Category: Washington

Rebuild for What?

Rebuild for What?

Time to start over.

The Seattle Mariners are 41-45 with three games left before the all-star break. Currently, they trail the Oakland Athletics, who are 38-47, 7-1 in the top of the sixth. My buddy’s are clambering for the team to rebuild.

The team is on a frustrating run. They haven’t won a home game since June 23rd. They are 17 games out of first place in the west, and four games out of the second wild card spot. With a little less than half of the season left to play, should they already be thinking about next season?

No.

There is no significant player that makes sense to begin the selling process with. The Mariners infield is top-tier. It’s led by Robinson Cano, who has seven years left on his 10-year, 240 million dollar contract. Number 22 will play his final game as a Seattle Mariner.

A similar story can be told for Kyle Seager. He’s got four years left on a seven-year, 100 million dollar contract. His numbers are consistent and he’s been a durable asset for the team throughout his career. He’s finished inside the top 20 of most valuable player voting twice. He isn’t a player you get rid of.

Jean Segura was added to the M’s least offseason. He came to the team as the National League hits leader, checking in with 203 knocks last season. The Mariners felt Sagura would continue to produce, so they added five years to his contract in June. He’s not leaving the Northwest.

In the outfield, there is nothing to get rid of either. Mitch Haniger is a player the organization is incredibly high on. Early in the season, it was easy to understand why. He led rookies in nearly every category before being sidelined with an oblique injury. Haniger won’t become a free agent until 2023. He’s your right fielder of now, and the future.

In the opposite corner, Ben Gamel has been outstanding for the club. Acquired from the New York Yankees, the lefty is leading the league in batting average. Like Haniger, Gamel doesn’t become a free agent until 2023. That’s fine by me. Eventually, Guillermo Heredia will join the group as a part of the full-time outfield.

Mike Zunino continues to be a project for Edgar Martinez and Scott Brosius. Zunino is praised for his defensive ability behind the plate, while his offense finally seems to be getting closer.

Offensively, every other player on the roster is a guy.

The true problems stem from the pitching staff. It starts with Felix Hernendez. The King isnt what he once was, and it’s painfully obvious. He’s another guy with a huge contract attatched to him, that no team will be willing to take on, especially with his ability deminishing.

Hisashi Iwakuma was shut down last week after suffering a setback with his shoulder injry. It’s often forgotten that Iwakuma failed a physical with the Los Angeles Dodgers two years ago. Drew Smyly looked phenominal in the world baseball classic. In June, the M’s realized he need Tommy John Surgery, and will miss anywhere between 12-15 months of aciton.

All three of those guys are worthless in any trade market.

The Mariners staff has been made up of young arms who are holding their own. The bullpen, when used properly, is solid.

We’re midway through the eighth, and the M’s still trail Athletics 7-1. They’ll likely fall to 41-46, with three games remaining before the allstar break. However, the Seattle Mariners don’t need to, and are incabable of rebuilding their roster.

For the Seattle Mariners, it is time to start over.

That starts tomorrow.

 

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Former Mariners Turned Random All-Stars

Former Mariners Turned Random All-Stars

It’s hard to say goodbye in most cases. It wasn’t for me in 2015 when the Seattle Mariners finally parted ways with Justin Smoak. Smoak was an extremely average, switch-hitting first basemen in his time as a Mariner. It’s 2017, and Smoak is starting the all-star game for the American League as a Blue Jay. It’s tough to believe.

Average is the kindest way to describe Smoak as a Mariner. He spent 2010 through 2014 in  Seattle. In 2011, he had career highs in runs batted in with 55, and doubles with 24. In 2013, he hit 20 home runs, and hit .238, also career highs as a Mariner. The combined numbers of Adam Lind and Dae Ho Lee, the 2016 M’s platoon, blow him out of the water.

It’s strange. Last season, with Edwin Encarnacion in front of him, Smoak was a .217 hitter, who smacked 14 homers and 10 doubles on the year.  With a chance to play everyday, Smoak is batting .302 with 22 home runs and 12 doubles. He’s responsible for 52 runs the Blue Jays have scored.

Random.

Admittedly, Smoak is worthy of an all-star game appearance.

Something similar happened with another Blue Jay that was a Mariner previously.

Michael Saunders earned an all-star appearance in 2016 with what many thought to be a breakout year. His most significant time on the field came in 2012. A season in which he played 139 games and batted .247 with 19 homers and 31 doubles. The Canadian was incapable of staying healthy throughout his career.

Saunders earned a nod as an all-star in 2016, batting .298 while hitting 25 doubles and 16 home runs. Legitimately, those are all-star numbers. Saunders skidded hard in the second half of the season, finishing with a .253 batting average, 32 doubles and 24 dingers.

By the start of the 2017 season, Saunders signed a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. By the end of June, Saunders had been designated for assignment. He could be the most random all-star of all time.

