Month: July 2016

Paying for Points

Paying for Points

If you’re a quarterback in the National Football League, you get paid. Quarterbacks average 3,840,017 dollars, 1.2 million more than the next closest position. Teams are paying for points, even if they overpay their comodity. On Wednesday, the New York Jets proved that mediocre play can still lead to excellent pay.

Ryan Fitzpatrick was laughing all the way to the bank on Wednesday. The Journeyman is making 12 million dollars next season. Eight of that 12 million dollars can be credited to his beard. Fitzpatrick has been on six teams in 10 years. Fitz has played in 112 games, throwing for 154 touchdowns, but giving up 116 interceptions.

Fitzpatrick is coming off of his best season in his career. The Jets quarterback passed for 3,905 yards, with 39 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The team also had no leverage in the situation, not having a better option in the organization. All the ingredients were there for Fitzpatrick to have a nice payday.

Michael Bennett has championed the campaign against the pay disparity. Not with Fitzpatrick in particular, but quarterbacks in general. What Bennett says makes more sense with every quarterback contract signed.

“Quarterback is the only position in the NFL where you could be mediocre and get paid. At every other position, you can’t be mediocre,” Bennett said. “If I was Ryan Tannehill and the most games I ever won was seven, how could you get a $100 million for that? I guess that’s the value of the position.”

Why is that position so valued? The Houston Texans made the playoffs in 2015 with Brian Hoyer taking snaps. The Texans feature a defense that ranked third in the NFL last season in total yards allowed. The super bowl champion Denver Broncos top that list. The 2014 champion Seattle Seahawks led the league in total yards allowed the season they won the super bowl.

Several NFL quarterbacks make too much money for not doing too much. Matt Ryan makes $20,750,000 a year, and is 1-4 in the playoffs. Tony Romo makes $18,000,000 a year, and is 2-4 in post season play. At $16,000,000 a year, Andy Dalton is 0-4 after the regular season.

Defense can be linked hand in hand with successful teams. A team could focus their money on the opposite side of the ball and make average quarterbacks on opposing teams even worse. Every team is going to have flaws. It’s a shame that half of the NFL is over paying theirs.  Quarterbacks dont have to play well, but well enoguh to get paid well.

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Pretty Neat Confines in Pittsburg

Pretty Neat Confines in Pittsburg

The Mariners played a short two game series against the Pittsburg Pirates. Inter-league play provides fans the opportunities to watch their team play teams they don’t normally see. It also allows fans to see different ballparks on TV. PNC Park in Pittsburg is the most beautiful baseball stadium in America.

The dimensions of the infield are standard across all baseball stadiums.  The paths to home plate from each dugout create a unique look. The logo behind home place is simple, but affective. The natural grass surface is classic.

No outfield is the same across baseball.  Down the left field line is 325 feet from home plate. The short six feet tall wall creates the opportunity for home run robbing catches to be made. The wall grows to 10 feet in left center field. The power alley  is 389 feet from the plate, and at its deepest point, left center is 410 feet away from the plate. The bullpens are hidden in that power alley.

Dead center field is 399 feet from home. Just beyond the center field wall, the team name Pirates is spelled out in shrubbery. It’s tough to see in the picture above, but it looks great on TV.

Down the right field line is 320 feet from home plate. The right field wall is 21 feet high in honor of Roberto Clemente who wore number 21. A league wide scoreboard is located on that wall. The Wall drops down in right center field, and is 375 feet from home.

The outside of the ballpark is as beautiful as the inside. The Allegheny River sits behind the right field wall, and is a landing spot for several home runs a year. Roberto Clemente bridge can be seen from the plate. The city skyline lies in the background.

If I had my way, I would have been in Pittsburg for the final game of the short two game series between the M’s and the Bucs. Inter-league play provides a chance to see teams and ballparks that fans don’t normally see. PNC Park is the first ballpark I would like to visit.

Struggling Storen Gets New Home

Struggling Storen Gets New Home

The Mariners had a reliever get ten years younger Tuesday night. Not really, but theoretically they did. Jerry DiPoto was at it again with his favorite transaction, the trade. The M’s found the fountain of youth by trading Joaquin Benoit  for Drew Storen. Both relievers have pitched poorly in 2016. If Storen can return to his old form on his new team, the back-end of the Mariner bullpen has been improved.

The Mariners are getting the 10th overall pick from the 2009 draft. In seven big league seasons, Storen has a career 3.31 earned run average, accumulating 353 strike outs to 106 walks. Storen has had three seasons with a sub 2.75 ERA, all coming as a member of the Washington Nationals. 2016 has been Storen’s worst year by far. In 38 games, the right hander has given up 43 hits, including six home runs and has allowed 23 earned runs.

