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10 Early Season Seattle Mariners Storylines to Follow Most Closely

As the 2013 season begins, the Seattle Mariners, like many teams, have several story lines to monitor moving forward. Whether they are at the major league level now, or on the verge of being there, Mariners fans will have plenty to think about other than the win-loss record.

It is far too soon for fans to start worrying about anything since it’s only one series into the season, but there are still plenty of things that could be taken away after just four games in Oakland.

With that in mind, here are the 10 story lines Mariners fans should be keeping an eye on early in the 2013 season.

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3 Reasons Not to Overreact to the Mariners’ Scorching Spring Start

So far in spring training, the Seattle Mariners have looked like world-beaters. Going into Tuesday’s action, the Mariners sat in second place in the Cactus League standings at 11-5 having outscored their opponents by 25 runs while also leading all MLB clubs in home runs with 31.

Now usually any type of Seattle Mariner hot streak is big news for Mariners fans, especially with the lack of success over the past decade, but fans must understand that spring training success has not always translated into the regular season.

In fact, the only team in front of the Mariners in the Cactus League standings is the Kansas City Royals, a team who has struggled through the same kind of futility that the Mariners have over the past several seasons.

Though it is exciting, Mariners fans should look to these three reasons to avoid overreacting to the Mariners’ hot start.

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WBC 2013: Canada-Mexico Fight Bad News for WBC Moving Forward

Who would have known that Canada vs. Mexico would have become the most heated rivalry in the World Baseball Classic?

After some tough slides, and a bunt for a base hit in the top of the ninth by Canada with a six-run lead, Team Mexico’s Arnold Leon threw two pitches tight and inside on Team Canada’s Rene Tosoni. Following the second pitch, home plate umpire Brian Gorman issued warnings to both the Canadian and Mexican benches; unfortunately, the warning would not be enough.

With the next pitch, Leon drilled Tosoni square in the back, igniting a fight that would delay the game for several minutes. Many current major league players were included, with Boston’s Alfredo Aceves and Seattle’s Oliver Perez being two of the most involved at first glance.

Let us not forget, that both Team Canada and Team Mexico have several big leaguers on their squads, which means the likes of Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Justin Morneau and others could have been involved as well.

The more troubling aspect of the fight was the aftermath. Fights spilled over into the stands between fans, as was pointed out by Marc over at USS Mariner:



The fights were not all, however. After tempers had begun to finally subside, a water bottle was thrown from the stands, striking one of the Canadian bench coaches in the face. Later in the half inning, a baseball would be thrown towards the Canadian first base coach, prompting Canadian manager Ernie Whitt to step out of the dugout to speak with Gorman, in what many assume was a request to call the game.

Now, bunting while up six runs in most scenarios would be frowned upon. However, run differential is used as a tiebreaker in the World Baseball Classic. And after a 14-4 mercy-rule loss to Italy the day before, Canada needed every run they could get, which was also pointed out by the masses on Twitter:



Now, the biggest fear for every major league team coming into the WBC every season is the health of their players. The WBC also makes sure to protect players of major league clubs by placing pitch counts per round to be similar to the workload of spring training.

However, there is no way to prevent inevitable hot-headedness that comes from the frustration of losing. Moving forward, the rumble in the desert between Canada and Mexico is going to make it a little more difficult for major league clubs to feel comfortable allowing their players to participate in the WBC.

With no disrespect to either Canada or Mexico, can you imagine the nightmare that would have come from a brawl involving the likes of Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic or the United States?

Keith Law of ESPN retweeted about it as one of the many inevitable issues that will come from this:


Needless to say, the World Baseball Classic is going to have a lot of questions after this brawl, many of which will include how to punish those involved. It will be interesting to see how the WBC handles this nightmare, and what this is going to mean for the event moving forward.

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MLB Spring Training: Will Jeremy Bonderman or Jon Garland Make the Roster?

For a team that was struggling for pitching depth about a week ago, the Seattle Mariners seem to be intent on having as many options as possible heading into the 2013 season.

Geoff Baker has reported that the Mariners have come to a minor league agreement with 33-year old pitcher Jon Garland. This report was broken by Jason A. Churchill of Prospect Insider as well.

Garland has not pitched since 2011, when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In that season, Garland finished 1-5 with a 4.33 ERA in 54.0 IP before being shut down with shoulder surgery. Garland is better known for his eight-year stretch with the Chicago White Sox, with his best season coming in 2005 when he finished 18-10 with a 3.50 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP.

