Diving right into Elliot Bay flotsam I have predictions based on trends, history, and a mental disease.
Robinson Cano, with no protection in the lineup, will hit .257 with 21 homers and 62 rbis, locking up the Chone Figgins Award given only to a Seattle Mariner, due to the fact all their free agents turn out like Figgins.
Corey Hart goes 2-3 with a homer on opening day, but in his fourth at bat slides awkwardly into second and suffers a deviated rectum and is out for the season. Mariner fans are happy that it was not a knee injury. Conversely, Logan Morrison bats .216 with 6 homers and 38 at bats. Unfortunately he lasts the entire season as Mariner fans do not understand how he avoids a knee injury.
Franklin Gutierrez gets off to good start batting .265 with 15 homers, 46 rbis at the all-star break. But during batting practice following the all-star game he collapses, is rushed to the hospital where he is diagnosed with a sickness which baffles doctors all over the world, including Dr. Who. Franklin, however, is honored when they name the new disease Gutitis, a disease so mysterious it has no symptoms.
Taijuan Walker finishes the season 7-16, but leads the league with a 1.27 ERA and strikeouts per inning with 10.8. Meanwhile Felix Hernandez is traded to the New York Yankees for Ichiro, Michael Pineda, and an autographed picture of Phil Rizzuto.
Justin Smoak bats .238 with 22 homers and 19 rbis. That is not a typo. Justin becomes first player in history to have fewer rbis than home runs, but sabermetricians do the math and verify the numbers. Mariner GM, Trader Jack, believes Justin is one year away from stardom. He gives Justin the vote of confidence from his room at Western State sanatorium.
Chris Hansen, who was stiffed by the NBA to buy the Sacramento Kings and move them to Seattle as the Sonics, buys the Mariners from Nintendo. Safeco Field is renamed SubMariner Park after Subway buys naming right to stadium. Team also changes name to SubMariners and in press statement from Hansen, he states the name has nothing to do with the teams performance, but is meant to honor submarine sailors stationed at the naval base in Bremerton.
Mariner fans excited for 2015 with new owner, new stadium name, new team name, new manager Wally Backman, rumors of Mark McGwire coming out of retirement to DH for Seattle, and offer to all fans in attendance in 2015 with free sub sandwich each night Mariners attendance exceeds 1,200 on Mondays when Monday Night Football is on and Seahawks play anybody.
These predictions were written with the assistance of Trader Jack, my roommate at Western State. Happy New Year!
Major League baseball could, if all the legal wrangling is on their side, suspend twenty players . The list I saw had only fifteen, but they included known liars like Alex Rodriquez and Ryan Braun. Obviously with the numbers they have put up, their performance was enhanced.
This is Honest John. He never used performance enhancing drugs
If Dr. Frankenstein‘s lab down in Florida had beakers full of chemical enhancers that increase a players ability to hit for a higher batting average, hit for more power, throw the ball harder, then how can Jesus Montero be guilty of taking anything. I doubt he has even been eating Wheaties.
One could posit that in 2012 he was hitting under the influence. In his rookie campaign he batted .260, hit 15 home runs, and had 62 runs batted in. But are those the numbers of a young rookie hooked on a needle? Many baseball talking heads expected he would have had a better year. Was he not given a syringe in his PEDS swag kit? Did he have second thoughts about using a needle? If the enhanced power was in pill form, maybe lost the bottle, or hearing a knock on the door late at night, he flushed them into the sewer. Clearly if the drugs were working, he would have hit better and with more power.
In spring training this year his name surfaced in connection with Tony Bosch and the Frankenstein fountain of hits lab. Montero denied knowing anything about Bosch, the lab, PEDS, and was believable in his denial, unlike A-Fraud and Braun-Fraud. Besides he was a Seattle Mariner, a team in need of enhancement and what kind of teammate would he be if he did not share? If Marshawn Lynch can share Skittles, Montero can share his candy.
This season began and Montero struggled, so much so, that after 29 games and 101 at bats, he was sent to AAA Tacoma to learn how to play first base because he can not catch with major league proficiency, nor could he hit, as his .208 average reflected.
One could deduce that he was playing under stress with PED allegations over his head and how it would affect his career if the truth surfaced like a mobster victim in the East River. Then again, knowing he had to get rid of evidence he cleaned up his act, quit the juice, flushed the candy, and played under normal conditions.
So he flopped like a beached whale, was sent to the minors, tore his meniscus after seven games, placed on the disabled list for at least a month, probably longer. Now he is idle and under scrutiny by Major League Baseball investigators, maybe the Feds, and even worse by the Seattle Mariner brain trust (and I use brain trust loosely) who wonder why they traded for this guy in the first place. Jesus is having one bad year. It turns out he fits in with the Mariners after all.
