Posts Tagged ‘seattle mariners’

h1

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.

h1

Are the Seattle Mariners the worst MLB franchise of all time?

May 25, 2017

Someone just messaged me suggesting the Mariners are the worst baseball franchise of all time. Curious, I decided to look into it. For simplicity, I ignored all defunct franchises, but franchises that continued on in different cities or with different names are included. Here are the facts:

-Only four teams have a worse win percentage than the Mariners (.469): Rockies (.468), Marlins (.468), Padres (.462), Rays (.462).

-Of those four teams, all of them have been to the World Series. The Marlins have won it twice. The Mariners have never played for the title.

-The only other current franchise with no World Series appearance is the Washington Nationals and they are currently on a run that rivals the only run the Mariners ever had from 1995 to 2001. The Nats have made the playoffs multiple times in recent years and are title contenders in 2017. The Nats also have a win percentage of .486.

-Only the Rays (2), Marlins (0), and Rockies (0) have less division titles than the Mariners (3), but all three of those teams have been around for 15-20 less years and have already been to the World Series. The Rockies also have a chance to crack that goose egg this year.

-Only the Rockies (3) and the Marlins (2) have been to the playoffs less times than the Mariners (4), but they’ve been around for half the time and have both been to the World Series.

-The Brewers have won as many division titles (3) and have been to the playoffs as many times (4) as the Ms, but they also have a higher win percentage (.477) and have been to one World Series. With about a decade on the Mariners, Seattle has some time to establish itself as the better franchise, but as of this writing, the Brewers are in first place in the NL Central.

-The Padres have been around as long as the Brewers and have managed two more division titles (5) than the Mariners and one more playoff appearance (5) and while they have a worse all time win percentage, they have been to the World Series twice.

-The Mariners didn’t reach the playoffs until their 19th season. The Padres reached the postseason and the World Series in their 16th year. The Nationals, then known as the Montreal Expos, made their first playoff appearance in year #13 and then they tortured their fan base with a 31 year drought before their current run of good fortune. The Brewers also made the playoffs in their 13th year and then the World Series in their 14th. Rays fans only had to wait 11 years to make the playoffs and immediately got a World Series appearance. The Rockies made the playoffs in their third year and reached the World Series in year 15.

-The Mariners have sandwiched a solid seven season run from 1995 to 2001 in between postseason droughts of 19 seasons and 15 seasons (and counting) – currently the longest playoff drought in all four major sports.

So are the Mariners the worst baseball franchise in MLB? You tell me.

h1

2017 Spring Training Trip

March 30, 2017

This past weekend my wife and I crossed off another Bucket List item by making a trip down to Arizona for some MLB Spring Training action. I have to say it was a pretty surprising development. Last month I went to Vegas for some WSOPc events and when I landed in Nevada, I received an email confirmation for a flight to Arizona – something we had literally never talked about doing this year. And then as the time of our trip grew nearer, we started to wonder if Arizona was a place we might actually want to live some day, so we were really excited about checking the area out.

Obviously the main focus of our trip was to check out the Mariners complex in Peoria and take in a couple games. It was amazing! Everything is so relaxed and accessible that it all has more of a minor league vibe to it. If you arrive early enough, parking right next to Peoria Stadium is free (and even if you arrive after the parking attendants, it’s still only $5) and the practice fields open at 9 A.M. Unfortunately, the MLB squad didn’t come out of the M’s clubhouse until past 11, so we were just kind of standing around doing nothing for two hours. When they did come out, it was pretty cool. A number of players would come right up to the fence and sign autographs and Mike Zunino was catching pitches from a machine right in front of us, carrying on casual conversation with the onlookers – although I must note while he replied to all the stupid things people were saying to him, I could tell he would rather everyone just shut up. Arguably my favorite current M already, Kyle Seager is now #1 without a doubt. While Zunino seemed like he would rather do without the fan interaction, Seager’s social skills were incredible. Not only did he sign plenty of autographs and take pictures, but he was funny and genuine, making fun of a little girl wearing Blue Jays gear and telling me he didn’t want to ruin my 40th Anniversary Sports Illustrated cover by signing it. Leonys Martin was also great with the fans. He signed more autographs than anyone, took a crazy amount of pictures, and did it all with a huge smile on his face. You can tell he truly loves what he does, including all the obligations that come with being a major league baseball player. I also got to witness some interesting banter between newcomers Jarrod Dyson and Danny Valencia. Fans were speculating how many steals Dyson would get this year and Valencia asked him “you gonna steal 100 bags?” and Dyson snapped back “you gonna hit 100 homeruns?”

