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The Mariners already had 'opening day,' but finished their Cactus League schedule with a 7-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday.
The Seattle Mariners will need to reduce their roster by two to get from 27 to the mandatory 25 and the announcement of who will be sent down and who will be in Seattle should come soon today.
Yesterday, the Mariners made a somewhat surprising move by optioning reliever Shawn Kelley to AAA Tacoma. It seems as though Kelley has been around forever as a mainstay in the bullpen, but injuries have kept him to 83.2 total innings in his three year career, including just 12.2 innings in the majors last season.
The final spot in the bullpen should come down to lefties Charlie Furbush and Lucas Luetge. Furbush was acquired from the Detroit Tigers in the Doug Fister trade and posted a 6.62 ERA in 53 innings for the M’s last season. He has a spring ERA of 0.87.
Luetge was a Rule 5 draft pick from the Milwaukee Brewers. If he does not make the team, he will have to be offered back to the Brewers.
The other battle should come down to Alex Liddi and Carlos Peguero. The injury to Mike Carp, who is starting the season on the disabled list, might give Peguero the advantage as an “outfielder” even though Liddi is the superior prospect.
When the news breaks on the final cuts, you can check out Lookout Landing for a more serious look at it!
The Mariners lost a barnburner on Tuesday, falling to the Colorado Rockies by a score of 9-8.
With the news that both Matt Cain and Joey Votto are signing huge contract extensions that should keep them with the Giants and Reds for at least the majority of their careers, it got me thinking to when the Mariners might have to do something similar with a star player.
Then I remembered: Mariners.
One of the frustrations of having a young team is seeing the growing pains as under-25’s adjust to life in the majors, but one of the joys of having a young team is feeling safe by the “six years of club control” rule that keeps the best of them from signing with the Yankees just as they’re getting good.
Still, here are a few reminders on Mariners contract situations:
Felix Hernandez is signed for three more years, including 2012. That will make him a free agent after 2014 but if he is really going to top out at 90 MPH for the rest of his career (joke) then we can extend him in two years for pennies on the dollar!
Ichiro is in the final year of a 5-year, $90 million contract.
Chone Figgins will no longer be the Mariners problem after 2013.
Franklin Gutierrez is owed $12.5 million over the next two seasons with a $7.5 million team option for 2014 with incentives for looking gorgeous. (And plate appearances.)
Brandon League is a free agent after this season, which could make him a prime trade candidate if he is having a great season as closer.
Jason Vargas is actually the closest thing to a Mariner that could be looking for an extension, but he is not a free agent until 2013 and he won’t be nearly as expensive as Matt Cain unless he’s been saving all of his “number one starter” stuff until now.
The M’s actually have very little money committed the team past next year, besides arbitration bucks to all of their young players, which could get them active on the free agent market next year. Or not, depending on whether or not the players want to play here, but who wouldn’t want to play with Felix? He seems like so much fun.
For more Mariners new, frequent Lookout Landing while you’re at work.
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It's the dawn of a new season and everything looks bright from here.
The Seattle Mariners have returned from Japan with a 1-1 record following their season-opening series against the Oakland Athletics. Both teams are now back in the exhibition game swing until Spring Training wraps up for the rest of MLB.
For the time being, the M's are dealing with the stresses of jet lag following their transcontinental flights, according to Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune.
"We tried to keep them awake for awhile when we got here, advised them to stay awake into the evening and then try to get a good night's sleep," manager Eric Wedge said.
"That said, we're all feeling it today. We'll be better with another night of sleep."
Miguel Olivo said he'd gone to sleep at 10 p.m. on Friday night.
"Then I woke up at 2:45 a.m. and didn't get back to sleep until 5 a.m.," he said. "I woke up again at 7 a.m. and said 'The heck with it,' and got up."
The jet lag obviously didn't affect the players too deeply, as they were able to pick up an easy 6-1 win over a San Diego Padres split squad on Saturday.
For all news and information regarding the Seattle Mariners, please visit Lookout Landing.
