Should The Seahawks Extend Duane Brown?

This isn’t a topic I really wanted to address at this juncture, but this is the reality of the NFL today. If you’re still a great player heading into the final year of your deal (or “couple of years” if you’re especially great and underpaid), you’re going to want to snap up an extension while the snapping’s good. If Duane Brown had spent the majority of his 2020 season injured or underperforming, he might be more than happy to play out his deal (then again, if that were the case, the Seahawks might’ve been more proactive in finding his replacement and would either come to him with a restructured deal or an outright release).

The NFL is ruthless, in other words. One slip-up and you could find your pink slip waiting in your locker. So, it only makes sense for players to try to leverage as much power as they can into getting as much money as they can.

It was reported recently that Duane Brown was in minicamp, but not participating. From there, reports diverge. Pete Carroll says there’s no need for Brown to practice because he’s a veteran and they’re taking care of him ahead of the regular season. People whose jobs are to actually comment on the news have said Brown wants an extension. He’s heading into the 2021 season on the final year of his deal, set to earn $10 million, plus up to another $1 million in active gameday bonuses. This will also be his Age 36 season.

Obviously, that’s a solid chunk of change, but for all the reasons stated above, it makes sense for Brown to want to capitalize on his high-quality play. He’s played the better part of four seasons in Seattle, and has been our rock on an offensive line that has otherwise been varying degrees of shaky. He played in every game for us in 2018 and 2020, and he’s heading into this season in just as good of shape.

But, let’s face it, as I’ve been saying all along: he’s one major leg injury away from calling it a career. At his age, at his size, at the length of his football career (14 years and counting), you don’t just bounce back from a catastrophic injury like you would have in your 20’s.

The plus side to this argument is that his most recent contract with the Seahawks was a 3-year extension worth just over $34 million. Meaning he was 3 years younger then, making that pretty much the cap of what a new deal would look like. The $8 million signing bonus and his $8 million 2019 salary was all that was guaranteed.

I’m guessing any extension would probably only tack on 2 more years, with a similar $16 million guarantee. Maybe his 2021 salary converts to signing bonus, we guarantee a portion of his 2022 base salary, and there’s a similar non-guaranteed base salary for 2023 that’s otherwise attainable if he continues to stay healthy and play at a high level. You can play around with the non-guaranteed salary however you want to make it look better than it actually is, while maybe even freeing up some extra cash in case the 2021 Seahawks want to add another star player to the mix.

I’m just spit-balling here; I actually have no idea.

The opposing viewpoint is: the Seahawks can force Brown to honor his existing deal. Of course, he’s already proven to be someone who’s all too happy to hold out – doing the same down in Houston, before getting the trade to Seattle that he wanted – so don’t be shocked if he calls that bluff. The Seahawks are usually reluctant to let things go to those extremes – unless you’re Kam Chancellor and you’re trying to re-up your deal with more than one year remaining – so that’s not something I would expect here. Brown has not only been a great player for us, but he’s been a leader and an important figurehead among the players (especially for the O-Line). As an organization, you don’t shit on those guys unless you’re fully prepared to move on from them.

And the Seahawks are in NO position to do that. We’ve got Stone Forsythe – 6th round draft pick this year – who is absolutely not even close to being ready to start in this league. We’ve got Jamarco Jones, who can’t stay healthy. We’ve got Brandon Shell, who is a right tackle and isn’t even guaranteed to keep THAT job, with swingman Cedric Ogbuehi breathing down his neck. There isn’t a viable starting left tackle in the bunch! And, while I haven’t done a deep dive (or ANY sort of dive), I’m assuming there aren’t any in the free agent scrap heap, or on the trade block.

This is what happens when you fail to develop a viable backup. You’re stuck, more or less, kowtowing to the demands of the entrenched starter.

I’ve been more than happy to ride the Duane Brown train as far as he’ll go, but that’s the thing: with these types of guys, you usually can’t see where the endpoint is. The Seahawks rode Walter Jones until his knees were like a jelly. Then, they had to suffer the consequences of a year (or, really, a couple years) of scrambling to back-fill the position. Jones went down in the middle of the 2008 season, and we ended up needing a high first round pick to bring in Russell Okung in 2010. I will expect nothing less when Brown is ultimately carted off the field.

