The Mariners Got Swept By The Padres

For those keeping track at home, that’s a 6-game losing streak to the mighty San Diego Padres of San Diego.

On Tuesday, Erik Swanson got his second career start, pitching into the sixth inning, giving up 5 runs, 4 earned. I didn’t catch this one, but I seem to remember hearing both the defense and bullpen letting Swanson down in this one, so take those numbers with a grain of salt. He struck out 3 and walked 0 while being very economical with his pitch count, so a lot of good sprinkled in there. The bats were never able to put anything together though, as the M’s lost 6-3.

Then, on getaway day, Felix tossed a rare gem! 7 innings of 1-run ball on 3 hits, 1 walk, and a whopping 8 strikeouts! It really felt like old times again! Mostly because the offense, once again, couldn’t get anything going and the M’s lost 1-0. Nevertheless, that’s an outing I didn’t think he had in him anymore. Sure, I could see him going 7 innings every now and again. I could see him limiting opponents to 1 run every once in a while, maybe while stranding a bunch of runners throughout the game. But, both combined with 8 strikeouts is pretty outstanding!

Obviously, that’s the best start of the year for Felix by a million miles, but there are a lot of encouraging signs and a lot of encouraging reports coming out that maybe he’s starting to put it all together again. Maybe Aging Felix can be like Aging Bartolo Colon. Dare to dream!

The offense is a little more worrisome. No one had Ryon Healy pegged as anything for this team in the long term, but his hot start has cooled off considerably. The numbers for the better hitters at the top of the lineup are starting to coalesce into something resembling their career norms. The major concern is Mallex Smith, who’s been dropped to the bottom of the lineup, with a slash line of .182/.270/.273. That’s just abysmal, on top of what’s been some miserable fucking defense in centerfield. This is NOT what we signed up for! Not even a little bit! When Mike Zunino – who went to the Rays in this trade to bring in Smith – has a higher batting average and on-base percentage, you know you’ve got some serious problems with your swing. This shit needs to turn around in a hurry, because the last thing we need is a(nother) head case overthinking everything all the damn time.

What I Would Like The Seahawks To Do In The 2019 NFL Draft

Thanks to a number of unfortunate or ill-advised trades, on top of a number of unfortunate or ill-advised free agent signings, the Seahawks were reduced to a total of 4 draft picks for this week’s draft, and 0 compensatory picks. That number increased by 1 with the trade of Frank Clark, so now we’re looking at the following:

  • First Round (21)
  • First Round (29)
  • Third Round (92)
  • Fourth Round (124)
  • Fifth Round (159)

So, not ideal, but interesting. It’s ALWAYS interesting to have two first round picks, even if both of them are in the 20’s.

Heading into the Frank Clark deal, it was a foregone conclusion that the Seahawks would do everything in their power to trade down from 21 to acquire more picks. What’s now up for interpretation is the fact that the Seahawks could actually Stick & Pick at 21, then maybe use 29 to trade down. I would argue it’ll probably be EASIER to trade 29, since it’s a lesser value, while at the same time holds a lot of power because it’s so close to the second round. So, if there’s a quarterback-needy team at or near the top of the second, who’d like to move back into the first to preserve a possible 5th Year Option, that 29th spot could be a turkey shoot.

My guess is that there won’t be any guys the Seahawks truly LOVE at 21, so they’ll trade down maybe 3-4 spots and get a nominal return in extra picks, and then select someone at 24 or 25. But, all bets are off for 29; I could see the Seahawks dropping all the way to 40 (Buffalo) or 41 (Denver), maybe even 46 (Washington) or 48 (Miami). For that, they should get a HAUL. I’m talking the second, a high third, and maybe even a fourth! Pick number 29 should be open season, going to the highest bidder.

Regardless, tomorrow’s first round coverage went from being nominally interesting to Must See TV for Seahawks fans.

Getting back to the point of this post, here’s what I’d like to see the Seahawks do:

  • I want that first selection to be a defensive end
  • I want the second selection to be Best Player Available

A lot of people are talking about a wide receiver. I’m willing to concede that’s a position of bigger need than I originally thought, what with Doug Baldwin’s injury issues and increasing age. I still love Tyler Lockett, and I think David Moore is going to bounce back from a subpar second half of last year, but this would still be a good position to shore up for the long haul.

