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Just a goth girl and her baseball team.


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Everett AquaSox Announce 2015 Coaching Staff

From the old email inbox this morning!

Everett, WA – With a new season of AquaSox baseball just around the corner the Mariners have officially announced the 2015 Everett coaching staff. Manager Rob Mummau, Pitching Coach Jason Blanton, and Hitting Coach Mike Davis will lead the Sox this summer.

Rob Mummau begins his 14th season with the Mariners organizations in 2015, returning as Everett’s manager after spending the 2014 season managing the Pulaski Mariners of the Appalachian League in Pulaski, VA. Mummau led the Sox to a first half Northwest League division championship in 2012 and an overall division championship in 2013. A 1993 graduate of James Madison University, Rob Mummau was selected in the 29th round of the 1993 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. He played in the Blue Jays organization for seven years including the last four seasons at AAA Syracuse.

Mike Davis will be returning to Everett this season to continue his work as the AquaSox hitting coach after debuting in Everett in 2014. Before his coaching career, Davis made a name for himself spanning over a decade in the major leagues, as a player for the Oakland Athletics (1980-1987) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (1988-1989). He is most remembered as the Dodger who earned the base on balls in the bottom of the ninth of Game 1 of the World Series, stole second base, and ultimately scored on Kirk Gibson’s walk-off home run that won the game for Los Angeles.

Jason Blanton will be making his debut as the AquaSox pitching coach in 2015. Blanton spent the 2014 season alongside Rob Mummau in Virginia as the pitching coach for the Pulaski Mariners. Born in San Antonio, Jason Blanton was originally selected by Boston in the 28th round of the June draft but did not sign. In 2001, he was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 12th round of the June draft out of North Carolina State and pitched for the Cubs minor league system for three seasons.

The AquaSox Home Opener is June 18 at 7:05pm versus the Eugene Emeralds. Season tickets, group outings and both 12 and 16 game packages are available now, and single game tickets will be available in mid-May. Call (425) 258-3673 or visit aquasox.com for more information.

I am hoping to make it up to more games this year, but with the increased number of Mariners games in my soon-to-be-purchased season ticket package, I don’t know that I will have time. I would love to be able to report on the home opener, but things get terribly cramped in that booth with all the folks who are actually paid to be there, and one spot they give to a blogger is a spot that could be another spot or some elbow room for someone who truly needs to be there doing paid work, so if I wind up going, it’ll likely be as a spectator. Also conspiring against me is the fact that it’s on a Thursday, and over 25 miles away. We’ll see. Looking forward to seeing the roster for the Sox finalized this year.

 


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Some Mariners Thoughts On A Seahawks Afternoon

I am sacked out on the couch using Tom’s laptop because mine is still having issues. The heater is on against the fog and damp cold of outside, the cats are sleeping, the Ravens are playing the Patriots on TV, and downtown, a vast majority of Seattle’s population is drinking, eating, and gearing up to go crazy at around 5pm, as the Seahawks take the field against the Carolina Panthers. I am very excited about today’s game and tomorrow’s Green Bay game against the Cowboys, because the closer we get to the end of football, the closer we get to the beginning of baseball. I just feel like writing today.

Robinson Cano was given permission to play in some winter league games in the DR recently. I know a lot of people don’t really like when players do this, since they run the risk of getting injured, and I have to say I’m not totally a fan of it either. But I have to just trust Cano to know his limitations and not play too hard and be careful. If nothing else, as the article mentions, he can test out his broken little toe and make sure that he is feeling his best going into Spring Training.

Speaking of Spring Training, tickets have gone on sale already, and there are apparently vacation packages you can also purchase (though I seem to have sent that email off into the ether never to be recovered). I would eventually like to make the trip down, maybe take in a week. We have friends in Tucson, so it would be nice to combine a visit with them and a bit of ST baseball. I think, though, that a trip to Chase Field and Alice Cooperstown will probably occur before spending a week in Surprise will. If I cannot fit a trip to Denver in this year (finances need to be moved around to accommodate season tickets this year, and having medical, car, and pet emergencies in November and December did not help much at all, unfortunately), I am planning two trips next year; one to Coors Field and the other to Chase Field. Spring Training may have to wait another few years, or until I get a much better job, whichever comes first. The trip I took east in April last year was maybe one of the most fun things I’ve ever done; and there are 27 more stadiums waiting to be discovered!

