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.

Jack Zduriencik Is Gone

I remember June 16, 2008, like it was seven years and a few weeks ago.  We were in the middle of a year that would just get worse and worse and worse.  The Mariners, coming off of a winning 2007 campaign, revamped their starting rotation with the Erik Bedard trade and the Carlos Silva signing.  A would-be weakness for the team was bolstered by the addition of a second ace pitcher, and an innings eater who’d solidify the back-end of the rotation while pitching half his games in the spacious Safeco Field.

Those 2008 Mariners would go on to lose over 100 games, netting the #2 overall draft pick.  On June 16, 2008, Bill Bavasi was fired after four and a half miserable fucking seasons.  And we all rejoiced, for we all knew Bavasi was not only the face of Satan incarnate, but the most bumbling and inept motherfucker ever to be given the keys to a professional franchise (tell me I’m wrong, COME AT ME BRO; I will fight you to the death).  Every year of his reign was another chance to reload.  Re-BUILD?  What does that even MEAN?  The Mariners were coming off of their most fruitful seasons under Pat Gillick; but those veterans were all long dead and buried.  Bavasi made it his mission to bring in veteran after veteran to try to right the ship, at the expense of our entire farm system and anything else he could get his hands on.  He wasted money, he traded away superstars, and he brought us nothing but losses piled upon losses piled upon shit.

On October 22, 2008, the Mariners brought in Jack Zduriencik, and while we didn’t really know much about him, we knew he worked in the upper management in Milwaukee, for a Brewers organization on the rise.  He was responsible for that team bringing in some of its biggest stars, and was the first non-GM to win Executive of the Year in 2007.  This guy was a rising star in his own right, and it seemed like he’d fit into the GM world like a glove.

On August 28, 2015, the Mariners fired Jack Zduriencik.  He’d been at the helm for a little over 6 and a half seasons.  So, it was time.  He’d out-lasted his predecessor and really wasn’t all that much better at his job.

Bill Bavasi’s Mariners record:  322-395, .449 winning percentage
Jack Zduriencik’s Mariners record:  506-595, .460 winning percentage

Over time, the Bavasi regime has become known for the Erik Bedard/Adam Jones trade, and the dual trades to the Indians in 2006 giving them quality All Stars Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera for magic beans.  Those are desperate moves no GM would EVER live down.  The Zduriencik regime will ultimately go down for the Triad of Suck that was Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, and Jesus Montero.  The Mariners gave up some legitimately great capital to bring in those guys (2nd overall draft pick, Cliff Lee, and Michael Pineda, respectively) and they all blew up in Z’s face.

Considering Jackie Z’s extensive history in scouting for Major League Baseball, that makes his transgressions all the more galling.  He’d been here for over 6 years and all he had to show for his work was Kyle Seager.  Anyone he ever brought in who was worth a damn was either an established free agent (Cano, Cruz) or some scrub who’d previously washed out of baseball either via injury or ineffectiveness, only to make his comeback with us for an anomalous year or two (Chris Young, Mark Lowe, Tom Wilhelmsen, Joe Beimel).  I mean, will you LOOK at some of the bullshit that’s crossed our paths thanks to Jackie Z:

  • Dustin Ackley, draft pick
  • Chone Figgins, free agent
  • Eric Byrnes, free agent
  • Justin Smoak, trade
  • The Entire Doug Fister Trade, less Charlie Furbush (a sometimes-okay lefty specialist out of the bullpen)
  • Jesus Montero, trade
  • Brandon League, trade
  • Casey Kotchman, trade
  • Mike Morse for John Jaso
  • Logan Morrison for Carter Capps
  • Mark Trumbo for Welington Castillo
  • Mike Zunino, draft pick
  • Danny Hultzen, draft pick
  • Nick Franklin, draft pick
  • Corey Hart, free agent
  • Jason Bay, free agent
  • Joe Saunders, free agent
  • Hector Noesi, trade
  • Miguel Olivo, free agent
  • The Hitless Wonder That Is Brendan Ryan, trade
  • Jack Cust, free agent
  • Blake Beavan, trade
  • Milton Bradley, trade
  • Rob Johnson, trade(ish)

You could go on and on, and I know I’m just picking and choosing the most worthless piles of crap out there, but LOOK AT THAT LIST!  Look at all those miserable bastards that have contributed to nearly 600 losses the last 6+ seasons!  That’s Jack’s legacy!  Did he give away studs on par with Jones, Choo, Cabrera, Tillman and the like?  No.  But, he did get PENNY on the dollar out of stud trade chips like Cliff Lee, Michael Pineda, Doug Fister, Brandon Morrow, John Jaso, and Carter Capps.  He had three draft picks in the top 3 overall and we’ve yet to see any of them amount to anything more than somewhat quality defense.  After this year, it’s highly likely two of those three draft picks won’t even be in the organization, with Ackley traded, Hultzen an injured free agent who should probably retire, and Mike Zunino fighting for his life somewhere between Tacoma and Seattle.

Was he as destructive as Bill Bavasi?  No, he was not.  That’s why August 28, 2015, came and went a little bit differently than June 16, 2008.  I don’t feel quite the sense of elation as I did when Bavasi finally got the ax.  That was on par with the Wicked Witch of the West getting assassinated; this is more like Old Yeller taking a bullet out behind the house.  Could the Mariners afford to keep him in charge even one more year?  Absolutely not.  His rabies-infested mind would surely destroy us all; he NEEDED to be put down, for his sake as much as our own.

But, it’s not even like that.  I have no real affinity for Jackie Z; it’s not like I’m going to miss him now that he’s gone.  But, it’s still a bummer, because this isn’t supposed to be how it ended.  There was a lot of flawed decision-making when it comes to Jackie Z’s reign; but, there’s also a lot of moves where you could see why he thought the way he did.  A lot of moves that looked good on paper, and then that paper was set ablaze by a fucking cannon.  Guys like Smoak and Ackley and Figgins and Montero – they all came highly touted and having produced quite a bit in their careers up to the point they arrived in Seattle.

In fact, you could say 2015 was a perfect microcosm of the entire Jackie Z era.  There was hope – coming off of a year where the Mariners ended up 1 game out of the playoffs.  There was a smart signing – Nelson Cruz, MVP candidate in 2015.  There was flawed logic – trading away a professional catcher during Zunino’s worst year in the Bigs for a righty power bat who will never play well in Safeco (and who’s yet another DH who shouldn’t be playing out in the field to boot).  And there was a whole lot of bad luck – Cano’s shitty start to the season, Ackley turning back into a pumpkin after last year’s bonanza second half, the bullpen absolutely falling apart after being one of the best units in the American League last year.

Like him or hate him, it’s just sad.  This whole season has been depressing as shit!  Jackie Z getting the boot is just the cherry on top.

The worst part is:  what do we do going forward?  When Bavasi was fired, there was a clear thought process:  scrap everything and start over through the draft.  It only got muddled when the Mariners had a winning record in 2009; that shouldn’t have happened, and it set things back in a lot of ways.  The Mariners made “contending ballclub” moves when they should’ve stuck to the gameplan to keep rebuilding.  It backfired in 2010, meaning we wasted two good rebuilding years thinking we were worth a damn.  We started anew in 2011, built the club up into a winner in 2014, only to see it all bottom out yet again.  Unexpectedly.  Yet again.  But, maybe we should have expected it.  This city is cursed in a lot of ways, and it took one of the greatest football teams of all time to break that spell in 2013.

Now, like in 2008, the Mariners have no farm system.  But, they’ve got plenty good at the Major League level.  This team is far from great, but it’s also far from the worst.  Will the organization be able to find the right guy to come in here and put all the pieces in place?

No.

It won’t.

Because Howard Lincoln is still the man calling all the shots.

He’s an imbecile and he needs to go.

But, we’re stuck with him, and that’s why we’ll always be losers.

Mariners Tidbit 60: The Only Mariners Worthy Of Praise In 2015

My initial impulse was to just leave the body of this post entirely blank.

With the Mariners, you have to adjust expectations.  If I had my druthers, the only hitter I’d put on this list who’s worthy of praise is Nelson Cruz.  But, to do that would leave off Kyle Seager and Seth Smith, who’d qualify for “Meets Expectations” on any survey you’d run for this team.  And, if you really want to scrape the bottom of the barrel, Brad Miller is probably worthy of some praise as well.

