Randy Lind catching a ball at a Seattle Mariner's game

A look back at the Mariner’s Season, My Predictions, & the Future

Well, not too bad of a prediction about the Mariner’s season, huh? Other than the Ichiro comments I mean.

 

The REAL Surprises for the Mariner’s this year:

Edwin Diaz – Who’d a thunk this guy was going to be a consistent, lights out reliever, all year long for us? Without him, the Mariners would certainly not have gotten to the level of wins that they achieved.

Kyle Seager – What a bummer of a season. Is this guy on the downslide? I don’t know, but at the salary he takes away from the overall team budget, we need a lot more production out of him than we saw this year! A lot more!!

Robinson Cano – Really? After all of his years, and experience, did he not know that he would get busted if he took PED’s? I understand as he ages it is harder to come back from even slight injuries. I believe this is an indication he will wear down and spend time on the injured list next year – another huge drain on the overall salary chart. The decision should be to start him, but give him a day or two of rest every week in order to preserve his health, or perhaps, have him fill in at DH. The other alternative would be to trade him, but who in their right mind is going to pay the outlandish salary he carries for a one-time great player who is definitely on the downslide?

Mitch Hanniger– Although I listed him as a good player and a good hitter with mass potential, I did not quite expect the level of production he supplied this year. What a great surprise, and asset, for next year! Stay healthy Mitch!

Marco Gonzales – He was an unknown who had a great year and there is nothing to say he can’t do the same next year (or even better).

Wade LeBlanc – Ditto

 

The Told Ya So’s:

Felix Hernandez – I knew he would be injured and unproductive. My prediction had him winning 8 games and that final number was right on the money! He will be another huge drain on the overall salary budget for next year, with next to zero production to be expected.

Dee Gordon – I had a strong suspicion that he was going to be good – not quite superstar material, but very good, young, and full of potential. He delivered and I look forward to seeing him improve next year.

Mike Leake – As predicted, he ate up a lot of innings and finished with a respectable record. At 10 wins and 10 losses, he is definitely a keeper. A few different pitches here and there, or a few more runs, for support, and the number of wins could easily improve next year.

Mike Zunnino – Need I say anything? Okay I will. He’s exactly “what you see is what you get”. I think we stick with him 100 % knowing he is a great defensive player and a great field general who calls a great game. Plus he has a great rapport with his pitchers. AND he occasionally launches a monster home run!

Win predictions – With my pre-season prediction capped at 91 (as a ceiling prediction) and 82 (as actual wins prediction), I was pretty much on the money with a result of 89 wins.

 

The Future:

The Mariner’s brass has a lot to take in and think about. The real question is do we blow this thing up and start from scratch? Or do they think they have the nucleus of a really good team that just needs some tweaking?  Personally, I think it’s somewhere in between.

Things to consider for next year:

  • Age:

We have a number of aging players, that are not what they once were, and are going to continue to decline 2)High salaries  3) A very thin minor league prospect pool.

A) Robinson Cano – He has shown his age the last couple of years with injuries and a decrease in the level of performance that he once supplied. PED use is a continued concern, as he tries to keep up with the youngsters.

B) Nelson Cruz – He is still hugely productive, but will he be in decline the upcoming year? I think yes. He is a free agent and will receive a pretty hefty salary based on the productive year he had. I love the guy and he looks like he has a lot of fun on the field and with his teammates. But depending on the salary he’ll be looking for, and the number of years he is asking for, I think we need to think seriously about a replacement. Just look at Felix and his salary.

C) And speaking of Felix– He is the king, and always will be, but I think we all see the writing on the wall. And that writing says Felix is pretty much done. We can’t trade his huge salary, and we can’t expect a lot of production from him moving forward.

D) Kyle Seager – Can someone be old at 30 years of age? He sure seems to support the argument  It’s weird how some people can be a young 40 and others can be an old 30. I’m not saying he’s washed up or anything like that, but if he continues to play the way he did this year, then I would say age catching up to him could be the only answer.

