The Huskies Swept The Utes 2019

It was a little bit of a slow start for the Huskies, followed by a long bit of a slow finish for the Utes. The Huskies took a 33-27 halftime lead, but just destroyed them in the second half, en route to a 62-45 finish.

Again, thanks to the 8pm start time, I missed this one. I was asleep before this game even STARTED, so let’s take a breeze through the box score.

Five double digit scorers, with Naz Carter leading the way with 12 points. Dickerson had 11 points in 25 minutes, and Thybulle, Crisp, and Nowell each had 10 points. The Huskies also limited themselves to 9 turnovers, while forcing 18 on the Utes.

I don’t think Utah is very good. Sure, they swept the L.A. schools on the road, as well as taking down ASU in their own arena, but they’re an 8-6 team in the Pac-12 that’s going nowhere. Winning this game is what’s to be expected. Losing this game would’ve been a disaster (though, you could make that same argument for all the rest of our games).

The Huskies Swept The Cougars 2019

I don’t have ESPN U and I was at a comedy show anyway, so I didn’t see Saturday’s game against the Cougs. The Huskies struggled through the first half – down by 9 at the midway point – but stiffened up the defense to come away with a 2-point victory.

Jaylen Nowell led the way with 20 points and 4 boards, and Noah Dickerson was right behind with 18 and 10. Probably the most impressive thing was the Huskies limited themselves to just 10 turnovers on the night, which feels crazy-low for this team.

This week, we host the mountain schools. We’re down to six games left in the regular season, and by all rights we should win all six. I don’t really have much more to say, so let’s keep on keeping on, fellas …

Coming To Terms With Felix Hernandez

In my continuing “Coming To Terms” series (we’ll see how long it goes, depending on how many more Mariners players emerge to disappoint), I’m taking a sad look at King Felix. Like Seager, Felix has gotten worse over the last few seasons:

  • 2015: 18-9, 3.53 ERA, 201.2 innings, 4.4 WAR, 8.52 K/9, .682 opposing OPS
  • 2016: 11-8, 3.82 ERA, 153.1 innings, 1.6 WAR, 7.16 K/9, .718 OPS
  • 2017: 6-5, 4.36 ERA, 86.2 innings, 0.8 WAR, 8.10 K/9, .791 OPS
  • 2018: 8-14, 5.55 ERA, 155.2 innings, -1.2 WAR, 7.23 K/9, .798 OPS

I mean, Jesus, there’s no sugarcoating this decline. He’s 33 years old in April and he’s heading into the final year of his contract, which accounts for over $27 million.

I can’t even begin to describe how much all of this bums me out. King Felix is far and away my favorite Seattle athlete and that’s REALLY saying something, because we’ve had some true greats. Steve Largent, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Marshawn Lynch, Cortez Kennedy, Walter Jones, Randy Johnson, Detlef Schrempf, Kam Chancellor, Ichiro. I would argue that Felix was just as great as any of those guys in his prime, plus the fact that he was loyal to this city when he had ABSOLUTELY no obligation just puts him over the top. The fact that he’s going to go his entire career in a Mariners uniform having never played in the post-season is really just too much. If there was ever a year for the Mariners to not totally Mariners things up, 2018 was it. That was his last – and really ONLY – chance, and we couldn’t give it to him.

I get the sense that most Mariners fans are done with him, which makes me sad. At this point, with the team not really contending for anything (and, indeed, a worse record only helps our draft prospects next year), this is when you WANT Felix here. He’s not capable of really carrying this team like he was in his prime, so I say hand him the ball every fifth day and take whatever comes. If it’s a rare good day, then relish it, as you never know when you’ll see his last quality start; if it’s a usual clunker, then that’s just another loss in the column toward a higher draft slot.