For real tho, most of the praise-worthy players are pitchers.  You gotta like what Felix has done, following his runner-up status for last year’s Cy Young.  He’s not quite as sharp as he was last year – thanks to a couple of real stinky outings – but he’s still the dominating ace we all know and love.  I’d like to heap some partial praise on Taijuan Walker for overcoming an awful start to the season.  Roenis Elias gets honorable mention for being a professional and not letting our starting rotation sag too much with Paxton and Iwakuma injured.  Mike Montgomery deserves generous praise for being amazing since his call-up.

And, for as bad as the bullpen has been at times, guys like Carson Smith, Mark Lowe, Charlie Furbush, and Joe Beimel have kept the flicker of hope alive in what has otherwise been a lost season.

So, let’s rank all the praise-worthy players on this team.  Because what better way to spend your Tuesday?

1.  Felix Hernandez

11-5 record makes him only one of two starters with a winning record (tied for first in wins in the A.L.).  2.84 ERA is tops among qualified starters on the team (and 11th in the A.L.).  He’s got 13 quality starts out of 18, and he’s got 9 Felix Quality Starts (I suppose the definition varies depending on who you ask, but in this case, he has 9 starts where he’s gone at least 7 innings while giving up 1 run or fewer).  Oddly enough, he’s actually managed to go 9-0 in those starts (who says the Mariners don’t provide run support???).  Felix is Felix, and he’s still the best thing going for this team, no matter how many over-paid hitters we attract.

2.  Nelson Cruz

Speaking of, I present to you our other All Star.  Cruz is no longer a contender for the Triple Crown, but his .308 batting average is good for 7th in the A.L., his 21 homers are good for 5th, and his 53 RBI are good for 14th.  The only problem with his season – as far as I can tell – is his dumpster fire of a June.  In that calendar month, he produced the following:  .239 batting average, 1 homer, 3 doubles, and 8 RBI.  In all other months, he produced the following:  .333 batting average, 20 homers, 10 doubles, and 45 RBI.  In other words, his June (and probably his defense) prevented him from being #1 on my list.

3.  Carson Smith

He’s not perfect, but I’ll be God damned if he’s not impressive almost every time out.  Even if he gets hit, he’s still nasty!  1.73 ERA, 47 strikeouts in 36.1 innings, 6 saves & 12 holds in 19 overall opportunities.  Most importantly, he’s held the opponent scoreless in 32 of 38 appearances, which is very good.  He picked us up when Fernando Rodney went off the rails.  And now that Rodney is sort of back, he’s a nice reserve option to have as part of this closer’s committee we’ve got going.  I fully anticipate to see Smith as the #1 closer starting next year (if not by the end of this year), and for the next decade to come.

4.  Mark Lowe

He has ALMOST been perfect since being called up in early May.  As a guy who was an afterthought in Spring Training, he’s become our best reliever in almost no time at all.  0.64 ERA, 37 strikeouts in 28 innings, 10 holds in 11 opportunities (most of those coming in June & July, as the team brought him along with less stressful situations in his first month back).  He’s given up runs in only 3 of his 28 appearances, which is insane.  Nice to have him back.

5.  Kyle Seager

Seager being Seager.  His 2015 is nearly a carbon copy of his 2014, which is nearly a carbon copy of every single year he’s been in the Majors.  .269 batting average, 12 homers & 19 doubles, 39 RBI, and fairly solid defense (with a slight uptick in errors, as he has 8 already, while he had 8 all of last year).  He’s the organization’s Golden Boy and Jackie Z’s finest draft pick.  Too bad Z will have to watch him from afar after this year.

6.  Mike Montgomery

Mike Montgomery has been nothing short of phenomenal since being called up.  When you think about it, he was 7th on the depth chart for starting pitchers.  This was a big concern coming into the season – considering Iwakuma’s recent struggles, Happ’s career-long struggles, and how young & injury-prone Paxton & Walker have been in their brief careers – what would happen if 2 or more starters went down at the same time?  Well, we had Roenis Elias marinating in Tacoma, so that wasn’t too bad.  He had a full year’s experience in the Majors, so you figure there wouldn’t be too big of a drop-off there.  But, how often do you get through a full season with only six starters?  Of course we’d need a seventh eventually!  In years past, we’ve been stuck with the likes of Blake Beavan and Erasmo Ramirez.  Suffice it to say, Montgomery has been a HUGE upgrade.

7.  Charlie Furbush

I tend to give Furbush a hard time, but he’s been mostly solid since converting to a reliever a few years ago.  His mistakes tend to look worse than they are because not only is he a reliever (so every blow-up is magnified), but he’s also a lefty specialist, which means he tends to be only used against left-handed hitters when the game is on the line.  So, his small sample is even smaller than most regular relievers.  But, this year he’s REALLY been a strength for this team.  It helps when someone like Wilhelmsen is taking the mantle of 2015 Mariners Reliever Who Gives Up The Most Inherited Runs, which I’m pretty sure Furbush owned in 2014.

8.  Brad Miller

His defense has improved and his offense is slowly starting to get better.  He’s still far from consistent – which I think is what bugs a lot of Mariners fans.  He’s GOT the tools; he SHOULD be a superstar!  Instead, he’s only been a couple steps above Ackley, which is not the company you want to keep.  Nevertheless, the future remains bright for Miller, and it will remain in the future until he figures out how to put it all together.

9.  Seth Smith

Sometimes, doing exactly what you’re asked to do is all that we need.  Sometimes, just playing to the back of your baseball card makes you one of the more beloved new players on a team.  Seth Smith has 218 at bats against righties; 17 at bats against lefties.  While his numbers against lefties look good, remember that’s about as small a sample as you can get from a guy who plays ALMOST everyday.  Still, he’s been a godsend in his role and I wouldn’t mind seeing that role continue beyond this season.

10.  Taijuan Walker

He had back-to-back crappy starts to lead into the All Star Break, but before that, he was as good as it gets for 7 starts in a row.  Those 7 starts are the reason why he’s on this list, because for the better part of the first two months of the season, he was mostly garbage and well on his way down to Tacoma.  I won’t sit here and expect perfection out of a rookie starter, but steady improvement would be a big help.  I’ve seen enough improvement out of Walker to be pleased with what he’s done.  And, the fact that he’s remained healthy is a definite plus.

11.  Joe Beimel

We thought we could get through this season without a Joe Beimel.  We still had Furbush, Tyler Olson was the talk of Spring Training, David Rollins was a Rule 5 reliever we plucked away from the Astros … there just wasn’t any room for an aging lefty specialist.  Beimel kicked around a couple camps, was let go by everyone, and took a chance on returning with the Mariners.  We ended up bringing him back up to Seattle in early May – when it was clear Olson wasn’t adjusting well to Major League life after Spring Training – and he’s been our rock ever since.  He can get you out of a jam and he can eat up innings in a lost cause.  Glad to have him back.

12.  Roenis Elias

I always thought Elias kind of got a raw deal in Spring Training.  Seemed to me he was just written off, even though he was a fine back-end starter for us in 2014.  He started off in Tacoma – as our reserve 6th starter – and was called up when Iwakuma went down.  He proceeded to rattle off 9 quality starts out of 13 total, and would still be up here if it weren’t for Mike Montgomery blowing the roof off the stadium.  Either way, if he makes it through the rest of 2015 healthy, I would expect him to make a great case as our fifth starter next year.

Tracking The Last Five Years In Seattle Sports

If you look at the right sidebar on my main page, you’ll notice a few things.  I try to update and keep track of the teams that are in-season with their current records and their next scheduled games.  I’ve got a list of categories, if you’d rather just read about one particular team.  I’ve got links to my Twitter and Facebook pages.  And, below that, I’ve got a list of the last five years’ worth of records for each of the teams I cover on this blog.

From time to time, I’ll refer to this list.  Sometimes, I need to know exactly how many wins a certain team had in a specific recent year; sometimes, I just like to marvel at how long it’s been since a team has made the postseason.  I chose five years because I think that’s a good barometer as to where a team is headed.  You can take a quick glance and see if things are trending upward, downward, or in the case of Husky Football, maddeningly the same.

The first thing I notice is that the Seattle Supersonics have been missing from this list for quite some time.  Six-plus years, which is a fucking travesty.  Let’s get on this, NBA!  As for everyone else, let’s separate them by heading.

Husky Basketball

Clearly trending downward.  Once the Mariners make the playoffs this year, the Husky men’s basketball team will have the longest postseason drought in the area, which is just impossible to comprehend.

The great thing about looking back at just the last five years is, it’s usually a good indicator as to a coach’s job security.  Lorenzo Romar has just finished year 4 without an NCAA Tournament appearance.  Gotta figure one more of those and he’s out on his ass.

