The Mariners Won A Series!

No no no, not a World Series. Just a series. It’s fine, we’re keeping expectations REAL low around here.

I don’t like the Angels. I think they peaked with Angels in the Outfield and they’ve been going downhill ever since! I might still hate the A’s the most, and obviously the Astros came from out of nowhere seven years ago to join the American League and torment my very soul, but there’s something so distasteful about the Angels and I can’t put my finger on it.

Maybe it’s because I should hate them MORE? Because they’re from the Los Angeles area (to be fair, Anaheim IS a city in its own right, and where they actually play all of their home games, which is why I refuse to call them the L.A. Angels), have a buttload of money to throw around, have the best player in the game, yet still find ways to be mediocre (and even then, in their mediocrity, still manage to make the lives of Mariners fans a living hell). I dunno! All I know is that I really don’t like them, I relish when they fail, and I take a personal interest in them failing to the Seattle Mariners.

This week, the Angels lost two of three to one of the very worst teams (on paper) in the Major Leagues, and while I COULD be happier … I’m still pretty gosh darn happy!

As expected, we didn’t get a lot out of the rookie starting pitchers.

  • Justus Sheffield: 3 innings, 4 runs
  • Justin Dunn: 3 innings, 3 runs, 2 earned

Sheffield looked so-so through two scoreless innings before things started to unravel. I didn’t LOVE the lack of life on his fastball (it seemed to sit in the low-90’s, I’d like to see that anywhere from 95-98 if possible). He didn’t seem to have the worst command I’ve ever seen, but it was clear he was battling. In that sense, I was proud he made it through the third only giving up two runs. All things considered, I might’ve been tempted to not send him out to start the fourth inning (which he did, not registering an out while giving up two more baserunners who would go on to score when the next batter knocked one out of the park against our reliever), but with the first four games all being heavily reliant on our bullpen, I can see why we tried to get a little more out of our starter. This game was, nevertheless, a tough one to watch, as the Mariners lost 10-2.

Apparently there was some sort of fourth inning hex put upon our pitching staff through the first turn of the rotation, because Justin Dunn was cruising through three innings before starting to come apart! Thankfully, the bats came alive in this one. The Angels led 4-1 before the Mariners started doing some damage with a 5-spot in the sixth (punctuated by Dylan Moore’s 3-run homer; WELCOME TO THE PARTY, PAL!). The Angels re-took the lead in the bottom half, 7-6, before the Mariners piled ’em back on with three more runs over the next two innings to win it 10-7.

The story of the rubber match was Marco Gonzales bringing his A-game. He went 6.1 innings, giving up 2 unearned runs on 3 hits, 1 walk, and 1 error by our second baseman. Jose Marmolejos jacked a 3-run homer in the first, and the Mariners didn’t score again until adding five insurance runs in the top of the ninth. Which we apparently needed desperately! A 3-2 lead (which is what we would’ve had) could’ve been disasterous, as Dan Altavilla gave up three runs in the ninth. Crisis was averted, though, and the good guys won 8-5.

Just about all the young guys you want to see succeed are doing just that through the first week of the season. Kyle Lewis continues to rake, leading the team in hits, batting average, homers, total bases, and RBI. J.P. Crawford has come on strong, leading the team in on-base percentage and is still hitting the ball hard. Tim Lopes and to a lesser extent Dylan Moore (in just two games, both against the Angels) have impressed as guys we penciled in as reserves. Shed Long looks more and more comfortable in the leadoff spot every time I see him. The best thing is that no one really seems to be overwhelmed. As the youngest team in baseball, you’d expect guys to be playing tentatively, but for the most part they seem like they have good plans when they’re at the plate.

Now that we’re one full turn through the rotation, I would expect the starters to start (!) pitching better. Marco getting into the seventh inning was absolutely necessary; here’s hoping at least the rest of the veterans can do the same. That will take a load off of this bullpen that’s had to work overtime keeping this pitching staff afloat.

The Mariners are 3-4, heading home for the first time. That’s about as good as any of us could have expected. Not for nothing, but that’s only 0.5 games behind the first place A’s and Astros! And would you look at that, the A’s are in town for four games! How about it?

Let’s just hope there’s still baseball to be played by Monday. I’m already hearing a number of games have been or are being canceled due to COVID-19. That … is not ideal.

The Seahawks Made Some Interesting Cuts After Trading For Jamal Adams

We’re all looking for a little bit of meaning to this thing called life. What are we here for? What’s the point of it all?

As sports fans, we’re also looking for a little bit of meaning to certain roster moves our teams make. Over the weekend, the Seahawks traded for Jamal Adams. Not long after that, it was announced the Seahawks cut Branden Jackson and Joey Hunt, saving a combined just-over $4 million. There were other cuts made – teams have to trim rosters from 90 to 80 players, thanks to COVID-19 concessions due to less money coming in on the season – but the only real notable player among that group was guard Jordan Roos, who’s just a guy.

