Top 11: Reasons The 2012 Mariners Are Worse Than Your First Sexual Experience (aka, Your Mariners Midseason Failure Analysis)
The 2012 Mariners have been an abomination. They are Paris Hilton acting, combined with Lindsay Lohan singing, mixed with Gilbert Gottfried speaking, blended together with any of the Real Housewives screaming (“You’re supposed to be my friend, Tamra!” Well, you’re a crazy bitch, Vicki.).
Think of the worst things you’ve ever been a part of, then make them more boring than they were at the time. Like, your first sexual experience, for example. That was horrendous, was it not? Trust me, it was. You may not want to believe it was…but I guarantee you, it was bad. Which isn’t to say that you haven’t corrected yourself in the bedroom as time has passed. Frankly, it’s not easy to take what you’ve learned in health class and put it to good use. A two-dimensional vagina looks nothing like a three-dimensional vagina. They don’t tell you that, though. You have to figure that out on your own. On the fly. As a kid.
Anyway, I digress.
My point here is that if you took your frighteningly awful first sexual experience and made it boring on top of what it already was, you’d have the 2012 Mariners. The M’s are the awkward clumsiness of teenage body parts clashing together as one, the requisite forced “I love yous” that follow, the feeling of regret, the saline of tears, and that fear of “OhmygoddidIgetherpregnant?!” – yeah, that fear is real – topped off with all the pizzazz of the Vanilla Sky plot. I hope that sounds as horrible to you as it does to me. Personally, I found “awkward clumsiness of teenage body parts clashing together as one” to be the most horrible line.
Let’s call this midseason report card what it really is: a failure analysis. Not only that, but let’s list out 11 of the reasons the team is failing. We can do this. It’s on par with belting a Hector Noesi 0-and-2 fastball right over the outfield wall. So much easier than it may seem.
11. Steve Delabar is not a Major League pitcher, yet has been tasked with pitching in Major League Baseball.
Not that it’s particularly fair to single out an average middle reliever, but let’s face facts here: the Mariners are the proud parents of a 16-year-old son, Steve, who they have naively handed a brand new BMW. Steve, in turn, has promptly rewarded his ‘rents for their stupidity by wrapping said BMW around a pole. This is essentially the relationship between the M’s and Delabar, who has been entrusted to throw in 29 of the team’s first 87 games this year.
Delabar is a great Triple-A pitcher. He throws fast. An upper-90s heater is nothing to mess with. But in the bigs, fast just doesn’t cut it. The man tosses a four-seam fastball that sits flatter than Renee Zellweger. Big league hitters are paid to unload on flat fastballs no matter how rapidly they may be approaching home plate. And if you look at Delabar’s numbers, the data reveals just how detrimental his Zellweger-ball has been to the club.
In his 29 appearances, Delabar has managed to piece together a .174 Batting Average Against, to go with a neat little 0.92 WHIP. He’s also struck out 41 hitters. Not bad by any means. But then you look at his ERA. And everything falls apart. Not unlike Tom Cruise in the aforementioned Vanilla Sky.
Despite his miniscule BAA, WHIP, and all those Ks he’s collected, Delabar owns a robust 4.45 ERA. Egads. When you dig a little deeper, you find that of the 29 hits he’s relinquished this year, 10 have gone for extra bases (that’s 35-percent, for you math majors out there), and eight (eight!!!) have gone into the stands for home runs. And get this: while Delabar has only been credited with 15 runs allowed, he’s let 17 men score on home runs alone! So not only is he hurting his own earned-run average, he’s directly impacting the respective ERAs of his teammates due to all those inherited baserunners.
Delabar should have been demoted long ago — and in fact he was, in June, before resurfacing with the Mariners in July — yet continues to languish in the big show. Is it time to send him down for good? Probably. Will the M’s do it? Unlikely.
10. Franklin Gutierrez and Mike Carp are fragile.
Okay, maybe not fragile, per se. But injured nonetheless. Though if anyone can think of a better adjective for Guti, I’d like to hear it. Fra-gee-lay. It’s Italian.
Both Gutierrez and Carp were being counted on to comprise two-thirds of the team’s outfield, while playing substantial roles for the 2012 M’s. Instead, both began the year on the disabled list…and both remain on the disabled list currently. For those of you keeping score at home, allow me to clarify that that’s two DL stints apiece. Each player made his not-so-triumphant return to action, only to see his season hit another roadblock with a second physical malady. Such is the life of a professional athlete.
By the time both players return (again) to the playing field, it will be far too late to salvage an all-but-lost season. But alas, there’s always next year…
9. Brandon League is crap.
Let me just go on record as saying I’ve always despised Brandon League. Even when he was moderately successful a year ago, it was tough to like the guy. I’ve chronicled my displeasure for his lack of testicular fortitude many times on these pages, so there’s really no need to elaborate. Let’s just say that he and I don’t see eye to eye where mental toughness is concerned.
With that said, you won’t find too many Brandon League fans anywhere these days. League has been absolutely abysmal, blowing six saves in 15 opportunities and standing idly by as he was given Rick Vaughn’s Major League II role of pitching in garbage-time situations. In less-tenuous moments, League has been slightly more tolerable than he was as a late-inning implosion-waiting-to-happen. Still, though, how valuable is a relief pitcher that can’t pitch when a win hangs in the balance?
According to the rest of Major League Baseball, that value is not perceived to be very high. Which is unfortunate. Because the Mariners would like to trade League, and yet there aren’t many suitors for his not-so-desirable skill set.
A year ago, the story was much different. League was a top-notch closer who was flat-out getting the job done. The franchise could have flipped the hard-throwing right-hander for a bounty of prospects. Instead, they held onto their asset in hopes of God-knows-what. And twelve months later, here we sit with a fistful of Enron stock.
Perhaps that’s the greatest tragedy in the entire Brandon League saga. The Mariners didn’t have to be burdened by League’s presence. They chose to be. They had the opportunity to sell their investment at its peak value, and they politely declined. That is such a Marinery Mariner thing to do.
8. Hector Noesi needs to learn how to pitch.
Somewhere around age 13 or 14, I learned that as a pitcher, when you get ahead in a count 0-2, you should never throw the ensuing pitch anywhere near the middle of the plate. Hector Noesi, apparently, did not learn what I learned.
In reality, it’s fairly common knowledge to most baseball players that 0-2 pitches are best served away from the strike zone. As a hitter you learn to expect a “waste pitch” 0-2, yet you still remain extremely defensive and vigilant with a lone strike standing between you and bitter disappointment (leading to an increased likelihood of you, the hitter, putting the ball in play if it is remotely close to the zone). As a pitcher, you want to deliver a ball that’s near-unhittable, while potentially baiting your bat-swinging foil into chasing a pitch outside his coverage area. It’s a tactic familiar to most, but foreign to a guy like Noesi.
Noesi is one of those pitchers who scouts would say has great “stuff.” What is “stuff,” exactly? Basically, “stuff” amounts to a pitcher’s ability to combine a lively fastball with a decent supplementary repertoire. “Stuff,” as it turns out, often equates to talent. Which is to say that Hector Noesi is quite talented. At least in his physical ability to manipulate a baseball.
Where Noesi is not quite as talented comes in his ability to either a) learn, b) remember, or c) execute. He either hasn’t learned to hurl 0-2 pitches away from the batter’s preferred locale, doesn’t remember he needs to do that, or simply can’t execute such a simple task.
To better assist him in learning, remembering, or executing, the M’s recently demoted Noesi to Triple-A Tacoma. The fact that the 25-year-old native of the Dominican Republic managed to last in the team’s starting rotation through June can either be attributed to Noesi’s vast array of “stuff,” or more likely, a testament to the team’s perennial suckitude.
