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

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)

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 😉 )

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 – and 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 – kid 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!)

Jacks | one to stay, one to go…

Good news for both Jacks, I’d say.

Earlier this afternoon, it was announced that Jack Zduriencik had agreed to a contract extension…
He’ll be given (thankfully, IMO) the time and the resources to carry out his long term plan of rebuilding the farm system while continuing to evaluate all levels of the organization and deal from depth to build a winning franchise.

And, the “other Jack” departed.  Shortly before the game, it was announced that Jack Wilson was headed to the Atlanta Braves for a player-to-be-named-later.  He had been on the DL but was eligible to come off.  Here’s hoping he gets the opportunity to play in post season – something he’s never done in his 11-year big league career.

bye-bye Erik and Josh (we hardly knew you) Fields

Just prior to the game today, word was trickling in about a deal including Erik Bedard.  It wasn’t until about the 2nd inning that the details of the latest, and last, deadline deal became known…

Seattle sent Bedard and right-handed Minor League reliever Josh Fields to Boston. In return, the Mariners received Triple-A outfielder Trayvon Robinson from the Dodgers and Double-A outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang from the Red Sox.The Red Sox, who initially acquired Robinson to make the deal happen, sent Minor League catcher Tim Federowicz, righty Juan Rodriguez and right-hander Stephen Fife to the Dodgers.

Looks like some interesting hitters added to the M’s org…
~Robinson .293 BA w/ 26 HR, 6 3B, 9 2B, 45 BB and 71 RBI in 100 games in AAA Albuquerque
~Chiang .338 BA w/ 18 HR, 4 3B, 36 2B, 25 BB and 76 RBI in 87 games in AA Portland

You go, Jack Z!

bye-bye David and Doug

It was announced earlier this morning that the Mariners have acquired LHP Charlie Furbush, OF Casper Wells, INF Francisco Martinez and a PTBNL from Detroit for RHP’s Doug Fister and David Pauley

Jack Z was on with John Clayton on 710 ESPN and had the following to say about the players acquired…

Most recently has pitched out of the Tiger bullpen but, has been a starter throughout college (LSU) and in pro-ball (moved very quickly in the minors from A to AAA).  His fastball is up to 93, good breaking ball and nice change up.  The M’s are going to give him a chance to start (will be on the 25-man and in uniform by Sunday) and the worst case is he’s a lefty out of the ‘pen.

Have been seeking a right-handed hitter since …. forever.  He has hit well vs. left-handers, has a nice ratio of extra base hits, can run and throw and needs a chance to play.  Tough guy.

20 year old, 5-tool player currently playing in AA.  Very athletic with good size and the kind of frame to add weight.  Real upside, Tigers 4th best prospect at the start of the season – Tigers didn’t want to give him up – been talking for 2 weeks.

“a pretty significant part of the deal” – they like all the possibilites – to be named on or before Aug 20th
(some speculation I’ve read, is that the PTBNL may be one of the following who were signed by the Tigers last August 17th and can’t be traded for a year … 3B Nick Castellanos, RHP Chance Ruffin, LHP Drew Smyly) 

Also, Jack said David and Doug he personally wished them well in going to a contending team and told them they’d have a great time with Jim Leyland.  He felt it was a “good, old-fashioned” trade that was a win-win.

Developing a winning culture…

The Everett Aqua Sox won the Northwest League

The Tacoma Rainiers won the Pacific Coast League

Jack Zduriencik made the following comments as the rings were presented at camp

“I said this last year, and I’m going to say it again, we want to make this the best minor league system in all of baseball.”

“You build it with people of character. You build it with people buying in. You build it with talent. You build it with unity.”

“”Every single player here wants to be a major league baseball player. You are never going to get back these days. You need to maximize your time. Do not sell yourself short.”

“A lot of players get to the big leagues of talent, but a lot more players get to the big leagues because of this (pointing to his heart.”

“We are here for you, so be here for us.”

In 2010 the Mariners had one of the most abysmal seasons in their history.  But, throughout the organization there was success after success as 8 of the Mariners 9 affiliates went to the post season and two of them went on to win their respective league’s championship.

Some might say that minor league championships don’t really matter and that, much like spring training, it’s the individual development and performances that count. But, seems to me that developing a “culture of winning” can be a vital element of a successful organization.  In the Mariners case, the young Aqua Sox can carry that winning experience with them as they move through the system.  And, the Rainiers players can take their winning experience with them when it’s their turn at the bigs.

