Melancholy Mariner Matters

Yes, it was indeed a backward season…

Unfortunately, being swept in the last home series was a fitting end to one of the worst seasons in Mariners history.  There was so much hope after the rather remarkable turnaround last year from the 101 loss season of 2008.  During the ‘winter of our content’ Jack Z snared Cliff Lee for a song, rid the rotation of Carlos Silva (even though acquiring Milton was a bit of a risk), signed Figgy who was sure to provide more speed on OBP at the top of the lineup.  And then there was Junior – yeah, his 2009 season wasn’t great, but his presence seemed vital to the clubhouse kumbaya.

But then it all went horribly wrong…   
~ Cliff was out with an injury for the first month of the season and while they were able to tread water at 11-11 during his absence and fans and players alike were dazzled by his outings in his short but sweet stint with the M’s, run support wasn’t only hard to come by, it was nearly impossible – for Cliff and every other M’s hurler.
~ Milton’s emotional problems weren’t hidden for long and soon he was on ‘restricted status’ (a status few even knew existed) while undergoing therapy (meanwhile, Silva was tearing it up for the Cubbies) and even when MB returned, he was unable to contribute and was eventually placed on the ‘normal’ DL
~ Figgy’s bat dropped off the planet as it never had before and the dream of two lead-off hitters became a nightmare – especially after his blowup in the dugout when he was benched during a game vs. the Red Sox in which Wak didn’t appreciate the perceived lack of effort on a ground ball.
~ And, then there was the Junior situation.  It started with nap-gate and ended in a way no one could have imagined at the start of the season – with a call to Chuck from Montana on his way home to Florida – for good.
~ Then there were the many players who were playing so far below their career norms, it was unbelievable that the team collapse could be so … complete.
~ The bullpen dominos began to fall beginning with Mark Lowe (injury and subsequent surgery, then traded with Cliff Lee to the Rangers).
~ Fundamentals seemed to be a thing of the past – defensive miscues and base running blunders were almost the norm instead of the exception.
~ All this and then, firing of the manager.  The one who a year before was heralded for his calm, direct leadership and praised for his handling of superstars and rookies alike.

What a difference a year makes.

But, I wouldn’t be Compass Rosy if I didn’t point out that amid the horror that was 2010, there were actually some bright lights.

Our “King” is contending for the Cy Young award despite the abysmal performance of his team.  It IS an individual award, after all.  And, even some of the old school national guys are coming ’round to the the reality that “pitcher wins” are NOT the end all be all.  In fact, wins are something out of their control – particularly Felix’s – as he had the LOWEST run support in the MAJOR leagues (93rd of pitchers with at least 160IP)

Another 200-hit season.
The first player in major league history to record at least 200 hits in TEN straight seasons.

While his bat wasn’t up to par, his defense shown more than ever.
He became the major league record holder for an outfielder with the most total chances (415) without an error.  Death to Flying Things, indeed.

Like Felix, Jason was not blessed with run support (he is 88th on that same list).
But, this was really his first full, healthy season in the bigs and seemingly he made great strides.  He pitched more than double the innings than ever before and gave a lot of credit to Cliff Lee whom he learned a lot from in the short time they were teammates.

Some parting photos of my last day at The Safe….

Goodbye Section 331, Row 8, Seat 15 – see you next year!
Filing out of Safeco Field for the last time in 2010
Our fair city from the upper concourse
please, Please, PLEASE, Jack …. get a supporting cast for these characters!

Please, Jack, please – can we keep him?

I know the general consensus is that Cliff will be traded, pretty much any minute now.  I’m hoping it doesn’t happen.  Not because I have any grand delusions that the M’s would make the playoffs if they hang onto him for the rest of the season – yes, he would probably account for another 10-15 wins – but that wouldn’t likely be enough for the M’s to win the West.

The reason I think the M’s should keep him (short of an absolutely screaming deal) is that Cliff’s worth to this team goes WAY beyond those potential 10-15 wins and the draft picks the M’s would receive should he be retained for the remainder of the season and then sign with another club in the off-season.  Cliff is a A-one clubhouse guy who has stepped up as a leader (not always an easy role for a pitcher) and he has been more than willing to share his knowledge and experience with his teammates.  He also leads by example, with “Gar-like” work ethic and attitude.  Traits like these can only benefit any organization, but their worth is immeasurable to one that is desperately trying to build (or re-build) a winner.