For nearly 30 years, Rick Griffin has been a trainer for the Seattle Mariners and he’s seen hundreds of players come and go. During that time, Griffin has also seen eight different players make the transition from Japanese baseball to the Major Leagues and he spoke to the Japan Times about what makes Japanese players special:
“One thing I’ve always noticed is, the Japanese players are very hardworking, very respectful,” Griffin said. “And they have a very good program, they stay on their program. They have very good routine, and they stay on their routine. Whether they have a good day or a bad day, they stay on their routine. This is very important.”
Griffin is also familiar with baseball in Japan from his continuous time spent touring the country with MLB All-Stars since 1994. The veteran trainer talked about where or not Ichiro has lost a step in his advanced age:
“Well, he’s 38 years old, he’s played a long time,” Griffin said. “He’s played in the outfield a long time, and that takes a tremendous amount of tear on your body. If he’s a little slower, that’s OK, because he’s 38 years old. He’s not going to stay the same as when he was 21, 25.”
No word on whether or not Griffin has decided to use “The Ichiro Squat” in his own training sessions.
The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics wouldn’t be much of a draw in the States, but with Japanese legend Ichiro Suzuki on the M’s and second-generation Japanese catcher Kurt Suzuki leading the A’s, the two-game series was a rousing success. Over 87,600 fans attended the games at the Tokyo Dome over two days.
Daily Yomiuri writer John E. Gibson described the action and got some quotes from the players that lived through “Mariner-Mania!”:
“I was just happy to have the fans of Japan be able to see me here in a Seattle Mariners uniform,” said Kawasaki, who himself spoke like a fan after Suzuki’s Game 1 performance. “He [Suzuki] was incredible. He had so many hits. And he didn’t just go out and try get a bunch hits, he went out and had fun,” Kawasaki said. " It was very Ichiro-like."
“I think there’s a large Seattle Mariner fan base over here. It probably started with Ken Griffey Jr. and has been carried on by Ichiro and the other guys that have played for us from Japan,” Wedge said before his team lost 4-1 in the second game to the Athletics.
It’s certainly comforting to hear that Suzuki can still get hits when he isn’t even trying to.
The Seattle Mariners have started their regular season, but have not yet ended their Spring Training season. Does that make any sense? After their two-game series against the Oakland Athletics this past weekend, the Mariners return to Peoria, Arizona to continue Cactus League play.
The M's have five Cactus League games left before continuing their regular season against the Oakland Athletics in a two-game series against Oakland on April 6th and 7th.
Here is the remaining Cactus League Schedule for the Mariners:
Friday, March 30th - vs. San Diego Padres, 6:05 pm PT
Sunday, April 1st - vs. Kansas City Royals, 1:05 pm PT (ROOT Sports)
Monday, April 2nd - vs. Colorado Rockies, 1:05 pm PT (ROOT Sports)
Tuesday , April 3rd - vs. Colorado Rockies, 1:10 pm PT (ROOT Sports)
Wednesday, April 4th - vs. Colorado Rockies, 1:10 pm PT
For more on the Mariners, head over to Looking Landing.
As the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A's wrapped up their two game set on the other side of the planet early Thursday morning, Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes was making MLB history, launching his first career home run en route to a 4-1 Oakland Victory at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan.
Cespedes launched a two run bomb in he bottom of the seventh to give the A's back the lead after Justin Smoak's solo shot the inning before, followed by Josh Reddick and Jonny Gomes' solo shots in the seventh and eighth would propel Oakland to their first win of the season. All the runs were scored off of homers in this game.
Bartolo Colon was spectacular for Oakland, earning his first win in the Green and Gold with his eight innings of one run ball, including only three hits, six strikeouts and one lone walk. Sean Kelley would take the loss for Seattle, while also getting tagged with a blown save as well after Jason Vargas' 6.1 innings of two hit ball along one run and three strikeouts.
These teams now head home to rest, recuperate and get ready for the start of the season on the Mainland.
The Seattle Mariners will look for the series sweep when they take on the Oakland Athletics in the Tokyo Dome in Japan. Seattle shut down Oakland behind the fierce pitching of Felix Hernandez. They won't be quite in as capable hands with Jason Vargas at the helm. Luckily, the Mariners will have just as likely a chance to rough up Oakland's starting pitcher Bartolo Colon. Should be a contest where both of these teams have a solid chance of winning.
