Tag: Franklin Gutierrez

MLB Trade Rumors: Hottest Weekend Waiver Wire Buzz

As of August 30, 16 major league teams either hold a playoff spot or are within 6.5 games of one and could be looking to improve their playoff chances by making a waiver-wire deal by tomorrow’s deadline to add players who will be eligible for a playoff roster.

Eleven August trades have happened thus far:

  • The Texas Rangers acquired outfielder Alex Rios from the Chicago White Sox for prospect Leury Garcia.
  • The Kansas City Royals picked up utility infielder Jamey Carroll from the Minnesota Twins and utility man Emilio Bonifacio from the Toronto Blue Jays, both for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays acquired lefty reliever Wesley Wright from the Houston Astros for cash considerations.
  • The Washington Nationals acquired outfielder David DeJesus from the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later.
  • The Oakland A’s acquired catcher Kurt Suzuki and cash from the Nationals for minor league pitcher Dakota Bacus.
  • The Rays acquired outfielder David DeJesus from the Nationals for a player to be named later or cash considerations. 
  • The Pirates acquired catcher John Buck and outfielder Marlon Byrd from the Mets for minor league second baseman Dilson Herrera and reliever Vic Black.
  • The Indians acquired outfielder Jason Kubel from the Diamondbacks for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
  • The Cardinals acquired reliever John Axford from the Brewers for a player to be named later.
  • The Orioles acquired first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse from the Mariners for outfielder Xavier Avery.

With a few trade possibilities still lingering, here’s all of the latest waiver-trade buzz from around the league.


Nationals Resurgence Taking Dan Haren Off the Market?

As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported earlier in the week, there hasn’t been strong interest in Nationals right-hander Dan Haren, who has a 2.53 ERA in his past 53 innings pitched. But could it be that the Nats just aren’t that interested in dealing him now that they’ve closed to within striking distance of a wild-card spot. 

With 14 wins in their past 19 games, the Nats have improved their record to 68-65. While they’ve gained just 2.5 games in the wild-card standings over that span—they’ve moved from nine back to six-and-a-half back—it’s close enough to where it’s a realistic possibility. After failing to live up to very lofty expectations all season long, trading one of their best starting pitchers at a time when things are finally clicking on all cylinders just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.


Red Sox Could Add Bullpen Help

Tim Britton of the Providence Journal notes that the Red Sox could use another right-handed reliever. While manager John Farrell says he’s not too concerned—Ryan Dempster, who was the Cubs‘ closer from 2005-2007, will likely move to the bullpen once Clay Buchholz returns from the disabled list—it sounds like he’s at least open to a deal if one made sense. 

Junichi Tazawa, who is currently the lone right-handed setup man in the Sox’s bullpen—Matt Thornton and Craig Breslow are the primary left-handed options—has had a terrific season (2.75 ERA, 59 IP, 9 BB, 63 K, 20 holds) but has allowed runs in consecutive appearances.

The 27-year-old has bounced back from bad outings before, which is why he’s starting to be considered one of the top setup men in the league, but it would benefit the Sox to have another right-hander late in games to face tough right-handed hitters.

One option could be Matt Lindstrom (pictured), who would be the third White Sox player to be acquired by Boston this season—Thornton and Jake Peavy are the others. The 33-year-old right-hander, who cleared waivers earlier in the month, is holding right-handed batters to a .588 OPS. Overall, he has a 3.04 ERA with 17 holds and only one homer allowed in 53.1 innings.  


The Justin Morneau Watch

It appeared that Justin Morneau (pictured) was giving the Twins a very nice going-away present in the form of an increased trade value after he started the month with 27 hits in 89 at-bats (.303 BA), including seven homers, seven doubles and 19 runs batted in. That value might have deflated some, however, during his current 1-for-23 slump. 

Small samples usually don’t sway a player’s value one way or another during the season, but when a team is making a trade specifically for a small sample of the season—in this case, it would be about 30 games and possibly the playoffs—it would make sense to acquire a player when he’s on a hot streak. 

