Author Archives: andrewlong7

Surviving The Black Holes

Over the last few years, the Mariners offense has been historically bad.  Every year the lineup seems to have more bad players than it does good.  In 2009 and 2010, the Mariners pitching was incredible but the offense was so bad that they couldn’t take advantage.  I don’t think I need to go on to describe how inept the offense was, you all saw it.

This year, the Mariners come into the season with a few more sure things (thank you, Cano) but the offense still has quite a few question marks.  What will it take for the M’s to overcome these question marks and make a push for contention (or just .500 ball)?  That’s what I’m writing this post about.

In baseball, there are spots in each teams lineup known as ‘black holes’.  You can call them other things like ‘Really Bad Offense’, ‘Piles of Poo at the Plate’ or ‘Chone Figgins’ but we’ll go with ‘black holes’ for this post.  A team can only survive so many black holes in a lineup if they want to be a decent team (especially in the American League).  This post will be a quick study as to how many black holes recent teams have had in their lineups.

I will take the Mariners, AL West champion and AL champion from 2011, 2012 and 2013 and take a look at their lineups, noting how many black holes are in each lineup.  If the position is a job share, I’ll try to take an average of the two players.  I’m using baseball-reference for all of my information.  I qualify a ‘black hole’ in the lineup as batting under .225 with less than 25 dingers and an OBP under .315.  All of those are qualifiers and if a player breaks any of those they aren’t considered a ‘black hole’.  When commenting on the players who are black holes I will throw in a few more Sabermetric stats because I prefer those but I decided to use some old-fashioned stats as qualifiers because everyone is a little more familiar with them.  If this catches on, I may change the qualifiers and stats I use over time.  I’m being pretty generous with those numbers but I think it’s also pretty reasonable considering baseball is a little bit more of a pitcher’s game right now.  I will also include the team’s player with the highest OPS anyone on the team with an OPS over .900 because I think a hitting star can help minimize some of the damage of a ‘black hole’.  So, here we go:

2011 Seattle Mariners
Black Holes:  3

C Miguel Olivo – .224 BA/.253 OBP/19 Home Runs.  Olivo wasn’t awful.  His OBP is certainly terrible but his slugging percentage was a little higher than most.  His OPS+ (which is a stat that basically takes a players OPS and adjusts it to the players ballpark) was 81, which isn’t good (100 is average) but isn’t absolutely disastrous for a catcher.
3B Chone Figgins – .188 BA/ .241 OBP/ 1 HR.  Wow, this is awful.  To be fair to the Mariners, he only ended up with 313 PA’s and then was replaced by Kyle Seager, who was pretty average that year.  This was as bad as it gets.
CF Franklin Gutierrez – .224 BA/ .261 OBP/ 1 HR.  This was when Guti started suffering from his problems.  Michael Saunders, his replacement for a little less than half the year was even worse.
Highest OPS:  Dustin Ackley – .766 (in 376 PA’s) Mike Carp – .791 OPS (in 313 PA’s)
Quick Thoughts:  This team also included a revolving door in left field, Mike Carp saved the position although he barely played there.  Brendan Ryan barely escaped as well.  Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, and Mike Carp were this team’s best hitters.  I don’t need to say anymore than that.

2011 Texas Rangers (AL Champions)
Black Holes:  0
None.  Their worst position player was probably Yorvit Torrealba who had a .705 OPS.  That would have been fourth best on the Mariners.
Highest OPS:  Adrian Beltre – .892 Josh Hamilton – .882
Quick Thoughts:  Here we see a team without any black holes.  They didn’t have any huge stars (although you could make a case for Hamilton or Beltre here) but were so successful because there was never a break in the lineup.

2012 Seattle Mariners
Black Holes:  4
C Miguel Olivo – .222 BA/ .239 OBP/ 12 HR.  Olivo makes the list again.  He was spelled by mid-season by a tandem of Jaso and Montero who were pretty good with the bats and awful with the gloves.  I’m keeping Olivo on here because by the time he was out of the lineup the Mariners were way down in the standings.  His OPS+ dropped to 73 this year.
1B Justin Smoak – .217 BA/ .290 OBP/ 19 HR.  Smoak brings a little bit of power and he walked a lot, which is why his OPS+ is 85 instead of 65, but you need more from your first baseman.
SS Brendan Ryan – .194 BA/ .277 OBP/ 3 HR.  Yikes.  While Ryan was okay the year before, this was the year he fell into the Figgins category.  His OPS+ dropped all the way to 59.
Left Field – The Mariners used a mix of Chone Figgins (.181 BA/.262 OBP/2 HR), Casper Wells (.228 BA/.302 OBP/10 HR) and Mike Carp (.213 BA/.312 OBP/5 HR) in left field that year.  Their OPS+’s were 53, 97, and 87.  Wells wouldn’t actually qualify but the other guys (mainly Figgins) drag him down here.
Highest OPS:  John Jaso – .850 (he had a 142 OPS+)  Kyle Seager and Michael Saunders each had a .738 OPS.
Quick Thoughts:  Four black holes is impossible to overcome.  Also, John Jaso was really good.  He had the highest OPS on the team by .112 points.  Then, they traded him.  Dustin Ackley barely missed being a black hole by .002 in the batting average category (all the other categories were below the marks).

