Tacoma Rainiers beat the Reno Aces 8-2 and it was fun!

   Well I finally had enough of the Mariners and drove down to Tacoma to watch the Rainiers beat the Reno Aces 8-2 tonight and it was fun! Yes that is right watching baseball can be fun, especially if the team you are rooting for wins and the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming like it was at Cheney Stadium tonight. I joined 7,571 other baseball fans on family night and got to see a great game featuring the first-place Rainiers who know how to score runs and even hit the long-ball.

   I have not been to Cheney Stadium since Carlos Guillen was down there in 1998 and as far as the stadium and fans attending, not much has changed. Cheney stadium is 50 years old and has seen many a young prospect as well as fading veteran play on its well manicured field. The crowd was primarily families and working-class, and they know how to have fun. The place was full of youngsters gathering autographs from the players and older fans actually laughing and having a good time. Sure the PA guy messed up a few names, and the electronic screen did not always match the correct numbers up with the right players but I felt I was in a time-warp putting me back into the 70’s.

  The Rainiers brought-up a young pitcher named Yoervis Medina to make his AAA debut tonight and he went 5 and 2/3 innings of 3-hit shutout ball while his offense unlike the Mariners gave him run support. As a matter of fact the Rainiers look like they could beat the Mariners as far as position players go. I got to see Greg Halman hit his 24th homer in the second inning along with home run #15 for right fielder Mike Wilson, and #13 from Matt Mangini who I would swap for Jose Lopez tomorrow. Of course the main event was watching young Justin Smoak recently demoted drive in a run with a screeching shot past third in the big eighth inning as part of a four run rally. All the while I was chatting with the friendly couple in front of me who have had season tickets since the 60’s and even gave me a couple of tickets for Tuesday’s game.

   Yes this was a different experience from fighting the traffic to get into Safeco and paying $65 for a box seat. In fact I paid $25 for a seat two rows back behind the Reno Aces and felt like I was sitting in the dugout. The food is a little cheaper though heavy on the carbs, but so what this team knows how to win games and the crowd was a lot friendlier and more into the game than I usual experience at Safeco. I sort of felt like I was skipping school while I was watching this game instead of painfully going over today’s 4-0 loss to Minnesota and trying to create another clever post for a team that has sucked my creative juices dry.

   It was interesting to watch Mike Sweeney dig-in at the plate like usual, Sweeney walked three times, stole a base, and delivered a clutch 2-out RBI in the 3rd. He looks healthy to me and I really am starting to believe that Jack Z. is leaving him down there to help groom some of the younger guys in a winning environment. I guess there is no point in bringing-up guys like Dustin Ackley into the toxic morass of the Mariners 2010 season so Jack Z. has his little incubator of baseball players project going on down in Tacoma. Actually most of the starters in the field either have been or should be up with the big club this year. So take my word for it and head down to Tacoma and enjoy the game of baseball in a fun, winning environment while it lasts….http://jeffsmariners

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

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 lose 3-2 despite poke from Smoak

    The Mariners lost the second game against the Angels tonight by a score of 3-2. Felix Hernandez squared off against Jered Weaver and pitched well enough to win going eight innings, but alas even a King needs more than 2 runs and 7 hits from his loyal subjects. Weaver who now moves to 9-5 on the year, kept the Mariners off-balance tonight mixing his curve and fastball up and getting outs when he needed them. Both sides had a couple of dumb base running errors that could have altered the score slightly either way.

  As this season moves along I am beginning to accept that we are in some sort of extended spring training mode and thus it is all about looking at young players with an eye on 2011. As depressing as that sounds, it is easier than looking at the standings or batting averages. So tonight I focused on the swing of young Justin Smoak and was pleasantly surprised. Smoak has a nice smooth easy swing, which he used tonight to go 2-4 including a 2-run homer in the 7th. Smoak does appear to get fooled on breaking balls, but does indeed have a natural sweet swing that should bode well in the future for this club.

  Michael Saunders went 2-3 at the plate, though he did get picked-off at first in what could be classified as a rookie mistake in the 5th inning. Outside of that the offense was its usual sleepy self. Not sure who has the worse approach at the plate, Gutierrez who loves to look at first pitch meat-balls, or Lopez who always looks like he is guessing no matter what the count. Casey Kotchman was put in as the DH tonight and went 0-4. Not sure if that means Milton Bradley is being given a time-out or what. Apparently Russell Branyan stubbed his toe in a hotel over the All-Star break in another bizarre Mariner development.

  Looking ahead at the schedule we have two more with the Angels, a series with the red-hot White Sox, then the Red Sox, and another Series with the White Sox. The month of July could be brutal indeed for our hapless sailors as we trudge towards Seafair week. There was a time when Seattle had no major league teams and the Gold Cup Hydro races on Lake Washington was the major sporting event of the year around here. This year it looks like it will be a nice distraction from this extended spring training….http://jeffsmariners.com

Who’s on first?

 

Well we have a few days off for the All-Star break giving everyone a chance to relax, reflect and maybe clear up a few things before heading into the second-half of the season. I am sure the players and coaches will be glad to have a few days to rest and see their loved ones. As for me and most of the other Mariners fans I have been talking to we need to try and unwind and try to decipher all that has happened in this bizarre and mostly difficult to watch first half.

   I thought it might be a good time for some comedy relief and as I saw our new first baseman Justin Smoak’s name penciled into the DH slot today, I thought of the old Abbot and Costello routine  Who’s on First?  which is a funny, famous old baseball skit that I found on Utube that is worth watching if you have never seen it before:

 

Who’s On First?

