Saturday, December 02, 2006

I'm Baaaack

Okay, so I haven't posted on this blog since 2005. Ca anyone blame me? It's been heell being a Seattle Mariners fan these past few years, plus the guys at USSM do this stuff soo much better than I can.

Still, I'm optimistic. The Mariners appear to be close to signing Jose Guillen and John Thomson, and I view these as positive moves. I was excited about the possibility of Luis Gonzalez, but Jose Guillen is SO much better. Now if we can just get Guillen and Thomson through their medicals, sign them, then sign Jason Schmidt, I feel we'll
start to begin the work that Bavaasi started a couple years ago when we signed Sexson and Beltre.

In an ideal Mariners world, a world in which both Thomson and Guillen prove to be health and even 75% of their former selves, and if we sign Schmidt, we may look like this:

Starting pitchers:

1. Jason Schmidt
2. Jarrod Washburn
3. Felix Rodriguez
4. John Thomson
5. Jake Woods/Cha Seung Baek

Batting order:

1. Ichiro CF L
2. Lopez 2b R
3. Beltre 3b R
4. Guillen RF R
5. Sexson 1b R
6. Ibanez LF L
7. Broussard DH L
8. Johjima C R
9. Betancourt SS R

That's a heck of a batting order... besides the three listed, Hargrove could bat Ibanez, Broussard, or Johjima anywhere from third to fifth in the order, and either Johjima or Betancourt could bat second. Ibanezand Broussard could be sandwiched in between all the right handed hitters against tough RHPs:


1. Ichiro CF L
2. Lopez 2b R
3. Ibanez LF L
4. Guillen RF R
5. Broussard DH L
6. Sexson 1b R
7. Beltre 3b R
8. Johjima C R
9. Betancourt SS R

Over all, this is exciting stuff, bt, of course, we will see how this all plays out.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Curse Of The Ancient Mariner

Man, it's time for me to post again. Have to do it every 3 months or so. In recent posts, I praised Aaron Sele, Jeff Nelson, and even Dave Hansen. What was I thinking?
For the second year in a row we enter August with no expectations whatsoever. No tricking ourselves into believing that we are NOT gonna win another 99 games.
Hey, at least we'll get another high draft pick. Maybe we can draft yet another high school shortstop.
At least last year we had Bucky.
This year we'll have King Felix... with NO run support. Let us hope that going 2 - 8 doesn't freak Felix out and turn him into Freddie Garcia II.
Last year we learned that Blackley, Dobbs, Leone, and other "can't miss" prospects basically suck.
Who's it gonna be this year?
And WHEN is Scott Spiezio gonna go away?

I'm beginning to believe in the Curse Of The Mariner Bench. M's sign a reasonably good player a year or so past his prime, sit him on the Cursed Mariner Bench.... boom! Can't hit anymore.

That's what we get for killing the albatross.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Slumps

It's inevitable. I, like the Mariners, am in a slump. I don't feel like writing, posting, whatever. Mariners fans do this. We don't have the built in streak of masochism that the classic BoSox or Cubbies fan has. We're an eternally optimistic lot with roots that go back less than 30 years. I've been going through a lot of personal issues, so writing a blog about the Mariners is low on my priority list right now.

More to come.

Welcome back, Dave Hansen.

Slumps

It's inevitable. I, like the Mariners, am in a slump. I don't feel like writing, posting, whatever. Mariners fans do this. We don't have the built in streak of masochism that the classic BoSox or Cubbies fan has. We're an eternally optimistic lot with roots that go back less than 30 years. I've been going through a lot of personal issues, so writing a blog about the Mariners is low on my priority list right now.

More to come.

Welcome back, Dave Hansen.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Whoa Nellie and the Poulsbo Kid

In spite of all the negative posts on blogs around Marinerland, I would like to say that I'm totally stoked about the return of Aaron Sele and Jeff Nelson to the team. Sure, they're just minor league contracts with an NRI tag, but I wouldn't put it past both Sele and Nellie to actually pitch their way onto the 25-man roster in spring training.
Both men were big losses to the Mariners: Sele when the M's let him get away in free agency, and Nelson when the club traded him in anger over his criticism of the front office's inability to make at trade at the July 31st deadline... virtually throwing away a trade by trading Nellie for Armando Benitez, who basically never pitched for the Mariners afterwards.
Sele meant so much for the M's during the 2 seasons he pitched for them. Nelson, when he came back here for round 2, was not only a great setup man, but was also a great ambassador for the team. Nellie always made you feel the sheer joy he felt to be a Mariner again. Only a handful of M's have ever manifested that joy to be a Seattle Mariner: Jay Buhner, Dave Valle, Edgar Martinez, Brett Boone. Jeff Nelson let you know that he was The Once And Future Mariner.

