September 1, 2013 at 9:42 AM
Tom Wilhelmsen was back in the clubhouse with his Mariners teammates this morning, working on a crossword puzzle before attempting the first step back towards solving the puzzle that his MLB career has become. Wilhelmsen said it isn’t much of a mystery what he worked on in Class AAA the past month.
“Throwing strikes,” he said. “Trying to throw strikes. It’s kind of been that way and not just the past month. It’s what you’re always trying to do.”
Wilhelmsen posted a 10.50 ERA in eight outings spanning 12 innings for the Rainiers.
“I guess if I’m working on throwing strikes and the numbers weren’t good, that means I’m throwing strikes,” he said. “Because they’re hitting them. So, I was successful in doing what I was supposed to be doing.”
Wilhelmsen said he’s been trying to relax more and pound the strike zone. For the most part, he added, he was pitching the way he’ll continue to pitch in the majors.
Which begs the question: what’s he doing back up in the majors?
Yes, it’s September call-up time and Mike Zunino will join the team tomorrow in Kansas City and catch Felix Hernandez — a welcome sign, since he’ll now have a full month of MLB action after breaking that hamate bone in his hand. Some more additions will come after that.
But with Wilhelmsen, the team has already seen him get lit-up in the majors. He got lit-up in the minors too. So, what’s the potential gain in the Mariners using him against higher-caliber opponents (today aside) the rest of the way?
“We’ve seen him come up here before and do well, even better than what he did in the minor leagues,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said, referring to the second-half of 2011, when Wilhelmsen looked dominant in the bullpen after getting knocked around as a AAA starter. “So, hopefully he can flip that switch again. I do feel strongly that he’s going to be a part of this. In what role, I don’t know. He has too big an arm. He has too much experience. He’s had too much success up here in a vital role not to be.”
July 8, 2013 at 2:29 PM
ADDITIONAL NOTE: If you missed this morning’s Talkin’ Baseball segment on Sports Radio KJR, click the link above. Mitch Levy and I discussed Justin Smoak, Nick Franklin, Brad Miller and the rest of the Mariners after their improved-looking 4-2 trip.
Jeremy Bonderman saw his comeback with the Mariners end today when the team designated him for assignment. Lucas Luetge has been called up from Class AAA and will be available as of tonight to work out of the bullpen. But that leaves an open rotation spot for now and so the Mariners will need to add somebody in time to fill Bonderman’s role come Thursday.
Erasmo Ramirez is the guy everybody usually talks about when it comes to who is most ready. But he’s not a shoo-in just yet.
June 28, 2013 at 4:56 PM
Just as one part of this Mariners youth movement begins tonight, another has ended with Alex Liddi designated for assignment by the team. Liddi was the team’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2009.
The move clears a 40-man roster spot for Brad Miller to be added and start as shortstop tonight. Carlos Triunfel was optioned back to Class AAA to free up the big league spot.
It was just under two years ago that the Mariners first called Liddi up to the majors as part of a second-half infusion of youth. That infusion saw performances by Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Mike Carp, Casper Wells, Trayvon Robinson and Liddi, to name a few.
Some of them came up before the second half, others later on. But as of right now, the only ones left are Ackley and Seager.
June 9, 2013 at 11:33 AM
First, some trade news in that the Mariners have dealt minor league infielder Vinnie Catricala to the Oakland Athletics for a player to be named, or cash considerations. Catricala was DFA just last week.
Once again, the Mariners need Felix Hernandez to be better than he’s looked in many recent outings. I say that because today’s lineup being trotted out by the Mariners is looking rather outgunned. The good news is, they’ll be facing David Phelps on the mound for the Yankees and not C.C. Sabathia or one of the A-listers.
The bad news is, Michael Morse is out as the Mariners give him a day to try to get that painful quad muscle more under control.
Kendrys Morales is in a DH role because of a stiff back that forced him from yesterday’s game. The fact the Mariners have been forced to go with Morales so many days in a row at first base no doubt contributed to his back woes, so we’ll see how effective he is at the plate today.
That means Alex Liddi is in at first base, giving Phelps ample opportunity to up his strikeout totals.
You’ve got Jason Bay at leadoff because Michael Saunders has gone AWOL the past month at the plate. And batting second will be Nick Franklin, called up from Class AAA a couple of weeks back.
“I’ve been debating about it,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said this morning about putting Franklin in there. “We’re thin as it is and he’s been putting together as good at-bats as anybody. He’s not shy, so I think that probably works for him. I’m trying to put the best lineup out there.”
The sad part is, given the circumstances, this might be it.
June 8, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Just a few weeks back, Brandon Bantz was a sub-.200 hitter in Class AA with what looked to be a very limited professional future in baseball. Now, because of organizational circumstances and Mariners roster decisions, Bantz will make his major league debut today as a starting catcher.
He’ll be part of a battery with Joe Saunders, one of the handful of Seattle pitchers he hasn’t caught yet, given his time with others in the minors.
No, it isn’t a perfect arrangement. Unless, of course, you happen to be Bantz, whose unusual story isn’t likely to happen to too many others. But Jesus Sucre isn’t healing as fast as the Mariners had hoped and today was placed on the 15-day DL. That means the initial plan to use Kelly Shoppach once again today was shelved and Bantz inserted in the lineup, knowing that Shoppach faces a long workload ahead.
“He tested everything yesterday and it’s not what we had hoped or even anticipated,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of Sucre.
Carlos Triunfel is back up from AAA to take Sucre’s MLB spot.
