The Last Five Years In Seattle Sports

2008 was the lowest point in Seattle sports.  It was our Absolute Zero.  Rock Bottom.  The total nadir of sports humanity!

It was the primary inspiration for the title of this website.  Take an already-crappy sports city, with practically no history of real success whatsoever, then rain down a million boulders while giving fans only a tiny umbrella to protect themselves.

We did NOT deserve this …

Well, we just finished the 2012 sports year with the 2012/2013 Husky basketball season coming to its conclusion.  As such, I have taken it upon myself to take a look back.  Five years ago, it was 2008; we were just getting started with the worst year ever.  How have things changed with our primary Seattle sports teams?

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners came off of a surprising 2007 campaign that saw them appearing to turn a corner.  Beltre, Ibanez, and Ichiro led the offense.  We hoped that a possible resurrection of Richie Sexson would bring about a further boost.  Two young guns up the middle – Lopez & Betancourt – were proof positive that what we were doing in our farm system wasn’t a complete joke.  Felix was coming into his own.  Losing Weaver & Horacio Ramirez was addition by subtraction.  You figured, with another quality starter, and another bat or two, and we’d be in business!

Well, we know what happened with 2008.  The Erik Bedard trade was a total and complete disaster (though, it went a long way towards the Orioles making their surprising playoff run in 2012).  The Mariners opted to let Jose Guillen walk and replaced him with the corpse of Brad Wilkerson.  Richie Sexson became a local pariah.  And, oh yeah, the other big pitching piece – Carlos Silva – was signed to the single-worst contract in recorded history.  You tack on little things – like J.J. Putz going from the greatest reliever in baseball in 2007, to an injured pile of crap in 2008 – and it all boils down to this team losing 101 games.  The first team with a payroll over $100 million to lose over 100 games.  Everyone was fired; it was brutal.

Enter Jackie Z, who could seemingly do no wrong at first.  He replaced Sexson with Russell Branyan – big upgrade.  He traded Putz for Franklin Gutierrez, who had an amazing season both in the field and at the plate.  We also ended up with Jason Vargas in that Putz deal, who came in and earned his way into the starting rotation.  He brought in Ken Griffey Jr., who wasn’t a total disaster as a DH.  In short, there was an immediate turnaround thanks to God knows what.  Good vibrations?  Luck?  I dunno.  But, this team improved 24 games over 2008 and contended well into the summer.  Everyone thought we’d struck gold!

Then, like some kind of sick fucking plague, every move Jackie Z made to help bolster the 2010 team turned to shit.  Chone Figgins was signed to a 4-year deal and immediately was the worst player in baseball.  Branyan was allowed to walk in favor of Casey Kotchman; Kotchman was terrible and Branyan was brought back in a panic-deal mid-season, because we had the most punch-less lineup in all of baseball history.  Silva was traded for Milton Bradley – which was a move of pure GENIUS until it turned out trading one cancer for another still leaves you on your deathbed.  Griffey was brought back, because HEY!, he hit 19 home runs the year before and it’s not like players suddenly lose all of their ability to swing a bat all at once or anything.

Mind you, just about everything Jackie Z did in anticipation of the 2010 season was believed to be the right thing.  Except for Griffey, but really, if we didn’t make the playoffs that season, it wasn’t going to be exclusively the fault of our elderly DH.  And, to a lesser extent, the Brandon League for Brandon Morrow trade was a bit questionable.  I mean, who trades a bona fide Major League starting prospect for an 8th inning reliever type? Nevertheless, this was a bold move looking to shore up our bullpen.

The cherry on top was the Cliff Lee trade.  We gave a bunch of Bavasi draft rejects to the Phillies for Cliff Lee in his final season.  At best, he’d be the starting pitcher to put us over the top.  At worst, we’d be a losing team and trade him at the deadline to the highest bidder for the best crop of prospects.

Like everything else that happened in 2010, even THIS ended up backfiring.  Cliff Lee came with a built-in contingency plan!  And he was traded for Justin Smoak – a disappointment to date – Blake Beavan – a less-than-adequate starting pitcher – and what has turned into a season’s worth of Michael Morse, a season’s worth of John Jaso, and a season’s worth of Josh Lueke.  There’s still time to turn around our fortunes, but unless Smoak figures out a miracle cure to his sucking ways, this has bust written all over it.

So, what happens when every single offseason (and in-season) move you make backfires?  You lose another 101 games, your franchise icon retires mid-season, your manager gets fired, and your GM is lucky to still have a job.

2010 was a wake-up call, both for fans and for the organization.  The last two times the Mariners had winning records – 2007 and 2009 – they immediately went out the very next offseason and tried to Win Now.  All the moves they made in hopes to Win Now were total disasters, so they had to come up with a new plan.  Either you keep riding this rollercoaster, firing your manager and/or GM every two seasons, or you start over from scratch.

Even though Jackie Z managed to bungle every Major League move known to man, he had still built up the minor leagues a fair amount.  With another high draft pick in his pocket, he put his head down and went to work.

The 2011 season was essentially given over to the kids.  Our major offseason moves included bringing in Miguel Olivo, Jack Cust, Adam Kennedy, Brendan Ryan, and handing over the starting rotation to guys like Michael Pineda, Doug Fister, and Blake Beavan.  In addition, Ackley, Seager, and Carp all got their feet wet; Peguero was given an inordinate amount of playing time for what he was actually bringing to the table.  Others, like Wells, Trayvon Robinson, Saunders, and Halman all got varying amounts of playing time.  2011 was Try-Out central in Seattle.  Throw a bunch of spaghetti noodles into a pot of boiling water, take them out and see which ones would stick to the wall.

2012 took it a step further.  The big free agent pick-ups consisted of Millwood, Iwakuma, and a backup shortstop in Kawasaki.  We traded away Pineda – our best pitching prospect – to bring in Jesus Montero, because we absolutely could not live with the same old offense we’d had the past two seasons.

What did 2011 and 2012 accomplish?  Moderate gains in the win/loss column (+6 wins in 2011, +8 wins in 2012), moderate gains in our offensive production, and a whole lot of salary coming off the books.  The Silva/Bradley money, the Ichiro money, the Olivo money, another season’s worth of the Figgins money.

Now, it’s 2013.  The Mariners brought in some big bats via trade – Morse & Morales for Jaso & Vargas respectively – and some veteran bats via free agency – Ibanez and Bay.  They re-signed Iwakuma (when they realized he’s actually a quality starter), brought in Joe Saunders (who will probably be terrible), and have given the back-end of the rotation over to youth (Maurer and Beavan).  The crown jewel of the 2012/2013 offseason was re-signing Felix through 2019.  That’s huge.  The Mariners may never make the post-season while he’s with us, but God damn it, if they do WATCH OUT.

There is reason for optimism five years after bottoming out in 2008, but we’re still in a Show Me stage.  I’ll believe it when I see it, and all that.  2013 is critical, because if they don’t show some significant improvement, I think a lot of people will be out on their asses again and we’ll be looking at ANOTHER rebuild.

Husky Football

The Huskies ended their 2007 season with a 4-9 record.  Their 2007 schedule was deemed by many to be the toughest schedule in the nation.  Tyrone Willingham was coming off of his third consecutive losing season (going 2-9 in 2005 and 5-7 in 2006), and many believed he should have been fired then and there.  I was one of those simple-minded folks who said we should give him ONE more chance.  Jake Locker had a full season under his belt, why not give Willingham an opportunity to turn things around with the guy he brought in as his quarterback?

Well, we kicked off 2008 by being trounced in Oregon (who would go on to finish 10-3).  Then, we lost by a single point at home to BYU (thanks to the infamous penalty flag thrown on Locker as he ran in for the would-be game-tying touchdown and tossed the ball over his shoulder … thank you Pac-10 referees for being so damn competent) on a missed extra point at the end of the game.  Then, we lost at home to Oklahoma (who would go on to lose to Florida in the BCS National Championship Game).

THEN, we lost our quarterback, our best player, and really our only GOOD player, in the Stanford game.  After that, with the likes of Ronnie Fouch at the helm, we proceeded to lose all the rest of our games (including a pathetic heartbreaker of an Apple Cup, 16-13 in overtime).

0-12.  Doesn’t get any worse than that.  Can only go up from there, right?

Willingham:  gone.  Sarkisian:  in.

The 2009 Huskies improved by 5 games.  There was a signature win at home over the then-#3 USC Trojans, 16-13 on a last-minute field goal.  There was a signature near-win the first game of the season at home against LSU.  Jake Locker took huge strides in his development as a passer.  Everything looked great for the future.

The 2010 Huskies weren’t all that much more improved than the 2009 team, but they managed to win six regular season games (winning out after starting 3-6, thanks to a soft schedule to finish things) and earned a bowl game against Nebraska.  Of course, they got killed by Nebraska, IN Husky Stadium, earlier that season.  But, in the rematch, this Husky team was totally reborn and they took it to the Cornhuskers, stifling them 19-7.

That led to somewhat higher expectations for 2011, but how high could we possibly make them?  Let’s face it, we’d lost our best player and were breaking in a new quarterback.  Our defense was still on the fritz, and we were still in a very tough conference with Oregon, Stanford, and USC.  Not to mention we had to go to Nebraska, where we most certainly got our shit kicked in.

2011 was a disappointment because there was no Signature Win.  In 2009 and 2010, we had victories over USC and Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.  In 2011, we barely squeaked by Eastern Washington in the first game.  We were absolutely terrorized by the aforementioned heavy hitters (losing the games to USC, Oregon, Stanford, and Nebraska by a combined 190-93).  In spite of losing ALL the games were were technically “supposed” to lose, we were still in line for a 1-game improvement over 2010.  That officially died when A. we went into Oregon State and lost (they ended the season with 3 wins) and B. we faced RGIII and the Baylor Bears and gave up 67 points on 777 yards of offense in losing by 11.

Back-to-back 7-6 seasons left a bitter taste in our mouths.  After storming the field against the Cornhuskers, we bent over and grabbed our ankles against the Bears.  2012 would SURELY be different, though.  We had a full season with Keith Price, he had surpassed our wildest expectations by throwing for over 3,000 yards with 33 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions.  How could 2012 NOT be a huge improvement?  On top of all that, we didn’t wait that extra season to see if Nick Holt could turn things around on defense.  We went out, brought in some heavy hitters at recruiting and defensive coaching, and nabbed some top prospects in the process.

Well, there was improvement.  The 2012 Huskies DID manage some signature wins against the likes of Stanford and Oregon State (both in the top 10 at the time we beat them), but they also fell completely flat against the likes of #3 LSU, #2 Oregon, and #11 USC.  In spite of yet another 3-game losing streak in the middle of the season, these Huskies were looking at possibly winning 8 or 9 games when all was said and done!

They were 7-4 (riding a 4-game winning streak) going into the Apple Cup in Pullman.  They had an 18-point lead going into the final quarter … so of COURSE they ended up blowing the game in overtime.  This ultimately led to the Huskies facing Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl and ending up – once again – 7-6.

In short, the Huskies went from 0-12 in 2008, to 5-7 in 2009, to 7-6 in 2010, 2011, and 2012.  No 7-6 record is created equal, obviously, but at the end of the day people don’t remember how you got there.  They just see where you were and shake their heads.

Keith Price showed all the promise in the world in 2011.  But, he lost all his major weapons (Kearse and Aguilar at receiver, Chris Polk at running back) and couldn’t recover in 2012.  In the Baylor bowl game, Price accounted for 7 touchdowns on offense and looked like the best quarterback on the field – even better than the Heisman Trophy winner and ultimate #2 overall draft pick.  However, in the Apple Cup and again in the Boise State bowl game, Price ended both with interceptions.  He was going into the 2013 season fighting for his job, but from all accounts he’s got it locked up after Spring Ball.  Nevertheless, I have to imagine he’s on a short leash.  We can’t suffer the kind of downgrade in production again.

At this point in Sark’s tenure, he’s got all his own guys now.  2013 is the year we’re expected to win and win consistently.  The non-conference schedule is relatively easy, and the conference schedule isn’t too bad either.  We’ve got veterans in all the right places, we’ve got some serious talent on defense for the first time since he got here, and Price has had a chance to gel with his offensive weapons.  2013 isn’t a Rose Bowl or Bust, but it’s close.  The Huskies have to at least be in the conversation.

I’m not gonna lie to you, beating the Ducks for the first time in eons would go a long way towards cementing Sark’s status as a legend ’round these parts.

Husky Basketball

The 2007/2008 Huskies were a definite low-point in the Romar era.  They finished the regular season 16-16, losing in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament, and received the #1 seed in the College Basketball Invitational.  You know, that post-season tournament for the teams not even good enough for the N.I.T.