But, with wide receiver, you have to be SURE. And this team’s track record with receivers in the first four rounds is a little suspect. Aside from Lockett, there’s Amara Darboh (done nothing in two years), Kevin Norwood (total bust), Paul Richardson (injury prone, had only one really good year), Chris Harper (total bust), Kris Durham (total bust), and Golden Tate (legitimately great). I would argue this team is better at finding receivers among the late rounds or undrafted than they are up high (Baldwin, Kearse, Moore).

If the team is sure, I guess I’ll take their word for it, but I would much rather have the team go after a safety with the second pick. Hell, even if they took a second defensive end, I’d be just fine! Or a run-stuffing D-Tackle. Maybe a quality nickel corner who falls. In an ideal world, both of the first two picks will be on the defensive side of the ball.

As for the later rounds – depending on how many extra picks we’re able to trade for – I’d probably look for a receiver there. I also think this team is destined to pick up another linebacker for primarily special teams purposes (could Ben Burr-Kirven be an option late?). It also might not be the worst idea in the world to grab a backup QB, so we can stop riding this rollercoaster of backups on 1-year deals. It’s just a waste of money and, like last year, resources in our lost 6th rounder for Brett Hundley.

One spot I actually DON’T think the Seahawks need to concern themselves about too much is the O-Line. Maybe take a project late, but I think we’ve got rock solid depth up and down the line. I might not even waste the draft pick, but instead go after a lineman among the undrafted.

I also don’t think tight end needs to be a huge priority. And, while I’ll always welcome extra cornerback help, I don’t think that’s a direction this team is going to head down (unless, again, it’s a cornerback who’s also a special teams stud).

The Seahawks did a remarkable job filling a lot of holes last year. Aside from maybe a new wide receiver project, I think the entire offensive side of the ball is set. We got a kicker and punter for many years to come, but bolstering our coverage units should be a high priority. Our linebacker room is probably the best it’s ever been (assuming the veterans stay healthy). Our secondary still has a lot to prove, but is otherwise young and hungry.

Ultimately, while I’d try to get a stud safety/nickel corner, I think the overwhelming majority of the focus this week needs to be on the defensive line, both for pass rushers (early) and run stuffers (late, ideally). Take multiple shots, because not everyone is going to pan out, so play the numbers game.

The Seahawks Smartly Traded Frank Clark

Look, I love Frank Clark. I think he’s a terrific player. In a vacuum – or in a world without a salary cap – I would absolutely want him to be extended and signed to a long-term contract.

But, this is 2019, and the Seahawks just re-upped Russell Wilson, so there’s not a lot of extra money to go around. Frank Clark was already counting just over $17 million on a Franchise Tag, which would increase significantly if we were to do it again in 2020. By all accounts, he was looking for over $21 million per year as a jumping-off point for a long-term extension. With Wilson already averaging over $30 million per year – upwards of $35 million for his four new years – that just wasn’t going to work. Not with Bobby Wagner’s deal expiring after this year. Not with Jarran Reed’s rookie deal expiring after this year. Not with so many of our offensive linemen nearing the end of their deals. And so on and so forth.

As always, you can’t pay everyone. This has been a problem for the Seahawks dating back to 2014, and it’s going to continue as the team keeps drafting guys who out-perform expectations.

The bottom line with Frank Clark is: do you believe he’s one of the very best defensive ends in the league? Is he capable of getting upwards of 20 sacks in a season? Maybe in the right system, but on a team like the Seahawks – where we stress defending the run as much as rushing the passer – I don’t think that was ever going to happen. On a different team, maybe he’s allowed to sell out more to rush the passer, and as a result he gets to that 20-sack mark. But, I doubt that was ever going to happen here.

As a result, the Seahawks get back the Chiefs’ first rounder in 2019 (the 29th overall selection), one of the Chiefs’ second rounders in 2020 (the lesser of the two they have now), and we swapped down in the third round this year (we go from pick 84 to pick 92).

