Tag Archives: Brandon League

Seattle Mariners Throw No-Hitter

This won’t be a long post.  At least, I don’t plan on writing for very long.  We don’t usually do game recaps here at the Good Guys blog, usually we just focus on bigger ideas and lately we’ve been focusing on prospects.  Tonight though is cause for a little something to be said.

If you haven’t heard, six Mariners pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter.  Kevin Millwood started and was awesome but then he came out with a groin injury at the start of the 7th inning.  It’s a shame he couldn’t keep going because, from what I saw (I did miss the first few innings), he had a real chance to do it all himself.  But, fate had him coming out and, for some reason, that just seems fitting.

These Mariners are different then most teams we’ve seen before.  In the last couple of years they’ve started with a mix of veterans and young players and went from there but this year they started with mostly young players.  The young players have shown promise, but they’ve taken their lumps as well.  They’ve taken more lumps than anything else.  Over the course of the last road trip the team became exciting though.  They struck for 21 runs.  They kept games close, even when they lost.  They came back and won.  The Mariners were actually improving and getting better.

I remember around the third or fourth year of the Tyrone Willingham era in UW football.  We’d go to the stadium every week and after giving him the benefit of the doubt for the first few years, it was easy to see that the coach wasn’t getting his team to improve each week.  In fact, they were getting worse every week.  This is exactly how the last few Mariner last few seasons have been.  This is the first time we’ve seen real improvement.  Sure, we’ve seen winning streaks but not definite improvement.

The Mariners will continue to take their lumps.  They’re still young and will suffer a few more losing streaks throughout the season.  Justin Smoak will go through a cold spell (in fact, he’s going through a mini one right now).  Michael Saunders won’t continue to look like Josh Hamilton.  Kevin Millwood won’t throw 6 innings of no-hit ball.  But, I’m betting that the good times will start to outweigh the bad.

For a second tonight, I thought about the M’s making a run at the playoffs this year.  It’s most likely not going to happen and that’s okay because I’m truly starting to believe in the future of this club.  I have for a while now, but it seems that all of Seattle is starting to buy in.  Tonight the Mariners, Tacoma (AAA), and Jackson (AA) gave up a total of 4 hits combined.  It’s not just happening on the major league level right now, there’s encouraging signs everywhere.  Are you starting to believe?  This team is growing up in front of our eyes and tonight was another major step in the right direction.  Go M’s!

Andrew

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It’s Almost Mariners Time!

This has been a weird offseason for Your Seattle Mariners, but it’s surprisingly almost over.  Pitchers and catchers report to Arizona in a few weeks, with the season just over two months away.  Actually, since the Mariners open the season in Japan, their season starts a couple of weeks early.  Yes, the season opener will be at like 3:00 in the morning on the other side of the International Date Line.  Plan your lives accordingly.

Anyway, if you haven’t been paying attention or haven’t stopped to think about what the team looks like, I’ll try to help you out with a little fake Q & A.  I’m making up the questions and I probably won’t have any answers, so don’t expect too much, but this will still be a pretty good time.

Who’s new this year?

Well, Jesus Montero’s the big one.  More on him in a minute.  Then there’s John Jaso, the mediocre young catcher acquired from Tampa Bay, who could actually be a pretty big upgrade.  Not a lot after that.  There are a bunch of relievers who may or may not make the team.  More importantly, the Japanese pipeline is back open, with Hisashi Iwakuma likely to join the rotation and Ichiro’s workout buddy Munenori Kawasaki vying for a backup infield spot.  Iwakuma could be pretty good.  Kawasaki is good with the glove but unlikely to hit, so that’s nothing new.  They just signed Kevin Millwood for rotation depth as well. Continue reading

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Ranking Your 2011 Mariners

The big news today is basketball related, with Isaiah Thomas announcing, rather unexpectedly, that he will indeed forgo his senior season at UW. He’s off to the NBA, which sucks for Husky fans. Time will tell whether this is a wise decision by IT, but I’m happy for him. Next year’s expectations will be lower now, and it could very well be our last year watching Terrence Ross, but the team should still be good, and contend for the conference yet again.

