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Posted on: June 4, 2010 2:57 am
Edited on: June 4, 2010 3:08 am
 

The End of an Era

"I'll never play for the Yankees"

Ken Griffey Jr.-

Ken Griffey Jr. said these words before the AL Divisional series in 1995 vs the Yankees.   In his contract year.
A strong fan base that had seen a Mariners organization languish at or below .500 for nearly 20 years paused, then went electric.   No superstar athlete had ever gone so far as to rule out New York, the top market , with George Steinbrenner ready to pounce.   Things changed at that very moment for many Mariner fans.   In the bigger picture this was a win for all mid market teams and much of the Pacific Northwest.  The star athlete that had it all (aka Lebron James) returned to his 'hometown' to finish something he had started.  He will be voted a few years later as a Major League Baseball ' Player of the Century' and changed baseball history in Seattle forever.   The greatest baseball player of our generation had the cajones and the integrity to go against the grain and stand up for his city and team.  That summer Ken Griffey Jr. signed an extension to keep him in Seattle until 1999.    This changed everything.

The Seattle Mariners went on to win that A.L Divisional series against the Yankees.   After being down 0-2, the Mariners went on to win the next 3 games.   Perhaps one of the most memorable moments in Mariners history is the sight of Griffey Jr. ripping around the bases and scoring all the way from first base off a double to left field by Edgar Martinez.   It was an improbable win.    Even more, it carried a ripple effect in the weeks to come throughout Seattle.   The grit, determination and loyalty by the entire 1995 Mariners team swayed public opinion enough to be part of the fan base rather than outside of it.   The passion of baseball, the beauty of an outdoor stadium and the loyalty of the greatest baseball player many have ever seen brought the fanbase together.   There will always be an underlining sense of loyalty back to Ken Griffey Jr from all Mariners fans.   A public vote was held in November of 1995 and an initiative that had previously been struck down multiple times, suddenly passed.   The majestic Safeco field was later built, the discussion of relocation was obliterated, and Major League baseball was in the Pacific Northwest for good.

Ken Griffey Jr went on to have 1,752 hits, 398 home runs, 1,152 RBI's and 167 stolen bases in the 1990's.   He defined what we now refer to as the quintessential '5 tool player'.  He was a prolific home run hitter, leading the A.L. in Home Runs in 1994, 1997, 1998, and 1999.  He was the best defensive player of his time winning the golden glove every year from 1990 - 1999.   He tied the record for most consecutive games with a Home Run with 8.  Griffey Jr won the A.L. MVP Award in 1997 and was leading vote getter for the All Star game for 5 consecutive years.  The first time he stepped to the plate as a 19 year old in 1989, he hit a double.  The first time he stepped to the plate in Seattle, he homered.  He leaves the game 5th on the All Time list for Home Runs list with 630 and has perhaps most notably, never been linked to steroids.  

On June 2nd, Ken Griffey Jr. walked away from the game of baseball on the very same calendar day as the day he was drafted as the first overall pick in 1987 by the Seattle Mariners.   He'll leave behind a new generation of baseball fans that will pass this down to their own children who will continue to fill the seats in 'The House that Griffey Built' hoping one day magic will return and perhaps a World Series title will come.   "The Kid" came into Seattle at the age of 17 and he leaves it now 25 years later.  He may not have a championship ring, but he has the respect and adoration of many fans and the players to follow him in the Mariners uniform.   One day, Seattle will win a World Series ring and we can all thank the guy who paid it forward and gave the city the opportunity.  There will be a ring in the future for Griffey, the stadium has been built and the team itself is now here.  It's just the ring now that needs to be designed and one day delivered to "The Kid"
Posted on: April 4, 2010 5:49 pm
Edited on: April 4, 2010 9:46 pm
 

2010 American League West Preview

American League West Preview – 2010

By: Ryan Evans

For three consecutive years, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have won the AL West. But the Texas Rangers kept it close in 2009, and the Seattle Mariners made some significant changes in the off season.  The AL West is a unique division because there are four teams, and thus less competition to earn a playoff spot.   A playoff series can be won or lost on starting pitching alone.  Thus a contentious foe may come from the West this year to battle the East early in the postseason.   If appears as though the Oakland A’s look to be best suited for rebuilding mode in 2010.  If the A’s do stumble early, it leaves a battle between the Rangers, Mariners and Angels for a spot in the playoffs.

Texas Rangers

Predicted Finish: (1) First Place A.L West

New Additions:  OF Vladimir Guerrero, RHP Rich Harden, OF Endy Chavez, C Toby Hall, RHP Colby Lewis, RHP Chris Ray, LHP Clay Rapada, RHP Edward Ramirez.  

Subtractions:  1B Hank Blalock (Rays), OF Marlon Byrd (Cubs), RHP Joaquin Benoit (Rays), RHP Kevin Millwood (Orioles), C Ivan Rodriguez (Nationals), INF Omar Vizquel (White Sox), OF/DH Andruw Jones (White Sox), RHP Jason Jennings (A’s), OF Greg Golson (Yankees) :

The Texas Rangers can flat out hit.  If the pitching is able to keep up with last year and able to hold an ERA around 5.00 through the summer, the offense will more than likely win more games than they will lose.