  • High Salaries

A) Robinson Cano – are you seeing a trend? Yes, he is one of our aging players who is also taking up a lot of salary space on the roster. I don’t think he will be worth the money we are committing to him for the level of production we can expect him to supply. Furthermore, the trade value is not there, making this an unviable option.  STUCK!!

B) Felix Hernandez – Ditto!

C) Nelson Cruz – Yes he was a very productive player for us this year, but at 38, how many more productive years does he have left? 1 or 2 is my guess. If he’s looking for a multi-year deal, is it worth spending 5 years of salary to get 1 or 2 years worth of production? Answer – no.

D) Kyle Seager – Draining a ton of salary without supplying the production. Period. Should we pay a player for good third base defensive skills and a known “late starter” at the plate? This year he was not only a late starter, but one could say he never really did get started! Possible trade bait (if teams are willing to take the risk of paying him for his previous production – not likely).

 

Thoughts About Changes

  • Infield

1st base: I like Ryan Healy. He was pretty productive, adequate defensively, and a bargain salary.

2nd base: Robinson Cano – His better years are behind him. He’s likely to miss more time due to injury. Trading his salary is unlikely but worth a try if we can come up with an innovative bundle or take on part of his salary, perhaps we could trade him.  I think we bring Dee Gordon back to this position of choice.

SS: Jean Segura – A pretty good player but a terrible attitude. I remember one game when I saw our center fielder, I think it might have been Maybin, completely lay out for a ball. He ended up crashing into the wall and landed on his head and was obviously hurt, but stayed in the game. You never heard another peep. He didn’t miss a game.  Next inning, Segura gets thrown out at second base. He is barely, and I mean barely, grazed across the head by the other player’s knee. Drama ensued and he came out of the game and to my recollection, missed the next game if not more. I remember another time that he slid and had to come out of the game.

From my view, he doesn’t look like a team player and will not play if he is nicked up in the slightest. Is it a coincidence that he gets in a “brawl” with Dee Gordon whose one of the most upbeat and inspirational players on the team? I think not. Great player, terrible attitude, a ton of trade value. Get rid of him for a player of equal ability or potential.

3rd base: Kyle Seager – I think his hungry years are over. I think we will continue to see much of the same that we saw this year. He got his big contract after playing pretty darn good year in year out despite his “late start” every single year. If you can find a team to take on his salary and trade you a young player with potential, then I would not hesitate to pull the trigger.

Catcher: How many catchers can you REALLY count on to be a better than average offensive player? Not many. Be careful what you wish for. We’ve got a really good defensive catcher who knows the game and works well with the pitchers. Don’t ruin a good thing in the hopes you get a dream come true. Stick with Zunnino. He’s our guy.

DH: Nelson Cruz is the man!! He’s been awesome! BUT…..he is getting older and he is going to require a substantial salary. And if that salary is a multi-year deal….well, we covered that earlier. Can we get a hometown discount? By that I mean that I know he likes being here and he enjoys his teammates (which is obvious). If we can, then great, but don’t count on his production to be there in another year or two. Shop around. Who else is available? What about Cano at DH?

  • Outfield

Mitch Hanniger – Do nothing!! He is far and away our best player in the outfield. He hits for power and percentage and is a great defensive player to boot! And he also comes at a very reasonable price

Ben Gammel – I’m not sure why we picked up Maybin and decided to send Gammel to the minors! I think he is a more than an adequate player. The hustle and positive attitude he puts forth add a whole different dimension to the team. Not everything can be measured in home runs and hits etc. What he brings is a very important aspect to the team. I think he starts in the outfield alongside Hanniger.

Dee Gordon was good at center field, but we need him at second base and a bigger bat in the outfield.

That leaves center field – WE NEED A QUALITY OUTFIELDER!! One with some speed and some pop. Aside from pitching, this is the position we need to look at in the offseason.

 

A Brief Look at Starting Pitching

James Paxton – Great pitcher, the ace of the staff.

Felix – won’t be a factor.

Mike Leake – Servicable.  Eats up innings and gets you some wins.

Wade Leblanc – Complete surprise and a luxury. I think we can count on him for more of the same next year.