Sure, the Chiefs get a stud, and look like surefire Super Bowl contenders, but we get $17 million to play around with. There are still veteran defensive ends available. And, maybe this increases our chances of staying at 21 and drafting the best available defensive end. It also, obviously, gives us more flexibility to trade down for more draft picks in the second and third rounds. But, just the thought of actually picking in the first round excites me to no end!

My overall thinking is, at best we were just going to run the same team back as 2018 with Clark on a huge cap number. That team, obviously, wasn’t a Super Bowl contender, and I don’t believe the extra year’s experience was enough to push the 2019 Seahawks into that stratosphere. The only way we’ll be able to improve for the long term AND the short term is to hit on a couple key draft picks, and buy low on a couple of free agents who vastly outplay their deals. The only way to do that was to acquire MORE draft picks and have MORE money with which to spend. This deal accomplishes both of those objectives; now it’s on the front office to make good.

I’d rather have Bobby and Reed extended long term over just Frank Clark, and had we extended Clark on a max deal, I know we would’ve lost at least one of those guys. Having an interior pass rusher like Reed is a much harder find, so extending him long term should be our biggest priority going forward. Keeping Bobby happy as the anchor of this defense should be our next-highest priority. Then, finding and cultivating a young stud – to go along with Rasheem Green and Jacob Martin – will be our next challenge. I, for one, look forward to it!

The Two Likely Outcomes For The 2019 Mariners

The way I see it, there are a couple of different ways this season can go for the Mariners. I’d say, barring a total avalanche of injuries to key players, the Mariners won’t be truly terrible. So, let’s take that option right off the table. If you bet the UNDER on Mariners wins this season, you’re probably looking at a loser.

The Mariners also aren’t going to be super great either. They’re just not on the same playing field as the best teams in the American League. Houston WILL win the division. I’d expect the Red Sox will bounce back, and I’m sure the Yankees will rip off some huge winning streaks when they start to get healthy. So, go ahead and take that option off the table. There won’t be an improbable World Series appearance for this team.

That leaves, really, two options that are really both sort of the same. At this moment, the Mariners are 16-9 with a +32 run differential that’s good for second in the A.L. But, there are enough cracks in this facade – especially on the pitching side of things – where it wouldn’t shock me if this team, at some point, loses a bunch of games and ultimately lands right around the .500 mark on the season. Maybe a game or two under, but pretty close to middle-of-the-road in all aspects, including run differential. That would be a disappointing result out of a team we never really had high expectations for (when, really, you’d hope the Mariners would tank for the higher draft pick).

The other option, however, is a little more interesting. Maybe, instead of falling apart, the Mariners play .500 ball from this point forward. Instead of ultimately landing around .500 or a little worse, maybe the M’s finish around 85-77 or 86-76. Why would that be interesting? Because at that range, the Mariners would likely be contenders for at least the second Wild Card.

Let’s face it, there just isn’t a lot of parity in the American League. The Orioles, White Sox, and Royals all look like real bottom-feeders in contention for the top overall draft pick in 2020. The Mariners have already won 5 of 6 against the Angels, who look pretty mediocre. I don’t think anyone’s buying the Rangers and their 12-8 start. I also don’t think the A’s are destined to repeat their fantastic 2018. The Tigers and Blue Jays look pretty mediocre so far. The Red Sox don’t look like the champions they were a year ago. If injuries continue to mount for the Yankees, that could open the door for the Rays to win the East. The Indians already ran us through the wringer, but they otherwise are pretty lacking on the offensive side of the ball. I haven’t seen much of the Twins yet, but they seem beatable.

The point is, there aren’t many teams considerably better than the Mariners. The Astros should own us, as they do, but as for most everyone else, I see them as on equal footing as the M’s. Which opens the door for results like we’ve had against the Angels: a seemingly-unlikely 3-1 series win down in Anaheim. Keep beating up on the teams we’re supposed to beat, win enough of the 50/50 games to keep our heads above water, and while a title is certainly out of the question, remaining in contention for a possible playoff berth is still within the realm of possibilities.

In that sense, these Mariners are more closely affiliated with the last few years’ worth of Mariners teams: just good enough to break our hearts in September instead of May.