“Obviously, this has not been Drew’s best season, but he is closely linked to a run of great success pitching in the back-end of very good bullpens,” Dipoto said. “Hopefully this serves as a change of scenery and over the next two months we can get him back on track.”

Benoit was also having one of the worst seasons of his 15 year MLB career. Benoit had posted a 5.18 ERA, giving up 20 hits and 14 earned runs in 24.1 innings pitched. If Storen continues to put up lousy numbers, not much was lost in this trade.

A new home jersey may be what Storen needs to get back on track. Tom Wilhelmsen was another reliever who struggled early. Since rejoining the Mariners, the Bartender has posted a 1.23 ERA in 7.1 innings pitched. A 180 degree turn around from the 10.55 ERA Whilhelmsen had in Texas.

At face value, the trade looks as though the Mariners and Blue Jays have swapped a pair of struggling relievers. The Mariners had a reliever get ten years younger. The M’s also got a former top ten draft pick. Storen’s best years came as a member of the Washington Nationals. Hopefully, Storen can find his old self, in a new Washington.

Winning is a Privilege

Winning is a Privilege

It’s tough to lose privileges. Having something taken away from you isn’t a good feeling. On Saturday, Chris Sale lost several privileges. Sale lost the privilege to pick what uniform his team wore. Sale lost the privilege to start in a Major League Baseball game. Sale lost the privilege of trying to help his team win. In the process, Sale became a hypocrite.

Sale was scratched from his start Saturday Night. The ace was removed from the lineup for a “clubhouse incident… which was non-physical in nature.” Not only was Sale scratched, he was also sent home from the ballpark. How the White Sox ace earned expulsion for the night was still in question.

“Really Silly”

That’s how a source described what had took place. Throughout the season, White Sox starters are allowed to pick the uniform that the team wears on the games they pitch. Saturday was not one of those nights, as the team was set to wear a throwback uniform. Sale insisted that the team not wear the uniforms the night of his start, saying the uniforms were not comfortable. The White Sox were having none of it.

During batting practice, Sale went inside the clubhouse and cut the throwback uni’s. He really did that. Sale’s frustration was because he felt the organization was more concerned with public relations and jersey sales being more important than winning.

This is where the all-star game starter becomes hypocritical. Rather than competing though the discomfort of the uniform to help his team win, he threw a fit. Power and privilege were taken away from Sale. The lefty reacted in one of the strangest ways I’ve ever heard of.

The White Sox are 1-7 since the all-star break. The Sox sit 46-50, and are 10 games out of first place in the American League Central. Sale is 14-3 with a 3.18 earned run average in 19 starts. A solid outing from Sale could have been what the team needed to get off the snide. We’ll never know.

Losing privileges is never a good feeling. Sale lost privilege, and reacted in a bizarre way. With motives rooted in winning, Sale’s actions lessened his team’s chance to win. All Chris Sale wants to do is win… as long as he does in the clothes he wants to wear.

 

DiPoto Guys Wanted

DiPoto Guys Wanted

Sound the alarm, the Mariners have made the their first move nearing the trade deadline. Jerry DiPoto struck a deal that sent Mike Montgomery and Jordan Pries to the Cubs in exchange for Dan Vogelbach and Paul Blackburn. Montgomery being traded could be an indication of the players who could be on the move before the trade deadline.

The Mariners have picked up a first baseman and a relief pitcher. Vogelbach is a large, large man. The 23-year-old stands at six feet tall, and weighs 250 pounds, with 78 pound forearms. Vogelbach’s numbers are as impressive as his stature. The left-handed hitting first basemen is hitting .318 with 18 doubles, 18 home runs and 64 runs batted in in triple A Iowa. Scouts say Vogelbach is ready to contribute to the big league club right now. It will be interesting to see how soon that happens.

The M’s also picked up a reliever. Blackburn has pitched 102.1 innings in double A, giving up a 3.17 earned run average. The righty can get the punch out, accumulating 72 k’s to his 26 walks. If that doesn’t scream “DiPoto guy” I’m not sure what does.

The Mariners gave up a do-it-all pitcher in Mike Montgomery. Montgomery was 3-4 with a 2.34 ERA with 54 strike outs and 18 walks. Montgomery had been solid for the Mariners and will be an asset for the Cubs. Pries was pitching well in triple A Tacoma. Pries had recorded a 3.65 era in 24.2 innings pitched.

The trade makes sense for the Mariners. The M’s had a surplus in left-handed pitchers in James Paxton, Wade Miley, Wade LeBlanc and Montgomery. Of the four lefty’s Montgomery had performed the best. The Cubs may have only been listening to deals involving Montgomery, but there could be more to it.

DiPoto retooled the roster over the offseason. When the M’s hit the field in spring training, 31 of the 60 players in camp where new to the organization. Montgomery was a player who was brought in by the old regime, and isn’t a Dipoto guy. From a performance standpoint, it makes more sense to give up both Miley and LeBlanc, but both of those players were brought in by DiPoto.

