The Seahawks Weren’t Totally Uninteresting In A Pre-Season Loss In Pittsburgh

I had scheduled myself to write about the Mariners today and the Seahawks tomorrow, but we’re flip-flopping after an underwhelming series loss to the Rangers of all teams.

I didn’t watch the Seahawks game live, because I have better things to do than watch quasi-meaningless pre-season games. But, you know what I don’t have better things to do than? Watching quasi-meaningless pre-season games the next day on DVR when I already know the outcome of the game!

I’ll just get this out of the way early so we can all move on: I’m not crazy about pre-season announcing booths in general, but the addition of an otherwise quite charming Michael Robinson brought the homerism to a new level. I didn’t bother to write down any specific criticisms, but at points I was wondering if we were watching the same players. Like, he’d praise their attributes that they clearly don’t exhibit! To counter-balance that, I thought the addition of Michael Bennett was delightful, and I particularly enjoyed his interviews on the field. He’s a wild card in the best possible way (even though it’s clear he’s been instructed to also juice up the homerism). Curt Menefee, as always, is a pro’s pro and we’re lucky to have him doing our games. He has no reason to! We’re not interesting from a national perspective without Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner anymore!

The game result is – as has been mentioned everywhere – not important. The Seahawks got down 14-0 through the first quarter, we managed to execute a 2-minute drive heading into halftime to cut the deficit to 17-10, then we tied it on our first possession after halftime. We swapped touchdowns and 2-point conversions after that, to make it 25-25 late in the game. Then, a critical stop by the Seahawks defense was rewarded with a devastating sack/fumble, and the Steelers scored a TD with just 3 seconds left in the game to give the game its final score, 32-25.

Pre-Season Quarterback Report

As has been the case pretty much all off-season, Geno Smith worked with the starters and Drew Lock worked with the backups. In this particular game, Geno worked the entire first half and Drew worked the entire second half.

And, as expected, neither one really stood out, at least to my eye. They’re both crappy-to-mediocre backup quarterbacks in this league. And yet, I came to a definite conclusion while watching this game, as Geno Smith tottered his way to a sack in an imploding pocket (even though he had plenty of time to throw it away): if I have to watch a full season where Geno Smith is my team’s starting quarterback, I’m going to blow my fucking brains out.

Mind you, I don’t expect that to be the end result of my life, so let’s just say I’ll be taking every opportunity to casually skip even regular season Seahawks games this year.

I don’t want this to sound like I’m gung-ho over Drew Lock, because I’m very much not. But, man, we fucking know what Geno Smith has to offer. He was shitty with the Jets (and other teams) and he’s shitty now. Age and sitting behind Russell Wilson has not magically made him better. There’s no savvy to his game. He looks way too long to his first read, for one thing. That makes him frequently late in throwing to that first read if he decides it’s open. Otherwise, it makes him late to his secondary reads, so it’s like he holds on Read 1, and then a few seconds later decides to check it down to his final read. This is especially aggravating when it’s 3rd & long and the check-down gets tackled well before the first down line to gain.

That’s why you can see his stats from Saturday – 10/15, 101 yards, no turnovers – and think that’s not so bad. Last year, in three games, he completed over 68% of his passes largely in this fashion (looking pretty spry against probably the league’s worst defense in Jacksonville), which again leads one to think he’s not so bad. Think again. Think long and hard about the Geno Smith you’ve watched over the last decade.

I just can’t with him. All things being equal – and they do look pretty equal – give me the unfamiliar. Drew Lock, to his credit, did some good things in this one. He doubled the number of touchdown drives that Geno gave us, he completed one more pass for one more yard in the same number of attempts. But, he also took double the number of sacks, including the game-sealing fumble at the end (where he was supposed to recognize the blitzer off the edge and adjust the play/protection accordingly).

You look for moments where a quarterback can show you what he’s got. That was Drew Lock’s moment. The game was tied, there was just over a minute left and we got it on Pittsburgh’s side of the 50 yard line. All we needed was 20-25 yards for an easy game-winning field goal. That’s a moment where you MUST orchestrate a game-winning drive for your team. Granted, it was the pre-season, so it was backups against backups. But, that makes it all the more important if you’re Drew Lock and you’re trying to be a starter in this league. Starters don’t fuck that up. Starters see that blitzer and make mincemeat out of the Steelers on that play. This is going to be Lock’s fourth year in the league; if you can’t see a pretty obvious blitz off the edge by now, then I just don’t think it’s ever going to click for you.

And yet, I still would prefer to see Lock as our starting quarterback this season. Partly because he’s Not Geno Smith, but also because I think he sucks just a little bit more. I think he’s going to be a little more reckless with the football, where Geno might be a little more careful. I think he’ll cost us maybe an extra game or two, where Geno might do just enough to game manage his way to victory. It’s the difference between going 8-9 and 6-11, but that’s a pretty big leap in the NFL draft standings, and that’s all that matters right now.

Because, clearly, neither of these guys deserve to be around and playing in meaningful football games in 2023.

Other Pre-Season Tidbits

I was quite impressed with the offensive line throughout this one. If there’s one positive takeaway, it’s that the depth up front is likely to be our biggest strength.

By extension, I thought the running backs looked great as well! Granted, Rashaad Penny was out with injury (of course), but that just meant more Kenneth Walker. He didn’t break anything, but he looked solid in general. More eye-opening was what we saw from DeeJay Dallas and even Travis Homer, who both got busy running AND pass catching. Great day from that room!

I was pretty appalled by our run defense, especially when you saw a good chunk of our starting interior linemen out there for much of the game. Even in the first half, the Steelers were ripping us to shreds.

Cody Barton is Just A Guy. I don’t know where anyone got the opinion that he’s going to be a good player for this team, but he’s not. He’s just a warm body. His deficiencies might be covered up a little more when Jordyn Brooks is out there being a beast. But, when Barton is the main guy, you can see just how slow he is, how bad his instincts are, and how he gets run over on the reg. If ankle tackles where the runner still falls forward for 2-3 extra yards are your jam, then sign up for more Cody Barton. But, as for me, I prefer an inside linebacker with some juice.

Bit of a mixed bag from our receivers. I thought the rookies Bo Melton and Dareke Young looked solid. No D.K. or Lockett in this one, nor any Swain or Dee Eskridge (naturally). We did get our first look at Noah Fant, who will definitely have a big role in this passing game. That being said, Fant isn’t going to be much of a blocker, especially out in space, so we’ll have to adjust our expectations accordingly. Also, he needs to work on his footwork, because he had a great opportunity along the sidelines, but couldn’t get his second foot down in bounds.

I was pleased to see Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson make big impacts in the pass rush. And I was thrilled with the two sacks from Boye Mafe! He might be raw, but his speed is NFL-ready, no doubt about it. Shelby Harris looks like a quality addition to the interior, and I think it was Myles Adams who stood out quite a bit in the second half (I believe he was wearing #95 in this one, but I could be mistaken). I don’t know how many DTs we can carry, but I’m rooting for Adams.

I’m going to withhold too much judgment on the secondary for now, because we were looking at a lot of inexperienced guys out there on the boundary. I will say that Justin Coleman looks bad and old and slow; he probably shouldn’t make this team. Promisingly enough, Tariq Woolen got the start on one side and was hit or miss. I say “promisingly” because he was always expected to be more of a project, so the fact that the team trusts him enough to start him right out of the gate is encouraging for his overall talent level. I’ll need to see better ball skills, and turning his head when the ball is in the air, but otherwise there are things to build upon, as well as things to point to and praise. On the other side, we saw a lot of Coby Bryant. I don’t know where he’s ultimately going to end up (if it’s outside or as a nickel guy), but sort of the same deal: some good things to point to, some things for him to work on. You wouldn’t expect either guy to be finished products right out of college, but I like that they both have the trust of these coaches this early in their careers.

