This Mariners Season Suddenly Feels Pointless

I know, I know, what’s with this “suddenly” business?  Hasn’t it felt pointless all along?  Hasn’t this entire 21st century felt pretty pointless, from a Mariners fan perspective?

You can certainly make that argument.  But, I’ve just had this wide range of emotions this year, far surpassing any other season that I can remember.  Excitement, disappointment, elation, dread, anger, boiling anger, uncontrollable rage, sadness, on into lethargy.  Being a lethargic Mariners fan is nothing new; we tend to hit that point every year around this time, if not sooner.  When you realize contention is a pipe dream, and even if by some miracle they did make the playoffs, knowing they don’t have the horses to do anything about it once they get there.

But, this is a totally different sense of lethargy.  This is knowing the Mariners COULD be a good team, but they never will, because of the stacks on stacks on stacks of injuries that are relentless, debilitating, and come from out of nowhere.

2017 Mariners Misery Tracker

  • Drew Smyly – 60 day DL
  • Steve Cishek – started season on DL, just returned
  • Tony Zych – started season on DL, since returned
  • Shawn O’Malley – 60 day DL
  • Jean Segura – On DL for 2 weeks in April
  • Mitch Haniger – On DL for at least 1 month
  • Felix Hernandez – On DL, just had setback
  • James Paxton – On DL for at least 1 month
  • Evan Scribner – 60 day DL
  • Evan Marshall – 60 day DL
  • Hisashi Iwakuma – On DL for 4-6 weeks
  • Ryan Weber – On DL after very first start was cut short due to injury
  • Robinson Cano – On DL with quad injury

This was something we all saw coming.  Robbie had missed 5 games going into yesterday, and was no closer to returning, so might as well shut him down.  It’s bullshit that you can only make it retroactive to 3 days prior, but this is baseball, and baseball MUST have dumb rules that make no sense.

This has thrust Taylor Motter back into an everyday role – almost immediately after I complained about his lack of playing time – and while I wouldn’t say he’s been bad (he’s still getting hits here and there), he hasn’t had an extra base hit since taking over for Cano, and his strikeouts are way up.  While guys like Seager, Cruz, Segura, and Valencia to a lesser extent are trying to keep this offense afloat, our younger players have cratered a little bit of late.  I’m looking at Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia, Jarrod Dyson, and the aforementioned Motter.  Which is understandable, because none of those guys have been everyday players until this season; you had to expect some rough patches.  Which makes losing Cano at this critical juncture all the more debilitating.

But, this is still an offense that COULD withstand the loss of someone like Cano for a short period, IF they had the pitching to pick up the slack.  Which gets back to my original point about this whole thing being fucking pointless, because they DON’T have the pitching.  I will regret to my dying day writing this post, because it couldn’t be further from the truth.  The Mariners are no closer to solidifying that bullpen, not one little bit.  In fact, you could say they’ve gotten REMARKABLY worse since I published that God-foresaken ode to the bullpen.  Partially, of course, you have to blame the starters for being inept, but blaming the starting pitching of the Seattle Mariners is starting to feel like blaming the offensive line of the Seattle Seahawks; at some point, you’ve beaten that dead horse so much it’s starting to turn into a warm, rancid paste.

Edwin Diaz just lost his closer’s job because he has no control of where his pitches go.  He has to totally rework his wind up to find his release point.  On the one hand, he should theoretically be able to control his pitches better, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t be shocked if he loses some MPH on his fastball.  At which point, are we trading one ineffective reliever for another?  Time will tell, I suppose.

The Mariners were going to go to a Bullpen By Committee, but since half the guys have been worked to death this week, we were left with the just-called-up Steve Cishek, making his second appearance in as many days, and his second appearance since being called up from the DL.  In other words:  his second appearance of the SEASON, for a guy who never really had a proper Spring Training, unless you count bouncing around between Arkansas, Tacoma, and some off-day bullpens in Seattle.

So, yeah, Cishek blew it.  The Mariners were down 4-1 for practically the entire game, managed to cobble together 3 runs in the seventh to tie it, and took the lead on a Seager solo blast in the eighth to give the team an opportunity for an unlikely win; all tossed aside as Cishek got clobbered by left handed hitting Matt Joyce.  He was eventually pulled for Scrabble, who got clobbered by right handed hitting Blah Blah Blah.  If there are two pitchers on this team who SHOULDN’T be facing opposite-handed hitters, it’s Cishek and Scrabble.  I’m sure there was a more appropriate way to handle that ninth inning last night, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to give any more thought to it.  The bottom line is, Nick Vincent and Tony Zych were both unavailable due to recent over-use.  And, is James Pazos really a better option?  I doubt it.

