Hello Shipmates, I am writing this post from the vessel SS Queen Mary here in Long Beach which like the good ship Mariners, is marooned at the Dock with the bilge pumps running to keep her afloat.
I got on the plane just as the game with Boston was starting in rainy Seattle, by the time I got to my stateroom the Mariners had sunk 5-1 for their 7th loss in a row. So rather than go into the whole tracking down information and stats routine, I decided to tune into the Tacoma Rainiers game on my laptop.
Judging from how few fans showed-up for the Rainiers games last weekend at Safeco, I would venture to guess I am the only individual in the whole So. Calif. metropolis who was tuned into the calming voice of Mike Curto the voice of the Rainiers. I caught the last few innings and got to hear the recap of the 11-7 slugfest in Memphis that the Rainiers won. Our AAA guys hit 5 homers tonight and now lead this series 2-0, Sweet!
Speaking of homers, Todd Tulowitzki the shortstop for the surging Rockies hit a couple more today as the Rockies beat the Padres to pull within 2 1/2 of the lead in the NL West. Tulowitzki now has 11 home runs for the month of September alone. I haven’t checked but I would be surprised if the Mariners have 11 homers as a team for the whole month! Boy do we need to bring-up some of those sluggers from Tacoma as soon as they win their play-offs……
One of the pitfalls of being a Mariners fan is I often spend the whole season focused on our club and miss all the great baseball going on around the country. I am trying to ween myself from the Mariners now as we head to the bitter end, and so following the Rainiers is part of my Mariners detox program.
Lots of great races still going on in the majors as well and have narrowed down my bandwagon team to either the Padres/ Rockies or the Yankees, though I’d love to see Mike Sweeney get a clutch-hit in a World Series game to cap-off his career. So there you have it , a virtual post on the Mariners or a message in a bottle, take your pick! http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Mike Curto, Mike Sweeney, Rainiers slugfest in Memphis, Yankees bandwagon team
The Mariners rallied in the bottom of the eighth inning tonight scoring three runs to beat the Angels 3-1. That’s the good news, the bad news is that despite going seven innings of 3-hit shutout ball Felix Hernandez was once again denied a victory.
Manager Daren Brown decided to pull Felix after he had thrown only 103 pitches tonight bringing in Brandon League in a strategy that looked for a minute like it would backfire as League was tagged for a pair of doubles that resulted in a run for the Angels. Fortunately League was able to get out of the inning without further damage thanks to a double-play.
The Mariners put together a sweet little rally of their own in the bottom half of the eighth thanks to hits by Lopez, Moore and Josh Wilson combined with a walk to Branyan to lead-off the frame and a nice sac-fly by Michael Saunders that also drove-in a run. This 3-run outburst came a few innings too late once again for Felix Hernandez who desperately needs to add a few more wins to his total of 10 in order to have a shot at the Cy Young award this year.Full Box Score
I don’t usually subscribe to players playing for stats or awards in lost seasons like this, but Felix is having a heck of a year and it would be nice to salvage something in the way of hometown bragging rights if Felix continues to blow teams away and somehow gets the votes to win the Cy Young award.
Believe it or not tomorrow is September 1st which usually means it is time to expand the roster and bring-up some of the AAA guys to get a taste of “The Show”. However due to the fact that the Rainiers have a good shot at making the play-offs, it looks like the Mariners will be holding-off on bringing guys up till the Rainiers are done with their run at glory. Once again like the decision to pull Felix after only allowing him to throw 103 pitches, the decision to let the AAA guys finish out their season is the right thing to do, but it sure doesn’t seem fair to us fans who have suffered so much in 2010.
