Posts Tagged ‘felix hernandez’


WARNING: Epic Video Game Rant Alert

November 21, 2018

I just finished playing the 2018 MLB season as the Mariners in MLB The Show. Like… all 162 games. I played every single one of them.

Not only that, but I updated the rosters of every MLB team every single day. If someone went on the DL, I took them off the MLB roster. If some random reliever for the Padres got called up in real life, he got called up in my game. I did every single transaction for every single team every single day (unless the player wasn’t in my game, which was rare).

I also used the exact same lineup and starting pitcher that the Mariners used for every single game… up until the last week of September. My team was in contention and the real Mariners fell off.. so they started putting out some janky lineups and started Roenis Elias in the second to last game – a must win for me. I had to veer off course because I needed to win every game possible.

It came down to the wire. It was between the Mariners and the Angels for the second Wild Card and both teams were within 2 games of each other for the last month of the season, but in the last week, we matched each other win for win and loss for loss and entered Game 162 tied at 86 wins.

I had Paxton on deck to start, but I decided to start Erasmo Ramirez instead and save Pax for the WCG. If Erasmo ran into early trouble, I had the option of bringing Paxton in later.

Healy hit an RBI double in the second and then Cruz hit a 3-run homer to give me an early 4-0 lead by the 4th.

Erasmo went 5.2 innings, giving up two hits, one walk, and no runs while striking out 7 before giving up a double, a walk, and another double to get chased in the 6th and it was a 4-2 game heading into the 7th.

Seager hit a 440 foot blast high up and off the right field foul pole to make it 5-2.

Colome struck out the first two batters in the 8th, but then he walked a guy and gave up a hit, so I brought in Diaz for a 4-out save, even though he had pitched in back-to-back games. He promptly gives up three runs. I can’t even remember the last time he gave up a run. He had been utterly dominant. He gets the last out and we go to the 8th tied at 5.

Meanwhile, the Angels-As score has been on the ticker this whole time and they are tied at 6 late in the game.

Healy gets his third hit of the game in the 8th and Zunino comes up in the middle of an 0-3 with 3 K performance. So I pinch run Maybin for Healy and pinch hit Vogelbach against a RHP and he hits a long fly to deep right center that looks like a pop up, but Maybin is running around the bases like it’s not going to be caught and it gets over the fence! 7-5!

Diaz strikes out the side in the 9th to secure the win.

And the Angels lose.

Awesome. I’m in the WCG against the Red Sox and I get to pitch James Paxton in that game.

But wait… my roster has been cut back to 25. They have Paxton in AAA. No worries… I’ll just make some changes…

Nope. I’m told that I can’t call him up to my MLB roster because a player has to be on the MLB roster or the Disabled List on September 1st to qualify for the postseason.

In real life, Paxton was on the DL on September 1st… but I had turned injuries off in my game and instead of using the DL, I just moved players to the minors when they got hurt in real life.

I can’t use Marco Gonzales either. Unreal.

162 games played with an absurd amount of time doing all the transactions and this is my reward.

On the bright side, Chris Sale was also on the DL on September 1st and he’s not on the Red Sox roster for the WCG. I’m facing David Price instead.

And it’s all up to Felix Hernandez.


MLB Awards – through the first third of the 2015 season

June 10, 2015

Note: I compiled this post over the past two days, so some stats don’t reflect yesterday’s action.

American League MVP

1. Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays: .310/.367/.582, 47 R, 16 HR, 43 RBI, 3 SB, 3.6 WAR
2. Nelson Cruz, Mariners: .329/.384/.613, 33 R, 18 HR, 39 RBI, SB, 2.0 WAR
3. Prince Fielder, Rangers: .356/.414/.547, 27 R, 10 HR, 40 RBI, 1.6 WAR
4. Jason Kipnis, Indians: .338/.414/.518, 41 R, 5 HR, 27 RBI, 8 SB, 3.7 WAR
5. Mike Trout, Angels: .283/.373/.561, 42 R, 16 HR, 33 RBI, 8 SB, 3.2 WAR
6. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: .320/.427/.558, 31 R, 12 HR, 38 RBI, SB, 2.3 WAR
7. Stephen Vogt, Athletics: .290/.385/.544, 27 R, 11 HR, 39 RBI, 2.2 WAR
8. Brian Dozier, Twins: .268/.344/.527, 47 R, 11 HR, 28 RBI, 3 SB, 2.3 WAR
9. Adam Jones, Orioles: .311/.348/.509, 30 R, 9 HR, 30 RBI, 3 SB, 2.2 WAR
10. Eric Hosmer, Royals: .306/.378/.490, 32 R, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 3 SB, 1.9 WAR

