SECTION 331

Just a goth girl and her baseball team.


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Where The Mariners Were, And Where We Are Now (Part 2)

The computer systems are down at work and there is literally nothing I can do until they return, so I figured now is as good a time as any to finish up the second part of the post I wrote over the weekend.  I am currently listening to the Michael Gray show, but may have to split this up between this break and my lunch time, so I apologize in advance if there is anything off about the grammar here (or about the fact that this is publishing at nearly 6PM PST so everything I just wrote sounds really bizarre).

The second half of Jay Yenchich’s article in the 2010 Mariners Annual was a section called Ten More to Watch. Nobody is listed in any order particularly, so I am just going to take them in the order they came in the article. Keep in mind, these are not rated players, just players we were to keep an eye on in 2010, players we thought at the time had potential.

1. 1B Mike Carp. Yencich touted Carp as, really, OK. Carp spent most of his time bouncing between Seattle and Tacoma, and he gave us a pretty stable first baseman and a nice swatter when necessary. I don’t know if Carp was ever what most refer to as “clutch” for the Mariners, but he seemed to come through when he was needed most…which, I suppose, is the definition of “clutch”. As you were…He left for Boston in 2013, played a little for the Rangers last year, and is now a free agent with average projections for this season. He became a fan favorite while he was here and a lot of folks were sad to see him go.

2. I’ll come back to number 2 later.

3. RHP Josh Fields. Fields is noted as having a “major league career ahead of him“, with a fastball topping out at 98, and a “pretty nasty” curve. Fields is listed as being not much more than a relief pitcher, a version of Mark Lowe. He is currently Mark Lowe-ing in Houston after spending very little time in the Mariners’ AA system and even less time in AAA.

4. 1B/OF Joe Dunigan. Dunigan was a 5th-round draft pick in 2008. Yencich said in 2010 that Dunigan had to work on his consistency, but was “clearly talented“. Since then, he has been hanging out in single and double A, making 100 plate appearances for the Rainiers last year. His line at 28 years old in Triple A is .193/.280/.375. You can draw your own conclusions as to where this is likely going to go.

5. SS Nick Franklin. Franklin, of course, was a switch hitting short stop who was drafted by the Mariners in 2009, and one of our biggest hopes. He is now a switch hitting second baseman who was projected to stay at SS, but has not been able to due to the Mariners having better players at the position, and probably other reasons I’m not aware of. Franklin seemed OK at 2B in 2013, but “OK” is 2013-Mariners-relative; a Mariners OK was maybe an Athletics Get Him Off The Field Now. Franklin was drafted out of high school, though, so he has some time to develop and may still be a decent player. For the Tampa Bay Rays.

6. SS Gabriel Noriega. Literally, my first reaction to seeing this name was “Who?!”, but if I know anything about baseball, it’s that if I don’t know about something in baseball, it probably exists anyway. Noriega was signed out of Venezuela in 2007 for $800,000 (that’s my “yeeeesh!” face I’m making) which seems like way too much, considering it’s now been 8 years since his signing and five years since the writing of Yencich’s article, and Noriega literally just saw playing time at AAA last year. I guess not all of them can be a Mike Zunino. Noriega’s only 24, though, so maybe he still has a chance, particularly after playing 101 games last year with a .281/.303/.362  line.

7. LHP Mauricio Robles. Robles came from the Tigers in 2010, and was promoted to AA from Detroit’s single A team. He was one of the minor leaguers involved in the Jarrod Washburn trade. His main issue at the time of the writing was apparently consistency, and his minor league career thus far seems to verify that. He went to the Phillies in 2013, and threw 4.2 innings for the big club that year in 3 games. He does not appear to have played at all in 2014.