They’re all just guys, really. Jackson and Hunt were both on restricted free agent deals which are not guaranteed. They were also, at best, here to compete, but not very likely to earn starting jobs with this team. The Seahawks spent big money to bring in B.J. Finney to be this team’s center (money that IS largely guaranteed), so that ruled Hunt out. You don’t mind keeping a guy like Hunt around to get through training camp and pre-season, but with no pre-season, and with roster cuts needing to be made relatively soon, it no longer makes as much sense to string him along. As for Jackson, he’s never been anything but a back-of-the-roster depth piece. The Seahawks have invested in a lot of younger players – as well as a couple of key veterans in Bruce Irvin & Benson Mayowa – so they’re not going to devote significant snaps to someone with little upside and little actual talent.

Plus, this way, these guys get a chance to catch on with another team ahead of the start of the season (apparently, Jordan “Just A Guy” Roos has already been claimed by the Raiders).

I wrote those first three paragraphs two days ago in hopes that we’d have a little more clarity on this front, but all has been pretty quiet since then. The 2020 draft picks are all signed, which was a mere formality anyway. I had sort of hoped we’d hear something about David Moore – who’s also a restricted free agent playing on a similar tender as Hunt and Jackson – either related to a restructured deal or a cut for salary relief, but so far nothing.

Similarly, I had sort of hoped we’d hear about a free agent signing along the defensive line. I’ve given up the dream on Clowney – shit man, he might not sign ANYWHERE given how this free agency period has gone for him! – but I thought maybe another defensive tackle, at the very least! There is, of course, still plenty of time, as this week is being devoted to COVID-19 testing before the players are allowed to meet in person (three negative tests by this weekend for that to be a reality), but you don’t want to let things drag on too long, with so many solid names still available in free agency.

In more unpleasant news, Quinton Dunbar was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, which means he is not allowed to join training camp, presumably until his outside legal issues have been worked out. I think this is the NFL’s way of saying he’s likely up shit’s creek with a turd paddle and that he’s going to be suspended eventually for his crimes (as if, you know, going to PRISON isn’t punishment enough).

So, HEY, Tre Flowers! No hard feelings, huh?! We always believed in you; you’re the BEST!

The Mariners Mariners’d Things Up Down In Houston

This season was always going to be a bit of a sideshow combined with a tire fire, but it was particularly cruel to have the Mariners go to Houston to start the season with a four-game series. You’d be hard-pressed to find two more polar opposites with the Astros at the top of the game today (probably trending downward, you’d have to figure, as their players acclimate to the difficulties of not being able to cheat as much) and the Mariners near the very bottom (certainly trending upward, because how much lower can things get?). Frankly, I was surprised the M’s even won ONE game this weekend!

The pitching – across the board – really failed the Mariners in this series. We more or less expected that out of the bullpen (and that’s more or less what we got from them, aside from the lone victory), but the starters also completely shit the bed! It’s like they TRIED to get as much of it on there as possible, clogging up their bowels with lots of meat and cheese, holding it in for a few extra days, then unleashing their stinky fury all over the place.

  • Marco Gonzales: 4.1 innings, 4 runs, 3 earned
  • Taijuan Walker: 3.1 innings, 5 runs
  • Yusei Kikuchi: 3.2 innings, 5 runs
  • Kendall Graveman: 4.0 innings, 7 runs, 6 earned

I would expect those guys to get better sooner rather than later, as their arms build back up and they’re not forced to go up against lineups as stacked as the Astros’. Clearly, these guys were on shortened pitch counts, as no one really had an opportunity to ramp up completely; but even if they were at mid-season strength, I would argue there wasn’t much point in extending their leashes in these games given how poorly they performed.

The numbers from the bullpen in this series are actually better than they looked (I would attribute that to their inability to save the starters’ ERAs by preventing inherited runners from scoring):

  • Game 1: 3.2 innings, 4 runs
  • Game 2: 4.2 innings, 2 runs
  • Game 3: 5.1 innings, 1 run
  • Game 4: 4.0 innings, 1 run

Those aren’t terrible, particularly against a team like Houston, but we’ll see how things look as the season progresses.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though! There were some real bright spots among the hitters!

Kyle Lewis continues to be a Mariners dreamboat. Six hits in the four games, including two homers, with four RBI and a slash line of .400/.500/.800. J.P. Crawford hit two triples and a double, Evan White banged out his first career Major League home run yesterday, Tim Lopes had a couple of doubles. The only guys who are REALLY struggling are Mallex Smith and Daniel Vogelbach, and I don’t think either of them figure into the Mariners’ long-term plans anyway.

