Eric Wedge ~ apparently not “all in”

Well, didn’t exactly see that one coming.

Obviously, there’s been a lot of murmurings in recent weeks regarding the future (or lack thereof) for both Jack and Eric. Half of that wonderment was answered recently, at least in the short term, when it was reported that Jack’s contract had been extended (prior to the season) for another year.

Eric made it pretty clear in a pre-game interview a couple nights ago that he was not at all pleased with the way his situation was being handled. But, in the end, he said he really wanted to stay here and see through. So, when the news started trickling out that he had essentially turned in his resignation (though he would be in the dugout for the last three games) it came as a bit of a shock. Shades of Hargrove riding off in his red truck . . . although, Eric is a much younger man and will likely get another shot somewhere (despite his recent serious health issues, he swears that he is feeling great and has made significant changes to ensure that continues).

I have a pretty simplistic (likely naive) view of a baseball manager’s impact to overall team success. I think they get blamed WAY too much when things go wrong and, probably get a little too much credit when they are going good. That being said, it seems that when a team is as young as the Mariners have been over Eric’s tenure here,  there is a MUCH greater chance for the manager to make a difference. He has the opportunity not only to shape baseball players, but men. He teaches them how to grind through the ups and downs of a season and life. He has the opportunity to set the tone of a winning attitude to help them bond as a unit with one common goal while also working on individual progress, no matter the circumstances of the club at the time. I have no idea (having not been a fly on the clubhouse wall) how the individual players think Eric did in this regard – how / if he was able to recognize their individual strengths and short-comings and help them head in the right direction as much psychologically as athletically. I guess we may never know.

I am disappointed that Eric decided not to stick it out but, he has his reasons (and they apparently have more to do with a difference of opinion on how to rebuild effectively than with contract length). This young core now has had some significant major league experience to build upon and, what if Jack is able to make some key acquisitions in the off season (with all that $$$ coming off the books and the RSN looming) . . .  you just never know . . .

But, I do wish Eric the best where ever he lands, though there’s part of me that hopes he ends up regretting his decision – not to be vindictive, just that it would mean this team stayed the course and eventually found their direction.

In the meantime, somewhat lame duck GM Jack is left to search for a manager of a team in seemingly perpetual rebuilding mode. Never a dull moment. Onward and upward (we hope!)




Skip not ready, Stephen DL’d again, Jesus serving 50 . . .

According to Jack, via Greg Johns, who speaks with him everyday, he’s progressing well but, won’t join the team just yet when the team returns home . . .

“I don’t think Eric will be with us this week,” Zduriencik said prior to Sunday’s series finale with the Orioles. “I know he has a couple appointments ongoing. He’s got something midweek where he’s going to sit down with doctors.

“He’s doing well. I talk to him every day and he sounds normal and he’s excited to get back here. He wants to get back. But when Eric gets back, you want him to be back. His anxiousness to get back here in the dugout is one thing, but this is a life-long health issue for him. When he gets back managing this club, we want him to be here. You don’t want him to come in here and be here for two or three days.

“The stress of a ballgame, the length of time a manager has to put in and the way he is — he comes early and leaves late — from our standpoint, they just need to sign off and say you’re 100 percent ready to go so we don’t have a bump in the road where he’s out here 3-4 days and then has to take a step back. That’s not fair to Eric or fair to the ballclub. I think we’ll just wait and give it a little more time.”

Really disappointing news on Stephen Pryor – here’s Shannon’s report

Reliever Stephen Pryor has suffered a significant setback in attempt to return to the Mariners this year from a lat injury. As I reported yesterday, Pryor was to get checked out further by team doctors to see what was causing a “bruising sensation” in the area of his triceps. General manager Jack Zduriencik told us this morning in Baltimore what was found on his MRI was concerning enough to shut him down for the remainder of the year.

“They really didn’t like what they saw,” Zduriencik said. “He is going to get re-evaluated and we are going to look through this thing further as it is very unusual.”

Zduriencik was not sure how or specifically when the injury occurred. He said it is not related to the previous lat injury, however.

This is tough news for the team that could use a healthy Pryor in the bullpen but even a bigger blow for Pryor, who has been working hard to come back from the original injury.

Disappointing on another level (though we’ve been hearing it would happen for months now) – Jesus’s suspension . . .
Larry’s story

“The Seattle Mariners are disappointed that Jesus Montero has violated the terms of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.  Our organization fully supports the Program and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing substances from our game.”

The Mariners said that will be their only comment on the matter. Commissioner Bud Selig  and union chief Michael Weiner also had lengthy statements which can be found at the end of this post. Weiner said of the 12 players who didn’t appeal (excluding A-Rod): “The accepted suspensions announced today are consistent with the punishments set forth in the Joint Drug Agreement, and were arrived at only after hours of intense negotiations between the bargaining parties, the players and their representatives.

The Mariners haven’t had a player on their 40-man roster suspended for PEDs since Ryan Franklin, Jamal Strong and current Mariner Mike Morse in 2005. One of the unique things about this case is that none of the players failed a drug test. However, baseball still has the power to suspend players based on a “non-analytical positive” — evidence other than a drug test. The 23-year-old Montero is currently playing in Tacoma. It is believed Montero will be able to serve his entire suspension this season even though Tacoma has just 28 games remaining this season.