Comments: Josh Donaldson has been an absolute monster this year. I figured moving from pitcher friendly Oakland to hitter friendly Toronto would give him a boost, but he’s on pace to hit over .300 with 43 homers and 116 RBI. Pretty sick. With Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion mostly scuffling through April and May, Donaldson has carried the Jays offense to .500 record. As a Mariners fan, Nelson Cruz sure feels like the MVP right now. I can’t imagine where the M’s would be without him. 10-48? Cruz accounts for about 75% of the M’s total offense. Prince Fielder has the lowest WAR on this list (probably because he’s a negative on defense and on the bases), but that offensive line is pretty impressive and his Rangers actually have a winning record. Of course, Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera make their obligatory appearances and Trout will probably climb out of reach on this list as the season progresses. It’s worth noting the lack of any Astro on this list, but that’s largely because Jose Altuve had a pedestrian May.

National League MVP

1. Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks: .340/.466/.650, 44 R, 16 HR, 47 RBI, 9 SB, 3.1 WAR
2. Bryce Harper, Nationals: .326/.464/.706, 44 R, 19 HR, 46 RBI, 3 SB, 4.0 WAR
3. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs: .332/.409/.608, 33 R, 11 HR, 35 RBI, 10 SB, 2.9 WAR
4. Dee Gordon, Marlins: .366/.390/.433, 32 R, 16 RBI, 20 SB, 2.9 WAR
5. Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers: .329/.407/.589, 37 R, 11 HR, 39 RBI, 2.6 WAR
6. A.J Pollock, Diamondbacks: .321/.369/.495, 40 R, 7 HR, 27 RBI, 14 SB, 2.5 WAR
7. Todd Frazier, Reds: .282/.356/.587, 37 R, 16 HR, 36 RBI, 6 SB, 2.8 WAR
8. Joc Pederson, Dodgers: .253/.377/.566, 34 R, 17 HR, 33 RBI, 2 SB, 3.1 WAR
9. Matt Carpenter, Cardinals: .300/.391/.520, 38 R, 8 HR, 30 RBI, SB, 2.3 WAR
10. Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins: .240/.325/.558, 36 R, 19 HR, 49 RBI, 4 SB, 2.4 WAR

Comments: Goldschmidt and Harper feel like options 1a and 1b here. It’s so close, I can barely call it. Bryce edges Goldy in WAR, but Goldschmidt is hitting .340 while on a 30/30 pace… as a first baseman. Who does that? Oh, Anthony Rizzo also. I wonder how many people outside of Arizona that don’t have him on their fantasy team realize that A.J. Pollock is having an MVP-caliber season? Joc Pederson is having a pretty absurd rookie season for the Dodgers. I think most believed that he had 30/30 potential somewhere down the line, but he’s on a 40 homer pace in his rookie year. It’s kind of weird to consider a .240 hitter an MVP candidate, but it’s even stranger to exclude a guy that leads the MLB in homers and RBI. If Stanton can cut back on his NL-worst whiff rate and get a bit luckier on his BABIP (.275), he will vault up this list and his power numbers could get crazy.