Marco Gonzales – Ditto and flashes of brilliance! A lot to look forward to with Marco.

WE NEED ONE MORE PITCHER FOR THE ROTATION (at least). It’d be great if we could find a number two, but if not, maybe Marco or Wade could slide in there which would allow us the luxury of putting a 3rd or 4th (with potential) into that position.

 

Relief Pitching

That is a category unto itself, but I think we’ve got quality middle relievers and obviously one of the best closers in baseball with Diaz. Keep it together and possibly make some trades to bolster our minor league roster.

We’ll see what happens in spring and make predictions from there.

 

What are your thoughts on this season and the Mariner’s future?

Seattle Seahawks 12th man flag

Richard Sherman, A Class Act On and Off the Field

I for one will stand up and cheer when Richard Sherman comes to town with his new team, The San Francisco 49ers. He will be revered and remembered as one of the best Seattle Seahawks of all time. There comes a time in all professional athletes career’s to leave their prospective teams voluntarily, through trade, or retirement. This is simply the time for Richard Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks to come to grips with this. They have. And now it is time, for us as fans, to do the same.

The writing was on the wall. The Seahawks were getting old and had an agenda to begin a “youth movement” to replace our aging roster. It was no secret, and a logical necessity, when they cut bait with the expensive, oft opinionated cornerback who will be coming off of a major injury.

 

A Class Act.

Overall, Richard was a class act on and off of the field while he was here in Seattle. A Stanford graduate who balanced on the line of gracious eloquence and street talkin’, street-smart savvy, he could play both sides of the “field” very admirably and without compare. Only the great Gary Payton (GP) of the Sonics comes to mind when thinking of a rival to match his “trash talking” wit. As a Seahawk, he was beloved for this “gift”. However, I’m sure it was very difficult to take for fans of any other team in the league. That will now be us here in Seattle.

Sherman’s first call to duty was to stir up controversy while creating a competitive edge, in which he thrives, in order to fuel his performance. He cleverly began this campaign by creating a rift on Twitter which related to facts that he was not the bad guy who left the Seahawks and that they were the ones who let him go. He “fueled” the fire by stating fans were burning his Jersey. I don’t know about you, but I had not heard any negative words towards Richard Sherman, nor had I heard of the ridiculous notion that there were fans out there burning his jersey.

For the most part, all of the Seahawk fans I know, and who are true fans, saw this as being a necessary business decision on the part of the Seahawks. They wish Sherm nothing but the best. Our hope would be that he has a great game when he plays against the Seahawks. We don’t want to see anything spectacular happen for, nor against, him. We simply want to see our Seahawks get back to the winning ways we are accustomed to.

 

Richard Sherman is a sure-fire Hall of fame cornerback.

His stats, which he is not shy about personally pointing out, are rated at the top of the cornerback position of all time. Richard Sherman was an original member of the LEGION of BOOM which gave us much to cheer about and rejoice over! He most likely has a couple of really good years left in him to play the game near the level that will be expected of him. He was simply the product of a once great team, which held a lot of outstanding players, who all approached the “twilight” of their careers at the same time, demanded too much money for the salary cap to allow and still pay the rest of the players to create a successful team.

 

Coming home.

When Richard Sherman comes to town, The Twelves will be on their feet, with a standing ovation the likes of which Century Link Field has never seen!!! If you don’t have tickets for it now, you are SOL, ‘cause this will be the hottest ticket in the league all year! It will be the loudest ovation since the BEASTQUAKE!!! Once the game starts, all bets are off, and he is our enemy. Sherman wouldn’t have it any other way. But remember, we are classy fans here in Seattle, and though we’ll be rooting against his new team, #25 will always be in our hearts and we will ALWAYS have the utmost respect for him.

 

Thank you.

GOOD-BYE Richard! Thanks for the memories, devotion, professionalism, outstanding plays, community involvement, speeches, wardrobes, antics, intensity, playing hurt, leadership, dreads, amongst many other traits and reasons the Twelves will remember and hold you dear to our hearts!

 

 

Image by SeahawkScreamer

Randy Lind at Mariner's Game

Ichiro is back with the Seattle Mariners

Ichiro is back.