The Seattle Mariner organization have a pipeline to the University of Virginia Cavaliers. The how or why is a mystery, but they have drafted six players from that college over the last few seasons. The question is how many will be future Mariners and which will be land lubbers.
But Andrew Carraway is another matter. He was drafted in 12th round of the 2009 amateur draft, but at 26, (27 in September), and with 99 games, 85 starts in the minor leagues, he is running out of time to make a splash. He has a 33-20 win-lost record, but with a 4.10 ERA. He gives up more hits than innings pitched, 515 in 502 innings. However, he does not walk many batters. Hultzen, Jimmy Paxton, and Taijuan Walker, are ahead of him, so perhaps a long relief role may be his best bet.
John Hicks, 23, was Hultzen’s catcher at Virginia. He was drafted in the 4th round the same year as his the star pitcher. In 159 minor league games he has hit .312 with 17 homers and 105 rbis. Mike Zunino is ahead of him, so if Hicks does well, he could be trade bait material, or perhaps the Mariners second catcher.
The Mariners also have drafted three infielders out of Virginia. Chris Taylor, shortstop, is 22. He was a 5th round pick in 2012. He hit .328 at Everett in 32 games, then at Clinton hit .304 in 12 games. Steve Proscia, 21, was drafted in 7th round of the 2011 draft. In 2012 at High Desert he batted .333 with 24 homers and 94 rbis. That is a hitters league, so numbers must be adjusted to reality. In a short stint at Jackson, the AA farm team of the Mariners he hit .211. Both have a chance to move up the ladder.
But the same can not be said of Keith Werman, an undrafted free agent. He is 23 and at 5’7″ and 150 pounds, he looks like he is in high school. He hit a combined .256 his rookie year in 2012 (30-117) and had no extra base hits.
So how many will make the big league come in the years to come? I will guess three will play for Seattle, maybe four.
Build it and they will come. That line, now an iconic phrase, came from the classic “Field of Dreams.” Mariner fans had a dream and it revolved around a field. So the Mariners built Safeco Field, a ballpark built from the ashes of the Kingdome, which imploded following the magic run in 1995 that saw the M’s battle Cleveland for the American league title.
Of course, build it and they will come does not mean they will stay. In the Mariners case, ‘they’ stayed for a period of time, but one thing happened that saw the fans dwindle to meager numbers. After a 116 win season in 2001, Mariner fans filled Safeco in 2002 to the tune of 40,000 + per game. Ten years later attendance is down to 20,000+ per game. The Mariners have lost half their game attendance. Consider that if any business lost half their customers, the people in charge would be fired. Not so the Mariners; Chuck Armstrong and Harold Lincoln still run the show.
The one thing that happened was that the team on the field was bad, they lost, and then lost some more, and looked bad doing it. Fans love winners and will not pay money for mediocrity. It should be noted that ‘build it and they will come’ need not have anything to do with building a stadium, but building a winning team.
Does the Mariner brain trust care if fans fill the park or not? Consider the Mariners have a new television deal on the horizon where big bucks are looming. At least that is what is being reported. Teams today can not rely on people at the ballpark for money. Outside income keeps teams afloat. TV deals; apparel-all those jerseys and caps; trinkets and souvenirs; it is marketing and merchandising. It is selling the brand. But the brand must be good.
So the brain trust still want fans at the park. It looks good on TV and more importantly, a full stadium means much more money. And a stronger brand.
Are the fans who migrated away from the Mariners fair weather fans? Of course. But build a winning team and they will come. And Chuck and Howard can smile all the way to the bank. Mariner fans won’t mind those smiles because winning chases away nightmares, and dreams sweeten a day at the park. Then Mariner fans can be as happy as Seahawk fans. Now that is a brand.
The Seattle Mariner‘s are hot, having won ten straight by beating the Rockies 16-6. Carlos Peguero is 8 for 19, scoring 8 runs, hitting 2 doubles and 3 home runs, while striking out only 6 times. Does it mean anything? I would like to say yes, but the answer is probably no.
In 2012, Peguero was 15-51 in spring training games, with 5 homers and 13 rbis, so he had a good spring, except for his 18 strikeouts, that is. Cutting down on his whiffs this spring is good, but no matter how hot he gets, one wonders if it will do him any good.
Spring is funny. Last spring Brendan Ryan batted .333. That translated into a .194 regular season average. Justin Smoak hit .378 and is currently batting .500, but his .378 average, like Ryan’s spring average, did not mean anything for the regular season, as his .217 average indicates.
