Tonight I joined 15,367 other Mariners fans down at Safeco Field for an open house sponsored by the Seattle Mariners organization to show off their new giant big-screen, the new fences, and more importantly the all new 2013 Seattle Mariners. It was a surreal environment at the Safe tonight with all the fans milling around and looking up at the giant big-screen of the opening game in Oakland as Felix Hernandez led his club to a 2-0 victory going 7 2/3 innings giving up only three hits, one walk, zero runs and striking out eight hapless Athletics.
I’m not sure what to say about the new giant big-screen except that it’s indeed huge and hopefully it will not provide too much of a distraction for so many of the fans who only seem to go to games for the Hydro races and other little gimmicks that the Mariners ownership has relied on for the past 10 years since they haven’t put a real team on the field. But for tonight the Seattle Mariners did put a real team on the field down in Oakland against their division rival Athletics featuring the King himself who was up to the task of providing his usual opening day leadership with this gutsy performance. The Mariners offense only managed a couple runs when Franklin Gutierrez drove in Dustin Ackley and Brendan Ryan with a single up the middle in the top of the fifth inning. But thankfully Felix was on his game and though the relievers looked a bit shaky we managed to pull off a victory in what was sort of a home opener.
It felt really good to be down at the Safe again wandering around, eating hot dogs and watching baseball. It only cost me 10 bucks tonight for my parking so that was a steal, and considering the way the Mariners have played the past 10 years the ownership group might want to consider having a free night every now and then to draw some of us shell-shocked fans back into the house that Griffey built. It was nice to see Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales in the middle of the lineup tonight though they didn’t do much tonight you could just tell that the dynamics have changed with these two sluggers hitting in the middle of the pack. It’s hard to hate the Oakland Athletics, though they probably are our only real rival so to speak, it seems like I’ve watched them play 1000 times and no matter who they have on their team they always seem to look the same with those goofy green uniforms. You gotta love the Oakland fans, as they were definitely loud and boisterous tonight coming off their AL West championship last season. So off we go to the races now folks with another year of my Mariners fan blog and an improved club that is now 1-0 with only 161 games to play! Go Mariners!http://jeffsmariners.com
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
Luke French pitched a great game today for the Mariners, holding the visiting Minnesota Twins to one run on three hits as he picked-up his third win on the season in the 2-1 affair. French, who came over last year from Detroit in the Jarrod Washburn deal, is making a case to be included in the 2011 rotation and today’s performance by the young southpaw helped make his case a little stronger.
French was matched up against veteran Carl Pavano who also went seven innings today but like French could not keep putting up goose-eggs on the scoreboard all day and eventually surrendered a pair of runs in the 7th inning.
The Twins only run came on a mammoth home run by Michael Cuddyer in the top of the 7th. Cuddyer is filling in at first for the injured Twins star Justin Morneau, and his blast initially looked like it would be all the first place Twins would need in this one.
Fortunately for the hometown boys they managed to respond immediately in the bottom of the 7th with a 2-run rally of their own. Jose Lopez got on base with a 1-out single followed by another base hit by Casey Kotchman. The Mariners runners were able to move-up 90 feet on a wild-pitch by Pavano setting the stage for Franklin Gutierrez to line a shot to left that scored Lopez to tie the game. Adam Moore then tapped a weak grounder to short which would have turned into an inning ending double-play were it not for the great slide at second by Gutierrez to keep the inning alive and allow Kotchman to score the go-ahead run.
The Mariners suddenly reliable bullpen combo of Brandon League and David Aardsma came on to pitch the final two frames without relinquishing a run to the first-place Twins and thus helped the Mariners avoid the sweep.
I was amazed to hear that even this late in the season 28,923 fans paid to see this game. This franchise has been kept afloat by the polite, family friendly sort of fans who were at the park today. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but just have to wonder how many of those fans besides the Twins faithful really cared about the outcome. Oh well perhaps our absentee-owner will be willing to spend another 10-15 million next year to bolster our worst in the AL offense so that the rest of us grumpy hardcore fans will buy the extra 20,000 seats in order to fill the stadium on a day like today.
August is shaping up as a decent month for our club as we hover around .500 with the Angels coming to town to finish out August, followed by a 4-game series with the Indians.
Interesting to note that Michael Pineda will not pitch any more this year as the Mariners are doing the right thing by saving the young flame-thrower’s arm for next year. Still hoping to see Dustin Ackley up with the big club perhaps against the Indians over the weekend. Feels good to be back reporting on our sailors as we head to the final leg of the 2010 voyage! http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Franklin Gutierrez, Luke French, Michael Pineda
The song is entitled Verano Azul. The artist is a man by the name of Juan Magan.
I’ve been wondering about this tune for a while now. Every time I hear it played at Safeco Field, I get a little excited inside. Like hearing the ice cream man come rolling down your street or something.
So I asked the M’s themselves about the song (via Twitter, @TheRealMariners) and they gave me the answer I was looking for. Check it out…
Filed under: Mariners
The Mariners avoided a sweep by the visiting Chicago White Sox winning this one 2-1 thanks to a clutch two-run single in the bottom of the 11th by Franklin Gutierrez. Felix Hernandez pitched 8 strong innings of 2-hit shutout ball before reluctantly handing the ball off to David Aardsma in the 9th. The Mariners needed this one bad and it was nice to see the smiles on the faces of the hometown boys as they celebrated their third victory in extra-inning affairs in this dreary campaign.
