The Mariners Blew The Minnesota Home Opener

There was a time early last season when I took it upon myself to try and track the numbers for Mariners hitters with RISP.  That was because the M’s started off abnormally bad in this area, and I was curious to see how bad it could get, or how long that badness would remain.  Those numbers started to normalize as we got into late April and May, but for a while there, it was pretty dire!  And the team really struggled as a result.

I don’t know if that’s been as big of an issue thus far, through a week’s worth of games, but a performance like yesterday (2/17 with RISP) is pretty much as bad as it gets.  The Mariners were getting on base like crazy yesterday, with 8 hits, 4 walks, and 2 Twins errors.  There were only 2 clean innings for the Twins’ pitching staff/defense, and yet the Mariners were only able to muster 2 fucking runs, both in the first inning.  Pathetic, all the way around, and a game the Mariners absolutely should’ve won, Cruz or no Cruz.

For a while there, it looked like we might pull it out.  Paxton was dealing through five innings.  But, getting into that third time through the lineup, Joe Mauer singled to lead off the bottom of the sixth, and Miguel Sano smashed him in with a 2-run jack.  It’s funny how much lip service the Mariners were paying to this notion of limiting the exposure of our starting pitching, and utilizing this massive bullpen we’ve accumulated.  But, Scott Servais has really just been managing like every other fucking manager since the dawn of time.  We’re in the midst of 4 off days in 2 weeks; there will never be this many rest days outside of the All Star Break the rest of the season.  Also, we’re rocking a 4-man rotation, which means we have an 8-man bullpen.  No one as of yet has been worked to death.  And we ALL know the numbers of just about every single hitter when he sees the same pitcher for the third time in a game.  And yeah, I get it, Paxton’s pitch count was low, and he was kicking ass up to that point.  But, how many times do you see that?  It happens ALL THE TIME.  Guys dominate, then they get into the 6th inning or whatever, and all of a sudden the other team is hitting tee shots off of him.  All it takes is a weird bloop single and one bad pitch that catches too much of the plate, and BAM, 2-run home run.  A 2-0 game becomes a 2-2 game.  Then, you try to squeeze an extra few outs out of Dan Altavilla, and BAM again, you’re down 3-2.  Then, the stupid fucking umpire botches an OBVIOUS called strike 3, followed by the hitter taking that gift and turning it into another solo homer on the very next pitch, and BAM, it’s 4-2 and you’re sucking Fernando Rodney’s arrow-shaped dick in the ninth.

Just stop pissing down my leg and telling me it’s raining, that’s all.  If you’re going to talk about lightening the loads of these starting pitchers, then STICK TO IT!  Pull them after the second time through the lineup (unless the offense has it out of reach, but only walk that tightrope if we have a 3 run lead or more).  THIS IS WHERE THE GAME IS GOING!  Shorter starting stints, and supplement that with longer bullpen arms.  Altavilla is never going to be a competent multi-inning reliever; he’s a 1-and-done guy.  I’m talking about having more Wade LeBlancs, more Casey Lawrences, and save those hyper-power arms for the 8th and 9th innings.

One more note about the offense before I close this out.  8 hits, none of them for extra bases.  That’s fucking absurd.  I know with Cruz and Zunino out, our power is limited, but where are the doubles?  Yeah, it’s nice that Vogelbach had 2 more hits to add to his hot start, but where’s the power?  What about Jean Segura?  He had 30+ doubles the last two years; he’s got 2 through 6 games so far.  And Ryon Healy, so help me God, what a fucking BUST this guy is!  WHOSE DICK DO YOU GOTTA SUCK TO BRING IN EVEN A DECENT-HITTING FIRST BASEMAN???  Also, you still spell your name like a fucking asshole.

Another Friday off-day.  Cool.

The 2017 Mariners Have Still Never Been Over .500

That was as unlucky of a 2-1 defeat as you’ll ever see.  Down 1-0 on a solo homer in the fourth, Christian Bergman was working around a moderate jam in the fifth.  With two outs, he got Joe Mauer to bounce one to second base.  At the time, you could’ve made an argument that they would’ve given Bergman a shot at going six innings in this one.  But, not so fast, because the ball booted off the heel of Robinson Cano’s glove to put runners at the corners.  The lead runner was past third base enough for the M’s to potentially have a shot at picking him off, but Cano couldn’t get a clean grip on the ball.  By the time he did, it was too late and he should’ve eaten it.  Instead, he tried to rush the ball to third, saw it skip past Kyle Seager, allowing the runner to turn around and score.