That being said, if Sidney Jones and/or Artie Burns continue to be injured throughout this season, we could be looking at significant growing pains from our secondary. Granted, neither of our starting safeties – Quandre Diggs & Jamal Adams – played in this one. Here’s hoping they can paper over where we’re limited on the outside.

Finally, I’ll just say the kicking game looked shaky as hell! Jason Myers doinked one in off the upright and did not look sharp; he was also knocking some kickoffs short, but that may have been by design to test our coverage units (who graded out pretty poorly, in my layman’s opinion). Michael Dickson punted a bunch into the endzone, which is entirely unlike him. I’d say the old line about how it’s pre-season for everyone, including punters, but what else does he do with his time in training camp? He punts! Where’s that magic leg we’ve seen for four years?! That magic leg we’re paying Top-Of-The-Punter-Market prices!

The Luis Torrens Era Comes To An End With The Mariners

Before the Mariners headed to Texas yesterday to start their road trip tonight, they made a couple more roster moves. As expected, Julio Rodriguez came off of the IL, with Jarred Kelenic being sent back down to Tacoma. This means that in the short term, Jake Lamb gets a stay of execution. But, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a little disappointing with regards to Kelenic.

Kelenic started the year on the Major League roster and lasted through May 11th before being sent down. At that time, he was hitting .140/.219/.291. In this most recent stint, he appeared in nine games, and all of those numbers have managed to go down. That’s in spite of some promising developments at the AAA level, which is just demoralizing to me as a fan, so I can only imagine what it’s been like for him. Last year, after he was sent down, he returned and made an impact at the big league level. Part of me was hoping that would be the case again this year, but it’s clear there’s something broken with … whatever he’s doing at the plate. I mean, I’ve never seen a more uncomfortable-looking batting stance in my life. I feel like going back to the drawing board might be in order there.

He had 2 hits (1 of them a homer in that 6-run first inning Gerrit Cole game) in 27 at bats, with 0 walks and 11 strikeouts. I will say that the defense was still there, but you can’t really make a career out of just competent outfield defense. I think that nails it as far as 2022 being a total and complete Lost Year for him. I also think – barring a very dramatic development between now and next year – that we’re going to have to forever temper our expectations when it comes to Kelenic. In all likelihood, he’s never going to pan out, and if he does it’ll be with another franchise.

You know what gets me? He used to be so delightfully cocky. It was 90% of his charm! He was so dominant through the minors, and he really let his personality shine through in interviews. Now, all I can see is someone who appears to be internally struggling with confidence. And that’s a recipe for disaster in professional sports. I really hope he gets it figured out, but I’m not holding my breath at this point.

***

This was supposed to be a Luis Torrens post, and there I go talking about Kelenic!

The other roster move the Mariners made yesterday was to call up Curt Casali off of the IL. He’s the backup catcher we traded for with the Giants, in a very necessary move to help give Cal Raleigh some rest.

Raleigh has been playing in a crazy number of games this year for a catcher, appearing in 72% so far. It’s even more impressive when you figure the M’s had a whopping three catchers on their roster to start the season, before Tom Murphy had a season-ending injury. And that also factors in a short stint in Tacoma where Cal was sent down to work on his swing (he left Seattle with a slash line of .083/.214/.208 in late April; it’s up to .207/.276/.458 now). Ever since Murphy went out – and since Cal started raking the ball – Raleigh has been playing virtually every day. Not literally, of course. Usually if there’s a day game after a night game, he’ll get a blow, but even then he might still come in to pinch hit or take care of the 9th inning catching duties.

I’m guessing, since he’s a big, strong kid without a lot of miles on his legs, the Mariners feel they can get away with it in the short term, but you can’t run him into the ground. They saw that at the deadline, and hence the Curt Casali deal.

As I mentioned at the time, Casali isn’t anything special. It’s not like we nabbed some other team’s starting catcher and brought him over here to back up Cal. He’s a clear #2. But, he’s also a competent one, by all accounts. And, unfortunately, that’s just not Luis Torrens.

Torrens came over in that famed fleecing of the Padres, where we brought in Ty France, Andres Munoz, and Taylor Trammell for Austin Nola and a couple of scrub relievers. I mean, that one goes in the Mariners Hall of Fame for best trades ever, but here we see the first chink in the armor.

Torrens’ bat was always the draw when it came to his overall package. No one ever really expected him to be an “everyday” starting catcher. I remember there being questions about him eventually moving to another infield spot. That came to a head in 2021. He was sent down early in the year because of his hitting, and when he returned he started to seriously rake, but never really got behind the plate again. He was primarily a DH, with a sprinkling of first base opportunities (and some work behind the scenes, I believe, at second or third base).

With his offensive woes seemingly rectified, he returned in 2022 with a new lease on life. We figured, again, he’d play some DH, but also opted to work him back in at catcher when we had that 3-man rotation (and Cal was struggling). That proved to be quite necessary when Murphy got hurt. I don’t remember there ever being a time this year when Torrens was the main starter – it seemed pretty simultaneous that after Murphy went on the IL, Cal took over as the team’s starter thanks to his offensive resurgence (to say nothing of his skills handling the pitching staff and calling games).

The main problem with Torrens is the fact that his offense has totally cratered. And he’s out of options, so we can’t just send him to Tacoma to work on it.

It’s a bummer. I really liked Torrens’ bat. You don’t see a lot of guys with his kind of power, especially to the opposite field (especially in Seattle). He had some big hits with the Mariners since 2020, most recently in that epic 1-0 victory over the Yankees in the 13th inning as a pinch hitter.

But, it’s becoming clear that he’s a man on an island in some respects. He’s just not what you want, defensively, from a catcher. He’s not atrocious; he’s passable. But it seems like whenever he has to take on too many defensive responsibilities, his bat goes down the tubes. And he’s not good enough defensively to make up for those kinds of limitations on offense.

Thankfully, the National League has embraced the DH, so I think he’ll be back again. I had my doubts that Daniel Vogelbach would stick around very long after leaving Seattle, and yet we still see videos of him popping up on Twitter from time to time, doing something fucking rad. Torrens is a DH, and an emergency fill-in at a couple of spots defensively. If he’s free to just focus on hitting, I think he’ll be okay and stick around a little while. Of course, he’d have more value if he hit lefty, but that’s neither here nor there.

Also, I guess there’s a slim chance that no one claims him and he accepts a demotion to Tacoma. After all, we’re one more injury away from him being back with the Mariners in that scenario. But, after his struggles this season, a change of scenery might be in his best interests.

3-DAYS LATER UPDATE: The slim chance comes to fruition! But, the M’s DFA’d Ken Giles over the weekend for some reason. That’s going to be annoying if he jumps to a contender and dominates in the playoffs.

The Mariners Won Another Wildly Impressive Series Over The Yankees

The thing is, you can’t talk about this series victory over the Yankees without talking about the miserable 9-4 loss on Monday. Oh believe me, I don’t want to talk about it; I want to ignore it and move on! But, there’s cause for real alarm, because Logan Gilbert gave up a season-worst 7 runs in 4.0 innings of work.

