Holy Mother Of God: The Mariners Are Over .500!

Look, I’m no hero.  I’m just a man.  A man who had an opportunity to go to a Mariners game last night, featuring the Major League debuts of starter Andrew Moore and reliever Max Povse, on a team that finally got back to .500 for the fourth time after falling to 33-37.  Do I hold a particular amount of good luck with my presence in the stadium?  Is there some magic elixir that permeates this organization when I stuff my face with beer and hot dogs and soft serve ice cream?  Like I said, I’m no hero; I’ll leave that conversation for someone else to have.

All I know is I was there!  And it was glorious!

It’s been extremely exciting and satifsying to have the full offense healthy and playing together for all of two days, and I hope to see it healthy and playing together for many, many more.  Jean Segura is the best leadoff man we’ve had since Ichiro.  Ben Gamel and Mitch Haniger are quintessential 2-hole hitters, easily interchangeable depending on the handedness of the starter.  Cano, Cruz, and Seager are a legitimate, superstar middle of the order.  Valencia’s streakiness makes him frustrating, but also makes him dangerous when he’s on a heater.  Heredia and Dyson are speedy, disruptive manaces who seem to always do something positive in just about every game.  And we all hold out hope that Zunino has turned things around enough to maintain his status as an everyday catcher in this league.

The point is, there really aren’t any free at-bats in that lineup.  They’re going to work the count to death, they’re going to get guys on base, and they’re going to get guys home at a good-enough clip to be upper echelon in this league.  Even if you’re able to overpower this offense, it’s only temporary.  A few innings, or at most a few games, before they’re right back on the trolley.

Last night, this offense was a battering ram.  3 runs in the second to get things going.  2 more runs in the third to keep piling on.  An overwhelming 4 runs in the seventh to put the game away.  Just one smashing blow after another.  There was Gamel with the 2-RBI double off of a lefty pitcher.  There was Heredia following that up with an RBI single.  Then, a 2-run homer from Cano and a grand slam from Cano to put this one in the refrigerator.

I had a good feeling about Cano in this one, after I wrote yesterday that I thought he was starting to look dialed in at the plate.  I predicted three hits for him coming into the game, but I guess I’ll settle for the 2 homers and 6 RBI.  I’ll say this:  it’s not a moment too soon, with the Astros coming to town this weekend.  The Mariners are going to need all the help they can get.

The other big story of the game was Andrew Moore in his first Big League start.  We were in the club level, in the section right next to the press box on the first base side, and as such it wasn’t the greatest vantage point for noticing balls and strikes.  He seemed to have good-enough velocity, usually parked around 91 mph, but sometimes touching 93.  He obviously didn’t walk anyone, which is always big.  He seemed to get into a lot of deep counts – with Tigers hitters frequently fouling off pitches – and that looked like it inflated his pitch count a little bit.  He gave up a solo homer to Ian Kinsler in the third, and got into a little bit of trouble in the fifth, but he powered through the sixth and even the seventh inning while just giving up those 3 runs on 6 hits, with 4 strikeouts.  An outstanding debut for a highly-rated prospect, one of the last of the Jackie Z era.

With a 9-3 lead, Max Povse got to get his debut in as well, starting the eighth inning.  He looked like he threw pretty hard, but I didn’t get a sense that there was a ton of movement to his pitches.  Again, though, tough vantage to make a definitive call.  Anyway, he got two pretty quick outs, then apparently got overwhelmed by the moment:  a double, a homer to Miguel Cabrera, a double, and a single ended his night, giving up 3 runs in 2/3 of an inning.  Tony Zych cleaned up the mess and Steve Cishek worked the ninth for a quick and painless save (Diaz was unavailable after working 4 straight days); his first save since July 30, 2016, which had to feel nice after all he’s gone through since then.

All in all, a great team win, and a fabulous 4-game series sweep of the Tigers.  As noted above, the Mariners are over .500 for the first time all season, at 38-37.  They’re still 12.5 games behind the Astros in the A.L. West, but they’re only 1 game behind the Rays for the second Wild Card (behind the Twins, who are a half game back).

Felix comes back today, so we’ll finally learn the fate of Yovani Gallardo.  The Astros come to town; we haven’t seen them since the second week in April.  We’re a whopping 2-5 against them, and looked like the clearly inferior team in just about every game we played against them, so it would be nice to turn things around here while the going is good.  Let’s put some distance between us and .500 the other way, so it’s not as easy to get so buried like we were!

