Jesus Montero Is No More

The rest of this week figures to be devoted to a number of moves the Mariners have made in advance of the regular season starting next week.  Big names, like Mike Zunino and James Paxton, alongside smaller names like Boog Powell, Chris Taylor, and Stefen Romero, have all been sent down to Tacoma.  Some of those names were expected to get chopped, some of those names are a surprise.  But, I’m going to start with Jesus Montero.

If you search his name on my website, you’ll find he was very much my whipping boy for many years.  You know what I think about all the time when it comes to the Seattle Mariners?  The mind-bogglingly stupid trades our various GMs have made throughout the years.  That is by no means a complete list, but it’s a good jumping-off point.  There have been some WHOPPERS over the years, but right down there at the bottom, you’ll see the full terms of the Pineda/Montero trade.

That trade has been a rollercoaster of emotion since it happened on January 23, 2012.  I liked it at first, because we were trading from a position of depth, and we had a serious need for power hitting (or, really, hitting of ANY kind).  While he wasn’t gangbusters out of the gate, at least he didn’t miss two full seasons and most of a third due to serious arm injuries.  But, then Montero got fat and lazy and had the ice cream sandwich incident down in the minor leagues, while at the same time Pineda returned from injury and started to look solid again.  Even though Montero lost the weight and started to take his career more seriously, he ultimately never developed into much more than a fringe Quad-A type player who struggles to hit the curve ball, struggles to hit right handed pitching, and ultimately doesn’t make enough of an empact against left handed pitching to be of any value.  He’s no longer a viable catching prospect, and he’s trying his best to convert to first base, but his best position defensively is probably no position at all.

I no longer have my anger issues with the guy that I used to.  Indeed, I respect him quite a bit for turning everything around and at least putting in the effort.  That’s really all anyone can ask for.  Ultimately, though, you can’t help but feel – as a Mariners fan – at least some resentment for his Too Little, Too Late results.  What we needed was for him to put in that effort back in 2012 when we first got him; not when he was essentially poison and lost any value whatsoever to try to salvage something.

Then, when you note Hector Noesi also came over in the deal … it’s best not to think about it.  My blood pressure can’t handle it.

Jesus Montero is out of options, so he was DFA’d.  The Toronto Blue Jays picked him up, and now have him, Michael Saunders, and Justin Smoak on their roster.  As I’m sure countless people have already pointed out, they’re a Dustin Ackley away from being the most disappointing version of the Seattle Mariners we’ve seen in the last generation.  All that promise, all washed up.

What this move ultimately represents is the last of the worst of the Jack Zduriencik era being eliminated from this roster.  There are still some likely mistakes we’re dealing with – who will hopefully be improved by their time learning their craft in the minors, I’m looking at you, Zunino – but on the big league roster, we’ve only got the best of the Jackie Z era, or the little hatchlings of the Jerry Dipoto era.  Whether that’s enough to turn around this organization remains to be seen, but ultimately I’m taking a positive, Out With The Old, In With The New stance.  Fuck off, Jesus Montero, and thanks for nothing!

Jack Zduriencik Is Gone

I remember June 16, 2008, like it was seven years and a few weeks ago.  We were in the middle of a year that would just get worse and worse and worse.  The Mariners, coming off of a winning 2007 campaign, revamped their starting rotation with the Erik Bedard trade and the Carlos Silva signing.  A would-be weakness for the team was bolstered by the addition of a second ace pitcher, and an innings eater who’d solidify the back-end of the rotation while pitching half his games in the spacious Safeco Field.

Those 2008 Mariners would go on to lose over 100 games, netting the #2 overall draft pick.  On June 16, 2008, Bill Bavasi was fired after four and a half miserable fucking seasons.  And we all rejoiced, for we all knew Bavasi was not only the face of Satan incarnate, but the most bumbling and inept motherfucker ever to be given the keys to a professional franchise (tell me I’m wrong, COME AT ME BRO; I will fight you to the death).  Every year of his reign was another chance to reload.  Re-BUILD?  What does that even MEAN?  The Mariners were coming off of their most fruitful seasons under Pat Gillick; but those veterans were all long dead and buried.  Bavasi made it his mission to bring in veteran after veteran to try to right the ship, at the expense of our entire farm system and anything else he could get his hands on.  He wasted money, he traded away superstars, and he brought us nothing but losses piled upon losses piled upon shit.

On October 22, 2008, the Mariners brought in Jack Zduriencik, and while we didn’t really know much about him, we knew he worked in the upper management in Milwaukee, for a Brewers organization on the rise.  He was responsible for that team bringing in some of its biggest stars, and was the first non-GM to win Executive of the Year in 2007.  This guy was a rising star in his own right, and it seemed like he’d fit into the GM world like a glove.

On August 28, 2015, the Mariners fired Jack Zduriencik.  He’d been at the helm for a little over 6 and a half seasons.  So, it was time.  He’d out-lasted his predecessor and really wasn’t all that much better at his job.

Bill Bavasi’s Mariners record:  322-395, .449 winning percentage
Jack Zduriencik’s Mariners record:  506-595, .460 winning percentage

Over time, the Bavasi regime has become known for the Erik Bedard/Adam Jones trade, and the dual trades to the Indians in 2006 giving them quality All Stars Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera for magic beans.  Those are desperate moves no GM would EVER live down.  The Zduriencik regime will ultimately go down for the Triad of Suck that was Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, and Jesus Montero.  The Mariners gave up some legitimately great capital to bring in those guys (2nd overall draft pick, Cliff Lee, and Michael Pineda, respectively) and they all blew up in Z’s face.

Considering Jackie Z’s extensive history in scouting for Major League Baseball, that makes his transgressions all the more galling.  He’d been here for over 6 years and all he had to show for his work was Kyle Seager.  Anyone he ever brought in who was worth a damn was either an established free agent (Cano, Cruz) or some scrub who’d previously washed out of baseball either via injury or ineffectiveness, only to make his comeback with us for an anomalous year or two (Chris Young, Mark Lowe, Tom Wilhelmsen, Joe Beimel).  I mean, will you LOOK at some of the bullshit that’s crossed our paths thanks to Jackie Z:

  • Dustin Ackley, draft pick
  • Chone Figgins, free agent
  • Eric Byrnes, free agent
  • Justin Smoak, trade
  • The Entire Doug Fister Trade, less Charlie Furbush (a sometimes-okay lefty specialist out of the bullpen)
  • Jesus Montero, trade
  • Brandon League, trade
  • Casey Kotchman, trade
  • Mike Morse for John Jaso
  • Logan Morrison for Carter Capps
  • Mark Trumbo for Welington Castillo
  • Mike Zunino, draft pick
  • Danny Hultzen, draft pick
  • Nick Franklin, draft pick
  • Corey Hart, free agent
  • Jason Bay, free agent
  • Joe Saunders, free agent
  • Hector Noesi, trade
  • Miguel Olivo, free agent
  • The Hitless Wonder That Is Brendan Ryan, trade
  • Jack Cust, free agent
  • Blake Beavan, trade
  • Milton Bradley, trade
  • Rob Johnson, trade(ish)

You could go on and on, and I know I’m just picking and choosing the most worthless piles of crap out there, but LOOK AT THAT LIST!  Look at all those miserable bastards that have contributed to nearly 600 losses the last 6+ seasons!  That’s Jack’s legacy!  Did he give away studs on par with Jones, Choo, Cabrera, Tillman and the like?  No.  But, he did get PENNY on the dollar out of stud trade chips like Cliff Lee, Michael Pineda, Doug Fister, Brandon Morrow, John Jaso, and Carter Capps.  He had three draft picks in the top 3 overall and we’ve yet to see any of them amount to anything more than somewhat quality defense.  After this year, it’s highly likely two of those three draft picks won’t even be in the organization, with Ackley traded, Hultzen an injured free agent who should probably retire, and Mike Zunino fighting for his life somewhere between Tacoma and Seattle.