On a couple other random notes it seems that Mike Sweeney is being well received by his new team the Phillies and their fans. I’m glad to see him get a chance to play for a contender and to be appreciated after all the snide comments tossed his way here in the local press and blogosphere. I also wanted to note that Milton Bradley who is out for the year with an injury, seems to be completely forgotten as a part of the various 2011 visions for the Mariners which are being thrown around. Milton may have been a disappointment this year but we are still on the hook for $12 million next year so look for his name to resurface in the offseason once the denial of his potential return fades away. If Jack Zduriencik wants to get his growing flock of doubters off his back in a hurry I can’t think of a better way than to somehow trade him away even if we have to eat most of his salary. Of course I have no idea who would take a chance on Bradley at this point in his bizarre career, so we may just have to give him a shot at a position next spring and if he doesn’t produce simply let him go…
Still trying to decide which game I’m going to attend in this homestand, I was trying to wait for the Indians but may just sneak down tomorrow for the rubber-match of this series with the Angels. Ciao……http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Cy Young, Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Mike Sweeney
The Tacoma Rainiers won the fourth game of the series with the Reno Aces today 9-3 thanks to the big bat of Mike Sweeney on a beautiful day at Cheney Stadium. What another great and fun game down in Tacoma watching the Rainiers clobber the Aces in front of 6,384 fans to give the Rainiers a split of this four game series before heading out on the road again. Unlike the apprehension I feel before the start of a Mariners game I felt confident as I headed down I-5 along with another long-suffering Mariners fan to watch this day game. My friend Eddie had never been to a game at Cheney Stadium and like myself was longing for an opportunity to watch a game under the sun where the home team was able to score some runs. We arrived at 11 am and were surrounded by happy young children arriving by the busload along with the regular Rainiers faithful as I continued my rehab assignment of fun, laughter and winning!
Blake Beaven who came over in the Cliff Lee trade got his first start with Tacoma and went six innings giving up a couple of runs and looked pretty good in his debut. Of course when your team scores 8 runs for you in the first 4 innings it takes a lot of the pressure off of you. The Rainiers did not waste any time in scoring with Mike Sweeney belting a 2-run shot in the bottom of the first over the big blue wall in left. Sweeney got the start at first today as Justin Smoak slipped into the DH spot so he could focus on his hitting mechanics. Smoak did get a hit today as well as driving in a run in the 8th with a sacrifice fly.
In the second inning the Rainiers loaded up the sacks for Mike Wilson who drove a ball that barely cleared the fence before rattling around and coming back onto the field. Initially Wilson stopped at second but was then waved in for the grand-slam making it 6-0 before we had even finished our hotdogs! As a Mariners fan I am out-of-shape when it comes to enjoying an early lead in a game, especially as the result of the long-ball. But the Rainiers were not finished yet and in the bottom of the fourth Mike Sweeney blasted another 2-run shot over the imposing fence to make it 8-0. It was a beautiful site to see Sweeney dig-in at the plate and take his customary full-swings today, and before the day was through Sweeney would go 3-4 moving his average up to .366. We were ready to throw Sweeney in the car and kidnap him so he could be in the Mariners lineup tonight where he belongs.
Yes I know this season is over for the Mariners and it is all about the future so who needs a 37-year-old veteran guy who hits, knows the game, and provides leadership for the young players? Well as a fan I enjoy watching a guy who loves the game and plays with enthusiasm along with the ability to produce, which Sweeney has done all year since spring training( when he was healthy). It seems that there is a certain segment of the local media and fan base that just can’t stand a friendly decent guy succeeding. Perhaps Sweeney’s success isn’t measurable by the new sabermetrics whiz-kids and thus needs to be discounted to fill their need to be know-it-alls. I don’t know but today Mike Sweeney proved once again he can still produce and the fans in Tacoma including myself loved every minute of it. If indeed the Mariners are intentionally leaving Sweeney down in Tacoma to act as a mentor for the young players then that is one thing, but if they are just going to let him languish in AAA hoping he quits then that would be a travesty to not only Sweeney but to the game itself. Baseball is a game of traditions handed from father to son, generation to generation, full of history and mystique. The Mariners have angered the Baseball-Gods one too many times and I am hoping they do the right thing and bring Sweeney back-up to the Majors where he can finish his career in dignity for the rest of 2010.