Both Smoak and Saunders are former Mariners. Both were not anything special in their time in Seattle. The majority of Mariner fans weren’t upset to see either leave Seattle. The duo had somewhat random all-star nods. Saunders fell off hard. Will Smoak do the same? I mean, if history is a thing, probably.

Both of these guys appeared in an all-star game and it’s just as random now as it will be in the future.

Freedom & Free Passes

Freedom & Free Passes

July just started, so it’s time to celebrate freedom. In my book, it’s tough to find a holiday better than the Fourth of July. Sun is shining, beer is flowing and baseball is all over my TV screen. For the Seattle Mariners, two unassuming pitchers have been denying freedom this season, and it’s the only time I can dig it.

 

Sam Gaviglio is quietly putting up the best numbers amongst Mariner starting pitchers. The 27-year-old has made nine starts, throwing 51.2 innings. He’s gone 3-3 with a 3.48 earned run average. There is nothing intimidating about the rookies repertoire. He touches low 90’s, and allows hitters to make contact. He allows eight hits per nine innings, but it doesn’t prove catastrophic for Giviglio and his squad.

Arial Miranda wasn’t in the projected opening day rotation, but he probably should have been. The left hander has started 17 games, replacing Drew Smyly who will miss the remainder of the 2017 season, and most likely the start of 2018 after having Tommy John Surgery. Miranda is sitting 7-4 with a 3.82 ERA. Miranda gives up 7.1 hits per nine innings.

Both guys toe the line of staying in the strike zone too often. They give up a fair amount of hits, but hardly walk anyone. Gaviglio is giving up 2.8 walks per nine, while Miranda gives up 3.2 free passes per nine. If batters are getting on base, its by their own merit. Nothing comes free from Gaviglio or Miranda.

The Fourth of July is arguably the best holiday on the calendar. Everyone in the country gets to celebrate freedom. On the diamond, Gaviglio and Miranda have hardly given anything up for free. Low walk totals are the only form of oppression I can get behind.

 

 

 

 

Mariner Fans, Pray for Pitching

Mariner Fans, Pray for Pitching

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in two weeks. It’s an exciting time of year, no matter what team your root for. Everybody is full of hope and optimism that their team can reach whatever goal they feel fair. Pacific Northwest baseball fans are anxious to see new additions to the Seattle Mariners. In 2017, Mariner’s fans should be praying for pitching.

In 2016, the starting pitching is what caused the Mariners to miss the post season by a two and a half games. The rotation was never healthy. The team was forced to use 13 starting pitchers. The woes started when Felix Hernendez went to the 15-day disabled list. Wade Miley followed suit. Nate Karns hit the shelf in July. Taijuan Walker was sent to Tacoma in August.

The Mariner offense was one of the best in baseball last season. The team hit the third most home runs in the league, swatting 223 balls over the wall. They drove in 735 runs (sixth), and had 768 runners (sixth) cross the plate.

Fans can’t help but fantasize about what could have been with healthy arms. Jerry DiPoto has retooled the pitching staff for 2017. Karns, Miley and most notably, Walker will wear different uniforms this season. He’s added Drew Smyly and Yovani Gallardo to go along with Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton.

The King was dethroned by injury for the first time in his career in 2016. Hernandez went to the DL on June 1 with a calf injury. He missed a month and a half before returning to the Mariners. The King made 25 starts, posting an 11-8 record. He had a 3.82 earned run average over 153.1 innings. It was his highest ERA since his second full year in the bigs in 2007. He missed throwing 200 innings for the first time since he threw 190 innings in both of his first two seasons as a Mariner.

Fan’s are hopeful for a second coming worthy of praise.

Iwakuma was Seattle’s best starter last season. In 33 starts, Kuma was 16-12 with a 4.12 era. He threw 199 innings, striking out 147 betters while walking 46. Kuma’s ERA jumped .6 points from his last full season in 2014. He gave up  51 more hits in 2016 than he did in 2014.

Signs are showing that Kuma is on the downslope of his career as well. His health was crucial to the M’s being in a playoff race towards the end of 2016. That same consistency is the desired outcome for Iwakuma.

Paxton may have turned the corner in 2016. Between Triple A and the Majors, the Lefty pitched the most innings of his career, throwing 171 frames. Mariner coaches tweaked Paxton’s arm slot, and the results were great. He had a 3.79 ERA, throwing 117 strikeouts while walking 24 batters. The M’s need his fifth season in the bigs to be his best.

Smyly is searching for a second chance in Seattle. The left handed pitcher threw 175.1 innings, giving up a 4.88 ERA while going 7-12 for the Tampa Bay Rays. The guy throws strikes, punching out 552 batters while walking 161 in his big league career.

He’s been labeled as a fly ball pitcher, which should benefit him in spacious Safeco Field. Well, not exactly. Safeco was the best home run producing ball park last season. An average of 2.89 baseballs left the yard as 234 total dingers were hit. If Smyly can keep the ball low, he could be a useful addition to the club.

