Category Archives: M's Series Previews

Review and Look Ahead

Last time we met, Dan was talking about how the Mariners pulled off a minor miracle in Texas.  Since then, nothing too exciting has happened.  The club did what we expected (maybe even hoped for them to do).  With that being said, I think we all have different feelings about the team right now.  I’m encouraged because the team won the games they were supposed to and that’s with the bats not being close to where they’ll finish the season (although, how many times have we said that in the last few years).  Dan is slightly happy with the team but can’t get over Miguel Olivo’s inept play.  They’re the team Matthew thought they’d be but he’s still annoyed about seeing his 3rd abysmal home opener in a row.  Joe?  He’s trying to hunt down Chuck Armstrong and make him write a letter that says if Seattle doesn’t have an NBA team within a year that he has to sell the Mariners immediately.*  So, with all of those different opinions in mind I’ll try to write a quick review of the Oakland series and a preview of the next one.

* I don’t actually know if that’s how any of them are feeling.  It is a fairly educated guess except for the part about Joe.  That’s what Joe wants to be doing, not what he is doing.

The Mariners took 2 of 3 from Oakland this weekend and won’t play them again until late June.  Some people think that’s a good thing.  It’s a good thing for entertainment reasons.  For winning purposes, this is a terrible thing.

On Friday night the M’s lost to Oakland 4-0.  I’ve heard the pre-game ceremonies were classy, as usual.  The video of the boy stealing 2nd base and finding his dad home from Afghanistan is touching and extremely well done by the organization.  Otherwise, it couldn’t have gone worse for the home team.  This is three years in a row that Seattle has played a terrible game in their home opener.  The stadium also had their debit/credit card system break down and could only accept cash for a large portion of the game.  These things happen but it was an unfortunate night for it to happen.  Otherwise, Felix looked pretty good.  His groundball rates still aren’t where they usually are but they progressed as the game went on so lets hope that trend continues.  I still think he’s perfectly fine.  The offense disappeared so there’s nothing to recap there.

On Saturday nights game, it was the Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi show.  Also, I guess it was the Michael Pineda show because without him the Mariners wouldn’t have those guys.  Maybe anytime Jesus or Hector do anything good the Mariners should flash Pineda’s picture on the big screen with the word “THANKS” written across it.  Or they could do that with the Yankee logo instead.  That’d be cool.  It could be done for all trades even.  I’d laugh, along with 3 other people in the stadium.  Anyway, Noesi pitched 8 shutout innings with 6 K’s.  When he came over, it seemed like he’d be a fastball/slider guy but it’s easy to see his 2nd best pitch is his change-up.  His fastball velocity is good and I think he’s going to be just fine after that rough, first outing in Texas.  Jesus hit his first home run as a Mariner and added a double just for kicks.  His home run was a shot to straight-away center showing off his power.  The guy can hit and he’s only going to show off more power as the year goes on.  He also looked good defensively behind the plate.

On Sunday, it was the Cliff Lee trade that paid off.  Justin Smoak homered.  Blake Beavan pitched pretty well.  John Jaso sat on the bench (he’s a product of this Lee trade if you pay close attention.  Josh Lueke for John Jaso!).  Those were the storylines but Brendan Ryan homered and Ichiro doubled home the winning run.  It’s good to see those guys do things.

So all in all, it was a successful weekend.  These are the series that the Mariners have to win and they did.  Sure, a sweep would be nice but we can’t really complain about a series win.

Some actual thoughts instead of a recap and a preview after the jump.

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Series Preview- M’s vs. Padres 5/21-5/23

Jumping right in!

Who Would You Rather Have?

(Picks in bold.  Line-ups from tonight’s game.)

C:  M’s Josh Bard vs. SD Nick Hundley.  Disclaimer to start: I know nothing about Hundley or a lot of other guys on the Padres.  This is mostly a guess.  He’s youngish, was decent but not too good offensively last year, not doing a lot this year.  Bard’s been smacking the ball, so I’ll take him.  It would take hardly anything to convince me otherwise.