I was also really impressed with veteran Kyle Seager, who jacked a homer and three doubles (including at least one to left-center). It’s cool that he’s off to a hot start, and it seems like he’s really a calming veteran presence on what is the very youngest team in the Major Leagues.

I will say the defense overall was pretty rough. Only two errors in the four games, but I think there was some generous scoring going on. There were a number of allegedly-difficult plays that we flat out missed, that good defensive teams would’ve had no problem converting. I won’t make a big deal about it – because in the overall outlook of this season, defense is probably the least of our concerns – but it’s nevertheless something to monitor as these games pile on.

Now we’re off to Anaheim (does the fun ever START?) before our home opener this weekend. These games will be mighty interesting. Anaheim was projected to be one of the divisional contenders, but they’ve also compiled a 1-3 record. The M’s will feature Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn tonight and tomorrow; believe you me, my eyeballs will be glued to the screen for their 3.2 innings of work apiece!

The Seahawks Traded Away A Fuckload To Bring Back Jamal Adams

Turns out it wasn’t just a nonsense rumor.

Here’s the damage. The Jets get:

  • 2021 & 2022 Seahawks first round draft picks
  • 2021 Seahawks third round draft pick
  • Bradley McDougald, with 1 year and $3.6 million remaining on his deal

The Seahawks get:

  • 2022 Jets fourth round pick
  • Jamal Adams, making around $3.59 million this year, and set to earn $9.86 million in 2021

Fine, so Jamal Adams is one of the best safeties in football. Does that make him worth two first rounders? Is ANY safety worth two first rounders? Well, you could argue (and I have) that the Seahawks are just going to screw up with whoever they select in the first round anyway, so what are first rounders REALLY worth on this team? Still, it seems like getting rid of a headache for the Jets should come at a little bit more of a discount!

How is Jamal Adams a headache, you ask? Well, he fancies himself one of the best safeties in football, and as you can see from above, he’s not exactly taking in the type of money one would expect. Also, not for nothing, but he had the misfortune of being drafted by the Jets! As one of the poorer-run franchises in all of professional sports (not the worst, mind you; they’re not the Washington Football Team or anything), they rarely make good decisions on personnel and ipso facto, they rarely make the playoffs or are any sort of legitimate threat to win championships. So, of course, he’s been threatening to hold out (don’t know how much good that does players anymore), requesting a re-worked deal at the top of the safety market, demanding a re-worked deal at the top of the safety market, and ultimately just demanding a trade out of the Jets’ organization.

The Jets seemed willing to wait it out. With the fourth year of Adams’ rookie deal yet to be played, and with the fifth year option already administered, they were holding a pretty good hand. The Seahawks opted to blink first, and here we are.

What’s interesting is, you might expect the Seahawks to turn around and immediately announce a long-term contract extension for Adams. Not to say that still can’t happen (indeed, the way salary has been dumped over the last day might indicate something is afoot), but a reporter on Twitter this morning said both sides have agreed that Adams will play on his existing contract, with no promises about the future. My hunch is, if this is true, the Seahawks are going to see how he looks and determine how best to fit him within the scheme, and then if it pans out, either extend him sometime during the season or in the next offseason. I do NOT expect Adams to play on his fifth-year option next year, nor do I expect the Seahawks to let him walk (at best, we would get a third round draft pick in compensation if he did, which is nowhere near worth the cost of giving up two first rounders and a third).

I’ll be interested in how Jamal Adams is used by the Seahawks. When I think of the best safety in football, I think of Earl Thomas. I think THAT guy has real high-end value! His speed, his instincts, his playmaking when it comes to generating turnovers and absolutely destroying fools: it’s pretty unmatched! By all accounts, Adams doesn’t play the same game as Earl. While you can put him in at free safety, that’s not his natural spot; he’s more of a strong safety, or even a quasi-linebacker type.

He has 12.0 sacks in his 3-year career, including a whopping 6.5 last year! He’s also only got two interceptions, which is pretty underwhelming. In looking at various charts and whatnot, it looks like Adams lines up pretty close to the line of scrimmage on most plays, which would indicate more of a Kam Chancellor type. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Kam – he’s one of my all-time favorite professional athletes! – but is he worth two 1’s and a 3?

People say Adams is a better version of Kam, that he can do more in coverage (particularly against tight ends *ahem, George Kittle*). And, really, what’s undeniable is that this defense has NOT been the same since Kam was forced into early retirement because of his neck injury.

I have a lot of conflicting emotions, is the point I’m trying to make. The Seahawks don’t have the best track record when it comes to these types of blockbuster trades (which I’ll look into in a future post). But, here’s the good news: the Seahawks added another playmaker!