As far as the actual games went, it was a great experience. I always like to get good seats, so we were right next to the Mariners dugout for both games and the view was fantastic. When the Mariners played the Rangers, Felix Hernandez was trolling his WBC Venezuela teammates Rougned Odor and Robinson Chirinos for the entire first half of the game before taking his leave and getting a cup of water in the face courtesy of Odor. The Mariners beat the Rangers 3-1 on Saturday and then lost to the lowly Padres 2-12 on Monday.

Some notes from the games:

-Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz were both entirely absent this weekend, staying in their rooms with the flu.

-Dillon Overton has pitched well this spring and is a surprising member of the current MLB camp.

-Taylor Motter hit two homers this weekend and seems to have locked up the Mariners utility spot.

-Yovani Gallardo got blasted by the Padres to the tune of 9 hits, 7 ER, 2 BB, 3 HR, and only 2 Ks in 4.1 innings. He carries a 9.24 ERA this spring and while spring stats should always been taken with a grain of salt, this is a spot on our roster we should be worried about. There’s always a chance Gallardo will thrive in the pitcher-friendly confines of Safeco Field, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him either released or optioned to Tacoma before the All-Star break.

-There was a great moment in the Mariners-Padres game where someone hit a routine grounder to short with a runner on 1st and the second baseman blatantly dropped the throw from the shortstop and the umpire ruled the runner out, claiming that the miscue occurred during the transfer. It did not. Without question, the fielder never had control of the ball. At this point in time, the Padres were winning 7-0 and the sun was burning a hole into my neck, so the call seemed whatever to me, but the Mariners fans, including the KIRO 710 ESPN radio guys that were sitting two rows in front of us, gave the ump hell for the rest of the inning. I told my wife that ump would have a conversation with the third base ump after the inning, but he took it one step further and came right over to our section of the crowd and asked everybody if they wanted a “free lesson” on the rules. Just as he was about to “school” us, Leonys Martin stopped by, tapped him on the shoulder, and pointed to the M’s dugout, where manager Scott Servais was standing on the top step, with a big smile on his face, summoning the ump over with his finger.

-I have faith in Jean Segura, but you have to wonder about the make up of a guy that strikes out for the second time in a Cactus League game and slams his bat on the ground, splintering it.

-It’s pretty hilarious watching all the fans try to get autographs from players when they have no clue who they are. Some random, light-skinned minor league player came to sign and the entire section called him “Segura” the whole time. I tried to inform them that it wasn’t Jean Segura, but my claim was promptly denied by a number of fans and I honestly don’t even know what to say in a situation like that. I watched everyone refer to Tyler Smith as “Valencia” as he signed a number of autographs and finally after the 100th time he finally said “Danny’s twice my size.” Also, every dark-skinned player that walked by was “Heredia” and after being wrong about five times, it really was him! All of this, plus a plethora of incorrect “facts” stated by random fans all around me during both games I attended really made me wonder about something: part of me was dying to provide everyone with the correct information and another part of me was realizing how douchey that actually is. So I learned to just shut up and treat it like all the crazy things I hear people say at the poker table.

-I ended up getting four autographs on my Mariners 40th Anniversary SI cover: Kyle Seager, Danny Valencia, Leonys Martin, and Hisashi Iwakuma. I could have gotten many more, but I realize that I’m in my mid-30s and leaning over kids to get signatures from random guys that are younger me is kind of weird and stupid, so I don’t push it. This passivity has cost me autographs from Mike Trout (I eventually got him though), Max Scherzer, Jose Altuve, and Felix Hernandez over the years. On the other hand, I think baseball will always bring out the 12 year old in me and I don’t think that’s something to be ashamed of.

