Last August umpire Tony Randazzo ejected Mariner manager Lloyd McClendon on consecutive nights. The reason for running Lloyd out of the game the second time night was lame, as my blog at the time points out. Here is a link to that blog, though you will have to scroll down to find it:
Randazzo and Lloyd have a history that goes back years. And it’s not a good one.
But lets be honest. There are bad cops, bad politicians-okay they’re all bad-bad lawyers, bad doctors, and yes, there are bad umpires. Some carry personal grudges onto the diamond. Last night it started when Brett Gardner on a full count, checked his swing-well according to Randazzo who was umpiring at third- but Gardner had taken two steps towards the Yankees dugout (even he thought it was a strike), then stopped when he heard the umpires call, tossed his bat, took off his arm pad and walked to first. Replay shows, according to my eyes and the eyes of many, that he did not check his swing. It should have been a strikeout. It was important because later in the inning A-Fraud Rodriquez checked his swing and the first base umpire said it was a ball on another full count. This was too close to call; it could have gone either way. The Yankees scored a run that inning, one that had they not got, would have given the Mariners a win instead of losing in extra innings.
Mariner catcher Mike Zunino objected and was tossed from the game and Lloyd had enough. He stormed out of the dugout to first, got ejected, then made a tour of the umpires, heading to home for a brief bark, then on to third to chew on Randazzo’s ear. Stone-faced Tony to his credit stood his ground with courtly stoicism. I think he knew Lloyd had a beef. I also think that Lloyd was already gone and he was glad of it.
I don’t care what the umpires association would say if anything. Nor do I care what Randazzo might say. It is political posturing. Umpires are human. They can dislike players, dislike managers, and they can give a favorable call on a close play to those they like and give an unfavorable call to those they don’t and who is going to be the wiser.
Granted that checked swings are in the eye of the beholder; it is a judgment call made in second. But it is not coincidental that Randazzo all to often gives Lloyd and the Mariners the dark side of the close calls.
Willie Bloomquist is 37 years old and coming off knee surgery. Richie Weeks is 32 and not coming off any surgery. Seattle GM jack Zduriencik has said Weeks will compete (Jack loves saying the Pete Carroll buzz word) at the corner infield and outfield positions as will Bloomquist. It would seem the hand writing is on the wall for Bloomquist though Zduriencik denies it. I would not expect him to say anything else. Jack has said there is room for both players, but it is unlikely that Seattle will carry two utility players, both of whom bat right-handed.
Bloomquist has a slight edge because he has played all positions except catcher. Weeks, played second base in Milwaukee for 11 seasons, refused to try the outfield last season for the Brewers. Since Milwaukee did not want to pay him 11.5 million this season they said good-bye.
Weeks has played the outfield, but not since college. That was in 2002 for Southern University. However, when you have lost your everyday job, as Weeks did last season, and D-Day to spring training is close at hand and you are unsigned, the outfield or any position looks good. I think Weeks will be determined to make the team doing whatever is necessary. He could also DH allowing Cruz to play first base or left field once in a while.
Weeks did not sign a minor league contract with an invite to spring training; he was signed to the 40 man roster, meaning the Mariners expect him to make the team. Edgar Olmos a left-handed reliever, whom the Mariners picked up in November on waivers from the Marlins was designated for assignment. The Mariners have added Mike Kickham and David Rollins from the left side to compete with Charlie Furbush and Lucas Luetge so Olmos was expendable. It has also been rumored that Roenis Elias could be in the bullpen.
Spring training with sort out the lefties and who wins the utility job. Bloomquist is fan favorite, but I am betting on Weeks.
The Mariners recently signed 25-year old Cuban pitcher Misael Siverio to a minor league contract. The Mariners like big, tall, hard throwing monsters with strong arms. Siverio is 5’9.” In the team photo he sill be seated in front with the bat boy. His uniform will have to be altered by somebody in the clubhouse; or perhaps an extra large from the boys department. Of course Danny Farquhar is 5’9″ and did pretty well last season. Maybe the Mariners are trending to shorter pitchers.