Sure Enough, The Mariners Suck Again

In spite of what happened last night (an absurd 11-10 Mariners victory down in Anaheim, blowing what was once a 10-2 lead) I think we can all agree – based on losing six straight games to the Astros and Indians (going 0 for the Homestand, after building up so much good will en route to a 13-2 start) – that the Mariners do, indeed, suck again.

Take out the “again” part, because when have we NOT, amirite?

After last Friday’s so-so performance against Wade Miley and Co., the bats went in the tank for the remainder of the homestand. The Mariners scored 1, 2, 4, 2, and 0 runs respectively, to come hurtling back down to Earth. And, sure, I’ll come out and say it: we were facing significantly better starting pitching over those five games, compared to the first 16, so it probably shouldn’t shock anyone that the Mariners’ offense cooled off considerably. They were never going to stay as red hot as they were.

Ahh, the ebbs and flows of a baseball season … can gobble my modestly-sized dick!

Last night showed how the Mariners can suck in the other direction. How do you blow an 8-run lead over the course of two innings? By having probably the worst bullpen in all of baseball.

It was nice to see the bats re-emerge (Healy had 2 homers and 5 RBI, Narvaez had 3 hits and 4 RBI, Vogelbach got on base 5 times with his 2 hits & 3 walks), but once again it was a shaky performance from the bullpen and by connection, the manager. You got 6 innings of 2-run ball out of King Felix … so what are you doing trying to press your luck by sending him out there for the 7th? I don’t CARE what his pitch count was! You’re just asking for trouble.

He was pulled in favor of R.J. Alaniz, who is probably a guy I will never write about again, as I’m assuming he’ll be sent down to Tacoma today and never heard from again. He gave up 4 runs (earning a 24.00 ERA), but the guys after him weren’t all that much better.

In the end, though, it was 10-10 after eight innings. Somehow, the M’s pushed across a run in the ninth and Roenis Elias was able to shut it down. But, obviously, it never should’ve been remotely CLOSE to being that close, and yet it was. Because the Mariners suck. Now and forever.

Happy Friday everyone!

The Seahawks Have A 2019 Schedule

This one carried a little more weight than the others, because for the first time in my life I’m planning to attend a Seahawks road game. In Cleveland of all places! What a year for them to supposedly be good, or at least exciting, thus driving up the prices of tickets to an astronomical level. When you factor in how there are no direct flights from Seattle to Cleveland, let’s just say I’m not necessarily having second thoughts, but I’m THINKING about having second thoughts. Without further ado:

  • Week 1 – vs. Cincinnati, 1:05pm
  • Week 2 – @ Pittsburgh, 10am
  • Week 3 – vs. New Orleans, 1:25pm
  • Week 4 – @ Arizona, 1:05pm
  • Week 5 – vs. Los Angeles, Thursday Night
  • Week 6 – @ Cleveland, 10am
  • Week 7 – vs. Baltimore, 1:25pm
  • Week 8 – @ Atlanta, 10am
  • Week 9 – vs. Tampa Bay, 1:05pm
  • Week 10 – @ San Francisco, Monday Night
  • Week 11 – BYE
  • Week 12 – @ Philadelphia, Sunday Night
  • Week 13 – vs. Minnesota, Monday Night
  • Week 14 – @ Los Angeles, Sunday Night
  • Week 15 – @ Carolina, 10am
  • Week 16 – vs. Arizona, 1:25pm
  • Week 17 – vs. San Francisco, 1:25pm

It’s cool we get to open the season at home; the Bengals should be pushovers. It’s cool that we get five primetime games, including both against the Rams. Of course, those late-season Sunday Night games could always be flexed out, so that’s something to keep in mind. They can’t do anything with the Thursday or Monday games though!