We lost.  To Valparaiso.

In 2008/2009, we brought in Isaiah Thomas and he was a firecracker right from the start.  We enjoyed Brockman’s senior season, and we rode that wave to a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament and a Round of 32 loss to 5-seed Purdue by two points.  More or less, it was a successful season, but once again it ended prematurely.

In 2009/2010, we had another senior leader taking to the forefront.  This time, it was Q-Pon, who averaged 19 and 7 per game in leading us to a Pac-10 Tournament victory, an 11-seed in the tournament, and upset wins over #6 Marquette (where he hit the clutch game winner) and #3 New Mexico.

Once again, though, the Romar-era Huskies couldn’t get past the Sweet 16.  This time, we lost to West Virginia, thanks to them totally having the length advantage on us.

In 2010/2011, we had our version of a Big 3 with Thomas, MBA, and Holiday.  The last two were seniors and Thomas was playing in what would be his final season.  We rode this squad to another Pac-10 Tournament victory (you all remember COLD BLOODED don’t you?).  This resulted in a 7-seed – our third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance – and a victory over 10-seed Georgia before losing in the Round of 32 to 2-seeded North Carolina (by only 3 points, but still).

The 2011/2012 season saw the emergence of Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross.  Both were young, extremely talented, and irritatingly inconsistent.  Ross would disappear for minutes at a time.  Wroten had no jump shot whatsoever, so he had to fight for every single basket in the paint.  This team ended up winning the Pac-12 outright, but since the Pac-12 sucked dick that season, and since the Huskies lost in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament, AND since they had no quality wins over ranked non-conference opponents, the Huskies were denied a fourth consecutive NCAA invite.  Instead, they locked down the #1-overall N.I.T. seeding and ran with it to the Final Four in New York City.  It ended with a loss to Minnesota, who would end up losing to eventual-champion Stanford the very next game.

The less said about the 2012/2013 season, the better.  Wroten and Ross both bolted for the NBA, and absolutely no one came in to replace them.  That’s what happens when you’re a good-not-great recruiter in a good-not-great university for basketball:  sometimes you DON’T bring in a player of quality and you suffer as a result.

Gaddy, Wilcox, Suggs, and N’Diaye were left to pick up the pieces.  This team was pretty solid on defense, but ultimately inept on offense, and now at least three of those guys are gone (with Wilcox having a difficult decision to make regarding his final year of eligibility).  The 2012/2013 Huskies didn’t beat a single ranked team, only beat three teams who ended up going to the NCAAs (Saint Louis, California, and Colorado), and wound up being a 6-seed in the N.I.T., where the subsequently got their shit kicked in at BYU.

What’s in store for 2013/2014?  Well, a solid incoming class with one McDonalds All American at point guard in Nigel Williams-Goss.  If Wilcox comes back, that gives us a veteran scoring presence (for the record, he’s a fool if he leaves; his past season was absolutely dreadful and injury-plagued).  If we can get anything from our young forwards, you could look at a team that surprises a lot of people.  Or, you could be looking at a third-straight N.I.T. bid.  If it’s the latter, I’m not so sure I’d be confident about my job security if I was Romar.

Seattle Supersonics

I won’t go into excruciating detail on this end.  We all know what the last five years have been like for the Sonics.  They went 20-62 in their final season in Seattle (after drafting Kevin Durant and bringing in one of the finest GMs in the game from the San Antonio organization).  They were given away by the city of Seattle, they struggled again the following season, and then they went to the playoffs four straight seasons (losing most recently in the Finals to the beloved Miami Heat).

Now, we’ve got an ownership group and an arena deal in place, and we’re fighting like crazy to steal the Kings from Sacramento.  If all goes according to plan, we will have pro basketball back in Seattle for the 2013/2014 season.  If it doesn’t, then this part of next year’s “Five Years” post is going to be REAL fucking depressing.

Seattle Seahawks

I’m saving the best for last because I can.  Because, honestly, it’s all a little too much and I can hardly believe it myself.  There is cautious optimism for the Mariners and their young core to turn things around.  There’s more confident optimism that the Husky football team will turn some heads this fall.  There’s hope that the Husky basketball team can somehow gel with their new incoming players and make an improbable Tourney run.  There’s delusions that the NBA will be back in Seattle this time next year.

But, that’s nothing.  There is outright SWAGGER for the Seattle Seahawks.  How did we get HERE?

In 2008, we went 4-12.  We had dicked around with Mike Holmgren, we signed on his replacement – Jim Mora Jr. – to be his defensive backs coach, and all the major veterans took a huge dump.  This was coming off of a 2007 season where the Seahawks once again won the division.  But, Shaun Alexander was released at the end, losing out to another injury.  So, Tim Ruskell opted to reload via free agency.  Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett were brought in to liven up the running game, but no dice.  Hasselbeck missed a bunch of games, Walter Jones tried surgery but wasn’t the same and was forced to retire at season’s end … it was just a mess.

In 2009, there was something of a fresh start expected with Mora.  T.J. Houshmandzadeh was brought in on a huge free agent deal, Aaron Curry was signed as our can’t-lose first round draft pick … in short, we were one of the oldest and least-talented teams in the NFL.  When all was said and done, these Seahawks improved by only 1 game and both Mora and Ruskell were fired.

2010 was the REAL fresh start.  Pete Carroll and John Schneider tag-teamed this roster from head to toe.  They traded for Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington, and Charlie Whitehurst (hey, they can’t all be winners).  They got rid of Housh (taking a healthy bath in the cap hit) and later Deion Branch.  They brought in a rejuvinated Mike Williams who led the team in receiving.  They drafted Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, and Kam Chancellor.  They made hundreds upon hundreds of free agent moves, giving tryouts to anyone and everyone who they thought might be an upgrade.  They got significantly younger, and thanks to a piss-poor division, ended up making the playoffs with a 7-9 record.

Understand, this wasn’t a legitimate playoff team.  Yes, after two years in the wilderness, they found their way back to civilization, but it was totally phony!  The fact that we beat the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints at Qwest Field is a travesty of common decency (though, it did provide us with the greatest NFL play ever, Beastmode’s Touchdown Scamper).  Our “Cinderella” run ended the following week in Chicago, and you had to wonder how long it would be before the Seahawks made the playoffs again.

The 2011 Seahawks were hamstrung by the NFL Lockout.  They fired their offensive coordinator and hired Darrell Bevell from Minnesota.  Which meant, if they stood any chance of competing in ANY games that season, they’d have to bring some people in who knew Bevell’s system.  This meant Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback.  They let Hasselbeck go with a cordial goodbye and handed the keys to the team over to Tarvar (without so much as a second look at Whitehurst, who was as bad as we all remember him being and then some).

Tarvar proved tough, but ultimately inept when the game was on the line.  Those 2011 Seahawks also finished the regular season 7-9 and weren’t given the benefit of a lousy NFC West to “earn” a home playoff game.

With a full offseason going into 2012, the Seahawks needed to make a change.  They’d drafted well, bringing in guys like Richard Sherman and K.J. Wright.  But, they needed a signal-caller with some zazz!  So, they signed Matt Flynn to a three-year deal, and they went out and drafted Russell Wilson in the third round.

People say if Wilson was just 2-3 inches taller, he would’ve been a Top 10 pick.  But, he’s not, so now he’s ours.

Wilson earned his opportunity to have an Open Competition in Training Camp.  This led to him wowing us in the Pre-Season, which ultimately led to him winning the job and running with it.  The 2012 Seahawks took it easy with him for the first few weeks, but once they knew he could handle himself, they opened things up.  This resulted in the Seahawks being the best team in football over the second half of the season.  Still, their early-season slip-ups meant that the 49ers won the division, relegating us to the fifth seed in the NFC.

We went into Washington and somehow came away with a victory.  Then, we went into Atlanta, gave them a 20-point lead, and somehow led in the game with 30 seconds to go.  That was choked away, but the message was sent.  It wasn’t, “Wait Until Next Year,” the way most fanbases say it, more resigned to their current fate as losers, sorely, bitterly hoping that things will turn around for them in short order.

No, this is, “Just you WAIT until next year, chickenfuckers!”  Because the 2013 Seahawks are a runaway train that has Super Bowl or Bust written all over them!

In five years, the Seahawks have gone from one of the oldest and worst teams in the NFL to one of the youngest and best teams.  In five years, the Seahawks have gone from bottom-feeders to would-be kings.  We fans are cashing in our 401Ks in anticipation of buying Super Bowl tickets in 2014.  It’s never been so clear and so positive in the city of Seattle.  They can single-handedly reverse the fortunes of this desolate sports city.  All they need to do is win.

What’s more, they’re spreading around the positivity.  People are stoked on the Mariners WAY more than they should be thanks to the good will generated by the Seahawks.  Sports fans have something to look forward to and spirits are bright.  This is carrying over to the other sports in hopes that the good vibes will roll on.

We’ll see.  If the Seahawks win it all, the Mariners contend for a playoff spot, the Huskies make a run at the Rose Bowl, the basketball Huskies make a run at the NCAA Tournament, and the Sonics return to Seattle, we could be talking about the greatest 5-year turnaround any sports city has ever seen.  Fingers crossed.

Seattle Mariners Spring Training Preview

You can see yesterday’s Offseason Review here.  One-stop shopping for all the Seattle Mariners offseason moves of note (see what I did there with that “of note” … can’t pull the wool over the eyes of THIS guy).

So, to bring it back, this is the team the Seattle Mariners ended with in 2012 (the players in BOLD are no longer on the team going into 2013):

C – Jesus Montero
1B – Justin Smoak
2B – Dustin Ackley
SS – Brendan Ryan
3B – Kyle Seager
LF – Casper Wells
CF – Michael Saunders
RF – Eric Thames
DH – John Jaso

C – Miguel Olivo
OF – Trayvon Robinson
INF – Munenori Kawasaki
Util – Chone Figgins

  1. Felix Hernandez
  2. Jason Vargas
  3. Hisashi Iwakuma
  4. Kevin Millwood
  5. Blake Beavan

Closer – Tom Wilhelmsen
LRP – Oliver Perez
RRP – Josh Kinney
RRP – Stephen Pryor
LRP – Charlie Furbush
LRP – Lucas Luetge
Long Relief – Erasmo Ramirez

Obviously, the 2012 Mariners’ roster was ever-changing, so these aren’t concrete examples.  But, overall, in the 2nd half of last year, more often than not these are the players who played and those were the positions they played.  Give or take a Guti and Carp (when they were healthy) and a Shawn Kelley in the bullpen.

So, from the looks of things, we’re replacing at least seven guys on this roster (including our ENTIRE bench and 40% of our starting rotation).  But, obviously, those aren’t the only moves to be made.  You gotta figure aside from Pitching Staff Ace, everyone’s job is on the line.  Based on the offseason moves made to date, here’s what I’m seeing as our roster to start the 2013 season (changes from 2012 made in BOLD):

C – Jesus Montero
1B – Justin Smoak
2B – Dustin Ackley
SS – Brendan Ryan
3B – Kyle Seager
LF – Michael Saunders
CF – Franklin Gutierrez
RF – Michael Morse
DH – Kendrys Morales

C – Kelly Shoppach
OF – Raul Ibanez
INF – Robert Andino
OF – Casper Wells

  1. Felix Hernandez
  2. Joe Saunders
  3. Hisashi Iwakuma
  4. Jon Garland
  5. Erasmo Ramirez

Closer – Tom Wilhelmsen
LRP – Oliver Perez
RRP – Josh Kinney
RRP – Stephen Pryor
LRP – Charlie Furbush
LRP – Lucas Luetge
Long Relief – Blake Beavan

Obviously, I hold no sway in this deal.  Although, truth be told, if I had it my way and things break the way I hope they’ll break, this would be the starting 25 you’d see on Opening Day.

So, let’s go through it, position by position.

The first five players listed above, from Catcher – Montero down through our entire infield, is all the same.  Yes, it will be important for the moves the Mariners made to pan out if we’re hoping to shock the world and contend for a playoff spot in September; but if this team is ever going to pan out long-term, it’s going to be up to these five guys:  Montero, Smoak, Ackley, Seager, and Ryan.  Montero and Smoak are supposed to be our middle-of-the-order thumpers to drive in runs.  Thus far, they’ve been underwhelming.  Now, we’ll see if those “protection” theories hold any water (the thinking being:  if you have good, established hitters in your lineup, they will “protect” younger, inexperienced guys like Smoak and Montero, thereby allowing them to see better pitches because opposing pitchers are too worried about the veterans like Morse and Morales).  2013 is Make or Break for Jackie Z and it’s Make or Break for Montero and Smoak.  If they fail, Jackie Z is likely toast, Smoak is likely to be dealt for peanuts, and Montero will be relegated to a backup catcher role as Mike Zunino takes hold of the position for the next decade-plus.  If they succeed, then Jackie Z will likely be given an extension, Smoak will hold the fort at first base, and Montero will hold the fort at DH while Zunino takes over as full-time catcher anyway because he’s so great.