It Was Absolutely Okay For Jarrod Dyson To Bunt To Break Up The Perfect Game

Don’t come in here with your macho headgames; this is baseball – ostensibly a kid’s game – there are no points for winning or losing with honor.  To put it another way, you’re no more or less of a man for bunting to get on base as you are clubbing a ball into the outfield.

The unwritten rules of baseball are among the stupidest things in all of sports.  Chief among them is this concept that you shouldn’t try to bunt to break up a perfect game or a no-hitter.  And I’m not buying this whole “grey area” that people are trying to amend to this thing.  What’s the difference between the first batter of a game bunting for a base hit, followed by the pitcher getting 27 consecutive outs, and the last batter of a game bunting for a base hit to break up a perfecto?

The job of a hitter in baseball is to help in the facilitation of scoring runs, by any means necessary.  Obviously, in a close game, people feel it’s perhaps more justified to bunt to break up the no-no than if it were, say, 10-0 in the bottom of the ninth.  But, you know what?  This isn’t Brett Favre giving Michael Strahan a record-breaking sack; as the opposing hitter, you don’t have to lay down and die just so someone else can make history.  If speed is a big part of your game – the way you make your LIVING, by the way – then obviously the bunt is always going to be on the table.  And, if the opposing defense is going to give you this HUGE opening in front of first base – with Miguel Cabrera playing insanely deep against someone known to bunt from time to time – then it’s absolutely your right to do so.  First inning, sixth inning, or last inning.  Having someone throw a perfect game on you in your own stadium?  That’s embarrassing!  Way more embarrassing than the temporary “shame” of bunting to get a hit; even if it’s 10-0 in the bottom of the ninth.

Last night, Justin Verlander was rolling.  He’s usually been really good against the Mariners throughout his career, but this was another level.  16 guys put down to start off the game; 6 of the first 9 hitters struck out and 9 of the first 15.  Good life on his fastball, good movement on his breaking pitches, outstanding command.  It really did look like it was going to take a miracle just to get a guy on base.  I’ll admit, I almost went to bed after the fourth or fifth inning.  I turned the game off, I picked up a book to do some pre-bedtime reading, and right before I considered shuffling off to bed, I checked Twitter.

By this point, the Mariners were down 4-0.  James Paxton looked moderately better than he did last time, but by no means his usual dominant self from before the injury.  With the way Verlander was going, there was just no way this Mariners team could come back!

But, I checked Twitter maybe 30 seconds after the bunt, and immediately flipped over to the game.  I saw Zunino walk, I saw Segura bloop a single in no man’s land that the short stop somehow overran, I saw Gamel continue his torrid June with an RBI single to center, and I saw Robbie Cano strike out.

For what it’s worth, that was a great Cano at bat, but an even-better Verlander sequence.  That strike three was, as Aaron Goldsmith described, vicious.  Unhittable.  But, I also saw a Cano in that at bat who looked remarkably dialed in.  He was JUUUUST missing, but his timing was getting awfully close.  Close enough that it would only be a matter of time before he started making a huge impact offensively.

That put the M’s at two outs in the inning, though, with only 1 run to show for their rally.  Forget the bunt, forget the perfect game and all that, the Mariners had an opportunity here!  But, they couldn’t let having men on second and third – with the heart of their lineup at the plate – go by without scoring more than just the 1 run.  Thankfully, Nelson Cruz got ahold of a curveball and roped it into left field.  To my horror, it looked like Justin Upton might come up with the diving catch to rip our collective guts out, but he came up empty and the Mariners got to within 4-3, with three full innings left to play (and knocked Verlander out of the game in the process).

Mitch Haniger – dropped to 7th in the lineup, with the return of Jean Segura from the DL (the Mariners opted to keep Ben Gamel’s .350+ batting average in the 2-hole, at least against righties, and at least for the time being) – led off the seventh with solo blast to tie the game.  With the Tigers’ bullpen sucking all ass around town, this thing felt attainable!  They got a couple quick outs, but then the rally train started chugging down the tracks again.

