Time to stop the Merry-go-round, re-sign Aardsma

 Well it has started already, the dreaded offseason projections and discussions from all the pundits on exactly how we should fix the 2011 Mariners, if only people would listen to the sideline know-it-all’s.

  The latest topic on the minds of the great baseball minds around town is David Aardsma and how he won’t be around next year because he is getting good enough to receive a few million more bucks next year through arbitration and thus we need to trade him and use someone unproven yet cheaper.

  I don’t know about the rest of you but I am getting so tired of watching this organization grooming players like Aardsma, Rafael Soriano, JJ Putz, Tino Martinez etc. then trading them for a new group of prospects so we can start the merry-go-round again. Look, David Aardsma had a good year last year, then started off with a rough first-half but seems to have found a nice groove. I mean holy cow if it is not broken why fix it?

   Unlike the Mariners, clubs like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies somehow manage to win by finding the right players, then giving them a position that is theirs to keep and then stop tinkering. Mariano Rivera will be the closer for the Yankees till he can’t do it anymore then that will be that. Ryan Howard will play first for the Phillies even if they could get 6 prospects for him and save 10 million a year because he is a great player, end of story.

  With the Mariners it always seems like our goal is to keep things in motion, always hoping to come up with some magic combination that never seems to develop. It reminds me of a group of LA Real Estate Agents trying to flip houses before the crash. We need stability on this ship. If that means paying market prices for quality players, then so be it. As a fan I am so tired of watching players we developed being shipped off to other teams, and then watching them bloom while we stratch our heads wondering why we suck.

   Look, I love the idea of Dan Cortes fitting into the bullpen somewhere with his 100 mph fastball. But Cortes has never even pitched a single game in the majors yet! Brandon League has great-stuff sometimes, but he is fine where is being used now. Let’s just pay Aardsma what he is worth and keep him so at least going into 2011 we have one less position to worry about filling. This Merrygoround used to make me dizzy, now it is making me sick to my stomach! http://jeffsmariners.com

Felix fans 13, M’s win third in a row 2-0!

   The Mariners won their third game in a row tonight 2-0 as Felix Hernandez struckout 13 Athletics in front of 21,377 fans at Safeco Field. Hernandez looked like he might have a rough outing from the onset of this one when he loaded the sacks with A’s in the first with nobody out. But King Felix got the first of his 13 strike-outs against A’s clean-up hitter Jack Cust, then coaxed a groundball out of Kevin Kouzmanoff that turned into an inning ending double-play to get out of the jam. In the post-game interview Mariners new skipper Daren Brown stated that when Felix got out of the first without allowing a run: “That was probably the game” . Indeed it was the defining moment of this contest, as after the first inning Felix had command of all of his pitches especially his change-up which he used to get 10 of his 13 strike-outs.

   The Oakland A’s starter 22 year-old Brett Anderson pitched a nice game as well holding the Mariners scoreless till the sixth inning. Ichiro started the 6th off with an infield single to short and then moved to second on a nice bunt by Figgins. Lopez who was hitting in the DH spot then grounded out to third leaving it up to Franklin Gutierrez who managed to coax a walk off of Anderson. Daren Brown had wisely dropped Casey Kotchman in the order to fifth tonight, and Casey delivered from this spot with a clutch single to right, which scored Ichiro to give Felix all he would need tonight with the one run. For the rest of the game it was all about Hernandez who picked-up his 8th win tonight and showed the confidence of a mature Big-League Ace. On most teams Felix would have 15 wins by now to compliment his 2.71 ERA. But Felix is a champion with a long bright future ahead of him and he showed a lot of composure tonight to go along with his emotional displays after getting big outs this evening.

   After leaving his Ace on the mound for 8 innings and 110 pitchers “Downtown Daren Brown” made the decision to go with his closer David Aardsma in the 9th and he was warming up as the Mariners came to bat in the bottom of the 8th. Felix was able to relax a bit when his team put together a little rally in the 8th which resulted in another insurance run thanks to an RBI by Gutierrez to bring Chone Figgins home making it 2-0. In the top of the 9th David Aardsma picked-up his 6th save in a row by mixing-up his pitches as he has done recently to put down the A’s in order.