Two errors, one play, by a guy who had one error all season.

In the bottom of the fifth, Jarrod Dyson led off with a triple.  One out and a Boog Powell walk later, Ben Gamel hit a sac fly to score Dyson.  Guillermo Heredia hit a single to right to put runners on the corners, which brought up Robbie with a chance to atone for his sins in the top half of the inning.  He hit a screaming liner to center that looked like it was going to score the go-ahead runs for the Mariners, but Byron Buxton made a crazy leaping catch to end the inning.

There’s probably only a small handful of guys who are able to track that ball and make that catch.

The bullpens kept the game the same on into the bottom of the eighth, with the heart of the order coming up.  Cano and Seager singled to put runners at first and second; with one out, the hero of the previous night – Mike Zunino – stepped to the plate.  He didn’t have a particularly good game in this one heading into the at bat, but all of that would’ve changed had he gotten ahold of one.  On a 1-0 pitch, Zunino smashed a liner right at the pitcher that almost certainly would’ve scored the tying run.  But, he hit it right into the pitcher’s glove, who was able to easily double off Cano at second to end the threat.

There would be no blown save for Minnesota’s closer on this night, as he came into the ninth and went 1-2-3.

What can you do, you know?  The confluence of events to get that game to go in Minnesota’s favor was pretty astounding.  Bergman once again pitched good enough to keep the Mariners in the ballgame (funny how he rarely seems to have Gallardo’s problem of The Big Inning, but that’s neither here nor there) and the bullpen pitched good enough to give the Mariners the win.  Four shutout innings by Pazos, Cishek, Scrabble, and Altavilla.

Offensively, we’re talking about 0 for 7 with RISP, which obviously won’t get the job done on many nights.  The Mariners will try again to get back to .500 (and maybe over .500) against the Blue Jays this weekend.  Sam Gaviglio goes tonight, which is cause for concern.  The fact that the Blue Jays have practically everyone back and healthy is another cause for concern, considering they were pretty beaten down by injuries the last time we played them last month, and they still managed to sweep the M’s in a 4-game series.  On top of all of that, we have to deal with a park full of insufferable Blue Jays fans.  Part of me wants to go to Safeco this weekend and mix it up, but the rest of me knows the Mariners are just going to lose anyway, because we always fucking lose to Toronto.

On a minor positive note, both Drew Smyly and Hisashi Iwakuma threw off of a mound yesterday.  It’s not much, but it’s an important next step.  Also, Mitch Haniger had a good game down in Tacoma, drawing the game-winning walk.  And, word around the team is that Nelson Cruz should be back tonight, but we’ll see.

The Shitshow That Was The 2013 Seattle Mariners, Part III: Looking Ahead

Catch Part I HERE.
Catch Part II HERE.

First thing’s first, we’re going to need a manager.  I guess.  There’s a pretty compelling argument to just go without.  Jokes are funny and all, but why the Hell NOT go without a manager?  It literally could not get any worse.  Well, I suppose it could; someone could kidnap me, tie me to a chair, and force me to watch all 162 games of this team next season.

To clear up some misconceptions, Eric Wedge did not quit.  He simply let his contract expire, then chose to not re-sign with the team.  You know how they always have those deals to get ESPN The Magazine for, like, five bucks for a 1-year subscription, and you do it because you want to get ESPN Insider for, like, five bucks?  And then the deal runs out and you’ve got to start paying full price, so you let your subscription to The Magazine lapse because who in their right mind actually reads ESPN The Magazine?  The Seattle Mariners are the ESPN The Magazine of Major League Baseball manager jobs.  Although, with the magazine subscription, you get a nice little bonus by having Insider for a year; I can’t imagine what the bonus is for managing the Mariners.  A few million dollars?  Do baseball managers make millions of dollars?  They probably do, right?

So, the Mariners are going to hire a new manager.  They’ll most likely HAVE to sign this person to a 2- or 3-year deal, because who’s going to sign for one year?  That means, of course, that our new manager will theoretically have more job security than our current General Manager, but like Howard Lincoln said a few weeks back, it’s not like you can’t fire someone in the middle of his deal.  So, let’s not get too caught-up in the length of the manager’s deal.  He’s on a 1-year trial-run just like everyone else.

