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.

What’s wrong with Seattle Mariner promotions

Many fans buy advance tickets based on Mariner promotions, most of which target kids. Little League day, run around the bases Sunday’s, and so on. Here is a list of promotions for the upcoming season. See if you can tell what is missing.

Bobbleheads are popular. My friend had his Felix bobblehead stolen from under his seat two years ago. He thought a father may have stolen it for his son. I told him it probably sold on E-bay, a notion he agreed was more probable. I often pray to Satan to take the thief’s soul to the dark world. No not Hades, but Oakland. Anyway there will be another Felix bobblehead night on April 18th. Other bobbles will be May 9th for Fernando Rodney; June 2nd for Kyle Seager; July 11th is Nelson Cruz; August 8th for Jaime Moyer who will be inducted into the Mariner Hall of Fame; and August 22nd for Robinson Cano.

Once again there will be a beard night. This year it is April 17th. I will pass on this one, thank you very much; but I want to be there for Kuma bear hat night. Hisashi Iwakuma’s nickname is ‘kuma’ which in Japanese is bear. The hat looks cool. I won’t show you one because I don’t want you to get excited and get there before me.

Nelson Cruz gets a second promotion, that being bat night for kids 14 and under May 30th. No word on whether the bats are laced with steroids, HGH, or any similar banned substance. I will pass on this one.

I do like Mariner fedora hat night May 15th. It will give me an alternative to the Kuma bear hat for when I go clubbing.

The Mariners will have their traditional family nights, senior specials, military specials, college nights, and King Court games. They will have four fireworks nights, May 29th Cleveland; June 19th Houston; July 24th Toronto; and August 21st Chicago. Those games will also have a theme. I Love the 90’s-Cleveland (I assume they mean 1990’s, not 1890’s); Star Wars-Houston; Sing Along-Toronto; and Songs of Summer-Chicago.

I noticed their are no ladies nights. Years ago teams had ladies day-or nights-when women had special discounted ticket prices, they even had doubleheaders for the ladies. But the Mariners have no special promotions directly targeting women. Big mistake. Nor do they have special days targeting seniors. Yes I know there are days discounted for seniors, but no promotions for men 60 and over. Why not a lap dance for senior men given by the Sea Gals. That would get sell-out crowds.

I guess I will settle for the fedora and Kuma hat.

 

Why steroid users should not be elected to the Hall of Fame

Baseball writer Larry Stone in a recent reticle in the Seattle Times said he votes for players known to use steroids on his Hall of Fame ballot. His reasoning is, to quote from the article, “The steroids era was a part of baseball, enabled by all parties, with statistics that still count in the record book; we don’t know definitively who used and who didn’t, and to try to make those distinctions is such a slippery slope I choose not to go there.”

Just because a slope is slippery does not mean it can’t be navigated safely. Yes the statistics still count in the record book. The problem I have though is saying the steroid era was enabled by all parties. True both the owners and Players union looked the other way. However, there was no sign in the clubhouse stating it was okay to use steroids. Not all players used steroids, so not all players were enabled and the playing field because of that was uneven. Some players cheated, some didn’t.

If there were no steroids how close would the known users stats have been to the clean players? Steroid users created a wide gap in performance numbers and clean players numbers pale in comparison and were cheated; it was not just the game, not just the records, not just the fans, but the clean players who were cheated as well. So why reward the dirty players?

While it is true that we don’t know all who did or didn’t. But we do know that Mark McQwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriquez, Rafael Palmeiro, and Roger Clemens are the most prominent users. We know their Hall of Fame numbers are distorted, corrupted, warped, perverted and defiled. If I were a clean player from that era I would not want to see steroid users rewarded. Until someone comes up with a sound formula to determine who from that era can be admitted, keep them out.

Larry Stones article, which is about why Edgar Martinez should be in the Hall of Fame is here. http://seattletimes.com/html/sports/2025226539_stone14xml.html

 

 

Seattle Mariners add pitcher to 25 man roster

Some baseball players work their way through the minor leagues to earn a spot on the 25 man roster of a major league team. Others like Lucas Luetge of the Mariners were drafted from another team. He was drafted from the Milwaukee Brewers minor league system in the Rule 5 Draft and has been an effective left handed reliever.

