He’ll be 25 in May. He was a 10th round draft pick from Division 2 Western Oregon (same conference as the school I work at, BTW). He spent the entire season in 2014 as a relief pitcher at High Desert, and somehow escaped with a 3.29 ERA there. He’s an organization player, a roster filler for the minors and someone that gets yanked from minor league camp over to the big league diamond on occasion to be sure if the worst happens the regulars don’t get overextended while getting their work in.
He could have a big league career, because pitchers aren’t predictable (I was going to say something worse, but you know, why do that) and with the crazy way teams manage their rosters now he could be at AAA one year and the Mariners may need a fifth inning ROOGY to fill spot 14 on their staff on a Sunday.
But, if he was a real prospect he probably would have seen Jackson, Tennessee a little bit last year. Jackson’s no doubt prettier country than High Desert. I mean, that area of California is one reason Hunter S. Thompson wanted to make sure his substancess kicked in on the way to Vegas.
Fitting his roster guy, non-prospect status Wood was in the pen as an emergency pitcher in case there was trouble.¬†Saturday while the M’s played the Cubs. King Felix was on the hill at the start. On paper, there shouldn’t have been trouble.
There was trouble.
Felix couldn’t get out of the third.
As normal, the M’s had others to look at (like Kevin Correia, who couldn’t get out of HIS inning) and had Fernando Rodney slotted in. Everyone else was on their normal off day. So the emergency pen guy was pressed into duty. So, hello Grady Wood! His job was to get out of the third or die trying.He needed to get one out.
Wood faced Chris Coghlan, a former ROY and semi-hemi-demi legit big leaguer. OK, Coghlan’s got pension time. He’s one of those players that’ll do enough to tease you (like last year) and then the mean-regression kicks in and it’s ugly and all that. Plus, his defense is Trumbo-esque. Still, he’s not a fuzzy-cheeked high school kid.
Wood threw three pitches.
One, two, three strikes yer out. The Bugs Bunny batter!
I hope Wood never gets into another game for the Mariners. Because he can always tell his grandkids that he faced on batter in the bigs and whiffed him on three pitches.
I’m sure Mr. Wood does not share the above sentiment, though.
It’s not hyperbole. No really, it’s not.
This is the most important season in Seattle Mariners’ history.
If there ever was a chance for this club to grow from “summer pastime filling time between Seahawks and Huskies seasons if you can’t get Sounders tickets’ to “actually something people really care about with all the passion that they recycle and compost’, this is it.
Languishing for years between irrelevant and over-hyped, Seattle now has a team that could legitimately contend for the AL crown, for the fist time in 15 years.
The 2001 season that ultimately turned into a flash-in-the-pan was the last time that Seattle was truly relevant outside of baseball wags mouthing off and / or wishcasting by the locals . Last season’s charge to the Wild Card was interesting, but it was due more to serious regression to the mean by Oakland’s offense ¬†plus almost-historic run over-achievement in run-prevention by the bullpen crew.
But now, with the AL West in disarray (even more so now that Yu Darvish could be out with Tommy John surgery),and with some building blocks hitting their prime, it’s Seattle’s time to take control. This area will support a team that has lasting success and is smart and fan friendly. They are spending Nintendo’s cash (finally), maybe recklessly, but perhaps wisely if they can get a couple of playoff runs under them before people start getting old.
There’s a sense though, that they’re blowing it.
Sure, bringing in Nelson Cruiz¬†¬†is a great move to shore up DH (as long as he never takes the field, it’s OK) as long as you realize that Safeco and normal performance variance may take 5-10 home runs off of his total before normal variance. Would they be OK with 25 homers out of him? That’s definitely a possibility.
You know Robbie Cano won’t slip much, and Kyle Seager should maintain the progress he’s made.You can’t expect repeat performances, but you hope they do nearly as well.
Adding Seth Smith as a platoon outfielder is logical if you have another platoon piece that really fits with him and you expect¬†just a slight regression from last year. Justin Ruggiano is that platoon partner, as long as you can be sure he won’t fall back to his 2013 performance where he went through an awful slump. Mind you, both players are over 30, so they’re not exactly young.