Either way, had Noesi remained a big leaguer for the duration of the year, he would have been hard-pressed to avoid Jamie Moyer’s single-season team record of 44 home runs allowed. With 20 souvenirs deposited into the seats at the hands of the righty, Noesi was in danger of setting all kinds of marks in longball futility.
But wait, there’s more.
Getting back to that point about 0-2 counts, it should be noted that one-fifth of all the homers Noesi has allowed have come when he was ahead 0-and-2. Twenty-percent wouldn’t seem like such a drastic number, until you figure that home runs on 0-2 counts almost never happen. Seriously. Google “home runs allowed on 0-2 counts.” The first search result that appears? An article on Hector Noesi. I kid you not. He is that synonymous with this statistical anomaly.
Let’s hope that somewhere down the line Noesi figures it out. When it comes to being a big league starter, he has a little work to do. At the very least, though, he’s got the right “stuff.”
Yes, that was a very dumb New Kids on the Block reference. You’re welcome.
7. The offensive exploits of Brendan Ryan and Justin Smoak are sadly disappointing.
Brendan Ryan hasnever hit, so this comes as no surprise. Were he to fall haphazardly from a canoe, there’s no guarantee he’d hit water. That’s how bad of a hitter he is. So bad that I’m resorting to cliches to describe him.
Justin Smoak, on the other hand, was supposed to be a hitter. He was once an über-prospect with a potential All-Star bat on his shoulder. Instead, he’s been nothing short of a complete disappointment during his near-two-year stint in Seattle.
Though no hitter in the Mariners’ lineup is particularly adept at putting bat on ball, Smoak and Ryan have been dismally bad in their offensive efforts this season. While Ryan’s defensive prowess warrants playing him most days, one has to wonder how long any team can continue trotting out a sub-.200 hitter, no matter how fancy his glovework may be.
With Smoak, the failure is more evident. From each side of the plate, the switch-hitting first baseman displays a long, loopy uppercut that isn’t conducive to line drive balls in play. Sure, it may be easy to send Smoak to Triple-A to work on his approach, but why not put hitting coach Chris Chambliss to work and fix the physical nature of an all-but-broken swing? That’s what hitting coaches are paid to do, is it not?
By contrast, there is nothing that will conquer Ryan’s demons in the batter’s box. He’s not a big league hitter. Thankfully for him, though, he’s an above-average big league defender. Essentially, he’s the white Rey Ordoñez.
Should two of the M’s regulars continue to hover around the Mendoza Line all season long, it’s no wonder this team will find itself in the cellar yet again.
6. Jesus Montero is slower than…
He is the ultimate liability on the basepaths. Honestly, I have never seen a slower 22-year-old that wasn’t morbidly obese. This guy would get lapped at a retirement home. They should give him a Rascal scooter to ride around the diamond. You have to wonder if his legs are okay, or if he was once stricken by polio. I’m guessing he may qualify for the Special Olympics. It takes him an hour to run 30 minutes on a treadmill. If he got caught on second base during a rain delay, he’d drown. His 40 time is measured by a sundial. Vultures circle his home run trot.
Okay. You get the picture. Jesus is slllllloooooowwwww.
5. Why is Chone Figgins still here?
Chone Figgins may in fact be the luckiest man on the planet. He is making $9 million to be an ineffective super-sub. He really should be playing in someone’s farm system, if not a slow-pitch softball league somewhere. He is the most reviled sports figure Seattle has ever had the privilege of hosting. And yet he continues to fester on the Mariners’ bench like a gangrenous rash on the bedridden underside of a man so disgustingly fat he must be removed via forklift from his decrepit home.
There are so many things wrong with Figgins’ mere presence that I barely know where to start.
Why, for one, did this organization ever think they could resurrect this tiny little flea’s career by batting him leadoff? What on earth has Figgins done in the past few years to warrant a move atop the lineup? And did anyone not see the impending backfire? It was bound to happen. This is Chone Flippin’ Figgins! He’s terrible!
Two, where did this team get off trying to tell us that Figgins, and not Kyle Seager, would be our third baseman to start the year? Seager has emerged as one of 2012′s pleasant surprises — and he wasn’t even supposed to be a starter! His time in the lineup is due in part to a slew of outfield injuries, as well as Figgins’ own impotence. Were it not for extraneous factors, we wouldn’t have even known what Seager was capable of this season.
Three, when Miguel Olivo returned from the disabled list, why did the team not seize the opportunity to release Figgins? Why, instead, did they send their current best-hitter-du-jour, Casper Wells, to Triple-A? Wells did not need to go to Triple-A. He simply went because someone found some reason to keep Figgins on the roster.
Not only has Figgins been a bust himself, his staying power has impacted or was destined to impact the development of others, such as Seager and Wells. With each passing day that Figgins remains a Mariner, he’s taking chances away from a younger player who could benefit from service time at the big league level. There’s no longer any excuse for keeping him around. Cut Figgins. It should have been done months ago. This is getting ridiculous.
4. Miguel Olivo is toast.
Miguel Olivo seems like a pretty decent guy. He tries hard, he hustles, he’s scrappy, and in interviews he appears to be quite pleasant. As a baseball player, however, Olivo is probably not cut out to play at the major league level any longer. And that’s the unfortunate reality of this situation.
Olivo is just 33 years of age, but he may be the most ancient 33-year-old on the earth’s surface. Maybe it’s just me, but the guy seems to move around with all the spryness of an older Jesus Montero. He’s also balding to a severe degree, and on top of that is a grandfather. Really. He’s a 33-year-old grandpa.
When Olivo isn’t putting children on his knee, rocking himself to sleep in a La-Z-Boy, or drinking Metamucil, he’s batting an anorexic .201 and letting roughly every other pitch find its way between his loins. Olivo is not so much a backstop as he is a gatewayto the backstop. He has a problem catching. Which is quite the dilemma, since his job title calls for him to, you know, catch.
Perhaps if Olivo was some sort of defensive saint like the apostle Brendan Ryan, the Mariners could find excuses for keeping him in the lineup each day. Alas, his defense is just as vomit-inducing as his Ryan-esque batting average. So why does he retain duties as the team’s primary catcher? That’s a great effing question that no one seems to have the answer to.
I like Olivo as a person. I’d like it even more if we could bid him adieu and wish him well as he rode off into the sunset. Presumably in an Oldsmobile.
3. The decision to replace Dustin Ackley as leadoff hitter is the SINGLE WORST DECISION the organization has made this year.
Yes. It really is. And I don’t have much else to say. Why you would demote a guy doing a great job for one performing below-average is beyond my comprehension level.
The Mariners have stunted Ackley’s growth by replacing him atop the batting order with Ichiro. Ichiro won’t (or at least, shouldn’t) be on this team next year. Ackley has the talent and ability to be the face of this franchise within the next five years.You interrupted his development to fulfill the selfish needs of a 38-year-old outfielder who has no future with your team.
This is just unbelievable.
The Mariners, more often than not, exhibit the dumbest Goddamn behavior. Serenity now…
2. This team can’t hit at home.
Blame the fences. Blame the marine layer. Blame the batter’s eye in center field. Blame whatever you like.
The fences don’t need to be moved in. The weather doesn’t need to be controlled. The roof doesn’t need to be closed. The backdrop doesn’t need to be altered.
The players. The players need to get better. And that’s just the fact of the matter. Better players equal better results. And these players are not good enough. Period.