Adams is undeniably an upgrade over Bradley McDougald. I was a big fan of McDougald when he was here; I thought the Seahawks got tremendous value out of him in his three years here. But, he’s 30 years old this year, and while he laced ’em up just about every game, injuries wore his body down. McDougald was generally pretty great early in seasons, but his production fell off the map as the weeks dragged on and he was forced to play through a nagging this or a bruised that. As an everyman, as a third option to fill in or help out on a part-time basis, I don’t think there are many who would be better in that role than McDougald; in a defense featuring Quandre Diggs and Marquise Blair as your starters, I liked that trio a lot.

But, McDougald almost certainly would’ve started off this season as one of the starters, and Blair is the big unknown in all of this. He was a rookie last year, ultimately didn’t play much at all until very late in the season, and now here we are in 2020 with no pre-season games and some weird training camp that’s unlike anything we’ve ever had to experience before. How much can you count on Blair taking a big step forward? And, will he EVER develop into a viable starting safety in this league?

I don’t know the answer to that. No one does. Jamal Adams, on the other hand, is a proven, elite strong safety. Quandre Diggs is a proven, very good, free safety. Combined, we might be looking at the very best safety tandem in all of football (and, if Quinton Dunbar is freed of all charges and allowed to play this year, that will translate into the Seahawks having the very best secondary in all of football). With Blair as your number three, there’s just a bit of a drop-off from McDougald, but the upside is significantly higher. If Blair reaches that upside, then at some point we can let Diggs walk and have Blair take over at free safety.

What this trade signifies is this: Pete Carroll did NOT like the Seahawks’ secondary last year! He did NOT like playing so much base defense! The fact that we muddled through and somehow made the playoffs is a testament to our coaching staff and defensive scheme (and, yeah, Russell Wilson, but there have been plenty of elite quarterbacks with terrible defenses who failed to make the playoffs, so he doesn’t get ALL the credit). But, Carroll was NOT about to suffer another season of this secondary getting shredded.

The thing that a lot of football people keep returning to is the massive haul the Seahawks gave up. Here’s a good article delving pretty deep into it. Normally, when you see teams giving up multiple first rounders, you’re getting someone who the consensus feels is at a position of importance. A defensive end (Khalil Mack), a lockdown cornerback (Jalen Ramsey), a left tackle (Laremy Tunsil). You don’t see it a lot with quarterbacks, mostly because the very best QB’s are kept by their teams, but historically you’ve seen it with them (Jay Cutler, Jeff George, Jim Everett) and running backs (Ricky Williams, Herschel Walker, Eric Dickerson). Safety, as that article points out, is not considered to be one of the highest-value positions (as their salaries tend to indicate).

To that, I would say, I don’t agree with the consensus. I think safeties can make all the difference on a defense. I don’t see anyone complaining when they have one of the very best safeties in all of football, because those guys are constantly making impact plays! Usually, at least once a game, and once in a while they can absolutely take over! When it comes to the NFL, and the parity therein, just one more high-impact play per game can really impact your season. It can make a mediocre team good enough for a Wild Card spot, and it can make a Wild Card team good enough to win a division!

The Seahawks certainly hope the latter comes true in 2020.

While I’m a safety apologist, I do buy the argument that maybe this wasn’t the ideal blockbuster for this team to make. As I’ve noted, I was pretty happy with the safeties we had. Without Adams, this team had the potential to have a very good – maybe Top 5 – secondary, so the improvement might’ve very well been negligible. On the other hand, there are outlets indicating the Seahawks have the 32nd-ranked defensive line/pass rush (out of 32 teams), and if there’s a defensive end out there who could’ve been had for the same haul of draft picks, the Seahawks probably would’ve been better served going that route. I can’t argue with that! I’m the guy who’s been going on and on about the defensive line all offseason! A trade like THAT might’ve pulled this unit up into the middle of the pack; with all else being the same, that’s probably enough to make this team a Super Bowl contender, instead of just Wild Card fodder.

It’s not even an argument, but I would question if there WERE any elite defensive ends out there that were available to be traded. Khalil Mack is a future Hall of Famer, were any of these other disgruntled, franchise tagged defensive ends on a similar course? If not, then that’s probably not draft capital well spent. I mean, is that Jacksonville guy really REALLY elite? Or, is he one of dozens of guys who out-performed his rookie deal and is mad he’s on a shitty team?

Jamal Adams seems like he’s really REALLY elite. He looks like he’s on a Hall of Fame course. And, he’ll be only 25 years old in October, so there are PLENTY of great years ahead.

At this point, my only concern is character-based. He’s obviously upset with how little money he’s earning. He knows he’s going to get a huge deal somewhere. He probably understands that he’s going to get that here in Seattle. But, how reasonable is he? The Seahawks obviously have a lot of experience with passionate, arrogant, sometimes-unhinged individuals with no lacking of self-confidence. Is Adams going to get along with this coaching staff and front office? Or, is he going to be a pain in the ass from day one that we’re stuck with because we pushed all of our chips into the middle of the table to get this guy in here?

