The Mariners Keep Winning Series, Defeating The White Sox

I was traveling over the weekend and therefore blissfully unaware of anything going on that was Mariners-related, or intense 100+ degree heat-related. I kept up with events, sort of, by following along on Twitter, but we all know that’s not the same thing as being actually informed.

We blew the doors off of the White Sox on Friday, winning 9-3. Yusei Kikuchi had another solid outing, going 5.2 innings and giving up only 1 run on 2 hits and 4 walks, striking out 6. Looks like he got into some trouble in that sixth inning, walking three guys in total, but we got out of it unscathed. Rafael Montero gave up a couple of harmless runs in the eighth, but otherwise the bullpen was dynamite.

Give it up for the offense in this one, as everyone had at least one hit, with Crawford, Haniger, Bauers, Torrens, and Moore all notching two hits. Everyone got on base at least twice in this one except for Murphy (who still managed to score 2 runs, so figure that one out). Luis Torrens hit two homers, with Jake Fraley also hitting a dinger.

Saturday’s game was rain-delayed and had to be completed on Sunday, which is unfortunate, as Logan Gilbert looked to be dealing through his two scoreless innings. The Mariners loaded up their lineup with lefty hitters to face Lance Lynn, only to be treated to a heavy dose of Dallas Keuchel come Sunday morning (he was originally set to start the actual Sunday game, but got bumped over to this one, as if he needed the soft landing). This one turned into a de facto Bullpen Day; thankfully the Mariners have a pretty great bullpen. Hector Santiago gave up one run in 2.1 innings of work (taking over for Gilbert to start the rest of the game on Sunday), before being pulled, and subsequently suspended for having sticky stuff in his glove. If he was cheating, bravo umpires. But, they still have to inspect the glove to confirm it was actually an illegal substance. I guess pine tar is okay? I dunno, I don’t pretend to understand what the rules are anymore. I also don’t know if this has been resolved yet, but if it has I apologize for even bringing it up. If the suspension holds, Santiago would be the first player in the Major Leagues to be suspended for the rule this year, which is interesting trivia.

Taylor Trammell had two homers, including the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth. Ty France also added a solo homer to help give us the 3-2 victory. Haniger also had two hits in this one, as it appears he’s pulling out of his recent offensive nosedive.

In the series and season finale against the White Sox, the Mariners lost 7-5, but four of our runs were scored after they had a 7-1 lead, in the final two innings of the game. So, it wasn’t THAT close. This was only a 7-inning game, since technically Sunday turned into a Doubleheader, and you have to wonder what might’ve been had we been gifted an extra two innings to play around with against that bullpen (with Keuchel going in the early game, the late game was a White Sox Bullpen Day). The Mariners needed a Bullpen Day of our own, as Marco Gonzales had to leave to be with his wife for the birth of their child. I’m not going to be one of those fans who gets mad at a dad wanting to be there in person, you know, BEING a dad.

Robert Dugger got the nod and … he’s not a Major Leaguer. It’s fine. He ate up almost three innings and gave up 3 runs (2 earned). Will Vest has good stuff, but at times has been unreliable; he gave up 2 runs in 1 inning in this one. Just when you think Rafael Montero is going to turn a corner (after his two extra innings performances against the Rays), here he is giving up another 2 runs in a third of an inning. That’s just too many runs for MOST offenses to overcome, let alone a Mariners offense that has been vastly improved over the last month, but still has its struggles. Haniger, again, had two hits (including a 3-run homer in the seventh), but otherwise offense was tough to come by in this one.

I’m pretty happy with another series win against a good team. The White Sox are in first place in the A.L. Central, and we managed to tie them in the season series 3-3. I’ll take that!

Now, we go to … Buffalo I guess? Where the Blue Jays play? I dunno. The Jays are very close in record to the Mariners (40-36 to our 41-38), and are also third place in their respective division. However, they are +65 in run differential, compared to our -43; they appear to be a MUCH better team than their record would give them credit for (while we remain in the bottom third of all Major League teams, vastly outplaying our level of talent). I would say this series would be a good test for us in where we are, but the truth of the matter is this isn’t a matchup of two similar teams. This is closer to us playing the White Sox, in that it would be equally-impressive if we were to go on the road and steal a series from them.

The Mariners Wrapped Up A Wildly Successful Homestand With A Split Against The Rockies

The title really says it all, but let’s get into the most recent 2-game series anyway, because it was 50% fun.

This is one of those weird and infuriating weeks where there’s an off-day, two games, and then another off-day. Meanwhile, teams have to suffer upwards of 20 games in 20 days (or sometimes more games in as many days, if there are rainouts to be made up) at various points in seasons because MLB scheduling is wonky and senseless. And you wonder why Cal Ripken’s streak is never even going to be close to threatened for the rest of humanity’s time on Earth.

