Who Is The Second-Best Reliever On The Mariners Right Now?

We all know Andres Munoz is the first-best reliever on the Mariners; it goes without saying, it’s so obvious. I don’t know where the Mariners would be right now without Munoz, but they’d be considerably worse-off. Maybe even at or below .500.

But, who’s #2? It’s kind of a bummer of a question, because the real answer is the second-best Mariners reliver is on the IL at the moment. It’s probably Matt Brash (if he isn’t actually #1), followed by Gregory Santos. Two of our top three relievers are out of commission, and it’s kind of a steep decline from there.

It’s not fatal, though. This is still a good bullpen. And it has the potential to be great, if Santos comes back, and if we trade for someone like Paul Sewald. But, I think Scott Servais and the Analytics Department do a good job of papering over the bald spots of this group, that might otherwise be in weaker hands if we were just managing this bullpen with our guts, or conventional wisdom.

If you’ve watched the Mariners this year, you know that after Munoz (or, rather, before Munoz, if it’s the 8th inning or earlier), we tend to see Ryne Stanek. He’s the designated #2 in this bullpen. But, is he actually the second-best reliever? Probably not. He has the most experience in high-leverage situations, but I wouldn’t say he’s the #2 guy I trust the most to get me out of a jam, or to bridge that gap to Munoz. Sure, he throws the ball hard – often touching triple digits – but it’s awfully straight and hittable. I would also say his splitter or whatever he throws to get outs isn’t what was advertised. 11 of his 27 appearances has been for less than 1 full inning, often because he’s getting himself into jams that other guys (likely Munoz, for a 4-out or 5-out save) have to get him out of. He has a 4.38 ERA at the moment, and it feels like it could be a lot worse.

Through the first month, I would’ve said Gabe Speier was the second-best reliever (with his sub-1 ERA), but his month of May was pretty atrocious, and now he’s on the IL, so wipe that away.

There’s something to be said for Tyson Miller, who had a nice start to his season as well, but we let him go and now he’s kicking ass for the Cubs.

Tayler Saucedo has good-looking numbers, and has had a few big moments this year (including finishing off the 10th inning in Kansas City for his third save of the season), but for the most part I wouldn’t say he’s coming up in the highest-leverage situations. He’s a nice lefty, but I’m not ready to put him in that upper tier just yet.

There’s a number of journeymen relievers we’ve brought in here, who’ve had varying degrees of success, in spite of finding themselves sort of up and down between the Majors and minors. Austin Voth is probably the best story of the bunch, in that he’s managed to not only stick with the Mariners all year, but is doing pretty well for himself. In the early part of the season, it seemed like he was more of a mop-up artist, but he’s slowly, but surely, finding his way into bigger spots. I still wouldn’t put him in the top two, though.

One very interesting name is Mike Baumann, who we recently picked up from the Orioles. I found it extremely intriguing when I heard on the radio last week that the Mariners’ hitters vouched for him, as he was a tough at-bat for those who’ve faced him. Even though he’s been very good for the Mariners so far, I don’t know if I’m there with him just yet. He seems to have another fastball with not a ton of movement, and without a very distinct off-speed pitch. I’m still on a wait & see approach with him.

Who I think is probably the actual second-best reliever is also the guy I would’ve been least likely to believe to be the second-best reliever heading into the season, and that’s Trent Thornton.

Now, that doesn’t mean I think he’s great or anything. I would still place him firmly in a tier or two below Andres Munoz. I couldn’t possibly tell you how he had a 2.08 ERA with the Mariners last year (after coming here from Toronto in a mid-season trade), except to say his FIP was actually 4.72, which leads me to believe his defense largely saved his bacon, and/or he left a bunch of runners on base only for other guys to pull him out of the fire. Either way, I was largely unimpressed with Thornton last year, and came into 2024 wondering why he was still on the team.

Yet, this year, as things have shaken out, he did very well in low-leverage situations, to the point where he started earning more opportunities in close games that we could actually win! Now, it hasn’t always worked out; he has a 3.62 ERA, after all. But, his FIP is actually 2.86, meaning he should actually have better numbers than he does!

Ultimately, I think Thornton and Baumann are pretty close to the same guys, and maybe even throw Stanek in that bunch. I don’t think any of them have done enough to earn the 8th inning on a regular basis. But, they’re right there, good enough to maybe get a 7th inning every now and again, or to be put into tie games or games where we’re not losing by much and want to just keep it close to see if our offense scores late.

But, if we had to rely on those three guys exclusively in the biggest situations? I think it would be a disaster waiting to happen.

A bullpen is a fragile ecosystem. Guys need to have their roles sussed out. Ideally, we’re able to keep Munoz upright and dominating all year. Ideally, Santos will make his comeback at mid-season and take some of the load off of Stanek and Thornton. Ideally, Logan Evans will get called up at some point and become the next Matt Brash. Even if he does, it won’t start off that way; he’s going to have to earn his high-leverage spots. But, if by season’s end, we can put some space between Munoz and the Stanek/Thornton/Baumann triumvirate, I think we’ll have a nice little unit we can go to war with come playoff time.

In the interim, maybe Thornton keeps getting the job done. Maybe he’s the next Justin Topa. If nothing else, he’s another feather in the cap of this organization’s uncanny ability to get the most out of average-looking guys in the bullpen. Where were these coaches back in the 90’s, when the bullpen was – without question – our biggest Achilles heel?

The Mariners Fucked The Astros Right In Their Pig Anuses

Is there anything better than the Mariners being in first place while the Astros are in last place with the Angels, who just suffered yet another Mike Trout injury that’s going to cost him a significant chunk of the season? Whatever you’re doing, don’t stop, because I’m about to fucking come all over the place!

Would it have been ideal if the Mariners’ bullpen didn’t gag away Friday’s game, costing us the sweep? Of course. Who doesn’t enjoy a sweep down in Houston? Those fucking smug, self-satisfied fans can eat a thousand bags of shit-covered dicks for all I care. But, knowing they had a series win practically in the bag, only to lose the next two, kinda makes their tears of unfathomable sadness all the sweeter.