You know me, I LOVE the week 11 BYE. The later the better in my book! On paper, though, this looks like a remarkably difficult schedule (though, that’s not something we couldn’t have discussed before the official times were set; we knew who we were playing as soon as last season ended). The AFC North isn’t particularly brutal, but right now it appears the toughest two teams – Cleveland and Pittsburgh – will both be road games. The NFC South DOES look particularly brutal, and it’ll be no picnic flying all the way to Atlanta and Carolina for 10am starts (especially that Panthers game in December, which comes on the heels of a Sunday Night game against the Rams, also on the road). In general, the entire road slate looks pretty formidable; the home slate, conversely, looks pretty reasonable (nice to finish with back-to-back home games before the playoffs).

It’s dumb to speculate too much at this point; the NFL Draft hasn’t even happened. You know some of the good-looking teams will suck, and some of the sucky-looking teams will surprise, so let’s get back to this closer to the regular season.

Can The Seahawks Win With Russell Wilson Making A Million-Billion Dollars?

There are two schools of thought dominating the NFL landscape nowadays:

  1. You can’t win without a Franchise Quarterback
  2. You can’t win with a Franchise Quarterback taking up too high of a percentage of your salary cap

Which essentially boils down to:

  1. You can only win with a Franchise Quarterback on his rookie deal, or
  2. You can only win if you have Tom Brady and you cheat the salary cap in some way that has yet to be exposed

So, that’s great if you’re the cheatin’-ass Patriots, but otherwise it’s a pretty minuscule window of opportunity for the rest of the league. For starters, how many Franchise Quarterbacks are there in the league right now? Let’s count ’em out, in no particular order:

  1. Tom Brady
  2. Ben Roethlisberger
  3. Andrew Luck
  4. Patrick Mahomes
  5. Philip Rivers
  6. Aaron Rodgers
  7. Matt Ryan
  8. Cam Newton
  9. Drew Brees
  10. Russell Wilson

I think that’s pretty much it. You could make an argument for Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, and Kirk Cousins, but I think you could also make plenty of arguments against those guys as well. Anyone I haven’t listed here is on that next tier down; doesn’t mean you can’t win a Super Bowl with those guys (see: Eli Manning, Nick Foles, Joe Flacco), but obviously you need to hit on a roster full of studs around them.

Regardless, we’re talking approximately a third of the league having bona fide Franchise Quarterbacks. Everyone else has some variation on a question mark. Everyone else needs to be special in other ways (like the Rams, with their coaching staff) or they’re selling out to find that elusive game-changer at the game’s most important position.

So, let’s pull it back to just the cream of the crop; how many are Tom Brady or on a rookie deal? Well, Tom Brady is Tom Brady, so the Pats are set. Other than him, you’re talking about Mahomes, Watson, Wentz, the Rams (in spite of Goff more than because of him), and let’s throw in the Browns for shits n’ giggles. We’re talking about 6 teams who are in a prime position with their quarterback and salary cap situations; should we just lop off the rest of the teams in the league?

Or, do the Seahawks have a shot?

It’s funny, because in the days leading up to Russell Wilson’s contract extension, everything I read was some variation on: DON’T BE STUPID, YOU HAVE TO EXTEND WILSON BECAUSE HE’S AMAZING! Then, as soon as Wilson announced his signing, everything I’ve read since was: THE SEAHAWKS ARE PAYING TOO MUCH FOR THEIR QUARTERBACK, THEY’LL NEVER WIN!

Ostensibly, the argument is: if you’re going to run all the damn time, what’s the point in paying a quarterback $35 million a year? Pay someone adequate like Case Keenum to be a game manager, and use the rest of the money to bolster other areas.

The first knock against that line of thinking is that you’re never going to build the perfect team. The 2013 Seahawks were a fucking unicorn; being able to draft or otherwise acquire that much Hall of Fame talent in one roster is nearly impossible. There are always going to be holes and weaknesses, even on the best teams, and that’s before you get into the injury attrition that nearly every team faces every single year.

The second knock against that line of thinking is that, even on the best teams, you’re still going to need your quarterback to put the team on his back and win you a handful of games. Even the 2013 Seahawks needed some Russell Wilson magic against Carolina, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game (before The Tip, there was the 4th down bomb to Kearse). Could you envision that team with the likes of Case Keenum winning it all? Because I can’t.