1. Trusting Jack Zduriencik is becoming increasingly more difficult to do.
This is Year Four of the Jack Zduriencik era. In three-and-a-half seasons, the Mariners have posted a 249-324 record (.435 winning percentage) with Zduriencik at the helm. They are on pace to lose between 90 and 100 games yet again this season. The farm system is coming along, but so far hasn’t produced much of note for the big league club. In Jack We Trust, as a result, is starting to lose its luster.
The disclaimer here is that Zduriencik may or may not be handcuffed by his bosses, the notorious duo of team president Chuck Armstrong and CEO Howard Lincoln. Armstrong and Lincoln have cast a shadow over this franchise for years, and to think that they have no impact on the current state of the team would be incredibly naive. Their roles have been discussed ad nauseam, both on this website and in other forums, so no need to digress. The fact is, when evaluating someone like Jack Zduriencik, one must carefully consider the impact of the men responsible for overseeing the entire operation. Fair or unfair, however, it’s time we placed some blame at the general manager’s doorstep.
When Zduriencik came aboard in 2009, the cupboard, as the saying goes, was bare. The farm system was depleted. The talent on the big league roster was minimal. The present was disappointing. The future was bleak.
What Jack Z. was tasked with at the time was rebuilding an entire organization, top to bottom. There’s nothing easy about that. He adequately got the job done in certain areas, pulling off a signature deal by offloading J.J. Putz, Sean Green, Jeremy Reed, and Luis Valbuena in exchange for Franklin Gutierrez, Mike Carp, Jason Vargas, and a couple minor leaguers.
While Putz has reemerged in Arizona as a closer, he is nowhere near the pitcher he was when he was in Seattle. Green and Reed have essentially become irrelevant, and though Valbuena reached the bigs with Cleveland, his impact has been minimal.
Gutierrez, Carp, and Vargas have all played significant roles with the Mariners since their arrival. Though none of the trio has really approached stardom, no one can argue that all three have been relatively solid and met, if not exceeded, expectations.
The Putz deal, as it will forever be known, has become Zduriencik’s hallmark for the past three-plus years. When supporters of the Z movement want to call out the man’s penchant for unearthing talent, they point to this deal as the one that stands above the rest.
There have been other deals that have seemingly worked in the Mariners’ favor during Zduriencik’s tenure. The trade of Doug Fister and David Pauley (who the Mariners re-signed to a minor league deal on July 12th) to Detroit for Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Chance Ruffin, and Francisco Martinez. The heist of Cliff Lee from Philadelphia in exchange for three seemingly irrelevant prospects. The swap of Michael Pineda and Jose Campos for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi.
But there have been a handful of duds, as well.
Sending pitcher Brandon Morrow to Toronto for Brandon League and minor league outfielder Johermyn Chavez has had its up and downs; Morrow’s development as a Blue Jay, though, would indicate the Canucks got the better end of the deal.
Pawning Cliff Lee off on Texas for Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, and Josh Lueke hasn’t worked out nearly as planned. Smoak, as we all know, hasn’t developed the way anyone thought he would. Beavan appears to be, at most, an okay back-of-the-rotation starter. And Lueke, though his stay was brief, might be the biggest surprise of the deal thus far, as he netted the team catcher John Jaso in a subsequent trade this past offseason.
Signing Chone Figgins to a multi-year contract has certainly been a bust. Dealing Carlos Silva and cash for Milton Bradley was a complete disaster. A real sadist might bring up the fact that the M’s let 2012 All-Stars Bryan LaHair and R.A. Dickey go before they really developed. And then there are the moves that weren’t made.
The biggest failures of the Zduriencik era, in my mind, are those transactions that never occurred. This organization has a knack for holding onto players after their peak value has elapsed. League, as mentioned above, is one of those players. The same could be said for Erik Bedard and David Aardsma, two additional pitchers who the M’s relinquished for pennies on the dollar. The lack of foresight to perceive a player’s decline has been an obstacle the Mariners’ front office must overcome.
Additionally, there appears to be a certain aversion to risk among the Zduriencik regime. The players the team tends to acquire are those who many onlookers would say are “safe.” They possess low risk, and in turn offer a lower reward. They are not flashy. They are not potential superstars. They’re simply destined to become adequate major leaguers, at best, that get the job done on a day-to-day basis.
Perhaps the three most recent examples of this can be found in the team’s high first round draft picks: Dustin Ackley in 2009, Danny Hultzen in 2011, and Mike Zunino in 2012. Though the jury is still out on all three of these guys, it’s been deemed by the speculative gallery that none possesses quite the same sizzle as other players in their respective draft classes. Ackley and Hultzen were taken with the second overall picks in their drafts; Zunino was selected third overall. If any of these players fails to provide either a) measurable impact with the Mariners or b) an equitable return on the trade market, you can expect Zduriencik and Co. to lose their jobs sooner rather than later. With such an emphasis on the farm system during the Zduriencik era, such lofty draft picks must produce — and produce at a high level — for the current management group to be successful.
I want to believe in Jack Zduriencik. I want to trust the movement. But what have Jack and his cohorts given us to be happy about since 2009? There isn’t much, and with another 90-plus-loss season on the horizon, time, unfortunately, is running out for the organization.
Filed under: Mariners, Top 11
On June 2nd, 1990, my dad took me to a baseball game. I was five years old and we were going to see the Mariners take on the visiting Detroit Tigers in the Kingdome. Even at that age I went to so many ballgames that this particular day was no different than many others. But somewhere, amongst my collection of baseball-related things, I still possess a ticket stub from that contest. It’s unusually glossy, with a vibrant yellow trim, and weaves the Mariners’ alternate logo — a blue baseball stamped with “M’s” lettering — into its otherwise-white canvas. It indicates my preferred seating location — somewhere in the nether reaches of the Dome’s 300-level, on the first base side, directly across from the big screen, or DiamondVision to the initiated.
I don’t remember much about that particular evening. When you’ve only recently hit the halfway point of your single-digit years, memories tend to be fuzzy and shrouded in puffy, silver clouds. I’d like to say I recall every moment of that game, but that would be a lie. About the only distinct memory I do have is rising to my feet with a crowd, clapping and cheering as the ninth inning faded into oblivion. Next to me, my dad explained what was occurring. Baseball may not have done everything right in defining their terminology over the years, but the term “no-hitter” is pretty easy for anyone to understand, even a kid.
Much of what I know about that night and its place in history came in the following years. Tacked up on my wall, alongside my bed, hung a poster commemorating the events of that date. I studied that poster for more than a decade. Every time I rearranged my room, that poster found itself moving to a new location. I wanted to look at it always. It gave me something to focus on when I couldn’t sleep, something to think about when I needed to ease my mind, and most of all, it was just plain awesome.
The inset of that poster contained a box score from the historic game. Burned into my consciousness are all sorts of anomalies from that stat sheet that I won’t ever forget.
Ken Griffey, Jr., still just 20 years of age, had not yet endeared himself to the heart of the team’s order; he batted fifth that evening. Following Junior at sixth and seventh in the lineup? Third baseman Edgar Martinez and right fielder Jay Buhner.
Mike Brumley, who happens to be the team’s current first base coach, played shortstop and batted ninth. In the history of Mariners infielders, Brumley, a journeyman backup, was but a blip on the radar of relevance. Had it not been for this particular evening that he found himself penciled into the starting nine, few fans might retain any memory of Mike Brumley, the Mariner.
Scott Bradley, a left-handed-hitting backup catcher, was on the receiving end of every pitch thrown that night. He was spelling injured starter Dave Valle — a frequent visitor to the disabled list in his career.
Cecil Fielder, who would go on to hit a league-leading 51 home runs in the 1990 season, occupied the three-hole in the Tigers’ order. He didn’t manage a dinger, let alone a hit, on this night, however.
