erik lundegaard

Seattle Mariners posts

Thursday June 05, 2014

Prince Hisashi

I like this line from David Schoenfield's post, “Hisashi Iwakuma is one of baseball's best”:

Iwakuma needed to shut down the Braves [yesterday] because [Mariners manager Lloyd] McClendon threw out one of the sorriest lineups you'll see with Bloomquist, Chavez and Stefen Romero, who entered the game batting .204/.256/.345, in the cleanup spot.

Yep, that was three of our top four. Hisashi IwakumaWillie Bloomquist (.559 OPS going into the game) led off, followed by Endy Chavez (.501 OPS) in the No. 2 spot, followed by the $240 million dollar man, then Romero hitting clean-up (.601 OPS). Well, no wonder he hit clean-up! That .601 OPS is stellar next to everyone else's!

I mentioned this yesterday on Facebook but might as well repeat it here: If there's anything dumber than the Mariners leading off with Bloomquist it's the Braves intentionally walking him in the 3rd with a man on second. But of course that got them Chavez. And that ended the inning.

My friend Jim is quite down on McClendon, and in this regard I tend to agree. His lineups are abysmal. But we still won the game, 2-0, thanks to Prince Hisashi, heir to King Felix. The M's are now three games over .500, and if the season ended today they'd be in the playoffs. When as the last time we could say that on June 5?

Schoenfield concludes this way:

Iwakuma joined the Seattle rotation on July 2, 2012. Here are the AL ERA leaders among starters since then: 

Iwakuma — 2.66 
Max Scherzer -- 2.88 
Felix Hernandez -- 2.94 
Yu Darvish -- 3.04 
Alex Cobb -- 3.05 
Chris Sale -- 3.08 
David Price -- 3.22 
James Shields -- 3.23 

Posted at 10:32 AM on Jun 05, 2014 in category Seattle Mariners
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Thursday January 02, 2014

Mariners Winning World Series Less Likely than Aliens Landing: Seattle Times Readers

Yesterday the Seattle Times ran two sets of “Headlines We'd Like to See in 2014”: one from the editorial staff and one from readers. It's a close race as to which list is sillier.

The editorial board includes such gems as “Google teams up with Ray-Ban; Glass now more stylish,” and “Steve Ballmer's new job: Bring NBA back, find a new arena site,” while readers' headlines include more immediate types of wish-fulfillment fantasy: Crime falls to record lows, gas prices sink to $1 a gallon, single-payer health care implemented, Sunni and Shiite leaders establish accord, Macklemore puts on free show following Seahawks Super Bowl win.

These two are my favorites:

  • FIRST CONTACT: VISITORS FROM ALPHA CENTAURI LAND IN SEATTLE, WANT TO MEET BILL GATES
  • MARINERS WIN AL WEST

Think about that. We can imagine a world in which aliens land and Alzheimer's is cured but can't imagine the Seattle Mariners winning the pennant or World Series. The AL West is as far as our imaginations will go. Beyond that? Oh, that's just crazy territory. Crazier even than aliens landing in Seattle.

Posted at 12:28 PM on Jan 02, 2014 in category Seattle Mariners
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Saturday December 07, 2013

Start Spreading the News: My Reaction to the Reaction to the Cano Signing

Robinson Cano

Let's start with David Schoenfield at ESPN.com:

You can argue the Mariners would have been wiser to spend that money on three players rather than one. But there was also no guarantee the Mariners would be able to convince Shin-Soo Choo or Ubaldo Jimenez or whomever to come to Seattle, anyway. At some point, you have to strike, and the Mariners did it in the biggest way possible. 

Sure, at some point you have to strike. But why is this that point? The Mariners did it in the biggest possible way. Was it the smartest way? No. Did it smack of desperation? Yes. And speaking of desperation ...

Here's a good nyah-nyah from Tyler Kepner, New York Times:

The most desperate teams usually make the costliest decisions in free agency. The surprise here is that another team was more desperate than the Yankees.

Yep. And, beyond the last abyssmal 10 years, you wonder why. Were people's jobs suddenly on the line?

Art Thiel, formerly of the PI, has thoughts:

Of course it is ridiculous to commit to paying 10 years from now a 41-year-old second baseman $24 million. But this isn’t about 2024, this is about 2014. Which means that Lincoln cannot stop with Cano. If the Mariners fail to continue to invest in payroll to support Cano in the lineup and on the mound, they truly will be squandering $240 million.

Does this move smack of desperation? Panic? Insanity? Yes. But what else could they have done? The great fear among Mariners fans was that Lincoln was so disconnected from reality, he wouldn’t recognize that recklessness was the absolute minimum requirement.

As Otter said to his frat-house faithful in “Animal House”: “I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!”

Bluto: “We’re just the guys to do it!”