8. LHP Nick Hill. A “sleeper candidate for rotation work in the future“, Hill’s strengths seemed to lie in his 2-seamer and ground balls.  Hill is now 29 years old and has not yet been able to look at the green grass of Safeco, spending his time since 2007 in mostly double and triple A. His best year so far seems to have been 2009, where he pitched 95.2 innings over 36 games with a 2.65 FIP. He pitched 10 innings in Tacoma last year, but I don’t have much hope he’ll go farther. Maybe a few games could happen for him up here this year to take over for an injured bullpen member if he works well for the Rainiers. Maybe?

9. OF Johermyn Chavez. Apparently a two-time Blue Jays Player of the Year in their minors system, Yencich mentions that Chavez’s performance at the lower minor league level was comparable to Wladimir Balentien’s without the walks (or with the walks? I was not sure, reading it). Chavez struggled against left handed pitching, and had outlived his usefulness by 2013. He spent 2013 in the lower minors with the Cubs, and 2014 at A level, playing 36 games for the Royals’ affiliate.

10. CF Ezequiel Carrera. Carrera didn’t make it through 2010 with the Mariners. Yencich cited improved plate patience and lost power during 2008 for the player, and a promising degree of defensive talent, but we only got about half a year of it in Tacoma, 64 games. Carrera left midway through the season for Cleveland, where he stayed evenly dividing his time between the Indians AAA and big clubs, and then last year played for Detroit at both levels as well.

And this brings me to number 2. Gregory  Hallman. Yencich had this to say in the Spring of 2010:

At his best, Halman has the athletic talent to make even the most remarkable feats look easy and natural. At his worst, he’s Rob Deer with half as many walks and more strikeouts. Halman has three full seasons under his belt and only one has been good, 2008, when he was nearly a 30-30 man and hit .272/.325/.527 between Hit A and Double A. Some considered that to be his big step forward, but last year he went back to his old ways and led the minors in strikeouts. Aside from his plate discipline, his future depends on his mental fortitude – to be ale to will himself out of slumps instead of trying to swing his way out.

Of course, we got to see a bit of what Halman was capable of, but we’ll never know what he could have been. Mental illness and anger took him away from us at far too young an age in 2011. RIP Gregory Halman. We still miss you.

To avoid ending this on a down note, though, I’d like to point out that we have come a long way as an organization since 2010. There have been a few missteps, but all in all, this team is a team we can really be proud of, and last season was proof of that. A lot of the guys that didn’t pan out for us were dealt elsewhere, where they’re not panning out for anyone else, either. In 2010, we were still dealing with a little bit of what was left of the Bill Bavasi era, and now we’re not; and anything that led to that is a positive, in my humble opinion. Jack Zduriencik has done and continues to do a pretty good job if you ask me. And that is something that makes 2015 a season to really look forward to.


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Where The Mariners Were, And Where We Are Now (Part 1)

I hope everyone had a great New Year, and that everyone stayed safe.

Now let’s talk about this thing I found…

 IMG_3303Hey, remember me??

As I was packing to get ready to travel for the holidays, I found a computer bag with a copy of the only Maple Street Press Mariners 2010 Annual. It’s probably the most Annual that ever annualed, since the likes of it have not been seen since. Need a memory refresher? In 2010, when Don Wakamatsu was our manager and 2009 was showing us a bunch of promise, a bunch of bloggers and a bunch of the Mariners beat team got together and produced a nice magazine with heavy glossy stock, plenty of pictures, and a lot of smart packed inside. It was awesome, informative, and…never happened again. This is a shame, but it has provided me with something interesting that might take a few posts to get through.

2010 was a year that I was really getting into the team and what baseball had to offer as a thinking person’s sport. The 2009 was a great season full of bullpen antics, a Felix Hernandez that was showing more and more flashes of what we hoped he could be (and then became and most definitely is), an Ichiro that was still here, and a general sense that with new GM Jack Zduriencik and a freshly-signed Cliff Lee, we were going places in 2010. And we so didn’t. We all know how 2010 ended, I’m not going to recap.