Moving on from baseball, the rest of our Arizona experience was great as well. We loved the scenery and while 80 degrees felt like 95 to us and I still got burned even with two coats of sun block on, I think that’s something we can get used to. It’s certainly more palatable than the constant rain and cold weather that we experience in the Marchs and Aprils of Seattle. Also, the highways were mostly free of traffic, with the exception of Monday morning and even that wasn’t too bad. We ate at a couple of really good restaurants and enjoyed playing poker at Talking Stick Resort. Even on a Sunday night, the room had 37 poker games going, so the game selection was immense. The 20/40 game was pretty good, although not amazing, but Sunday night isn’t exactly one of my target playing times, so I’m curious how the action is during prime time hours. The 2+2 locals pretty much universally insist the 20 game is great, so I’m inclined to believe them.

All in all, we are still on board with relocating to Arizona in five years or so. While I love Washington and being close to family, the Arizona vibe is more appealing to us and its location relevant to my favorite poker stops (L.A., Las Vegas, Denver) is incredibly ideal.

h1

Cliff Lee: What Are You Worth?

June 20, 2010

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Cliff Lee was supposed to be the biggest reason why the Seattle Mariners were being projected to reach the World Series by multiple publications and had many local residents feeling a sense of optimism we haven’t felt since Ichiro’s rookie season. Somehow, despite having one of the best 1-2 punches at the top of their rotation in all of baseball, the Mariners find themselves 27-41, 13 games back in the AL West, and holding the 6th worst record in baseball, which is actually an improvement: last week they were 3rd worst. The Mariners have reeled off three straight wins, but I think fans have to accept the fact that the offense is going to continually let them down game after game and we’re never going to put together a big enough run to make us seem like contenders again this season. With that said, Cliff Lee will get traded. The only question now is when it will happen and what the Mariners can expect in return.

Here are a few possible scenarios:

The Seattle Mariners trade Cliff Lee to the Philadelphia Phillies for Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, and J.C. Ramirez.

Uh, yeah. This is the exact same trade we made to get Cliff Lee, but the Phillies are going to be in a position to want another ace to complement Roy Halladay, plus the Phils know exactly what Lee is capable of down the stretch… why not just call a Mulligan? While I don’t expect the Mariners would ask for these exact players, I don’t think it would be a shock for Philadelphia to come knocking.

The Seattle Mariners trade Cliff Lee to the Tampa Bay Rays for Carl Crawford.

No. It’s not as far-fetched as you think it is. Sure, Crawford is an elite player and the Rays are in the thick of a heated AL East race, but the speedy leftfielder is in the last year of his contract and the Rays have a ready replacement in Desmond Jennings (.274, 16 SBs) at AAA. Personally, I’d love this trade if the M’s could sign Crawford to a contract (unlikely) after the season. Also, the Rays don’t exactly need starting pitching; they have one of the best staffs in the majors and stud Jeremy Hellickson (8-2, 2.42 ERA, 84:20 K:BB ratio) hasn’t even cracked the big league rotation.

The Seattle Mariners trade a couple solid prospects to the San Diego Padres for Adrian Gonzalez.

Whoops! Well, this is the trade that should have happened. Unfortunately, not only are the Mariners tanking, but the Padres improbably find themselves atop the NL West. Gonzalez, another contract year player, would have filled a gaping hole at first base and provided the Mariners with the power hitter they’ve desperately been craving this year. Obviously, the Mariners aren’t going to be involved here, but it will be interesting to see how the Friars handle the Gonzalez situation as the trade deadline approaches.

The Seattle Mariners trade Cliff Lee to the Cincinnati Reds for Homer Bailey and a couple other prospects.

Honestly, this trade wouldn’t surprise me at all. The Reds are surprising contenders and Lee would be a huge bolster to their rotation and post-season chances. Bailey has been borderline terrible so far in his early career for the Reds, which makes him a perfect candidate for the Mariners to steal him away. He’s been bad enough that the Reds might be ready to give up on him, but he’s also a ripe 24 years old and has shown enough flashes of brilliance that the M’s would be happy to take him. Hopefully Bailey’s value has dropped enough that the M’s can ask for another solid building block to come along with him. I really like how Bailey would fit in at Safeco and if we can sneak another piece or two in with him, I like the possibility of this trade.

