Vernon Wells

We just lost because Vernon Wells hit two home runs.

We LOST.  Vernon Wells!  I can’t even formulate sentence-type things because WE JUST LOST TO VERNON WELLS!

With Vargas approaching 100 pitches after 6 full innings, I went to bed and the good guys had the lead 3-2.  I figured, okay, time for that lockdown bullpen we’ve been talking so much about this year.  1 inning for Pauley, 1 inning for Wright, 1 inning for League; shouldn’t be too hard for each of those capable young gentlemen to get 3 outs without giving up any runs.  CERTAINLY, they’ve done it before!

Except, no.  Pitch counts be damned!  Jason Vargas MUST GO SEVEN INNINGS.  That surely was what went through Eric Wedge’s brain.  Forget the fact that he was probably tiring – after all, we ARE just wrapping up a 20-games-in-20-days stretch of baseball.  FORGET the fact that he was about to face the teeth of the Angels’ lineup a fourth time with his pitch count nearing triple digits.  This isn’t a team that’s going to be a slave to pitch counts!

Look, I get that.  We’re a team with a 6-man bullpen (except, we’re REALLY a team with a 4-man bullpen that occasionally throws bones to the likes of Ray and Gray); our starters HAVE to pick up the slack.  But, you know what?  As the team’s manager, you have to recognize an important game when you see one.  Yesterday’s game was an important game.

Win:  and it doesn’t matter quite so much what we do against Jered Weaver tonight.  Lose:  and now we’re fucked because Jered Weaver’s going to no-hit us and Doug Fister’s going to get knocked the fuck out!

Yesterday’s game just decided this series.  We could’ve had a chance had we gone with the bullpen to start the 7th.  Instead, we got Vernon Wells’d right in the ass.

M’s Lose; Top Of The Order Keeps Sucking

C.C. Sabathia.  What did I tell you?  This one had Loss written all over it.

Instead of focusing on the negatives twice in one day (Ichiro, Figgins, Vargas, Saunders), I’m going to pull some positives!  Probably could’ve done that after yesterday’s game – when we were ACTUALLY one game over .500 this late in May – but that’s how I roll.  Zagging when you think I’ll zig, bitches!

First of all, the bullpen was fantastic again.  6 innings, only 1 run given up after the Vargas 3-inning prostate exam.  It’s a little lot early to proclaim Jeff Gray a Jackie Z success story, but he WAS able to eat up 4 innings today after two hard-fought ballgames out of the better half of our bullpen the last two nights.  You can’t say enough about a guy who comes in and limits the carnage; sure we were down 6-0 when he came in – a comeback was slim-to-none.  Nevertheless, that’s something we can look at down the road.  You know, mabye pull Vargas after he’s given up FOUR runs in 3 innings; I dunno.

Also, don’t look now, but Chris Ray has only given up 1 earned run in his last six appearances, lowering his ERA from 16.88 to a paltry 8.03!  Granted, those six appearances were spread out well over a month’s time – and mostly in lost causes or desperate, bullpen-overused situations.  NEVERTHELESS, this could be his road back to being a somewhat reasonable human being.  It would be nice to have a dealin’ Chris Ray for when Jamey Wright inevitably collapses (and, for that matter, Laffey and Pauley).

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Justin Smoak’s solo homer in the sixth inning.  Prevented the shutout, and hey, a homer!  Finally the unstoppable downward slide of Smoak’s slugging percentage has ceased!

And, in conclusion, Brendan Ryan had two more hits (including a double) to raise his average to .277.  For some of these guys (Ichiro, Figgins, Smoak), the end of the month of May can’t come soon enough.  For Brendan Ryan, it’s going to be a sad sight to see the month of June this week.  On the one hand, I hope he keeps it up.  On the other, I don’t want to live in a world where Brendan Ryan has a higher batting average than Ichiro.  Or, you know, a whole fucking batting line right down to the OPS!

MAKE THE MADNESS END!

