Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.
April 26, 2013 at 10:30 AM
(Here is today’s Mariner minor-league report).
After a relentless stretch of negativity, the Mariners changed the mood last night, at least temporarily. They put up what I felt was their best all-around game of the season in a 6-0 win over the Angels. They had great pitching, good defense, and an impressive power display, most notably from Carlos Peguero, on a rocket to center that might still be traveling if it hadn’t hit the batter’s eye.
April 25, 2013 at 8:47 AM
In a Monday blog post, in the wake of the Mariners’ three-game sweep to the Rangers, I wrote: “The Mariners start a three-game series with the Astros in Houston tonight. If you think things are tense now, watch what happens if they lose this series, too.”
The Mariners won the opener, behind Felix Hernandez, then dropped the next two — the second time in as many weeks they’ve lost a series to the ostensibly pushover Astros. So, I got to watch what happened, and it was exactly what I expected: A veritable explosion of Mariner hostility. My Twitter feed blew up, my inbox was flooded with “fire Wedge, fire Zduriencik” and the ever-popular “fire Chuck and Howard” emails and voicemails.
April 24, 2013 at 2:47 PM
The Astros, shown above after today’s 10-3 victory over the Mariners, don’t get to celebrate too often, but they’ve now done so four times in six games against the Mariners. So much for that meme about the M’s cleaning up on lowly Houston as a means to a better record in 2013.
Instead, their record now stands at a dismal 8-15, a winning percentage of .348 (the worst full-season winning percentage in Seattle history is .350 in 1978, the expansion club’s second season of existence, when the Mariners went 56-104). The only teams in baseball off to a worse start this year are the Astros (but just barely at 7-14), Padres (5-15), Cubs (6-14) and Marlins (5-16). Not the kind of company you want to keep.
April 24, 2013 at 11:34 AM
(Former Seattle journalist John Hickey, now covering the Oakland A’s, tells the story of Casper Wells’ journey from Seattle to Oakland, via Toronto — with speculation that another DFA could be imminent).
Here is today’s Mariners’ minor-league report.
UPDATE: Ibanez went 0-for-4 in today’s 10-3 Mariners’ loss and his average fell to .148.
Geoff has the story of Eric Wedge’s decision today to bench Brendan Ryan in favor of Robert Andino, at least for now. The time frame for this move is a little vague. I don’t have a problem with sitting Ryan, because even as great as his glove is, there does come a point where stellar defense is negated by a virtually non-existent offensive contribution. And that point has clearly arrived. Since a flurry of three hits in two games against the White Sox April 5-6, Ryan has three singles in his last 42 at-bats. That’s an .071 average (with just two walks). Obviously unacceptable.
April 23, 2013 at 12:22 PM
UPDATE 1 P.M.: It is official: Carlos Peguero has indeed been recalled from Tacoma to replace Franklin Gutierrez, who goes on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring.
With so many Mariners struggling – last night’s game not withstanding – the possibility of change is hanging in the air. Let’s look down into the Mariners’ minor-leagues system at some of the replacement candidates. It appears that the next player up will be Carlos Peguero, replacing Franklin Gutierrez if and when he goes on the disabled list. Peguero was pulled from Tacoma’s game last night in Salt Lake City and isn’t in their lineup today, so the signs of an impending callup are evident.
At Tacoma, there are several players with major-league experience who are off to decent starts. The problems is that in most cases, they are players who have already had struggles at the major-league level. Now, that doesn’t mean they are doomed to have their weaknesses exploited for perpetuity. But it gives you pause. I’m talking about:
April 22, 2013 at 11:17 AM
(Here is today’s Mariners minor-league report).
The Mariners are facing the biggest crisis of the Jack Zduriencik era. And no, I don’t feel “crisis” is overstating matters. This season — a season that promised to be different, one in which the Mariners were to take some serious steps forward, one in which they finally looked to have put together a representative offense — couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start. And if the ballclub continues to plunge downward, well, at some point you’d have to conclude that their rebuilding blueprint is irreparably damaged. And then things get ugly. Let me amend that: They get uglier.
Has that point arrived? No, not quite yet. But you can see it from here. It’s true that many a team has righted itself after a miserable start, and eventually you forget about the first two or three weeks. But often those are teams that already have a proven track record. You’re currently seeing that with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They got off to the worst start in franchise at 4-10, leading to panic in the streets of Orange County. But the Angels just completed a three-game sweep of the very tough Detroit Tigers, and now have shot ahead of the Mariners, who are frantically trying to hold off a team — the Houston Astros — predicted by some to be the worst in the history of baseball. Seriously, there are those who thought, and think, the Astros may challenge the all-time loss record, and right now they are only one game worse than the Mariners (and beat the Mariners two games out of three, at Safeco Field). The Mariners start a three-game series with the Astros in Houston tonight. If you think things are tense now, watch what happens if they lose this series, too.
April 17, 2013 at 5:42 PM
Mariners manger Eric Wedge issued one his periodic assurances that his team’s hitting will come around — and this time he really means it. The Mariners currently rank 14th among 15 American League teams with a .219 average. They are also 14th in slugging (.365) and 13th in on-base percentage (.285).
“I tell you, like I’ve said before, spring training is spring training, I get that,” Wedge said. “As baseball people, you look at swings, you look at contact, you look at what they’re hitting and how they’re hitting. We have guys here that are going to be able to transfer that over to the regular season. It just hasn’t happened yet. For whatever reason. Everybody’s different.
“In year’s past, I’d have to sit here and pick my words carefully, and try to fool you guys a little bit, and give you a nugget here and there. But this year I can honestly look you in the eye and tell you, I really do believe we’re going to be a pretty good offensive ballclub. I do. That’s just a lot of experience, and believing what I see. We’re off to a little bit of slow start, but I think that will fix itself sooner than later.”
April 17, 2013 at 1:06 PM
Live chat with Danny Hultzen, plus Hultzen update from Tacoma manager Daren Brown (and minor-league report)
Here is today’s minor-league report.
At the bottom of this post is a live chat with Danny Hultzen, which began at 1 p.m.
When I was in Tacoma on Monday to write this column on Mike Zunino, I chatted with Tacoma manager Daren Brown about some of the Rainiers’ other prospects, including Hultzen. If there is an injury in the major-league rotation or ineffectiveness that requires a change, Hultzen would seem to be the top candidate to get the call (at least until Jeremy Bonderman is deemed ready — if that happens).
April 16, 2013 at 1:38 PM
Doug Fister takes the mound for the Tigers tonight at Safeco Field, a tangible reminder of what so far has been one of the least successful trades by Jack Zduriencik. There’s still time for the evaluation to change if a couple of young players acquired in the deal by the Mariners take a big step forward in their development, but so far it’s a win for Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers.
On the day of the deal — July 30, 2011 — Zduriencik was clearcut in laying out his rationale for the trade, which sent Fister and reliever David Pauley to the Tigers for outfielder Casper Wells, third-base prospect Francisco Martinez, left-handed pitcher Charlie Furbush, and a player to be named, who turned out to be reliever Chance Ruffin.
“In this deal what we did is we acquired players that we’re going to have for a long time,” Zduriencik said the night of the trade. “When you start looking at controlling younger players for five or six years, that’s pretty good. That’s something that we said; we wanted to accumulate talent and try to stockpile players who will be here for a long time, players that fit needs that we have.”
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