyone thought this was a reach, and history has proven this to be true; Carpenter was adequate at best, but not a true impact player you’d hope to get in the first round.  Nevertheless, he was a starter all four years, so he wasn’t quite the crime against humanity everyone makes him out to be (indeed, his current salary with the Jets would speak to how other teams have come to value his strong run blocking abilities).

  • First Round, #25 – James Carpenter (OL)
  • Third Round, #75 – John Moffitt (G)
  • Fourth Round, #99 – K.J. Wright (LB)
  • Fourth Round, #107 – Kris Durham (WR)
  • Fifth Round, #154 – Richard Sherman (CB)
  • Fifth Round, #156 – Mark LeGree (S)
  • Sixth Round, #173 – Byron Maxwell (CB)
  • Seventh Round, #205 – Lazarius Levingston (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #242 – Malcolm Smith (LB)

The Seahawks ended up trading away their second round pick to the Lions to pick up an extra third & fourth round picks (used on Moffitt and Durham).  Recall they gave away their original third round pick in 2010 to get Charlie Whitehurst.  All in all, nothing too impressive with any of these moves, as Whitehurst was a bust, Moffitt ended up getting traded to Denver after a mediocre rookie season, and Durham never panned out with Seattle.  In that same Lions trade, the Seahawks moved up in the fifth and seventh rounds, which they used to grab Richard Sherman (GREAT!) and Lazarius Levingston (WHO?).

The Seahawks gave up their original fourth round pick in the Marshawn Lynch trade (as well as a conditional 2012 pick that ended up being a fifth rounder).  However, the Seahawks got back into the fourth round by trading Deion Branch back to the Patriots.  Branch was a turd sandwich in Seattle, and we used the pick we got from the Pats to grab K.J. Wright, who has been a stalwart for our linebacking corps.

That above trade wasn’t the last time we’d deal with the Lions.  In a spectacular move, the Seahawks traded away former bust under the Ruskell regime, Lawrence Jackson, to get the Lions’ sixth round pick, which we used to grab Byron Maxwell, a huge part of our success in his final two years here (and a great special teamer and backup overall).  That made up for giving away our original sixth round pick to the 49ers for Kentwan Balmer, who would go on to be cut prior to the 2011 season.

To wrap things up, the Seahawks traded their original seventh rounder to Philly for an offensive lineman who did nothing.  However, the Seahawks were granted a compensatory pick, which we used on Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith.

Among the 2011 undrafted free agents, we have Doug Baldwin (WR), Ricardo Lockette (WR), Jeron Johnson (S), and Mike Morgan (LB).  This would also be the year the Seahawks took a flyer on Brandon Browner from the CFL, among many other free agent acquisitions.

When you look at the haul of just the rookies, though, you’re talking about 10 contributors, including 5 starters (Carpenter, Wright, Sherman, Maxwell (eventually), and Baldwin).

That brings us to 2012, or one of the greatest draft classes you’ll ever see.  The 2011 were again 7-9, but thankfully weren’t saddled with a futile playoff appearance.  As such, they were granted the 12th overall selection, which they promptly traded to Philly to move back to 15.  The Seahawks were granted picks in the fourth (Jaye Howard, DT) and sixth round (Jeremy Lane, CB), and away we go!

  • First Round, #15 – Bruce Irvin (DE/LB)
  • Second Round, #47 – Bobby Wagner (LB)
  • Third Round, #75 – Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Fourth Round, #106 – Robert Turbin (RB)
  • Fourth Round, #114 – Jaye Howard (DT)
  • Fifth Round, #154 – Korey Toomer (LB)
  • Sixth Round, #172 – Jeremy Lane (CB)
  • Sixth Round, #181 – Winston Guy (S)
  • Seventh Round, #225 – J.R. Sweezy (G)
  • Seventh Round, #232 – Greg Scruggs (DE)

Not to be stopped, the Seahawks traded back in the second round as well, this time with the Jets.  We would pick up extra picks in the fifth and seventh rounds (Toomer & Scruggs, respectively).  That one didn’t totally pan out, though I would argue injuries to both players hampered their ability to make a significant impact early in their careers.  Nevertheless, you can sense a theme:  the Seahawks wanted as many picks in this draft as possible, as it was laden with talent.

No more trades until the seventh round, where the Seahawks got the pick they’d use to nab Sweezy from the Raiders, in addition to a conditional 2013 pick (which ended up being in the fifth round) for the privilege of jettisoning Aaron Curry (who would only last with the Raiders for a little over a year before being waived).  The Seahawks did trade away their original seventh rounder for Tyler Polumbus (from the Lions), who was a starter here, but wasn’t any good.

The Seahawks also got Jermaine Kearse (WR) and DeShawn Shead (CB) from the ranks of the undrafted free agents.  All told, this class netted the Seahawks 9 contributors, with 5 starters (Irvin, Wagner, Wilson, Sweezy, and Kearse), with Lane expected to start this year, given the big money he made this offseason to re-sign with the Seahawks.