Why the Texas Rangers will win the AL West:  

It’s “Bombs away!” in Texas.  The Texas Rangers team still follows the former Presidents mantra.   The infield, let alone the lineup is highly potent and toxic.  Chris Davis, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, and Elvis Andrus take the infield and all can flat out hit.  Texas will need a healthy Vladimir Guerrero, a healthy Rich Harden, Ian Kinsler, and Josh Hamilton in 2010.   Much like the Seattle Mariners, a lot of this team is dependent on a few key individuals avoiding the DL which is no small feat for most of the aforementioned.  If the Texas Rangers can grab a lead heading into the final two innings they are going to be awfully tough to beat.  (2B) Ian Kinsler, heads into the regular season on the DL.  If Kinsler can stay healthy he is a 30/30 guy but the catch is that last year was his first full season with more than 500 AB and he’s starting 2010 much as he did the years prior.  The bullpen is lights out and the offensive minded Rangers can put the game away early.   The Rangers will hand the ball to Neftali Feliz, who can hit 100mph + on the radar gun and will serve as the setup man to Frank Francisco in the bullpen. That combination is simply nasty and will create a late inning rally buster for most opposing hitters.   If the Texas Rangers can grab a lead heading into the final two innings they are going to be awfully tough to beat.  Ian Kinsler, heads into the regular season on the DL

Why the Rangers may not win the AL West:  

The Rangers can’t afford to get out of the starting gate with a slow start.  If it does, the team will likely replace Ron Washington.  The team needs to avoid injuries to the starting rotation and needs to avoid a late season collapse.   Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero and Ian Kinsler have all shown to be injury prone.  The Texas nightlife is proving difficult for some star players to avoid.   Hamilton was caught on camera enjoying the nightlife with several beautiful Texas ladies.   The pictures hit TMZ website last summer and Hamilton’s season and feel good story were quickly derailed.

Player to watch:

Centerfielder Julio Borbon could give the help the Rangers win the division in 2010. Together with Elvis Andrus and a healthy Ian Kinsler this Texas squad might be able to run their way into the playoffs. Vladimir Guerrero, Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton’s power could make the middle of the lineup downright dangerous. Add a strengthened rotation and bullpen and they will be the team to beat in the AL West this year.

What May just happen…  (Only in Texas…)

The team will hit the lights out of the ball but Ron Washington will be falling asleep on the bench planning how to get a wad of cash and a flight to Missouri.   The starting rotation led by Scott Feldman and Rich Harden will do well in the months of April, May and June but break down a bit as usual in August and September.   Ron Washington and Josh Hamilton take a 3 day hiatus and will not be found again until early September huddled in a tent together, shaking soda bottles and prepping for hunting season.   Hamilton will be given another shot and be the feel good story of October. 

 

Seattle Mariners

Predicted Finish: 2nd Place

New Additions:    LHP Cliff Lee, OF Milton Bradley, OF Eric Byrnes, 3B Chone Figgins, 1B Casey Kotchman, RHP Brandon League

Subtractions:  3B Adrian Beltre (Red Sox) RHP Brandon Morrow (Blue Jays), 1B Chris Shelton (Astros), 1B Russell Branyan (Indians), INF Bill Hall (Red Sox), C Kenji Johjima (Japan), RHP Miguel Batista (Nationals), OF Tyson Gillies (Phillies), RHP Phillippe Aumont (Phillies) , RHP Carlos Silva (Cubs)  

Jack Zduriencik holds the map and future strategy as General Manager of the Seattle Mariners while Don Wakamatsu and Ken Griffey Jr. captain ship.  Together, the two have brought Seattle respectability back to the ballpark again.  Meaningful baseball under the Seattle summer sun is back to the Pacific Northwest!   The Seattle Mariners baseball team has gone through a metamorphosis in the two years since Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong replaced one of the worst GM’s of all time:  Bill The Issue’ Bavasi.   It’s a difficult ocean to navigate for the M’s as Cliff Lee will start the year on the disabled list putting more pressure on an erratic Ian Snell as the #2 in the order behind, Cy Young runner up, ‘KingFelix Hernandez.  The guys behind Hernandez and Snell include Aussie, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Doug The Blister’ Fister, and another J.J. Putz trade chip from the Mets in Jason Vargas rounding out the rotation.  The M’s need the volcanic, switch-hitting Bradley (who was ejected twice in spring training games) to replicate the .321, 22-homer season he had in Texas two years ago since he'll probably have to hit cleanup in Seattle's slugger-less order.  Injury is a big concern with Milton Bradley who was pulled in the 4th inning of his final tune up game with a quad injury – April 3rd.   The Mariners will place former Angels leadoff hitter Chone Figgins in the two hole behind AL hits leader Ichiro Suzuki.  The Seattle Mariners will have the best leadoff duo as well as the top 1-2 starting pitcher tandems in all of baseball.   However, behind the two, the M's had only one player, Jose Lopez to hit 20 homers in '09.  Jack Zduriencik brought in singles hitting Casey Kotchman to play first base (and apparently bat third).   The Mariners will be depending on the fountain of youth to strike in Ken Griffey Jr., Eric Byrnes and Cactus League, sensation, Mike Sweeney.  Byrnes is the single aforementioned Mariner that Wakamatsu will allow play defense in a meaningful game.