2012 Oakland A’s (AL West Champs)
Black Holes:  2.5
Catcher – Kurt Suzuki (.218 BA/.250 OBP/1 HR) and Derek Norris split (.201 BA/.276 OBP/7 HR) catching duties for Oakland.  They were pretty bad, although Norris added a decent clip in slugging percentage.
2B Jemile Weeks – .221 BA/.305 OBP/3 HR.  Weeks added value in his baserunning and defense but his bat was pretty bad, he had a 73 OPS+.
SS Cliff Pennington – .215 BA/.278 OBP/ 6 HR.  Pennington was bad but the A’s traded for Stephen Drew at the deadline, who ran a 98 OPS+ for the rest of the season, which is above average for a shortstop.  I’m counting Pennington as a half.
Highest OPS:  Brandon Moss had a .954 OPS.  The A’s also had 3 other guys who had an OPS between .860-.870.
Quick Thoughts:  The A’s thrived due to their pitching and defense.  They were able to survive Weeks because of his defense.  They tried to upgrade catching and shortstop mid-season.  Both were upgraded at least to a degree.

2012 Detroit Tigers (AL Champs)
Black Holes:  0
The Tigers lowest OPS on the year was .659.
Highest OPS: Miguel Cabrera – .999 Prince Fielder – .940.  The Tigers also had two other players with an OPS over .855.
Quick Thoughts:  I’m always surprised when I think about the Tigers that they didn’t win more.  Making the World Series is plenty of winning but their downfall may have been the 4 guys in the everyday lineup with an OPS in the .600’s.  You can be a very good team with that, especially since those wouldn’t be black holes in my book, but you can’t truly be great.

2013 Seattle Mariners
Black Holes:  2
Catcher – The Mariners played 7 catchers last year.  Every single one of them qualified for ‘Black Hole’ honors.  I don’t want to talk about that anymore.
Shortstop/Second Base – Both positions were a tale of two halves.  Brendan Ryan was terrible (.192 BA/.254 OBP/ 3 HR), Dustin Ackley was bad before he moved to second base and Nick Franklin barely escaped the parameters (.225/.303/12 HR) although his slugging percentage makes up for it.  We’ll give this one a full black hole because the Michael Morse/Jason Bay outfield basically fits the parameters too.
Highest OPS:  Ibanez (.793), Morales (.785), Seager (.764)
Quick Thoughts:  The lineup did improve (although there were a lot of guys that were right on the border of being a black hole) but almost all the other parts of the team suffered.  Pitching, defense, and base running all got worse.

2013 Oakland A’s (AL West Champs)
Black Holes: 0
Josh Reddick was right on the cusp (.226 BA).
Highest OPS:  Josh Donaldson (.883 OPS) and Brandon Moss (.859 OPS).
Quick Thoughts:  The A’s didn’t have an OPS under .686.   The Mariners, last year, had 4 semi-regulars with one lower than that.  The A’s are incredibly balanced and while they may lack some star power they make up for it by not having an easy out on their team.

2013 Boston Red Sox (AL Champions)
Black Holes: 0
No one is even close, actually.
Highest OPS:  David Ortiz (.959) and Mike Napoli (.842)
Quick Thoughts:  The Red Sox didn’t have an OPS lower than .696.  Aside from Middlebrooks, their lowest OPS+ was 111.  This is why they were great.  Their lineup carried them.

Conclusion:  It’s easy to see that in order for a team to be great they need to limit their black holes.  The 2012 Oakland A’s showed us that it’s not impossible to succeed while still having some holes in the lineup.  They made up for it with their pitching and defense.  If a team is spectacular in one area, they can make up for a deficit in another area.  That’s exactly what all of these teams (other than the M’s) are doing.  The Red Sox and Rangers made up for a lack of pitching or defense with solid lineups, without holes in them.  The Tigers made up for some average position players who were good at defense by having two guys with an OPS at .940 or above.

What I do think is probably true is that it’s impossible to make up a deficit of 3 black holes (or more in a lineup).  The 2011 Mariners had one of the best rotations that I can remember but there was no overcoming have 4 sure outs in your lineup. Of course, I need more data and to study a few more teams.  I plan to do that at some point down the road.

What this means for your 2014 Mariners:

Well, their pitching should be really solid once Kuma and Walker come back.  Their defense should be much improved but maybe not to the point where it’s a huge strength.  I’d say the lineup could survive one-two black holes in order to contend.  So, let’s break down the starting lineup (or projected starting lineup).

We don’t have to worry about Cano.  He’ll be fine and, in fact, should carry the team like those high OPS guys in Detroit did.  Seager has never been in danger of being in this category.  Same thing with Corey Hart, assuming he’s healthy and gets back to himself at least a little bit.

The one’s I’m pretty confident in not being a black hole are Dustin Ackley, Brad Miller, and Michael Saunders.  None of these guys have ever been a black hole, although they have come dangerously close.  Ackley looked great in the second half last year and has carried that over to this spring.  Brad Miller is someone I expect pretty big things from and his contact skills seem high enough to where this wouldn’t be a big danger.  Saunders I’m least confident in, out of this group, but we’ve all seen what he can do when he’s playing well.  I think he can finally put it together.

Smoak should be fine but I’m still not fully confident in him.  This leaves the last outfield spot (I’m counting Hart as the DH), catcher and Smoak/Morrison.  If 2 of those guys can avoid being a disaster at the plate, I like this teams chances at being a .500 ballclub.  Again, I’m not extremely confident in those spots.  I like Zunino but he’s still young and adjusting.  Smoak and Morrison have shown flashes but they also have been awful at times.  Almonte (or whoever the last outfielder is) is a total wild card to me.

I plan to dive deeper into this subject at some point but that’s what I have for now.  Believe big!  Don’t suck, Mariners!