Gallardo rounds on the opening day starting five for the Mariners. At one point in his career, Gallardo was a Cy Young candidate. Before 2016, Gallardo consisted made more than 30 starts every year since 2009. Last season as an Oriole, he started 23 games, lasting just 118 innings.

Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager have been mainstays in the Mariner offense the past two seasons. The team added the National League hits leader in Jean Segura over the offseason. They also added speed in Jarrod Dyson and Mitch Haniger. The only questions fans should have is starting pitching.

So God, please help King Felix return to form. Help Iwakuma maintain the the level he’s pitched at. Please let Paxton continue to improve and perform all season long. Help Smyly keep the ball low in the zone, and let Gallardo have a bounce back season.

In Your name I pray, amen.

 

Football is Here, but Don’t Forget About Baseball

Football is Here, but Don’t Forget About Baseball

Football is back. The Seattle Seahawks play their first preseason game of the year this afternoon. So many questions surround the team. How will the Seahawks perform without Marshawn Lynch? Is Jimmy Graham healthy? Will they remain a run-first offense, or will Russell Wilson be allowed to throw the ball often?  In a month from now, the games in the Seattle will count for real. But games in Seattle already count, and haven’t been more important than right now. Football is exciting, but please don’t forget about baseball.

On July 31, the M’s were 52-51, good enough for third in the American League West, eight and a half games away from first place in the division and five games out of a wild card spot. Momentum swung as the team had one of the best home stands all season. The Mariners went 8-2, while sweeping both the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Detroit Tigers. Manager Scott Servais credited Ken Griffey Jr. weekend, and the message he sent to the 2016 team.

“Keep fighting,” Junior said. “because we’re all rooting for you.”

Fight is what they did. On August second, the M’s trailed the Red Sox 4-0 with their Win Expectancy at a mere 3.2 percent in the eighth. Robinson Cano capped a five-run bottom of the eighth with a three-run home run, proving to be the game winner. The team won 5-4, and a tone was set from the Mariners superstar.

On August fifth, Felix Hernandez gave up a three run homer to Mike Trout in the top of the first inning (W.E. 21.6%). The M’s answered with six runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. With the game tied at three, Mike Zunino smashed a three-run dinger over the left field wall to give his team the lead. A couple days later, Seattle saw another comeback win, as the M’s won 6-4.

August sixth was Ken Griffey Jr. night, as the number 24 was officially retired in the Mariners organization. That game saw the exact same start as the previous night. Trout hit another three-run home run, putting the Mariners in an early 3-0 hole. Win Expectancy sat at 8.7 percent after four innings. The Mariners chipped away at the lead until the bottom of the seventh. Shawn O’Malley smacked a go-ahead three-run home run to put the team up 8-6. Another gritty, come from behind win.

August ninth was the middle game of the three-game series with the Tigers. The M’s trailed 4-1 entering the bottom of the eighth (W.E. 4.7%). Kyle Seager hit a clutch, three-run home run to the tie game. The two teams put up zero’s until the 15th inning, when Victor Martinez hit a home run putting the tigers up 5-4 (W.E. 10%). Seager answered with an RBI single. Runners took advantage of a fielding error, moving to second and third with one out. Zunino supplied a sacrifice fly to win the marathon of a game. The M’s won again.

August 10 saw a classic pitchers duel between Justin Verlander and King Felix. The aces kept their opponents to just one run as the score was knotted at one entering the bottom of the eighth. Nelson Cruz hit a solo blast over the center field wall, giving his team the lead. Six straight for the M’s.

The Mariners lost the first game of a three game set with the Athletics. As of today, the team has moved into second place in the AL west. As the Mariners were streaking, the Rangers were too, winning five straight games. The M’s are seven and a half games out of the division lead. The Wild Card race is where Seattle should be focused. Five games out at the beginning of August, now the M’s are two games out of the second wild card spot.

The team took Juniors words to heart. A majority of the wins that came on this remarkable home stand were made in come from behind fashion. Junior also had words for the city of Seattle.

“To the fans, keep supporting these guys,” Griffey said. “They’re trying to support this city. When you have a friendly face in the stands, that means everything. When you’re going through a bad spell and some guy says, ‘Hey, keep your head up,’ that goes a long way. We’re out here playing, but we’re playing for this city.”

Football is exciting. The Seahawks have recently won a Super Bowl, and have been a good team since Pete Carroll’s arrival. Baseball has been here for a while in 2016, but it has never been more intense, or exciting as it is right now. One of the greatest athletes that has ever worn a uniform that belongs to Seattle, is asking fans not to forget about baseball. The M’s have a great shot at making the playoffs for the first time in fifteen years.  Seattle, please don’t forget about the Mariners.

W.E. – Win Expectancy

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.

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.