What the Mariners need to happen to order to win AL West:

The Mariners need some luck in 2010 and they need a late season rally as April is already looking like a .500 record would be a success.   The Mariners need to lean on the strengths of the club, pitching and defense.  This is a NL built team that can cover ground in the outfield and shorten a game quickly if they can get the lead and hand the ball to the bullpen.  The bullpen is the strength of this club.   David Aardsma, Mark Lowe, Brandon League, Sean White, Kanekoa Texeira and Shawn Kelley give the Mariners another terrific bullpen in 2010.  Franklin Gutierrez needs to build on his breakout 2009 season.  Gutierrez turns the magical age of 27 this year and may be the Mariners next All-Star in the outfield.  Somehow an offensive catalyst needs to emerge from a fairly mediocre offensive lineup coming out of Spring ball.  The team has a legit chance of catching the Rangers sometime in the late August summer in the summer swoon throughout Texas if they can stay competitive and Zduriencik is able to pull a miracle and perhaps land Adrian Gonzalez.

What the Mariners can’t have happen:

The Mariners cannot afford for Cliff Lee to stay on the DL long from his abdominal strain.   The M’s can ill afford injury to any part of their starting lineup. Most notably the team brings in Milton Bradley, abandoning Carlos Silva to Chicago hot dogs, deep dish pizza and content Cub fans.  The team will rely heavily on Jose Lopez, Ichiro Suzuki, Casey Kotchman and Chone Figgens atop the lineup.   The offense depth drops off considerably after these guys on the depth chart.  They can’t fall behind Texas or Anaheim too quickly as this team looks built to hang in there until July and then make adjustments as necessary. 

What will likely happen:

It’s reasonable to believe this team is still a year away.  A lot of pressure is being heaped on Milton Bradley when in effect he needs only perform better than the dreadful Carlos Silva.   At the very least the team will save expenses on food.    Jose Lopez may find an adjustment from second base to that of third a little more difficult once the lights come on.   It’s hard to dismiss runs that Adrian Beltre prevented at 3B last year.  The city of Seattle may never see a better defensive third baseman after Beltre.   The starting rotation is suddenly looking susceptible as Ian Snell, Jason Vargas and Doug Fister are all yet proven in the league and none looked impressive in the Cactus League.

Player to watch for: 

Adam Moore.   The fortunate decision by Kenji Johjima to depart the Mariners for Japan freed up his $8 million salary to spend elsewhere.   In his place steps an immediate upgrade in Adam Moore.   Moore, will likely be the opening day catcher and he carries some potential offensive swat to his game.   If Moore is able to adjust from Tacoma to Seattle as his Spring training would indicate, he’ll be an important factor in the following...

What may just happen… (If the stars aligned in Seattle):

Cliff Lee comes off the DL before May 1<sup>st</sup> and slides into the number 2 slot in the rotation.  Lee quickly regains form and dominates the AL West and carries it through the playoffs.    Milton Bradley finds his inner peace in his laid back West Seattle loft.  He embraces a newly found Zen in a coffee shop during the day and hits like it’s 2008 at night.  He avoids the DL through naturopathic healing shops in Freemont and Ballard.  Bradley follows the path of Ricky Williams rather than Ron Artest. The Seattle java blend, brings out an easy-going, Milton MellowBradley.  In early summer, Erik Bedard comes off the DL and begins throwing the most wicked curveball in the American League again.   Bedard follows a recovery from Tommy John surgery as Chris Carpenter did for the Cardinals last year.  Bedard then goes on to carry the team on his back throughout the summer and is even caught laughing with the media on occasion.   The minor leagues can no longer contain North Carolina University hitting prodigy and #2 overall pick last year, Dustin Ackley.   Ackley is hitting the tar out of the ball and joins the team sometime in September hitting his stride as Alex Rodriguez once did for the Mariners organization.   Ackley provides a late season spark and an offensive boost.  Jack Zduriencik will sense that the Rangers and Angels can be caught in early July and thus make a blockbuster trade raiding the minor leagues to land 1B Adrian Gonzalez to provide some pop in the middle of the lineup and utilize the left handed power bat dimensions of Safeco Field.   If this all happens, the Mariners will catch fire in September behind the rotation of Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee, Erik Bedard and Ryan Rowland-Smith.  What ensues is an A.L. pennant win over the Yankees and a World Series win over the Philadelphia Phillies or Colorado Rockies.   The team celebrates by carrying Ken Griffey Jr off the field in the winning moments after the World Series.  Griffey accepts the ring in a humble retirement party on opening day, 2011.  Grown men and baseball purists around the world are reduced to tears.  The Mariners win the pennant.  The Mariners win the World Series and even the Butler Bulldogs are soon forgotten.   Go M’s!