In fact, I would argue that it’s even MORE important to have someone as clutch and efficient as Wilson on a team like the 2018 Seahawks, where running on 1st & 2nd downs were the norm. There’s so much more strain on Wilson to do more with fewer opportunities than there is on someone like Mahomes, who threw it 36 times a game compared to Wilson’s just under 27 attempts.

Ultimately, in the reality we’re living in, would you rather have Wilson on the deal he got, or whatever’s behind Door #2 (maybe trade him for draft picks while he’s got the most value, then either try to acquire whatever semi-competent veteran is still on the market, suck for a year with Paxton Lynch, and/or draft a new QB in this year’s questionable class)?

For me, I’ll take the certainty that Russell Wilson provides.

The obvious trade-off, though, is that there’s not as much money left to spread around the rest of the roster. Which gets us back to the topic of this post: can the Seahawks win with Russell Wilson making a million-billion dollars?

The answer, of course, is yes. How likely is it? I dunno, but let me flip it back on you: how likely is it for ANY team to win a Super Bowl? Because, that’s what we’re talking about, right? The worst nightmare of any NFL fan is ranging anywhere from 8-8 to 10-6 and at best winning a Wild Card berth while going nowhere in the playoffs and constantly drafting in the mid-20’s. If that’s what we’re doomed to be for the next 5 years with Russell Wilson under this contract, then I’ll admit to being pretty disappointed. It’ll further fuel the fire of those who list off all the Super Bowl champion teams with quarterbacks making under such-and-such percent of their team’s cap (conveniently ignoring the cap status of those teams who lost their respective Super Bowls, though they were just as capable of winning those games had certain things broken their way).

Ultimately, it’s all randomness! There’s no one blueprint to winning a Super Bowl (unless you cheat and get away with it like the Patriots). You need a good quarterback, we know that. Beyond that, you need the strengths of your team to overcome the weaknesses. You don’t NEED a dominant defense, you can easily overcome that the way the Chiefs did last year by scoring a ton of points. Even the Pats never really have super great defenses, but the coaches scheme the shit out of their opponents and ultimately those D’s do just enough to put Brady & Co. in position to win (the fact that the Pats constantly get to coast to a division championship every single year because the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets are all inept notwithstanding).

I would argue, the Seahawks have a Top 5 quarterback. The Seahawks have a Top 5 coaching staff. The Seahawks have enough skill position players on offense to move the ball and score on the regular, as well as an offensive line that can keep the whole thing moving. The question at this point would be: do the Seahawks have enough talent on defense to take it to the next level and compete for a divisional title? Or, conversely, do the Seahawks have enough on offense to mask their defensive deficiencies? That ultimately remains to be seen.

More than anything, if the Franchise Quarterback is 1-A most important, luck is 1-B. Good luck with injuries. Good luck with hitting on draft picks and free agent signings. And good luck with key roster guys making big leaps from year to year. And, quite frankly, good luck in those 50/50 games that keep a 10-6 team from being 12-4 or better. The Rams were 3 games better than the Seahawks, but beat us by a combined 7 points in two games. What happens if we find a way to win those two? What happens if we beat the Broncos in week 1, or the lowly 49ers in week 15? Just a couple bounces of the football here or there. What happens if we keep Dak from scoring on that insane 4th down run in the Wild Card game?

Sure, you need the Franchise Quarterback to put you in a position to win those 50/50 games, but it’s luck more than anything else that decides if you’re going to be 13-3 or 10-6.

My thought process, heading into the 2019 season, is we’ve got the most important piece locked in. Luck will hash out the way it hashes out. But, beyond that, I think the Seahawks have a winning formula they can follow. I believe in this team running the football, using its giant goons up front to punish opposing defenses. Running the football keeps the clock moving, keeps the defense off the field, and limits the punishment Wilson has to face (especially when you factor in how our O-Line still isn’t super great at pass protection).

The Seahawks were 6th in points per game with 26.8. That’s with a new offensive coordinator, a new offensive line coach, and a lot of new pieces on that side of the football. Sure, it ended crappy in Dallas, but I think with the continuity in place, this coaching staff learned a lot about what this team is made of. I think they’ll be able to tweak things enough to improve upon those points per game and be even more efficient going forward, without the need to drastically increase the number of times we throw the football. Having all of this set and ready to go TODAY – as opposed to learning on the fly and figuring things out heading into Week 3 last year – puts us at a greater advantage over the 2018 squad. From there, I’ll trust that this coaching staff and front office knows what it has to do to improve the defensive side of the ball.