   As we look at the situation in regards to the Mariners in 2010 it gets almost as comical and confusing. First off last year we had Russell Branyan a fan favorite who hit 31 dingers before going down with a bad back. Branyan tells everyone he wants to come back to Seattle, but Jack Z. signs Casey Kotchman and Branyan languishes unsigned while all the fans wonder if he will be back but he eventually goes to the Indians. Casey Kotchman comes in and has a nice April with the bat combined with his great glove but then tanks in May and June.

   Don Wakamatsu who is busy putting out fires everywhere with Milton Bradley, Eric Byrnes and the Griffey fiasco feels the heat and gives Mike Sweeney a couple shots at first. Sweeney did ok defensively and was swinging a hot bat at the time so it looks he may get the job. But that didn’t last long as Sweeney disappears from the scene and we get to see old Casey back at first for awhile, and he still can’t hit.

   The next solution is to try Josh Wilson at first after he sort of lost his “Paperboy” job when the senior Wilson comes back from his odd rehab assignment complete with stories of him retiring. Josh Wilson now a vagabond with a hot bat didn’t last long at first but played ok there. But Casey Kotchman does get to come back long enough to set the all-time record for games played at first without an error. Of course who can forget the AAA call-up of Mike Carp another solution at first who looked…..well AAA….and the show goes on and on and on…..

   Meanwhile Jack Z. is cooking up another surprise and lands Russell Branyan again to come back and play…….Where else…First Base.

   Ok so now it’s solved Branyan will play first, hit for power and we will forget all about our platinum gloved but  no-stick 1st baseman Casey Kotchman……or so we thought till suddenly in the last couple of weeks Casey Kotchman has found his stroke and is starting to hit for power and average. Great! We can DH Branyan and mighty Casey can take over first again and this thing will be settled once and for all……

    But alas this riddle has a life of its own so it seems, and Jack Z. being the crafty fellow he is makes a huge trade last week sending Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe with 2 million dollars to Texas for 3 prospects and…..you guessed it a young 1st baseman by the name of Justin Smoak who Jack Z. says he has had his eyes on all along……hmmm

    So Justin Smoak arrives in Seattle with much buzz and anticipation by the local fans wondering what gives with this move and Don Wakamatsu the friendly guy he is announces to the press a few days ago that “Justin Smoak” will be the new first baseman of the future. Don is funny that way and likes a fella to know he has faith in him and that once a “belief system” is declared that something magic happens. So ok the fans are exhausted by now with trying to figure out “Who’s on First?” and we hated losing Lee for this kid, but what the heck Don said he is his everyday first baseman so that is that……….

    Then just today I almost fell out of my game-watching chair when I see that Dustin Smoak is DHing today and Casey Kotchman is back at first! Smoak goes 1-4 and Kotchman goes 3-4 with a homer……..So you tell me “Who’s on first” in the second half of the season? http://jeffsmariners.com

Lee up in Smoak!

   Well it is finally over, the Cliff Lee sweepstakes ended today with Lee traded to the Texas Rangers along with Mark Lowe for Justin Smoak and three prospects. Apparently the Mariners are having to send over two million dollars as well to complete the deal. So once again we find ourselves in the familiar position of trading away another star for prospects so we can rebuild. Granted Justin Smoak is a young first baseman with some power but for us fans it is another reminder of our role as a farm-club for the rest of Major league baseball.

  As the day broke it looked like Cliff Lee was going to the Yankees in exchange for Jesus Montero and David Adams, but apparently the Mariners had concerns with the health of David Adams. The Rangers who are making a serious run for the play-offs threw-in pitchers Josh Lueke, Blake Beaven and AA infielder Matthew Lawson. Not quite sure how this helps the Mariners as we already have Russell Branyan and Casey Kotchman at first, but who are we to question why as ours is but to trade and cry.

  Mark Lowe though on the DL for the year was very effective last year coming in to set-up David Aardsma. I am not sure why we did not try to get some help for our current bullpen which is a disaster so far this year. But Jack Zduriencik has announced that we got the best deal possible and he had his eye on Smoak all along. I was also shocked to hear Jack Z. say our goal is to build a World Championship team. It is funny that the goal of reaching the World Series is never mentioned until we are in the rebuilding mode after a big trade, whereas the party-line is always “we are going to put a competitive team on the field”. Sounds like the old bait-n-switch trick to me in order to keep the fans buying tickets to support this never-ending rebuilding process.

  So now the spin will start….

 Will the local press get onboard and cheer for Jack Z. in order to keep their access like in the past? I don’t know but it is another sour day for the fans who have suffered through years of rebuilding and disappointment only to be reminded about the progress of ex-Mariners in the news, as if that somehow makes it better. I for one don’t want to read constant updates about Cliff Lee like we have had to with Griffey, Moyer, and Randy Johnson etc. after they were traded. The whole Cliff Lee saga has been agonizing and I am not excited about the final outcome but I am glad it is finally over.

  I am still going down to Safeco to watch the game though I hear that David Pauley is starting instead of Cliff Lee tonight against the Yankees. This trade is not as devastating as the Randy Johnson trade in 1998, but the state of this franchise is certainly in much worse shape after this trade than we were in 1998. Like a lot of you I enjoyed watching Lee pitch this year and wish him well in the future as we languish behind in AAA Seattle. http://jeffsmariners.com

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