Making the roster is a matter of numbers, but the numbers are not necessarily stats. Options factor in, as it will for Casper Wells (see below); versatility also is a factor, being able to play multiple positions only enhances a players chances; and balance, trying to get left-handed and right-handed bats to compliment each other; then there is attitude, how a player ‘goes about his business,’ a trite phrase players and broadcaster love to toss out.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, Casper Wells, despite currently hitting .227 should get one of two reserve outfield spots. He is out of options, can play all three outfield positions, and has a strong arm. One can argue that Peguero is battling Raul Ibanez for the fifth spot, and there is something to that, since both are left-handed bats. But Ibanez is an organization favorite, making his third tour of duty on the Good Ship Mariner, and even at 41, he can still hit. He is 7-13 with 3 doubles, 2 homers and possesses that veteran experience and leadership that is so prized by clubs.
Best of luck Carlos. If Pete Carroll was the Mariners manager, it would be open competition, the job going to the best man. But this is baseball where players make the team for all sorts of reasons.
Seattle Mariner fans are accustomed to hearing the names of Danny Hultzen, the number two rated left-handed pitcher in all of baseball; James Paxton the number 8th right-handed pitching prospect; and Taijuan Walker the number two rated right-handed pitcher. Trader Jack is holding these three young aces, possibly looking for a fourth to strengthen his hand.
One 22-year old pitcher that does get much ink is Brandon Maurer, but the M’s have been talking about him.
A look at his minor league record does not impress. 16-17 win-loss record and career 3.65 ERA. But what has gotten Maurer the attention and a spot on the protected 40 man roster is his performance last season at Jackson, the AA minor league team filled with stars. He was 9-2 with a 3.20 ERA. In 138 innings he struck out 117 and walked 48. He made a huge jump from a mediocre 2011 between Clinton and High Desert. In fact his ERA at High Desert was +6.
But the numbers a player has put up in the minor leagues does not tell what scouts look at. Many minor leaguers put up big numbers only to fall like Humpty Dumpty in the Majors. Others do better in the Majors than the Minors.
Maurer made improvement. That is what Mariner scouts saw. He should get a promotion to Tacoma for the 2013 season. It is possible that if any of the Big Three pitching prospects do not get traded, or make the Mariner rotation (which is a possibility), the Rainiers, a short drive down I-5, could have a rotation of Hultzen, Paxson, Walker, and Maurer. That could be the best rotation in all of Minor League baseball.
That would be the perfect situation for the Mariners. The Pacific Coast League is a hitters league. If Blake Beaven, Hector Noesi, or Iwakuma, or anyone else falters-except Felix-the Mariners have four top prospects to choose from.
But there have been rumors the Mariners are currently talking a trade for an offensive player. If a trade goes through, one of those four pitchers may be gone.
For the Mariners, as for all teams, you never have enough pitching. Tacoma could have a better starting staff than Seattle. Is that enough?
Mariner shortstop Brendan Ryan, who won the Fielding Bible award as the best defensive shortstop in baseball, has added the Wilson defensive award for best shortstop in the American League. Mike Trout of the Angels won the Wilson award for best defensive player in the American League. Yet neither could win a Gold Glove. As I wrote earlier the Gold Gloves are a joke.
Now that is out of my system, at least for the moment, the Mariners had a signing that this blogger likes.
Oliver Perez, a starting pitcher who most feel never lived up to his potential and was in Tacoma when the season started, was promoted to the big club and pitched well out of the pen. He was a free agent, but the Mariners resigned him to a one year contract.
In a perfect baseball bullpen, to my mind, it would be nice to have three from the port side and three or four from the right side. Most teams struggle to find a second leftie in the bullpen, but the Mariners have three and they had solid seasons.
Besides Perez, Charlie Furbush, another former starter, was simply outstanding. In 46.1 innings, he allowed only 28 hits and struck out 53. His ERA was 2.72. Then there is Lucas Luetge, a Rule 5 draftee out of the Milwaukee Brewers farm system. He had never pitched above A ball yet he made the Mariners opening day roster. In the first 28 at bats vs, lefties he gave up two hits. He started strong, had a bump or two in the road, but ended up with a 3.98 ERA with four saves. In 40.2 innings he gave up 37 hits and struck out 38. He did walk 24, but overall a strong season.The Big Mariner in the crow’s nest can look to the port side and see three strong, tough lefties, who if they can duplicate 2012 in 2013, will provide the perfect balance to an exciting bullpen. It was the Mariners defense led my Ryan, and the Mariners pitching, with a big thank you to the port siders, who helped the M’s win more games than they should have because of the weak offense.
It proves that in baseball all three phases need to be in place. The Mariners have pitching. They have defensive. They just need a new shipment of bats. Then they can escape the cellar.