Segura walked and Gamel singled to set the table for Cano.  Yep, that Cano.  The one who, quite frankly, hasn’t been all that good lately.  Coming into the game, he had all of 2 extra-base hits in the month of June, and I don’t know if he’s been all that right since he went on the DL back in May.  Obviously, he’s getting his hits, and he’s playing through some pain, and you commend him for that, but he hasn’t been that dynamic superstar we’ve seen him be, at least for the last few weeks.

But, he was due, and he made good on that by lining a double into the gap in right-center field to score Segura and Gamel and give the Mariners an improbable 2-run lead.  Cruz would subsequently single in Cano to give the M’s a 3-run cushion, and the damage was done.

Of course, I don’t know if the Mariners would’ve been able to salvage this game without some excellent bullpen work.  Tony Zych came into the game in relief of Paxton, with 1 out and 2 on.  They’d JUST scored two runs to give them their 4-run lead.  But, Zych not only shut them down, he went another inning on top of it without giving up a run.  Then, after finally getting a day off the night before, Nick Vincent kept the Tigers off the scoreboard in the eighth.  And, in a somewhat questionable move, Scott Servais opted to throw Edwin Diaz out there for a fourth consecutive day.  He looked a little wild, and grooved a solo homer to Ian Kinsler; things got really interesting when Cabrera walked to the plate with a runner on first in a 7-5 ballgame.  Cabrera is always an MVP-type threat – even if he’s not having that sort of season this year – but that’s not what really terrified me.  I was worried what would happen if Cabrera simply singled or walked or otherwise got on base for J.D. Martinez, because HE’S the real killer on that team right now.

Honestly, if Cabrera would’ve gotten on base, I would’ve chosen to walk Martinez.  If I’m being REALLY honest?  I might have intentionally walked both of those guys to load the bases for Justin Upton; but I guess that’s why they don’t pay me the big bucks to manage a Major League Baseball team (yes, THAT is the reason).

Instead, Diaz worked ahead in the count to Cabrera, and got him to roll over on one to short stop to end the game.

I’m not gonna lie to you, that game was one for the ages.  An Instant Classic, at least from a Mariners perspective.  I have no idea what it’ll all mean in the grand scheme of things, but isn’t it funny how it took all of that for the Mariners to get back to .500 again, this time at 37-37?

Isn’t it ALSO funny that in today’s slot in the rotation, we were due to start Yovani Gallardo?  Our WORST starting pitcher?

Well, it’s like Dipoto and Company knew I’d be freaking out today, because we’ve got moves!

The first, I’ve already alluded to:  Jean Segura returned, with Tyler Smith going back to Tacoma.  Thanks for the memories Smith, but your services will no longer be required.

The second was an absolute shocker:  hotshot prospect Andrew Moore was called up, with Christian Bergman being sent down (and Tyler Cloyd being DFA’d to make room on the 40-man).  I talked about it yesterday, and it looks like the Mariners and I were simpatico on the whole Bergman vs. Gaviglio argument, because Gaviglio keeps his spot in the rotation (set to start this Saturday) at least until Iwakuma returns from his rehab assignment.

Andrew Moore was a second round pick in 2015, and one of the top prospects in the Mariners’ farm system.  He apparently throws in the low-90s, but has great command of the strike zone, doesn’t walk many guys, and has excelled at every level.  In his first professional season, he dominated in Everett.  In 2016, he split time between high-A ball and AA.  Then, this year, he appeared in 6 games in AA before being promoted to AAA.  He appeared in 8 games in Tacoma and now he’s here.  Not only is he here, but his Major League career is getting STARTED.  He’s not up for a spot start, or to help out in the bullpen in long relief like most of these jokers we’ve brought up from Tacoma; Andrew Moore is getting the start TONIGHT, in place of one Yovani Gallardo.


Sorry, not sorry, but once I realized he last started for Tacoma last Thursday, I was able to put 2+2 together and come to the hypothesis that he was going to take Gallardo’s job.  Bergman goes to Tacoma, because apparently he was always going to go to Tacoma regardless, but if my hypothesis holds true, the Mariners will hold onto Gallardo through tonight’s game – in case Moore’s jitters get the better of him and he’s overwhelmed by the Tigers – and then they’ll DFA him when they officially bring Felix back onto the roster.

In other words, unless something crazy happens, we officially have one more day with Yovani Gallardo in our lives.

