You are a diehard, statistical loving, all out baseball fanatic, if you, by the following stats know who these two pitchers are. Pitcher number one has 20 starts with a 4-6 record and 4.64 ERA. In 108.2 innings, he has given up 121 hits, has a .279 batting average against with 82 strikeouts and 32 walks. The second pitcher has nine starts, is 6-2 with a 2.28 ERA. In 51.1 innings he has given up 48 hits with a .242 batting average against with 58 strikeouts and 10 walks.
Pitcher number two is a strikeout pitcher with 10.17 per nine compared to pitcher one with 6.79. Or so it would seem. You see both those stat lines statistics belong to the same pitcher, one J.A. Happ. His bad numbers came from his time with the Seattle Mariners this season before they traded him to the Pirates, where he has the good numbers.
What happened to Happ?
He is averaging only slightly more than five innings per start with the Pirates, indicating perhaps, they want to get him out of the game while the getting is good. Still his numbers are impressive, especially those strikeouts.
It could be that being in the American league this year and his previous seasons with Toronto that the National League teams are having a period of adjustment. It could be his Pirate pitching coach, noticed something that Happ corrected. It could be anything. It even could be a mirage. That given time Happ will return to Happ form.
I’m sure the Pirate brass is happy with Happ with his six wins in nine starts compared to the Mariners four wins in twenty starts.
Of course there could be another answer. Back in my youth there were two catchers in the National League named Hal Smith, and both at one time or another played for the Pirates. I think they did. But there were two Hal Smith’s. Maybe there are two J.A. Happ’s.
Before the infield dust had settled following Mariner GM Jack Zduriencik’s dismissal, interim GM, Jeff Kingston, sent Mike Zunino to AAA Tacoma, calling up catcher John Hicks. He threw out 49% of base stealers in 2013 and was doing close to that in Tacoma.
Coming so soon after Jack’s departure, they door barely closed, makes one wonder if it was Jack keeping Zunino in Seattle despite two consecutive seasons batting under .200, with this season being particularly worrisome with a .174 average and 132 strikeouts in 350 at bats (37.7 rate). He was striking out two times for every rare hit he got. Jack should have sent him down months ago.
An even bolder move is that when rosters were expanded for September, Zunino was not recalled. Instead he was ticketed for the Arizona instructional league to work on his swing, to reshape, rebuild, remake, re-everything. He is an excellent defensive catcher, but he desperately needs to get his hitting on track if he wants a major league career.
Centerfielder Austin Jackson who would be a free agent was traded to the Cubs, where he joins former Mariners Fernando Rodney and Chris Denorfia. They said they wanted to get a good luck at Brad Miller in center, but that is misleading. Miller has more value as the role Mark McLemore, someone who can play on a regular basis, but playing different positions on a nightly basis. Miller has already tied McLemore’s mariner record for most positions played in a season. Miller has played all three outfield spots along with third, short and second.
Kingston also traded Justin Ruggiano, whom Zduriencik signed prior to the season, was released, cleared waivers, sent to Tacoma, and now is helping the Dodgers win games.
It would be easy for Kingston to do nothing and let the new GM make decisions, but Jeff is, as one might expect, auctioning for the job. So far so good. This his sixth season with the Mariners after nine seasons with San Diego, having been hired as an intern in 1999. He is young and the Mariners would be wise to avoid the usual in hiring a big name experienced candidate. A bolder, younger man, one with 15 years of experience already in the books might be a good hiring.
I hate to pick on a carcass for I am not a buzzard, vulture, or any of the animal kingdom that eats what other’s kill. My intent is to analyze the offseason moves prior to the 2015 season and not to cast blame, for others could be at fault. More about that later.
Lets us begin with the good. The free agent signing of Nelson Cruz, whose batting average and home run blasts have proven that it is possible for a free agent to succeed and flourish, which is not always the case. Seth Smith has been a solid player, not great, but consistent. As I write, a .251 average, 27 doubles, 5 triples, 10 homers, and 35 rbis in 327 at bats. Certainly the numbers of a good fourth outfielder.
But then there are the other players. Justin Ruggiano who was to platoon with Smith was released early in the season, cleared waivers, ended up in Tacoma and was recently traded to the Dodgers. Richie Weeks, a veteran whose career was on the decline, but had a connection with Jack from his Milwaukee days, was released early in the season as well. No hits, no runs, two errors.