Was he as destructive as Bill Bavasi?  No, he was not.  That’s why August 28, 2015, came and went a little bit differently than June 16, 2008.  I don’t feel quite the sense of elation as I did when Bavasi finally got the ax.  That was on par with the Wicked Witch of the West getting assassinated; this is more like Old Yeller taking a bullet out behind the house.  Could the Mariners afford to keep him in charge even one more year?  Absolutely not.  His rabies-infested mind would surely destroy us all; he NEEDED to be put down, for his sake as much as our own.

But, it’s not even like that.  I have no real affinity for Jackie Z; it’s not like I’m going to miss him now that he’s gone.  But, it’s still a bummer, because this isn’t supposed to be how it ended.  There was a lot of flawed decision-making when it comes to Jackie Z’s reign; but, there’s also a lot of moves where you could see why he thought the way he did.  A lot of moves that looked good on paper, and then that paper was set ablaze by a fucking cannon.  Guys like Smoak and Ackley and Figgins and Montero – they all came highly touted and having produced quite a bit in their careers up to the point they arrived in Seattle.

In fact, you could say 2015 was a perfect microcosm of the entire Jackie Z era.  There was hope – coming off of a year where the Mariners ended up 1 game out of the playoffs.  There was a smart signing – Nelson Cruz, MVP candidate in 2015.  There was flawed logic – trading away a professional catcher during Zunino’s worst year in the Bigs for a righty power bat who will never play well in Safeco (and who’s yet another DH who shouldn’t be playing out in the field to boot).  And there was a whole lot of bad luck – Cano’s shitty start to the season, Ackley turning back into a pumpkin after last year’s bonanza second half, the bullpen absolutely falling apart after being one of the best units in the American League last year.

Like him or hate him, it’s just sad.  This whole season has been depressing as shit!  Jackie Z getting the boot is just the cherry on top.

The worst part is:  what do we do going forward?  When Bavasi was fired, there was a clear thought process:  scrap everything and start over through the draft.  It only got muddled when the Mariners had a winning record in 2009; that shouldn’t have happened, and it set things back in a lot of ways.  The Mariners made “contending ballclub” moves when they should’ve stuck to the gameplan to keep rebuilding.  It backfired in 2010, meaning we wasted two good rebuilding years thinking we were worth a damn.  We started anew in 2011, built the club up into a winner in 2014, only to see it all bottom out yet again.  Unexpectedly.  Yet again.  But, maybe we should have expected it.  This city is cursed in a lot of ways, and it took one of the greatest football teams of all time to break that spell in 2013.

Now, like in 2008, the Mariners have no farm system.  But, they’ve got plenty good at the Major League level.  This team is far from great, but it’s also far from the worst.  Will the organization be able to find the right guy to come in here and put all the pieces in place?

No.

It won’t.

Because Howard Lincoln is still the man calling all the shots.

He’s an imbecile and he needs to go.

But, we’re stuck with him, and that’s why we’ll always be losers.

Mariners Tidbit 14: Erasmo Ramirez Traded For A Bust

Well, this played out pretty much like everyone expected.  The starting rotation – in some order or another – will be Felix, Paxton, Iwakuma, Happ, and Walker, with Elias waiting in the wings as needed.  Erasmo Ramirez never had a shot, but he was never really GOING to have a shot so long as the six guys above him on the depth chart stayed healthy.

Erasmo Ramirez probably isn’t a guy who’s ever going to be a starting pitcher in the Major Leagues.  He’ll get opportunities, because he’s young and cheap and under club control for however much longer.  He’ll start, but he won’t be a starter.  Unless he lands on a very bad team – and who knows, maybe the Rays are that bad team – I don’t think he’ll ever consistently win a job in a starting rotation.

He’s a decent fill-in guy.  Someone who – if you can afford to keep him around on your 25-man roster – will spot start for you when someone else goes down.  But, I highly doubt we’re looking at someone who’s going to make the significant leap required to be an everyday Major Leaguer.

It’s pretty amazing that the Mariners got anything for him at all.  Then again, that’s what we said about the Jarrod Washburn trade, the Carlos Silva trade, the Jeff Clement trade, and so on and so forth.  On the one hand, you feel over the moon that you got ANYBODY; the ol’ “I’ll Take A Bag Of Balls & A Couple Batting Donuts” deal.  You see what you get in return and you try to start plugging holes with your new acquisition.  But, you gotta remember that whenever you’re trading away a disappointment, odds are you’re getting another disappointment in return.

Mike Montgomery was a first round pick out of high school for the Kansas City Royals.  He’s a lefty with a good fastball and a decent change up, without a third pitch or the confidence to hack it.  He was poised to break out in 2011 but immediately went in the tank.  His 2012 actually saw him sent from AAA to AA before being traded.  The Rays were in the process of converting him into a reliever, which sounds like the way to go.  It worked for Brandon Maurer, after all.  The only thing is, he’s a lefty who’s better against right-handed bats, because he could never figure out how to throw his curve ball effectively and consistently.

The important thing is:  he has options.  Well, option.  He’ll get to start out in Tacoma, he’ll continue to work out of the bullpen, and he’ll get to take this year to do nothing but work on his craft.  No pressure of him being called up immediately.  Just let him do his thing and see if the conversion does the trick.  Maybe when September rolls around, he’ll have earned himself a call up.  At which point, we’ll get a better look at him ahead of next year’s Spring Training to see if he’s worthy of a shot at our bullpen in 2016.

This is probably as good as we could’ve hoped for.  We got something in return – another left-handed bullpen arm to throw onto the pile – we traded him out of the division – in the event he goes Full Noesi and comes back to bite us in the ass every time we face him – and it frees up the spot on our 25-man roster.  Now, let’s put this in the rearview and go win us a division.

Looking Back At The 2014 Mariners: The Pitchers, Part II

Turns out there’s A LOT more to say about the 2014 Mariners than I originally thought.  Anyway, last week I wrote about all the position players used by the Mariners throughout the season.  It turned out to be a massive, 7,000+ word monstrosity that took over four hours to write and had to be split over three days.

This one figures to be a lot somewhat shorter simply because we used a total of 24 different position players and only 20 pitchers.  Here’s to me keeping this to a modest TWO posts!

Click HERE for Part I

In case you missed it, here’s the breakdown of the hitters from last week:

And now, without further ado, let’s talk about the rest of the pitchers.

Yoervis Medina This is all you REALLY need to know about Medina’s 2014.

If only they had the Internet back when Gil Meche caught Mo Vaughn looking.

Everyone absolutely LOVES to get off on hating on Medina.  I don’t get it!  Is he the best reliever this team has?  No.  Is he the guy you ideally want to see in the 8th inning of a winning ballgame?  Probably not.  But, way more often than not, he gets the job done.  He averages over a strikeout per inning, gotta like that.  He’s a little over 2:1 strikeout-to-walk, which isn’t the greatest, but it’s far from terrible.  Opposing batters hit .229 off of him, which is very good.  His OPS against is under .650.

I mean, seriously!  What more do you want out of the guy?  He’s durable, he’s good to go pretty much whenever you need him.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard any sort of variation on the phrase, “Medina isn’t available in today’s game because he’s pitched too many days in a row.”  He’s a 2-year pro whose ERA is below three in both years.  Even by more advanced metrics, he’s not bad.  So, why all the hate?

Fuck if I know.  He does tend to be a little wild sometimes.  He’s not quite Fernando Rodney Experience levels of cardiac arrest, but he’ll certainly raise the ol’ blood pressure from time to time.