– Andrew

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Seattle’s Day

On Wednesday, February 10th, the city of Seattle gathered together to celebrate their first major professional sports championship in 35 years.  The championship was long overdue, as the 700,000 people who gathered would all tell you.  Everywhere you went there were chants of “SEA!” followed by echoes of “Hawks!”  Once the parade started, the Seahawks chants persisted but were joined by cheers of “Pete! Pete! Pete!” and “L-O-B!”

It was unlike anything I’ve ever been at.  The streets of Seattle were shut down in 25 degree weather.  I wish you all could have been there.  If you’re a Seattle sports fan though, you were there regardless if it was physically you or not.  It felt like Griffey, Edgar, and The Bone were there celebrating.  Payton and Kemp could have been standing beside me.  Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselback would have blended right in with all of the fans that were wearing their jerseys.  Ichiro and Bret Boone could have been watching from Safeco’s roof.  February 10th was a celebration for all of Seattle.  It was a celebration of all the teams that couldn’t quite make it happen before our Hawks did and it was a celebration of all the fans that were patient and supportive in the past 35 years.  Of course, it was a celebration of a team that embodied Seattle more than any team ever has.  Our 2014 Super Bowl Champions were home and Seattle was ready to party.

What follows are some of my favorite pictures that I got from that day.  They are mostly of the parade and I’m just going to put them in chronological order.  Wordpress isn’t the best site for pictures but we’ll make do.  I’m not going to add any writing to these.  If you have any questions or want to see all of my pictures, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.  I hope you’re able to soak these in, get a feel for what it was like there and realize that, even if you weren’t there, you were represented well by the best city in the world.  Go Hawks.

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– Andrew

 

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Who Are These Dawgs? (Defense)

2014 signing day has come and gone and went surprisingly according to plan for the Washington Huskies.  Coach Petersen had about 2 months to put together a class (although almost a whole month of that was a quiet period).  In those 2 months, Coach Pete brought in 24 players.  All but 3 of those were not committed under the old staff.

The 2014 class was ranked 35 by Scout.com and 7th in the Pac-12.  As far as transitioning from coach to coach goes, this was a very strong class.  It addressed needs in the secondary and provided quality depth to an already talented team.

Later in the week, Matthew is going to look at the recruits who will be on the offensive side of the ball but we’re going to start off by looking at the defense.

Before I get into specific players, I’ll try to break it down by positions.  On the defensive line the Huskies signed 5 guys who will start there.  There are 3 guys who will definitely start as ends (maybe 4) and 1 that is destined to be a tackle.  After signing 4 linebackers last year, the Huskies only added 1 this year.  The secondary is really where the Huskies added guys.  They signed 7 guys who will be in the secondary, 3 at safety and 4 at corner (probably).  The secondary class was ranked in the top 5 in the country.  The Huskies could run a 4-2-5 (5 secondary guys) in the future, and this class lends itself to that.  It also fills a huge hole in what was a position group that lacked depth.

I’ll take a quick look at each player on the defensive side.  If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I will get to them.  I’ll list the players by position group.  Along with a short profile of the commit, I’ll give a percentage chance that he plays as a true freshman.  This is my guess.  I don’t know that much.  Please don’t take it too seriously, I just thought it’d be a fun exercise to add.  Here we go!

DT Greg Gaines – Gaines is a big 300 pounder out of California.  While he’s 300 pounds, he’s only 6’1″ so he’s very large.  I’ve often wondered if a huge defensive guy like that may benefit from being shorter because the offensive linemen have a harder time getting under their pads.  The old staff was recruiting taller guys, and really seemed to push for that type of body type.  The new staff may do the same, but there wasn’t quite the emphasis on it this time.  Gaines was rated as a 3-star prospect and had offers from Colorado, Iowa State, Boise State, and Fresno State (as well as some smaller schools) according to Scout.  Gaines has a chance to play right away because there aren’t a ton of guys similar to him on the roster.   Chance he plays as a true freshman:  40%

DE Jaylen Johnson – Johnson also comes from California and is a defensive end.  Jaylen was long committed to Boise State but is one of the players Coach Petersen persuaded to come to Washington.  Johnson may have been one of the most hotly recruited prospects that decommitted from Boise.  Johnson is listed at 6’3″, 240 lbs.  He is reported to have offers from most Pac-12 schools including Oregon and ASU, as well as TCU Vanderbilt and Northwestern.  Johnson may be the furthest along of any of the defensive ends.  That alone may be reason why he plays this coming season.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  40%

DE Kaleb McGary – McGary is 1 of 4 four-star recruits to sign with UW.  As last as 2 weeks ago, it didn’t look good for the Huskies but the allure of being close to home proved to be a huge factor for McGary, as he lives in Fife.  McGary is full of potential.  At 6’8″, 280 lbs., McGary could easily become a left tackle.  He’s going to start out on the defensive side of the ball, per his own request.  McGary obviously has the type of body you want on your football team.  He’s a great athlete and, if coached up, could become a star.  While he is fairly raw right now, McGary was a huge get for Coach Pete and staff.  He chose UW over Wisconsin, WSU, and OSU but could have gone anywhere in the Pac-12 (Nebraska also offered).  Because of his body type, he could play right away.  He could really develop during a redshirt season though, especially if he switches to the offensive line.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  60%