Montero has been linked to the Biogenesis Anti-Aging clinic since Februry – an association he strongly and repeatedly denied when the story first broke in the New York Daily News on Feb. 6. The Daily News reported that Montero had been named in the records of Biogenesis, the clinic which is at the heart of MLB’s latest PED scandal.

Heal fast and well, Skip!

I mentioned it in the game post but, of course news like this deserves it’s own . . .

It was reported after the game today that the cause of Eric Wedge’s dizzy spells on Monday during batting practice, and his subsequent hospitalization, was a very mild stroke. The good news is that he is expected to make a full recovery but, he needs to rest and relax. So, that’s what he’ll be doing as the Mariners play their next TEN games ( home vs. the Twins and away vs. the Red Sox and the Orioles). Bench Coach Robby Thompson will be taking the helm in Eric’s stead.

Sometimes it takes an event like this to really understand the impact a player, coach or manager has on a team and from some of the thoughts in this great piece by Jerry Brewer, it sounds like impact-full is a bit of and understated adjective with regard to Eric Wedge.

He’s a patient taskmaster who has a feel for when to kick and when to comfort. He’s just as loyal to his players as he is demanding. And in an era of rampant second-guessing of the Mariners, he is their most voluble evangelist, preaching the virtue of this youth-based plan, sharing a vision that many are too skeptical to see, talking positive even during the gut-wrenching moments.

Consider Wedge in total, talk to people who work with him daily, and you’re left to characterize him not by intimidation but by the genuine respect he inspires.

And that’s why he is receiving a clubhouse full of prayers right now.

“We’ll be thinking of him,” shortstop Brendan Ryan said. “He’ll be with us.”

Of course, any compassionate colleague would say that, but the emotions behind the Mariners’ words were real. Isn’t that Wedge’s pet word — “real”? To emphasize the legitimacy of what the Mariners are building, he often says “It’s real!” as passionately as any man has ever spoken the two words.

In the clubhouse Wednesday afternoon, the affinity for Wedge was definitely real.

“From Day One, when he took over, I feel like he’s had my back,” first baseman Justin Smoak said. “He has stuck with me, even when I got sent down to Triple A.”

“Eric is a very caring man and loves every one of those guys in the clubhouse,” said bench coach Robby Thompson, who is serving as the temporary manager. “I’m sure they return that to him.”

Eric Wedge | fangraphs photo

Eric Wedge | fangraphs photo

g101 | streak ends at eight

First and foremost, and update on The Skipper . . . 
It was reported earlier this afternoon that Eric had suffered a mild stroke. He is expected to make a full recovery but, will not be with the team for the next three series (including the upcoming east coast trip to BOS and BAL). Robby Thompson will take the helm in his stead. Heal fast and well, Skip! 

Wedge released, believed to have had mild stroke | Greg Johns

Mariners 1 | Indians 10

Guess there will be no “nine is fine” 😦
But, a series win (3rd in-a-row) and SIX of their last NINE is definitely moving in the right direction.

Joe’s personal winning streak (4) ended along with the team’s (8) today. He gave up the same number of earned runs today that he did during that streak as he posted his fourth shortest outing this season . . .
4.2 innings ~ NINE hits ~ SIX runs ~ FIVE earned runs ~ THREE walks ~ FIVE strikeouts

} the bullpen of Hector and Lucas didn’t provide much relief ~ combining to give up another FOUR earned runs and THREE walks to only ONE strikeout

This will be brief . . .
TWO hits, both singles, ONE each by Justin and Nick.
Suffice it to say, Kazmir was “on” and the M’s bats, not so much.
They did score ONE run – it was unearned.

* another THREE dp’s = good
* rare error by Michael S = not so good (allowed an earned run to score)

tweets of the game . . .


g24 | pitching duel fizzles for guys in grey

Mariners 2 | Rays 3

Still feeling for Felix…
another EIGHT innings ONE run FIVE hits (ok – so the FOUR walks weren’t great)
at least this was a ND instead of a loss

THE GOOD (Felix doesn’t count, cuz he was excellent)
Tommy B for two
a line out to start the 9th and a weird single (in which Miggy was injured and has to leave the game, Montero gets behind the dish and the M’s lose the DH because Jaso had already pinch hit for Ryan and was then replaced in the field by Kawasaki who ran for Seager who was replaced at 3B by Liddi – but I digress) and then a DP to end it
~ with one out in the 10th he walked a batter who then advanced on an wild pitch but was able to get the next two hitters

Miggy’s homer to take the early lead and Jesus’s homer to break the late tie

Chris O’Meara | AP

BLT for a rare two…
He was far from sharp in the 11th when a lead off double comes around to score, tying the game at TWO and in the 12th, a walk and a couple of singles and that’s all she wrote.