The only reason to be pissed off about Friday’s game is because it was the Astros. If that happened against any other team, I’d shrug my shoulders and say, “Listen, this bullpen has been better than I could’ve possibly imagined so far this season; they’re bound to drop one here and there.” You could’ve quibbled during the game, when a masterful George Kirby was pulled after 6 innings and only 88 pitches, but we later found out he’s been dealing with a nagging knee issue that’s going to limit him for a bit. You could’ve also lamented going to Trent Thornton in that spot, but the dude just spent the entire month of April having only given up 1 run in 10 appearances. He was on a very impressive streak; and that doesn’t explain why Gabe Speier – who relieved Thornton – also shit the bed, when he’s been bar none one of our best relievers period.

It’s a bummer, shit happens, and also Mariners? Score more than 3 runs for a change.

Saturday’s game was everything that the doctor ordered. 5-0 shutout. Logan Gilbert going 8 innings, giving up 2 hits and 4 walks, while striking out six. We got to Framber Valdez (5 runs in 5.1 innings), and we got to save our best relievers, with Saucedo mopping up the 9th.

The Chef’s Kiss happened on Sunday, though. We had a 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the sixth, before Bryce Miller gave up a 2-run bomb to close the gap. He limited the damage there, but we tried to squeeze a 7th inning out of him, only for him to give up a go-ahead (for the Astros) 2-run jack. Under usual circumstances, this would be a predictable fate, and the Astros would’ve gone on to win the game (maybe even blowing us out over the final couple innings).

Instead, we powered back with a game-tying RBI single by Urias in the 8th, followed by a Cal Raleigh right-handed solo homer in the 9th to take the lead. That got Munoz the win, after another 4-out appearance.

There’s been a remarkably interesting development with the offense, as Josh Rojas – one of the better stories of the early season, as far as hitting has been concerned – has simply continued to be a massive offensive presence. He’s slashing .360/.442/.587, with 4 doubles, 2 triples, and 3 homers. He’s been mostly hitting leadoff since J.P. Crawford went down, and he’s actually picked up his game! I can’t fathom any way this continues, because come on! He’s Josh Rojas! But, how crazy is it that with all the guys we thought might step up and be the surprise bat in this offense – Polanco, Garver, Raley, Canzone – it was actually Josh Fucking Rojas of all people?!

As I said, it won’t continue (I might’ve even jinxed the hell out of him by even mentioning his name here), but I also don’t expect him to totally fall flat on his face either. He might not be a .360 hitter, but he could level off around .270 or .280, which would still be really fucking good, especially since it looks like he’s going to be an everyday player going forward (even against left-handed pitchers, Scott Servais announced). Start him at third, play him in left field in a pinch, leave him right there at the top of the lineup (and maybe push Julio down in the lineup for a while, until he figures his swing out). Not a bad way to run a railroad.

The Mariners’ Everything Looks As Bad As Expected

I don’t know what we’re doing here. We can’t string together back-to-back quality starts to save our lives, our defense is a God damn trainwreck, we’re still sucking at the plate as per usual. It’s all bad. Everything about the Mariners is bad. We’re somehow 4-6, but it feels like we should be 0-10.

The first game in Milwaukee showed some promise. But, just as much – if not more – left us with a lot of doubts. After an incredible first start to the season, Logan Gilbert gave up three bombs (4 runs total) in 5.2 innings. What’s worse is that the offense FINALLY came alive in the top of the sixth – to tie the game at 3-3 – only for Logan to give up a homer in the bottom half. We somehow managed to bridge the game down just one run in the bottom of the 8th, when Ryne Stanek – our second-best reliever – gave up three hits to give the Brewers a little extra cushion.

All that being said, credit where it’s due, the offense rallied again – this time in the top of the 9th – to score twice and force the blown save to tie the game at 5-5. Unfortunately, with Julio standing at second, Mitch Haniger couldn’t get him home. We were stuck going with our first-best reliever – Andres Munoz – who promptly walked four guys around just the one strikeout, to walk-off-walk the game to its conclusion.

On Saturday, we got probably the best start of young Bryce Miller’s career: 7 shutout innings, 3 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, on only 78 pitches. To much fan consternation, Scott Servais didn’t let him go out for the 8th, but honestly I get it. It’s his second year in the pros, he was heading into the heart of the order for the third time, why ruin a perfectly fine boost of confidence?

The second-guessers were nearly proven right, though, as the bullpen immediately turned a 4-0 lead into a 4-3 nailbiter. We did manage to add an insurance run before Munoz took another crack at pitching in a Major League Baseball game, which he passed with flying colors. Because obviously a guy in a save situation is going to try harder than a guy in a tie game.

Still looking for our first series win of the season, the Mariners had a third consecutive game where a pitcher on our staff got absolutely abused. In this case, Emerson Hancock got obliterated, from the moment he stepped on the mound. We squeezed 3.1 innings out of him, but he gave up 8 runs on 11 hits, with 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts. Caught a lot of the plate, was WAY too fastball-heavy early in the game, and his breaking pitches stunk (hence the over-reliance on the heater). Tayler Saucedo ate up 2.2 innings of shutout ball, but otherwise this was the SECOND time Josh Rojas has had to come in to pitch in a blowout, for those keeping track at home. 10 games, two Josh Rojas pitching appearances. That’s how our season is going.

It’s just so fucking demoralizing to follow this team. Every time you want to believe, they slap you with a big, fat dose of reality: the Same Ol’ Mariners are always gonna Same Ol’ Mariners. The hitting is always going to stink. Crappy defense is a new wrinkle, but at the same time not totally unprecedented. Recall back to the “glory days” of Jackie Z, when he kept bringing in the Mark Trumbos and Jesus Monteros of the world. Sacrifice a little defense in the hopes that the offense will more than make up for it. Except, SURPRISE, in Seattle that offense doesn’t play, and now you get crap defense to boot!

What I’m struggling with the most has to be the pitching. And you can’t even blame bullpen injuries for this. We’re two turns through the rotation; every starter has had one good game and one crap game, except for Luis Castillo – ostensibly our ace – who has TWO crap games (more on him in a few days, after I write about his latest fucking debacle). That kind of inconsistency isn’t going to cut it. Not with the way the hitting is going to forever struggle, and not with the way the defense is going to give teams extra outs.

We’re 23rd in ERA. We have 3 Quality Starts in 10 games. We’re middle of the road in WHIP. We’re tied for the 4th-most home runs given up (7 of the 10 games played in Seattle!), and we have the 8th-highest opponent batting average. And these are just the run of the mill dummy stats; I’m sure analytics aren’t looking at the Mariners too kindly either.

But, you know, that’s Mariners baseball. It’s a shit sandwich, all the fucking time, forever.