While I was at the game today I suddenly realized that the Reno Aces manager was Brett Butler the former player I had watched in the 80’s and 90’s. Butler had a great career and was considered the best bunter of his era along with a lifetime .290 average and 2375 career hits. Perhaps more impressive about Butler is that he overcame throat cancer and came back to finish playing in the Majors till he was 40. Butler is working his way up as a manager through the Arizona system and seemed to have the respect of the umpires as well as his players. It was nice to see the crusty old veteran doing double-duty both as the team’s manager and 3rd base coach. Here are his impressive lifetime stats:http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/butlebr01.shtml
So the Mariners are back in town tonight playing the Rangers and I will be back on the beat tomorrow following the big club till the end of the season. I feel a whole lot better having gone down to Cheney Stadium a couple of times during this last home stand and watching the scrappy Tacoma Rainiers win twice. For whatever reason Cheney Stadium provides an environment where time seems to have stopped somewhere 20 years ago and baseball was still indeed our national pastime and guys like Sweeney, Butler and perhaps myself could still play this game with the joy and passion it deserves……http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Brett Butler, Cheney Stadium, Mike Sweeney, Mike Wilson, Reno Aces, Tacoma Rainiers
Well I finally had enough of the Mariners and drove down to Tacoma to watch the Rainiers beat the Reno Aces 8-2 tonight and it was fun! Yes that is right watching baseball can be fun, especially if the team you are rooting for wins and the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming like it was at Cheney Stadium tonight. I joined 7,571 other baseball fans on family night and got to see a great game featuring the first-place Rainiers who know how to score runs and even hit the long-ball.
I have not been to Cheney Stadium since Carlos Guillen was down there in 1998 and as far as the stadium and fans attending, not much has changed. Cheney stadium is 50 years old and has seen many a young prospect as well as fading veteran play on its well manicured field. The crowd was primarily families and working-class, and they know how to have fun. The place was full of youngsters gathering autographs from the players and older fans actually laughing and having a good time. Sure the PA guy messed up a few names, and the electronic screen did not always match the correct numbers up with the right players but I felt I was in a time-warp putting me back into the 70’s.
The Rainiers brought-up a young pitcher named Yoervis Medina to make his AAA debut tonight and he went 5 and 2/3 innings of 3-hit shutout ball while his offense unlike the Mariners gave him run support. As a matter of fact the Rainiers look like they could beat the Mariners as far as position players go. I got to see Greg Halman hit his 24th homer in the second inning along with home run #15 for right fielder Mike Wilson, and #13 from Matt Mangini who I would swap for Jose Lopez tomorrow. Of course the main event was watching young Justin Smoak recently demoted drive in a run with a screeching shot past third in the big eighth inning as part of a four run rally. All the while I was chatting with the friendly couple in front of me who have had season tickets since the 60’s and even gave me a couple of tickets for Tuesday’s game.
Yes this was a different experience from fighting the traffic to get into Safeco and paying $65 for a box seat. In fact I paid $25 for a seat two rows back behind the Reno Aces and felt like I was sitting in the dugout. The food is a little cheaper though heavy on the carbs, but so what this team knows how to win games and the crowd was a lot friendlier and more into the game than I usual experience at Safeco. I sort of felt like I was skipping school while I was watching this game instead of painfully going over today’s 4-0 loss to Minnesota and trying to create another clever post for a team that has sucked my creative juices dry.
It was interesting to watch Mike Sweeney dig-in at the plate like usual, Sweeney walked three times, stole a base, and delivered a clutch 2-out RBI in the 3rd. He looks healthy to me and I really am starting to believe that Jack Z. is leaving him down there to help groom some of the younger guys in a winning environment. I guess there is no point in bringing-up guys like Dustin Ackley into the toxic morass of the Mariners 2010 season so Jack Z. has his little incubator of baseball players project going on down in Tacoma. Actually most of the starters in the field either have been or should be up with the big club this year. So take my word for it and head down to Tacoma and enjoy the game of baseball in a fun, winning environment while it lasts….http://jeffsmariners
Tagged: Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, Mariners, Mike Sweeney, Reno Aces, Tacoma Rainiers
The Seattle Mariners dropped the third game of this four game series tonight by a score of 12-3 and find themselves 10 games back in the AL West after being mauled by the first place Texas Rangers. Ryan Smith lost his right to having two last names with his performance tonight and will probably get heaped into the bullpen or perhaps over the side of the good ship Mariners. Brandon League got slammed around the deck as well by the Rangers and the whole team is starting to look like F-troop. If I never have to see Vladimir Guerrero hitting another line drive off his shoe-strings, or their pitching coach Mike Maddux going out to talk to his pitchers even when leading by 7 runs, I will be a happy man.