And at the bottom of that box, in the home pitching frame, read a line that will forever have meaning to Seattle sports fans. Having relinquished zero runs and zero hits, walked six, and struck out eight, Randy Johnson pitched all nine innings to record the franchise’s first no-hitter. Above those statistics, an image of Johnson surrounded by teammates and embraced by his catcher, Bradley, lay splashed in black-and-white across the vast majority of this work of art. Human emotion remained frozen in time. A man roared skyward, another grinned, a few more ran towards the embracing battery, and thousands of individuals cheered in the background. It was, in a word, significant.
Twenty-two years and six days elapsed between Seattle’s first no-hitter and its most recent. In this rendition of hitlessness, six hurlers combined to stymie the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers.
Kevin Millwood started the game, then pulled his groin after six innings. He made way for southpaw Charlie Furbush, who would eventually yield to rookie right-hander Stephen Pryor. Pryor would issue two baserunners via walks to start the eighth, forcing manager Eric Wedge to turn to situational lefty Lucas Luetge to record an out, then the beleaguered (no pun intended) Brandon League to nail down the penultimate frame. In the ninth, newly-christened closer Tom Wilhelmsen set down the final three hitters in order, thus polishing off one of the rarer feats in sports: a combined no-hitter.
Much has been written about this moment already, so for me to recap it once more would be foolish. But the reality of the situation is that this game, for those who witnessed it, will never be forgotten. You can ask me where I was on June 2nd, 1990, and I’ll be able to tell you from now until the day I die. Likewise, for those in attendance at Safeco Field on June 8th, 2012, there will always be a certain importance attached to the date.
In the grand scheme of a season that may or may not end up being remarkable, Friday evening will stand out. And on the landscape of Seattle sports events, though it might not result in a championship or even have a direct bearing on the team’s performance from here on out, this no-hitter will resonate as a gigantic pick-me-up amidst a down era in the city’s athletic annals.
We needed this. I needed it. You needed it. If you’re a sports fan in this town of ours, what the Mariners did on one special night in June was a shot in the arm for all of us.
So to the Mariners and their six remarkable pitchers, because we don’t say it enough, and because it just feels good to say it sometimes, thank you. Thank you, M’s. You did great.
Filed under: Mariners
People need to understand that there is not now, nor will there ever be, the existence of time travel. Think about it. If time travel existed, we’d already know. Someone from the future would have come to inform us. I’m sure of it.
Now I know we all cite Back to the Future as a guide of sorts for navigating the space-time continuum, but that’s a movie. It’s fiction. Sure, Doc Brown says you don’t go back in time and screw everything up by talking to your past self or blowing the secrets of time travel, but come on. Look at Marty McFly. The dude nearly had an aneurysm trying to play by the rules in 1955. And I consider him a unique human being. You really think your average time traveler would be able to go back and forth without effing everything up? No. No freakin’ way.
Personally, I’ve already made a pact with myself that if time travel does exist at any point in my lifetime, I’ll come back from the future at precisely fifteen seconds from now and let myself know. You’re probably wondering if I’m kidding. I am not. And guess what, I didn’t show up. So time travel doesn’t exist. At least not in my lifetime. Because if it did, I’d be talking to Future Me right now. Unless I die young. Like Tupac. In which case, I better start writing future-dated articles to be released posthumously. I want that weird, cryptic, he’s-still-alive-somewhere-I-just-know-it legacy. We should all want that. It freaks people out. And what better feeling is there than the one you get punking people from heaven? I imagine there’s nothing greater.
What does all this have to do with anything, you ask? Good question. I don’t really know. I’m still trying to tie that run-on intro into a piece about the Mariners. I really just wanted to talk about time travel for a minute, because I think we don’t talk about it enough. I feel like entire sitcoms could be based around the premise of time travel, instead of just one or two episodes (they always have one or two time-travel episodes) in the series. And don’t tell me Quantum Leap was really about time travel. The premise of Quantum Leap involved time travel, yes, but really it just served as a vehicle for Scott Bakula’s shitty acting career, which arguably peaked when he landed the role of Gus Cantrell in Major League: Back to the Minors, aka the Major League that no one watched. I suppose if the producers could go back and do it again, they might not have cast Cantrell in that role after all. Given the fragile state of Charlie Sheen’s psyche circa 1998 (I’m assuming it was fragile, since we’re dealing with Charlie Sheen, after all), when Back to the Minors was unleashed upon the world, they probably could have netted themselves Rick Vaughn if they had the wherewithal to press a little harder. Then again, they half-assed the entire production of the third Major League. For Christ’s sake, Taka Tanaka had his Metrodome scenes green-screened. How do you green-screen someone into a movie and think no one watching will notice? That takes moxie. Stupid, stupid moxie.
Wait, I’ve got it. If the Mariners could go back in time, I bet they’d change quite a bit with their current roster. You think they’d still offer Chone Figgins a four-year, $36 million deal in the 2009-2010 offseason? Not when they could have re-signed Adrian Beltre for one year at $9 million. And what about the Cliff Lee deal? You figure they still pawn him off on the Rangers for Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, and Josh Lueke? Smoak has struggled since arriving and Lueke is already out of town, having been dealt to the Rays for the rainbow-colored unicorn that is John Jaso this past offseason. Beavan is quickly becoming a reliable starter, but Lee is still in the upper echelon of pitchers in Major League Baseball. Not as promising a deal as was once imagined.
I’m not gonna say hindsight is 20/20. I think that phrase is ridiculously cliche. Of course hindsight is 20/20. No one from the future came and gave us 20/20 foresight, those dicks, so yeah, we can certainly see clearly looking back at the past. Stupid. Anyway, here’s a look at three more less-heralded recent do-overs the Mariners might want to consider. If they were able to piece together their flux capacitor, that is:
1. The drafting of Josh Fields
Blame the Bill Bavasi regime for this one. That dumbass Vincent Price look-alike was crazy enough to choose a closer with his 2008 first-round selection. Who the hell does that? There have been picks we’ve all questioned after some time has passed — the No. 3 overall selection of Jeff Clement in ’05, for instance — but never has one pick been so openly scrutinized right from the get-go as the Fields pick was four years ago. Consider that players taken with the next 20 picks after Fields include the likes of Cleveland Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, Kansas City Royals pitching prospect Mike Montgomery, and Houston Astros starting pitcher Jordan Lyles, among others.
Whatever happened to Fields, anyway? Great question.
Now 26 years of age, the right-handed reliever is currently pitching for Boston’s Double-A affiliate in Portland, Maine. As part of the trade that sent Erik Bedard to the Red Sox a season ago, Fields helped land the M’s current minor league outfielders Trayvon Robinson and Chih-Hsien Chiang, a transaction the team may very well not regret going forward.
For now, though, the one truth we hold to be self-evident is this: the drafting of Josh Fields was an epic, epic failure. Into our DeLorean and onto the next…
2. The trade of Brandon Morrow
Okay, I’ll admit, this one’s a little tougher to justify. In exchange for Morrow, who was seemingly stuck in mediocrity here in Seattle, the Mariners netted closer Brandon League and minor league outfielder Johermyn Chavez. It’s too early to tell what may become of Chavez, but obviously we know all about League. The hard-throwing righty has become the anchor in the team’s bullpen. Whether as a setup man his first year, or a closer last season, League has been fairly reliable for an otherwise underwhelming ballclub.
But here’s the thing. A closer on a losing squad is like a bow on a second-hand gift. What good is it, anyway?
League might be an All-Star, but it matters little for how seldom he’s called upon to slam the door on opposing lineups. So my question to you is this: Would you rather have a solid closer who will likely be dealt at some point in the future, or a hard-throwing starting pitcher who could be considered a part of your future? On a potential cellar dweller like the Mariners, the answer should be the latter. Which is why dealing Morrow would have to at least be reconsidered if we were to do it all over again.