I’m willing to suffer those types of players when the Seahawks draft them; I’m less willing to put up with it from outsiders, from hired guns we bring in for the express purpose of winning us a championship. We’ll see.

The bottom line is, I’m not thrilled with what it cost to get him here. I’m not super-jazzed about the moderate improvement to our secondary (compared to what could’ve been a significant improvement to our defensive line). I’m wary about how we’re going to be trounced from a value standpoint, for a guy who we’re only seeing for one of the four years on his rookie deal (before he starts making about $15 million per season as one of the highest-paid guys on our team). But, I love a great safety! If he comes in, makes an immediate and lasting impact, then who cares what it cost to get him here and keep him here?! If we win the Super Bowl during Russell Wilson’s prime, then again, who gives a horse fuck?!

All Pros are always worth having on your team. The more, the better. Heading into 2020, all we had was Bobby Wagner on defense. Now, we’ve got him and Jamal Adams. The middle of our defense is going to be SICK!

The Mariners’ 2020 Season Starts Tonight!

I am extremely excited, y’all!

This isn’t so much a season preview, as I’ve done plenty of that in my Mariners writing over the LONG offseason. We know what we’re getting: a baseball team that’s going to lose more than it wins. Under normal circumstances, on July 24th, I’d be writing about what a fucking SLOG it’s been so far. Instead, a refreshing change of pace!

60 games, that’s nothing (in the grand scheme of baseball things)! But, it’s both perfect and far-from-ideal. It’s perfect because if the Mariners are as bad as I think they are, we’re going to witness a lot of on-field ineptitude, so keeping that torture to just a couple months is better than playing three times that amount. It’s far-from-ideal because, obviously, you want the younger players to get as much experience as possible. Between the drastically shortened season, and the near-complete lack of a minor league summer program, it truly feels like a lost year in all respects.

Sickeningly, Major League Baseball has announced that the playoffs are expanding from ten teams (five per league) up to 16 (eight per league). So, for the American League – for instance – the top two teams in each 5-team division will qualify for the postseason (with the last two teams being Wild Cards based on best overall record). That’s … honestly pretty great! What dreadful luck that the Mariners figure to be among the worst teams in baseball, because if there was ANY year where a mediocre M’s team might break the playoff drought, this COVID-affected season might’ve been one of them!

I know you’re going to read some things and hear from some people who will tell you that “anything can happen in a 60-game season,” and that the Mariners have just as good of a chance as anyone to shock the world and sneak into the asterisk convention – hell, you might hear that from ME if things get off to a hot start! – but on this overcast, 60-degree day in late July in Tacoma, Washington, let our cooler heads prevail on this one: the Mariners are going nowhere and they’ll be doing nothing come October, except sitting around still probably trying to avoid catching this damn virus.

All of this downer talk can’t stop me from being excited about tonight! Of course, when the Cheating Astros start teeing off on our guys and pummel us over the long weekend, I’m sure that excitement will wane dramatically. But, this is one of the few things I’ve had to look forward to over the summer, so I’m not going to let a little thing like the Mariners ruin my enthusiasm for the Kraken Mariners!

Seattle Is Kraken Up!

I love the name of Seattle’s new NHL team! I love any team name that doesn’t end in ‘s’, I love how fucking weird it is, and I love that it’s inspiring really strong reactions one way or another. You either love it or hate it, and I’m FOR THAT!

Is it dumb? You betcha! But, it’s also cool as fuck, and I won’t hear otherwise!

I’m also a big fan of the color scheme. Dark blue and light blue – TWO BLUES! – with just a little bit of red (and, presumably white for the road uniforms). No green, which I’m fine with, since we have the Sounders and those insufferable alternate jerseys for the Seahawks and Mariners.

I didn’t love the Sockeyes. I didn’t want the Emeralds or Evergreens. Seals and sea lions and some of the other animals indigenous to the Pacific Northwest are just, I dunno, boring? Lame? We already have the Seahawks, so I didn’t want another bird name. I honestly did like the name Totems because I thought it sounded cool to say, but come on, what kind of mascot is that? Some top-heavy, awkward piece of Native American artwork lumbering around on the ice? Plus, again the Seahawks’ logo features a bird that’s generally found on many totem poles.

Seattle professional sports teams have weird, unique names/mascots. The Supersonics? What’s that? The Seahawks? Mariners are just drunken men of the sea. And, let us not forget our beloved XFL Dragons! Why wouldn’t the Kraken fit right in?

I’m so happy I could burst! In my old age – pushing past the 40-year old barrier in less than eight months – I was resigned to the fact that I would be annoyed by whatever the franchise chose. I never in my wildest dreams thought they would ACTUALLY go with the Kraken! I thought, “Oh, there’s a funny name to get some people worked up, before they ultimately choose something safe and ordinary.” But, how wrong I was!

