Robinson Cano looks on while the reigning king of the Mariners let’s the creepy camera man take a picture.
The 2014 previews continue onward, with today’s team being the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners preview is written by a Reds fan living in Seattle, Taylor Wolfe. Taylor has written for the site for a good long while. You can follow him on twitter here, or see some of his past work on MLB Beef or Diamond Hoggers.
The sun is just beginning to break through the gray of winter in the Pacific NW. The sun is a rare sight in the winter unless you are skiing in the cascades or up high enough in the mountains. But when the sun comes, it comes gloriously, bringing 70 degree days and baseball. The quality of the summer days cannot be debated. The quality of the team that trots out onto SafeCo field is another matter.
The Mariners made (maybe) the biggest splash in the offseason after several years of mediocrity – signing Robinson Cano as a free agent from the Yankees. The signing has come with surprisingly little fan far in Seattle. The biggest reason is likely that no one has been thinking about baseball while the Seahawks were winning the Super Bowl. With two highly paid veterans and most of the young talent on the club or quickly approaching, it seems the Mariners might be poised to contend. The biggest problem are 3 other teams in their division. The Rangers, Angels, and A’s all have real sights on the postseason.
So we know the Mariners dropped a pot of gold in Cano’s lap, but what else did they do anything else to help out a team that finished 71-91 last year. Continue reading →
I wasn’t really surprised when the Mariners shelled out big money ($175M for 7 years) for Felix Hernandez. Seattle loves him and he’s been by far the best player on the team since Ichiro began his decline. He even brought Seattle a perfect game.
He’s thrown over 200 innings for 6 years straight and 190+ the two years before that – an absolute workhorse. But allegedly the Mariners were worried enough about his health to put an injury clause in that mega contract. His stats actually were very good in 2013, posting a career high in K/BB of 4.70 even as his GB% shrank to near career lows. Fly balls aren’t really an issue in the cavernous SafeCo. This prediction is less base on skill degradation and more based on my expectation of an injury or playing through one.
I think he will still be a top 10-15 pitcher on a nightly basis when he goes, but getting value means having home out there every five days. If this doesn’t happen, the Mariners aren’t going to be happy plunking down $25M a year for 20 starts.
And fantasy owners using a third round pick aren’t going to overly thrilled either. Maybe take a shot at Carlos Gomez or Giancarlo Stanton instead. Wait two rounds and grab David Price, Chris Sale or Zack Greinke as your first pitcher.
Today is a day that belongs to Taijuan Walker. In the annals of baseball history, August 30th, 2013 will go down in history as the day that Walker was introduced to the baseball world. He’ll make his big league debut tonight against the Houston Astros
Here’s the scouting report. Since Baseball Prospectus (who we usually use for this portion) took the day off from their prospect scouting report, we use a site called Baseball Prospect Nation for the skinny on Walker:
Body: Absolutely flawless frame (6-4, 195) that oozes future projection. Has natural strength and room to add more without become stiff.
Makeup: I’ve heard nothing but good things about his makeup in my conversations with area scouts from his time as an amateur and in discussions with the Mariners.