 

Anaheim Angels

Predicted Finish: (3) Third Place Finish

New Additions:
  DH Hideki Matsui, RHP Fernando Rodney, RHP Brian Stokes, RHP Joel Piniero

Subtractions:   3B Chone Figgins (Mariners) , OF Vladimir Guerrero (Rangers), RHP John Lackey (Red Sox), OF Gary Matthews Jr. (Mets) RHP Dustin Moseley (Yankees), LHP Darren Oliver (Rangers),  RHP Jose Arredondo (Reds), RHP Shane Loux (Astros) 

John Lackey left the Anaheim freeway for the city of Boston and thus the Angels lack a true ace.  The Angels do still  have an extremely deep rotation full of above-average starters.  Scott Kazmir can be erratic at times, but he’s a talented strikeout artist with a high ceiling.   Jered Weaver is turning into a consistent 15 game winner with enough upside to hit 18-19 wins this year.   Joel Pineiro is back from the St. Louis Cardinals Academy of pitching.  After a full couple of years with Dave Duncan, he has emerged as, arguably, baseball’s top groundball pitcher. The question is whether or not 2009 was a fluke. Joe Saunders doesn’t make any opposing team overly concerned at first, but there’s no denying that he finds a way to eat innings and win games.  Ervin Santana is the wild card. He went from dominant All-Star in 2008 to a total face plant in 2009. According to scouts his velocity is back to 2008 form so he could become a prime factor.  Los Angeles’ bullpen battled inconsistency and health last year.  However, they do have plenty of experience and depth, Brian Fuentes wasn’t very good in 2009 but still managed to save 48 games.  Fernando Rodney comes over from Detroit and has a live arm and closing experience.  Kevin Jepsen has the makeup to take over ninth-inning duties as well.  Together, these 3 can put together a 1-2-3 punch that will be hard to compete against in the late innings.

 

What needs to happen for the Angels to win AL West?

Torii Hunter needs to extend his prime years by at least one more.   Hunter is a wizard in centerfield and always a threat both on the plate and on the basepaths.  If Erik Aybar can set the table for Hunter, Kendry Morales, Brandon Wood and Mike Napoli this team may be the surprise within the division.   The starting pitching may not be the flashiest, but it’s the strongest in the division and has the chance to really deliver again this year. There is no glaring weak spot on this team and the Angels bring a potent lineup 1-9.   Mike Napoli may have the best pure power hitter of any catcher in the league.  Juan Rivera seems to produce as well whenever he’s given playing time behind the plate.

What the Anaheim Angels can’t have happen...

The team experienced a few more injuries than in years past and with the loss of Chone Figgens to Seattle, an even heavier load will be placed on Erik Aybar and Maicer Izturis to get on base.  The Angels can ill afford to get behind Texas too soon in the AL West as their starting pitching isn’t built for long extended win streaks.  An injury to Hideki Matsui, Torii Hunter or Kendry Morales would be difficult to overcome as there is less depth in these areas than years past. 

What will likely happen…

The Angels will be in the race all year.  The team is excellent at handling adversity and will show it once again this upcoming year.  Mike Scioscia will steal a few wins here and there and the Angels will be a strong team throughout the year.  However, the return of starting pitching to Seattle and the mad bombers from Texas will be too much and the Angels will finish a very close 3<sup>rd</sup> place within the division.

Who to watch for:

Brandon Wood.   Wood may be the real deal and have a breakout campaign this year.    Brandon Wood has had a couple of late season call ups with the Angels in the past couple of years and has always showed the power potential but previously he maintained consistency.   Wood will be given the starting 3B job and behind Mike Scioscia and another year of baseball , he may finally pull it all together.

What may just happen… (If history is any indicator of the future)

Mike Scioscia wins manager of the year yet again and the resilient Angels team prevails for their 4<sup>th</sup> consecutive division title.

 

Oakland Athletics

Predicted Finish:  (4) Fourth Place Finish

New Additions:  RHP Ben Sheets, OF Michael Taylor, INF Adam Rosales,  OF Coco Crisp, INF/OF, OF Gabe Gross, OF Jake Fox, 2B Eric Sogard, RHP Jason Jennings, 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff,

Subtractions:  INF Adam Kennedy (Nationals), OF Scott Hairston (Padres), LHP Dana Eveland, (Blue Jays), RHP Kevin Cameron (Giants), INF Bobby Crosby (Pirates), OF Aaron Cunningham (Padres), INF Nomar Garciaparra (retired)

The A’s franchise was the most dominant name in the division and captured the division title as recently as 2006.  What has transpired since then, however, is three straight losing seasons. Even more concerning, their loyal fan base has become disinterested with the product, and there’s constant talk of moving the A’s to nearby Freemont.  The A’s drew barely 1.4 million customers

What needs to happen for the A’s to win the AL West:

Not only will the A’s need their entire line-up of players to have career years, but Ben Sheets will have to win the Cy Young.  The addition of Sheets should help the A’s win a couple more games that they would have otherwise won though. Oakland also hopes two of its new starters—Coco Crisp in center and Kevin Kouzmanoff at third—will give the club a lift in the speed and power. The bullpen for the A’s is a strength and is led by AL Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey. Bailey finished with 26 saves and a 1.84 ERA. The pen should be even better with the return of Joey Devine, the projected closer in 2009 who missed the season with Tommy John surgery. Michael Wuerrz (2.63 ERA) is considered one of the premier setup men in the game. Side-arm hurler, Brad Ziegler had an off year (3.07 ERA) when compared to his ‘08 season but can be dominating when used effectively.  Catcher, Kurt Suzuki played in 147 games last year and will continue to be the silent leader of the team.  The Wild card for me is Eric Chavez.  If Chavez can return to form of a few years back, he is capable of changing the complexion of the team entirely on his own.

What the Oakland A’s can’t afford to happen:

Earthquakes or riots near stadium or funding rallies.

What will likely happen:

Billy Bean might be starting to see the error of his ways this year. He may start using a bit more of a running game in 2010 – unfortunately, it won’t matter.   The A’s will struggle offensively, the starting rotation will get shelled and the team will build toward 2011. 

 Player to watch for:

Michael Taylor will begin the year in the minor leagues but has tremendous upside and may join the team earlier than expected if the offensive is stagnating.  Taylor can hit for power and he can steal bases.   The A’s look to have a bright future in some of their young ballplayers but will likely need a year on the job first.  Rajai Davis also came on strong late last year and working with Ricky Henderson all winter will only make him more of a headache to opposing pitchers.  Both he and CoCo Crisp will cover some serious ground in the outfield for defensive purposes.  The team has a lot of exciting talent in the organization

What may just happen…

The Oakland A’s team does not draw enough fans to the stadium and thus begin a new reality television show on Fox Sports.  The show in which the players compete with raffle ticket winners for the right to lead off and play position of choice for the A’s team will contribute to additional funding toward new stadium.   The A’s franchise heads into August on a high note after keeping their team mostly intact with only a few local contestants on 40 man roster.   The show is abruptly cancelled.  Night games are considered moved out of primetime television in order to not compete with American Idol and Dancing with the Stars finales.  Last vote on new stadium funding is considered before team begins to seek new lease agreement with San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom .   A’s team begins to play home games during off days for Giants at Pac Bell Park during weekdays and travelling to Las Vegas stadium on the weekends. 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on: April 4, 2010 2:03 pm
 

Seattle Mariners Preview - 2010

Seattle Mariners

Predicted Finish: 2nd Place

New Additions:    LHP Cliff Lee, OF Milton Bradley, OF Eric Byrnes, 3B Chone Figgins, 1B Casey Kotchman, RHP Brandon League

Subtractions:  3B Adrian Beltre (Red Sox) RHP Brandon Morrow (Blue Jays), 1B Chris Shelton (Astros), 1B Russell Branyan (Indians), INF Bill Hall (Red Sox), C Kenji Johjima (Japan), RHP Miguel Batista (Nationals), OF Tyson Gillies (Phillies), RHP Phillippe Aumont (Phillies) , RHP Carlos Silva (Cubs)  

Jack Zduriencik holds the map and strategy as GM of the Seattle Mariners while Don Wakamatsu and Ken Griffey Jr. captain ship.  Together, the two have brought Seattle respectability and meaningful summer baseball back to the Pacific Northwest.   The Seattle Mariners baseball team has gone through a metamorphosis in the two years since Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong replaced one of the worst GM’s of all time:  Bill ‘The Issue’ Bavasi.   It’s a difficult ocean to navigate for the M’s as Cliff Lee will start the year on the disabled list putting more pressure on an erratic Ian Snell as the #2 in the order behind, Cy Young runner up, ‘King’ Felix Hernandez.  The guys behind Hernandez and Snell include Aussie, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Doug ‘The Blister’ Fister, and another J.J. Putz trade chip from the Mets in Jason Vargas rounding out the rotation.  The M’s need the volcanic, switch-hitting Bradley (who was ejected twice in spring training games) to replicate the .321, 22-homer season he had in Texas two years ago since he'll probably have to hit cleanup in Seattle's slugger-less order.  Injury is a big concern with Milton Bradley who was pulled in the 4<sup>th</sup> inning of the final tune up game with a quad injury – April 3<sup>rd</sup>.   Through Chone Figgins, hitting behind AL hits leader Ichiro Suzuki , the Mariners have the best 1-2 table setters in baseball.  However, behind the two, the M's had only one player, Jose Lopez to hit 20 homers in '09.  Jack Zduriencik brought in singles hitting Casey Kotchman to play first base (and apparently bat third).   The Mariners will be depending on the fountain of youth to strike in Ken Griffey Jr., Eric Byrnes and Cactus League, sensation, Mike Sweeney.  Byrnes is the single aforementioned Mariner that Wakamatsu would let play defense.