The Mariners Just Blew Their Season Once Again At The Hands Of The Astros

This Mariners season is swirling down a flushed toilet bowl like so many mushy turds enveloped in wadded up toilet paper and a soupçon of piss. What was once a massive fucking disappointment – and ever-so-briefly a crowning achievement – has returned to being what is this franchise’s destiny: The Same Ol’ Mariners.

With our season in our hands, we lost game one against the Astros 5-1. It wasn’t even as close as the score indicates. Justin Verlander – who we’ve had SOME success against a time or two – went out there and almost threw a complete game shutout. To combat that, we had our own ace, Luis Castillo, who was pretty fucking terrible when we needed him the most (6 innings, 5 runs).

With our backs against the wall, we won game two against the Astros 6-2. It was everything this team has been lacking all fucking month. George Kirby went 6 shutout innings. We jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the third, added on three more in the fifth, and got some timely insurance in the eighth thanks to a Ty France home run. Raise your hand if you can remember the previous time he hit a homer, because I sure as shit forgot!

But, this series was a microcosm of some VERY questionable decision-making by Scott Servais. First, he pulled Kirby at 84 pitches, even though we had a 5-0 lead. That’s back-to-back-to-back starts with his pitch count in the 80’s after the big stink with him complaining about going over 100 (and then immediately walking it back). Is this giving the baby his bottle? Or, was he legitimately tiring after 80? Servais put in Topa, and yanked him after three batters when it was obvious he didn’t have it (smart). But, then he proceeded to throw Brash out there for 2 innings, and roll with Munoz in the ninth even though it wasn’t a save situation. Odd.

What’s even worse has been his lineup construction lately. The Mariners don’t have an ideal roster of hitters, but Servais seems to be committed to this lefty/righty thing, and also going quickly to pinch hitters in the middle innings as soon as a different-handed reliever is brought in. This series showed us a perfect example of how this can go terribly.

Tuesday probably featured our ideal lineup: J.P., Julio, Cal, Teo, Kelenic, Suarez, Ford (DH), France, and Rojas. We scored 6 runs, won a game, let’s go.

Wednesday featured a lefty by Houston, which meant this: J.P., Julio, Suarez, Teo, Moore, France, Cal, Haggerty, Caballero. We scored 3 runs, lost a game, fuck me.

I would’ve told you this team has no business playing Haggerty or Caballero ever again. I would’ve told you batting Ty France higher than 8th is a fool’s errand. I even would’ve told you that Dylan Moore was as cold as he’s ever been this month. I might have been wrong about Moore – since he hit two blistering balls in his first two at-bats – but what does Servais do? He pulls Moore for Kelenic after those two at-bats, even though there were plenty of other alternative people for Kelenic to pinch hit for (and even though Kelenic hasn’t done much more than walk and hit singles since his return from the IL). It’s goofy! I’ve always liked Servais and thought he made smart decisions; or, at least, decisions you could defend. But, I can’t defend this. Before, he always seemed to get the best out of his players. Now, he’s like an uncoordinated child tossed into the deep end of a pool, flailing as he tries to stay afloat.

Of course, what does it matter when Bryce Miller can’t get beyond the fourth inning, having given up a 4-spot on two massive homers. We got it to 4-3 in the bottom half of that inning, but they tacked on four more runs to make it an 8-3 final. Julio struck out four times, was taunted with homophobic slurs by their relief pitcher, causing the benches to empty. That’s about as exciting as this game got. Showing no heart or backbone whatsoever, the Mariners did nothing with that bit of fuel for the fire.

Now, we’re 4 games behind Texas with 4 games to go (against Texas). We can’t win the division, unless we come up with some fakakta 3-way tie with the Astros, which would require us to beat the Rangers 4 straight times. We’ve beaten the Rangers exactly 1 time this year, so that doesn’t seem extremely likely. And, now, our wild card chances are on life support. We’re 1.5 games behind the Astros, making tonight’s game a must-win just to get it to 1 game. But, we don’t have any control over our destiny. We need the Astros to lose at least once to the Diamondbacks (spoiler alert: they won’t), or we need the Blue Jays to lose at least twice to the Yankees/Rays. And, again, that’s the bare minimum, which would also necessitate us beating the Rangers four straight times, which is something we absolutely will not do.

Shit, we probably won’t win more than 1 game this weekend. What a terrible way for a season to go. This whole year – minus a month and change – has been fucking miserable. But also REALLY fucking predictable. Coming out of a magical 2022 season, expectations sky high, OF COURSE the Mariners are going to blow it in the most agonizing way possible. They’re going to get off to a terrible start, they’re going to go on a crazy run where they win the most games in any single month in franchise history, and just when our hopes are at their peak, they’re going to throw this fucking diarrhea festival in the month of September at us to totally crush our spirits. Taking it all the way down to the very last weekend, for maximum agony, while losing to two of the most loathesome teams on the planet.

Four more days. Soak it in. It’s almost over.

The Mariners Won 1 Game Per City On Their Last Road Trip

I guess it’s lucky the Rangers have been so atrocious lately, but the Mariners are free-falling, and I don’t know if there’s anything that can be done to fix it.

We lost 2 of 3 to the awful Mets. Then, we lost 2 of 3 to the average Reds. After a 1-0 victory to open up the Rays series, we lost the next 3 games to fall to 79-64, and as of Monday morning, up by only half a game over the Rangers for the final wild card spot (lost in all this has been the fact that the Blue Jays have been on a tear, winning 8 of 10 as we lost 7 of 10 on that road trip).

And, really, we were lucky to win two of those games. So, this hasn’t been the funnest September, after a record-breaking August.

The 1-0 win was everything this team needed. Dominant Luis Castillo start (6 innings, 4 hits, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts) and lockdown bullpen work by Campbell, Brash, and Munoz.

My hopes for a bounce-back series against the Rays were dashed the very next night, with another off-kilter performance by Kirby. He gave up 2 runs in a ragged first inning where he couldn’t throw strikes, then settled down through the sixth. We had a 4-2 lead heading into the seventh, but then we tried to squeeze another inning out of Kirby (who, in spite of a tough first inning, had a reasonable pitch count and probably should’ve been able to go one more). Kirby ended up getting one out before giving up a double and a game-tying homer before being pulled, turning a quality start into a no decision. Campbell entered the game and gave up a 2-run home run of his own, before Dominic Leone gave up a solo homer in the eighth to give the game its final score of 7-4.