As a football fan, you want to see your stars retire with the team you love. As smart organizations, though, you want to maximize the value of those stars, and get out of there just ahead of the inevitable downfall. Let some other team overpay for a washed up veteran. My hunch is, we’ll continue to see solid play out of Brown in 2021, but it wouldn’t shock me to see him fall apart in 2022. MAYBE 2023, if he’s lucky. Even the seemingly-immortal Andrew Whitworth was limited to 9 games in 2020, his age 39 season. Does Brown have what it takes to play into his 40’s? He might, but this is Seattle. We have obnoxiously-bad injury luck around these parts. So, I wouldn’t count on it.

So, get that short-term extension done, with no guarantees beyond the 2022 season, and then get to work ASAP trying to find Brown’s long-term replacement.

The Mariners Won The Season Series Against The Twins

Well, it wasn’t perfect, but the Mariners did just win 2 of 3 against the Twins at T-Mobile Park. That gave us a 4-2 season series win over one of the more disappointing clubs in the American League.

On Monday, we saw Marco Gonzales’ climb out of the IL depths with a mediocre 5-inning, 3-run performance. He thankfully ended up with a no decision, and the bullpen was awesome from there, as the Mariners scratched a run across in the 8th inning (if by “scratched” I mean Jake Bauers hit a solo bomb to center) to pull ahead 4-3. Eight Mariners had at least one hit, with Jake Fraley going 2 for 2 with 2 walks, an RBI, and a run scored.

Tuesday’s game saw the Mariners score a season-high 10 runs in a 10-0 victory. Chris Flexen went 8 shutout innings, giving up 4 hits and striking out 8. Crawford, France, Bauers, Torrens, and Long all had multi-hit games, with Crawford, France, and Torrens all hitting homers. This one was pretty fun. The M’s were up 5-0 after two innings, and ended up scoring at least one run in four additional innings after that to really put the game away.

The sweep, unfortunately, was just out of reach, as Justus Sheffield continued his shit-slide, giving up 7 runs in 5 innings. 10 hits, 2 walks, 2 homers. He’s not good. His fastball is slow and straight. His slider isn’t nearly the weapon it was last year. He keeps catching too much of the plate and is easily crushable. There’s nothing dynamic or special about his game, and I feel like it’s only a matter of time before he becomes a throw-in on a trade for another fringey, Quad-A type prospect who will also do nothing for us. As seems to be the case with most MLB trades, this is yet another one where both organizations managed to lose. Thankfully, there are lots of other more exciting pitching prospects in the pipeline; we shouldn’t have to devote too many more seasons to seeing if Sheffield is going to pan out or not (spoiler alert: he’s not going to pan out).

On the plus side, we’ve found my new favorite Mariner to dump on! I can’t wait to mock Sheffield mercilessly for as long as he remains an albatross in our starting rotation!

The Rays come to town starting tonight, so I hope you enjoyed the last couple wins we just saw, because that feeling figures to be on hiatus for the foreseeable future.

How Badly Do The Seahawks Need Jamal Adams?

I’m just going to get this out of the way up top: I want the Seahawks to give Jamal Adams an extension. I want them to make him the highest paid safety in the league, and I want him here and happy at least for the duration of THIS new deal (maybe not on a third contract, though). But, while these things tend to sort themselves out with no real trouble, there are occasions where the team and the player are too far apart in their values, and too stubborn to make that move towards the middle. That’s when you see things blow up, with players holding out, with teams making hasty trades to try to recoup some of their lost capital, with both sides doing their best to save face in the aftermath.

I don’t THINK things will blow up with the Seahawks and Jamal Adams, but I’d be a fool to totally bury my head in the sand and believe everything is going to be hunky dory.

We have to be ready to live in a world where Jamal Adams has played his last down in a Seahawks uniform. So, let’s look at what we have here, and ask ourselves: is what we have (on defense) enough?