That follows Gilbert’s previous-worst mark of 6 runs given up last week in New York against this very team (that was in 5.1 innings). It’s been a terrible month of August (13 runs in 9.1 innings over the two starts) and a concerning overall inflation of his numbers as the season has gone along. Now, MAYBE the Yankees just have his number; I guess we’ll see the rest of the way. But for a guy who had been the best and most consistent overall starter for the Mariners (at least, until Luis Castillo came to town), that’s not what you want to see from someone who’s slated to play an important role in this team’s playoff run. Especially when you consider he’s most likely to join the top two guys in any post-season rotation we roll out there. The Mariners need Gilbert to continue being great, is what I’m getting at.

One of the problems seems to be the fact that he’s so fastball-heavy, especially early in games and early in counts. The Yankees have jumped all over Gilbert, and I don’t see why others wouldn’t do the same.

Other than that, I don’t have much to say about Monday’s game. That’s because Tuesday’s game was so thrilling, that’s ALL I want to talk about, ever again, for the rest of my life!

Round 2 of the heavyweight matchup between Luis Castillo and Gerrit Cole was always going to be better and more impressive than Round 1 last week (where Cole gave up a 6-spot in the first inning, and we cruised to a 7-3 victory). But, even if you had high expectations for this one, the game exceeded it by leaps and bounds!

Cole was brilliant: 7 innings, 0 runs, 4 hits, 0 walks, 8 strikeouts.

Castillo was even better: 8 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts.

There wasn’t anything even close to offensive output through seven innings. That’s mostly because whenever the Mariners managed to get to first base, they ran themselves out of the inning (a blunder by Frazier trying to turn a single into a double, and a caught stealing by Haggerty that wasn’t even close to succeeding). The Yanks almost served a knockout blow to Castillo in the eighth – as they had two runners on for the first time all day – but with his 110th pitch, Castillo was able to induce a ground ball to get out of the mini-jam.

Then, it was a battle of the bullpens. We got the best the Yankees could throw out there, and they got the best of what we had to offer. Andres Munoz not only struck out the side in the ninth, but he struck out the top of the order. Paul Sewald took care of the 10th (thanks to a nifty pick-off move as the ghost runner tried to steal third before he threw his pitch). Matt Festa looked a little erratic out there, but he generated a line-drive double play to second to once again eliminate the ghost runner, before allowing another line drive – this time to right field – that was caught before it hit the ground.

Enter Matt Brash – game still scoreless – for the 12th and 13th innings. In his very first at-bat, Brash snagged a groundball behind his back in some sort of miracle play that resulted in him forcing the ghost runner into a pickle (he would run himself out of the baseline for the first out), and as the batter tried to reach second base, he too ran himself out of the baseline for the double play. It was as absurd of a play as you’ll ever see, and I loved every second of it. Brash got a strikeout to get out of the inning.

In the bottom of the 12th, it looked like we might FINALLY end this thing. With one out, Haggerty (the ghost runner) advanced to third on a ground out from France. With two outs now, Haniger and Jake Lamb walked to load the bases, with Suarez at the plate. But, he couldn’t get that elusive base hit (indeed, the Mariners hadn’t gotten a single base hit since the 8th inning at this point), striking out swinging and breaking his bat in two with his knee as he walked back towards the dugout.

That seemed to be the final nail in the coffin. I should point out that at some point in extras, we pinch hit Santana for Kelenic, which necessitated the Mariners putting Haniger (the erstwhile DH) in right field. That meant we lost our DH, and Brash’s time was limited (since there’s no way you’re letting a pitcher bat in a game this important).

He was able to go back out there in the 13th inning though, and once again he worked some sort of voodoo to keep it scoreless. Right off the bat, we intentionally walked Aaron Judge, because there’s no way we’re letting that freak of nature beat us. Then, after a strikeout, Brash walked the bases loaded. Thankfully, he was able to get another strikeout, followed by a ground out, and that kept the game right where we needed it to be.

Cal Raleigh led off the 13th by singling to right; with Judge’s arm, there was no way Suarez (the ghost runner) was scoring there. With no outs, though, that’s a pretty enticing scenario! J.P. Crawford ended up tapping it back to the pitcher, but it advanced Raleigh to second. That led to an intentional walk of Sam Haggerty (the second time they’d done that to him in the extras), which brought up the Brash spot in the lineup. Luis Torrens – who has been having a God-awful season to date – pinch hit, which was risky in its own right, because he’s the only backup catcher we have right now. If he failed, that would’ve put a lot of pressure on Raleigh to stay healthy through the end of the game.

Thankfully, Torrens came through! He took strike one looking, swung at strike two (both pitches 97 miles per hour and nasty looking), and then put the third fastball into play, pushing it to right field for the game-winner. 1-0, an all-time classic. Absolutely unreal!

The M’s would be forgiven if there was a bit of a hangover on Wednesday afternoon’s getaway game. Once again, it was another amazing pitching matchup – Reigning Cy Young Award Winner Robbie Ray vs. All Star (and former Mariners reliever) Nestor Cortes – and while this one didn’t quite live up to the magic of Tuesday night, the game was still scoreless through five and a half innings.

Indeed, Cortes was spinning a no-hitter until the bottom of the sixth, when Sam Haggerty jerked a line drive home run off of the left field foul pole for a 1-0 lead. That would prove to be short-lived, as Ray – maxing out at 115 pitches – couldn’t quite get out of the seventh unscathed. It’s understandable – given how many relievers we had to use the night before – that Servais would try to squeeze an extra inning out of Ray (especially when he was dealing so hard through six), but he walked one too many guys, then paid the price with a 2-run homer to the Yankees’ #9 hitter.

That ended Ray’s day, but it didn’t end the Yankees’ seventh inning scoring spree. Aaron Judge (of course) saw a hanging slider from Penn Murfee, and did what he does with those pitches, depositing it to left for a solo homer and a 3-1 lead. I figured that was the ballgame, but boy was I wrong again!

In the bottom of the same inning, France reached second on a single and a passed ball; he would end up scoring on a Haniger RBI single to make the game 3-2. After a Suarez strikeout, Carlos Santana did what he does: hit go-ahead bombs. This one was jacked to right field for a 4-3 lead.

That lined us up for Diego Castillo’s return from the IL (a 1-2-3 eighth inning), followed by Sewald’s 15th save on the season. The best part: no Aaron Judge coming around in either of those innings to rain on our parade.

We have an off-day today, and boy is it well-earned! Those last two games felt like 40. It’ll be nice to go back on the road and (hopefully) beat up on the Texas Rangers some more.

Some quick bits of news that I don’t think I’ve mentioned on the blog: Abraham Toro was sent down to Tacoma earlier this week for sucking. Kyle Lewis was sent down to Tacoma more recently, also for sucking. Chris Flexen has been put into the bullpen, because it’s impractical to run a 6-man rotation out there with only 13 pitcher spots allowed. And, it looks like Julio Rodriguez is going to return soon (possibly as early as tomorrow).

In other news, Jake Lamb sucks (and was batting in the cleanup spot in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory for some God-foresaken reason; he went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts and a meaningless walk) and I don’t know why he’s here. Also, Jarred Kelenic sucks as well, and figures to get the demotion upon Julio’s return. Oh, and Jesse Winker had to leave Monday’s game with back spasms, so we’ll see how long he’s out for.

We’re so close to a lineup without any black holes, I can almost taste it!

I’m Intrigued By The 2022 Husky Football Season

I can’t call this a proper season preview, because I really know next-to-nothing about this team as it stands right now.