And I know what you’re thinking, sour grapes and all.  Normally, I don’t root for people to lose their jobs, but he’ll be fine.  He’s a fucking multi-millionaire who will DEFINITELY get another shot with some other team.  So, don’t cry for Gallardo; it’s what’s best for everyone.

I mean, this has to be what’s happening, right?  They’ve already officially named Gaviglio the starter for Saturday; I don’t think they’re just going to change their minds and send him down when Felix returns on Friday.  The only other move is to keep Gallardo in the bullpen and send someone like Altavilla down to continue to work on his game.  At this point, I’d say it’s 50/50 between those two things, but I’ll say this:  if Gallardo’s main problem has been giving up too many runs early in games (18 of the 54 runs he’s given up this year – or a full 33% – have been in the first innings of his starts; he’s got a first inning ERA of nearly 11!), what makes you think we can trust him in a relief role?  As a reliever, you have to be able to shut guys down RIGHT AWAY!  There isn’t time to have one big inning, settle into a game, and make it up by throwing 4-5 shutout innings after that.

So, I dunno.  All I know is I’m going to the game tonight with my brochachos and I have the good fortune of witnessing Andrew Moore’s Major League debut and NOT Yovani Gallardo’s final start in a Mariners uniform.  Yep, I’m pretty pumped.

Dan Altavilla Sure Looks Like The Second Coming Of Bobby Ayala

This one looked like a picture-perfect, textbook Mariners victory.  Ariel Miranda coughed up a couple of solo homers in the first couple innings before settling down to go 7 innings, giving up just those 2 runs, on 4 hits, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts.  Nelson Cruz jacked a 2-run homer in the bottom of the first, Taylor Motter hit a solo homer out to left in the bottom of the second, and Ben Gamel added to the Mariners’ lead with a solo homer of his own to dead center in the bottom of the seventh.  All we needed was someone to bridge the game from Starter to Closer.

The tricky part was that Nick Vincent – our usual bridge guy – was unavailable, due to his back-to-back 1.1 inning performances the last two days.  Tony Zych was unavailable due to what we would later learn to be an illness.  I have to believe they wanted to save James Pazos unless it was an absolute emergency, considering he too had pitched the previous two days.

Which meant that the only right-handed relievers available for that eighth inning were Dan Altavilla, Steve Cishek, or Max Povse.  It would be pretty fucked up to make Povse’s Major League debut a tense eighth inning affair with a narrow lead, and Cishek is another guy who pitched the previous two days.

So, that left Altavilla, who was rested, but also fresh off of a 3-homer performance down in Texas on Saturday.

This really hasn’t been Altavilla’s season.  I don’t know what to make of his total and complete lack of command.  He got the late-season call up last year and was dominant.  But, this year, he’s been all over the place.  Sometimes, he looks unhittable, and zips through these innings no problem; other times, he falls apart and gets pounded into submission.  In his 25 appearances this year for the Mariners, he’s given up runs in 10 of them; that’s unacceptable.  He’s got the live fastball; he’s got the slider that has righties swinging for the dirt.  But, he leaves too many balls in the middle of the zone (when he’s not entirely missing the zone and walking a bunch of guys).

I didn’t see what he looked like on Saturday, but I watched him last night.  His first sin was walking the leadoff hitter, Ian Kinsler.  Kinsler was able to steal second on the perfect pitch (a slider low and away), but Altavilla really wasn’t doing a whole lot to keep him close to the bag at first.  He was able to strike out the next couple guys, but then did an ATROCIOUS job of keeping Kinsler close at second, who was allowed to have a huge lead to steal third base easily.  The fact that the pitch on that steal was another slider that got away from Zunino was also pure Altavilla.  I know you want those strikeout pitches buried in the ground, but he was spiking those fucking things five feet in front of home plate!

The subsequent solo homer to J.D. Martinez, though, that was pure Ayala.  Just a fat middle-middle meatball that he crushed to the opposite field seats.  I mean, I don’t understand how you go from absolutely OWNING Miguel Cabrera in the previous at-bat (utilizing your live fastball, brushing him off the plate, only to get him to watch your slider cover the outside corner for strike three) to being so careless with a guy like Martinez, who is another premiere slugger in this league.  It’s what made Bobby Ayala so maddening back in the day.  He had a plus fastball and a devastating splitter that could’ve laid waste to the American League.  But, all too often, as he fell off the left side of the mound, he’d leave those pitches up and out over the plate to get crushed.

