SECTION 331

Like a Million Baseball Fans Cried Out, and Were Suddenly Silenced

Sometimes Six, Sometimes Eight

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I was in a car headed just past Yakima when I heard via MLBTR alerts that the Seattle Mariners have decided to speed date Raul Ibanez. My reaction over the following several hours in the car, and then this morning when I woke up to snow at my parents house were: “Yay!….wait, what?!….Yay!….” and this morning, “Hrm. Well I’ll be damned.” The part of me that never wanted Ibanez to leave in the first place is excited to have him back for 2013. The part of me that knows what the phrase “lawn dart” means is terrified. But it’s currently snowing heavily out, the deer are eating in the backyard, and it’s nearly Christmas, so I think I’m going to try and be a little more calm about all of this.

I would hope, like a lot of the other fans I have been talking to online, that we don’t have to deal with lawn dart, or anyone who shouldn’t be, taking pride in their defense. I would hope that the Mariners intend to use Ibanez like a lot of the rest of us see him – veteran presence in the clubhouse with maybe a little gas left in the tank. Like David Price in Moneyball, but not like Raul Ibanez in Moneyball. I hope that the Ms don’t decide to field him, that if they do it is very infrequently and against a team full of left handed hitters. Mostly, I just hope Raul does us a solid and retains some of his 1.1 WAR, rather than going back to his -1.3 days from not too long ago in Philly. Bill James projects him as slightly declining in some areas, improving in others; walk average goes up slightly, but strike out rate goes up by 1.9%; batting average and OBP goes up, SLG goes down, OPS goes down. If I was any good at this, I might be able to talk about how the numbers balance out; but since I’m not, it appears to me with my limited knowledge, that we’re getting a guy who is on a slow slope downwards, but who is providing clubhouse morale and the so-called intangibles that every clubhouse apparently needs to succeed at the mental level. And if I’m truly honest, while I’m not a fan of the money given to what basically amounts to someone who is being paid to be a human pep talk, I have always liked Raul Ibanez, and he did just come from a team that made the playoffs; a few teams, in fact. Will Eric Wedge be able to manage his presence back in Seattle as well as Joe Girardi and Charlie Manuel did on their respective teams? I guess only Spring Training and the start of the season will tell. If you need a pep talk of your own, Jeff Sullivan seems to think that this is a strange/not strange, sort of OK move.

So this means that someone is going to have to go. Whether that means sent down of DFA’d (likely DFA’d), nobody knows yet. But the general thought is that something major is in the works; at least, I would like to think that. There’s no way we can be done. Jack Zduriencik said at the beginning of the offseason that he was aware that more careful moves needed to be made after the last few seasons. Going after a veteran pitcher (Joe Saunders, perhaps?) has been mentioned as a possibility, and I would like to see at least one more hitter come on board; two if at all feasible, though that would mean drastic changes for the current roster. Fans want to see us add proven offense to the roster. Cody Ross is gone. Josh Hamilton is gone. Nick Swisher just left. Justin Upton doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I have heard the name Jason Kubel linked to the Mariners, but am not quite sure how I feel about that. If anything happens, I am hoping it happens suddenly and in the most grandiose way possible. I like surprises. Please let this be a good one. I had also seen a few discussions of Eric Thames vs. Mike Carp in light of all of this. Dave has taken a look at why the odd man out will likely be Carp. If this happens, I will be bummed about it. Carp’s been in our system for such a long time, it would be weird to think of him not being here. I will survive, it’ll just be strange.

We just got a winter advisory warning that will remain in effect until 11 tonight, most likely destroying any hopes I had of going to a Baker City bowling alley, drinking some bad beer, and maybe rolling a few strikes. After the holidays, I’ll get back into baseball mode, with FanFest nearly upon us, and Spring Training only a mere few weeks after that. Opening Day plans will be made, 16 game plans will be paid off, a new hoodie or jacket may be purchased. But right now, I’m going to sit and watch the snow, and see what the Mariners give me for Christmas, if anything. I’ve been good, I swear!

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