Incoming, we have the Baltimore Orioles.  They just got swept by the A’s.  Take that how you will, I’m just glad I don’t have to see Chris Tillman rub our noses in it.  Maybe this time Bedard can make Orioles fans wish they’d never made that trade!

Yeah, unlikely, I know.

Double The Blown Saves, Double Your Agony

Of course, as soon as I start singing the guy’s praises, he goes out and gags one away in the bottom of the 13th inning – in a game we SO should have won!

These are always the games that leave you shaking your head as a Mariners fan, muttering to yourself at the same time, “I can’t believe we just lost,” and “I very much CAN believe we just lost!”  It’s just such a Mariners way to lose a ballgame.  Let’s see, how about we have a starter give us a quality start that’s later turned into a No Decision – check.  Let’s take a 1-run lead into the 8th inning and give it to our most consistent set-up reliever, only to see him give up 2 runs on 3 hits and a walk – check.  Let’s then get some runners on, start a rally, SCORE … but not take the lead so we have to go to extras – check.

Then, let’s hand the game over to a soft-tossing left-handed long reliever and watch him get out of jams like he’s Houdini for three innings – check.  Let’s watch our offense continue to stink in those same three innings – check.  Let’s let that same soft-tossing left-handed long reliever who’s been turning water into wine for the past three innings go one more, only to give up a double and an intentional walk without generating an out – check.  And, let’s bring in our least-consistent reliever to get us out of the jam … and actually SUCCEED  – check.

Finally, let’s push across a run, give it to our closer who’s thus far in the season been perfect, and watch him get beaten to a pulp as the other team runs onto their field to celebrate.  Check, check, check, check, check.

What an unsatisfying end to a pretty exciting and worthwhile baseball game.  I don’t know if there’s anything in sports I hate more than the Blown Save.  Last night, we had two of them, by our two best relievers.  On the same day, I might add, that we discovered David Aardsma will likely need surgery and be out for the entire season.  How about THAT for an ominous sign of things to come!

Also, don’t look now, but the Mariners have lost three consecutive games.  I’m not ready to lose the good feelings of the last two weeks!  Mariners, win tonight!

Mariners Keep Winning, Now 2 Games from .500

I don’t want to alarm anybody here, but the Mariners are now 14-16.  To put that in perspective, we’re still in last place, but in the AL West that means we’re 2 games behind both Texas and Anaheim (and 1 game behind Oakland).

I swear to Christ, if the Mariners do one of the following – sweep this series and get to .500, move completely out of last place, or eventually just get to .500 – I am putting a God damned standings widget over there on the right side of the page and keeping it there all year!

This is the type of AL West everyone expected LAST year.  Instead, we got Texas running away with it, only to choke when it mattered most, but I digress.

The star of last night’s game is the rejuvenated Erik Bedard!  After throwing 33 pitches in the first inning, he settled down to go 7 strong (and, oddly enough, not giving up his first hit until the 6th inning).  That’s two games in a row where he’s gone 7; dare I say we’ve got the pitcher we were expecting in 2008?  If so, don’t look now, but that’s three high-quality starting pitchers to throw at the league …

Let’s breeze through the rest of the kudos:

Justin Smoak is a GOD right now.  3 for 4 last night with a double and 2 RBI.  This just continues to shine a light on my man crush that is Cliff Lee.  Without him, none of this would’ve been possible!

Don’t look now, but Jack Cust has his average up to .205 … I’m not saying that’s acceptable, but he’s no longer the worst guy on team.  For the record, it’s your turn to make the leap into the .200’s Brendan Ryan.

Unrelated to yesterday’s game:  Happy Rookie Of The Month, Michael Pineda!  Five more of those and you’ve got yourself a ROY.

Brandon League is 8 for 8 in save opportunities.  I don’t know what’s more surprising through May 3rd:  Brandon League is perfect, or Brandon League has actually had 8 save opportunities.