JA Happ did not turn out to be this years version of Chris Young and was traded to Pittsburgh. One can only take so many line drives heading into the gaps and over fences. Mike Montgomery looked like a great find when first called up, but teams caught on to him and he was hit worse than a batting practice pitcher. Starting pitchers should go more than 2.1 innings. Dave Rollins, a lefty reliever, was Rule V pick from the Astros, and that meant, once his suspension for using a banned substance was over, he had to remain with Seattle or be returned to the Astros. In 21 innings, 36 hits, 20 runs, and the question of why he is still with Seattle. Mark Lowe was outstanding, so good that he was traded to Toronto for their stretch drive. So he along with Cruz and Smith made three positive additions. But as you can see, the bad outweighed the good by a large margin.
Was it Jack’s fault? Or was it the two cross-checkers who were let go the same day Jack was terminated. Jack, as the GM, must take responsibility for he has the final word. But the larger problem is perhaps, the scouts who cover the major leagues. The scouts who cover amateurs in high school and college is another story, but they too must accept blame for the failure to provide major league players. The problem with the Mariners is larger than Jack’s failure to be more consistent in trades, and his failure to rebuild the Mariners minor league system. The problem lies in the Mariners system itself, and some of the people who populate it.
Scouts, minor league coordinators and coaches, advisors, ownership; they are all part of the problem, one not easily changed.
Seattle’s GM, Jack Zduriencik, was fired this morning. No surprise, but was it all his fault?
Yes and no. It is not his fault the Bullpen , the strength of the team in 2014, was a disaster in 2015. His main problem was the inability to rebuild the minor league system. After seven years it is no better, if not worse, than when he took over. Kyle Seager is the only regular it has produced until this summer when Ketel Marte was brought up and his play shows he is a star of the future at shortstop.
With the demotion of catcher Mike Zunino to Tacoma, it looks like Jack was the reason Mike remained as catcher despite never batting .200 in nearly two seasons. He is one of the best defensive catchers, but his hitting is awful. He was kept up because Jesus Sucre is an even worse catcher and it was said there was nobody in the minor leagues to replace Mike.
Which brings up the trade for Welington Castillo from the Cubs, an excellent backup catcher, and one with power. But a week later Jack said he traded him to Arizona, because “Arizona needed a catcher.” Well, so did the Mariners Jack, so why trade him for the lumbering, defensively challenged, Mark Trumbo? A terrible trade, always is, when you trade a need for someone you don’t need.
The funny thing about Zunino’s demotion is that it was said, and I heard Shannon Drayer, who covers the Mariners say it, that “There is nothing he can learn in Triple A. All he will see is Triple A pitching and that won’t prove anything.” It would seem she was mouthing what the Mariners said. But most, it not all, young players who struggle at the major league level are sent to Triple A to work on their hitting.
At this point I do not know who was recalled as the news just came over the radio. But it will be a good wakeup call for Mike. In the majors you have to play defense and hit.
How the 2016 team will be reshaped by the new GM, whoever that will be, and whether manager Lloyd McClendon will return are yet to be decided. Stay tuned at Mariner Central.
All sports fans have heard the preseason predictions, just like Seattle Mariner fans heard national baseball writers say Seattle would compete for the pennant, with some predicting the Mariners would play in the World Series. I never bought into it because, though these baseball pundits said ‘they look good on paper,’ paper burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit, then poof the paper is gone.
And so it has been for Seattle. Poof, their season is long gone. Many baseball writers pointed to the Mariners starting pitching and bullpen. The ace of the staff is King Felix. But despite a 14-8 record, Felix is 3-3 with a 6.26 RERA and a .343 batting average against in his last seven starts. At this rate he would have one of his worst seasons. Who could predict that, nor could anyone predict Hisashi Iwakuma missing a large part of the season with injuries; the same for James Paxton. Mike Montgomery, called up from AAA, who started so brilliantly is 0-3 with a plus seven ERA since the all-star game. Roenis Elias who was sent to Tacoma long ago, was recently recalled and though he may yet start, he has been relegated to the bullpen.
Then there is the bullpen, nearly flawless in 2014, but deeply flawed in 2015. To this date the bullpen has blown 17 saves and are in large part the reason the Mariners lead the majors with 22 losses with the opposition winning in their last at bat. And having 20 extra inning games already, the bullpen has been taxed. Fernando Rodney who closed 48 games last season has been released. Yoervis Medina, the 8th inning pitcher last season was gone after 12 innings, though his pitching numbers did not merit the M’s parting with him so early, not with a 3.00 era and a win and save.