Delivery/Mechanics: Everything is easy in his delivery. Employs a modest leg kick that allows him to maintain excellent balance over the rubber. His arm action is exceptionally clean and lightning fast. He finishes well out front and lands in a position that allows him to field come backers.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 99, Low – 92, Average – 94-95, Grade – 70/80
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 98, Low 92, Average 94-95, Grade – 70/80
Fastball (FB) Movement: Has good life and gets on hitters thanks to his long limbs and extension in his delivery. Will show some boring action in on right-handers at times. Shows aptitude to manipulate the ball. Grade – 50/60
Overall Fastball: Potential elite fastball velocity with such an easy delivery that it explodes to the plate and has added deception as a result. Grade – 70/80
Curveball (CB): Scouts saw both a true hammer and a loopier breaking ball from him in 2011. The hammer has elite potential and could be one of the better ones in the game if he can find consistency. Has 12-6 to 12-5 break that is hard and biting when it’s on. Grade – 50/70
Change-up (CH): Maintains arm speed and slot well but lacks feel for the pitch. Doesn’t always trust it and will try too hard to take some off it at times. Shows some sink when its working. Grade – 30/50
Control: Athleticism allows him to repeat his delivery well which helps him pound the strike zone with both FB and CB. Will work up in the zone too much at times, particularly when he tries to dial it up. Needs to trust natural velocity and pound the bottom of the zone. Grade – 40/70
Command: Locating within the zone is a work in progress. He will show flashes of moving the ball side to side and can intentionally elevate at times, but is too often just throwing at the zone rather than trying to hit a spot. Ultra-projectable delivery and athleticism gives plenty of projection. Grade – 30/60
Summation: You can imagine Walker becoming just about anything down the line. With crazy athleticism, great arm action, two pitches with at least 70 potential and a good head for pitching, he could be a true front of the rotation monster. He will require some developmental time but his potential is undeniable. The nuances of the game such as fielding his position, pickoff moves and pitch sequencing are still very much a work in progress, but they should come with experience. If the change-up leaps forward to be an average pitch there won’t be much left to stop him. The ace tag is thrown around too often by fans but Walker has everything needed to develop into a legitimate top of the rotation stud.
If a guy gets one of these posts, we’re clearly excited about the kid. Walker should have an electric future in the Seattle rotation. I’ll have at least one eye on it tonight as I follow the action around the league. Here’s to a decade of jaw-dropping stuff out of Walker.
We hope The Bartender has not forgotten any martini recipes.
Taylor is in a much more exciting place then the rest of us this week (India), so I’m taking over the IcyHot award and keeping it alive in his absence.
It’s only fitting that a guy in his city of residence take home the hardware for this week. Everybody, put your hands together for Seattle’s very own Tom Wilhelmsen. Last season, he was the best closer you had never heard of. If you’re like me, you went into this season not even knowing the origin of ‘The Bartender’ and wondering who the hell the guy was.
Wilhelmsen was barely good long enough for fans of the game to get to enjoy the best nickname in baseball. And HOLY SHIT look at the June the Bartender has strung together. My goodness, that’s ugly. The guy probably wishes he was pouring drinks for someone right now, it’s a good part of the year for bartender’s if they’re in the right establishment. Lately, he’s been serving up nothing but Jack and his only customers are big league hitters.
Ok, excuse my horrible joke. I can with Wilhelmsen a little bit. Not because I know what it’s like to have my act figured out in only being able to throw a straight fastball and curve, but because recently I moonlighted as a bartender. My wife caters weddings and the bartender was a no-show. I was asked to be the fill in. I decided it wasn’t such a bad gig at all. If interest rates keep rising, I might have to vacate my day job and try my hand at getting people drunk. Just don’t ask me to be the guy who is going to cut people off for being too drunk; because I’m not willing to be that guy.
Back to Wilhelmsen, his ERA has climbed from 1.85 at the start of this month to the present 4.22, somehow managing four saves in that time. In the week that was, Bartender served up batting practice to Oakland twice and Anaheim once. He only allowed three earned runs in 3 and 1/3 innings but none of the appearances were save situations. Because things are going a certain way recently for good old Tom; he still managed to blow a save in the 8th inning of a game.
It might be the least amount of innings an IcyHot Award Winner ever throws in a week, but Tom Wilhelmsen definitely deserves this one on the house!
My good friend and Mike Trout enthusiast (he’s also an Angels fan) remarked via text that this is what it must of been like to watch Mickey Mantle. Player steps to the plate in his final at bat needing to go deep to reach his historic feat. He sees a few pitches and then just goes ahead and makes it happen.
The Angels routed the Mariners 12-0 – and while this is just another chapter in Trout’s young and historic career – it also provides a nice highlight moment in the middle of what has been an 18-27 season for the Angels. In the wake of Miguel Cabrera’s three home run game on Sunday Night Baseball it’s a nice encore act.
I also want to say something I might change my mind on in a few weeks; but it’s not likely. I think Mike Trout is the best young talent in baseball, with Bryce Harper a close second. I might enjoy the ebb and flow of a Harper season a bit more because Trout is so good that he’s almost boring. With Harper, there is more chaos; in every way. Pound for pound, right now Mike Trout is on another wavelength.