When I look at a reliever, though, I like to look at meltdowns.  Is he going to be awesome for a while and then go all Brandon League on you?  That’s not good.  If you count ’em out, though, of his 66 appearances in 2014, he gave up at least one run only 12 times.  So, in 18% of his appearances, he’s giving up a run.  Granted, when he’s going in higher leverage situations, those runs tend to mean a little more.  But, I would venture to say of those 12 games where he gave up at least one run, he wasn’t the sole reason why we lost most of those.  Relievers can give up a run here and there and not have it bite them in the ass.

For my money, he’s young, he throws hard, he strikes people out; that’s worth him getting into and out of a few jams every now and then.

Outlook for 2015:  A lot of my talk yesterday was about how the Mariners are destined to trade a reliever or two for hitting help.  I’d venture to say Medina – along with Wilhelmsen – is probably on the lower end of the rankings.  My point being:  get used to seeing his mug come out of the bullpen on the reg in 2015.  And, if I’m right about Farquhar, Maurer, and/or Leone getting shipped off, that will only strengthen LMC’s resolve on using Medina in the 8th inning.  If he stays healthy, I’d bank on him being his usual, reliable, sometimes-scary self.

Hector Noesi – I want to say Noesi was out of options and that’s why he made the Mariners out of Spring Training.  I mean, his numbers were okay, but when you compare them to the rest of his Mariners career, I don’t think any fan thought he DESERVED to be here.

On April 2nd, he pitched an inning of relief in Anaheim, giving up 2 runs in a single inning.  It was a blowout Mariners victory, so people let it slide.

Then, on April 3rd, he came into a tie game in the bottom of the 12th down in Oakland.  He threw two pitches to Coco Crisp, the second of which was a game-winning home run.  Considering we missed out on the playoffs by 1 game to those very same Oakland A’s, you COULD say Hector Noesi is the reason why we fell short.

He moved on to the Rangers and made three appearances.  In his final appearance, against the White Sox, Noesi went a single inning and gave up 7 runs.  Fuck if I know what they saw, because after the Rangers released him the following day, the White Sox would go on to pick him up and pitch him less than a week later.  Noesi eventually cracked the White Sox’s rotation (because shit went very VERY wrong for that organization in 2014) and did all right.

He even got to start against the Mariners twice.  The White Sox would win both games (1-0 over in Chicago, 2-1 in Seattle), while Noesi combined to throw 14 innings, giving up 10 hits, 1 run, 0 earned runs, while striking out 9 and walking only 3.

If this is the point where you kill yourself, I totes understand.

Outlook for 2015:  Who the fuck cares?  Fuck that guy!

James Paxton – Paxton made 4 starts in September of 2013 and really plowed through the competish.  With that, he factored into the battle for the starting rotation in 2014 and easily won a job.  He made two starts, winning both, and then had to be shut down with a strained lat muscle.

He was only supposed to miss a few weeks to a month, but he didn’t actually make his Major League return until August thanks to a number of setbacks.  Once he got his strength back, he was the stud we’ve all come to expect (for the most part).

Outlook for 2015:  Definite front-runner for a rotation spot once again.  Will he be able to stay healthy?  Hopefully, the organization figured out what was wrong and how to avoid it in the future.  The sky is the limit with this kid if he can stay healthy.  Best-case scenario is:  he turns into a legitimate #2 starter behind Felix one day.  The sooner that day comes, the better our chances at making the post-season.

Stephen Pryor – Pryor flashed onto the scene in the later parts of 2012 and showed a rocket arm with closer-type stuff.  He figured to be a staple of our bullpen in 2013, but got injured.  All sorts of shoulder-type stuff.  That carried over into 2014.  He made a single appearance, on July 9th, giving up an unearned run.  I think he was called up to be a warm body (kinda like Luetge) to eat a couple innings.  In the end, he was sent back down and eventually traded to the Twins for Kendrys Morales.

Outlook for 2015:  It looked like he lost quite a bit off of his fastball.  He never did make any appearances for the Twins after he was traded, so that leads me to believe he’s still working his way back in the minors.  Hope he gets his stuff back; seemed like a good enough guy.

Erasmo Ramirez – Every year, from 2012 onward, we’ve had high hopes for this kid.  Good control, nice change up.  But, he throws a very straight, hittable ball.  And, sometimes he loses that control that’s his bread & butter.  Once that happens, he’s one of the ugliest pitchers you’ll ever watch.

He made 14 starts for the Mariners in 2014 (17 appearances overall).  With Iwakuma out, Ramirez made the rotation out of Spring Training.  He proved to be unreliable and eventually lost his job to Brandon Maurer (who proved to be even worse).  He re-entered the rotation in June, when he managed to more-or-less put up zeroes, but also couldn’t go deep into games because who could trust him to?  It was all spot starts after that, whenever we wanted to push guys back or otherwise give them extra rest.

Outlook for 2015:  Fodder for Tacoma, with Emergency Starter potential.  If he makes the rotation out of Spring Training again, something has gone horribly wrong (again).

Fernando Rodney – Meet your new Single-Season Saves Leader in Franchise History!

48 baby!  Hot dog!  Only 3 blown saves!  Gee willikers!  19 out of 69 games where he gave up at least 1 run!  Actually, that’s not the best figure in the world.

They don’t call it the Fernando Rodney Experience for nothing.

10.31 K’s per 9.  He’s got that fastball that runs anywhere from 93-99 miles per hour.  He’s got that change up that runs in the low 80s.  He’s got batters in between those two speeds MOST of the time.  And, every once in a while, he has a gnarly little meltdown.

Whatever you do, don’t bring him into the 9th inning of a tie game.  You WILL be losing that shit in short order.

Outlook for 2015:  He’s signed for one more season.  Another $7 million.  If we get similar production to what we got in 2014, he’ll be worth every penny.  If he takes even a modest step back, it could be a real trainwreck for the senses.  I’m fairly confident he’ll be what we expect him to be, but I make no guarantees.

Carson Smith – Nine games, all in September.  He would’ve been here sooner, but our Major League bullpen was kicking too many asses and taking too many names.  There was a roster crunch that got even crunchier when Brandon Maurer discovered 6 extra MPH on his fastball.

What we saw out of Smith, however, shows me this is the real fucking deal.  In those 9 games, he threw 8.1 innings (in a playoff chase, I might add!  In some pretty serious moments!), gave up 0 runs, 2 hits, struck out 10, and walked only 3.  Lots of movement on his hard fastball, with a wicked slider.

Outlook for 2015:  Theoretically, he could be another one of those Trade Chip guys, but teams generally like to have proven commodities.  I mean, these were the first 9 appearances of his Major League career!  I think he stays for that reason alone.  And, he’s the reason why I wouldn’t be absolutely heartbroken if we lost a Farquhar or a Maurer.  He can easily slide right in there as a 7th or 8th inning set up guy.  Eventually?  Another future closer, if he stays healthy.

Taijuan Walker – Another guy who got a September call-up in 2013.  Another guy who looked good during his cup of coffee.  Another guy who figured to be in the rotation battle in Spring Training 2014.  And, another guy who got injured and missed a significant portion of the year.

We might thank that injury for his still being here.  As, you have to figure it sapped some of his value from around the league.  You never know, if he was healthy and dominating, maybe it’s Walker who we trade at the deadline for a super-amazing, non-Kendrys bat.

I wish I could look into some alternate dimension where Iwakuma, Paxton, and Walker were all healthy out of Spring Training and healthy for the duration of the year.  What would’ve happened to the 2014 Mariners in this universe?  Could’ve been fucking amazing, if you ask me.