Here's the full list of info regarding television, radio, and online streaming.
Time: 2:10 AM PT/5:10 AM ET
TV: MLB Network, Root Sports in the Seattle area.
Radio: 710 AM in Seattle.
Online Stream: MLB.TV, but you will have to pay to watch the contest.
Those worried about Ichiro Suzuki getting taken out of the leadoff spot for the Seattle Mariners this season breathed a sigh of relief in the wee small hours of Wednesday morning against the Oakland A's, as the natvie of Japan got himself four hits in the season opener in his homeland, helping the M's drop the A's by the score of 3-1 in 11 innings in MLB's opener in front of a sellout crowd at the Tokyo Dome.
Ichiro finished 4-5 with an RBI in the 11th, while Dustin Ackley homered and knocked in the go-ahead run in the 11th inning for Seattle. Felix Hernandez got the ND after eight innings of one run ball, allowing five hits and six strikeouts along the way. Tom Wilhelmsen (W 1-0) got the win with his two scoreless innings of relief.
After the game, Ichiro expressed his delight with playing in Japan once more:
"It was very special to open in Japan," said Suzuki, who spent nine seasons in Osaka with the Orix Blue Wave. "I wanted to have fun and give the fans something at this special time and wanted to share a special moment with them."
As for the A's Brandon McCarthy was solid as well in his seven innings pitched, also allowing only one run on six hits along with three strikeouts. Kurt Suzuki had the lone RBI for the A's with a double in the 4th that scored Cliff Pennington.
Jason Vargas will get the start for the Mariners on Thursday, while Bartolo Colon will take the mound for Oakland.
25 years old; Experience: 3 years
Out of all the surprises last year, the fact that Mike Carp could hit the ball consistently at a major league level might have been the only Mariners surprise worth having. Mike Carp sadly put in one of the best hitting lines for the Mariners last year, and he only played in half the season. But it is a good surprise, considering that Mike Carp had always shown the ability to mash the hell out of the ball in AAA. AAA ball is littered with players that can mash the hell out of the ball there, but then struggle to even place the bat on the ball at the major league level. Mike Carp had never really gotten much of a chance in his September call-up tryouts with the Mariners in previous years until last year.
Last year, Mike Carp's numbers were pretty consistent with his career averages - hitting .276/.326/.466 (career: .273/.334/.444). He still strikes out at a pretty consistent clip, about a quarter of the time, and he did show a better ability to draw walks in AAA than he has shown in the major leagues, so maybe his OBP might increase a little bit. For now, Mike Carp is a welcome addition to the Seattle Mariners for his versatility (he can hit AND play first base). The Mariners are throwing him into left field because Mike Carp isn't exactly known for his defense, and generally speaking neither are left fielders as a whole.
This year we can plan on Mike Carp playing some left field, and then possibly spelling some off days for Justin Smoak at first base, and possibly a bit of DH as well. That much we do know, and because Mike Carp likes to wear his heart (or in this case, his batting statistics) on his sleeve, we can pretty much know what he is projected for as well. Mike Carp's yearly averages read like his career averages, so just figuring that he plays most of a season, we can hopefully expect Mike Carp to hit around .275 and possibly slug up to 20 homers out of the park. That is the Mike Carp ceiling, and although that may seem to be a bit unimpressive, in this Mariners line-up that struggles to hit anything past the infield diamond, any bit of slightly consistent power is welcomed with open arms.
The Seattle Mariners are just a few hours away from kicking off the MLB 2012 regular season in Japan. The M's will take on the Oakland Athletics and first pitch is set for 3 a.m. Seattle time. After a rough campaign in 2011, this is a clean start for manager Eric Wedge and his club. The American League West figures to be one of the tougher divisions in baseball this season, but there is always a team or two that emerges out of nowhere to claim a playoff spot.
Why not Seattle?
Felix Hernandez will start the game for Seattle.
Brandon McCarthy will start the game for Oakland.