The problems Morrow had with the Mariners can be blamed, once again, on the Bavasi regime. The organization mishandled their 2006 first-round pick, grooming him as a starter, fast-tracking him to the big leagues as a reliever, then juggling him between ‘pen, rotation, and farm system for the ensuing three seasons. Was it worth it? Hell no it wasn’t. Had the team allowed the now-27-year-old to mature in the minors over time, he could be among the game’s elite right this very minute. Instead? Well, now he’s a middle-of-the-rotation guy for the Toronto Blue Jays. Which, many would contest, is still more desirable than either of the goods the M’s received in exchange for their former prized possession.
3. The non-trade of Franklin Gutierrez
In 2009, Franklin Gutierrez’s first season with the Mariners, the center fielder batted .283/.339/.764, with 18 home runs and 70 RBI. Just one season later, in 2010, Gutierrez’s averaged dipped nearly 40 points, to a much-less-impressive .245, while his OPS plummeted nearly a Benjamin, down to .666 (foreboding, I know).
Guti’s 2011 campaign was injury-riddled and much, much worse than anyone could have expected. A .224/.261/.534 line, with a lone dinger and just 19 RBI, barely made the 29-year-old worthy of a job. Only a few months removed from that disaster, the man once dubbed Death To Flying Things sits idly on the Disabled List as he works his way back from the latest in his string of physical maladies.
While Gutierrez was obtained for pennies on the dollar in what shall forever be known as “the J.J. Putz deal,” his value, like that of a once-proud stock, has been severely mitigated over time. In the fall of 2009, the Mariners’ could have received a kings’ ransom for the then-26-year-old. Instead, they opted to dedicate the future to their investment. Rather than reward them for their faith, Guti failed to validate the team’s trust in him, as his offensive statistics have slid remarkably ever since.
Yes, he’s a popular, marketable figure for the organization. But that alone shouldn’t cloud anyone’s vision of what Gutierrez has become. With a litany of talented young outfielders fermenting in the minor leagues, the time has come to bid adieu to the defensive stalwart that Franklin Gutierrez truly is. Unfortunately, Guti’s seemingly-imminent departure will come just a few seasons too late to be anything but negative.
The Venezuela native is signed through next season, and barring a resurgence of remarkable proportions, 2013 will mark Gutierrez’s last stand in a Mariners uniform. He will likely hit the free agent market after that and become some other team’s fourth outfielder for the remainder of his career. It sounds bleak, yes, but fair or unfair, it’s the reality of the current situation.
Face it, the team should have flipped their center fielder some time ago. They didn’t, and now they’re paying the price.
As for me, what would I do if given the luxury of a time machine and the chance at a do-over? Easy. I’d enact vengeance upon those who had wronged me over the years. Not anything real bad. Just little spiteful paybacks. Like the kid who bullied me in preschool. Would an adult from the future hesitate to push a four-year-old off the big toy? Not for one single second.
Filed under: Mariners
MARINERS: Michael Pineda shows what he has to offer and represents the M’s well in the All-Star game
MARINERS: Felix Hernandez and Brandon League get selected to the All-Star game and the East Coast Bias’ curse on Michael Pineda
Tags: Brandon League
I love this team. Don’t get me wrong. I just happen to hate this version of this team. It’s like when you’re a kid and you screw up and your parents get mad at you. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you anymore. They’re just upset for the time being. That’s all it is.
On paper, the 2011 Seattle Mariners are grosser than a Brendan Fraser movie. They’re flat boring. Brendan Ryan? Adam Kennedy? Jack Cust? Eh. Let’s be real here. None of those guys get you excited about the future of this team. They just don’t. But at least we got rid of Ryan Rowland-Smith. The Minus. Addition by subtracting the Subtraction. Though I suppose we could reacquire his goofy didgeridoo ass since he was just cut by the Houston Astros. Seriously. And he spent his entire offseason doing MMA workouts with Jay Glazer, too. Gee, I don’t know how that didn’t lead to success.
Anyway, here’s the thing about this year’s Mariners. The real media is obligated to make you believe in ‘em because currently they’re tied for first place with the best record in the league. Me, on the other hand…well, let’s just be honest, I have absolutely no obligations to anybody. So I’ll give it to you straight. Don’t think of this as a preview of the season. You would never read that garbage. Treat it as a heavy dose of reality.
Point No. 1: Everyone get off Tom Wilhelmsen’s dick
Tom Wilhelmsen. If you don’t know who he is by now, Google him. Every beat writer and columnist in the entire frickin’ world has written about Wilhelmsen and his quote-unquote story. Story, my ass. Let me give you the real Tom Wilhelmsen story, free of charge:
Athletically gifted dude gets paid a lot of money at a young age, blows said money on weed, wastes his talents, smokes aforementioned weed, quits job, goes AWOL, realizes he’s doing jack sh*t with his life, kicks weed (supposedly), puts talent to good use, gets a job. End of story.
But the way the scribes tell it, Wilhelmsen is a GDMFing hero. Why? Because he stopped smoking pot? Tim Lincecum started smoking pot and became better at his job. So suck on that.
The reality of Tom Wilhelmsen is that up until a year or two ago, the dude was a lazy motherf**ker. That’s not a knock on the guy. Hell, there are millions of lazy motherf**kers in the world. Most of them can’t throw a baseball 95 miles per hour, however. Wilhelmsen can. That doesn’t make him Mother Theresa.
I can’t fault Wilhelmsen’s plan. It was genius. Set the bar ridiculously low for yourself, then hop over it…hero status. Way to go. We wish we could all be the benefactors of our own shallow expectations.
I’ll still root for the guy. Not because he’s a hero now or whatever. I could care less about that. I’m intrigued by the fact that he was so passionate about life that he up and quit his job to pursue, well, nothing. More people should do that, and I’m dead serious. We tend to wait until we’re old and decrepit before we really enjoy life. So good for you, Wilhelmsen. Even I can applaud that.
Point No. 2: You better not screw this up, Bedard
You know the crazy girl you used to date but keep messing around with on the side? The one who you have no foreseeable future with, who you kind of hate, who your friends don’t like, but who has mad skills in the sack? That, my friends, is Erik Bedard.
Bedard is the most frustrating player in the history of baseball. He’s talented as all hell, but he can’t stay healthy. And yet we keep giving him chance after chance after chance, and what does he do? He tantalizes the fan base. He’s the world’s biggest cock tease. The hot actress on the cover of the magazine with her own hands covering her boobs. Just splay your fingers or something. Christ.
So what if we’re not really granting Bedard much of a salary anymore? He’s basically working off commission at this point, anyway. The money doesn’t matter. It’s the way he plays with our emotions every year. Pitching lights out when he’s on, stagnating on the DL when he’s off. And now here he comes with this phenomenal spring. Getting our hopes up one more time. For what? To let us down again? Is that how this will all play out?
I can’t do it anymore, Bedard. You’re the Jerry Maguire to our Dorothy Boyd. We want to believe in you, to complete you, to trust you, to love you, but it’s such a freaking struggle.
I hope this is the year. I really do. Don’t screw it up, Bedard. We need you.
Point No. 3: Milton Bradley is your starting left fielder
I mean, I don’t even know what to say really. Just let that sh*t sink in. Milton Effing Bradley. Unbuckingfelievable.
Point No. 4: Brandon League is your closer
God, I hate Brandon League. I do. I really do. There’s no other way to put it. The guy is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. He’s Bobby Ayala 2.0. And the thing that really bugs me about League is that so many people think he’s good. Okay, yeah, whatever.