Husky Football

As I said before, clearly trending even.  2010 was our first year playing in a bowl game since we bottomed out in 2008.  At this point last year, you’d have an argument that the program was trending upward, but with 2014’s uneven performance – punctuated by the dud of a Cactus Bowl – I might even make the argument things are starting to go south.

The Huskies lose some really good players on defense to the NFL draft this year.  Compound that with their most experienced quarterback – Cyler Miles – stepping away from the team (maybe forever?), and I have to wonder where our wins are going to come from in conference play.  2015 is certainly going to be a step back, but hopefully it’s a productive step back, where we find a quality replacement at quarterback who’ll be ready to help this team pop in 2016.  There’s still reason for optimism, but it’s going to be difficult to see through the thick layer of shit that’s right in front of us.

Seattle Seahawks

Trending even, but it’s not like things could get much better than the 2013 season.  I’m not ready to proclaim the Seahawks on a downward trend – as we’ve still got the pieces in place for an extended run at Super Bowls – but it’s hard to say things are going to get much better.  Back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, one boneheaded playcall from winning them both, I’d say this team is still at its peak level of dominance.

Still, 2015 is a key pivot point in this organization’s trajectory.  Guys aren’t getting old, necessarily, but they’re getting older.  Combine that with three consecutive playoff runs for the pillars of this team and you’re talking a lot of mileage.  If we can’t figure out a way to re-stock our depth with this year’s draft (combined with the IR players from last year’s draft who’ve had a full year to acclimate to being a professional), things could start to get hairy in a hurry.  We’re always going to be great as long as our great players remain healthy; but how long this championship run lasts will depend on the quality of players who step up when the greats get hurt.

Seattle Mariners

Trending upward!  Hurrah!  Last year, we were one game out from a play-in game for the playoffs.  We dumped our crap – Smoak, Hart, Morales, Denorfia, Beavan, soon-to-be Ramirez – and what useful pieces we lost aren’t devastating to our overall outlook in 2015 (Saunders, Young, Maurer, Beimel).  The important thing is who we’ve brought in to replace them.  Nelson Cruz is a MAMMOTH upgrade at DH.  Seth Smith and Justin Ruggiano should be moderate upgrades in the outfield (over Saunders and Jones, particularly).  Rickie Weeks could be a boon for our bench (over someone like Romero).  And, healthy seasons out of Walker and Paxton should alleviate some of the burden the team had to endure with the likes of Maurer, Beavan, and Ramirez (who were absolute disasters when they had to spot start last year).

Obviously, it’s a long season, and anything can happen.  But, it’s good to know that the Mariners have as good a shot as anyone to not only make the postseason, but win the whole thing.  If you think about it, this is a team BUILT for the playoffs.  Felix is the best pitcher in baseball.  Iwakuma is a rock solid #2.  Paxton and Walker both have the potential to be #1 or #2 pitchers.  Then, with the lineup, we’ve got a 3-4-5 that rivals any team’s with Cano-Cruz-Seager.  Combine that with enough role players around them who should keep this offense afloat in the lean times, and top it all off with a bullpen that could be in the top 5 in all of baseball, and you’ve got a team where it wouldn’t be crazy to see it go all the way.

The overall sports atmosphere in Seattle is one of Encouraging Optimism, which is a huge step up from Cautious Optimism (which is usually as high as things get around here).  The Seahawks obviously busted through the gates with their championship last year, but with the Mariners surging, we’re really in some glorious days.  Of course, it’s not perfect.  We’re probably looking at a total rebuild after next year’s Husky basketball team once again fails to make the Tourney.  But, in general, I’d say this is the best time to be a fan of Seattle sports teams.

Now, all we need is a clear plan to bring our Sonics back, and maybe a lead on an expansion hockey franchise, and we’ll be all set.

Looking Back At The 2014 Mariners: The Pitchers, Part II

Turns out there’s A LOT more to say about the 2014 Mariners than I originally thought.  Anyway, last week I wrote about all the position players used by the Mariners throughout the season.  It turned out to be a massive, 7,000+ word monstrosity that took over four hours to write and had to be split over three days.

This one figures to be a lot somewhat shorter simply because we used a total of 24 different position players and only 20 pitchers.  Here’s to me keeping this to a modest TWO posts!

Click HERE for Part I

In case you missed it, here’s the breakdown of the hitters from last week:

And now, without further ado, let’s talk about the rest of the pitchers.

Yoervis Medina This is all you REALLY need to know about Medina’s 2014.

If only they had the Internet back when Gil Meche caught Mo Vaughn looking.

Everyone absolutely LOVES to get off on hating on Medina.  I don’t get it!  Is he the best reliever this team has?  No.  Is he the guy you ideally want to see in the 8th inning of a winning ballgame?  Probably not.  But, way more often than not, he gets the job done.  He averages over a strikeout per inning, gotta like that.  He’s a little over 2:1 strikeout-to-walk, which isn’t the greatest, but it’s far from terrible.  Opposing batters hit .229 off of him, which is very good.  His OPS against is under .650.

I mean, seriously!  What more do you want out of the guy?  He’s durable, he’s good to go pretty much whenever you need him.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard any sort of variation on the phrase, “Medina isn’t available in today’s game because he’s pitched too many days in a row.”  He’s a 2-year pro whose ERA is below three in both years.  Even by more advanced metrics, he’s not bad.  So, why all the hate?

Fuck if I know.  He does tend to be a little wild sometimes.  He’s not quite Fernando Rodney Experience levels of cardiac arrest, but he’ll certainly raise the ol’ blood pressure from time to time.

When I look at a reliever, though, I like to look at meltdowns.  Is he going to be awesome for a while and then go all Brandon League on you?  That’s not good.  If you count ’em out, though, of his 66 appearances in 2014, he gave up at least one run only 12 times.  So, in 18% of his appearances, he’s giving up a run.  Granted, when he’s going in higher leverage situations, those runs tend to mean a little more.  But, I would venture to say of those 12 games where he gave up at least one run, he wasn’t the sole reason why we lost most of those.  Relievers can give up a run here and there and not have it bite them in the ass.

For my money, he’s young, he throws hard, he strikes people out; that’s worth him getting into and out of a few jams every now and then.

Outlook for 2015:  A lot of my talk yesterday was about how the Mariners are destined to trade a reliever or two for hitting help.  I’d venture to say Medina – along with Wilhelmsen – is probably on the lower end of the rankings.  My point being:  get used to seeing his mug come out of the bullpen on the reg in 2015.  And, if I’m right about Farquhar, Maurer, and/or Leone getting shipped off, that will only strengthen LMC’s resolve on using Medina in the 8th inning.  If he stays healthy, I’d bank on him being his usual, reliable, sometimes-scary self.

Hector Noesi – I want to say Noesi was out of options and that’s why he made the Mariners out of Spring Training.  I mean, his numbers were okay, but when you compare them to the rest of his Mariners career, I don’t think any fan thought he DESERVED to be here.

On April 2nd, he pitched an inning of relief in Anaheim, giving up 2 runs in a single inning.  It was a blowout Mariners victory, so people let it slide.

Then, on April 3rd, he came into a tie game in the bottom of the 12th down in Oakland.  He threw two pitches to Coco Crisp, the second of which was a game-winning home run.  Considering we missed out on the playoffs by 1 game to those very same Oakland A’s, you COULD say Hector Noesi is the reason why we fell short.

He moved on to the Rangers and made three appearances.  In his final appearance, against the White Sox, Noesi went a single inning and gave up 7 runs.  Fuck if I know what they saw, because after the Rangers released him the following day, the White Sox would go on to pick him up and pitch him less than a week later.  Noesi eventually cracked the White Sox’s rotation (because shit went very VERY wrong for that organization in 2014) and did all right.

He even got to start against the Mariners twice.  The White Sox would win both games (1-0 over in Chicago, 2-1 in Seattle), while Noesi combined to throw 14 innings, giving up 10 hits, 1 run, 0 earned runs, while striking out 9 and walking only 3.

If this is the point where you kill yourself, I totes understand.

Outlook for 2015:  Who the fuck cares?  Fuck that guy!

James Paxton – Paxton made 4 starts in September of 2013 and really plowed through the competish.  With that, he factored into the battle for the starting rotation in 2014 and easily won a job.  He made two starts, winning both, and then had to be shut down with a strained lat muscle.

He was only supposed to miss a few weeks to a month, but he didn’t actually make his Major League return until August thanks to a number of setbacks.  Once he got his strength back, he was the stud we’ve all come to expect (for the most part).