The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics will open the 2012 MLB season in Japan early this morning with first pitch scheduled for 3:10am PST, which is 7:10 pm local time JST. If you're obsessed with baseball or do this for a living and absolutely need to watch the game live, I hope you've got your pot of coffee ready because it's going to be a late night. Someone at the Major League scheduling office must not have known about a little thing called 'time zones' or perhaps they would have scheduled it as a day game in Japan, but here we are. If you're planning on watching - here's what you need to know:
Teams: Mariners (67-94, 4th AL West, -29.0 GB) at Athletics (74-88, 3rd AL West, - 22.0 GB).
Gametime: Wednesday, 3:10 a.m. (PT), Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan.
TV: The game will be shown live on MLB.tv and ROOT Sports locally, then tape-delayed on MLB Network at 6am PST.
Radio: KIRO 710, the Mariners Radio Network.
To read more about the game, head over to Lookout Landing.
Five "If" possibilities that could bring the Mariners back to the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
Third Base: Chone Figgins #9
34 years old; Experience: 10 years
Ah. We have come to the most polarizing figure in recent Mariner's history since Richie Sexson. Actually, to be polarizing you have to have people that actually root for you, and since Chone Figgins is basically "he who shall not be named", let me correct myself and say we have come to the most hated figure in recent Mariner's since Richie Sexson. The backstory is probably something that everyone knows, but lets dive into it just because misery loves company, old wounds take the longest to heal, etc etc.
The Mariners were sitting all pretty with Adrian Beltre hitting the ball and playing beyond amazing defense before he decided to take his talents elsewhere. Three long years ago, the Mariners made an interesting decision on Figgins and signed him to a four-year contract worth $36 million. The interesting part of this decision was the Mariners still clearly had an Ichiro on the team, and this Ichiro hadn't quite begun to decline yet. And this Ichiro was also being paid somewhere in the realms of the upper teens (times millions) of dollars a year. So the Mariners locked in about a quarter of their payroll to have two leadoff hitters and the top of the rotation. It just seemed so crazy that it had to work!
So bear with me here, and stay flashbacked to 2010. Because in 2010, this idea seemed so crazy to work because Chone Figgins was one of the best leadoff hitters in the league. In three of his previous five years with the Angels Figgins had an .OBP higher than .390. Granted, he didn't slug worth anything, but when Figgins got on base - which he did a whole heckuva lot - Figgins would also steal and he did that a fair amount of the time. The idea of Ichiro and Figgins just hitting each other all over the base paths and stealing bases left and right was just enough to make the regular delusional Mariners fan salivate at the thought of winning with a team that hits less home-runs then their AAA counterpart.
But in 2010, it all went to shit - sort of. The Mariners completely turned Figgins' world upside down, or at least as much as you can without converting a leadoff man to a closer without his permission. The M's moved Figgins to second base and shoved him in the two hole. Not that these two things contributed to the downturn, but as most baseball players are intense creatures of habit, it is hard to think it didn't play a part. Figgins had his worst hitting year of his career. His walk rates were down, his strike out rates a bit higher, and his poor hitting coincided with the fans basically blaming the debacle of 2010 on poor Figgins' shoulders.
So then this albatross, which was making $9 million a year, came into 2011 looking a bit glum. And that is why in 2010 it only sort of went to shit for Figgins, because in 2011 it really truly went to shit. Figgins' BABIP plummeted to .215 (a whole .100 off of his career average) and through 81 games Figgins hit a pathetic .188 on his way to mysteriously injuring himself and getting shelved for the rest of the season.
Flash forward to 2012, where the damage has seemingly been already done. And while a whole lot of fans would wish for Figgins to take a ferry to an island in Puget Sound and never return again, the fact of the matter is the Mariners have a player who doesn't appear to be very good anymore and is still owed $18 million dollars. In other words, the skinny, small, position-playing version of Carlos Silva is going nowhere. So it is nice to see the Mariners trying to get something out of Figgins this year by placing him back at third base and inserting him in the leadoff position again.