With that news, I’m officially closing basketball talk on the blog, until at least the draft in June. Why? Because today is opening day! As Andrew noted, things have been dry on here lately, but nothing like some M’s baseball to stir conversation. In case you have not heard, the 25 man roster is official. Looking over the team last night, I started ranking guys in my mind, and that’s what this post is all about. In addition to ranking the 25 man roster, in terms of most valuable to the team in 2011, I’m also throwing 3 more guys into the conversation: Ackley, Gutierrez, and Aardsma. The latter two are on the DL, and Ackley will probably be up sometime in June, so they belong on this list too.

    Ranking the Roster (Most Valuable to Least Valuable)

1- Felix Hernandez—He is the King of Seattle, and the best pitcher on planet Earth. Yes, Felix is the Mariners’ most valuable player. Go away trade rumors!
2- Ichiro—The team’s best hitter and most valuable everyday player. Also, the coolest Mariner ever.
3- Justin Smoak—I want to fall in love with Justin Smoak, and so does this city, but he has a lot to prove. IMHO, this guy is the lynchpin to the M’s offense in 2011.
4- Franklin Gutierrez—I fear for Guti’s long-term health with every day that passes without an explanation, but assuming this mystery stomach ailment gets treated, Guti is the team’s best defender, and a top 5 hitter, a valuable asset indeed.
5- Milton Bradley—Depending on which Milton shows up, batting 3rd, Bradley could easily lead the team in production this year. But can he stay healthy AND out of trouble? I wouldn’t bet on it.
6- Erik Bedard—Hard to argue that a guy who did not pitch last year could hold much value, but IF healthy, Bedard provides huge value to this team. And IF his spring performance is an indicator of what’s to come, his worth is as high as a #2 starter.
7- Chone Figgins—This guy had better bounce back, and I expect he will now that he’s back at 3rd and settled into Seattle. The M’s should be annoying to play, and Figgy leads that annoyance.
8- Jason Vargas—I still don’t think of Jason Vargas as a #2 starter, but he earned this spot after last season. Can he provide an encore?
9- Jack Cust—Batting clean-up for your Seattle Mariners…Jack Cust. Really? You better believe it! He will strike out a ton, but I gotta think he is an upgrade at DH, and he is an awesome interview.
10- Miguel Olivo—The team’s main acquisition this winter, Miguel can’t be worse than our catchers last season, but he must improve on his first go around in Seattle if he is to win over the fans. Continue reading

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Mariner Roster Notes

Sorry for the lack of content here lately.  I can’t speak for the other good guys, but it’s been a really busy time for me.  Luckily, the best day of the year is just around the corner.  Baseball opening day is April 1st, with the Mariners in Oakland to start the year.  The home opener is a week later on the 8th against Cleveland. 

The roster is almost set, so I thought I’d give my thoughts on a few things:

  • The biggest surprise development of camp hasn’t been a good one.  The news came early that Franklin Gutierrez has been dealing with stomach issues that likely contributed to his poor second half in 2010.  Doctors thought they had a diagnosis and treatment plan, but three weeks or so later, Guti’s not feeling any better.  It now seems likely that he’ll start the year on the disabled list.  To be honest, I’m already writing him off for the season.  He might play, but I’m not expecting a breakthrough or anything.  I hope I’m wrong, but it doesn’t seem like a good situation at all.  On the field, there are two ways to look at this.  First, Franklin from 2009 is a huge loss.  Getting him back to or past that level would have been a huge improvement to the team.  That wasn’t a given no matter how healthy he is, though, so replacing 2010 Guti shouldn’t be that hard.  He’s still excellent defensively, but I think Michael Saunders and Ryan Langerhans can provide a reasonable facsimile in that aspect.  Looking at the other outfielders not named Ichiro… Continue reading