Shoulder impingement.  Had him shut down in Spring Training and didn’t allow him to return to the Majors until the end of June.  He made three sporadic starts before September, but spent the majority of the year down in Tacoma.  Working on his arm strength, and later working on his control.  He returned in September and looked much better, closing out his regular season with an 8-inning, 1-run game against the Blue Jays that we ended up losing 1-0 (essentially the nail in the coffin to our season, though we did finish with four straight victories to come within a game of a play-in game to the play-in game).

Outlook for 2015:  They stuck Walker down in the Arizona Fall League to get some work in.  By all accounts, he’s looked great.  He’ll be back in Spring Training fighting for a rotation spot.  If all goes according to plan, your 2015 rotation will look like this:  Felix, Iwakuma, Paxton, Walker, Elias.  But, then again, when does anything ever go according to plan?  Count on the Mariners bringing in a veteran or two to fight for the final rotation spot, so nothing will be handed to Walker.  But, if he’s got his head on straight and puts in the work necessary to make it, he should be fine.

Tom Wilhelmsen – He took over as closer in 2012 for the displaced Brandon League.  He lost his job as closer in 2013, suffering from Brandon League disease.  People wondered if he’d be traded prior to 2014.  People wondered if he’d even make the Big League roster out of Spring Training.

Not only did he make it, but he earned the trust of LMC to the point that he was THE guy behind Rodney.  He rewarded that trust by having a pretty mediocre April.  Calls for his head soon followed, but you know what?  Instead of doing what these relievers normally do – totally implode until they’ve been DFA’d or traded for a bag of baseballs – he figured his shit out and had a nice little 2014 season!

Wilhelmsen was lights out from May until the very end of September (for the record, the entire bullpen was lights out from May until the very end of September, hence the reason why we lost so many games towards the end there).  He ceded his 8th inning duties to Medina & Farquhar, but he earned something a little more important:  long relief & the occasional spot start on Bullpen Days.

He was made for this role, so I’m glad it’s clicked.  There’s been chatter here and there about him converting back into a starter, but I doubt it’ll happen.

Outlook for 2015:  I think he’ll be right here, doing what he did in 2014.  It’ll be nice to have him back (never would’ve caught myself saying that at the end of 2013).

Chris Young – The Mariners signed Randy Wolf to a minor league contract heading into Spring Training.  He was given a legitimate chance to win a rotation spot thanks to injuries and ineffectiveness out of some of our younger guys (Maurer, Beavan, others).

Scott Baker was another guy the Mariners signed prior to Spring.  He was ALSO given a legitimate opportunity at cracking the starting rotation.  He ended up being pretty awful in his four starts and asked for his release (since we weren’t ready to anoint him the starter, he used an opt-out clause in his deal).  This opened the door wide open for Wolf, who wasn’t a WHOLE lot better in his five spring starts, but it beat going into the season with AAA guys.

But, here’s the rub:  the Mariners asked Wolf to sign a contract with a clause that stated if the Mariners waived him after 45 days, they wouldn’t have to pay his full $1 million salary.  Randy Wolf threw a hissy fit (over what was a pretty standard clause for guys in his position) and refused, also asking for his release.  It was so granted.

Meanwhile, Chris Young was fighting for a spot with the Washington Nationals.  Prior to the season, the Nationals traded for Doug Fister (remember him?), and thus no longer had an opening for Young.  Young was released and the Mariners signed him.

He went ahead and agreed to the contract with the 45-day clause.  He was not only rewarded with a rotation spot for almost the full season (he broke down a bit towards the end and was benched), but he very well should be the frontrunner for Comeback Player of the Year.  AND, he probably rejuvenated his career to the point that, in 2015, he’ll get a guaranteed contract (and MAYBE even a multi-year deal).

Young’s first appearance of the year was out of the bullpen.  This was to build up some innings, as he’d had a gap between his release from the Nats and his pickup by the M’s.  His next 29 appearances were all starts, as injuries and ineffectiveness reared their heads.

3.65 ERA, 12-9 record, 108 strikeouts in 165 innings, with only 143 hits and 60 walks.  All of this after many years in the baseball wilderness.  Before 2014, he hadn’t made 29 starts since 2007.  Indeed, he missed ALL of 2013.  Comeback Player of the Year?  I think so.

Outlook for 2015:  My guess is, he’ll command more money elsewhere.  It’s also my hope, because I don’t think he’s going to catch this lightning in a bottle twice.  It was nice having him here, it was nice watching him fight the regression dragon as long as humanly possible, but I’ve seen the 83 MPH fastball and the damage done.  If he’s not inducing weak infield pop-ups, he’s getting crushed.  Pity the team that overpays him in 2015.

Looking Back At The 2014 Mariners: The Hitters, Part II

Consider this the second in a series of looks back at the 2014 Mariners.  For once, it’s going to be more than, “They fucking sucked, I’m sick of thinking about this shit, I’ll see you in February.”  I’m sure I’ll toss out the usual “What Went Right” and “What Went Wrong” posts as time and desire permit, but right now I’m taking a look at the players.  In short, I’m going to list all the players who accumulated a stat for the 2014 Mariners, and I’m going to talk about each of them individually.

I’m also breaking this up into three parts, because we’re pushing 7,000 words here.

Click HERE for Part I
Click HERE for Part III (tomorrow)

Corey Hart – The Mariners picked him up as a free agent, taking a flyer that he’d return to his old, bashing ways in Milwaukee.  Of course, he hadn’t played since 2012 – losing a full year to knee injuries – and baseball isn’t like riding a bike.  Especially when you’re 142 years old ABOUT A YEAR YOUNGER THAN I AM?  GOOD GOD I’M OLD!

Hart appeared in a lot of games in the first month and a half.  Mostly at DH.  Occasionally – and ill-advisedly – in the outfield.  Then, he was placed on the DL.  He returned to play a lot in July, then he went back on the DL again until September call-ups.  He stunk throughout, hitting right around .200 for the season.

He had 9 doubles and 6 homers in 68 games.  A paltry 32% of his hits went for extra bases, which is not something you’re looking for in a “power hitter” in your cleanup spot, who you want protecting Robinson Cano in the order.

Outlook for 2015:  The Mariners have already given him his release, because they needed to make room to bring Jesus Montero back from the suspended list.  That’s how little Corey Hart means to this organization, and it’s the perfect representation of his value.  When you look back at his career as a Mariner, just think about that and frown.  Frown with all your might.

Austin Jackson – If you haven’t by now TL;DR’d this series of posts and you’re following along closely, A-Jax is the second of three guys we traded for in July to help bolster the ballclub.  We traded Nick Franklin to get him.  Nick Franklin was an expendable trade chip who never really had a future in this organization once Robbie Cano was signed.  Austin Jackson was a very good, still-in-his-prime centerfielder with another year of team control in 2015.

The Mariners, of course, DESPERATELY needed a centerfielder.  With Guti taking the year off to get his health issues squared away (and no longer a centerfield prospect anymore, given his durability issues), with Abe Almonte a fucking zoo out there, and with James Jones’ absolute dearth of power, we didn’t have a whole lot of options.  A-Jax looked like a perfect fit.

In Detroit, from 2010-2013, A-Jax was worth no less than 3.4 wins per year.  He was a plus-fielder with quicks on the basepaths who could hit for some pop as well as for average.  He declined greatly in 2014, for reasons no one can quite fathom.  In Detroit this year, he was average-at-best, though his power and overall hitting numbers weren’t down dramatically.  Which makes you wonder if he took that huge step back in the field.  Either way, he was better than what we had in Seattle – or so we thought.