The Seahawks have made a lot of improvements, without a lot of deficits, to make the pass rush better than it has been in the last couple years. And remember, the pass rush wasn’t too bad in the back-half of 2020! We brought back Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa on team-friendly deals. We obviously retained Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier. We get to witness Alton Robinson hopefully take a leap from his first year to his second. We get to HOPEFULLY see why it was so important for the Seahawks to trade up to draft Darrell Taylor last year. Our big free agent splash was to sign Kerry Hyder, who looked really good for the 49ers a year ago. And, the possible cherry on top – assuming there are no further legal issues – is Aldon Smith, who is looking to continue to resuscitate his once-amazing career.

Along the interior, we lost Jarran Reed, which is a blow, no doubt about it. But, we still have Poona Ford and Bryan Mone. We brought back Al Woods to be a big plug in the run game. We have a bunch of really young guys to develop behind them. And, we’re taking a flyer on Robert Nkemdiche, who has been a HUGE bust thus far in his NFL career, but was nevertheless a first round pick in 2016 for a reason. If anyone is going to get the most out of this guy, I would venture to say it’s the Seahawks. He’s gotta want it, of course – and I think that’s the biggest hurdle of all – but if he’s interested, he’s got all the tools to be really special.

So, is that enough? Boy, there is A LOT to like, especially among the defensive ends. It’s not the highest-profile pass rushing unit in the league, but I really do believe they can be effective.

But, let’s try to be objective here. Essentially, it’s the same group as last year, only we traded Reed for Hyder. That concerns me, because finding interior pass rushing is so much harder. How good will Hyder be rushing on the inside, in this system? I guess we’ll find out. I’m also at a point with Taylor where I’ll believe it when I see it; he’s still a rookie in my eyes, since he has yet to play a down in the NFL. And, you HAVE to worry about depth, especially if/when the important guys get injured. Green and Collier are okay complementary pieces, but how diminishing will those returns be if they have to play on an every-down basis?

Most importantly of all, if we agree this is pretty much the same group as last year, you have to concede that the 2020 Seahawks also had Jamal Adams, his blitzing, and his 9.5 sacks out of the secondary. How effective will that group be in this hypothetical scenario where we DON’T have Adams?

That’s something I really don’t want to think about.

The wild card in all of this is what the Seahawks might get in return, if they were forced to trade Adams. Let’s say, for instance, we deal him for another team’s disgruntled holdout? What if we were to get Stephon Gilmore from the Patriots?

There’s a lot of risk there, obviously. Adams will be 26, Gilmore will be 31. But, given Adams’ style of play, I’d say the injury risk is probably a wash; the risk with Gilmore is more in the realm of old age slowing him down. Gilmore MIGHT be savvy enough to use his veteran wiles and sustain through the guaranteed money years of his next deal, just as Adams MIGHT not blow out a vertebra in his neck in the next 2-3 years.

In the short term, though, this could be an interesting move. Instead of valuing pass rush above all else, we’ll take our existing pass rush and combine it with vastly improved coverage in our secondary. Instead of D.J. Reed and whoever, it’ll be Gilmore and Reed and some really solid depth behind them. Improved coverage, in its own way, can aide in generating pass rush, by giving our guys enough time to beat the opposing team’s blocking.

Of course, the obvious dream scenario is to extend Adams AND trade for Gilmore. But, I don’t know if we live in that kind of world where I get to have whatever the fuck I want. Odds are, Gilmore is a pipe dream, and it’s better to set our focus on Adams.

In the end, the Seahawks don’t need Adams quite as much as they did heading into the 2020 season (mostly thanks to last year’s in-season trade for Dunlap). But, if we have our sights on winning another Super Bowl, I think Adams is vitally important.

Championship teams need superstars, period. Jamal Adams is a superstar. We’ve already seen that he can be wildly effective in this system, so now it’s time to pay the man and get to work.

The Mariners Played The Indians For The Last Time

Haha! Fun with technicalities and team name changes.

This was a camping weekend for yours truly, so I only ended up watching maybe the last couple innings of the Sunday game. Turns out, I didn’t really miss much.

The Mariners lost 7-0 on Friday. A text from my friend came through that read, “At least the Mariners weren’t no hit. Minor win with that.” That was really all I needed to know. I think this was Justin Dunn’s first start back since the brief IL stint, and clearly he didn’t have anything, nor did anyone else on the team.