Dustin Ackley has to sustain success over 162 games some year, right? Mike Zunino has to walk at least as much as he gets hit by a pitch, right? Brad Miller and Chris Taylor are going to be OK at shortstop, right? Logan Morrison won’t be just meh, right?
Austin Jackson has to hit better than a reserve high school softball catcher, right? RIGHT?
See the pattern here? Hope and pray for little or no regression, mostly sustaining performance or improvement. ¬†It may happen, but it’s improbable and that’s an issue. Plus the defense in the outfield may struggle a bit if Ackley spits the bit and can’t sustain in the lineup, because…
;;;there’s no calvary a’comin. Installing a washed-up middle infielder as a corner outfielder reserve? (Come on down Rickie Weeks). WFB still around? Yep. Jesus Sucre, backup catcher? Of course. James Jones, Stefan Romero? Worked out great last year, or not. This bench is thinner than Bill O’Reilly’s skin.
Listen, a lot of people have confidence in the Mariners, and it’s mainly because of their pitching staff. Their bullpen was nails last year even though they misused Farquhar, Furbush and Wilhelmsen somewhat. But all seven bullpen guys were near the top end of their performance. Even Fernando Rodney wasn’t as high-wire as he had been in the past.They only lost one lefty from that pen but have other pitchers in the wings. Bullpen guys, though are mercurial. In fact, that adjective wasn’t in vogue until bullpens were in vogue.
For the rotation, the M’s ¬†have two studs (Fernandez and Iwakuma) anchoring the rotation. But three, four and five are two youngsters¬†that have had injury and / or command / control issues (James Paxton and Taijuan Walker, who at 22 may be tremendous or may be 22) and either JA Happ or Roenis Elias. The AL isn’t trembling in fear facing either of those guys.
This all could work out. The staff could carry them for sure. Paxton and Walker could be studs. The bullpen could sustain excellence. Cruz and Cano could be worth their money. Seager becomes a sustained all-star. The shortstop kids and Zunino grow into their jobs.
For the sake of the franchise, let’s hope so. Seattle doesn’t deserve an after-thought baseball team.
It’s not that the teams are in general disarray; the are not. It’s that, well, you can argue that any of the five teams in it can win the division, or finish last, or fall somewhere in between. There’s not any order to this – there’s not a team that is horrible, no team that is head and shoulders ahead of anyone. Just a muddle of fair-to-middlin’ in the AL West.
Don’t believe me?
The LA Angels had the best record in baseball, but no one really thought they were the best TEAM in baseball. They have the best player in baseball, of course (Trout!) and a solid rotation if healthy (especially if Matt Shoemaker can come back to form). Their core, though, is aging and players like Pujols and Hamilton will probably continue to decline. If things break right, they could take the flag without a problem. If they break wrong…it’s curtains, since a 75 win season may be last place in this division.
Oakland is Oaklanding all over the place. Billy Beane done blew it up good, but has already put it back together somewhat. The rotation is young and hungry, and while the core position players are getting older they’re not aging as rapidly as the Angels. What’s more, Beane’s put himself in a great ejector-seat slot; where if the A’s aren’t going to contend he can jettison vets and re-load for the future. He’s done this before, you know. So if the young studs in the rotation slip or get injured, they’ll probably sink to the bottom. But if everything is going well, there’s no reason they can’t win it.
This is the most important season in the history of the Seattle Mariners. They are the ONLY bandwagon team in the area. The Sounders have a lot of die hard fans and two natural rivals, and I know that the national media’s portrayal of Seahawks fans as bandwagon is totally false because they REMEMBER Stan Gelbaugh and the dark years and the angst it caused them. The Mariners are the team people can take or leave, but if the magic of 2014 comes again then more fans will be convinced (rightly or wrongly) of their long term relevance. The issue is that Seattle won a lot of games with some historic run prevention by its bullpen, and counting on that again is a fools’ errand. They added Nelson Cruz, sure, but they have weakened their defense. The lineup will be better, but they may give up more runs and the balance they struck last year may fall flat. Again, first place is real, and last place could happen with a 74-88 record or something like that.
