Tag Archives: Eric Byrnes

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 — 5/11/2010

Nothing like seeing Baltimore on the schedule to cheer up a blue Mariners fan. They are really bad. And yesterday, we looked really good. It appears the team is rallying around the Griffey story and if that’s what it takes to come together, then I’m all for it.

The quick analysis is Cliff did his thing, the Tacoma bats continued their hot hitting, and the M’s took care of business in efficient fashion. Speaking of those Tacoma bats, Langerhans, Wilson, and Saunders combined to go 5-11 with a homer, 2 RBI, and 9 total bases. I especially love seeing Michael Saunders play well, because left field is a position of need for the M’s. If his early success continues, we may look back and point to his call up from Tacoma as the turning point in this season.

Cliff Lee is fun to watch. I love his first pitch strikes. I love how fast he works. I love that he doesn’t walk batters. I love his cool demeanor. I love you Cliff. Now, please engage in the following conversation, because I’ve had this dream a couple times already.

Jack Z: Hey Cliff, thanks for coming in, take a seat.
Cliff: Whats up?
Jack Z: Well, I noticed your contract is up at year’s end and, well, let’s see if we can’t figure something out to keep you a Mariner a little while longer.
Cliff: Hmm, I usually don’t do this type of thing mid-season, but I sure love being part of baseball’s best 1-2 punch. Awe heck, let’s bang something out.
Jack Z: Perfect. How about 3 years, 52 million.
Cliff: That is generous, but 55 million has a better ring to it. Deal?
Jack Z: Deal! Now, excuse me while I go get you some bats. I hear Mauer is available, let’s see what Minnesota thinks of Rob Johnson.

Then I wake up from my dream.

Some more quick notes and hero/goat after the jump! Continue reading


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Thoughts About Griffey Napping, Hitting Coaches, and the Mariners Management

Note:  This is a few more words than I intended.  Sorry.  This is just my opinion and doesn’t reflect any of the other author’s thoughts on this subject.

The entire M’s blogosphere has had an interesting 2 days.  With the firing of Alan Cockrell and a story surfacing of Griffey taking a nap, I have read countless posts about what all of this means.  Naturally, I don’t think there’s enough stories about this so I’ll have to add one Good Guy’s take on it.  (That sentence was sarcastic if you didn’t catch on.) 

First, I’ll start with Griffey napping.  If you haven’t heard the story you either hate sports, are a Martian, or don’t have access to the internet.  If this is the case, I have no idea why you would read this blog but here’s the basics of the story:  Griffey was going to pinch-hit for Rob Johnson late in a tied game but instead was taking a nap in the clubhouse.  Several players told this to reporter Larry LaRue.  Yes, this is bad but I tend to think that it’s not nearly as bad as people are saying.  To be honest, I don’t really care.  Here are a few reasons why I don’t care:

  1. Griffey would have gotten out.  There’s hardly a doubt in my mind that the Griff-dawg would have rolled a ground ball to the second baseman or struck out.  It’s not like we were going to send Albert Pujouls up to the plate; Rob Johnson has a better on-base percentage than Griffey.  Sure, you could play the what-if game and say, “Griffey could have come in, got a hit and would have won the game for us” but baseball, and life for that matter, aren’t about “what if’s” which lead me to my next point.
  2. The Mariners didn’t win.  If the Mariners had won this game no one makes much of a story about this.  Seriously.  All of these so-called “off the field” issues that have been reported in the last few weeks would hardly be an issue if the Mariners had simply won a few more ball games.  Griffey missed one at-bat, it didn’t lose us the game.  Eric Byrnes not talking to reporters and riding out on his bike did not put us on the losing streak.  His missed suicide squeeze but the events afterwards did nothing to physically alter the baseball games that followed.  Milton Bradley did not put us on that losing streak either.  His situation is a little more tricky since he’s not playing right now but his off the field antics have nothing to do with the performance of 8 of his other teammates who are playing.  Scapegoats come up when you’re not winning and this is what is happening right now.  All of these guys screwed up some in handling their situations but it hardly affected this teams performance.  Blame it on slumps, blame it on poor execution but think twice before blaming all of this 3 off the field antics.
  3. If you take a step back this situation is kind of funny.  Griffey looks like an old man at the plate and now is found sleeping in the clubhouse during games.  I like to laugh and picturing this cracks me up.  Take a few deep breaths and stop taking things so seriously if it doesn’t at least make you chuckle.  Have you watched this team?  They put me to sleep too.