AL Cy Young

1. Chris Archer, Rays: 7 Wins, 1.84 ERA, 11.71 K/9, 0.95 WHIP, 5.40 K:BB, 2.8 WAR
2. Sonny Gray, Athletics: 7 Wins, 1.65 ERA, 8.01 K/9, 0.91 WHIP, 3.48 K:BB, 2.3 WAR
3. Dallas Keuchel, Astros: 7 Wins, 1.85 ERA, 6.88 K/9, 0.92 WHIP, 3.05 K:BB, 2.2 WAR
4. Felix Hernandez, Mariners: 9 Wins, 2.51 ERA, 8.85 K/9, 0.96 WHIP, 3.52 K:BB, 1.4 WAR
5. Chris Sale, White Sox: 6 Wins, 3.04 ERA, 11.31 K/9, 1.01 WHIP, 5.47 K:BB, 2.3 WAR

Comments: Chris Archer has been really, really good and has only gotten better as the year has progressed. In his last three starts he’s posted strikeout totals of 11, 15, and 12. What. Chris Sale has been pretty unlucky to be #5 on this list.

NL Cy Young

1. Max Scherzer, Nationals: 6 Wins, 1.85 ERA, 10.43 K/9, 0.91 WHIP, 7.50 K:BB, 2.8 WAR
2. Gerrit Cole, Pirates: 9 Wins, 1.73 ERA, 9.92 K/9, 1.10 WHIP, 4.53 K:BB, 2.0 WAR
3. Jacob deGrom, Mets: 7 Wins, 2.42 ERA, 9.35 K/9, 1.00 WHIP, 5.06 K:BB, 2.0 WAR
4. Zack Greinke, Dodgers: 5 Wins, 1.92 ERA, 7.68 K/9, 0.95 WHIP, 4.25 K:BB, 1.7 WAR
5. Jason Hammel, Cubs: 5 Wins, 2.76 ERA, 9.12 K/9, 0.89 WHIP, 8.44 K:BB, 1.7 WAR

AL Rookie Of The Year

1. Lance McCullers, Astros: 2 Wins, 2.32 ERA, 10.45 K/9, 0.90 WHIP, 6.00 K:BB, 1.1 WAR
2. Devin Travis, Blue Jays: .271/.336/.504, 24 R, 7 HR, 26 RBI, 2 SB, 1.4 WAR
3. Carson Smith, Mariners: 1 Win, 2 Saves, 1.38 ERA, 10.04 K/9, 0.73 WHIP, 5.80 K:BB, 0.5 WAR

Comments: No real standouts in the AL yet. Devin Travis was making a pretty strong case before getting injured. McCullers has been lights out for the Astros in 5 starts. Smith probably should have been the Mariners closer a month ago.

NL Rookie Of The Year

1. Joc Pederson, Dodgers: .253/.377/.566, 34 R, 17 HR, 33 RBI, 2 SB, 3.1 WAR
2. Kris Bryant, Cubs: .282/.392/.469, 31 R, 7 HR, 34 RBI, 5 SB, 2.2 WAR
3. Chris Heston, Giants: 6 Wins, 3.77 ERA, 8.03 K/9, 1.19 WHIP, 3.67 K:BB, 1.2 WAR

Comments: This will be a fun race to monitor for the rest of the season. Pederson and Bryant are truly elite talents. Heston threw a no-hitter yesterday, but I have a feeling the opposing pitcher in that game, Noah Syndergaard, will pass him on this list by midseason.

Surprise Team

Minnesota Twins – The Astros have been incredibly surprising, but everyone knew they were going to be really good… eventually. The Twins though? I don’t think anyone saw this coming. Granted, the Twins have one of the better farm systems in MLB, but all of their premiere prospects (Buxton, Sano, etc.) are yet to arrive. Trevor May, Mike Pelfrey, and Kyle Gibson have been amazing in the rotation and the Twins have posted one of the AL’s best records despite ace Phil Hughes struggling during the first 2.5 months.

Dissapointing Team

Seattle Mariners – If you would have told me that Nelson Cruz would be hitting .320 with 18 HR and 39 RBI and that Felix Hernandez would have nine wins in early June, I would have guessed that the Mariners were about 10 games over .500. Instead, they are 6 games under. As someone that has watched the M’s closely, it’s pretty obvious what the problem is: a lack of offense in general and a lack of timely hitting specifically. We are bad at getting men on base, but when they get in scoring position we are even worse. It’s hard to blame anyone in particular, but Robinson Cano has been absolutely terrible. He’s not hitting with any authority and he just doesn’t seem like he even cares anymore. I’ve seen him get picked off twice while not paying attention and seems like his effort level never goes above 80%. It’s scary to think Mariners fans might have to watch this for seven more years.


