Seattle Mariners postsSunday September 28, 2014
SLIDESHOW: The Last Seattle Mariners Game of 2014
SLIDESHOW: A few weeks ago my friend Jeff contacted me to see if P and I wanted to go with his family to the last M's game of the year. The team was back and forth in the wild card race at the time so we thought, “Sure, why not? You never know.” (Pictured: Kyle Seager at the plate today.)
Earlier in the week, after a bad string of losses, it looked like the season was over. But then the M's began to win again and the Oakland A's began to falter. And after last night's 2-1 victory, we were only 1 game back with 1 to play. Meaning an Oakland loss and an M's victory today would force a one-game playoff with the A's tomorrow. Meaning today's game was the first meaningful Game 162 the M's had played since 2001. Hence the crowds.
Of course the whole proposition was still iffy. If the A's lost and we won, we would still have that one-game playoff tomorrow. If we won that, we would face KC in the one-game wild-card playoff on Tuesday. If we won that, then and only then would we being best-of playoffs. (Pictured: the view from our seats: Section 342, Row 3.)
And here's the motley crew. People were sitting in P's and my seats when we arrived. Different people were sitting in the Shea's seats when they arrived. There was great confusion about just where (or what) Section 342 was.
On the plus side, we had King Felix on the mound. And for a time it looked good. We were up 1-0, then 2-0, then 4-0. Felix kept mowing 'em down: 7 strikeouts after 3 innings.
Unfortunately, the one time I wanted anyone in Texas to win anything, and they weren't helping. You might even say they were being messed with.
By the fifth inning it was official. Word spread around the stadium and there was polite applause for the M's good effort this season—as is the Seattle way.
Then slowly, as if in a paegant, the M's exited to applause. First, Felix. He came out after 5 1/3, with the M's up 4-0, bowed all around, and was gone.
Two batters later, it was Robinson Cano's turn. He went 1-3 and was replaced by Brad Miller at second base. Even Austin Jackson, who never really did much for us, was ceremoniously relieved after a single in the 6th. Which player stuck it out?
My man Kyle Seager played through the long shadows of the afternoon. Too bad he ended the season poorly: OPSes of .699 and .719 in the last two months. Even so, he's still the second-best position player on the team.
After the 4-1 victory, giving us 87 wins on the year, the most for an M's team since 2007, the players tossed gifts to the fans. But as a loveable loser once said, “If only McCovey had hit the ball three feet higher!” I.e., If only Felix had won in Toronto last week. If only Fernando Rodney hadn't walked four A's in the 10th a few weeks back. If only we had more guys who could hit .300. Or .275. Or .250. If only, if only.
But as more famous loveable losers once said: Wait till next year. *FIN*
Hey Kids, Help Mariners Manager Lloyd McClendon! What's YOUR 2014 Mariners Lineup Look Like?
Yesterday I tweet-riffed (tweefed?) when I saw that Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon had Kyle Seager, the second-best hitter on the team, batting sixth, behind such stalwarts as Chris Denorfia (.209), Kendrys Morales (.221) and Corey Hart (.197).
I wasn't the only one. From David Schoenfeld, a Seattle native, in his post, “Ten Questions for the Stretch Run”:
Look, Lloyd McClendon doesn't have a lot of great options once he gets past Cano and Kyle Seager, especially with the somewhat hot Dustin Ackley out with a sprained ankle. But why was he hitting Seager sixth Sunday? OK, Jon Lester, lefty-lefty matchup, I see that. Seager is still one of his better hitters against left-handers (not that he's great with a .255/.306/.385 line). Plus, Lester is actually a reverse platoon, so batting Chris Denorfia (.203 with the Mariners) and Corey Hart (.201 on the season) in the second and fifth spots and moving Seager down is one of worst decisions I've seen all season. There is zero logic behind it. None. ...
M's lost 4-0. They're now a game back in the Wild Card hunt.
Schoenfeld's right: McClendon doesn't have a lot of great options, but he does have better ones. Example: I know he hasn't played long—35 games, 99 at-bats—but Chris Taylor may have the best batting eye on the team. At least, within this small sample size, he's leading the team in walks/at-bats ratio. Yep, better than Robinson Cano. When he plays, he's usually batting eighth or ninth. But why not second? Sure, righty/righty, lefty/lefty if you go Jackson, Taylor, Cano, Seager. But do you have to mix it up that much when you have so few options?
Go something like this maybe?
- Jackson, CF (R)
- Taylor, SS (R)
- Cano, 2B (L)
- Seager, 3B (L)
- Zunino, C (R)
- Saunders, RF (L)
- Ackley, LF (L)
Then pick your poison for DH and 1B—two positions, by the way, that should be batting much higher in the order. If we just had anyone good in them.
I don't know. What's your Sept. 2014 Mariners lineup look like?
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. Willie 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
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.
Start Spreading the News: My Reaction to the Reaction to the Cano Signing
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.