the countdown begins . . .

Sadly, the gridiron season ended much too soon for Seahawks fans but . . .

the good news is those of us who also love the M’s can get back to that diamond focus!

Although, I must admit, my attention and heart has been elsewhere for the past month or so, as I became a first time grandma in December – and, so far, it’s been quite the journey (see my other blog: Letters from GiGi). Can’t wait to take my grandson to Seahawks and M’s games ūüôā

Anyway, was listening to KIRO 710 on the way home tonight and caught most of the interview with new Mariners manager: Scott Servais. I was quite impressed. He’s fairly soft spoken but, very thoughtful and articulate. I’ve heard various concerns regarding the fact that he’s never been a field manager but, listening to his experience with scouting, in the front front office, his history of working directly with Jerry Dipoto as well as the experienced coaches he’s surrounded himself with, gives me confidence ūüôā

And, he has a plan and a vision.

Yes, we’ve heard that before but, I’m drinking the kool-aid because both he and Jerry seem to go out of their way to ensure everyone knows that it’s not just a plan for the big club. It is an organizational philosophy that will trickle down and float up. A competitive environment and a winning atmosphere – from Everett to Seattle and everywhere in-between.

hmmm… that sort of brings me back to the Hawks . . .

sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it?

If Scott and Jerry can come anywhere close to Pete and John’s success, we are in for a fabulous summer ride for years to come ‚̧

 

 

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Catching up on some recent additions…

Spent a few days in Lake Tahoe, visiting my daughter for Super Bowl weekend.
What an absolutely beautiful place…

Oh, and though I was not at all enamored¬†by the SB match-up, I managed to stay interested due to my parlay bets…

Now, back to baseball…

Pitchers and Catchers report on Saturday!!!

FanFest fun…

Pretty cool that those of us who couldn’t make to FanFest could watch some of the happenings live online – here are some of the highlights…

Dugout Dialogue | Day ONE

  • Wedge may move Ichiro out of lead-off spot
  • League looks to improve all his pitches
  • Jesus happy to be here, wanst to continue to improve and have fun
  • Carp just wants to hit
  • Hultzen just wants to put his team in a position to win
  • Walker and Paxton want to face Pujols
  • Jack Z “put your arms around these kids, cuz you’re going to see them for awhile”
  • Bone may be back in uniform in the not-too-distant future!

Dugout Dialogue | Day TWO

  • Vargas seems to be taking a leadership role
  • Montero on his number selection
  • Olivo excited about all the young talent
  • Robinson looking forward to playing hard
  • Ryan glad to be healthy again
  • Iwakuma says American ball won’t be a problem
  • Wedge sticking with the plan
  • Brandon anxious to get back to “work” after a winter of rehab
  • Wells has a goal to be an All-Star

All three are first-round Draft picks. Hultzen was the No. 2 overall selection last year out of Virginia, while Paxton and Walker were supplemental picks — Paxton going 37th overall in ’09 to the Blue Jays before sitting out a year and Walker going 43rd overall to Seattle in 2010.

All three are ranked among the Top 100 prospects in baseball for 2012 by MLB.com: Hultzen at 16, Walker at 18 and Paxton at 77.

And all three have been invited to the Mariners Major League camp. Pitchers and catchers report to Peoria on Feb. 11.

Media Day…

Lots of interesting “tweet tid-bits” from yesterday’s Mariners Media Day – good news such as…

14 + / –
~Justin Smoak has lost 14lbs and 4% body fat
~Guti has gained 14lbs of muscle (with no signs of stomach trouble)

Casper Wells has been working out regularly and has had no further equilibrium issues

710ESPN will broadcast the games in Japan vs. the A’s, as well as the exhibition game vs. Hanshin

But, the most eye-opening factoid was this…

Of the 65 invitees to Spring Training – 55 have less than five years time in the big leagues, 45 have less than one year. ¬†Yowsa – talk about baby M’s!

Then, of course, there was everyone’s favorite photo of the day…

via TwitPic

Patience ~ preach it, Sista!

I’ve been preaching “patience” for so long that I must admit even I get impatient at times…

But now, I really mean it!

Patience is a virtue…
I been up against fans, in both personal and online discussions, who are just so tired of waiting and, from their perspective, not even seeing progress with their Mariners. While I can understand their frustration, I also recognize that having lived through the Bavasi years before getting to the Zduriencik years is likely a contributing factor to their heightening impatience. But, at some point you have to stop starting over – let’s give Jack a fair and full chance

Endurance is patience concentrated…. (Thomas Carlyle)¬†
I have argued that Jack Z has made a ton of progress. Let’s face it, he had his work cut out for him taking over an organization whose farm system had been decimated by the previous regime and whose big league roster had a lot of high-priced, low-level talent. He has done a tremendous job of replenishing that farm system at every level, as well as,¬†stock-piling cost-controlled talent on the big club.

Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience… (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Jack Z has a plan and I truly hope we get to see him carry it through to fruition. Rebuilding doesn’t happen over night, over a season or even over a couple of seasons. It is an extremely long and tedious process. Even when abysmal seasons net high draft picks, it can take years for even the best young players to make it to the Show.

Genius is eternal patience… (Michelangelo)
Jack Z is¬†doing it the right way, with the intent of building a solid foundation that will be strong and sustainable for years to come. Think about it, back in the mid-late 90’s when the Yanks started going on their run (that, by the way, they haven’t stopped) they had a few high-priced players (like the M’s have Felix and Ichiro now, for instance) but, their home-grown, “core four” were just coming up together. ¬†That turned out pretty well, didn’t it? ¬†Is it so out of the realm of possibility that the likes of Ackley, Carp, Montero, Seager, Smoak, Wells, Hulten, Paxton, Noesi and Walker can be successful? ¬†Sure, the likelihood that they ALL exceed expectation is not high but, even if a few of them succeed, just think how long they could stay together and the foundation they would lay.

Then there was the little matter known as the nightmare of 2010…
It literally came out of the blue after the Kumbaya year of 2009. I won’t rehash the hideous details, suffice it to say everything that could go wrong did (with the exception of Felix being exceptional and winning his first Cy Young award) and proved to be a serious set back in Jack’s plan. I doubt we will ever know the whole, ugly truth of that season (not sure we really want to) – whether it was Wak’s inexperience, Junior’s frustration with himself, Figgy’s attitude toward just about everyone, Milton’s issues or just a convergence of all things¬†flammable. Jack deserves a mulligan on that whole ordeal.

And another thing…

What about Wedge?!?!

My thoughts drifted to his potential impact on this young, rebuilding team going forward as I listened to a couple of different interviews he gave tonight (I was flipping back-and-forth between the two sports talk radio stations as they were both interviewing every sports figure in town and their brother ~literally~ due to the Seattle Sports Star Awards held at Benaroya Hall).  Wedge has been through this process before and come out on the winning end. Granted, the dynamics of each situation, each organization, are different but, it stands to reason that his experience is an invaluable asset to the process.

Last year, Wedge laid back a bit, admitting that he felt it was vital that he get to know the vets and kids alike. Now that he has a plan formulated based on the talent, personalities and attitudes he observed both on the field and in the clubhouse, he¬†has made no bones about the fact that the team will see a much different Wedge. He’s just getting started and deserves the time to let it play out.

1/26 UPDATE: after Thursday’s Media Day –¬†this from Wedge about last season on¬†Larry Stone’s blog

“What we’re going to do is make sure we put out the best possible lineup to score more runs. It’s not acceptable the amount of runs we’ve scored the past couple of years. Last year, I sat back, and I bit my tongue off more than once, but it was the right thing to do. My wife was proud of me, let’s put it that way. This year’s going to be a little different, but you don’t go from zero to 60. We’re going to let it out a little more this year, and raise the bar a little bit.”

So, there you have it. Mark my words, patience will pay off.

In spades.

oh – btw, more evidence of a bright future…
FIVE M’s make MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects List¬†~ Montero (12), Hultzen (16), Walker (18), Franklin (52), Paxton (77)

Tiggers get a prince and the M’s get a Millwood…

The wait is finally over…
and, as seems to be the case with large (in this case literally) Boras clients – it’s the “mystery team” that steals the show. ¬†This afternoon, it was announced that the Detroit Tigers had signed Prince Fielder to a 9 year / $214 million contract (but not before the twitter¬†falderal that had him going to the Nats via a “fake” Jon Heyman tweet)¬†.¬†Over here¬†is some reaction to the deal.

My reaction is…
At least he didn’t sign with Texas (though somewhere in the NL would have been preferred).
At least it was a ridiculously huge contract (so not likely there were many players at all)
At least it’s over and we can move on.
I’m really not too disappointed that the M’s didn’t get him (I’m not really sure he would have come even if they’d been crazy enough to beat the Tigers offer). ¬†Sure, it would have been exciting to make a big splash like that but, can’t imagine that contract is going be very appealing in a few years. ¬†Jack seems to be dead-set on building around young, talented, cost-controlled players (he’s getting pretty darned good at hoarding them, in fact!). ¬†Since the initial shock has worn off from “the Trade”, and especially after hearing Montero on the Hot Stove League Show last night, I’m pretty excited to see what Jesus and the rest of the kids can bring this season.

