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

Snell finished, Mariners reverting back to 80s farmclub?

Ian Snell got handed an early 2-0 in the first inning  against the first place Texas Rangers and then went on to pitch himself and the Mariners into a 8-2 hole before being pulled in the second. The Rangers went on to win this one 12-2 as the Mariners sank to 9 games back in the AL West with no relief in sight. We did get to see Luke French for five innings tonight, and though he gave up 4 runs he was nowhere near as painful to watch as the former Pirate Ian Snell. The Rangers finished the night with 15 hits including a couple of home runs against a team that has lost its way.

   Outside of the” Paper Boy” Josh Wilson who had a couple of hits, the Mariners lineup was futile. It was absurd to have to listen to Mike Blowers and Dave Sims once again give a running tally every inning on the Rangers pitch-count as if at some magic moment the score disappears and the only thing that matters is how many pitches are thrown by the opposing teams starter. To his credit Dave Niehaus reminded everyone that the Texas Rangers philosophy does not adhere to this pitch-count magic like the Mariners. This of course falls into one of those “Belief System” things that seem so important to Don Wakamatsu and apparently the hired hands at FSN. I’m sick of it, how about sending our guys up to the plate with a quick briefing on what to expect then giving them the green light to swing at the first pitch if it is a meatball?

   Somehow this “Belief System” stuff has gotten so strong that the Mariners field operations generals not only believe their own BS  but they think the other teams will believe it too. So for instance if our guys get told to make the pitcher throw a lot of pitches so we can magically win, then the opposing team won’t swing at first pitch strikes and blast the ball all over the park because we do it the right way….NOT. As Ian Snell proved tonight you can give-up 8 runs on less than 45 pitches in no time at all!

   Anyway this year is starting to look like the 80’s in the Kingdome with Gormon Thomas, Rey Quinones, Spike Owen, Mickey Brantley, Bob” Sarge” Kearney etc. Only back then we had not tasted victory yet and thus we were ok with being the farm club for the rest of the Major Leagues. It was part of our “Belief System” so to speak that we sucked, but at least we could watch other good teams come to town. This year we had all the hype, so much in fact that I decided to go to Spring training, learn all this blogging technical stuff and start an Expansion Blog!  And now we still have over 100 games to go and our ship is marooned in futility with the only real excitement revolving around who we get for Cliff Lee!

    Well Hiroshi Yamauchi if you happen to be reading this blog {it’s possible!} could you please take a trip over here and see for yourself what is happening. Don’t rely on that fork-tongued Howard Lincoln or that shifty Chuck  Armstrong as they don’t know anything about baseball unless it has to do with bobble-head promos. Mr. Yamauchi I know you transferred  ownership to NOA a few years back, and you are getting old, but you are our last shot….. could you possibly see fit to fire a few people and maybe pull out a little of your cash and buy us a few new players that want to win? I’m going to sign out for now as I can sense this post is deteriorating fast and I need to brush-up on my soccer lingo before the World Cup so I don’t sound like an angry, ignorant American when I meet Mr. Yamauchi for a power lunch in Ballard……http://jeffsmariners.com

Mariners lose 7-1 as lights grow dimmer

Felix Hernandez still proved he has not fully developed as a pitcher tonight as he gave up 7 runs in 7 innings losing in front of 18,774 Texas Rangers fans tonight. When Hernandez is on it is easy to overlook his brash almost cocky style, when he is facing a lineup like he faced tonight and he makes mistakes it is not pretty. Hernandez had Josh Hamilton behind with a 1-2 count in the first and instead of giving him a breaking ball he decided to try to throw a fast ball by him and Hamilton drove in 2 runs with a drive to left that Saunders couldn’t quite catch up to. Again in the 6th inning he had Justin Smoak down 0-2 and again he thought he was untouchable, giving up a line shot to right that drove in a Ranger run. In both these cases a more experienced pitcher knowing he did not have his best stuff that night would have thrown a breaking ball or something outside the strike zone rather than challenging the hitters. Just saying….

  Of course the Mariners offense tonight was back to the usual watch a strike down the middle, then fall behind and chase bad pitches. Rangers starter Colby Lewis threw a lot of breaking balls tonight and made the Mariners look like a bunch of  AAA hitters with no plan before going to the plate, but rather just reacting and not  being aggressive. Our hero Rob Johnson did come up with 2 out of the 4 total hits by the Mariners tonight including the lone RBI, a single in the 4th. Of course Rob will be Rob and he looked really silly in the third when he got caught half-way between second and third on a botched hit and run play. Perhaps he missed a sign or Lee Tinsley messed up at his new post as third base coach, either way it helped kill a rally and looked AAA  just saying…. 

   All kidding aside folks we are truly getting close to the abyss as far as the AL West race goes. The top three teams keep switching off as front-runners while our boys just seem to look a bit lost. It was entertaining to watch Vladimir Guerrero swinging the bat tonight at every thing thrown his way, then finally connecting for a 2-run bomb in the 7th to make it 7-1. Guerrero has always been a Mariner killer first with the Angels and now with the Rangers and would have loved to see him in a Mariners uniform this year, but I guess he wouldn’t fit into the “Belief System”.

  Not following the draft to closely as my experience has shown that it is a long way from college ball to the majors no matter how high up in the draft you are picked, as there is a lot that can happen trying to battle through the minor league system up the food chain. That is unless you happen to be Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals who rose to the top quick and struck-out 14 tonight picking up his first win!