Meanwhile, the good bloggers and Mariners beat staff were putting together this magazine. I decided to browse through it this morning, a little walk down memory lane. I got that in the form of the article by Jay Yencich called Down on the Farm, listing the Mariners top 10 prospects at the time. I read the list of names, and thought it might make for an interesting review. Sometimes, baseball memories can be short, and looking back on what we thought was going to happen can be not only enlightening but entertaining as well. We’ll start with number 10, if for no other reason than that it makes the most sense, given the eventual futures of the players in question.

10. RHP Dan Cortes. At the time of the writing, Cortes was still in double A. Cortes came to us via the Royals in 2009, and bounced back and forth between the Ms and Rainiers for 2009 and 2010, after starting 16 games in the Ms AA system. Yencich cites a lack of command and a good change-up as blockades to his advancement. After grabbing two losses in relief for the Ms in 2011 and breaking his hand that September, Cortes was moved to the Padres single A, then the Diamondbacks double A, then the Padres again in 2013. Per FanGraphs, he did not play at all in 2014.

9. CF Julio Morban. This is a guy whose name I know, but never heard much about him outside of, well, being a prospect. I can’t even find anything about him on FanGraphs, so I have nothing to compare him to to even fill me in, without doing far more research than I want to get into right now. Yencich speaks of Morban getting into bad counts and being too eager to swing as issues for the Dominican player, and ends the segment by saying he could start 2010 with the Clinton Lumberkings. I’m not convinced he made it that far, and he seems to have disappeared into the ether.

8. RHP Michael Pineda. Jay’s assessment of Pineda coming into 2010 isn’t really all that much different than what we saw that year; the movement of his fastball, his change-up, and improving slider. The same things that caused Dave Niehaus to legendarily yell “Ooooo that STANK!” over the air. But those were apparently Pineda’s golden years already gone. And we know what happened to him, showing up at the Yankees camp in horrible shape, fighting multiple injuries, spending his time back in the Yanks’ farm system, and not being anywhere near as “diabolical” as a lot of us had hoped. This is not to say things went horribly for him, though. He finished off 2014 in the majors with a 5-5 record. He’s still around, and at 25 years old, may still have room for improvement and a good career.

7. 3B Alex Liddi. I never really knew much about Liddi, other than that he was Italian and was being touted pretty heavily as the golden child of the future in 2010 because of a good degree of power in his swing. FanGraphs has him at 126 (!!!) plate appearances for the Mariners in 2012. Either that is a typo, or his tenure here at Safeco was pretty forgettable. Or I slept through that whole season. Guessing it’s a little from the latter two options. In any event, Liddi is now chilling out at Triple A, being tossed between the White Sox and Dodgers after leaving the Ms in 2013.

6. IF Matt Tuiasosopo. There was a time in my baseball history where I thought Tui was a viable option at 2B. I’d like to say that time coincided with me smoking a lot of crack, but I can’t make that claim. Tui was nearly a staple in Tacoma; so much so that I thought maybe he’d be a career Rainier. Yencich talks about his strikeout rate as a hurdle, and indeed his best years may be behind him. He played quite a bit for Detroit in 2013 with 191 PA, but seems to be much more comfortable at a Triple A level (currently with the Blue Jays system), and at 28 years old, that might be where he stays. I always liked Tui. But it was not to be.

5. 1B Rich Poythress. Poythress was drafted the same year as Dustin Ackley. Poythress’ main issues as a contender in 2010 were pulling the ball and being a RH batter in Safeco Field, though Poythress never made it that far. He is another player whose FanGraphs entry is lacking in…existence. Baseball Reference has him,  and he is currently in Atlanta somewhere, at AA.