There are reasons to think that Chone Figgins will bounce back in 2012. One reason is that I pray to all things holy that his rock bottom hit in 2011 - otherwise I'm not sure what atrocity those hitting numbers would look like. Another reason is that Figgins isolated batting numbers are well below his career average. Now at 34 years old, he could just be declining faster then a lot of baseball players, but Figgins has stayed relatively healthy over the course of his career. The main reason I like to think he can bounce back is the hope factor. Because at the moment, Kyle Seager doesn't look fully ready to wrestle a full time playing gig away. With Gutierrez going down with an injury, look who is possibly filling that void but Chone Figgins. The Mariners are trying to increase his value in hopes of a trade where instead of eating $9 million they will only eat $8 million. I wish no ill will towards Figgins. So here is to hoping being back in the cozy confines of the leadoff spot does wonders. Otherwise - ugh.
Shortstop: Brendan Ryan #26
30 years old; Experience: five years
Little known fact (unless you read the Dustin Ackley entry below) about Brendan Ryan - last year he was the second most valuable position player on the Mariners in terms of Wins Above Replacement at 2.6. Virtually all of that value comes from Ryan being an above average defender at shortstop. Ryan spent most of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals before coming over to the Mariners last year, and the big cheeses at Safeco were well aware of what they were getting. An occasionally decent hitting shortstop that prevents more runs from scoring then he generally provides.
That is really all there is to Ryan. Which is unfortunate, as defensive players tend not to get appreciated much in the baseball realm outside of the Baseball Tonight web-gems. But Ryan as a hitter doesn't bring much to the plate at all. He is a career .256 hitter with 12 homeruns in five years. Ryan doesn't strike out as often as a lot of bad hitters do, which is good. Last year his BABIP was right about on par with his career average - in fact a lot of his stats last year were right about on par with his career average. It leaves to be said that most likely if Ryan plays a full year with the Mariners we could very well see the exact same stats he put up last year. Probably statistically impossible, but still a possibility, possibly.
For now, Ryan is a stop-gap until the Mariners find a shortstop that is a better hitter and as good of a fielder. And until then, that is a perfectly suitable plan. Ryan comes pretty cheap, he is only making around a million dollars this year. He'll remain under team control next year as an arbitration-eligible player, so even if the Mariners have no one quite ready, we can expect another year of Ryan hitting singles and occasionally stealing a base.
Second Base: Dustin Ackley #13
24 years old; Experience: one year
Dear readers - meet your savior and future star forever of the Seattle Mariners Dustin Ackley!!! Or at least that is what it feels like the pressure that has been placed on Ackley in Seattle is like. Between you and me, I would rather be viewed that way than the other way - the consolation prize to the Stephen Strasburg sweepstakes (which if you remember correctly, the Mariners were all primed to win and then decided to finally win a couple of games at the end of the season, you know, when it mattered). That was a long bitter sentence in those parentheses, but it is a fair look. Even though Strasburg has had Tommy John surgery once, he was viewed as the biggest pitcher to come out of the draft in a long while. Ackley was viewed as the best college position player that year - he is the record holder for the most hits in the College World Series after all. He is a crucial part to this Seattle Mariners puzzle - as seen by the fact he has his own commercial after not even playing a full year with the team.
Ackley was fast-tracked for the majors from the start because he proved that he knew how to put the ball into play, which instantly separated him from about 12 of the position players on the Mariners roster. He joined the team after the June call-up last year and ended up the most valuable position player on the roster at a 2.7 WAR, second to Brendan Ryan at 2.6, and Franklin Gutierrez at 1.1 (eesh). Ackley held up against the major league pitchers. He hit to the tune of .273/.348/.417 with six home runs and seven triples. He struck out at quite a higher clip than he did in the minor leagues, about once in every five at bats. But that looked to be a sign of aggression, and Ackley for the most part is a patient hitter. His strikeouts weren't the dumb kind of the likes of my old favorite swinger Yuniesky Betancourt (whose strikeout hijinks have been permanently seared into my brain).