     Anyway back to Texas where our club has a couple more games to go against the Rangers, led in the front office by Nolan Ryan who by the way is not a zealot about pitch-count like most teams these days. Not sure what to say about our chances  considering we have Ryan Smith {only giving him one last name till he wins a game} and Ian Snell on deck to do battle in the home run friendly Arlington stadium. As much as I love the Mariners I am considering having sort of an affair with another team. Maybe not love but more like a friends with benefits relationship with a team such as the Twins where I could follow them, enjoy myself and not be devastated when they let me down. Just saying…..http://jeffsmariners.com

Cliff Lee dominates as Mariners win 4-2

Cliff Lee pitched another gem tonight against the Texas Rangers going all nine innings to give the Mariners a 4-2 victory down in Arlington to start a four game series. Don Wakamatsu put  a new fresh lineup on the field tonight batting Chone Figgins at the bottom of the order as well as starting Mike Carp at first. Figgins responded by going 3-4 and making a great diving catch in the second inning. Carp who had 10 homers for Tacoma replaced Mike Sweeney on the roster while Sweeney tries to recover from his back problems. Wak shook up his own coaching staff by switching Lee Tinsley from first base  over to third base with Mike Brumley. Milton Bradley batted second and picked up a hit, but it seems Josh Wilson would be a more natural guy to bat second. I applaud Wakamatsu for trying some new moves and just hope they work.

    Offensively the Mariners had a big inning in the second when Carp lead off with a single and got forced out at second. Following that, none other than Rob Johnson picked up his first of two hits on the night setting the stage for Michael Saunders. Saunders turned on a pitch and lined a ball just over the right field fence for a 3-run homer. Figgins got on with a single and stole second but got caught trying to steal third following the blast by the tall lanky Canadian Saunders.

   The Mariners picked up another run in the third with a single by Rob Johnson scoring Mike Carp who had reached base on an error and was moved up by Josh Wilson who had another 2-hit night. The rest of the night was all about Cliff Lee who just kept pounding the strike zone all night keeping the Rangers at bay. Lee pitched out of jams in both the fourth and fifth innings leaving a couple of Rangers on base both times. Cliff Lee exudes confidence on every pitch and tonight there was no doubt who was in charge.

   Lee pitched 8 innings without giving up a run or a walk and thus was given the ball to finish this one out in the 9th where things got a bit dicey for the southpaw. The Rangers were able to get lucky and pick-up two runs in the ninth on sharp ground balls that made it through the infield. Jose Lopez however made a great play on a ball in the hole to get a force at second and save a run. It looked like the Rangers may have had a chance for a comeback victory after Lee dropped a ball shoveled to him by Casey Kotchman , but true to form Cliff Lee got the last out before we had to call on the recently shaky bullpen.

  The AL West is bunched up at the top with the other three clubs in the division hovering just above .500. The Mariners need to  win this series to stay alive. It seems we have been around 7 or 8 games back for over a month despite going through injuries, retirements and various melt-downs. For tonight we are still breathing in this race despite the endless trials this club has put itself and the die-hard fans through. http://jeffsmariners.com

Lee Throws Smoke, Mariners Choke lose 2-0 in 12

Cliff Lee took the mound  tonight for the Seattle Mariners and was everything we have been anticipating and more. He threw 7 innings of 3-hit shut out ball against division rival the Texas Rangers in what turned out to be a wasted performance as the Mariners went on to lose this one in 12 innings. Fortunately the Mariners are playing in a division where the top two teams are tied at .500 and thus our boys are only a half a game back!

  The first 20,ooo fans who came out on this chilly night  got a Felix Hernandez bobble-head doll along with another nail-biter that almost had a play-off type atmosphere as it went on and on and on….. For some reason Wak brought our closer in to pitch the top of the 9th and since we didn’t score, the ball got handed to Brandon League who by all rights should have got the win, if only…we could have executed.

 How we lost this one I will never know as it looked like we had it in the 10th when Griffey lead off with a single, then Bradley doubled and suddenly we had runners on second and third with no outs. Kotchman came up and on a weird check-swing popped out to third. The Rangers then intentionally walked the bases loaded to get to Wilson who was sat down and Sweeney came in to pinch hit with 1 out and the bases loaded. Right away he hit into a double play and that was that. Brandon League did his job in the top half of the 11th and once again opportunity came knocking.

 Ichiro lead off the top of the 11th with hir third hit of the night, Figgins  bunted for a base hit and it looked like we were in business again. Gutierrez our best hitter was asked to bunt and he tried but eventually struck out and Lopez walked. Eric Byrnes who had replaced Ken Griffey in the previous inning as a pinch runner came up with another chance to end this one. Instead Wak put on the suicide squeeze sign, but sadly Byrnes couldn’t get any wood on the ball and Ichiro got nailed at the plate. Byrnes went down after that and another 5,ooo fans headed for the exits.

  By then you knew lady luck was not on our side tonight, and sure enough the Rangers were able to score a couple of cheap runs off a couple infield plays that could have gone our way coupled with a throwing error from Tui and a wild pitch. By the time the bottom of the 12th came those of us who hadn’t left or perhaps were too stunned to move as was the case with me, got to watch the Mariners go down in order and that was it.

  But again on the bright side Cliff Lee pitched well and we are only a half game out of first place! I can tell this is going to be an interesting year and not one for the timid of spirit. http://jeffsmariners.com

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