I haven’t seen Chris Ray in practically forever.  Whenever I’m able to write that sentence, you know it’s been a good day.  In fact, we haven’t seen ANY of the dregs of our bullpen lately!  No Ray, no Lueke (who’s now in Tacoma anyway), no Cortes (who was called up for Lueke), no Wilhelmsen.  Just a steady diet of Jamey Wright, Aaron Laffey, and David Pauley (who got the win last night).  FINALLY, a manager who’s not afraid to sit the struggling pitchers we all hate!  I think I’m falling in love with you, Eric Wedge.

The 10-Loss Club

We’re in exclusive company!  I know Jack Zduriencik promised to build up our farm system when he was hired, what I DIDN’T know was that he’d be doing that with #2 draft picks every year!

Ten losses isn’t really much of a milestone; everyone is going to get there eventually.  You’ll know you’re in the Playoff Chase when you hit your 10th loss in May.  But, when you get your 10th loss on April 15th … gird your loins, because it’s going to be a LONG season.

We’re currently tied for 2nd worst with the Houston Astros.  Laughably enough, BOSTON of all teams is dead last with a 2-10 record.  Of course, anyone who believes the Red Sox will continue to stay in last place is about as stupid as they get (though, a girl can dream, can’t she …); my money is on Boston getting super hot in the summer months and overtaking whoever’s on top in the East.  Mark my words.

The Mariners?  Not so much.  Though it’s nice to see they’re fighting for every inch like last night when they came back with four runs in the 8th and 9th innings to lose by 1.

You know who I LIKE on this team?  David Pauley and Aaron Laffey.  Two guys in our bullpen who come in when it’s out of hand, and DON’T give up any more runs!  How about that?  Yeah, I know Pauley gave up a run yesterday, but he went 2.1, and for the season his ERA is 2.57.  Glad SOMEONE in this bullpen can be counted on.  It’s nice to know two of the weaker-throwing bullpen guys are tons more effective than the Chris Rays, Josh Luekes and Tom Wilhelmsens of the world.

Also, Justin Smoak.  MAN, I don’t want to jinx nothin’, but he could be REAL good … RBI bases loaded walk last night in the 9th inning.  How about THAT for ballsy?

Chris Ray Is A Steaming Turd Log

But not just any steaming turd log.  He’s one of those big ones that get cut off partway through when your ass-cheeks accidentally clench together, resulting in a big shitty mess in your asshole.  It would be different if he were a long, majestic, unbroken turd log!  Then, I’d bring my friends around the bowl and share in its glory.

But no.  Chris Ray is a partial turd log.  And HE NEEDS TO GO!

Listen up, Mariners, I’m being totally serious with you right now.  You need to get rid of this son of a bitch!  He’s blown 2 games and that’s 2 games too fucking many!  He can’t hit his spots, he’s got nothing on his fastball, he’s DONE.  God dammit he’s fucking done and you need to cut his ass TODAY!

I’ll put up with the shitty offense.  I get it.  There wasn’t a lot of money, there weren’t that many options available … it is what it is.  I’ve accepted it.  I’ll still bitch about it from time to time … but I’ve accepted it.

But, that does NOT mean I have to accept Chris Ray getting the ball in the 7th and 8th innings of games so he can come in and totally destroy everything!  Yesterday:  2 outs, 5 hits, 5 earned runs.  PATHETIC.  Chris Ray, you are pathetic and you need to fucking retire your ass immediately.

Felix Day Marred By 24 Other Mariners

Well, let’s see.  There were back-to-back errors by second baseman Jack Wilson, which gave Felix 2 unearned runs and the loss.  There’s the offense that could only muster 3 runs off of 6 hits, 2 walks, and an error.  There was Chris Ray ONCE AGAIN showing his true colors (different shades of shit brown, if you ask me) by giving up 2 runs off of 2 hits in his 1/3rd of an inning pitched.  There was Brandon League with a hit and an error to really blow this game open in the 8th inning.

What does all of that add up to?  Well, it means we’re 0-4 in games where Chone Figgins hasn’t gotten a hit.  It means we got swept by the red-hot Texas Rangers like I thought we probably would.  It means a once-promising road trip ends in shame before I’ve even left the office.

I hate weekday day games.  Hell, I hate ALL day games.  You’ll never see bad Mariners teams mailing it in harder than they do on day games, don’t ask me why.

I decided to catch an hour’s worth at a bar for lunch yesterday, boy was THAT a mistake.

I got to see Jack Wilson just look pathetic on his two errors in the bottom of the second inning.  The first one, a clean throw, he just flat out dropped for what could have been a double play.  The second one, this time he caught, but then he threw about fifteen feet wide of first base on the turn.  Just miserable.  That helped push Felix’s pitch count over 40 after two innings, probably resulting in him tiring early, definitely prohibiting him from going an 8th inning.

Honestly, it’s no surprise that they pulled him from the game immediately after.  I’m just glad he had no problem with it.  Jack Wilson is a man without a position right now.  They’re TRYING to get him to stick at second, but I don’t know if it’s going to work.

HOPEFULLY we’ll see left-handed starting pitchers with less frequency from here on out.  Jesus Fucking Christ!

Oh, and also:  I hate Chris Ray.  If he plays in Friday’s game, I’m going to run out on that motherfucking field and kick him in the testicles.  Then I’m going pluck Eric Wedge’s moustache out hair by hair until he looks ridiculous!  (Yes, I am actually going to the Home Opener.  Should be plenty of seats still available since the Mariners stink).

I mean, the God-damned guy is a walking fucking travesty!  Chris Ray, for Christ’s sake, FIGURE IT THE FUCK OUT!  He’s gotten 4 outs this year.  In that time, he’s given up 5 hits and 3 runs!

The worst part of it is, Tacoma’s season hasn’t even started yet, so who would we even call up?  Who’s been pitching since Spring Training ended?  Essentially, we’re stuck with this Chris Ray douche for another two weeks at minimum.

DON’T put him in another Felix game, Wedge.  I WILL hurt you.  (No, no I won’t either).

Early Trends In The 2011 Mariners Season

As far as pitching is concerned, I think we’ve held pretty close to what I expected.  Felix is the man, Vargas is a very-effective left-handed innings-eater, and Fister is Fister.

Today, Fister went 5.2 innings and gave up 3 runs, 2 earned.  He gave up 8 hits, 0 walks, and only struck out 2.  That’s about what you can expect out of him.  Against stronger lineups, Fister will struggle; against weaker ones, he’ll do okay.  Oakland is a pretty weak lineup.

The bullpen, as anticipated, is scary.  League looked good, and we’ll need him to continue to look good if we want to be even remotely respectable.  Ray looked bad, Lueke looked abysmal, and Wright faced one batter (so the book is still out on him).  We’re going to have to ride these guys – especially on days when Felix isn’t starting – so somebody better step up and take hold of the 7th and 8th innings.  I’m willing to chock today up to being Lueke’s first Major League appearance, but he’s going to have to settle down in a hurry if he’s going to stay with the big club.

As far as hitting is concerned, we’re marginally better so far.  At least there’s reason for SOME optimism.

We scored 12 runs in this series.  Not too shabby considering Oakland has a pretty competitive pitching staff.  25 hits in this series is an improvement as well, though only 6 of ’em were for extra bases.  As expected, getting the big hits will be a struggle for this team.

We were 5 for 26 hitting with runners in scoring position.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is, we actually HAD runners in scoring position.  Every starter but Adam Moore yesterday got on base at least once this series.  Ichiro and Smoak have looked particularly good so far; Smoak already has 2 doubles in his hot start.  Olivo and Wilson have been pretty effective, and Cust looks like he’s an on-base machine with his eye for pitches.

We’ve been extremely patient so far in 2011; there’s a lot to like about that.  A lot of full counts in individual at bats.  Making other pitchers work out there to get us out; it’s a complete turnaround from last year when we’d just hack away and give up easy 1-2-3 innings.  We’ve got 14 walks in 3 games!  That’s HUGE.  Yes, we’re still swinging at some bad pitches (26 strike outs, ye gods!), but we’re not swinging at AS MANY bad pitches.

With all this patience, we will need to do better against opposing teams’ starters.  Yes, we knocked out Cahill in the fifth inning, but he still only gave up a single run.  In fact, every A’s starter only gave up a run apiece in these three games; meaning we’ve done the bulk of our damage against their bullpen.  That’s an ominous trend from 2010 that seems to have followed us into this season.  Since we’re not going to be getting the big extra base hits this year, we MUST at least get the run scoring singles when the opportunities arise.  All of this getting on base via any means necessary MUST be used to our advantage.

Today’s game was crappy, there’s no getting around that.  This 7-1 defeat was reminiscent of so many similar defeats last year, it’s really quite discouraging.  I’d like to say there’s no WAY we’re going to continue to be this bad hitting with runners in scoring position all year, but I’m afraid I can’t make that declaration until I see it in action.  After all, we were only batting .226 with runners in scoring position in 2010.  Granted, that’s about 34 points better than we were in this series.  But, even if we return to last year’s norm, what is that really saying about us?  I mean, we’re not going to face defenses as bad as the one we played this weekend all season long.

We’re 2-1, so you have to deem this initial series a success.  Now is certainly NOT the time I want us going into Texas.  A 3-3 road trip would be better than I could have possibly dreamed, but that entails going 1-3 to close it out.  If you said before the season started that we’d be .500 before our first home game, I would’ve been ecstatic; if you tell me now we’ll be .500, I couldn’t help but be disappointed.

Truth be told, we will actually be VERY fortunate to leave Texas with a win.  They’re good, OH how they’re good!

On the plus side, we have our three most exciting pitchers going.  If Bedard could give us what Vargas gave us, I’d be thrilled.  Pineda will be making his Major League debut.  In Texas.  So, that’s frightening.  And we close with Felix – odds-on our best chance to get that third victory.  Let’s see how we do.

An Epic Ninth Inning

I can already tell you I’m not going to like Chris Ray.  That guy has a funky delivery, so herky jerky and awkward.  It looks like he has absolutely no idea where the ball is going to go after it leaves his hand!  Which would be fine if he threw 99 miles per hour with movement; but his goes 92 or 93.  I mean, he JUST got pounded and everything was smack dab in the middle of the strike zone.  YOU DON’T HAVE THE KIND OF STUFF TO BLOW GUYS AWAY, CHRIS RAY!  Paint the fucking corners or get the hell out of my way!

So, that happened.  Vargas had a very Vargas-like performance, and we took a 2-1 lead into the 8th where it was subsequently blown.  Yes, it is Game 2 and we have our first blown save of the year!

By the by, here’s a little tip:  Jamey Wright and Chris Ray, they have almost identical stuff.  League-average (read: hitable) fastball, curveballs that don’t do a whole lot of curving, both are right handed and white, etc.  MAYBE it’s best not to pitch them back-to-back.  MAYBE, when we throw one, we put in a guy who actually throws hard the next inning!

I’m harping on this early and often because I want to nip this Chris Ray in the bud.  He won’t be ruining this month for me!  God I want Aardsma back in the worst way (never thought I’d see myself writing that).

Anyway, where was I?  YES, the Epic Ninth.  Bottom of the 8th, we’re Ray’d right in the nuts, but luckily he somehow held the damage down to a single run.  We still had the tie, but it had the FEEL of 2010, much like the first game.

You know, we have excellent starting pitching, but we run into the buzzsaw that is Brett Anderson (he had an ERA of 0.81 against us last season in five games).  Somehow we get a run off of him and make him leave after only 6 innings, then we work another run across the plate to get a miniscule lead.  Starting pitcher has to leave, our bullpen gives up the tying run, and then we go on to lose it in the bottom of the 9th or in extra innings.

Well, NOT THIS TIME!

This time, we did it.  I don’t know how, but I’ll be God damned if we didn’t somehow do it.  It looked like this:

Jack Wilson jerks a single into left field to start things off.  Michael Saunders lays down an excellent sacrifice bunt to move him to 2nd base.  Miguel Olivo then hits a single to deep center that Wilson has to wait on to make sure it’s not caught, so he only advances to 3rd.  This gives us runners on the corners with only 1 out.  Haven’t we seen this situation a million times before, last season?  All we need is a fly ball or heavens forbid an actual hit, but instead we strike out, or hit a come-backer to the pitcher, or when we have the winning run go on contact, that very contact is a hard ground ball to the 3rd baseman (a.k.a. the ONE person we can’t hit the ball to in that situation).

Well, luckily for us, we had Ichiro at the plate.  He hit a sharp grounder to first base who had to go home with the throw.  Except these are the A’s, so their defense is horrible.  I don’t think they would’ve gotten Jack Wilson anyway, as he WAS going on contact, but there we go!  Infield single, and a 3-2 lead.

But, it doesn’t stop there.  Because in all the chaos of that play, Olivo made it all the way to 3rd base.  On the next throw from pitcher Brian Fuentes, he scored on a wild pitch.  THEN, Ichiro stole 3rd base, all while Chone Figgins is at the plate!  Figgy hits a sacrifice fly to deep center and that’s your ballgame.  A tie game goes to a 3-run lead and the first of hopefully many Brandon League saves.

HE looked on tonight, by the way.  Good, very good.  Let’s keep THAT up.

Seattle Mariners 2011 Preview, Part 1: The Pitchers

I was going to set this aside as its own post, but then all hell broke loose over the weekend, so I guess I’ll address the Michael Pineda Situation here.

As I said before, I was torn.  More torn on this issue than on any other.  There are too many pro’s and con’s on both sides, so we’ll just list them out here.  To start Pineda in Tacoma:

Pro – let him get a little more seasoning before throwing him into the fire, let him work on perfecting that change-up and any other secondary pitches, and of course saving ourselves a full year of service time by not bringing him up until late May.

Con – risk bruising his ego when he is so clearly among the best 5 starters we have in the organization, risk shattering team morale by making the better move for the organization long-term vs. the better move for winning games right now, and Pineda wouldn’t have access to major league coaches to help him work through problems.

To start Pineda in Seattle:

Pro – he DOES get access to those major league coaches, he gets to face Major League hitting (which should speed up his overall progress, since he’s shown he’s a man among boys in the AAA level), and he gets to mentor under the greatest pitcher of our generation, Felix Hernandez.

Con – maybe he gets roughed up early and has to be sent back down, maybe he strains himself and hits the DL, maybe he tries to rely too much on his fastball and doesn’t develop the secondary pitches he will need to be a bona fide Number 1 starter because he’s too concerned with using what he’s got now to get the outs he needs to STAY a Major Leaguer.

Whew!  That was exhausting.  Anyway, I’ve given it thought, and I’ve come to the conclusion that this will be a good thing in the long run.

Yeah, that full year of service time hurts.  Let’s face it, either way he was going to get the same amount of Major League experience this year before being shut down (as he will be on a strict innings count).  But, you know what?  I like that he made the team out of Spring Training (in his first real attempt).  I like that he’ll be starting with the big ballclub as their #5 man.  No pressure, plenty of down time when we’ve got off-days in between.  And who knows?  Maybe these extra few weeks will be all the difference!

Make no mistake, I’m not predicting Cy Young numbers out of Pineda.  You’re going to see a guy who will probably go somewhere around 11-14 with a 4.78 ERA.  But, within those harsh numbers you’ll see his potential break out.  Remember, this is a team that’s not going to score a lot of runs, so he WILL lose more games than he wins.  Nevertheless, you’ll see some real gems where he goes 7 innings of 2-hit ball.  AND, you’ll see some games where he can’t get out of the third inning.  It happens to the best of ’em.  Hell, King Felix himself had to go through his growing pains.

Pineda will likely start out hot, then the league will figure him out, then towards the end of his season he’ll start making the right adjustments to end on a high note.  I wouldn’t ask for anything more.  Season 2 might bring some more pains, but then by Season 3, he should be a stud.  With Felix and Pineda leading the charge, look for THAT year to be something special in Marinerland.

***

Our rotation as a whole is going to be a REAL mixed bag.  We’ll have Mr. Cy Young, then we’ll have soft-tossing left-hander Jason Vargas.  Then we’ll come back with soft-tossing right-hander Doug Fister, followed by marginally hard-throwing Erik Bedard.  That’s a cool little mix there of Righty, Lefty, Righty, Lefty, Righty.  And I wouldn’t even worry all that much about Felix following Pineda after the first turn of the rotation.  With Pineda, you’re getting gas plain and simple.  Teams will focus in on that, and then Felix will come right out with the wicked bendy stuff to throw them completely off balance.

I’m not predicting anything less than Cy Young material out of Felix this year, so we can pretty much move on.

I want to say that I see bad things for Vargas, but I honestly believe his change up is too big to fail.  He may only throw 87 miles per hour on the fastball, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t come into his own last year.  He strikes me as a very cerebral dude who’s got just enough smarts to out-wit his opponents.

I DON’T want to say that I see bad things for Fister, but in reality he’s going to be this year’s Rowland-Smith.  Fister has had a messy Spring, he didn’t finish the season anywhere NEAR the level he started it, he can’t generate swinging strikes to save his life, and when his pin-point accuracy on the corners of the plate is lacking, he’s the most hittable guy I’ve ever seen.  You’re going to see Fister struggle.  You’re going to see him get more chances than he deserves because the guys in Tacoma (and on the DL) aren’t quite there yet, and you’re going to see Fister struggle even more.  After this season, you’re going to see Fister in another uniform, and after next season you’re going to see him out of baseball.  Count it.

I’m SO happy that Erik Bedard is back.  I think he’s going to give us everything he gave us the LAST time he was healthy!  Which is rock-solid front end of the rotation pitching.  Between him, Felix, Vargas, and every other time with Pineda, we’re going to look MIGHTY good on the mound this year.

***

Until we get to the 7th or 8th innings.

Bullpen is crap!  Print it, post it, put it to bed.

Well, that’s not entirely fair.  But, in the first month or so it’s going to be crap.  Probably.

We’ve got two very young guys in Josh Lueke and Tom Wilhelmsen with all the talent in the world.  They throw hard, they throw in the strike zone, and I have no doubt that they’ll be excellent back-end relievers (and potential closers) in the years to come.  But right now?  Right now they’re rookies.  They’re going to have nights where they’re electric and nights where they implode.

Chris Ray and Jamey Wright are NOT rookies.  They’re as veteran as they come.  Ray is a former closer who’s coming off multiple injuries/surgeries.  Wright is just a guy who’s bounced around the league with marginally good stuff.  These guys will probably pitch the bulk of our 7th and 8th innings when we’ve got a lead (at least until the younger guys step up).  I have no faith in either of these guys getting the job done.  Give the Mariners a 1-run lead in the 7th with this gauntlet of crap and I will bet on the Blown Save every time.

I don’t know a thing about Aaron Laffey except that he throws the ball with his left hand and is not Garrett Olson.  I like him already.

David Pauley is David Pauley.  He started a bunch of unmemorable games for us last season, he didn’t totally destroy his career by posting league-worst numbers, so he got a tryout this Spring and did okay.  Bank on seeing him at some point in the first five games, then bank on seeing him every 10 days or so.  Long relievers have GOT to have the best jobs in baseball.  All you do is come into games where your team is either down by a lot or up by a lot, all you have to do is throw strikes, and if you go 5+ innings while your team makes a miraculous comeback, then you’re a superstar.

Brandon League is our closer RIGHT NOW.  Aardsma will be back, likely, in early May.  Aardsma will also, likely, be traded sometime within the next 12 months.  So, look at April as League’s opportunity to showcase his abilities to get three 9th inning outs.  He better bring his splitter, that’s all I’ve got to say.  And let’s cut back on totally sucking dick in save situations where Felix was the starter, huh?  I WANT to like you, League!  You’ve got magical stuff that every once in a while gets pounded into submission for some reason.  Just don’t get pounded when Felix previously occupied your mound for the first 8 innings!