He also was a fairly competent defensive second basemen last year. He wasn't dazzling, but he showed his athleticism and a knack for the position. This is encouraging considering that Ackley played a bit of shortstop, first base, and mostly center field while playing college ball at University of North Carolina. You'll notice that second base isn't listed in those positions. But with the Mariners already having what they thought was the centerfielder of the future in Gutierrez, Ackley had to work his way into the line-up in a position the Mariners were lacking in. Ackley had a very Ackley like spring this year. He hit the ball well, he stole a base, he walked a few times, hit a home run, got a couple triples, and hit some doubles. He isn't the flashiest of players, but Ackley will very quietly put together a very solid game.
The key with Ackley that should help his batting stats a bit is that the team appears (on paper!!!!! every year the Seattle Mariners appear to have improved ON PAPER!!!!) to have added a few bats. Last year Ackley came in with a lot of expectations on him, and luckily for him, this year those unnecessary expectations have all been shifted to Jesus Montero. Ackley will start off the season hitting second, and assuming Ichiro's bat speed hasn't gone from Japanese bullet train to American Amtrak train in the past two years, pitchers will have to pitch to Ackley. I expect to see an improvement upon his stats solely because he will be playing the full year of major league ball, and Ackley didn't look too exposed last year. He is a mature baseball player, and luckily for us fans, one that helps you start to actually care about the Mariners again.
First Base: Justin Smoak #17
25 years old; Experience: two years
By now, most everyone should know the story about how Justin Smoak came to the Mariners. But what is most important is what happened to Justin Smoak before coming to the Mariners. Because what happened to him before is what allowed him to be on the team today. Smoak went to South Carolina and had a very successful college career, but his reportedly high contract demands slid him all the way down to the 11th pick in the 2008 draft. What the Texas Rangers got was a solid defensive, switch-hitting first basemen already drawing comparisons to Mark Teixeira and Chipper Jones. No big deal, just a couple of schumcks to live up to.
Smoak blasted through AA and AAA ball in 2009 and was called up to the majors in 2010, where he struggled mightily at the plate. This probably helped make it a bit easier for the Rangers to pull the trigger and toss their prized prospect into the mix when acquiring Cliff Lee. With the Mariners desperately in need of some offense, Smoak still struggled and was sent back down to Tacoma, only to come back up to close out the year with the hitting form that all the scouts saw possible.
Last year, Smoak was seen as a big piece of the offense and he to start the season he fit the bill. Through April Smoak had a OPS of .940, but in May and June Smoak started to struggle until his batting stats bottomed out in July. He dealt with the death of his father, a thumb injury, and taking a hard hit ball directly to the face. Sometimes it is easy for fans to cast an air of indifference and say someone should play through all these things, but it is important to remember that Smoak was only in his first full season of ball at this point.
A lot of projections are pinning Smoak to be a .250 hitter with about 20 home runs. There was never much of a question of whether or not he could hit for power. The question with Smoak has always been how much power he can hit for. He has had a pretty decent spring in some regards. Smoak has been hitting the ball well, striking out less, and walking more to the tune of an OBP of .486. He hasn't hit any home runs over spring, but we all know that spring training doesn't mean much to anyone. After all, the Mariners were on top of the Cactus League - so please do not think they will be on top of the AL West. But what we can expect (and hope) from Smoak is that his more patient approach at the plate will translate to drawing more walks and finding better pitches to hit. Smoak claimed that he was trying to hit too many home runs last year, so perhaps a settled approach will realize the 20 HR potential with some solid batting numbers to go along with it.
Judging from Eric Wedge's batting order throughout spring training, it appears that Smoak will be hitting clean-up, and a .270 switch hitter with 20 HR wouldn't be bad at all. Each year that has passed has seemingly reduced Smoak's potential upside, and hitting in the cozy open air baseball graveyard that is Safeco Field makes it even harder to slug the ball over the fences. However, he is still young and still has a long time to go before the supposed prime of his career. Expect Smoak to be able to hit a bit better surrounded by Ichiro and Jesus Montero while playing some very solid defense.
Time to meet the 2012 Mariners: Starting with catcher Miguel Olivo
Know your enemy, Mariners fans. We complete our preview of the American League with a look at the Central and East divisions.
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