Sure, the dude throws hard. I get that. We all do. But unfortunately he has the mental fortitude of a kindergartner. He crumbles under pressure, inflates his numbers in garbage time, and all in all becomes an average major leaguer when you take everything into account. He’s basically the Ricky Davis of baseball. Again, if you don’t know Ricky Davis, much like you may not have known Tom Wilhelmsen, please Google him.
It was bad enough last year when League was our top setup man. Now he starts this season as the team’s closer because David Aardsma has Bo Jacksonitis or something.
How’s League supposed to protect a one-run lead? Huh? Riddle me that. Because there were moments last year when he seemingly wasn’t capable of protecting the world’s tiniest penis. He’s like a perforated Trojan Mini. Good luck with that.
I don’t know, League. I wish I could like you, but I just don’t. Maybe one day after you give up baseball and go become a hair stylist for the blind I’ll learn to appreciate you more.
Point No. 5: Where the sh*t is Dustin Ackley?
I don’t care if he’s not ready. Billy Downtown Anderson wasn’t ready in Major League: Back to the Minors, but what did Roger Dorn and the Twins do? They called him up anyway. To sell tickets. And breathe some life into a moribund franchise. That’s what they did. And did it work? No, it didn’t. But who cares. At least they had the moxie to pull the trigger on the move anyhow. You have to like the attitude.
I don’t care if Ackley still needs seasoning in the minors. I want to watch him play. Now. Yes, I realize how selfish this is. But the dude was the No. 2 overall pick a few years ago. People want to see this man in a Mariners uniform!
Prove to me he’s not ready. You’re paying him millions of dollars to do his job, why not make him earn it a little bit? That’s all I ask. Bring him up here, install him at second base, ship Jack Wilson down to the Caribbean so he can hang out with Jack Sparrow, and let’s do this. Ackley ain’t getting any younger and you already poached him from the college ranks, so his body clock has to be ticking. Sh*t, if he was Dominican you would’ve had him up here two years ago. But then again, he would have told you he was like 18 back then when in reality he was really 34 or 35. That’s the thing about Dominicans. They use a different calendar than we do and hence don’t count the years the same way. It’s the metric system is what it is.
All I’m asking is for a little excitement. And Ackley brings that. Excite me, Mariners. This is going to be a long season. I’d at least like to see more than frumpy stopgap veterans slogging their way through the tail ends of their careers. We deserve better. Let’s make it happen.
Filed under: Mariners
Welcome to Bobby Ayala’s world, League. The outhouse is to your right, the doghouse to your left. You have your choice of rooms.
*P.S. A round of applause to Seattle Times photographer Dean Rutz for capturing the quintessential image of mediocrity.
Filed under: Mariners
Tags: Brandon League
The Seattle Mariners completed a three game sweep of the visiting Cincinnati Reds 1-0 on a rainy Fathers day under the roof at Safeco field. The Mariners pitching once again steered the ship to victory with Ryan Rowland-Smith navigating the first 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball. The Mariners swept a three game series for the first time since the Baltimore series on April 19-21st. Coming into the game today the Reds were batting .276 to lead the National League compared to .234 for the Mariners. But just like the previous two games the Reds were kept in-check by the Mariners pitching staff who managed to get just enough offense behind them to push the Reds down to 2 ½ games out of first in the NL Central. Unfortunately for the Mariners despite winning their fourth game in a row, they stay 13 games back in the AL West as the Texas Rangers won their eighth game in a row.
The Mariners scored their only run of the game when pesky Chone Figgins smoked an infield single, and then was moved to third on a single by Lopez through the whole on the right side of the infield, created by the speedy Figgins stealing second on the play. Milton Bradley was unable to bring Figgins home leaving the task to Franklin Gutierrez who had the only RBI of the game with his sacrifice fly to center. Josh Wilson did pick-up another single in the inning but the Mariners rally was thwarted by the struggling Mike Carp who may be the next Mariner to go back to Tacoma. Carp gave-way to Casey Kotchman later in the game allowing Kotchman to set the record for most consecutive games by a first-baseman without an error at 239. Congratulations are in order for Casey Kotchman who has struggled at the plate this year but continues to dazzle with the leather.
The Reds starter Aaron Harang went 6 innings and only gave up the one run in the bottom of the fourth. His opponent today Ryan Rowland-Smith managed to keep the Reds scoreless despite giving up 5 walks. It was nice to see Smith pitch effectively for the second outing in a row, and he may very well have won back his spot in the rotation with this gutsy performance. Smith showed some raw emotion after getting a strike-out in the sixth inning to pitch out of a jam. Brandon League came in to relieve Smith in the 7th after the big Aussie had walked the first two Reds. The Reds executed a perfect sacrifice bunt and suddenly the game was on the line with runners on second and third with only one out. Brandon League had other ideas today and came right after the next two batters with his A-game. Throwing 97 mph pitches with movement, League struck-out Cabrera and Phillips to end the threat.
Brandon League after four days rest was virtually untouchable today and he mowed down the dejected Reds in the 8th before handing the ball over to David “Dutch” Aardsma. Fortunately Aardsma has also been able to rest due to the dazzling performances by Lee and Hernandez in the first two games of the series. It was nice to see Aardsma put the Reds away 1, 2, 3 in the ninth to close this game and series out for the Mariners who are quietly gathering up a little momentum before the Chicago Cubs come to town Tuesday. It is interesting to note that Jack Wilson is back in the clubhouse after his rehabilitation stint, sending Matt Tuiasosopo back to Tacoma. The Mariners will have to figure out how to keep both of the Wilson’s on the field as the Paperboy has earned a spot in the lineup. Also Mike Sweeney is back itching to contribute and I expect to see him in some capacity when Sweet Lou and the Cubs make their first appearance in 8 years at Safeco field. This has been a tough year and with Texas and the Angels playing for keeps now it will be hard for the Mariners to get back in the race. But for the next couple of days it is just kind of nice to think about sweeping the Reds and only allowing them 1 run in three games. http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Brandon League, Casey Kotchman, Cincinnati Reds, Mariners, Ryan Rowland-Smith
The Seattle Mariners lost another game in the last at bat for an opposing team, and are now 11 games under .500 after losing 6-5 in the 10th inning to the Oakland A’s. Felix Hernandez started this one for the Mariners, and though not sharp kept us in this one as our guys managed to battle back on several occasions. Three of our slumping sailors Kotchman, Figgins, and Johnson had two hit nights in another heart-breaker in an unbelievable string of tough losses for Seattle.
The 10th inning was particularly difficult to watch as Brandon League was dealt another loss and moves to 3-4. League got Davis to pop-up to start off the bottom of the 10th, then walked Pennington the speedy shortstop. Barton flied out to Gutierrez who took his time getting the ball in and Pennington tagged up at first and advanced on the mental error by Gutierrez. League then threw a pitch in the dirt to Ryan Sweeney that was called a wild-pitch, but appeared catchable and allowed Pennington to advance to third. The Mariners put Sweeney on, and Kurt Suzuki came through with a clutch single up the middle to score Pennington. It was a sloppy ending to a game where the Mariners showed some life at the plate.
The Oakland A’s are possibly our biggest rival traditionally due to their close proximity, and they seem to have our number this year. As a side note my Grandfather Gordon” Dusty” Rhodes pitched his last season in the majors with the old Philadelphia A’s under Connie Mack in 1936. In those days they left starters in to finish games, and he had a record of 9-20 that year which was enough to send him to the minors for the rest of his career.
So our Mariners now have to make their way back to their home-port like a bunch of sailors who have been ashore in an exotic Port where they spent all their money on booze, women and gambling, then blew the rest……http://jeffsmariners.com
Don’t worry, sports fans. Together, we can fix our lowly Mariners. I’ve come up with three unique ideas that should provide an immediate lift. Enjoy.