I’m not saying what Griffey did isn’t wrong.  People don’t go to work and fall asleep on the job because it’s wrong; Griffey was wrong for doing this.  But, if you’re going to be upset with something, and there are lots to choose from on this team at the moment, it seems like you should pick something better than a guy taking a nap. 

If Griffey ends up getting cut or retires it won’t be because he fell asleep, it’ll be because he can’t really hit the ball right now.  Eric Byrnes was not cut because he didn’t talk to reporters and rode off on his bike (which is also hilarious by the way).  He was cut because he couldn’t hit, wasn’t a very good fielder and didn’t contribute to this team.  As much as the media has made it seem that Byrnes was cut because he didn’t talk after a game, that’s not the case.  He was cut because he sucks. 

Our management isn’t dumb enough to cut people because they screw something up off the field.  They know it’s a business and that the results on the field is what ultimately matters.  Yes, they care about their employees and that is shown in the way they’ve handled some of these situations but it’s about on-field results.  Continue reading


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A Tale of Two Miserable Weekends…and some ridiculous stats!

I didn’t think things could get more painful than watching the Mariners give up 3 late game homeruns on route to being swept last weekend in Chicago. All 3 games were 1 run losses, and I remember thinking the M’s should have legitimately taken 2 of 3 in that series. Despite the frustration, those losses were a product of a few hiccups, albeit in consecutive games, by our usually solid bullpen. There wasn’t too much analysis required, and while it sucked to have them happen in a row, that’s baseball. We moved on.

This past weekend, however, had many more layers of dreadfulness. To condense this mess, I’ve bulleted 5 events that were pretty unbelievable (not in a good way), and another 5 RIDICULOUS facts that may require reading with a puke bucket by your side…

  1. Sweeney’s double play: When a walk, sac fly, base hit, or really anything past the infield would have won the game, Mike swung at the 1st pitch from Darren O’Day, a slider low and away, and ended the bases loaded threat in the bottom of the 10th on Friday. Although I must say, none of this surprised me.
  2. Byrnes whiffed bunt: This oddity captured the short Eric Byrnes era well. With the bases juiced just one inning after Sweeney failed in the same situation, Wak called on Byrnes to just make contact on a bunt attempt. I liked the call because asking Byrnes to not strike out or pop it up to an infielder is a tall task. Still, he failed…and then struck out for good measure.
  3. Bradley’s blown pop up: Many say Milton just gave up on this play, while some argue the sun got in his eyes. Regardless, this ball needed to be caught, because it allowed 2 runs to score with 2 outs after Felix had fought back from bases loaded and none out.
  4. Aardsma’s blown save: For the 2nd consecutive game following 8 dazzling innings by “Can’t buy a break Fister,” Aardsma surrendered a lead-off walk, then after a stolen base and a base hit, the game was tied, the save was blown, and Fister was given another no decision. I’m scared every time Aardsma enters the game and starts firing fastballs. This past week reminded me why I have this fear, despite his league leading 8 saves.
  5. 2 passed balls in 1 inning by Rob Johnson: Perhaps the previous events are explainable, but this one is not. Andrew touched on “Hips” and his lack of catching in his recap from yesterday’s game, so I won’t ramble. This tweet from Dave Cameron pretty well sums it up-

    “Rob Johnson had as many passed balls in 1 inning yesterday as every non-Mariner AL team has all season.”

What is especially disappointing about all this is that if ANY one of these scenarios hadn’t happened, the M’s would likely have won the game. But it all happened, and as the wheels came off, it was like watching a bad horror film that started off decent, turned frustratingly unrealistic, and ended up humorous. The snowball of unfortunate events that overcame this team could not be stopped, and this team was coming up with new ways to blow games.