Texas ran out a AAA lineup for most of the year. We saw what would happen if a PCL team played in the majors and it was ugly. Yet most of the issues for the Rangers were medical; and there’s no reason to expect medical chaos again. To win the division, they may need a wing and a prayer at a couple of positions but their core should be halfway decent and their pitching has to be better and healthier. I wouldn’t count them out at all and they’ll definitely win more games than in 2014.
And then there’s Houston, The beleaguered fans’ patience is probably thin, but now they’re out of their heinous cable deal and maybe fans can watch this team again. They’ve made some deals in the offseason that are position themselves well. Their core is young and has some talent and there’s some decent pitching there. A division win would be an upset for sure, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities if things go well, and they won’t be horrific again.
So which team will in it all? Lord, I don’t know; I’m not a mediotic pundit. All I know is that nothing will surprise me.
Even the trades are engineered in such a way that it’s very cold, calculated and cruel.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s great for the game that the players are getting their fair share of the Monopoly Money the game is making. There’s a shit-ton of people in the seats almost everywhere (at least tickets sold, so the season tickets weasles have earned their bonuses). The ‘small market’ teams are now competing just as well as the big boys if they are competent and smart. Which means the Twins and the Rockies need to WAKE THE HELL UP! and do something right except moaning and groaning and trying to get people out with pitchers that couldn’t miss bats if they played for New Iberia or Houma.
Sure, I’m kind of interested to see if the Mariners get Mark Trumbo to go with Nelson Cruz and play the “so you thought our outfield defense was bad in 2013? JUST YOU WAIT!” game.
But the A’s deals? Just Billy Beane being Billy Beane, buying and selling like a mad day-trader trying to get his portfolio balanced. Right now, he’s converting to cash and selling short, waiting to pounce again. Or something. Really, it’s not that exciting.
And people are fulminating non-stop that the White Sox have a for real bullpen guy and another starter that shouldn’t be selling life insurance, so much so that hacks, mediots and yakkers are saying, “Look, it wasn’t a TALENT problem with the White Sox pen, it was a role-alignment problem. Same with the rotation. They were MISCAST.” Like that’s going to help when those pitchers give up five runs in the sixth inning instead of the seventh and eight.
Yeah, it’s boring to me. Wake me up about roster moves when all the chips land, and the first five elbows blow out in Spring Training. THEN, THEN, I’ll be paying attention.
What’s got me excited?
Those bastards did it to him again.
That’s the REAL story. The HOF Vet’s Committee didn’t elect ANYONE. No Dick Allen, no Ken Boyer, no Jim Kaat.
No Minnie Minoso.
There are about a dozen players that Frankie Frisch frauded into the HOF, and a few more elected because people didn’t care to really research the 19th Century and have a huge bias against the AA, which was a real major league. They’re in the HOF.
Minoso, not in.
Then you realize when he played, and why he lost significant time.
He should be in.
And yet, we’re flappin’ our lips about people moving around from team to team, when he almost didn’t get the chance to play MLB.
That’s why this free-agent frenzy bores me. They’re going to get theirs, and that’s great. Some teams will be better, some worse, and many that the the mediots and yakkers will annoint as champs will become chumps. Same story every year.
Minoso? That’s the real story. Cover it, mediots. Cover it.
I’m no longer totally immersed 24/7 into prospects, especially National League prospects, especially prospects of my 2nd least favorite team.
I may have his baseball card somewhere amongst the few packs and boxes I bought this year. I think it may be in a pile in a box in my office, and I’ll dig it out after we move offices in a week or so.
He didn’t play for the Cardinals’ FSL club that I saw on occasion when I lived in Florida. I didn’t watch a Cardinals game this year until the post season, I don’t think. If I did, I didn’t pay attention to him.
I do know he was very highly regarded.
I do know he played well in the post-season, after having a rough debut in the regular season.