What the Mariners need to happen to order to win AL West:

The Mariners need some luck in 2010 and they need a late season rally as April is already looking like a .500 record would be a success.   The Mariners need to lean on the strengths of the club, pitching and defense.  This is a NL built team that can cover ground in the outfield and shorten a game quickly if they can get the lead and hand the ball to the bullpen.  The bullpen is the strength of this club.   David Aardsma, Mark Lowe, Brandon League, Sean White and Sean Kelly give the Mariners another terrific bullpen in 2010.  Franklin Gutierrez needs to build on his breakout 2009 season.  Gutierrez turns the magical age of 27 this year and may be the Mariners next All-Star in the outfield.  Somehow an offensive catalyst needs to emerge from a fairly mediocre offensive lineup coming out of Spring ball.  The team has a legit chance of catching the Rangers sometime in the late August swoon throughout Texas if they can stay competitive until Zduriencik is able to pull a miracle and land Adrian Gonzalez.

What the Mariners can’t have Happen:

They cannot afford for Cliff Lee to stay on the DL long from his abdominal strain.   The M’s can ill afford injury to any part of their starting lineup. Most notably: Milton Bradley, Jose Lopez, Ichiro Suzuki, and Chone Figgens.   The offensive depth drops off considerably after these guys on the depth chart.  They can’t fall behind Texas or Anaheim too quickly as this team looks built to hang in there until July and then make adjustments as necessary. 

What will likely happen:

It’s reasonable to believe this team is still a year away.  A lot of pressure is being heaped on Milton Bradley when in effect he needs only perform better than the dreadful Carlos Silva.   At the very least the team will save expenses in the cafeteria line.    Jose Lopez may find an adjustment from second base to that of third a little more difficult once the lights come on.   It’s hard to dismiss runs that Adrian Beltre prevented at 3B last year.  The city of Seattle may never see a better defensive third baseman after Beltre.   The starting rotation is suddenly looking susceptible as Ian Snell, Jason Vargas and Doug Fister are all yet proven in the league and none looked impressive in the Cactus League.

Player to Watch: 

Adam Moore.   The fortunate departure by Kenji Johjima to depart the Mariners for Japan freed up his $8 million salary to spend elsewhere.   In his place steps an immediate upgrade in Adam Moore.   Moore, will likely be the opening day catcher and he carries with him some potential offensive swat to his game.   If Moore is able to adjust from Tacoma to Seattle as his Spring training would indicate, he’ll be an important factor in the following...

What may just happen… (If the stars aligned in Seattle):

Cliff Lee comes off the DL before May 1<sup>st</sup> and slides into the #2 slot quickly regaining form and dominates the AL West.    Milton Bradley finds his inner peace in laid back Seattle.  He embraces a newly found Zen in a coffee shop during the day and hits like it’s 2008 at night.  He avoids the DL through naturopathic healing shops in Freemont and goes the route of a Ricky Williams rather than Ron Artest.  Erik Bedard comes off the DL in late June and follows a recovery from Tommy John surgery as Chris Carpenter did for the Cardinals.  North Carolina product and #2 overall pick last year, Dustin Ackley is hitting the tar off the ball in AA and joins the team sometime in September providing a late season spark and an offensive boost.  Jack Zduriencik will sense that the Rangers and Angels can be caught in early July and thus make a blockbuster trade raiding the minor leagues to land 1B Adrian Gonzalez to provide some pop in the middle of the lineup and utilize the left handed power bat dimensions of Safeco Field.   If this all happens, the Mariners will catch fire in September behind the rotation of Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee, Erik Bedard and Ryan Rowland-Smith.  Ken Griffey Jr is carried off the field by his teammates in the winning moments after the World Series and earns the ring all baseball fans would all feel good about.  The Mariners win the pennant.  The Mariners win the World Series and even the Butler Bulldogs are soon forgotten.   Go M’s!

Posted on: March 20, 2010 7:01 pm
 

Seattle Mariners Thread

It's been a tough week for the Seattle Mariners.   Jack Zduriencik and Don Wakamatsu are most certainly discussing what options they have available before openig day.

The Mariners had a monumentous offseason in which the team grabbed more headlines than the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs.   Jack Z has remade a team in under 18 months and traded or release all of the baggage left behind by Bill Bavasi.  The team has done a complete metamorphosis.  Most in Seattle paid close attention to the once proud franchise rejuvenation.  We waited patiently after our 116 game record season in 2001 only to see Billy B:  (Evil Step Brother of Money Ball author and Seattle sabotage artist, Billy Beane).. or the former Seattle GM, Bavasi dismantle a franchise as if he were continuing to trade baseball cards for gum.

Since then, Jack Zduriencik and Seattle Mariners fans have been on a pleasant journey toward optimism.

Unfortunately, this past week has given us a break from out Kool Aid.   