It has been a pleasure to watch Mr. Lee go about his business in the short time he has been with the Mariners.  No matter what happens in the future, it would seem that a good amount of his teammates have gleaned benefit from his presence, both on the mound and in the clubhouse.  But it sure would be great to get a little more time….

Cliff’s late to the one-two punch party, but….

Better late than never!

Doubly great news today for the M’s regarding Mr. Lee….

  • Suspension suspended!
  • Sim game went well – rehab start scheduled for Sunday in Tacoma and then his Mariner debut will be either April 30th or May 2nd – on one side or the other of his one-two punch partner who starts tomorrow, Monday in KC and then back at home on May 1st.


Good news regarding Guti too ~ there was a bit of a scare last night when he left the game in the 7th with tighness ins his groin but, Wak says likely weight-lifting related, not a pull or a strain (although I thought the weights were out for the most part – hmmm).  In any case, Guti was back in the line up tonight – 1/2 so far with an rbi….

A song for Hyphen and other M’s notes….

In honor of his start today, thought I’d post this fun little ditty (originally found on
Larry Stone’s blog) about our “wonder from down under”…

Number 18 – Ryan Rowland-Smith song

In other news….

Shannon reports that Cliff Lee’s simulated game went VERY well yesterday and he’ll throw another on Tuesday and likely have a minor league rehab start after that before returning to action with the big club in early May.  Suspension appeal still pending…

No definitive word, but various reports have Erik Bedard only about 2 weeks behind Cliff.  Wouldn’t THAT be cool?!?

Ups, downs and all arounds of late spring…

Just not enough time in the day (or night) lately for proper posting, so, here are some recent links of interest…



all arounds…

The photos are up!
The ones on the 1st Avenue side of Safeco Field, that is.  While walking to the garage after the Sounders opening season match at Qwest Field last night, (Sounders won 2-nil) I got my first look at the new photos….
Felix, Cliff, Erik, Ryan, David, Ichiro, Franklin, Milton, Jose, Jack, Chone, Casey, Rob and the Moose of course.

It’s official, the Mariners have entered…

The bad news started this afternoon with the news that Cliff Lee was headed back to Seattle for rest/diagnosis/treatment of abdominal strain. Then, as the evening progressed into the game against the Reds, things continued to go down hill … fast.

So, in a matter of hours…

  • the M’s have lost one ace and one potential starter to injury for an unknown amount of time
  • Milton is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy
  • M’s lost another ST game (6th in-a-row)

Here’s hoping this too shall pass …
it’s only spring training …. right?

UPDATE:  Wak none too happy with the recent Milty tossings

UPDATE:  Hey, Wak’s reading my blog 🙂
from Kirby’s blog…

“What do they say? This too shall pass?” Wakamatsu said. “Hopefully.”

From clubhouse kumbaya to field fiends?

Okay, that’s a bit extreme I suppose but…

I imagine Wak is not real happy with TWO ejections in as many SPRING TRAINING games, when there was only ONE in the entirety of last season (Ichiro, of all people).

Anyhoo ~
Today we found out that ejection was not the only price Cliff would pay – it was announced that he will be suspended for five games of the regular season and fined an undisclosed amount.  He will appeal but, in the meantime, Wak has got to try to set up his rotation and, at a minimum, this is really going to screw up the ONE, TWO punch.

Then, in the first televised game of the spring (vs. the Rangers) Milton is ejected.  I didn’t see it but, from most accounts, including this one from Wak via Shannon, the reason was rather a mystery.  Will Milton’s reputation precede him?

A Cliff on the hill…

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Sounds like Mr. Lee fared well in his first outing (as did Sean White and Mr. French) and it seems early reports of his displeasure with the trade exaggerated…

“It didn’t take me long to realize that it is good people here and a good organization. In free agency you don’t get the luxury to go spend some time with the team and guys to see how you like it. Looking at it that way I’ve got an opportunity to do that, where in free agency you don’t.”

For now he has a job to do.

“Right now my focus is to prepare, take care of business now and give the team a chance to win every time I take the mound. I could be traded again. You never know what’s going to happen that’s the nature of the business for me. All I can do is control all I can control and that’s make sure I take care of my preparation and get ready for the season.”

Nice to see the 4 doubles and the RBI scattered through the lineup.  
But, my FAVORITE part of the box score was this…
DP: 4 
(Figgins-Wilson, Ja-Kotchman, Wilson, Jo-Figgins-Kotchman, Wilson, Ja-Figgins-Kotchman, Tuiasosopo, M-Woodward-Carp)
Love me some dynamite “D”!!!

