September embers

September Tid-Bits
  • 9 – 18 (call me crazy, but it didn’t seem that bad – maybe because I was looking at individual performances as opposed to team results)
  • batted .222 as a team for the month
  • -34 run differential for the month, -119 overall
AT THE PLATE
Justin did what he needed to do – had a strong finish to the end of what was a devastating year for him personally and a disappointing on professionally.  He batted .301 w/3 homers and 11 RBI for SeptemberFor the first time in his major league career, Ichiro did not record 200 hits.  A drop off in production was inevitable, age happens.  But, I don’t think anyone could have predicted a decline this rapid.  Or, was it just one bad year?Dustin had a drop off in September … hopefully means he just needs to adapt to the longer major league season – he still put together a pretty impressive rookie season.
ON THE MOUND
Jason Vargas had a great rebound in September after being inconsistent much of the season – he went 3-1 for the month with a 2.84ERA
Blake Beavan had his ups and downs but showed some positive signs and a has a real chance to compete for the rotation next spring
IN THE PEN
THIS was the ‘pen’s month!  They posted the lowest ERA (2.51) for the month and the second lowest WHIP (1.11)
Four relievers (League, Wilhelmsen, Kelley and Wright) pitched double-digit innings for the month all with ERA’s under 2.00 (in fact, Shawn and Jamey each had NO ERA).  And, Brandon continued to prove his ability in the closer roll – FIVE more saves.
OF BASE PATHS AND LEATHER WORKS
Mike Carp made some REALLY great plays in LF … who knew?Kyle Seager was adequate at 3B (and showed some versatility filling in a SS and 2B)Ichiro has lost all … he added 7 stolen bases in September to finish the year with an even 40
SEPTEMBER STAR
I’m going with Shawn Kelley….
Back off the DL as September 2nd, every outing was at least ONE inning (one was TWO) and he just seemed to get stronger as the month wore on (boding well for next season).  His last outing, he struck out the side.  Welcome Back, Shawn!He’s a pretty decent tweeter, too …  @shawnkelley23

INFIRMARY

Guti, just as he was getting back his stroke, suffered a severely strained oblique on a swing early in the month.  Here’s hoping he’ll be able to recover fully and be able to have a full, regular spring training.Casper Wells was diagnosed with “vertigo-like” symptoms after being out for nearly a couple of weeks, suffering from vision and balance issues.  Supposedly, he’s on medication that’s helping and he’ll be playing winter ball in Venezuela.

August – just adjust

August Tid-Bits
  • still a losing month but, 13-15 was such an improvement over July, it didn’t seem so bad
  • batted .273 as a team for the month
  • -18 run differential for the month, -85 overall
AT THE PLATE
We’ll leave the big fish for last :-)Dustin is just 2 shy of the rookie record (8) for triples held by Ichiro (’01) and Ruppert Jones (’77) and passed Johjima (’06) with the most hits by a Mariner rookie (69 in 63 games)Great to see Guti coming around…
.295 w/ 11 runs & 9 RBI for the month

And, Kyle deserves a mention…
led the club in AVG for August – .342 in 22 AB’s with a .505 SLG%

ON THE MOUND
Felix passed Jamie Moyer for second on the all-time Mariners strikeout list in a game with the Angels.  Randy Johnson #1 (2162) Felix #2 (1242 and counting) Jamie Moyer #3 (1239)
IN THE PEN
Not a super great month for the bullpen, but Brandon did record 8 saves.  Tom had a nice little run, lowering his ERA by about 1-5 points.  Jamey was close to lowering his by about one point until late in the month when he imploded in a game vs. Tampa Bay and gave up four runs.
OF BASE PATHS AND LEATHER WORKS
Casper Wells proving to be a MORE than adequate left-fielder.  What an arm! Love seeing him gun down runners trying to take that extra base … he even had two assists in one game!
AUGUST STAR
Mike Carp!
Not only did he hit .313 for the month of August with 6 home runs, 8 doubles and 15 runs scored – he tied Danny Tartabull with the Mariners franchise record for RBI in a month – 25Oh yeah … he also won AL Rookie of the Month!
DEPARTURES
Goodbye Jack Wilson!
Loved the D, just couldn’t quite get it together with the bat and/or stay fully healthy.  Good to see him go to a team with a chance at the playoffs.We get … a PTBNL