Obviously, the 2012 squad made a huge leap, thanks to the Seahawks’ tremendous draft success.  In those three classes alone, you’re talking about 14 starters, and 25 contributors overall.  The 11-5 record, and first round victory against the Redskins, meant the Seahawks would draft 25th again in the first round in 2013 (as they did back in 2011).  In something of a stunner of a move, the Seahawks would trade away this pick, as well as its seventh rounder, and a 2014 third rounder, for the right to get Percy Harvin and sign him to an ill-advised huge free agent deal.

  • Second Round, #62 – Christine Michael (RB)
  • Third Round, #87 – Jordan Hill (DT)
  • Fourth Round, #123 – Chris Harper (WR)
  • Fifth Round, #137 – Jesse Williams (DT)
  • Fifth Round, #138 – Tharold Simon (CB)
  • Fifth Round, #158 – Luke Willson (TE)
  • Sixth Round, #194 – Spencer Ware (RB)
  • Seventh Round, #220 – Ryan Seymour (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #231 – Ty Powell (DE)
  • Seventh Round, #241 – Jared Smith (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #242 – Michael Bowie (OL)

The 2013 draft has proven to be the real dog of the John Schneider classes.  Nevertheless, let’s run through the moves that got it to where it was.  As a volume drafter, Schneider found multiple ways to recoup draft picks after spending so much on Percy Harvin.

To start, the Seahawks moved back in the second round, from 56 to 62, and received from the Ravens a fifth and a sixth (165 & 199).  As you can see from above, the Seahawks didn’t draft at either of those positions.  That’s because the Seahawks traded both of those picks to the Lions to get pick #137 (Williams) at the top of the fifth round.  The very next selection came from the Raiders in the Aaron Curry deal, which we used on Simon (who has been good, but has never been healthy).

The flurry of seventh rounders (none of whom were worth a damn) came from the Saints (pick 220, for some linebacker we gave them), and a couple of compensatory picks (#241 & #242).

Alvin Bailey was the only notable undrafted free agent in this class; he was a quality reserve along the offensive line, but nothing more.  All told, the Seahawks only managed to get one eventual starter in this class (Luke Willson, who has only been a starter thanks to injuries to Zach Miller and Jimmy Graham), and three other contributors (Michael, Hill, and Simon), though Spencer Ware got a crack at a job with the Chiefs and seems to be pretty good.

We all know what happened with that 2013 team, built on a rock solid foundation of draft picks.  Following that year, the team started to get picked apart a little bit, with free agents going to other teams.  With the 2013 class already looking like a bummer, the pressure was on John Schneider to right the ship with a banner 2014 draft.  He started it off by trading away our first round pick to the Vikings for a second straight year.  The Vikings would select Teddy Bridgewater with the 32nd pick in the class; the Seahawks would get Minnesota’s second and fourth round selections (40 & 108 overall).

Before Seattle could make a pick, we traded back again, this time with the Lions.  The Lions picked at 40, and also received our fifth round pick at 146 (which we got from the Raiders for Matt Flynn) in exchange for second, fourth, and seventh rounders from Detroit (45, 111, & 227).  At 45, the Seahawks finally made their first pick, selecting Paul Richardson.

  • Second Round, #45 – Paul Richardson (WR)
  • Second Round, #64 – Justin Britt (OL)
  • Fourth Round, #108 – Cassius Marsh (DE)
  • Fourth Round, #123 – Kevin Norwood (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #132 – Kevin Pierre-Louis (LB)
  • Fifth Round, #172 – Jimmy Staten (DT)
  • Sixth Round, #199 – Garrett Scott (OL)
  • Sixth Round, #208 – Eric Pinkins (DB/LB)
  • Seventh Round, #227 – Kiero Small (FB)

To make up for the loss of our third rounder (to the Vikings, in the Harvin deal the previous year), you can see why the Seahawks wanted to trade back so many times to start the draft.  They were able to pick up two extra fourth rounders.  That pick we got from the Vikings would go to Marsh, who has been a quality reserve and special teamer.  The Seahawks would use that 111th pick to trade with the Bengals to get pick 123 (Norwood) and an extra sixth rounder (Scott, who never made the team due to health concerns).  That seventh rounder from Detroit ended up being Kiero Small, who also didn’t make the team (the Seahawks would trade away their original seventh round pick to the Raiders for Terrelle Pryor, who never amounted to much of anything).

Among the undrafted free agents, we grabbed Garry Gilliam (OL), Brock Coyle (LB), and Dion Bailey (S).  At first glance, this class doesn’t look any more impressive than the 2013 class, but there are a number of under-the-radar players in there.  Right now, we’re looking at 2 starters (Britt and Gilliam), with four other contributors (Richardson, Marsh, KPL, and Coyle).  Depth guys, special teams guys, people to round out the roster.  When you figure so many of this team’s starters were already on the team ahead of this class, it’s not like you’re talking about a huge number of available openings.  Granted, a lot of this class hinges on Britt and Gilliam improving, and Richardson remaining healthy for a full season.  Should they fail, then you could make an argument that THIS is indeed the worst class of the John Schneider era.  But, until another couple years pass, it’s still TBD.

