Felix Hernandez steers Mariners through Indian waters 3-0

GM Jack Zduriencik at USS Mariner event Sept. 4th

    Felix Hernandez continued to force the question of who is the best pitcher in the American League in 2010 with another dominant performance today, as the Mariners beat the Cleveland Indians 3-0 on a perfect September day in Seattle.

  The King actually received some run support today as well, thanks primarily to Russell “The Muscle” Branyan who is on a roll himself driving in a pair of runs including a homer in the sixth. Branyan knows his return next year as the Mariners DH depends on how he finishes out the season and has homered in three of the last four games, making his bat hard to ignore as well.

  Hernandez had command of all three of his pitches today and was able to fan 9 Indians giving him the AL lead with 209 on the year. It seems as if Hernandez is in the zone so to speak, showing more confidence and savvy as the season moves on. Of course for Felix to win the Cy Young award he will need to continue to pitch this way and receive run support if he has any hopes of getting the votes needed to win this coveted award, due to the East Coast bias in the press and the fact that Hernandez is only 11-10.

   It is nice for the fans to have something to follow as the fall air creeps into the Puget Sound. Both Felix and Ichiro are in the hunt for something special as Ichiro shoots for his tenth year in a row with 200 hits (got 2 today) and Hernandez chases the prestigious Cy Young award.

   Wanted to note that I attended the event put on by the blogs: USS Mariner and Lookout Landing on Saturday night and though the game kind of sucked, it was great to talk to fellow bloggers as well as get to hear Jack Zduriencik address the group of a hundred or so before the game.

  Jack Z. was fairly candid and did admit that this year has been a big disappointment but he emphasized that we have a lot of talent developing in the minors that could help the big club in years to come. He chose to avoid answering a question about the whole Griffey fiasco, and gave the same stock responses that a media savvy guy like him would give around the whole Josh Lueke situation. The event was certainly no love-fest but the questions were civil and it is a testament to the power of the internet that a GM would even take the time to talk to a group of bloggers and their readers.

     So after salvaging a split with the Indians our boys head down the Coast for a visit to the Oakland Coliseum for a series with our division rivals the Athletics to see if we can play the role of spoiler and dash any lingering hopes the feisty A’s have of catching the Rangers. The pennant races around the majors are still very interesting to follow and I look forward to reporting on an exciting postseason. Alas it would be much sweeter for us all if our sailors were in the race, but I guess we will have to focus on the consolation prizes of the Ichiro and Hernandez runs for glory. Http://jeffsmariners.com 

Mariners win 3-1,Felix lets out another long Cyyy

Cy Young considered the greatest pitcher in MLB history

  The Mariners rallied in the bottom of the eighth inning tonight scoring three runs to beat the Angels 3-1. That’s the good news, the bad news is that despite going seven innings of 3-hit shutout ball Felix Hernandez was once again denied a victory.

   Manager Daren Brown decided to pull Felix after he had thrown only 103 pitches tonight bringing in Brandon League in a strategy that looked for a minute like it would backfire as League was tagged for a pair of doubles that resulted in a run for the Angels. Fortunately League was able to get out of the inning without further damage thanks to a double-play.

  The Mariners put together a sweet little rally of their own in the bottom half of the eighth thanks to hits by Lopez, Moore and Josh Wilson combined with a walk to Branyan to lead-off the frame and a nice sac-fly by Michael Saunders that also drove-in a run. This 3-run outburst came a few innings too late once again for Felix Hernandez who desperately needs to add a few more wins to his total of 10 in order to have a shot at the Cy Young award this year.Full Box Score

   I don’t usually subscribe to players playing for stats or awards in lost seasons like this, but Felix is having a heck of a year and it would be nice to salvage something in the way of hometown bragging rights if Felix continues to blow teams away and somehow gets the votes to win the Cy Young award.

    Believe it or not tomorrow is September 1st which usually means it is time to expand the roster and bring-up some of the AAA guys to get a taste of “The Show”. However due to the fact that the Rainiers have a good shot at making the play-offs, it looks like the Mariners will be holding-off on bringing guys up till the Rainiers are done with their run at glory. Once again like the decision to pull Felix after only allowing him to throw 103 pitches, the decision to let the AAA guys finish out their season is the right thing to do, but it sure doesn’t seem fair to us fans who have suffered so much in 2010.