The Seattle Mariners trade Ichiro Suzuki, Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, and an AL West Banner to the Washington Nationals for Stephen Strasburg.

How sick is it that the Nats would probably REJECT this trade? It seems unreasonable since the Nats would undoubtedly be better after this trade, but Strasburg is honestly that good. The phenom has posted a 1.86 ERA with 32 Ks in 19.1 IP. It’s even arguable that his 32:5 strikeout to walk ratio is fluky. The mound in Cleveland during his second start was slippery and he issued five free passes. At home, Strasburg has struck out 24 and walked ZERO. The kid is unreal and there probably isn’t an offer that any team could come up with that would make the Nats give him up.

The Seattle Mariners trade Cliff Lee to the New York Mets for Ike Davis and Jenrry Mejia.

This might be wishful thinking as Davis and Mejia have a lot of value. However, if the Mets are trying to win this year, Cliff Lee might be worth the price tag. Davis isn’t exactly a phenom, but he’d be very useful to the M’s. The rookie has hit a respectful .261 and 8 homers for the Mets so far this year and doesn’t have such a high ceiling that the Mets wouldn’t move him. Mejia isn’t a franchise player either, but would have a solid future in the Mariners rotation for years to come. The Mets get better and the M’s get better. It’d be a win-win situation.

These are just some of the possible suitors (and some obvious jokes too) for Lee. Pretty much every other team in the AL West would be happy to nab Lee, but I can’t really see the M’s dealing him to a division rival, no matter how out of the race they are. Not to mention most of the players the M’s would like in return from the Rangers, specifically, are already impact players on the big league club. The Twins are another possibility, but no one really excites me in their system and hopefully the M’s would feel the same way. The San Francisco Giants have a lot of quality young players, but like the Rangers, most of those guys are already a big reason the Giants are contending right now. As it stands, I’d prefer to see Lee get dealt to either the Reds or the Mets for deals similar to the ones I fantasized about. What do you think?

h1

Mariners MidSeason Report

July 7, 2009

Jarrod Washburn has been one of many suprising performers on the Mariners staff this season.  He tossed a one hitter on Monday against the Baltimore Orioles.

Okay, so the Mariners are in third place, winning over half their games, and only 3.5 games back in the AL West division. I would have bet money against that happening when I wrote this post.

Team Outlook at the midpoint:

Catcher: Kenji Johjima has a whopping .660 OPS (on-base % + slugging %), a number many NL pitchers can probably top. Unbelievably, Rob Johnson and Jamie Burke have been even worse. Whatever the Mariners are doing to keep winning games, it almost certainly has nothing to do with the offense at catcher. With Jeff Clement sitting on an .853 OPS at AAA Tacoma, I can’t really make sense of the situation. I know he has struggled offensively in the majors so far, but he must be the worst defensive catcher in the world if Seattle doesn’t think he’s an upgrade over our current rotation. Grade: F (Previous Grade: F)

First Base: Russell Branyan has been a beast. I railed him in my post back in early April and he’s making me look pretty stupid right now. With 21 homers and an on-base percentage of .390, he’s looked more like Adam Dunn than Richie Sexson this season. I knew Branyan had this kind of pop and, as expected, he’s striking out a ton, but the fact that he’s managed a .294 average through 82 games is remarkable. Over 2200+ at bats in his career Branyan has been a .238 hitter, so I’d have to guess his average will take a pretty significant hit before the year is over. As it stands though, Branyan has set career highs in almost every important offensive category and has been a huge asset to the Mariners in the first half of the season. He has a ridiculous .986 OPS and has outscored Ichiro to lead the Mariners in runs. Grade: B+ (Previous Grade: D)

Second Base: Hitting .229 with 5 HR at the start of June, Jose Lopez was looking like a huge bust. Lopez had a big June however, batting .329 with 5 HR and 20 RBI for the month. Despite his poor start, he’s still on pace to set a career high in homers and RBI. Lopez could use some patience at the plate, but I still think he’s a rising star and hopefully we can see him build on the momentum he created last month. Grade: B- (Previous Grade: A-)