Here are 5 facts to take a bit of concern on already:

Cliff Lee - Right apendix industry.   Out for undertimened amount of time.  Won't even be evaluated for 10 days now.  (previously reported a 7 days)   Lee, has the double whammy week, taking not only the injury that may leave him out until May, but he also will need to serve his 5 game suspension after coming off what looks to be a likely DL stint.

Milton Bradley - Has been thrown out of 2 consecutive Spring Training games.    It's hard to fault Bradley, the umps have already shown an immediate displeasure toward Bradley, but it leads me to wonder if he should ever take a pitch after strike 2.  That is a problem.

Rob Johnson - Johnson is unable to play back to back games at the age of 26.    It's hard to imagine his body is going to feel better when her turns 27 in July.    Johnson is Felix Hernandez hand picked catcher.   All indications show that the organization will now look to Adam Moore to be the everyday catcher.   Moore has tremendous upside in an offensive role, but it's yet to be determined if his defense is on par with what the team needs.

Jason Vargas, Doug Fister aka - 5th Starter - Fister was the early favorite to assume the role but has struggled a bit in camp.   Furthermore, he just took a line drive off his leg in last nights game vs Cincinnati.   The ball took a wicked shot off his thigh and he was forced to leave the game.   Jason Vargas later enterred the game and pitched very well for 3 and 1/3 innings but then was taken on the Night Train in the tune of 4 dingers and left the game looking like the minor leagues were a better start toward his season.

Mike Sweeney - The guy is hitting the cover off the ball but we still can't find a place for him on the 25 man roster.   Our DH is full and 1B position is bogged down.   The even bigger issue is that he is the ONLY one in camp right now that seems to be able to hit the broad side of a barn.   Again, it's Spring Training, but how do you let Sweeney go when no one else on the team has shown any capability to do better or even close to the same (?).  Even more, Sweeney would likely be in the 4th spot or Cleanup if he even makes the team.  Yet he may not.   What a conundrum.

What can we Expect?

Jarrod Washburn is on the market.   The Mariners are certainly talking to his agent, Scott Boras.    Washburn has indicated that he would like to play in either Minnesota, Milwaukee or Seattle and the timing is right for Jack to not get behind in the AL West to the cocaine fueled Texas Rangers.  We assume a likely crash and come down period but it's not a given that Erik Bedard will be back soon enough to salvage a late season rally.

The team will be closely watching the waiver wire for pitching help already.   That's a given.  



Posted on: January 19, 2010 2:24 pm
 

King Felix and Seattle Mariners reach deal

According to a article just posted by ESPN, the Seattle Mariners and Felix Hernandez are close to finalizing a 5 year deal worth nearly $80 million dollars.   Felix Hernandez is still in Venezuala and will be under going a physical within the next 48 hours.

Once the deal is finalized, the Seattle Mariners are assured of keeping their Ace within the organization until he is 28 years old.   The upside for Felix Hernandez is that he will be in a position to earn a second large contract in the prime of his career.

Felix Hernandez has been with the Mariners organization since the age of 17.   Hernandez finished second in the AL CY Young voting to Zack Greinke, posting a 19-5 record and 2.46 ERA.   Last year Hernandez earned $3.8 million through arbirtration and was looking at an increase around $10 million if entering arbitration with the Mariners again.   The Seattle organization had 2 remaining years of arbitration remaining with Felix Hernandez, however given his importance to the team and the pending arbitration case of 2 time CY Young winner, Tim Lincecum, it made sense to buy out the last 2 years of Herandez' arbitration and the first 3 years of his Free Agency years.

This deal is a tremendous boost to the Mariners organization and continues to establish the winning presence GM, Jack Zduriencik has brought to the organization.   The city of Seattle is rejoicing after languishing in the depths of hell under former GM, Bill Bavasi (perhaps the worst General Manager in any sport of any kind)  

The 2010 season brings a real sense of optimism for Mariners fans.   This offseason, Jack Zduriencik has continued to turn over the organization and chaos left behind by Bill Bavasi.  In Zduriencik's first full year with the Mariners organization he has brought in Chone Figgens, Cliff Lee, Jack Wilson, Franklin Gutierrez, David Aardsma, Casey Kotchman, Milton Bradley and Ken Griffey Jr.   The roster is nearly an entire different team after Zduriencik parted ways with Bavasi's ridiculously overpaid goof troop:  Most notably, Carlos Silva, Richie Sexson, Yuniesky Betancourt, Kenji Johjima and 1st round draft pick busts Jeff Clement, Phillipe Aumonte and Brandon Morrow.

The city of Seattle has had a rough go in the past few years under the idiocracy of Bavasi and has not had much to celebrate in basketball or NFL football either.   Howard Schultz sold the NBA Seattle Sonics to Oklahoma City's Clay Bennett, and the Seattle Seahawks coming off a Super Bowl appearance only 3 years prior hit the basement under the direction of fellow incompetent GM, Tim Ruskell.    

A new sense of optimism has definitely hit the moist Seattle air and fireworks aplenty for Jack Zduriencik

Go M's!
Posted on: September 14, 2009 11:58 pm
 

NFL Instant Replay

I am watching the Raiders vs Chargers game.