A three run walk off home run is a thing of beauty…for the Indians
Seattle came into Monday trying to avoid a sweep at the hands of red hot Cleveland. They nearly did…twice. First Tom Wilhelmson came in to the bottom of 9th with only a one run lead to protect. He did not – though he did not allow an earned run. The game tied, it went into extra innings. Seattle soldiered on and scored another run in the 10th. Then Charlie Furbush came in to get some kind of save. Let’s sort out the gory details below:
Note the two errors basically directly led to the run being scored. Use two hands kids! at least Wilhelmson can’t be too angry since one was his own. Onto the 10th.
Another error – although this one didn’t end up mattering except the the Indians won by 2 instead of. Relievers are supposed to forget easily…and they should. But blown saves in consecutive innings to get swept isn’t going to be an easy one to push out of their mind.
I’m going to spend some quality time with my wife tonight, and for the first time this season we’re going to watch her Yankees. I’m not particulary thrilled about having to watch the Yanks minus Jeter, or a true ace on the bump. There’s just not much to keep my interests.
And THEN I see who is pitching for the Seattle Mariners. I don’t mean to interrupt quality baseball posts with this nonsense that further fills the endless space of the internet, but doesn’t Hisashi Iwakuma look like Splinter? I have always thought that. Besides, this guy has received zero run-time and features some of the best stuff in baseball through 8 starts this year.
Nastiest splitter in the game, rat-faced Iwakuma (a valuable member of my fantasy team) brings his 0.74 WHIP and 6.38 K to BB ratio into Yankee Stadium. Most likely so that my wife’s Yankees can shit all over him. Ol’ Splinter here better have packed enough wise advice for himself and his four sons. He’s going to need it tonight, because regression is coming and Hell’s coming with it!
Didn’t Michealangelo and the rest of the turtles live in a sewer in New York City? Yes, I am screwed up.
Chris Davis, Michael Morse, Justin Upton. These are your current MLB leaders in home runs at 6. Who cares if it’s only April 11th. The season has been going FOR ALMOST TWO WEEKS ALREADY. Time to start keeping track. All three of these players were somewhat recently cast off by their former teams. Davis went to the Orioles last year, Morse was traded to the Mariners in the off-season, and Upton was trade for 50 cents on the dollar from the Diamondbacks. These guys have been hot to start the season and Upton is making my Upton brothers projection looking really stupid. The difference is that Upton is perennially touted as an MVP candidate. The other two are not so much. Here is the tally of their home runs so far this season.
Our team previews start in the northwest of the US where the weather says baseball is still months away, but I believe the calendar. The Seattle Mariners represent a bit of what I love about baseball. Perpetual hope. They might not be the best now, but they have plenty of young talent that make the future look brighter.
Let’s do a run down of the Mariners.
Major Off-Season Moves:
Acquired Kendrys Morales to bolster beleaguered lineup.
Acquired Michael Morse for the same reason.
Inked their ace, Felix Hernandez, to a 7 year $175m deal.
Moved the outfield walls in at SafeCo field.
Now on to who is going to take the field this year.
Last summer there was some sentiment that the Mariners should try to trade King Felix and get what return they could on the 27-year old pitcher who has served as the cornerstone of the franchise. It wasn’t a notion we liked or agreed with. Hernandez was one of the few assets the Mariners had within their organization that puts butts in the seats. The Mariners haven’t been in a pennant race into the summer heat days in a number of years. The most excitement they’re treated to is buying a ticket every fifth day to watch this guy go out and hang K’s in the outfield upper deck.
The bottom line is with a player like Hernandez (he’s been worth 38.3 fWAR over the course of his career to date) what better building block could you ask for in your organization? You can dump Hernandez for a couple prospects but our feeling is at that point you’re in a crapshoot just hoping that one of them pans out or the sum of the middling parts equals the whole of what you traded away.