   On a couple other random notes it seems that Mike Sweeney is being well received by his new team the Phillies and their fans. I’m glad to see him get a chance to play for a contender and to be appreciated after all the snide comments tossed his way here in the local press and blogosphere. I also wanted to note that Milton Bradley who is out for the year with an injury, seems to be completely forgotten as a part of the various 2011 visions for the Mariners which are being thrown around. Milton may have been a disappointment this year but we are still on the hook for $12 million next year so look for his name to resurface in the offseason once the denial of his potential return fades away. If Jack Zduriencik wants to get his growing flock of doubters off his back in a hurry I can’t think of a better way than to somehow trade him away even if we have to eat most of his salary. Of course I have no idea who would take a chance on Bradley at this point in his bizarre career, so we may just have to give him a shot at a position next spring and if he doesn’t produce simply let him go… 

   Still trying to decide which game I’m going to attend in this homestand, I was trying to wait for the Indians but may just sneak down tomorrow for the rubber-match of this series with the Angels. Ciao……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

Mariners rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic

In Jack Z. We Rust

     I woke up this morning hoping to discover that the Mariners GM had pulled-off some sort of miracle move to dump a few of our underachievers and pick up some new names to help finish-up the 2010 voyage. But as the trade deadline evaporated all we got was a strange shuffle of names that all seem to have negative baggage attached to them. Perhaps Jack Z. could not unload any of the stowaways who have been collecting paychecks for doing next  to nothing this year, and he knows the fans are restless so he tried sort of a homemade blockbuster trade.

  I mean what the heck top management probably figures most of the fans will be focusing on Seafair so we will give them a little show like the Hydros at Safeco to entertain them. So here it is the big trade deadline move by Jack Zduriencik in 2010: Justin Smoak goes to AAA Tacoma, Milton Bradley goes on the DL and Sean White and Matt Tuiasosopo come back from Tacoma! Yes that is it folks, our big bat that we got for Cliff Lee can’t hit in the majors yet so he will be replaced by Matt Tuiasosopo another guy who can’t hit in the majors. Sean White who gets bombed almost every time out gets one more shot at redemption. And Milton Bradley has another undefined injury. I can just see the headlines now: “In Jack Z. we Rust”

   This is what we get as other clubs are adding to their already powerful arsenals and the Mariners continue to slide into the lower tier of MLB teams in a not so graceful manner. I was hoping that perhaps we would bring-up Matt Mangini who plays third in Tacoma and is hitting .300 with 12 homers. Yes he has 19 errors but I’m tired of watching Tui boot balls, at least this guy Mangini is someone new and has some pop. Of course I know it must be the old belief-system thing again. Either Don Wakamatsu or Jack Z. or possibly both, see something in Sean White and Tuiasosopo that the rest of us must be missing.

  Honestly I was caught a little offgaurd when I heard that Justin Smoak will be heading down to Tacoma as well. Yes he is looking terrible at the plate, but I swear I heard both Jack Z. and Wak say this was going to be the everyday first baseman for the rest of the year? It makes it even more disturbing when you look at the fact that we traded Cliff Lee early to get this guy who has already proven he is not ready to hit at this level. Imagine if we would have held out till the trade deadline and been able to actually pick-up a bonafide Major League Player, heck we may have even been able to package up Jose Lopez with Lee instead of Mark Lowe.

    I took a look at the Tacoma Rainiers roster today and to be honest I think there really is not much difference anymore with the big club as far as overall talent. And besides the Rainiers are actually winning…..hmm maybe that is the secret strategy that Jack Z. is working on some sort of shadow-team with Smoak, Sweeney, Ackley, Pineda that he is keeping hidden in Tacoma so he can trade the entire starting line-up in Seattle to get Cliff Lee back….I don’t know anymore but I have decided to drive to Tacoma tonight to investigate and watch a competitive team play baseball here in the NW…….http://jeffsmariners.com

The Media’s role in the 2010 Mariners season disaster

     Having reached the nice round number of 100 complete games I figured it was time for me to write something about this season thus far. Initially I felt compelled to write this post today after reading several stories on various Blogs and newspapers about the season where people were still grasping at straws to be the cleverest in their analysis. I was also amazed to read more than one reference to Ken Griffey Jr. in an attempt to blame this whole mess on him still. I am not quite sure if these folks at unnamed sites are serious or not but I just wanted to remind them that Ken Griffey Jr. is gone and the Mariners have actually gotten worse since he left. So perhaps it may be time to take a look at the one last group that has not taken any responsibility or blame for this season…..