1B:  M’s Kotchman vs. SD Adrian Gonzalez.  I’m pretty sure about this one.

2B:  M’s Figgins vs. SD David Eckstein.  Eckstein’s actually having a better year, but I can’t pick him on principle.

3B:  M’s Lopez vs. SD Chase Headley.  Not sure how Headley is defensively, but as long as Lopez is hitting this poorly, it doesn’t matter a lot.

SS:  M’s Josh Wilson vs. SD Everth Cabrera.  Neither guy is too good from what I can tell.  Wilson is hitting a little better, so we’ll take him, but I have zero conviction in this pick.

LF:  M’s Milton vs. SD Scott Hairston.  Hairston’s probably been a touch better, actually.

CF:  M’s Guti vs. SD Chris Denorfio

RF:  M’s Ichiro vs. SD Will Venable

DH:  M’s Sweeney vs. SD Oscar Salazar.  This is the saddest match-up of DHs in history.

That’s 7-2 Mariners.  Wow!  These are two bad line-ups.  Guti and Ichi are the only M’s picks that are really beyond debate, same with A-Gon for the Padres.  The rest are pretty debateable.

Pitching Match-ups

Friday:  M’s Cliff Lee vs. SD Wade LeBlanc

Saturday:  M’s Ian Snell vs. SD Clayton Richard.  Richard came over in the Peavy trade and isn’t having a great year, but better than Ian Snell.  No idea what to expect from Snell.  He’s been a little better in relief, so hopefully that will carry over.

Sunday:  M’s Felix vs. SD Matt Latos.  Latos is great.  He’s just not Felix.

Closer: M’s Aardsma vs. SD Heath Bell.  I remember seeing Bell for the first time and being extremely impressed.  Big fastball and slider, if I remember right.  He’s tough.  Aardsma’s been throwing well lately when I’ve seen him.

Pitching’s even, but the Mariners have their two aces going.  Hopefully Felix is back to form.  That San Diego line-up is just as bad as the Mariners if you can contain Gonzalez.  I have no idea how they’re having such a good season.  Can anyone who knows more about the Padres fill me in?  If Snell throws well and we score even a few runs, we’ve got a good chance at a sweep.  I’ll be more than happy with two wins.

Go Mariners!  Believe big!

-Matthew

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Series Preview- M’s vs. Blue Jays 5/19-5/20

The Mariners return home for a quick series, which is good because the Blue Jays are pretty solid.  Of course, everyone looks good compared to the Mariners right now.  This season is so strange.  It’s certainly not going well, but they are legitimately one of the least lucky teams I’ve seen in a lot of different areas.

Milton Bradley is back tonight, which is excellent news.  That Sean White is going to Tacoma to make room on the roster is a big bonus.  If this were a movie, the team would come together with a rousing speech from Ichiro, start to hit like crazy, and win their next 20 in a row.  It’s not a movie, but I think a quick change in fortunes wouldn’t be surprising and could happen at any time.  Am I counting on it?  Not anymore, but crazy things happen.

Who Would You Rather Have?

(Pick is in bold.  Line-ups are from tonight’s game.)

C:  M’s Josh Bard vs. Jays John Buck

1B:  M’s Casey Kotchman vs. Jays Lyle Overbay.  They’re having almost an identical season offensively, which is not a good thing for either of them, so I’ll take Kotch for the defense.

2B:  M’s Chone Figgins vs. Jays Aaron Hill.  Two more guys having extremely similar disappointing seasons.  Figgins is again a little better defensively.  If this were last year, I’d probably take Hill for the power.

3B:  M’s Lopez vs. Jays Edwin Encarnacion.  A normal year from Lopez would make them about even offensively.

SS:  M’s Josh Wilson vs. Jays Alex Gonzalez

LF:  M’s Bradley vs. Jays Fred Lewis.  If Bradley starts hitting now that he’s back this changes quickly.  I don’t remember ever hearing of Lewis, but he’s having a decent year.

