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.