Last week, the Mariners went 4-2. The week before, it was 5-2. In this critical stretch of games leading up to the All Star Break, the Mariners have gone 18-10 in their last 28 games. We currently hold the 4th-best record in the American League, we hold the 2nd spot in the Wild Card standings by 1.5 games (over both KC & Baltimore), yet we’re still a full two games behind the Angels and 7.5 games behind the A’s.
This American League West is pretty fucking good this year. I daresay it’s the NFC West of baseball divisions.
The Mariners crushed the Red Sox in the first two games last week, winning by a combined 20-5. In the finale, Boston jumped out to a good lead, but we still managed to come back and pull within one run, with runners on base in the bottom of the ninth before our fortunes ran out. Nevertheless, we came right back and took 2 of 3 from Cleveland, featuring a solid Chris Young performance, a night where the Mariners’ bats failed to show up to the ballpark, and an afternoon where Felix was absolutely masterful. Cleveland 1-hit us on Saturday; we 1-hit them on Sunday. Anything you can do, we can do better, because we’re the Seattle Mariners, so fuck you!
In roster transaction news, Erasmo Ramirez was sent down to eventually make way for Taijuan Walker. As it happened, the Mariners replaced Ramirez with Brandon Maurer. Maurer the starter is a suck-ass who doesn’t deserve legitimate playing time beyond the AAA level. Maurer the reliever is a dominant force who can throw 99mph, has control of a wicked change up, and still has that slider that does so well against righties (and, apparently, a 93mph cut-fastball, which sounds ridiculous, but is true). I’m not sure I want to see Maurer the reliever ever leave this team! Can we keep him here forever? Can he one day be our future closer? Please?
Towards the end of the week, Jesus Montero was indeed demoted for Michael Saunders. No surprise there. Over the weekend, Saunders started three times and went 3 for 11, with a double and 2 runs scored. Nice to have you back, Michael.
Then, after the game on Sunday, it was announced that Stefen Romero is finally being relieved of his duties. Thank God. I mean, I don’t hate the kid or anything, but he’s obviously still got a lot to work on. He certainly has the potential to be a solid line drive hitting machine, but he’s got to figure out a plan when going into at bats. And he needs to improve his pitch recognition. Few more walks couldn’t hurt either.
It’s assumed Taijuan Walker is going to replace Romero on the roster, which is interesting, because that means Maurer is still here for the time being. Maybe it’s only a matter of time (say, until Justin Smoak is ready to return). Either way, it would be wise to take advantage of Maurer’s services while we still have him here. An 8-man bullpen is a nice luxury, but not a luxury you can afford long term. Not with the likes of John Buck as your DH.
Don’t look now, but it appears that the Mariners have a position of strength from which they can trade. It’ll be interesting if we can ship off a couple of young bullpen arms for a bat. At the very least, it beats the alternative of trading away starting pitching, which is at a premium for us right now.
Taijuan Walker goes tonight. It would be nice if he’s good right out of the gate. Then, I wouldn’t have to worry about the Mariners trading for one of the Cubs’ starting pitchers, when it’s so obvious to everyone in the world that the Mariners need help with their hitting. I know everyone fears the day when Chris Young turns into a pumpkin, but I feel like even a few more bad games out of him over the second half of the season won’t make much of a difference, especially if Walker is the real deal.
The Mariners have now played 82 games. Yesterday was technically the first game of the second half of the season. 2009 was the last time we were this good (at least, as far as record is concerned), when we finished 85-77. Those Mariners ended up 10 games out of the Wild Card and 12 games out in the division. Those Mariners also had a -52 run differential and only had that winning record thanks to insane luck in close games. There wasn’t any 17-game losing streak like there was in 2011 (when the Mariners sort of contended through the first three months of the season), but there just weren’t the pieces in place to push that 2009 team over the top. If you’ll recall, the only moves the Mariners made in the run-up to the July 31st Trade Deadline that year was:
- A trade for Jack Hannahan (a bench infielder who made zero impact at the plate)
- A trade for Jack Wilson & Ian Snell (a defense-only short stop and a crap starting pitcher)
- The trading of Wladimir Balentien & Jarrod Washburn for prospects (prospects who turned out to be absolutely nothing)
We can’t make that mistake again this year. There is a clear need: hitting. There are guys we can trade who aren’t Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. I’m not asking the Mariners to bring me Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout, for crying out loud! Just bring me someone who is better than Corey Hart or Justin Smoak or Dustin Ackley. It can’t be THAT hard.