Given the way his career has gone, it feels impossible to hope for any sort of turnaround. If that was in him, we probably would’ve seen it by now. Just getting him through the whole season without a DL stint (or, I guess an IL stint?) would probably be the most we should hope for. I’ll never totally shut the door on some sort of Bartolo Colon-esque resurgence, but even then, you figure if the M’s have an opportunity to trade him to a contender for a late-season playoff push (with Felix’s blessing, of course), they’ll probably jump at it (taking on most of his salary nonetheless, because no team would pay much more than the minimum for his services). That’ll be a dark day for Seattle sports, but then again, you rarely see your superstars play exclusively for only one franchise anymore.

After this year, I suspect he’ll get a spring training invite elsewhere (the Marlins maybe?), while we sit around and squabble about his Hall of Fame prospects. Short of a dramatic career turnaround, those chances also seem pretty slim.

Who Do The Seahawks Have On Roster Right Now Who Could Step Up In 2019?

Boy, is that ever a clunky mouthful of a title?

So, anyway, yesterday I wrote about where the Seahawks are lacking in star power. Today, we’ll take a look at who could potentially step into bigger, more impactful roles. Let’s face it, while the Seahawks can do a lot with the draft and free agency, it’s still a total motherfucking crapshoot, so it would be ideal for guys we have currently to step their games up and help fill some of these holes.

Shaquem Griffin

I’ll be honest with you, the inspiration for this post came from this ESPN article. I’ve been largely discounting Shaquem Griffin mostly due to his disasterous start back in Week 1 against the Broncos. I’ve also gotta say, I expected more of an impact on special teams out of the rookie linebacker. Maybe that’s unfair; maybe I built him up too big heading into the regular season (after a whirlwind period post-draft, through an exciting pre-season). Some guys just need a little bit more time to have everything click; maybe Year 2 is when we see his growth as a professional.

Or, maybe he’s more hype than substance. Maybe the Seahawks are playing him outside of his natural position due to his lack of size. Maybe his focus is being pulled in all these other directions outside of football and his heart isn’t totally in it. These aren’t things I question lightly, but they’re nagging concerns in the back of my mind that I feel like are on a lot of other people’s minds too, but no one is saying anything about it. Does he want to be a professional football player? Or, does he want to be an inspirational story to a lot of kids out there? That’s okay; I’m not blaming him if the NFL isn’t his bag.

The thing is, I believe in his talent; he just needs to put in the work and study his craft and he’ll be right there. He has the potential to fill K.J. Wright’s shoes ably. So, maybe now that everything has died down from a media perspective, he can just relax and focus on football and everything will be better in 2019. That’s MY hope. Because if he can take over that weakside linebacker spot, that’s a HUGE hole the Seahawks won’t have to worry about.

Tedric Thompson

There’s a big ol’ Earl Thomas-shaped hole in our secondary that needs filling. Of the three options, none seem realistic or all that enticing. The first option is to re-sign Thomas; but clearly the team has made it clear they don’t want to pay what he’s worth (I tend to agree, but I’ve been decidedly scared off by the third contract to Kam Chancellor). The second option is the draft; but I’m told this year’s draft lacks in quality safeties. On top of which, the team has precious few selections this year, and can ill-afford to use its first rounder on one of the few true elites, as we’ll need to trade down to build a bigger cache. The third option is free agency; but we’ve seen what happens when the Seahawks go dumpster diving for secondary players (see: Cary Williams).

It’s been my contention all along that safety is this team’s #1 need this off-season (even more than pass rush; come at me broseph). It’s also been my contention all along that the team never sees things the same way I do, and will almost certainly stick with what they’ve got (while maybe taking a flier on a late-round project to mold into the type of player they like). Bradley McDougald is a fine player, and I’m glad he’s here to fill in for some of the void. But, can he last a full season? He barely made it out alive in 2018, and his play dropped off considerably as he fought through nagging injuries. The point being: he’s not really a long-term solution.