2010 Baseball Awards

November 5, 2010

Congrats to the San Francisco Giants and their first title in over sixty years. They deserve it. Were they the best team in baseball this year? I don’t think so, but they were the hottest at the most important time and proved that they might have the deepest and most talented rotation in the game. With the World Series behind us, the 2010 MLB Award season is upon us. These aren’t exactly my predictions, just how I would vote myself:

American League MVP

1. Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers: .359-32-100, 95 runs, 8 SB, 1.044 OPS
2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers: .328-38-126, 111 runs, 1.042 OPS
3. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays: .260-54-124, 109 runs, 9 SB, .995 OPS
4. Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox: .312-39-111, 89 runs, .977 OPS
5. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees: .319-29-109, 113 runs, .915 OPS

This is a really close race between the top three candidates, which could have been an easier call if Hamilton hadn’t gotten hurt down the stretch. With Hamilton nursing his injury and Cabrera losing steam in the final month, Bautista exploded in the second half and transformed from the most surprising outbreak of the year into a legitimate MVP candidate and possibly the most entertaining player in all of baseball over the last couple months. After all the dust settled, however, I still had a clear favorite. Hamilton put up ridiculous power numbers while leading the majors in batting average and OPS, plus he’s the only member of the top three to guide his team into the post season. In a race this close, those edges are enough to break a tie.

American League Cy Young

1. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners: 13-12, 2.27 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 232 Ks, 3.31 K to BB ratio
2. Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels: 13-12, 3.01 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 233 Ks, 4.31 K:BB
3. C.C. Sabathia, New York Yankees: 21-7, 3.18 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 197 Ks, 2.66 K:BB
4. David Price, Tampa Bay Rays: 19-6, 2.72 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 188 Ks, 2.38 K:BB
5. Cliff Lee, Texas Rangers: 12-9, 3.18 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 185 Ks, 10.28 K:BB

The only thing easy about putting together my AL Cy list was deciding who deserves to win it. As baseball has progressed and evolved minds have come to understand that wins and losses are some of the least important factors when considering how dominate a pitcher has been, Felix Hernandez clearly had the best season in the American League and anyone else winning the award would be highway robbery. Not only did Felix lead AL starters in ERA, he did it while pitching more innings than anyone else in the AL and came up two strikeouts short of the leading the league in that category too. As doubtful as I’ve been about Felix actually winning the award, I’m starting to think the voters will get it right because his season was so much better than the competition. I have Weaver ranked second for similar reasons, although I have a feeling he won’t be finishing second in the voting. Sabathia and Price had similar seasons, but I give the edge to C.C. because he’s such an anchor and workhorse for his team. Cliff Lee over Justin Verlander, Jon Lester, Trevor Cahill, and Clay Buccholz might seem outrageous, but his control this season was legendarily good and deserves some kudos. Lastly, I left closers off the list because this is a starters award, just like the MVP is a position player award.

American League Rookie Of The Year

1. Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers: 2.73 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 4 Wins, 40 Saves, 3.94 K:BB
2. Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers: .293-4-41, 103 runs, 27 SB, .745 OPS
3. Wade Davis, Tampa Bay Rays: 12-10, 4.07 ERA, 113 Ks, 1.35 WHIP, 1.82 K:BB

Pretty tough call between the top two guys, but I think Feliz had the more impressive season. While Jackson had a very solid (and somewhat unexpected) rookie year, Feliz was dominant in a high-pressure role as the closer for a contender. I’m sort of bias against closers, but you gotta respect the stat line. That WHIP is ridiculous and the rookie only blew three saves all season. Wade Davis gets my third place vote over Detroit’s Brennan Boesch, whose rookie season really boils down to two good months: .340-11-38 in May and June compared with a season line of .256-14-64.