Shortstop: I said earlier this season that Yuniesky Bentancourt is neither an asset nor a liability, but that was assuming the M’s weren’t going to contend. His defense has been average and his offense has been subpar. Bentancourt is just a place-holder for future stud Carlos Triunfel (now in AA), but unfortunately, the M’s are in a pennant race and they could use an upgrade now. Grade: D (Previous Grade: C)

Third Base: Adrian Beltre has had a pretty bad first half. Not only is he killing the Mariners with his putrid offense, but he’s also diminishing his trade value if the M’s decide to shop him at the trading deadline. It’s possible the M’s will hold onto him since they are actually competing and Beltre is a solid defender. Since it’s unlikely at this point that we would get anything worthwhile in return, I think the Mariners are better off just holding onto Beltre and hoping he can put a decent second half together for the stretch run. Grade: C (Previous Grade: B)

Left Field: Endy Chavez was serviceable before he got hurt. A .273 average and 9 stolen bases are respectable numbers. Wladimir Balentien, a former top prospect, has been filling in for Chavez and still can’t hit major league pitching. Ryan Langerhans has looked solid in his brief Mariner stint, knocking four extra base hits in just 16 at bats so far. With Chavez on the 60-day DL, left field has become a black hole for the M’s, so let’s hope Langerhans can put together a couple of fluky months. Grade: F (Previous Grade: D+)

Center Field: Franklin Guitterez has been yet another solid, but unspectacular piece of the Mariner’s winning puzzle. A .293 average and .354 OBP are decent numbers and he has shown nice range and a quality glove in center. His eight homers rank 4th on the team, so he’s shown moderate pop so far. Grade: B- (Previous Grade: C)

Right Field: Ichiro Suzuki remains the best hitter on the team and his bat has been sizzling, scorching opposing pitchers to the tune of a .391 average over 238 at bats in May and June combined. The fact that Ichiro bats leadoff and sports a .360 average for the season, yet isn’t even on pace to score 100 runs says a lot about the Mariner offense; it’s not that good. The pitching staff has been great so far this season, but if Ichiro doesn’t score 100 runs this season, I’d be surprised if the M’s are still in it come September. Grade: A (Previous Grade: A)

DH: Ken Griffey Jr. is done as an every day major leaguer. He’s not even a reasonable platoon guy at this point, hitting a puny .203 vs right-handed pitchers this year. There is still some pop left in his bat, but 26 RBI and a .402 slugging percentage from your regular cleanup hitter are some pretty ugly numbers. For whatever reason, even though The Kid can’t hit anymore, opposing pitchers still seem scared to throw him strikes, and his 39 walks have kept him from being completely worthless. Griffey has declined sharply the past two seasons and the biggest contribution he’s making to the Mariners at this point is taking place in the ticket booth. Perhaps he has been our good luck charm. I love Griffey to death and idolized him growing up as a Mariner fan, but I don’t think he’s helping this team in 2009. If the M’s don’t want to use Jeff Clement at catcher, he should at least be stealing at bats from Griffey in the second half. Grade: D- (Previous Grade: C+)

Bench: The Mariners are not a deep team offensively. Mike Sweeney, Ronny Cedeno, Rob Johnson, Josh Wilson and Chris Woodward would all struggle to find major league jobs in any other organization and that’s not a good sign when three of your starting position players are on the disabled list. How much did the M’s really need to pony up to keep Willie Bloomquist in a uniform? His .284 average, 15 stolen bases, and defensive versatility would be invaluable to Seattle right now. This group is honestly a brutal bunch and the offense would be anemic enough without all the injuries. Grade: F (Previous Grade: F)