A second Super Bowl appearance for the 2014 squad meant that the 2015 Seahawks would be drafting quite low again.  With the obvious disaster of the Harvin trade looming over the franchise, the Seahawks opted to take another swing for the fences, trading away their first rounder (along with Max Unger) to the Saints for Jimmy Graham (and their fourth round pick, #112 overall).  We kick off the 2015 draft DEEP into the second round, with a controversial pick in Frank Clark (with domestic abuse allegations swirling around him, yet with an obvious cliff after him with regards to pass rushers in this draft class).

  • Second Round, #63 – Frank Clark (DE)
  • Third Round, #69 – Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Fourth Round, #130 – Terry Poole (OL)
  • Fourth Round, #134 – Mark Glowinski (G)
  • Fifth Round, #170 – Tye Smith (CB)
  • Sixth Round, #209 – Obum Gwacham (DE)
  • Sixth Round, #214 – Kristjan Sokoli (OL)
  • Seventh Round, #248 – Ryan Murphy (DB)

The Seahawks had a ton of extra picks in this draft, which I’ll get to below.  They used a package of third (95), fourth (112), fifth (167), and sixth (181) round picks to move up to #69 from the Redskins.  That pick at 95 was our original third rounder.  That fourth rounder at 112 came from the Saints in the Jimmy Graham deal.  That fifth rounder at 167 was our original fifth rounder.  And that sixth rounder at 181 came from the Jets when we gave them Percy Harvin.  So, obviously, we sent away two picks that we got in deals, and two original picks.  We were more than happy to do so because 1) Tyler Lockett is a special player, and 2) we had extra picks throughout.

Poole was from our original fourth round pick; Glowinski was from a compensatory pick.  Tye Smith was also a compensatory pick, as were both of our sixth round guys (Gwacham and Sokoli).  That’s what you get when you don’t over-pay to keep your own players who aren’t necessarily worth big-money deals.

The only notable undrafted free agent from 2015 was Thomas Rawls, who very well may be our starting running back in 2016.  Combine him with Lockett (a Pro Bowl returner, and #3 wide receiver), Clark (valued rotation guy on the D-Line), Glowinski (projected starter at right guard in 2016), and Tye Smith (someone who will battle for minutes this pre-season) and you’ve got the makings of a very good draft class, that could be great if some of these players turn into elite starters.

With the 2016 draft class supposedly dripping with talent throughout, it wouldn’t be crazy to see the best Seahawks draft class since 2012.  Obviously, we’re drafting pretty low again, this year at #26, but with compenatory selections, the Seahawks already have 9 picks to select from, with a real opportunity to trade down in the first round to pick up some more (and gain some flexibility within the draft, in case we want to move up later).

I’m pretty excited for this year’s draft.  I’m sure I won’t know who these players are when I hear their names, but over the ensuing months, I look forward to getting to know them.

The Mariners Return From A 6-3 Road Trip For Yet Another Losing Homestand

The Mariners won 2 of 3 against the Yankees, 2 of 3 against the Indians, and 2 of 3 against the Angels over the last nine games.  More importantly, they got through their only road trips to New York and Cleveland without any of the games being rained out.

The Mariners currently sit at 9-9.  They’ve gone 8-4 on the road to start the season.  How do you like that?

On the one hand, it’s promising, because part of me feels like this team is just scratching the surface of its potential.  You expect guys like Seager, Cano, and Aoki are on the cusp of breaking out of their 3 weeks-long slumps.  You even expect someone like Wade Miley to be better than what we’ve seen so far (though, he started to turn it around after the first inning in yesterday’s game; but you can’t discount the 3 runs he gave up in that first inning).

On the other hand, you’ve gotta wonder if .500 isn’t the ceiling for this team.  The bullpen has been pretty unsustainably good, Taijuan Walker will have some bumps in the road he’ll have to deal with, and Felix hasn’t quite been as Felix-like as you want to see.  Factor that in with the bullshit surrounding this team being unable to hit at home, and you get a lot of feel-good vibes with the team 9-9 this late into April, but all of that could change in the blink of an eye.

Conversely, you gotta wonder what they’re thinking down in Houston right now.  The Astros were one of the hottest and best teams in the A.L. this time last year.  Now, they’re last in the West and at 6-13, are second-worst in the entire league.  But, if I’m being perfectly honest, I have MUCH more confidence that the Astros will be able to turn things around and get themselves back in contention, than I do the Mariners parlaying this decent start into anything remotely interesting come August and September.

I guess that goes with the thing about it still being early in the season.  But, make no mistake, the grind is upon us.

Tough week this week.  The Mariners return home, to some decidedly spring-like temperatures, to face Houston and the reigning World Series champion Kansas City Royals.  How the Mariners come out of this 6-game homestand will be a good early litmus test.  Beat Houston, and you could argue that we’re catching them at the right time.  Nevertheless, it’s a divisional opponent, and one I anticipate will be much improved by the time we play them again in July, for instance.  To gain 1 or 3 games on them this early would be HUGE.  On the flipside, if we struggle against them, then maybe we’ve just kickstarted their run towards getting back in the race; at which point, you’re talking about a huge letdown after a promising road trip.