Saturday’s game was an unfortunate one that we probably should’ve had. A 4-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth? That’s a game you should win 10 times out of 10. The real shame of it all is that another great start by Yusei Kikuchi was wasted; he went 7 innings of shutout ball, giving up 3 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 6. Kendall Graveman – still working his way back from the COVID IL – gave up a solo homer in the 8th, but that’s still no excuse for Rafael Montero blowing the 9th the way he did. That’s his 6th blown save of the season and at this point I just don’t see how we salvage it with him. It’s one of two things with him: either this is a lost season and he’ll get it all back in 2022 (presumably with a new team), or he’s just finished as a Major League pitcher. The way he’s been throwing, I just can’t see him turning things around in 2021, and even if he does, it DEFINITELY won’t be with the Mariners. One of the biggest busts of the year, and that’s factoring in James Paxton getting injured in his very first start.

On top of everything, Saturday’s game was our first loss in extra innings. We salvaged things on Sunday, winning that one 6-2. Logan Gilbert had another great start, going 6.2 innings, giving up 1 run on 4 hits and 1 walk, striking out 6. The bullpen was lockdown from there, until two outs into the 9th inning, when Graveman had some trouble getting that 27th out. He eventually loaded the bases and wild pitched in a run before closing the door. Even with a 5-run lead, Scott Servais wasn’t taking any chances with this one. The aforementioned Graveman went on back-to-back days (throwing 33 pitches in this game alone), Kyle Seager went from DH to 3B for that 9th inning. Shed Long was removed from LF for Jake Fraley; Ty France went from 3B to 1B. He WOULD NOT tolerate another blown save, if he could help it! And yet, Graveman almost did so anyway, which would’ve been pretty hilarious, in a sick way.

The Mariners went 4-6 on that road trip, losing two games in every city they visited. They’ve now earned a nice, long homestand for their trouble.

Sigh, The Mariners Beat The Tigers Once This Season

The Tigers objectively stink. I think that’s what’s so infuriating about all of this. To be fair, the Mariners objectively stink as well, but at least we’re still hovering around .500 because we stink in marginally different ways. Our bullpen usually isn’t a trainwreck, for instance. And, when our guys do hit, they tend to knock other guys in for runs.

The Mariners have a winning record against the A.L. West. We’ve played .500 ball or better against the likes of the Red Sox, Giants, and Indians. On the flipside, the Tigers STINK! They’re winning at a .412 clip against all teams not based out of Seattle; the Mariners meanwhile are winning at a .526 clip against all non-Detroit teams! This is unfathomable!

It is unfathomable that the Mariners went 1-5 against the Tigers this season. And yet, here we are.

On Tuesday, Marco Gonzales made his second start back from the IL, going 4 innings and giving up 4 runs (3 of them in the first inning). The M’s couldn’t do much of anything against the Tigers’ starter and we lost the game 5-3, ensuring that we would lose the season series right off the bat.

Wednesday’s game was a real barn-burner! I ended up watching most of it, as it was easily in the top three of most exciting M’s games of the season. Chris Flexen gave up 3 runs in 6 innings and that held as the game went into extras. Of course, the game only made it that far because Jake Fraley made an insane over-the-outfield-wall catch to rob a game-winning home run. Fraley also went 2/5 at the plate with a run and an RBI. J.P. Crawford added a couple hits, an RBI and a run to continue his hot stretch of hitting. All in all, eight Mariners contributed on offense with at least one hit. But, the star was newcomer Dillon Thomas, who made his first Major League appearance after 10+ years in the minors. He got the start in right field and also had a fantastic defensive catch to rob the Tigers of extra bases early in the game. He came through in the 11th inning with a 2-run single to help put this game away. This ended up being a 9-6 Mariners victory and it was so much fun it ALMOST made up for the other five losses to the Tigers this season.

Today’s game was an 8-3 drubbing that’s better off forgotten to the sands of time. Justus Sheffield struggled, again, giving up 5 runs (3 earned) in 4 innings. He’s been among the biggest healthy disappointments on the Mariners this season; maybe THE biggest. He’s yet to make it beyond the 6th inning in a game, and only has three quality starts. I don’t think there’s a starter in the organization whose games I look forward to less, and that’s including Nick Margevicius when he was healthy. Hell, the Bullpen Days are more entertaining!

