Daren Brown goes from triple-A to triple-play in one day!

1936 A’s Gordon “Dusty” Rhodes photo by L.Van Oyen*

  The Seattle Mariners turned their first tripleplay since 1995 in the fourth inning of their 3-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics to welcome their new skipper Daren Brown tonight. For Daren Brown and the rest of Mariner Nation today has been another emotional rollercoaster in a season that has been anything but boring despite a horrible record. Doug Fister who has been a tough-luck pitcher tonight’s victory pitched well to earn his first win since May 11th.

  The Mariners jumped on A’s starter Vin Mazzaro early picking-up a couple runs in the first on clutch two-out RBI singles by both Lopez and Gutierrez. Mazzaro is another of the young pitchers that have carried the A’s this far despite having an offense that like the Mariners lacks power-hitters, outside of perhaps Jack Cust. Even though my Grandfather Gordon Rhodes pitched for the Philadelphia A’s in 1936 (see above attachment *) I have always enjoyed beating the A’s, and tonight was especially sweet given the upstart A’s are still technically in the race.

  Of course the big news of this game was the magical moment in the top of the 4th when none other than Jose Lopez started a third to second to first (5-4-3) triple play to end an A’s threat and give the loyal fans at the Safe something to remember. As goofy as Jose Lopez is, it was nice to see him smile in the dugout after starting this play. In fact it is nice to see anyone smiling in the dugout including the big tall Texan “Downtown Daren Brown” who has suddenly found himself in the trenches of a season that everyone would like to forget. Daren Brown looks like a guy who isn’t going to take any lip from the players, veterans or rookies and he deserves our support.

  In an odd way I have sort of already let-go of the whole Don Wakamatsu era after tonight’s game and I wish him well. It is not a good thing when as a fan you are starting to feel sorry for a manager like Wakamatsu who was obviously in over his head and had that “Deer in the Headlights” look lately. The debate around his departure has been heated online and on the air today with lots of accusations flying around. One of the most irritating is the continuous blame of all things bad this year on Ken Griffey Jr. I have come to the conclusion that there is a certain segment of the local media and blogosphere who are too young to remember the golden years for the Mariners from say 93 -02, or are transplants and thus are bitter at Griffey as a reminder that they missed the boat so to speak. It is quite irritating for me as someone who sat through the terrible 80’s before having a good stretch, and then to be stuck in this morass of endless rebuilding, to continue to listen to the bashing of the future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey.  

  I think it may be time to let go of the references to 1995, the Griffey bashing, and now the whole Wakamatsu era so that we can rally around Daren Brown and our team the rest of the way. We have been through enough as a fan base this year and somehow we need to move on. Just a note I will be talking about the Mariners on my first live podcast of the year with another member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance at 8pm Tuesday night at: the link to the show page. Feel free to listen in if the game gets boring and call in if you like! http://jeffsmariners.com

Don Wakamatsu fired by Seattle Mariners

Don Wakamatsu fired, nice guys finish last….

 Seattle Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik announced today that manager Don Wakamatsu along with pitching coach Rick Adair and bench coach Ty Van Burkleo have all been fired. Zduriencik said: “I have concluded that these changes needed to be made now and that they are in the best interest of the Mariners as we move forward,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a press release. “Don, Ty and Rick are all good baseball men and they have done their very best. But we are where we are. I no longer have confidence that Don, Ty and Rick are the right long-term fit for our organization. New leadership is needed and it is needed now.”

 Daren Brown manager with the Mariners AAA affiliate the Tacoma Rainiers will be brought-in as the interim manager, along with Carl Willis who will take over as the pitching coach for Rick Adair. Roger Hansen will be the new bench coach for the rest of the season.

  While this move does not come as a major shock for most of us fans, it is a bit disturbing in that the Seattle Mariners have gone through 16 managers since the team’s inception in 1977. Only Lou Piniella has survived for more than three seasons out of the whole bunch, and it is no coincidence that the Mariners only real winning era was under Piniella.

  It is no secret that Wakamatsu never really had control of the clubhouse especially after the whole Ken Griffey Jr. situation. Wakamatsu ended up being the fall-guy for upper-management to handle that tough scenario that appeared to be still lingering in the dugout when Chone Figgins exploded after being pulled from a game recently by Wakamatsu.