They used to play bits of this for those pathetic ninth-inning-rally videos, didn't they? “Let's do itttttttt!” etc. To jumpstart enthusiasm when it didn't already exist, and when there was probably no reason for it to exist. I guess the Cano signing is the same thing. Except worse.

From a 2011 piece by Mike Edelman, Bleacher Report:

That's the issue with Cano. He does all the flashy things that grab attention. He plays for the New York Yankees, he puts up gaudy offensive numbers and he makes strong throws. But he doesn't do the basic things that are truly valuable, like hitting well when it matters or having good range defensively.

Or leading the league in anything, as I mentioned yesterday. Cano has never done that. He puts up good numbers but never better than anyone else. Let me repeat that: never better than anyone else. Yet there he is with Albert Pujols money. By the time Pujols signed with the Angels he'd led the league in runs scored five times, hits once, doubles once, homers twice, RBIs once, batting once, on-base once, slugging three times, OPS three times, and total bases four times. He was a three-time MVP. Four other times he finished second in the MVP voting. He had one of the highest liftetime OPSes in baseball history and was generally acknowledged as one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game. And he got 10 years, $240 million at age 32. Cano is 31. He's done none of those things, won none of those things, and is generally regarded as a good player. Even the Yankees with their deep pockets weren't treating him like Albert Pujols. But the M's? Apparently, they were desperate ...

So what does the best baseball writer out there, Joe Posnanski, have to say? This was Joey Poz before the signing, referencing the Yankees signing Jacoby Ellsbury:

My gut instinct is that it will work out for the Yankees. But I say this in part because things always seem to work out for the Yankees.

I can say this with more confidence: If the Mariners sign Robinson Cano … that won’t work out.

And here he is after the signing. He wondered if the twilights years (31-40) of the greatest second baseman of all time, Joe Morgan, would be worth $240 million. He calculated it this way: 1 WAR = $5 million. And the answer was: nearly. Morgan came about $6 million short. He also had two of the greatest seasons ever for a second baseman at ages 31 and 32, when he won the 1975 and '76 NL MVP awards. Posnanski concludes:

If Cano has a Joe Morgan like second half — two of the greatest seasons in baseball history, two or three other very good seasons and offers some value even in his off years by doing something extra — I think it will be a good deal. Does Cano have that in him? That’s an entirely different question.

Here's the thing. I don't even know if I like Robinson Cano. And this move? Dragging your entourage, including effin' Jay-Z, across the country because your original team won't give you Pujols money, which you totally don't deserve? What kind of person does this? I hate the Yankees with a poker-hot hatred but Cano was in the Mecca of baseball. Did he find it a drag? All that history weighing down on him? Did he dislike playing into October all the time? Did he dislike the clean-shaven look? How about this question: What do the Mariners, and Seattle, have to offer besides money? Anything? I know my thought is a kind of Mariners fan's take on Woody Allen's take on Groucho Marx's joke: Who joins a club that has us for members? What's worthwhile at Safeco that you would want to come here? Besides the money, I can think of one thing. The chance to make history. One more title in the Bronx? Ho hum. But a title in Seattle? You will never be forgotten. You will be the David Ortiz of Seattle. (Even as Seattle originally signed David Ortiz.) Except I don't get that vibe from Cano. I hope I'm wrong. But I don't think this is personal, I think it's business; and I think it's lousy business for Seattle. 

And finally, back to David Schoenfield, the former Seattlite, and Pollyanna of ESPN.com:

For the first time since the club made the big Cliff Lee trade, it feels good to be a Mariners fan. 

No. No, it doesn't.

Posted at 08:59 AM on Dec 07, 2013 in category Seattle Mariners
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Friday December 06, 2013

Just Say No to Cano: An Imaginary Conversation with a Seattle Mariners Fan

Apologies in advance for this exercise in dialogue.

  • Hey, I read the Mariners are interested in this Cano Robinson character.
  • Robinson Cano.
  • Right. He must be great. What with the money they’re offering him?
  • I heard $225 million over nine seasons.
  • A quarter of a billion dollars! Wow. He must be great.
  • He is.
  • He must be the most valuable player in baseball. He probably wins those awards all the time, right? The MVPs?
  • Actually he’s never won one. He’s come close the last couple years. Third in the voting in 2010, sixth in 2011, fourth in 2012 and fifth in 2013. But no, nothing on the mantle.
  • But he’s always good, right? Perennial All-Star.
  • Five All-Stars in nine years. So half-perennial.
  • But a league leader.
  • He’s never led the league in anything.
  • Really?
  • Games played once. In 2009. But that’s, you know, the attendance award. Although attendance does matter. But he’s often in the top five in many categories, both offensive and defensive.
  • So is he young then? With the chance to improve?
  • He turned 31 in October.
  • Is that young?
  • That’s when players begin to decline, generally.
  • And we’re offering how many years?
  • Nine.
  • Until he’s 40?
  • Yes.
  • Why are we doing that?
  • I don't know.
  • Do we think we have a chance to win in the next few years? When he’ll still be in his prime?
  • Doubtful. The Mariners won 71 games last year. There’s a stat, WAR, or wins above replacement, that measures how many wins a particular player is worth over an average replacement. Cano had one of the highest in the league last year: 7.6. But the Mariners primary second baseman, rookie Nick Franklin, had a 2.3 WAR, so the swap wouldn’t even be worth seven victories. It wouldn’t even make the M’s a .500 team.
  • Are long-term deals like this common in baseball?
  • Unfortunately.
  • Do they work out?
  • Rarely.
  • So ... why?
  • [Shrugs] To be honest, I was hoping the Yankees, Cano's team, would offer him this kind of deal.
  • I thought you didn't like the Yankees.
  • I don't.
  • So you thought such a deal would ...
  • ... hurt them in the long run.
  • And now your team is offering such a deal.
  • The irony.