I also know he died young, too young.
I didn’t know Mike Miley, either, nor Danny Frisella. I knew about them.¬† I got their baseball cards in 1977, and they were already dead, in tragic circumstances.
Yet my 11-year old self didn’t realize they were dead until after I got their cards; I read about it by looking at my Street and Smith’s guide that Spring.
I didn’t know Danny Thompson. He didn’t get a 1977 card, because Topps may have guessed he was done. See, he played the 1976 season while going through treatment for leukemia. Yes, he played major league baseball while he had mother-fucking leukemia. He finished the year, had surgery on his spleen, and died in December. He was so loved¬† that they still have golf tournaments in his memory.
I didn’t know Lyman Bostock. I knew all ABOUT him though. I know that he could have been a Hall-of-Famer, and his death was totally senseless. Go Google it, and then you wonder what if, and why, and how, and why this stuff still happens.
I didn’t know Nick Adenhart. I didn’t know Dernell Stenson.
I didn’t know Cory Lidle or Thurman Munson.
I could go on with more players that have died way too young. I knew OF them, of course. Knew a lot about them. I knew more about them than I knew about Tavaras.
But I didn’t know them. I didn’t know their personalities, their sense of humor, their beings and essence that you can only know if you know them personally.
What I do know that all of these gentlemen were robbed of their life by happenstance and circumstance.
I do know that their deaths were tragic.
I do know it’s sad for us as baseball fans, but it’s infinitely sadder for friends and family.
I do know that death is part of life; it still sucks to have it strike so quickly.
I do know that every day, people die too young. Every day, someone like Ray Chapman dies. Not in that manner, of course, but someone with his hope and promise.
I do know you need to live life, and love life.
RIP, Oscar. RIP, all of those who die young.
Baseball is unique among all sports, in that probability plays a huge role in each game’s outcome. No other game almost solely derives its outcomes from success-or-fail dynamics. At the core, baseball is boolean. Boolean Fever! Catch it!
That’s not a very catchy slogan, I’ll admit.
Over a 162-game season, the various variations settle down and show the true performance of a team, and somewhat of a player. One great month or two can skew a player’s. It doesn’t HAVE to even out, it probably will revert to ‘normal’ so that one set of odd data will make a player look great or lousy by comparison because of that stretch of results. Still, a player playing a regular role over a long season will tend to normalize at or near their performance level. As cruel as it is, it’s orderly. For teams, it’s even more likely. Your won-loss percentage is about where you should be within a few games most of the time.
That’s why I don’t get TOO excited about hot streaks or slumps unless they’re sustained over 2-3 months.
In the post-season, though? There’s no order, no chance to normalize. One odd result can tell the tale!
It’s just a bunch of guys throwin’ D&D dice around and seeing what happens!
Ozzie Smith’s home run off of Tom Niedenfuer? He rolled three 20’s in a row.
Think about the wild Oakland / KC game. Ned Yost hit about five saving throws, and caught big lucky breaks on opponents injuries and fielding plays that almost never go wrong. If Perez and Crisp don’t get hurt, does the pitchout get dropped, does the triple happen? Does Donaldson make that play 99 times out of 100? It was one game, out of 163. But it was THE game.
In the first Angels game, Yost rolled great again, because Aoki does NOT make that catch 99 times out of 100.
His strategic decisions haven’t hurt him, because in a short series the result does not always match the process. In the regular season, KC was 22-25 in one-run games, though. But no one remembers the one-run losses in April. No one remembers when Yost out thought himself and bunted and ran himself out of big innings. No one really remembers Yost’s strict bullpen mangling costs him games, because, you know, the post-season and all that. KC’s a great story, but jeez..it’s like Yost drew a pair of queens in blackjack, split ‘em, and then drew two aces!
Players can have bad games, sure. But what are the chances that two absolute stud pitches fall apart in the same game in spectacular fashion. Buster Olney had to create three different narratives for Game One of the Dodgers / Cardinals series alone!
