Tag Archives: Shawn Kelley

Down On The Farm

Have you ever thought about the confusion that most come with farmers who follow minor league baseball closely.  They might ask, “What’s going on down on the farm today?”  How does the farmers confused son answer?  It could be, “The cows are milked, the chickens are laying eggs, and the sheep dog is having a good time.”  He could also say, “James Paxton looked awfully good in his debut and Nick Franklin has started the season on fire.”  Both answers are correct, assuming the farmer has kept his farm in good health, but the father’s probably only looking for one answer.  Man, that would get confusing.  Of course you haven’t thought about that.  No one has because that’s stupid.  Well, maybe the select farmers who follow baseball make a good wise crack about it sometimes.

Hultzen, Paxton and Walker - The Big Three

There's our boys!

The Mariners farm has been making a good amount of noise in the last year.  How’s that for a transition?  Say what you want to about Jack Z, but he has truly brought the farm system to one of the highest levels it’s ever been at in organizational history.  Yes, that doesn’t mean definite success but that’s one of the reasons why Matthew, me and many others are big fans of his.

The minor league teams opened the season Thursday and I thought I’d give you a quick rundown of players you might be interested and where they’re at.  I’ll just go team-by-team through the system with the players I find the most interesting.  I will skip over some players because, either, I don’t find them interesting or I just simply miss them on accident.  Leave any player questions in the comments and I’ll get to them.  Also, Jay Yencich from USS Mariner has written a preview for each team that will be much  more detailed than my rundown so I’ll link it by the team name for all those hardcore fans  like the farmer in the first paragraph (ha! You thought I couldn’t tie that back in).

Tacoma Rainiers (AAA) USSM Preview

Triple-A teams often don’t have top prospects in them, at least for long.  It’s thought that AAA teams store all the depth for the big-league club and that includes many AAAA players (what I mean by that is players who have mastered triple-A but can’t quite cut it in the majors for the long haul).  No offense, Mike Wilson.  That holds mostly true this year.  The Mariners double-A team may have more talent on it, but Tacoma still has some very interesting names.  Here are the names that intrigue me the most in Tacoma.

Players to watch:

Maurico Robles and Forrest Snow (SP) – Tacoma’s starting rotation leaves a bit to be desired but these are the two most interesting prospects here.  Robles is a lefty who has a low-90’s fastball.  If he’s going to make the majors, it’ll be as a reliever.  I’m not sure why he isn’t in the bullpen already.  He struggles with control.  Forrest Snow is a UW alum and stands a bit more of a chance to get into the M’s rotation at some point.  He’s basically skipping the double-A level.  He doesn’t have the best stuff (good change-up but everything else is about average) but could be a decent back of the rotation starter.  Anthony Vasquez is in Tacoma too but he should never start a game for the M’s again.  Please.

Charlie Furbush – You know about him.  He’s a lefty and was with the Mariners most of the 2nd half last year.  He is in the bullpen but he could make a spot start here and there.  He has decent stuff and sometimes it’s even pretty good.  If he keeps the home runs down he’ll find his way up soon.

Chance Ruffin – Tacoma’s strength is their bullpen.  Ruffin is a righty with a mid-90’s fastball and good slider.  He was with the M’s at the end of last year and will be again, I imagine.

Shawn Kelley – Another good righty in the bullpen.  He lost a little velocity from Tommy John surgery and maybe they sent him down to try to get it back?  I don’t know, but he’s probably better than some of the guys in the Seattle bullpen.

Cesar Jimenez -Cesar is a lefty specialist and there’s usually a place on big-league clubs for players like this eventually.  He has gotten a little worse with his control and overall numbers the last couple of years.  Still, he’s worth keeping an eye on.  All four of these guys aren’t far from making the Mariners and I bet some of them will be up before the end of the month even.

Vinnie Catricala (3B) – Position players!  Vinnie is probably the best, actual prospect on Tacoma.  He can hit really well.  Vinnie made a push for the 3rd base job in the spring but lost out.  That’s probably good since he’s hardly played in AA, and has not played at all in AAA.  He has improved his strikeout numbers last year and hopefully will do so again this year.  He needs to improve his defense too.  The guy can hit and will find a place on the M’s soon if he can find a true position.