Garland isn’t the only project the Mariners have picked up this offseason, as they signed former Detroit Tiger Jeremy Bonderman to a minor league deal back in December. Much like Garland, Bonderman did not pitch in the majors last season and hasn’t since 2010, when he finished the season 8-10 with a 5.53 ERA.

The question at this point for the Mariners is whether or not either pitcher has enough left in the tank to earn a spot in the rotation in 2013 if the young talent isn’t ready. Many fans will remember that the Mariners made a similar signing last season when they signed Kevin Millwood, who proceeded to throw 161.0 innings for the Mariners with a respectable 4.25 ERA. In fact, Millwood was the starting pitcher when the Mariners used six pitchers to no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 8 of last season.

When comparing the track records of Jeremy Bonderman and Jon Garland, one has to think that Garland has the upper hand when it comes to potentially earning a spot in the rotation. Over his career, Garland only posted one season with a negative WAR, and that was his rookie season in 2000 when he only started 13 games.

In fact, in 2010 Garland posted a 1.1 WAR and threw 200.0 innings for the San Diego Padres while posting a 3.47 ERA, the third lowest ERA of his career. On the other hand, Bonderman hasn’t posted a positive WAR since 2008 and has never had a season in which his ERA was below 4.00.

At this point, it may not be positive for the Mariners start the 2013 season with either Garland or Bonderman in the rotation. In order for that to happen, either Blake Beavan or Erasmo Ramirez would have to have had an extraordinarily poor spring training AND none of the young talent in the Mariners system would have impressed enough to warrant a spot in the rotation as well. However, nobody expected Kevin Millwood to start the 2012 season in the rotation, either.

When it comes down to it, the signings of Jon Garland and Jeremy Bonderman are truly low risk as both of them are signed to minor league deals, and it is entirely possible that one of them could show enough in spring training to keep on the 25-man roster. But needless to say, there are not many Mariners fans who would be thrilled if they did.

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Why Extending Felix Hernandez Could Save the Mariners Offseason

The Seattle Mariners haven’t necessarily had the best offseason so far. Sure, the M’s were able to reel in players like Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse through trade, but both deals came with questions.

The big names the Mariners were chasing this offseason were Josh Hamilton and Justin Upton, both of whom decided the Pacific Northwest was not for them.

So with time ticking down until pitchers and catchers report, is there any realistic move out there that Seattle can do to appease a restless fan base?

As a matter of fact there is.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports recently reported that Mariners ownership has again picked up the pace in trying to ink Felix Hernandez to an extension to keep the King in Seattle. In the article, Rosenthal points out that no deal is imminent, but that the Mariners are at least weighing the idea of offering a four-year, $100 million extension.

If that’s all it’s going to take to keep Felix in Seattle, then General Manager Jack Zduriencik should be at Felix’s front door right now holding a pen. Back in August, Dave Cameron of U.S.S Mariner discussed what a possible Felix Hernandez extension would look like, which he believed would look very similar to what the Mariners are rumored to be offering now. However, there are others out there including Bleacher Report’s own Ian Casselberry, who believe Felix could be the first $200 million man.

Locking up Felix Hernandez now would rescue the Mariners from the disappointment of the 2013 offseason and would put a rest to the Felix trade rumors that never seem to die. If Seattle can find a way to get an extension done, it would at least put the Mariners on a high note going into the 2013 season and would make Mariners fans can stop worrying about the current 2014 deadline.

By extending Felix, the Seattle Mariners ownership shows pending free agents like Curtis Granderson, Jacoby Ellsbury and Robinson Cano that they are serious about winning. In fact, getting a deal done with the King would be a good starting point for when Seattle has to resign either Morales or Morse at the end of the season as both players currently have only one year left on their deals.

With the hoard of pitching talent Seattle has in Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker, Seattle will need the King to lead the rotation as the young arms continue to develop. Felix’s presence will do nothing but benefit the young trio, and could potentially help Seattle have one of the best rotations in baseball for years to come.

When it comes down to it, this is a move that the Mariners need to get done. Not just for the benefit of the team moving forward, but to reward a fan base that has been desperate for a winner for years. 

Sure, Felix may not be the big bat all M’s fans were looking for this offseason. But the King is, and will be the face of the franchise, and making him a “Mariner for life” is a deal everyone can agree on.

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5 Best Options Left for Seattle Mariners to Improve

With the clock ticking down to the beginning of Spring Training, General Manager Jack Zduriencik and the Seattle Mariners continue to search high and low for ways to improve their roster.

To recap, GM Z has made a slew of minor moves including the acquisition of Robert Andino, re-signing Hisashi Iwakuma and Oliver Perez, and bringing in veteran outfielders Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay.