June 4, 2013 at 11:50 PM
Just when you thought this 7-4 win by the Mariners would be all we talked about postgame. Well, if you saw what happened tonight, you know that catcher Jesus Sucre got hit on the hand by a backswing and eventually had to leave the game soon after. Sucre was examined post-game and X-Rays revealed something possibly more serious than mere bruising on the hand.
Sucre will be examined first thing tomorrow, but the Mariners are now scrambling in the likely event they need to have another catcher up here.
One of their two Class AAA options is last year’s No. 3 overall draft pick, Mike Zunino.
The other guy that won’t be garnering national attention if added is Brandon Bantz, recently called up from AA after Jesus Montero went on the DL.
The Mariners aren’t saying what they’ll do.
“Jack (Zduriencik) and I just started talking about it and we’re going to talk some more about it after we get done here,’’ Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “We’re kind of in a pickle here but we’re going to have to try to cover ourselves.’’
May 27, 2013 at 8:03 AM
Nick Franklin has gotten the call and is to be promoted by the Mariners today and brought up from Class AAA. Not much of a surprise, since Franklin was held back from playing for the Rainiers at Reno yesterday.
At whose expense?
Well, as we wrote yesterday following the Mariners win, the argument for keeping Dustin Ackley around is growing thinner by the day. He’s now 0-for-19, looks lost at the plate and keeps falling behind 0-2 and 1-2 in just about every plate appearance.
No way Franklin can do any worse than that.
Again, as we’ve written, the Mariners were prepared three days ago to jettison a minor leaguer off their 40-man roster to create room for Jesus Sucre while they waited for Robert Andino to clear waivers. In the end, they had to DFA Andino — creating the Sucre roster spot — when news leaked that he had been placed on waivers.
So, the minor leaguer survived a few more days, but clearly, the team has a guy it can sacrifice to open a roster spot for Franklin.
The question now is whose major league spot will be sacrificed.
May 24, 2013 at 3:13 PM
ADDITIONAL NOTE: If you missed last night’s edition of The Geoff Baker Show on Sports Radio KJR, the first hour is posted above. The final 30 minutes is below.
Well, this sure wasn’t how the Mariners expected this day to go. The day began with the Mariners planning to take a minor leaguer off the 40-man roster in order to clear a spot for catcher Jesus Sucre. Instead, it has ended with Robert Andino being designated for assignment to free that spot as the result, it appears, of a news leak.
When I spoke to GM Jack Zduriencik moments ago, he said he’d been mulling over whether to call up Carlos Triunfel from Class AAA for a while now. After thinking it over last night and again early this morning, he said, he met with his senior officials and they decided late morning to make a move.
Here’s the thing, though: Dave Cameron of FanGraphs/USS Mariner reported on his Twitter account that Andino had been placed on outright waivers and that he’d be freeing up the Sucre roster spot. But if that were true (and no one has denied it) and Andino had indeed been placed on waivers this morning, the team would have to wait 48 hours for him to clear or be claimed for that roster spot to be freed.
So, under that plan, there was no way the roster spot could be used for Sucre. And as I’ve said, the plan was to take a minor leaguer off the roster as of this morning.
So, what changed? Because the Mariners just designated Andino for assignment, which makes his roster spot immediately available.
Well, what just transpired is either some really poor timing and planning by the Mariners, who had all day yesterday to decide on a DFA move, or could have held Triunfel up at the airport if they were hotly debating a move this morning. Or else, they were forced into the DFA move — rather than the straightforward waiver outright move — by the news leak Cameron put out.
After all, the Mariners allowed Triunfel to board a plane to Reno with the Tacoma team this morning. It is not usual to allow a guy to do that, then turn around and have him fly back to Seattle that same day. Not unless there is some unforseen injury or something else unexpected that happens. That kind of move is a risky one to make if just part of routine planning, or a change of heart, because there is always the chance of travel delays or something else.
May 17, 2013 at 2:07 PM
After Hector Noesi threw those 4 1/3 innings last night, it was clear the Mariners would need some extra bullpen help. So, they’re getting that tonight as Noesi has been optioned to Class AAA and Danny Farquhar has been called up.
To clear a roster spot for Farquhar, the Mariners placed Stephen Pryor on the 60-day DL. That move likely won’t delay Pryor’s return to the big leagues, since it can be backdated to when his injury occured just over a month ago.
Farquhar, 26, got himself noticed with a strong showing for the Mariners this spring and had been used in a closing role by AAA Tacoma. His outings have been better of late after he mixed in his curveball more to offset a 95 mph fastball and 91 mph cutter.
“The curveball definitely is a big offspeed pitch that I need to continue to throw for strikes, continue to mix in there,” Farquhar said. “Just because I have the cutter and the fastball — they’re two hard, hard pitches. Even just showing a hitter the curveball…it’s so much easier and more fun to pitch when you have extra weapons like that.”
May 17, 2013 at 9:35 AM
The Mariners could be a .500 team again as early as tonight. Not that this is all that unusual, or late in the season.
Remember, it was only two years ago that the Mariners were a .500 team on July 5 after a win in Oakland. What happened after that was a 17-game losing streak that scuttled the season.
Could that happen this year, too? Sure, it could. But I don’t think it will. No, I suspect this current shot at .500 will lead these Mariners to a place they found themselves in 2009 when they won 85 games. Maybe this team can even exceed that, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Here’s why I think this year will be different.
The biggest is that this team has an offense that is already more or less set. The 2011 squad was running on fumes and needed at least two big bats to be imported at the trade deadline to have even a remote chance. That squad was batting Adam Kennedy cleanup at times and he simply hit the wall from overuse at the midway point.