Let the rest of the NHL world laugh at us and mock us! They won’t be laughing when we’re hoisting the first of many multiple Stanley Cup Trophies! At least one for every tentacle within the first decade of existence. That’s not too unreasonable!

Can The Mariners Win Over 24.5 Games?

I saw a tweet yesterday that shows the Mariners are projected – by at least one Vegas-adjacent betting-type establishment – to win the (tied for) third fewest games in the Major Leagues this year. Only the Tigers and Orioles are projected to win less often (pretty bold prediction, since both of those teams also won the fewest games last year).

Couple points to note: as this guy tweeted out, the Mariners haven’t won fewer than 25 of their first 60 games since 2010 (the last time the M’s lost over 100 games in a season). And, as Divish would go on to respond, the Mariners from a season ago – who started out with a ridiculous 13-2 record – ended up 25-35 after 60 games.

So, let’s use that as a jumping-off point. I’ll be honest, my initial gut reaction was to say, “Of course the Mariners are going to win fewer than 24 games this year!” The above tweets gave me pause a little bit, until I remembered that while the M’s have been mediocre almost my whole life over the last decade, they really haven’t been horrendously BAD since 2010, so yeah, that checks out.

The 2019 Mariners – who finished 68-94 – were much closer to the horrendously bad end of the spectrum than they were mediocre. And, since then, they’ve lost two of their more productive full-time hitters (Omar Narvaez and Domingo Santana) and two of their better part-time hitters (Edwin Encarnacion – who was traded away halfway through last year – and Mitch Haniger – who is still dealing with his injured whathaveyous).

On the pitching side of things – which was easily our biggest weakness in 2019 – we’re down many of our most productive veterans. Mike Leake was traded away last year, Tommy Milone (uhh, YEAH, look it up, he had the third-highest WAR among Mariners pitchers last year!) signed as a free agent with the Orioles, and Anthony Bass (fourth-highest WAR) was claimed by Toronto. With Wade LeBlanc also joining the Orioles, you could argue letting Felix move on to another organization was the best Addition By Subtraction move this team made (though you won’t hear that from me!).

What did we do to replace these veterans? Well, obviously, we’re stacking the roster with younger players! It’s what the Mariners – as a rebuilding team – are SUPPOSED to do! So, please, GET OFF MY ASS; I’m not complaining about any of this! I’m just writing words. And, in the context of this premise – Can the Mariners win over 24.5 games? – I’m going to contend that everything they’ve done to date points to the fact that no, they cannot.

Younger players are unpredictable … but you can pretty much predict what’s going to happen anyway. Look at me, I’m doing it right now! They’re going to struggle, because that’s what they do. They’re going to look great for a while, then they’re going to slump for a while; some might rebound and parlay that into success in 2021 and beyond, others will flame out and never make any positive impact for this organization.

As excited as I am for Kyle Lewis, Evan White, Austin Nola, and maybe J.P. Crawford (wait, I’m maybe excited about J.P. Crawford? What does that even mean?), I don’t think we can count on them to be anything close to consistent (except for “consistently bad” which is always on the table when you’re talking about the Mariners). And those guys (along with Kyle Seager, who showed he still has something left in the tank last year) are probably going to be the BEST guys on this team! Everyone else, I expect to be pretty mediocre at best, with a decent number of total flameouts headed our way.

I still expect the bullpen to be a disaster, with a good chance that it will be significantly worse than it was in 2019. The rotation could be interesting, though. Marco Gonzales should still be the best pitcher on this team (I would hope this is the last year we’re able to say that). Kendall Graveman – who is slotting to be the #4 starter as we head into the regular season this weekend – might be a legitimate stud if he can stay healthy! Taijuan Walker – our #2 guy at the moment – I’m less jazzed about, but his bulldog mentality should keep this team in plenty of games. I’m also starting to be really worried about Yusei Kikuchi, as I don’t believe he’s fully accepted his re-worked mechanics, and will start tinkering again at the first sign of trouble. Then, there’s Sheffield and Dunn, the young upstarts who will be getting their first legitimate shots at big league action. Like the younger hitting prospects, they too will struggle at times (and when they struggle, BOY will they struggle!).

All of that points to the smartest money being bet on the Mariners winning UNDER 24.5 games in 2020. And, that doesn’t even factor in the very real possibility that COVID-19 takes a significant turn for the worse and the league is forced to shut down. I don’t know what that does for betting purposes, but I think all of us nonbelievers would have a great claim to our winnings in that scenario. I mean, if the season were to be canceled prematurely … did they or did they not win fewer than the listed number of games that I shorted?

The 2020 Taylor Family Farm has never been in more secure hands! I’m betting the whole thing on the Mariners being the losers I know they can be! Don’t let me down, fellas!