Carlos Triunfel (2B, SS) – Triunfel will probably play shortstop for Tacoma most of the time.  He used to be the prized prospect in the system but a broken leg kind of unhinged him and he hasn’t really regained his top status since.  His hitting numbers went down and his defense at shortstop is questionable.  He’s still pretty young and had a large improvement last year so maybe there’s still hope for him.

Carlos Peguero (LF) – Maybe I shouldn’t put him in here because if you follow what I write you know that I’m not a fan of his at all.  He swings and misses way too much, sucks at defense, and has no plate discipline.  That being said, he hits the ball a country mile and has started off the year on fire.

Trayvon Robinson (CF) – Trayvon strikes out too much but he hits for some power and has a good amount of speed (although his stolen bases have gone down a lot for some reason).  If he could up his contact rate, he’d be a really interesting player that would be fighting to the top of the centerfield pile.  Lets hope for some development.

That’s it for Tacoma, and I’m already over 1000 words.  Check out the most talented team in the minors after the jump!  I’m not kidding, extremely talented!

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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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    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)

    -Dan

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    Mariner Recap – 4/6/2010

    The idea that the season really starts with Game 2 is common with baseball fans and writers.  Opening day has all the ceremony and a couple of aces throwing (theoretically for some teams), but the next day brings a little more routine and Ian Snell vs. Dallas Braden.  Braden was excellent.  The first couple of innings, he didn’t seem like much, but the Mariners weren’t hitting him either.  By the third or so, he had them in-between on every pitch.  Not sure he can do that every game, but he was impressive, just one well-hit Franklin Gutierrez double away from a shut out.

    I’m not quite sure what Ian Snell was.  I guess you take 6 innings, 1 run, 3 hits and 2 walks however you can get them, but he just makes me nervous.  Actually, it’s not so much that he makes me nervous, it’s that I feel no confidence when he’s on the mound.  It looked a little bit like smoke and mirrors today.  Maybe he’ll get better.  I’m not writing him off, and I’ll take that outing anytime.  The problem is that if he throws like that against a better offense, the results will not be anywhere near as good.  Can he improve?  I’m not holding my breath.  His stuff looked decent at times and very hittable at others.  I guess I’ll just be happy that he didn’t get crushed and not make any judgments until we see a few more outings.

    Unfortunately, the offense was everything we feared it might be tonight.  They certainly ran into an unexpected buzz-saw in Braden, but without Ichi and Figgy on base as much, with Kotchman struggling against lefties, Bradley just struggling and nothing from the bottom of the order, well that’s pretty much everyone.  Guti had the lone good day, and it still took a balk and wild pitch to score him.  It won’t always be this bad, but we’re going to see a lot of these types of games.  Some will go the M’s way, some won’t.  No reason to panic, but anytime they want to trade for a big bat, go right ahead.

    Hero: Ian Snell. It wasn’t very pretty, but you have to give credit to Snell, who pitched 6 innings, and only gave up 4 hits and 1 earned run.

    Goat: The Offense. 5 hits in 10 innings won’t cut it. Guti had 2 of those hits so maybe he should be exempt.

    Some bullets:

    • I told Andrew a couple of times Monday how natural I thought Jose Lopez looked at third, but tonight brought a few hiccups.  Still, he didn’t make any mistakes due to a lack of tools that I could see.  That spinning throw is something he’ll get better at.  No reason to worry, I’d say.
    • We definitely saw the value of Kotchman’s defense today.  He gave no signs of being able to hit lefties at all, but he dug out a couple of tough throws, and that short-hop play he made was excellent.  Still, amazing how much worse he looked against a lefty, rolling everything over for weak grounders.  Then his first at-bat against a righty, he smoked a line drive straight to Ellis.  Time to see if Sweeney can still play first on occasion?
    • Bradley looks extremely uncomfortable at the plate, like he’s guessing on everything.  He seemed to take better cuts later in at-bats, especially in the ninth.  I’m betting once he gets a couple of hits he’ll lock in pretty good, but I’ll be anxious until that happens.  The longer he goes without success, the better the chance of something bad happening.
    • Welcome to the big leagues, Kanekoa Texeira!  Looked nervous, but that slider/sinker/whatever is nasty.  He looked a lot better than Sean White, not that that’s saying much.  Getting out of a bases loaded one out situation is no small feat, especially in your debut, even if he put himself in the situation.  Too bad he couldn’t do it again.
    • Shawn Kelley and Mark Lowe, on the other hand.  I like those guys.  Kelley is a much better pitcher than Ian Snell right now.  Just not sure that would hold true if he moved to the rotation.

    Game 3: Justin Duchsherer vs. Ryan Rowland-Smith, 7:05

    -Matthew

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    The Greatest Team Ever

    In the Mariners spring training bout with the Arizona Diamondbacks today, new ace and enforcer Cliff Lee was ejected for throwing over Chris Snyder’s head.  The two had gotten tangled up on a play at the plate earlier when Snyder was waving for a teammate to slide and Lee took him out going to back up the play.  Snyder’s quote on the incident, taken from Baker’s blog, written by Good Guy Bob Condotta

    “Two guys going to where they need to be and we collided. Hell, he got me good, man. He Charley-horsed my leg. I still feel it. He almost clipped me twice. My leg hurt every time I squatted, then he threw a ball at my head. He’s up two-nothing on me. … He got me better than anybody coming around third. I aint been taken out like that in a couple of years (sic).”

    His next time up, Lee threw one inside and then another that went over Snyder’s head.  Snyder dropped his bat and took a few steps toward the mound, benches cleared, etc.  Lee was ejected.  The two said the earlier incident had no impact on the latter, Lee said he wasn’t throwing at him, everything played down like usual, although the benches did clear again later.

    Anyway, good story, but what I’m really writing about is my response to the text Andrew sent me about Lee being ejected, which was, “Nice! Way to go Cliff! This team could do almost anything and I’d be excited.”  And that’s totally how I feel about the Mariners right now.  They have so much goodwill built up from last year, and they’re so genuinely fun to root for, that I’d almost rather hang out in the clubhouse with them than watch them play a game.  Not that I don’t enjoy watching them play.  They’re just an incredibly entertaining, enjoyable, dynamic team.  Everything they do I get excited about.  A short list of awesome things from spring training off the top of my head so far:

    • Lee getting ejected
    • Griffey and Sweeney putting together A Mariner Idol and then coaching a practice in the span of a couple of days
    • Sweeney starting 12-15 when no one gave him a chance to even think about making the roster
    • Tuiasosopo hitting almost .500 while playing 4 positions so far, one of which he was playing it for the first time in over 2 years even thought it’s the hardest position on the field (SS)
    • Shawn Kelley possibly starting
    • Garrett Olson being just as bad as last year, so as not to delude anyone
    • Lopez and Chone trading positions, just because
    • Wak’s never-ending positivity about everything, including Lopez’s continued errors
    • Adam Moore playing like a good catcher and Rob Johnson not playing at all
    • Byrnes and Moore (? I think) falling flat on their faces before reaching the bag in consecutive games

    There’s just an overall feeling that this team can do no wrong.  That’ll probably change at some point this year, but maybe not.  Coupled with the realization that this team has a lot of really good players (Lee, Felix, Ichiro, Figgins, Guti, hopefully Bedard), it’s hard not to be excited.  I don’t think we’ve discussed how great Felix, Lee and Bedard at the top of the rotation would be if Bedard comes back throwing well.  Those are three pitchers who could each be the best in baseball any given year.  Will it happen?  Maybe, maybe not.  But that’s kind of how the whole year is.  Maybe they’ll win a lot, maybe not.  It’s just the excitement of knowing there’s the possibility that’s enough for now.

    A FEW QUICK NOTES AFTER THE JUMP! Continue reading

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