Kirby didn’t have pleasant words to say about being put out there for the seventh. He questioned the manager’s decision, which I’m sure a lot of fans did as well. Kirby predictably walked those words back the next morning – heat of the moment and whatnot – but I’m sure a lot of fans were mixed. There’s the younger fans – who’ve become accustomed to what baseball is in today’s age – and a segment of Anti-Servais Mariners fans, who probably sided with Kirby.

Then, there’s the old timers, and the Unwritten Rules crowd (usually comprised of ex-players like Roger Clemens, who got his ass roasted on Twitter for wading into the conversation). Someone even had the gall to compare Kirby to Erik Bedard for … reasons. They point to Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan, who would regularly throw 120-150 pitches per game, trying to go the full nine if at all possible.

I don’t like this argument. Yeah, complete games are cool. But that’s not what baseball is today. Instead, you’ve got starters regularly throwing in the high-90s, and that kind of strain isn’t conducive to throwing 110+ pitches very often, if ever (unless you’re a unicorn). Not if you want them to make it through an entire season, or multiple seasons, without arm surgeries. It’s a Get Off My Lawn stance, and I won’t hear it. Just accept that things change, and it’s never going to be the way it was when you were younger.

That being said, you have to take it in context. It’s early September. We’re in the midst of a 10 games in 10 days East Coast road trip. We don’t have an off-day until this upcoming Thursday, and after that we only have one more off-day until the end of the season. We’re also breaking in not one but TWO rookie starting pitchers, whose outings need to be carefully managed (including the occasional skipped start, as with what happened to Woo on Saturday). That means the bullpen gets taxed. We also – for better or for worse – traded our best and most-consistent reliever at the deadline, which means that taxed bullpen is that much less-effective. We brought in three veterans (Thornton, Weaver, and Leone) who look(ed) objectively terrible, we have another rookie in Campbell who is just trying his best, but is by no means a lockdown guy, and other veterans we brought in – like Saucedo, Speier, and even Topa – have shown serious cracks as this season has gone on.

To be blunt, the bullpen is over-worked, and that falls on the starters. That falls predominantly on guys like Castillo, Gilbert, and Kirby, who have experience, and should be able to go out there in the seventh inning, on 94 pitches, and take care of business for another three outs.

The home run Kirby gave up was to the #9 hitter! It’s not like we were asking him to take on the heart of the order for the fourth time through. This is a backup catcher!

I 100% see why Servais did what he did. If this was April or May, or if our starters had been rolling a little more of late – allowing our bullpen to stay fresh – Kirby would’ve handed over the ball after getting out of the sixth inning, and all would’ve been right with the world. But, it’s early September, in a pennant chase, and we desperately needed our second-best starter to squeeze another inning out of his arm. He failed. He failed with a questionable mix of pitches and locations. And, if he missed his spot, that’s on him. If he hit his spot, that’s still partially on him and partially on whoever was calling this game (either the catcher or the manager in the dugout). Maybe Servais should’ve walked him. I dunno. That’s a conversation. But, I’m not blaming Servais for his handling of the bullpen. And, I’m certainly not blaming him for his handling of Kirby. Kirby, more often than not, has had it easy. The team doesn’t ask him to over-exert himself very often. He could’ve done us this solid. And, quite frankly, he should’ve taken his loss like a professional, rather than whine about it to the press after the game.

Saturday was, *sigh*, a bullpen day. Trent Thornton got the opener role, couldn’t throw strikes in the first, and ended up going 2 innings, giving up just the one run. He gave way to Luke Weaver, who gave us the Luke Weaver Special (4.1 innings, 4 runs), and then was thankfully DFA’d by Sunday. I hope we never see him again, unless it’s on an opposing team’s pitching staff.

We, at one point, led 4-1. Then, the Weaver Experience left us trailing 5-4. We miraculously tied it in the eighth, before Saucedo lost it in the bottom of the ninth with a 2-run homer. We were 1/8 with RISP, and once again starting a backup catcher who failed to finish the game, necessitating us to overwork Cal Raleigh, as per usual this time of year.

I’m happy to say I didn’t see one iota of our 6-3 loss on Sunday, what with NFL football dominating the day. Bryce Miller stunk up the joint (5 innings, 5 runs), and I don’t even feel like talking about the rest.

Next up, we have the Angels in town. Then, it’s the Dodgers, then it’s the home stretch. One way or another, this season is almost over.

The Mariners Won An Impressive Series Over The Astros

As early as our playoff exit – a 3-game sweep against the Astros in the ALDS – I knew: just as soon as we played them again in the regular season, we’d get our revenge. Of course, “revenge” is a strong word. They knocked us out of the postseason, en route to a World Series championship; we beat them 2 out of 3 times in early May. I’m doing the math over here, but it doesn’t quite add up to the same.

Of course, if you had asked me heading into the weekend what the M’s might accomplish, I’d have my doubts that we’d take down the defending champs. Hell, if you’d asked me in the seventh inning on Saturday and I would’ve said you’re out of your mind if you think the Mariners are winning 2 of 3!

Friday’s game was just one of those annoying fucking Astros victories that looks like every other annoying fucking Astros victory over the Mariners. Luis Castillo was one out away from getting out of the third inning unscathed. But, he walked a batter with a runner on third, leading to Yordan Alvarez (biggest Mariners Killer east of the Rockies) taking an 0-1 change-up out to center field for a 3-run bomb. All told – save that one bad pitch – Castillo had a strong outing: 7 innings, 4 runs on 5 hits and that 1 walk, with 5 strikeouts. But, since it’s the Astros, that one bad pitch was a monster home run that helped cost us the game.

What made this the most like a usual Mariners/Astros game was the fact that we clawed our way back in it. Down 4-0 in the fifth, Kolten Wong hit a bases-clearing 3-run double to make it interesting. And, Geno Suarez hit a game-tying RBI single in the bottom of the eighth to make it REALLY interesting.

Then, this bullshit umpire crew decided to have their fun. Matt Brash had Kyle Tucker struck out on an OBVIOUS strike three on the outside corner of the plate. Considering Tucker’s a lefty, and most umpires tend to expand the strike zone further on lefties, it’s particularly galling that we didn’t get that call there.

You don’t even have to know anything about this particular game to know what happened next: Tucker hit a home run on the subsequent pitch to nail the victory for the Astros. No amount of Scott Servais bitching to the home plate umpire could change that.