The Mariners quiet but powerful offseason unfortunately didn’t inspire me to write much at the time, but I am trying to right that ship. The acquisition of Justin Ruggiano from the Cubs was a head scratcher for me at the time, but I hadn’t read much on what we needed or who he was until today. I have the tendency to stockpile Seattle Times emails and hope that eventually I’ll have something to say about the news. Ruggiano seems like he fits a very big need for us right now, and sounds like the kind of guy who is willing to just step in wherever he’s needed so long as he can play the game. According to Fangraphs, Steamer has his projections for 2015 going up a smidge; walk rates up, strikeout rates down, WAR up, hits up…Ruggiano’s offense is all slated to go down, but he must have some serious plate discipline. Having a career OPS of .836 is nothing to shake a stick at – the man can walk. If we can get a good cleanup hitter in back of him, this is going to be a really super interesting year for us.

At the time the article linked above was penned, the Ms were also taking a look at Seth Smith, who they then went and traded for with the Padres. This was a hard one for me; I was a big Brandon Maurer fan. From his timid and unsuccessful entry into the roster as a starter, to his intense, lights-out relief work last year, I have been really rallying for Maurer to find his groove, and was happy when he did in the bullpen. But again, we needed offense, so Jack Z picked some up for us in the form of Smith, who is another guy who can hit right-handed pitching. Smith also has a good WAR projection for next year, though down from last year, and his projected slash line is competitive with his younger years playing in Colorado, where the air is thin and balls just go.  Petco Park and Safeco Field are about the same distance from sea water, so I am hoping that translates into similar numbers for Smith as last year, when his line was .266/.367/.440. Smith’s OPS last year was .807. All of these numbers are supposed to go down this year, but not by much.

However the Mariners decide to use these two next year, it looks like we have definitely made improvements. Quiet and not-too-sexy improvements, but even not-too-sexy improvements can turn into the sexiest improvements ever when applied under the right conditions. After actually being able to read up a little on these two players, I am feeling more confident than ever that Zduriencik did the right thing, and spent very little money doing it. We are in for a pretty exciting season, in my humble opinion.

The Seahawks game is on in a half hour and Tom wants his laptop back, so this is all I have to say today. I am looking forward to the start of baseball with the kind of excitement I haven’t had in a while, and I absolutely love it. 2015 is going to be a good one.


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Randy Johnson, Hall of Famer

I haven’t been able to get to this until today, due to a broken laptop power cord, and the previous post that I was in the middle of while we were all waiting to hear the news about the HOF voting. Of course, I never knew Randy Johnson as a Mariner, except in legend. I’ve seen clips, heard the calls of Dave Niehaus (several of which were played the other day on 710 ESPN, much to my delight), and am aware of that one time he did this, which was such an improbable situation that a show that aired a few years ago on FSN called Sports Science attempted to duplicate it with a game hen, a live pitcher, and a pitching machine, and could not. If you search for the clip on YouTube, some people are even referring to it as a hoax; as if live baseball is somehow faked. But I guess that is how unbelievable Johnson’s pitching was. And it really was.

As everyone is well aware, Johnson was inducted the other day into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I have not yet had time to pour over the numerous articles on the day and how it played out for the inductees, but I’m getting to everything gradually. CBS Sports has this article with a few video clips of the group of John Smolz, Johnson, Craig Biggio and Pedro Martinez talking to the press and joking around. They seem tentative, almost a little embarrassed to be up there, as if they either don’t feel they deserve the honor, or simply can’t comprehend that they’re actually there. And it might be a little bit of both. None of them could be more wrong, but it seems to demonstrate that baseball players start out as and remain these giant kids who just can’t believe their luck. Also, in the second clip, if Pedro Martinez isn’t the most adorable thing, I don’t know who is.