Going down to Texas everyone kind of knew this was going to be a make or break series for the struggling Mariners, and all the finger-pointing and hand wringing in the world won’t put Humpty-Dumpty back together again. We now are faced with a long summer, or perhaps maybe it will just keep raining all year in solidarity with our washed up Seafarers.
I should have known when I saw first hand down at spring training this year the way the veterans were disrespecting Don Wakamatsu that we were heading for trouble this year. Here are a couple of examples: One day I was watching the veterans taking BP and Wak asked some of them to play catch while they were waiting to hit. In this instance it was Sweeney, Jack Wilson, Griffey and Figgins,and a few others. The veterans just kept doing their usual shucking and jiving ritual while they ignored the skipper. So then Wak trying to lead by example grabbed a glove and started playing catch with one of the younger players, and I overheard Mike Sweeney say “Its overrated” meaning staying active and playing catch, instead of hovering around the cage while all the rookies were busting their butts is overrated. It struck me as odd and disrespectful and more importantly that Wak did not have respect of the veterans.
In addition I saw Ken Griffey barely going through the motions during sprints and drills always being the instigator and trying to always get some of the guys to go along with him. I remember thinking what was Ted Williams or Ty Cobb like during their final spring training and knew in my heart that guys like that would have worked just as hard as the rookies to set an example.
You may be wondering why I’m saying this now after all the times I came to the defense of both Griffey and Sweeney on this Blog when everyone else in town was calling for them to go. Well to be honest I was hoping it was no big deal and we were going to kick butt this year, and some things are best left alone. So there it is, as an ex-player and long time fan who has reverence for the great game of Baseball, I knew in my gut that this team was lacking in discipline and leadership from the gate. And now my worst nightmare has come true……
Entering Monday, Mike Sweeney was 16-for-44 (.364), with six home runs, 13 RBI, and six runs scored over his past 12 games. I learned this while sitting through the M’s pregame show at Safeco Field on Monday evening.
Now you could look at this one of two ways.
You could say, hey, Mike Sweeney’s been pretty damn productive in his last 12 games. And you’d be right. Because clearly, Sweeney has been a one-man offensive juggernaut.
But you could also look at this the way I looked at it.
Re-read those stats real quick. Sweeney has six home runs and six runs scored. He also has 16 hits. Which means that on the 10 occasions when Sweeney got a hit that wasn’t a home run, he failed to score. He also reached base four other times via bases on balls, meaning there were 14 incidences where Sweeney was on base and could not score.
The blame for this is two-fold.
First, and most obviously, you can blame the team’s crappy offense. What does it say about a lineup when a dude can reach base 14 freakin’ times (a guy who hits in the four-hole, no less) and not get driven in? It’s an extreme indictment on the Mariners’ five-through-seven hitters, who are primarily responsible for Sweeney’s being stranded on the basepaths.
Second, you can blame Sweeney’s old age and rusty wheels for being — well, I’ll just say it — a liability on the tracks. Seriously. If this team really plans on scoring runs with their weak-ass offense, they need to take extra bases and be efficient on the basepaths. Sweeney might be a knowledgeable baserunner, but he’s certainly not a good one. Pinch-running for the dude after his second at-bat wouldn’t be as egregious a move as it might seem on the surface.
The fact that the M’s are 0-for-14 in the month of May when it comes to driving in Sweeney is abominable (like the snowman). What’s worse is that they’re parading these stats in front of their fans like we’re too stupid to realize what it means.
Sweeney might be a one-man wrecking crew over the past month, but he’s only one guy. And it’s clear that even with his production, the rest of the team hasn’t done enough to help him over the past few weeks.
Finally, let’s get real, Mariners. How are you going to preach your small-ball philosophy to us, then slap us in the face with these crappy statistics? We’re supposed to be happy that Sweeney reached base 14 times and couldn’t score? Please. If he isn’t hitting the ball out of the park, he’s worthless. And so are the guys behind him in the order. Wake me up when you have real stats.