Step One: Put Brandon League on a raft and send him out to sea
League originally hails from Hawaii. If Mother Nature is just, the Mariners’ 27-year-old setup man will at some point arrive back in his homeland. But if not, who cares.
All that really matters is that somebody put a stop to this man with the bad haircut.
League is the most ineffective effective reliever since Bobby Ayala. By ineffective effective, I mean a guy whose numbers suggest he’s not horrible, but whose performances would indicate otherwise.
Every time League enters a close game, I get that jittery feeling I used to only get with Ayala (and Heathcliff Slocumb, on occasion). You just know in those nail-biting situations that League will blow it. He tends to inflate his numbers in games that are already won or lost, making him a hell of a guy to go to in low-pressure situations.
Statisticians and sabermetric connoisseurs would probably lead you to believe that League isn’t all that bad. And on paper he isn’t. But there’s something to be said for reality, as opposed to paper. Keep in mind that on paper, former NBA All-Star Antoine Walker had millions upon millions of dollars, while in reality he was making a beeline for bankruptcy. League might be an above-average pitcher in the world of Strat-O-Matic baseball, but in the three-dimensional world we call earth, he sucks. Plain and simple.
Step Two: Bat Chone Figgins ninth
I’m not going to look up Figgins’ current batting average because it will disgust me. It’s less than .200, and might as well be negative for all I care. All I know is that the guy is absolute grossness right now and the fact that he’s still batting second in the lineup is an absolute embarrassment.
I’m tired of hearing about all the walks Figgins gets and all the damn pitches he takes. A no-armed man could stand up there and take pitches. A pitcher could stand up there and take pitches. My grandma could stand up there and take pitches. The Mariner Moose could stand up there and take some effing pitches. When you’re batting average is well beneath the Mendoza Line, it doesn’t matter how many pitches you take, you still suck.
Chone Figgins sucks right now. Just like Brandon League, he is sucky. He is the walking definition of suckdom. I actually get annoyed watching him bat now because I know what’s going through his mind. I already know his plan of attack. It’s either lay down a bunt, or try and work a walk. He’s like a boxer that only blocks punches, or a race car driver who likes to tap his brakes.
On top of that, it doesn’t help that Figgins always tries to sell calls on the umpire. Watching him sell ball calls (notice how he lifts his arms up and backs away every time a pitch is on the inner half of the plate) pisses me off. It ranks right up there with flopping in soccer for me. I don’t know why. I suppose if he was hitting .300 I wouldn’t care. But because our second baseman is so damn content to not hit, I get upset. He’ll do everything in his power to keep that bat on his shoulder.
Figgins barely deserves to be starting right now. But because he can play a little bit of defense, he has to remain a starter. (And I’m tired of hearing about his defense, too, by the way. We’re not paying him $8 million a year to be a designated fielder.) So for lack of a better option, he needs to be dropped in the lineup. All the way down to ninth. Where he can take all the pitches he wants and not hurt our performance as greatly as he has.
Until Figgins proves he can hit a baseball, there’s no sense batting him second, first, or anywhere above eighth. My apologies to all of you who invested in his replica jersey over the offseason.
Step Three: Either commit to Adam Moore full-time, or go find a new catcher
Rob Johnson can’t hit. I love the guy, but he will never be a major league hitter. He’s Dave Valle at best, and that’s hard for me to say. If he can kick around for 15 years as a backup, he’ll have a successful career and make lots of money. But he’s no starter. And his defense isn’t nearly as good as it needs to be to warrant a .200 batting average year after year.
Adam Moore, on the other hand, can actually hit a baseball. It doesn’t help my case that he’s batting only .193 on the season, or that he just went on the 15-day disabled list. But he’s the only backstop on the M’s roster right now that should be considered a potential starter for the long haul. And if in fact he’s not that guy, then the organization needs to find a catcher to be their long-term solution.
To break it down, what we need to come to grips with is that a) Rob Johnson is not the guy and b) Adam Moore could be the guy. Which means that Moore deserves every opportunity to be the full-time catcher for this team when he returns to health in a few weeks.
Barring some kind of offensive explosion from Johnson (not likely, considering his track record), Moore has that great-equalizer, potential, on his side. In four minor league seasons, Moore posted a cumulative batting average of .301 and belted 55 homers. In five minor league seasons, Johnson batted .270 with just 31 home runs. In this case, the numbers don’t lie.
The experts have told us that Johnson is a defensive whiz behind the dish, but his defense has fallen off significantly in 2010. The metrics may not support all of his inconsistencies, but suffice it to say that Johnson has allowed more balls past him this year than a friendly bouncer at a gay bar. That’s a lot of balls.
Look, I’m not trying to knock Rob Johnson, I just think it’s about time we start being realistic. Adam Moore can both hit and field, while Rob Johnson can kind of field. Moore is at least a two-tool player. Johnson is not.
The future at catcher? It might be Adam Moore, but it certainly won’t be Rob Johnson. Give Moore the PT, show Johnson to the pine. It’s time.
Filed under: Mariners
*Editor’s note: The following list only applies to players who have logged Major League service time thus far in 2010. Likewise, players who were re-signed to contracts (i.e. Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Sweeney, etc.) are not considered. This report card is solely designed to assess the play of new offseason acquisitions.
Player: Milton Bradley
How acquired: Via trade with the Chicago Cubs, in exchange for pitcher Carlos Silva.
2010 salary: $11,000,000
This trade would go down as a complete failure if Bradley hadn’t been one of the team’s hottest hitters before going on the reserve list with mental instability. On top of that, it certainly doesn’t help matters that Silva has turned into the second-coming of Chet Steadman in the Windy City.
Despite Bradley going nutso and Silva on his way to a Cy Young, this trade can still be salvaged if and when two things happen.
One, Bradley must rejoin the team as the hitter he is capable of being.
Two, Silva needs to return to form as the Carlos Silva we’re all more familiar with.
Number one is imperative. Number two would be nice.
For now, though, we wait.
Player: Eric Byrnes
How acquired: Claimed off waivers from Arizona.
2010 salary: $400,000
That Byrnes is no longer with us is probably the only positive we can take away from this whole fiasco. His replacements (in the forms of Ryan Langerhans and Michael Saunders) have been bright spots in the team’s lineup recently, and without the M’s mitigating their losses by cutting bait with the Beach Cruiser, we might not have anything to like about the situation.
Any time you give up on a guy one month into the season, you have to deem the experiment an abject failure. And that’s precisely what the Byrnes experiment turned into. That the team paid the veteran outfielder the league minimum in salary is irrelevant; just wasting time with Byrnes was exactly that, a waste.
In spite of his on-field inconsistencies, we can always look back fondly on Byrnes’ brief tenure with the club as an entertaining source of lunacy. Between the worst squeeze play in history, the face-first warning track dives, and the clubhouse bicycle incident, at least we can say we shared a few laughs.
Player: Jesus Colome
How acquired: Signed to a minor league contract.
2010 salary: $400,000
Colome was promoted from Triple-A Tacoma just one week into the start of the season and has been with the big league club ever since.
In seven appearances, the right-handed reliever has been adequate. He currently owns a 4.26 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 12 2/3 innings of work. Nothing spectacular, but nothing too horrible either.
As a minor league contract guy, the team has arguably received more than what they could have expected from the 33-year-old just by calling him up to the team. If Colome remains on the 25-man roster for the rest of the year and doesn’t flat-out suck, he’ll become quite a bargain and much more than just a low-cost investment.