The bottom line:  we need Smoak and Montero to be good.  We need Seager to build upon his promising 2012.  We need Ackley to show why being picked #2 overall was a smart decision.  And we need Brendan Ryan to hit SOMETHING, because if he can be halfway competent, his defense makes him a superstar.

We need:  no more black holes!

Let’s move on to the outfield.  Michael Saunders played the full season in 2012 and made huge strides.  He primarily played in center because Guti once AGAIN couldn’t stay healthy.  Like Seager, it will be important for Saunders to build upon his promising 2012.  This organization has enough to worry about.  Let’s have Saunders not be one of those things.

Getting Guti back, healthy, and in center full time is akin to signing a bigtime free agent.  If we can just, for Christ’s sake!, get Guti back to where he was in 2009 before this nightmare run of maladies befell our beloved center fielder, then it’ll be an addition on par with the other big bats we brought in.

Morse, while a liability on defense, should be a steadying presence in the lineup.  Personally, I think these baseball intellectuals are giving WAY too much credence to defensive metrics they readily admit are flawed.  I don’t for one second believe Casper Wells is as good, much less better than Michael Morse as an overall baseball player.  His defense might be superior, but is it SO superior that it overwhelms the fact that Morse is a legitimate Major League hitter while Wells sucks dick except for a few brilliant spurts of prowess?  I say no.  Morse makes this team better than Wells and he makes this team better than all of the other jackasses we had in the corner outfield spots in 2012.

Morales is another legitimate Major League hitter that we can slide right into the #3 or #4 spot in the lineup.  With Morales and Morse as a one-two punch, we’re really giving other teams something to think about for the first time in YEARS.  More importantly, it pushes guys like Seager, Smoak, and Montero into less-stressful spots in the lineup, where they can worry about their own games, and not trying to carry this team on their backs.

As for the bench, I think we’re better across the board.  Shoppach has to be a step up from Olivo.  Ibanez essentially takes over as the veteran presence Chone Figgins occupied last year, only Ibanez should hopefully not be a complete waste of space.  Andino is an upgrade over Kawasaki.  The only question mark is the final outfield spot.  I’m predicting Casper Wells takes it over Jason Bay, because I just have zero confidence in that guy having anything left in the tank.  With Wells, you’re looking at a clear upgrade over Robinson, Thames, Carp, Peguero, and whoever else was our reserve outfielder in 2012.  Being the team’s 4th outfielder seems to be the role Casper Wells was born to play.  He can cover all the outfield positions and he’s not such a huge drop-off in offensive production when you play him sparingly (and against left-handed pitchers).

Here’s what our starting lineup could look like for much of the 2013 season:

  1. (L) – Dustin Ackley (2B)
  2. (L) – Kyle Seager (3B)
  3. (S) – Kendrys Morales (DH)
  4. (R) – Michael Morse (RF)
  5. (R) – Jesus Montero (C)
  6. (S) – Justin Smoak (1B)
  7. (R) – Franklin Gutierrez (CF)
  8. (L) – Michael Saunders (LF)
  9. (R) – Brendan Ryan (SS)

Doesn’t look too bad, right?  Again, this is all guess-work, but in an ideal world, if the Mariners are playing a 1-game playoff to get into the post-season, this is the lineup I’d like to see.  Against a tough right-handed pitcher, you can slide Saunders into center, and start Ibanez in left.  Late in games, you can put Wells in for Morse (or pinch-run him for Montero, Morales or Morse).  And on getaway games, you’re not losing a ton when you start Andino for Ryan, Shoppach for Montero, Ibanez for whoever, and Wells for whoever else.  You can give Seager and Ackley days off from playing the field by throwing them at DH once in a while.  Morales can always slide over to first base in a pinch, I’m assuming.  Lots of flexibility on this team.

More importantly, lots of production on this team, if things go the way we hope.  If Ackley improves and Seager at the very least doesn’t get any worse, you’re talking about a nice 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup.  Morales and Morse are there to hit dingers, Montero and Smoak are down in the lineup where there’s less pressure on them.  And, at the end of our lineup, you’re not talking about 1/3 of our batters being a bottomless pit of despair!  While before we were trying to shoe-horn guys like Saunders and Guti into the upper third of the lineup, now we have the luxury to play them near the bottom, improving our production dramatically over guys like Thames, Trayvon Robinson, an everyday Casper Wells, and so on.  Saunders and Guti have the potential to be productive EVERY day, not every 10 days.  That’s big in my book.

I don’t want to alarm any of you.  If you’re on any heart medication or have a pacemaker, you may want to stop reading right now.  Don’t look now, but this offense MIGHT just be a league-average offense!  I KNOW, RIGHT?

If you want to know why so many people are picking the Mariners to be one of the “surprise” teams of 2013 a la Oakland and Baltimore of 2012, look no further.  Of course, by these very people declaring us a “surprise” team, they’ve effectively ruined the surprise and doomed us to a fate worse than Bill Simmons picking the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl.  I want you to keep that in mind as you don’t watch this team still playing in October.

One major reason to take a huge step back from all those post-season expectations is this team’s starting rotation.  At the top, we’re fine.  If Felix can give us his usual Cy Young-calibre pitching, we’ve got a huge leg-up over most other teams.  And, if Joe Saunders can continue to be Joe Saunders (and not Worse Joe Saunders), then we’ve effectively made up for the loss of Vargas and won’t miss much of a beat.

After those two, it gets a little … iffy.  Is Iwakuma the real deal, like he was in the second half of 2012?  Or, is he going to require another half-season to get his stuff up to snuff?  If we landed the real deal with Iwakuma, then I’ll tell you we’ve really got something here.  Felix, Saunders, and Iwakuma aren’t really on par with the best 1-2-3’s in the Major Leagues, but for the regular season they could be just enough to get the job done.  If those guys can give us 60 wins in their 90+ starts, then we’ve only got to manage somewhere around 30 wins across the other starters’ 60+ starts to be a legitimate candidate for post-season contention.

Well, when you put it that way …

The last two starters could be brutal, though.  I’m only pencilling Jon Garland into the rotation based on his prior performances; but that guy hasn’t pitched in a year and a half!  Erasmo Ramirez is only in my hypothetical rotation based on a handful of starts in June and again in September.  Ramirez had 4 starts in June where the M’s went 2-2 (his record being 0-2), his ERA was 4.58, and he averaged less than 5 innings per start.  Of course, a main reason for that average was his last start where he left injured in the 3rd inning and promptly went on the DL.  He only had 1 quality start out of those four, but MAN was it a quality start!  8 innings, 10 strikeouts, 1 earned run on 3 hits and a walk in a 1-0 loss to the A’s.  Upon his return from the DL, in a September call-up, Ramirez made 4 more starts.  The M’s were 1-3 in these games (his record being 1-1) and his ERA was only 2.96 in this stretch, as he averaged nearly 7 innings per start.

So, in reality, I’m basing Ramirez’s status in our 2013 rotation on five starts in 2012.  Not really the smartest way to go about predicting a roster, but then again, it’s not like I’m the only one.  Many smarter people than myself are also pencilling Ramirez into our rotation.

Which, when you think about it, could be the best thing for this team.  When you see these “surprise” teams jump out of the woodwork, what’s a general theme?  They USUALLY have one or two very young rotation guys who have breakout years.  What’s more likely?  A guy like Smoak or Ackley figures it out and takes the world by storm?  Or a pitcher like Ramirez (or Hultzen, or someone else) mowing people down out of nowhere?  You see it all the time with pitchers; why can’t Ramirez be that catalyst for us at the back-end of our rotation?

At which point, you’ve got an elite Felix Hernandez, a steady Joe Saunders, a solid Hisashi Iwakuma, and a breakout Erasmo Ramirez.  With Jon Garland as an innings eater who will give you a number of quality starts a la Kevin Millwood.  I’m not gonna lie to you, my heart just fluttered a little.

The more I think about it, if we can JUST squeeze the best out of this starting rotation, and if our hitters can do JUST enough to keep us in ballgames, this very well COULD be our year!  Because I don’t think you’re going to find many better bullpens – from top to bottom – than the one we have in Seattle this year.  It’s a shame we have to waste it on a team that will likely be treading water around .500, because in a couple years (when this team will theoretically be ready to make the big jump towards regular contention) this bullpen won’t be the same (and will likely price itself out of our range).

But, Wilhelmsen is a stud of the highest order.  Yet, if he fails, Carter Capps is waiting in the wings.  And if he fails, Stephen Pryor is another flame-thrower.  And if he fails, Oliver Perez can burn the strike zone from the left side.  And if HE fails … it goes on and on.  Furbush had an amazing 2012 out of the bullpen.  Kinney was solid, if unspectacular.  Luetge was a Rule 5 draft pick who stuck with the team as a left-handed specialist.  Beavan has always been an innings eater who will easily devour innings in a long relief role.

For the record, the likelihood of all those guys failing is pretty slim.  But, in my opinion, NONE of those guys will fail, and we will have the best lockdown bullpen in the American League.

How many 1-run games can the Mariners win?  Ultimately, that will tell the story as to whether or not this team makes the playoffs.  I know winning 1-run games isn’t really a sustainable model for building a championship contender, but every so often there are outliers.  The A’s last year were 11-5 in extra-innings games.  They were 25-18 in 1-run games.  The Orioles last year were a mind-boggling 16-2 in extra-innings games!  And they were 29-9 in 1-run games!

Meanwhile, the Mariners last year were 5-10 in extra-innings games and 25-28 in 1-run games.  Gotta figure out a way to turn those figures around.  Clutch hitting, quality starts, unbelievable bullpen pitching.  That’s the key.  With just enough late-game defense thrown in to keep everyone honest.

I’ll have an official Season Preview closer to our April 1st season debut in Oakland (where else?), once everything has been set in stone and we know just exactly what we can expect on Opening Night.  In the meantime, dare I say it?  There’s ACTUALLY some reasons for optimism in 2013?

Seattle Mariners Offseason Review

With Michael Bourn finally signing, with the Cleveland Indians of all teams, and with Spring Training officially underway, I’m officially calling it the End of the Offseason.  The Mariners have made ALL the moves they’re going to make, and their precious unprotected #12 draft pick is securely in their possession.  So, consider that their first move of the offseason:  keeping their draft pick (which they would’ve lost had they signed a premier free agent like Bourn or Josh Hamilton).  It’ll be interesting to see what that guy turns into, considering I’m hearing rumors that this isn’t the strongest of all draft classes.

The Mariners have made moves, both major and minor.  I’m not going to get into those Arbitration-Eligible players the Mariners had.  Just, rest assured, they eventually came to an agreement with all of them.

The Major Moves are as follows:

  1. Felix Hernandez signs 7-year, $175 million deal
  2. Jason Vargas is traded to Anaheim for Kendrys Morales
  3. John Jaso is indirectly traded to Oakland for Washington’s Michael Morse
  4. Hisashi Iwakuma signs 2-year, $14 million deal
  5. Joe Saunders signs 1-year, $6.5 million deal (plus mutual option for 2014)

These are the guarantees.  Felix is obviously the biggie; he really deserves to be in a class all his own.  Because, aside from his deal, Iwakuma’s deal, and possibly Saunders’ deal, everything else the Mariners have done this offseason has been strictly for 2013 and no more.  That isn’t to say the Mariners won’t re-sign Morales or Morse or anyone else, but without the guarantee on the table, we really can’t count on anything long-term, now can we?

As a gentle aside, I would point out that it’s quite unwise to dismiss Geoff Baker’s assessment out of hand that the Mariners aren’t gearing up for a transition of organizational power in the near future.  All the Mariners have at the moment are Felix, young guys on rookie contracts, a bunch of stiffs on 1-year deals, and the last year of Chone Figgins’ contract.  After 2013, we can forget that Chone Figgins ever happened, and all those stiffs will be dust in the wind.  Think about it.  For a franchise going into serious negotiations with a potential Regional Sports Network (be it Root Sports, Comcast, or some other entity yet to be determined), you’re looking at some SERIOUS fucking value.  Do the right thing, Nintendo, sell to a committed buyer whose primary and only obligation is to WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS!

So, Felix stays, Saunders replaces Vargas, Iwakuma gets a chance to build on his solid second half of last year, Morales fills the DH role shared by Montero and Jaso, and Morse fills the corner outfield role that was spread evenly between Ichiro and a bunch of AAA knuckleheads.