And now, grab your bucket… Continue reading


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Mariners Recap – 5/2

It was an interesting day in Mariner land.  Some roster moves along with a game make for a lot to cover in shorter post.  I’m going to tell the story of this game largely through my goat and hero:

Hero:  Doug Fister.  Wow, this guy is incredible right now.  He’s been legitimately better than Felix so far this season.  Think about that.  I know this high level of pitching probably won’t last all season but he’s shown that he’s a quality starter and has rightfully earned his spot in the rotation once Bedard is back.  The most amazing thing is he’s doing this with basically one pitch, his fastball.  Fister is throwing with Maddux and Moyer like control right now and is reaping the benefits.  Today he threw 8 shutout innings and didn’t give up a hit until the 6th inning.  He was helped with a beautiful catch by Ichiro that brought a home run back but that’s the benefit of pitching for this team.  For those keeping track, Fister has took no-hitters into the 6th and 7th inning this year.  I was at both games, so naturally I’m going to take the credit.  I keep waiting for Fister to flounder but it hasn’t happened yet and he’s not showing many warning signs that it will happen.  Unfortunately, he didn’t get the win today but this rotation looks crazy good.  Think about this:  Lee-Felix-Fister-Bedard.  I don’t know if it’ll be in that order but, admit it, you smiled when you read that.  After watching this game we all need to smile a little bit.  That leads me to…..

Goat:  Rob Johnson.  I don’t get very vocal during Mariner games.  I mean, I’ll cheer and clap just as much as anyone else but I don’t out many yells, and I hardly ever yell at our own players.  There will always be my sarcastic comments like, “Bases loaded, no out, Eric Byrnes up.  Time to take a nap.”  but these comments don’t usually make it out from under my own breath.  Today was different because Rob Johnson can’t catch a frickin’ ball.  In the top of the 11th, with the game tied and a guy on 1st, Elvis Andrus squared to bunt.  Mark Lowe threw a fastball a little off the plate, but not far from where Johnson set up.  Hips (I’d call him Robo Rob but a robot could catch a baseball better than he could, a dead robot could catch a ball better than he could, my sister could catch a ball better than he could) moved his glove a little bit and then the ball simply bounced off his glove and headed for the backstop.  The runner advances to second.  I yell, “Rob, you suck!” probably scaring the people I’m sitting with.  This pitch didn’t have a lot of movement.  It was a fastball just off the outside corner.  I could write about how much this play changed the game but instead I’ll get on to the next passed ball.  With a run in already and a guy on third Rob made absolutely no effort to stop a slider that broke off the outside corner.  This one was tougher to stop than the prior passed ball but, there’s a guy on third for crying out loud.  Move your feet and block a ball, don’t stab at it.  I let out another, “You suck Rob!” and buried my head in my hands.  Rob Johnson is not a good catcher.  People will argue that he called a good game today but I tend to disagree.  I guarantee you Rob didn’t put much more thinking into the game than, “Hey, people still aren’t hitting Fister’s fastball because he locates better than any pitcher I’ve ever caught.  I’ll call it over 80% of the time because that’s what’s working.”  Stop giving credit to our catchers for calling great games and start giving credit to our pitchers for hitting their spots just about every single time.  Hips did drive a ball to the centerfield warning track which is the farthest he’s ever hit a ball.  Ever.  Otherwise, he was useless at the plate again.  I can’t stand Rob Johnson.

As for the rest of the game, well, it was more of the same.  We didn’t hit very well, caught some bad breaks, and ended up losing a close one.    We did hit some balls hard but most of the time they were right at people or the cold air kept them in the ballpark.  Lopez hit a hard, line drive to the first baseman which got Figgy doubled off second.  Guti hit one to the wall in right that didn’t carry as far as I thought it would.  Rob hit one to the centerfield warning track that would be a home run in most ballparks.  Kotchman hit the ball hard several times but they were all right at someone.  This is more than we can say in the past few games.  Unfortunately, the team doesn’t hit  many balls hard and when they do it’s right at someone right now.  The Rangers’ pitchers were good this series.  Credit where credits due I guess.  The bullpen was a little shaky but not enough to worry about.  Lowe was a victim of Rob Johnson and a perfect bunt.  Aardsma was a victim of a ground ball placed in the right spot.  It happens, and it seems like it happens a lot to this team. 