CF:  M’s Guti vs. Jays Vernon Wells.  Really tough choice here.  Wells is having a renaissance year, but Guti’s been good and is significantly better defensively.  Still, Wells’ power is what this team needs right now.  I don’t know if it’ll last, but he’s my pick for now.

RF:  M’s Ichiro vs. Jays Jose Bautista.  Bautista has 11 homers.  They Jays have 3 guys with 10 or 11 homers, and two are Bautista and Gonzalez.  Weird.

DH:  M’s Sweeney vs. Jays Adam Lind

That’s 6-3 Blue Jays.  Toronto seems to have mostly guys who are under- or overperfoming.  The Mariners have a couple of guys where you’d expect them and a bunch way below.

Pitching Match-ups

Wednesday:  M’s Doug Fister vs. Jays Brett Cecil.  Cecil’s young and has shown lots of K’s and overall good results in the minors, but hasn’t been anything great so far this year.

Thursday:  M’s Vargas vs. Jays Ricky Romero

Closer:  M’s Aardsma vs. Jays Kevin Gregg

2-1 Blue Jays.  Toronto’s a pretty faceless team.  I don’t really know what to expect this series.  Hopefully the Mariners will build on yesterday’s offense and get a better result.

Go Mariners!  Believe big!

-Matthew

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Series Preview- M’s @ Rays 5/14-5/16

These two teams just played, so I won’t do a big preview here.  Since Tampa swept the Mariners in Seattle, they’ve been perfect gamed (is that right?) but are still leading baseball with a 24-10 record.  Good news is they’re at home, where they have 6 of their losses and a worse winning percentage than they do on the road.  I doubt it will matter.

The Mariners are playing slightly better, but don’t have many wins to show for it.  In my mind, it’s become crystal clear that Chone Figgins is the key to the season, much like we thought at the start of the year.  If he starts hitting enough to drive in Ichiro and the bottom of the order on occasion, that brings in runs and puts his OBP up closer to .400.  If he and Ichiro are getting on base 40% of the time (really more if you account the errors they tend to force) it’s going to be hard for this team not to score more runs.  If/when Figgins starts hitting, this offense will take off, relatively speaking.  I just hope it’s when and not if, and the when is fairly soon.  If he stays this bad all year, it’s going to take the rest of the team hitting at a pretty high level, which means the season’s over.

Pitching Match-ups

Friday:  Doug Fister vs. Wade Davis

Saturday: Jason Vargas vs. James Shields

Sunday:  Cliff Lee vs. Matt Garza

Davis is the only guy we didn’t see in the last series.  He’s another young perennial top prospect, but I don’t honestly know a ton about him.  I think I picked him in our preview as AL Rookie of the Year, and he seems like a groundballer type, but don’t quote me on that.  He has a 3.18 ERA so far this year, but his xFIP is 4.81, so there’s some perceived luck in there.  We’ll see.  He’ll probably shut us down. 

Thinking positively, we have our three best starters going (by current numbers), and… Michael Saunders!!!  I always knew that guy was the answer.  Good chance he wins the Triple Crown, and if he hadn’t missed the Kentucky Derby already, he’d probably win two Triple Crowns.  On another note, there’s a cool dog outside my window.  Looks kind of like an Arctic Fox!

Go Mariners!  Believe big!

-Matthew

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Series Preview- M’s vs. Angels 5/7-5/9

It seems strange to be playing the Angels for the first time in May, but we’re definitely catching them at the right time.  Or at as close to the right time as this Mariner team will ever get.  There’s no point in writing anymore, so on with the preview!

Who Would You Rather Have?

(Picks in bold. Line-ups are for tonight.)

C:  M’s Rob Johnson vs. LAA Ryan Budde.  I know nothing about Ryan Budde.  He’s 1 for 3 on the year.  He’s older than I am, so I’m guessing he’s either a journeyman or an organizational guy.  This pick is more based on Mike Napoli, who I’m guessing will be catching the other games.  I still might take Budde over Ro-Jo on name alone.  It’s always good to have a Budde.