Danny Farquhar, Dominic Leone, and Joe Beimel, stalwarts all in 2014, have failed in 2015 and Tom Wilhelmsen was sent to AAA for a spell. The Mariners have tried Tyler Olsen, 5.40; Mayckol Guaipe, 7.50; Dave Rollins 7.85; and Robert Rasmussen, 16.71, and though their inning pitched is low, their numbers tell the story.
Their one reliable reliever, Mark Lowe, was traded at the deadline for prospects-or suspects if you wish. Charlie Furbush, solid from the left side, pitched 21 innings before an arm injury.
And now you know why looking at paper is a folly; why believing the paper is foolish, a chimera, a distorted hopeful dream. Paper tends to go up in smoke. Just ask the Seattle Mariners.
I was listening to Dave ‘Softy’ Mahler on KJR the other day. He said now that Seahawks camp is open and the Mariners have waved the white flag of surrender they would no longer be talking about the Mariners. I am sure the station may mention the M’s from time to time, but there will be little or no talk about them. That was certainly my impression. I am a big fan of Softy’s, but that really pissed me off.
I understand the Seahawks are a big story with two consecutive trips to the Super Bowl and everyone loves to talk Hawks. I also understand that radio is a ratings game. But if you are a ‘sports talk’ station then you should talk all sports relevant to the city and any national stories that have merit. If you don’t talk about the Mariners you are excluding a part of your audience.
KJR should change their identity to football radio and talk Seahawks, Huskies, Cougars and Pee Wee football. Don’t get me wrong, I love football, and was a Seahawk season ticket holder for eight years., but sports talk jocks like to denigrate fans who are frontrunners, and by essentially blackballing talk about the Mariners, KJR is nothing if not being a front runner. Seahawks win; Mariners don’t. We talk Hawks; we don’t talk Mariners. That is a front runner.
If I played for the Mariners, and next year during spring training and the opening of the season, if KJR came down from their front-running high horse and condescended to ask for an interview, I would say go to talk with Doug Baldwin.
The other sports talk station in town, 710 ESPN Seattle, is also spending more and more time talking Hawks. They are the flagship station of the Mariners, but they too want Hawk talk. At least they had Jayson Stark discuss why the Mariners were doing so poorly.
I don’t know what happens in other cities, but I hope to explore that as my cities sports talk stations will spend more hours talking about Russell Wilson’s contract than they will spend on a years worth of Nelson Cruz talk.
It might be a good thing the Sonics are gone and that the NHL is not coming anytime soon. There is no room for them on the airways. Unless they might win of course, but then the Seahawks would first have to lose.
The trade that caught people off guard who follow the Mariners was trading catcher Wellington Castillo a little over a week after acquiring him from Chicago. Jack Zduriencik said Arizona needed a catcher so shipped him away for Mark Trumbo. I thought Jack’s job was to fill needs for the Mariners, not other teams.
Seattle desperately needed a back up catcher because Jesus Sucre hits worse than Zunino and they wanted a bat with a little bit of power. Castillo filled that need. Jack said so himself. He was happy with the trade. Then he trades him away for a player they did not need.
What was Jack Zduriencik thinking? You fill a need then you go back to a void. It would have been smarter to bring up Jesus Montero after the trade for Castillo and keep Jesus up.
Montero came to Seattle in a trade with high expectations, but failed. He did not take the game seriously and was suspended last year as well. But when he came to training camp this season he was unrecognizable. I could not believe the transformation. He was in the best shape of his life. He has a wife and a child and has dedicated himself to his family and to becoming a solid major league player. Thus far he has torn up the Pacific Coast League, but has only gotten ten at bats with three hits and two walks with the Mariners this year.
As hard as Montero has worked and as productive as he has been at AAA he deserved more of a chance, but Jackie Z is content to keep him in Tacoma. Jack should have taken a page from Seahawk coach Pete Carroll. He signs players who are hungry to prove themselves and gives them a chance, like Richard Sherman, like Doug Baldwin, like Jermaine Kearse, and so on.
Meanwhile Trumbo is batting .228 with 3 homers. Castillo came into the getaway game with Arizona batting .227 and hit two homers off Felix Hernandez, giving him 10 on the season. Since the Mariners needed Castillo he should have stayed and Montero could be belting out hits with Seattle instead of watching Trumbo flail at pitches a foot off the plate. Thanks Jack.
Seattle Mariners Fernando Rodney gave a up a game tying 2-run homer in the 8th today. This has been happening a lot lately; July 7th to Yoenis Cespedes in the 8th (game tying) and two days later to Kole Calhoun, again in the 8th (not game tying). On July 19th Mark Teixeira, again in the 8th (game winning homer). And Sunday the 25th to Ezequiel Carrera in the 8th (game tying).