If there’s a guy on the roster this very second who has a chance to take a step forward in his development, it’s Tedric Thompson. I know the bloom has come off the rose, since 2019 will be his third year in the pros. But, 2018 was really his first year as a starter; he stuck almost exclusively to special teams as a rookie. Now, obviously, the concern is that there’s little evidence of his play improving over the course of last season, but I don’t sit there and watch all the tape, so I’m not really one to judge. I’ve heard both good and bad things; he made a few plays, and he bungled a few plays.

More than anything, I guess I’m encouraged by what I heard about him heading into the 2018 season. His teammates seemed to be really high on him last summer, right before Earl Thomas returned to start in week 1. Maybe that rattled him a bit? Maybe it set him back? Obviously, you don’t want to just hand him the starting job, but if he heads into 2019 as the presumptive favorite, maybe that boost of confidence sends him to the next level. He’s got a lot of good experience, now it’s time to put it all together and hope things gel in Year 3. If so, that could be a real game-changer for this defense.

Tre Flowers

Talking about the bloom coming off the rose … Shaquill Griffin’s bloom is looking pretty wilty. Maybe, again, it’s a matter of too much expectation too soon; or maybe that switch from right cornerback to left is a huge deal that needs more than an offseason to perfect. As I say all the time, I’m no expert. But, I’ll tell you what my eyes tell me: they say that Tre Flowers looks ahead of where Shaquill Griffin was at this point in his career the previous year.

I’ll go a step further: I think Tre Flowers today might be better than Griffin, and I think he looks like a better fit for that left cornerback spot.

Now, the last thing you want to do is go and jerk everyone around. Moving Griffin from right to left to right again (saying nothing of where he ended up as a college player in his final year with UCF) is going to stunt his growth, so it’s probably better to see what he’s capable of with a little continuity. Nevertheless, I’ll be extremely interested in how Tre Flowers looks in his second season. If he does, indeed, surpass Griffin in ability, that could be another game-changer for this defense as it searches for playmakers in the secondary. This defense has proven time and again that it needs turnovers to truly thrive. So, let’s hope it comes from someone currently on this roster!

David Moore

While he’s technically an exclusive-rights free agent, for all intents and purposes, David Moore will be back on the Seahawks in 2019. It was hard not to be dazzled by his exciting plays in 2018. There were a number of big catches down field early in the season to not only have him on the local radar, but also had many fantasy gurus looking to him as a potential mid-season sleeper. Then, his numbers mysteriously faded down the stretch. It looked like Wilson lost confidence in him, as he relied on more veteran pass-catchers to come through in the clutch. In short, Jaron Brown stole David Moore’s chick.

2019 will be his third season, and wide receivers notoriously start their careers slow (especially in Seattle). I would expect, if he’s going to pop, now will be the time. The best part here is the team doesn’t really NEED him to be a true #1. Doug and Tyler are still firmly entrenched ahead of him. But, as a change of pace, or as a big body down field, Moore does fill a role in this offense. Coming up with more 50/50 balls and being a big endzone target will be his niche on this team. It’d be cool to see him earn that trust, so the team can divert resources away from this position.

Jamarco Jones

While his combine numbers precipitated his draft plummet, Jamarco Jones was reported to be a gamer in college, who shows out on tape more than in shorts amid cones. Unfortunately, his rookie season ended before it really began, so we never got a chance to see him compete with Ifedi for that starting right tackle spot. We’ll never really know how serious that competition would’ve been, but here we are, in the fourth year of Germain Ifedi’s rookie deal.

The team has between now and the start of the league year to activate the fifth-year option on Ifedi and it would reportedly be worth over $8 million. Given his overall play to date – as one of the lowest-rated tackles in the NFL – it seems highly unlikely that the Seahawks would go that route. However, you’ve gotta give him credit for MUCH improved play in 2018; it appears the switch to Mike Solari, with the addition of D.J. Fluker to his left, has worked wonders for Ifedi’s growth. As the fifth-year option is only guaranteed for injury, I won’t rule it out, as the team could still cut him without penalty before the start of the fifth year, if we decided to go in another direction. My gut says we won’t even risk it; if we wouldn’t use it on Bruce Irvin back in the day, I find it hard to believe we’d use it on a right tackle.