Our offseason will be defined by these major moves, but they’re not the only moves.  While our OFFSEASON will be defined by those five guys, our level of success in the regular season might just hinge on some of these minor deals we made.  It’s going to be more difficult ranking these guys as I did with the five above, but I’ll do my best.

  1. Jon Garland signs 1-year minor league deal
  2. Raul Ibanez signs 1-year Major League deal for $2.75 million plus incentives
  3. Oliver Perez signs 1-year, $1.5 million deal
  4. Trayvon Robinson is traded to Baltimore for Robert Andino
  5. Kelly Shoppach signs 1-year deal for $1.5 million
  6. Jason Bay signs 1-year deal for $1 million (if he makes the team), with only $500,000 guaranteed
  7. Jeremy Bonderman signs 1-year minor league deal
  8. Kameron Loe signs 1-year minor league deal

Obviously, there are a lot of question marks about these guys.  I have a feeling that Garland is going to come back and make an impact, but that’s really just a feeling.  Then again, of these 8 guys, he has the most potential to make the biggest impact on this team, being a regular in the starting rotation.

Ibanez is here to be a veteran presence and a bat off the bench.  He will get his share of starts, but I wouldn’t call him a “starter” by any stretch.

Perez, the Mariners rescued off the scrap heap before last season.  He threw in our bullpen for half a season and acquitted himself quite well.  He’s a hard-throwing left-hander with experience who should be able to lock down the 7th and/or 8th innings in a close game.

Robert Andino is the man nobody talks about, but that’s ridiculous because he IS our infield bench.  He’s the only guy on the roster who can play 3rd, 2nd, and short stop, and should be a huge upgrade over unofficial 2012 Mariners mascot Munenori Kawasaki.  Considering the fact that this team is going to have a catcher and two other guys who strictly play outfield (Ibanez and either Casper Wells or Jason Bay), Robert Andino is going to have the weight of the world upon him as he’s pencilled in to spell three of the four infield positions for an entire season.

Shoppach is a backup catcher.  He replaces Miguel Olivo as a veteran catcher presence and he also replaces John Jaso as our primary (and only, thank Christ) backup catcher.  I like Jaso as much as anyone, but it was KILLING me having three catchers on the same team.  Killing me.  Shoppach probably won’t be much better at the plate than Olivo, and he’s probably going to let his share of passed balls slip between his legs, but he’s NOT Miguel Olivo, so that buys him at least a month of reprieve from the likes of me.

Jason Bay is to the New York Mets what Chone Figgins was to us.  He was a big contract, a huge disappointment, and cut after the third year of his 4-year deal.  Now Jason Bay is to us what Chone Figgins is to the Florida Marlins:  a reclamation project on a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite and a real chance to resurrect his Major League career while playing for a terrible, terrible organization.  It would be wise for you to expect nothing of Jason Bay.  As it stands right now, he’s going to have to prove in the coming weeks that he’s more valuable to us as a 34 year old veteran on a 1-year deal whose last good offensive season was in 2009 than a 28 year old Casper Wells who still has some team control left on a relatively inexpensive contract (and who is capable of playing all three outfield positions fairly well, while Bay plays only one outfield position downright horribly).  His odds are long, put it at that.  Then again, Eric Wedge is Old School (to put it kindly).  It’ll be interesting if Bay puts up solid offensive numbers in Spring, because this organization has the feel of one that’s looking for any and every reason to get rid of Casper Wells.

Jeremy Bonderman is, like Garland, on a 1-year minor league deal to try to regain his Major League career.  Considering he was worse than Garland when both were in their primes, I find it hard to believe Bonderman has much of a chance in Hell.  Then again, you never know.  You just never know, but I REALLY wouldn’t count on this one.

Kameron Loe was just signed to essentially replace Shawn Kelley.  Kelley was re-signed for nearly a million dollars earlier this offseason (he was one of those Arbitration Eligible guys), then cut for seemingly no reason, except for the fact that he was on the 40-man roster and this team needed to make some cuts to bring in guys like Joe Saunders and Kelly Shoppach.  The difference is, Loe is on a minor league deal, so if he sucks, whatever.  If he’s good, then obviously the Mariners will have to make a move before the regular season starts.  Either way, he’s a bullpen arm and one without much of a future with this team considering his age and his track record of late.  At best, he’s insurance in case one of our bullpen studs (Carter Capps or Stephen Pryor) fall apart and need to start the season in the minors.

Finally, you can’t talk about this offseason without talking about the guys who are Mariners no more.

Chone Figgins was the first piece to fall, hail Satan.  We’re still paying him upwards of $8 million to run around in the tropical sun with the Florida Marlins, so bully for him.

Losing Jaso is probably the one that stung the most at the point of impact and it’s probably the one that still stings the most to this day.   He was consistently our best hitter in 2012 (which, obviously, isn’t saying a whole helluva lot, but still) and a guy I know we all loved watch play.  He had a knack for late-game heroics, he could get on base with the best of ’em, and shit, he caught Felix’s perfect game!  AND, as a catcher, he batted left-handed, which is about as rare as it gets!

The main problem, of course, was where he was going to see his playing time.  Ultimately, it would’ve been split between catcher and DH in some Devil’s Three-Way with Montero and Morales (with Morales being the other half of the DH platoon and Montero being the other half of the catcher platoon).  Ultimately, you’re talking about three quality (or supposedly-quality) bats for two positions.  Which means you’re talking about not exactly maximizing your bang for the buck.

With the trade for Morse, the Mariners are essentially going all-in with Montero.  Morse isn’t necessarily “better” than Jaso, but he has more power, so he’s a different KIND of “better”.  And he plays a position of need for this team (corner outfield).  We were logjammed with first base/DH/Catcher types; now we aren’t.  It’s as simple as that.  If we can get a similar OPS out of Morse (with slugging substituting for Jaso’s on-base percentage) than we would have with Jaso, while Montero continues to improve and Morales continues to be solid, then that’s a win-win in my book.

If that doesn’t happen, then we just made a huge mistake and gave Oakland the piece it needed to move over the hump in the playoffs this year.

The other big loss was Jason Vargas.  But, of course, we now have Joe Saunders.  While they aren’t exactly the same pitcher, they’re close enough.  In the end, I think we get the same production out of Saunders as we would have out of Vargas, so again we’re talking win-win with the boost we’ll hopefully get from Morales.

Trayvon Robinson was traded, but he’s not a huge loss.  We have PLENTY of AAA outfielders who can’t hit in the Majors.  Getting rid of one and getting back a solid infield bench player is about as much as anyone could’ve hoped for.

Recently, Shawn Kelley was DFA’d and ultimately traded to the New York Yankees for a AA center fielder.  I guess that’s great for the Jackson Generals and great for the Yankees (who were looking for cheap bullpen depth), but I don’t really see how this move helps the Mariners.  But, whatever.

Even more recently, Mike Carp was DFA’d.  We’re still in the period where the Mariners can trade him, but I wouldn’t expect much.  Mike Carp has always struck me as being the next Michael Morse – a quality bat with terrible defensive skills who just needs an opportunity to play everyday to show what he can do (and who never got that opportunity with the Mariners because he couldn’t stay healthy).  In other words, look for the Mariners to trade for Mike Carp in about five years.  You know, once he’s proven himself and has already had his very-best seasons with another team willing to give a guy a fucking chance.

There might be more moves as Spring Training progresses – Pitchers & Catchers have only just started up this past week – but for the most part, the offseason has come and gone.

Do I think the Mariners have improved?  Well, that’s a subject for part two of this post, to be released tomorrow.

The Major Moves Of Jack Zduriencik

On October 22, 2008, Jack Zduriencik was hired by the Seattle Mariners to be their General Manager.  Here are the major player personnel moves the Mariners have made in that time.

For the 2009 Season:

12/3/2008 – Signed Russell Branyan to 1-year contract
12/10/2008 – Traded J.J. Putz, Jeremy Reed, Sean Green, and others for Jason Vargas, Franklin Gutierrez, Endy Chavez, Mike Carp and others.
1/20/2009 – Traded for David Aardsma
1/29/2009 – Signed Mike Sweeney to 1-year contract
2/18/2009 – Signed Ken Griffey Jr. to 1-year contract
7/29/2009 – Traded for Jack Wilson & Ian Snell

For the 2010 Season:

11/11/2009 – Re-Signed Ken Griffey Jr. to 1-year contract
12/8/2009 – Signed Chone Figgins to 4-year contract
12/16/2009 – Traded for Cliff Lee
12/18/2009 – Traded Carlos Silva for Milton Bradley
12/23/2009 – Traded Brandon Morrow for Brandon League
1/7/2010 – Traded for Casey Kotchman
1/21/2010 – Re-Signed Felix Hernandez to 5-year extension
1/29/2010 – Signed Eric Byrnes to 1-year contract
2/6/2010 – Re-Signed Erik Bedard to 1-year contract
2/12/2010 – Re-Signed Mike Sweeney to 1-year contract
6/27/2010 – Traded for Russell Branyan
7/9/2010 – Traded Cliff Lee & Mark Lowe for Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan & others

For the 2011 Season:

12/2/2010 – Re-Signed Erik Bedard to 1-year contract
12/10/2010 – Signed Jack Cust to 1-year contract
12/12/2010 – Traded for Brendan Ryan
1/3/2011 – Signed Miguel Olivo to 2-year contract
1/10/2011 – Signed Adam Kennedy to 1-year contract
7/30/2011 – Traded Doug Fister for Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, & others
7/31/2011 – Traded Erik Bedard & others for Trayvon Robinson & others

For the 2012 Season:

11/27/2011 – Traded Josh Lueke for John Jaso
12/8/2011 – Claimed Lucas Luetge in Rule 5 Draft
12/21/2011 – Signed Munenori Kawasaki to 1-year contract
12/30/2011 – Signed George Sherrill to 1-year contract
1/5/2012 – Signed Hisashi Iwakuma to 1-year contract
1/18/2012 – Signed Oliver Perez to 1-year contract
1/23/2012 – Traded Michael Pineda & Jose Campos for Jesus Montero & Hector Noesi
1/24/2012 – Signed Kevin Millwood to 1-year contract
7/31/2012 – Traded Steve Delabar for Eric Thames.  Traded Brandon League for others

For the 2013 Season:

11/2/2012 – Re-Signed Hisashi Iwakuma to 2-3-year contract
11/3/2012 – Re-Signed Oliver Perez to a 1-year contract

These by no means comprise ALL of the moves, but if I tried to list ALL the moves I’d be here all fucking month.  These are the guys who, more or less, made some kind of an impact on the major league ballclub.  I left out anything related to the draft, because it’s not draft season and that’s not really the point of this post.

What has Jackie Z done to improve the Major League ballclub?

You can see on the timeline where it all went awry.  Just about all of his major moves before the 2009 season were solid gold!  And, of course, what happened in 2009?  The Mariners ended up with 85 wins and somehow found themselves contending to the last month (or so).  It was only natural to think, given a few tweaks here and there, the 2010 season could be pure magic.

So, what did Jackie Z do?  He brought out the whuppin’ stick.  Within a 10-day period, we had our first MAJOR major signing of the Jack Zduriencik era:  Chone Figgins, 4 years.  No one at the time thought that was a stupid idea.  Piggybacking on that, in the aforementioned 10-day period, we brought in Cliff Lee to have one of the better 1-2 punches of all baseball starting rotations; and THEN we traded the dead weight of Carlos Silva for a possible reclamation project in Milton Bradley!  Hell, a bag of turds would’ve been better than Carlos Silva, so either way, there’s no losing THAT deal, right?  To top off his offseson, Jackie Z traded for League (to bolster the back-end of our bullpen), Kotchman (to give us some defense and decent pop at first base), and re-signed Felix to a 5-year extension.

I mean, my GOD, if Jackie Z wanted me to suck his dick after that string of moves, I gladly would’ve closed my eyes and opened my mouth.  THIS is exactly what we’ve been missing out of our baseball GM all these years!  He was doing it, he was really doing it!  There could be no downside to these moves!

Except, Figgins turned to crap.  Kotchman continued being crap.  Bradley continued being crap.  Griffey fell off the map.  Cliff Lee was hurt for the first month of the season.  League was nothing special (and Morrow still might be for someone else).  Byrnes was a fucking disgrace to the game of baseball.  We eventually had to bring back Branyan in a mid-season trade (and even THAT couldn’t prevent our offense from being the worst in the modern era).  And, since we weren’t contending, there was no point in holding onto Cliff Lee; we traded him for what looks like utter shit and disappointment.

Every move for that 2010 season (save re-signing Felix) COMPLETELY backfired.  And yet, at the time, every move was completely defensible!  The only thing you could possibly argue is:  the Mariners didn’t go far ENOUGH.  Of course, that’s the story of this franchise (see:  1996-2003).