I don’t know what to say, other than I guess we’re lucky to be finished with the Tigers this season? Honestly, that record should be reversed – we should’ve gone 5-1 against them – but whatever. It’s one of those things. Like when the Astros were among the very worst teams in all of baseball, and as soon as they joined the A.L. West, they were unstoppable killing machines against the Mariners. It’s a helpless feeling as a fan, let me tell you.

The Seahawks Extended Michael Dickson

All right, we won’t have to worry about the punter position for a few more years. The Seahawks announced in the last week that they extended Michael Dickson for 4 years, $14.5 million. This is on top of his 2021 season that sees him making over $3 million, so we’re looking at one of the highest-paid punters in the NFL.

By the looks of it, I’m pretty sure Dickson – by total value and dollars per year – is second only to Johnny Hekker of the Rams, which feels about right. At the time of his next deal – assuming he’s still kicking ass and taking names – I would expect Dickson to be #1 overall. This is the price you pay for elite punting. And, as a guy who witnessed some atrocious punting by the Seahawks at times in the 90’s and early 2000’s, I can tell you this isn’t necessarily a place you want to skimp.

The Seahawks play a particular style of football that lends itself to rely on the punter more than, say, the Kansas City Chiefs. On top of this, as the Seahawks’ defense has trended steadily downward since the L.O.B. glory days, punting becomes quietly critical. The more field a mediocre defense gets to defend, the higher the likelihood that we turn touchdowns into field goals and field goals into punts by the other team. So, the more often a punter can help a defense – by booting the ball inside the 20 and 10 yard lines – the better the outcomes the Seahawks will have as a result. It’s all very scientific and analytical, I don’t want to bore you here.

The cool thing about having an elite punter is when the defense isn’t mediocre any longer. If everything happens as it’s supposed to – guys stay healthy, certain guys improve more to their potential, Jamal Adams signs his extension and plays this season – then the difference in yardage an elite punter can squeeze out of the Special Teams is enormous. That’s not just turning touchdowns into field goals and field goals into punts, but more drives into safeties and turnovers. Pinning a team deep in its own end – combined with the advantage of having fans in the stands again – can elicit at least comparisons to the glory days of Seahawks defense. Again, it’s all very technical and complex.

Anyway, I’m a fan. I’m a fan of this deal and I’m a fan of Big Balls Dickson. We got to enjoy Dickson for three years on a rookie deal, and he was set to get a huge raise anyway in 2021 since he made an All Pro in that time. The difference between a rookie deal and what he’s making now is about $3 million per year. In NFL parlance, that’s peanuts. I’m fine paying that figure if it means we get the best punter in the game through the majority of his prime punting years.

Jarred Kelenic Got Sent Back Down To Tacoma Temporarily

The thing is: I don’t think there’s a way to positively spin this. The best you can do is give it a Not Negative spin, which is that: it happens to the best of them.

There’s no reason to be excited Jarred Kelenic is being sent back down to the minors, after hitting a whopping .096/.185/.193, with 2 doubles, 2 homers, 8 walks, and 26 strikeouts in 23 games (over 83 at bats). The alternative is: he’s great right from the get-go! And who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t want Kelenic to tear the cover off the ball from his very first game and laugh all the way to the bank at all the people who doubted he was ready when he said he was ready?

I guess the only thing that came to my mind was that he’s a cocky little shit, so maybe a little humble pie wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for him to be eating. But, that’s really only a positive for his everyday life. When he’s on the field, and at that plate, I think you WANT him to be a cocky little shit! You want him to walk with that swag everywhere he goes between those lines! You want him to talk trash and give entertaining post-game quotes, it makes baseball – one of our most-boring professional sports – fun!