Filed under: Mariners
Tags: Mike Sweeney
Today I joined 22,422 of my closest friends down at the Safe to enjoy an indoor matinée played out on a grass field between white lines on another gloomy Seattle late May afternoon. In the first 8 innings it looked like the visiting gladiators from Motown were toying with our Mariners from the soggy Northwest before finally unloading their lethal bats on us. But for some reason the Detroit Tigers were unable to put the hurt on our boys despite hitting line drives all over the park that were just playable by our crafty sailors.
Jason Vargas managed to keep this game close by going 5 full innings and giving up only 2 runs despite not having his best stuff. On the other hand Jason Bonderman pitching for the Tigers only got touched for a single run in the second and it looked like he would coast to an easy victory. The Tigers have a tough line-up and got a long ball from Ordonez and added two more in the sixth off of Ryan Rowland-Smith, who should have gotten out of the inning were it not for the error by Jose Lopez.
But then came the bottom of the 8th…. Franklin Gutierrez lashed a lead-off single to right, followed by a strikeout from Milton Bradley. This brought up Mike Sweeney who has been on a tear lately and played an awkward first base today. Mike Sweeney has a knack for the dramatic and today was no different as he unloaded for a 2-run bomb that suddenly made it 4-3. Jose Lopez managed to get on with a single to bring up Rob Johnson who replaced Josh Bard who came out with an injury earlier in the game. Johnson is sometimes difficult to watch at the plate and he knows he is on the bubble with the Mariners. However today Johnson managed to drive a double off the wall in left and we had runners at second and third with the “Paper Boy” Josh Wilson coming to bat. Josh Wilson continued to make us forget about ailing Jack Wilson with a clutch 2-run RBI single that put the Mariners up for good at 5-4.
With the 2-game sweep the Mariners pulled to 7 1/2 games back of the Texas Rangers who lost today. But more importantly the last 2 games have shown everyone that the Mariners, though still ten games under .500 have not given up on the season and in fact are starting to gel. We now have a day off before heading to Anaheim for a 3-game series with the Angels. This was a decent home stand where we went 4-3 and could well be the turning point of the season. Between now and the All-Star break the Mariners have a chance to get back in the race slowly but surely with the formula of good pitching and timely hitting. Jose Lopez and Chone Figgins will be a key component of any comeback and they both are overdue to break-out and start producing like they are capable of. It looks like our ship hasn’t sunk yet so remember: Hope Floats! http://jeffsmariners.com
The San Diego Padres managed to squeak by the Mariners tonight in a classic Pitchers duel. The Padres starter Clayton Richard went 7 full innings, and had the edge on Mariners starter Ian Snell who pitched 5 innings giving up 1 run on 5 hits. The one run Snell gave up came at the hands of 42 year-old veteran Matt Stairs in the 4th. Stairs who is best remembered for his dramatic home-run for the Phillies against the Dodgers in game four of the 2008 play-offs, crushed home-run # 260 to right field with his patent full swing.
Ian Snell pitched well and got out of several jams early in the game. Kanekoa Texeira gave up the other run in the 6th inning on a breaking ball in the dirt that allowed Headley to score from third on a wild pitch. Offensively for the Mariners they had runners on first and third with one out in the first but could not get the sac-fly or base hit needed from either Sweeney or the slumping Lopez. Mike Sweeney did manage to drive in our only run in the 6th with a two-out single and had a 0ne-out double in the 9th to continue his hot hitting. The Mariners once again had runners at the corners with one-out in the bottom of the 9th, before Milton Bradley fanned and Casey Kotchman grounded out with Ken Griffey on deck, to end this tight match-up of West Coast teams.
With the win the Padres managed to stay tied for first in the NL West, and the Mariners stay 8 1/2 back of Texas who lost to the Cubs today in Interleague play. 28,670 were on hand tonight and they were treated to the complete opposite of the slugfest on Friday with this low-scoring affair. The series is now even at 1-1 and I like our chances of winning this series when Felix Hernandez takes the mound for the Mariners in the rubber-game tomorrow afternoon. http://jeffsmariners.com
On a cold May night I took the bus down to the Safe tonight following a hunch that yesterday’s come from behind victory marked a turning point in the season for the Mariners. Little did I know what was to follow would be a slugfest, thinking instead the pitching duel between Cliff Lee and Wade Le Banc throwing for the 1st place San Diego Padres. Cliff Lee didn’t seem to have his best stuff and the surprising Padres scored 2 runs in the first with Pesky David Eckstein starting things off with a single, followed by a double from slugger 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez.The padres picked up a couple more singles from Headley and Salazar, before Lee shut them down.