Outlook for 2015:  Definite front-runner for a rotation spot once again.  Will he be able to stay healthy?  Hopefully, the organization figured out what was wrong and how to avoid it in the future.  The sky is the limit with this kid if he can stay healthy.  Best-case scenario is:  he turns into a legitimate #2 starter behind Felix one day.  The sooner that day comes, the better our chances at making the post-season.

Stephen Pryor – Pryor flashed onto the scene in the later parts of 2012 and showed a rocket arm with closer-type stuff.  He figured to be a staple of our bullpen in 2013, but got injured.  All sorts of shoulder-type stuff.  That carried over into 2014.  He made a single appearance, on July 9th, giving up an unearned run.  I think he was called up to be a warm body (kinda like Luetge) to eat a couple innings.  In the end, he was sent back down and eventually traded to the Twins for Kendrys Morales.

Outlook for 2015:  It looked like he lost quite a bit off of his fastball.  He never did make any appearances for the Twins after he was traded, so that leads me to believe he’s still working his way back in the minors.  Hope he gets his stuff back; seemed like a good enough guy.

Erasmo Ramirez – Every year, from 2012 onward, we’ve had high hopes for this kid.  Good control, nice change up.  But, he throws a very straight, hittable ball.  And, sometimes he loses that control that’s his bread & butter.  Once that happens, he’s one of the ugliest pitchers you’ll ever watch.

He made 14 starts for the Mariners in 2014 (17 appearances overall).  With Iwakuma out, Ramirez made the rotation out of Spring Training.  He proved to be unreliable and eventually lost his job to Brandon Maurer (who proved to be even worse).  He re-entered the rotation in June, when he managed to more-or-less put up zeroes, but also couldn’t go deep into games because who could trust him to?  It was all spot starts after that, whenever we wanted to push guys back or otherwise give them extra rest.

Outlook for 2015:  Fodder for Tacoma, with Emergency Starter potential.  If he makes the rotation out of Spring Training again, something has gone horribly wrong (again).

Fernando Rodney – Meet your new Single-Season Saves Leader in Franchise History!

48 baby!  Hot dog!  Only 3 blown saves!  Gee willikers!  19 out of 69 games where he gave up at least 1 run!  Actually, that’s not the best figure in the world.

They don’t call it the Fernando Rodney Experience for nothing.

10.31 K’s per 9.  He’s got that fastball that runs anywhere from 93-99 miles per hour.  He’s got that change up that runs in the low 80s.  He’s got batters in between those two speeds MOST of the time.  And, every once in a while, he has a gnarly little meltdown.

Whatever you do, don’t bring him into the 9th inning of a tie game.  You WILL be losing that shit in short order.

Outlook for 2015:  He’s signed for one more season.  Another $7 million.  If we get similar production to what we got in 2014, he’ll be worth every penny.  If he takes even a modest step back, it could be a real trainwreck for the senses.  I’m fairly confident he’ll be what we expect him to be, but I make no guarantees.

Carson Smith – Nine games, all in September.  He would’ve been here sooner, but our Major League bullpen was kicking too many asses and taking too many names.  There was a roster crunch that got even crunchier when Brandon Maurer discovered 6 extra MPH on his fastball.

What we saw out of Smith, however, shows me this is the real fucking deal.  In those 9 games, he threw 8.1 innings (in a playoff chase, I might add!  In some pretty serious moments!), gave up 0 runs, 2 hits, struck out 10, and walked only 3.  Lots of movement on his hard fastball, with a wicked slider.

Outlook for 2015:  Theoretically, he could be another one of those Trade Chip guys, but teams generally like to have proven commodities.  I mean, these were the first 9 appearances of his Major League career!  I think he stays for that reason alone.  And, he’s the reason why I wouldn’t be absolutely heartbroken if we lost a Farquhar or a Maurer.  He can easily slide right in there as a 7th or 8th inning set up guy.  Eventually?  Another future closer, if he stays healthy.

Taijuan Walker – Another guy who got a September call-up in 2013.  Another guy who looked good during his cup of coffee.  Another guy who figured to be in the rotation battle in Spring Training 2014.  And, another guy who got injured and missed a significant portion of the year.

We might thank that injury for his still being here.  As, you have to figure it sapped some of his value from around the league.  You never know, if he was healthy and dominating, maybe it’s Walker who we trade at the deadline for a super-amazing, non-Kendrys bat.

I wish I could look into some alternate dimension where Iwakuma, Paxton, and Walker were all healthy out of Spring Training and healthy for the duration of the year.  What would’ve happened to the 2014 Mariners in this universe?  Could’ve been fucking amazing, if you ask me.

Shoulder impingement.  Had him shut down in Spring Training and didn’t allow him to return to the Majors until the end of June.  He made three sporadic starts before September, but spent the majority of the year down in Tacoma.  Working on his arm strength, and later working on his control.  He returned in September and looked much better, closing out his regular season with an 8-inning, 1-run game against the Blue Jays that we ended up losing 1-0 (essentially the nail in the coffin to our season, though we did finish with four straight victories to come within a game of a play-in game to the play-in game).

Outlook for 2015:  They stuck Walker down in the Arizona Fall League to get some work in.  By all accounts, he’s looked great.  He’ll be back in Spring Training fighting for a rotation spot.  If all goes according to plan, your 2015 rotation will look like this:  Felix, Iwakuma, Paxton, Walker, Elias.  But, then again, when does anything ever go according to plan?  Count on the Mariners bringing in a veteran or two to fight for the final rotation spot, so nothing will be handed to Walker.  But, if he’s got his head on straight and puts in the work necessary to make it, he should be fine.

Tom Wilhelmsen – He took over as closer in 2012 for the displaced Brandon League.  He lost his job as closer in 2013, suffering from Brandon League disease.  People wondered if he’d be traded prior to 2014.  People wondered if he’d even make the Big League roster out of Spring Training.

Not only did he make it, but he earned the trust of LMC to the point that he was THE guy behind Rodney.  He rewarded that trust by having a pretty mediocre April.  Calls for his head soon followed, but you know what?  Instead of doing what these relievers normally do – totally implode until they’ve been DFA’d or traded for a bag of baseballs – he figured his shit out and had a nice little 2014 season!

Wilhelmsen was lights out from May until the very end of September (for the record, the entire bullpen was lights out from May until the very end of September, hence the reason why we lost so many games towards the end there).  He ceded his 8th inning duties to Medina & Farquhar, but he earned something a little more important:  long relief & the occasional spot start on Bullpen Days.

He was made for this role, so I’m glad it’s clicked.  There’s been chatter here and there about him converting back into a starter, but I doubt it’ll happen.

Outlook for 2015:  I think he’ll be right here, doing what he did in 2014.  It’ll be nice to have him back (never would’ve caught myself saying that at the end of 2013).

Chris Young – The Mariners signed Randy Wolf to a minor league contract heading into Spring Training.  He was given a legitimate chance to win a rotation spot thanks to injuries and ineffectiveness out of some of our younger guys (Maurer, Beavan, others).

Scott Baker was another guy the Mariners signed prior to Spring.  He was ALSO given a legitimate opportunity at cracking the starting rotation.  He ended up being pretty awful in his four starts and asked for his release (since we weren’t ready to anoint him the starter, he used an opt-out clause in his deal).  This opened the door wide open for Wolf, who wasn’t a WHOLE lot better in his five spring starts, but it beat going into the season with AAA guys.

But, here’s the rub:  the Mariners asked Wolf to sign a contract with a clause that stated if the Mariners waived him after 45 days, they wouldn’t have to pay his full $1 million salary.  Randy Wolf threw a hissy fit (over what was a pretty standard clause for guys in his position) and refused, also asking for his release.  It was so granted.

Meanwhile, Chris Young was fighting for a spot with the Washington Nationals.  Prior to the season, the Nationals traded for Doug Fister (remember him?), and thus no longer had an opening for Young.  Young was released and the Mariners signed him.

He went ahead and agreed to the contract with the 45-day clause.  He was not only rewarded with a rotation spot for almost the full season (he broke down a bit towards the end and was benched), but he very well should be the frontrunner for Comeback Player of the Year.  AND, he probably rejuvenated his career to the point that, in 2015, he’ll get a guaranteed contract (and MAYBE even a multi-year deal).

Young’s first appearance of the year was out of the bullpen.  This was to build up some innings, as he’d had a gap between his release from the Nats and his pickup by the M’s.  His next 29 appearances were all starts, as injuries and ineffectiveness reared their heads.

3.65 ERA, 12-9 record, 108 strikeouts in 165 innings, with only 143 hits and 60 walks.  All of this after many years in the baseball wilderness.  Before 2014, he hadn’t made 29 starts since 2007.  Indeed, he missed ALL of 2013.  Comeback Player of the Year?  I think so.