There’s an impulse to want to say, “Here we go again, the Mariners fucked up another one of their can’t-miss prospects.” I’ll admit, it’s hard for me not to come out with both barrels blazing. This fucking organization is so fucking God damned inept … BUT, in this one instance, I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think they rushed him like they clearly did with Mike Zunino, Dustin Ackley, and some of their pitchers through the years (Brandon Morrow being jerked around from starter to reliever comes to mind). Jarred Kelenic has proven every step of the way that he’s too good for the minors. And, where it matters most – his mental make-up – is clearly off the charts. While it feels idiotic to put him as your leadoff hitter from his very first game, even then I don’t think they gave him anything that was too big for him to handle. If they had “hidden” him as a 7-hole hitter from Day One, I don’t think his batting average would be any better today. Who knows? I could be totally off-base. But, I think this is just one of those things.

He wasn’t ready this time. I expect Jarred Kelenic will be ready next time.

Sometimes you just need an opportunity to reset. I understand – as I think we all do – how difficult life can be when you’re overwhelmed, your mind is racing a mile a minute, and it’s a struggle just to keep your head above water. With everything feeling like it’s happening all at once, you become overstimulated, and it fries your brain a little bit. It’s nice, in those cases, to just get away from whatever it is that’s dominating your focus, think about literally anything else, and just breathe, without the lights constantly pointed at you.

I don’t care how great your mental make-up is, look at what Jarred Kelenic has come to represent: the next big hope for one of the most hapless organizations in Major League Baseball history. The guy that is supposed to lead the charge out of the 20-year playoff drought and get us to our first-ever World Series. The tentpole for this great rebuild back to respectability. That’s a lot to carry on one kid’s shoulders. Besides that, I’m sure he wants to be great for himself, and for his career, to be the superstar that he feels he was always destined to be. It’s hard not to want all of that RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND.

But, baseball has a way of knocking you down. It’ll be very interesting to see how he responds when he gets his next opportunity.

If you’re one of those fans who is freaking out about Kelenic being a bust, just go ahead and slow your roll. He’ll be fine. Probably. I mean, no one really knows, I guess. But, if you were a believer before, one month of shabby play shouldn’t deter you. My hunch is: he’ll go to Tacoma for a month, do fine, get called back up, and be much better than he was in his initial call-up.

Years from now, we’ll forget all about this unpleasant little first stint in the Majors. Hopefully it’s because he’s going to All Star Games every year, and not because he’s totally flamed out.

The So-So Mariners Split A Series Against The Angels

We kicked things off last Thursday with an impressive 6-2 victory, behind a gutty Justus Sheffield performance (2 runs in 5.2 innings), when he didn’t necessarily have his best stuff. Jake Fraley hit his first big league home run – a 3-run shot – and continued to add to his crazy-high on-base percentage with two more walks. Seager and Haniger also had a couple hits each (including a solo homer for Seager), and the bullpen totally shut things down in the end.

Friday’s game was a hard-luck 3-2 defeat. We were able to touch up Shohei Ohtani for a couple runs in his 6 innings of work (thanks to J.P. Crawford, who has been remarkable of late). Even though Taylor Trammell and Donovan Walton both had a couple hits each, there just wasn’t enough offense to go around. The Bullpen Day did its job and then some, with Robert Dugger giving up 2 runs in 2.1 innings, but there was only one run given up the rest of the way. The Mariners actually had the bases loaded with nobody out in the 8th, with the heart of the order coming up. We’ve been much better with runners in scoring position this season than we have with the bases empty – which seems more a byproduct of flukiness than anything – but it wasn’t to be on this night. Haniger fouled out, and Seager and France both struck out to end the threat.

Saturday’s game was a nightmare scenario (12-5 defeat) that thankfully wasn’t even worse. I would argue the Mariners had a very good chance to take this game, except Yusei Kikuchi – who had been pretty much cruising as usual to this point – took a line drive off of his knee in the bottom of the fifth with nobody out and had to come out of the game. This was on his 64th pitch of the game, so his arm was fresh enough to take him into the seventh or eighth. If that batter hits it anywhere else in the infield, we might’ve been looking at a double play and a quick end to that inning! Instead, he gave up 4 runs in 4 innings, and the overworked bullpen imploded from there, giving up 8 additional runs the rest of the way. The lone bright spot was the 5-run fourth inning for the Mariners, thanks in large part to a Jake Fraley grand slam. I don’t know how the Angels’ starter ended up going 7 full innings, but I guess other than that one inning, the Mariners rolled over like obedient puppy dogs (literally figuratively, with a 12:3 ground ball to fly ball ratio). The silver lining here is that Kikuchi responded well to treatment and might not miss a start, which is a relief considering how much agony he was in on the field when he had to be helped off.