   I liked Wakamatsu as an individual, but after seeing how the veterans disrespected him this year down at Peoria for spring training this year, I knew trouble was brewing. Wakamatsu made a lot of questionable moves this year with his odd lineups, difficulty in handling the bullpen, and just being generally indecisive. Of course last year Wakamatsu could do no wrong, but some of that was luck, and some can be attributed to the veterans Griffey and Mike Sweeney helping Wakamatsu out.

 So now with roughly 2/3 of the season over we will trudge forward  to another off-season of uncertainty where we will continue the never-ending rebuilding project that started in 2003 and has no end in sight. One common denominator through all the years of failure and heartache that we fans have endured here is two names: Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln. These two guys manage to keep their jobs no matter who comes or goes. This franchise has some serious problems like lack of goals, unaccountable front office personnel, and an absentee owner. These problems will not go away no matter who is managing this team and it is time for the fans to demand some real change at the top or we will continue to go through managers, GM’s, and players like a sailor blowing his cash after a long voyage. http://jeffsmariners.com

Jeff’s continued Rehab assignment in Tacoma

    Hello my fellow baseball lovers just thought I’d check-in on this off day for the Mariners to let you know I am continuing my emotional and mental rehab assignment following the Tacoma Rainiers. My condition is not as serious as a full “Milton Bradley” type break-down, however I will be attending the Rainiers game Tuesday at 1130 as part of my rehab assignment. I am making slight progress with issues like anger, frustration, loss, and general apathy by focusing on the scrappy Rainiers.

  Of course the fate of the big club is never far from my thoughts even as I attempt to regain my footing as a fan after this tidal wave of negativity that has swept-over Mariners nation. I have given some thought to the whole question of firing Don Wakamatsu and have come to the conclusion that he is just a symptom of the over-all problem faced by this franchise and should stay put at least till the end of the 2010 season. As I have said in earlier posts I believe the main problem rests with the absentee ownership issue and the continued presence of Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong pulling the strings somewhere back in the murky shadows of Safeco Field. Don’t get me wrong I have plenty of concerns with the way Wak has run this club on the field, and I have long ago quit trusting in the great wizard Jack Zduriencik and his ability to make key decisions regarding player acquisitions. However this franchise has been operating with a “Belief System” that the Seattle fans are not that knowledgeable and they will settle for a nice stadium, hydro races and  mediocre teams that are only here to compete, not win. This mindset comes from Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong at the top and is a set-up for failure for whatever manager or GM comes rolling into town.

   I do have a gut feeling that Hiroshi Yamauchi or perhaps someone from his family may at some point get tired of the lies and half-truths fed to them by Lincoln and Armstrong and step-up and get rid of those two hustlers. If not hopefully maybe Mr. Yamauchi will just pull the plug and sell the team to someone local that actually cares about Baseball and our city of Seattle.

  Geez now I have done it, there goes my blood pressure…..need to focus on AAA and fun and winning as my Blog-Doctor has prescribed. I do want to include some information that may prove useful to you today as I don’t want you to think Jeff’s Mariners Fan Blog is turning into some sort of New-Age feel good Blog. So I have some information on the whole concept of “Waivers” and what it means for the average fan that I hope you find useful as we head into the month of August:

1) Virtually every player in the major leagues will be placed on waivers this month, whether a team intends to trade that player or not. If nothing else, the sheer volume of names can at least disguise players whom clubs do want to sneak through so they can be dealt.

2) If a player isn’t claimed by any team in either league, he can be traded until the end of the month to anyone.

3) If a player is claimed, but only by one team, the player can be traded only to the team that claims him.

4)If a player is claimed by more than one team, the club with worst record in that player’s league gets priority…and the player can be traded to just that team.

5) If a player is claimed only by teams in the other league, the club with the worst record in the other league gets priority…and the player can be traded only to that team.

6) If a deal can’t be worked out or the team doesn’t want to trade that player, he can be pulled back off waivers once in August. If he is placed on waivers again before September, he can’t be recalled a second time.

7) If a team is just hoping to dump a player’s salary, it can simply allow a team which claimed that player to have him for a small waiver fee. If that happens, the team that gets the player has to pay his entire salary.

8) Also sometimes teams will claim a player just to keep them from being traded to a contender.