Outlook for 2015:  My guess is, he’ll command more money elsewhere.  It’s also my hope, because I don’t think he’s going to catch this lightning in a bottle twice.  It was nice having him here, it was nice watching him fight the regression dragon as long as humanly possible, but I’ve seen the 83 MPH fastball and the damage done.  If he’s not inducing weak infield pop-ups, he’s getting crushed.  Pity the team that overpays him in 2015.

Looking Back At The 2014 Mariners: The Pitchers, Part I

Turns out there’s A LOT more to say about the 2014 Mariners than I originally thought.  Anyway, last week I wrote about all the position players used by the Mariners throughout the season.  It turned out to be a massive, 7,000+ word monstrosity that took over four hours to write and had to be split over three days.

This one figures to be a lot somewhat shorter simply because we used a total of 24 different position players and only 20 pitchers.  Here’s to me keeping this to a modest TWO posts!

(Part II tomorrow)

In case you missed it, here’s the breakdown of the hitters from last week:

And now, without further ado, let’s talk about the pitchers.

Blake Beavan – On April 15th, Blake Beavan made his one and only appearance for the Seattle Mariners in 2014.  It was a start (presumably because we lost Paxton to injury a few days earlier, and because Iwakuma was still a couple weeks away from making his debut, and because we still weren’t too confident in Maurer’s abilities – but would have to be five days later because injuries), and he lasted four innings.  In those four innings, he gave up two solo home runs and we all thought he was being pulled due to ineffectiveness.  It would later be revealed that Beavan had a shoulder injury that kept him out until July.  After that, it looks like he finished the year in relief, down in Tacoma, going no more than 2.2 innings per appearance the rest of the way.

Outlook for 2015:  I honestly have no idea.  I mean, I have some idea:  he won’t be playing for the Mariners.  Presumably, he still has options left, so I’m going to say he’ll be in Tacoma to start.  But, will he BE a starter?  Not gonna lie to you, once Beavan went on the DL, all the Beavan news sort of dried up.

Joe Beimel – One of the lesser-heralded moves made by the Mariners ahead of the 2014 season.  Beimel didn’t cost much, he won a job out of Spring Training, and he was easily the most-effective lefty out of the bullpen.  He’s a 14-year veteran who didn’t pitch in the Majors in 2012 & 2013 due to injuries and – I’m guessing – ineffectiveness.

This year, he appeared in 56 games, almost exclusively as a lefty-on-lefty specialist.  45 innings, 2.20 ERA, not a bad little year all told.  I sure as shit liked him more than the wild and erratic Charlie Furbush.

Outlook for 2015:  I could see the Mariners signing him again, but not if he’s going to cost an arm and a leg.  I don’t know how many lefty relievers the Mariners have coming up the pike, but I’m pretty certain we can find one on the cheap somewhere.  This is the same management group that found a diamond in the rough the last few years with guys like Beimel and Oliver Perez.  There’s no reason to think that won’t continue.  I’m giving him a 33.333% chance of returning.  But, he’ll certainly get a guaranteed contract from SOMEONE.

Roenis Elias – Probably the biggest feel-good story of the Mariners organization in 2014.  Cuban defector, made the leap from AA to the Bigs in one Spring Training, AND pretty much made it through the whole season!

29 starts, 163.2 innings, 143 K’s, 64 BB’s, 3.85 ERA, 10-12 record.  All good stuff.

(also, I forgot about his 5-shutout-inning start in Tacoma in August when the Mariners sent him down to limit his overall innings count)

He made his final start on September 16th, where he had to leave early with an elbow strain.  The team – in the middle of a Wild Card chase – rightly played it safe and shut him down.  The best part of his rookie season was probably how he didn’t really slump.  He’d have 2-3 bad outings in a row, but not very often; and he always found a way to bounce back.  And, while the team tried to limit his innings per start, if you discount the final game where he left injured, he failed to go five innings only three times all year.

His most obvious high point was the June 1st start at home against Detroit where he went the full nine, shutting them out on 3 hits, with 1 walk and 8 strikeouts.  He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he’s a lefty with good control and a wicked curve.  When he has his change up working, he’s tough to beat.  And, considering he turned 26 in August, his poise is off the charts.  No jam is too overwhelming.

Outlook for 2015:  He’s certainly earned the right to be a frontrunner for a starting rotation spot.  I’d slide him right in after Felix, Iwakuma, and Paxton as a fourth starter (though, for purposes of splitting up the lefties, you’ll probably see him in the 5-hole).  He pitched 148.1 minor league innings in 2012 and 130 more in 2013, so you have to wonder whether the Mariners will let him go hog-wild in 2015 or not.  It might be unfair to expect him to go 200+ next year, but I could easily see him in the 180-200 range.  Here’s to hoping that elbow issue is nothing and he’s right as rain from the get-go.

Danny Farquhar – Aside from a small number of bad outings, Danny Farquhar was arguably the best reliever on the team all season long.  And yet, it took LMC and Co. a while before they realized it and used him in high leverage situations.

Just another hard-throwing righty in a bullpen full of ’em.  Good movement on his fastball, great cutter, and some nice control with his offspeed stuff.  While Lloyd would interchange him, Medina, and Wilhelmsen in that 8th inning role (because, quite frankly, all three of them got the job done for the most part), it was Farqhuar who earned the role of defacto closer whenever Rodney was unable to go.  Love to see that.

Outlook for 2015:  Should be another year of lockdown relief.  I could see the bad kind of regression out of guys like Wilhelmsen, Medina, Leone, Rodney, and pretty much anyone else in that bullpen.  But, for whatever reason, I have the utmost confidence that Farquhar will be our rock.  That having been said, he could also be one of the better trade chips we have, if we decided to work out a blockbuster deal for a bat or something.  It would hurt to lose Danny, but you have to like the thought process behind such a move (the thought process being:  the Mariners have a ton of relievers that could easily step up and keep our bullpen intact and dominating).

Charlie Furbush – Furbush had the 2nd-most appearances of anyone on the pitching staff, but the 7th-most innings pitched among relievers (not counting Maurer, who only pitched around 37 innings of relief, with the rest of his innings in that ill-advised starter role).  Furbush was, like Beimel, mostly a lefty specialist.  Unlike Beimel, he was used more often because we wanted to keep Beimel’s appearances down (given his, shall we say, “advanced years”).

Furbush was also probably the least-effective reliever on the team, among the relievers who were with us the full year.  I’m not gonna lie to you, it’s feast or famine with Furbush.  Which was kind of a bummer because I remember him being a lot more effective in 2013.  Of course, he wasn’t ACTUALLY “a lot” more effective last year, but perceptions can be tricky.

Furbush is who he is.  He’s got a dynamic arm angle which should make it tough on any lefty trying to hit off of him.  But, he doesn’t really have dramatic splits:

  • Vs. Lefty:  79 AB, .241 avg against, .277 OBP, .594 OPS
  • Vs. Righty:  83 AB, .253 avg against, .315 OBP, .701 OPS

That comes out to a difference of 5 more walks to righties and 2 more homers (with 1 fewer double).  His career splits are much more in line with expectations, but you have to factor in how he was a starter to begin his career.

Outlook for 2015:  He’ll almost certainly be back, and be right back in that lefty specialist role in the bullpen.  Since relievers tend to be wildly inconsistent from year to year, the odds are just as good that he’ll be super amazing or fucking terrible.  Maybe just bank on him being what he’s been the last two years as a full-time Major League reliever and keep your eyes shut during the scary parts.  I’ll tell you when you can open your eyes again.

Felix Hernandez – Our little Cy Young winner!

34 starts.  27 quality starts.  236 innings.  15-6 record.  170 hits.  248 strikeouts.  46 walks.  6.8 WAR.  0.92 WHIP.  2.14 ERA.

He led the American League in ERA and WHIP.  Second in Innings Pitched and WAR among pitchers.  Fourth in strikeouts.  Among pitchers who went 200 innings or more, he gave up BY FAR the fewest hits (next lowest was 187).  And the fifth-fewest walks.

Oh yeah, and he had those 16 consecutive starts where he went 7 or more innings AND gave up 2 runs or less, breaking the Major League all-time record.  SIXTEEN!  From May 18th through August 11th, he was by far and away the best pitcher in the American League and probably all of baseball.  That’s not to say he was dogging it those other 18 starts, but that kind of consistency is fucking amazing and deserves to be recognized.

