Sweeney traded to Philadelphia, farewell Mike!

Sweeney rounding bases after homer in Tacoma (Jon Wells/Grand Salami)

  Just read an AP wire that Mike Sweeney has been traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for a player to be named later and/or cash considerations. And so ends another chapter of the Mariners 2010 season. I am happy that I got to see Mike Sweeney yesterday down in Tacoma go 3-4 including two home runs. Sweeney deserves to go to a team that intends to use him rather than languish here in Seattle unwanted. I am happy for Mike, yet a bit sad to see this wonderful player leave without even another chance to see him play with the big club.

  Sweeney plays the game with heart and passion and I wish him well in his future. This move makes sense for the Mariners as they are out of the race and need to focus on re-building with guys like Justin Smoak, Ackley, Saunders etc. I had a feeling after watching yesterday’s game in Tacoma something had to happen soon with this veteran and though I was hoping Sweeney would be coming back to Seattle, I was sort of expecting something like this development. Truth is Sweeney has forced the Mariners since spring training to keep him around even though he wasn’t part of the future. Sweeney hit well for both the Mariners and the Rainiers this year and I look for him to be productive for the Phillies.

  Just like Griffey we will probably not get a farewell event with Sweeney and he will fade into the memories of Seattle fans along with countless other players that have passed through town on their way to greener pastures. I loved watching Sweeney dig-in at the plate and take those big hacks like he did yesterday at Cheney Stadium. Sweeney took a lot of heat locally in the press and blogosphere all year for being a friendly guy who was always smiling and yes hugging other players. But even some of the local cynical types begrudgingly gave him some respect this year as he proved he could still produce just like in his All-Star days with the Kansas City Royals. As his stats show here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/sweenmi01.shtml Sweeney has a career .298 average since coming-up with the Royals in 1995.

  Mike Sweeney is a class-act in an era where most Sport figures are selfish and only concerned with their image and next year’s salary. We were lucky to have him around here for a couple of years and hope he knows that many of us appreciated not only what he did, but who he was.http://jeffsmariners.com

Mike Sweeney Powers Rainiers over Aces 9-3

Mike Sweeney with fans in Tacoma

 The Tacoma Rainiers won the fourth game of the series with the Reno Aces today 9-3 thanks to the big bat of Mike Sweeney on a beautiful day at Cheney Stadium. What another great and fun game down in Tacoma watching the Rainiers clobber the Aces in front of 6,384 fans to give the Rainiers a split of this four game series before heading out on the road again. Unlike the apprehension I feel before the start of a Mariners game I felt confident as I headed down I-5 along with another long-suffering Mariners fan to watch this day game. My friend Eddie had never been to a game at Cheney Stadium and like myself was longing for an opportunity to watch a game under the sun where the home team was able to score some runs. We arrived at 11 am and were surrounded by happy young children arriving by the busload along with the regular Rainiers faithful as I continued my rehab assignment of fun, laughter and winning!

  Blake Beaven who came over in the Cliff Lee trade got his first start with Tacoma and went six innings giving up a couple of runs and looked pretty good in his debut. Of course when your team scores 8 runs for you in the first 4 innings it takes a lot of the pressure off of you. The Rainiers did not waste any time in scoring with Mike Sweeney belting a 2-run shot in the bottom of the first over the big blue wall in left. Sweeney got the start at first today as Justin Smoak slipped into the DH spot so he could focus on his hitting mechanics. Smoak did get a hit today as well as driving in a run in the 8th with a sacrifice fly.

  In the second inning the Rainiers loaded up the sacks for Mike Wilson who drove a ball that barely cleared the fence before rattling around and coming back onto the field. Initially Wilson stopped at second but was then waved in for the grand-slam making it 6-0 before we had even finished our hotdogs! As a Mariners fan I am out-of-shape when it comes to enjoying an early lead in a game, especially as the result of the long-ball. But the Rainiers were not finished yet and in the bottom of the fourth Mike Sweeney blasted another 2-run shot over the imposing fence to make it 8-0. It was a beautiful site to see Sweeney dig-in at the plate and take his customary full-swings today, and before the day was through Sweeney would go 3-4 moving his average up to .366. We were ready to throw Sweeney in the car and kidnap him so he could be in the Mariners lineup tonight where he belongs.

   Yes I know this season is over for the Mariners and it is all about the future so who needs a 37-year-old veteran guy who hits, knows the game, and provides leadership for the young players? Well as a fan I enjoy watching a guy who loves the game and plays with enthusiasm along with the ability to produce, which Sweeney has done all year since spring training( when he was healthy). It seems that there is a certain segment of the local media and fan base that just can’t stand a friendly decent guy succeeding. Perhaps Sweeney’s success isn’t measurable by the new sabermetrics whiz-kids and thus needs to be discounted to fill their need to be know-it-alls. I don’t know but today Mike Sweeney proved once again he can still produce and the fans in Tacoma including myself loved every minute of it. If indeed the Mariners are intentionally leaving Sweeney down in Tacoma to act as a mentor for the young players then that is one thing, but if they are just going to let him languish in AAA hoping he quits then that would be a travesty to not only Sweeney but to the game itself. Baseball is a game of traditions handed from father to son, generation to generation, full of history and mystique. The Mariners have angered the Baseball-Gods one too many times and I am hoping they do the right thing and bring Sweeney back-up to the Majors where he can finish his career in dignity for the rest of 2010.