The Mariners have hooked their cart to a very fine horse. And if you’re going to do it with a pitcher in baseball today, there’s very few that you could argue are a better bet to do this with than King Felix. Pitchers break down annually, but Hernandez has shown no signs of arm or mechanic problems that could be considered red flags or preludes to a serious problem down the road.
We hate when familiar faces in change spots from familiar places in baseball. We hate change. Felix has become as synonomous with Seattle to us as the Space Needle. And let’s face it, when it’s 10:05 on a Thursday night and there’s only two games on the MLB slate for that day to begin with; how excited do you get when you see King Felix on the bump and making his warm-up tosses?
King Felix remaining in Seattle is good for the game.
Yes, the Mariners added some much needed power in Michael Morse. Did they pay too much in John Jaso? Maybe. Jaso had a 3.4 oWAR this year. Morse had 3.8 in his “breakout” year. When you can trade three more years of control at a premium position for one of a pending FA at a position pretty much every player with power can play, you have do to it, right?
Whatever, the real news here is the major hole that Jaso will leave the Mariners in the facial hair department. His beard blows that weak stuff on Morse’s face out of the water. See for yourself.
It’s a good thing Jaso is moving to Oakland. The Bay Area seems to be where weirdly bushy facial hair goes to prosper.
Good luck to Jaso and Morse. I think both cities will be happy to welcome them to the city.
We had a feeling that this would be the last Take on Me ever heard at Nationals Park.
Today was another day that the Nationals were in the thick of things, highlighting a three-team trade that sent Micheal Morse to Seattle and A.J. Cole to Washington. The trade also involved the Oakland Athletics picking up catcher John Jaso.
The Nationals will receive right-handed pitching prospects A.J. Cole and Blake Treinen along with a player to be named later from the A’s, according to CBSSports.com baseball insider Danny Knobler.
As part of the deal, the A’s will receive catcher John Jaso from the Mariners. The A’s also announced that catcher George Kottaras has been designated for assignment.
Cole was rated the A’s third best prospect and performed well at class-A before struggling in high-A ball. This trade was a return home of sorts, as the Nationals originally drafted Cole in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. Morse originally broke into the big leagues with the Mariners in 2005 and was in Seattle until 2009.
We always liked Morse. Later on it was for the A-ha batter walk-up song. Any guy who digs 80′s music that much and flaunts it is okay in our book. But our mind always shifts back to a night in Cincinnati in 2010 when we saw him take batting practice before the game. He was just a reserve then. We noticed how big he was. We noticed how he seemed to lace balls and there was a different sound off the bat compared to other guys. We thought the guy could play if given the chance as a full-time regular. The rest is history, and when it happened we always had a soft spot for Morse.
I’ve had an attachment to many sports teams, (especially baseball teams)l in my past. I’ve never felt compelled to rap about them. And for fun back in college I actually used to drink a 12-pack and freestyle and then laugh hysterically with friends who would give it a shot. Don’t hate, it’s surprisingly liberating.
The guy is either named Macklemore or Ryan Lewis. And he grew up watching games in the Kingdome. Seattle’s his city. I would just expect this to be more about Shawn Kemp or something. I still recommend you give him a listen.
Only in American baseball can a guy walk across the other side of the field and into the dugout that belonged to opponents moments earlier and call it home.
It was a strange scene that the baseball world didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for. I never pictured Ichiro Suzuki in anything other than a Mariners uniform. And if it was going to happen it would be okay; we would all have a long off-season to place in him in a Giants uniform or whatever team he ends up with as a free agent.
Except it happened quickly. We got the text that Ichiro had been dealt to the Yankees for just the price of two nameless minor league pitchers. After twelve years and 2,533 hits as a Mariner the ’51′ was gone and he was wearing a strange number and hitting towards the bottom of the Seattle New York lineup. And I really did mis-type that last sentence, my brain wasn’t adjusted.
The baseball world is a crazy place of existence. Ichiro in the Pacific Northwest was about as perfect a marriage as there could have been. This transaction is evidence that nothing is sacred in the baseball world, and the Yankees can still have whatever they want for the price of just a few nameless minor leaguers despite having a ‘depleted’ farm system for the past decade. Will someone just tell them ‘no’ sometime?