July … sorta made me cry

July Tid-Bits
  • 17 will get you 20 – the 17 game losing streak gave the M’s a 6-20 mark for the month of July
  • Still last in nearly every major offensive category
  • And, even the pitching fell apart – 2nd highest ERA in the AL
  • -54 run differential for the month, -67 overall
AT THE PLATE
OK, we all know the sad story about the abysmal offense as a whole so, let’s focus on the successes, shall we?  Two Mariners batted .300+ in the month of July…
they would be: Dustin (.308) and Mike (.349) each with a triple and Dustin also led the team in doubles (8) and homers (3).
ON THE MOUND
Usually, we’ve at least got pitching to brag about.  Not this month.  The M’s starters combined for a 5-16 record.  Newbie, Blake Beavan performed the best of the rotation, posting a 1-2 record with a 3.03ERA.  Felix and Fister each had sub-4 ERA’s, but, for them not too stellar (poor Doug – 0-4 through really no fault of his own).  And then there’s Jason … who just flat out imploded in July.
IN THE PEN
Brandon only had 7 appearances in July – converting 3 of 4 save opportunities (one blown, but got the win) and posting a 1.79 ERA for the month.  He has recovered nicely from that rough patch in May, lowering his overall ERA to just a smidge over 3, while most of the other relievers saw their ERAs go the wrong direction in July.
OF BASE PATHS AND LEATHER WORKS
One offensive area the M’s excelled at in July – thievery!
Ichiro, Guti, Brendan and Chone combined for 22 stolen bases.
M’s had 27 total in July – tied for 3rd in the AL
JULY STARS
No question about the hitting star…
Dustin Ackley! (see above)
The pitcher is less clear, I’ll call it a tie between a couple “B’s”…
Brandon and Blake.  The closer helped the M’s to 4  of their 6 victories (3 saves and a win) and the rookie only notched one win (vs the Pads) but, showed a LOT of poise against some good to great teams –
Angels, Rangers and Red Sox.

DEPARTURES
It’s always sad to see guys go but, I understand the reasoning.  Best of luck to Doug Fister and David Pauley with the Tiggers and Erik Bedard with the Red Sox.  Here’s hoping they all pitch well, stay healthy and really contribute to their new teams – who both appear likely headed for post season play!

Definitely glad to turn the Calendar to August!

June Swoon…

June Totals
  • 11 wins – 16 losses
  • 3.06 ERA – FIRST in the AL (and yet second to last in WINS)
  • 191.1 IP by the starters – FIRST in the MAJORS
  • .227 BA – LAST in the MAJORS
  • -4 run differential for the month, -14 overall
AT THE PLATE
Well, at least the pitchers hit pretty well during Interleague 😉
The offense as a whole continues to sputter – those whose batting average had started to creep up a bit in May either had significantly reduced playing time (Cust, Wilson) or started/continued to spiral downward (Ryan, Kennedy, Smoak) in June. What to make of Miggy – he only had 17 hits in the month of June and 8 of them were home runs.  The lone bright spot?  Dustin Ackley.  Called up and in the starting line up for the first time on June 17th vs. the Phillies, Dustin collected his first hit in his first at bat and has reached base safely in every game he has played since – 10 hits in 12 games, including 2 homers, 2 triples a double and 4 walks.  Welcome to the Show, Dustin.  Welcome to the Show.

ON THE MOUND
Overall, the starters continued their splendid ways…
Well, Felix and Michael had rough months going 3-3 and 1-3 respectively and Felix gave up 5 earned runs, twice!  And then there was Mr. Fister who continued to garner the least run support in the majors so his 0-3 record was in NO way reflective of his performance (7IP twice and 8IP three times while lowering his ERA 30 points).  Jason was only 2-2 but, those two wins were pretty spectacular – both complete game shutouts (one vs. the Phils and one vs. the Rays). And, saving the best for last, despite another paltry recore (1-2) he was nearly lights out in June. Unfortunately, just before the calendar turned to July, he was placed on the 15-day DL with a knee sprain.

IN THE PEN
Not a super stellar month, but…
Could very likely be due to lack of use. Only follows that the starting staff with the most innings in the majors for the month would also have the bullpen with the fewest innings.  They also posted the fewest walks per nine innings in the majors. Here’s to a little more use for the ‘pen – just enough to keep ’em sharp and the rotation fresh. 