As for the Royals, it should go without saying what that series means.  That’s the team the Mariners are aspiring to be!  Good pitching, rock solid relief, guys able to get on base and make life difficult on opposing pitchers, with just enough power mixed in to get the job done.  Once again, the Royals look remarkably well-positioned to get back to the post-season and maybe make it three World Series appearances in a row.  THESE are the teams you have to beat to get to where you want to go.  Are the Mariners on the same level as the Royals?  If they can prove it by taking two of three, maybe that’s a nice ego boost for a club looking to make a name for itself.  If the Mariners lose, and look bad doing it, maybe that just reinforces the fact that we’re not ready, and you can’t turn around a culture of losing in one offseason.

Or, shit, maybe it’ll mean nothing.  Because it’s the end of April, and all of these teams will look vastly different come October.

Garry Gilliam & The Left Tackle Position

I try to stay away from the whole Mock Draft scene.  Not that I necessarily have an aversion to pointless sports-related thought experiments or anything; I mean, is there any other reason to have your own blog in the first place?  But, they tend to make me upset, because they come from a place of complete ignorance.  You can work for ESPN or Fox Sports or CBS Sports or Yahoo Sports or SB Nation or WHATEVER, and you can sit around and devote your entire life, 366 days a year on leap years, exclusively to the NFL draft process.  You can watch all the tape on all the college players, rank them from best to worst, and try your mightiest to anticipate where those players will fit the best, but in the end, if you’re not also following each and every NFL team like it’s your FAVORITE NFL team, you’re not going to know your head from your ass, and that’s just a fact.

So, as I said up top, I try to stay away from the whole Mock Draft scene.  Because I’m a Seahawks fan.  And most everyone who does a mock draft … isn’t.  I know you can be this person from afar, and you have a sense of where the needs are for a team like the Seahawks.  Obviously, in 2015, the offensive line was a problem.  And I also know you can be this person from afar, and you have a sense of what the Seahawks have done to rectify that problem in free agency.  Obviously, not much.  The Seahawks let their right guard go, and appear to be promoting from within, with an unproven 2nd year player.  The Seahawks signed a mediocre free agent and gave him the keys to the right tackle position.  THEN, the Seahawks flipped last year’s right tackle over to left tackle, signed a non-entity to be his competition, and here we are.

From afar, assuming you’re not a Seahawks fan, your initial instinct – when it comes to mocking up the Seahawks’ first round draft pick – is to say, “Hey!  The Seahawks have a definite need at left tackle!”  And then they look to see who the next available left tackle is on their mock draft boards, and they stick the guy there at #26.  That was easy.  Done.  NEXT!

But, is that smart?  I doubt it.  Do the Seahawks, under John Schneider and Pete Carroll, REALLY strike you as the type of team that’s going to want to draft the 4th-best, 5th-best, or even 6th-best left tackle with their first round draft pick?  The smarter analysis comes from the guys who are projecting center Ryan Kelly to go to the Seahawks, because he’s the consensus top center prospect in this draft, and that’s really something the Seahawks could use.

Best center in the draft vs. 5th best offensive tackle?  I think that’s a no-brainer, but that’s not totally my point.

I think the team really likes Garry Gilliam, and likes his potential to be a left tackle in this league.  It’s where he started out, as a rookie, when he was backing up Okung (and the side he played on when blocking for field goals – remember the touchdown against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game?).  He also made it through last season healthy, and has used this offseason to workout his body into a frenzy.  With a full offseason, a full series of camps, and a full pre-season to get acclimated to the left side, I think the Seahawks will be perfectly happy with what he’s going to bring to the table next season.

The question from here is:  SHOULD they be?

Is it smart to put all your eggs in the Gilliam basket?  That’s a real Wait & See type of deal there, isn’t it?  We won’t know, until he gets thrown into the fire.  Until he’s gotta tangle with the defensive ends of the Dolphins and Rams the first two weeks of the regular season.  You shouldn’t worry about his quickness, because he’s got plenty of that.  But, does he have the size?  He’s a little thin.  And, more importantly, does he have the instincts?  That comes with experience and/or it comes naturally with some of the greatest to ever play the game.  Gilliam really doesn’t have much in the way of experience.  He made it through last year, but he did struggle at times.  Now, you figure, he won’t have the tight end to help out as much, what with being on the left side.

I know we all long to have the next Walter Jones over there, but at this point, I’d settle for the next Russell Okung.  If Gilliam can come in, step up to the challenge, and make it so I don’t have to worry about the left side of the line, it will be a boon to this team.

And, just because I don’t think the Seahawks should draft a left tackle with their first round pick, doesn’t mean I think the team should neglect the position in the draft altogether.  Go ahead and find a project in the later rounds!  The team is always going to need depth (probably now more than ever, since Alvin Bailey is gone), and for as much as I like Gilliam personally, I have to be realistic.  He could be a total washout as a left tackle!  At which point, this team would be in trouble, because Bradley Sowell SUU-UUUCKS!