In the Mariners half of the 1st I got my first clue that tonight King Neptune was on our side when Gutierrez reached first on a dropped routine fly to right field. We didn’t score in the 1st but something was different in the air tonight after the collective sigh of relief we all felt after Griffey’s clutch hit on Thursday to win that one.
And then it came, the Baseball Gods decided to start the bottom of the second with a fluke base hit by Bradley that bounced off third Base and gave Milton Bradley the 1st of his 3 hits for the night. We loaded the bases up on walks before Josh Wilson delivered a single. Ichiro picked up a hit as well and on another odd play Josh Wilson scored from 3rd on a ground ball by Guti to third baseman Headley who instead of going for the double play, decided to throw home allowing Wilson to score. Mike Sweeney came up with 2 runners on and fouled a ball that just missed being fair for a homer. I’ve watched a lot of baseball in my life and 99% of the time when a batter hits a ball out but foul he doesn’t come back and hit a home run. But again this night was our night, and Mike Sweeney did indeed connect for a 3-run bomb and the Mariners were up 7-2 and never looked back.
Our new starting catcher Josh Bard hit a solo homer in the 3rd to answer the Padres 2-runs effort in the top half of the frame. It was odd to see Cliff Lee labor tonight and he actually gave up 7 earned runs before the night was over. But this time things would be different for our suddenly on fire bats, every time the Padres scored we answered back, and then some.
Mike Sweeney picked up another homer and had 4-hits and 6 RBI’s on the night. Milton Bradley had a 3 hit night, and Josh Bard lifted his average to .400 with his 2 hits. Only Jose Lopez went hitless tonight though he was robbed of extra bases late in the game by a Willie Mays over the shoulder basket catch by the Padres left fielder Denorfia. I had a great seat in section 120 three rows back, I brought the sign pictured above in support of Ken Griffey which Vargas and a couple other player acknowledged. But I kept looking for Griffey who must have been sitting back and enjoying the hit parade he started Thursday.
Finally in the 6th he came up to the rail and Bedard pointed my way, Griffey saw my sign and acknowledged it by tipping his hat to me! And in reality he was tipping his hat to all of us that stood with him recently. That whole Larry Larue story is officially dead now. The Barometer is rising, though it has a long way to go to reach .500, so I think I will enjoy the memories of tonight’s break-out 15-8 win and let King Neptune do the rest.http://jeffsmariners.com
Anyways, in case you missed Friday night’s M’s game, the Mariners went off like Oliver Miller at Old Country Buffet. They erupted for 15 runs, and at the forefront of that eruption was Mike’s Weenie, himself.
Sweeney, Official Giver of Hugs, raised his batting average 50 points — from .226 to .276 — with a 4-for-5 performance that included two home runs, six RBI, and two runs scored. The six RBI nearly doubled his season production up to this point (he had seven RBI entering Friday).
Of course, by now, we have to wonder what the hell has gotten into this guy.
Over the past eight days, the 36-year-old part-time employee is batting .417 (10-for-24), with five home runs, 10 RBI, and five runs scored. His slugging percentage over that span is a whopping 1.042. Amazingly, Sweeney is actually living up to the role of a cleanup hitter, and so long as his back can stay healthy, this is great news for the Mariners.
If you ask Sweeney what the source of this surge is, he’ll tell you it’s his love for Ken Griffey Jr. that gives him all the power he needs to do his job in such outstanding fashion. No, seriously. Just listen to any postgame interview and you’ll see what I mean.
That said, if taking Junior’s job is Sweeney’s way of showing love, I’d hate to see what he does to those he dislikes. Look out, Larry LaRue.
No matter how batsh*t crazy Sweeney may have gone off the field in recent days, we’ll take everything he can possibly give us between the lines. Enjoy this while it lasts, M’s fans.
Filed under: Mariners
Because the first three weren’t enough.
Step One: Put Ryan Rowland-Smith on a raft and send him out to sea.