Last season, we saw first hand what a negative impact bad chemistry can have on a team.  It only makes sense that winning experience (and the attitude it cultivates) could impact a team in a positive way.  It won’t happen overnight, or even in one season, but the culture seems to be changing.  Here’s to a new Mariner culture … the culture of winning.

And the coaching staff winners are….

Appears to be a good mix of experience and acquaintance – some with ties to the M’s, some with ties to Eric Wedge, some with ties to both … and one new guy.

“I think it’s really important that we had somebody within the organization, somebody outside the organization and somebody connected to last year’s staff, too,” Wedge said Thursday in a conference call. “We really tried to cover the bases.”

Hiring the coaching staff was the first major step for Wedge and Zduriencik as a team. Wedge was hired a little more than two weeks ago.

“We’re happy with the staff we were able to put together,” Zduriencik said. “Eric and I spent a lot of time together as we considered our needs and desires.”

Chris Chambliss * Hitting Coach

Chambliss, 61, played on four World Series champions with the Yankees and has worked 13 years as a major league hitting coach with the Yankees, Cardinals, Mets and Reds. He managed the past two years at Class AAA Charlotte in the White Sox organization.

“He’s a guy who really knows hitting,” Wedge said. “His experiences and his presence are going to be a big plus for us as we get our hitting program on track.”

Bench ~ Robbie Thompson
Bullpen ~ Jaime Navarro
Pitching ~ Carl Willis
First base ~ Mike Brumley
Third base ~ Jeff Datz

Welcome Skipper Wedge!

Well, since Lou left the M’s have had as their field manager a Bob, a Mike, a John, a Jim, a Don and a Daren.  Now, it’s Eric’s turn – here’s hoping that turn lasts a  l o n g  time.

Jack Z introduces another “W” (AP)

Official Press Release

Drayer | My

How did he get here? In lightening-quick fashion it turns out. Jack Zduriencik started out with a list of 59 names. He was looking for someone who had experience, someone who had won before, someone who had leadership ability and what he called a no-nonsense approach. He did his due diligence, spoke with trusted allies, former players and Wedge’s former general manager, Mark Shapiro. Then he spoke to Wedge himself. In addition to having the qualifications he was looking for, Zduriencik saw something else.

“When you’re sitting across from someone you want to see who they are, you want to feel the accountability, the work ethic, the passion and the character,” Zduriencik said. “Quite frankly, that is what I saw.”

Zduriencik added: “He’s not going to be me and I am not going to be him, but the passion I think is there for both of us. Where we are going, there is a process to get there. We both understand it. There are going to be times when I will judge him and say, ‘OK, I understand your point, we will go with it.’ There will be other times when he will have to say, ‘OK Jack, you have the bigger picture than I do. I get it.’ His experiences and my experiences are different and that’s good. He said that in the interview process that he did his homework on me, who I was, where I came from. Now, does it work? Is the ability there to come together? At the end you think it works and you go with it.”

LaRue | The News Tribune

“When Eric left to fly home, we talked it over and I called him just as he was walking in the door,” Zduriencik said. “I asked him if he’d enjoyed the visit, liked the city, had a good time.

“Then I asked him, ‘How would you like to be our manager?’ He said, ‘Jack, I haven’t put my suitcase down yet.’”

About to start his third year in Seattle, Zduriencik found in Wedge all the criteria he’d listed when the search began.

“I wanted experience, a winning track record. I wanted toughness, I wanted someone with discipline, a leader,” he said. “I was looking for the kind of leader to turn our players over to, and we found him.”

Wedge, 42, had interviewed with three other teams and was considered a finalist for two, but when the Mariners offered the job, he didn’t hesitate.

“For me, it just felt right. I can’t put it into words. It was just a good feeling I got here,” Wedge said. “I love the energy of the city, of Safeco Field. I’ve seen it from the other side. It’s electric.”

Brewer | The Seattle Times

The Mariners are finally committing to the kind of solid rebuilding plan that the people have clamored for forever, but they arrived at this eureka too late for anyone to acknowledge it. There’s a statute of limitations on doing the right thing, apparently. The Mariners are so tardy to the party that they’re forced to reason with a crowd drunk on outrage or, worse, apathy.

So, there has been only a tepid response to the hiring of manager Eric Wedge, even though his track record suggests he can develop those young players that fans are desperate to see mature. And general manager Jack Zduriencik, who just completed a bad but not devastating season, is a polarizing figure, even though he’s mostly building the team in the proper manner. And the Mariners will likely have one of their youngest, but most precocious, rosters in 2011, but assuming they don’t win a lot, it will be difficult for fans to chase their frustration with patience.