The team also faces the prospect of losing George Fant to free agency, depending on what sort of tender we choose to offer him. He could walk with zero compensation, which opens up a very legitimate spot on this team, when you figure how often we use a 6th lineman in a run-heavy offense. Maybe – assuming Jones fully recovers from his high-ankle sprain injury – he takes over that role (though I find it hard to believe he’ll see any sort of tight end routes like Fant routinely enjoyed), with the outside chance that he pushes Ifedi for the starting right tackle job (or, at the very least, making it clear the team has a replacement in place for 2020 and beyond).

I actually really like many of our O-Line prospects. Jones, of course, but also Jordan Simmons (who is another exclusive-rights free agent we should see again), and even Ethan Pocic (though I tend to prefer him as a possible center replacement for Britt, though I don’t think the cap situation works at this juncture). Ideally, the Seahawks run back the starting five from 2018 and we go to work. But, the younger guys have flashed potential and competency at spots over the last season, and could have bright futures in this league if they continue to develop.

The Seahawks Need More Stars

Brock and Salk had an interesting conversation recently about the Seahawks and how close they are to contending for another Super Bowl. My takeaway (I tend to agree with Salk here) is that the Seahawks are short on stars. There are a lot of good players on this team, but not necessarily a lot of GREAT players. So, I decided to quickly do a comparison between the 2018/2019 Seahawks against the 2013 Super Bowl Champs.

Offensive (and Special Teams) Stars

Now

  • Russell Wilson – QB
  • Chris Carson – RB
  • Doug Baldwin – WR
  • Tyler Lockett – WR
  • Duane Brown – LT
  • Michael Dickson – P

Then

  • Russell Wilson – QB
  • Marshawn Lynch – RB
  • Golden Tate – WR
  • Doug Baldwin – WR
  • Russell Okung – LT
  • Max Unger – C
  • Jon Ryan – P

Right there, you’d have to say pretty comparable. Beastmode is better than Carson, the receivers are pretty close to the same, and 2018 Russell is better than 2013 Russell. Where we start to see some breakaway is on the other side of the ball.

Defensive Stars

Now

  • Frank Clark – DE
  • Jarran Reed – DT
  • Bobby Wagner – LB
  • (K.J. Wright – LB)

Then

  • Cliff Avril – DE
  • Michael Bennett – DT
  • Bobby Wagner – LB
  • K.J. Wright – LB
  • Earl Thomas – FS
  • Kam Chancellor – SS
  • Richard Sherman – CB

I’d say the Seahawks have a good start here, but I’d also say the combo of Bennett & Avril were better than the combo of Clark & Reed. Now, there’s obviously still room for both of the younger guys to grow, so in theory they could be even more dominant than they were in 2018, but as it stands right now that’s where we’re at. 2018 Bobby is better than 2013 Bobby, and while 2018 K.J. is better than 2013 K.J., the 2018 version was also injury prone, and is far from a lock to be re-signed to this team in 2019.

Then, there’s the secondary. The 2013 Seahawks not only had 3 superstars in the secondary, they had 3 ALL TIMERS. The 2018/2019 Seahawks don’t have anything CLOSE, and that’s ultimately their biggest hole to overcome (I won’t say “fill”, because I think we’re pretty much stuck with the guys we’ve got, which means we have to compensate in other ways defensively and as a team as a whole).

So, digging down further, let’s list the players who are just good starters/role players.