Not for nothing, but this umpire crew SEVERELY botched a call on Saturday – saying Tom Murphy blocked the plate, even though the throw beat the runner by a good two feet, as the runner started his slide too early in trying to score – before replay review saved us. Then, on Sunday, there was a bang-bang play at first that would’ve given us another run, but of course since the idiot umpire called him out, the play “stood” upon further review (note: I didn’t say “was confirmed”). Again, most umpires call that safe; tie goes to the runner and all that. But, not this crew!

Anyway, fast forward to the eighth inning on Saturday. Marco was on the hill against a guy making his very first career start. J.P. France doesn’t throw particularly hard, doesn’t have especially amazing stuff, and got into some real serious trouble in the first inning. We could’ve very well changed the career trajectory of this guy! With one out, he gave up a single, hit a batter, and walked the bases loaded. Cal Raleigh had a 1-0 count, but ended up striking out swinging, before Teoscar Hernandez struck out looking.

France went on to pitch 5 shutout innings, giving up 3 hits and that one walk. Will that give him the confidence he needs to make it in the Major Leagues? Could we have effectively killed his confidence by making sure he didn’t escape that first inning? We’ll never know!

Anyway, this was a game I had pegged – coming in – to have a total score of OVER 9.5 runs combined (for those wagering at home). That meant, of course, that the rookie Astros starter surely put up amazing results, while Marco put up a Quality Start (6 innings, 3 runs). It was 3-0 heading into that eighth inning, when all hell broke loose.

Rafael Montero came in; the same guy who has been elite everywhere EXCEPT in a Mariners uniform. This was to be the beginning of the end of this game, as no one touches the high-leverage relievers in the Astros’ bullpen. Right on cue, Ty France grounded out and Jarred Kelenic struck out.

Then, a Suarez walk. Then, a Cal infield single that somehow dribbled past the pitcher. Then, a hard-hit infield single by Teoscar (where the short stop tried to get the runner at third, because he was running so far away from first). A J.P. Crawford bases-clearing double ended Montero’s night, with the game tied 3-3.

It didn’t stop there! Taylor Trammell pinch hit for Tom Murphy and walked. Jose Caballero – in for the injured Wong – doubled them home for a 5-3 lead. Julio singled Caballero home, then France singled, then Kelenic reached on an infield single to make it 7-3.

We brought in Paul Sewald – even though it wasn’t a save situation – and that turned out to be highly warranted. He got into a little bit of trouble, giving up a 2-run double, but managed to lock it down for a 7-5 victory.

Game 3 was a just a joy. Bryce Miller continued the hot start to his Major League career, going 6 shutout innings, giving up just 2 hits and a walk, while striking out 5. He’s now given up 1 run in 12 innings across two starts. Outstanding!

Julio slammed a solo homer in the third to kick off our scoring, Suarez ended up scoring later that inning on an error, and somehow Kelenic scored in the fifth on a play I didn’t see. Was it a wild pitch or something? No one will ever know!

Anyway, the Mariners were ice cold in the bullpen, making this a well-earned 3-1 victory.

That brought our record back to .500, with the red-hot Texas Rangers coming to town for the first time this season. Just what we need, another team in the division to consistently give us fits.

The Mariners Are Still Struggling In All Phases

I can’t think of a better time for the Mariners to suck than during the NHL playoffs. It’s all about the Kraken, baby! The Mariners can do whatever they want.

It hasn’t been the most uplifting road trip in the world. But, things picked up towards the end (coincidentally enough, against the very worst team in baseball).

After losing two games in Philly by two runs total, the M’s went to Toronto where they lost two games … by two runs total. That dropped us – at that time – to a woeful 3-9 in one-run games. Last year, we were 34-22 in these games; in 2021, we were 33-19.

What’s the culprit? Well, it’s everything. In the first game in Toronto – where we lost 3-2 – we didn’t get a great start out of our ace (Castillo went only 5 innings, giving up 2 runs), necessitating us to go to our bullpen in the sixth, where Trevor Gott gave up the go-ahead run. Then, naturally, the offense packed it in for the day, giving us nothing the rest of the way. The best thing you could say about this one was we had 2 hits apiece by Julio, Kelenic, and Cal (who also had both of our RBI). But, we had 0 hits from everyone else.

Game 2 was somehow even worse. We had a spot start by a AAA starter, Easton McGee, whose name makes him sounds like he wears a pastel sweater around his neck and belittles you for earning less than seven figures. And yet, McGee was incredible! He took soft stuff with a lot of movement and parlayed it into a no-hitter into the 7th inning. All told, he went 6.2 shutout innings, giving up 1 hit and 1 walk, while striking out 2, all on 64 pitches. Talk about efficient! If we had scored any-fucking-thing, he would’ve been well on his way to a complete game shutout!

We took a 0-0 shutout into extra innings, where Gott (again) was the hard-luck reliever. He gave up the ghost runner for his second loss in as many games, because we absolutely had no chance against their pitching. 6 hits, 2 walks, and NINETEEN STRIKEOUTS as a team on the day. Not great, Bob.

We kicked off the finale with a Grand Salami by the just-called-up Taylor Trammell in the first inning. Sounds good, right?

I should point out – before I go on – that there have been a number of moves in recent days. Easton McGee was called up from Tacoma, and Diego Castillo was sent down (with Flexen demoted back to the bullpen). Castillo passed through waivers because of the size of his contract (and the fact that he sucks) and is now pitching in AAA for us. Then, following his start, McGee went on the IL with a forearm strain; I don’t know how he did it, he hardly threw the ball at all! That led to us calling up Trammell. Rather than return Flexen to the starting role he gave up to McGee, the Mariners proceeded to call up Bryce Miller (see below) from AA, while DFA’ing Tommy La Stella (not a moment too fucking soon). All right, back to the action.

That 4-0 lead was incredibly short-lived, as Marco Gonzales just didn’t have it in this one. The lead was immediately trimmed to 4-2 in the bottom of the first. Then, it was a 5-4 deficit after the second, and an 8-4 deficit after three. I should also point out that before this game (or maybe it was the night before), there was a Team Meeting, where apparently Scott Servais gave his players a talking-to. So, to go out and lay such a fat egg after having a comfortable first inning lead was really not the ideal outcome.