And, they’re going after the usual suspects:  bench coaches, former managers, whathaveyou.  I’ve already stated what I think the Mariners should do, but they’ll never listen to me.  What is the one organization that seems to get it right all the time?  The St. Louis Cardinals.  They’re the San Antonio Spurs of MLB.  Shit, they’re the Pittsburgh Steelers of MLB!  This is an organization that is almost ALWAYS in the playoffs and contending for division titles!  And when they’re down, they’re not down long.  If you want to model your organization after anyone, it’s the Cardinals.

So, pull your heads out of your asses, Mariners!  Blow this whole thing up, take the St. Louis GM’s second-in-command to replace Jackie Z, and go from there!  What did the Sonics/Thunder do when they wanted to turn things around in a hurry?  They poached from San Antonio to get Sam Presti (who has done a phenomenal job since day 1, even with their salary constraints down in OKC).  What did the Seahawks do when they wanted to turn things around in a hurry?  They poached from another elite NFL organization, the Green Bay Packers, to get John Schneider (who, with Pete Carroll, has rebuilt a cellar-dwelling franchise in three short years).  It makes sense, and the best part is, you don’t even have to think about it!  I’ve done all the thinking for you!

If you want to be a winning organization, you don’t steal from the Milwaukee Brewers!  They had, like, a couple good years after about a million terrible ones!  You don’t go after the teams in your division and try to steal their talent, just because you play them the most and you’re most familiar with them.  Let’s think just a LITTLE outside the box on this one.  Cardinals.  I want to root for the Cardinals.  So, become the Cardinals, however you think you can manage that.

Of course, that’s never going to happen as long as we have the current organizational structure in place.  This team SO needs to be sold, it’s not even funny anymore.  You’re telling me we can’t get Mark Cuban to pay top dollar for the Seattle Mariners?  Say what you will about him, but when he bought the Mavericks, they were the fucking joke of the NBA.  It was his passion, his foresight, his money, and his personality that made them into the champions they became.  If he’s as interested in owning a baseball team as I seem to remember him being, he could very well be the Paul Allen to our Seattle Seahawks.

This isn’t the same situation as we had with the Sonics.  Our lease-agreement with Safeco Field isn’t about to run out anytime soon.  So, even if out-of-town investors come in to buy the team, it doesn’t mean we’re in immediate danger of losing baseball in the Pacific Northwest.  And, quite frankly, I don’t see the Mariners EVER leaving Seattle, no matter who buys it or how bad it gets around here.  The Mariners represent a whole, huge region of the United States and Canada!  MLB isn’t going to lose this foothold because some owner wants to bring this team to Nebraska or some shit.

Anyone.  Anyone, come and buy this team!  Save us all from our cruel and thoughtless overlords!  We’re never going to climb out of this nosedive until new ownership is set in place!

As for players to bring in, I don’t know what to tell you.  Read this comment from yesterday’s post on the subject; this guy’s got some valid and intelligent points.  Nobody wants to come to Seattle.  Because apparently everyone lives in Florida and would rather play for a team that has Spring Training there.  Shit, even people FROM SEATTLE don’t want to come here!  Unless they’re a million years old, coming off three surgeries, and absolutely can’t get a hint of an offer anywhere else.

I hope you’re not tired of hearing things like “youth movement” and “building from within”, because it’s not going to stop anytime soon.  To attract quality veterans, and not completely break the bank in the process, you have to actually develop a solid core.  Right now, the Mariners have two guys:  Felix & Seager.  That’s our proven core.  Everyone else is too young to have a strong opinion on (Franklin, Miller, Zunino) or we’re praying on our hands and knees they figure it out and turn their careers around (Ackley, Smoak, Saunders).  Either way, you can’t count anyone but Felix & Seager in our core, because they haven’t proven dick over the long haul!

You can’t have a core of two people and expect to attract quality.  So, what are our options?  Well, obviously we’re looking at another extended run with Zunino, Miller, and probably Franklin.  They might have to put Nick back in Tacoma if he doesn’t get off to a good start in the month of April, but the other two have probably bought themselves a little longer bit of leash.

Everyone is talking about the Mariners making a huge push for Jacoby Ellsbury, but I dunno.  Yeah, he’s certainly going to be an upgrade over who we have now in the outfield, but big deal.  A guy at a quarter of his cost would be an upgrade!  I’m just kinda over the whole High-Priced Free Agent in baseball.  They almost NEVER pan out!  Because you’re paying them based on what they’ve already done.  Just because they’ve hit one way for the last three or four years doesn’t mean they’re automatically destined to hit that way for the next six or seven.  And even if they do, does that make them worth upwards of $20 million a year?

