Why the new batters box rule is good and some hitters can’t think

I like the new rule about keeping the hitters in the batting box-at least one foot after every pitch. I hope the rule will be enforced as I loathe and detest batters who step out after every pitch and walk around like they are looking for a park bench to sit on while feeding pigeons. 

I think it was David Ortiz who said he did not like the rule, as hitters need to step out and think about the next pitch, the count, what the pitcher is likely to throw, and all that jazz.

Sorry to bring up the old days, but I have no choice. When I was growing up-and you can see footage on YouTube-batters never got out of the box, not even one foot. Never I say. They stayed in the box and were able to think about the next pitch at the same time. I know you are thinking ‘but how can this be?’ You think I am kidding, that it is impossible for a hitter to stay in the batters box and think at the same time. But I assure you this is true.

Somehow Willie Mays hit 660 home runs without getting out of the box between pitches. You can look it up.

I don’t know the reason hitters of yore were able to think about the next pitch in a short time. Maybe they prepared better, maybe they knew the pitchers better, maybe they went under  the adage of ‘see ball, hit ball’.

Some of today’s hitters overthink, or they can’t think, or are trying to figure out how to think, but I have figured out one thing and it is this. From opening day forward my favorite players will be those who stay in the batters box and players I will jeer, boo, and heckle will be those complainers who can’t stay in the box because it affects their thinking.

I’m believe their brain waves are spinning in foul territory.

Mariners to platoon two second basemen in left field

 

I heard on ESPN 710 Seattle the other day that Richie Weeks and Dustin Ackley will platoon in left. Ackley, the Mariners former second baseman,  learned to play left field after being sent to minors to straighten out his hitting. Last season he played left and this season he will be joined by fellow second baseman Richie Weeks, if that report turns out to be true. And Weeks is listed 2nd on left field depth chart.

That would give Seattle five outfielders, Ackley, Weeks, Austin Jackson, Justin Ruggiano, and Seth Smith. Since Nelson Cruz may get time in the outfield if needed, that leaves speedy James Jones with little chance of making the team and likely ending up in Tacoma.

It has also been said that the whoever losses the shortstop competition between Chris Taylor and Brad Miller will end up in Tacoma with Willie Bloomquist as the utility player.

Since the Mariners are likely to have 12 pitchers because manager Lloyd McClendon does not care about complete games that leaves 13 position players. With the five outfielders listed above, plus DH Cruz and two catchers, that leaves five infielders; Logan Morrison, Robinson Cano, one shortstop from the above mentioned competition, Kyle Seager and Willie Bloomquist as Mr. Utility.

If all that has been said is true it appears the Mariners have their position players already set. The team has flexibility with  interchangeable parts in the outfield depending on whether they are facing a left or right handed pitcher. And while the infield will be set, Cruz will get an occasional day at first or in one of the corner spots. Bench players will be a non-description of the 2015 Mariners as all will be seeing action on a regular basis, though Bloomquist could get lonely with Cano, and Seager being everyday players. Willie will get playing time at short, at first, and can play the outfield if needed.

And even with Jesus Montero having lost 40 pounds he may be in Tacoma along with other quality players. Tacoma could win the PCL with the Mariners having a strong roster. And we haven’t even talked about what pitchers will be down the I-5 freeway.

If you keep score at Mariner games, bring a pencil rather than a pen. You may need it as the scorecard will no doubt fill up on many days.

 

Two names of note in Mariners spring camp

There are two pitchers trying to make the Mariners pitching staff and neither is likely to make it, though one will end up in Tacoma. Another pitcher is a spring invitee, not on the 40-man roster, and if he shows anything at all he could be in Tacoma as well.

As to the first pitcher, look for a healthy Danny Hultzen. Remember him, the Mariners number one pick a few years ago. He was 9-7 in his first season in the minor leagues in 2012 and in 2013 was 5-1 in seven starts before going down with an arm injury and has not pitched since then. He could even end up in a lower classification, but no matter where he lands he is starting his journey back to the majors. In 32 minor league starts he is 14-8 with a 2.82 ERA and 178 strikeouts in 159.2 innings, allowing 109 hits.