   I cannot remember the last time the Mariners won three games in a row but it could not come at a better time for this team and its fans considering all that has gone on recently. New manager Daren Brown seems to be willing to make changes like moving Casey Kotchman down to fifth in the batting order like he did tonight. He also did not hesitate to bring his closer in to finish this game like any other manager would do in a similar situation. Though it is certainly too early to tell, my gut feeling is the players are showing respect for their new manager already, and hopefully we could see a change in the way things have been transpiring on the field for the rest of the campaign.

  Believe it or not we actually have a chance to sweep a series tomorrow before heading out on the road. I plan on being down there with my whisk broom which has been gathering dust this year to watch our boys attempt to win for the 4th time in a row at 1240 pm, see ya there! Http://jeffsmariners.com

Mariners avoid sweep by edging Angels 2-1 in 10

    The Mariners managed to salvage the final game of the four game series with the Angels today, winning 2-1 in extra-innings behind an outstanding performance by Jason Vargas. Vargas has proved himself to be one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dull year. Unfortunately for Vargas he walked away with his eighth no-decision on the year as he left the game with the score still tied with two-outs in the bottom of the 8th. Vargas allowed a single run off a homer by Mike Napoli in the 2nd but otherwise kept the Angels in-check fanning 9 and only allowing a single walk. Vargas was sporting a fresh haircut on this sunny day in Anaheim as he went up against Ervin Santana who pitched well himself.

  The Mariners managed to scratch-out a run in the top half of the 5th inning, scoring on a wild-pitch. Ryan Langerhans who drew a walk and stole second with one down, was then moved to third on a single by Rob Johnson setting the table for the wild-pitch that brought Langerhans in to score making it 1-1. Langerhans like a lot of our boys has a batting average that is awful but at least he does manage to get a lot of walks. The veteran journeyman got the start today in left as Michael Saunders injured his fingers the other day diving back to first.

   The only other run of the game came in the top of the 10th when the Mariners overcame another goofy base-running mistake this time by Ichiro to score only their 2nd run in extrainnings this year. Ichiro got on with a lead-off walk and manager Don Wakamatsu called for the bunt today unlike yesterday’s similar situation. After reaching second on the sacrifice bunt by Figgins, Ichiro temporarily lost his senses and attempted to advance to third on a ground ball by Gutierrez to short. Ichiro got thrown-out in a run-down leaving Gutierrez at first with two men down. At this point I began to prepare emotionally for another loss but was pleasantly surprised to see Gutierrez steal second and then come home on a clutch two-out single by Lopez.

  After Brandon League managed to hold the Angels in the 8th and 9th, Wakamatsu again went with the orthodox move and brought in his closer when his team had a lead. Several times this season Wak has brought in David Aardsma with the game tied in the 9th rather than using him for the save situation like every other manager in Baseball. And guess what….it worked! Aardsma who has been shaky for much of the year actually mixed his pitches up today instead of throwing all fastballs and managed to pick-up his 17th save. I am not sure if Jack Z. has had a talk with Wakamatsu about getting back to basics, or if our beleaguered manager has finally learned from his mistakes, but I guess it is a case of better late than never.

  The Mariners now head back to sunny Seattle to face the red-hot Chicago White Sox who find themselves in first-place in the AL Central. We certainly can play the role of spoiler the rest of the way and we owe these guys a few losses after the heart-wrenching losses we suffered to them earlier in the year. As a side note I will be attempting to get down to Cheney Stadium sometime this month to take a look at Ackley and Pineda who are still in AAA playing for the first-place Rainiers in Tacoma. Also please mark your calendars for August 10th as yours truly will be doing my first live podcast on the internet along with a fellow member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, stay tuned for more details on that event. Ciao….http://jeffsmariners.com

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