But, something eventually clicked! Teoscar Hernandez hit a solo homer in the sixth. Cal Raleigh hit a 2-run bomb in the eighth. And J.P. Crawford had a game-tying single in the ninth to send this game to extras, where Cal once again hit a 2-run bomb to win it 10-8. The bullpen was obviously brilliant in this one, with Paul Sewald going two shutout innings to get the win, and Matt Brash locking it down for the first save of his career.

That brought us to Oakland, where the A’s are in a really bad spot. Coming into this series, they were 6-23. News recently broke that the organization just bought land in Vegas, which seems to indicate the team will be moving there in the coming few years. This is a bad, BAD baseball team right now, heavily into their next rebuild.

So, of course, we were shutout for the first 7 innings on Tuesday. Bryce Miller was making his first career Major League start in the softest of soft landings, and he was perfect through 16 batters. The A’s broke through for 1 run in the bottom of the sixth, but he still had a fantastic line: 6 innings, 2 hits, 1 run, 0 walks, 10 strikeouts, on 81 pitches. He’d looked a little shaky in the minors so far this year (allegedly because he was “working on some pitches” and not necessarily just letting it rip), which is why I didn’t think he’d be called up so soon. But, apparently, he’s ready to get things started.

It was going to be a shame that Miller would have to eat the hard-luck loss, but A.J. Pollock of all people pulled his ass out of the fire with a game-tying solo homer in the 8th. Jarred Kelenic followed that up a little later in the same inning with a go-ahead RBI double. More phenomenal bullpen work kept this one a 2-1 victory.

The Mariners can’t make anything easy, though, and found themselves once again shut out for the first six innings of game two. Logan Gilbert was up to the task for five of those innings, but left after six, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 6.

But, these plucky M’s went to work, getting one back in the 7th on a Jose Caballero RBI single (who has been remarkably pesky since being called up from Tacoma). It was 2-1 heading into the 9th, when A.J. Pollock was once again our game-tying hero, hitting another solo homer to push us to extras. In the 10th, Suarez broke it open with a 3-run bomb, followed by a 2-RBI single by J.P. to make it 7-2. Matt Brash got the victory, and not even Trevor Gott’s presence could take this one away from us.

And finally, the Mariners were able to complete the sweep today, beating the A’s 5-3. George Kirby continued his casual excellence with 7 innings, giving up 3 runs, and the bullpen was nails from there. Trammell homered again, walked in an RBI, and generally looks better than we’ve ever seen him (extremely minuscule sample size and all that). Also, Kolten Wong had a 2-RBI single to break a 3-3 tie; he’s slowly but surely … doing something.

All told, it was a 5-4 road trip, but again, that massive grain of salt (three of those victories came over the A’s). I just need to see the Mariners winning series against decent teams on a regular basis before I’ll get over this mediocre start. Hopefully that gets going this weekend against the Astros.

The Mariners Blew It Against The Cubs

It’s hard for me to tell if this is a Same Old Mariners situation, or if this is the final death rattle of those Same Old Mariners, where natural instincts kick in – and the M’s play like those Same Old Mariners for a very short while – before mercifully passing and morphing into a new and exciting team for a generation to come.

Either way, this all tracks for what we’ve come to expect from this organization. What was the one fear we all had? As soon as the expectations to win became REAL, the clock would strike midnight, the team would turn back into a pumpkin, and we’d be left holding the tattered rags of a once-beautiful dress, sitting in mud next to a dog and a couple of mice.

If you want to put a positive spin on it, then you’re probably expecting this team to perform up to snuff in late-May or early-June. And, if that’s the case, it’s easy to make the argument that this series would’ve been a Mariners sweep if we’d only played it then. But, it was played now, and instead of winning all three, we went 1-2.

To be fair, we probably didn’t have any business winning the first game. Luis Castillo was fine, but had one bad inning and left with the team losing 2-1 after six innings. Then again, we also had no business letting Drew Smyly dominate us through five innings (which easily would’ve been seven or eight, if his arm was stretched out enough).

I’ll tell you this much, the bottom of this lineup is REALLY starting to piss me off. The only reason A.J. Pollock was brought here in the first place is to be a right-handed platoon partner for Jarred Kelenic, who is supposed to mash left-handed pitching! He has exactly one good game under his belt so far, but otherwise Scott Servais can’t wait to get him out of any game he starts. In this one, as soon as Smyly left, all the usual left-handed bats were inserted into the lineup to try to kickstart some offense. Wong in for Haggerty (Wong hasn’t been any great shakes at all, but had a couple of singles in this one), Cal in for Tom Murphy (who has a whopping one hit on the season), and most importantly, Kelenic in for Pollock.

We have all these platoon opportunities, but they’re all shit. We have this deep bench of rotating DH candidates, but it’s almost exclusively WASTED on them, rather than giving other guys rest days from the field. What the hell are we doing here?! Why is Cooper Hummel a DH? What kind of a sick joke is that, perpetuated by the team who employed the greatest designated hitter of all time?!

If this was the only year we were trotting out baseball’s worst DH, I might let it go. But, we’ve been ABYSMAL at filling that spot ever since Edgar retired, and it’s a God damned embarrassment.

What’s decidedly NOT embarrassing is the way Kelenic is playing. He yanked a solo homer in the top of the 9th to tie it at 2-2, leading me to wonder if things were going to turn around here. Instead, Matt Brash came in to pitch the 10th (after we failed to score our own ghost runner), botched a pick-off move, and allowed the game-winning RBI single to blow another one.

Still waiting for that dominating relief pitcher we were all promised.

The game on Tuesday got off to a fabulous start, with the Mariners jumping out to a 7-0 lead and chasing their starter in the second inning. Unfortunately, this was Chris Flexen’s turn in the rotation, and it wasn’t exactly his best performance. He got chased in the bottom of the third (giving up 8 runs in 2.1 innings) and the rout was on from there. How a game that featured the M’s being up by 7 runs at one point, turned into a rout for the OTHER team, is something that only the Mariners could achieve. 14-9 defeat, I shit you not.

Diego Castillo looks officially broken, which is great. Perfect timing with Brash’s struggles and Munoz being on the IL. We got some mop-up relief from Jose Rodriguez (3 innings, 3 runs), who was just called up before this game and promptly sent back down afterward. Tough luck, but at least he gets a mention in my blog.

At least the offense came to play. On a normal day, 9 runs is plenty, so that’s not nothing. France, Suarez, Cal, and J.P. all had good games. But, Kelenic gets a special shout-out for hitting a homer in back-to-back games (more on him in a bit).