Spring has sprung…

Giants 8 | Mariners 7

Unfortunately, work got in the way of my ability to listen as the familiar voices of Dave and Rick once again graced the Seattle airwaves with BASEBALL this afternoon, signaling the true beginning of Spring.

While I’m not able to recount the first hit, stolen base, batter strikeout, pitcher strikeout, pitcher walk and batter walks (yes – apparently, there were MULTIPLE of those!) there are plenty other reports about the first M’s Cactus League game like a hometown CY facing a homegrown HoF’er and other details like Lopey finally getting to make a play at third and Ryan Feierabend back from Tommy John surgery.

I was, however, able to listen to a good portion of the first Cactus League Report on 710 ESPN this evening.  I caught most of Mark Lowe’s visit with Shannon and Rick – here’s what I remember…

on overall feeling at camp….
This camp is, in a word, LOOSE.  This seems to be, in no small part, due to the continuity of the coaching staff – an element that cannot be over estimated in its benefit and value to the team.  There is a trust already built that allows for players to use their own judgement regarding when it’s okay to joke around and when it’s time to get to work.

on the bullpen’s success last year…
“Togetherness” was a big factor.  Early on, they made a pact to support one another, hold no grudges, feel no envy or jealousy regarding number of innings and or roles.  Good thing – as there were a LOT of role changes last season, but instead of pulling them apart, they got tighter as a group.  An there was the “huddle”, details of which canNOT be revealed.

on his personal development last season…
Wetteland is BIG on the mental approach to the game and helped Mark harness his adrenaline.  They use a ‘rating system’ – a scale of 50-100 to gage their effectiveness.  For Mark 80 is about optimal “amp-titude” pumped up enough to be excited, but still focused enough to maintain control.

on “starter number two”…
Mark has talked to him at length several times already and finds Cliff to be very baseball intelligent and willing to share his experience – when he talks, everyone listens.

on off-season communication…
a LOT of texting (with Shawn Kelley being the “master texter”)

on the new fitness approach…
It was strange at first, with no weights, but everything makes sense and fits more what baseball is – fast, push, pull, bands, resistance, rotation, etc.  Oh, and yoga is VERY beneficial for pitchers.

on 2010 goals…
Throw strikes and stay healthy.

From the Liberty Bell to the Space Needle…

Jim Bates

Ever since the first conference call with Cliff Lee after the trade, the talk has been “Lee hates Seattle“. Seems to me his comments have been a bit mis-construed, given the emotion of the moment. The guy was on vacation after ending the season on a team just shy of it’s second World Series victory for pete’s sake. And, not only that, he was supposedly under the impression that he would be signing an extension – as he had seemingly fallen in love with the City of Brotherly Love.

Anyway, who wouldn’t be a bit shell-shocked given those circumstances?
“Through the media, it may have looked like I didn’t want to be traded to the Mariners,” he said. “But that wasn’t the case at all. It was just shock.”

Lee said his reserved reaction to the trade reflected his emotions at the time.

“The things I said were real. That’s how I felt. I could have stood up there and made up something to sound good for whoever. Instead, I said exactly how I felt and told what happened. It’s not Seattle. I could have been traded to any other team and said the same thing.”
Now, even after his press conference in Seattle on Friday, some still think it’s not only imPROBable – but imPOSSible that he would even consider signing with the M’s.

Well, you know rosy little ol’ me….
I didn’t get that impression at all. Cliff was definitely a bit uncomfortable, and it remains to be seen if his discomfort was because of dislike of the media in general (ala Erik) or the fact that he is bran-spanking new to Seattleand hasn’t even had the chance to talk to teammates or find the nearest Starbucks yet, let alone.

“I’m excited to be here,” he said. “I’m back in the American League with one of the best defenses in the game. It’s going to be fun watching Ichiro and (Franklin) Gutierrez run around the outfield. (Chone) Figgins, Jack Wilson, (Casey) Kotchman, those guys are defensive-oriented players. To be a starting pitcher you have to like that. I like that a lot.”


Seems to me, if the team performs well this season, it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that Cliff would consider Seattle as one of his options for a long term deal.

I mean, how could he not love us?


And, even if he does decide that the Emerald City is not his cup of coffee, those two shiny draft picks will be waiting.