Now

  • Mike Davis – RB
  • Rashaad Penny – RB
  • All our Tight Ends
  • Justin Britt – C
  • Both starting Guards
  • Poona Ford – DT
  • Mychal Kendricks – LB
  • Justin Coleman – CB
  • Tre Flowers – CB
  • Shaq Griffin – CB
  • Bradley McDougald – SS

Then

  • All our Tight Ends
  • Sidney Rice – WR
  • Steven Hauschka – K
  • Chris Clemons – DE
  • Tony McDaniel – DT
  • Clinton McDonald – DT
  • Brandon Mebane – DT
  • Bruce Irvin – LB
  • Byron Maxwell – CB
  • Walter Thurmond – CB
  • Jeremy Lane – CB

I think our running back room now is stronger than it was then (but it didn’t matter in 2013 when Beastmode was all you needed). I think our offensive line as a whole is better now than it was then, even though the 2013 version was more top-heavy (Sweezy in 2018 is MUCH better than Sweezy in 2013, for instance; Fluker is better than Carpenter; and I would argue Ifedi is on par with Giacomini). I think both tight end rooms are a wash. But, as you can see, while the Seahawks of today have a so-so secondary, the BACKUPS in 2013 were on par with what we have now (and, I would argue, probably a little better). And, the other big difference is up front. Look at all the beef we had on the D-Line in 2013 compared to today! It’s no contest!

Also, not for nothing, but a few of those guys I listed might not be back in 2019, which is yet more work for the Seahawks to do this offseason.

As you can see, the talent disparity is pretty big. I wouldn’t say it’s insurmountable, but you have to wonder where we’re going to pick up the slack. With 4 draft picks and a bunch of our own stars we need to extend, it’s not like we have unlimited resources.

The good news is, the Seahawks of 2019 don’t need to beat the Seahawks of 2013. I would argue the 2013 Seahawks were one of the most talented teams of all time (especially on defense); we won’t see anyone like that in the NFL in 2019. We just have to get past the Rams and the rest of the NFC, then let the chips fall where they may.

It would HELP if we could develop a couple of those good starters into superstars, but this draft and free agency period will be pretty big. No whiffing, lest we middle our way to another Wild Card finish.

The Husky Basketball Team Finally Lost To A Pac-12 Opponent

As fun as it all was, this was bound to happen sooner or later. Even with the conference being as bad as it is, I think the last thing we needed was to finish 18-0. That’s just setting you up for DISASTER down the road, when expectations would’ve been sky-high. As it is, we’ve done enough to warrant a Tourney berth, and maybe inadvertently helped the conference ensure a second team also makes it.

The Sun Devils are a fucking mystery. I mean, they clearly were the only team in the Pac-12 to make a dent in their non-conference slate – beating ranked teams like Mississippi State and top-ranked Kansas – but they’ve also lost home games against Princeton, Utah, and Washington State as recently as last Thursday. I think the committee REALLY wants to include them in the NCAA Tourney based on their resume, but the Sun Devils are making it nearly impossible.

Dismantling the Husky zone, however, was a nice feather in their cap.

I missed this game, but the numbers tell the whole story. It doesn’t look like the Huskies played particularly bad in this one. We had our usual turnover issues (17) but countered that with 12 steals, 2 blocks, and forcing them into 24 turnovers of their own. Crisp, Nowell, and Dickerson all scored in double digits to keep us in it (though Crisp’s 4/14 from three was pretty … ugh), but this game entirely boiled down to the Sun Devils shooting almost 62% from the floor. That’s NUTS! Sure, they hit 35% from long range, but that just means they had their 2-point shots on lock, to a degree we haven’t seen in quite some time.

What’s yet to be determined is if it was just a fluke – like a computer video game opponent in Fuck You mode – or if they unlocked some sort of Pandora’s Box secret to beating our defense. I’m inclined to believe it was the former, but as I said up top, it’s good that this happened. The Huskies needed a reality check, and if you’re going to lose a game, there are worse teams to lose to. The Sun Devils are still respected nationally, so it makes sense to lose in their house. Beating them – and thus having the Washington schools come in there and sweep – would’ve almost ensured they’d need to win the Pac-12 Tournament to make it in the Big Dance. This way, they still have a realistic shot at an at-large bid.