We salvaged one in the Wednesday finale, 5-2. Logan Gilbert was dominant (6.2 innings, 1 run, 4 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, on 94 pitches), the bullpen did its job (Justin Topa looks like he’s maybe a breakout reclamation project we didn’t see coming), and the offense both jumped out to an early lead and played add-on late in the game.

Julio, France, and Suarez all did well, Teoscar hit his third homer of the year, and not to be out-done, Kelenic hit his third homer in three games. This one a whopping 482-foot shot to the upper deck in center field, which is the longest Mariners home run in the Statcast era, and the longest regular season home run at Wrigley Field in the Statcast era. Just a fucking BLAST!

That leaves Kelenic hitting .351/.415/.703. This is everything we ever imagined he’d be and then some! Of course, it’s a 2-week sample. But, I would argue he’s never had a 2-week sample at the Major League level like this. Hell, he might not have had a 2-week sample like this EVER. Also, this is at the beginning of the season, not at the very end when nothing matters. Up to this point, it’s been about his minor league success and his hot stretches in September (hoping they’d carry over into the next season). But, now he looks confident, his swing is on point, the power is shining through, and he looks like the best player on this team.

On a team that, mind you, has Julio Rodriguez.

Whether that holds for the rest of the season is anybody’s guess. But, this adjustment he’s made (or series of adjustments) looks legit. This looks like it’s set to stick. And if that’s the case, the rest of the league better watch out!

There’s a lot of talk on Twitter among fans saying they’ll take this Kelenic hot start over the Mariners having a hot start; I think that’s a pointless conversation.

What I’m more interested in is how long the Mariners stick to their plan to both platoon Kelenic, while keeping him in the bottom third of the lineup.

I don’t have a major issue keeping him where he is in the lineup; there’s still obvious run-producing opportunities down at the bottom, and his hotness will help turn the lineup over to Julio at the top again. But, my patience with Pollock and La Stella and Hummel and all these other scrubs is wearing thin. I’m about two weeks away from abandoning the platoon, and taking my chances with Kelenic against left-handed pitchers. Maybe he gets a day off every two weeks or something, if there’s a particularly nasty southpaw. But, otherwise, I’d rather have the young stud over the fucking washout nobodies.

Who knew we’d miss Carlos Santana so much?

The 2023 Mariners Look Awesome As Fuck!

There’s a way this all goes FUBAR. Any number of injuries to key players – Julio, Cal, Castillo, Gilbert, Kirby, Munoz, Sewald, Teoscar, Ty – and let’s face it, the Mariners are in a world of hurt. Of course, you can say that about any contending team and be right; the season from hell can strike at anytime, when you least suspect it. I’m not sitting here saying the Mariners are so good they can withstand a tsunami of IL stints; no team’s that good.

But, assuming the Mariners have just the average amount of injuries, just the average amount of underperforming players, just the average amount of good and/or bad luck, we’re talking about a team that’s good enough to go all the way. I’m not saying they will. But, they’re one of a handful of teams who can. And that’s not something we’ve been able to say for over two decades.

So, what makes a legitimate championship contender?

I think you need a true #1 ace starting pitcher. Which isn’t something the Mariners had in the Pat Gillick years (which is why I think those teams ultimately failed). Luis Castillo – regardless of how well he kicks off this season – is a true #1 ace starting pitcher.

Behind him, you’ve got a former Cy Young Award winner, and two other starters who are entirely capable of joining him. There’s an argument to be made that Castillo isn’t even the best starter on the team. The aforementioned Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray has some awesome stuff, and is a bulldog strikeout guy, but I’m not even talking about him. Logan Gilbert is absolutely gnarly out there on the mound, often dominating his opponents; and I’m not talking about him either! George Kirby could be the very best of all of them one day, and he’s just getting going in his Major League career. That’s four legitimate ace-type pitchers in this rotation, with a guy in Marco Gonzales who will eat innings and keep you in ballgames more often than not. What more can you want from a rotation?

What else do you need? Well, an elite bullpen, of course. That’s something those Randy Johnson teams in the mid-90s always lacked (which is definitely why all those teams ultimately failed). Ace starting pitchers are very important, but they don’t do you much good if you don’t have the ‘pen there preventing comebacks. And even though there’s every chance this bullpen could fall apart by sheer randomness, I don’t believe for one second that it’ll actually happen. If there’s any part of this team where the Mariners are truly deep, it’s in the bullpen. Not to mention, their scouting department and coaching staff have seemingly found the secret sauce to keep this train chugging along forever.

What else? It sure helps when you have a superstar in your lineup. A true, bona fide MVP candidate. That’s Julio. He not only leads with his bat, and his glove, and his baserunning, but he leads with his demeanor and personality and the confidence he instills in those around him. When you know you’ve got Julio in your lineup, the makeup of the entire team changes. More importantly, when the opposing pitcher knows there’s a Julio coming up, it can make all the difference in how they take on those other guys. A healthy, dominant Julio lifts all boats.

You also need additional pop in your lineup. Winning baseball teams have to score runs, and extra-base hits are still the best way to do so, regardless of the rules changes. Teoscar and Eugenio and Ty and Cal all give you that in spades.

The Mariners don’t have the most fearsome lineup in baseball, but they have just enough. Combined with the pitching – which should be Top 5 in all of baseball – that’s a combo that can take us into the playoffs no problem. It’s also a combo that can do some real damage once we get there.

What’s the final piece to the puzzle? Management. Coaching. Scott Servais and company. He absolutely doesn’t get the credit he deserves, at least from a national perspective. For some reason, even a segment of the Mariners fanbase likes to shit all over him, but I don’t get it. He’s amazing! He’s the best manager we’ve had since Sweet Lou, and his winning percentage backs that up. What’s more, if he does what Lou never could – gets us to a World Series – then I don’t think there’s any doubt about it: Scott Servais – if all goes according to plan – will go down as the best manager in Seattle Mariners history.

Sure, Servais is still 300-some-odd wins behind, but Lou had the advantage of walking into a situation that already had three Hall of Famers on the roster! Griffey, Edgar, and Randy were already locked and loaded; who couldn’t win 800+ games with three future Hall of Famers?!