Is it a concentration thing?  Or, are they just not able to control where their pitches go?  Either way, it’s something that needs to be fixed in a hurry, because I don’t really see a ton of other options in the minors with the kind of upside Altavilla demonstrates.  Who knows, maybe Max Povse will be the guy, but it’s way too early in his career to put that on him.

The Mariners squandered a 2-on, 1-out situation in the bottom of the eighth, with the heart of the order at the plate, and after that I went to bed.  Granted, they got good and Bucknor’d on that strikeout to Jarrod Dyson to end the inning, but all three of the guys who made outs in that inning (including the also-hot-hitting Nelson Cruz and Danny Valencia) were letting juicy sliders waft past them for strikes without even offering a swing.  One of the more frustrating half-innings I’ve seen in a while that didn’t involve the Mariners leaving someone on third base with less than two outs.

Edwin Diaz and Steve Cishek each worked scoreless innings to get us to the bottom of the tenth, where the Mariners scored the game-winning run on a Kyle Seager double (Tyler Smith pinch ran for Cruz and scored from second after a wild pitch).  I guess the joke is on me that the Mariners did all these cool things after I went to bed; I’ll somehow have to console myself with the good night’s sleep I enjoyed.

In the Kudos Department, Gamel had 3 more hits (including the aforementioned homer), Cruz was on base 4 times (with the aformentioned 2-run homer), Zunino had another hit to keep the good times rolling, Motter had a couple hits as Jean Segura works his way back in his rehab assignment (with a probable return tomorrow or Friday), and Seager had the heroics in extras.

I’d also like to circle back to Ariel Miranda, who got short shrift with all this Altavilla talk.  That’s an amazing bounce-back performance after his dud in Minnesota last week.  No hits after the third inning!  I would’ve complimented him on saving the bullpen in this one, but obviously what happened was outside of his control.

It does beg to wonder what things will look like tonight if the Mariners are in a position to win.  That’s three straight days with an appearance for Diaz and Cishek, so I have to believe those guys are sitting.  That most likely slots Vincent as our closer, with some combo of Zych and Pazos in the eighth.  Here’s to hoping Paxton has his mechanics working again, because we’re gonna need him.  Here’s also to hoping the offense gets on its horse so we don’t have to sweat one out in the late innings.

Random Week 13 Mariners Thoughts

Last week, the Mariners went 4-2.  The week before, it was 5-2.  In this critical stretch of games leading up to the All Star Break, the Mariners have gone 18-10 in their last 28 games.  We currently hold the 4th-best record in the American League, we hold the 2nd spot in the Wild Card standings by 1.5 games (over both KC & Baltimore), yet we’re still a full two games behind the Angels and 7.5 games behind the A’s.

This American League West is pretty fucking good this year.  I daresay it’s the NFC West of baseball divisions.

The Mariners crushed the Red Sox in the first two games last week, winning by a combined 20-5.  In the finale, Boston jumped out to a good lead, but we still managed to come back and pull within one run, with runners on base in the bottom of the ninth before our fortunes ran out.  Nevertheless, we came right back and took 2 of 3 from Cleveland, featuring a solid Chris Young performance, a night where the Mariners’ bats failed to show up to the ballpark, and an afternoon where Felix was absolutely masterful.  Cleveland 1-hit us on Saturday; we 1-hit them on Sunday.  Anything you can do, we can do better, because we’re the Seattle Mariners, so fuck you!

In roster transaction news, Erasmo Ramirez was sent down to eventually make way for Taijuan Walker.  As it happened, the Mariners replaced Ramirez with Brandon Maurer.  Maurer the starter is a suck-ass who doesn’t deserve legitimate playing time beyond the AAA level.  Maurer the reliever is a dominant force who can throw 99mph, has control of a wicked change up, and still has that slider that does so well against righties (and, apparently, a 93mph cut-fastball, which sounds ridiculous, but is true).  I’m not sure I want to see Maurer the reliever ever leave this team!  Can we keep him here forever?  Can he one day be our future closer?  Please?