Mediots and yakkers are still at it, claiming that Matt Carpenter is the LORD GOD of the postseason. Carpenter’s a fine players, gets on base, and can hit for extra bases even if he doesn’t have classic home run power. He’s a great sabermetric player since a lot of his value isn’t tied up in BA and RBI.¬† But he’s NOT ‘clutch’, even if he’s come through in some big moments in the post season. He’s also failed spectacularly as well in the big stage. For all the talk of ‘clutch’ – his post-season OPS is 753, compared to 811 in his regular season career. Adjusting for the better pitching you should find in the post-season, he’s performing as he normally does. It’s just that when he hits a home run against San Diego in July, Harold Reynolds isn’t getting a chubby.
So next time Delmon Young comes up in a big spot, he’s not ‘due’, he’s not ‘clutch’, he’s not ‘special’ (well, he may be special but in a different way), he’s Delmon Young, and he will perform as Delmon Young will normally perfom, whether it’s May or October. The Tigers bullpen will perform as they normally perform (much to Brad Ausmus’ chagrin). It’s just that the extremely small sample sizes magnify the boolean outcomes of the game.
Ain’t it great!
It’s that time of year. The leaves are turning. Our jackets emerge from their summer naps. Everything is¬†pumpkin spiced. Most importantly, though,¬†the marathon Major League Baseball¬†season ends in an all-out October sprint. It’s a baseball writer’s¬†Christmas. This year, we’ve collectively picked 7 of the 10 MLB Playoff teams to win it all. And, perhaps counter to intuition, none of us liked¬†MLB’s best regular-season team to advance past the Championship Series.¬†Go figure, right? Baseball can be crazy like that sometimes.
So, to explain the mind behind the madness, we present the Bugs & Cranks 2014 MLB Playoff Predictions:
Oakland over Kansas City – Everything’s up-to-date in Kansas City! Now they get to feel crushing playoff defeats like the rest of us.
Pittsburgh over San Francisco – The one-game play-in play-off is no good very bad, because this would be a fun series. Pirates because they won in 1971, and I like playing the ’71 Pirates in Diamond Mind.
Los Angeles over St. Louis – By Grathbar’s Hammer, Niedenfuer will be avenged!
Baltimore over Detroit – Neither team trips my trigger as an elite squad. However, the Tigers are relying on Joe Nathan to close out games. I don’t think a AAA team would want Nathan as their closer in the playoffs.
Oakland over the LA Angels – You know, the baseball sharps and pundits and narrative writers will say a lot about momentum and crap. Screw them and their pre-made stories and lazy analysis. Team Oakland!
Pittsburgh over Washington – Again with the narrative. Buster Olney’s already insufferable about how well Washington has pitched over the past month. Dude, it won’t be September anymore. Baseball is fickle. Stop with the narrative!
Oakland over Baltimore – I can see the Oakland team, with their elite pitching, win playoff games because they’ll shut people down. Yes, actual baseball analysis here.
Los Angeles over Pittsburgh – Kershaw and Greinke will make Pittsburgh all cranky. Sorry…
Oakland over Los Angeles – Again, just to tell the narrative writers and Beane haters to stuff it!
OAK @ KC – Oakland’s not used to playing the overachiever. And the role doesn’t suit them. The Royals will win this and the ghost of Dick Howser will rise from the fountains and barbecue sauce will flow in the streets. Sticky.
SF @ PIT – The Giants, surprised to learn that Pittsburgh still has a team, will fly across the country and stay at the TraveLodge near the Monroeville Mall, made famous in¬†Dawn of the Dead. Raise the Jolly Rancher! Bucs win.
DET @ BAL – Everyone in baseball is terrified of the Tigers, but it took them all year to shake Kansas City off their backs. Nobody should ever pick against Detroit. But for absolutely no good reason, I am. O’s win.
KC @ ANA – You know who was from Anaheim? Richard Nixon. Well, maybe not Anaheim proper. He was from Yorba Linda, right next door. And you know what President Nixon knew how to do? 1) win. 2) kick people’s asses. I didn’t like Nixon and I don’t like Mike Scioscia. But the good guys don’t always win. My pick: the Angels.