Jinx Alert: Taijuan Walker Looks Good So Far

The Mariners had a pretty impressive little 2-1 victory over the Indians yesterday.  In spite of being no-hit from the 3rd inning on, they were able to make those two runs they scored in the second inning work, thanks to rock solid pitching from Taijuan Walker and the bullpen.

Walker has been pretty remarkable through three starts this season.  6 innings each game, no more than 2 runs allowed.  Overall, he’s gone 18 innings, with 3 earned runs, 2 walks, 15 hits, and 14 strikeouts.  His pitch counts have gotten away from him a little bit, preventing him from going REALLY deep into games, but three quality starts out of three games is nothing to sneeze at.

Following Walker, Peralta threw another scoreless inning in his attempt to be known as a reliable reliever for this team.  He was followed by Benoit and Cishek, who have looked great so far this year (aside from that one bad outing out of Cishek against the A’s).

This was an under-the-radar important win for this team.  The Mariners are currently 2-5 in one-run games this year, which is obviously a bad sign in the early going.  If this team is going to contend, it’s going to need its pitching to step up and be better than advertised.  If we’re getting shoddy bullpen outings, or mediocre starts, we’re going to find ourselves pretty far down in the standings as the season goes along.

Taijuan Walker’s emergence is going to be critical for this team.  As it looks more and more like Iwakuma and Miley are .500 pitchers at best, with Karns a total wild card, they’re going to need someone besides Felix to be dominant.  It remains to be seen if Walker is going to take that step or not, but three starts in, you have to like what we’ve seen.

The 2012 Seahawks’ Draft Class Is Very Wealthy

I’ll never EVER get tired of mocking this Bleacher Report post that gave the Seahawks an F grade for their 2012 draft class.  Let’s overlook, for a moment, the fact that grading a draft class the day of, or the next day, or even in the first year, is pretty ridiculous.  You don’t know how good or bad players are going to be!  All you know is what the Mel Kipers of the world have been blathering on about, and they don’t know anything either!  Grading a draft class based on pre-draft projections and predictions is pretty silly.

But, there are some real juicy pull-quotes from that Bleacher Report link.  They called Bruce Irvin, “one of the worst picks in the first round I can ever remember,” before going on to say that the Seahawks, “didn’t draft any positions of need or draft for the future.”  Let’s run down those draft picks really quick:

  • Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, 1st round, 15th overall
  • Bobby Wagner, MLB, 2nd round, 47th overall
  • Russell Wilson, QB, 3rd round, 75th overall
  • Robert Turbin, RB, 4th round, 106th overall
  • Jaye Howard, DT, 4th round, 114th overall
  • Korey Toomer, LB, 5th round, 154th overall
  • Jeremy Lane, CB, 6th round, 172nd overall
  • Winston Guy, S, 6th round, 181st overall
  • J.R. Sweezy, RG, 7th round, 225th overall
  • Gregg Scruggs, DE, 7th round, 232nd overall
  • Jermaine Kearse, WR, undrafted free agent
  • DeShawn Shead, CB/S, undrafted free agent

I tacked on those key undrafted guys to bolster my argument, but also because they’re still significant players in the NFL.  But, let’s look at this for a moment.  I’m sure I’m not the first to rail into Bleacher Report on this very topic, but they mentioned the Seahawks didn’t draft any positions of need.  Didn’t they?  Let’s look at the 2011 Seahawks for a bit.

Regarding pass rush – which they addressed in the first round with Bruce Irvin – the 2011 Seahawks were in the bottom third of the league, with 33 sacks.  They were essentially Chris Clemons and that’s it.  Looks like a position of need to me.

Regarding the middle linebacker spot – which they addressed in the second round with Bobby Wagner – the 2011 Seahawks were rolling with the aging and injury-prone David Hawthorne.  Lofa Tatupu was gone, K.J. Wright might have gotten a look there, but he’s better suited as an outside linebacker.  And, let’s not forget Aaron Curry on the other side; no help there!  I’d say middle linebacker was a HUGE area of need!

Then, there’s quarterback.  I’ll forgive Bleacher Report if they didn’t believe that the short, running quarterback could hold up in the NFL.  But, to say that quarterback wasn’t an area of need for this team – this team that was trotting out Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst the year before – is insanity.  And, don’t give me Matt “2 starts in the NFL” Flynn, because he was never going to be a sure thing.  In their analysis, Bleacher Report went on to say that Wilson, “doesn’t fit their offense at all,” and was “by far the worst move of the draft.”  Even in the infancy of Wilson’s professional career, while I might understand some doubt, I can’t even remotely understand how drafting him in the third round would be one of the two worst moves in the entire draft (with Irvin being the other one).  By all accounts at the time, if Wilson were only 2 inches taller, he would’ve been a first round, maybe even Top 10 draft pick.  He had all the tools, all the intangibles, everything going for him but those two inches.  The WORST pick?  Seems like hyperbole got the better of Bleacher Report here.  But, either way, what’s that about “fitting the offense”?  What offense?  You mean the one that likes to run the ball a lot?  You mean the one where Tarvaris Jackson was under pressure on a near-constant basis?  Seems to me a running quarterback – behind that suspect offensive line – was EXACTLY the right fit for our offense.