Towards the end of the week, Jesus Montero was indeed demoted for Michael Saunders.  No surprise there.  Over the weekend, Saunders started three times and went 3 for 11, with a double and 2 runs scored.  Nice to have you back, Michael.

Then, after the game on Sunday, it was announced that Stefen Romero is finally being relieved of his duties.  Thank God.  I mean, I don’t hate the kid or anything, but he’s obviously still got a lot to work on.  He certainly has the potential to be a solid line drive hitting machine, but he’s got to figure out a plan when going into at bats.  And he needs to improve his pitch recognition.  Few more walks couldn’t hurt either.

It’s assumed Taijuan Walker is going to replace Romero on the roster, which is interesting, because that means Maurer is still here for the time being.  Maybe it’s only a matter of time (say, until Justin Smoak is ready to return).  Either way, it would be wise to take advantage of Maurer’s services while we still have him here.  An 8-man bullpen is a nice luxury, but not a luxury you can afford long term.  Not with the likes of John Buck as your DH.

Don’t look now, but it appears that the Mariners have a position of strength from which they can trade.  It’ll be interesting if we can ship off a couple of young bullpen arms for a bat.  At the very least, it beats the alternative of trading away starting pitching, which is at a premium for us right now.

Taijuan Walker goes tonight.  It would be nice if he’s good right out of the gate.  Then, I wouldn’t have to worry about the Mariners trading for one of the Cubs’ starting pitchers, when it’s so obvious to everyone in the world that the Mariners need help with their hitting.  I know everyone fears the day when Chris Young turns into a pumpkin, but I feel like even a few more bad games out of him over the second half of the season won’t make much of a difference, especially if Walker is the real deal.

The Mariners have now played 82 games.  Yesterday was technically the first game of the second half of the season.  2009 was the last time we were this good (at least, as far as record is concerned), when we finished 85-77.  Those Mariners ended up 10 games out of the Wild Card and 12 games out in the division.  Those Mariners also had a -52 run differential and only had that winning record thanks to insane luck in close games.  There wasn’t any 17-game losing streak like there was in 2011 (when the Mariners sort of contended through the first three months of the season), but there just weren’t the pieces in place to push that 2009 team over the top.  If you’ll recall, the only moves the Mariners made in the run-up to the July 31st Trade Deadline that year was:

  • A trade for Jack Hannahan (a bench infielder who made zero impact at the plate)
  • A trade for Jack Wilson & Ian Snell (a defense-only short stop and a crap starting pitcher)
  • The trading of Wladimir Balentien & Jarrod Washburn for prospects (prospects who turned out to be absolutely nothing)

We can’t make that mistake again this year.  There is a clear need:  hitting.  There are guys we can trade who aren’t Taijuan Walker and James Paxton.  I’m not asking the Mariners to bring me Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout, for crying out loud!  Just bring me someone who is better than Corey Hart or Justin Smoak or Dustin Ackley.  It can’t be THAT hard.

Is Prince Fielder A Foregone Conclusion For The Mariners?

It’s interesting, when you think about it.  How often do you see a real BIG NAME free agent hit the pool like a blue whale doing a cannonball?

Well, for that, you’d have to look at all of the top hitters in baseball (for the purposes of this post, I’ll set the mark at the very-arbitrary .860 OPS).  In 2011, there were 30 hitters with an .860 OPS or higher.  Those 30 players are spread out across 19 MLB teams.  It should go without saying (but I’m doing it anyway) that the Mariners are not one of those 19 teams.  In fact, you have to go all the way down to Player #137 before you run into a Mariner on baseball’s top OPS list in 2011 (in fact, his name is Ichiro; his OPS was .645).

Anyway, I would say that these 30 hitters, give or take a few who may have had down years in their batting averages (thus preventing them from being in the Top 30 in OPS) are indeed the Best Hitters In Baseball right now.  Any team in baseball would likely be thrilled to have any one of these guys.  Going into this offseason, if my math is correct, there were three of these guys available on the free agent market.  Jose Reyes just signed a huge deal with Florida, so that makes the total now two.  For all intents and purposes, Albert Pujols is off the market, because there’s no way the Mariners afford him and there’s no way he considers the Mariners an option.

That just leaves Prince Fielder. 