  So I hope that helps, though I know it is a bit complex and has a lot of possible intrigues involved in the process. I am assuming that the Mariners will use this process to attempt to unload some of the players who are not part of our future here. Ok so that’s it for now I will give you a report after I return from my Rehab assignment in Tacoma tomorrow afternoon..http://jeffsmariners.com

Mariners Melt-Down

 The Mariners lost another close game tonight 2-1 to the Boston Red Sox and in the process produced enough controversy to keep all of us bloggers busy for a week. But to be honest with you I knew something had to give at some point and tonight’s melt-down in the dugout comes as little surprise with the way this season has been going. There is no excuse for the way Chone Figgins dogged that play in the fifth allowing Cameron to go to third. I guess Don Wakamatsu decided to set an example of Figgins and that lead to the dugout scuffle. I really don’t know exactly who said what or who threatened who, and the whole thing is just a sad situation.

  I saw Don Wakamatsu’s post-game interview and he looked visibly shaken as he brushed-off certain questions. I have been quick to judge the skippers decisions in my blog this year but in this case I have to back him up and hope the Mariners front office does the same. Granted there has been several other players who have made some really weak plays on the field, and especially on the bases recently who deserve to ride the pine for awhile as well,  thus choosing to bench Figgins may have been a bit unfair. But as long as Wakamatsu is the manager he has the right to bench players who don’t hustle and he exercised that right tonight plain and simple

   I hope those who thought Griffey and Sweeney were not important because of their age and thus bad-mouthed them in the media and on several other blogs, may realize now that winning is a lot more difficult than calculating sabermetrics stats. No, a club needs veterans to show leadership and set the tone and if need be call-out other players who aren’t hustling. Yes the manager needs to set the tone, and perhaps Don Wakamatsu isn’t strong enough to manage in the Big Leagues, but the players themselves need to keep each other accountable as well.

   I saw this coming even when I was down in Peoria at spring training this year. Just a few things here and there that showed me something was not right with the chemistry. Certainly some of the veterans were acting a little cocky around Wakamatsu, and not only did I hear a few things but I could tell by body language. However in my experience both as a player and a fan I do know that these little blow-ups happen every now and then and they are not the end of the world.

   Athletes are intense, competitive and often times a little full of themselves after years of being adored by fans and coddled by teams trying to win games. And of course it doesn’t help when you are losing, especially as bad as the Mariners are this year. You add-up a losing season, a relatively green skipper, and Jocks with giant Egos who are not hustling and something has to give. So it finally happened, and maybe it needed too….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

Mariners lose 7-6 to Angels

    The Mariners got a moral victory tonight (doesn’t count I know) in their game with the Angels by at least battling back from a 6-1 deficit to tie it up before going on to lose 7-6. Ryan RowlandSmith got slammed for 6 runs and 8 hits in another ugly outing for him. Joe Saunders went 6 innings tonight for the halos giving up 5 runs and 10 hits to the Mariners who have lost three games in a row since the break. One has to wonder how long manager Don Wakamatsu will keep sending Rowland-Smith out to the mound after this latest showing by the kid from down-under.

  Tonight was another great night for Justin Smoak who went 3-4 including another home run in the sixth. Smoak had an opportunity to tie the game in the top of the 8th with Lopez on third but couldn’t pick-up his fourth hit to bring in Lopez. Either way I’m starting to like this kid Smoak who now has 10 homers on the year and looks comfortable at the plate. Josh Bard knocked one out of the park himself to tie the game in the 7th, and for a minute it looked like we would finish the comeback victory. But unfortunately Brian Sweeney gave-up a homer to Juan Riviera in the bottom half of the 7th to put the Angels up 7-6 which was the final tally.

  Chris Seddon recently called-up from Tacoma, looked sharp in relief pitching out of a jam in the fourth and eventually going an inning and 2/3 of scoreless relief. I would like to see this youngster get a shot at Rowland-Smith’s spot in the rotation since it seems we are basically holding try-outs for next year at this point. One guy who really should be concerned about his job, is manager Don Wakamatsu as he continues to make questionable decisions. In this case in the top of the 9th after Langerhans received a lead-off walk in a 1-run game, Wakamatsu chose to have Josh Bard swing-away rather than lay down a bunt. Although Bard had hit a home run earlier, he was unable to advance the runner and instead hit into a double-play. This was a poor decision by the manager and adds to his list of questionable calls this year.