I also can’t really say why I’m intrigued by the upcoming football season, other than the usual excitement that comes with a new year. We’re all on the same level and there’s limitless possibilities. Once the games start, obviously we’ll have a better idea; my excitement or intrigue or whatever could dissipate as early as week 1. But, there are reasons for optimism that leave me thinking this team should be better than it was in 2021. So, you know, maybe I won’t be let down until week 3 or 4.

For starters, it doesn’t appear that this coaching staff is out of its league when it comes to recruiting. There have been a number of impressive “gets” – from faraway lands like Louisiana, for instance – that show me we could be in good hands.

But, even in the short term, I fundamentally believe this coaching staff will do more with Jimmy Lake’s players than Jimmy Lake & Co. ever could. This is a proper head coach, with a legitimate background in offensive production. And the players who remain left over from the previous regime were drastically underperforming their potential. There’s no doubt in my mind that Kalen DeBoer and his staff will right the ship in a hurry.

I’m also greatly encouraged by the number of high-rated defensive recruits we’re bringing in. Part of that may be residual Jimmy Lake positivity, because say what you will about him as a head coach, but he could coach up the DB room like nobody’s business. With our recent history of high profile success in getting our secondary players into the NFL – as high draft picks, no less – the University of Washington has taken the mantel of DB-U. But, obviously, Lake isn’t here anymore, so the defensive coaches we have now must be worth their weight in salt, at least from a recruiting perspective. If that carries over into coaching on the field – and we manage to see little-to-no drop-off in defensive production in the actual games – then I think that bodes very well for a dramatic turnaround in our overall fortunes from a win/loss standpoint.

One of the biggest areas with room for improvement is the quarterback position, and I think there’s a lot to like with the Huskies, even if they may not compare super-favorably on a national stage, or even among conference foes. Michael Penix Jr. seems to have the inside track as the starter, since he transferred over here from Indiana, where he has experience in the DeBoer scheme. Then, there’s the incumbent starter, Dylan Morris, who’s had a couple of up-and-down seasons, but nevertheless has a lot of potential to be harnessed by a coaching staff who knows what the fuck they’re doing offensively (I really can’t say enough shitty things about Jimmy Lake & Co. when it comes to the Husky offense shitting the fucking bed). If Kalen DeBoer can turn Jake Haener into a top-tier college quarterback, then there’s no reason why he couldn’t do the same with Morris. And, to top it all off, those two guys have a 5-star Sam Huard breathing down their necks. It appears there’s a legit 3-way quarterback competition going on, and the winner of that should be all the better for what he’ll have to go through in winning the job.

I’ll also say that the schedule is pretty damned reasonable. No USC or Utah makes our road in the Pac-12 (for now) that much easier. All of our non-conference games are at home (including the first leg of a home-and-home series with Michigan State). The rest of the home games are all very winnable, with Stanford being the toughest (the others being Arizona, Oregon State, and Colorado).

Obviously, the toughest game on our slate is at Oregon; that’s always a nightmare. Though, we get that game in mid-November, which will hopefully give our team time to gel (I kinda doubt it’ll matter though). There are also back-to-back games at UCLA and ASU that will really test our resolve. The other road games are at Cal and Wazzu for the Apple Cup (on a Saturday this year, for the first time in what feels like forever).

It’s not all sunshine and lollipops, though. There are lots of holdovers on the O-Line, but that was a unit that largely underperformed last year (and I believe we kept the offensive line coach, who ends up being one of the few – if only – holdovers on the coaching staff). Maybe the scheme will help clean things up in protection; I guess that’s gotta be our hope.

I would say the wide receiver group is largely unproven at this level; they kinda scare me, if I’m being honest. I have no doubt the talent potential is there, but will they produce when the games start? Can we count on them in big moments to come up with big catches? There’s been so much turnover, the only names I remember are Jalen McMillan, Rome Odunze, Taj Davis (vaguely), and Giles Jackson & Ja’Lynn Polk (who are both transfers who haven’t done much of anything in a Husky uniform). For a team who hasn’t had a true standout receiver since the John Ross/Dante Pettis days, I’d like to see some of these highly-rated guys start panning out.

Then, there’s the front seven on defense, which is hopefully going to be the ZTF Show. But, who’s going to ascend around our stud pass rusher? Especially when you figure this is probably our last year with ZTF, and there’s an outside chance that any sort of significant-ish injury might lead him to leave prematurely to get ready for the NFL Draft.

There aren’t many other front seven guys who are ringing any bells with me. Edefuan Ulofoshio is returning from injury and won’t play until midseason or later. We all hope Sav’ell Smalls takes a big step in his development. That’s kind of it as far as the front seven is concerned; I look forward to learning who’s good and who’s not. But, if they play collectively as bad as they were last year – getting gashed on the reg in the run game, while getting nothing done with the pass rush – then it won’t matter how much better we are offensively. If we can’t stop the likes of Oregon, UCLA, and the like, we’re gonna be screwed.

Finally, there were A LOT of Husky defensive backs who went to the NFL last year. Who steps up behind those guys? If we’re going to hold onto the title of DB-U, we need to spot those guys in a hurry and put them in positions to succeed.

Of course, the huge overarching caveat to everything is the fact that – as always – we need to temper our expectations. There’s a reason why the Huskies are largely expected to finish anywhere from the middle of the pack, all the way to the very bottom of the conference. Sure, there are surprise teams every year, but how often do those teams make the leap from middle of the pack to the very top? Seems unlikely. But, that’s why there’s intrigue! We don’t know yet how these players are going to respond to the new regime. A quality coaching staff can make all the difference, especially in the college game.

But, we’ve seen it go the other way all too often. Growing pains in learning a new system. And, in this case, there’s a new system on both sides of the ball. You almost have to bank on there being extra losses built in just for that reason alone. Maybe the new regime is stuck with guys they wouldn’t have normally recruited, because you literally can’t turn over the entire roster from scratch in one offseason.

There’s also some fear built in, because we’ve seen what happens when this team picks wrong in a quarterback battle. Jake Haener is a prime example. We opted to go with one year of Jacob Eason because we believed at the time he gave us the biggest upside to getting back to the college football playoffs. That turned out to be a miserable mistake (one that I was certainly wrong about at the time, as were a lot of Husky fans). What if we go with Penix and lose one or both of Morris and/or Huard (who go on to success elsewhere)? What if we go with Morris and he continues to make terrible decisions with the football? What if we go with Huard, but he’s just not the 5-star guy we all thought he was? There’s a lot riding on this! The repercussions could be massive, and there’s no guarantee that this coaching staff will be able to get the most out of who they choose. Nor is there a guarantee they’ll be able to restock the QB room next year if we have multiple defections.

So, I’m not going into this season with sky-high hopes. I’m just waiting to be pleasantly surprised. I’m open and receptive to winning football, but I need the team to cooperate. Considering the shitshow we’re likely to see out of the Seahawks, it would be nice if we had ONE good football team in the Seattle area.

Pondering Russell Wilson’s Future In Denver

I have a lot of investment in the 2022 season of the Denver Broncos, followed by no investment whatsoever in 2023 and beyond. This obviously has to do with the Seahawks getting whatever ends up being Denver’s first round draft pick after this season. The worse they do on the field, the better it is for us as Seahawks fans.

But, that’s tricky, because that means actively rooting against Russell Wilson for the first time since he joined the league.

It’s going to be so weird to see him playing for the Broncos. Russell Wilson is a player I’ve been conditioned to root for. Not just him specifically, but what he represents as well. The under-sized, scrambling risk-taker. A deep ball maven who finds a way to pull a victory out of his ass more often than not.