On the other hand, Morneau’s price tag could’ve dropped just enough for a team like the Pirates to swoop in and pick him up for the stretch run without giving up any prospect of significance or taking on much of his remaining salary. The Bucs have shown interest in the past, and Rosenthal recently tweeted that they may be one team that is currently interested. 

Two teams that may have been interested—Baltimore and Cleveland—can probably be ruled out of the mix after they recently acquired Michael Morse and Jason Kubel, respectively. 


Other Last-Minute Trade Possibilities

A few interesting names that haven’t popped up in the rumor mill, mostly due to these players being on the disabled list until recently, are Angels starter Jason Vargas and Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez. 

Vargas, who has made four starts since returning from a disabled list stint due to a blood clot in his armpit, has allowed just one earned run over 13.1 innings over his past two starts. The 30-year-old lefty was placed on waivers on August 19, according to Rosenthal, but there was no word on whether he cleared or not. 

The likelihood is that he did pass through unclaimed, given his salary (still due close to $1.5 million) and the fact that he didn’t pitch well in his first two outings (9.2 IP, 7 ER) after returning. If this is the case, contending teams looking to upgrade their rotation will be interested in striking a deal by tomorrow, especially after what he did versus the Rays on Thursday (7 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 3 BB, 7 K).

In the case of Gutierrez, there is no question that he is a huge injury risk, so giving up any prospect or taking on any salary will be viewed as a questionable decision. But in between all the time he’s spent on the disabled list this season, he’s been a very productive hitter and has always been good against left-handed pitching (.833 career OPS vs LHP), in particular. His three-hit performance on Thursday, which included his second homer in two games, could open some eyes. 

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported in early July that teams were calling about the 30-year-old, although he was out at the time and ended up missing more than two months with a hamstring injury before returning on Monday.

If a contending team is willing to take a chance and the M’s will pick up some of the remaining $1.5 million in salary (approximately $1 million in 2013, $500K buyout in 2014), Gutierrez could be a difference-maker for a contending team down the stretch.  

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Injury Report: Why Mariners Fans Have Seen the Last of Franklin Gutierrez

Well, that was about as short lived as humanly possible.

Just two days after returning from the 60-day designated list, Franklin Gutierrez‘ is officially back on the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring injury. The initial diagnosis does not look good:

Wedge says it will be 3 or 4 days until team can get a good look at Gutierrez’s hamstring and properly assess it. He’ll be out a while.

— Geoff Baker (@gbakermariners) June 25, 2013

For a Mariners team that was desperately looking for another offensive spark, Gutierrez’ injury marks another disappointing chapter over the last three seasons with Seattle. This one very well could be his last.

With Gutierrez’ roster spot open, the Mariners have officially recalled Dustin Ackley, who will be expected to man the outfield, according to Greg Johns of MLB.com:

Dustin Ackley will play outfield, with rookie Nick Franklin playing well at second base.

— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) June 25, 2013

As Greg Johns points out, Franklin’s emergence at second base has helped pave the way for Dustin Ackley‘s move back to the outfield. Ackley originally played in the outfield as a freshman at the University of North Carolina, before a shoulder surgery forced him to move to first base. 

Seattle fans will certainly be interested to see how Ackley plays in the outfield for the M’s, but the real story here is the on-going health problems for Gutierrez.

Once considered one of the best young outfielders in the game, Guti has struggled to stay healthy for the Mariners over the last three seasonsspending more than half of that time on the DL:

This is Franklin Gutierrez’s sixth DL stint in past 3 years. Has played just 150 of team’s last 400 games.

— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) June 25, 2013

Over the years, Gutierrez has suffered from a wide array of injuries that have included irritable bowel syndrome, a concussion, pain in his throwing arm and his recent string of leg and hip injuries. These most recent incidents have been attributed to a genetic disorder that has caused inflammation in his joints, which Gutierrez had recently started taking medicine for.

At this point, one has to start to wonder whether or not this will be the last time Seattle fans see Gutierrez patrolling the outfield at Safeco. With the season already in jeopardy, it would not be a shock to see the Mariners look to give other players a chance in the outfield moving forward, especially with Guti‘s contract set to expire at the end of this season.