Here is the problem.
I do not remember if the famous quote came from Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, or Taylor Swift. No matter I can’t remember the exact quote anyway. But it has to do when someone tries something and it fails, yet the person keeps doing the same thing in the same way expecting a different result. Lloyd McClendon keeps putting Rodney in the 8th inning and he keeps giving up home runs in close ballgames.
In his last eight games he has pitched 6.2 innings, 7 hits, 2 walks, 8 runs 7 of which are earned.
Lloyd! You’re not going to get a different result. Stop using him in these situations. Pitch him in mid innings when you are losing and nothing matters. Expecting success from Rodney when he continues to fail is a fool’s hope. Being loyal to veterans has its limits and the idea is to win games, keep the confidence of the team up. When players continue to see game winning and game tying home runs thrown by any pitcher in crucial situations they may not say it, may not show, but inside a little of them gives up. The fans certainly have.
McClendon told his players in his first spring training with Seattle that he has a family to feed and he needs to win games and the players who give him the best chance to win plays. Maybe Lloyd forgot he has to feed his family.
But the way things have gone for Seattle, Jack Zduriencik, the Mariner’s GM, and McClendon may both be gone next season. The problem is the higher ups in the organization care more about profit than winning. It will be interesting to see what happens in the offseason.
Forget that the Mariners are 8.5 games from the Wild Card. They would have to pass nine teams to get a wild card slot and that has no chance of happening; none, zero, impossible. Nor can they climb out of the cellar and pass all teams in the West for a division title. They are dead in the water with no paddles to row to shore. So it is time to unload some players at the trade deadline.
One player to unload is Fernando Rodney, a great teammate players will say. But fans are not on the team. Despite what people think Rodney has not failed as closer as he is 16 for 20; rather it his how he has pitched. He has given up 41 hits in 37.2 innings along with 17 walks. Seven home runs allowed does not help his cause either; nor his .279 batting average against and 5.73 earned run average.
Rodney will be a free agent next season and he will not return to the Good Ship Mariner. Carson Smith has claimed the closer role for now. He will have the job next season or the M’s will sign a free agent (Tyler Clippard and Sergio Santos are free agents) or make an off season trade for one.
So who would want Rodney with those numbers listed above?
The answer is any team in contention for post season play because pitching is always wanted. He would not close but be an arm in the 7th or 8th innings.
Because of his poor numbers he will not bring much in return, but does it matter. He will not pitch for Seattle in 2016 so most any player in return, like a back up catcher will do.
JA Happ could bring something a little better in a trade than Rodney. Happ is a lefty starter and will be a free agent next season. He is a one year stop gap just as Chris Young was in 2014. He is 4-5 in 18 starts with Seattle, posting a 4.12. Since the Mariners are out of the running, lefty Roenis Elias can be recalled from Tacoma to take his spot in the rotation.
It is time to get something for these guys.
I always get irritated listening to Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon in his post game interviews, when all to often I hear him say “We have to get better.” No kidding. But how Lloyd? Any ideas? After the Mariners last game before the break, Lloyd finally said that he had been giving the players some rope, but it hasn’t worked, and “we have to make changes.”
Change players? Be more demanding of players? Choke them with the rope?
They will not win the division, nor will they be a wild card; both avenues are blocked by multiple teams, and not all teams ahead of them are going to go south at the same time. Not being close to the scene I can not blame McClendon. At least not entirely. I do believe it is a managers job to get a team ready to play, to play consistently fundamentally sound baseball. The way the Mariners have played it does not look like they care that much. The enjoy playing the game, but despite players protestations, they don’t’ seem to have the fire to win. Players say what people want them to say.
If Lloyd gets part of the blame, Jack Zduriencik, the general manager, gets some blame for not being able to scout non-pitchers in the amateur draft. Kyle Seager was a find, but Dustin Ackley and to this point Mike Zunino have been a bust. And their shortstops Chris Taylor and Brad Miller are only holding the job until 21-yeard old Ketel Marte, switch hitting shortstop, is ready. According to an article on MLB.Com, Marte was to be brought up at the end of May, but an injury shelved him.
It could be that Marte comes up when the Mariners realize they must see if he is their shortstop for 2016. That is one thing they should do. Another is trade Trumbo to a contender for a relief pitcher. Find a backup catcher. At the end of the season, on fan appreciation night, have two dollar hotdogs and a fan ballot on whether to fire or keep Jackie Z. But the best thing is to get Paul Allen to buy the team.
My fictional account of the New York Giants and Charlie Faust in 1911