In Seattle, A-Jax batted .229/.267/.260.  He was good for 0.1 WAR.  And, not for nothing, but anecdotally he was a fucking disaster in big situations.  Seemed like whenever he had a man on base or otherwise an opportunity to positively affect a ballgame, he would instead ground into a double play or (at best) strike out.  He proved to be my least-favorite of the three mid-season acquisitions, and that’s REALLY saying something Kendrys Morales.

Outlook for 2015:  Still in Seattle, still starting in center, still batting leadoff.  At least out of Spring Training.  Beyond that, who’s to say?  If he plays like he did in the last two months of this season, you never know.  We may be talking about one of the many reasons why the 2015 Mariners DON’T make the playoffs.  Honestly, we’re REALLY counting on A-Jax to turn it around.  I highly doubt the Mariners are going to go out and find another guy to compete in center.  So, if A-Jax fails, and there’s no one in the minors to take his place, we’re proper fucked at a spot on the team where we’re banking on being set.  Just in case you were overwhelmed by the warm-fuzzies after this pleasant 2014 run, keep that in mind.

James Jones – In his first two months, James Jones was amazing.  He was everything Abe Almonte wasn’t.  He was crisp at the plate.  He wasn’t the most-refined in the outfield, but he was solid enough.  And, he was a wizard on the basepaths.

Then, July came around and he started falling off.  We all started noticing his faults.  Like:  how he wasn’t really improving as a centerfielder.  Like:  how he couldn’t hit for power.  Like:  how if he didn’t slap a single the other way, he couldn’t get on base to take advantage of those legs.  In the end, he lost his starting job, was sent back to Tacoma for a couple weeks, then returned exclusively as a bench player.

It’s the part he was born to play, baby!

Keep him away from the starting lineup, keep him out of center, and watch him shine.  He’s a plus-defender in the corner outfield, with speed and a strong arm.  Put him in during the later innings to replace Endy Chavez or whoever.  Pinch run him for Kendrys Morales or some other slow piece of crap.  He’s GOLD!

27 stolen bases in 28 attempts.  Very, very good.

14 extra-base hits in 312 at-bats (with only 12 walks vs. 67 strikeouts) is very, very BAD.  That’s factoring in how a lot of those doubles were hustle-doubles.

Outlook for 2015:  He needs to bulk up.  He needs to get a little more power into his bat.  He needs to retain how well he hit the outside pitch the other way, but he’s also gotta recognize pitches better and take MANY more walks.  His career will be built on a foundation of base-stealing.  If he wants that career to primarily take place in the Majors, then he needs to figure out a way to get on base with more regularity.  In an ideal world, he’d fix what’s wrong with him and be our fourth or fifth outfielder.  But, I got a feeling he’ll start out in Tacoma again.  Not the worst thing in the world.

Brad Miller – In following the Dustin Ackley Path To Success, Brad Miller was a mid-season call-up as a rookie and did quite well.  So well, in fact, that he pretty much earned his starting job without a fight.  Nevertheless, the Mariners put the short stop job up for grabs between Miller and Nick Franklin.  Didn’t matter, as Miller mopped the floor with him in the month of March.  The job was his, and everyone rejoiced.

Then the regular season started:

  • April:  .173/.212/.333 with 26 strikeouts in 81 at-bats
  • May:  .136/.260/.152 with 17 strikeouts and 1 extra-base hit in 66 at-bats

In June, he turned it around with:  .298/.355/.512 with 21 strikeouts in 84 at-bats.  But, then July happened:  .172/.262/.224 with 12 strikeouts and 3 extra-base hits in 58 at-bats.  On July 24th, Miller lost his starting job for good, with the promotion of Chris Taylor.  From that point on, they’d split duties, with Taylor getting the bulk of the looks the rest of the way in high-pressure games.

To his credit, Miller did turn his season around somewhat:

  • August:  .273/.357/.545 with 6 strikeouts and 4 extra-base hits in only 22 at-bats
  • September:  .314/.340/.549 with 13 strikeouts and 7 extra-base hits in 51 at-bats

On the whole, Miller’s 2014 was worse than his 2013, but he still has the potential to be a solid starting short stop in this league.  His power potential is undeniable.  His defense isn’t quite as good as Taylor’s, but he’s very athletic and there’s talk of him maybe converting to outfield (or, at least adding that to his repertoire to become a super-utility guy).  Normally, losing your starting position and getting that super-utility label is a death sentence, but in this case I’m willing to hear it out.

Outlook for 2015:  He will once again come in competing for the starting short stop job, this time against Chris Taylor.  If he mashes again like he did in Spring of 2014, he’s certain to win the job out of camp.  But, I have no doubt that if all things are equal with health, there will be a short leash on Miller if he struggles again in April.

Jesus Montero – You know the story:  we traded Michael Pineda and some other dude for Montero and Hector Noesi.  Noesi was a disaster who was finally DFA’d this year (and who became an okay starter for a struggling White Sox team).  Pineda has been mostly injured throughout his time with the Yankees, but at season’s end he flashed that potential he showed in Seattle as a rookie.

Jesus Montero, on the other hand, has been a fucking loser from the get-go.  First, he was our starting catcher of the future; that didn’t pan out.  Then, we looked to convert him to first base; that hasn’t gone well.  He’s a fat, immobile turd who gets to add “injury prone” to his list of descriptors.  Then, towards the end of the 2014 season, on a rehab assignment with the Everett Aqua Sox, functioning as a first base coach (which, not for nothing, is his future in the game:  a base coach for a single-A baseball team), Jesus Montero was baited into an altercation with an allegedly drunken scout (at the time) for the Seattle Mariners after that scout (again allegedly) sent him an ice cream sandwich and yelled at him to hustle more.

The scout was fired (and rightly so, because I like to give Montero shit, but even I know he was acting like a cunt), and Jesus Montero was suspended (probably because he went into the stands with a baseball bat in his hands, which is a huge no-no in sports).  Montero has since been reinstated, and is apparently being watched like a hawk by the Mariners’ front office.  There’s one last chance on the table for Montero in a Mariners uniform (or, more likely, for Montero as trade bait to try to recoup some of his tons of lost value).  They’ve got him in Arizona working out on a strict exercise program (because, you know, he came in fat to Spring Training 2014 and admitted as such in interviews that all he did was sit around and stuff his face during the offseason).

Outlook for 2015:  Once a loser, always a loser.  There will be all this crap written about how he’s in the “best shape of his life”, but that’ll probably mean that he’s lost all his power.  He’ll start out in Tacoma and continue to suck (if he’s not outright traded in the offseason as a throw-in to a much bigger deal).

Kendrys Morales – Sigh.  Here we go.

You remember him as a productive hitter for the Angels for a bunch of years.  Then, he broke his foot or some damn thing while celebrating a game-winning home run and he ended up losing his 2011 season.  The Mariners swapped Jason Vargas for him straight up prior to the 2013 season (after a decent, but not great 2012) and he had a decent, but not great first year with the club.

The big draw with Morales – aside from being a huge step up compared to the other DHs we’ve employed since Edgar Martinez retired – was that even though he’d be a free agent at season’s end, we could tender him and if he signed as a free agent elsewhere, we’d get a high draft pick (a first rounder most likely, unless it was one of the top 10 “protected” draft picks).  So, we offered him the tender – 1 year, $14.1 million – and of course he turned it down.  Reportedly, we even offered him a 3-year, $30 million deal, and he turned THAT down.  See, Scott Boras is his agent, and together they thought they could squeeze a little more out of the free agent market.

They couldn’t.  No one would sign him.  Because no one wants a broken down statue on the basepaths who can’t play first base because he’ll get hurt or need a few days off every time.  He’s a DH and nothing more, and not even that great of a DH at that.  .449 slugging percentage in 2013, playing almost every single day.  That’s crap.  When you bring nothing else to the table, then guess what:  you don’t get contract offers when it means a team has to give up a high draft pick.