Now the Mariners have drafted another left hander, soon to be 25 year old Dave Rollins. Unless he is returned to the Houston Astros he will be in Seattle’s bullpen on opening day. In fact he must stay on the roster the entire season and be active for at least 90 days.

In four season he has pitched in 88 games, 64 of which were starts. He is 23-16 with a 3.39 career ERA and averages 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He has good numbers and though he can either start or relieve, he most likely will be used in relief now that Seattle has J.A. Happ in the rotation. Rollins is familiar with Happ, for Rollins was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 24th round of the 2011 draft and was part of a trade that sent Rollins to Houston for Happ. Now they will be happy teammates.

The Mariners have had their eye on Rollins for sometime. They drafted him in the 23rd round of the amateur draft in 2009 and again the next year in the 46th round. He never signed. If Rollins succeeds he will give the Mariners a lot of flexibility. They have nothing to lose except some money to the Astros.

He may not have a name. His coming to Seattle will not get the buzz of a Nelson Cruz signing, or the addition of Happ, but like Luetge, he could end up being valuable.

What does the Mariner trade for J.A. Happ mean

Shortly after the 2014 season ended there were rumors Michael Saunders was on the trading block. Since the Seattle media seemed surprised, it follows that the Mariners leaked the information. The rumors were strong that Seattle, for some reason, was unhappy with him. Injury prone it was said, and often.  However in 2012 Saunders had 509 at bats, hitting .247 with 19 homers, 57 RBI’s. in 2013 he had 406 at bats, hit .236 with 12 homers, and 46 RBI’s.

The numbers say that when he was healthy, he was not productive; that when he was injured, it was promise unfulfilled. But Seattle was going to trade him and now he has returned to his home country of Canada where he will get an opportunity for an everyday job with Toronto.

In return the Mariners received J.A. Happ, a left handed pitcher. He had a great 2009 for the Phillies, pitching in 35 games, 23 starts, winning 12, losing 4, with 2 shutouts and an ERA of 2.93.

But his promise went the way of Saunders. For his career, Happ, has pitched for three teams, Philadelphia, Houston, and Toronto with a 51-53 record and 4.24 ERA. He strikes out 7.6 per 9 innings and walks 3.8. Happ is 32 and signed through the 2015 season.

What does this mean for Seattle?

Seattle’s rotation begins with King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma. After that the Mariners can choose from James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Roenis Elias, Happ, or Erasmo Ramirez. Happ should take spot of the second left-handed starter with Chris Young gone, though as a free agent, Young could still be signed by Seattle.

There are rumors that Walker will be traded, something the Seattle media has been talking about as long as the rumors about Saunders, probably longer. I suspect another Mariner leak, and that means Walker, like Saunders, will be traded. But for who is the question. I would not be surprised at a multi player trade with Walker, a reliever, one of their two shortstops, Chris Taylor or Brad Miller, and perhaps a minor league player with Seattle getting two or three in return.

Even with Nelson Cruz aboard the Good Ship Mariner, along with J.A. Happ, the Mariners are not done looking for new crew members. Ones that could take them into the playoffs.

What will Seattle’s bullpen look like in 2015

Seattle’s 2014 bullpen had an ERA of 2.59, an improvement of nearly two runs over their dreadful 4.58 bullpen ERA in 2013. It was the fourth best one year improvement in the last 20 years. Not only was the 2.59 ERA the best in baseball it was the sixth best since 1973 when the DH infected the American League.

But how will the bullpen look in 2015?

Joe Beimel an important situational lefty has pitched for seven teams and is a free agent. He had a 2.20 ERA for the M’s in 45 innings and is only 37, which for a lefty reliever is like 31 in right handed years. Another lefty, Charlie Furbush, who was 1-5 with a 3.61 ERA, is in first year of arbitration so his contract will be negotiated. The other lefty Lucas Luetge pitched 9 innings giving up 5 runs and is not eligible for arbitration.