And you’d think – as someone who took us to back-to-back Super Bowls, and winning us our first and only NFL championship – it would be all sunshine and roses for our erstwhile franchise QB. You’d think we’d root for him no matter where he went, even if his success meant a worse trade compensation.

There are opposing truths about Russell Wilson’s tenure with the Seahawks: he was the greatest reason for our successes, as well as our frustrating failures. While he doesn’t get enough credit for all the winning we did in the L.O.B. era during the first half of his stint here, there’s no doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t have done what we did with a lesser talent at quarterback. It’s that talent that kept the Seahawks relevant as the L.O.B. era rode off into the sunset. But, ultimately, we were never able to get over the hump when it became the Russell Wilson Show, and I don’t think he gets enough of the blame for where it all went so wrong.

Who gets the blame? Pete Carroll gets the blame. The offensive line gets the blame. The talent and coaching of the defense. The offensive play-calling and/or scheme. The moves of John Schneider and the front office. Everyone seems to get to share in the blame except for Wilson. They were all holding Wilson back in one way or another. Cue “Let Russ Cook” movement on social media, followed shortly thereafter by the regular media.

I thought this was really well-written and informative. Even Russell Wilson – the greatest quarterback in Seahawks history – has his limitations. And those limitations were really damaging over the last five years of his time here. You can look at his numbers, and our regular season results in the standings, and see what he did to prop up a dying monster. But, if you dig deeper, you’ll see that the Seahawks feasted on bad teams. And we only really looked good when the running game was on point and our defense improved as seasons went on.

Ultimately, the reason why we needed to move on from Russell Wilson was his unwillingness to adapt. His unwillingness to see himself for what he actually is. His unwillingness to be anything but Russell Wilson: Deep Ball Maven.

Part of the greatness of any elite athlete is the belief that they can do anything. Russell Wilson believes so fiercely that he can complete every pass, that instead of just taking what the defense gives him, he seeks out lower-percentage shots downfield, to the team’s detriment. It’s to his credit that he was able to complete as high a percentage of them as he did, but over the last couple years you could see even that starting to dwindle.

Brian Schottenheimer was probably the best offensive coordinator we’ve had in his tenure. Yet, that ended in miserable failure even as he led this team to a 12-win season, where Russell Wilson had some of his very best efficiency numbers. Why is that? Because Wilson went off-scheme too much – throwing into coverage with disasterous results – necessitating the team to pull back the reins in order to win ballgames. We ultimately sided with Wilson in the parting of ways of Schotty, going so far as to hire a Wilson choice in Shane Waldron.

And what happened in 2021? Wilson kept going off-scheme, with much worse results. We brought in a guy with a Rams pedigree, yet we were still pretty much running the same offense as Schottenheimer. There was no stopping the Russell Wilson Show from eclipsing everything, so it was time to move on.

The big question that remains is: what does Denver have to look forward to?

Can Russell Wilson tamp down his need to do things his way? You would think that a drastic move to a new team would come with a little humility. It’s a fresh start with a whole new group of coaches and teammates, he’ll probably want to buy a little good will early. But, this is Russell Wilson we’re talking about. He’s a superstar in this league. He’s one of the most famous and popular players in the game today. This change of scenery might embolden him to become even further entrenched in the belief that he can do whatever he wants and it doesn’t matter, because his arm talent alone will save the day.

I could see it going either way. I guess I’m leaning towards him falling in line, allowing the run game to play out, and doing things within the flow of the offensive scheme (at least for this first season). But, it wouldn’t shock me to see his gigantic ego take over.

I agree with the blog post above, that if the Broncos are going to succeed, it’s going to necessitate Russ letting other players cook as well. If they contend for the division and a deep run in the playoffs, it’ll be with that strong running game, and a highly efficient Wilson playing like he did in so many Seahawks victories.

If the Broncos fail, I think it’ll be because Wilson is too involved. If they go pass-wacky and put the entire offense on his shoulders, then I think it’ll be a recipe for disaster. Of course, if they do go pass-wacky and the Broncos win it all, well then … that’s a pretty atrocious look for Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks.

Ultimately, I expect the Broncos to play well in 2022. In fact, I’m leaning towards them winning the division and at least one playoff game. I do think Wilson will look a lot like he did in the first five years of his time in Seattle, meaning he’s letting the running game do its thing, and being the hyper-efficient beast we all know he can be. That’s going to engender a huge outcry for people to say, “See! The Seahawks should’ve listened to Russ!” All the while, the Seahawks can say, “See! If he’d only checked his ego like we wanted him to, we could’ve won just like this!”

There’s no way the Seahawks get a draft pick out of the Broncos that’s inside the Top 20. That’s ultimately what I’m getting at. We’re not that lucky ’round these parts. If there’s a way to screw over a Seattle sports fan, the gods are going to find a way to do it, in as heart-wrenching a way as possible.

So, look for Wilson to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February of 2023. It’s really the only way this can end.

The Mariners Were Lucky To Split Against The Lowly Angels

It’s mind-boggling to think that the Mariners needed a 14-game winning streak, and to win 22 out of 25 games to close out the first half … all to keep themselves in a Wild Card spot by a measly two games. That just goes to show you what kind of offensive problems we’re dealing with on this team. Problems that aren’t going to magically disappear.

Too often, it’s too big of a struggle for the Mariners to score more than a couple runs. And that means if the pitching isn’t perfect, we’re going to fall on the losing end of games we should win. Like half of the games we played against the Angels over the weekend.

The Angels are terrible. Since the big brawl, they’ve gone on a freefall. Now, Mike Trout is hurt, which means they just have the one guy – Shohei Ohtani – and even he’s been flailing quite a bit with the bat of late.

And yet, if you knew nothing about this season or these teams, you might look at the weekend series as a whole and come away thinking the Angels are the better team.

Robbie Ray had it going on Friday, when he went 7 innings, giving up 1 run, while striking out 10. Unfortunately, the Mariners scored exactly 0 runs until the bottom of the ninth inning, when an unlikely rally tied the game at 3-3 (I should point out that the weak link of the bullpen – Ryan Borucki – gave up a 2-run home run in the top of the ninth to make this one even more challenging for the offense). That late explosion of runs didn’t carry over to the tenth, though, as the Angels sacrificed a ghost run across to win it 4-3.

We had even more solid pitching on Saturday afternoon, headlined by George Kirby going 6 innings, giving up 1 run, walking 0, striking out 8, all in 80 pitches. The bullpen was nails from there, and Ty France’s 2-run home run gave us all the cushion we needed, winning the game 2-1.

Saturday evening’s game, though, was a total disaster. This was the second of the two doubleheaders with the Angels we’ve had this season, which presumably cuts one of their trips up to Seattle off of their schedule (the remaining 7 games we play against them are all in SoCal, where they will presumably be free to plunk our guys with impunity). My main concern came to fruition in this one, when it comes to a proposed merging of Kirby and Flexen spots in the rotation. If you pitch Kirby first, that’s only going to allow the opposing team to tee off on Flexen’s slow junk balls. Which they did, albeit a few hours later, on Saturday. 6 innings, 5 runs, 2 homers. The Mariners lost 7-1, because of course the offense couldn’t pick up the slack.

Thankfully, I was there at the stadium on Sunday with my girlfriend, and our powers of luck combined woke up the bats from their hibernation! I was clad in my finest Felix Hernandez shirt and we had some pretty great seats in the first row of section 334; you could draw a straight line from us all the way to the right field foul pole (which will come up again in a bit, I promise).

As it was preordained, Marco Gonzales gave us an unimpressive quality start of 6 innings and 3 runs given up. Was there a rhyme or reason to it? No way! He gave up 8 hits and a walk, but he also somehow found a way to strike out 7. I … I got nothing.