National League MVP

1. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies: .336-34-117, 111 runs, 26 SBs, .974 OPS
2. Joey Votto, Cincinatti Reds: .325-37-113, 106 runs, 16 SBs, 1.024 OPS
3. Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals: .312-42-118, 115 runs, 14 SBs, 1.010 OPS
4. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals: .312-28-103, 95 runs, 9 SBs, .922 OPS
5. Troy Tulowitski, Colorado Rockies: .315-27-95, 89 runs, 11 SBs, .949 OPS

This has to be the most exciting MVP race of my lifetime. Going in to the last six weeks of the season, CarGo, Votto, and Pujols all had legitimate chances of winning the Triple Crown, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in over forty years. Unfortunately, CarGo took off in batting average while Pujols set the pace in power down the stretch and history wasn’t made. All three of those guys will probably get first place votes, but I’m giving the edge to Gonzalez because his line is the most impressive to me: leading the NL in batting, while posting crazy power numbers, and swiping 26 bases. Tulowitski gets my fifth place vote over some lines that are arguably better, but he also put up his numbers in about 100 less at bats than everyone else, plus that run in September was legendary.

National League Cy Young

1. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies: 21-10, 2.44 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 219 Ks, 7.30 K:BB
2. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals: 20-11, 2.42 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 213 Ks, 3.80 K:BB
3. Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins: 11-6, 2.30 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 186 Ks, 3.88 K:BB
4. Roy Oswalt, Philadelphia Phillies/Houston Astros: 13-13, 2.76 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 193 Ks, 3.51 K:BB
5. Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado Rockies: 19-8, 2.88 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 214 Ks, 2.33 K:BB

It’s really a coin flip between Halladay and Wainwright: those stat lines are borderline identical and one could make a solid argument for either pitcher. While wins aren’t a crucial stat to me, they can play the role of tiebreaker and Halladay lead the majors in the category. He also displayed far superior control; however, since both starters’ WHIPs are nearly identical that also means that Halladay was far more hittable. It’s a tough call… but toss in a perfect game and a no hitter in the playoffs (which shouldn’t count, but I can’t erase the memory) and Halladay is my guy. Josh Johnson could have really been in the mix if he had pitched more innings, but staying healthy is part of winning season awards. It’s almost baffling that Jimenez didn’t notch twenty wins after having 14 by the All-Star break, but his line survived September a lot better than San Diego’s Mat Latos, who was a legitimate Cy contender until the season’s final month. Oswalt kind of came out of nowhere and had a great season that I don’t think too many people noticed. He was ridiculous for Philly down the stretch going 7-1, with a 1.74 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 73 Ks in 12 starts.

National League Rookie Of The Year

1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants: .305-18-67, 58 runs, .862 OPS
3. Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves: .277-18-71, 83 runs, 11 SBs, .849 OPS
2. Jamie Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals: 13-8, 2.70 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 132 Ks, 2.06 K:BB

Wow, what a group of rookies in the NL this year. I could probably list off at least ten NL rookies that had noteworthy seasons. I’m giving Posey top honors for several reasons though. First off, he outhit Heyward and basically matched the Braves rookie in homers and RBI despite having roughly 150 less plate appearances. While Heyward was a key part of the Braves’ run to the postseason, I’d argue that Posey carried his team. He was so crucial to the Giants’ success this year that I wouldn’t be surprised if he finished in the top 10 of the NL MVP voting… Heyward won’t. Cardinals fans would probably argue for Garcia, and while his season was impressive, the only stat that jumps out at you is his ERA. His line as a whole doesn’t really compare to what Posey did for the Giants or the numbers Heyward put up as a 20 year old. This list of notable NL rookie seasons is endless: Starlin Castro (.300, 31 2B, 10 SBs), Ike Davis (.261-19-71), Ian Desmond (.269-10-65, 17 SBs), Chris Johnson (.311-11-52), Pedro Alvarez (.256-16-64), Gaby Sanchez (.273-19-85), Mike Stanton (.259-22-59), Jose Tabata (.299, 19 SBs), Neil Walker (.296-12-66), John Axford (24 saves, 2.48 ERA, 8 wins), Madison Bumgarner (7-6, 3.00 ERA, 86 Ks, great postseason), Daniel Hudson (8-2, 2.45 ERA, 84 Ks), and, of course, The Chose One Stephen Strasburg (5-3, 2.91 ERA, 92:17 K:BB rate, and the most exciting rookie debut I can remember).