Look at that, a win over the Huskies is actually an accomplishment! It’s been a while since we could say that!

Up next, we’ve got Part 2 of the Apple Cup, this time over in snowy Pullman. With Dickerson’s ankle still banged up, this is fortuitous timing, allowing him a few extra days to heal.

Holy Shitballs The Huskies Are Still Undefeated!

The Huskies went into Arizona and came away with a hard-fought 67-60 victory. Even though the Wildcats are down – much like the rest of the Pac-12 this year – it’s still never easy to win in their gym, so I’d venture to say this was one of the more impressive Husky victories of the season.

Noah Dickerson did, indeed, return to action, though he was kept out of the starting lineup in favor of Sam Timmins (Hameir Wright didn’t play at all due to illness). I wonder if the Huskies were going to feel this game out and decide as they went whether or not Dickerson would actually see any action. Like, if the Huskies had jumped out to an early 15 point lead or something, would they have kept Dickerson on the shelf? Odds are, not starting him was a way to simply limit his minutes. If he went out in the first half and didn’t have it, then they could’ve rested him the rest of the way and saved him for ASU tomorrow.

Either way, Dickerson was a welcome sight! He only put up 10 points and 3 boards, but he accounted for a bunch of the foul trouble that Arizona found themselves in during the second half, including sending their best big man to the bench with 4 fouls for a long time.

As usual, there were plenty of stars to go around. David Crisp continued his quality play, finishing with 17 points to lead the team. Matisse Thybulle was the straw that stirred the drink, with 15 points, 5 blocks, and 5 steals. One can only wonder what he would’ve finished with if he hadn’t been in so much foul trouble late in the game. Jaylen Nowell had a quiet game with 12 points, 6 boards, and 4 assists, but always came up big when the team needed a boost. And, Naz Carter started off as cold as can be, but finished on fire with 10 points, 4 boards, and 2 steals.

It was a tough back-and-forth game in the first half, as both teams traded turnovers like they were kids in the 50’s trading baseball cards. The Huskies managed a 1-point lead at the break, then got out to a quick start in the second half, managing to keep the Wildcats at arm’s length the rest of the way. None of our typical cold spells; there was always an answer to every Arizona run.

We go on to play Arizona State tomorrow night, which I GUESS is the second-best team in the conference, but holy fucking hell they just lost to the now 2-win Cougars by 21 points in their own arena! I had it in the back of my mind that if the Huskies beat the Sun Devils that might guarantee the Pac-12 is a 1-bid conference, but even if we LOSE that might be a safe assumption!

I’d still like to see the Huskies get to 11-0 in conference. This is our last chance for a quality win in the regular season, and say what you will about the Pac-12 and the Sun Devils, but they were able to beat some good teams in their non-conference slate and the rankings like them accordingly. Not that I’m worried about the Huskies making the Tourney anymore – I feel like that’s a foregone conclusion at this point – but I would like to get as high a seed as possible, to make it interesting.

Coming To Terms With Kyle Seager

Last year was as miserable as it gets for erstwhile All Star third baseman Kyle Seager. He underperformed pretty much across the board compared to his career numbers, and he’s been on a steady decline the last two years following what was a zenith in 2016. To wit:

  • 2016: .278/.359/.499, 36 doubles, 3 triples, 30 homers, 99 RBI, 69 walks (nice), and 108 strikeouts
  • 2017: .249/.323/.450, 33 doubles, 1 triple, 27 homers, 88 RBI, 58 walks, and 110 strikeouts
  • 2018: .221/.273/.400, 36 doubles, 1 triple, 22 homers, 78 RBI, 38 walks, and 138 strikeouts

I mean, other than the doubles and triples hanging in there, those are some pretty severe drops. It’s no coincidence, I would argue, that these numbers have come with a sharp increase in the number of shifts other teams employ whenever Seager is at bat. Which is pretty demoralizing, because there’s a clear decline in his BABIP over the same span (.295 in 2016, which isn’t really lucky OR unlucky, but is much closer to his career norms; it fell all the way to .251 in 2018, which is tragic, but also might be the New Norm for Seager) and you have to believe that’s related. An optimist might venture a hopeful life-preserver to drowning Seager fans by saying that a simple turnaround in his luck with batted balls in play could make all the difference in returning him to that reliable fixture in the middle of our lineup. But, if the shifts are doing this much damage – or if they’re in his head to the point that he’s making things worse with his approach – then all hope is probably lost.

At which point, he’s due $57.5 million over the next three years, plus a possible buy-out for 2022. He’s in his age 31 season as we speak.

In taking a deeper look at his numbers, his Ground Ball to Fly Ball ratio isn’t remarkably different from career norms. Neither are his Ground Outs to Air Outs (he had his most ground outs in 2016, with his 2018 numbers slightly less but around the same). His Balls In Play percentage is about the same too, which is weird because his strikeout percentage went from under 17% for his career thru 2017, to nearly 22% in 2018 (which coincides with his walk percentage at 8.5% thru 2017, down to 6.0% in 2018). Obviously, striking out less and walking more would help his slash line, and you’d think lifting the ball more would translate to more fly balls (and therefore more homers) than a futile attempt at breaking the shift.

One telling number is the percentage of fly balls that turned into homers. Those have been dropping the last two years, and could be a marker of Seager losing some pop in his bat due to age. It’s not a crazy fall, but it’s notable (11.2% in 2016 down to 8.4% in 2018). If that’s true, then all hope truly is lost, because you can’t fight age. And, unless the league bans shifts (which I can’t imagine is very likely), then that’s a double-whammy.

The only thing Seager can control is what he swings at outside the zone. Improving his eye and discipline at the plate is probably the only way to really turn his career around, but with that comes the very real possibility that he loses a lot of his power, which is the last thing this team wants or needs. The other idea is to go counter completely, become even more of a pull hitter than he already is, and change his swing so he’s doing nothing but swinging for the fences or striking out 200 times. Honestly, that’s probably the way to go. He’ll probably come in at around the same batting average that he has now, but if he can get into the mid-to-high 30’s in homers and doubles, that could be enough to salvage some of his value. It’s not ideal; his All Star days are surely long behind him, but it’s something at least.

The Mariners Signed Hunter Strickland

I was gonna write about how much I don’t give a shit about Ichiro returning to the Mariners to start out the 2019 season, but it turns out I don’t even give enough of a shit to finish the thought. So, let’s talk about the new reliever the Mariners signed.

This might be one of the better value signings of the entire Jerry Dipoto era, and that’s saying something, because he’s been dumpster diving more or less since day one! Hunter Strickland’s claim to fame is punching a wall and breaking his pitching hand, which incidentally is what makes this deal so intriguing.

He was having a pretty solid year leading up to the incident; a 2.84 ERA, 13 saves against 4 blown (while tacking on a couple more losses in tie games). That just happened to be his second blown save in his previous three appearances, which was too much for him to bear. After the broken hand, he wasn’t remotely the same, throwing some pretty mediocre numbers over the last month and a half of the season.

Strickland apparently has a bit of a temper on him, which I’m okay with. I generally like it when guys show emotion out on the field; it clearly shows they give a shit about what’s happening in the game (in that sense, drawing them closer to the fans who also live and die with every pitch). While I don’t think he’ll totally turn over a new leaf, you’d think after his 2018, he’d learn not to pick fights with buildings.

2018 was his first year as a closer for the Giants; from 2015-2017, he was just a quality set-up reliever. He doesn’t strike out the world, so don’t expect Edwin Diaz 2.0 or anything, but he’s got a track record of a lot of success in the Major Leagues, and a very small track record of ineptitude after a hand injury. I’m inclined to believe Strickland is closer to what he was from 2015 through the first half of 2018 than he is those final 15 games.