I know, in the past, I’ve been pounding the drum for the Mariners to start spending money like some of the other elite ballclubs in baseball, but I’ve come to realize that there’s a big difference between spending multiple millions of dollars on your own homegrown studs vs. going out and spending top dollar on other teams’ studs who no longer want them.

This is baseball.  If a player is worth it, he will spend his very best years with the team that drafted him.  If you want to be a winning franchise, you do whatever you can to keep your in-house talent.  That’s why guys like Joey Votto and Joe Mauer and Justin Verlander sign these huge extensions even before they hit the free agent market.  The best of the best don’t tend to go anywhere.  It’s these other guys, guys like Ellsbury and Prince Fielder and Josh Hamilton who hit the market.  Guys who are huge question marks.  Guys who command extremely long deals and extremely high amounts of money.  Guys who realistically are getting their final “big deals” in baseball; for the next deals they sign will be after they’re already over-the-hill and just trying to cling to former glories.  These are the guys you really DON’T want.  Because eventually they’ll break down, and more often than not it’ll be sooner rather than later.

You think the Tigers would pay over $200 million for Prince Fielder NOW?  Of course not.  Ditto the Angels with Hamilton & Pujols.  Because they paid for what those players did in the past, not what they would do going forward.

So, quite frankly, I hope the Mariners DON’T sign someone in the free agent leftover bin to a huge contract.  Why should they?  It’s not like we’re one or two players away from contending anyway.  If this team really is gearing up for a big sale in two years when their deal with Root Sports kicks in, then I’d almost rather the Mariners keep treading water with these short-term deals to make them more attractive for potential buyers.  Not because I necessarily care about this current ownership group getting their full money’s worth, but because I don’t want them to get cold feet thanks to a tepid market.

Any way you slice it, I’m not expecting anything out of the 2014 Mariners.  They can go out and crush the free agent market, make all the ESPN headlines, sign the top two or three guys out there to gargantuan deals, maybe make a couple of win-now trades to put the Mariners on everybody’s radar, and they’ll still most likely end up 3rd or 4th in the AL West.  Likewise, they can go out there, make some value-signings for the short term, and continue to rely on the kids, and they’ll still most likely end up 3rd or 4th in the AL West.

Or, shit, they can do absolutely nothing, fill in roster spots with guys in the organization, hire a chimp to be our skipper, and they’ll still most likely end up 3rd or 4th in the AL West.

This is not the time to get excited about the Seattle Mariners.  This is the time to collect as many cans of food as you can, buy toilet paper in bulk, fill up your freezer with cuts of meat, load up your shed to the rooftop with chopped wood, and hunker down with a few hundred unread books for the winter.  As a Mariners fan, we’re in the most brutal stretch of winter we’ve been in since the 1980s (when I was happily unaware of any of the goings on of this team, because I was a child who blissfully hated baseball).  We’re Jack Torrance, the Mariners are the Overlook Hotel, and it’s now a battle against our own sanity.  How long can we withstand this harsh, unforgiving winter before we break and start chopping down doors and chasing our families around with an ax?  I’m not gonna lie to you, I’m starting to see Lloyd the bartender everywhere I go.  And my wife’s starting to REALLY get on my nerves …

A Paragraph With The Mariners – 72

Branyan! Russell The Muscle Branyan! Now, I don’t wanna get off on some hyperbole shit here, but: SEASON SAVED! Granted, it’s only been 3 baseball games he’s played in this year for the Mariners, but I feel confident that 3 baseball games = a baseball season. Let’s look at the figures: 1 for 4 in the first game with a single; 1 for 3 in the second game with a home run, 2 runs scored, 2 RBI, and a walk; 1 for 4 in the third game with 2 RBI. Extrapolate that over the course of a full season and you’re looking at 216 RBI, 162 hits, 54 home runs, 108 runs scored, and a .300 batting average. In other words, pretty much the best player in all of baseball. And we have him! Russell Branyan Is the Best Baseball Player Alive! Pujols? Pssh. Mauer? Please. A-Rod? More like A-Guy Who’s Not As Good As Russell Branyan! Season Saved? Well, let’s put it this way: if we win 2/3 of our remaining games, we will be 89-73. But, I’d put that 2/3 figure at the minimum; I think with Branyan’s bat alone we’re good for a few series sweeps. Starting today, in Detroit. You don’t know who the FUCK you’re messin’ with, Tigers! You’ve been Branyanized!