These guys also are winners. Nelson has four World Series rings with the Yankees, Sele has one ring with the Angels. Plus, each is a warrior, and each has one of the nastiest pitches in baseball: Sele's unparalleled curveball, and Nelson's incomparable flat-breaking slider. Both men are club leaders, Sele more by example, Nelson by word and deed. The Mariners young pitchers need craft old studs like Aaron and Jeff to show them how to master the mental aspects of the game. Pitching isn't just about stuff, it's, as Yogi Berra would say,"Two-thirds-mental and the other half physical." Jeff Nelson has proven that relievers are not just cool headed, unflappable assassins of the mound. They can also be fire-breathing dragons a la Al Hrabosky and Goose Gossage. This trait is especially effective in the set-up role... crazies like Nasty Boys Norm Charlton and Rob Dibble setting up for closer Randy Myers, or the '97 Orioles 'Nasty Birds' Arthur Rhodes and Armando Benitez setting up... Randy Myers. Or Arthur Rhodes and Jeff Nelson setting up Kaz Sasaki for the 2002 M's.

So, I dream of a rotation that goes like this:

Jamie Moyer
Joel Pinero
Bobby Madritsch
Aaron Sele
Gil Meche

And a new bullpen that has lefties George Sherrill and Matt Thornton and righties Jeff Nelson and J.J. Putz setting up for Steady Eddie Guardado.

In the words of M's fan Napoleon Dynamite:
"Sweet!"

Friday, December 31, 2004

All Quiet On The Safeco Front

Happy New Year. We of the Mariner Nation had a nice Christmas present in the double signings of Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson. Now it's time for Bill 'Buzzy Jr' Bavasi to get us some supporting players. He's had two weeks to "scan the list of non-tenders" and while other teams have snatched several of those players up, the M's have done nothing.
One more bat, either a lefty or a switchhitter, would be nice. It doesn't have to be baseball royalty, just another line-drive slap hitter with some speed. Wait a minute, that sounds just like Randy Winn, whom we'd probably have to trade to GET that guy anyway.
So maybe we keep Winn.
Let's keep Spiezio, too. Give him a chance to redeem himself. I he doesn't, there's always July 31st. If Winn, Spiezio, and Boone all redeem themselves (and Boonie had a decent year by anyone else's standards.)
then Sexson and Beltre live up to even 70% of their potential, we should have a good year.

What we really need is a fourth or fifth starter, so we can send Ryan Franklin back to long relief. Let's bring back Aaron Sele. It was a huge mistake letting Sele go away. When healthy, the Poulsbo native is the kind of innings-eater we need to take some pressure off the bullpen. Just like Don Drysdale was with the 1960's Dodgers... sure Koufax had better stuff and better press, but Drysdale was always there, day in day out, a grinder, a gamer. Chris Bosio was like that for the M's, when he wasn't getting hit by line-drives. Tim Belcher was a gamer and a grinder, too. In 1995, when the "Refuse To Lose" M's were being praised for picking up Andy Benes to go along with Randy Johnson, it was Belcher who was the true hero, the anchor.

Sele has slowly worked his way back from rotator cuff surgery, but he improved last year to a 9-4 record, after a dissapointing 7-11 record in 2003. His 130 innings a year the last two years work out just over 5 innings per start, bu rotator cuff surgery can take a few years to come back from. Sele still has the best curveball in the business.

Maybe he can teach that curveball to King Felix.



Thursday, December 23, 2004

Mama Told Me There'd Be Daves Like This.

Swung on and belted...

It will fly away...

Break out the rye bread and mustard, grandma, it's a grand salami...

Make no mistake: Dave Niehaus is the man.
The sad thing is no one outside of the Pacific Northwest may ever know this. Mr. Niehaus may be a perennial nominee for the Ford Frick Award, but he will probably never win this outstanding baseball announcer award because he's our own best-kept-secret. Being the modest man that he is, Dave will probably say, "I'm certainly honored just to be nominated" and then, graciously, congratulate the winner. "They deserve it." He'll say.
Sometimes M's fans wonder whether or not Dave Niehaus knows just how good he is.