4. IF Carlos Triunfel. Triunfel broke a tibia to start off 2009, after being suspended in 2008 for violating team conduct (I never did hear what happened, but I do remember it happening, if only vaguely). According to Yencich, Triunfel used this downtime to his advantage, taking the time to learn more English in order to better communicate with his team, and working out with the team on the field to strengthen himself after his injury. Triunfel was in a Rising Star’s Game in the AZ Fall League, and there was a lot of talk about him until around 2012. Triunfel spent most of his time at AAA, some time in 2013 up here, and then the team parted ways with him and he spent 2014 splitting his time between the Dodgers and AAA. He signed a minor league contract with the Giants in November 2014.

3. C Adam Moore. Remember Adam Moore? I loved Adam Moore! I loved Adam Moore because Adam Moore was not Rob Johnson. Those were a good few days. Yencich finishes his actually-quite-glowing review of Moore with “His work ethic, attitude, and physical abilities could make him a fixture behind the plate in Seattle for years.” But even though Moore fixed his passed balls issue (unlike Johnson), nothing much really developed for him here. Moore went to the Royals and, again, split time between their MLB club and AAA for two years, then found himself in San Diego doing the same thing. Just a few weeks ago, he signed a minor league contract with Cleveland.

2. LF Michael Saunders. Now we’re talking! Yencich says of Saunders in 2010, “Saunders is a classic five-tool player, with the ability to hit to all fields, 20-home run power potential, speed to swipe 15-20 bags, an arm that could play well in right field, and the mobility to be at least an average center fielder.” Saunders hit 19 dingers. In 2012. He stole 21 bags. In 2012. He never saw a lot of right field playing time; the team chose to stick him in CF as a viable option after Franklin Gutierrez started seeing more and more health issues. But Saunders – while certainly a fan favorite due to his high-jumping, home-run-preventing antics over the outfield walls – was also prone to injury and of course a bizarre battle with the FO garnered him a new home in Toronto. Still? I agree with Jay’s statements, and if it were not for the injuries, I think Saunders would have been something far more special than he got to be here. I hope he is able to stay healthy and play well; but not against us.

And now for the number one prospect in 2010.

1. 2B/CF Dustin Ackley. In 2010, Dustin Ackley was, as Yencich puts it, the “consolation prize” for losing out on Steven Strasburg in the draft. At the time, Ackly came highly advertised as the center fielder of the future; but it seemed decided that if he was ever going to see the grass in Seattle, it would be closer to second base. He has, of course, converted nicely to platooning between 2B and LF, now a familiar bearded presence in left since Robinson Cano came on board last year. He was projected in 2010 to be “a lead-off man whose average is consistently above .300, draws about 70 walks a year, averages 20 or so home runs in any given season…” He has unfortunately not done any of that, but he has been good enough to keep, and this last year there was even more improvement. At 26 years old, he still has room to go farther, and slow and steady wins the race sometimes, so here is to an excellent 2015 for Mr Ackley. He is no Steven Strasburg, but as far as consolation prizes go, I’ll take it, and I’m looking forward so much to seeing what he’ll do this year, with the roster we will undoubtedly have to start in April.

 

There will be another part to this article as soon as I can write it, because Jay’s article in the Annual did not end there. Part 2 will feature a look at “Ten More to Watch”. Some of them may surprise you, and at least one will make you very sad. Special thanks to Jay Yencich and the other folks that put this magazine together. I have been in a writing funk for months now, this was just the thing to bring me out of it for a bit.

 


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Mariners Post-FanFest Invitation, Happy New Year

So it’s the 31st of December. When baseball season ended, I felt that this date was a long way off, and that I would spend most of the winter months suffering the drought of baseball. Now, baseball seems closer than ever, and the calendar looks like this: Mariners Fan Fest, the Super Bowl (marking the end of football – finally – and the beginning of hopes for the 2015 baseball season) less than 60 days until pitchers and catchers report, just over 90 days until the home opener, and the first Opening Day I will be taking off as my own personal national holiday from here on out. Breakfast beer and an early afternoon game I don’t have to drive to or fight people for parking for? Yes, please! Let’s do this!