If Felix didn’t already have that one Cy Young Award to his name, I’m sure I’d throw the biggest hissy-fit of all time if he doesn’t win it this year.  But, regardless, it’ll be a pretty sizable hissy-fit if he gets edged out.  Thankfully, the fact that he already has one is actually a good thing.  Baseball Writers who vote for these things are nothing if not sheep.  Felix is a name.  He’s understood as being one of the greats in the game today.  Moreover, he’s a good guy, who played for a good team, who came 1 game short of the playoffs.  Corey Kluber is NOT a name.  He’s a guy no one ever heard of outside of Cleveland until this year.  If he wins the Cy Young, then they should also go back and retroactively give the MVP to A-Rod over Juan Gonzalez in 1996, because that shit was some BULLshit.

Felix was pretty great in 2010 when he won, but this year he was WITHOUT QUESTION even better.  His 2014 was the best season of his career so far.  I hope everyone enjoyed it.

Outlook for 2015:  The Ace of the team.  He’s here for the duration.  He might not be a Cy Young winner, but he’ll be pretty fucking awesome and still among the best pitchers in the game.

Hisashi Iwakuma – Kuma fucked up the middle finger on his throwing hand when he got it caught in some netting while practicing a baseball drill.  As a result, he didn’t make his first start for the Mariners until May 3rd.  He was a little up and down in those first couple months, then settled down in July and August to be his usual remarkable self.  Then, he completely fell apart in September and absolutely could not be counted on to keep us in ballgames.

From August 24th onward, Kuma made seven starts.  He averaged less than five innings per start, going 32 innings total; and he averaged 4 runs per start, giving up 28 in total.  He gave up 40 hits in those innings, to go along with 9 walks, and boy did other teams take advantage of those hits & walks!

I find it hard to believe that’s a trend with him, because in 2013 his September ERA was under 1.  And that was a year where he DIDN’T miss a month of the season to injury!  My thinking is:  it’s just one of those things, and you just hope it doesn’t carry over to next year.

Overall, I still think Kuma is a rock solid #2 starter.  His 2014 was good for the most part, but considering the start and the finish, we all might be better off just forgetting it even happened.

Outlook for 2015:  The team will most definitely pick up his $7 million option.  So, that’s cool.  We get another legit #2 starter for a VERY reasonable salary.  The question going forward is:  what do we do long-term?  It looked like – after his 2012 season where he came on strong in the second half once his arm got right – he could’ve commanded quite the bounty on the open market.  The fact that we got him for essentially 3 years, $21 million, was quite the shock.  And, it still is, to tell you the truth.  I think he’s still got some good mileage left on his arm, so I wouldn’t be against another 3-year extension if the terms are right.

Dominic Leone – 16th round draft pick in the 2012 draft.  He’s been great every step of the way.

He played in Everett in 2012, then spent the duration of 2013 in the minors, going from A to AA, dominating all the way.  Then, sure as shit, he continued his ass-kicking parade in Spring Training this year, which earned him a role on the Mariners that he never gave up.

He was never really a guy the team turned to in the 8th inning of a winning ballgame, but he certainly earned higher-leverage situations as the season went along.  And, I’m looking at his numbers here, and I can only count 2, maybe 3 bad outings all year, out of 57 appearances.

By WAR, he was the second-best reliever on the team behind Wilhelmsen of all people.  He had the fourth-highest K/9 among relievers who stuck with the Mariners the full season.  And he somehow finished with an 8-2 record out of the bullpen, which is meaningless but still kinda fun.

Hard-throwing righty with good movement.  Obviously, his secondary pitches were pretty solid, if he managed to stick the full season.  Best of all, I never really felt all that nervous with him on the mound.  Considering he had this much success as a rookie tells me if he can stay healthy, he’s got a long, fruitful career ahead of him.

Outlook for 2015:  He should be back in the bullpen for the full go, but like Farquhar, he’s got a lot of value as a trade chip.  In fact, among the relievers on this team, he’s probably got the MOST value.  He’s got the full season under his belt, he was great this season, and among our Major League relievers, he’s got the most service time left.  Leone by himself could probably fetch us a semi-quality bat.  Package him with another guy or two and you could theoretically wrangle away a great hitter for the next year or two.  If I’m being honest with myself, I give it 2:1 odds that Leone is traded for someone awesome.  But, if he’s back, you could be looking at a future closing candidate when Fernando Rodney moves on.

Lucas Luetge – He made 12 appearances.  8 were in September.  The rest were sprinkled around in April and July as extra bullpen help during lean times where we had to go to the ‘pen quite a bit.

It’s hard to say Luetge was much more than a warm body, but then again he wasn’t given much of a chance.  We plucked him from Milwaukee in 2012 in the Rule 5 draft and he stuck that whole year with the club.  Since 2013, he’s been up and down from Tacoma, with middling results.  It’s tough, because he’s been more-or-less pretty good down in AAA, but it hasn’t quite carried over when he’s been called up.

Outlook for 2015:  He needs to refine his command and control.  He’ll contend for a Major League roster spot, but anything could happen.  If he’s great in Spring, he’ll most likely make it.  But, if we bring in a veteran on a small deal who also pitches well, we may opt to keep the vet & save Luetge down in the minors in the event of injury.  Either way, you WILL see him at some point in a Mariners uniform (unless, again, he’s thrown into a deal with another club, which could happen to almost any of our relievers).

Brandon Maurer – The Mariners drafted Maurer in 2008 in the 23rd round.  In 2012, he was in AA and earning comparisons to our Big 3 (Hultzen, Paxton, and Walker).  He earned so many comparisons, that we had to temporarily amend it to the Big 4 and put him in it!

In 2013, Maurer was the first of the Big 4 to break through.  Like Roenis Elias, he too made the jump from AA to the Bigs with an outstanding Spring Training.  He started for us for the first two months, generated an ERA near 7, and was demoted to Tacoma.  When he returned later that year, he was mostly used in relief and was mostly not at all good.  His 2013 in general was pretty pisspoor.

In 2014, Maurer did NOT earn a roster spot out of Spring.  But, injuries to Iwakuma, Paxton, and the aforementioned Blake Bevan left us desperate.  Maurer made his first Big League start on April 20th.  He would continue to make starts through the end of May and for the most part looked like his crappy 2013 self.

So, he was sent down to Tacoma again.

While in Tacoma, the organization decided to make him a full-time reliever.  Quite honestly, this has to go down as one of the Top 10 All Time Greatest Decisions The Seattle Mariners Have Ever Made.

Maurer returned on June 25th.  From what I recall, the Mariners didn’t necessarily NEED him at that time, but what they were getting from him in Tacoma was too good to deny.  Upon his return, he was consistently hitting the upper-90s with his fastball (whereas, he was in the mid-to-low 90s as a starter).  His slider was breaking like we haven’t seen around these parts since the heyday of Jeff Nelson.  He even found control of his change up that had eluded him throughout the duration of his time as a starter!  It’s one thing to gain some MPH on your fastball when you convert to a reliever, but how in GOD’S NAME do you mysteriously figure out your change up in the blink of an eye?

Maurer didn’t give up a run until his 11th relief appearance.  A stretch of 15 straight innings!  On the whole, his splits are blowing my mind:

  • As A Starter:  151 plate appearances over 7 games.  7.52 ERA, 1.21 strikeouts to walks, .321 avg against, .880 OPS, 4.7 K/9 innings, 1.763 WHIP
  • As A Reliever:  150 plate appearances over 31 games.  2.17 ERA, 7.60 strikeouts to walks, .217 avg against, .535 OPS, 9.2 K/9 innings, 0.964 WHIP

Are you kidding?  Those numbers aren’t just Night & Day, they’re Night & Oranges!

Outlook for 2015:  You could make the argument that Brandon Maurer was the best reliever on the team in the second half of this year (Carson Smith might have something to say about that, but we’ll get to him in due time).  Like Leone and Farquhar, you’ll find Maurer high on the Trade Chip list.  I’m telling you, at least ONE of those three WILL be traded before the 2015 season starts.  It just makes good sense.  If the Mariners are dead set on keeping Paxton and Walker, then the bullpen arms are the next-best pieces we have to move.  Or, at least, the next-most-desirable.  If he’s not traded, then he’ll be duking it out with Medina, Wilhelmsen, and whoever’s left for those coveted 8th innings.

Look for Part II tomorrow.

Beating The Dead Horse: The Mariners Are Still Terrible, April 2014 Edition

It’s that time again, for my regular monthly reminder that the Seattle Mariners are a huge disappointment.