When Niehaus comes on the radio, after an inning or two break in which his longtime second-banana Rick Rizzs calls the game, the atmosphere changes. The electricity and excitement in his voice brings even one-sided blowouts to a fever pitch of near-Olymp0ian proprtion. It's not that Rick Rizzs is bad. Rizzs is actually very good, in a craftsman-like manner. Rizzs' own homerun call of, "Goodbye, baseball" has it's own lopsided charm. But where Rizzs is smooth and professional and ever-so-cool, Dave is the perpetual kid in the candy store; still so excited to be calling a baseball game that he's practically beside hismself with glee.

He made lackluster Mariners players seem like gods. At least at the time. Jim Presley, Darnell Coles, Pete O'Brien, Jeffrey 'Hac Man' Leonard. Like the Will Rogers of Baseball, Dave Niehaus never met a player, manager, coach, trainer, umpire, or clubhouse attendant he didn't truly like. He even lavished true feelings of love and respect on rival players, tossing off anedotes gleaned from the team media guides. But make no mistake, Niehaus is a Mariner.
"The young left hander looks in for a sign... tugs at that baseball cap, that golden hair flying in the breeze. Joe Carter pinwheels the bat.. digs that front toe into the batter's box... ready for the pitch... the wind-up and the 2-2 pitch... swing and a miss... got 'im! Mark Langston with another big strikeout!"

I grew up in Los Angeles. I was raised listening to the great Vin Scully as he called Dodger games. I remember him talking about Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Maury Wills, Don Sutton, and the glories of Farmer John Sausage. Still, when I first heard Dave Niehaus call a Mariner game in 1986, I knew he had something that even Vin Scully didn't have. That deep bass purr that Niehaus can roll into with ease when announcing a "Striiiike, at the kneees!" That sheer joy of being at the ball game... other announcers can be smooth and professional (Rizzs, Scully, the younger Carays) others can be personable (Scully, Harry Caray, Jon Miller) some even exhibit the sheer joy of calling a game (Caray, Miller, former Niehaus partner Ken Levine) but Dave puts it all together in spades.

One of the greatest joys in my life has been listening to a Mariner game on the radio as Dave Niehaus brings me the sights, the sounds, the color, the personalities of the game. Even when we were losing. And when we did lose, and we did quite often, Niehaus was there to tell us how much of a "heartbreaker" it was, and then he'd sign off with a "We'll get 'em next time" tone of voice that left me raring for more.

The Mariners should erect a statue of Mr. David Niehaus in front of Safeco Field. The inscription on the pedestal should read:

"Dave Niehaus... the Voice of the Mariners: He Gave Us Hope.'

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Swung on and Beltrayed!

It's been nearly a week now since the Good Ship Mariner put some wind in her sails with the stunning double signings of First Baseman Richmond 'Richie' Sexson and Third Baseman Adrian Beltre. Many M's fans, especially those dedicated bloggers out there, have weighed in as to whether these were good signings or not. Most agree that Beltre was a great pick-up. Many are not sure about Sexson.

As a lifelong baseball fanatic and Mariners fan, I think that there is no such thing as a sure bet. Ya gotta have hope. Remember how mind-blowing it was when we aquired Kevin Mitchell? The sportswriters were throwing out names for the outfield tandem of Mitchell, Griffey, and Buhner. They were calling them the "100 homerun outfield' 'The Puget Power Company' etc. That all looks good on posters. They even MADE a poster with Mitch, The Kid, and Bone glaring menacingly at the photographer amidst a stack of crates marked TNT (left over from a Bugs Bunny cartoon, no doubt.) They also made a poster of the M's touted 'Young Guns' rotation with Unit, Holman, Hanson, and Bankhead wearing six-guns-and-holsters over their Jeff Smulyan era home uniforms. Scott Bankhead? What, was Rich DeLucia too sick for the photo shoot?

It just goes to show you that "Ya never know."

Luckily, position players/hitters are more dependable than pitching. Free agent stud pitchers have this nasty way of tearing their rotator cuffs, labrums, what have you. Hitters are usually less fragile.

I hope that Richie and Adrian work out well. They both have decent spits against righthanded pitching, Beltre even hits better against RHPs than LHPs, and Sexson has done well against RHPs, also. What this means for new skipper Mike Hargrove is that he needn't worry about hitting Beltre and Sexson third and fourth against righthanded pitching. Grover need not sandwich a lefthanded hitter between the two. That's good news. All we need is the other teams' managers stacking up righty after righty against the heart of the order. I do agree, however, that this situation does place lefty or switch hitters at a premium. Keep Randy Winn. Platoon him at DH with Bucky Jacobsen. It's not just Sexson and Beltre we have to consider. All of our prime sources of power... Beltre, Sexson, Boone, Jacobsen ... bat righthanded.

Is it too late to bring in the leftfield fence about 50 feet?