Tuesday’s game was the fun one. The Mariners victory. A 2-1 affair that featured great pitching on both sides, including 6.2 innings out of Flexen (who gave up 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks, with 6 strikeouts). J.P. Crawford scored the game’s opening run in the bottom of the fifth inning, and the game was tied until one out in the eighth, when Shed Long hit a go-ahead solo homer to dead center field. That made it back-to-back games with Long hitting in a game-winning home run.

Today’s game was decidely less encouraging. The Mariners went 7-2 on this homestand (including today’s 5-2 defeat); can you guess who started both losses? Yes, that would be Justus Sheffield, naturally. He gave up a 2-run bomb in the second, a solo bomb in the fourth, and failed to make it beyond one out in the fifth inning before being pulled. 87 mostly-worthless pitches, with three walks and the two aforementioned homers out of the four total hits he gave up. That’s three consecutive miserable losses for Sheffield, after mostly trading off good and bad games through early June. Also, these three most recent defeats were against the Tigers, Twins, and Rockies (the 5th, 6th, and 8th-worst teams in all of Major League baseball by record), so it’s not like he’s unlucky with scheduling. These are winnable games that he’s not competitive in.

Of course, the hitters in today’s game didn’t do the M’s any favors. We didn’t get our first hit until the sixth, when Taylor Trammell mashed a solo homer. A meaningless run scratched across in the ninth, but two runners were left on base as the 27th out was made.

Starting Friday, we embark on our final road trip before the All Star Break. Three against the White Sox, and three against the Blue Jays. Then, it’s a lengthy 9-game homestand to close out the first half. The Mariners are 39-37, miles and miles behind the Astros and A’s for the A.L. West, BUUUUUUT only 5 games out of the Wild Card hunt. I know, I know, it’s silly to get my hopes up with this much time left in the season. But, it’s still cool that the Mariners are doing as well as they are, given the talent level on this team.

Things Are Happening In Kraken Land

The Seattle Kraken did okay in the NHL Draft lottery a while back, landing the #2 overall pick. They apparently had the third-best odds to get the top spot, so that’s a slight improvement, but I still contend we should’ve just been handed the top pick. We’re a brand new team! We paid however many millions of dollars to join the league, just give us the top player in the draft!

I understand Vegas had the same odds – and actually had to draft 6th in their first-ever NHL Draft – but that’s also bullshit. They too should’ve been handed the top overall pick. The Buffalo Sabres – who were the worst team last season – ended up with the top pick; I’m told they’re projected to still be in worse shape than the Kraken – who will, at least, have the advantage of the expansion draft – but I don’t care. I’m greedy.

Anyway, Owen Power is projected to be the first player selected, so the Kraken should have their pick of everyone else. I don’t know enough to say for certain if it’s just a college draft, or if there are international/independent players who can be selected, but I look forward to learning everything there is to learn as this thing progresses.

The NHL Draft takes place July 23-24. We will pick 3rd in every round after the first (there are seven rounds total).

The Expansion Draft takes place on July 21st. So, that’ll be a pretty huge week!

I read in the Seattle Times this week that prior to the 21st, the Kraken can offer free agents up to 8-year deals (in the NHL, deals max out at 8 years only if you are re-signing your own guys, otherwise deals max out at 7 years), so there might be a big name or two headed our way before any of this takes place.

The next thing to look out for – vis a vis the expansion draft – is that teams can trade their regular draft picks to us in lieu of us selecting one of their unprotected players. So, odds are the Kraken will have a lot more than the 7 picks we’re guaranteed in the regular draft (including multiple first rounders). As a comparison, the Golden Knights – in 2017 – selected 3 players in the first round, 2 players in the second, fifth, and sixth rounds, and 1 player in the third, fourth, and seventh rounds (a total of 12 draft picks).

So, this is all very exciting! The NHL playoffs are currently in full swing, so obviously that all has to play out before we get to anything noteworthy. Once we get into July though, watch out!

The Elite Mariners Exploded All Over The Mediocre Rays

A 4-game sweep over the erstwhile A.L. East-leading Tampa Bay Rays? Only in America!

What a fun and exciting series if you’re a Mariners fan. And really just totally unexpected. The enjoyment kicked off with a 6-5 come-from-behind victory on Thursday, where Justin Dunn managed only two innings before leaving with an injury to his throwing shoulder, the same shoulder that landed him in the IL just a couple weeks prior. It’s apparently non-surgical, but it is something that’s going to keep him on the shelf for a while, so that’s a bummer. It’s especially bad because Justus Sheffield has been sucking, and there really aren’t any high-profile prospects on the horizon to fill in. I guess the hope is that Dunn won’t have to stay on the IL again for TOO long, and there are enough off-days to get us to his return, but I have my doubts.