Rowland-Smith originally hails from Australia. If Mother Nature is just, the Mariners’ 27-year-old lefthander will at some point arrive back in his homeland. But if not, who cares.
RRS is an absolute abomination right now. His initials stand for “Really, Really Sucky.” He can’t pitch to save his life.
Monday night Rowland-Smith got shelled by the Oakland A’s (2.2 IP, 7 ER, 10 H), which is akin to having one’s butt kicked by a fourth grade cub scout. The Aussie had been teetering on the edge of crappiness all year long, however, and his latest implosion was probably enough to force the organization’s hand.
Rowland-Smith certainly doesn’t deserve to start games any longer. Were he left with any minor league options, he’d almost certainly be on his way to Tacoma this morning. But because he can’t simply be optioned down to the farm, the Mariners would have to designate the southpaw for assignment if they wanted him off the 25-man roster. In designating Rowland-Smith, the M’s would risk losing him to another ballclub. Which honestly doesn’t scare me at all right now (but understandably scares an organization who has invested two commercials in the guy in the past two years).
In all likelihood, Rowland-Smith will be sent to the bullpen to work through his struggles while attempting to help the big club. That probably means a guy like Ian Snell finds his way to the rotation, or a middle reliever gets sent down while a guy like Luke French or Steven Shell gets called up.
But I’ll be honest. If it was me, I’d designate the guy and let every other team have a crack at him. At 27 years of age, Rowland-Smith is too old to be considered a prospect. He’s never been anything more than mediocre, in spite of his flashes of brilliance from time to time (the end of 2009, for example). He doesn’t possess great “stuff,” with a fastball in the low-90s and no ridiculous out pitch. And aside from being a pseudo-fan favorite (which I attribute to, among other things, his nationality, his blog, his sport specs, and his ability to socially network online), he’s nothing more than the pitching version of Willie Bloomquist.
There has to be a more deserving guy in the organization, and I’d argue that at this point in his career, someone like French, at 24 years of age, gives you a better chance at success both now and in the future.
Step Two: Bat Ichiro third
Why is this organization so afraid of Ichiro? Is he part of Yakuza? Does he carry guns? What’s the deal?
Why every manager we’ve ever had has been scared to rock the boat with the team’s right fielder is beyond me, but it’s up to Don Wakamatsu to reverse that trend and prove he’s man enough to stand up to his star leadoff hitter and move him down in the order.
Ichiro needs to be batting third in this miserable excuse for a lineup. He is one of few people amongst the team’s starters who can hit the ball, thus creating better opportunity for runs. Having him lead off allows him to get more at-bats, but it certainly doesn’t help the team score.
How many times has Ichiro led off a game by getting on base, only to be left stranded in scoring position when the 2-3-4 hitters couldn’t come through and knock him in? It has happened all too frequently and it’s time for a change.
The easy replacement for Ichiro in the leadoff spot would be Chone Figgins, who yesterday I suggested should be hitting ninth. While Figgins is an experienced leadoff hitter, I would humbly suggest a different individual if the team’s second baseman isn’t able to conquer his batting struggles. That individual is Michael Saunders, who has primarily batted near the bottom of the order during his tenure with the big club. Saunders possesses the speed and on-base percentage to make an impact at the top of the lineup, plus he’s batting .296 as we speak. He may be a middle-of-the-order hitter in the future, but right now he’s more of a Brady Anderson type, a gap hitter who showcases pop from time to time.
Regardless of what the M’s choose to do, it’s imperative to find someone who can stabilize the heart of the batting order. Ichiro could very well be the right man for the job.
Step Three: Cut Mike Sweeney
Sweeney is arguably swinging the hottest bat on the team right now, but he also doubles as the least dependable employee in the M’s workplace. Monday night, in spite of his recent hot streak, Sweeney was riding the pine after his back acted up and started giving him trouble once again. This, following a Sunday game in which the 36-year-old DH received a scheduled day off.
I like that Sweeney has started to hit the ball (he has three home runs in his past three games), but what good is a player who can’t be counted on to perform from one day to the next? It’s one thing to be able to play and maybe not produce as expected, but it’s a completely different matter when you are physically unable to play whatsoever. And that’s the problem facing Sweeney.