Dustin Ackley will most likely see the majority of the time in center moving forward, with young players such as Abraham Almonte, Stefen Romero and possibly Julio Morban seeing time in the outfield this season as well.

Either way, Franklin Gutierrez’ latest setback may signal the end of his time in Seattle. As much of a fan favorite as he was, Gutierrez will most likely go down as just another disappointment in an ever growing list for Mariners fans.

For more Mariners coverage and baseball jargon, follow me on Twitter. You’ll be glad you did.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Seattle Mariners: Offense Struggling Again in 2013

The Seattle Mariners are in a familiar position. They aren’t hitting.

Haven’t we seen this movie before? As tweeted by Greg Johns of MLB.com:

No offensive help. Shall we all utter an audible sigh?

When are the Mariners going to start hitting on a regular basis? The team is ranked 29th in the league with a .220 team average. Unfortunately, this is a familiar statistical position.

The Mariners have been here before.

Michael Morse started out so hot. So did Franklin Gutierrez. Morse has cooled off and is now hitting .230 for the season. Gutierrez is starting to struggle with injuriesagain.

Audible sigh.

There are also the hitters that are really struggling:

Brendan Ryan: .152

Dustin Ackley: .153

Justin Smoak: .200

Jesus Montero: .217

The young core of hitters that was supposed to be the future of the Mariners is not necessarily coming together in 2013. Seattle is second in the league in one category: strikeouts.

Not exactly what the fans were hoping for this year.

Two straight games without a run. Only five runs in five games.

The Mariners have now scored the fewest runs in the American League West (58) and they are tied for the fewest in the American League with the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox.

Only three teams in the National League has scored fewer runs than the Mariners. Not good.

The season is still very young, and the Mariners have not fallen too far behind in the division. However, this season could get away quickly if the M’s are unable to start swinging the bats.

As tweeted succinctly by Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times:

Indeed. Time to start hitting.

Follow @tpheifer

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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.

Begin Slideshow

Seattle Mariners: Your Bonafied Postgame Traffic-Planning Commission at Work!

At a Seattle Mariners professional baseball game last night, we were parked in the garage between the football and baseball stadiums in Seattle.  This was a perk for the front-row tickets given my wife by supervisors for all her good work of the past few months.  No nose-bleeders for this group on this warm late-spring night! 

And no hiking tens of miles to the car following the game.  This time we would be the snooty royalty that annoys the masses of peons, and like snooty royalty, we would be parking across the street from the baseball stadium free of charge with the BMWs, Mercedes and exotic sports cars of the world.

Walking only a few yards to the car was really cool. 

But after the game, not getting out of the same parking garage for over an hour, gridlocked in non-moving vehicles just outside the stadium, sort of ruined the thrill of parking in the garage where they charge mere mortals up to $50.  

More disturbing, it became apparent that the traffic planners in our city were either crazy, or deliberately making traffic as bad as they could following typical sporting events.  It was almost as if they were making traffic worse—far worse than had there been no helpful, friendly Seattle police officers supervising traffic flow after games.

How do I know this? 

Because after waiting an hour in toxic fumes that could melt steel, I finally managed to escape the confines of the concrete garage, but was immediately ushered to the east side of Safeco Field where all vehicles did not move.  Nor could they move, because helpful, friendly Seattle police traffic officers were routing all 45,000 vehicles into the same one-lane alley south of the stadium. 

Ironic, because I sort of wanted to go north, and catch the freeway on-ramp that would take me north, that I could see…ever so close.

But the friendly, helpful police traffic officers were having none of that!  Nope, they insisted all traffic go south, right into a big gridlocked mess where nobody could move out of because other helpful police traffic officers were routing everyone where they should not be.   

So there we sat.  For a very long time.  Nobody moving and everybody getting extremely agitated.

Finally, the two-hour mark after the game hit, and like magic all the police officers hopped on their little parked motorcycles and sped away into the night, suddenly leaving all the gridlocked intersections unregulated. 

And once they did, within five minutes the traffic had completely cleared out. 

No more helpful traffic cops equaled no more gridlock.  Who would have thought?