After that, the organization put a total and complete halt on trying to contend whatsoever.  Going into 2011, the Mariners signed two veterans at the minimum (Cust & Kennedy), traded for a defense-only shortstop (Ryan), and their only major signing was Olivo on a 2-year deal with an option for a 3rd (that has since been denied, because Olivo).  That was it!  Four guys!  One of which was released before season’s end!

2012 was no picnic either.  Three more veterans at the minimum (Millwood, Sherrill, Perez), a backup shortstop (Kawasaki) who was somehow worse at the plate than Ryan, a Japanese pitcher coming off a major shoulder injury (Iwakuma), a Rule 5 reliever (Luetge), a backup catcher who somehow turned into the cream of the crop (Jaso), and another backup catcher in trade (Montero) who will hopefully be a future designated hitter for years to come.

It’s been two straight years of sifting through a muddy river of shit hoping to find a few tiny flecks of gold.

Now, with enough money off the books, and with the fanbase completely up in arms over all the losing, the Mariners are ready to spend money and hopefully try to compete once again.

Which got me to thinking.  Well, this blog post by Geoff Baker got me to thinking.  The money quote:

Towards the end of the call, I asked Zduriencik about the Chone Figgins experience and whether it caused any hesitation for him going forward when it comes to this winter’s crop of free agents — especially when it comes to inking longer-term deals of more than three years. I wasn’t doing it to rub his face in the Figgins mess — which no one really could have seen imploding as badly as it did — but rather to gauge whether this current administration is prepared to go longer than three years on any deal this winter.

The two biggest free agent acquisitions of the Jack Zduriencik era (not counting Felix, since he was already under contract) before this offseason’s Iwakuma deal have been Chone Figgins (4 years, $36 million) and Miguel Olivo (2 years, $7 million).  That’s IT!  The rest of his moves have either been in trade or of the bottom-feeding veteran minimum variety.

Obviously, this has been by design.  The organization wanted to rid itself of burdensome contracts.  The organization wanted to let some of the young kids play, to see if a “youth movement” could jumpstart things.  But, also, the organization was patently unwilling to increase payroll for the types of free agents that were becoming available the last two offseasons.  Let’s call a spade a spade here; the Seattle Mariners were pushing the Reset Button on this whole thing and starting over from scratch.  I don’t mean that literally, of course; it’s not like they could just waive everyone they didn’t like and bring up all new guys.  But, essentially, the Reset Button is what they did.

Up until now, I would say that the Figgins contract had little to do with the Mariners’ overall plan (except, obviously, they needed to fill their third base position with a rookie).  I don’t think being gunshy about Figgins’ 4-year deal prevented the Mariners from signing other guys to long-term contracts.  I think it was all the reasons I stated above.  That having been said, though, if the Mariners don’t sign someone to a long-term contract THIS off-season … then I’d have to say the Figgins deal is weighing on them.

It would only be natural, after all.  I mean, who WOULDN’T be gunshy?!  From the day Jackie Z took this job, give me the names of the free agents who have worked out beyond even a decent first season?  Yeah, the answer you’re looking for is ZERO.  Hisashi Iwakuma would be the first, if he comes back in 2013 and does well (which is no guarantee, let me tell you).

So, yeah, they SHOULD be apprehensive!  They SHOULD do as much due diligence as humanly possible on this offseason’s free agent crop.  Because it’s fucking NASTY out there!  You’ve got lemons and land mines all OVER the place!

An Interesting 9th Inning Is Ruined By Mistakes

I don’t do many game recaps for the Mariners because there are too many games, because I don’t have cable (and thus can’t watch very many games), and because with a team like the Mariners, writing about their daily activities becomes more than a little redundant.  Plus, there are better sources from which to get recaps.

But, I will do recaps to the games I attend.  And I was there last night, as part of some Washington Husky Alumni thing.

To put a little perspective on things, yesterday marked the final weigh-in for a 6-week weight loss challenge put on at my work.  As such, yesterday marked the first time I’d had a beer in six weeks.  Suffice it to say, they were literally the most delicious beers I’ve ever had in my life.

Sluggers is the go-to pre-game bar of choice for me and my friends.  Of course, it’s usually packed to the gills, so if you’re not there three hours before gametime, you might as well go to Pyramid or some other bar.  I like Sluggers because you’re going to get a lot of TVs, the servers are friendly, and the setup itself is pretty sweet.

Anyway, we got there, shot the shit for a while, and made our way into the game.  We just made it to our seats, bagel dogs in hand, before first pitch.

As I said before, these things get a little redundant, so I’ll run through the first eight and a half innings as best I can.  The hitting, obviously, stunk.  The Rangers had a lefty on the mound in Derek Holland and he pretty much mowed us down, giving up only four hits and walking two while striking out four in 7.2 innings.  The Mariners didn’t score in the first eight innings, and they didn’t really even come all that close to scoring.  Miguel Olivo saw all of 5 pitches in making 3 outs last night, while leaving a number of guys on base.  Dustin Ackley struck out twice and looked absolutely miserable at the plate; I regret ever considering him a Sure Thing.  My bad luck with these types of opinions rears its ugly head once again.

On the flipside, Kevin Millwood looked about as good as we could have hoped against this Rangers lineup.  He gave up 3 runs in 6.2 innings, spreading out 8 hits and striking out four.  Then, the bullpen came in and did what the bullpen does:  dominates.  Luetge, in his only batter-faced, struck out Josh Hamilton on three pitches to close out the 7th inning.  Then, Kelley, Perez, and newcomer Kinney all did what they had to do to keep this thing close.

In the 9th inning, the Mariners were losing 3-0.  Jesus Montero, another guy who looked absolutely miserable last night, grounded out to lead off the frame.  Then, the Mariners came alive.  Seager dribbled a single into right.  Smoak dribbled a single into left, and before you knew it, Joe Nathan was in trouble.  Wedge did the smartest thing I’ve ever seen him do, pinch hitting John Jaso for Miguel Olivo.  And, Jaso did what Jaso seemingly always does late in the game with runners on:  he got a hit.  This time, though, it was only a single, loading the bases.

FINALLY, a little life!  From the team and from the fans!  Let’s go!

Obviously, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot, but stranger things have happened.  Wasn’t it a game in Toronto where Michael Saunders hit a grand slam to win it late?  Well, here he was, up to bat … and he grounded to the first baseman sharply.  AND THE FIRST BASEMAN BOOTS IT!  The ball went into foul territory, all the way to the wall, and it was clear as day:  Michael Saunders was going to get a 2-base error on the play, and the Mariners were going to score 2 runs.

Except, our third base coach, Jeff Datz, had his head up his own ass and stopped Justin Smoak at third base.

Look, I’m trying to be a guy who doesn’t just shit all over the third base coach for one mistake.  People are human, they’re not perfect, I get that.  I’m going to TRY to keep my boiling rage under control.

But, JESUS CHRIST!  That ball could not have been further away from the first baseman!  Justin Smoak, as slow as he is, could have CRAWLED home from second on that play!  As the Rangers first baseman was running away from home plate, there’s no way he could have slid, retrieved the ball, whipped around, and threw it home and still gotten Smoak in time.  It’s just totally inexcusable!

It’s inexcusable because everyone else – including the runners on the basepaths behind him, including Michael Saunders, who ran too far around first base and was picked off once the Rangers first baseman finally got to the ball – knew that was going to be a 2-run error.  EVERYONE!  You’re a professional baseball coach, you’re supposed to be one of the smartest baseball men in the world; that’s how you get to be where you are as a third base coach of a professional baseball team (even one as shabby as the Mariners).

And, not for nothing, but why would you hold him up in that situation anyway?  These are the Seattle Fucking Mariners!  Runs come at a fucking premium in Seattle!  Be. Fucking. Aggressive!  At that point, a runner has come in to make it 3-1.  There is one out and there was very nearly two outs, except for the error.  You’ve got to put the pressure on the other team in that situation to make a play!  Send the runner, make it 3-2, and have runners on second and third with one out!  Changes the whole dynamic of the game!

Instead, it was 3-1, Saunders was out, leaving it at two outs for Brendan Ryan.  At that point, Wedge did one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen him do:  he pinch hit Carlos Peguero for Brendan Ryan.  Ryan may be having one of the worst offensive seasons I’ve ever seen outside of Chone Figgins, but he has shown a knack for coming up with a big hit here and there.  And, not for nothing, but I would trust Ryan WAY more with the bat than I would Peguero!  Yeah, Peguero can win the game with one swing, but 9 times out of 10 that swing is going to cross the plate an inch above the baseball for strike three.

In this instance, Wedge got away with one, because by some divine miracle, Carlos Peguero walked.  Don’t ask me how it happened, some things just can’t be explained.  At this point, I was pretty convinced the Mariners were going to win.

Especially because during the at bat, a wild pitch ended up scoring Justin Smoak from third.  3-2, runners on the corners, Kawasaki came in to pinch run for Peguero, and the lineup turned over to our leadoff hitter.  Dustin Ackley.

Who promptly struck out to end the game.  My seats weren’t ideal for spotting the strike zone, but I guess the first two called strikes were pisspoor on the umpire’s part.  Nevertheless, Jesus Christ, Ackley.  I mean, Jesus Fucking Christ.  GET BETTER ALREADY!

So, the fans were sent home with a loss.  I’ve been to three games this year and all three were defeats.  I’m pretty sure those two runs in the ninth inning were the first two runs I’ve seen the Mariners score in person.  I dunno.  I would consider myself the Bad Luck Guy, but I don’t think there’s enough hoodoo in the world to make ANYONE a Good Luck Guy with this team.

So, why do I want to go back again today?  Felix v. Darvish.  I’m not gonna lie to you, it’s tempting.  It’s mighty tempting.

Running Diary of My First Mariners No-Hitter (Replay)

Because I wasn’t around a TV when it was broadcast live.  Also, with apologies to Bill Simmons (or whoever invented this format of Internet writing).

11pm – Just pulled into Tacoma.  I left Seattle pretty much RIGHT after the game ended.  I’ve been up since 6am, I’m on a hella diet right now, so I’m bound to be a little punchy.  Efforts were futile to get my dad or brother up in time to DVR the replay, so here I am.  Efforts were also futile to watch the TV in our apartment’s gym because the cable was broken.

11:03 – Great.  Dan Patrick Show is on.  This is awful.

11:07 – Insta-Slim T-Shirt commercial is on.  Yeah, I like to get my Insta-Slim T’s in XXXL so I can wear ’em loose.

11:12 – Flipping around now.  Joe Mande is doing stand up on Comedy Central.  I know this is supposed to be funny, but for the life of me I wish Aziz Ansari’s special was on right now.

11:15 – So, I was watching some old episodes of Parks & Rec on my computer at home after leaving the gym earlier this evening.  After each episode, I’d go online to check the M’s score because, seriously, I’m not going to follow the M’s and the Dodgers all that closely when Millwood is pitching.  Anyway, in the middle of the 4th inning, I see there are no runs scored and no hits for the Dodgers.  I nod my head approvingly and watch another episode (or two, I can’t remember at this point).  I check back in the middle of the sixth and see we’re 9 outs away.  I say aloud to absolutely no one, “Really?  Are we REALLY doing this tonight?”  Then, I turn on my radio and slog through the final three innings of what turned out to be an exciting yet constant stream of pitching changes.

11:20 – Seriously, Joe Mande … hilarious?

11:27 – What is John Waters doing on Bill Maher?  He figuratively has nothing to say!

11:30 – Crap, it looks like Dan Patrick is going into overtime … M’s replay is supposed to start now!  And, for Christ’s sake, he’s interviewing E from Entourage … you are God damned killing me.

11:33 – And now they’re making me wait even longer because some fucking horse has a bum wheel … this sucks shit.  Cut Dan Patrick off and let’s do this bitch!

11:36 – Ahh, Garfunkel & Oates, bring me back to laughter while I wait!

11:39 – Can someone explain to me why they replay the Dan Patrick Show at 11pm at night?  Can someone also explain why they televise the Dan Patrick Show to begin with?  I don’t know who is actually at fault, but I blame those insipid morons Mike & Mike on ESPN.

11:42 – See, once I realized everyone at home was asleep, my second idea was to have them DVR the M’s replay tomorrow.  Because SURELY the M’s game would be replayed … such an historic event … checking TVGuide.com … oh, sorry.  Root Sports is too busy showing Paid Programming and fishing shows.  Fucking A …

11:48 – FINALLY!

11:49 – Good start for Kevin Millwood.  Strikeout to lead off the game.  Dee Gordon, I have a feeling you can eat my ass cheese …

11:51 – Millwood’s face looks fucking WEIRD with that goatee.