Seattle Mariners 2009 Baseball Preview

April 15, 2009

Yes… I realize that we are over a week into the major league baseball season, but I don’t think it’s too late to give a preview of what to expect from the
Seattle Mariners this season. Here’s one thing I don’t think you should expect from the M’s this season: keeping up the hot start they have going at the moment.

First, I’m going to break this team down position-by-position:

Catcher – The only people that should be happy to see Kenji Johjima behind the plate for us are his relatives and personal friends. This guy is not an asset at all. After a reasonably good debut season in 2006, his numbers dipped noticeably in 2007 and then fell off the face of the earth last year. There’s no reason to expect him to turn things around this season and the M’s would be much better off letting Jeff Clement develop in the majors, with Johjima playing the roll of veteran backup. Grade: F

First Base – Is there anything worse than Richie Sexson? Maybe…. and his name is Russell Branyan. Branyan is pretty much a Sexson clone that hasn’t ever been able to hold down a regular job in the bigs. He could be making some new fans in Seattle with his current .280-.357-.520 line, but that’s pretty fluky. Like Sexson, Branyan has legitimate pop, but will always be a black hole in the line-up because of his inability to make consistent contact. It’s quite possible that he will hit 35 home runs this year, but expect that lofty total to come with a .230ish average and 200 strikeouts. Grade: D

Second Base – Jose Lopez is probably the brightest spot in the M’s line-up outside of Ichiro Suzuki. After hitting .297 with 17 HRs, 41 2Bs, and 89 RBI in his age 24 season, it’s unlikely that we’ve seen Lopez’s ceiling as far as power is concerned. While I’d like to see more patience at the plate and a bit more speed on the base paths, I do think Jose Lopez just might be the most underrated player 25 years old or younger in the majors. Grade: A-

Shortstop – I’ll say that I’m a Yuniesky Bentancourt fan, but I don’t think he’s much better than the average major league shortstop. He’s not really an asset or a liability. I like his range defensively, but he does make a lot of errors. Offensively, he is a solid hitter from the ninth hole, but I don’t think we’re going to see too much improvement from him in the future. Grade: C

Third Base – Okay, so Adrian Beltre is not a .330 hitter with 40 homer potential… us Mariner fans have learned that much during his tenure with the team. Beltre had one of the all-time greatest fluke seasons in 2004 and is yet to top 100 RBI, 26 HR, or a .300 average as a Mariner. With that said, if you can overlook the anomaly season in 2004, Beltre has actually been one of the most consistent offensive third basemen in baseball the last four years. On top of that, Beltre plays a real solid 3-bag defensively. Also, it’s worth noting that even though Beltre is off to a slow start, this is a contract year for him and we all know how he did last time he was in this spot. Grade: B

Left Field – Endy Chavez has been nice out of the gate this season… he’s got nice speed and is a good glove in left, but his hitting leaves something to be desired. In reality, no MLB team should be too excited to have this guy as a regular starter on their team. So far, so good though. Grade: D+

Center Field – The jury is still out on Franklin Gutierrez. I’m not really sure what to expect from him, but I think he has some good upside. Again, defensively, he seems solid and our outfield as a whole should be one of the better defensive outfields in all of baseball. Offensively, it looks like Gutierrez could have 15-15 upside, but not much else. Grade: C

Right Field – Ichiro Suzuki returns to the line-up today and won’t hurt a team that is already off to a solid 6-2 start. I don’t really need to tell anyone that Ichiro is the best hitter by a long shot on this team. On top of a being a guarantee for 100 runs, a .300 average and 40 SBs, Ichiro is a gold glove caliber right fielder. Grade: A