How his injury will affect him is anyone’s guess, but it is always good to have extra arms as pitchers have more injuries in todays game than ever before. Which brings us to another pitcher, the one not on the 40-man roster, though in 2013 lefty Joe Saunders was part of the Mariner rotation, but at 11-16 with a 5.26 ERA he was not a fan favorite. The 33-year old is 89-86 with a 4.37 career ERA. His winning record is misleading. In 2008-2009 he was 33-14 for the Angels. He is not that pitcher anymore. He is trying to make a comeback after starting 8 games for Texas in 2014 going 0-5 with a 6.13 ERA and then pitching 3.1 relief innings for the Orioles giving up five runs. In addition he made four minor league stops, three in AAA and one in AA and did not fare well there either.

Saunders is good against lefties with a career .243 batting average against, so maybe he will be fighting for a lefty relief spot. If he does end up in Tacoma, he is-as they say-insurance.

But for me Joe reminds me of the past when he and Aaron Harang were giving up runs like cheap nylons. I like the new Mariners thank you, not the beleaguered ones.

What does Mariners signing of Richie Weeks mean for Bloomquist

Willie Bloomquist is 37 years old and coming off knee surgery. Richie Weeks is 32 and not coming off any surgery. Seattle GM jack Zduriencik has said Weeks will compete (Jack loves saying the Pete Carroll buzz word) at the corner infield and outfield positions as will Bloomquist. It would seem the hand writing is on the wall for Bloomquist though Zduriencik denies it. I would not expect him to say anything else. Jack has said there is room for both players, but it is unlikely that Seattle will carry two utility players, both of whom bat right-handed.

Bloomquist has a slight edge because he has played all positions except catcher. Weeks, played second base in Milwaukee for 11 seasons, refused to try the outfield last season for the Brewers. Since Milwaukee did not want to pay him 11.5 million this season they said good-bye.

Weeks has played the outfield, but not since college. That was in 2002 for Southern University. However, when you have lost your everyday job, as Weeks did last season, and D-Day to spring training is close at hand and you are unsigned, the outfield or any position looks good. I think Weeks will be determined to make the team doing whatever is necessary. He could also DH allowing Cruz to play first base or left field once in a while.

Weeks did not sign a minor league contract with an invite to spring training; he was signed to the 40 man roster, meaning the Mariners expect him to make the team. Edgar Olmos a left-handed reliever, whom the Mariners picked up in November on waivers from the Marlins was designated for assignment. The Mariners have added Mike Kickham and David Rollins from the left side to compete with Charlie Furbush and Lucas Luetge so Olmos was expendable. It has also been rumored that Roenis Elias could be in the bullpen.

Spring training with sort out the lefties and who wins the utility job. Bloomquist is  fan favorite, but I am betting on Weeks.

Why I watch games and not ESPN Sportscenter and other sports shows

When I was young there were not enough sports news. Of course I grew up in an age of three TV networks and a few independent stations. There was no talk radio, no Internet, and social media was hanging out at the A & W drive-in as seen in “American Graffiti.”

Don’t get the wrong idea, even as an older sports citizen I loved watching ESPN, the NFL Network, MLB Network and sports shows at any time of day or night. But something happened.

I got tired of the jibber-jabber of white noise. I realized many of the talking heads on shows were not being insightful, but trying to make a name for themselves. Does anyone take Skip Bayless seriously. He is a joke. He has no credibility. And he is not alone. There are far to many talking heads who lack journalistic integrity or common sense. It is a social media frenzy to see who can be more popular. There are too many sports shows to count, too many talking heads, too many opinions and views which, in the end, mean nothing.

It also became clear that because everyone has an opinion there was no reason to believe any one person, no matter how smart they seemed. Most of them will argue-it is good for ratings; many will try to be clever, if not outrageous-it is good for ratings-so why should I listen to Ron Jaworski and others inform us that Russell Wilson is not a good quarterback. Others say that he is low on the list of passing yards-as if that means anything. The Seahawks are a running team, not a passing team. This is where I say “Duh!” I am only using Wilson as an example. Everyone’s opinion about anything in sports is just BS flotsam that needs flushing.

The only thing that matters is the game. I do not watch pregame shows, nor any sports show. I only watch the games. But in full disclosure I do listen to ESPN sports radio. Or rather I have it on. I am a writer and I like noise, not quiet. I write better when there is sports talk on the radio. If I listen to music I will get distracted, but if I listen to sports talk all I hear is white noise.

I mention all this to say I will not make any predictions about who wins any division in baseball. I will follow the season like all baseball fans and cheer the Mariners when they make the playoffs.  