Plus, let us not forget, we’ve got a Pro Bowl kicker now. You scoff, but let’s go back to that whole luck argument: how many games did a kicker cost us in 2017?

Russell Wilson Signed His Contract Extension, Part 2

We went through all of this back in 2015, so you’d think we would’ve learned our lesson, but apparently not. Remember when the big issue back then was whether or not Russell Wilson would play on the final year of his rookie deal, in order to leverage the team into giving him a fully-guaranteed deal? That was back before Kirk Cousins’ idiotic contract standoff with the Redskins was even a glimmer in anyone’s eye! And then an arbitrary deadline was set – I believe to coincide with the start of Training Camp – and lo and behold a deal got done at the last minute. Everyone was FREAKING OUT, and then it was over, and we all got to rest easy after that.

Well, here we are again, making the same mistakes fans always make. An arbitrary deadline was set – this time coinciding with the start of OTA’s – and instead of playing out the final year of his deal with the cliff of multiple Franchise Tags looming over the horizon, a deal got done at the last minute. He’ll play out his 2019 contract, then it’s 4 more years totalling $140 million (or $35 million average per year) with $65 million in his signing bonus.

He’s the highest-paid player in NFL history in per-year average, just edging Aaron Rodgers’ $33.5 million, and he blows past the highest-ever signing bonus, which was also A-Rod at $57.5 million. There’s also a No-Trade Clause attached, which could mean nothing (because why would you trade a QB like Russell Wilson?) or could get very interesting if things sour in Seattle.

There were so many rumors and opinions floating around in the weeks and days leading up to this thing, as there were in 2015. Of course, there was still talk of a Fully Guaranteed deal. But, that never really gained much traction, not with a year left on his last contract and Franchise Tags to bandy about. There was a lot of nonsense about Wilson wanting to play in New York for the Giants. There were 3-way trade rumors that would’ve given the Seahawks the #1 overall draft pick this year. There were trade rumors to Oakland for 2 first round picks. Then, the latest salvo fired over the weekend said that Wilson would refuse any and all future contract extension talks if the deal didn’t get done yesterday, which is another way to say that he’d likely try to force his way out of town by playing out his deal, playing through Franchise Tags, and waiting for the Seahawks to blink by either trading him or just letting him walk.

I mean, honestly, I don’t know how we didn’t all become alcoholics. It’s going to be tough to go through another one of these in 2023.

Probably the best rumor that came out over the weekend was that Wilson was looking to become the first player in NFL history to have his contract raise year by year – percentagewise – with the rise of the salary cap. The other sticking point was whether or not the first two years would be guaranteed upon signing (which means ownership would have to put all of that money in escrow until the time comes to pay the man), or whether the guarantees would click in at the start of every new year (in March or whatever of that respective season). Considering how high the signing bonus is, I think we have our answer (only the first year is guaranteed at signing), but I guess we’ll see when more information leaks out.

Regardless, Russell Wilson is here, and we can all move on with our lives again. Hurrah!

Truth be told, I’m fine with the deal. You only pay a player top dollar like this if he’s indeed one of the top players, and I believe Russell Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He’s absolutely on par with Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. He’s absolutely BETTER than Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford and some of these other schlubs who were earning more money than him before today. So, we’ll just have to make it work and coach up the cheaper guys on this roster.

And Russell Wilson is going to have to continue to put this team on his back at key points. I believe he’s capable of doing that.

But, if he was going to go crazy and start asking for his contract to increase with the salary cap, then I’m sorry, but you never marry Crazy. You might date Crazy for a while, but don’t make Crazy your damn spouse!

The Astros Put The Mariners Out Of Their Misery

The Mariners went into the weekend series against the Astros 13-2, wildly successful against the dregs of the A.L. Central, a slow-starting Red Sox team, a mediocre Angels team, and an A’s team playing the villain in Japan. This weekend was to be the first real test since Expectations shifted ever-so-slightly.