I have never in my life seen a touchdown review worse than what I saw tonight.  Is the NFL fixed?
It's clear to everyone on the field to the viewers that the TD overturned was indeed knocked out by the tip of the ball hitting the ground even after the knees were down.

The referees shoud be banned for the rest of the season.  That is the worst call I have ever seen reviewed and overturned.  Awful
Posted on: August 12, 2009 1:01 am
Edited on: August 12, 2009 1:04 am
 

Mariners blow game. Aardsma gets rocked@!

As I'm watching the Mariners. David Aardsma blew a big one tonight. I've been to about 10 games. Half just on my own when I have a moment to myself.   I dig David Aardsma.   The guy throws cheese and is the toast of a great summer in Seattle.

I'm more concerned about the late August nights on the lake, ocean or the rooftop than I am the exhaustion or heat up here.  (though we have broke records with 105+ degree heat)  The DA is close with the ladies.  Anybody that stands in the Center Field area of Safeco knows that the bullpen/beer garden is the spot to be.   This is where we get to see the hotties that the guys on the team are dating.  I think it has more to do with the gals getting a special privilage to go over the "yellow line" and step a foot closer with usher approval.   The girls coming off the lake in their bikinis love having all us guys check this out...   It's like it's a twisted coup.  

The new busty blonde that loves the white rockin tight dress is making things a mess.   She has been handing the DA her wallet as she has nowhere to put it on her form fitting pocketless attire.    She is definitely messing with his Mojo and should be banned from Safeco Field..   She must be rockin his world because I can tell in his eyes that he's been up all night... High Definition and In Person comparisons, the DA has heroin bags under his eyes... Not good for the Closer.
Posted on: July 31, 2009 1:15 am
 

The Seattle Mariners... Hello Seattle!

It's been a tough week for the Seattle Mariners.   I've baked myself to oblivion in Center Field, Left Field and even behind the plate and if it's not already been said, here is my take:

Mark Lowe.  Agreed   Derek is with the Braves.  Varitek with the Red Sox, I'm back on point and still wonder if anybody in the city of Seattle will ever name their kid Heathcliff.

Jarrod Washburn is likely not going anywhere.   (unless the 5 HR's off Garret Olson were not enough)    If the value in trade is not given back, we should resign him.  He is great for the team, solid rapport with the managers and a leader.   I don't want to see them trade Washburnfor a bunch of dung beetles - or essentially what the Indians got.   I'd like to re sign him anyhow after this year.   Milwaukee is his best destination with Detroit a strong second.  I'm surprised neither has made a real move for a guy that has a legit new pitch and is 4-0 with 0.56 ERA over his last 5 starts against quality teams.   The guy is a winner.  I'd like to see him stay.

Jack Wilson. - Inevitable.  I knew something was going to happen and "Steve - O" as Ken Griffey Jr referred to him when he walked in the clubhouse is a great fit for the ball club.   He's following Ronnie Cedeno.  No offense Ronnie, but I'd rather have Micah Owings or Carlos Zambrano hitting in the 9th spot and certainly either could do better than Garret Olson...

Erik Bedard - Yeah, Agreed Dawg Pack.  The guy is more frustrating than a speed trap on a sunny afternoon.   I don't know what to think but I remember my Dad telling me to limit the use of the curve ball to ensure I don't mess up my arm.   Something is wrong with either his arm or his head.  It would be a miracle if we could offer him arbitration next year, have him decline and get a couple of draft picks.  I dunno.  I just can't stop thinking of Bill Bavasi and his reign of terror on the N.W.  - Again, Bavasi should be banned from the worst of fantasy baseball leagues.  He is awful for competition.   The George W of the PNW for 4 years.  Good Grief his term dragged on like a wet rag.

Jose Lopez - Still looks like a tree sloth knocked unconscience from a self induced nap and trying to figure it out.  The guy is sleepier than the entire Marley brother clan after a Sasquatch festival.    He moves like he is on roller skates, and already can't score from second base on a clean single to the far left or right of the Center Fielder.  Can we please move on with this project?   It will save $$$ in all the tetanus shots it takes to get him into Spring Training every year.

Wladamier Balentien, Jeff Clement, Ronnie Cedeno - All traded for actual MLB talent.   The first two can't play defense and the latter couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with 3 shots and a mulligan.

Texas Rangers - The team that kills our playoff hopes more often than not and then falls short themselves a few weeks later.

Adam Moore - Our catcher of the Future.   I hope.    I like Rob Johnson an awful lot behind the plate but he the antithesis of Brian McCann once he gets a bat up to the dish.  I have no idea what to do with Kenji Johjima except the occasional day here and there.  Johjima must be on the list of 103 because his average has a 'David Ortiz' like curve to the 'prime years'

Ian Snell - A project that Rick Adair will make into a SP 3 or 4 on our staff.   Great little find.

Our chances of making it to the playoffs -  18 - 1 if we stay as is.     Not good.   Will be interesting to see what happens in the next 14 hours. 

Go Mariners!
 
 
 
 
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