Anyway, I could go on and on.  But, I didn’t really intend on this being a Kill Bleacher Report post.  They’ve been killed enough, by a plethora of other writers out there.  What I want to look at is just how great this class really was.

For starters, all of the guys listed above – each and every person drafted, plus those two undrafted cats – are still in the league four years later.  That’s pretty big, when you think about it.  How many busts have we seen get drafted and are out of the league a few months later?

Now, obviously, not all of these guys are still with the Seahawks.  But, that just goes to show you how strong this class really was:  we couldn’t afford to keep them all!  Hell, at the moment we only have 5 out of 12 of those guys, and Shead’s on the last year of his deal!  Nevertheless, everyone but Shead has seen a second deal, and Shead is all but guaranteed to join the party after the 2016 season, given his versatility.

On top of that, five of those guys have pretty wealthy second deals that they’ve recently signed, with another couple more making some serious money too.  Below, I’ve re-listed all those guys, with how much money they earned on their rookie deals, as well as their general current contract terms next to it.

  • Irvin – $9 million earned / 4 years, $37 million, $19 million guaranteed
  • Wagner – $3.3 million earned / 4 years, $43 million, $22 million guaranteed
  • Wilson – $2.2 million earned / 4 years, $87.6 million, $61.5 million guaranteed
  • Turbin – $2.5 million earned / 1 year, $760K in 2016
  • Howard – $2.5 million earned / 2 years, $10 million, $8.3 million guaranteed
  • Toomer – $1 million earned / 1 year, $600K in 2016
  • Lane – $2.3 million earned / 4 years, $23 million, $11 million guaranteed
  • Guy – $1.8 million earned / 2 years, $1.42 million
  • Sweezy – $3.4 million earned / 5 years, $32.5 million, $14.5 million guaranteed
  • Scruggs – $1.6 million earned / 2 years, $1.3 million
  • Kearse – $3.8 million earned / 3 years, $13.5 million, $6.3 million guaranteed
  • Shead – $2.2 million earned / 1 year, $760K in 2016

All told, that’s $35.6 million earned, with another potential $251.4 million in their current contracts (with Shead’s second deal to come next year) and $142.6 million in guaranteed money.  If you ask me, that’s a pretty nasty draft class.  2012 is the type of draft you only dream about.  It not only sets you up to win now, but to win for many years down the line.  We’re talking about 7 starters, 5 more reserve/rotation guys, with an All Pro and a Pro Bowler in the mix.  Outstanding!

Brandon Browner Is Back, The Legion Of Boom Is Whole Again

One of the more interesting moves of the offseason has seen the Seahawks return to some familiar faces, in signing Chris Clemons and now Brandon Browner to 1-year prove-it deals.  As this post posits, perhaps this is a reaction to a perceived void in veteran leadership on this team.  You could argue that this team has a lot of leaders already, in Wilson, Graham, Baldwin, and Kearse on offense; and Earl, Sherm, Wagner, Wright, Bennett and Avril on defense.  Nevertheless, I would say – to borrow from Jim Mora Jr. a little bit – that the team doesn’t necessarily have very many dirtbags on the team.  Enforcers who bring one primary trait to the table:  pain.  Clemons, by all accounts, is a nasty customer, whose focus on taking out the quarterback is legendary on this team.  And, of course, we all know how lethal Brandon Browner can be.  I would also note that with Kris Richard as a first-time defensive coordinator, and a young one at that, it’s nice to have an abundance of veterans on this defense to show the younger players how it’s supposed to be done.

In the ol’ Gods & Clods way of team-building, you’ve got a lot of expensive players, and a lot of very VERY cheap players (usually rookies/guys on rookie deals).  When you can bring in players on cheap, 1-year deals, who know the system and are able to bring something of a teaching element to Training Camp (even if it’s simply leading by example), I believe there’s really no downside to these types of moves.  There’s no guarantee either Clemons or Browner make the team in 2016, but if they push younger guys to be great in the pre-season, they will have been well worth the modest cost of their signing bonuses.

With both of these guys, you’re looking at 50/50 deals as far as whether they make the team or not.  I think with Clemons, it’ll be a matter of him proving he’s still got it.  You don’t bring in a guy like Clemons to be a starter; you bring him in to add a little extra to your pass rush in obvious passing situations (to help lessen the blow of losing a guy like Irvin).  If he comes in during Training Camp and pre-season and he looks a step slower than everyone, then hey, at least he’ll impart some lessons to the younger guys, and it doesn’t cost you much to cut him.

With Browner, I’ll give the same odds of him making the team, even though his position has much more competition.  Browner’s reputation has taken quite a hit the last couple years.  He was a big part of costing the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, but at the same time, he was super prone to penalties and was cut by the Patriots after the season ended.  Then, he cashed in with New Orleans, but his defensive coordinator was a boob and didn’t use him properly, so he continued making many boneheaded penalties and getting beat frequently.  The Seahawks know what Browner brings to the table, limitations and all.  In this system, Browner made a name for himself, and was able to cash in on that.  Returning to this system, we should see something of a bounce-back year out of him (assuming he makes the team, of course).