DE  Shane Bowman – Upon his arrival, Coach Petersen made Bellevue High School a priority.  Most Husky fans couldn’t agree more with this decision.  Bowman was a commit to Oregon State before he flipped to UW.  He was one of Bellevue’s most important players on their state championship team.  Bowman has a high motor and comes in at 6-4, 240.  He will probably add some weight to that but may be more of rush-end than the others mentioned thus far.  Because he isn’t that big, Bowman will probably need a season to redshirt.  The hope is that he turns into the next Scott Chrichton.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  15%

DE Will Dissly – The last of the defensive ends comes from Bozeman, Montana.  Dissly is an under the radar kid, but he dominated in his High School league and has some impressive film.  He was named as an honorable mention on the Parade All-American team.  Dissly could possibly see time as tight end, but I imagine that he’ll stick on the defensive side of the ball.  Dissly is seen as a project but, then again, so was Mason Foster.  Dissly lives in a portion of America where there isn’t a lot of scouting so it’s harder to know what you have.  From what I know, I would guess that he needs a year of seasoning before he breaks on to the field.  Never underestimate Montanians though.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  10%

LB Drew Lewis – Drew is another one of the Washington prospects that signed, in what was a down year for in-state talent.  Lewis played safety in high school but will start out as a linebacker at UW.  He played as Eastlake High School (and has a little brother who could be just as good, if not better).  Lewis was listed as a three-star prospect with offers from ASU, Pittsburg and Oregon State.  Lewis visited USC a few weeks before Signing Day but never received an offer.  The old staff loved him but couldn’t find a way to work around their limits at USC to offer him.  While Lewis looks like an exciting prospect, he is pretty raw, as well.  The team has lots of depth at linebacker so I don’t think Lewis will probably see the field this year, despite being a very good athlete.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  15%

S Budda Baker – I think most people know the story of Budda.  I was entirely serious when I wrote that sentence and read it again and laughed.  Budda was the top-rated prospect in Washington and is an incredible talent.  He’s explosive and strong.  His frame is often compared to Earl Thomas, as he is 5-10, 180.  He is a sure tackler and his speed plays really well at the safety position.  We will probably also see him on the field on offense from time to time.  When he committed to UW (after decomitting from Oregon) he said the coaches had talked to him about having an offensive package for him.  Offensive package is another one of those terms that could have a very strange meaning.  Budda is the crown jewel of this class and is the highest profile recruit the Huskies have landed since Shaq Thompson.  He could have gone anywhere in the country.  Budda is likely to play as a true freshman, as the team is low on safeties and Budda is a top-end talent.  Chance he plays as a true freshman: 95%

S Jojo McIntosh – Jojo is another one of the DB’s who could play right away.  He’s from California and was a commit to the UCLA before the two sides parted ways.  McIntosh didn’t waste much time before committing to the Dawgs there after.  He’s a 3-star prospect and is projected to be a safety.  He had offers from Boise and Wazzu, as well.  I’m excited to see what Jojo will bring to the team.  He’s also the second player named Jojo on this team.  That’s pretty exciting.  I think he stands a pretty good chance of playing right away because of the depth at his position.  The same goes with all of the safety prospects.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  45%

S Lavon Washington – Washington is the lowest rated safety of all the prospects (again, according to Scout) but he may have the most impressive offer sheet with offers from ASU, Cal, Fresno, and OSU. aside from Budda.  Lavon committed to the old staff at UW but seems to be one of those rare kids who actually commits to the school.  Washington is 5-11, 180 and was also a receiver in high school.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  40%

CB Darren Gardenhire – Like McIntosh, Gardenhire was a long-time commit to a school before turning to UW.  Gardenhire was committed to WSU for about a month before changing his mind.  He was also offered by Boise State and Utah.  He’s 6-1, 190 and from Long Beach, California.  He’s not quite as high-profile recruit as the other secondary commits but still one to be excited about.  He’s pretty funny on Twitter too.  Gardenhire was a safety in high school and is listed as that on recruiting services but UW announced him as a CB so that’s what we’ll put him as.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  35%

CB Naijel Hale – Naijel is the son of the late, legendary rapper, Nate Dogg.  He was a surprise late in the process as a long time commit to Arizona before tripping to UW and changing his decision to Washington.  Hale is another of the four-star commits.  He had offers from all up and down the west coast and is a physical corner.  He likes to hit people and that shows in his film.  Hale has a chance to play right away, especially as a nickel corner.  He is currently 5-11, 170.  He comes from California.  Chance he plays as a true freshman: 70%

CB Brandon Lewis – Brandon Lewis committed to Boise State last April and was seen as an up and coming prospect.  He then struggled with injuries in his last year of High School (after doing the same his junior year).  He was still committed to Boise State when offered by Coach Pete and then shortly switched.  If Lewis comes back healthy, he could be a steal for UW.  He’s 5-10, 170 and also played some running back in High School.  With the injury history, I would expect Lewis to redshirt so that he is healthy when he sees the field.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  15%

CB Sidney Jones – Add one more to the list of guys who flipped to UW.  Jones was committed to Utah for about a month before flipping to UW.  He also had an offer from Colorado and some offers from lower conference schools.  Jones is an intriguing prospect.  We in Seattle love tall corners and Jones fits that bill at 6-1.  He may have to put on some weight but his film was very impressive.  He is my 3rd favorite player in this secondary (in this class) and I think he is a pretty strong contender to play early.  Chance he plays as a true freshman:  60%

Well, that’s all of them!  A pretty interesting group of players who could see the field fairly soon.  I think the class filled holes, added some potential stars, and stayed away from JC players.  That’s a good check list to follow, especially for a transition class.  I’m excited by the future of this team, and specifically the recruiting.  Next year’s in-state class is phenomenal and this staff has made in-state a priority.  Everything seems to be happening at the right time and I’m excited to see what happens.  We’ll have a post on the offensive guys from this class pretty soon.  Go Dawgs!