Designated Hitter – It’s easy for us Mariner fans to get excited about the return of Ken Griffey Jr. and that’s understandable. However, it’s important to remember that The Kid is in the twilight years of his career and his glory days are long past so we all need to temper our expectations. Regardless, Jr. still has that beautiful swing and the ability to knock the ball out of the park. The M’s need to keep Griffey off the field as much as possible and ensure that he stays healthy. If he can log 140 games or so, I don’t think 30 homers and 80 RBI are out of reach for the 39 year old. No matter the case, it’s awesome seeing the best player to ever rock a Mariner uniform back on the team and we will all pay money to see him play again. Grade: C+

Bench – Mike Sweeney is in a similar position as Griffey, albeit without all the nostalgia, nor was he nearly as good as Griffey during their primes. It’s been four years since Sweeney had a relevant season and there is no reason for M’s fans to expect him to make an impact this year. Ronny Cedeno and Rob Johnson are irrelevant back-ups as well. Matt Tuiasosopo is really the only intriguing reserve after ripping up spring training, but it’s quite likely that he will be sent to Tacoma for more seasoning to make room on the roster for Ichiro. Grade – F

Starting Rotation – Erik Bedard and Felix Hernandez have crazy potential. Bedard is only a 15 months or so removed from being the best pitcher in the American League, so his hot start is not all that surprising to me. I owned him in a fantasy league in 2007 where he didn’t lose a single game for a four month stretch. The question is whether he can stay healthy or not. If so, he can be a force at the top of our rotation. It’s easy to forget that King Felix is only 22 years old this season when you overlook the fact that he’s got three full seasons under his belt and broke into the rotation as an 18 year old. As longtime M’s fans that saw the early emergences of Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez, we might have a misconception of how rare it is for an 18 year old kid to be major league ready. Considering that, Felix has as much upside as any starting pitcher in the American League and is still a few years shy of the typical breakout season age. I wouldn’t be shocked to see both Bedard and Hernandez win 15 games a piece. The back 60% of the rotation is where things start to get murky. I don’t care if Jarrod Washburn threw a no hitter in his first start, I still wouldn’t be excited about his potential this season. He’s a #5 starter (if that) in a #3’s clothing. He sucks. Carlos Silva is similar to Washburn, just much, much worse. After those two, the #5 spot is up in the air… Currently Ryan Rowland-Smith occupies the slot… and while he’s put up impressive numbers in his short career (3.48 ERA, 120 Ks in 160 IP, 2:1 K/BB ratio), anyone that is slotted behind Carlos Silva is a scary proposition. Grade: D

Bullpen – Another weak spot for the Mariners. Although I like what we got back in the J.J. Putz trade, I don’t really understand it. Honestly, I think our rotation needs Brandon Morrow more than the bullpen does and considering that was the plan heading into 2009, the Putz trade makes even less sense. Who did they expect to step up and close games if Morrow was starting? Miguel Batista? Roy Corcoran? Outside of maybe Mark Lowe and Morrow, there’s not really an arm you an trust after our starters get ousted. Grade: F

Overall – Yes, things look great for the M’s after a nice 6-2 start, but I don’t think it’s realistic to expect this trend to continue. Our offense is merely mediocre and we’re going to be hard-pressed to keep on winning these low-scoring games. After Bedard and Felix, our rotation looks miserable and our bullpen can’t really be relied upon in close games. This not the kind of make up that a first place team usually has. If you take a look around baseball, you’ll also find the Baltimore Orioles, San Diego Padres, and Kansas City Royals holding down first place, respectively, in their divisions. All of those teams are projected last place squads. So yeah, the M’s are looking good right now, but it’s only a matter of time before the back end of the rotation implodes and this team shows it’s true colors. I would consider this season a success if we win 80 games. Grade: C-

MVP – Ichiro Suzuki
Ace – Felix Hernandez
Speed Demon – Ichiro Suzuki
X-Factor – Erik Bedard
Closer At Year’s End – Brandon Morrow