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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

Topic: michael morse

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April 7, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Mariners have some work to do in order to get this offense firing

Well, we’re one week into the 2013 season and we can already see signs of potential with this Mariners offense. For one thing, the power is there like we haven’t seen it in quite a while.

The Mariners have now hit nine home runs in their first seven games. Last year, they hit just three in their opening week and didn’t club No. 9 until their 13th game.

But a year ago, the Mariners were also 4-3. This season, they have started 3-4 after their fourth loss in five games today, a 4-3 walkoff defeat to Dayan Viciedo and the Chicago White Sox in 10 innings.

White Sox mob Dayan Viciedo at home plate after his walkoff homer handed Seattle a 4-3 loss.

White Sox mob Dayan Viciedo at home plate after his walkoff homer handed Seattle a 4-3 loss.

One of the reasons the Mariners have been losing more than winning is they’re starting to over-rely on the homer and aren’t finishing off rallies and innings with the kinds of key hits that can lead to multiple-run outbursts.

The signs are there, as I said. One of my big worries heading into the season was this team’s ability to get on base at the top of the order. Well, as of today, Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders have OBPs of .333 and while that’s not brilliant or anything it’s still loads better than the production seen up top in recent years.

Like I said, the Mariners have been getting on base. It’s what they do after that’s been an issue.

“It’s the first week and there are some good things that have happened and some things we need to get better with,’’ Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “We need to settle in offensively. We know we’re going to be a good offensive club. But we need to settle in offensively, both different individuals and collectively. That will take some of the pressure off the pitching staff.’’

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0 Comments | More in game analysis | Topics: Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, kendrys morales

February 22, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Mariners in spring debut against the Padres

Mariners left fielder Raul Ibanez watches a Jedd Gyorko grand slam leave the park in the first inning of Seattle’s Cactus League opener.

1:40 p.m.: We’re midway through the sixth inning and it’s still a 6-0 game, so at least Seattle’s pitching has managed to plug the early Hector Noesi leak job. The Mariners have just two hits of their own today — singles by Michael Morse and Jesus Montero — so up to now, the first inning has been much of the story.

12:30 p.m.: So, that went rather well, didn’t it? I’ll spare you the short strokes. Hector Noesi threw 42 pitches, got only two batters out and yielded a grand slam to Jedd Gyorko along the way in falling behind 6-0 in the top of the first. Oliver Perez had to come on to get the final out on a hard grounder that shortstop Robert Andino made a nice play on.

In fairness, Noesi really did get three outs since Raul Ibanez let a Will Venable flyball to left field deflect off his glove for an error that put the first two batters on. That’s about all the fairness we’ll toss around after that stinkeroo turned in by Noesi.

The Mariners went 1-2-3 on just seven pitches in their half of the opening frame. Hey, it’s early. There, somebody was going to say it.


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0 Comments | More in Cactus League | Topics: kendrys morales, michael morse, michael saunders

February 17, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Bombs away! Michael Morse puts on a batting practice show for the Mariners

Watched Michael Morse in batting practice this morning and let me tell you, I have not seen a guy put a bat to a ball like that for this team since Russell Branyan came to camp four years ago. Jesus Montero used to hit some bombs last spring, but not as consistently as Morse was drilling them today. We’re talking line drives 20 feet over the center field fence.

Michael Morse takes a break between batting practice rounds this morning in Peoria, AZ.

His swing was pure power. Sure, Franklin Gutierrez hit some tape-measure BP shots a year ago. But the difference is, Morse has shown he can consistently do this in a game.

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0 Comments | More in Video | Topics: batting practice, michael morse, peoria

February 16, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Mariners outfielders get their work in, both at plate and in field

Most of the interesting new additions by the Mariners this winter came in the outfield. So, I’ve got some video for you to see of this morning’s first full-squad workout by the team and it naturally features the outfielders. You can see Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez, Jason Bay and others working on the fielding of ground balls in the first segment.

Later, there are shots of Morse, Ibanez and Kendrys Morales taking batting practice. Morse had the best drive of the day, a towering shot over the batter’s eye in dead center. I did not get footage of that, but did capture a few of the bombs hit by various guy. The last part of the footage shows Morse getting work in at third base. Remember, the Mariners are only planning to carry one full-time backup infielder in Robert Andino this year. After that, Morse will be used at third base and Kyle Seager at shortstop if Andino is otherwise occupied and some pinch-hitters/pinch-runners are required late.

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0 Comments | More in spring training | Topics: batting practice, kendrys morales, michael morse

February 16, 2013 at 9:06 AM

Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez embark on encore acts with Mariners this morning

Michael Morse is now much bigger in clubhouse stature — and in the lineup — than when he left Seattle in 2009.

Michael Morse was sitting in the clubhouse rocking out to some tunes this morning and getting ready for his second act with a Mariners team that traded him to Washington for Ryan Langerhans back in 2009. Much has changed for Morse since he left. Back then, his spring training locker was in a rear section of the clubhouse and he largely stayed in the background, letting more established teammates be front and center.