STL @ LA – The Cardinals are the handsome, polite guest who tips the maitre’d. The Dodgers don’t wear a dinner jacket and have to borrow one. The Cards order the red snapper Livornese. The Dodgers bring a bag of Carl’s Jr., into the restaurant. Winner: Dodgers.
PIT @ WAS – Hahahahaha! Nats.
BAL @ ANA – If the Angels borrow Oakland’s uniforms, they might beat Baltimore. But¬†Scioscia can’t squeeze his XXL ass into Bob Melvin’s M pants. O’s win the pennant.
LA @ WAS – Hahahahaha! Nats again.
WAS @ BAL – 38 miles separate Nats Park and Camden Yards. But since there’s no subway between DC and Baltimore, let’s call this the Above-Ground Commuter Train Series. Or the Gladys¬†Noon¬†Spellman Parkway Series. Or the Liveable City With Affordable Housing versus the Ridiculously Expensive and Congested City Series. Or the Decades-Old Heroin Problem Series. Whatever you want. Orioles.
Pittsburgh over the G-Men in the wild card game.
LA over St. Louis 3-2 in the LDS. Can’t beat Kershaw twice in a five-game set.
Washington over Pittsburgh 3-1.
NLCS — LA 4-3. Again, Kershaw the difference.
KC over Oakland in the wild card. It’s been 29 years since there was a playoff game in Kansas City, the players will feed off of that energy.
Detroit over Baltimore in the LDS, 3-2. The Tigers have superior starting pitching, and the big boys will earn their money while the bullpen watches.
KC over the Angels 3-2. The Royals have better pitching and defense and are a very good road team.
ALCS — KC over Detroit, 4-3 setting up what would have been a hell of a Fall Classic in 1977.
World Series — Pitching and defense win championships. And I just have a feeling the likes of Billy Butler and Omar Infante are going to take it to another level in October. KC 4-2.
Series MVP — Norichika Aoki.
AL Wild Card: Oakland
NL Wild Card: San Francisco
NLDS: St. Louis
NLCS: San Francisco
Final: San Francisco
I always go with my doppleganger, Tim Lincecum, when making playoff predictions. Lincecum, if you’re reading this, please cut your frigging hair. I had this coif first. It’s getting to the point that when I go the salon for a trim my stylist asks, “Do you want the Big Time Timmy Jim?” Enough is enough, dude. It’s my hairstyle and I want it back. Or, if your team wins the World Series, gimme your ring. It’s only fair.
ALWC:¬†Hard to tell which smelled worse in September, the Oakland Coliseum or the team occupying it. KC wins
NLWC:¬†I’ll take the Pirates¬†to beat San Francisco.
ALDS 1: Every year, Detroit walks into the playoffs high and mighty and I think to myself, ‚Äúcertainly they‚Äôll fustigate all comers!‚ÄĚ And every year, they fall flat on their high-priced, MVP-stealing faces. I’M NOT GOING TO LET YOU FOOL ME AGAIN THIS YEAR, DETROIT! I’ll take Baltimore¬†to win.
ALDS 2: I would really love to say KC is going to walk up to Los Angeles de Los Angeles de Anheheim (as my espanol amigos say)¬†and punch them on the nose. I would really love to say it… but I won’t. Halos win.
NLDS 1: I’m torn here, because St. Louis just seems to win in the playoffs against all dictates of logic and reason. Kersh is just too damn good, though, to let the redbirds steal another series. I’ll go with the Dodgers.
NLDS 2: I feel I owe it to Anthony Rendon, after the numbers he put up for me in fantasy this year, to take Washington over Pittsburgh.
ALCS: Call me stupid, but I got a hunch Los Angeles peaked just a tad too early. Baltimore in 6.
NLCS: Kershaw, Kershaw, Kershaw! Dodgers take the pennant.
World Series: The Dodgers’ top-shelf pitchers are better than Baltimore’s top-shelf pitchers. So are their top sluggers. I really would love for Baltimore to win, but I just can’t see it, especially depleted as they are. The Dodgers win it all.