DiPoto has traded Mark Trumbo away from team’s he’s ran twice. Trumbo is the league leader for home runs in 2016. If you ain’t a DiPoto guy, you’re gone.

The return sees a left-handed hitting first basemen come to the ball club. Adam Lind becomes a free agent at the end of 2016. Apart, from his 15 home runs, two being walk-off’s, Lind’s .231 batting average hasn’t been stellar. This move could have been made for 2017. Lind could also be another piece that’s moved before the trade deadline.

Montgomery has pitched well all season long. Numbers show he’s been better than all other left-handed starting pitchers the Mariners have. The Cubs may have only been listening to offers involving Montgomery. History also shows that you have to fit the mold the Mariners General Manager wants. If you don’t, you may need a real estate agent soon.

Bullpen Blowup

Bullpen Blowup

Wade Miley pitched well enough to pick up a win for the Mariners last night. The M’s would eventually fall 6-1 to the White Sox. The bullpen pitched well, until an explosion in the ninth inning.

Miley pitched 6.1 inning allowing three earned runs, with six hits and four strikeouts. Tom Wilhelmsen came in and pitched 0.2 of an inning keeping the sox scoreless. Edwin Diaz was remarkable, getting all three outs in the eighth by strikeout. The game was in reach entering the ninth inning with the score at 3-1.

Joaquin Beniot hasn’t been sharp all season long, and he continued that trend Tuesday night. Despite striking out two, Beniot gave up a two run homer, pushing the score to 5-1. Beniot left the game with a runner on first when David Rollins took over. Rollins gave up an RBI double, and the run was charged to Beniot.

A comeback was feasible entering the ninth inning with the game at 3-1. Beniot and Rollins put the game out of reach. The M’s look to rebound This afternoon when Felix Hernandez makes his return to the mound. The team can not afford another bullpen blowup.

Walk-Off Dingle Bingle

Walk-Off Dingle Bingle

I was irritated. I was frustrated. After watching the Mariners play the their worst game of the year on Sunday, the M’s were being shut out on Monday night. Chris Sale had done Chris Sale things against the M’s, pitching eight innings of one hit ball, with six strike outs. When I was ready to move on, the Mariners pulled me back in.

“It’s really easy to give up, say, ‘Ah this isn’t our night,’ and move on,” manager Scott Servais said. “And we don’t do that. This club doesn’t do that.”

Through 53 of the 54 outs of Monday’s White Sox vs. Mariners game, nothing was fun for M’s fans. The Mariners trailed 3-0 when the Sox brought in closer David Robertson. With two runners on and two out, Kyle Seager drove in a run to cut the lead to two. Adam Lind came to the plate in a pinch hit spot, and for the second time this season, Lind hit a walk-off three run home run when the team needed it the most.

It was an incredible piece of hitting by Lind. The pitch was practically in Lind’s armpits, but Lind was able to get the barrel of his bat to the ball, and drive it over the wall. I could hardly believe it.

Lost in the excitement of the walk-off dingle bingle, is Wade LeBlanc’s performance on the mound. LeBlanc turned in a quality start, going seven innings, striking out six, while giving up three earned runs. LeBlanc scattered nine hits throughout those seven innings, and did well in preventing the damage that could have been. The Sox went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, and left seven runners on base.

The Mariner’s came from behind to win in dramatic fashion. Lind helped the Mariners walk off the Cardinals on June 24. The team went 7-3 in their next ten games including that night. The team needs this type of run to solidify themselves as a playoff contender, and to make moves for now at the trade deadline.

After 53 of the 54 outs of last nights game, I was ready to move on. Servais was right, its easy to give up. I’m not ready to move on, because the Mariners have pulled me back in.

Buy or Sell… Try Now or Later

Buy or Sell… Try Now or Later

With a couple weeks left in July, the sports world is focused on the Major League Baseball trade deadline. At this point in the 162 game season, teams determine whether they are in a playoff race, or if they are completely out of it. The labels teams are given are buyers, or sellers. Buyers are acquiring valuable assets from losing teams. Sellers are trading assets for prospects. Personally, I can’t buy into the terms buy or sell.

There are returns on both sides of any trade. Throughout history, we have seen trades where the seller gets a better return than the team that bought. In 2008, the Mariners bought Erik Bedard for Adam Jones, Chris Tillman and three other minor league players. Bedard had an earned run average that was just over three in 2007 and finished in the top five in cy young voting. In Seattle, Bedard never piched more than 83 innings in two short seasons. Adam Jones has blossomed into an all-star outfielder, batting .277 on his career while hitting double-digit home runs in all but one of his nine years of Baltimore. Chris Tillman was the Mariners minor league pitcher of the year in 07, before turning into an all-star with the Orioles.