Notes on the roster moves after the jump.  Continue reading

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I Need to Vent

Last night had set up so well. I was going to the Husky Spring Game, which we will write about later, then, I was excited to come home and watch Cliff Lee dazzle the Rangers in his Mariners debut. Needless to say, my expectations were high for the evening. The Husky game did not disappoint, though it took 2 hours to drive from Maple Valley to Montlake even with the 520 carpool lane! And Cliff Lee didn’t disappoint either. But the Mariners offense did. Don Wakamatsu did. Eric Byrnes and Mike Sweeney did as well. And now for the venting…

This offense ticks me off. Not scoring runs ticks me off. 9 home runs in 23 games ticks me off. Our lineup, bench, and designated hitters really tick me off. Having an 0-5 record when the game is tied in the 9th inning really, really, grinds my gears. Call it bad luck, but that does nothing to help my frustration. Apparently this stuff balances out over a 162 game season, but in a division of 4 teams, where the separation from first to last is a half game, garbage like last night can’t happen.

Having back to back innings where the bases are loaded with 1 out, then coming away with no runs both times is absurd. Pinch hitting double play machine Mike Sweeney was painful to watch. Also painful was seeing Eric Byrnes whiff on a bunt attempt. But that’s okay because Wakamatsu says Byrnes is “the ultimate competitor.” Maybe he is, but he’s also the ultimate spaz, the ultimate infield pop up artist, and the ultimate swinging strike king. He and Sweeney should not be on this team. And back to Wakamatsu, who normally is a pretty likable manager. I’m not that dumb fan who wishes their manager would be fired after a couple questionable moves, but his lineup selection is horrible. How can you possibly justify having Lopez as the clean up hitter?!

I’m not irrational and I realize there is plenty of time, no one is running away with the division, and the bats are bound to heat up. But there is something about the nature of our losses…walk-off hits, pitching gems wasted, and of course last night where any ball past the infield would have won the game twice, that just makes my head want to explode. I’m sure the plan is to stay within a couple games of the division leader in July, make a move for a bat, get Bedard back, and start the playoff run. But until then, I will expect games like last night to be commonplace, especially as long as Sweeney and Byrnes are on this team, and Wakamatsu’s infatuation with Lopez in the 4 hole continues.

And what the heck is with sending Kelley down to Tacoma? He is one of our best relievers. Weird.

I am about one more painful loss away from taking a week off from this team. That loss may very well come today, because it looks like Texas just scored 3 in the second. 2 of those runs came off a bloop pop fly that Bradley just gave up on. As Ryan Divish says, “Milton Bradley does things in a way where people can’t help but dislike him.” Those 3 runs should be plenty enough for the win against our offense, which again just hit into a double play with bases loaded and 1 out. Thanks to Rob for that one. That would be 2 losses in 17 hours, coming against Lee and Felix.

(This is just one Good Guy’s opinion. I’m sure the others disagree on parts of this)



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Saturday Recap (Huskies and Mariners)

I didn’t make it to the scrimmage at Husky Stadium today and I didn’t feel like devoting a full post to the Mariners loss so I’ll just combine the two keep things brief. 

First, the Huskies.  It should come as no surprise that the freshman running back, Deontae Cooper, was the star of the day.  He has been the Huskies best running back the entire spring (Chris Polk is sitting out with a shoulder injury).  Today he rushed 114 yards and 2 touchdowns on 12 carries.  The backup running back job won’t be decided until the start of the season but Cooper has the early edge in my opinion.  His style is similar to Polk’s in that he’s a downhill runner. 

Locker had a decent day in ugly conditions.  The backups appeared to struggle but sometimes stats don’t tell the whole story. 

Jesse Callier, Nate Fellner, and Alameda Ta’amu sat out today.  Unfortunately, Callier may be out for the rest of the spring.  He also has impressed this spring.