Andrew

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Happy National Signing Day!

Finishing Off The Day – I’m back at home and have thawed out my frozen body parts.  What a great day it was for Seattle.  I will never forget it.

Nothing unpredictable happened to the Huskies.  All of the verbal commits heading into the day ended up signing with the Dawgs and they had two players sign who announced their commitment today.  Those two are Devin Burleson, who is a 6’8″ offensive lineman, and Brayden Lenius, a 6’5″ receiver.

All in all, the class ended up ranked 36th in the nation by Scout (that doesn’t include commit Jamie Bryant, that would have had minimal impact though) and 7th in the Pac-12.  A great accomplishment for a transition class.

We’ll have more on all of the commits over the next week.  As for now, know that it’s a very impressive class for the short amount of time Coach Petersen had to put it together.  Go Dawgs!

Hale’s in! – I’m out the door.  But, Naijel Hale is officially in.  A 4-star corner.

Off to the parade – Alright, everybody!  I’m off to the parade.  Again, we’re waiting on 6 more letters.  Lenius announces at 1 P.M.  Hale and Turner should be announced by Washington anytime and I don’t have a time table for the other three.  Coach Petersen’s press conference is at 3 P.M. and I’ll have updates from that and more tonight.  Have a great day, everyone!

Two Bellevue Offensive Linemen to Walk-On – Morgan Richey and Max Richmond, two linemen from Bellevue high school, have decided to walk-on at U-Dub.  They both turned down scholarship offers to come play here.  Petersen has done an outstanding job at Bellevue in such a short time.  Let’s hope it stays that way for years to come.

Turner and Hale should be Dawgs – From the things I see on Twitter, it looks like it’s only a matter of time before the school announces that Hale and Turner will be Huskies.  That leaves the Huskies at 20.  I would guess Dissly would be the last of the verbals to send in his papers and Lavon Washington might not sign with the Huskies.  I don’t have any facts to support this, just a few insights and a guess.  It might be the other way around.  That would put the Huskies at 21 and then there are three surprises left to fill out the class.  Again, I’m counting on Lenius and Burleson to be Huskies.  I’m still unclear on the last one.  Kalen Ballage would be another name to look out for but that would be a huge surprise and seems unlikely at this point.

Headed off – I’m off to get ready for the parade.  I’ll try to update one more time before I actually leave.  Go Dawgs and go Hawks!

Who we’re waiting on – From what I can tell the guys that have verbally committed and not been announced yet are CB Naijel Hale, DE Will Dissly, S Lavon Washington and OL John Turner.  I’m not sure who here wouldn’t sign but we’ll wait and see.  This doesn’t include a few surprises.

CB Brandon Lewis – I believe Lewis is the 3rd corner to have signed today.  He’s from California and comes in at 5’11” 185 lbs.  Lewis played some receiver in high school and has some good coverage skills.  This DB class will really pay dividends down the road.

17/24 – We’ve got 17 players who have signed thus far.  There haven’t been any surprises and everything has gone to plan.  I’m going to stick around for a few more minutes but then I have to get ready to brave the cold and head over to Seattle.  We’ll see if anyone else trickles through here in the next few minutes.

DL Kaleb McGary – Here’s another big name.  I’m still pretty surprised the Huskies got Kaleb.  He is 6’7″ 285 lbs. and currently lives in Fife, Washington.  He is the 3rd (of 4) 4-star players to sign with the Huskies.  McGary projects really well as an offensive tackle but he’s starting out as a defensive end.  I’m hoping he turns out to be like one of those tall Stanford defensive ends that they have had over the last few years.  Although we won’t see him faking injuries.  This kid oozes potential.

OL Jesse Sosebee – Another large person.  Sosebee is the second offensive linemen (still a few to come) in the class.  He is 6’6″ 300 lbs. and will probably play guard.  Sosebee may be more of a project than James but Strausser (the offensive line coach) has done great work with some of these ‘project’ guys before.

OL Matt James – Somehow they snuck in Matt James in between posts about Budda.  Sorry I skipped over you big fella.  James is the first of the offensive linemen to get his papers in.  He is from Idaho and is 6’5″ 270 lbs.  He’ll probably end up a guard but does have some potential as a tackle.

Budda’s In! – It’s finally official!  Budda Baker is a Husky.  Budda is the top rated player in the state of Washington (by a fairly large margin) and was committed to Oregon before rethinking things and coming to UW.  He is the recruit everyone is most excited about.  He will play free safety for the Dawgs and maybe a little bit on offense as well.  He’s 5’10” 180 lbs.  and from Bellevue High School.

WR Dante Pettis – Pettis is a 6’1″ 175 lb. receiver out of California.  His dad is a former major league baseball player and his cousin is Austin, an NFL receiver who played under Coach Pete at Boise.  Pettis is one of the better athletes in this class.

A 4-star confirmed – The school hasn’t announced it but Naijel Hale has confirmed that he will be a Husky.  He’s one of the big names who hasn’t been announced by the school yet along with Budda Baker and Kaleb McGary.

Not Many Rumors – There’s not many rumors floating around of who is decommitting or committing today.  Usually these things start to leak out but I haven’t seen anything about that yet.  I’ll let you know if I do.