For all that, the Mariners get him on a deal that’s costing them $1.3 million plus incentives. On top of that, he’s under team control for two more arbitration years! So, if everything pans out ahead of schedule, he could still be here when the Mariners are relevant again. Or, if things don’t quite pan out – but he’s still successful – then you figure we can flip him at the deadline for a pretty decent haul. OR, if he stinks, then at least he didn’t cost much and we can go our separate ways after this season.

If only ALL sports deals were so friendly!

I won’t pretend like I have even the foggiest idea of how the Mariners’ bullpen is going to shake out this year, but it stands to reason that Strickland will be a pretty big part of it. Most likely even this team’s closer, if he proves he’s fully recovered, but at the very least somewhere in that 8th inning range.

The Huskies Swept The First Half Of Conference Play

Things couldn’t be going much better for the Husky basketball team. We’re 9-0 in Pac-12 play, we’re on an 11-game winning streak, we’re as close as we’ve been since the pre-season from being ranked in the AP Top 25, and if the season ended today, there are various Bracketologists who would have us as a 7-seed!

These are truly uncharted waters. I’ve been following Husky basketball pretty steadily since the turn of the century, and nothing about this team resembles any previous Husky team I’ve ever seen. The Huskies have been notorious slow starters, both in games and in conference play. A 9-game winning streak to CLOSE conference play would be more in line with my experience, but never to open!

And, the way the Huskies are jumping out to huge leads in individual games is unprecedented! Take a look at the last nine games:

  • 29-16 lead over the Cougs (43-38 at half)
  • 38-30 halftime lead at the Utes
  • 12-0 start at the Buffs (48-35 at half)
  • 25-12 lead over the Cardinal (37-24 at half)
  • 29-28 halftime lead over the Golden Bears
  • 17-5 start at the Ducks (27-19 at half)
  • 22-7 start at the Beavs (40-27 at half)
  • 15-4 lead over the Trojans (36-25 at half)
  • 31-23 halftime lead over the Bruins

The only games where the Huskies somewhat struggled in the first half were against Cal and UCLA, but both times we were able to pull away eventually.

I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t think the Huskies would beat both of the L.A. schools, but here we are after yet another sweep. We’re now 12-0 at home, which is big. We’re 6-4 on the road or on a neutral court, which might be even bigger. Especially if we can push that out to 8-4 against the Arizona schools this week.

Nowell, Crisp, and Thybulle led the way against UCLA on Saturday, scoring 15, 15, and 14 points respectively. They combined to go 14/32 (8/14 from long distance) and really kept this game on track, when it could’ve gone off the rails at any point. Getting 22 points from our bench really helped as well, considering what Noah Dickerson had to endure.

Normally, when you see Dickerson being held to 14 minutes, that means he’s in foul trouble from the opening tip. But, he finished with 0 fouls, and two pretty serious-looking injuries. He had to leave the game early with what appeared to be a shoulder issue. After returning to the game, he landed awkwardly on another player’s foot, rolling his ankle in the process. When they had to help him off the court – not to return – things appeared to be pretty dire. Sam Timmins came in there and settled things down, especially defensively (finishing with 6 boards, 3 blocks, and a whopping 9 points – including 3/3 from the free throw line!), but I was speculating the worst case scenario. The good thing was that it didn’t appear to be a high-ankle sprain, which can land you on the shelf for weeks and weeks. Regardless, it didn’t look very likely that he’d make the trip to Arizona this week; however, after listening to Coach Hop on the Mitch Unfiltered podcast, he made it sound like Dickerson will be a game-time decision.

The fact that he actually has a CHANCE to play is great news! I still don’t know if I’d expect him in there on Thursday, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the Sun Devils on Saturday morning.

The schedule gets considerably easier after this week. The Huskies should be able to coast from here on out. Just need to bring their lunch pails for two more games before gorging on dessert.