What’s the over-arching story for the Mariners’ month of April?  Two rainouts and an 8-game losing streak.  Abraham Almonte playing almost every day in center field (and in the leadoff spot) and for the most part struggling mightily.  A massive pile of injuries to the starting rotation.  Kyle Seager in a huge slump until the final week where he hit 5 homers and won A.L. Player of the Week.  Felix off to a world-beating start.  And one pleasant surprise in Roenis Elias making the jump from AA and actually doing pretty well for himself.

It feels like a mini-miracle that the Mariners are three games from .500 at 11-14 (again, the two rainouts helped a great deal on this end, as the two games were at Oakland & at the Yankees).  But, then again, the Mariners were swept by the Marlins and were a 9th inning walk-off homer away from getting swept at home by the Astros.

This is NOT a particularly good team right now.

So, let’s unpack some of those big storylines, starting with the rotation.  This is what the Mariners’ rotation was SUPPOSED to look like:

  1. King Felix
  2. Hisashi Iwakuma
  3. Taijuan Walker
  4. James Paxton
  5. Erasmo Ramirez

Now, there’s no guarantee that the above-five pitchers are the difference between being in fourth place right now and leading the division, but Iwakuma was a Cy Young candidate last year, Walker was our most highly-touted prospect, Paxton was having an excellent start to his young career, and Erasmo has struggled, but he could have just as easily been replaced by Roenis Elias and we’d be in even BETTER shape right now.

Instead, here’s our starting five at the moment:

  1. King Felix
  2. Roenis Elias
  3. Chris Young
  4. Erasmo Ramirez
  5. Brandon Maurer

Iwakuma will hopefully be back this week (but, that’s a May development, not April).  Paxton is gone until sometime in June probably.  Walker is gone for who knows how long?  Even Blake Beavan was injured in his only spot-start of the season!  Erasmo and Maurer probably don’t have what it takes to make it in the Majors.  Chris Young is going to be an adventure every five days.  And, we have to wonder when Elias is going to start running into rookie struggles.

In short, half of this rotation is a fucking trainwreck, and Felix can’t do everything.

I’ve probably been a little hard on the pitching staff this year, though.  That’s because, as always, there is such little margin for error.  The bats aren’t 2010-bad, but they’re inconsistent as all get-out.  Robinson Cano is great, of course (but, M’s fans can’t seem to accept “great” and need to belittle his inability to hit 40 homers every month), but that’s about it.  Kyle Seager has had one awesome week and should turn things around enough to be fine.  Mike Zunino is capable of great things (and right now, he’s in a warm spell), but he still whiffs too much to be counted on as a consistent producer.  He’s also dwelling at the bottom of the order, because this is his first full year in the bigs and why rush the guy along?

Abraham Almonte and Brad Miller have been rushed along – spending the majority of April 1-2 in the lineup – and they’ve struggled accordingly.  Almonte is barely over .200 (and still below .250 with his on-base percentage), and Miller is even worse than that somehow!  Almonte & Miller are also both 1 & 2 in strikeouts on the team, which would be fine if they were lumbering mashers in the middle of the order, but is pretty fucking obscene when they’re supposed to be speedy contact hitters getting on base at a regular clip for the rest of the order to hit them in.  One month is too soon to declare them disasters, but we’re not getting any younger and I’m tired of watching these black holes at the top of our lineup.

Of course, when you move those guys down, you’ve got to bring two other guys up.  Cano isn’t going anywhere; he’s the #3 hitter.  Corey Hart isn’t going anywhere; he’s the #4 hitter.  Ideally, you’d like to see Kyle Seager in that 2-hole, but there are only so many run producers on this team and quite frankly he’s probably the best one after Cano.

Ackley was having a good start, then went hitless in a couple games when he was brought up in the order, and has since been put back down in the 7-hole.  Stefen Romero is currently getting an audition in the 2-hole (with Michael Saunders getting more playing time as the leadoff guy), so we’ll see how that goes, but color me skeptical.  With the way a lot of these guys are struggling, the Mariners are going to turn to Willie Bloomquist more and more, and nobody wants to see that.

Here’s the deal:  when things are going bad for the Mariners, you’re going to see a lot of these 8-game losing streaks.  Better teams can play poorly and still steal a win here and there.  But, when we struggle in all three phases, it’s over.  When we play our best, we can look pretty good and win a few games in a row.  But, it’s that consistency that we lack.  It’s that inconsistency that’s going to prevent us from getting over the hump and into that playoff race.

Here’s to a more promising month of May.

Taijuan Walker’s Shoulder Is A Problem

The entirety of this season is built up around the hope for younger players to break out and make a big positive impact.  In the early going, it’s been very up and down for this team, but we’ve won more than we’ve lost and reinforcements are on the way.

The hitting was always going to be iffy at best (see the last two nights as proof of that; 7 runs one day, 0 runs the next), but the real concern was always the rotation after Felix Hernandez.

We started with Felix, followed by three very inexperienced throwers, and a guy off the scrap heap.  One of those inexperienced throwers got injured and we had to reach down into our AAA reserve for a week’s worth of starts.  All along, though, help was on the horizon:  Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker were returning from supposedly minor injuries.  If we could just tread water until May, ostensibly when we get those guys back, we might REALLY be in business.  The first month would be long enough to get a good handle on the rest of our rotation and see who’s worthy of sticking with the big ballclub.

It was perfect.  A little TOO perfect.  And now we see the folly of our ways.  Don’t ever rest your hopes on the arm of a pitcher recovering from mystery shoulder pain.  Not ever!

Maybe it’s nothing, but I’ll bet you every last dollar to my name that it’s something.  Taijuan Walker was supposed to make another rehab start last night, this time in Tacoma.  If he did well, and Blake Beavan did poorly for the Mariners, we MAYBE could have seen Taijuan Walker on the Mariners by the weekend.  Now?  Who the fuck knows?!

Listen people, you heard it here first:  forget about Taijuan Walker.  He’s finished as far as 2014 is concerned.  There are two ways this goes:  surgery, or he continues to rehab and ultimately returns by the end of the summer, when the season is too far gone to recover.  And, dollars to donuts, even if he does rehab all summer, he’s still gonna need surgery anyway!

This is Danny Hultzen all over again.  Once they go under the knife on their throwing shoulders, it’s over.  Curtains!  You can just forget about these guys ever reaching their full potential.  If they make it to the Bigs, they’ll be “nice stories”.  You’ll root for them because they’re coming back from something so severe, fighting impossible odds to return to their former glory.  They’re impossible odds because it’s so physically difficult to return from these things!  Even the steroids guys had trouble coming back from shoulder surgery!

No, best to forget about Walker.  Gotta focus on what we have.  I’m a little more optimistic now that Iwakuma will indeed return, so that’s probably some good news we’re desperate to hear.  With Iwakuma, we’ve got him and Felix and Elias and Ramirez and Chris Young.  It’s obviously FAR from ideal, but then again it beats whatever the hell we’ll have to do the next couple of weeks, now that we know Blake Beavan pitched all four innings yesterday with shoulder tightness/dead arm.  If HE can’t go on Sunday (and he’s by no means any sort of prized pig), then I don’t know what the fuck we’re going to do.  Bullpen day?  Pick up ANOTHER guy off of the scrap heap?  I’m not gonna lie to you, the Tacoma rotation is full of nothing but fuck-ups.  To be honest with you, I’d rather just kill our bullpen and take Sunday’s game as a loss than bring up anyone else from the Rainiers.

Here’s some advice:  try to forget everything I just said.  Just focus on today.  Today, it’s Felix vs. Yu Darvish in an epic battle to try to not fall below .500.  Nothing else matters … until Thursday, and the rest of the week, and the rest of the month, and the rest of the year.

More Random Mariners Thoughts From The Second Week Of The Season

Anybody else sick and tired of playing the A’s & Angels?  Well, you’re in luck!  On a side note, I hope you like playing the Rangers & Astros!

I tweeted this thought out yesterday and I’d like to expound upon it today:  yes, the Mariners’ offense has looked pretty piss-poor at times.  But, aside from that one game against the Angels, all of our poor offensive outings have come against the A’s.  The A’s, as you know, have one of the best pitching staffs in the Major Leagues (even WITH the injuries they’ve suffered).  They especially have one of the most incredible bullpens I’ve seen in a long time.  If the game is tied and both starters have left the game, you should just bank on the fact that the A’s are going to win that game eventually.  They might finish you off in regulation, they might require an extra 7-12 innings, but they’re GOING to beat you.  It’s just a fact.

So, a lot of people are waking up this morning, they’re checking out the box score, and they’re seeing a LOT of averages well under the .250 range.  Almonte & Miller have struggled mightily of late.  Aside from a few homers, Hart & Smoak haven’t done the job consistently.  Kyle Seager is probably trying too hard at this point; he needs the calendar to flip to May in the worst way.  Stefen Romero likely needs to take a step back (to Tacoma) before he can take that step forward and remain on the big league roster.  Logan Morrison doesn’t look like he belongs anywhere NEAR a Major League roster and should probably stop getting so much playing time.

My point in all this is:  the bats have gone cold, and people are freaking out.  “Same Ol’ Mariners” and whatnot.  But, I’m here to say:  they’re not as bad of an offense as they looked against Oakland.  Just like they’re not as GOOD of an offense as they looked against Anaheim (because Anaheim’s pitching is a trainwreck; a beautiful, blessed trainwreck).

I will say this:  right field is a zoo right now.  Logan Morrison should be a triple-A lifer.  Michael Saunders has reached his full potential (which is a 4th or 5th outfielder who mostly comes in as a late defensive replacement, and should NEVER be starting on a regular basis).  And Stefen Romero just plain isn’t ready to handle the load (also doesn’t help that he’s not getting regular playing time; only starting when we face the occasional left-handed starting pitcher).  I hear that fans are calling for Kendrys Morales, but that just sounds idiotic to me.  Unless you’re ready to cut ties with Smoak and platoon Morales & Hart at first base (two old guys with creaky knees who are no damn good at fielding what is widely considered the easiest defensive position in baseball), I don’t see the point.  Especially when you consider the fact that NO ONE has established themselves in right field.

I have no ties to Logan Morrison, so ostensibly I should be a little more open to giving him a chance.  After all, new is different, and different isn’t Michael Saunders, who has proven through YEARS of his inconsistent-at-best play that he’s not the guy to handle the job full time.  But, Logan Morrison has never proven he’s belonged in the Majors either.  At best, he’s proven that he’s had potential, but a bunch of knee injuries and aging doesn’t make you a BETTER baseball player.  I know, crazy right?

I’ve made my peace with Corey Hart.  He is what he is:  a home run waiting to happen.  He’s not going to bat much better than .200-.220 in the average department, but he’s going to hit JUST enough homers to be somewhat useful.  I’ve also made my peace with Justin Smoak.  He’s a streaky hitter whose cold streaks dwarf his hot streaks.  I’m coming around on Ackley as being a solid bottom-of-the-order guy who hits for average.  Almonte and Miller will come around.  Zunino should probably hang around .250 all year with some well-needed pop in his bat.  Cano is a godsend, of course.  And I fully expect Seager’s bat to jump start just as soon as May 1st comes around.  I feel like if things broke right with our pitching staff, we MAYBE could contend with those eight positions set.

But, I’m afraid that right field is forever going to be a black hole for this team.  And I don’t see a whole lotta options out there.

Is it time to convert Nick Franklin to full time outfield?  Is this Cole Gillespie guy down in Tacoma ready for the jump?  Do we give Endy Chavez another go?  He’s a proven singles machine who’s not bad defensively, but brings nothing else to the table as a hitter.  Is James Jones or Xavier Avery ready for the call?  Moreover, how much more time do we give LoMo, Saunders, and Romero?  I’m almost 100% sure Saunders doesn’t have any options left, so we should probably hang onto him as a 4th outfielder type.  LoMo and Romero both DO have options, so they can go anytime.  I’d still like to see Romero get some steady playing time over the course of a full week to see if he can get into some kind of rhythm, but if all three of these guys continue to struggle through the upcoming road trip, I’d seriously think about making some moves.

The Mariners went 2-3 last week.  It’s not the end of the world, but then again don’t forget that James Paxton went on the DL after the home opener and it’s PROBABLY worse than we thought.  He had an injection, which almost never does the trick.  We never really got definitive news on the MRI, so that’s a little off-putting.  Blake Beavan is making his 2014 Mariners debut this week down in Texas.  And Hisashi Iwakuma still hasn’t thrown a split-fingered fastball yet.  I’m just waiting for the news that he reinjured his finger because it causes too much strain when he throws that splitter.

Lord help us, they got us again …

We’re 4-1 against Anaheim and now we’re 2-4 against Oakland.  Felix is 3-0 and everyone else is 3-5.  It’s too early to start making bold statements, but these next two weeks are going to be VERY telling.  At Texas for 4, at Miami for 3; home against Houston for 3 and home against Texas for 3 more.  The Mariners have already proven they’re the better team than the Angels.  They’ve proven they’re currently inferior to the A’s.  It would be nice to get a big jumpstart on the Rangers and make this a two-team race for the A.L. West.

I’ll Freak Out Now: James Paxton On The DL

I feel like the “lat strain” is the pitcher’s version of Guti’s “digestive issues”.  Seems really vague, and like they’re trying to play it off as no big deal.  And then a month or two goes by with no improvement, and all of a sudden it’s something completely different.

Look, the Seattle Mariners just aren’t meant to have nice things (which makes Felix’s ongoing presence in our lives that much MORE miraculous).  Every time I feel like a corner is about to be turned, by the time we get there it’s just another fucking brick wall.  The problem with the Mariners, as I see it, is that the best players (Felix aside, thank God) never seem to stay healthy, while the worst players keep going on and on and on.  That’s probably not true, but it’s just a real fork in the eyeball knowing that one of our great, young starting pitchers is about to miss a minimum of 2 weeks (but, realistically a minimum of a month or more).

The REAL problem with the Mariners is a lack of depth.  I dunno, though, seems like every team would have that problem.  You’ve got your starting nine position players, your starting five pitchers, and the drop-off after that is pretty huge.  Bench players are bench players for a reason.  Guys in the minors are in the minors FOR A REASON.  You don’t get a shitload of roster spots like you do in football, to foster a bunch of competition and such.  You toss off the losers into a sub-bracket and you let them fend for themselves against inferior competition until a need arises and you pull them up into the bigs hoping they’re ready to handle the load.  Seems unfair, really, but that’s the system baseball has in place.

I would argue, though, that the Mariners are more lacking in depth than most.  We’ve got a 3-man platoon in right field for crying out loud!  We’re starting a guy in our rotation whose previous highest level was AA, and another guy we just picked up off the street!  We’ve given others on this roster so many chances to prove their worth, it’s literally a crime punishable by public flogging just to say their names aloud.  So, when we lose someone with a lot of promise, who was supposed to be a huge part of why we MIGHT contend this year, it hurts us more than most other teams.

Why Paxton?  Why not Elias or even Ramirez?  Hell, why not Blake Beavan or Michael Pineda again or literally anyone on the A’s?

So, what does this mean?  For starters, it means Chris Young slides into Paxton’s spot in the rotation, coming up this Sunday.  It also means that next Tuesday, we’re going to finally need a fifth starter.  Taijuan Walker just had a good start down in AA, so maybe he’s ready.  Blake Beavan was moved up a start in Tacoma to line up properly, so maybe he’s the guy.  Anyway you slice it, I’m just glad Chris Young isn’t making a start down in Texas next week.

Also, this means that Erasmo has certainly bought himself some time.  Obviously, when I wrote that post a couple days ago, I was going off of a VERY small sample size when I talked about the possibility of Erasmo being the odd man out when Iwakuma & Walker return.  Well, I don’t think that Elias did much to hurt or help himself with that start last night, but that’s neither here nor there.  With Paxton on the shelf until May, Erasmo has at least the month to get into some semblance of a groove.  Here’s to hoping he bounces back strong against the A’s on Saturday.

Speaking of Elias, he went another five innings last night and made a lot of mistakes.  However, the only mistake that really counts was the 2-run homer he left hanging to Albert Pujols.  He’s got a real knack for leaving that change up high in the strike zone.  If I had to guess, I’d say that’s probably the worst pitch you’d ever want to see left belt-high right down the middle.  When he leaves it up, his change has almost no movement.  That shit needs to be corrected real quick if he aims to stick with the big ballclub.

Really, the less said about yesterday’s game, the better.  We burned through four relievers who continued their shut-down performances (aside from Noesi, we actually have the best bullpen in baseball through the first week and change).  Our hitters were 1-hit and don’t ask me how, because I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.  That Garrett Richards guy looks like he’s got some stuff that’s going to make us miserable for the next decade – fastball in the high-90s, good movement on his off-speed material – why couldn’t HE have left the game with tightness in his lat instead of Paxton?

Today’s an off-day, then tomorrow’s Felix & The Supreme Court.  I’ll be in attendance, wearing my Felix 2013 All Star Game jersey, with a Seahawks Super Bowl t-shirt underneath.  They call me Homer, Steven Homer …