1B: M’s Kotchman vs. LAA Kendry Morales

2B: M’s Figgins vs. LAA Howie Kendrick.  This one’s pretty close to a toss-up.  Kendrick has been a little better so far.

3B: M’s Lopez vs. LAA Brandon Wood. A battle of disappointing third basemen.  Wood’s been even worse than Lopez.

SS:  M’s Josh Wilson vs. LAA Erick Aybar. Aybar’s been disappointing too, but come on, it’s Josh Wilson.

LF:  M’s Michael Saunders vs. LAA Juan Rivera.  Saunders makes his 2010 debut.  If this were another team, he’d continue his 5-game hot streak in the minors.  With the Mariners, he’ll probably strike out four times.

CF:  M’s Guti vs. LAA Torii Hunter

RF:  M’s Ichiro vs. LAA Bobby Abreu

DH:  M’s Griffey vs. LAA Hideki Matsui

That’s 6-3 Angels, but they’re not hitting well right now either.  That’s a pretty scary in a bad way line-up for the M’s, though.

Pitching Match-ups

Saturday:  M’s Felix vs. LAA Jered Weaver

Saturday:  M’s Fister vs. LAA Joe Saunders

Sunday:  M’s Vargas vs. LAA Ervin Santana

Closer:  M’s Aardsma vs. LAA Fernando Rodney.  Whatever.

Sweep for the Mariners in pitching.  If only it were that easy on the field. 

Go Mariners!  Believe big!

-Matthew

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Series Preview- M’s vs. Tampa 5/4-5/6

So, fun season so far, right?  While we wait for the Mariners to score a run, we get to watch Tampa Bay, owners of baseball’s best record and possibly most exciting team.  Most people would be worried about facing the best team in baseball, but can it really get any worse than that series against Texas?  If we get blown out, we don’t have the pain of losing in extra innings on passed balls.  If we lose in extra innings on passed balls, at least it was to a good team.  If we win, hey, we won!  I see nothing but good things coming!

Who Would You Rather Have?

(Picks in bold. Line-ups from tonight’s game.)

C:  M’s Adam Moore  vs. Ray’s Dionar Navarro.  Navarro hasn’t been anything great the last year or so, but does it matter?

1B: M’s Kotchman vs. Ray’s Carlos Pena

2B: M’s Figgins vs. Ray’s Sean Rodriguez

3B: M’s Lopez vs. Ray’s Evan Longoria.  He’s pretty good, if you haven’t heard.

SS: M’s Jack Wilson vs. Ray’s Reid Brignac.  Brignac’s a top prospect who was the object of many Seattle blog-desires last year.  We got Jack Wilson instead.

LF:  M’s Bradley vs. Ray’s Carl Crawford

CF:  M’s Gutierrez vs. Ray’s Ben Zobrist

RF:  M’s Ichiro vs. Ray’s Gabe Kapler

DH:  M’s Griffey vs. Ray’s Pat Burrell.  Is it that hard to find a good DH?  Burrell wins easily over Griffey, but he’s not too scary anymore.

That’s 6-3 Rays.  They aren’t quite as scary a line-up as I anticipated.  Longoria, Pena, and Crawford would probably put the Mariners in the World Series, but overall they’re not the Yankees.  Minus those big bats, they’re in some ways what the Mariners hoped to be: a fast team who presses the issue, with some moderately talented younger guys and older guys who they’re hoping will contribute enough.   The only problem is that the Rays are getting production and the Mariners are getting anti-production.  And they have Longoria, Crawford and Pena, anyone of whom is a thousand times scarier than our non-Ichiro hitters.  Pena’s not even as scary anymore, and I’ll still stand by that statement.

Pitching Match-ups

Tuesday:  M’s Vargas vs. Ray’s James Shields

Wednesday:  M’s Cliff Lee! vs. Ray’s Matt Garza.  Can I have Garza too, though?