Also today, the Mariners finalized yet another minor league deal
Kevin Millwood was signed and invited to Spring Training to complete for a rotation slot.

Jack Z, Carl W, Shawn K and … HeyZeus!!!

Some snippets from the Hot Stove League Show..
first up, Jack Z’s segment ~paraphrased~
(I’m no court reporter ūüėČ )

on the Montero acquisition in general…
~ obviously we’ve been on this guy for quite awhile
~ we played a big price but, you have to give something good to get something good

on the unique aspect of making a trade that is “youth for youth”…
One of the big things is years of control … he mentioned that when he “landed here”, there weren’t any talented players that were making NO money – they were ALL making big dollars. ¬†To get 18 rookies last year and, this year we are going to add a few more, is pretty unique. ¬†They scoured everything to find an upper echelon YOUNG hitters and settled on a list of only FOUR hitters – this is the guy they coveted and he told Brian Cashman, “By the way – I’ve gotta get a pitcher back!”

on Jesus the man…
Most of these deals you try to do your homework on but you don’t really “know” the players. ¬†He had a chance to have lunch with Jesus and spend a couple hours downtown with him – walked away VERY impressed. ¬†He was very insightful, composed, confident, compassionate. He called Eric (Wedge) immediately and said, “We are gonna like this kid”. ¬†You can tell he’s cut from the right cloth…

on the catching options…
A few of the guys have options and if they have to go to AAA then so be it.  And, there is always a chance for injuries.  Could carry three at the big league level.  Will have ALL our folks make their OWN evaluations of Jesus as a catcher Рand will get a good solid look at him in ST.

on Spring Training hopes in general…
#1 Health.
Beyond that, guys to step up and contribute. ¬†He spoke of the (Wedge instigated) “pre-ST eval” that took place a couple weeks agoa. ¬†Nine guys that came to Seattle for a little extra strength, conditioning and nutrition coaching/direction. To a man (Olivo, Ackely, Figgins, Seager, Smoak, Guti, Jaso, Wells and Ryan) they reported in great shape (e.g., Guti gained weight, Smoak and Olivo trimmed down)

Pitching coach Carl Willis provided some thoughts on a couple of his young arms…
~ Hector Noesi Рkid that has average to above average fast ball, good control and command, average change up, curve ball and slider.  Many scouts have him over Nova.
~ Danny Hultzen – saw only one game, went 3+ innings impressed with demeanor fast ball command and feel for the change up. For a kid just stepping out of college he is very disciplined and eager to learn the routine of the pros.

Shawn Kelley is back!
He’s been working out getting stronger and healthier and get his velocity back. ¬†When he was able to come back toward the end of the season, he felt his command and stuff was there, confidence each outing got better and better of being comfortable on the mound. ¬†Learned he doesn’t have to rely on velocity if he can rely on his command. ¬†He took a lot away from the experience – able to prove to himself and the coaches that he could come back from his second surgery.

And, last but not least – the man of the day, Jesus Montero!

on his visit to the city so far…
It’s been fun, it’s been good. ¬†It’s only the second time he has seen snow in his life (first was in Indiana). ¬†He is happy to be here with this team and they are going to give him more opportunity in his life and in his career. ¬†The Yankees taught him to do a lot in baseball but, he’s proud the Seattle Mariners will give him “an opportunity to show people who Jesus Montero is for real.” ¬†He’s going to help the pitchers win.

growing up in Venezuela…
lt’s fun, good, amazing to to him that he used to watch Edgar Martinez hit home runs. He is going to work so hard behind the plate. Looking at Felix as a superstar – he played against Jesus’s older brother and was the only pitcher to strike out everyone on the team.

on what Spring Training will be like…
The staff and coaches will teach him about the pitchers, there will be lots of papers to study and will talk to the pitchers a lot and get to know them and be on the same page all the time.

he just wants to play hard…
He’s been catching since he was four years old but, he will play where ever he is needed – just wants to have some fun in the field and play hard.

“I’m gonna do my best, I want to help them to win, we will be the best – you’ll see.”

Oh – apparently, Matt Pitman got some bad information….
Jesus is NOT a soccer fan.
He IS a drag racing fan (even has two cars of his own – but he doesn’t drive them!)