In this example, the Mariner’s bought, but lost everything. The Orioles sold, and it could be one of the greatest trades in their franchises history with what they got in return. Connotatively, buy and sell promotes the idea that the team that is buying will always win the trade.

Teams are facing the decision to play for right now, or for the future. Similar to a draft, you can’t truly tell how a trade will affect a franchise until two or three years after the fact. The only way of knowing is if the instant gratification of a championship is won by the team playing for now.

If your team is selling this trade deadline, it isn’t a reason to be down on the franchise. Those getting rid of valuable assets, may be doing what is best long term. The MLB trade deadline is usually the most exciting of the four major sports in the United States. I’m not buying into buyers and sellers. I am excited to see who will be wearing a different uniform in August.

Astros @ Mariners 7/15-17/16

Astros @ Mariners 7/15-17/16

Baseball is back. After a long five days, the unofficial second half of the Major League Baseball season is underway. The first series after the all-star break has come to an end. The Mariners began the first of five series against teams above .500 against the Astros. Unfortunately for the M’s, the Astros took the series 2-1.

Game one of the three game set saw the Astros win 7-3. James Paxton got the start for the M’s coming out of the all-star break. Despite Paxton’s new-found velocity, opposing hitters are getting their bats on the ball. Paxton is allowing a .326 batting average against.

The Astros scored five runs in the fifth inning on three doubles and three wild pitches. Paxton was pummeled for nine hits over five innings.

“I feel like I was trying to pitch like a crafty lefty instead of pitching like a power pitcher, like I am,” said Paxton,”I need to embrace the fact I’m a power pitcher and not try to be too crafty. I can use that at times, but that’s not who I am.”

Game two was dominated by the bear, Hisashi Iwakuma. Kuma threw seven scoreless innings, striking out eight while giving up just two hits. Edwin Diaz struck out two in an innings worth of work. Steve Cisheck closed the door with a pair of K’s in the ninth.

Robinson Cano supplied all the offense the M’s needed to pick up the win. Cano drove in Leoney’s Martin in the sixth inning to take a 1-0 lead. Great pitching and just enough offense gave the M’s the win.

In Game three, defense was optional for the home team. The Mariners made four… yep, four errors on Sunday’s series finale. Kyle Seager led the way with two errors. Seager missed a throw from Jesus Sucre on a steal leading to a run for the stro’s. Seager then missed a grounder. A pair of bad outfield throws from Seth Smith and Martin put the Astros in great offensive positions.

Colin McHugh got the start for the Astros, and the Mariners could not touch him. McHugh struck out 10 Mariner hitters and gave up just four hits in six innings of work. Seattle still had their chances but went 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and left 10 runners on base.

“That’s hands down the worst game we’ve played all year,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Not a whole lot of positives to talk about today.”

Poor defense from the M’s, and McHugh’s great performance lead to a 8-1 victory for the Astros.

The Mariner’s did not play well in their first series back from the all-star break. Paxton’s wild pitches on Friday nigh, and four errors on Sunday afternoon handed a couple of games to the Astros.

The Mariner’s now sit at an even 45-45 on the season. The Chicago White Sox are coming to Seattle for a three game series. Felix Hernandez returns to the pitching rotation on Wednesday. Hopefully the King provides a spark the team needs to get momentum on their side.

 

All-star Importance, Lack-Luster Presentation

All-star Importance, Lack-Luster Presentation

The Minnesota Twins secured home field advantage in the World Series last night. A pair of Kansas City Royals each drove in two runs, giving the American League the win in the Major League Baseball All-star game. The problem with the all-star game is not that the winning league receives home field advantage in the World Series, it’s the presentation.

The MLB All-star game has consequences even though it is an exhibition. The National Football League and National Basketball Association all-star games are hardly worth watching. No part of the game resembles and actual contest between the best players from each league. Robinson Cano got one at bat in last nights all-star game. Cano worked a full count, eventually drawing a walk. That approach and effort was no different from any regular season game.

The image of the all-star game has yet to evolve with the significance of the game. During the regular season, players talk to each other while they are on  the field. However players may cover their mouth with their glove, or cameras cut away from the conversation. During an all-star game broadcast, the on field banter between players is glorified, making it feel less intense than a regular season game. If players weren’t mic’d up, or the playful nature wasn’t glorified, this game would feel like any other.

The pageantry that comes with an all-star game is to be expected. The players in the game are the best in the world at what they do. Events such as fan fest, as well as the red carpet do not take away from the game being played. Moving forward, the hoopla should take place the night before during the home run derby.

The Twins are 32-56, 20 games back in their division, and 17.5 games back of the second wild card spot. If the Twins can turn their season around, game one of the World Series will be in Minnesota. Opposed to popular opinion, I have no problem with the all-star game deciding where game one of the World Series takes place. However, the presentation of the event should match the magnitude of the outcome.