Halfway There – If Gregg Bell is correct (he usually is because he’s a UW employee) the Huskies have received half of the letters that they’ll receive today.  So far, 12 are in and they are expecting 24.

CB Darren Gardenhire – Gardenhire is another one of the DB’s in this class.  He’s a funny guy on Twitter and had a good time with the process, trying to recruit other prospects to UW.  Gardenhire is 6 foot, 180 lbs. from Long Beach, California.  Gardenhire listed as a corner is a surprise, as he played safety in high school.  The coaches must have seen something they liked in his coverage skills.

K Tristan Vizcaino – Well, it wasn’t the big name I was thinking but this is a great get.  Getting a kicker in this class was a huge need and was accomplished when the staff flipped Vizcaino from WSU in January.  Vizcaino is generally rated in the top 10 kickers in the nation as far as recruits go.  He may punt, as well.  He’s 6’2″ 195 lbs.  Big kicker.

Questions – If you have any questions about a player or the process, leave them in the comments and I’ll get to them by the end of the day.

DE Shane Bowman – Bowman is a defensive end out Bellevue High School.  He flipped to UW after being committed to Oregon State for quite a while.  Bowman is 6’4″ and 250 lbs.  He may have to put on some weight but he’s got a great motor.  Coach Pete seemed to really make Bellevue a priority upon his arrival and that’s a great thing.  I’m guessing that we’ve got a big name coming up next.

Who’s from where?  So far there are 3 guys from Washington state and 6 guys from California in the class.  This is pretty normal.  I’ll keep updating on location throughout the day because I find that pretty interesting.

CB Sidney Jones – Sidney Jones is a 6’1″ 170 lb. corner out of California.  He also played receiver in high school.  The UW flipped him from Utah, and he had several other Pac-12 offers.  I like to see tall corners like this and I’ll be interested if the coaches go after that body type at corner.  I’m glad to see Jones is officially in because Utah was recruiting him hard to flip back to their side.  This guy is one of my favorite players of this class.

Eight Players In – So far we’ve got 3 defensive linemen, 1 running back, 1 quarterback, 1 tight end, 1 linebacker and 1 safety.

DL Jamie Bryant – Jamie Bryant was a member of last year’s class and was asked to grayshirt, meaning he delayed his enrollment until this year.  It’s great that the new coaches honored this commitment.  Bryant is a big guy, coming in at 6’5″ 300 lbs.  He is from Tumwater High School.  He is listed as a defensive lineman but it’s thought that he could be on the offensive line at UW, as well.  With them listing him on the defensive side of things, I imagine that’s where he’ll start.

Moving Pretty Quickly – We’re seven guys into the class.  All 7 have come in the last 20 minutes.  Expect there to be a few more in the next half an hour and then for news to come a little slower throughout the day.  As far as what I’m seeing in Twitter, the Bellevue guys have all done their paperwork and it should be in soon.

S Jojo McIntosh – Jojo is one of (at least) 3 safeties in this class.  He is from Chaminade High School in California and followed Coach Pete from Boise.  Jojo is 6’1″ 195 and the second player on the UW roster named Jojo.  What are the chances?  He’s also a part of this DB recruiting class that is rated 2nd in the country by Scout (behind Tennessee, who somehow had 34 commits as of yesterday).

QB K.J. Carta-Samuels – The first of the four star prospects to get their paperwork in is the quarterback of the class.  Carta-Samuels was a long time Vanderbilt commit but when James Franklin left he ended up choosing UW over Vandy, Penn State, and Boise.  He’s 6’2″ 225 and the 4th straight 4 star quarterback recruit to come to UW.

TE James Sample – James Sample’s papers are in.  He’s the first of the Washington high school players to be announced (they expect 5 on scholarship).  Sample is from Newport High School and is a 6’5″ tight end, weighing in at 245 pounds.  He was a 3 star prospect in most places.

DE Jaylen Johnson – Jaylen is a 6’3″ 245 lb. defensive end out of California.  He is another guy the coaches beat out BSU for.  He was also considering several Pac-12 schools.  He is one of the defensive linemen I am most excited about in this class.

DT Greg Gaines is in – You want beef?  You got beef!  Greg Gaines is a bulky man.  He is a 6’1″  305 lb. defensive tackle out of California.  He is one of the guys that followed Coach Pete from Boise to UW.  Again, just a large human.  Most services ranked him as a three-star player.

Commit #2 – The second player to sign with the Huskies is Jomon Dotson.  He is listed at 5’11” 175 (this is probably generous from the coaching staff) and is a running back out of California.  He chose the UW over Colorado.  A very small but quick running back.  He also played corner in high school but is listed as a RB for UW.

More on Lewis – Lewis will need to add a little bit of weight to play linebacker in the Pac-12.  He was a safety in college but it’s thought that he’ll be moved to outside linebacker once he’s on campus.  The UW is announcing him as a linebacker.

Our First Husky of 2014 – The first player to send in his papers to the University of Washington is Drew Lewis.  He is a linebacker out of Eastlake High School (Sammmamish) and 6’2″ 200.  He had committed under Sark, looked around once he left and then ended up back at U-Dub.

How big will this class be?  Expect this class to be about 24 players big.  During the season it looked like this would be a smaller class but because of the roster attrition involved in a coaching change the size of this incoming class grew a little bit.

More on the surprises – Gregg Bell just said in a live chat that 1 or 2 players who verbally committed to UW may sign elsewhere and expect 3 surprises today.  So, there you go.  I don’t know who the third surprise is but I have a good idea on the first two.

