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Just a goth girl and her baseball team.


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Mariners New Alternate Uniforms, Fan Fest Reminder

It’s around 10AM as I start writing this one, and apparently press and bloggers alike are gathering down at Safeco Field for today’s announcement of new Sunday alternate uniforms. I hope they live up to the hype, as my Twitter feed has been a neverending stream of guesses as to what they’ll look like for the past 24-36 hours or so. The last time we did this, I seem to remember it being bringing the all-gray unis back. The time before that, it was that awful teal color. I know that holds a lot of memories for fans, but I have never been a huge fan of the color teal, and it also reminds me of the Miami Dolphins uniforms from the 1980s.

I am currently being told that Ichiro Suzuki has landed with the Florida (Miami?) Marlins, and it is a positive that he stays in MLB, but also I just have no love or concern for the Marlins one way or the other. I saw them play twice last year when I was on the east coast, and while it was fun because it was baseball, I just don’t care. I feel very apathetic about the Marlins, just like the Reds, the Astros, and most of the AL/NL Central. For Ichiro’s part, he will get to wear bright colors, as a friend of mine pointed out on Twitter, and he will get back the freedom to do with his facial hair whatever he wants, so I guess that is a positive for him, but I wish it were a team that I really liked. Can’t win them all, I guess.

The press conference started out with Rick Rizzs, reciting a history of the Mariners uniforms and uniforms in general through the years since 1977. Several still photos were shown in montage of uniforms from the trident and powder blues to the compass and crisp whites and navy that we have today. He went through a brief description of how the white unis were going to be altered, mainly the lettering. From the Mariners Twitter account:

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I like this change. It makes the lettering pop more, and the navy kind of tones down the obnoxiousness of the teal. I don’t know that I had ever noticed the white stitching before; uniforms are just kind of there, and you don’t think about the way they look outside of being on a player until a change like this is made. An improvement for sure. The same look is also going to be applied to the back lettering of players names and numbers.

Then Rizzs announced Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Charlie Furbush and Nelson Cruz to the stage, and these will be our new Sunday alternates. All I can say is, WOW.

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The color is a cream without being too cream, and the mix of old school blue with navy is a nice touch. And the socks. Don’t even get me started on the socks. First of all, I wear knee socks almost every day. I love them. I would wear both of these unironically and unapologetically, in public. I really really hope the club decides to put them up for sale. I have been very envious of the St Louis Cardinals red stripes for quite some time now, and this is just perfect.

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The back. I tried to cap it before they turned around, but only sort of succeeded with Walker. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, the nod to the old days of the game without names on the back and the concept of “playing for the team” is a nice gesture. But there are times I have difficulty tracking who is who, so I guess I either have to become really familiar with numbers, or just pay attention harder than normal. That first option is a little easier; hey, I have to talk to friends and stuff during the game. Going to the ballpark is not without its distractions. Still, these are great.

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Rizzs interviewed everyone on what they thought and of course, the reviews were a unanimous thumbs up. Maybe the guys like them truly, maybe they don’t; frankly, I can’t see how they wouldn’t, these are pretty nice. The hats with the old “S” on them are a great homage to the past of the team as well. There is literally nothing about these that I don’t like. Well done, Mariners.

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And with that, these players are on stage because they are in town for this weekend’s Seattle Mariners Fan Fest. Fan Fest is the appetizer before a very long wait for the best meal ever in April, and every year I enjoy going. This year, I am going to make an entire day of it. I plan to take a bus down rather than deal with parking, and treat myself to breakfast somewhere, then go and get my ticket and stand on line early or go into the park when the lines clear, or whatever happens to strike me as the Thing To Do at the time. Then, just baseball it up for the next few hours until they kick us all out.

Also, a reminder that some friends and I will be gathering at Beveridge Place Pub around 5PM tomorrow for drinks, maybe some food, and baseball talk or whatever we decide to chat about. This is not a structured meeting at all, just a chance to hang out and talk about baseball in a casual setting with other fans. It might be just me and Su, it might be a bunch of people, I don’t know. But after this pretty exciting uniform announcement and what I am hoping to be a great day chilling out at the ballpark, I hope to see some folks there. If nothing else, think of it as a chance to unwind on a Saturday evening.

See you at the ballpark!


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Everett AquaSox Name New GM

More from the good folks up north in Everett…

Everett, WA – The Everett AquaSox announced today that Danny Tetzlaff has been named General Manager. Tetzlaff has been in minor league baseball for over 13 years, serving most recently as General Manager of the expansion Yakima Valley Pippins (West Coast League). He has served as both a General Manager and Assistant General Manager with several successful organizations, including three years with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

“After previously working in the Northwest League with the Yakima Bears, I am excited and humbled to have this amazing opportunity with the Everett AquaSox,” said Tetzlaff, “I am looking forward to being a part of the tradition already in place in Everett, and making summers at Everett Memorial Stadium even more memorable in 2015.”

In his new role with the AquaSox, Tetzlaff will work closely with Team President Pat Filippone and oversee the day-to-day operations of the club.

“We are looking forward to having Danny as a part of our team in Everett,” said Filippone, “His proven track record of success at multiple levels within Minor League Baseball make him an asset for the franchise and our growth in the future.”

A graduate of UNC-Charlotte, Tetzlaff was named 2006 Pioneer League Executive of the Year while with the Casper Rockies after leading the Rockies to the nation’s fourth-largest attendance jump in all of minor league baseball.

 

Thanks, Katie!

 


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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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