NL Wild Card: Pirates beat Giants
NLDS: Nationals beat Pirates; Dodgers beat Cardinals
NLCS: Nationals beat Dodgers
AL Wild Card: Royals beat A‚Äôs
ALDS: Royals beat Angels; Orioles beat Tigers
ALCS: Orioles beat Royals
World Series: Nationals beat Orioles, damn it
Kansas City over Oakland
San Fran over Pittsburgh
Kansas City over Angels (5)
Detroit over Baltimore (5)
San Fran over Washington (4)
Dodgers over Cardinals (5)
Detroit over Kansas City (5)
Dodgers over San Fran (4)
Dodgers over Detroit (6)
MVP – Kershaw
ALWC – Royals edge A’s
ALDS – Angels over Royals
ALDS – Orioles over Tigers
NLWC – Giants over Pirates
NLDS – Dodgers beat Cardinals
NLDS – Nationals over Giants
World Series: Nationals over Orioles
Wild Cards: SF & OAK
Divisional Series:¬†STL. SF, DET & LAA
Championship Series, STL & DET
World Series: DET over¬†STL
It’s the usual, here. Teams that clinch early lose early. After that its experience and pitching and most of all bullshit luck.
By any reasonable analysis of their offense, the Mariners should be merely playing out the string today, and not fighting for the right to play a one-game playoff for the right to play a one-game post-season playoff game for the right to enter the Championship Series playoffs.
Their offense has been riddled with sub-par performances compounded with bad personnel decisions and some bad luck.
Their full-time left fielder is a league average hitter. Left fielders shouldn’t be league average hitters.
Their full-time catcher has as many HBPs and walks and his hitting under .200 (with some power, but still).
They gambled that Justin Smoak would return to form. Nope.
They gambled on Corey Hart to regain his offensive stroke. Sorry.
They gambled at Stefen Romero and Abraham Almonte could handle the big leagues. Not a chance.
They called up James Jones when Almonte was found wanting. Except for a burst of speed, he’s not the answer.
Michael Saunders was having a good year. Then he got hurt and only played 77 games. Endy Chavez has played more games than Saunders. Endy. Chavez.
They gave the shortstop job to Brad Miller, full time. They had to call up another rookie shortstop to bail them out.
They traded for Austin Jackson, Kendrys Morales and Chris Denorfia. All three have been lacking, to say the least. Dreadful, some would say.
Logan Morrison spend half the year in a funk so deep, Bootsy Collins and George Clinton wanted him in their band.
Only Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano did full-time good work on offense. They met expectations. Two out of 9 positions.
They’re 15th and last in OBP. Somehow, they’re 11th in runs scored, thanks to being 11th in SLG and some situational luck.
While it’s not the Chone Figgins offense, it’s still lacking.
But somehow, we’re here, at 162, watching Seattle play a meaningful game (depending on what happens in Texas an hour before).
When the starting pitching isn’t working and the bullpen is wanting, the Mariners don’t have a chance to win. Those are words that have not been uttered many times. Yes, there are times where things haven’t gone well. Iwakuma’s had a bad stretch. Felix had some bad starts. They basically gave up having a fifth starter for a time (probably a smart move) thanks to some shuffling of the rotation around and using ‘bullpen games’ where one of the relievers would start.
As many things that have happened wrong on offense, they have happened right on the other side of the ball.
Chris Young has lasted the entire year and pitched well – take a picture, this may not happen again. Rookie Roenis Elias solidified the rotation. James Paxton was a revelation after his callup. To his credit, Lloyd McClendon used his rotation well, took chances with players, and trusted his staff to get people out. His trust in Brandon Maurer to be a stopper in the pen and be the guy to get the M’s out of jams early in games, after Maurer was found totally lacking as a starter, is a testament to his work as a manager of a staff this year.
That bullpen? Despite the fact that their second worst relief pitcher is the one grabbing all the saves, this is a historic pen. All of ‘em – sometimes there were eight – were tough as nails at times.