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Mariners Weekend Recap — 5/29-5/30

Some games feel bigger than the one W or L that they represent on the schedule. When the M’s win in dramatic fashion on a Saturday night in front of 40,000 at Safeco, it seems odd that that win means just as much as a 10 am weekday win against Kansas City, in front of 11,000 fans. Likewise, a loss like yesterday kind of feels like 10 losses, rather than just one. The fashion in which the Mariners blew a 7-2 lead in the 5th inning yesterday, although not surprising based on how this year has gone, left me feeling frustration that should be reserved for only the most painful, playoff losses; not a regular season game in May.

I should be talking about a Mariners team that is miraculously just 5 games out of first place today. The M’s should have won yesterday, and should have won Saturday. The streak of horrible weekend games should have come to a halt, but alas, the M’s lost on Saturday and Sunday, providing further proof that while good teams find ways to win games, Seattle finds ways to lose them. Thus, they are not a good team. I have so many thoughts, opinions and observations from this weekend series because I saw every inning, and both games had so many layers. Rather than recap both games in typical style, I think I will just bullet point the good and bad that stood out.

The Depressing Stuff:

  • Ian Snell pitched well through 3 innings, but then I jinxed him by noticing this, and his control went haywire. I’m sure Snell will be gone at the end of the season, if not before then, and with Jack Wilson on the shelf and probably never returning to his old form, it’s probably accurate to say we lost that trade with the Pirates. I would have done it myself, and the trade won’t set the organization back much, but Jeff Clement at least has some potential, whereas Snell and Wilson don’t appear to.
  • Felix pitched well enough to win on Saturday, 8+ innings of 1 run ball, but the M’s offense was MIA and Brandon League showed again an inability to keep the ball in the park when it matters most.
  • On Sunday, Jesus Colome and Kanekoa Texeira pitched the 5th and 6th innings, and despite yielding just 2 hits, neither pitcher had much control. Of the 40 pitches they threw, 25 were balls. 4 walks were issued, plus a catcher’s interference, and suddenly the Angels had scratched out 3 runs off 2 singles, and the score was 7-5 heading into the 7th. This felt like the turning point in the game.
  • Yesterday, David Aardsma entered the 9th with a 1 run lead. The odds of winning may have been 75%, but in reality, it felt like a 50/50 game at this point. Aardsma had Matsui struck out on a full count, but the ump called it a ball, which was a horrible call. Once Matsui walked, I felt things slipping away. Rivera proceeded to crush a ball that somehow stayed in the yard, but it felt like a foreshadow of things to come. A fluke infield hit followed, and the wheels were coming off. Kendrick then blasted a fastball (of course) the other way and the game was over. But back to why things never feel safe when David Aardsma enters the game…

    The fact is, Aardsma usually has decent control, but everyone knows he will throw a 93-96 mph fastball about 90% of the time. If that pitch is not located perfectly, it’s a meatball. There really isn’t any deception to Aardsma’s pitching. The hitters just have to sit dead red, make a nice swing, and hope the ball lands in a good spot. Effective closers need not have 3 great pitches, but if he chooses to throw 1 pitch 90% of the time, it had better be a great pitch. Aardsma’s fast ball is not a great pitch, especially if it is not properly located. Aardsma will continue to get hit well for this reason, and sometimes the ball stays in the park or he gets lucky with a ball hit right at someone, but a lot of time the outcome is what we witnessed yesterday. It’s just really frustrating, but really, who didn’t expect him to regress this year? His true colors are showing. Aardsma depends on location and luck, and often one or the other fails him. He seems like a really cool guy though, for what it’s worth.