At that point many of us, as we drove home, asked the important and profound question most citizens in Washington State have asked after sporting events: 

“Hey, if traffic is better without the friendly, helpful police regulation following games, perhaps the city is wasting its money by having each and every intersection littered with these fine, uniformed folks?”

Maybe a prudent plan would be to not spend the money for all these lovely traffic heroes, and instead let things be like they are during the rest of the week? 

Why not let traffic do what traffic does, without the “help”?

Once, several years ago, following another game in which this exact same thing happened, I emailed the beloved traffic commission chairperson and suggested this wonderful and intellectual idea. 

And just like the friendly, helpful police traffic officers at every corner last night, he eventually emailed me back with suggestions of various physical activities that I could do to myself. 

He also mentioned that people as stupid as me don’t realize that this was actually a huge traffic improvement.  “You idiot!”

See this is because the Seattle Police Department, in co-operation with the City of Seattle and various inept mayors, has carefully crafted a set of hiring guidelines for every single traffic planner.  Here’s how it goes:


Clause No. 1

If the applicant shows college education or traffic planning experience, that person will immediately be disqualified for employment consideration by the PGSTPC (Postgame Seattle Traffic Planning Commission).


Clause No. 2

If said applicant shows any natural talent for common-sense thinking, that person too, will immediately be disqualified for employment consideration by the PGSTPC.


Clause No. 3

Preferred applicants will normally be found in chimpanzee cages at the Woodland Park Zoo, or found sleeping under bridges in frigid temperatures.


Clause No. 4

Habitual inebriation for each traffic planner is a plus.  In fact, if said applicant arrives at job interview immediately after consuming a fifth of Jack Daniels straight up, that applicant will vault to the top of the stack and may be immediately hired and assigned to supervise all traffic planning for the day, before sobering up.


Contrary to what you might think, the goal of the PGSTPC is not to clear traffic out.  Nope.  The goal is to keep traffic confined in unmoving gridlock for as long as possible. 

Speculation persists that the local business community is behind this reasoning, insisting that the longer you stay in their neighborhood, the more crap you may buy.  Oh sure, most of those businesses are closed by the time the Mariners games are over, but…well, please see Clauses No. 1 through No. 4 if you are confused about this policy.

Also, within the traffic code is the north/south directional concept.  If said vehicle prefers to travel north (because your house is north of the stadium), each and every regulated traffic corridor will insist you go south.  For many miles too.  Conversely, if your house is situated to the south, then the very same traffic corridors will route you north in the opposite direction you wish to go, usually into gridlock and parked contraptions that cannot move.

Years and millions of dollars were spent on little, unknown GPS chips that police officers read from your vehicle as you approach, like they do for the toll bridges.  Particular effort is put into stringent requirements insisting the direction of your vehicle goes in the opposite direction that it should.   


Because it’s fun for intoxicated traffic planners to see all the cars not moving for hours after a sporting event.

And don’t bother screaming at localized traffic cops on corners about all of this, because that will merely make them cranky.  They didn’t do the traffic plan, they merely enforce it.  In fact, when frustrated motorists yell at cops, frustrated motorists may soon find themselves charged with heinous crimes and strip-searched in public. 

What frustrated motorists can do, however, is write sarcastic articles like this one when they get home several weeks later, and then send them to every public official they can find. 

That’ll teach those jerks.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Spring Training 2011: 10 Mariners Questions That Need to Be Sorted Out

How do you fix a team that has lost 100 games twice in three seasons?

That’s the glaring question that general manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Eric Wedge are tasked with in 2011.

After a few nice trades and additions propelled the team a giant step forward in 2009, they took another giant step back in 2010. Though most assumed that ’09 team overachieved, the additions to the club last season led those same pundits to believe we’d at least see a similar outcome, perhaps even a better one.

With pitchers and catchers doing bullpen sessions and position players trickling in ahead of the mandatory report date this Friday, the team is getting a chance to have a hard, long look at their squad early.

It’s a good thing, too, because there are questions that must be answered post-haste.

Begin Slideshow

MLB Predictions: Power Ranking the Best Defensive Teams in MLB

Defense may not be the most entertaining part of a baseball game, but it is certainly important.