   While I was at the game today I suddenly realized that the Reno Aces manager was Brett Butler the former player I had watched in the 80’s and 90’s. Butler had a great career and was considered the best bunter of his era along with a lifetime .290 average and 2375 career hits. Perhaps more impressive about Butler is that he overcame throat cancer and came back to finish playing in the Majors till he was 40. Butler is working his way up as a manager through the Arizona system and seemed to have the respect of the umpires as well as his players. It was nice to see the crusty old veteran doing double-duty both as the team’s manager and 3rd base coach. Here are his impressive lifetime stats:http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/butlebr01.shtml   

  So the Mariners are back in town tonight playing the Rangers and I will be back on the beat tomorrow following the big club till the end of the season. I feel a whole lot better having gone down to Cheney Stadium a couple of times during this last home stand and watching the scrappy Tacoma Rainiers win twice. For whatever reason Cheney Stadium provides an environment where time seems  to have stopped somewhere 20  years ago and baseball was still  indeed our national pastime and guys like Sweeney, Butler and perhaps myself could still play this game with the joy and passion it deserves……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

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

Twins take first game of series 5-3

  The Minnesota Twins won the opening game of the series tonight 5-3 thus continuing the woes of the visiting Seattle Mariners. The Mariners made their first visit to beautiful Target Field filled with 40,596 loyal and enthusiastic Twins fans. Doug Fister picked-up the loss tonight thanks in part to some shoddy play by the defense behind him. Fister now goes to 3-7 on the year and appears to be getting a bit sharper but still nowhere near the guy we saw in the early going. The Twins starter Scott Baker went to 9-9 with his performance though he started out looking shaky in the first few frames. In fact the Mariners had a golden opportunity in the second inning after working the bases full with only one down before both Wilson infielders choked and the M’s came-away with 0.

  The Mariners were facing a pennant contending club that plays great defense and holds a .298 average with RISP, compare that to the Mariners who have a .236 average with RISP giving you a picture of the stark contrast in these two clubs. The Mariners did rally for three runs in the 6th inning thanks to a clutch double by Josh Wilson that drove in Saunders and Gutierrez. Branyan had one of his two doubles in the same inning and had come in earlier on a single by Gutierrez. Outside of that it was all Twins thanks to homers by Thome and Casilla.

  This year’s Twins are once again in the thick of things in the AL Central as they try to make it into the World Series after being knocked-out last year by the Yankees. The Twins are marking their 50th year as a franchise with a new stadium and a well-rounded team that gives the folks in the Twin-Cities something to be proud of. Their big slugger Justin Mourneau was sidelined today with an injury but may be back soon as they battle away in a tight AL Central race.

  As most of you know by now pitcher Roy Oswalt has been traded by the Astros to the Phillies and veteran Lance Berkman is leaving those same Astros for the bright lights of New York to wear a Yankees uniform. Apparently the White Sox are close to adding to their already powerful lineup with the acquisition of slugger Adam Dunn from the lowly Nationals. As all this is going on our Mariners appear to have a bunch of players that no one is too interested in at this point. However in August a few of our guys like Lopez and maybe Casey Kotchman could be put out on waivers allowing other clubs to finish the process of picking the last bit of meat off the carcass of our beached whale. We could have been the center of all potential trade attention still if Jack Zduriencik had not chosen to grab Justin Smoak for Cliff Lee. Smoak who is now batting .198 was not in the lineup tonight as either we were trying to showcase Casey Kotchman who went 0-5, or Smoak has another one of those mystery Mariners injuries.

  Still thinking of heading down to watch the Tacoma Rainiers tomorrow as I’d like to watch my old friend Mike Sweeney and catch a glimpse of Dustin Ackley. Hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful weather even as we watch the Mariners continue their voyage to the bottom of the Sea….http://jeffsmariners.com

Mariners lose 9-5 as we sink further into the abyss

The Mariners lost tonight 9-5 to the Chicago White Sox who completed the four game sweep using the long-ball once again to trounce our hapless sailors. I have been following this team since the early 80’s yet I never volunteered to write about them every day before 2010, and things are starting to get a bit gloomy between me and my keyboard. This season is grueling, with no end in sight as we head to Minnesota to face the Twins in their new stadium full of perky and invigorated Twins fans.

   We seem to be falling into an endless abyss of bad games, sad games, terrible games and an occasional win. This team is now officially a candidate for a 100 loss season in a year that we all thought we would at least be as good as last year. There really is no sense in reviewing the list of who sucks, who is at fault, and who needs to go anymore. The only thing we can do is attempt to keep our heads up and move-on until October. Any hope of some sort of trade in the next few days to save this club is a bit ridiculous as well.

   Of course we have the Michael Pineda and Dustin Ackley watch to speculate on to keep our interests, but outside of that it appears barring a miracle we will have to trudge on….Of course for the more sane of my readers there is always Seafair, camping, soccer and even other teams to follow. I have tried to trick myself into thinking I’m going to root for the Atlanta Braves or maybe the Padres as we head down the stretch. But of course I know come tomorrow I will be glued to the TV like you hoping that our boys will awaken from this trance and go on a little run. If nothing else I am feeling obligated to stick it out for Dave Neihaus who deserves better than this as his career winds down.

    I looked at the Tacoma Rainiers schedule today and saw that they are home Saturday night, I am thinking of heading down to watch them just to switch things up a bit. If nothing else I am curious as to what Mike Sweeney is still doing there. My only guess is that Sweeney will stay in Tacoma till the trade deadline passes just in case the Mariners manage to unload Jose Lopez or someone else,then bring him back up to Seattle. I cannot imagine that Sweeney would want to finish his career in the obscurity of AAA ball after all he has accomplished in the Bigs. These are the sort of intrigues that we have grown accustomed to this year where everything  just seems to go from unclear to murky on a regular basis….http://jeffsmariners.com

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