Nowadays, Morse controls the clubhouse music. His locker is where Ichiro’s used to be and there’s a side buffer locker to his right that handles the overflow between him and Franklin Gutierrez (who has the end locker where Chone Figgins used to be). So, Morse is now big in clubhouse stature as well as in the lineup, where he’ll occupy the third or fourth spot.

What changed?

“I got a chance to play,” Morse said.

Indeed he did. He nearly got that same chance in 2008 before diving for a fly ball and tearing the labrum his shoulder. I asked him whether he ever thinks things might have gone differently for him had he not been hurt.

“I’m a big believer in things happening for a reason,” he said. “I don’t like to look back on it or question it. I just know that good things have happened for me since I had the chance to play and I’m in a good situation right now.”

Morse owns at-shirt company 22 Fresh and today brought in a version he had made up yesterday. It reads: I love Japanese pitching and has a heart-shaped logo where the word “love” would be. The first person he showed it to was Antony Suzuki, interpreter for Hisashi Iwakuma.

“I think I’m going to have them made up for everybody except him,” Morse said with a smile, in reference to Iwakuma. “For him, I’ll maybe get one that says ‘I love American hitters’.”

Across the locker row, Raul Ibanez was preparing for his third go-around with the Mariners.

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0 Comments | More in spring training | Topics: fences, michael morse, Raul Ibanez

January 28, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Mariners heading into spring training with intriguing offense

The return of Michael Morse to Seattle is one of the intriguing upgrades the Mariners have made this off-season. Photo Credit: AP

Great to be back in town after a couple of weeks overseas. While I was away, I watched with interest as the Mariners attempted to upgrade their offense, getting rejected by Justin Upton before trading for Michael Morse. There were many things I wanted to write at the time, but with only texting capabilities, a few blurbs on Twitter were the best that could be managed from the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Looking at it now, the Mariners have as intriguing an offense as I can remember since I started covering the team late in 2006. They have clearly upgraded the middle of their batting order with both Morse and Kendrys Morales, while the wild-card to all of this is what moving in the fences could do for the club as far as power potential. When you look at the money involved, the Mariners effectively pulled off the acquisitions for a money cost of about $2 million between what they are paying Morales and Morse compared to the arbitration awards given Jason Vargas and John Jaso — the players given up in trade.

For my part, Vargas at $8.5 million is too pricey for a team determined to keep payroll below $100 million, so that’s a no-brainer and he should do well in Anaheim with a team that can afford that for a mid-rotation lefty. As for Jaso, I know there was a lot of teeth-gnashing locally over his departure, but again, the Mariners were not the type of team that were going to benefit the most from his services.

Jaso’s fate with Seattle was pretty much sealed the minute the Mariners made catcher Mike Zunino their No. 1 draft pick. With the idea to fast-track Zunino to the big leagues in a year or two — and 23-year-old Jesus Montero around as last winter’s big trade acquisition — there was not going to be enough playing time for Jaso a season or less down the road. The Mariners actually explored trading Jaso at last summer’s July 31 deadline and even after that and were somewhat surprised not to find much demand for his services.

One Mariners official I spoke to about Jaso in December told me the club had thought he profiled as the perfect addition for a National League contender, given how many more pinch-hitting opportunities he could have had in that league. The Mariners valued Jaso highly in exactly the role he was used in — as a part-time catcher and stellar late bat off the bench. They knew that part-time success in a limited number of at-bats does not always translate to the same numbers when playing time increases to 500 or 600 at-bats in a full-time role. That factor, plus Jaso’s defensive limitations behind the plate (one reason he caught consecutive games only three times all season) meant he was never going to be afforded a full-time opportunity by the Mariners.

And that’s why the team spent most of this off-season including him in trade proposals — from the late November talks with the Pirates about a deal for outfielder Garrett Jones that we reported on, to the Upton negotiations with Arizona, then, finally, to the Morse trade. Going forward, I think the A’s are the perfect AL club for Jaso. They are coming off a division title and hoping to contend again, wanted a second catcher to go with young Derek Norris and stand to benefit greatly from having a steel-nerved Jaso come off the bench late — given all the close games their still-young squad played last year.

If Jaso can develop beyond a part-time role in Oakland, then good for him. Point is, he was never going to get that chance with Seattle given the big commitments the Mariners have already made to get both Zunino and Montero. And as a backup catcher/pinch-hitter, Jaso’s $1.8 million arbitration award is about the limit a lesser-payroll team would want to spend for that. Jaso will be getting pricey his next two club controlled years if he indeed has peaked in the role best-suited to his abilities, so, the trading “three years of Jaso for one year of Morse” has been, I think, a tad overstated.

So, enough about Jaso. Now, on to the Mariners moving forward.

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0 Comments | More in trades | Topics: Jack Zduriencik, John Jaso, kendrys morales