   And yes it is the press and media myself included who might have to take a look at how the power of the internet, newspapers, twitter etc. may have a negative effect on  a team specifically this year’s Mariners. I suppose that we will need some new statistical categories to attempt to quantify the abstract effect that negative press and know-it-all bloggers have on a team’s record. Let’s start with LLT for Larry Larue at the Tribune who broke the story on Ken Griffey Jr. supposedly sleeping in the dugout. I would say that the net result in games lost from LLT this year is 5.5. This 5.5 LLT takes into account the pressure on Don Wakamatsu to end up having to be the fall-guy and benching Griffey till he just quits. This has no-doubt left Wak at odds with several of the veteran players who in turn have proven to be unforgiving of the way Griffey was treated and thus have played less than stellar as they pouted. Most notably is Chone Figgins. The LLT has also apparently affected Wakamatsu and he has been gun-shy up until recently with benching players thus letting guys like Jose Lopez get away with murder on the field. Again I attribute this to LLT which was a result of not only Larry Larue and the Tribune but a host of others at various other media outlets and Blogs.

  Another category that the media/blogosphere can accept the blame for a few losses is what I will call JZW or Jack Zduriencik Worship. Last winter with rare exception every move made by Jack Z. was greeted online and in the papers with endless praise and hero-worship, allowing Jack Z. to construct this disaster of a team with little or no public scrutiny leading to such phrases as “In Jack Z. we trust”. Like most of the abstract and random way that many of the new sabermetrics figures are derived and quantified JZW is only a new science that I developed 4 minutes ago. But I will give our team a net loss of 3 games to JZW this year and blame it squarely on the media.

   Ok let’s see, to be fair goofy Rookie Bloggers like myself deserve some of the blame and thus the new category of RBBS for Rookie Bloggers Bull S…T which is now part of the blogosphere jargon and I will arbitrarily accept the blame for 1 loss on the season. I have made some silly mistakes on my blog this year in punctuation, grammar and just generally not Skookum posts.

   Ok now let’s attempt to quantify the effect listening to Dave Sims all year has had on the Won-Loss record. In all fairness though he is a bit of a pompous dork, Dave Sims has probably only been accountable for 1-2 losses this year. Using the slightly modified acronym as I applied to myself, I will go with DSBS to account for the 1-2 losses he has caused with his rhetoric which demoralizes fans who in turn are forced to turn off the TV and thus withhold support from the team as they struggle.This results in less money for the Mariners to improve the team and aides the continuing downward cycle of this franchise.

   The final category has to go to Blog readers who comment on things they know nothing about and yet still insist upon being right. Let’s call this new but soon to be important advanced analytics term BRCBS and say it accounts for 1 loss on the year. BRCBS is irritating and influences morale of the fan-base and the players who happen to read these goofy blogs as well.

   So I believe with this post we have accounted for approximately 12 of the losses on the year and I personally accept responsibility for one loss, perhaps the 8-6 loss to the Red Sox last week (my favorite loss this year). Because if there is one thing this old sailor has learned in life it is that when you point your finger at someone else there are 4 pointing back at you….http://jeffsmariners.com

Out of the Beer Vat into the Big Apple

     The Milwaukee Brewers beat the Seattle Mariners 3-0 today, winning the series 2-1. This was another game with a familiar 2010 Mariners story-line. Good starting pitching, in this case Jason Vargas, and no offense. Throw in the usual odd ways to kill rallies such as the 8th inning where Ichiro attempted a bunt with 2 on and 1 out, and then went on to line into a double play to end the threat, and you know how the story turns out. The whole Milwaukee experience was quaint with the sausage races and all but now our club is heading into the Lion’s den known as Yankee stadium.

  If you thought the Cubs fans were a bit pushy  last week, try going to New York the center of the baseball universe. While Jeter, Rodriguez, Posada and Riviera may be aging they still have a great team. Many of you may remember when we had a sort of rivalry with the Yankees in the 95-01 stretch that was quite intense. Ken Griffey Jr. once even stated “I’ll never be a Yankee” and “Yankees Suck” t-shirts had to be banned at Safeco field. Of course the difference then was that we had teams who could and did regularly beat the Bronx Bombers. Now it has become almost an odd ritual for the Yankees fans to come to Safeco and practically take over as Mariners fans are trying to watch the hydro races or the hat trick.