To that end, I am attempting to organize a post-Fan Fest meetup to discuss baseball, beer, and whatever else knocks your hair back, after the first day of Mariners Fan Fest, Saturday January 24th.

  • Date: January 24th, 2015
  • Time: Any time after 5pm
  • Place: Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle. Here is a link with directions and other information, but what the link doesn’t tell you, I gladly will. Beveridge Place is my favorite hangout in my neighborhood. They have an incredible selection of not-all-IPA beers from all over the country and world, an extensive list of ciders on draft and in bottle, and a pretty good wine list (though I never go there for that). They have a few snacks available for cheap – peanuts, crackers, that sort of thing, but what they lack in menu items, they make up for in neighbors. You can order from Zeek’s Pizza, Kokoras Greek Grill, the Feedback Lounge, Peel and Press, and a few other places in the area. Most of them will deliver to the building, and the delivery people are near-magical in their ability to locate their customers in a crowded building. Beveridge itself is a very cozy place with pool tables, darts, board games, wooden everything, and comfy chairs and benches. It’s like hanging out in your grandparents’ house, if your grandparents knew, like, everything about beer. The side room also features numerous TVs and a shuffleboard table, ideal for any sort of sports gathering.

So come and join myself and some friends and talk Mariners baseball, kick back with an excellent brew, and ponder aloud what Jack Zduriencik, Lloyd McClendon and 25-40 new and familiar faces might have to offer us in 2015. If this one is a success, perhaps we’ll do another in the middle of the season, when the summer beers come out to play.

In the meantime, have a great evening, everyone. Stay safe and be happy and hopefully we’ll see you in the New Year!


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Random Mariners Lunchtime Thoughts

It is Thursday on the week of Winter meetings, and of course the Mariners have been mostly quiet all week long. Actually, everyone has been kind of quiet. Outside of  the Tigers sending Rick Porcello to Boston for Yoenis Cespedes, nothing super major has happened in my baseball world (yes, I know that Matt Kemp moved a few miles south, but it’s all NL and I’m not inclined to be too concerned about the NL in general). Nick Markakis signed on with the Braves from Baltimore, and a lot of Orioles fans (people who are able to follow the team more closely than I am) seem OK with that change, but Markakis has always been with Baltimore, and the fact that he was there when I started being a fan and now isn’t is somewhat disorienting for me. It’s always weird when American League players go to the NL; it’s almost like they’ve died. Quite the opposite is true, of course, but I don’t follow the NL with as much voracity as the AL, so it sure does feel that way.

Current talk surrounds a move between us and the Nationals, a Brad Miller for Ian Desmond thing. Currently I have no feelings about this one way or the other. I am 99.9% sure I saw Desmond play in April when I was in DC, but he didn’t hit me one way or the other, as all my attention was focused on Stephen Strasburg that day. If this happens, it will have to be a wait and see thing for me, and I will definitely have to check out a post on Lookout Landing about it, which I cannot currently do because systems at work make LL unreadable for some reason. Maybe some day, we’ll stop using Internet Explorer here, but that day will not come soon. Everything on MLB Trade Rumors indicates that talks are still going on, so I will continue waiting. I am guessing that we are attempting to bolster hitting further. I know next to nothing about Desmond’s defensive metrics but comparing his and Miller’s batting averages and WAR for last year with what they are both projected to do in 2015 makes that move look like an improvement for us. Maybe a minor improvement (given the fact that those are such basic numbers), but an improvement nonetheless. I don’t have time to do much more in-depth examination at the moment, sadly.