That was unfortunate, but the M’s bounced back with a 9-5 victory on Sunday to even the series. Logan Gilbert was really impressive for his second consecutive outing, going 5 innings, giving up 1 run, and getting his first Major League win. He struck out 7 (which is good), gave up only 2 hits (which is great), but did walk 4 guys (not so hot). We did stretch him out for 105 pitches (his previous high in a big league game had been 80), but that’s probably just as much out of necessity (the bullpen being shot) than wanting to build up his arm. This one could’ve gotten hairy, as the Mariners only had a 4-2 lead heading into the ninth, but we were able to add on 5 runs in the top half, to counter their 3 additional runs in the bottom. J.P. Crawford continued his hot streak with 2 hits, runs, and RBI. Fraley had another hit, walk, and RBI (on said walk). Donovan Walton had two more hits, including a solo homer, 2 RBI, and 3 runs scored. And Jarred Kelenic didn’t get any at-bats, as he’s mired in an 0-for-forever slump, with his batting average down to .096.

The road trip continues through the midwest this week – Detroit and Cleveland, so hopefully no weather SNAFUs – before another nice, long homestand.

The Mariners Bounced Back The Opposite Way, Lost A Series To The Athletics

The 6-5 victory on Monday sealed off five wins in a row, and a stretch of 7 wins in 8 games: relatively impressive after the 6 losses in a row that preceeded it. Granted, the bullpen gagged away our 4-2 lead late in the game, blowing a would-be victory for Logan Gilbert – who was impressive over 6 innings, giving up just 2 runs on 5 hits and a walk, with 5 strikeouts, on 80 pitches – but we were able to prevail in extras thanks to some clutch hitting and a rabid sacrifice fly by Tom Murphy.

My friends and I went to the game on Tuesday thinking we had this game pegged. Marco Gonzales was making his return from the IL and wasn’t projected to go very far, since he hadn’t made any tune-up starts in the minor leagues. This one had all the feel of a game that might get out of hand early, with the bullpen carrying the mail like it usually does to keep things interesting to the end.

Instead, Marco was great! He threw 50 pitches, made it through 4 innings, and gave up only 1 run on 2 hits. It was, indeed, the bullpen that was shot, giving up the other 11 runs that turned this game into a rout, particularly with a 6-run seventh inning. We left the game not long after that debacle.

Wednesday’s rubber match was a total nightmare. I watched for almost three innings, but the A’s put up a 5-spot in the third and I knew it was over from there. I don’t know a ton about the Athletics and their players, but I know Sean Manaea fucking owns our asses. One run would’ve been too much, as this ended in a 6-0 complete game shutout for the man. Chris Flexen was able to gamely make it through 6 innings, just giving up those 5 runs, so it was nice of him to spare the bullpen a little bit (as Justin Dunn is going to miss his next start, which means we’re in for yet another bullpen day coming up).

It’s actually kind of crazy how many Mariners are hitting the IL this year. I have little frame of reference how they compare to the rest of MLB, or how they compare to normal seasons in the recent past, but it feels like a lot. It feels somewhat abnormal. Some of these would have happened in any ol’ season – I’m looking at Ty France getting hit by a pitch, and Kyle Lewis’ bum knee – but there has to be a non-zero number of injuries that we can attribute to COVID-19 and the cockadoodie 2020 season with only 60 games and no minor leagues. Guys whose bodies … for lack of a better phrase are out of baseball shape. So they’re getting these strains that they might not otherwise.

Of course, this could also just be a byproduct of the game today. Today’s player probably needs more regular off-days than they’re getting. Teams are unwilling or unable to roster full benches – because they’re using every extra spot on their bullpens – and obviously that’s for good reason, given how many of these injuries are happening to pitchers. When you’re a team like the Mariners – trying to run a 6-man rotation out there, partially in hopes of reducing some of the wear-and-tear, even though we no longer employ more than 6 viable starting pitchers at the Major League level – this rash of injuries becomes more pronounced. When fans are forced to watch many multiple bullpen days because the organization fucked around in the offseason putting all their chips in on James Paxton, there’s an injury trickle-down effect when that very bullpen that’s been carrying this team gets overworked. All in the name of this theory that a 6-man rotation is supposed to cut down on injuries.