Some people are happy to have Ichiro back on the Mariners, some people aren’t so thrilled thinking it’s a ploy to sell tickets, and some people couldn’t care less one way or the other.

Personally, I think it’s great! A sure-fire, first ballot, Hall of Famer back on our roster! Don’t get me wrong. I understand, at age 44, he won’t be a regular starter. I’m sure, though, he will fill in admirably between all of our regular outfielders getting injured (which seems to be all too often these days). He will truly be a PEST on the bases, batter’s box, and outfield for opposing teams. I’m sure he still has some pretty spectacular plays left in him that we are fortunate to witness live in our hometown.

 

 

Time will tell how he and the rest of the team perform this year.

 

This will be an exciting Mariners team to watch. 

With a batting lineup that includes all-stars like Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager, leading the way, they are capable of just about anything on any given night. Promising “youngsters” like Jean Segura, Ben Gamel, and Mitch Haniger have shown signs they are capable of being top-notch players. They have even made a case of being on the verge of stardom. The only thing that seems to have held them back is issues with staying healthy. Though Robbie and Nelson are getting into the twilight of their careers, they still have plenty of POP in their bats and is there anyone smoother out there in the field than Robbie?

It will be interesting to see what newcomer Dee Gordon offers. He has a proven track record of upper echelon base stealing and batting skills, but that was in the National League and at a completely different position (2B/SS). Can the Mariners really pull off converting a career (albeit short) infielder into a centerfielder all in the name of adding batting average and speed into their lineup? All of the early signs are leading to “YES”. 

 

Imagine if you will….

…an opposing pitcher facing a lineup of speedsters (Ichiro and Gordon) on the pads and having to stare down Cano, Cruz, and Seager back to back! Throw in Segura who can artfully spray the ball all over the field and supply some pop, Gamel and Haniger, who can hit with power and accuracy and you’ve got a pretty imposing offensive lineup.

Looming at the bottom of the order (usually) is catcher Mike Zunino. Mike calls a heck of a game, and his pitchers seem to have confidence in, and respect for, him. We’ve all seen him send the ball screaming, like a HORNET, out of the ballpark with sporadic consistency at times. The problem is the bulk of the time he is consistently mediocre, at best, at the plate. I hate to say that because he seems like a great guy who tries hard and does and says all of the right things. There is always room for a guy like that on any TEAM, especially with his great defensive skills and the positive presence he provides in the clubhouse and on the field. I’m rooting for Mike to have a breakout year and prove all of the naysayers wrong!

 

Pitching

This is the biggest question mark of the entire team. With King Felix getting older, and seemingly more and more fragile, I’m just not sure we can rely on him to win more than 8 or 9 games. Let alone stay healthy for any amount of time in order to make a difference. He’s been great and he’ll go down in the books along with “The Big Unit” Randy Johnson. 

James Paxton: “The Big Maple” has as much potential as any pitcher in the league. He has proven that he can be a dominant pitcher, yet he has not proven that he can stay healthy. If we can keep this guy on the mound, I can see him winning a Cy Young while leading us into the playoffs.

Mike Leake: I liked what I saw from this guy last year. He’s a tough competitor and capable of eating up a lot of good quality innings while giving his team a chance to win. Though not an ace, nor overpowering pitcher, he is a tenacious and relentless pitcher who seems to eat through opposing bats like a TERMITE. I propose this should be his nickname “The Termite”! He reminds me a lot of a former great Mariner pitcher, Jamie Moyer.

Middle relief and closing pitching is a complete toss-up in my opinion. There are so many inconsistencies and unknowns that I’m just waiting to see.  This and health issues could be the Mariners demise this year.  However, if we can find some diamonds in the rough (or some opals at least) perhaps we can give it a go!

 

My predictions

Ceiling season wins prediction-                                                                                                91 games
Injury-plagued season wins prediction                                                                                     76 games
Probable season wins prediction                                                                                              82 games

 

Thanks, Ichiro! Can’t wait to see what you have left in the tank!   

Let’s Go Mariners!