Regardless, Steve Cishek should be able to get three fucking outs without giving away a billion runs.  Marc Rzkciaydadsofnpzki should be able to get three fucking outs without giving away a billion runs.  Steve Cishek is making $6 million this season, the most money of any relief pitcher on the team, and fourth-most among all pitchers on this team behind Felix, Kuma, and Gallardo (for some reason making $11 million).  Marc Rzoiadnoiasdfnikai is making $5.5 million, or second-most of any relief pitcher on the team.  For your reference, the third highest paid reliever is Nick Vincent at $1.325 million (no one else is over a million), meaning the duo of Cishek and Rzadfoinoaidsfnki each make respectively over 4 times more than the third highest paid reliever on the team.

And they couldn’t get three fucking outs without giving up five fucking runs to close out the game.

That’s why this season suddenly feels so pointless.  Because you can do everything right; you can scrap and fight to get back into a game you’ve been dominated in for 2/3 of the time, you can even take the lead in regulation to steal a game you had no business winning, but you’ll still get fucked over trying to get those final three outs.

Where is the help?  Where’s assistance coming from?  I guess Edwin Diaz figuring it the fuck out will be a plus, but how long is that going to take?  And, like I asked before, will he even be the same guy?

And, from a starting pitching perspective, where do you look?  Sure, it appears as if James Paxton will be back soon, maybe even by the end of the month!  But, Iwakuma sure as shit won’t see the mound in Safeco until July at the earliest.  And who the fuck knows when Felix’s arm will allow him to pitch again.  I’m betting on both of those guys needing season-ending surgery at some point.  And don’t even get me started on Drew Smyly; I’m not even convinced that guy is a real person!

Everyone keeps saying Doug Fister isn’t really an option, because if he was good, he’d be signed by now.  And, even when he does sign, he’ll need time to build his arm back up.  But, you know what?  If we’d gone and signed Fister when this first became an issue, his ass would be plenty warmed up by now!  Is he an ideal option?  Of course not.  But, is he better than Chase De Jong (10 runs in 11 innings over his last two starts), Christian Bergman (3 runs in 5 innings in his only start), Dillon Overton (2 runs in 3.1 innings in his only start), or Whoever The Fuck (TBD runs in TBD innings)?  I’d have to think so.

Then again, what’s the point, right?  Fister, no Fister; returning starters, Tacoma guys, it’s all the same.  If they don’t reinjure themselves, someone else will fall in his place, and we’ll continue scrambling to fill the void.

God I hate baseball.

Mariners Return Home, Hoping For A Miracle

Well, some good news and some bad news out of yesterday afternoon’s drubbing of the Astros, 12-4.  We won!  That’s always good.  Staved off execution for one more day, gotta like that.  We put pressure on our rivals, as their games didn’t start until later in the day.  And, let’s be serious, I’m taking GREAT pleasure in knowing we have all but officially knocked the Astros out of the playoffs (they are 3.5 games out of the second wild card with 3 games to go and would need to win out while Baltimore would need to lose their final 4 games and the other teams ahead of them would need to stumble greatly as well).  The Astros may have had our number for most of the year, but we put the final nail in their coffin!

The bad news, of course, is that Baltimore came back in the 9th inning to beat the Blue Jays, and Detroit won a rained out game against Cleveland.  So, we remain 1 game behind the Tigers and 2 games behind the Orioles, with 4 games to go for each of us.

I got to listen to some of the game on the radio yesterday, and it sounds like the offense would not be denied.  Smart move.  James Paxton had okay stuff, but could only muster 5 innings against that Astros offense.  Evan Scribner was the real hero of the day, getting us out of a major jam in the 6th and going 2 full innings of relief.  Where has THAT guy been all season?  Oh, right, injured.  Man, if he’d been healthy and pitching like this all year, we’d be in a MUCH different position right now

On the flipside, Doug Fister couldn’t get out of the 2nd inning, as the Astros – with their backs to the wall – went with the quick hook.  They were able to make it as close as 7-4 after six innings of play, but the Mariners were able to pour it on.

Cano hit his 36th homer of the season and Seager hit 30 for the first time in his career, giving the Mariners three guys with 30+ homers for the first time since 1997!  Cano and Seager each had 3 RBI apiece to bring them up to 97 and 99 respectively.  With Cruz already at 102, we’re damn near three guys with 100+ RBI for the first time since – I wanna say – 2001.  I could be having my years mixed up, but I’m pretty sure that’s what I gleaned from Twitter the last few days.

So, here’s where we stand, heading into Thursday:

  • Cleveland at Detroit at 10am.  I’ve heard there’s more rain on the horizon, and they might not even be able to get this game in today.  If they can’t, and it needs to be made up, they’d have to do that on Monday, which will throw a lot of things out of whack.
  • Detroit then heads to Atlanta for a 3-game series.  The Braves are 65-92 and in last place in the National League, so that’s not too encouraging.  On the plus side, no DH, so Victor Martinez will be relegated to pinch hit duty in their most important series of the year.  Of course, given Atlanta’s ineptitude, it’s not likely he’ll be needed, and they’ll have just given him 3 days to rest ahead of the playoffs.
  • Baltimore at Toronto at 4pm.  The Orioles sit 1 game behind the Blue Jays for the top wild card spot.  If they win today, they’ll be tied and – assuming we beat the A’s – we’ll be exactly 2 games behind both of them.  Which, if that’s the case, means Toronto’s back in play.
  • Baltimore then heads to New York for a 3-game series against the Yankees.  Tanaka is one of the scheduled starters, so you’d think Baltimore would at least lose that one for us, but who can be sure anymore?
  • If Toronto loses today, as I noted, they’re back in play.  That means their three game series in Boston, against the division winners, could be HUGE.  Toronto will have Happ and Aaron Sanchez going that series, which makes things difficult.  But, the Red Sox will have David Price and 22-game winner Rick Porcello going to counter.  I don’t know if that means anything – it’s very likely Boston will be VERY careful with their starters’ pitch counts, since they have a guaranteed spot in the ALDS – but it’s some small slice of hope to cling to.

Obviously, it all means nothing if we can’t beat the A’s.  Aside from not having Paxton, we have as ideal of a rotation as possible.  I think the worst part is we don’t have a day off before this series.  The bullpen is expanded, but there have been a lot of pressure innings to pitch through recently.  It’d be nice to give them a breather.  More importantly than that, though, is I’d REALLY like to give Nelson Cruz a day off to rest that wrist.  He’s been as game as anyone in playing through all that pain, but I worry we’re getting diminishing returns the more consecutive days he plays, reaggravating it with every swing, unable to take bullpens before games.

All I ask is that the Mariners sweep this series and keep the pressure on the other teams ahead of us.  At that point, it’ll be in the hands of the sports gods.  KEEP YOUR CHINS UP!!!

The Mariners Are Clinging By A Thread

The fact that I’ve relegated the Seahawks to 3rd billing on this weekend’s list of storylines is pretty mind-boggling, but that’s how it works when you’ve got playoff fever!

So, the weekend didn’t go totally as planned.  We won the series against the Twins, which is better than the alternative, but we really missed out on an opportunity to sweep them away and pick up a game on our competition.

Missed Opportunities:  The 2016 Seattle Mariners’ Story.

We actually managed to lose a half game, falling 2.5 back of the second wild card spot, because Baltimore regained their competence.  We’re also a full game behind Detroit and 4 games behind Toronto (if we want to be thorough in this thing).

Friday was like one of those fly dreams, as we bashed and pounded the Twins to a 10-1 victory.  James Paxton was on point, Nelson Cruz hit one of the biggest big boy homers I’ve seen in a long time, and we were able to enjoy the last few innings in relative comfort.

Saturday was a fucking disaster, as we were held in check by a garbage pitcher in Tyler Duffey, who befuddled us over 7 innings of 2-run ball, which managed to lower his ERA to STILL OVER 6 ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, HOW IS THIS GUY BEATING US???  We were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position, and the only reason why we were in the game at all is because Nelson Cruz managed to hit an even MORE monster of a home run.  At nearly 500 feet, it was the second longest of the year in all of Major League Baseball.  Aside from our offense shitting the bed (hello Kyle Seager, fine time of year to start slumping), Ariel Miranda just couldn’t hit a spot and had to be pulled after 4 innings (because we’re blessed with a large and rested bullpen, and because these games are Do Or Die, and we don’t have time to coddle these young pitchers anymore).

It looked like a very real possibility that the Mariners would be beaten AGAIN in a series against the worst team in baseball, but Taijuan Walker was able to do just enough in getting into the 6th inning on Sunday, our offense was able to do just enough against another cruddy pitcher, and our bullpen stole the show by locking the Twins down over the final 3.2 innings of the game, to take a 4-3 victory.

Today, we kick off three games in Houston.  Three Must-Win Games.  The Astros are a half game behind us, but time’s a-wastin’.  Just winning the series 2-1 isn’t good enough anymore.  These are our direct rivals and we need to put them away.

Iwakuma goes up against Collin McHugh tonight, and you know how McHugh always dominates us.  Kuma is going to need to step up in a HUGE way and shut them out over 7 or 8 innings, and our offense is going to need to do something it’s never done against this guy:  work deep counts, knock him out of the game early, and score some fucking RUNS!

That gets us to Felix against Mike Fiers tomorrow.  Fiers is nothing special, but of course, that didn’t stop him from shutting us out across six innings when we played him last week.  Time for the offense to quit fucking around and show us that we belong!

We wrap up the series Wednesday afternoon, with Paxton going up against Fister.  Will we see Good Fister or Bad Fister?  Will we see Good Paxton or Bad Paxton?  If I knew that, I’d be a millionaire.

In the meantime, lots of off-days among our competition today.  Toronto does finish a 4-game set against the Yankees; they’re playing for the sweep, so they seem to be well on their way to guaranteeing themselves one of the two wild card spots.  Toronto then hosts Baltimore for three games (so, we need them to continue winning, I guess is the point) before three meaningless games in Boston to close it out.

Baltimore just wrapped up a 3-game sweep of Arizona over the weekend, which was pretty predictable, even though the Diamondbacks had legitimate chances to win at least two of those games.  The Orioles have an off-day today before the three aforementioned games in Toronto and then three games in New York against the plummeting Yankees.  The fact that the Yanks are playing their way right out of this race is both a blessing and a curse; who knows how motivated they’ll be the final weekend of the season.  In other words, this whole thing sort of rests on Toronto’s shoulders (assuming, of course, that we take care of business on our end; and assuming, of course, that the Tigers stumble along the way).

Speaking of the Tigers, we need to pick up a couple games on them to overtake them in the standings, and there’s no time like the present, as they kick off a 4-game set against division-leading Cleveland.  The games are in Detroit, but hopefully that won’t matter.  If the Indians don’t do their job and at least take 2 of these games, we’re toast, because Detroit ends the season with three games down in Atlanta, where the Braves don’t have a pitcher with a winning record left at their disposal, according to the probables.

One week.  7 games.  Let’s do this thing!

A Little Something On The Mariners (because I refuse to write about ANOTHER FUCKING LOSS to the Rams)

Well, the writing was on the wall coming into this weekend.  The Mariners were riding high on an 8-game winning streak, they’d achieved the height of their 2016 success – 10 games over .500 – for a third time, and like the two times before, they’d fail to get to 11 games over .500.

Frankly, I was expecting the Astros to sweep us.  So, to wake up from my rage blackout Sunday afternoon and find the Mariners had actually taken one back from those Houston turds was as welcome a surprise as I ever could’ve imagined.

Friday was the infamous dud of a Felix start, where the offense also failed to show up, resulting in a 6-0 shutout.  Saturday’s game was somehow even more infuriating, considering Paxton was perfect through 5 innings, then gave up two runs in the 6th, which turned out to be the deciding two runs in a 2-1 defeat.  Friday was what it was, but this thing turned bad on Saturday when the offense failed to show up for a second consecutive day.  In a way, Friday’s lack of offensive oomph made sense, since Collin McHugh has made us his bitch since he entered the league; but Saturday?  Against Mike Fiers?  Who has been average at best this season?  Going 6 shutout innings?  Have I asked enough questions to show how incredulous all of this makes me?

With those two games out of the way, it all hinged on Sunday afternoon’s game, featuring Ariel Miranda against Doug Fister.  You may recall we’ve lost the last two times we’ve faced Fister, as he had done just enough to keep them in the game while their otherworldly offense took care of the rest.  Miranda has been on a nice little run this month, but is still shaky, is still young, and is still prone to getting knocked around, particularly the third time through the lineup.

Which is what made his performance yesterday so impressive.  7 innings of 2-run ball with 8 strikeouts!  When you compare his numbers with us to what Wade Miley has done since going over to Baltimore, this trade looks like the steal of the century (at least in the early going).

On top of Miranda’s solid outing, the offense finally got its shit together, knocking Fister out in the 4th inning.  All told, it added up to a 7-3 victory, with the Mariners salvaging a 1-game lead over the Astros in the Wild Card hunt.

Probably the best thing to come out of this weekend is that the rest of the wild card contenders also have been struggling.  So, really, we somehow didn’t lose all that much ground (if any).  Right now, the Orioles have the first spot (thankfully, the Red Sox are starting to pull away, which is what needs to happen for us to have a shot), and the Blue Jays have the second spot.  The Blue Jays, not for nothing, come to town for a 3-game series starting tonight.  We are tied with the Tigers, two games behind the Blue Jays.  We can essentially write our own ticket (or, if you like, control our own destiny) by sweeping them out of the playoffs.  We can also greatly improve our chances if we simply win the series the old fashioned way; a 2-1 win will still pull us to within a game of the last wild card spot with a little over a week to go.

Losing this series absolutely can’t happen.  Getting swept is assured destruction.  So, of course, it figures we have to face J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez in this series, two guys absolutely fucking killing it this season.  Hope the bats stay out of hibernation this week, because we’re going to need ’em!

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 42: One of the Three Worst Trades in the Jackie Z Era Comes To Town

For your reference, here’s a link to all the worst Seattle sports trades, signings, and draft picks.  For your more specific reference, here’s a list of just the ones about the Mariners.

I split them up by GM, so go ahead and scroll down to the bottom of that second link.  There, you’ll find the Jackie Z Poo-Poo Platter of GM moves.  The most recent three trades listed have thus far defined his tenure as GM (in addition to the Dustin Ackley draft pick, and as we move along, most likely the Danny Hultzen pick as well).

The Cliff Lee Trade, the Doug Fister Trade, and now the Michael Pineda Trade.  Notable for the bullshit we received in return, but defined by the studs we gave away.  The only trades that have been more soul-crushing from an organizational standpoint have been the Erik Bedard Trade (losing out on a killer combo of Adam Jones & Chris Tillman), the Tino Martinez/Jeff Nelson Trade, and the Randy Johnson Trade (because you’ll never convince me it was a smart idea to give up on a future Hall of Famer who’d go on to win many multiple Cy Young Awards).  That’s a sextet of suck if I’ve ever seen it!

Cliff Lee begat Justin Smoak, which turned into nothing.  Doug Fister has only left us Charlie Furbush, lefty specialist out of the bullpen.  And Michael Pineda was turned into Fat Jesus Montero who is now Skinny Jesus Montero who is still learning how to play first base down in Tacoma and is therefore worthless until the Mariners either get something for him, or figure out a way to call him back up and properly use him.  At best, he’s probably only a bench/reserve pinch hitter type.

Meanwhile, Michael Pineda returns tonight to face Felix Hernandez.  Pineda, you may recall, had a shit-ton of injuries just as soon as he was traded away.  We all thought we REALLY worked one over on the smug ol’ Yankees.  Stole their power-hitting catcher prospect, gave them damaged goods; fine by me.  Pineda ended up missing two full seasons – 2012 & 2013 – before returning in 2014 only to get suspended and then injured again, ultimately losing about half of that season as well.  Finally healthy, and pine tar-free, Pineda has racked up some incredibly impressive numbers through the first two months of this year.  A 6-2 record, a sub-4 ERA, a 16 strikeout game (67 total strikeouts against only 5 walks); he’s every bit the stud the Yankees thought they were getting in 2012, it just took him a long while to get there.

There have been a lot of winding roads to this Pineda/Montero Trade, but I think we can officially call it in favor of the Yankees.  And, as such, tonight we get to watch a huge reminder of why the Mariners are a terribly-run and forever-snakebitten organization.

Happy Monday again.

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.

Jack Zduriencik Receives “Multi-Year” Extension

Nobody really has any idea what this means, other than Jackie Z is getting rewarded for what is really his first successful season as a general manager.  Obviously, success is measured by how well your Major League ballclub does, and this year we’re looking at a team that’s 13 games above .500.

I must say, I’ve been quite pleased with the job Z has done this year.  The Cano deal looks like a slam dunk, the trade for LoMo has been a vast improvement over Justin Smoak, and the deals at the deadline were reasonable while at the same time not giving away all of our prized young talent.

I probably see these things a little differently than most, but the bottom line is:  Kendrys Morales is an improvement over the designated hitters we’ve had here before.  Austin Jackson is an improvement over James Jones and Abe Almonte.  Chris Denorfia gives us a solid right-handed platoon in right field.

Then, you have to factor in the pitching.  The Mariners REALLY got lucky that Randy Wolf threw a hissy fit and walked, thereby opening the door for Chris Young.  Nevertheless, Z went out and got him to sign and he’s been a thrilling success story.  Same goes for Fernando Rodney, who has been tasked with locking down this bullpen for two years.  Joe Beimel was another low-cost prospect who panned out.

At this point, it’s probably easier to look at which moves DIDN’T work, because that number is much smaller.  Corey Hart is an obvious disappointment, but you had to like the reasoning behind that signing when it happened.  John Buck is a guy who didn’t really work out, but who’s going to put a guy on blast for not hitting on a backup catcher?  Willie Bloomquist has been okay, but then he got hurt, and now you wonder why we’d go out and sign him to a 2-year deal when he probably should’ve been had for less.  Granted, we needed his versatility as a utility infielder early in the season, but was he ever going to be necessary in 2015?

The point is, after starting out this year at an all-time low as far as fan confidence is concerned, Z has rebounded quite nicely.  Cautiously optimistic is probably the phrase I’d use.  It doesn’t hurt that some of the younger guys are coming around a little bit (Ackley, for instance, if this thing is indeed for real).  I mean, when you’ve got the likes of Smoak, Montero, Ackley up until a few weeks ago, the Fister deal, the Figgins signing, and the 2013 outfield all under your belt … that’s a LOT to recover from!  You’d be foolish to revert back to In Jack We Trust again, but for now, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Frankly, it’s as much as he deserves, at least until we see some sustained success over a number of years.

This extension is like giving your teenage child the keys to your car the day they receive their driver’s license.  Yeah, you “trust” them, because you have to, but that doesn’t mean you’re not constantly worried for your car’s safety every moment they’re out there alone on those city streets.

The Case For Trading The Farm

Of course, when I say, “The Farm”, I’m only talking about a few guys.  Taijuan Walker, D.J. Peterson, Alex Jackson, and maybe two or three others.  When the average Mariners fan thinks of “The Farm”, that’s who they’re thinking about.  I don’t think anyone is going to give two shits if we can package the likes of Nick Franklin, Jesus Montero, or Erasmo Ramirez into a deal – and for good reason, because they likely wouldn’t fetch much anyway, because for as down as we are on these guys, the rest of baseball – the people in The Know – are even MORE down on these guys.

Nobody really wants to sell the farm.  We’re told from day 1 that the best franchises – regardless of sport – are those who draft and bring up their own stars.  That’s just the way it is.  And, as a result, fans get WAY too attached to the players in that organization.

But, what if I told you right now that by trading Walker, Peterson, and Jackson, the Mariners would bring in enough pieces to win the World Series in 2014?  I make no promises one way or the other going forward, but for at least 2014, the Mariners will be world champs.  Would you do it?

Some people would say no.  I happen to find that sick and absurd, because I would make that trade in a heartbeat!  The only problem with trades like these – where you’re a team in contention trading away young talent to the worst teams in hopes to rent a player for a few months and hopefully a playoff run – is that they backfire just as much as they work out.  Arguably, you could say they backfire way more – because only one team per year can win the World Series, and how many teams go out every season with the express goal of improving for that very championship?

And that’s just it.  No one can guarantee anything.  So, what if the Mariners and Rays work out some kind of deal that looks like:  Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, and Dominic Leone (and maybe another lesser player or two) for David Price and Ben Zobrist (and maybe another minor leaguer).  Would you do THAT trade?  That’s a lot of guaranteed years for two guys whose deals run out after 2014 (there is a team option for Zobrist, so he technically runs through 2015).  On the flipside, you’re giving the Mariners another ace pitcher and a rock solid #2 hitter who effectively ends Dustin Ackley’s career as an everyday starter.

I feel like that’s something of a realistic trade (I’m sorry, but the Rays aren’t going to accept Franklin, Ackley, Smoak, Montero, and Furbush for their two best players; I’M SORRY!), and a deal that helps both teams (one short term, one long term).  On the one hand, you could say the Mariners are getting ripped off in that deal.  The Rays would get a potential ace pitcher, a potential starting second baseman, a potential closer, and another prospect or two; and they’d only give up their current ace pitcher (who they won’t be able to re-sign after this year anyway, because they work on a shoe-string budget) and a jack-of-all-trades switch-hitter who otherwise (if they’d kept him) would be blocking a better prospect.

On the other hand, though, what if Taijuan Walker keeps getting injured and never makes it?  What if, instead of developing and refining his game, he continues to struggle with command issues for his whole (brief) career?  What if Nick Franklin is a dud, and Leone is only an okay reliever?  If that’s the case, even if the Mariners fail in their charge to win a World Series, I’d still call it a win for the Mariners.

The fact of the matter is, there are those two best-case scenarios for either team, and there are a million other variations in between.  You’ll never know unless the deal is made.

Those fans smarter than myself would bemoan the lost service time.  They’d complain (probably rightly so) that there’s no way in Hell that David Price will re-sign here after the season.  They’d love Zobrist, because he’s amazing, but they’d see his age (33) and make note of the fact that he might not be worth $7.5 million in 2015 (especially if his numbers this year continue what’s been something of a modest downward trend over the last year and a half).  Those smarter fans may be right, but you know what?  Part of me is kinda tired of waiting.  100% of me roots for the Seattle Mariners and not really its affiliates.  I don’t care if Seattle is considered as having one of the better minor league systems, because what I REALLY care about is how well the organization is doing at the Major League level.

Yes, I WOULD take 10 years of mediocrity if it meant a world championship.  I love the old Florida Marlins model of franchise ownership!  You’re telling me that group of morons were able to win not one, but TWO titles?  Where do I sign up?

Because, honestly, what would be the difference between that vast, savage hellscape and the one we’ve just emerged from between the years 2002-2013?

And yes, I trust Jack Z to make a smart trade for this organization like I trust him to drill into my skull without touching brain.  But, here’s the thing:  which deals does he get the most shit for?  The Smoak and Montero deals, of course.  Because they were unmitigated disasters.  Smoak and Montero were supposed to be high-upside studs and are instead steaming piles of manure.  It’s hard to say those deals backfired too much, because Cliff Lee was never going to re-sign with us at season’s end, and because Pineda has been injured and suspended more than he’s been healthy and contributing at the big league level.  But, here’s another doozy:  the Doug Fister trade.  That has netted us:  Charlie Furbush, a crappy left-handed reliever.  That one REALLY backfired, hard.

The point is:  Jackie Z doesn’t know shit about trading for prospects.  He’s been about as bad at it as anyone I’ve ever seen.  How he rose through the ranks in scouting is beyond me, because seemingly every trade he has made for prospects has totally tanked.  On the flipside, when he’s sending away prospects, he’s either been very lucky, or he knows what he’s doing.  There were all those losers we shipped off to get Cliff Lee here in the first place.  There was the Morrow deal (which kind of looks bad, until you see that Morrow has yet to throw 200 innings in a season, so it’s not like we gave up some true #1 starting pitcher).  There are probably some others, but nothing comes directly to mind, which means there’s no real nagging deal out there where I’m watching the likes of Adam Jones be awesome for another team.

If Jackie Z sees something in Taijuan Walker that leads him to believe Walker might not be as amazing as we all think he’s going to be, then I don’t really have a problem with shipping him off.  Just as long as we get some players coming back who will bring an immediate impact right away.  It’s not hard to look at David Price and Ben Zobrist and see a way they can help this team win.  Anything less … anything that brings with it a “who’s that?” from Mariners fans at large, and I’ll probably be irate.

Such is the thrill of contention in baseball!  Remember how we used to feel this way almost every year, from 1995 through 2003?  Remember how we’d talk about the trade deadline as a means to potentially make the team better NOW vs. in three years from now?  Remember all those years the Mariners “stood pat” and ended up either not making the playoffs, or losing prior to the World Series?  Conversely, remember all those years the Mariners traded away Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek and we still can’t fucking shut up about it?

It’s been one long bummer of a ride from the minute the Mariners set foot in Seattle lo those many decades ago.  But, as the Seahawks have taught us, it only takes one year to turn around a franchise’s fortunes.

This year COULD BE the year for the Mariners.  Of course, not as things stand right now; we’re at least two players away from serious contention for a championship.  Is it worth the potential cost of a future that might not even exist as we dream it?

I say yes, but that’s just the way I roll.  Instant gratification.  Give me a championship now and I can gnaw on that sucker for YEARS.  Do nothing, and that desire will only continue to gnaw at me, piece by piece, until I’m a broken husk of a man.

Keep Nick Franklin and Get Rid of Willie Bloomquist

Would somebody PLEASE tell me again why we signed Bloomquist to a guaranteed 2-year deal?  Are you telling me that he was SO in demand that we had to tack on a second year just to get him to come to Seattle?  He came here knowing full well he would never be a starter (unless, God forbid, someone gets injured, and even then …) – HERE, in Seattle, where the baseball tastes like boiled mayonnaise sitting out in the sun – and we couldn’t get him to sign for less than two years.

Jack Zduriencik, you seem to be in the market for some foolish, impulse purchases, so let me tell you what I’ve got for you:  it’s this device.  It looks like one of those hand-held orange juicers, only if someone stepped down hard on the pointy end and flattened it out.  Now, you don’t juice with it!  You wrap bacon around it, stick it in the oven and … you guessed it:  a bacon bowl!  Yes, I know, I know, you could probably just flip over a muffin tin and use that, but would it also come with this Magic Chopper?  Jack, I’ll sell you the whole set for only $3 million.  What do you say?  Quite a bargain, right?

If this was football, the Mariners could get out from under this Bloomquist deal without any problems.  But, this is baseball – a VASTLY inferior sport in every imaginable way – so we’re stuck with guaranteed contracts for pieces of shit.  Of course, if this was a well-run baseball organization, we never would have been put in this position in the first place, so what do you know about that?

In an ideal world, Willie Bloomquist would have to prove himself before he made the team.  Instead, he gets to sit back and watch the paychecks roll in while he’s lucky to get in a game once a week.  Brilliant.

Here’s the deal:  we know who our second baseman is, it’s Robinson Cano.  We know who our third baseman is, it’s Kyle Seager.  We now know who our short stop is (some would say we’ve known all along and this “competition” was all a farce), his name is Brad Miller.  We have too many underwhelming first basemen to count, their names are Justin Smoak, LoMo, and Corey Hart.  There’s no room at the Inn in this infield.

What we need is a quality backup who can play all the positions in a pinch!  Someone to give Miller the occasional day off.  Someone to start for Cano when he jams a finger sliding into second base.  And so on.  Right now, that job is going to Willie Bloomquist, even though he’s definitely the worst baseball player in professional baseball (no Hyperbole Guy).  Why couldn’t that job just go to Nick Franklin?  Who is marginally better, doesn’t make me sick with rage every time I see him, and doesn’t cost millions of dollars over the next two years.

Some will say it’s because he’s young and needs to be playing every day.  Does he, though?  While I’ll admit, I tend to have confidence in the little guy, but he DOES appear to be something of a Career Reserve.  Might as well get a jump start on that career right now by riding pine and coming in every so often just to disappoint.

Some will say he has more value as a trade chip.  Does he, though?  Do you REALLY see the Mariners getting something all that great out of this kid?  Because I’ll tell you what I see us getting in return:  take Aaron Harang’s talent right now and put it in a body ten years younger (or, another Blake Beavan).  That’s what we’re talking about.

Nick Franklin hasn’t done a damn thing to warrant other teams giving us the moon and the stars!  So cut that shit right out!  Why do we need dud pitching from other teams when we’ve got our own Hector Noesi right here in camp?

I just know we’re going to get less than nothing out of Bloomquist.  He has no upside, he’s old, and he has no business being on this team.  At least if we kept Nick Franklin around, he’d have the opportunity to build some value.  In the event that someone gets injured, maybe Nick Franklin comes in and tears it up for a month.  Maybe that month catches the eye of another general manager, and maybe that general manager makes us an offer for him that we can USE!

Then again, we’re talking about Jackie Z.  The only guy I know who’s able to turn a quality starter in Doug Fister into a so-so lefty reliever.