Why Seahawk fans need Mariners to win

I am a 12. I love the Seahawks, have for years. The way the Super Bowl was lost by the Hawks on Sunday was devastating, crushing, depressing, unreal, unbelievable. The local talk radio airwaves are filled with fans ranting and raving in despair and anger. It was the wrong play they say. Of course they wouldn’t say that if the play worked. But the Beast should have been given the ball.

There is a cure for the Seahawk blues and that is for the Mariners to have a great season. By doing so our minds will be diverted from pain. I won’t say anything about healing process. The wound will go away, but the scar will remain until we are buried-or cremated. I want my ashes in either a Mariner or Dodger urn and given to the Hall of Fame. Either that or have my ashes put in a rosin bag.

But back to the matter at hand. Seahawk 12’s need diversion, something to cheer about. Without it we will go insane with grief and sorrow. Or go into a violent rage out of frustration. The Mariners need to step up and help Hawk 12’s by winning. Not just having a good season, not just falling one game short of the playoffs as in 2014. No they must win, win win. They must crush the Boston Red Sox in the playoffs, then beat whoever in the World Series.

If the Mariners fall short, even worse, not make the playoffs (I will never attend an M’s games again if not in playoffs) then Seattle reverts to that city of sports failure. The Sonics were stolen by the 21st century version of carpetbaggers. The Seahawks blew the Super Bowl. The Mariners continue to flounder like a dying seal in Elliot Bay.

The baseball season can not come soon enough. We need to be rescued from the sea of despair by the Mariners.

 

 

Russell Wilson’s interception and Bobby Thompson’s home run

The first nationally televised baseball game was October 3rd, 1951. It was the playoff game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds in New York. Like the Seattle Seahawk-New England Patriot game it ended in dramatic fashion.

The Dodgers had a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the 9th. Their trip to the World Series to face the Yankees was not be as the Giants scored four times in the bottom of the 9th, the last three on Bobby Thompson’s homerun over the short porch in left-not even 300 yards from the plate at the Polo Grounds. It was the New York Daily News that gave the moniker of “The shot heard around the world” to the Thompson homerun. It has become the most famous homerun in baseball history.

I was 10 days short of my second birthday so I did not see the game, nor was even aware of it. But I became a Dodger fan in the fifties and as student of baseball history I hate that homerun. I hate the Giants winning. I hate it whenever the subject is brought up. I will not read the book about the game. I will not watch replays or listen to the famous Russ Hodges call.

Now I know how crushed the Brooklyn fans were that day. I understand their shock, their pain, their frustration. Russell Wilson threw the interception that will be heard throughout the world. It will be the most famous interception in Super Bowl history. It is the pick that snatched a second straight Super Bowl victory for the Seahawks. 

There is no joy in Beastville. The mighty Beast Mode was turned off on the last Seahawk play. They should have fed the Beast.

How many home runs will Nelson Cruz hit in 2015

Nelson Cruz had his best year at age 33, hitting .271 with career highs in home runs with 40 and in RBI’s with 108, the only year he hit over 100. But how will he do with Seattle? How many home runs is he likely to get?

In 2014 he played for Baltimore. The Oriole park at Camden yards averaged 2.16 home runs per game, third highest in the American League, behind the Rogers Centre in Toronto (#1) and Yankee Stadium (#2). From 2009-2013 with Texas Cruz hit 33, 22, 29, 24, and 27. The League average in 2014 for home runs at any park was 1.78 and the ballpark in Arlington averaged 1.64, so it was below the league average.

Can one expect Cruz to repeat 40 homers playing in Safeco? Safeco gave up 1.73, very close to the league average and better than Arlington. Texas had a bad year and the loss of Cruz certainly factors in their number. Last season there were six American league parks that averaged fewer homers than Seattle’s Safeco Field. So it is time to get off the fallacy that Safeco is not helping hitters. It is neutral and fair if anything.

Baseball is a game of numbers and numbers are fun, but they do not predict the future, they only tell you what happened in the past. Using numbers to project how many home runs Cruz will hit is a fool’s errand. I offer numbers to show his history and how many home runs are hit in parks during the previous season. Their are many factors that come into play in how Cruz will do and that centers on, not only his health, but those in the batting order around him.

It is likely Cruz will bat fourth behind Robinson Cano. I believe Seager batting 5th, someone who can hit 25 or more home runs would be a good bet for the fifth slot. Cano-Cruz-Seager is a powerful 3-4-5 middle of the order. But the key is who bats 1 and 2. Austin Jackson has batted leadoff and most likely will again. Will Dustin Ackley bat second? Or will it be one of the Ruggiano and Smith platoon? That will be of interest to see how that works out.