Look, I Get It, But You Just Can’t Call Jarred Kelenic Up To The Major Leagues Right Now

The simple answer is the most appropriate one: if Jarred Kelenic were to start this season with the Seattle Mariners – and not on that famed Taxi Squad down in Tacoma – the M’s would only have control over him through the 2025 season; whereas, if we hold off until a month into the 2021 season, the M’s would have control over him through 2027. That’s according to the terrific article by Larry Stone in today’s Seattle Times, and that’s all you really need to know.

Oh yeah, sure, there are other reasons. Some might call them excuses. Some might call them bullshit. Certainly, Kelenic doesn’t have a lot of minor league experience. Certainly, he’s not even 21 years old until tomorrow. Certainly, if he comes up here and struggles, the ramifications on his confidence can be brutal to be sent down and called back up multiple times. But, how is that any different than if he comes up to Seattle in May of 2021 and struggles?

It’s entirely financial. And, for as much as I’d love to get a look at him right this very season, I have to agree. This is the system Major League Baseball has set in place! There’s no salary cap. There’s no limit to how high baseball contracts can soar. There’s seemingly no end to albatross contracts that can cripple a franchise when the player starts to decline. Teams need to take every advantage they’ve left for themselves to try to win within this system. You could just as easily make the argument that bringing him up to the bigs now would be BETTER for his development, because he’d be going up against real Major League pitching in a season that’s largely meaningless (as opposed to pretend games against other young prospects in his own organization).

But, the bottom line is, if Kelenic is as game-changingly great as we all think he MIGHT be? Then we’re going to want to have that team control over him through the 2027 season. To keep the team’s salary down as much as possible for as long as possible (in hopes that we’re able to effectively build up this team around him with higher-priced studs), and/or to use as a negotiating tactic if-and-when we attempt to extend him on a long-term deal. Because if he IS as great as advertised, then we’re certainly going to want him around for the bulk/entirety of his professional career!

I think for that reason alone it’s worth waiting. Because, again, the Mariners in 2020 are going NOWHERE. The Mariners in 2021 are probably going nowhere as well.

But, in 2022? When he’s had five months to get acclimated to the big league game? Along with some of our other key prospects? Now we might be talking about something officially interesting. For my short-term interests, it’s not ideal. But long-term, it’s what has to be done.

More patience. Great. As if we haven’t been patient enough already!

Quinton Dunbar Is Probably Fucked, Right?

I never did follow up on this psychotic freak-out, because not long after initial reports of Dunbar’s alleged involvement in armed robbing a houseparty of items that may or may not have been stolen from Dunbar and his alleged accomplice (that guy from the Giants whose name I can’t remember because who cares?) – what’s otherwise known as an O.J. Simpson Special (not THAT O.J. Simpson Special, or THAT one either) – we happened upon reports that Dunbar’s attorney acquired written affidavits from people at that party, who were either witnesses alleging Dunbar had nothing to do with it, or were the alleged victims themselves recanting their original statements to authorities.

It all seemed shady as fuck – and I think a lot of reasonable people immediately had visions of bribes and accompanying lies, orchestrated by the perpetrators or their highly-paid attorneys in an attempt to free them up for the upcoming football season (and future prosperous paydays therein) – but as a Seahawks fan, what, am I NOT going to be cool with it? I get my guy back – a guy this defense DESPERATELY needs, as it continues to ignore the very glaring pass rush problem, which puts the onus even more on the secondary to pick up the slack – and no one REALLY got hurt, so what does it matter? BOYS WILL BE BOYS AND WHATNOT!

Now, word is coming out that – indeed – there probably were payouts orchestrated by Dunbar’s attorney, who has withdrawn from the case (along with the other attorney who hopped aboard in recent weeks to help bolster their defense), as prosecutors opted to not just let boys be boys or whatever and dismiss the case like we’d all hoped.

This is a bad sign, right? I’m thinking this is a bad sign.

The excuse is that Dunbar is really the victim here, and people are extorting him, but come on. Don’t shit a shitter! There are better ways to extort money from millionaires than making up a “fake robbery” and going to all this trouble. What’s that Occam’s Razor thing? The first cut is always the deepest? Something like that, you get what I’m talking about.

The good news is, Dunbar’s new attorneys appear to at least somewhat have their shit together. According to the Seattle Times article I read this morning – from the actual newspaper, as I’m not a savage! – they recently got another NFL player’s brother off on a murder charge, so that’s promising. This isn’t anywhere CLOSE to murder! So, Dunbar’s definitely going free, right?!

I was really, REALLY hoping all of this was behind us. I mean, we have enough to worry about; there might not be an NFL season at all this year! Now they’re throwing this wrench back into the mix; it’s more than I need right now, is all I’m saying. I see why reports are ramping back up about the Seahawks being interested in Jamal Adams. You have to figure they know more than we do right now, and what they know is that Dunbar might not be playing football this fall regardless of whether or not everyone else is.