Ryan Divish has an article up about Lloyd McClendon’s thoughts on the upcoming season, and some gossip over the last 24 hours that caused the Mariners FO to have to do some minor, needless damage control. Apparently Keith Law mentioned something on Twitter about the organization not being all that much into Taijuan Walker anymore, and that turned into some online speculation about why. The main point I took away from the whole thing was that there had been some behavior that Walker had engaged in that made him undesirable. This turned into talk about Walker’s early-ish exit from Fall ball, which I remember reading about when it happened, and didn’t think about further because I figured they wouldn’t let him just go home unless the FO said it was OK. At the link, you can see jack Zduriencik’s vehement denial that any such thing ever happened, and here is where I express, again, my thanks for our local media, who don’t tend to start issues where non exist. Not really sure why Law felt the need to run to social media with that “news”, but he is a senior writer for ESPN, so I can only assume that journalism is truly dead with ESPN. I like Law in general, but there was absolutely zero reason for him to do that.

I personally am still waiting to hear what Melky Cabrera’s plans might be. It’s been nearly a week, and I don’t think I have seen his name mentioned once, in connection with any other teams who might be interested, including the Mariners. Is Cabrera asking for too much money? Do the Mariners know something about him that we don’t? Do other teams know something about him that we don’t? I am likely falling behind on my news stories, but haven’t seen much on Twitter. As of three days ago, CBS Sports says we are still talking to him. Maybe the finances just have to be hammered out. Maybe they never will be!  Oh, Baseball, you scamp!

 


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Goodbye Michael Saunders, Hello JA Happ

I was getting out of work and grabbing a bus home last night and trying to catch up on Twitter, when it became abundantly obvious after reading the storm of posts from people I follow that the Mariners had done something, had made another move. Within a few seconds, I found out that that move was a straight-across trade, Michael Saunders for JA Happ.

I had hoped this would not happen, to the point where I just started to ignore people talking about it before yesterday. First of all, let me just get this out of the way; my love for Michael Saunders is completely irrational. He had some great moments at the plate, I liked his fielding, and he seemed like a good guy on the team; nobody complained, he did the utility thing without any (that I ever heard of) complaining, he was a low-key, no-drama guy. But we all know that does not a ball player make, and Saunders also spent a lot of time injured, and faced some criticism and scrutiny from the organization because they didn’t feel like he was spending enough time taking steps to help himself avoid those injuries. There is little anyone can do to prevent knocking into a wall while trying to save their pitcher a home run, but I guess there were some strength training issues or something. I prefer to remain in the dark about it. He earned his “Condor” nickname making those outfield wall jumps, but you can only do that so many times in so many places before you run out of tickets to play the wellness lottery, and it appears that Michael Saunders’ time in Seattle is up.

Per Ryan Divish, Saunders had this to say about the fans here:

I just want them to know how much I appreciate their support. I can never thank them enough. They stood behind me through thick and thin, good and bad. They always had my back. They are the one thing I’m going to miss the most. I consider them part of my family. They will always have a special place in my heart.

And he is right. We did. Saunders had his die-hards in center field, and he had folks in the upper deck waving signs and cheering him on. I did my part wherever I happened to be sitting when he did well, never booed him when he didn’t, always hoped that he would be able to play. I was aware of his troubles at the plate, but always felt warm and fuzzy when he was out in center. I am sad to see him gone, but I also know I was just ignoring the inevitable. The Mariners seem determined currently to mend holes in our offense and bolster our pitching, so Michael Saunders is headed back to his native Canada (though not his native province) to go play baseball with the Toronto Blue Jays (and familiar face Munenori Kawasaki!), and pitcher JA Happ comes here to fit into our pitching rotation. Or not.

I don’t know much about JA Happ. In fact, someone on Twitter asked me if he was a starter or a reliever, and I honestly had no idea. I felt like Happ might have been in relief the last time I saw him, and I may have, but he comes advertised as a starter. This is apparently not a move a lot of fans wanted; Happ has been pegged as a number 5 at best (unless you read this from Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs, and you should), and we need a Chris Young 2014 season replacement (preferably better). Happ is a 32-year old lefty who is still owed some $6 million, and while the 32-year old part isn’t the most sparkly thing  I have ever heard, his Steamer projections for 2015 are also not the worst thing I have seen for a 32-year old pitcher. This may be a downgrade for the Mariners defensively, but it also doesn’t sound like they’re done yet, we still have Winter meetings upcoming, and the name Justin Upton has been tossed around a lot lately. I feel like Jack Zduriencik is going to start back up with the ninja skills here in a bit…

