I have wanted to write for a while now, but with football reigning supreme in Seattle, it’s been kind of difficult to find the narrative of the Seattle Mariners. I figure the best thing to do would just be to air my big dumb opinions on various points of interest and articles published over the past few weeks. So here we go!
Jesus Montero is being given another chance. I really hate to be a downer when I’m not normally (not with any degree of seriousness, anyway), but I am weary and therefore wary of the rollercoaster that is our middling catcher. I certainly want to have more faith in him, and it sounds like the fact that he has met with the organization and constructed a plan for coming back happier and healthier – and has made his reporting weight with reporting still weeks away – is a good sign. I really do like the concept of Jesus Montero, and he seems to have a good degree of random power, but the attitude hasn’t been there and the hitting hasn’t been reliable. I would really love to see him make it here. I feel like he’s pretty good defensively, and hasn’t had any knee issues behind the plate, so I really just want him to get himself together and play. My fingers are crossed, but I’m not getting my hopes up. I did that last year, when everyone was saying that he had slimmed down and then when I finally saw a photo of him at spring training, he looked pretty much the same as he had before. I’m pulling for him, just being cautious about it. Given the catcher depth that the Mariners have piled up, sounds like they are, too.
Back in January, too, the Mariners signed Endy Chavez and Franklin Gutierrez to minor league contracts. I like the Chavez signing; they clearly intend to keep him around for utility purposes, and I am glad he has decided to stay there. I have always been an Endy fan, he’s just a fun player to watch. But the Gutierrez offer both surprises and saddens me. Saddens because I love him so much and I just want him to be healthy and fast and in center field where he shines so well, and I know it can never be that way. I miss him in center. We got to see some fantastic defense while he was there, and while we have seen more defense from healthier players, I miss those high home-run-stopping jumps in the early evening sun. Surprised, though, because as the article linked above states, we clearly should not be expecting anything from him at a major league level at all. He seemed to do alright in the Venezuelan winter league, but that doesn’t help us in Seattle, and I have to wonder why the Ms have decided to keep him around. I’d love to see him back up here once or twice, but I’m not holding my breath. We have made improvements, and while the thoughts of what could have been with him will always echo on in my head, I know I have to separate the fan from the logic and what I know to be necessary. Whatever happens, I hope he has fun in Tacoma and stays healthy this year.
Speaking of Tacoma, I need to try and get down there this year more. I said that last year, but I felt really out of touch with the big picture last year, because I was completely missing out on the Rainiers. Maybe there will have to be some out of town Mariners games where I take the opportunity to go see what will likely be a fairly familiar roster.
Finally, I was listening to 710 ESPN Seattle this morning, and there was a lot of encouraging Mariners talk, sandwiched between football’s combine talk (don’t try and explain it to me, I could not care less if I put effort into it). There was some discussion of who to watch out for as the breakout/most improved player in 2015, and Mike Zunino’s name was tossed around. To finish up the Ryan Divish article linking party, some bits and bobs on Zunino and how he’s done so far with the Mariners. I am just flat out going to say on the record that I am an unapologetic Mike Zunino fan. I love everything about him. Do I wish he would hit more? Of course I do. But he is a great game caller, the pitchers seem to adore him, and he is a bit of a clubhouse personality that the team has been lacking for a while. I like upbeat players that aren’t afraid to take themselves a little less than seriously, and Zunino does this with style. Dave Cameron’s guy may be Dustin Ackley, but I think I’ll go with Zunino too. I feel like he is destined for something great this year.
Zunino and his catching and pitching friends will report to the Mariners Spring Training facility this Friday. Position players will follow early next week. I am ready for Spring Training to start. I am very very ready for meaningless baseball.