And they just pounded us into submission. On Friday, it was a more traditional pounding, as the Astros clubbed two grand slams en route to a 10-6 victory. One could almost write it off, and find a silver lining in the Mariners’ scoring 6 runs yet again, but even those good vibes were countered by the loss of Wade LeBlanc to an oblique strain that will keep him out at least two months.

That makes Erik Swanson the first of the brand new pitching prospects to get his crack on our 25-man roster. Of course, he already made a relief appearance earlier in the week, but it’s looking like he’ll take LeBlanc’s role in the rotation, which should prove interesting. I can’t envision high hopes for him right out of the gate, but this was never supposed to be about Winning Now. If he improves over time, or at least shows flashes of potential, I’ll be hopeful.

As we got to Saturday and Sunday, it was time to face the Astros’ big guns. Would the Mariners’ New & Improved lineup pose a challenge to Verlander & Cole?

Well, Verlander gave up 1 run on 2 hits while walking 0 and striking out 11. The only thing our lineup was good for was to get his pitch count moderately high. He threw 105 across 6 innings, which simply means we prevented him from going 8 or 9 innings, because seriously his shit was filthy and we had no chance whatsoever (Felix put up a nice game, though, for what he is now; 6 innings of 3-run ball you’ll take every time).

The Mariners were only marginally better against Cole, who went 6 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits, with 0 walks and 11 strikeouts on 101 pitches. Again, all we managed to do was keep their starter from the CG. Marco Gonzales did his damnedest, but he ultimately faltered in the 6th and the bullpen gave it away in the 7th.

So, now we’re 13-5. The Astros, in one 3-game series, clawed their way back to within a game of the M’s (tied in the loss column), and we can stop envisioning Ewing Theory scenarios. The 13-2 start was, as we all expected, just a hot streak that randomly happened at the very beginning of the season. The only thing the Mariners accomplished this weekend was to extend their streak of games to start a season with at least one home run, now at 18. I’ll be curious if we can get to the point where we start talking about the all-time Major League record for games with a home run regardless of whether or not it’s the start to a season.

The Ridiculous Mariners Swept The Royals Because Why Not?

It all started on a Monday evening where Felix was celebrating his birthday by puking his guts out. He muddled through 1 inning, but obviously wasn’t sharp. The Mariners were down 4-2 by the time I packed it in for the night. I woke up the next morning to an improbable 13-5 victory. 2 more Encarnacion homers, as well as blasts from Bruce, Vogelbach, and Dylan Moore of all people.

Then Tuesday rolled around. It was two-all when I went to sleep. I woke up the next morning and lo and behold, 6-3 Mariners. Marco Gonzales improved to 4-0 on the year with 6 solid innings, and the bullpen was perfect. The only homer belonged to Bruce, but that didn’t stop the rest of the hitters, who all combined for 15 hits, including 2 doubles by Vogey.

On Wednesday, there was a bit of a rocky start from Yusei Kikuchi; when I went to bed it was three-all. I woke up to a delightful little 6-5 victory. Kikuchi ended up settling down to go a full six innings, and while the bullpen failed to hold it down, Mitch Haniger was on the case with a ninth inning homer to break the tie. Our homer streak was nearly snapped in this one until that shot, and boy was it a big one!

Finally, yesterday was getaway day, so I was awake for the whole shebang, but had to miss a good chunk in the middle for lunch. Mike Leake had a pretty poor outing, but limited the damage to 4 runs over 5 innings. Luckily, the offensive freight train couldn’t be stopped. Vogey and Dee Gordon had homers in this one – to extend the streak to 15 games in a row to start the season, an American League record – with Vogey’s being the game winner in the tenth. It was a 7-6 victory, meaning the Mariners have scored 6 or more runs in 13 of 15 games, which is clinically insane.

I’m as flummoxed as you are. I’ll say this, though: with the Astros and Indians coming to town, followed by a 4-game trip to Anaheim and a 2-gamer in San Diego, the schedule gets much more difficult than it has been. Talk to me in a couple weeks to see how excited I am about this season’s potential.