In baseball size does not matter. So who is this guy?
He is a lefty and southpaws are welcome on every team. He pitched 153 games in Cuba, 75 were starts and had 3.24 ERA. Last season he pitched in the Mexican League. Six starts, striking out 36, walking 10 and finished with 3-1 record.
There was a time, not so long ago, that it was difficult for Cuban players to defect. But now it seems every year there are two or three leaving Cuba. Siverio defected in Iowa when the Cuban national team was playing college all-stars in 2013.
I don’t know the Mariners plans for him, but I am guessing they may use him in relief. Most likely he will begin in the minor leagues, but at least Roenis Elias has a fellow countryman to talk pitching with during spring training.
Though he is not on the 40-man roster and at the moment is destined for the minors, the roster could change because of trades or free agency. Things will look different by February. The Mariners have been rumored in many trades and interest in free agents, but rumors are just that. For now the Mariners are quiet on the Elliot Bay front.
There is a big difference between pitching for Cuba and the major leagues. For now Siverio is a prospect to watch.
During the first third of a baseball season we are constantly reminded, especially during out teams losing streak, that baseball is a marathon. We are reminded by managers, by announcers, by writers, by each other. We are told not to get too caught up in the daily or weekly games.
Hey, we’re fans, we do get caught up. That is why baseball is a teeter-totter. The word comes from the old English word tittermatorter, or so Wiki says. But it does not say what that word means.
At any rate, using the Seattle Mariners as an example, they started the season 6-3, even at 7-5 they looked improved, better hitting especially in the clutch. But your team is always teetering on the brink of a fall. And the Mariners did fall losing eight straight including three straight in Miami and two in Houston. The dogs began barking about the Mariners on sports talk shows, same old Mariners, losers, they suck, no hitting, no this, no that. At 7-13 that is what it looked like.
But then they tottered winning 11 of 14 and were teetering at 18-16. Quite a turnaround for the M’s. They did it by hitting with runners in scoring position, especially with two outs. This was a hot streak unseen by Mariner fans in years.
Then they lost 6 of 8, and the barking dogs, quiet in their little dog house, munching on kibble, began howling again.
Then Seattle won 4 of 6 and the dogs went to sleep.
Seattle then lost two straight to the Houston Astros at home, including Hisashi Iwakuma getting beat 4-1. What? Iwakuma getting beat by Houston! Woof, woof, woof!
Then on Memorial day Seattle beats the Angels 5-1 and are back at .500 at 25-25.
The Red Sox lost 10 straight as they have teetered. It happens to every team, hot streaks, cold streaks, the see, the saw, the teeter, the totter.
So what to do?
Nothing. Just enjoy the wins and bitch about the losses. When we win our team is playing great, when we lose, we got screwed, or somebody needs to be traded, or sent to the minors. Brad Miller and his .150 average to Tacoma please.
Just remember to not get to caught up because the teeter is bound to totter.
Back home after a decent road trip the Mariner bats once again met that unfriendly northwest air and went 17-94 against the Dodgers, a .181 batting average. They may not hit in Safeco, but another concern are two starting pitchers playing themselves out of the rotation.
Blake Beaven lit up the Dodgers Sunday is floundering. In 12 starts he has pitched 62.1 innings and allowed 12 home runs with a 5.92 era. Five innings per start is not good, neither are the high number of long balls and his near 6 ERA.
Hector Noesi is in the same lifeboat. Like Beaven 12 starts and in 67.2 innings he has given up 14 homers with a 5.99 ERA.
With an offense that struggles for hits at home and with the majority of remaining games at Safeco, pitching is a premium.
Danny Hultzen, the number one pick last season by the Mariners, is currently at Jackson where he is 7-3 with a eye popping 1.28 ERA. He has allowed only 34 hits in 70 innings, only 2 of which are home runs. He has 75 strikeouts and 34 walks.