For my part, I only saw Johnson pitch live once; he was at the end of his career, he was in his 40s, and it was the last year he played baseball, for the San Francisco Giants. I remember being at the end of a pay period when the game came around, and scraping up enough money to get into a very crowded Safeco Field to see him (finding seats was a chore, indeed; the stadium was absolutely full, like Opening Day full). I wound up sitting somewhere in the 335-340 range in the upper deck, but I didn’t care. I took pictures of him warming up downstairs in the visitors bullpen. I’m not a fighter for position down in The Pen, but that day had to be an exception. I got there early, nabbed one of the last remaining spaces up front, and waited. Getting out of that crowd after snapping off several shots was a chore. Everyone wanted to see him. I took (not great, as I didn’t have the Canon I currently use at the time) pictures of him during the game. I am currently using Tom’s computer and cannot remember my YouTube password, otherwise I’d post the video of the roaring standing ovation in Safeco Field when Johnson walked off the mound. He didn’t make a huge deal out of it, just tipped his hat to everyone, and walked to the dugout. I don’t think you would find a single person in that building that day who would have minded if Johnson beat us; but it was not to be. Jason Vargas led us to a 2-1 victory. These were the 2009 Mariners, and we were doing OK that year, so I am simultaneously not surprised that we did well that game, and shocked beyond measure that we won, since, if memory serves, Johnson was pulled in the 6th or 7th inning. It was May, it was cold, and I could not have been more happy that I got to go.

Johnson will, of course, go into the Hall as an Arizona Diamondback. That caused an online stir as well; a lot of people didn’t seem happy about it, but none of them should be surprised. Arizona was where Johnson did what any baseball player sets out to do; win a World Series. It’s where he set a ton of records, where he has several business interests, and the place he calls home. In spite of his long tenure here and the wonderful things he did and all the love Seattle fans have for him, he clearly feels like Phoenix is where he belongs. Regardless of how upset anyone might be that he will not don Mariners gear for the Hall, I feel he easily deserves to present himself however he likes. So for those of you who might be upset, suck it up; your time will come soon. Like in the next ten years soon.

There is a lot that could be said about Randy Johnson by more learned people who were actually there. Indeed, my Twitter feed has been buzzing about this since it happened on Tuesday from fans and press members who lived through Johnson’s tenure in this city, and remember it fondly. Shannon Drayer was on the Michael Gray Show the other morning talking about being warned to not speak with Johnson prior to the game (Randy of course was notorious for his pre-game anti-social behavior), and other memories of Johnson’s character that she shared were fun to listen to. I wish I had even a fraction of the knowledge about Johnson that other Mariners fans have, but all I have is this one memory of this one game. He was nearly done, but that made him no less impressive to me. I will never forget it. It is very rare for me to remember scores of individual games, so the fact that I remember this one should tell you how important it was to me to be there. Alas, I didn’t even live in Seattle when he pitched here, and if you’d told me back in the 90s that some day I’d be really into baseball, I would have laughed in your face. So I envy all of you who grew up watching this guy. He was special, and you’re very lucky.

Johnson went on after baseball to become an absolutely fantastic photographer. His forte’ seems to lie in concert shots. I have seen a lot of live concert photography in my time, that having been a former life of sorts, and Johnson is truly impressive. For his part, RJ seems to have a sense of humor about his past, as this is the logo for his company:

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 5.07.36 AMWhen Ichiro and Ken Griffey Jr get in, I might have to pay Cooperstown another visit. Congratulations, Randy Johnson, on your induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

 


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Mariners Fan Fest Is Coming!

It’s that time of year again! The Mariners have released details for Fan Fest 2015, which takes place on January 24th and 25th.

I always look at Fan Fest as the sort of halfway mark between the dreary Seattle winter, and the main event of Opening Day. Even if it is snowing, or pouring down rain, or sunny and 20F, I look forward to going. It’s an opportunity to get into the ballpark for the first time since the final game of September, and the buzz of activities on, in, and around the field is always good to gear one up for the approaching season. It is maybe one of the few times during any given year that I actually look forward to standing in any line for upwards of an hour to get in somewhere. I throw on every coat I own, wear two pairs of socks, and pack myself in with thousands of other fans to listen to players new and old speak to the stadium, see little kids and their families running around with oversize Mariners gear on, and say hi to friends and acquaintances that I might not see except at Fan Fest. It’s a great way to kill about 6 hours or so. Also, usually my first hot dog of the year.

CaptureI plan on taking part in Select-a-Seat, as I now have enough saved for a suitable down payment on my two seats. This year, the Mariners have switched their 16-game plans to 20-game plans, so the price has gone up, but 20-40-81 makes more sense as a season. Here is a full list of players and personnel scheduled to appear over the weekend. I didn’t used to think much of it, but now I kind of love the fact that Jay Buhner and Dan Wilson are always at Fan Fest. A few years of learning about their legacy here in Seattle has given me a better appreciation for their presence at this event.

Keep in mind, too, that there will be a post-event meetup at Beveridge Place in West Seattle, hope to see you there!


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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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