Offense: Ichiro and Branyan have been the only consistently productive hitters. Lopez came on strong last month and the offense as a whole plated Ichiro 19 times in June, which is a step in the right direction. The fact that the Mariners are above .500 despite ranking 2nd to last in the majors in runs scored is incredible. I know the pitching staff has been amazing, but I still don’t really get it. It seems like there is a different hero behind every win. I do think that the Mariners are going to need to upgrade offensively if they have any plans of staying in this thing. Chris Woodward isn’t going to make Adrian Beltre expendable, so unless the M’s tank in July, I don’t see that trade happening. Jeff Clement absolutely needs to be in the majors… he’s proven all he’s going to prove at AAA and I honestly can’t see him doing worse than Griffey or our current catchers. If we do make a trade, I think we have to shop for a shortstop and Jack Wilson or Cristian Guzman would be logical, cheap upgrades. Grade: D

Starting Rotation: Felix Hernandez is well on his way to celebrating his breaking out party. King Felix has been the Mariners best pitcher for a few seasons now, but hadn’t really put together a full season of ace-worthy numbers. It looks like he might be putting it all together this year and is set to demolish his career bests in ERA, innings pitched, and strikeouts. He’s probably not going to have his first 20 win season, but has put together a first half that would have him in the Cy Young picture if he can duplicate it over the rest of the season. Erik Bedard has pretty much done what we expected: pitch well and miss a number of starts. If he could just stay healthy, he could create one of the best pitching duos in the majors with Felix. I said I wouldn’t get excited about Jarrod Washburn even if he threw a no-hitter… Well, he tossed a one-hitter yesterday and allowed no other base runners. Needless to say, I’m impressed. Washburn hasn’t been dominating; opponents are hitting .282 against him, which is somehow a career low for the lefty. Opponents have posted a super low .224 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) against him, so it’s likely Washburn is going to regress in the second half. However, the improved outfield defense has certainly helped Washburn, an extreme fly ball pitcher that also benefits from a spacious home park. With Washburn performing above expectations and Brandow Morrow now easing into the #4 spot, the rotation is looking pretty solid right now, especially with Jason Vargas posting above average numbers for a fifth starter and Garrett Olson acting as an effective spot starter. All in all, the rotation has been rock solid so far this year and has potential to improve once Morrow starts getting deeper into games. It’s unlikely that Carlos Silva will have a job in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list and that’s a good thing for this team. Grade: B+ (Previous Grade: D)

Bullpen: David Aardsma has been quite the revelation in the closer role posting an absurd 1.41 ERA, holding opponents to a .165 average while converting 17 of 18 save opportunities and striking out 48 batters in 38.1 IP. I’m not sure anyone could have predicted that happening, but he’s sure answered one of the biggest questions the Mariners had when the season opened. Aardsma has combined with Mark Lowe, Sean White, and Miguel Batista to post a 2.78 ERA over 158.2 combined innings with 121 Ks between the quartet. These guys have made the Mariners extremely tough to be beat in a close game after the 6th inning. Batista also has the ability to go multiple innings and spare the rest of the bullpen when the games aren’t close. Shawn Kelley has been dominant in the first 11 innings of his major league career. Also, whether Vargas or Olson, one of those two should provide quality long relief. I don’t care much for the names of our bullpen corps, but you can’t really argue with the results. These guys have been stellar this season and have turned what I expected to be the biggest weakness on the team into its strength. Grade: A (Previous Grade: F)

Pitching Staff: I’m not sure how it happened and I doubt anyone suspected it was possible, but the Mariners have the best staff in the majors right now. They barely edge out the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best ERA in all of baseball. You can certainly credit the M’s pitchers and the defense behind them for this unexpected start to the season. Even though they have proven themselves over the first half of the season, I can’t really say I’m entirely sold on our bullpen. I think Aardsma is in a groove and doesn’t look to implode any time soon, but Batista is definitely someone that can blow up at any given moment. Our rotation is solid though and our staff as a whole will keep us competitive over the rest of the season if our offense can pick it up. Grade: A

Overall: Our rotation has been solid and has the potential to improve and the bullpen has been phenomenal so far this year, but I think our offense is going to need to turn it up a notch for the stretch. An upgrade at SS and moving Jeff Clement into the starting lineup seem like the right moves to me. If Lopez can maintain his June pace and Beltre can start hitting, the Mariners just might keep this thing going into September. I think we have the staff to do it, but our offense is looking suspect and I think we are missing a couple crucial pieces. Grade: B- (Previous Grade: C-)

h1

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