Any Surprises?  The original idea of doing this live blog was to cover any Signing Day surprises.  There are usually some guys who will commit (or more often decommit) to the Huskies on Signing Day.  Today the Huskies are still waiting on a few players who could become Dawgs.  OL Devin Burleson and WR Brayden Lenius are expected to be Dawgs by the end of today.  Both are somewhat exciting prospects with a lot of potential but not the most polished players.  Others that could become Huskies are Dejuan Butler, a JC cornerback, and Khalil Oliver, a safety deciding between Oregon and UW.  Other than that, it would be a real surprise.

Opening Thoughts – When Steve Sarkisian announced that he was taking the USC job, this Husky class was never going to be great.  Even if Sark had stayed, this class probably wasn’t going to be great.  There wasn’t a very deep class in the state of Washington and while the Huskies were in on some very good players, it seemed unlikely that they would end up at U-Dub.  Chris Petersen and staff have done a great job at salvaging this class.  There were two people committed to the Huskies when Coach Pete took over (some had decommitted after Sark left), now there are 21 verbally committed and probably 1-3 more who could end up signing with the Dawgs today.  The coaching staff have done a great job getting Washington prospects, something Sark didn’t do as well, and filling needs.  While there isn’t as much star power as the last few recruiting classes, this class looks very solid and capable of moving the program along.  There’s a lot of good depth and a few names to look out for.

When Do Things Start Happening?  Right now, no faxes are coming in to any west coast school because a recruit isn’t allowed to send in the LOI until 7 AM.  Once that comes around, some papers will start to come in and the Huskies will have people officially signed to play for their football team.  The faxes will come in all day, so there might not be very many before I take off for the parade.  I’ll try to keep up until then.  The Good Guys will have a recap post or two on all the recruits that sign sometime over the next week.

Good morning, Dawg fans!  Happy National Signing Day!  We’re getting this thing started and I’m rubbing sleep from my eyes.  Apparently downtown is getting packed already for this afternoons parade and the whole town is ready to party.  I’ll be updating this blog fairly often this morning, depending on how much information that is being let out.  I will be back tonight, after the parade to give a recap of everything happened.  Enjoy!

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Let The Good Times Roll!

I don’t have long here but I wanted to throw up a post really quickly to give you a few details of what’s going on.

Today, Budda Baker committed to the University of Washington to play football.  He was the top rated player in the state, a free safety who may play some offense, and has been a fantastic player for Bellevue High School in the last few years.

On Monday, Kaleb McGary committed to the University of Washington to play football.  He was the second highest rated player in the state and will play defensive end to start but may be on the offensive line by the end of his college career.  He’s a huge 17-year-old who has all kinds of potential.

Needless to say, things are going well in Seattle.  The Good Guys will have more on these players in the coming days.  Tomorrow is Nationals Signing Day and, as usual, I’ll have a running blog.  I plan to start at about 6:30 in the morning and go up until 8:30.  I’m going to the parade, so I’ll take a long break and come back tomorrow evening with some closing thoughts and recapping any surprises.  If you’re a loyal reader of the blog you know that this is one of my favorite sports days of the year but nothing would stop me from this parade.

In the days following signing day, Matthew and I will have posts recapping the players the Huskies signed.  So, check back in the following days if you’re out all day tomorrow.  I hope you all get to experience tomorrow but if you don’t I plan to take lots of pictures and put them up in a post here.

This is truly an amazing time to be a Seattle sports fan.  Maybe the best it’s ever been.  We hope you feel the magic and we hope to share it with you if you can’t be here!  I’ll be back tomorrow morning bright and early!  Go Hawks, go Dawgs, and go Seattle!

Andrew

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A Championship Feeling

I’m not here to write about the Super Bowl.  The Super Bowl was perfect, an absolute dream that will replay in my mind until I’m old and gray, sitting in a recliner telling my grandkids about it.  Words won’t do it justice and other people can recap the game more capably than I can.

The same goes for the NFC Championship game.  You couldn’t write a Hollywood script better than that.  And I couldn’t write a recap better than watching a 10 minute highlight reel on Youtube.

The truth is, this season was perfect and there’s nothing I would change.  The 3 losses the Hawks suffered made the team more interesting.  The controversy made the unity between the fans and the team unbreakable.  If you weren’t in Seattle for the last month, I truly wish you could have been here.

My initial task for this post was to try to sum up everything I’ve felt about this team and, more importantly, this town in the last month.  After staring at my screen for the last few minutes, I don’t think I’ll be able to.  Seahawks

What I can write is how proud I am to live here.  You can’t drive a block without seeing a ’12’ flag.  You can’t turn on any Seattle radio station without hearing about the Seahawks in one segment.  Our hellos have been replaced with “Go Hawks!”  So have our goodbyes, for that matter.  While I’ve never lived to see one of my hometown teams win a championship until yesterday, I have seen some really good teams.  2001 the town was brought together through the Mariners, but not like this.  2005 brought us the Seahawks and while the crowds were always great, they weren’t like this. Last year started this madness but never quite reached the fever pitch we saw the last month.  All of those great seasons (and a few others) were just warm-ups to this year.

Some people think that it’s dumb to put so much into sports and think it’s ridiculous that sports can bring a city together.  They’re right, it’s a bit ridiculous.  But, I wish those people could have seen what I saw in the last month.  I wish they could have seen it with an open mind because I think they would change their mind.