Thankfully, the Mariners jumped all over the Angels’ starter from the get go. We were able to manufacture a run in the first (and could’ve scored a lot more). We did end up taking advantage of that guy’s wildness in the third, when Winker homered with the bases loaded, pulling the ball just inside the foul pole. No one had a better view of it being fair than we did! It was pretty glorious. We added a run in the fifth off of Haggerty’s double, and that was that. All the bullpen needed to do was preserve a 6-3 lead the rest of the way. Munoz, Murfee, Sewald, see ya later.

The day itself was beautiful. Mid-to-high 80s, clear skies. The seats we had, unfortunately, were smack dab in the center of the sun, but we did ultimately get some shade in the fourth inning or so. This came on the heels of a great weekend in general. We went to a wedding, we schmoozed on the observation deck of the Smith Tower, we walked around the waterfront and Pike Place Market, we brunched with some fine folks. The city of Seattle has taken some hits over the last couple decades, but it can still impress you if you know where to look.

The Yankees come to town tonight, and then our remaining schedule gets remarkably easy the rest of the way. We also, not for nothing, have our top three starters going the next three days. It’s not necessarily the same order as one might expect from a playoff series, but it might as well be. Gilbert, Castillo, Ray. I’ll be REALLY curious to see what they’re able to do this week.

The Worst Thing The Seahawks Can Do In 2022 Is Win Too Many Games

This is going to sound like Loser Talk, and I get that.

How can you “win too much”? I mean, hypothetically, what if the Seahawks won ALL their games in 2022; how is that the “worst thing the Seahawks can do”?

Well, duh. Of course, the best thing the Seahawks could do is go 17-0 in the regular season and 3-0 in the playoffs; what Seahawks fan wouldn’t want that? But, how many of you believe that’s even remotely possible? Even if we traded Geno Smith for Patrick Mahomes straight up, would that even be enough to win it all with this team? Seems farfetched.

There are just too many holes and too many question marks. What’s the offensive line going to look like with potentially bookend rookies at the tackle spots? How much of a pass rush can we generate? Will our cornerbacks hold up for a full season, and not get torched in the process?

Seems bleak. That starts giving credence to a lot of the national pundits who have the Seahawks as one of the worst teams in the NFL, at least record-wise, in 2022. But, the homer in me sees potential. Maybe we start out slow, but improve as the year goes on. Maybe the offensive line gets its throat slashed the first month or two, but then they develop into viable starters by December and January. Maybe the schemes click and both offense and defense are playing their best ball by season’s end.

There’s the obvious benefit to losing a lot of games this year, which is a higher draft pick next year. A higher pick in a draft where many quality quarterbacks are projected to come out. But, that’s not all I’m thinking about here.

Technically, what I mean by the headline of this post is: the worst thing the Seahawks can do in 2022 is win too many games early. Because my whole vision for the Best Possible Season outcome is for the Seahawks to suck, to give the vast majority of its playing time to viable rookies and young players, and for THEM to be the ones to lead this organization towards improved play by season’s end. Then, maybe we can parlay that into a slingshot season in 2023 where a rookie quarterback enters the fray and off we go.

But, if we start out and somehow go 4-2 or 5-3, then the odds we end up relying on what veterans we have – many of whom are on short-term/one-year deals – go up, leaving less development time for the young guys to work out the growing pains.

So, does that mean I want the Seahawks to go 0-17? No, I think that’s a pretty awful scenario as well. While it would almost certainly guarantee us the #1 overall draft pick, I think there’s a lot that goes into a winless season (or even a 1-win or 2-win season) that goes beyond bad quarterback play. Some of the best players on this roster are on their first contracts. To be 2-15 or worse, I think you’re talking about an inordinate amount of devastating injuries, combined with the young core we’re hoping to count on just not being very good. If we’re THAT bad, then we’re not just a quarterback away. That means we have holes throughout the roster – with no stars anywhere – and this is a much more daunting sort of rebuild.

If our rookies on the O-Line don’t pan out by season’s end, then we’re proper fucked, and that’s two crucial spots we need to refill. If Darrell Taylor plateaus in his development, then we’re even further away from having a competent pass rush. If none of the young cornerbacks hit, then we’re going back to the drawing board with more rookies and retreads next year. On top of, again, not having a quarterback.

There is a sweet spot for the 2022 season. That’s somewhere in the 4-6 win range. Ideally, more of those wins come late. Because if we’re TOO bad, then you have to wonder if the coaching staff and/or front office stick around. If we go winless, or close to it, maybe ownership cleans house, and this rebuild goes to another level.

That sweet spot is what we want. But, I’ll still contend that the very worst thing is to win too much. 8 or 9 wins and we’re talking about being too low in the draft to get one of the good quarterbacks, on top of maybe deluding ourselves into thinking we’re contenders as is. When, really, we need the younger guys to step up and carry the load going forward.

The Mariners Won A Series In New York Against The Yankees

I know, I’m as shocked as you are!

It’s the Yankees and the Asstros as the top two teams in the American League, followed by a HUGE gap, followed by everyone else. And, you know, depending on the day, the Yankees are the very best. They’re impressive from top to bottom, and as they absolutely should do, they only got better at the trade deadline. You can’t say there were many holes – if any – on their active roster, but they filled them and then some, with the big gets being the outfielder from Kansas City, and the pitching package they brought in from the A’s.

Of course, the one that got away – Luis Castillo – plays for our hometown Mariners, and that might ultimately change the entire landscape of the MLB playoffs this year. Had he landed with the Yankees, there might’ve been no stopping them. But, as it is, I don’t envy any team that has to face them in the A.L.D.S.

Even though the Mariners are firmly wild card contenders, this series always felt like a lost cause to me. Much in the way the M’s fared against Houston since the All Star Break (winning 1 out of 7 games), the Yankees are flat out a better team, and it would’ve made all the sense in the world to go into New York and get swept.

And, through one game, that looked very much in play.

We went into this series a little undermanned with our bullpen, having relied on them so thoroughly just to keep it close against the Asstros in Houston. As such, we really needed Marco Gonzales to give us a quality start on Monday. He proceeded to give up a 3-run home run to Anthony Rizzo in the first, a 2-run home run to Aaron Judge in the second, and a solo homer to Jose Trevino in the fourth. I guess you could say he settled down a little bit after that, but he ultimately only made it 5.1 innings, and those 6 runs were more than enough to bury us. We went on to lose 7-2, with very few offensive bright spots to speak of.

I really want to like Marco Gonzales. He’s the kind of crafty, gritty fighter with underwhelming stuff that seems to be getting phased out of the game of baseball nowadays. And, he indeed goes through stretches where everything clicks into place and he’s able to baffle opponents with his change up and cutter combo. But, while I don’t have concrete evidence in front of me, it seems like whenever you need him to step up in a big moment, that’s the moment where he gets shelled instead.

You can’t count on him. You look at Marco’s numbers at the end of the year and they’re always kinda the same: 140-200 innings (depending on injuries), an ERA right around 4.00, and usually a winning percentage just over .500 (though this has been a hard-luck year with his 6-11 record to date). You can set your watch to Marco, and yet his route to get there is completely unpredictable. It’s not just that he gets destroyed by good teams and mops up against the bottom-feeders … sometimes he gets roughed up by those bad teams as well. I can almost guarantee he’ll come back this weekend and give us an unimpressive quality start of 6 innings and 3 runs given up, with no rhyme or reason to it.