As far as OPS is concerned, there were only four hitters better than him last season:  Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera, and Jose Bautista.  That’s an INCREDIBLE list of company to be associated with!  And he COULD be a Mariner!

I’ve already talked about the Pros and Cons of signing a guy like Fielder at a time like this; I’m not going to rehash the same tired argument.  What I AM going to do is let myself daydream a little bit on this topic.

Every year, you may get just a small handful of the best players hitting the open market, whether they’re pitchers or hitters.  Every year, there is a slightly larger handful of teams contending with each other to sign this small pool of superstars.  Every year, there are a number of teams who get exactly what they want, a number of teams forced to settle for their second or third options, at least one team who vastly overpays for someone considered not worth the contract, and a bunch of teams left out in the cold, forced to pick from the scraps all the predators have left behind.

Most years, the Mariners are one of those teams picking from scraps; occasionally, the Mariners take one of those scraps and sign him to a bloated, insane contract (Silva, Figgins, Sexson, etc.).  But, every once in a great while, the Mariners are major players.  They stand up tall and declare loudly, “We are still a Majore League Baseball team, dammit!”  Everyone in the baseball world will talk about us for a day or two; we’ll get some play going into Spring Training in their “Winners & Losers” segments; and then we’ll subsequently be forgotten for the other 350-some-odd days of the year.

Signing Prince Fielder, whether it’s a wise move or not, reinforces us as Occasional Major Players.  The fact that we’re even in this position, however, owes much more to circumstance than to our throwing our money and weight around.  The REAL Major Players – Boston, New York, New York, Chicago, Texas, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, and Toronto – all seem to be shying away from the Fielder Sweepstakes.  So now, not only are the Mariners the most logical choice, they’re also the most expected choice!  If everyone else is backing down from the Years & Money totals he wants, and if the Mariners are desperate enough to give the years and approach the money totals, why WOULDN’T they succeed in signing one of the best hitters in baseball?

It could get really exciting in the next couple of days … or it could get really depressing, depending on who you are.  Of course, it could also get really Meh if nothing happens because Albert Pujols is gumming up the works.  I dunno.  All I know is, the longer this lingers, the less I will believe the Mariners are actually signing Fielder.  If it doesn’t happen by the end of the weekend, then I’d put my money down on it never happening.

One thing Jackie Z has been known for, it’s making quick work of the deals he wants to get done.  When he sets his sights on someone, he either makes it happen RIGHT NOW, or he lets it go without a look back.  My hunch tells me he’d probably look back for Fielder, but I still doubt it gets done anytime after this week.

A Paragraph With The Mariners – 41

Man I’m retarded. I thought yesterday = the first Mariners Sweep of 2010 (and a 2-game one at that, to really ram the point home that the Mariners aren’t very good), but then I see we actually got a REAL series sweep in April against Baltimore. Whatever. You like stats, Stat Junkies? The Mariners are 4-1 at Safeco Field against the Detroit Tigers. Extrapolate that over the course of an entire season (162 games, all at Safeco, all against the Tigers) and the Mariners would be roughly 129-33, thereby SHATTERING the record for most wins in a season. If you’ll go with me here, I’ll start the petition to Major League Baseball to allow the Mariners to play all of their games at home and against the Tigers, with an addendum stating that Miguel Cabrera has to miss 65 games due to his wife/girlfriend(s) giving birth. Unfortunately, for THIS season, there are no more games at Safeco vs. Detroit. We may never win another series the rest of the year.

A Paragraph With The Mariners – 40

Huzzah! Milton Bradley hath returned! And with him the force of a thousand freight trains, bashing baseballs this way and that. High and low, straight and bendy, fast and slow, he can hit them all and for a country mile to boot! Milton Bradley, he who designated hits, he who SHOULD designated hit more often to give chance for Michael Saunders to get into a groove. With Mike Sweeney spot-starting at First Base against lefties and getting the occasional DH day as well. This team could be better than it is. This team is also lucky it didn’t have to face Miguel Cabrera in yesterday’s game. May he father many many more children whenever Detroit plays the Mariners! And may Milton Bradley continue to swing a hot bat. With him and Guti and Ichiro, by golly that’s a whole THIRD of our lineup with the potential to produce and produce well! P.S. Another quality start for Mr. Douglas Fister. That’s, what, all but 2 so far this season? With one of those a 5-inning 1-run affair.