I’m not going to panic over any of this. What I am going to do instead is wish Michael Saunders the best of luck “back home”, and give JA Happ the benefit of the doubt. Given that I personally know very little about him, I at least owe him that, as a fan. I will absolutely miss Saunders, but things are looking very intriguing for the Mariners in 2015, and I have hope.


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Kyle Seager Just Got Paid

The Mariners continued their forward momentum yesterday by giving Kyle Seager the extension he so richly deserves. Seven years and $100 million (say it in Dr Evil’s voice). You can see the breakdown if you wish at the link.

I love the idea of locking Seager down, but it also sounds like he really wanted to stay here. His wife Julie tweeted yesterday after the announcement was made on most news sites and by the Mariners themselves: “Sooo unbelievably thankful and excited! We could not think of a better place to raise our family or community to be apart of.” It’s nothing like Felix’s tears from last year’s notice that he was being offered a 7-year deal and copious amounts of cash to stay here, but it’s a good sign.  Seager was drafted by the Mariners, and even though he’s not from the area, he came up through the ranks with this organization, so technically speaking, he is sort of home-grown. I know that players and their wives are always going to say things like this, but it has to be a positive for him, that the team values him so much they are willing to go to these lengths to keep him around. Ball players get moved around so much, it has to be nice to be able to make plans for your family and kids for an extended period of time. Plus, Kyle Seager is very likeable. He just is. He smiles when things go well, he’s friendly to fans, he puts his nose to the grindstone and gets serious when in-game situations call for it, makes for a good interview with our press people, and seems like a really great person, like a kid who just wants to play ball. I am glad he will be playing ball in Seattle, and that he bucked the scouts’ odds to get where he is today. His rise to be the third base replacement we have been lacking since Adrian Beltre had to leave for other climes has been impressive, and a joy to see. I am looking forward to what else he has to offer us over the next seven years.

The team has also been reported multiple times as saying they harbor no plans to trade Hisashi Iwakuma, something that makes me giddy. I guess before people started  talking about it since the end of the season, it had never really occurred to me that it might ever be an option. Kuma has done so well for us, we would be fools to eliminate him from the team, regardless of what we might get in return. I have to wonder if an extension is going to be offered based on his 2015 year, since we are clearly exercising our option for 2015 by keeping him. I am happy to have the one-two of Felix/Iwakuma or vice versa; now we need a one-two-three, since the Yankees decided that Chris Young is a worth another round. I haven’t heard many rumors about what the Mariners are looking at as far as added pitching, however, so it will be interesting to see what happens at the Winter meetings next week (is it really next week already?!? Time is flying!)

Now,  I am confident that the M’s management is making a statement about what we should expect from the team next season. By making sure we keep Kyle Seager, publicly saying that Iwakuma will not be traded, and having Nelson Cruz and Felix Hernandez also here for the next few years with big price tags, and given the performance of last season, it looks like the Mariners may finally be ready to truly get down to business. I was hesitant to go nuts with the Cliff Lee deal was made (even though yay, Cliff Lee, and I was happy about that) because we still didn’t have the offense necessary to back up our pitching staff. But we seem to be moving away from those dark times and into an era of bright shiny bat power. If we can add an arm, spruce up our utilities a bit, and maintain the bullpen we have become known for, 2015 will be even more fun that this last year.

I have seen some skepticism from national sports media on whether or not this Kyle Seager contract was a good move for the Mariners, because sadly, nobody seems to have any clue who Seager is, in spite of the fact that he was sent to the ASG game in July. Believe it or not, kids; whether or not you believe in Kyle Seager does not make him exist to any lesser extent. And now he exists with a confidence that the people he works for respect and want him to continue his career here, and the hunger of youth. I have the feeling that by next September, the national media will be not only aware of Kyle Seager, they’ll be happily talking about him. A lot. Heeeeeere come the Mariners!