  • Our 3rd base coach is awful. I talk to Andrew about this often, and yesterday’s send of Wilson was his worst of the year. Base coaches are like referees in that if no one is talking about him, he is probably doing a good job. We have talked about Mike Brumley way too much this year, thus, he is doing a bad job.
  • Saturday and Sunday has not been kind to the Mariners this year. Seattle is 3-13 in weekend games, including 6 straight Saturday losses, and currently the team has won just once in its past 13 weekend games. In their 13 losses, 6 have been walk-offs, and 9 have been the crushing loss type, whereby the M’s were either tied or leading in the 8th inning.
  • 9 times the M’s have given up a walk-off hit. Conversely, Seattle has just 1 walk-off hit this season.
  • The Mariners are 0-6 in extra inning games this year.
  • Only 3 teams in baseball have a worst record than the M’s.

    Do I enjoy digging up these stats? Actually, no. I don’t drink alcohol, but this team brings me closer each weekend!

    Positive notes, plus hero and goat after the jump Continue reading

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    The Worst Case Scenario? Pretty Close…

    Following the ridiculous 6-5 loss to Baltimore on Thursday, I was listening to Brock and Salk on 710 ESPN, and Dave Cameron from USSM was on the show. Cameron said the pre-season likelihood that the M’s would have finished the first 34 games at 13-21, would have been about 7-10%. This number is not a scientific fact, but anyone who knows a thing about baseball can look at the roster Seattle assembled, paired with the weak division they play in, and conclude that a 13-21 start would have been tough to imagine. Is this the worst case scenario? Well, of course it’s not the absolute worst case. That would be a winless team with multiple injured starters, a manager soon to be fired, and a clubhouse that is fist fighting. But this is pretty close to the worst possible scenario I could have thought up back in March. Here are 5 reasons why the M’s are where they are. (And sorry, this gets a little lengthy)

    1) Bad luck (aka sucking in crunch time)
    Last year, the M’s made hay in 1-run games. Despite giving up more runs than they scored, the M’s won 85 games, which by most standards, was an anomaly. The odd that Seattle could have racked up 85 W’s last year was slim when the year began. It was a pleasure seeing my team hang on in close games and show grit time and time again. This year, the Gods have not been so kind in similar games. In fact, in 9 of Seattle’s 21 losses, the M’s either led or were tied going into the eighth inning. That is a staggering result. If the Mariners could have won even just 4 of those 9 games, we would be talking about a 17-17 team heading into the Tampa series. The worst part is that in most cases, one minor miscue has been the difference between a win and a loss. The Byrnes whiffed bunt. The Johnson passed balls. The poor execution of bases loaded in extra innings. Those are the type of missed opportunities that has defined this team through 35 games. If you care to look at just how those 9 gut wrenching games played out, take a look at the quick summaries Shannon Drayer put together-http://www.mynorthwest.com/category/mariners_blog_articles/20100513/Too-Many-Tough-Losses

    2) Slow start offense
    In addition to the close losses, the Mariners are not hitting. Figgins, Kotchman, Griffey, Lopez, Bradley, Moore, Johnson and Jack Wilson are all off to slow starts. Typically you assume a few regulars will start slow, but it’s hard to win when all but 2 starters are hitting around .200 or lower. The offense is without a doubt the biggest reason the M’s are sitting where they are.

    3) The Bullpen
    The Mariners have a solid bullpen. I’d bet as many as 4 of our relievers could be closers on some major league teams. But despite good overall stats, some untimely blow ups have resulted in numerous losses. Lowe, League and Aardsma have combined to give up 6 home runs. That’s not the astounding number though, as 6 home runs between 3 relievers in mid-May is not unreasonable. What is astounding is that all 6 of those home runs were either game tiers or game winners, and all came in the 8th or 9th innings. Ouch. Often times home runs are not all the pitchers fault, because even perfectly executed pitches can be hit 400 feet by major league hitters. A lot of the bullpen’s failures are just plain bad luck. That’s just baseball. The bullpen is not a major concern for this team.

    4) Off the field issues
    The Bradley fiasco and the Griffey nap have been the two biggest off the field incidents thus far. The Milton thing was almost to be expected, considering his past, while the Griffey thing has snowballed from a minor issue to headlines on ESPN. That whole thing is just weird. You could include injuries in this category I suppose, to Cliff Lee, Mark Lowe, and Jack Wilson.