Player: Chone Figgins
How acquired: Signed to a four-year, $36,000,000 contract.
2010 salary: $8,500,000
For the amount of money invested and the level of expectation surrounding a perennial starter like Figgins, this move has been an absolute disappointment thus far for the organization.
The former Los Angeles Angel leads the team in walks (25), but has found few other ways to get on base besides that. His .185 batting average and .235 slugging percentage rank him last among the everyday players. More egregiously, his current .555 OPS is nearly 200 points lower than his career OPS of .745.
Defensively, Figgins has been an upgrade on the right side of the infield, but that has done very little to offset his atrocious offense.
Perhaps the most frightening part about this deal is that Figgins is still under contract for three more seasons. At age 32, it’s possible that the infielder’s best days are behind, which could very well mean it’s all downhill from here.
Player: Casey Kotchman
How acquired: Via trade with the Boston Red Sox, in exchange for infielder/outfielder Bill Hall, a player to be named later, and cash.
2010 salary: $3,517,500
Brought here for his defense, Kotchman has been more or less a one-trick pony after the first six weeks of play. He’s got a good glove, all right. Too bad he can’t hit worth a damn.
A peasant’s John Olerud, the former Angel/Brave/Red Sock actually got off to a nice start in the season’s first month. As of April 19, Kotchman was batting .286 with a .962 OPS, had hit three home runs, and had driven in 12 runs.
Fast forward to May 13 and it’s a completely different story.
These days, Kotchman remains at three home runs on the season, has only upped his RBI total by two (to 14), and sports a .191 average to go with a .638 OPS. Yikes.
Even worse, his struggles have been especially bad as of late. Kotchman’s most recent run batted in came all the way back on April 24. In nine May contests, the first baseman has a batting average of .069, an OPS of .309, and has just two hits to his credit, a single and a double. That’s downright ugly.
The team has no obligation to Kotchman beyond this season, and at this rate the 27-year-old will be lucky to make it all the way through the year in a Mariners uniform.
Player: Brandon League
How acquired: Via trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, along with minor league outfielder Johermyn Chavez, in exchange for pitcher Brandon Morrow.
2010 salary: $1,087,500
As erratic as they come, League has been either really good or really bad in the majority of his outings. Lucky for him, he has been more good than bad.
A 3-3 record, 3.98 ERA, and 1.18 WHIP are numbers none too exceptional for a hard-throwing setup man. That League has one save to his credit and has been the absolute workhouse of the team’s bullpen (he leads all full-time relievers with 20 1/3 innings pitched), however, is a major plus.
With Brandon Morrow floundering in Toronto, the 27-year-old League is far and away the best player to emerge in this deal. For now, at least.
Player: Cliff Lee
How acquired: Via trade with the Philadelphia Phillies, in exchange for minor league prospects Tyson Gillies (OF), Phillippe Aumont (P), and Juan Ramirez (P).
2010 salary: $9,000,000
Though he started the year on the disabled list, Lee has been lights out in three starts since regaining his health.
In spite of a 1-1 win-loss record, Lee could very well be 3-0 if the Mariners produced any semblance of an offense.
More indicative of what the former Cy Young winner has done is his 2.01 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 22 1/3 innings pitched.
In each of his outings, Lee has tossed seven innings or more. Along the way, he has averaged five strikeouts per game.
With his contract set to expire after this season, the M’s will be hard-pressed to retain the services of their ace southpaw. Especially when you consider Lee’s performances in correspondence with the rest of the team. (Translation: He’s pitching great, but their hitting sucks. Who would want to play for a team like that?)
Player: Kanekoa Texeira
How acquired: Via Rule V Draft from the New York Yankees organization.
2010 salary: $400,000
Expectations are always fairly tepid for a Rule V draft pick. Texeira is no exception.
A right-handed pitcher who has provided satisfactory middle relief, Texeira will have to stay on the team’s 25-man roster all season long or risk being sold back to the Yankees for half the price the M’s paid for his services (and for the record, the team obtained Tex for $50,000 and would have to offer him back to the Bronx Bombers for $25,000). All of which means we should see Texeira in a Seattle uniform for the entirety of 2010.
Not that that’s a bad thing. The 24-year-old has been better than anticipated, and has come on strong as of late. In his first three major league outings, the native Hawaiian allowed four earned runs. Since then, he has appeared in seven games, giving up a lone earned run in the process.
Subtract his bumpy trio of appearances to kick off the year, and Texeira has a 1.13 ERA, a 0.88 WHIP, and a 4/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Not bad at all for a rookie.
Filed under: Mariners
Todays game at beautiful Camden Yards in Baltimore started out like a dream and ended up another nightmare as the Mariners bullpen could not hold on to a 5-1 lead in the 8th and Felix Hernandez’s solid pitching performance was wasted. Unlike most of the previous losses this year our offense stepped up and we had a season high of 3 home runs. Michael Saunders, Ichiro, and Mike Sweeney all connected for homers and this loss was another heart-breaker.
The Mariners pounded Kevin Millwood the veteran for home runs in the 5th,6th, and 7th giving Felix a nice cushion to work with. Brandon League came into the game in the 8th and gave up a solo shot to Corey Patterson the pesky veteran who the Mariners released after giving him a look this spring. Adam Jones struck out but reached first on a wild pitch followed by a single and a walk loading them up for Luke Scott. Scott drove a line shot to left that Michael Saunders almost caught in a dramatic attempt but to no avail and it cleared the fence and the bases.
The Mariners did attempt a comeback and with runners at 1st and 2nd and 2 outs in the 9th, Ichiro shot a ground ball thru the left side of the infield and Josh Wilson raced home only to be thrown out at the plate by a strong throw from Corey Patterson. This was a series we needed to win and while our offense came alive today it will go down as another loss pushing our guys into a deeper hole in the AL West Standings.
Besides Brandon League who was pitching well recently our team looked good and though we lost it was an exciting game that offered some hope despite the tough loss. So it is on to Tampa Bay and more struggle. No one said it was going to be easy, but I can’t remember so many tough losses packed together in recent Mariners history.http://jeffsmariners.com
Tonight the Seattle Mariners beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-1 on a wet and dreary night in front of 12,614 die-hard Birds fans. On display was exactly the sort of team Jack Z. promised us. Good Pitching, solid defense, and timely hitting, plus a home run by Ryan Langerhans. Mariners starter Cliff Lee picked up the win pitching into the 8th inning before Brandon League came in to finish this one out. Both pitchers were impressive facing an Orioles team that is struggling without their All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts. Orioles starter David Hernandez pitcher had another tough night and recorded his 11th loss in his last 11 decisions.
Once again the trio from Tacoma Ryan Langerhans, Josh Wilson, and Michael Saunders produced at the plate for the second game in a row. Langerhans playing 1st for Casey Kotchman and hit a solo homer in the 5th Saunders also had 2 hits on the night including an RBI single in the 6th. It was a relief to see Rob Johnson pick up a couple of hits on the night including a clutch 2-out single in the 6th which scored 2 runners including Ken Griffey who hustled in when the ball was bobbled in left field. Even Chone Figgins picked up a hit tonight and had an RBI walk in the 5th.
Watching Cliff Lee pound the strike zone with first pitch strikes and his fast pace was fun to watch. But coming away from this game it was apparent to me that Brandon League is quickly becoming the go-to guy in the Bullpen. League came into the game in the top of the 8th with one out and runners on first and second, and with 4 pitches shut down the Orioles. League shut the Birds down in order in the 9th, and that was all she wrote.
The only way we are going to move beyond the drama from the last homestand is for this club to come together as a team like they did tonight and silence all the armchair GM’s. We looked like a team tonight and it feels good.http://jeffsmariners.com