I was a little annoyed when I saw on Twitter that the Phillies were scouting him in that game against New York, as a potential trade candidate. But, I don’t believe we would’ve traded him anyway. They would’ve lowballed us, and at this point his leadership and chemistry fit with the rest of the team isn’t worth whatever low-level prospect we would’ve gotten in return.

What would’ve been worth it is not having him under contract the next two years, when his guaranteed dollars start to balloon, but that’s neither here nor there.

I don’t know a lot about the Yankees’ starter in Tuesday’s game, but at that point it didn’t really matter who they threw out there, because their offense is so good it seemed like they’d just rake their way to victory. Nevertheless, the Mariners’ offense also decided to join the party, and not a moment too soon.

We kicked things off with a Suarez 2-run bomb in the first, followed by a Raleigh solo homer in the second. To cap it, Carlos Santana hit a sac fly in the third to put the M’s up 4-0. That only carried us to the bottom of the fourth, where Logan Gilbert gave up a 3-spot to close the gap. However, a Santana 2-run double in the next half-inning put us up 6-3, as we chased their starter.

Once again, our lead was short-lived, as Gilbert got abused in the sixth, giving up a pair of homers to tie the game 6-6. From there, it was a battle of the bullpens, and with all due respect to Seattle’s unit, this one seemed like it was slipping away.

Thankfully, the offense wasn’t done. In the next half-inning (again), Sam Haggerty (this time) hit a solo homer to put us up 7-6. Then, the resurgent Adam Frazier knocked in an insurance run in the ninth to make it 8-6.

We still needed the bullpen to hold things down though, which they did a superb job of. Penn Murfee got us out of the sixth. Paul Sewald took down the top of the order in the seventh. A combo of Swanson and Brash made it through the eighth. And, Andres Munoz got two quick strikeouts before the wheels started to fall off in the ninth. A single and two walks loaded the bases, before he got one more strikeout to finish it. Huge moment for Munoz, since there wasn’t anyone else. He was going to either get the save or wear it, and he managed to regain his command.

That takes us to our would-be pitchers duel between our respective aces on Wednesday: Luis Castillo vs. Gerrit Cole. It ended up being a pretty soft landing for our newcomer, as not only did Aaron Judge get the day off, but the M’s pounded Cole for six runs in the top of the first to blow it wide open.

There was a Suarez 3-run homer, followed by a Santana solo job, followed later by a Kelenic 2-run bomb. Cole was catching too much of the plate in that first inning, and the M’s were making him pay. To his credit, he settled down to go 6 innings, giving up just those 6 runs, but the damage was done. We added a Winker solo homer in the seventh for good measure.

Castillo was very good in his Mariners opener, going 6.2 innings, giving up 3 runs (two of them on a home run that ended his day) on 5 hits and 3 walks, with 8 strikeouts. He was hitting the upper 90’s with some nasty off-speed stuff in the high 80’s/low 90’s. Everything was as advertised; it was awesome to behold. The bullpen shut it down from there for the 7-3 victory.

The Mariners get a deserved day off today (after flying home across the country yesterday) before hosting the Angels tomorrow for a 4-game weekend series (including another scheduled doubleheader on Saturday). My how our fortunes have changed since the last time we faced off against the Angels! I’ll be curious to see if we’re met with cooler tempers this time around. I’m sure the fans will be all riled up, if that matters at all. Here’s hoping the Mariners give fans something to be riled up about.

The Trade Deadline Came In Like A Lion & Went Out Like A Lamb For The Mariners

You can’t be happy with that headline, can you? We can do better.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a relatively big fan of the Luis Castillo trade (I’ll be a bigger fan of it if he shoves against the Yankees later this morning), even if there’s a distinct possibility that we overpaid to get him here. But, at best, that only represents a solution to ONE of our problems.

As we’ve all talked about endlessly, you can’t have enough bullpen help. I like the stuff of Ken Giles, but he obviously missed all of 2021, and has had multiple setbacks/injuries in 2022 that have thus far limited him to 5 appearances. He can’t be counted on. Diego Castillo has bounced back in a big way after struggling in April, but he landed on the IL and I don’t think he’ll be the last. Ryan Borucki has had a pretty impressive turnaround in his career since joining the Mariners, but how legitimate is that?

We’ve got Paul Sewald, who I think we’re all happy with. We’ve got Andres Munoz, who has fucking electric stuff, but who can also lose the feel of his pitches at the drop of a hat and will start walking the world. Erik Swanson has been a revelation, but this is really the first year he’s put it all together; there was a time in his career not too long ago when he was used exclusively in mop-up situations when the game was out of hand one way or the other. And I guess Penn Murfee looks like the real deal, but he’s also a rookie, so there’s at least a little concern on my part.

One more ace reliever would’ve hit the spot. If this team is going to push all its chips into the middle on the strength of their starting and relief pitching, then really just going all out and making sure we’ve got the best we can possibly get is paramount.

That’s because our most glaring weakness is hitting. And yet, the company line all along centered on how we were largely standing pat with the bats.

On the one hand, I get it. Mitch Haniger returning to full strength is like getting an All Star middle-of-the-order bat with two months to go. Julio, France, and Haniger topping our lineup is something I can get behind. And, let’s not forget, Kyle Lewis was the Rookie of the Year two seasons ago. If we can just get some positive regression out of Adam Frazier and Jesse Winker – two veterans who should have figured it the fuck out by now – while continuing to get what we’ve gotten from Suarez, Crawford, Raleigh, and Santana, then that’s a good-enough lineup (with the pitching we’ve got) to roll into the playoffs and try to make some noise.

On the other hand, though, I’m in agreement with all the experts who are saying the Mariners are not obligated whatsoever to continue giving Carlos Santana everyday at bats. Also, if I never see Toro in the lineup again, it’ll be too soon. Santana should be a bench guy playing part time, and most everyone else comprising the depth on this team is just fucking atrocious.

I know what they say – the depth everywhere is bad – but it just seems like the Mariners have the worst of the worst, and there’s no good internal options.

Look at some of these guys we’ve seen this year! Future trivia answers to questions no one has any business asking. Donovan Walton, Travis Jankowski, Jack Larsen, Stuart Fairchild, Steven Souza Jr., Mike Ford, Marcus Wilson, Kevin Padlo, Andrew Knapp. And that’s not even getting into the names we’ve actually heard of (who still aren’t worth much of a damn). Justin Upton, Jarred Kelenic, the aforementioned Toro, Dylan Moore, Taylor Trammell, Luis Torrens.

So, it comes with no positivity whatsoever to announce the non-Castillo moves the Mariners made at the deadline yesterday.

  • Curt Casali (backup catcher) from the Giants
  • Matthew Boyd (lefty starter/reliever) also from the Giants
  • Jake Lamb (reserve corner infielder/outfielder) from the Dodgers

In return, we gave up some reliever no one’s ever heard of, a low-level catcher prospect (both going to the Giants), and cash (going to the Dodgers).

Casali’s just a guy. But, with the Tom Murphy injury (out for the year), and considering Torrens is giving you less than nothing, having just a guy is actually a modest improvement. Of course, we’ll see how his bat plays in Seattle. At least his defense is supposed to be good.

Boyd is a starter who figures to join our bullpen. As a starter, he’s ho-hum; as a reliever, he’s an unknown. He does not seem to be an improvement over anyone; indeed, it seems like he’s nothing more than an innings-eater.