To date Seattle has made only one “big” move, trading Jason Vargas to the Los Angeles Angels for 1B/DH Kendrys Morales.

With questions still remaining on how the Mariners will improve their roster, GM Z and the rest of ownership have a bevy of options still available to them.

Here’s a look at the top five ways the Mariners can improve before spring training.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Mariners Contact Marlins about Giancarlo Stanton

Could the Mariners be making a play towards Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton?

Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports recently tweeted that Seattle has contacted Miami about Stanton’s availability. However, Morosi also stated that sources doubted anything would occur.

The uber-talented 23-year-old has been the subject of many rumors this offseason ever since Miami Marlins general manager Jeffrey Loria traded most of his major league talent to Toronto in order to dump salary.

The move left the Marlins with very little MLB-ready talent on the current roster and an infuriated young star:

After the trade in November, Marlins ownership made it clear that Stanton would not be going anywhere, as reported by Jon Heyman at CBS Sports. However, ESPN’s Jim Bowden recently reported that Assistant General Manager Dan Jennings stated the Marlins would listen to any offer for Stanton, but were not looking to deal him away:

Now there is a big difference between listening to offers and considering offers, but this does show that general manager Jack Zduriencik is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to improving Seattle’s anemic offense.

It also shows that no prospect in the Marinerss farm system is untouchable, as a trade for Stanton would almost certainly have to start with highly-rated prospects such as catcher Mike Zunino and pitcher Taijuan Walker.

Even that may not be nearly enough. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reported that almost every other team in the MLB has contacted the Marlins about Stanton’s availability, with one source stating that it would be “easier to list who hasn’t called.”


It would be hard for any team not to be interested in Stanton. He’s one of the top young hitters in the game and already has 93 homers in his first two-and-a-half seasons in the big leagues. Along with that, Stanton has four more years before he hits free agency and is very disgruntled with the direction the Marlins are going in.

If the Mariners are really serious about Stanton, it will probably take a package of prospects that would dwarf the talent sent to Baltimore for Erik Bedard back in 2008, and even that may not convince the Marlins to move Stanton.

At the very least, it shows again that ownership remains aggressive in trying to upgrade Seattle’s offense. But talk is cheap, and Mariners fans will not be happy until they start seeing deals, not rumors.

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Why Trading for Justin Upton Is Just What the Seattle Mariners Need to Contend

With the New Year almost upon us, the Seattle Mariners have yet to truly make the splash that most of the baseball world expected them to this offseason. General manager Jack Zduriencik has been turning over every stone in an effort to find an answer for the lack of offensive production that has plagued the Mariners for years.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported recently that—although most of the big-name free agents have signed—Zduriencik is still exploring all options:


Now the Mariners certainly have the money to sign one of those bats. In fact, Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus believes that signing (ESPN Insider Only) free-agent Michael Bourn would benefit Seattle more than anyone else.

But even after Bourn, Seattle still needs another middle-of-the-order bat to pair with recently acquired Kendrys Morales. But where is Seattle going to find this bat?

It’s not like there are any GMs out there who are open to getting rid of their middle-of-the-order bats!

Oh wait, there is. 

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports believes that with the recent signing of Cody Ross, general manager Kevin Towers of the Arizona Diamondbacks will again entertain the thought of trading away outfielder Justin Upton.

Acquiring Upton would not be easy. Many fans will cringe at the talent the Mariners would have to give up to acquire the power-hitting outfielder.

A trade of this magnitude would most likely require Seattle to relinquish two of the big three pitching prospects (Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton), either Nick Franklin or Brad Miller and two more lower-level talents with high ceilings.

Many fans will think back to the five-for-one trade Seattle made back in 2008 for Erik Bedard and use that as a reason why the M’s shouldn’t make this deal. But giving up five prospects for one star in Justin Upton would be the only comparison that these two deals would have.

Plain and simple, Bedard is not Justin Upton.

Other fans will point out that Upton hasn’t performed up to the expectations since he signed a six-year $51.26 million extension with Arizona in 2010. But would any Mariner fan complain about a two-time All-Star outfielder with career averages of .278/.357/.475, 25 doubles, 18 homers and 60 RBI? 

When it comes down to it, Upton is a franchise-altering player. Sure, Seattle may have to send away two potential front-of-the-rotation starters and a potential All-Star middle infielder.

But both of those labels come with a big word in front of them: potential. Upton is a two-time All-Star and one of the best young players in the game. Adding a bat like Upton’s to the Mariners would drastically improve what has been one of MLB‘s most stagnant lineups over the last few seasons.