In June, he signed with the Twins.  Again reportedly, the Mariners were interested in signing him during the season, but he wouldn’t have it.  So, we ended up trading for him, by giving the Twins Stephen Pryor (a reliever returning from major injury who was no longer the smoke-thrower he was pre-surgery).

Kendrys had 154 at bats with the Twins.  His numbers were bad (.234/.259/.325), but we all rationalized it away by saying, “He didn’t have a REAL Spring Training, so just consider his numbers with the Twins as his Spring.”

That oft-belabored talking point would soon switch to, “If the Mariners can just get Kendrys going down the stretch, everything should be all right with the offense.”  That’s because he was much, MUCH worse as a Seattle Mariner than he was as a Twin (hitting .207/.285/.347), so whenever he managed to do something right (which, again, wasn’t very often), we all had to hope and pray that THIS was the day that turned a slumping slugger who has “always hit” into what we thought we were getting as the centerpiece of our mid-season trades to bolster a contending team.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  But, at least Morales doesn’t have to worry about being tendered anymore.  Even if he DID qualify, there’s no way in FUCKING HELL that even the Mariners would be stupid enough to offer him a 1-year deal for $15.3 million.

Outlook for 2015:  If he had managed even a semi-reasonable finish to his 2014 season, I could’ve seen the Mariners trying to bring him back on a 2-3 year deal.  But, he looked so bad, I doubt it’d happen.  On top of that, I don’t think Morales wants to be here.  Truth be told, he never did (and proved it by signing with a last-place Twins team even though the Mariners were in contention this year and wanted him back), but after his disaster of a season, I think he’s going somewhere on a prove-it deal.  Some place like Baltimore or the Yankees or some other place he can DH in a small ballpark.  Get his numbers back up to where they should be, and then hopefully sign a final long-term deal for big money with the Rangers or some damn place.

Week 26 Random Mariners Thoughts

If you asked me when I woke up on Friday morning last week, what would be more likely:  the Athletics winning just enough games against the Rangers, or the Mariners losing just enough games against the Angels, I would’ve bet the farm that the Mariners would’ve lost at least ONCE.  But, to their credit, when the chips were the most down they could’ve possibly been, the Mariners fought their way through to a 3-game sweep of the best team in baseball.

Granted, the Angels weren’t exactly trying their hardest once they got home field advantage, but that’s neither here nor there.  The Mariners needed to win out and they needed some help.  And, somehow, the Mariners managed to accomplish the first part of that equation.  It’s just too bad the Rangers were a little too bad.  Still, it WAS interesting.  With Oakland losing on Saturday night, while the Mariners would go on to win in extras, the season was pushed to the brink:  Game 162.  The Mariners needed to win that game – with Felix on the mound – and they needed the A’s to lose.

We learned just before the 6th inning that the game was essentially meaningless.  The A’s shut out the Rangers and our season was over.  But, for 161 games & 5 innings, the Mariners’ season had meaning!  This was truly the best year of baseball we’ve had around here since 2001 (I know the Mariners had winning records in 2002 and 2003, but those teams had their dreams crushed thanks to the A’s being insanely good and there not being a second Wild Card team).

In other news, Felix pitched 5.1 innings of shutout ball to claim the E.R.A. title at 2.14.  He ended his season 15-6 with a lot of really impressive counting and average stats.  Thanks to a scoring change in his last start against Toronto – where he got shelled – a hit was changed to an error (on Felix, I might add) that reduced his E.R.A. by something like 16 points.  Either way, it should give him enough to work with to get the Cy Young award.  So, that’s neat.

In Steven’s Gambling news, before the season started I put $550 on a futures bet.  The odds were -110, so it’s essentially $550 to win $500.  Anyway, the bet was Robinson Cano vs. Adrian Beltre:  who will get more combined hits, home runs, and RBI.  I put my money on Cano, and SAINTS BE PRAISED, it looks like my ship has come in!

  • Cano:  187 hits, 14 HR, 82 RBI; Total = 283
  • Beltre:  178 hits, 19 HR, 77 RBI; Total = 274

So, you know what that means:  I’m going back to Tahoe for the third straight year during the first weekend of March Madness!  BAM!  Thank you Robinson Cano; part of my proceeds will most likely go to getting some sort of Cano jersey.

By the by, did anyone catch that game on Saturday?  It was at the same time the perfect representation of a Seattle Mariners game, and also a crazy departure.  1 for 11 with runners in scoring position?  Check.  Multiple instances with the runner stranded on third base with less than two outs?  Check.  Lineup struggling against a left-handed starter, with the only damage being done by left-handed bats (because platooning is for suckers and our right-handed bats suck dick)?  Check.

And yet, there it was, only the second time the Mariners have had a walk-off win this entire season.  The first one, if memory serves, was that day game against Houston back in April where both the Mariners and Kyle Seager broke out of their funks to salvage an ultimately successful season.

There will be a lot to discuss about the 2014 Mariners in the coming weeks, as there will be about the 2015 Mariners and beyond.  We’re wearing our rose-colored glasses now because the season is just over and we came SO close.  And Felix was able to redeem himself yesterday and probably won himself the Cy Young (while getting an emotional standing ovation as he was pulled from the game one out into the sixth inning).  I’ll save the snark and the attitude for another day.

On this day (and probably on a few other days), I’ll celebrate the 2014 Mariners for what they were:  87-75, sixteen games better than they were in 2013.  They were interesting until the bitter end; though “interesting” can be both good and bad.  Still, they were better than I could have possibly hoped for.

I’ll just close with this.  A lot of media types on Twitter like to make fun of the crazed baseball fan who lives and dies with every pitch.  Granted, there are a good number of wackos out there.  But, NOW do you see why the Mariners drive us all crazy on a regular basis?  NOW do you see why everyone flips out on Twitter when the Mariners blow yet another amazing gem of a Felix start?  That shit adds up!  You say we’re nuts for melting down on Twitter when the Mariners blow a game in April; well, ARE WE?  If we’re so nuts, then riddle me this:  how many games behind the A’s for the second Wild Card are we?  That would be one game.  1.

That’s a 2-0 loss to the Angels at home in April.  That’s another 2-0 loss to the A’s in the second game of a doubleheader in May.  That’s a 1-0 loss to the Rangers in June where Felix went 8.1 innings of 4-hit ball and didn’t give up the run until the ninth inning.  Or how about a 1-0 loss to Hector Noesi and the White Sox in July?  I could go on and on.  These are the games that drive us the craziest, and if any one of these games had gone a little differently, the Mariners would still be playing baseball right now.

So, maybe cut us fans a little slack, huh?  Let us vent our feelings the only way we know how:  through crazed diatribes on Twitter to anyone who will listen.

Before the season started, I thought everything would have to break right for the Mariners to make the playoffs.  Indeed, when it comes to the pitching – especially the bullpen – everything DID break right.  Felix was Cy Young quality, Iwakuma bounced back to normal after losing a month, Chris Young might be Comeback Player of the Year, Roenis Elias successfully made the jump from AA and stuck with the big league club the whole way.  In spite of last week’s games in Houston and Toronto, the pitching carried this club.

But, when it comes to the hitting, a lot of shit went wrong, and we still managed to get pretty damn close.  Corey Hart was a huge bust.  Smoak was his usual self.  Brad Miller was a disaster for half the year.  Michael Saunders couldn’t stay healthy.  None of our center fielders or designated hitters could … hit.  Zunino was boom or bust at the plate, with his sub-.200 batting average.  All of our mid-season trade targets ended up hurting us more than helping.  The only things that went right were Cano having an as-expected season, Seager taking the next step to being an All Star, and Ackley busting out to show us why he was the top-rated hitting prospect in his draft class for half a year.  With an honorable mention for LoMo being a streaky first baseman who actually manages to have some hot streaks once in a while.