Regardless, the key to a great manager is the culture he builds. Both have/had winning cultures, though Servais is much more a man of this particular time. He – much more often than not – pulls the right levers when it comes to bullpen and lineup decisions. In a lot of ways, that has to do with trusting those around him. He has the right group of assistant coaches, and he listens to the analytics team who provides him the information necessary to make him look smart day-in and day-out. He isn’t some old timer coaching with his gut. And that shows up just about every year he’s been in charge. The Mariners, in his tenure, have often outperformed projections and the talent they had on the roster. That’s quality management to a T. He’s a major asset to this team’s ability to win baseball games, and one day he’s going to lead us to a championship.

I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about a new Mariners season. Usually, I’m just hoping they can entertain us until football season, while dreading the inevitable (that we’ll be out of it by June). Not this year. Fuck the other sports; it’s time to go all in on the Mariners.

What’s funny is that I don’t think the 2023 Mariners will be the best team we see over the next decade. I think we’ll manage to get even better, very soon. But, I also have this weird feeling that instead of everything breaking bad, it’s all going to break in our favor. Houston will be the team that struggles with injuries. Houston will be the team that loses an inordinate amount of games to the eventual division winner (Seattle). The Mariners, meanwhile, will enjoy a second consecutive season of unprecedented health in the starting rotation. The Mariners will continue to be among the league leaders in 1-run games, and we’ll continue to win at an insanely improbable rate.

I’ve got the Mariners at 98-64, four games ahead of Houston for the division.

I’ve got the Mariners cruising to the ALCS.

I’ve got the Mariners winning in 7 games.

And, yeah, I’ve got the Mariners against the Padres in the World Series, where we’ll do to them what we weren’t able to do in the regular season: we’ll sweep them in four games.

Even if I’m wrong and this isn’t our year, don’t worry, because that time is coming. The Mariners will win a championship before the calendar flips to 2030. What’s crazy to think about is the very legitimate possibility that we might, in fact, win multiple titles by then.

And if we don’t? Well, print this out and tape it to your fridge, because apparently my words have the power to jinx teams to an unfathomable degree.

What Impact Did Robinson Cano Have On The Seattle Mariners?

Did you know that 2023 is the final year of the 10-year, $240 million contract that Robinson Cano signed with the Mariners in December of 2013? Furthermore, did you know that we’re still on the hook for another $3.75 million, even though he hasn’t played for us since 2018? I mean, it’s a far cry from the $20.25 million the Mets have to cough up for someone who likely won’t even crack a Major League roster this year, but that’s neither here nor there.

As you can read here right after it was announced, I was doing somersaults and backflips trying to talk myself into the Mariners turning around the ship. Check out the weirdly prescient crack about Cano’s bat being legally pronounced dead in 2021 (when he was actually suspended the entire year for steroids). But, I still contend that if they’d listened to me – spending money on the proper complementary veterans, and trading Taijuan Walker for David Price – maybe the 2014 Mariners would’ve broken the playoff drought.

For the TL;DR crowd, in short we were all excited the Mariners were finally spending money on a bigtime free agent, while at the same time understanding that there was no way Cano would be worth $24 million per season at the tail end of the contract.

Robbie Cano is an interesting figure in Seattle sports history. I don’t see him as someone who was particularly well-liked by fans, but he’s also not someone who’s loathed. He made the majority of his money in Seattle, but he’ll forever be associated with the New York Yankees (where he had the bulk of his success). That being said, it’s not like he dropped off the face of the earth when he came here. His numbers – while not quite as elite as they were in the Bronx – were still relatively on par with his prior production (especially when you consider he had to battle our marine layer in half his games). Predictably, his five years in Seattle were his best years of this deal; it wasn’t until after he went back to New York (this time with the Mets) where he fell off.

In that respect, Cano’s tenure here is kind of miraculous! We got the absolute best we could’ve possibly hoped for out of him (including his 2016 season where he hit a career-high 39 homers), then we got out from under his deal with a relatively low penalty (Edwin Diaz and just under $14 million in total, thanks to the 2020 COVID-shortened season, and his 2021 suspension), while still holding onto the lottery ticket that is Jarred Kelenic (who could be a valuable starter/platoon outfielder as early as this season). Granted, Cano was never able to lead us back to the playoffs, but I’m hard pressed to blame any one guy for that result (maybe Jack Zduriencik).

So, what’s Cano’s legacy here? I think that’s complicated. We got to see a Hall of Fame-calibre talent play every day for five years … but he probably cheated his way out of Hall of Fame contention thanks to his multiple steroid suspensions. You can choose to appreciate him for his abilities on the field, but at the same time it’s hard to ignore the behind-the-scenes rumors of him not trying hard, not getting along with segments of the team, and generally projecting an annoyingly laissez-faire attitude that may or may not have rubbed off on the younger players around him. It’s hard to build a culture of accountability when you’ve got such a significant presence undermining you at every turn. But, a lot of that stuff is conjecture; none of us can speak with any certainty to how he was as a teammate.

The bottom line is: the Mariners never won with Robinson Cano. Not enough to make the playoffs anyway. There were a couple years where we contended into September, but nothing really worth getting worked up about. His legacy ultimately boils down to being on the last Mariners teams before this current rebuild (which started the year after he was traded away), that ultimately led to our being a Wild Card team in 2022. And you can’t really even attribute THAT to getting rid of him, because none of the players we received in that package did anything to get us there (unless you count Justin Dunn, who we eventually flipped with other prospects in a separate deal to the Reds, netting us Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker; but that’s kinda grasping at straws).

My lasting memory of Robinson Cano in a Mariners uniform is one of half measures. We would eventually go on to sign Nelson Cruz, but not until the 2015 season, where they both played together in the lineup side-by-side for four years. But, Cruz VASTLY outshined Cano as far as contract value – decidedly earning the entirety of his money – while also allowing us to get out from under him a year too early (rather than a year too late). There’s nothing but positive vibes coming from our collective memories of Cruz. Other than that, though, the Mariners never quite spent enough or did enough to get over the hump. That era of Mariners baseball was good-not-great, and ultimately led to the decision to blow the whole thing up and start over from scratch.

It’s been much more hopeful ever since. Under Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners have drafted better, developed better, and forged a unified front with the field management. We’re no longer churning through managers every two years; Scott Servais has set the tone and the players have responded. At all levels, you can feel the difference. It’s a whole new culture with the Mariners’ organization. In that respect, Cano represents the last death knell of the previous culture. The losing culture. The bloated, ineffectual, rudderless culture. Hopefully lost to the sands of time, never to be thought of again.