So, fingers crossed, I guess? I would imagine – whatever comes to pass – Dunbar almost certainly won’t be offered a contract extension beyond the 2020 season. Seems like too big of a risk, compared to someone like Shaquill Griffin, who will also be looking for an extension (and who has been a fucking saint, by comparison, in his time in the NFL).

Kyle Lewis Has Dumps Like A Truck Truck Truck

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know about Kyle Lewis when the Mariners originally drafted him. This was back in 2016; have you taken a trip down Memory Lane when it comes to our first round draft picks? I didn’t think it was POSSIBLE for this team to select anyone who’s worth a damn!

Leading up to the Lewis selection, previous GM Jack Zduriencik made eight first round picks across six drafts. They ended up being:

  • Dustin Ackley (2009) – Bust
  • Nick Franklin (2009) – Bust
  • Steven Baron (2009) – Nobody
  • Taijuan Walker (2010) – Just Okay Starting Pitcher
  • Danny Hultzen (2011) – Injury Bust
  • Mike Zunino (2012) – Human Strikeout Machine
  • D.J. Peterson (2013) – Bust
  • Alex Jackson (2014) – Currently a fringe Major Leaguer with the Braves (also probably a Bust)

That was, not for nothing, coming on the heels of the Bill Bavasi regime, which saw us select the following five first rounders across four drafts:

  • Jeff Clement (2005) – Bust
  • Brandon Morrow (2006) – Rushed to the Majors, dicked around between being a starter and a bullpen arm, had great potential but ultimately never panned out in Seattle (also selected him over local kid and future 2-time Cy Young Award Winner Tim Lincecum)
  • Phillippe Aumont (2007) – Bust
  • Matt Mangini (2007) – Who?
  • Josh Fields (2008) – Sigh

So, you know, after that run of drafting incompetence, why should I have had confidence that the Mariners would EVER be able to pull their heads out of their asses? Kyle Lewis could’ve been Alex Jackson 2.0 for all I knew!

Then, in his very first season in the minors, he blew out his knee. Even though he’d only played in 30 games as a rookie, he showed great promise, so OF COURSE he had to suffer a devastating injury that really set him back for most of the next two years! He slowly climbed the ladder in 2017 & 2018, but mostly struggled and couldn’t get past the AA level.

Then, last year, returning to AA, he started to make good on that earlier promise. He showed enough improvement that the Mariners called him up in September to take a look at him. He not only Didn’t Disappoint, he blew the roof off the fucking stadium!

He hit 6 homers and 5 doubles across 18 games, with 13 RBI, including a homer a day in his first three games as a Major Leaguer. He cooled off just a tad over the last week of the season – to lower that batting average closer to his usual level – but the damage was done. On a bad team looking to rebuild through its own homegrown prospects, Kyle Lewis had the inside track to earn a starting job in 2020 (so long as he, you know, didn’t shit the bed in Spring Training … or Summer Camp, as whatever it is this thing we’re doing here is being called).

Much like his torrid September last year, Kyle Lewis has gotten off to just as hot of a start this month, hitting three homers in two intrasquad games at Safeco Field over the last few days. Let me be far from the first person to note the extremely small sample size, and provide the usual warning of not taking these games too seriously (they don’t count in the standings, guys are still building up their throwing arms and yadda yadda yadda), but shit man, how can you NOT get excited for this kid?! These kinds of explosions are what All Stars are made of! It’s too early to start working on his Hall of Fame bust, but we could be looking at a cornerstone of the next Great Mariners Outfield! When you factor in our two seemingly Can’t Miss prospects in Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic (the top two rated guys in the Mariners’ farm system, and consensus Top 20 prospects across the entire Major Leagues), I mean, this is it! This is your outfield! By 2022, these three guys are going to be destroying everything in their paths! Just slot them in anywhere from 2-5 in the batting lineup and let’s fucking go!

My only concern – because I can’t help it, it’s a sickness with me – has to do with the Mariners ultimately figuring out their pitching issues. Kyle Lewis is great. Evan White – drafted in the first round in 2017 – is already locked in with the big ballclub and getting his first Major League action in 2020; he seems like he’ll be fine. But, these last three first round draft picks – all starting pitchers – on top of all the other draftees and trade acquisitions we’ve made to bolster our staff NEED to pan out! Because the last thing we need around here is another desperate General Manager with an itchy trade finger, looking to ship out one of our top-line outfielders to shore up a problem they’ve been bungling for years!

I know it’s hard to preach patience when you’re talking about the Mariners; when you’re talking about a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2001; when you’re talking about a team that has never won an American League pennant. But, we just CAN’T screw this up! I don’t ask for a lot, but if we could just have this one elite set of outfielders intact, it would do a lot for my own personal morale. Thank you and goodnight.