The Mariners who had not scored a single run since the first inning of the Monday opener executed brilliantly in the 11th inning rally. Of course keeping with their running theme of making dumb base running mistakes, Jose Lopez got doubled-up off first in the bottom of the 9th in a play that looked like Little League. In this case Milton Bradley in to pinch-hit for Kotchman dropped a little liner into right that Andruw Jones made a diving play on. The winning run was on second and instead of going halfway with his eye on the ball, Lopez turned his back on the ball and ran to second only to allow Jones to lob the ball after he caught it to get the absent-minded Lopez. Dave Niehaus went ballistic on the radio over this one, as once again this was clearly a mental error attributed to a lack of focus.
It looked like this game was over in the top half of the 11th when 43 year-old Omar Vizquel lined a single to right off Brandon League scoring the go-ahead run from third. But alas after going 27 innings without scoring, the Mariners pulled-off a sweet victory in the bottom of the frame. The inning started-off with Jack Wilson beating out a perfect bunt down the line and moved to second on another bunt by Ichiro. Figgins moved Wilson to third with a sharply hit single to center which Wilson watched closely before advancing to third when the ball landed. Figgins then stole second and showed us a flash of the Chone Figgins we have been waiting for all season long. With two strikes on him Franklin Gutierrez then delivered in the clutch hitting a laser shot into the gap in left center scoring the speedy Figgins to end the game and the scoring famine.
This was a fun and interesting game outside of the Lopez goof and the 21,529 fans that were at the game celebrated along with the players as if we had just won the pennant! Now the Red Sox come in for a four-game series. The Red Sox suddenly find themselves in a bit of a jam as they are 7 games back in the AL East due to injuries and some tough losses like today’s against the A’s. The good news is the Mariners have a chance to play spoiler with clubs like the Red Sox, and the bad news is there will be 10,000 rabid Red Sox fans attempting to drown out the mellow Seattle fans for the next four games. East Coast transplants complain all the time about our weather, passive-aggressive behavior and lack of culture here in Seattle. Of course when I hear one complain I usually offer to buy them a one-way ticket home on the spot and that usually shuts them up. If the Mariners could come-away with a split of this series I would be elated, so how about joining me down at the Safe this weekend as we show some pride in our city and club. http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: base running mistakes, Chicago White Sox, Dave Niehaus went ballastic, Franklin Gutierrez, Mariners
The Seattle Mariners won the first game of a three game series at home against the visiting Chicago Cubs 2-0.The Mariners won for their fifth win in a row against former Mariners manager Lou Piniella and the crew from the windy city. Jason Vargas improved his record to 6-2 with his third consecutive win using his change-up to keep the Cubs off-balance in their first trip to Safeco in eight years. As usual the Cubs had a sizeable group of fans at the game tonight and they lived-up to their reputation with cat-calls and boos for Milton Bradley who was a bust with the Cubs. Unfortunately Carlos Silva will not be pitching Thursday as planned so the Mariners fans won’t be able to give him a little welcome back reception of his own. It always amazes how tolerant Seattle fans are when the transplants come out in force for the big East Coast Teams visits to Seattle. As you can see by the picture above I made a trip to Wrigley field three years ago, where I was treated rather poorly by the grumpy Cubs fans. Of course it has been 102 years since the Cubs have won a World Series so I guess they have a right to be a little edgy.
Tonight the Mariners were able to sneak by the Cubs with great starting pitching by Vargas, good support from the pen, and a 2-run homer off the bat of Franklin Gutierrez in the bottom of the second for the games only runs. It appears that the Mariners would fit right into the National League with their strong starting pitching and good defense. Of course at some point the offense will need to produce more than they have in this 5-game streak, but for now it is just nice to watch our starters baffle the hitters on these NL Clubs. Unfortunately the Texas Rangers won again tonight behind the bat of red-hot Josh Hamilton and so the Mariners remain 13 games back in the AL West. We are closing in on the Oakland A’s however who are 9 games out of first. The way we are playing now it is possible that the M’s could overtake the A’s before the All-Star break which would be a huge moral victory for this club and its loyal fans.
I heard Jack Zduriencik on the radio before the game and he sounded a lot less evasive and was actually quite honest about the fact that things have not gone as expected this year. I think Jack Z. like a lot of us, sort of hit an emotional bottom a few weeks ago and is now just taking it day by day. Cliff Lee is pitching tomorrow and as we all know Jack Z. is the man who will ultimately be responsible for the decision on whether to trade him or let him go. I have made my opinions known how I feel on this situation and after hearing our GM’s calm and frank demeanor today I am feeling much better on how the situation will be handled.
If the Cubs felt bad about losing tonight to Jason Vargas, wait till they try to score some runs off our back to back Aces coming their way. Yes indeed tomorrow its Cliff Lee, followed by Felix on Thursday for a day game. Summer comes late in Seattle but when it gets here there is no place in the world this old sailor would rather be, especially with two Aces up your sleeve….http://jeffsmariners.com
*note I have made some modifications to my Blog after hearing from some of the readers. I hope this new format is easier to read and more user-friendly. Let me know what you think.
Tagged: Chicago Cubs, Cliff Lee, Franklin Gutierrez, Jack Zduriencik, Jason Vargas, Lou Piniella, Mariners