It would offer manager Eric Wedge the flexibility to move young hitters like Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, Kyle Seager and Jesus Montero into better spots in the order where they would be more likely to thrive.

As good as Seager was last year, imagine how much better he would be with a player like Upton in the lineup. It would take pressure of Montero and Ackley who struggled mightily at times last season to carry the load on offense.

And it’s not like Upton is some slouch in the outfield either. According to, from 2009-2011, Upton had an average ultimate zone rating (UZR) of 7.3 while playing right field in Arizona. In that same time frame, former Mariner Ichiro Suzuki had an average UZR of 5.5.

Now Upton is not Ichiro defensively by any means, but it does show that Upton is more than capable of holding his own in the outfield.

The addition of Upton would make the Mariners a threat not only for a wild card but the American League West title as well. Remember, Seattle scored the fewest runs in the American League last season and still won 75 games. Imagine what adding a bat like Upton’s to go along with that of Morales’ would do for that win total.

This is a trade the Mariners have to make. Without drastic improvement from the offense in 2013, Zduriencik may not be around to see whether his highly touted prospects were worth holding onto.

A player like Upton doesn’t come around very often. This would be just what it would take to turn the Mariners into winners and Seattle into a baseball town again.

Upton would be the answer to many of the Mariners problems. Acquiring him would not only improve the team now, but it would show all free agents that ownership is serious about building a winner in the Pacific Northwest.

You want to live in a perfect world, Jack? Trade for Upton.

Then we’ll see how long it takes for a certain “leadoff man” to show up.

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Real World Reaction: When Tragedy Eclipses the Sports World

Let me begin by saying this is never an article I envisioned I would ever have to write.

There are times in the world where we, the fans, lose sight of what is important in the world. We become so obsessed with free-agency signings, poor performances, wins, losses and lockouts that we forget that the games we become so obsessed with our merely that: games.

We clamor for the big-name player, victories, championships and heroes. We at times consider selling all of our possessions just for the opportunity to gain access to a ticket to the big game.

We put things like key games, playoffs, and sports rumors in front of what really matters: friends, family—our loved ones.

Yesterday was one of those days that truly helps put the world into perspective, making us realize that there are scarier things in the world than losing a game. When we realize how trivial one game seems in comparison to a life. What is more difficult to imagine is that it wasn’t just a life.

It was 27. And 20 of those were children.

I will not rehash the incomprehensible story that occurred on Dec. 14 in Newtown, Connecticut, if only to demonstrate humanity and sympathy to the families who are suffering from despicable evils that came to be.

I will simply try to understand and explain the impact that a catastrophe like today can have.

When we awoke that morning, it appeared as if it were a day like any other. The sun rose as it always does, and most of the world woke up to continue life as it always had.

We went to our respected jobs, sat down at our desks, sipped our first cup of coffee and began working as if it was just another day.

The athletes we have grown to worship went to their respected weight rooms, began there workouts and continued on as it it was just another day.

We all felt excitement for the events to come later on in the day—whether it was students in Ohio hoping that Mt. Union Football would take home it’s 11th national championship, or whether it was Brooklyn Nets fans hoping to witness the continued development of what they hope will be a championship year.

Even people as small as myself woke up yesterday looking forward as to how I would spin for my fellow Seattle Mariner fans the recent signing of Josh Hamilton by the Los Angeles Angels.

We were all looking forward to things that were so small, things that were so minuscule, that we forgot to look forward to the biggest thing of them all.


We all learned yesterday just how small our events truly are. Just how small a national championship seemed in perspective to the fragile life of a child. It seems that the only way many people in the world today can realize this perspective is through tragedy.

I will not try and cast myself in any higher light, for I am just as guilty as the rest of the world in that regard. But incidents like the Newtown shootings should not be what reminds us that professional sports are but a small luxury we have in our lives.

Regardless, what is important today is that we all remember and cherish the opportunities we are given. This is not something that is limited to just sports fans. It doesn’t matter your race, religion, economic standing or political opinions.

This is a lesson we all had to be reminded of.

Yesterday will forever live in infamy as the day 27 human beings lost their lives, with 20 of those losing them before they had even been given the chance to begin. The only way we can learn is by waking up tomorrow morning with a new understanding of the true importance of life.

So before you leave your loved ones tomorrow, remember to hug them and remind them just how much you care. Because caring for them is so much more meaningful than caring about the result of some game.

Because the biggest game in the world today is life, and the result of THAT game is the one we should all care about.

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