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Helloooooo Nelson Cruz!

The company I work for still uses Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office 2010. Pretty sure the IE is version 8, so I can’t actually do the research I wanted to do before writing this post, and I’m not going to have time later. I am hoping that maybe Daniel will have some words about this one that he can add to this space to balance out my generally uninformed excitement about who we sign, for how much, and why.

First of all, I think it’s important for anyone reading this to know that I have really stopped caring about money and the Mariners. The general thought is that there is some sort of cap on money and that we can never afford to spend a whole lot of it on free agents or players people consider big names; but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I remember people being really concerned about this a while ago, people who kept referring to the Mariners as a “small market team”. But we still managed to nab Chone Figgins and Cliff Lee that year, and make a few other deals, and come out over budget, and the only thing that imploded was the Mariners’ 2010 season; but that had nothing to do with the budget. We spent money, we got what Jack wanted, and that was that. It didn’t really impede the future and what we could spend all that much. So I don’t care about money. We’re already looking at a payroll of around $100 million by opening day, and I think they’ll trade or add more before then (add more than trade, from what I’ve heard). We’re not done yet, and it’s not my money, so I don’t really care what they spend. Do I think that grown men playing a kids game are overpaid? Sure, I do; but I have no control over it, so there is no reason for me to worry. All I am concerned about is the final product they put on the field, and how that works out for us for the six months they’re there.

That said…

I like the fact that Nelson Cruz is going to be wearing Mariners colors for the next 3-4 years. That is the simple version of what I have to say here. But nothing is every quite so simple in baseball, is it?

Nelson Cruz had a phenomenal year this year with the Baltimore Orioles. He really did. He wound up with a WAR of 3.9, his second best since 2010, where he was a 4.9 with the Rangers, which is where I learned to fear him; then again, we were awful that year, so pretty much everyone was scary. Projections for 2015 have him falling back to earth at 1.5 WAR and 637 plate appearances, but I’m not sure he’ll get that many here. My understanding thus far is that a lot of people have him pegged as a DH while the Mariners look for a nice reliable right fielder. Michael Saunders is viewed as a possible trade chip (though I hope we don’t lose him, as I like his outfield flexibility, and the way he runs the outfield in general). Cruz had a line last year of .271/.333/.525 and an OPS of .859; his projected for next year is .256/.317/.471, with an OPS of .788. He hit 40 HR last year and is pegged for 30 in 2015. We have signed him for four years and $57M. And though I don’t care about money, this is where things get sketchy for me.

Cruz is 34 years old. $57M and four years seems like a good deal…if he was 30. When I got the news on my phone earlier today, all I saw was that we had signed him, and I figured it was for a one year deal, veteran presence, all of that. I would not have pegged us spending that kind of contract time on him at all. I would have been happier if it was maybe two years, three tops. That’s the quick and dirty version of my hesitance, without being to really looking into things in as much depth as I would ultimately like to. But is he a good replacement for Kendrys Morales? You’re damn right he is. Is it possible he could continue a bit of his streak from last year and come out over his projections? Of course, that is part of what makes baseball great; anything can happen. Does Cruz still have to prove himself as a Mariner to me? Absolutely; but I am glad he is going to be able to do that, and I am  now looking forward to 2015 even more than I was to begin with.

I also think this signing says something to the players and the fans, which is that we may finally be willing to throw some money at our problems, and that may also bring more players to be interested in playing here. Throwing money at things isn’t always a negative. I know that small money for larger (aka; hidden) value is always more preferable, but sometimes you have to demonstrate that you’re willing to show a bit of respect to the players, and now we have Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz all paid up and ready to go. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a fine start to me.

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