We tend to only recognize when players make outstanding defensive plays, and fans will always criticize players for making defensive mistakes.

The following slides will show you who is truly the best defensive team in baseball based on a number of factors.

The methodology is as follows: Teams were ranked from No. 1 to 30 based on statistics from the 2010 season. The lower the better.

The categories considered were UZR, stolen bases allowed, Total Zone (TZ) and Gold Gloves. One point was deducted for each Gold Glove winner and two were deducted for each Fielding Bible winner.

This difference is because the Fielding Bible award is based on more quantitative information.

Begin Slideshow

Seattle Mariners Trade for Russell Branyan; Is Ryan Doumit Next?

There are only five teams in Major League Baseball with a worse record than the Seattle Mariners.

The M’s are 14 games behind the red-hot Texas Rangers in the division standings. They’re 13 games off the pace for the Wild Card.

The Seattle Mariners should be sellers at the trade deadline, right? Well, they just gave up two minor-league prospects to the Cleveland Indians for 34-year old Russell Branyan whom they declined to sign over the off-season.

Yes, we’re all trying to digest this one: An aging power hitter with a .233 career batting average who has had injury issues the last few years is what Seattle needs during this disappointing season?

Russell hit 31 homers for the Mariners last year and they wouldn’t even reward him with a contract because of injury concerns with a herniated disc that cut his 2009 season short.

Matter of fact, Branyan wasn’t getting interest from any teams and didn’t get a deal from the Indians until Feb. 20 this year. He started the year on the DL with a neck injury.

Now, the Mariners are giving up prospects to take on the free-agent contract he signed with Cleveland. Branyan does have 10 homers this season, which is three more than Seattle’s Milton Bradley, who hit his team-leading seventh home run last night.

General Manager Jack Zduriencik won’t admit the Mariners are done for the year, but does believe winning some games the rest of the year is important to developing the young guys on the team.

“If you look at our team, as we move forward, just about every player who is here now will be here again next year,” he said. “We’re committed to the development of our players and that goal, that objective has never changed for us.

“But part of that development process is also winning games. We want our players to be able to experience winning games this year. And we’re trying to do what we can to give them what they need to get there.”

Since the Mariners’ offseason acquisitions have had abysmal outcomes, Seattle fans have been wondering what the team will do to right the ship for next year.

There are only seven games before the official halfway point of the season, and it seemed apparent the M’s would be finding a buyer for Cliff Lee and maybe unloading a couple of other players for prospects.


This move seems to dictate the Mariners are going to roll the dice and see what happens. Trader Jack is now becoming Gamblin’ Jack.

Zduriencik got a lot of credit for the moves the Mariners made and now he is getting some flak about how the new players have performed. Chone Figgins and Milton Bradley have been horrible. Ian Snell is in Triple-A.

Meanwhile, Carlos Silva has revived his career in Chicago and Brandon Morrow just pitched his fifth consecutive quality start.

Jack’s ego has taken a hit and he wants to prove this team capable of winning. If he can pull that off, he will be even more revered in Seattle.

If he can’t pull it off, he will have cost the Mariners a chance to gain valuable prospects from the trade of Cliff Lee as well as the prospects given up for Branyan and possibly another offensive piece coming soon.

Cliff Lee is a free agent at the end of the year, and though he is probably the most sought after and valuable trade option this year, teams aren’t ready to give up a bunch of top-level loot for a rental player.

The Mariners will still get compensatory draft picks for Lee if he signs elsewhere as a free agent in the off-season, so maybe Zduriencik believes it wise to keep Lee in the lineup for the year and see what happens if the Mariners can score a few more runs by adding some offense.

Maybe Jack’s idea is to right the ship for this year!

Seattle has a strong pitching rotation with Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, and Jason Vargas. They got Doug Fister back from the DL last night and Erik Bedard is due back, barring any setbacks, sometime in July. The Mariners rank ninth in the Majors in team ERA.

They are fifth in quality starts and third in complete games. They are only going to get better from this point going forward.

Adding Branyan is a good way to get some power in the lineup, but their offense is beyond pathetic, ranking 29th in runs scored, 29th in hits, 27th in batting average, and dead last (30th) in home runs.