Danny Farquhar 3-1, 2.66 with 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings is not eligible for arbitration until next season. The same is true for Dominic Leone, 8-2, 2.17. Yoervis Medina in two years as the setup man in the 8th inning has a 2.81 ERA. He is illegible for arbitration in 2016. He may be pushed for the setup job by last season’s rookie surprise Carson Smith. He only pitched 8.1 innings, but had 10 strikeouts, walking three and giving up two hits. A small sample to be sure, but he has the arm the Mariners love and he threw strikes.

Tom Wilhelmsen had a bounce back year, his ERA improving from 4.12 to 2.17 and in 79.1 innings only gave up 47 hits. He is arbitration eligible. And of course Fernando Rodney who led the majors with 48 saves is returning.

On paper it looks like the bullpen could be intact with all those young arms, but even if all are signed and none traded, do not expect the same numbers. relief pitchers frequently have up and down years, some fall out of favor and are traded away or sent to the minors. Seattle has a lot of good young arms and that means they may have to part with one or two if they make a trade as teams always need bullpen help and that is Seattle’s strength. But I would hesitate to think twice about giving up more than two, in fact I would part with one. Too much promise in that pen and that’s no bull.

Seattle’s new pitcher goes against their philosophy

The Mariners recently signed 25-year old Cuban pitcher Misael Siverio to a minor league contract. The Mariners like big, tall, hard throwing monsters with strong arms. Siverio is 5’9.” In the team photo he sill be  seated in front with the bat boy. His uniform will have to be altered by somebody in the clubhouse; or perhaps an extra large from the boys department. Of course Danny Farquhar is 5’9″ and did pretty well last season. Maybe the Mariners are trending to shorter pitchers.

In baseball size does not matter. So who is this guy?

He is a lefty and southpaws are welcome on every team. He pitched 153 games in Cuba, 75 were starts and had 3.24 ERA. Last season he pitched in the Mexican League. Six starts, striking out 36, walking 10 and finished with 3-1 record.

There was a time, not so long ago, that it was difficult for Cuban players to defect. But now it seems every year there are two or three leaving Cuba. Siverio defected in Iowa when the Cuban national team was playing college all-stars in 2013.

I don’t know the Mariners plans for him, but I am guessing they may use him in relief. Most likely he will begin in the minor leagues, but at least Roenis Elias has a fellow countryman to talk pitching with during spring training.

Though he is not on the 40-man roster and at the moment is destined for the minors, the roster could change because of trades or free agency. Things will look different by February. The Mariners have been rumored in many trades and interest in free agents, but rumors are just that. For now the Mariners are quiet on the Elliot Bay front.

There is a big difference between pitching for Cuba and the major leagues. For now Siverio is a prospect to watch. 

Inside Kyle Seager’s Gold Glove

Kyle Seager had a Defensive Index Reading of 17.9, third best in the American League, trailing left fielder Alex Gordon at 19.9, and the leader, another third baseman, Josh Donaldson of the dreaded Oakland A’s who came in with a 21.2 rating.

So what is this rating and why does it matter for Gold Gloves. First it is based on a SABR formula. The definition according to their website is “The SABR Defensive Index draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts. The three metrics representing batted ball data include Defensive Runs Saved from Baseball Info Solutions, Ultimate Zone Rating developed by noted sabermetrician Mitchel Lichtman, and Runs Effectively Defended based on STATS Zone Rating and built by SABR Defensive Committee member Chris Dial. The two metrics included in the SDI originating from play-by-play data are Defensive Regression Analysis, created by committee member Michael Humphreys, and Total Zone Rating.”

I hope that clears things up.