The photo is of Ed Walsh, carreer ERA of 1.82. Take a look at that face. Would you want to bat against this guy? Only 7.1 hits per 9 innings in career.
If the Mariners choose to look at Tacoma pitchers, Erasmo Ramirez is 3-2 with a 3.11 ERA and Andrew Carraway is 2-2 with a 3.41 ERA.
Ramirez started the season in Seattle’s bullpen, but was sent down to work as a starter. His numbers in Seattle alone did not merit the demotion.
Clearly with Beaven and Noesi struggling it is only a matter of time before a change is made. The Mariners are not in a position to have 40% of the rotation going five innings and losing games.
Another roster spot will open up when Franklin Gutierrez is ready to play and Mike Carp who struggled in Tacoma after coming off the DL, is still struggling with Seattle after 80 at bats with a below the Mendoza line batting average, being the most likely outfielder to return to the Rainiers.
Mariners have Monday off before the Padres and Giants come to town. Will either Beaven or Noesi be pitching is the question. And what Mariner pitcher can get that Big Ed Walsh look?
In order for the Mariners to add Anthony Vasquez to the 40 man roster a player had to be released. I thought in lieu of the youth movement it would be veteran pitcher Jamey Wright who had been struggling of late. Instead Mike Mangini, 25, hitting .336 in Tacoma walked the plank.
A good average, but only two homers in 232 at bats.
Though he had been playing at first base, he came up as a third baseman, playing eight games with the Mariners in September of 2010, going 8 for 38, a .211 average.
What could have been Mike’s jersey.
With Chone Figgins, Kyle Seager, and Alex Liddi in the third base mix for next season, at least at this moment, and with Justin Smoak and possibly Mike Carp-if not in left field or at DH-there was little room for Mangini. Still you would think an off-season trade could have been made.
Apparently he was the most expendable.
Speaking of Kyle Seager. On August 17 he was hitting .182. Then he got hotter than Albert Pujols hitting in a little league park. He went 15 for 25 in six games, including 10 for 14 against Cleveland.
Eat spinach. Get hits.
Rumors are two trainers on the Mariners staff put the defibrillator to his bats, yelled “Clear” and revitalized his bats. They got the idea from watching “Frankenstein” and thought they could regenerate dead matter. But, as I said, it is only a rumor.
If this works, then get Kyle’s bats
No matter how, at least he has found his stroke for the time being. He was one of the reasons the Mariners scored 21 runs in their last two games. In July that was one week’s ration.
We shall see how the White Sox scouted Mr. Seager as they come to town to take on the Mariners. Keep the defibrillator on stand by.
Whether right or wrong, there is a longstanding believe that a lineup should have power at corner positions, those being left and right field and first and third base.
Since Ichiro foregos power for average, the lineup needs power from another position, but they don’t have it at short, catcher, or second, though Olivo has hit some home runs and Ackley has shown some pop in his bat.
No, not this type of power hitter.
But they have no power in left field, in fact that has been the Mariners black hole since they began play in 1977. Other than Phil Bradley, the Mariners have not had a strong left fielder.
Justin Smoak was to fill the power bill at first and he got off to a good start, but a thumb injury saw him go into a severe slump, so the jury is out on Smoak.
Carp has been playing a lot at first and has showed power, but third base with Figgins, when healthy, is another Ichiro type of hitter, a slap hitter with no power.
These guys are too small
Not that corner positions all need to hit thirty plus homers, but those are the spots that tradition holds a winning team gets run production from.
The Mariners have too many slap hitters. They need gap hitters with power and those needs should be addressed in the off season. Getting a journeyman DH will not solve the problem, certainly not a Jack Cust type.
Casper Wells has shown power of late and might be a fit for left field, but do the Mariners want him there more than Treyvon Robinson?
These guys are more like it.
The lineup is definetely off kilter and needs to be balanced. It should be an interesting off season.