After the game last night, I sat on the couch with my wife, texting the other Good Guys, and watching the news, with live shots of downtown.  People were celebrating in the streets in several different places.  I flipped over to Sportscenter several times and watched that.  The feeling of my city finally winning a championship hadn’t set in yet (it still hasn’t) but I was so content then.  And while contentment wasn’t a feeling that wasn’t created to last, it was the perfect feeling for that moment.  I listened well into the night as KJR had a radio show going until 5 AM.  The range of people calling in was incredible but that shouldn’t be surprising.  This team is made up of some players who were expected to be great and players who weren’t given a thought by most teams.  The team was Bellevue and Rainier Beach.  It was Renton and Kirkland.  The team embodied the Pacific Northwest sports attitude of ‘It’s us against the world’ and so did the fans.  Now, everyone’s watching us as we celebrate.  All eyes will be on Seattle as several hundred thousand people gather on Wednesday to line the streets of downtown and cheer on this team one more time.

I wish I could tell you the feeling here.  I’d waited all my life to feel it and now have no idea what words to use to describe it.  I just know this city deserves this.  There were people camped out in the airport today waiting to cheer on the team as they came home today.  The team wasn’t even coming in through the airport.  There were people lining the streets from Renton to Sea-Tac as they left.

Last night on Sportscenter, Steve Young said, “The 12th man isn’t a gimmick.  They feel accountable for what happens to this team.”  He’s right.  We do and we’re proud to feel responsible for the Lombardi Trophy being in Seattle.

As I was walking in from work today, I stopped to get the mail.  I looked to my right and there were kids out in the 30 degree weather playing football.  I continued the 100 yards or so to my house and walked past 2 cars with someone inside listening to KJR as the hosts celebrated.  I got a little emotional and I’m not sure why this got to me after all the joy that I’ve felt in the past 24 hours.

I don’t know how to describe what this city is feeling right now, but I know it’s perfect.

– Andrew

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Are The Mariners Really ‘Dysfunctional’?

On Saturday night, news broke that Geoff Baker, of the Seattle Times, had just dropped some, well umm, news on us.  Baker has recently moved off of the Seattle Mariners beat and into a columnist/investigative role.  His first story was this one.  As far as reporting goes, this was a bomb.  The story was about problems in the Mariners front office, and reflected especially poorly on Jack Z, Howard and Chuck.  Baker interviewed a few former employees and that is what the story was based on.  It was a very well-written piece and Baker was simply doing his job, and doing it well.

With all this being said, I think there are some problems with the way this article is being received.  Seattle media and fans have a way of really eating any information up and reacting to it in the most negative way possible.  That’s what happened here.  Admittedly, I’m not a huge Geoff Baker fan.  I’m not going to go into why, but I do think he’s an extremely talented writer and reporter.

I’m writing this post, not as an attack on Baker, but because I think the story needs to be questioned in the way of who the quotes came from and the relevancy of today’s team.  I will be going straight through the article, paragraph by paragraph, and talking about some problems I have with it.

Before I begin with that, I think the timing of this article is noteworthy.  Ryan Divish did say that this article has been in the works for over a month and I have no reason to believe him.  But, the story came out 2 days after the Mariners finalized the deal with Robinson Cano and people were feeling optimistic about Seattle for the first time in years.  The Mariners were a hot topic and this story came out about 36 hours after the big news.  Coincidence?  Possibly.  Great for Seattle Times subscriptions?  Definitely.

Let’s move on to the story.  If you haven’t read it, please do that before you read the rest of my post.  I don’t want to use many quotes of the story in here because Baker should get the views for his work, so the rest of this post won’t make much sense if you don’t read that.  (Here’s a link to the article)

The article begins by telling a story of former manager, Eric Wedge, getting yelled at by Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln after the 2012 season had ended.  Apparently, the meeting got heated as Wedge fought back.  In short, Wedge didn’t like getting yelled at, as the team had improved, and he didn’t like that Z didn’t warn him it was going to happen.

If what Eric Wedge said is true in this part of the story, that really is too bad.  The team did improve and Wedge couldn’t have done a ton more with the players he had.  But, this is professional baseball.  Eric Wedge made a lot of money and his team finished 12 games under .500.  Employees have been yelled at by their bosses for a lot of worse things.  Also, Wedge was probably angry at this point in time and may have overdramatized what was said in his mind.  Probably not, but that is something that should be taken into account.   Continue reading

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Pac-12 Picks – Week 13

Hello everybody!  I’m headed out the door, so this will be a quick post.  This is a pretty interesting week of football.  The 12:30 games could be the best slate as we have Oregon heading to Arizona and Utah at WSU.  Oregon should handle Arizona but those teams have a history of playing some close games down there.  Utah at Wazzu has bowl implications on the line.  UCLA playing ASU in the Rose Bowl is probably the game of the week and will go a long way in deciding the Pac-12 South champion.  Here are our picks:

Oregon at Arizona – 12:30 P.M.
The Good Guys:  Oregon

Utah at WSU – 12:30 P.M.
Dan, Joe, Matthew:  WSU
Andrew:  Utah

Cal at Stanford – 1 P.M.
The Good Guys:  Stanford

Arizona State at UCLA – 4 P.M.
The Good Guys:  ASU

USC at Colorado – 6:30 P.M.
The Good Guys:  USC

Standings (Matthew actually picked ASU last week, instead of what I had posted.  He corrected it in the comments):  

Dan 64-14 (.821)
Matthew 63-15 (.808)
Andrew 63-15 (.808)
Joe 59-19 (.756)
Tyler (Commenter) 48-12 (.800)

That’s it for this week!  Have a good weekend.

Andrew

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