11:52 – That’s a catch for Mike Carp.  Even the laziest of fly balls look like a challenge for Carp.  Who puts this defense behind a pitcher and expects a no-no?

11:53 – Kawasaki gobbles up the grounder at short for the final out in the first.  Let’s get ready for a lot of futile bats tonight!  Only … three more hours to go!

11:54 – Twitter still going strong.  Local media absolutely giddy.

11:55 – Nathan Eovaldi.  That will be the first and last time I ever write that name on this website.  For you trivia buffs, he’s the starter who went against the third M’s no-no.

11:56 – Boy have people been killing Ichiro lately.  And by “people” I mean talk radio people.  It’s funny how they like to tear down our biggest superstars because they don’t go on the radio every other week giving them interviews.  Same deal with Shaun Alexander and Ken Griffey Jr.  You’ll notice they LOVED Hasselbeck until his last day, even though he wore down just like every other athlete eventually does.  Apparently, if you don’t constantly kiss ass, and you start to struggle at the end of a Hall of Fame career, you get the bum’s rush out the door.

12:04 – Can’t help but think about how much I would prefer to be listening to this game with Dave Niehaus on the call …

12:07 – Dan Wilson in the booth!  I thought the M’s reserved all their most exciting games for when Bone sat in.

12:08 – Fly out to Ichiro.  Can’t tell if Millwood looks good or if the Dodgers look bad.  At the very least, Millwood doesn’t look bad.

12:08 – Really Abreu?  Bunting?  Did you forget what size your jersey is?  Gotta be pushing 3 bills at this point …

12:09 – And a weak grounder to 3rd for Abreu.  I can’t believe he’s still playing.  And is still effective?  Damn.  .817 OPS.  Doesn’t that lead the M’s right now?  I’m too tired to go check.

12:10 – Memo to Mariners executives:  I have yet to meet a single M’s fan who likes the teal jerseys.  Just something to think about.

12:11 – Fly out to deep center.  6 up and 6 down.

12:12 – Root Sports broadcasts have the worst commercials.  Banner Bank and Emerald Queen Casino concerts back-to-back is my Holocaust.

12:17 – M’s went down easily in the 2nd.  This Dodgers pitcher looks NASTY

12:19 – Edgar throwing the first pitch … why wasn’t I at this game?

12:20 – First out in the third hit right at Carp.  That’s the way I like it; the less Carp has to move the better.

12:21 – Jesus, it’s like these Dodgers hitters have somewhere else to be!  Strikeout on a ridiculously out-of-the-zone pitch.

12:22 – Tony Gwynn Jr. looks nothing like his father.  Doesn’t hit much like him either.  Nice catch by Montero in foul territory.

12:25 – Holy Hell does Mike Carp have a lot of weird tattoos on his right arm.

12:33 – Totally called the A-Rod answer on the Trivia Question for who hit the most doubles in a single season by the Mariners.  Edgar was the obvious choice.  Olerud was a moron’s choice.  Ibanez was the only one throwing me for a moment.  But, yeah, A-Rod’s 1996 season was ridiculous.

12:35 – I’m now that kind of tired where you can’t bring yourself to blink lest you risk passing out … six more innings to go.

12:39 – Holy shit, Dee Gordon bunts down to Seager and he bare-hand throws to first.  Amazing.  Every no-no has at least one or two defensive plays that make you say, “Wow.”

12:41 – Strikeout swinging!  How does Millwood do it?

12:44 – Pop-out to Seager.  12 up & 12 down.

12:45 – 5-Hour Energy is full of SHIT!  Try drinking that when you’re pulling an all-nighter driving back to San Francisco from Coachella in the middle of the night and see if you don’t die in a fiery car crash!

12:48 – If I could, I would fast forward through all of these useless Mariners at-bats.  They’re about as entertaining as watching old people fuck.

12:51 – Saunders broken-bat single up the middle!  God damn is this guy on a tear!  Couldn’t happen to a more-deserving guy, in my book.  Saunders has taken a LOT of lumps in his Major League career to date.

12:55 – Jaso might be 0 for 2, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t look like one of the more competent hitters on this team.  Love watching him at the plate.

12:59 – Very audible “FUCK!” out of Millwood after walking the leadoff hitter in the fifth.  Now comes Abreu.

12:59 – First pitch:  3-6-3 double play hit right at Smoak.

1:01 – Ooo, Hairston was on that fastball down the middle.  Fouled it straight back.  That one could have been trouble.  As it stands, he took a meatball down the pipe for strike three.  15 up and 15 down (thanks to the DP).

1:03 – All those D-Bags in the beer garden not paying attention to what would be a no-hitter.  How does it feel?  If I were there, I would’ve appreciated the SHIT out of this game!

1:06 – Why would you EVER start out going back before coming in on an Ichiro line drive hit right at you in Center Field?  Isn’t that something you just assume is in front of you, no questions asked?  Tsk tsk, Tony Gwynn Jr.

1:07 – Nice little squeaker of a base hit through the hole between third & short for Ackley.  Runners on first & second.

1:08 – Seager hot shot up the middle, but they played him perfectly.  Scoring threat over.  It’s still hard for me not to put quotes around “threat”, but the M’s offense not being totally worthless anymore is still somewhat of a new phenomenon.

1:10 – Class Action lawyers are the scum of all scum.  Join us in this lawsuit where millions of dollars will change hands!  And, here are a few pennies for your trouble …

1:12 – Shallow fly to center.  Millwood still going strong.

1:13 – Swing and a miss!  Not for nothing, but I’m still trying to figure out where Millwood injured himself.  He’s down to his final batter here …

1:14 – He adjusted his cup just now … or does he feel a pull?  OK, that sounded dirtier than I intended.

1:15 – Wow, that curve was SICK!  Strike three for Gwynn.  I see a hint of a limp as he’s walking off the field.  Maybe that curve did it.

1:16 – This weird cowboy guy hawking 5-Hour Energy is creepy to say the least.  He deserves to die and I hope he burns in hell, to say the most.

1:21 – 8 innings of 2-hit ball for Danny Hultzen tonight.  I love those Building To The Future updates … always makes me happy.

1:22 – Doesn’t seem like we’ve done much of anything in these 5+ innings on offense, but their pitcher is already nearing 100 pitches.  Go figure.

1:25 – End of 6th.  FINALLY, things are going to get interesting.  The next three innings should take approximately 57 hours to finish.

1:26 – If no company can pay to be on Angie’s List, then how does she make money for these crappy commercials?  It can’t all be online ad revenue, it just fucking can’t Angie, you whore!

1:27 – Kevin Millwood walks off the field after standing out on the mound for a second.  Spoiler Alert:  minor groin injury.  On the radio, they were convinced it was a blister on his throwing hand.

1:29 – In comes Furbush.  Pitcher #2 … and more commercials.  Great.

1:33 – No more bunting for Dee Gordon.  First pitch by Furbush is a flyout to Center.

1:34 – What’s with this team and crappy beards?  Say it ain’t so, Furbush!

1:35 – Chopper to Furbush, terrible throw to first base.  Should’ve had him out.  E-1 sends the runner to second base with one out.

1:37 – Strikeout!  Furbush!  In spite of his error, he looks like he could go the rest of this game without giving up a hit.  But, Wedge wants to play Mr. Manager, so in comes Stephen Pryor.  Two outs.

1:38 – Well … manager.  We just say manager.

1:43 – Strikeout!  Heater!  Wild Thing!  You Make My Heart Sing!

1:44 – My first time watching Stephen Pryor pitch and I spend half the at-bat looking up Arrested Development clips … priorities!

1:45 – New pitcher for the Dodgers.  I will not name him because I don’t want to add another useless tag to this post.

1:46 – Strained Right Groin.  Word just came down.

1:47 – Strikeout for Carp.  One out in the seventh.  Will anyone EVER score?

1:48 – Kawasaki kinda looks like Ichiro’s kid brother who is only on the team because Ichiro’s mom made him drag him along.  Also, strike three Kawasaki.

1:50 – With two strikes on him, Ichiro shatters his bat, dribbles the ball to second, and beats the throw.  Two outs, so what?!

1:51 – I could get lost in Ackley’s eyes.  OK, now I’m getting punchy …

1:52 – I could get lost in Ackley’s crappy beard, but that’s neither here nor there.

1:53 – It’s hard to steal off of a left-handed pitcher, but there went Ichiro!  Great success!

1:54 – Big walk by Ackley.  Didn’t look like he was going to be able to do much of anything with this guy.

1:57 – Seager!  Just over the glove of the short stop!  1-0!  See, this is why Ichiro bats first and not third.  Infield single, stolen base, scores on Seager’s RBI.  All you fuckheads who wanted Ichiro batting 9th in the lineup can eat a bag of dicks.  Although, to be fair, had he been batting 9th in this game, maybe we still score anyway.  Who’s to say?

1:58 – Another pitching change.  Ye gods.

2:01 – End of 7th.  Two more innings.  I can hardly keep my eyes open.  Can I power nap during these commercial breaks?

2:02 – Why do people on diabetes commercials look like some of the most fit people in the world?  Where are your 400 pound Walmart patrons and their bags upon empty bags of Cheez Doodles?

2:05 – Something tells me Mr. Manager shouldn’t have had Pryor go back out there for the 8th inning.  He’s still a little green, Mr. M.  That’s asking a little much at this point in his career.

2:06 – Back to back walks for Pryor.  Mr. Manager sees the folly of his ways.  Lucas Luetge enters, no outs.

2:11 – Sac bunt to first base.  Runners on 2nd & 3rd, one out.  And, Mr. Manager is back out of the dugout.  Here comes thwarted closer turned set-up man Brandon League, in the biggest appearance of his life.

2:16 – Shallow line drive to Figgins in left (having taken over for Carp this inning).  He catches it, heaves towards home (and falls down in the process), and the runner at third holds!  Wow!

2:19 – Strike three swinging on a nasty split!  Three outs to go!  What a gutty, gutty performance by League right there!  Is it possible to rebuild a guy’s trade value as a set-up man?  Looks like we’re going to find out.

2:23 – At this point in the live radio broadcast, I was debating whether I wanted to drive all the way down to Tacoma, or hope that a member of my family would save me with the DVR.  I told myself that I would HAVE to come down here if the Mariners actually did it.  You can’t risk not seeing history.  Highlights or .gifs on the Internet just won’t cut it!

2:27 – Twitter was all over the story of the near no-no down in Tacoma by Erasmo Ramirez.  They have yet to mention it on the TV broadcast.  Could have been quite a night had Ramirez held onto it.  Of note:  he might be the guy called back up if Millwood goes on the DL with this groin strain.

2:29 – Jaso, was that hit REALLY necessary?  I’m trying to get some sleep here!

2:30 – Atta boy, Figgins!  The one time I applaud your first-pitch swinging ground out pulled to the first baseman!

2:32 – Tom Wilhelmsen, our new closer.  Brendan Ryan, defensive replacement at short stop.

2:33 – Grounder to short!  Dee Gordon blazing up the line!  Bang-bang play!  Out at first!  Umps aren’t taking away any more no-hitters on questionable calls.  You gotta earn your hits.

2:34 – Even the Super-Mo camera can’t definitively show whether he was out or safe!

2:35 – Line out to short stop!  Brendan Ryan getting a workout!

2:36 – Ackley to Smoak!  No hitter!  Very odd celebration on the field!  I can’t stop using exclamation points!

2:37 – 10th combined no hitter in MLB history.  6 pitchers.  1 catcher, Jesus Montero, one of the youngest catchers all time to catch a no-no.

2:38 – Kevin Millwood – 6 IP, Charlie Furbush – .2 IP, Stephen Pryor – .1 IP, Lucas Luetge – .1 IP, Brandon League – .2 IP, Tom Wilhelmsen – 1 IP.

2:39 – No hits, 3 walks, 114 pitches.  Against the best team in baseball right now.  Incredible.  Seattle Mariners over the Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0.

2:41 – 6 pitchers, 11 position players.  17 of our 25 guys.  17 of our 21 available players (not counting the other starting pitchers).  The only guys who didn’t get in this game were Miguel Olivo, Alex Liddi, Shawn Kelley, and Hisashi Iwakuma (obv.).

2:45 – OK, that’s it.  Time to proofread this bitch and go to sleep.

League Blows Save, Fans Not Shouting Boo-Urns

I have a regular routine I like to perform when I go to Mariners games.  I usually buy all my food and drink before I go inside the stadium.  I pee before first-pitch, then I sit in my seat with a scorecard and a pen, meticulously documenting the game I’m there to see.  In the off-chance that something historic happens, I want to say that I was not only at that game, but I have the scorecard to prove it!

Last night, I went against my entire routine.  Let’s just say if there was EVER a game I felt safe in assuming nothing historic was going to happen, last night’s Blake Beavan start was it.