What’s worse is that both Casali and Boyd are currently injured, so they can’t even help us out now anyway. Casali is on the mend – rehabbing at the AAA level – so we should probably see him soon. But, Boyd had arm surgery, hasn’t pitched at all in 2022, and has already had one setback. Apparently, we traded for him based on the strength of a bullpen session he threw? September seems to be the earliest he could help us, if he’s going to show up at all. On top of that, he’s on a 1-year deal, meaning he’s strictly a rental and will be a free agent at the end of the season; so it’s not even like we can stash him and hope he pans out next year!

I’ll be honest, I don’t love this deal. But, I’m also pretty confident this will ultimately be a trade that helps neither team.

The deal that I really don’t understand, though, is bringing in Jake Lamb, a 31 year old past-his-prime reserve infielder/outfielder with no pop and pretty mediocre numbers overall. His last useful season was in 2017, and he fell off a cliff after that!

What’s his role here? Clearly, as a backup. But, when is he going to see the field? Why would you play him over Sam Haggerty, for instance, who actually has done a little bit in his reserve role? Is he even better than Toro, who – say what you will – has at least had the occasional bright moment here and there?

Taken as a whole, what the Mariners did on the August 2nd trade deadline was marginal at best. At least all of them will (potentially) be gone by next year, unless we opt to re-sign them.

I’ll conclude with this: there’s a chance that this was all shrewd by Jerry Dipoto. I hate coming off as an apologist for him, because I don’t think he’s earned it. There’s a real opportunity for these 2022 Mariners to not only make the post-season, but actually make a dent. Luis Castillo was a fantastic start towards that goal. But, an impact bat really could’ve put us over the top and given us a chance to do some playoff damage (don’t talk to me about Soto, because the M’s clearly didn’t have the prospects to bring him in, unless you were willing to give up on Julio, Gilbert, and Kirby).

That being said, making a deal just to make a deal isn’t always a good thing. What if we traded for a guy and he shit the bed? Then, not only have we brought in someone who’s clogging up our everyday lineup, but we’ve given away valuable prospects to do so.

There’s reason to believe the aforementioned veterans Winker and Frazier will turn their seasons around and approach their career norms. We’re already starting to see what Frazier is capable of; after a miserable June, his rebound has been a big boost. And we’ve seen glimpses out of Winker; oddly enough, his June was really his best (and only good) month (across the board, reaching his career norms), though he’s cooled off considerably since the All Star Break.

We could’ve dumped Frazier and found a proper everyday second baseman. But, Winker was never going anywhere. He’s signed through 2023, and he was supposed to be the crown jewel of that first Reds deal this past offseason. Right now, his value is pretty minimal, so trading him would’ve been a tough ask. We just gotta hope that he gets better as he figures out American League pitching.

If those two guys step up, and we get a boost from Haniger and Lewis – all the while hanging onto Gilbert, Kirby, and the prospects we’ve got left in the organization – then Dipoto will look like a genius.

But, if we fail to make the playoffs, or if our offense totally faceplants in the post-season, then I think we can point to this deadline as a real missed opportunity.

That being said, I don’t think Dipoto is going anywhere anytime soon. I also don’t believe that we’re one big bat away from winning the World Series this year. The onus is on the upcoming offseason, and what the Mariners are able to do in the free agent market, combined with what we’re able to make in trades.

But, it’s batshit crazy to start thinking about that now, when we’ve got an exciting finish to this regular season to look forward to.

How Much Of An Overpay Was Luis Castillo For The Mariners?

We’ll never get the official line of thinking behind why the Mariners were willing to give up who they gave up to bring in Luis Castillo for 1 year and 2 months worth of baseball. Not unless one of our executives joins up with the Bellevue Rotary Club for another recorded Internet chat.

The general line of thinking, however, among reasoned baseball people (i.e. not fans and their reactionary rhetoric) is: this is why you build up your farm system. The whole point of doing a rebuild is to stock your farm system full of talent. That’s step 1. Step 2 involves evaluating that talent and marking down who is among the priority guys you want to keep and build around. So, here we are, in the dog days of 2022, and we’ve already (more or less) completed both of those first steps. We brought in prospects, to the point that over this past offseason, we were considered to have either the best or one of the best farm systems in all of baseball. And, meanwhile, over the last couple years, we’ve gone and evaluated all those guys, not to mention the guys who were already at the Major League level. We came to realize Julio is the real deal and a superstar in the making. We brought up Logan Gilbert, then George Kirby, and have earmarked them as rotation mainstays. We locked in J.P. Crawford and will probably soon do the same for Ty France. We’re starting to see quality production out of Cal Raleigh, who looks like a starter in this league for years to come. Then, we went and signed the reigning Cy Young winner (Robbie Ray) to lead our rotation.

I should say that the Mariners aren’t a completed product yet. They’re not the Asstros or Yankees. There’s still a lot of building left to do if we want to be among the best of the best. But, we’re on the right track, which is why this is the perfect time to get to Step 3, which is using the leftover prospects to trade for legitimate stars and starters to come in and help your big league club succeed in the post-season.

And the thing I wonder – the thing we’ll never get a straight answer to – is how much did it hurt Jerry Dipoto to give away the players he gave away? The Mariners, theoretically, SHOULD have the best idea about how good these guys will be. They’ve been in our organization, we’ve watched them every day, we’ve gotten to know them as people. We know their work ethic, we know their strengths and weaknesses at least a little bit better than anyone else. And, frankly, we know their medicals better than anyone else, so we’d know if there’s some underlying concern that might spring up down the road.

I often bitch about the Yankees because it seems like whenever they trade away a highly-rated player, it turns out that guy’s a bust. Yet, we KNOW they’re fully capable of drafting and developing among the best in the game. But, they seem to also be among the best at properly rating their prospects (even as the rest of the league over-rates them). But, you know, I’m not looking at every deal they’ve ever made. I’m sure they have gaffes just like everyone does.

But, I know the Mariners, and they’ve got a long line of lopsided trades against them (or, at the very least, trades that worked out for NEITHER side).

The general consensus is – at the moment – that the Reds got a great haul of prospects back. I wouldn’t say the Mariners got fleeced, but we’ll see; if Castillo gets hurt, or struggles, then sure. Or, if the prospects pan out and turn into All Stars, then yeah, you could argue a fleecing has occurred. But, right now, I would say it’s tilted in Cincinnati’s favor, while at the same time it’s understandable that the Mariners did what they did.

And, not for nothing, but they did it NOT just for the best starting pitcher available, but one of the very best starting pitchers period. If I’m going to trade away a bundle of highly-rated prospects, I’d like to know I’m at least getting the cream of the crop. Don’t waste my time on middling starters; I want fucking superstars!

Part of me holds out hope, though, that Jerry Dipoto is quietly giggling at what we gave up. That he knows better. Maybe Marte has some holes in his swing that will rear their ugly heads when he gets to the Major League level. Maybe Arroyo’s bat has been built up more than it’ll actually end up being. Maybe the reliever’s got future shoulder problems, and maybe the starter is just a guy.

Maybe the REAL studs in our prospect group are still down there, waiting to be elevated and turned into superstar Mariners at some point down the line.

None of these questions can be answered now. All we can do is speculate. It matters what Castillo does over the next year and change. It matters how the Mariners play around him. Winning baseball games, in the regular and post-season, is what matters.

If the Mariners fail, then we’ll turn our sights to Cincinnati and see what it is we ultimately gave up. It’ll be YEARS before we comprehend the full magnitude of what happened. Luis Castillo, likely, won’t even be here by the time most of those prospects see the big leagues!

All we can do is hope for the best, while dreading the worst, because we’re Mariners fans, and that’s all we ever get. The fucking worst.