OF BASE PATHS AND LEATHER WORKS
Dustin gets a gold star in this category as well…
His defense has been a very pleasant surprise.  He seems to have no problem turning the double-play – even with a runner bearing down on him.  Dustin’s base-running has been pretty flawless as well.  No one will forget his run from 3B to home plate on a wild pitch during an INTENTIONAL walk vs. the Marlins.Other than that, some great outfield catches and no real guffaws (well, if you don’t count Figgy, who leads teh team in errors) and some nifty double plays.

JUNE STARS
Erik Bedard  pitched 32 innings in June, struck out 33, allowed only 6 walks and 8 runs – but only posted a 1-2 record.  Most believe he has WAY exceeded expectations and is definitely in line for the Comeback Player of the Year.  Here’s hoping the DL stint will be short-lived (at least it’s not his arm/shoulder).
Dustin Ackley has been a breath of fresh air! Mostly, cuz he doesn’t act like a rookie at all. He is poised and confident at the plate, even when facing tough lefties (for which he is 6 of 8 with a homer, a triple, a double and a walk). And, in the field it is to the point everyone is really rooting for him to turn the most difficult of DP’s instead of fearing it.


Honorable Mention
Brandon League has gone 17.2 scoreless innings since that mid-May debacle and for June, he pitched 9.2 innings and allowed 7 hits and 1 walk. Way to bounce back, Brandon!

May Day, May Day!

May Totals
  • 15 wins – 11 losses
  • 2.82 ERA – FIRST in the MAJORS
  • .228 BA – LAST in the MAJORS
  • 20 -11 since April 26th (best record in the Majors during that stretch)
  • +4 run differential – at least it’s positive, first time since April 2010
AT THE PLATE
You wonder … they REALLY posted a winning month?
They are dead last in: BA, BB, RBI, R and HR.  I was especially surprised to see that they went from first to worst in the walk category.  While there are those who have picked up their average pretty significantly (Ryan, Kennedy, Cust and Olivo) everyone else (except Jack Wilson) have dropped significantly.  As a conciliation, they do have the second fewest GDIP and are top six in sac hits and sac flys (as evidenced in the Yankee series).
ON THE MOUND
Now HERE is where they shine!
The rotation had quite a roll in mid-May – at one point they had NINE straight starts of at least SEVEN innings pitched and giving up less than TWO runs.  All stayed on turn (‘cept for the slight weather issue in, where else? Cleveland).  Felix made SIX starts, the others made FIVE.  All posted an ERA under FOUR for the month, Michael was under THREE and Erik (on fire!) under TWO.
IN THE PEN
After some serious downs, it’s been nothing but up.
Brandon ran into a little pot hole (OK, it was more like a crater) when he lost a game in a non-save situation and then blew THREE saves in-a-row.  But, Wedge stuck with him and he has recovered very nicely.  He has pitched EIGHT innings since the last blown save, has not given up a run, walked TWO and chalked up SIX saves in as many opportunities and as May ended he was the league leader in saves.
The rest of the pen, well … can you say stellar?  Wright, Laffey and Pauley have been pitching out of their minds – all threw double-digit innings in May and posted 2.19, 1.74 and 0.56 ERAs respectively.  Chris Ray has also come around nicely after a shaky start to the season and, the new guy, Jeff Gray has proven useful as well.
OF BASE PATHS AND LEATHER WORKS
The defense overall has improved….
Nothing super spectacular, just solid.  They posted the third fewes errors for the month and were tied for fourth in most double plays turned.  Michael did a great job filling in defensively for Guti ~ but man-oh-man does it feel good and comforting to have him back in his rightful place in centerfield.
Base running pretty solid as well…
M’s had 43 stolen bases in May, just above league average.  They seem to do a pretty good job of going first to third when they get the opportunity and don’t often make silly mistakes (like last year).  Still waiting for a run on a squeeze play though – one of my favorites.
MAY STARS
David Pauley
How can anyone not pick him?  In SIXTEEN innings pitched he allowed TWELVE hits, NO walks, ONE run and picked up TWO holds and FOUR wins.  Nice little resurgence for the journeyman.  And, even though he’s already pitched 33 innings, he should be okay, because prepared for the season as a starter.
Brendan Ryan
Pleased as punch to award it to him ~ I’ve been pulling for him to contribute ON the field because I love what he’s about OFF the field (reminds me a bit of Jay Buhner).  Brendan really stepped up his game this month, both defensively and offensively.  He’s been playing solid shortstop and raised his batting average about 90 points – he had an ELEVEN game hitting streak (just broken on June 1st).  He was tied for team lead in batting average and tied for second in team RBI.  There is no doubt he leads the team in energy and accountability.
Honorable Mentions
~ Jack Cust – hit his first home run, led the team in doubles for the month and hit a respectable .272
~ Justin Smoak – although his average dropped way down, he still lead the team in RBI and homers
~ The Entire Bullpen – Brandon for righting himself, everyone else for being generally awesome.