Also in breaking with my routine, I spent a SHITLOAD last night on beer and soft serve ice cream at the game.  The way I figure, I need SOMETHING to do with my hands while sitting there watching live baseball … might as well use those hands in the most self-destructive way possible!

The way things were going, last night was one of the easiest and most fun baseball experiences I’ve had in a good, long while.  The Mariners got a run in the first (though, they probably should’ve had more, since they had the bases loaded and everything).  The Mariners got another run in the third, and then they capped their scoring night in the fifth with a 2-run home run.  All four runs courtesy of the bat of Justin Smoak (though, to be fair, that first inning fielder’s choice very nearly could’ve been a double play).  It was 4-0, the Mariners chased Ervin Santana after 5 mediocre innings, and here we were, cruising towards an easy victory.

Then, just before the top of the 6th inning, I looked up and noticed that Blake Beavan hadn’t given up any runs.  I made a comment to my friend at this point, something to the effect of, “The classic Blake Beavan game is 6 innings and 3 runs.  Looks like the Angels are going to have a pretty good 6th inning.”

And so it came to pass.  Albert Pujols with the three-run, no-doubt-about-it blast to deep center field.  Then, it was 4-3.  Beavan still had a low pitch count, so he got to go out for the 7th, finishing his day in a Very Blake Beavany way.  3 runs scored.  If that guy has ever given up anything less, I haven’t seen it.

In spite of that brief bout of bombast, I still felt pretty comfortable that the Mariners were going to win that game.  Maybe it was the Coors Light talking, I don’t know!  All I know is Wilhelmsen did his job in the 8th, and Brandon League – after a rough stretch – seemingly had his shit back together (like last year, when he had a rough stretch and then figured his shit out).

Nope.  Brandon League ate a huge bag of dicks.  A single, a walk, a sac-bunt that was picked up by League and thrown wide of third base for the game-tying error, and an Intentional Walk.  At this point, the best we could hope for (with no outs, bases loaded) was some kind of miracle that left the game tied for us in the bottom of the 9th.

Nope.  2-run pinch-hit single.  The Mariners go down in order in the 9th, ballgame.

For the record, I was one of the thousands booing the shit out of League.  He’s not just costing us ballgames, but he’s actively making our team worse for the future by reducing his trade value to absolute zero.  Fuck you, Brandon League, get your shit together!  Do you WANT to go to a contender or don’t you?

Also, I say if a pitcher commits an error, he should suffer in the ERA department.  Stop giving pitchers unearned runs when THEY were the reason those runs were unearned!

Finally, I really had high hopes for last night once I was graced with the lineup.  There was NOTHING to dislike!  Yeah, Ackley was given a day off to rest (on his own bobblehead day, no less), but still, the lineup could not have been more intriguing (and less Olivo-filled):

  1. Michael Saunders (CF)
  2. Alex Liddi (3B)
  3. Ichiro (RF)
  4. Kyle Seager (2B)
  5. Justin Smoak (1B)
  6. John Jaso (DH)
  7. Jesus Montero (C)
  8. Mike Carp (LF)
  9. Munenori Kawasaki (SS)

No Olivo, no Brendan Ryan, Saunders batting leadoff, Liddi continuing to get regular playing time … I was ALL OVER this lineup!  And we would’ve won the ballgame too, if it weren’t for Brandon League and those meddling Angels …

Seattle Mariners, The Perfect Game, and the Rest of the Weekend That Wasn’t

God, wasn’t that nice?  Were you like me?  Did you take my advice and stay away from all news related to Seattle sports?  If you did, then you successfully avoided the worst 4-day stretch of on-field play in Seattle Mariners history.  So, good for you!

If you didn’t heed my warning – I’m not saying I’m some sort of soothsayer or prophet, but you should all probably do what I say from now on, starting with:  go get me a soda, BITCH! – then God help you, because that kind of trauma and heartbreak is best reserved for pedophiles and Boston fans (not mutually exclusive).

Starting with Thursday the 19th.  Now, I will admit, while in San Francisco checking out a band I would later see at Coachella, I occasionally referred to my phone for score updates.  Felix was dealing HARD, homey.  8 innings, 0 runs, 12 strikeouts, 1 walk and only 5 hits (3 of them singles that happened in his 8th and final inning where he struck out the side to preserve his 1-0 lead).  If he wasn’t already at 126 pitches, it would have been monumentally unthinkable for Eric Wedge to take him out of the ballgame, save situation or no save situation.  BUT, since 126 pitches is pretty damn high (and since he already expended so much energy preventing a run from scoring in his final inning), it’s hard to blast Wedge’s logic.

That having been said, if I never see Brandon League pitch against Cleveland or Baltimore ever again, I think I’d fucking die of boner-related blood loss.  Against the Orioles, he has 5 saves and 4.01 ERA.  Against the Indians, it’s only 2 saves and a whopping 8.27 ERA.  One of those saves was the night before – Wednesday the 18th – when he shut them down in order.  The phrase “weird things seem to happen when the Mariners play the Indians” was bandied about after the 8-1 blown lead by the Mariners on Tuesday.  I’d say League having a 5-pitch save against them on Wednesday might be the weirdest thing we’ve EVER seen.

Last year, League blew two saves and took two losses against the Orioles.  He also did the same damn thing against the Indians.  It’s time to just cut our losses and start inventing mysterious minor injuries for League whenever we see these teams on our schedule.  Because obviously the guy is hexed!

So, if that wasn’t bad enough, watching League gag one away, then I suppose watching Hector Noesi be who we thought he was (a sufficiently wild, piece of shit starting pitcher with no control whatsoever of his pitches – or maybe, in this instance, I should say he has no COMMAND of his pitches) … is … bad enough.

I don’t like Noesi, I think that’s pretty clear.  That isn’t to say I disagree with the decision to bring him here in the Michael Pineda deal (of course, since I know exactly zero particulars about that deal, except about the two guys we got, you never know; if they could’ve gotten a better pitcher, then I certainly WOULD disagree with that element of the deal), but that’s mostly because I think it was a good idea to bring in an up-and-coming hitting prospect for our already-there pitching superstar.  It kinda feels like Noesi was given the role out of some obligation for Jackie Z and his signature offseason move, more than his actual ability or worthiness to start.

Of course, we all know things got a million times worse the next night, but let’s leave that for a minute and talk about Sunday.  About the OTHER starting pitcher who never really earned his role on this team, except for the fact that he’s old and has “experience” (even though that phrase always gets cut off … it’s supposed to read, “experience sucking”).  Kevin Millwood, the current bane of my existence.  Whereas I came into the season with at least a small modicum of hope for Noesi (because he’s young, he throws reasonably hard, and it would be nice to really stick it to the Yankees in our dealings with them), I have absolutely hated everything about the Millwood signing from the beginning (and, in fact, I have felt the same since he was originally rumored to come here many years prior).  The only reason I haven’t been blasting him repeatedly like I have Olivo (or, in years past, guys like Sexson and Figgins) is because he’s ever-so-temporary it’s ridiculous.  And, you know, I haven’t had to endure multiple medicore-to-bad seasons with this pile of crap (and, God willing, I won’t have to in the future).

Still, he’s here now and it’s obvious he’s finished.  It’s just embarrassing at this point.  If he had any self-respect whatsoever he would retire today and take up the life of luxury he has earned over his many seasons of adequatulence.  Because eventually, it’s not going to be entertaining.  It’s not entertaining NOW, but at least since I don’t have cable I don’t have to watch.  But, eventually, one of these weekends I’m going to be visiting someone with cable and I’m going to turn the game on and devote three hours of my life … and eventually he will be the starting pitcher when that happens and his performance will single-handedly ruin an otherwise adequate evening of Mariners-watching.  At that point, I may definitely lose my shit.

But, like I said, I wasn’t watching this one, so who cares?  For the record, after the blown Felix game, I stopped checking my phone for score updates; I only heard about the perfect game when a friend texted me.

Oh yes, Saturday’s perfect game.  I wouldn’t normally choose to write about – and therefore tag – someone like Philip Humber because who the fuck is Philip Humber?  But, since the guy went 27-up and 27-down with my preferred baseball team, I guess I’ll make an exception.

Truth be told, while the Seattle Mariners are my “preferred baseball team”, there are still any number of things I currently prefer to them that aren’t baseball-related.  Like getting my dick chopped off, and Mountain Dew.

For posterity’s sake, this is the lineup and what they did:

  1. Chone Figgins – 0 for 3, 1 K
  2. Dustin Ackley – 0 for 3
  3. Ichiro – 0 for 3, 1 K
  4. Justin Smoak – 0 for 3, 2 K’s
  5. Kyle Seager – 0 for 3, 1 K
  6. Jesus Montero – 0 for 3, 1 K
  7. Michael Saunders – 0 for 3, 1 K
  8. Miguel Olivo / John Jaso – 0 for 3, 1 K for Olivo
  9. Munenori Kawasaki / Brendan Ryan – 0 for 3, 1 pinch hit K for Ryan that maybe should’ve been a walk

Congrats, you eleven guys.  You contributed to the first-ever perfect game against the Seattle Mariners.  As it stands, the Mariners had only been no-hit twice before, so really, congrats again for finding a new level of sucking.

Since I didn’t see it, I really can’t say much.  I’m sure Humber was very good.  I’m also sure the Mariners were very bad and that it was some combination of the two that did us in.  My guess:  95% Mariners very bad, 5% Humber very good.  But, you know, I’m a Mariners fan and I always look on the bright side.

I will say what most everyone else is saying:  it was about time.  Better pitchers have come and gone and failed to do what Philip Humber just did.  These Mariners hitters – whatever combination you like – have been so bad for so long, every time you saw an opponent go more than the first three innings without giving up a hit you were dreading the worst.  I know I was.  And I know I will continue to dread the worst until this team finds some fucking talent with the bat!  If ever!

I’m telling you, I really picked the perfect time to get the fuck out of Seattle, pleasant weather notwithstanding.  Now, it’s time for the Mariners to go on an extended eastern road trip.  Watch them do the unthinkable and actually win more games than they lose!

The Seattle Mariners’ Finalized Roster

Well, this didn’t last long.

With Mike Carp taking a short trip to the DL and Shawn Kelley boasting a 27.00 regular season ERA, things apparently had to shuffle.  In Carp’s place, for the time being, is Chone Figgins.  In Figgins’ place, for the time being, is Kyle Seager.  On the bench, temporarily keeping Carp’s roster spot warm, is Alex Liddi.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Liddi didn’t see one inning of action over the next week while Carp’s on the road to recovery.  You figure Figgins is getting every opportunity in this first month of the season to lock down that leadoff spot in the order.  And, you figure Seager is getting every opportunity to prove that he’s not just a Minor League & Spring Training Dandy.  Figgins, because he’s so expensive, and Seager because he’s potentially our future at some infield spot going forward (if he proves he can hack it).  Then, you gotta figure Kawasaki will have a shot before Liddi based on how he torched in Spring.  The 25th man is a lonely, boring life to lead.  But, that’s what Liddi is going to be for this first full week of the season.

As for Kelley, he’s a victim of the numbers game.  Iwakuma wasn’t going anywhere.  Luetge is a Rule 5 guy, and a left hander.  Delabar is essentially the same pitcher, but I’m guessing he didn’t have any options?  It came down to a 3-man race between Kelley, Furbush, and Erasmo Ramirez.  For the life of me, I can’t fathom why the team chose to keep Ramirez over the other two (considering he’s a starting pitcher and him pitching every 12 days will probably stunt his growth), but that’s what’s happening.  Obviously, these things aren’t set in stone.  People struggle and get sent down (or waived), people get injured, people get traded.  It’s not like this is forever.

So, Furbush and Kelley are in Tacoma.  Life goes on.

What’ll be interesting is when both Guti AND Carp come back.  We all know Liddi is a seat filler, but who’s the other guy?  Conventional wisdom dictates it’ll be either Saunders or Wells.  The question is:  will Wells get a shot?

It sounds like Guti is going to be back sooner than we anticipated.  That’s good news for Guti – and fans of Guti – but it’s not necessarily good news for Casper Wells.  With Figgins getting this one final month to prove he’s still a Major Leaguer, you know he’s going to play early and often.  If Seager hits like he’s capable of hitting, that pushes Figgins to Left Field.  Saunders is the better defensive outfielder, so you’re looking at what?  One game a week for Wells to prove he belongs?  That hardly seems fair (especially when you and I and every other Mariners fan out there knows Figgins is going to suck major dick like he always has in a Mariners uniform).

On the plus side, both Wells and Saunders have options.  So, when the team FINALLY gets sick and tired of Figgins, we can bring back the guy who was sent down.  Fret not, Casper!  You’ll get your chance yet!