Opinions may vary.

Robinson Cano

Cano watching his 2011 season end early. If he comes to Seattle, he should get used to this feeling.

Posted at 08:05 AM on Dec 06, 2013 in category Seattle Mariners
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Tuesday December 03, 2013

Chuck Armstrong Retires, Lauded for Never Winning Pennant

Here's AP's story on the retirement of Mariners president Chuck Armstrong. Annotations are mine.

SEATTLE — Seattle Mariners president Chuck Armstrong announced Monday he will retire at the end of January after spending 28 of the past 30 seasons in that position with the ballclub, helping stabilize the team in the Pacific Northwest. 30 seasons, zero penannts. Can't get much more stable.

Armstrong built the Mariners into a contender then faced criticism for the past dozen seasons without a playoff appearance. Oh c'mon. He received criticism way before then. He will retire effective Jan. 31 and the club said it is beginning the process of finding a successor and starting that transition. Ten years late, but what the hell.

“Since day one, he has given his heart and soul to Mariners baseball. And yet ... He sincerely cares about the game of baseball, this organization, this city and this region,” Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln said. And yet ... “On behalf of ownership and everyone who has worked here for the past 30 years, I thank Chuck for his tremendous contributions.” Which were ... ?

The 71-year-old Armstrong joined the franchise as team president in 1983 and, outside of a two-year stint in the early 1990s, has been with the club in that role since. Yes, he has. Boy, has he ever.

“This was a very difficult, very personal decision, but I know in my heart that it's time to turn the page and move to the next chapter of my life,” he said. You're a slow reader, Chuck.

Armstrong first joined the club following the 1983 season under then-owner George Argyros. Homonym: arduous. His most famous move during his first stint was making the decision to draft Ken Griffey Jr. with the first pick of the 1987 amateur draft. Well, thanks to Roger Jongewaard and Dick Balderson, but sure. Armstrong left the club in 1990-91 when Jeff Smulyan owned the team and its future in Seattle was tenuous, but he returned to the job in 1992 after he helped in the Baseball Club of Seattle purchasing the franchise, the first step in keeping the club in Seattle. Or in threatening to take the club out of Seattle.

Armstrong was instrumental in getting Safeco Field built (see: threat, above), a move that solidified the franchise and came during the best run of success in franchise history. Nice coincidence, that. Starting with Seattle's stirring comeback to win the AL West in 1995 and run to the AL championship series, the Mariners went to the playoffs in four of seven seasons and three times reached the ALCS. And yet ... Seattle won a record-tying 116 games in 2001, but fell to the New York Yankees in the postseason. In five games ...

“Through all the good times and the not-so-good times on the field since 1984, the goal always has been to win the World Series,” Armstrong said. And yet ... “My only regret is that the entire region wasn't able to enjoy a parade through the city to celebrate a world championship together.” The entire region's regret, too.

The 2001 season was the last time the Mariners reached the postseason and the 12-year drought has brought criticism to Seattle's front office. Again, we were critical much earlier. Fans have soured on a product that has eight losing seasons in the past 12 years. And the worst offense since the advent of the DH: Don't forget that. A club that once sold-out Safeco Field with regularity last year had just one in 81 home games. That lone sellout came on the night the club honored Griffey. Our glory is in the past, and it's not that glorious.

“Thanks to our outstanding ownership, the franchise is stable and will remain the Northwest's team, playing in Safeco Field, a great ballpark and great example of a successful public-private partnership,” Armstrong said. Until they threaten to move again. See: Turner Field, Cobb County. “The team is in good hands and positioned for future success. I am thankful for this important part in my life.” And we are thankful for this speech. Now where's Howard Lincoln's?

Howard Lincoln, Chuck Armstrong, gotta go

Griffey Night.

Posted at 12:37 PM on Dec 03, 2013 in category Seattle Mariners
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