    5) Inconsistency
    The problem with this team is similar to the problem with my golf game. If I’m driving and putting well, my irons and chipping are failing me. If my short game is on, my drives are erratic. For the Mariners, the offense, starting pitching, and defense was great on Thursday. The bullpen was not, and so despite playing well in 3 out of 4 facets of the game, that one poor area bit us hard. It seems like that’s how it has gone all year. We just can’t play well in all aspects, and even when we play well in 2 or 3 areas, the 1 that we suck at ends up costing us the game.

    Reason for hope after the jump! Continue reading

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    Game Recap — 4/5/2010

    Thank God that baseball is back.  Halfway through the game I was sitting on the couch with my brother, each of us sipping a Mexican Coke and enjoying a baseball game.  There are times in life when you know you’re at the right place and that was one of those times.  I can’t remember the last time I was able to watch opening day with my brother and, in a life where it’s vital to cherish the little things, this was one small event that I am very grateful for.

    On to the recap.  The Mariners were in control for most of this game.  They played like they will for most of the year: solid pitching, good defense, and tacking on a run here and there.  For most of this game the pitching was more than solid.  Felix’s line isn’t extremely pretty but take away some bad pitches from Sean White and it would be much better.  (More on Sean White later.)  Felix was still dominating, his control just wasn’t quite where it needed to be.  He got a ridiculous amount of ground ball outs, it’s hard to remember a fly ball.  As for his control, I’m not too worried.  The umpire tonight was bad (apparently he didn’t know what  low strike was) and Felix got a little tired in the later innings.  As the King gets stretched out more and more, his command will get better.  In the 6th and 7th innings he started leaving the ball up in the zone, this is what pitchers do when they’re tired, but for the most part he missed down in the zone.  This is a good sign and will be vital against Texas next time out.

    The end of Felix’s outing brought us to Sean White.  Let me just say that I’m not a Sean White fan.  He benefited from a good deal of luck last year, his FIP was 2 runs higher than his ERA.  Wak doesn’t feel the same as I do about Sean White though and therefore he put him in after Felix.  I would’ve put in League, Lowe, or maybe even Sean Kelley but that didn’t happen.  Maybe White will prove me, and other skeptics, wrong this year but if he doesn’t I’ll be anxious to see what Wak does with him in the bullpen.  Thankfully, we won this game so I don’t have to be too upset with Sean White but if he keeps costing Felix wins I will get angrier.  For now, he’s okay.

    As for the other two pitchers, I was impressed.  League was what I expected.  After that Jack Wilson error I got a little nervous but he produced another ground ball that turned into a double play.  I’m excited to see League throughout this year.  Aardsma did what he did last year.  I’ve always been on the fence about Aardsma but I do like that he comes right after hitters.  He was good tonight.

    The offense tonight was about what I expect for the season.  Score a run here, score a run there and then what do you know, we end up with 5 runs in a game.  This team is way more patient than last years.  I’m pretty sure we matched the amount of walks we had last year in one game (sarcasm).  It will be nice to see Figgins, Kotchman, Bradley paired with Griffey give this team a patient approach. 

    The stolen bases were fun and something I expect to see a lot of.  Speed is an underrated aspect of baseball and speed is something we have. 

    Hero: Casey Kotchman. He was awesome tonight. I’m a Kotchman believer and one of the few who seem to think he will produce at a higher level this year. I like him batting third in the order and am excited to see what he can do this year. The fact that he got 4 RBI and a game winning hit in his first Mariner game is pretty cool.

    Goat: Sean White. I didn’t understand White being the first reliever to pitch this year, especially considering it was the 7th inning and he was entering a jam. Everyone knows how lucky White got last year on balls in play, and his inability to strike guys out scares me. Tonight’s performance confirmed my fears of White this year.

    A few more quick notes after the jump. Continue reading

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