I’m not as negative as a lot of Seahawks fans are with this move, mostly because I agree the guy wasn’t in the right scheme last year.  If you bring in a veteran on a free agent deal, you sure as shit better adapt your defense to him and not the other way around.  With a rookie, you can mold him; with a veteran, you’re not teaching an old dog new tricks (unless he’s a superstar like Revis, but even then, he struggled a bit in Tampa when they had him play more zone coverage than his customary lockdown man coverage).

I’m also tempering my expectations a little bit.  Browner’s best years with the Seahawks were in 2011 and 2012 (mostly 2011, if we’re being honest; his Pro Bowl season).  He wasn’t exactly all that dominant in 2013, when he played only 8 games, and wasn’t even around during the stretch run or the playoff run; that’s where Byron Maxwell stepped into the starter’s role and ran with it.  Even Browner at his best has his limitations.  He’s not as great against smaller, shifty receivers.  Against a guy like Kearse – who he was able to shut down in the Super Bowl – Browner is all kinds of effective.  In that sense, you wonder if he’s a guy who will see a lot of time in certain games, against certain teams, and then next to nothing against others.

What we should all be looking forward to is the fact that – barring injury – Browner isn’t coming in to be a starter.  Jeremy Lane is the one who got the big contract, and he’s going to see the majority of the snaps on the field after Sherm, Earl, and Kam.  Browner is here for depth – so the team is able to push Lane inside on nickel situations – and he’s here to push Tharold Simon, who is solid when healthy, but who’s never healthy for a full season.  In that sense, as a depth piece, he further cements the secondary as the best unit on the team, and nearly brings us back to the greatness that was the secondary of 2013.

We’ll see how it all shakes out in the pre-season, but my initial impressions are nothing but favorable.

The Mariners Won More Than They Lost Against The Yankees

It’s Monday, which means it’s time to talk about the weekend that was.

The M’s won an impressive one on Friday, 7-1, scoring in each of the final six innings to put it away.  Cruz and Cano had big games, we got a lot out of the DH combo of Smith & Guti, Adam Lind had something of a breakout game with a couple of hits, and Iannetta continued his torrid start to the season, which has been the most welcome of surprises.  Most everyone got in on the action offensively, except of course for poor Kyle Seager, who can’t buy a hit (but has plenty of Double Play foodstamps to throw around – THANKS OBAMA!).

Nathan Karns had a very Nathan Karns type of outing:  5 innings, 5 hits, 4 walks, 1 run, 7 strikeouts.  He got himself into and out of trouble in almost every inning, which is just something we should all get used to seeing, because that’s going to be the norm with this guy.  His inability to consistently pound the strikezone and get guys to hit into our defense is going to mean high pitch counts, low innings counts, and potentially a lot of crooked numbers.  In games like on Friday, where he was able to wiggle off the hook time and time again, he’ll resemble a bulldog like Erik Bedard.  You take the good with the bad with a guy like Bedard/Karns.  A tendency to Five & Dive, but at the same time (ideally) someone who can give you a QUALITY five innings.  Which, compared to some of the 5th starters we’ve seen in years past (weak-throwing flyball pitchers like Beavan and such), this might be a welcome change.  But, if Karns starts getting beat up more often than not (BECAUSE he’s putting so many people on base early in innings), then you’ll likely see him replaced by Paxton sooner rather than later.  It’ll be an interesting first few weeks of his Mariners career.

As the Mariners played add-on, the bullpen locked it down for the final four innings, including Peralta, who had been savaged in recent games by the long ball.

The Mariners won again on Saturday, 3-2, in a very Mariners-like performance, where the team scored three runs in the fifth inning, and no runs in any other inning.  Felix got the start, and for a while, this looked like the prototypical Hard Luck Felix Game.  C.C. Sabathia was working his magic through the first four innings, and it looked like a return to form for the erstwhile ace.  Felix, meanwhile, struggled in Karns-like fashion each and every inning, as he too was limited to five innings on the day.  It was a really weird day, if I’m being honest.  Felix had some of the most unhittable stuff I’ve ever seen out of him, but the downside was that he had pretty much no control over anything.  He threw about 80% offspeed stuff, and that shit was flying every which way but inside the strikezone.  As such, he only gave up 5 hits, but he gave up 6 walks.  When you add Saturday’s performance to his opening day start, there might be cause for concern.  I, however, choose to believe in the King, and like to see that he’s got such strong movement this early into the season.  He’ll harness everything, and get control over his command, and once he does, we could see a nice long run of dominance out of him this season.  As it is, he’s only got a 1.00 ERA, so the Felix Haters can eat all the dicks.

When Felix left the game, he had a 3-1 lead, and you sure as shit know none of us Mariners fans thought that lead was REMOTELY safe.  Vidal Nuno came in on his second consecutive day to throw shutout ball for an inning; he’s going to be a HUGE piece to this bullpen when it’s all said and done.  In the 7th, Nick Vincent gave up a solo homer to make it 3-2, and it was Hold Your Nuts time from there on out.  Benoit returned from his shoulder soreness to throw an uneventful scoreless inning, and Cishek came in for the 9th, gave up a couple hits, but ultimately got the job done for his first save of the year.  Last year, that game is a loss 11 times out of 10 games, so good on the bullpen to snap back after a rough homestand.