Thursday:  M’s Rowland-Smith vs. Ray’s Jeff Niemann.  Neither one of these guys are too exciting, but both have a tiny bit of potential. 

Closer:  M’s Aardsma vs. Ray’s Rafael Soriano.  Hey, Rafael Soriano!  I remember you.  Kind of similar pitchers.  Aardsma’s been a touch better so far, giving up more home runs but striking out about 3 more per 9 innings. 

That’s even on the pitching.  The first two could be pretty good match-ups.  We’ll see how Vargas does against a good offense, and whether the team can score any runs off two good pitchers and one mediocre pitcher.  It’s never too late to get started!

-Matthew

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Series Preview- M’s vs. Royals 4/26-4/28

The baseball gods reward the Mariners for a difficult weekend in Chicago with a trip to Kansas City.  The Royals are 7-11 on the year and are being carried offensively by Jose Guillen and Scott Podsednik, which can’t last.  The pitching match-ups aren’t great, but this is a series the Mariners should win.

Who’d You Rather Have

C:  M’s Rob Johnson    KC Kendall

1B:  M’s Kotchman    KC Billy Butler.  This one is tough.  Kotchman is having the better season so far and is better with the glove, but Butler hasn’t been terrible, was better last year, and will likely be better going forward.  I usually pick the guy I’d rather have for the series, so I’ll go with Kotchman, but if I had the chance to trade Kotch for Butler, I’d do it real fast.

2B:  M’s Figgins    KC Alberto Callaspo.  It’d be really nice if Figgins would start hitting, though.

3B:  M’s Lopez    KC Alex Gordon.  Lopez finally started hitting a tiny bit.  Gordon is getting on base some but not hitting much.  From my distant vantage point, he’s looking more and more like a huge bust.

SS:  M’s Wilson    KC Yuniesky Betancourt.  Hehe.

LF:  M’s Bradley    KC Podsednik.  Here’s where I’m going to be a homer and go against what I said about the first basemen above.  Podsednik is hitting like crazy, but I’ll still take Bradley.

CF:  M’s Guti    KC Mitch Maier.  This one’s really close though.

RF:  M’s Ichiro    KC David DeJesus

DH:  M’s Griffey    KC Jose Guillen.  Guillen’s bat is exactly what we could use right now: a guy on an incredible hot streak who’s hitting home runs.   Extremely unlikely to last, but I’d be happy with a series like that from anyone on the Mariners.

That’s 8-1 Mariners, but three spots are close due to either two guys playing pretty well (first), one guy hitting incredibly and his counterpart slumping (left), or a huge battle of suckiness (catcher).  Know what doesn’t suck?  The Beach House album I’m listening to.

Pitching Match-ups

Monday:  M’s Felix  vs. KC Kyle Davies.  Unless Halladay gets traded back into the AL, I won’t be picking against Felix all year.  For the only guy close, see below.

Tuesday:  M’s Snell  vs. KC Zach Greinke.  Greinke hasn’t been quite as dominating yet as he was last year, but that doesn’t mean much.  Bad match-up here.  Snell needs to be pretty excellent to avoid the bullpen, from the sounds of it.

Wednesday:  M’s RRS  vs. KC Gil Meche.  Meche has been pretty bad so far, so hopefully he’ll keep that up, but I don’t feel good about RRS at all.

Closer:  M’s Aardsma  vs. KC Joakim Soria

That’s 3-1 Royals.  Two of the starting match-ups look as lopsided as they could get, and anything could happen in the third.  I’m hoping for two out of three, and if we somehow beat Greinke, that’ll be pretty alright. 

In other news, Lee apparently was great in his rehab start in Tacoma yesterday, and will make his M’s debut Friday.  Also, the Phillies signed Ryan Howard for 5 years and $125 million today.  I’m no expert, but that doesn’t seem like it’ll end well. 

Enjoy the series!

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