The rating, in its second year of use,  accounts for 25% of the votes for a Gold Glove winner, the balance coming from managers and coaches. It is important because the award has often been a joke when managers and coaches were the only voters. Consider that in 1999 when Rafael Palmiero won his third consecutive Gold Glove he played at first base for only 28 games, spending the rest of the time as DH. So this rating system offers a check and balance to a severely flawed system where offense influenced voters more than defense, or at least votes based on past reputation. Defense, for some reason, had not gotten the respect it deserved.  

Donaldson, with the better rating, still finished behind Seager for the Gold Glove, who perhaps got more votes from managers and coaches, along with his .981 fielding percentage which led the league. Kyle made 8 errors in 422 chances and his fielding percentage was the 10th for third baseman best since 1948. He is the second Gold Glove third baseman the Mariners have had. Or have you forgotten Adrian Beltre already.

For Kyle 17.9 and .981 are gold numbers.

 

What will Seattle do with Carlos Rivero

Ten days ago Seattle claimed Carlos Rivero off waivers from the Red Sox. He bats right handed and hit .571 for the Red Sox in 2014 at the age of 26. Of course he had only 7 at bats, but hit 2 doubles and a homer. So who is he?

He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Cleveland Indians in 2005 out of Venezuela. He stayed in their minor leagues until November of 2010 when the Phillies claimed in on waivers. One year to the day the Washington Nationals claimed on waivers and two years later was granted free agency. A month later in 2013 the Red Sox claimed him. Now he is a Mariner. That is five organizations at the age of 26.

He has played 999 minor league games which sounds like a career minor leaguer if it were not for his age. He certainly has experience. His minor league career average is .262, but hit.303 for Syracuse in 2012 with 10 homers, 64 RBI’s. In 2013 he split time between Syracuse (.233) and Hartford in the Double A Eastern League (.253). In 31 games in 2014 for Portland in the Eastern League he hit .214 and in Triple A Pawtucket hit .286 in 74 games.

He is not a home run hitter-69 in 999 games-nor a base stealer-16 of 31 career attempts, but what he does is play a variety of positions. First base-26 games; third base-381 with 69 errors; shortstop 537-with 113 errors; and outfield 58, but only one in right field indicating he may not have a strong arm. 

The point is he may be a younger version of Willie Bloomquist. Next season Willie will be 38 and is coming off an injury that limited him to 47 games. Rivero could be back up insurance should Willie have a bad spring, or he decides to retire, or is released. It is a move with nothing to lose and every position on every team needs a back up plan and Rivero may be the backup plan for a utility player. Then again he could be released if Seattle needs to clear a spot on their 40 man roster. Welcome to the life of an average minor leaguer.

 

Seattle may move two minor league stars to outfield

Seattle  has two minor league infielders who may be patrolling the Mariner outfield in the next two years. One is 22 year old third baseman D.J. Peterson, who has also been playing some games at first as a possible  replacement to Justin Smoak. But with Logan Morrison having an outstanding September at first and Kyle  Seager an all-star at third, it has been hinted that Peterson could see outfield duty in the minors next season. Peterson hit .297 with 31 homers and 111 RBI’s in Double A last year. Peterson likely will begin season at Double A or in Tacoma.

Peterson shared Mariners minor league co-player of the year with another infielder, Jordy Lara,  who also may be moved to the outfield. Lara, a 23 year old from the Dominican Republic played for High Desert in the California League where he played first base, hitting .337 with 26 homers and 104 RBI’s. Of course he may still continue to play first, but the Mariners are not sure where he ends up. They like to tinker with minor league players depending on what the big league club’s needs may be in the future.

The Mariners have no plans on moving 20 year old shortstop Ketel Marte, another Dominican, who has played so well, he finished at Tacoma where he played 19 games. At Double A he stole 29 bases and the Mariners see him as a top of the order player.

The Mariners do have a good outfield prospect. He is 20 year old Gaby Guerrero who hit .297 for High Desert in the California League with 18 homers 97 RBI’s, and 18 steals. 

There is another wave of young bats coming on the horizon for the Mariners and opportunities are there in the outfield for Peterson, Lara, and Guerrero. Whethe at first for either Peterson or Lara, or the outfield, these are three names to watch.

 

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