So how many will Cruz hit? I will say 30. It’s not based the numbers, just my own gut feelings. After all numbers are for the past.

 

Who makes the 25 man roster for the Seattle Mariners

Let’s start with the starting lineup and reserves. 1b will be Logan Morrison. Willie Bloomquist, if he can make the team, could be back up. But, though top minor league prospect D.J. Peterson is listed at third base, that position is manned by all-star Kyle Seager. Peterson has started 19 games in the minors at first and no doubt will get a good look this spring. He bats right handed and would be a good platoon with Morrison. He made  one error in 171 chances in the minors. I think Peterson will make the team. Logan and Peterson are two.

Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager are no brainers. that is four.

Catcher will be Mike Zunino. The back up will either be Jesus Sucre or John Hicks. That is six

Shortstop is anyone’s guess. The Mariners have said they do not want to platoon Brad Miller and Chris Taylor. They want somebody to win the job. If that position remains will they let the other, probably Miller be the utility player and let Willie Bloomquist go. I think youth will prevail and Miller and Taylor both make the roster. That is eight.

The outfield is more interesting. Austin Jackson is slated for center. The Mariners have said Justin Ruggiano and Seth Smith will platoon in right. That leaves Dustin Ackley in left. But Dustin has failed to live up to his potential. A bigger bat would ne nice. Nelson Cruz can play left, not as well as Ackley, but Cruz’s bat will make up for that. What about Cruz as DH you ask. Jesus Montero, a right handed bat with potential power, has lost 30 pounds and is set to revive his career and live up to his potential. If his bat makes noise this spring, then he is DH. Ruggiano, Smith, Jackson, Cruz, Ackley, and Montero is six. That is 14. 

That leaves 11 pitchers. Problem here as I think the M’s will carry 12 pitchers. More later.

Starting pitchers are King Felix, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, and J.A. Happ. There is also a chance that Roenis Elias or Erasmo Ramirez could dazzle , but it will be hard not to go with Paxton and Walker. That leaves six relief pitchers, unless I drop an everyday player of course.

The bullpen with have Fernando Rodney, Tom Wilhelmsen, Carson Smith and Danny Farquhar. From the left side it will be Charlie Furbush and Lucas Luetge, or perhaps Mike Kirkham. That leaves out Dominic Leone, Yoervis Medina, and lefty David Rollins. I don’t want to leave them out, but it will be a battle during spring training because the M’s have a lot of good arms. The bullpen is their strength. I think they will go with 12, so I must cut an everyday player. I think that battle will be between Montero and Ackley.

And did you know that Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez have been invited to spring training. For the first time in some years the question is not where can they find players to make the team, but who can they keep. There will be some excellent players left off the roster on opening day. The team now has talent to compete at a higher level.

 

Why Marshawn Lynch should have been a baseball player

“I am here so I won’t get fined.”

That is what Marshawn Lynch said at Media Day for the NFL circus during Super Bowl week. He also says it during the season when he must. He must because it is a requirement of the NFL that one must talk to the media. It is fortunate that they do not require you make answers they desire, though I am sure that is on the horizon.

If Marshawn played major league baseball, or was in the NBA, or NHL, he would not have these problems. He would not be fined for his reluctance to talk with reporters. Nor would he be fined for grabbing himself, because baseball players constantly grab their junk (why is it called junk; so demeaning to my personal friend). The NFL, to my knowledge, is the only major sport that mandates professional athletes to talk to the press.

The NFL is a control freak. They love to fine players for any small transgression. Throw the ball into the stands? You get fined. Where the wrong socks? You get fined. Don’t play nice for the media? You get fined.

The NFL’s dictatorial methods are archaic and they are fighting a losing battle. If the NFL Player’s Association truly cares about their players, they will take a stand in the next contract negotiations. I don’t care who does or doesn’t talk. Most of the questions and answers between reporters and players in any sport are boring anyway.

The NFL should not be worried about being more tolerant to freedom. There are plenty of players who like the spotlight, who love to talk, enjoy being the center of attention. There are no shortage of players who will promote the NFL. Forcing people to talk is childish.

If you are arrested for a crime, you are not forced to talk. You can ask for an attorney. You are not afforded that courtesy in the NFL. Instead, the NFL, like the inquisition, will make you talk. Fining players for not talking is a civilized answer to the rack.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 658 other followers