Well, it’s been a month of Sundays and then some…

AT THE PLATE
Whadaya know? the M’s aren’t last in every offensive category…
Thank you Minnesota Twins!  In fact, they aren’t last on their own in any offensive category (they are, however, in a 3-way tie for last in triples).  Okay, so they’re hardly lighting the world on fire with their bats, with their highest AL ranking in any major offensive category being 9th (in 2B and OBP).

But hey, here’s a new one – they lead the MAJORS in walks (with NINE of the bases-loaded variety)!  Who saw that coming?

ON THE MOUND
The mound presence is generally good to great…
The staff is a tad better than league average in most pitching categories (e.g., ERA, QS, BB, SO).  Overall, the starters are doing better than the relievers, although the bullpen is really rounding into form of late.  They have had a couple of double-digit scoreless innings streaks already and Brandon is holding down the fort for the DA just fine – 7 for 7 in save opportunities.  David Pauley and Jamey Wright have been nothing short of stellar and Aaron Laffey has also been a nice surprise. Tom “the bartender” Wilhelmsen has had some nice moments, but needs to be more consistent.

The blemishes have been Josh Lueke and Chris Ray.  Josh struggled so much, he’s already in Tacoma where, hopefully, he’ll get the work and experience he needs to get back to the big club.  Ray hasn’t pitched since April 11th and has an ERA north of 14.

OF BASE PATHS AND LEATHER WORKS
The defense has been disappointing, to say the least…
Outfield – let’s just say they miss Franklin Gutierrez.  A LOT (btw – he played in his first rehab start in Tacoma tonight and had a triple in a 12-6 win!), here’s hoping he’ll be back soon.  Ichiro hasn’t been his usual stellar self in the field (sun balls are the killer) and Michael’s still learning.  Mlton can run a ball down decently and his arm strength is OK, but his accuracy leaves a bit to be desired.

Infield – Justin gets high marks, he’s been doing great.  Jack looks great at times and like he’s still adjusting in others.  Brendan (much as I love his personality) has been a bit of a disappointment – he’s made some good plays but he’s also booted some pretty routine ones.  Same can be said of Figgy at third.  Miggy has been OK behind the plate and seems to work with the pitchers fairly well.  It’s fun to see him block the plate with a runner barreling home.

Running the bases – I don’t recall a lot of stupid outs on the bases (like last year) but there hasn’t been as much running as I’d like to see either.

Really hoping they start pulling things together in this area.  It’s one thing not to score runs in bunches (we all knew that was doubtful) but it’s quite another to not play well in the field – this group is MORE than capable.  Here’s to marked improvement as we move through the spring.

Aside from the aforementioned bullpen stars (Brandon, David, Aaron, Jamey) here are my April stars…

Michael Pineda… 
He’s been WAY more than we could have hoped for this early.  Not only has he been the M’s best pitcher so far (yes – besting Felix!) at 4-1 with a 2.01 ERA, he’s the 4th pitcher in Major League history win 4 consecutive starts in April!  And, he’s done it with such poise, certainly not looking much like a rookie.

Justin Smoak…  
He was off to a good start before the terrible personal tragedy of his father’s death.  When he came back, it was almost like he’d never left.  Having not yet lost a parent, it’s hard to imagine what he’s going through at such a young age – to lose someone so close, who had such a large part in the development of the skills he used to attain his dream – pretty incomprehensible.  But, so far, he seems to have been able to channel his love and grief in a direction that has helped his team and honored his father.  More than commendable.