If certain young hitters mature, and if we’re able to bring in a couple bats to round out the lineup at DH and in the outfield, the 2015 Mariners could legitimately contend for a division title!  How exciting is that?

The Mariners Just Dominated Their Homestand, 8-1

Coming into this homestand, the Mariners were 57-54.  They’d just lost a series in Baltimore to finish .500 on their last road trip.  From July 4th onward, they’d gone 10-16 and fallen all the way to 2 games out of the second Wild Card spot behind Toronto, New York, and Kansas City.  Things were looking pretty grim.  Our new bats weren’t really doing much, we were squandering great pitching performances left and right, and it just felt like this season was sputtering to a premature stop just as football season was kicking off.

Not only that, but the Mariners were about to embark on a 9-game homestand, a place where they were a whopping 26-31 on the season!

Well, eight wins later – sandwiching an extra-innings loss to the Hector Noesi-led White Sox last Saturday – and here we are:  65-55, ten games over .500 for the first time all year (indeed, for the first time since 2007).  We’re tied with Detroit for the second Wild Card spot.  AND, we’re three games ahead of Toronto and 3.5 games up on New York (Kansas City has been on a wicked tear and has overtaken Detroit by a half game).  We get a much-deserved day off today, then it’s three games against – you guessed it – Detroit, the team we’re currently tied with for the second Wild Card spot.

And that’s how you do it.  Yes, Baltimore gave us fits in recent weeks, but Baltimore is 19 games over .500; they’re REALLY good.  Atlanta and Toronto are fringe playoff teams in their respective leagues.  The White Sox are something worse.  The Tigers are in a free-fall and they’ve suffered some nasty injuries to key players.  Moreover, we only play one of their mighty Big Three starting pitchers:  David Price, on Saturday.  Yes, he’s good, but we’ve seen him a lot.  Plus, he’ll be facing Felix for the first time ever.  That’s going to be a game for the ages (so, I’m glad I’ll be throwing a rooftop barbecue at my building and missing the whole fucking thing).

Here’s the thing, though:  after Detroit, we go to Philly and Boston, two last place teams going absolutely nowhere.  This is the time to strike!  We took care of business on the most recent homestand; now, we need to bring the pain on this 9-game road trip.  Give us a nice little bit of cushion going into the hellfire that will be the final month.

The Mariners have played 120 games so far this season.  42 more to go.  They need to go 25-17 the rest of the way to get to 90 wins, which we all feel is a number that would get us into the playoffs.  That’s do-able!  That’s very do-able.

I know it’s probably just the good vibes talking, what with the 8 wins in 9 games and all, but this really has the feel of a season that’s the anti-2007 & anti-2009.  Where instead of fading late, we’re actually getting STRONGER!  Knock on wood and whatnot, but Chris Young continues to impress.  Felix is on the roll of a lifetime.  Iwakuma is his steady, solid self.  Roenis Elias shouldn’t be hampered by an innings limit after being skipped and sent down for a short start last night.  We’ll have him back up next week, good to go.  And, if James Paxton manages to stay healthy, we can continue this lights-out run of pitching we’ve been on.  A run that has seen our staff throw up a sub-3 ERA on the season.

And, I haven’t even gotten into our hitters!  Cano and Seager aren’t going anywhere.  Dustin Ackley may have plateaued around .250, but if he can hang around there and provide more timely hits, we should be okay with that.  Austin Jackson has given us stability at the top of the order and in center field.  A Taylor/Miller platoon (with Taylor getting the majority of the starts) is just what the doctor ordered at short.  Mike Zunino has shown some true opposite field power of late – if he can keep that up, he’ll be a major weapon in Safeco.  Logan Morrison isn’t Justin Smoak, so that’s a plus.  And, in the last couple games, Kendrys Morales has found his stroke, like I always believed he would.

It’s not the best lineup in the world, but it’s MUCH better than it was in July.  And, let us not forget:  Michael Saunders is currently in Triple-A working his way back from injury.  If he can settle in as our everyday right fielder (who gets platooned against lefties, and for regular days off so he can STAY healthy), that picks us up that much more in the hitting department.

It’s a little over two weeks until September.  At that point, we’ll have our full allotment of bench players, bullpen guys, and who knows, maybe even an extra starter!  I mean, think about this:  the Mariners’ best prospect – Taijuan Walker – is down in Tacoma getting his work in.  AND, we’ve got Erasmo Ramirez, if we need any long relief in the final month.

This isn’t the ’27 Yankees, but this is a legitimate potential playoff team!  We’ve got the best pitching in baseball, we’ve got some solid defense, and if we can maintain our timely hitting of late, there’s no telling how far this team can go.

This is fun.  It’s been WAY TOO LONG since we’ve been allowed to feel this way.

Week 19 Random Mariners Thoughts

The Mariners lost one game in the last week, so OF COURSE it was the game where we inducted Lou into the Mariners Hall of Fame.  Have we EVER won these games where we’re honoring someone special?

Well, it got a little dicey there in the month of July, but here we are smack dab in the middle of August and we’ve won 5 of our last 6 and 8 of our last 12.  We play Toronto for three games, starting tonight, and then we go on a big ol’ road trip.

Right now, the Mariners are tied with Toronto, 1.5 games behind Kansas City of all teams for the second Wild Card.  The Yankees are right there behind us, 2.5 games back of KC.

Boy, that Chris Taylor guy looks like the real deal, huh?  The kid’s batting .400 with five doubles and spraying the ball to all fields!  Granted, it’s been 14 games, but still, it’s pretty impressive.

As for the other newcomers, I think I’m gonna like Austin Jackson, I think I’m going to be utterly disappointed in Chris Denorfia, and I still do honestly believe that Kendrys Morales will pull out of the nosedive that has been his 2014 season.

On the pitching side of things, we’re just mowing guys down left and right.  Not a whole lot new to say.  Felix is still going strong with his 15 consecutive games of going 7 innings or more and giving up 2 runs or less.  His ERA is down to 1.97 and the team’s ERA is down to 2.99.  We’re getting into mythic territory here, ladies and gentlemen.

The offense as a whole has been marginally better over the last week, though we still couldn’t get more than 1 run off of Hector Noesi, which is a fucking travesty.  Here’s to never playing the White Sox again this year.

Random Mariners Thoughts of Week 14

Yesterday’s game couldn’t have gone much worse.  Hell, the whole weekend series – except for a couple fortunate innings on Saturday – was a God damn trainwreck!

How is it that we manage to face Chris Sale EVERY SINGLE TIME we play the White Sox?  There’s gotta be some sort of Illuminati shit at play here.  He essentially ruined my entire Friday night with his bullshit.  Then, Saturday was like some gift from the gods.  The Mariners finally managed to put runners on in the top of the 8th, only to blow their chance (while, at the same time, making Felix sit for a good 20-30 minutes).  Then, Felix came out in the bottom half (with a low pitch count, but again, after that long break) and broke the 0-0 tie by giving up two runs.  THEN, we somehow tied it in the top of the 9th and took that tie all the way to the 14th, where a runner was finally pushed across so we could all go home.

Then came Sunday.  I’m not even going to half-ass recap this one, because all you need to know is Hector Noesi shut us down and this is a ghost typing up this post because I killed myself last night.  I just couldn’t take the thought of everyone in baseball knowing that my favorite team was handled by Hector Fucking Noesi, the most suck-ass piece of shit in the game today.  Ever seen a ghost who had to wear a paper bag because he was so ashamed?