IT’S NOT WORKING, MARINERS! All it’s doing is costing you games and the livelihood of your relievers that you’re running through a fucking meat-grinder.

In theory, in an ideal world where the Mariners have an unlimited source of quality starting pitchers, a 6-man rotation might be a good idea. But, in reality, almost no team has 6 good-to-great starters. They BARELY have 5, with the depth being of the sub-replacement level variety. There’s a reason why teams in the playoffs scale back to three starters, maybe four at the most. Obviously, you can’t do that over the course of a full 162-game season, but it’s pretty apparent you also can’t stretch it out to 6 without throwing away some games.

Those games start to add up when you’re hovering around .500 and ostensibly in contention for a postseason berth.

The Seahawks Don’t Need Julio Jones

This falls under the Needless Extravagance category.

Julio Jones is up for grabs. He wants out of Atlanta for some reason; since he’s very well-paid and presumably treated like the superstar that he is, it’s probably because the Falcons stink and don’t figure to be good again anytime soon. Regardless, he’s asked to be moved, and the Falcons appear willing to accommodate this request; since they’re also at the edge of their own salary cap, this seems to be beneficial for both parties. The Falcons save some cash, Julio gets to play for a ring.

It was announced this past week that the Seahawks are in the running. Likely, they called to inquire about Atlanta’s asking price, as they would about any major impact player; it’s what smart organizations do. Word of this, in the context of the Seahawks being the Seahawks (i.e. VERY willing to make these types of splashy, blockbuster deals for megastars), has left Vegas of the opinion that the Seahawks are the frontrunners to acquire Julio Jones, in spite of the fact that we also have very little money to spend, very few draft picks to trade, and we JUST drafted a wide receiver to throw onto the pile (a pile that also includes D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett). None of this makes any sense from Seattle’s perspective, but again, when have these types of Seahawks trades EVER made sense? They find a way to get them done, and we go from there.

Fans have been split, to say the least. Many are rightly excited, because he’s Julio Jones for Christ’s sake! If for no other reason than to prevent him going to the Rams or 49ers or Cardinals, this is a no-brainer! He’s one of the most dominant wide receivers of all time, a 7-time Pro Bowler and 2-time All Pro (first team); when you have an opportunity to add someone of this level of talent, you jump at it!

On the flipside, he’s 32 years old. He’s coming off of a season where he played in only 9 games. I don’t care that he was still playing at an elite level in those 9 games, the main number isn’t his 11.3 yards per target, it’s the 7 fucking games he missed. For a wide receiver, the only phrase worse than “lingering hamstring injury” is the dreaded “turf toe”. On top of which, he’s under contract through 2023 (when he’ll be 34 years old), with fully-guaranteed money through 2022. I think people are right to be concerned about his health over the next two years. You trade for a guy like Julio Jones banking on him playing 15-16 games (or, in this brave new world, 16-17 games) plus the entire playoffs; it’s fucking useless if he’s out half the year and playing through injuries the rest of the time. Unless he’s on some secret HGH regimen, guys don’t get MORE durable as they get into their 30’s, this is just the way it is. Father Time was, is, and always will be undefeated.

I’ll admit, I think it would be cool to have Julio on the team, for all the positive reasons stated above. But, I just don’t know how much of a difference he’d make. This offense is already shaping up to be pretty fucking great as it is. We have two top tier receivers and a rookie I’m sure everyone would like to get involved thanks to his speed and toughness. Between that and our dedication to the running game, I don’t see how a few targets to Julio is going to make THAT much of a difference. More impactful would be a shutdown cornerback, or an elite pass rushing defensive tackle; really just another superstar in general on the defense would make me SO MUCH happier than Julio Jones.

If it happens, and he’s a Seahawk in 2021, I won’t be mad. Indeed, I’m sure I’ll be giddy at the thought. But, when we’re all inevitably disappointed that his addition doesn’t translate to the Super Bowl championship we all expect, don’t say I didn’t warn you.