This same thing happened last year towards the latter part of the season. Just as Sweeney was beginning to heat up with the bat, his back started acting up and he wasn’t able to get his old ass off the bench. We’re spinning our wheels with this guy.
Every time Sweeney takes a step towards progress with this team, he gets hurt. I don’t know how many tubes of BenGay the ballclub can get him, but if simple remedies aren’t helping Sweeney find the batter’s box, then why waste any more energy on a veteran whose time might be better served in a hammock somewhere.
Perhaps when Milton Bradley returns from his journey to the center of his own mind we might see the end of Old Man Sweeney. Bradley will most likely assume the role of designated hitter when he surfaces, and that will spell doom for either Sweeney or his DH counterpart, Ken Griffey Jr. Despite Junior’s recent woes at the plate, firing the most popular player in Mariners history would be a mistake, and with Sweeney constantly ailing, it won’t be too difficult to pass on Ol’ Unreliable.
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He also wants to take a bullet for you.
He has also made it very clear that what’s said in the clubhouse, stays in the clubhouse.
Of course, Sweeney was also the one who publicly aired that last bit about the stuff said in the clubhouse staying in the clubhouse, even though he was the one who said it in the clubhouse, then took it out of the clubhouse, essentially breaking his own rule in the process.
Perhaps Sweeney is losing it. Or maybe he’s just caught up in the firestorm that is quickly becoming the Seattle Mariners’ 2010 season. Who knows for sure. All we really know is that this — this talk about taking bullets, getting in fights, and refusing to talk to the press — is getting out of hand.
It started with the Eric Byrnes botched squeeze beach cruiser incident. That led to Milton Bradley’s emotional problems just a few days later. A short while after that, we caught wind of Griffey Napgate. Which in turn has spawned the Rampage of Mike Sweeney.
Just yesterday, Sweeney reportedly challenged any member of the ballclub who broke the now infamous Napgate story to fight him, mano a mano. Not feeling the love from their elder statesman, no one stepped up to throw down with the old man. Based on this reaction (or non-reaction), Sweeney inferred that no one amongst his locker room brethren could possibly have leaked the news of Griffey’s gameday snooze to Tacoma News-Tribune beat writer Larry LaRue, hence LaRue must be a liar. Somewhere in there is a logical fallacy we all learned about in high school English class. We just need to find it.
Sweeney has instructed his teammates not to talk to LaRue from here on out, and after day one, the 24 guys in blue have heeded their leader’s words. Never mind that LaRue is the longest-tenured beat writer in the M’s clubhouse (he’s been there since 1988) or that he was previously held in high regard by the players. Like a group of high school girls determined to take a stand by not engaging in conversation with the enemy, the Mariners will not speak to Mr. LaRue. Yay for maturity.
On top of all that (yes, there’s more), Sweeney has been quoted in the press on numerous occasions the last few days saying he’d “take a bullet” for anyone on the team. Really? Would you really do that, Mike? Because I doubt it. I can think of maybe ten people I’d actually take a bullet for. But twenty-four? Of my coworkers, no less? Sorry guys, but you’re on your own.
There are certain heroes out there who are mentally wired to take bullets for others. Secret Service agents, military personnel, law enforcement agents. For a professional baseball player to use that phrase so loosely is a travesty. Because if someone pulled a gun on, say, Jose Lopez, I’m not so sure Sweeney would dive in front of his third baseman and absorb the blow. And with no track record of taking bullets to back him up, Sweeney is more or less blowing hot air. We don’t need that.
Gentlemen, let’s focus on playing baseball.
Let’s focus on winning ballgames.
Forget about Rip Van Griffey.
Forget about Sugar Ray Sweeney.
Just go out and do your jobs like professionals. Stop embarrassing yourselves in the public eye. And don’t blame the media or the fans for your problems.
One story got blown out of proportion, and instead of taking it in stride (like men), you’ve gotten all childish on us in the past 24 hours. People are going to talk about you. It happens.
Don’t turn this into a Biggie-Tupac thing.
Don’t make this the sequel to Mean Girls.
You are grown adults, making millions of dollars. You’re better than this. You need to be better than this. Kids look up to you. Fans respect you. An entire city depends on you.
I say this out of love, from the bottom of my heart: Grow up.
Filed under: Mariners