No lack of hits w/RISP, just plain lack of RISP

The two homers were great, trouble is the other NINE hits were all singles (maybe you just tip your cap to Hellickson?)
Miggy’s groin injury (he heard a “pop”). It comes just as his bat is heating up (EIGHT game hitting streak and his 3rd home of this road trip). From the post game show, DL sounds certain. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the catcher position …. Jesus? Jaso? combination? other?

EDIT: here’s Greg John’s story

Chris O’Meara | AP

Saunders bunted with a runner on 3B and one out and Kawasaki was thrown out at the plate.
Wedge said in the post game that Michael had done it on his own and had already been “spoken to”

Wedge was surprisingly up beat (considering the loss and the loss of his catcher)…
He seemed pleased that they were in it till the end and liked a lot of what he saw, even though there were mistakes. You could tell he felt he was seeing progress… “they are right on the cusp”

st19 | CANCELLED due to desert rain





This was only about the 3rd or 4th game slated to be televised so far this spring and, the first one that I was going to be able to watch the entire broadcast.

No box score (since none of the stats will count) but, here are some of the happenings…

  • Hector Noesi went 4IP – 4H – 2ER – 2BB – 1 K and threw 60 pitches, 33 for strikes.  He tossed a couple of wild pitches (that resulted in one run) and had just given up back-to-back singles when the game was called
  • Kyle Seager hit his 3rd homer of the spring to tie the game with his 6th and 7th RBI of the “no count” variety
  • Figgy had two hits and an RBI that gave the M’s the lead (again, they do’t count)

Mariners twit pic

 Prior to the game, Eric Wedge commented on… 

  • Brendon Ryan – doing better but still nursing a sore leg, gotta find a way to get him to stay healthy
  • Cuts coming – some may come down to the final day … can take 30 players to Japan
  • Beavan and Ramirez – both making VERY strong bids in the rotation competition
  • And, don’t discount the importance of a long reliever

Jack Z was interviewed during the game..

  • Hector Noesi a very important piece of the trade
  • Ramirez has been on the radar for awhile
  • Felix will pitch two of the “three openers” as the rotation ebbs and flows with the crazy schedule
  • Emphasized player attitude/work ethic and that NOBODY is guaranteed anything – so, they better come ready to play – especially, for a manager like Eric Wedge

st11 | good signs, even in loss

Mariners 5 | Giants 7

Sometimes, OK most times, spring training is about individual prep and progress rather than team results.

Today was such a day.  Granted, Felix’s line was nothing too special but, he threw 53 pitches in 4 full innings and got that much closer to being ready for Opening Day in just over two weeks! Eric Wedge had this to say after the game…

“He threw the ball well again today, used all his pitches, so he’s right on target,” Wedge said. “He’ll be ready to go out there and pitch as long as we need him to, once we get to Japan. We’ve had him and [Jason] Vargas as well as a few other guys mapped out for quite a while. So he’s right on line.”

Now, as for the bullpen…

seems they’ll need a bit more prepping as 2 of the 4 gave up 2 runs, 1 gave up 1 and the other walked 2

Seems the outfield competition just gets more heated by the day…

Saunders with another 2 hits, a runs scored, an RBI and a stolen base

Robinson went 3 for 4 with a home run and a double

And, Catricala continued his hot hitting…

with another 2 hits including a double

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 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.

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’s Top 100 Prospects List ~ Montero (12), Hultzen (16), Walker (18), Franklin (52), Paxton (77)

Jaunt to Japan, agreement not arb, M’s HoF and some pitching lists…

Eric Wedge, Ken Griffey, Jr and Tim Hevly (Senior Director of Baseball Information) recently took a quick trip to Japan to promote the upcoming MLB season opening games to take place in Tokyo on Marvh 28th and 29th between the M’s and the A’s.  Ex-M and current Oakland manager, Bob Melvin was there as well.

One of the highlights of the trip for the Mariners contingent was a clinic they attended on Sunday at the Yomiuri training site, about an hour outside Tokyo, for about 110 kids from around Japan.“That was terrific,” Hevly said. “The passion those kids have for baseball was really evident. The amount of energy from kids between 8 and 12 years old was amazing. They were very attentive. They want to be better.”
Wedge and Griffey both offered tips on various aspects of baseball. Among the attendees were a group of 36 kids from Fukushima, which had been devastated by last spring’s earthquake and tsunami. They road a bus four hours to attend, and got a special “meet and greet” with Griffey and Wedge afterward, in which they received some Mariner gear the team had sent with the group. The other kids received memorabilia as well, and the Mariners posed for pictures with all the participants.
“It was fun to see how excited they were,” Hevly said. “It’s a reminder how resilient kids are.”

AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi

M’s came to agreement with all three of their arbitration eligible players prior to the deadline today.  Brandon League, Jason Vargas and Shawn Kelley all have brand-new, one-year contracts.  The M’s haven’t had to go to arbitration with a player since 2003 (Freddie Garcia).

Mark your calendars for July 28th as that is the day that the Big Unit and Dan the Man will be inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame.  Fitting that Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson will go into the Hall together after their “special battery” of the late 90’s.


Last but not least – a little something to ease the pain of losing Michael…
Hultzen and Paxton name to the TopTen LHP list
Walker is #8 on the TopTen RHP list