The bullpen didn’t totally have it in this one, as JT Chargois, Rafael Montero, and Anthony Misiewicz combined for 5 runs in 5 innings of work. But, somehow, there was JUST enough pitching in this one, to give the hitters time to mount the comeback. J.P. Crawford singled in a run in the third, Torrens and France homered in a combined three runs, Shed Long doubled in a run in the bottom of the 9th to tie it, and Kyle Seager singled in a run right after that to walk it off.

Friday’s game was an impressive 5-1 victory, for obviously different reasons. Yusei Kikuchi dominated once again, going 7 innings of 1-run ball, with 4 hits and 3 walks allowed, while striking out 6. He is just absolutely on a tear this season, and it’s wonderful to see. The offense got it all done early, taking a 4-1 lead after one inning, and tacking on the insurance run in the third. Crawford, Seager, France, Bauers, and Torrens all had multi-hit games, with Long and Haniger also chipping in on the fun.

Saturday was another thrilling 6-5 victory, this time in extras. The M’s jumped out to a 5-2 lead after two innings, before the Rays slowly chipped away at our lead over the rest of regulation. Logan Gilbert went 5.2 innings, giving up 4 of those runs on 6 hits, striking out 7. He ALMOST had a quality start in there, but couldn’t quite make it. We still had the lead into the 9th until Kendall Graveman – who hasn’t quite been as spotless since his COVID IL stint – gave up a tying homer. Rafael Montero pitched a clean 10th, though, and we won it in the bottom half on a first-pitch single.

J.P. Crawford hit a grand slam in that second inning to lead the way. Jake Bauers had the first RBI of the game on a single, and Mitch Haniger had the walk-off single to end it. Bauers has been red-hot since the Mariners signed him, and it would be utterly fascinating to see if he can keep this going for the rest of the season. He was once a highly-touted prospect, so it would make sense for him to eventually put it all together. Then again, it’s unprecedented for the Mariners to be the team to ever benefit from such a turnaround. Also, don’t look now, but Crawford’s 2021 season is insane! At the end of April, his slash line was .250/.313/.295; at the end of May, it was .246/.310/.328; and as of today, it is .281/.341/.404. How about THAT? I mean, we’re not even halfway through the season yet – so there’s plenty of time for those numbers to plummet – but this is highly encouraging! I don’t know if there were a lot of people banking on Crawford being such a huge piece to the rebuild, but it’s looking like – for the moment – he’s the best of the young bunch!

Sunday’s 6-2 victory might’ve been the best of the weekend. Marco Gonzales was stellar, going 6.1 innings, giving up just 2 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 6. His pitch count was good-enough (87) to allow him to at least finish the 7th, but we were actually losing 2-1 at the time of his departure, and it was clear Marco was starting to falter (having given up a run in back-to-back innings to close it out).

The Mariners got a 3rd inning homer from Luis Torrens to take a 1-0 lead, and a 7th inning homer from Ty France to re-tie the game at 2-2. Lockdown work from the bullpen got us to the 10th inning, where once again Rafael Montero pitched around the ghost runner on second base to keep the game tied heading into the bottom half. From there, it looked like the M’s might squander a golden opportunity. Dylan Moore bunted over the runner to third (reaching on the fielder’s choice as a result), and after a Bauers fielder’s choice that eliminated the runner at home, the M’s loaded the bases on a Torrens walk. With one out, Jake Fraley flied out to shallow left field, bringing up Shed Long, who hit a wall-scraper of a Grand Slam to initiate a party at home plate.

It’s been very cool to see Shed Long do a few things since returning from injury. After last year’s abomination – due almost exclusively to a leg injury that hampered him all season – he’s hitting much closer to his career norms. He has 10 hits and 10 RBI in 11 games, with 5 of those hits going for extra bases. We’re obviously talking about a small sample there, but it’s always more fun when our guys do good as opposed to when they do bad. Also, big shout-out to Torrens, who has been superb since he was called back up from Tacoma. We’re talking about another very small sample, but in five games this month – including three against the Rays – he’s hit 3 homers and 5 RBI. That’s obviously huge because Tom Murphy is still sucking at the plate. It’s even bigger for Torrens because Cal Raleigh has been going supernova down in Tacoma and it’s absurd at this point that he hasn’t been called up.

No Weak-Willed Motherfucker-Guy, but remember when I said the Mariners were stacked at catcher and thoroughly jinxed Murphy and Torrens in the process? Because I don’t remember that at all.

Anyway, there aren’t quite as many healthy regulars who are hitting under .200 at the moment. Murphy and Dylan Moore are probably the closest to getting over that hump, with Taylor Trammell probably needing more opportunities to adjust. Anyway, the hitting hasn’t been quite as atrocious this month, and that’s been nice.

Two games against the Rockies close out this homestand on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then, we have a jaunty little 6-game road trip to close out an otherwise exciting month of June. We’re sitting at 38-36 at the moment, so it’s nice to be above .500 for the time being.

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.