  So the Mariners have a chance to avoid the sweep in a day game tomorrow before heading home to face the White Sox. This game did not feel so bad as by now most of us are pretty numb. Not sure how or why I’m still managing to make the time to watch the Mariners games at this point in the year with the summer weather here, but I’ll keep writing as long as you keep reading! http://jeffsmariners.com

Mariners 2010….Part II

The Mariners are set to resume play after the AllStar break tomorrow down in Anaheim with a three game series against the second place Angels. Rather than doing a review of the first-half of the season I am just going to talk a little bit about the rest of the year. It seems as if this team is in the midst of an odd time period where we are not quite rebuilding and yet not in the race. Players like Milton Bradley and Jack Wilson complicate matter as they are probably not part of the long-term future of this team but they are under contract through next year and probably not high on other team’s trade list. Bradley has not played up to expectations but is not really that much worse than Michael Saunders as the everyday left fielder for the rest of the year. Saunders is young, has hit for some power and is definitely fast on the bases and in the field. Most people are saying Saunders will improve with more playing time, though we have heard the same about Rob Johnson. Traditionally players came up from AAA because they were obviously better than the other minor leaguers and once they came up they either produced or were sent down. In the case of both Saunders and Johnson they seem to have been good but not great in the minors and in the majors neither is really proving to be getting better, yet they stay on with the big club.

   I have a whole separate post entitled “Who’s on first” that I wrote a few days ago so I won’t go into that debacle again except to say that the Mariners would love to trade Casey Kotchman but probably won’t get to many offers. Jose Lopez could go in a trade as well though I think his bat will improve in the second half. Gutierrez who started off hot has been fading for the last six weeks or so at the plate but he is definitely a part of the Mariners future plans. Ichiro is a fixture in right and is untouchable unless he and the mystery owner Hiroshi Yamauchi decide it is time to go. Actually if the Mariners were really rebuilding for the future rather than this in between phase, trading Ichiro and using his huge salary for younger players would be a smart move, but I just don’t see it happening.

  The catcher position is goofy as well with Rob Johnson having another bad year at the plate and defensively but still seems to be another of these gray area type of guys on this club. Of course then there is Mike Sweeney due to come back from his latest DL to a team that sorely lacks veteran leadership yet has no real room for him. It is funny to read about Mike Sweeney in the media or in the blogosphere to see how even his biggest detractors have come to admit he indeed can still hit after realizing that all the youngsters that supposedly he and Griffey were blocking didn’t quite measure-up. Speaking of Ken Griffey Jr. it has occurred to me that he really has been quiet since retiring as I expected to either here him blast the Mariners and the local press on some TV show or we would have heard by now of his grand farewell day at Safeco.

    The starting rotation is a bit vague as well besides Hernandez, Vargas and Fister. After that you have the ongoing Ryan Rowland-Smith saga and the ever popular guessing game over the return of Eric Bedard. And the bullpen will probably continue being shaky no matter how you juggle it. There has been rumors that some teams were interested in David Aardsma but I doubt any team in contention would be willing to part with much for him in light of his performance thus far. I will predict that another young gun will be brought into the mix soon possibly Danny Cortez who we picked-up in the Betancourt trade. Other than that I hope Brian Sweeney is given some sort of role and is not forced to languish in uncertainty like so many players on this club who seem to be moved around daily on a whim by manager Don Wakamatsu. While I understand Wak has been forced to be creative in the first half of the season, having 7 or 8 players on a team not knowing where they stand at any given time is a sure recipe for unrest on any team and is a reflection on the managers ability to be decisive.

   Lots of little things tend to get swept under the carpet here in Seattle as the top management knows by now that the local media and most of the fans will forget about things with time and a few good days of NW summer weather. I have been trying to block-out most of the first half of this season myself over the break as it was all just a little overwhelming on the negative side. I look for the second half of the season to be slightly better, and am hoping to get a glimpse of Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda both at AAA now, before it’s all said and done. Other than that my expectations are not too high, though I would love to see Justin Smoak produce at the plate and watch Felix kick some butt every 5 days……http://jeffsmariners.com

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