  I would venture to guess that there won’t be more than a few hundred Mariners fans at the game when the first pitch is thrown Tuesday night. Those that do attend will be treated more like an oddity than any real threat unlike the dreaded Red Sox fans. Guys like Michael Saunders, Rob Johnson and Josh Wilson do not even show-up on the radar for the knowledgeable Yankees fans and their overzealous media. But the guy throwing that first pitch for the Mariners Tuesday night is well-known in the Big Apple. Cliff Lee was able to shut down the Yankees twice last year pitching for the Phillies in the World Series. The media will be out in force as the speculation about Lee’s future grows stronger every day.

  Meanwhile Jack Zduriencik has just brought back Russell “The Muscle” Branyon leading some people to speculate that the Mariners may not be receiving any offers for Lee that make him worth trading at all, thus Jack Z. went to get a power bat and now we will stand pat. Ok it is a stretch, but just maybe all this talk about Lee being a good influence on the Mariners and worth keeping around to teach the young pitchers a few things is indeed true. Perhaps Jack Z. is playing a chess game of sorts and he is setting up some later move. I hope so; we deserve something out of this season even if we just thumb our noses at the rest of the country by keeping Lee for the rest of the year. Jack Z. has stated that in order to develop players they need to do it by winning. Well what better way than to keep Cliff Lee around, hope Branyon produces and try to have a good second half to build on. If we somehow manage to re-sign Cliff Lee that would be a bonus, otherwise we get to win some games and help teach our younger players how to compete like true professionals, plus get some draft picks

   So as it turns out there is a lot of subtext going on that may allow our team to once again represent the independent nature of the people who live in the Northwest. Maybe not as direct as when Griffey made his declaration but it could turn out to be just as sweet. Http://jeffsmariners.com

Mariners give Chicago the blues 2-0

Jeff and date at Wrigley Field for Mariners game 2007

  The Seattle Mariners won the first game of a three game series at home against the visiting Chicago Cubs 2-0.The Mariners won for their fifth win in a row against former Mariners manager Lou Piniella and the crew from the windy city. Jason Vargas improved his record to 6-2 with his third consecutive win using his change-up to keep the Cubs off-balance in their first trip to Safeco in eight years. As usual the Cubs had a sizeable group of fans at the game tonight and they lived-up to their reputation with cat-calls and boos for Milton Bradley who was a bust with the Cubs. Unfortunately Carlos Silva will not be pitching Thursday as planned so the Mariners fans won’t be able to give him a little welcome back reception of his own. It always amazes how tolerant Seattle fans are when the transplants come out in force for the big East Coast Teams visits to Seattle. As you can see by the picture above I made a trip to Wrigley field three years ago, where I was treated rather poorly by the grumpy Cubs fans. Of course it has been 102 years since the Cubs have won a World Series so I guess they have a right to be a little edgy.

   Tonight the Mariners were able to sneak by the Cubs with great starting pitching by Vargas, good support from the pen, and a 2-run homer off the bat of Franklin Gutierrez in the bottom of the second for the games only runs. It appears that the Mariners would fit right into the National League with their strong starting pitching and good defense. Of course at some point the offense will need to produce more than they have in this 5-game streak, but for now it is just nice to watch our starters baffle the hitters on these NL Clubs. Unfortunately the Texas Rangers won again tonight behind the bat of red-hot Josh Hamilton and so the Mariners remain 13 games back in the AL West. We are closing in on the Oakland A’s however who are 9 games out of first. The way we are playing now it is possible that the M’s could overtake the A’s before the All-Star break which would be a huge moral victory for this club and its loyal fans.

   I heard Jack Zduriencik on the radio before the game and he sounded a lot less evasive and was actually quite honest about the fact that things have not gone as expected this year. I think Jack Z. like a lot of us, sort of hit an emotional bottom a few weeks ago and is now just taking it day by day. Cliff Lee is pitching tomorrow and as we all know Jack Z. is the man who will ultimately be responsible for the decision on whether to trade him or let him go. I have made my opinions known how I feel on this situation and after hearing our GM’s calm and frank demeanor today I am feeling much better on how the situation will be handled.

   If the Cubs felt bad about losing tonight to Jason Vargas, wait till they try to score some runs off our back to back Aces coming their way. Yes indeed tomorrow its Cliff Lee, followed by Felix on Thursday for a day game. Summer comes late in Seattle but when it gets here there is no place in the world this old sailor would rather be, especially with two Aces up your sleeve….http://jeffsmariners.com

 *note I have made some modifications to my Blog after hearing from some of the readers. I hope this new format is easier to read and more user-friendly. Let me know what you think.

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