Now, for the Mariners.  I was okay with last nights loss because they really didn’t deserve to win that game.  Today was a little different.  I don’t get to up and down with my emotions throughout a baseball season but today would have been a nice game to have.  The M’s fought back and, to their credit, got 2 runs off a pretty good pitcher, Jenks, in the 9th.  Then, Aardsma came in and showed why some people don’t want him to be our closer.  I think he threw more fastballs down the middle than Fister threw all game.  Granted, Aardsma throws harder than Fister but he doesn’t get a ton of movement and was facing major league hitters.  Just because you throw hard doesn’t mean you don’t have to locate your fastball.  He didn’t and he got beat.  I think he’ll be okay going forward and I’m not jumping ship yet but he scares me and will continue to scare me no matter how many saves he gets.

Hero:  Doug Fister.  Yep, he was fantastic again.  He needs to be in the rotation.  Right now he looks like Greg Maddux.  Seriously.  He’s throwing his fastball a ton and why not?  He’s putting his fastball exactly where he wants it and is getting some good left to right action on it.  Right now that’s a well above average pitch. 

Goat:  David Aardsma.  Read the paragraph above.  He was pretty awful.

  • After I called for Wak to move Lopez out of the clean-up spot the other night he’s done some good things.  I’m still not crazy about him there but at least he’s had a few decent at-bats.
  • The play where Byrnes kept the ball in the ball park caused a mix of emotions.  On one hand I’m thinking, dang it Byrnes , why didn’t you just catch it.  On the other hand, that was an incredible play just to reach the ball.  He was high on that fence and did save a run.  All in all, it was a good play but really weird.
  • I hope Milton Bradley comes back soon.
  • I saw Byrnes drop more F-bombs today than I’ve said in my life.  He’s annoying but at least he cares.  He did get screwed in the 9th inning when he beat out the throw to first but was called out.  That really wasn’t very close.
  • Don’t get too down about this.  There is another game tomorrow.  And Cliff Lee has a rehab start in Tacoma! Take the good with the bad, things are still looking up in Mariner country.
  • Casey Kotchman keeps hitting the ball hard.  That double in the 9th was smoked.

That’s it for today!  Thanks for reading.


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Game Recap – 4/18/2010

The thing about a 162 game season is that you can’t get too high or too low.  Things started out bleak at 2-6 and everyone was freaking out.  Then, the 4 game winning streak occurred and everyone was getting excited.  Both of these reactions were justifiable and somewhat expected but maybe a little bit over done.  The Mariners were not going to win the rest of their games and, while a sweep of the Tigers would have been nice, series wins are what this team needs to shoot for.  They have achieved that the last two series and things look promising since we’re playing Baltimore next.  All of that to say that today’s loss is not a big deal.  It’s pretty close to what we should have expected really.

Ian Snell was decent today.  Not bad, not good, but decent.  He allowed quite a few hitters to reach base but escaped trouble most of the time.  He made some really good pitches and showed the upside that people rave about.  Unfortunately, he showed his downside to: too many walks, too many hard hit balls, and an inability to get lefties out.  We can’t really make any conclusions on Snell because he was sick today and just returned from a death in the family.  Although he struggled at times, Snell was one batter away from not giving up any runs today.  That batter was Miguel Cabrera and there’s no shame in giving up a home run to him, he can really hit and proved it on that ball he launched into the upper deck.  The next two weeks are big for Snell if he wants to stay in the rotation but today gave us both sides of Snell and that means we can’t decide anything today.

As for the hitting…. Well, the Mariners proved that they still have trouble with young right-handers that are talented.  They hit some balls hard but couldn’t get anyone in.  Casey Kotchman hits righties pretty hard and definitely did that today.  There were some opportunities to score, the 8th inning was somewhat painful, but the same can be said for the Tigers offense.  In truth, the Mariners probably should have lost by more today. 

Our infield is really coming together.  Jose Lopez looks better and better at third.  He’s not Adrian Beltre but I think that he will have an above average UZR once the years done.  Chone Figgins is really quick at second.  The two double plays he turned on short hops today were very impressive.  Kotchman had another diving play today and is showing why a defensive first baseman is a good thing to have.

The best part about this loss is that we didn’t lose any ground in the AL West.  The schedule becomes pretty easy over the next few weeks while our rivals go up against some of the best teams in baseball.  This was a good series win against a fairly good team.

A few more thoughts after the jump.  Continue reading

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