Yesterday, the Mariners lost 4-3, in a game that necessitated a dominant starting pitching performance, and ultimately didn’t see one.  Masahiro Tanaka was going for the Yankees, and he’s always been a tough cookie against the Mariners.  Quite frankly, seeing the Mariners get even 3 runs was laudable, as more often than not you’re lucky to get more than a single run against the guy.  Ultimately, when you get three runs off of a team’s ace, you need to find a way to win that game, and the Mariners just couldn’t hack it.

Hisashi Iwakuma is one of the more infuriating pitchers I’ve seen in a good, long while.  Not the same kind of infuriating as guys like J.A. Happ, or Carlos Silva, or even Jeff Weaver.  Unlike those guys, we’ve SEEN Iwakuma do really well in a Mariners uniform.  We KNOW he has greatness in him.  In the last two seasons, he’s had decent, if injury-plagued years, and in 2013 he had near-Cy Young quality stuff over 33 games.  When we all think of Iwakuma, we think of him in that 2013 context, where he solidified his reputation as a legitimate #2 starter on this team.  But, the truth is, even in 2013, he’s prone to these dumpy runs of mediocrity.  THAT’S what makes him so infuriating!  It’s not like he runs into a bad game here and there; even Felix has a bad game every now and again.  But, Iwakuma tends to string his bad games, or his so-so games, all in a row, before he has these prolonged stretches of quality starts.

Here are some of the stretches to which I’m referring (not counting his first year in the Bigs, as he was still getting over some shoulder issues):

  • 2013 – a five-game run where he gave up at least 4 runs per game
  • 2014 – a six-game run where he couldn’t get through the 6th inning in 5 of 6 games (and, more often than not, couldn’t even get through the 5th inning)
  • 2015 – a four-game run to start the season where he gave up at least 4 runs per game

I don’t know if it’s fair to saddle him with this run of three games to start the 2016 season as it being one of his bad runs, but he hasn’t been great by any stretch.  In 18 innings, he’s given up 22 hits and another 6 walks.  While he’s only given up the one homer (to A-Rod yesterday, ugh), teams are stringing their hits and walks together just enough to force him into this 0-2 start.  I wouldn’t say it’s dire straits yet with Kuma, but it would be really nice to see him overwhelm one of these teams soon with a dominant performance.

All in all, as I said before, a commendable hitting performance out of the M’s yesterday.  We were able to tie it in the fifth, but Kuma went right out in the bottom of the inning and gave up the fourth run of the day for the Yankees.  Even though Kuma was able to go 7 innings, and let the bullpen relax a little bit, those four runs proved to be too much.  Tanaka was also able to go 7 innings, and once the Yankees have a lead going into the 8th inning, you might as well forget it.  Dellin Betances is a fucking beast, and Andrew Miller is rock solid.  Can you even imagine what that bullpen is going to look like when Aroldis Chapman returns from suspension?  You better pile your runs up early, because you’re not budging that bullpen an inch in the late innings!

I do have to say something about Kyle Seager, though, because he’s been an absolute mess through two weeks.  He’s down to a line of .119/.245/.238, he was benched on Saturday to give him a day off to mentally unwind, and he’s just been a machine at grounding out to the right side of the infield (into the shift, which I have to believe is in his head more than anyone wants to let on).  I have confidence in his ability to turn it around, as I’ve seen these slow starts out of him almost every year of his career, but if this team wants to avoid digging a hole impossible to get out of, it’ll need Seager to start pulling his weight.

I like what I’ve seen out of Cruz and Iannetta.  Smith and Guti have had truly professional starts to the season.  Aoki’s been on a nice little run, and Martin has showed better power than I would’ve given him credit for prior to the season.  Dae-ho Lee has brought exactly what I expected to the table.  It’s really only a matter of time before Cano goes on a hot streak to get his numbers back to career norms.  Sardinas has brought what you like to see out of a guy off the bench.  Marte has had a rough go of it, but he’s young, and he has a knack for getting on base and using his speed to his advantage.  Lind’s rough start can’t be sugar-coated, but at least he looks like a guy who can hit it to all fields, so he’ll find some of those balls dropping in for hits sooner or later.  That just leaves Seager, who is bringing up the rear like a maniac.

When you think of a lineup, you’re going to see lots of peaks and valleys out of guys.  For instance, Iannetta is having a tremendous start to his Mariners career.  But, that other shoe is going to drop in a minute, and it would be NICE to see someone else hit one of his peaks at the same time as Iannetta’s inevitable valley, so the offense doesn’t go completely in the tank.  Iannetta is giving us Seager-like production right now, but that won’t last forever (if it even lasts much longer than these first two weeks); we’re going to need Seager to step it up just to maintain the status quo we’ve got going on right now!  That’s a scary thought, especially if it takes him much longer to pull out of this nosedive he’s been in.