Getting pretty sick and tired of getting our asses handed to us when we play the White Sox on the road.  Also, how do we go there and not hit a homer in three games?  Is that even possible?

The week wasn’t a total loss, because we managed to sweep the Astros, giving us a 4-2 road trip.  Could’ve been better, but then again it probably should’ve been worse.  And, if my pocket calendar is anything to be believed, that’s the last time we’ll have to set foot in Chicago the rest of the year.

In Roster Transaction News:  I think there’s been some sort of major move every week this season.  This last week was no different.  Taijuan Walker got the call-up, as expected.  What wasn’t so expected was Stefen Romero getting sent down now, and not six weeks ago and not one of our 8 bullpen arms.  I guess LMC wasn’t lying when he intimated that the Mariners wouldn’t need the 4th bench player until August.  This shocking move was only surpassed a few days later when Corey Hart was brought up and Cole Gillespie was DFA’d.  That shot our load of right-handed bench bats, but then again, it got Endy Chavez out of the DH role, so I say that’s a wash.

It’s nice to have Taijuan Walker back.  It’ll be nicer when his command starts to improve.  I just can’t shake the feeling that this is more of a showcase to be traded.  I still don’t really know how I feel about trading Taijuan Walker, but as with any trade, I feel nothing but a sense of doom, no matter what the team does.

Also of note in the past week:  Justin Smoak was optioned to Tacoma.  He was on the DL, he was with Tacoma already, doing his rehab thing, and now he’s in Tacoma because that’s where he belongs.

I wonder how managers feel in situations like this.  LMC spent the whole off-season and Spring Training boasting about how “Justin Smoak is my first baseman” and predicting that he’d lead the league in doubles and whatnot.  Now, he’s got to admit that he either utterly misinterpreted Smoak’s skillset, or that he was full of shit and feeding us a line a mile long.  I know everyone has the right to change his mind when presented with new facts, but isn’t it at least a LITTLE embarrassing to be so wrong, so publicly?

Truth be told, this White Sox series always felt like a loser.  The Mariners were riding high.  Dating back to the Kansas City series, the Mariners had won 10 of 12.  You could see what was happening, see people starting to think that maybe not just the Wild Card, but the DIVISION was in play, and you could see us coming back down to Earth a little bit.  It happens.  Teams have their kryptonite.  Playing in Chicago just so happens to be OUR kryptonite.  That and hitting home runs in Safeco in April & May.  And our bullpen whenever we have a mid-summer series in Cleveland or Baltimore.  And Dustin Ackley when he plays in the months April through September.  All of these things are kryptonite-related!  There’s no explaining it; you just have to sit back and hope that these things won’t prevent you from contending.

It’ll be supremely important how the Mariners respond this week.  You just had your first series loss in a couple weeks.  Your hitting has gone back into the tank a little bit.  You’re back at home, which is NEVER a good thing for your bats.  And, you’re seven games from the All Star Break.

Maybe, as the week goes on, and I run out of ideas of what to write about, I’ll do the research.  But, it just seems to me that the Mariners always play MUCH worse than usual in the days leading up to the All Star Break.  Like they’re all high school seniors in the days leading up to Spring Break.  Everyone (except the actual All Stars) has their heads in the clouds about their plans for those three days before they have to get back on the grind.  I can understand it, to a point, but we’re in a playoff race!  We can’t be throwing away games, especially when four of them are against the hapless Twins!

The Mariners made the genius move of pushing back Felix’s next start to Friday.  Last week, I was looking at the schedule and where his starts would land and I thought it was a damn shame that he had to be wasted against the Twins, when we played the A’s the very next day.  I suppose LMC felt the same, because that oversight has been corrected.  Now, instead of Walker, Iwakuma, and Young going against the A’s, it’s Felix, Walker, and Iwakuma.  I know Young has been solid this year, but skipping one of his starts against the best team in baseball just makes good sense!

In other news, the A’s traded for a couple of starting pitchers from the Cubs.  They’ve both been outstanding this year, to this point, so it turns what was a strength for the A’s into a mega-strength.  I’m going to need to see about a handful of injuries to important A’s players before I can believe in a chance to contend for this division.

Week 11 Random, Surly Mariners Thoughts

What a crap week.  Just THE WORST.  In the blink of an eye, we lost our Wild Card lead and most of the goodwill that was built up over that amazing road trip.

Lloyd McClendon is a dumb motherfucker.  STOP BATTING LOGAN MORRISON ANYWHERE NEAR THE CLEANUP SPOT!  The LoMo experiment is a fucking disaster and it needs to end the second Justin Smoak gets off the DL.  Have you ever wondered what it would take (besides full-on dementia) to long for the services of Justin Smoak?  Meet Logan Fucking Morrison.

KYLE SEAGER IS YOUR BEST POWER BAT FROM THE LEFT SIDE, LLOYD!  Pull your fucking head out of your ass and put him in a spot in the lineup where we can maximize his talents.  AND KEEP HIM THERE!

Jesus Montero was also brought up, as Michael Saunders (predictably, I might add) also had to go on the DL, with that shoulder issue.  I fucking KNEW he was playing through pain!  Just get it fixed, asshole!  We’ve only seen one start out of Montero – at DH, against lefty Joe Saunders – and he got a single.  So, that’s neat.  Michael Pineda and some other guy was traded for Hector Noesi (trainwreck while here, but happily no longer a part of this organization) and a fat, slow idiot who can only play a platoon-DH.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a miserable week of Mariners ineptitude without squandering yet another brilliant Felix start.  This time, 8.1 innings, 1 earned run against the Rangers.  Of course, it involved a single, a couple of stolen bases (off of pitches the catcher couldn’t handle), and a botched double play after Felix had left the game.  1-0 loss, because if there’s one thing that comes to mind when Nick Tepesch takes the hill for the Rangers, it’s:  there’s a guy who can out-duel the best pitcher in the game.  As it turns out, that’s a pretty easy task to achieve when you’re going up against an offense featuring Logan Morrison, Endy Chavez, Stefen Romero, Brad Miller, Dustin Ackley, and Cole Gillespie.

Don’t count on help coming anytime soon.  With so many teams in the Wild Card hunt, hitters are at a premium and nobody is dealing.  Nobody on the farm is ready for the rigors of the Major Leagues.  Jabari Blash is interesting, except he has to improve all aspects of his game that don’t involve hitting home runs.  He strikes out too much, he doesn’t walk enough, he doesn’t hit for a good average.  But, then again, Endy Chavez is getting far too many meaningful ABs when he’s also terrible, so could Blash really be any worse?

There’s the possibility of acquiring pitching, but the Mariners already have pretty good pitching, and help is on the way.  Miraculously, Taijuan Walker is on the comeback trail and recently took a no-hitter into the seventh inning.  He needs to come up immediately.  Erasmo Ramirez has been okay, putting up zeroes in his last two starts, but he’s walking the world and finding a way to get out of constant jams.  I don’t trust that this trend will continue with the results he’s been seeing.

The Yankees swept us in a 3-game series, then the Rangers took two of three.  We are officially 15-20 at home now, which is beyond pathetic.  Among teams in the Major Leagues with a winning record, it’s easily the worst home field “advantage”.  These mental midgets need to get over the fact that Safeco isn’t an ideal hitter’s haven, because we’re all getting a little sick and tired of this bullshit.

That’s it, that’s all I’ve got.  I’ve watched more Mariners baseball this week than I probably have in any week before.  Watching them blow this opportunity to contend for the post-season is exhausting.  If they can’t figure out a way to finish the month of June on a hot streak (against a bunch of stiffs, for the most part), then I give up.  Next up:  San Diego, one of the dregs of the NL.  Take at least 3 of 4 or GTFO.