And with that, let the Regular Season begin (for real this time)!  Vargas & McCarthy!  Feel the excitement!

2012 Mariners Preview Part I: The Hitters

You know, for a while there, I was ALMOST excited about this upcoming season.  I know, I’m a God-damned sucker, and I sucker myself into this team every fucking season.  You know, every season there’s at least ONE surprise team!  Maybe this is the year underperforming veterans bounce back and young prospects shock the world!  MAYBE, if we get lucky in enough 1-run games, we can stay competitive through the summer …

I know it’s retarded, but it’s hard to watch the numbers some of these guys are putting up and NOT think, “Well, maybe.”

  • Kyle Seager batting .350 with 3 homers and 3 doubles.
  • Michael Saunders batting .324 with 1 homer and 4 doubles.
  • Jesus Montero batting .306 with 2 homers and 3 doubles.
  • Alex Liddi batting .429 with 1 homer and 7 doubles.
  • Vinnie Catricala batting .313 with 2 homers and 1 double.
  • Ichiro batting .400 with 2 homers and 2 doubles.
  • Justin Smoak batting .393 with 3 doubles and more walks than strikeouts.

Pardon the double-negative, but these are not UNimpressive numbers.  It’s just that, as everyone knows, you HAVE to take Spring numbers with a huge grain of salt.  Like, a grain the size of Mt. Rainier.  History is absolutely RIDDLED with the stories of guys who did well in Spring Training, only to fall on their asses when the games started to count.

Which is generally what sets baseball apart from most every other sport.  Take football, for instance.  If a rookie comes into Training Camp and blows away the competition, he’ll likely make the team as a starter (or at least as a guy who plays regularly, if he’s not blocked by an All Pro or something).  That rookie who did so well in Training Camp is GENERALLY going to do pretty well when he plays in the regular season.  All young players make mistakes, but in football the good ones will generally do more good than harm.

In Baseball, it’s pretty much the opposite.  Even in the case of Michael Pineda, you’re talking about a guy who ripped through the minor leagues before he got his first taste.  And even IF you’re a guy who has dominated at the lower levels, that’s absolutely no guarantee of future success at The Show.  Baseball is the biggest crapshoot of them all.  Which is why guys like me still get suckered in every now and then.  But, ultimately, it’s a crapshoot where there’s no winner (if you’re a fan of the Seattle Mariners, that is).

The Mariners get a lot of praise for building this team “The Right Way.”  I tend to be of the opinion that there IS no “right way” except the way that wins you a World Series.  But, I suppose there is a “Wrong Way”, and the main proponent of that wrong way was Bill Bavasi.  NOTHING that guy did ever worked out!  Yeah, there’s something to be said for spending money like the Yankees and the Red Sox (mainly:  “Why don’t the Seattle Mariners spend money like the Yankees and the Red Sox?”), but the apologists have a point when they say it doesn’t matter HOW much money you spend if you’re spending it on the wrong people.  Fat, bloated contracts given to fat, bloated losers will generally make your team the laughing stock of the entire league.  I get that!

Here’s where the Mariners will ultimately lose me forever.  I get that the Mariners have a plan in place right now:  they’re building through drafts and shrewd trades for prospects, in hopes that enough of them hit big so we can build around them with some proven veterans when the iron is hot.  In that sense, yeah, cut your salary if you have to and give all the playing time to your young (and cheap) talent.  But, when that talent starts to blossom into All Stars, the Mariners better be ready to pay the piper.  Because if this is going to be one of those Kansas City Royals/Pittsburgh Pirates deals where we’re constantly trading away our talent when it comes time to sign them to long-term deals, then that’ll be that.  I won’t root for a team that’s essentially a farm club for other, bigger Major League teams more willing to spend money to make money.

Having a plan is fine, but every plan has to have a conclusion it’s trying to reach.  Spending as little as possible (while your direct rivals are spending what it takes to get the job done) and while aspiring to be nothing more than a .500 ballclub is NOT a plan.  Don’t forget that.

***

So, where are the Mariners at with their plan right now?

Oh, Christ, I don’t know.  Based on last year’s numbers, I’d say we’re proper fucked!  But, I suppose it would be more constructive if we broke the hitters down into catagories.

The Keepers

The only hitter on this team we have a good reason to be confident about right now is Dustin Ackley.  On the one hand, that’s IT?  One guy?  But, on the other hand, that’s great!  We’ve at least got AH guy we can hang our fucking hats on!  That’s more than we could say the past three seasons.  He’s going to hit for a good average, he’s going to get on base at a great clip, and he’s going to hit for enough power to be one of the most productive guys at his position.  Considering that position is Second Base, I’d say that’s a good start.  Gonna need about eight more guys at the other positions to really feel good about this team, but at least we can say Second Base is locked down.  There are plenty of guys on this team I will worry about; Dustin Ackley I can thankfully take for granted.

Guys We Have Reason To Hope Will Be Good

These are guys on the next tier down.  We THINK they’ll be good for us, but we just need to see them prove it.  Near the top of this realm, we have guys like Jesus Montero, Justin Smoak, and Ichiro.  I know, one of these things is not like the other, but hear me out.  With Montero, you’ve got a guy who’s got the best stroke we’ve seen since Edgar Martinez.  If he were to actually BE Edgar Martinez and give us Edgar’s career, I think we’d all be more than thrilled with the transaction.  Not only is this guy highly regarded as a prospect, but he’s a guy you HAVE to be considering for Rookie of the Year (if ROY were like the Heisman Race and mostly decided upon pre-season).  The only thing is, he hasn’t done it yet.  Crazy things happen.  If Montero gives us a solid rookie campaign (with no injuries), then he goes right to the top of The Keepers list before next season.

Justin Smoak’s a little different in that he’s had some Major League experience.  He had what amounted to a full season at the Big League level last year (in that he was never sent down to AAA for a lack of productivity) even if he missed some time due to injury.  I think we’re all pretty confident in the guy – after all, we both dealt Cliff Lee and spurned the Yankees to get him – and he has shown flashes of being a very good hitter at this level.  Now, it’s time for him to put it all together.  A full season, no injuries, no personal life disasters.  With Smoak at first base, Montero potentially at catcher, and Ackley at second base, you’re talking about a great little core of guys with which to build your team around.

Before I get to Ichiro, I’m going to throw another name into this mix, as a guy I’m ultimately confident will turn out to be a fantastic hitter for the Mariners.  Kyle Seager.  The thing with Seager is, yeah, I think he’s going to be awesome, but where is he going to play?  With Seager, you’re basically getting another Ackley (in that they’ve got a little bit of pop in their bats, but neither of them are going to put up mind-blowing power numbers).  If he were to take over for Brendan Ryan next year at Short Stop, then yeah, I guess that’d be great.  But, does Seager have the defensive capabilities to man the toughest position in the field?  Or do you sacrifice a traditional power position like Third Base on a guy who’s not going to give you traditional power numbers?  Given the willingness to bring in a guy like Figgins, I’d say Jackie Z is willing to make that sacrifice.  Personally, I’d be okay with giving up a little defensive range at Short Stop if it meant we actually had a third baseman worth his weight, but I guess that’s an argument for another day.  In the meantime, if Seager shows he’s got what it takes, the Mariners will HAVE to find room for him somewhere.  And that’s always a good problem to have.

Finally, Ichiro.  I have him lumped in with these up-and-comers not because I’m looking for a reason to re-sign him to a three-year extension at season’s end.  I’m talking about Ichiro exclusively in the 2012 sense.  He’s coming off of a bad year, no question about it.  This is the first off-season where we’ve had Ichiro as anything but a Sure Bet.  Indeed, he’s now a question mark.  As in:  Is Ichiro finished, question mark?

One thing I don’t think we have to worry about is Ichiro’s speed.  Has he lost a step?  I dunno, maybe he’s lost AH step, but the guy still had 40 stolen bases in 47 opportunites (an 85% success rate, which is far from his worst season in that regard).  He was picked off at the same rate he’s always been picked off (6 in each of the last two seasons).  In fact, pretty much across the board his baserunning numbers are level.  If he’s in decline, or has “lost a step”, the numbers aren’t bearing that out.

The number people like to point to when they remark that Ichiro has lost a step is his 42 infield hits, which is down considerably from the past two seasons (63 in 2009, 64 in 2010).  Had Ichiro had twenty more infield hits in 2011, he would’ve easily cleared his 200-hits goal and maybe this talk about Ichiro being finished could be delayed another season or two.  But, I’ve got to ask a couple of questions:  1. how much of the number of infield hits you get is attributed to luck?  It seems like a flukey BABIP kind of thing that will go your way one season and go against you the next.  If Ichiro hits some of those groundouts a few inches further away from the short stop, then some of those groundouts become hits. After all, Ichiro has had comparable seasons where he’s hit in the 40s in infield hits (and those were years where he still had 200 overall hits).

Question 2:  how much of the number of infield hits Ichiro got (or didn’t get) in 2011 was a result of the opponents being extra aggressive defensively?  After all, with our historically bad offense, why wouldn’t the other team try to take away some of Ichiro’s infield hits?  If they play a step or two in (or towards a certain base, depending on how the pitcher is going to pitch him) and it succeeds, then great, Ichiro is out.  If their aggressive defense fails, then damn, Ichiro is on base.  But, that’s still okay because even if he steals second and third base, it’s not like the Mariners have anyone who can hit him home (regardless of whether there are less than two outs or not).

I have Ichiro in this catagory because I have a better-than-average feeling that he can bounce back from a down season.  With his work ethic and his distinct skillset, if anyone is going to bounce back, it’s Ichiro.  If only for one season.

Guys We Hope MAYBE Will Figure It Out

Here, we have players who – most likely – will turn out to be underachievers.  .225 hitters with lots of strikeouts and double plays hit into.  Frustrating fuckers given chance after chance, with little-to-no payoff.  In essence, this catagory is tailor-made for Michael Saunders.  The only reason he’s not in a far-worse catagory is because the guy has all the damn tools!  He SHOULD be GOOD!  He plays great centerfield defense, he’s shown he has power and speed on the basepaths.  But, his long, slow swing makes him an easy target for the pitcher who can hit that low-and-away spot in the strikezone (and for those who can hit that lower and more away spot out of the strikezone).

But, Michael Saunders isn’t alone.  I’m putting Mike Carp in here as well, because I just don’t know.  Yeah, he was one of our best hitters last season, but that really isn’t saying much.  Will his modest success carry over (and hopefully blossom) into 2012?  Or, is Mike Carp essentially who we thought he was?  He’s not a traditional left fielder, so if it turns out he’s an absolute disaster with the glove, then that reduces his value tenfold.  Because Montero is going to get the bulk of the DH at-bats in his rookie campaign.  But, even if Montero was the catcher and Carp the DH, Carp’s kind of production isn’t really what you’re looking for in a one-dimensional player.  Finally, do we really know if he can hit left handed pitching?  If not, then that’s another hit to his value.  Yeah, if Carp puts it all together, he could be GREAT.  But, if he doesn’t, then he’s just another platoon outfielder who will inevitably be relegated to the bench in favor of a better player who can do it every day.

Guys Who We Know Of What To Expect

That’s not a good thing.  This is the Tarvaris Jackson of baseball player catagories.  We have the rest of our starting nine in here.  Guys like Brendan Ryan.  He’ll bat you .250 (almost exclusively singles) and he’ll give you great defense (when he’s healthy).  That’s it.

Or Miguel Olivo.  He’ll bat you anywhere from .230 to .250, he’ll swing for the fences at will (which means he’ll give you around 20 dingers), he’ll strike out a ton, and he’ll almost never get a walk.  And he’ll play a piss-poor backstop with his passed balls and all the wild pitches he should’ve knocked down in front of him.

Or, *shudder*, Chone Figgins.  He’ll get you around .190, he’ll lead the team in Safeco Field boos, and he’ll make just enough errors and poor throws to make you wonder what anyone ever saw in his defense.

Guys Who We Just Have No Fucking Clue

This is where the rest of our bench resides.  John Jaso, Casper Wells, and Munenori Kawasaki.  Who the fuck knows?  They’re bench (or, at best, platoon) guys, so really, who cares?  Throw in the rest of the AAA rabble like Peguero and Liddi and Wilson and Catricala and Trayvon Robinson while you’re at it.  I don’t know and you don’t know what they’re going to do, so let’s just leave it at that.

Oh, and I guess we can throw Guti into this mix as well.  Will he EVER be healthy?  Stay tuned for the most frustrating show in Seattle sports!

Tomorrow, I’ll try to muster up a preview about the pitchers, but I’m not gonna lie to you, tomorrow’s going to be a busy day in Seattle Sports World.