The only way this team is at 162 is this pitching staff. All 12 to 13 of ‘em at a time. When one of them wasn’t on – the team couldn’t win.
So God bless Fernandez, Iwakuma, Elias, Young, Paxton, Walker, Rodney, Wilhelmsen, Leone, Furbush, Beimel, Farquahr, Medina, Maurer and even September callup Carson Smith. Those individuals are the reason we’re at 162.
Oh, and the fact that the Oakland A’s have played these last 45 games like they were the 1916 A’s with Jack Nabors, Tom Sheehan, Whitey Witt and Charlie Pick. Thanks, Oakland!
Historic run prevention, other teams foibles, and a decent finishing schedule had the Mariners as favorites to secure an AL Wild Card spot. With the Royals being Yosted, the A’s collapsing, and the other teams not getting traction, Seattle was the hot trendy pick to advance to the post-season for the first time that historic 2001 season.
Lloyd McClendon was setting up his rotation to maximize the appearances of Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. James Paxton was being a rookie revelation. The bullpen was historically strong. They had just won five in a row. They were outperforming every expectation, and surpassing all of their statistical projections. Destiny? Could be.
The schedule? Six games against Houston. Three against the “’64 Phillies Have Nothing on Us” A’s. Four against Toronto. Yes, they had six against the Angels, but most of those games would be after LA clinched the division and best record. One against Texas. Easy peasy, right, even if the Mariners reverted to their previous offensive level. (Which was, well, offensive…)
Not so fast my friend.
First they get shut out by Texas, 1-0. Then they go home and drop four of six to Houston and the A’s. After a split with the Angels, they sat at 82-70, and a little worse off than they were. Still they were just a game behind Oakland and KC, and could conceivably take the first wild card spot with a good finishing kick against the Astros and Blue Jays.
That’s not what happened. They’ve lost four out of five, and have played at a level more suited to the 2012 Mariners (or even 2011, or worse…)
Their vaunted pitching staff has gone *poof*. The starters can’t get out of their own way. Iwakuma’s had two bad starts in a row. Paxton’s control has abandoned him. Even King Felix is having issues, as he got lambasted by the Jays yesterday.
If they can’t pitch, their hitting won’t help. In this bad stretch since the last Texas game, they’ve scored 0,1, or 2 runs in nine of the 16 games. These last four games, it’s been Other Guys 42, Seattle 10. The Mariners are baseball’s equivalent of a low level college football team facing Alabama.
Is there any hope for Seattle, with a horrible offense, and a now-shaky pitching staff? Sure, it’s baseball – anything can happen. It wasn’t that long ago that Oakland was going to win the World Series without a sweat, and Milwaukee was going to win the NL Central. Now look at them.
Seattle has five games left. The Angels are coasting and the Blue Jays are mercurial. Ned Yost is still the KC Manager. There is hope until there is no longer hope.
It was just the exact wrong time to regress to the mean,
(Those words, no doubt, are the strangest ever posted by this writer…)
If you haven’t, here’s a dizzyingly quick recap.
Montero is down at Boise to rehab and coach up the Everett Aqua Sox. I guess Seattle wanted their young players to be fat layabouts, but anyway…
A scout FOR SEATTLE (again, it’s a SEATTLE scout) starts heckling Montero as he was coaching first base. He probably used the famous Ball Four line “One man to a pair of pants out there…”
Said scout allegedly sends Montero an ice cream sandwich between innings. You know, for laughs.
Montero, who is now in the stands charting pitches (such grueling rehab work, eh?) objects. There’s words and maybe a pushy-shove.
Noted hack GM Jack Z (subject of a slurping, sycophantic article in another publication today) blabbers words about thus and so and HOW WE CAN’T HAVE ANYTHING LIKE THIS GOING ON HERE. Montero’s shut down (for an entire week. Who. Hoo.) and the scout cast into the abyss of something or other.
Anyway, we here at B&C decided that this entire incident was absurd. It would make a great movie. And like every great movie, it needed a soundtrack! So thanks to Spotify, we gots one: