Tagged: Safeco Field

King Felix meet Seattle Mariners General Montgomery

For those unaware of Mike Montgomery he will be 26 on July 1st. He was the first round draft choice of the Kansas City Royals in the 2008 amateur draft, 36th overall. In 2012 he was traded to Tampa Bay in the deal that sent James Shields to the Royals. Tampa was not happy with his development and this spring were trying to convert the left handed starter to a reliever.

But then the Rays traded him to Seattle for Erasmo Ramirez at the end of training camp, March 31st of this year. The Mariners needed a starter at triple A as insurance should one of their Major league pitchers get an injury. When James Paxton went down, Montgomery got the call, making his major league debut against the New York Yankees June 2nd, allowing one run in six innings.

Tuesday night at Safeco Field, pitching against his former organization the Kansas City Royals, Montgomery pitched a complete game 4-hit shutout striking out ten, walking nobody. It evened his record at 2-2 with a 2.04 ERA. In 35.1 innings he has allowed 26 hits, 8 walks, struck out 22 and given up one homer. He also has shown the ability to get out of jams. The Royals had the bases loaded in the first, no outs, and did not score. In the second inning they had runners at first and second, no outs, and Montgomery struck out the side.

The thing is there was nothing in his unremarkable  minor league career to indicate how well he has pitched at the major league level. Before his promotion, he was 4-3 at Tacoma with a 3.74 ERA. He had pitched 53 innings in his nine starts, not quite six per start. But the batting average against was .240. His entire minor league career shows a 46-50 record with 4.24 ERA in 159 starts and 5 relief appearances. More remarkable is he had only two complete games in his 159 starts and not one shutout. Not one, none, zip, never happened. His shutout of the Royals was his first professional whitewash.

They say-and we know who they are-that lefties develop later and it could be the Mariners have a steal and for once another organization, or in Mike’s case, two, are the ones getting fleeced not the Mariners. Seattle has lost Adam Jones, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo to name but three they should have kept. 

The Mariners currently have five starters doing well, though Felix in June has struggled. The King will not come out of the rotation, so it will be interesting what happens when Iwakuma and Paxton are once again healthy. Who leaves the rotation and where do they go? Tacoma? Unlikely. Bullpen? Stay tuned. But General Montgomery in command of all his pitches doesn’t look to be going anywhere.

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Two reasons why Mariners can’t win

Dateline: Twilight Zone

Reason number one of why the M’s can’t win is that they can’t beat Houston. They are 1-7 against the Astros with 30% of the homeruns the Mariner pitching staff has given up being hit by the Astros. They beat Felix 10-0 Friday night with the King allowing eight first inning runs. Houston pounds the M’s like they are playing their double A affiliate. They abuse Seattle so badly the M’s need to ask PETA for shelter.

Reason number two is the recent batch of bats came from the wrong company. They have been using plastic wiffle ball bats. It is no wonder they can’t score runs. Okay, the truth of the matter is that Safeco Field has been found to be on an old Native American burial ground and they are playing under a curse. There is another theory brought up by the Ancient Mariner who believes there is an albatross around Jackie Z’s head.

Okay, to be serious, the number two reason is that Jackie Z, Seattle’s GM, does not like contact hitters or those who can get on base. He has built a team of hitters who don’t hit. The scouting department does an excellent job of drafting and developing pitchers, but they are a disaster when it comes to developing hitters. When Seattle traded for Mark Trumbo, they gave up nothing they would miss, but they got another all or nothing hitter, one who strikes out almost as often as Mike Zunino.

And why was Justin Ruggiano let go instead of Richie Weeks? Ruggiano can play the outfield and was at least batting over .200. Weeks was batting in the .160’s at the time of the trade and can not play defense. It is not a coincidence that Weeks and Jackie Z both have a Milwaukee Brewer connection. It is playing a favorite rather than doing what is best for the team.

The rumor was that Jackie Z was trying to pry outfielder Ben Revere from the Phillies this past week. The Phillies reportedly wanted to Taijuan Walker of James Paxton. That was wisely rejected. Ben Revere is another batter with a poor on base percentage. There is no trade that can help Seattle. They are stuck.

Wait til’ next year is the new battle cry.

 

The slums of the 300 section of Mariners Safeco Field

It is difficult to report, but it must be told how the Mariners ignore the 300 section in Safeco while they cater to the 100 level. The Mariner’s are a class conscious corporate slumlord.  Yes it is true. Read on felloe baseball fan.

Here is what I have learned. I sit in the first few rows of the 300 level, have done so for years, usually right behind home plate. Great seats. During the game the Mariners, along with one of their corporate partners, have some give away or contest. On the huge scoreboard in center field you see what looks like a slot machine. The first number comes up with the section, the second with the row, and if needed the third is the seat. The Mariners will tell you it is random. It is partially true. The randomness is about which section in the 100 level wins something. Every game I go to it is always the same. The 300 level fans may as be in the deep gray sea of Elliot Bay being eaten by sharks.

But that is not all. In the 100 level you see many types of vendors, though never one selling hot dogs, which to me is a crime against baseball fans. But I digress. The only vendor I have seen in the 300 level is selling cotton candy. That would be okay if I were eight years old, but I was that age in the last century, and I mean very far back in the century. The other night I did see someone selling ice cold lemonade. Just what I want in the chill of the night. Any hot chocolate? Laughter fills the air.

The point is that the ballpark is a set up as a class structure where the rich people in the 100 level are catered to, fawned over, and loved, while the people in the 300 level are considered like people in a tenement. We are in the slum of Safeco Field. I find that odd that we sit in the Penthouse of the Park, but are considered third class steerage like passengers on the Titanic.

A revolution is needed. A protest must be organized. I want my hot dog vendor. I want the chance to win something. I want equality. I don’t want to sit in the back of the bus. There will be a class war. It is coming.

How many home runs will Nelson Cruz hit in 2015

Nelson Cruz had his best year at age 33, hitting .271 with career highs in home runs with 40 and in RBI’s with 108, the only year he hit over 100. But how will he do with Seattle? How many home runs is he likely to get?

In 2014 he played for Baltimore. The Oriole park at Camden yards averaged 2.16 home runs per game, third highest in the American League, behind the Rogers Centre in Toronto (#1) and Yankee Stadium (#2). From 2009-2013 with Texas Cruz hit 33, 22, 29, 24, and 27. The League average in 2014 for home runs at any park was 1.78 and the ballpark in Arlington averaged 1.64, so it was below the league average.

Can one expect Cruz to repeat 40 homers playing in Safeco? Safeco gave up 1.73, very close to the league average and better than Arlington. Texas had a bad year and the loss of Cruz certainly factors in their number. Last season there were six American league parks that averaged fewer homers than Seattle’s Safeco Field. So it is time to get off the fallacy that Safeco is not helping hitters. It is neutral and fair if anything.

Baseball is a game of numbers and numbers are fun, but they do not predict the future, they only tell you what happened in the past. Using numbers to project how many home runs Cruz will hit is a fool’s errand. I offer numbers to show his history and how many home runs are hit in parks during the previous season. Their are many factors that come into play in how Cruz will do and that centers on, not only his health, but those in the batting order around him.

It is likely Cruz will bat fourth behind Robinson Cano. I believe Seager batting 5th, someone who can hit 25 or more home runs would be a good bet for the fifth slot. Cano-Cruz-Seager is a powerful 3-4-5 middle of the order. But the key is who bats 1 and 2. Austin Jackson has batted leadoff and most likely will again. Will Dustin Ackley bat second? Or will it be one of the Ruggiano and Smith platoon? That will be of interest to see how that works out.

So how many will Cruz hit? I will say 30. It’s not based the numbers, just my own gut feelings. After all numbers are for the past.

 

Mariners Chris Young has something over King Felix

King Felix Hernandez has set a major league record with 16 consecutive starts of seven or more innings allowing two runs or less and he is still going. He is doing something never before done in major league baseball and is the front runner for the American League Cy Young award. But he is not close to having done what fellow mound mate Chris Young has accomplished.

Young has 25 career starts of at least six innings allowing two hits or less. He is the active leader and if you go back to 1980 he still ranks number seven. Young has more of these starts then recent Hall of Fame inductee Greg Maddux. That is impressive. The King, well, he has 14 career starts.

After last nights win against Toronto, Young is 11-6 with a 3.20 ERA. He has given up 112 hits in 141 innings. And though Young has been touched for 19 home runs, as a fly ball pitcher with nearly a 3-1 ratio of fly outs to grounds outs, it is not surprising.

His most wins was 12 in 2005 with Texas when he went 12-7 with a 4.26 ERA and the next year in San Diego was 11-5 with a 3.46. Those were the only two years he won in double figures. Injuries derailed intervening years. A torn labrum was one and most recently a  thoracic outlet syndrome that affects a pitchers shoulder and neck. In 2013 he made 9 minor league starts trying to make a comeback and was not effective. The Washington nationals released him just before spring training ended. Seattle picked him up and he is having a career year at the age of 35. He signed a 40 day contract, the same one lefty Randy Wolf would not sign.

Thank you Randy for not wanting to take a chance with Seattle. Where are you by the way?

As good as Felix has been, better than any pitcher in history; as good as advertised Robinson Cano leading the Mariners, it could be argued Chris Young is the teams MVP. Of course there is slightly over six weeks left in the season and the future is unknown, but at this point everything old is young again.

 

 

Words baseball players need to eliminate

A sore spot for me is hearing baseball players, and, in truth, athletes in every sport being interviewed and beginning every answer with the phrase ‘I mean.’

The reason it bothers me is that they say ‘I mean’ before they say anything to begin with.  The phrase should be used when something is said which is confusing to the listener, so then one says, “What I mean is . . “

Why not just say what you mean without telling people what you mean? Is it that difficult?

Question: “In the third inning you made a great catch in the gap nearly crashing into the fence. How were you able to avoid the crash, make the play, and this is your first game in this park?”

“What I mean is I measured my steps from the warning track to the fence before the game. So I mean I kept that number in my head.”

Can’t someone just say, “Before the game I measured the steps from the warning track to the fence.”

I mean really!

Since all athletes do this I have a feeling they go to some private school were they are indoctrinated into ungrammatical catch phrases. I know today’s educational system is failing, but I mean, are you kidding me?

There is another word used especially with baseball players and it is overused to the 9th degree and that word is ‘grind.’

“The baseball season is a grind.” “You have to grind out your at bats.” “He has a sore leg, but he’s going to grind it out.” “This is the part of their schedule which is going to be a grind.”

Let’s get this straight. The only grinding is done by lap dancers, like the ones near Safeco Field. I mean, not that I have been there. I am going on the grinding I hear while standing outside looking at the posters.

Mike Blowers, color commentary for the Mariners on the TV side, uses that word every game. I think he gets residuals for using the word. I like Mike. He is a good commentator, although he talks about pitch counts way too often. “Felix has thrown 42 pitches already, and we are only in the sixth inning.”( I am using exaggeration for dramatic effect here.)

I mean I like Mike and all, but watching every Mariner game on TV is a grind.

 

 

 

The Most important thing to know about baseball

The Most important thing to know about baseball is that you never know. Case in point are the last nine games of the Seattle Mariners.

The Mariner Moose, mascot of the Seattle Mariners.

The Mariner Moose, mascot of the Seattle Mariners. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do you explain the last three series of the Mariners? They play the lowly Cubbies from Chicago, a team as bad as the Mariners, and play them at the friendly confines of Safeco Field, Seattle’s home sweet home. Yet they lose two of three to the Cubbies. Then Seattle travels to Texas, a team with two recent World Series appearances, a team that may get there again. Seattle wins two of three. Then Seattle heads to Cincinnati, a team vying for a playoff slot, a team far above the .500 mark and Seattle wins two of three.

The Rangers and Reds have teams full of all-stars, are among the elite winning teams, and the Cubs are. . . well they are the Cubs. How can any of this be explained?

It is easy. You never know. Never, ever. And that is the beauty of the game. The unexpected happens every day, every week, all spring, summer and fall. In football there can be upsets, even though the NFL claims parody, which is true to a point, but they love to talk about upsets. In baseball there are no upsets. The game is subject to the vagaries of a ball which can take funny bounces off outfield walls, off gloves, off umpires, off players and can stop  forty feet from the plate just inside or outside the chalk. A baseball simply takes may funny hops and bounces, and how and where the ball bounces can determine the outcome of a game.

Players and teams run  hot and cold and it all comes out of the same faucet, so you never know what you are going to get until you turn it on.  So what you need to know is that you never know, will never know, even when you think you know, because baseball karma will bite those who think they know to prove to them that they don’t know. You know what I mean?