Branyan is not going to correct those numbers by himself, so Gamblin’ Jack will need to get another bat in the lineup.

Rumors of players potentially becoming trade options before the deadline include Matt Kemp, Prince Fielder, and Lance Berkman.

None of them seem to make sense now that Branyan has been acquired and all of them would require several prospects and, in Kemp’s situation, Major League-ready starting pitchers.

It was rumored that Seattle was looking for a catcher in any deal with Cliff Lee. Could Zduriencik pull off a trade with Pittsburgh (they have trading history) for Moses Lake, Wash., product Ryan Doumit?

Doumit would bring a veteran presence and a bat with some pop in it. He is a three-hole type hitter and along with Branyan, would revamp the middle of the Seattle batting order at a reasonable cost.

Doumit has also had some issues with Pittsburgh management that has landed him in the doghouse in the past. He is signed through 2011 with club options for 2012 and 2013.

Would a lineup of Ichiro (RF), Figgins (2B), Doumit (C), Branyan (1B/DH), Franklin Gutierrez (CF), Mike Sweeney (1B/DH), Milton Bradley (LF/DH), Jose Lopez (3B), and Jack Wilson (SS) be enough?

The Mariners have won seven of their last nine games, including a six-game winning streak, but they lost a half game in the standings to the Texas Rangers.

Texas is on pace for 98 wins. The Mariners would have to go 67-21 the rest of the way to win 98 games. Can they win 76% of their remaining games? It is unlikely, so they would need both the Rangers and Angels to stumble along the way.

Gamblin’ Jack may be looking for the right piece of the puzzle to get his team back in the race, but at his point it seems too late in the game.

If not, Branyan is simply a morale booster to help build some confidence that Jack hopes will carry over to next season.

Giving up two prospects for a 34-year old morale booster seems too costly, so look for the Mariners and Gamblin’ Jack to make another move very soon.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Seattle Mariners-Chicago Cubs: My Plight as a Dual Fan

I’m a Mariners fan, and also a Cubs fan. People that know me are well aware of this. I can often be seen at work with a dirty Cubs hat, and a similarly dirty Mariners t-shirt on at the same time. Baseball is my favorite sport, and for whatever reason, the only sport where I hold two allegiances.

If the Mariners and Cubs were ever both in either the National or American League, I’d have to make a touch decision as to who to root for. But until Tuesday, when the Cubs made their first appearance in Safeco Field, I’ve never had to make the distinction.

Tuesday was the also the first time I’d ever seen the Cubs live, but not for lack of trying. Last July I went to Atlanta to reunite with a friend of mine from elementary school that I hadn’t seen since the end of junior high. It was my birthday present from my mom, and along with the trip, she’d bought us two tickets to the Cubs game against the Braves.

Carlos Zambrano was scheduled to start (he’s my favorite present Cub) and it seemed as though the baseball gods had given me the perfect scenario for watching my first ever Cubs game.

But you see, the Cubs and I have had an oft-ill-fated relationship. As a youth, I loved Dusty Baker. I said several times that I wanted him to manage the Mariners. When I really started to get into the Cubs more heavily, it was because I’d watched the highlights of Kerry Wood’s 20 strikeout game. Wood’s history of arm injuries is no secret, and suffice to say, I feel like I levied my own curse against the team.

Then Baker stepped in, a happy day.

My bad luck didn’t end there. Halfway through my sophomore baseball season, Mark Prior made his debut. I was fascinated by how smoothly he moved all of the moving parts in a pitching motion. I pitched, and apart from the dreaded “Inverted W,” I tried to emulate him (and Joel Pineiro, for what it’s worth).

He quickly became my favorite player in all of baseball. I copied the deliberate move to the plate he made with his legs, and his arm angle. I began to use my own curveball in the way he did. Rather than throwing it for a called strike, I threw it in the dirt for a swinging strike. I learned to throw a change up.

Two years later his arm would basically spontaneously combust, and his since-derailed career hasn’t found the tracks since 2006.

The baseball gods don’t like me liking the Cubs. So why would my trip to Atlanta be any different?

It was obnoxiously warm and obscenely muggy my entire time in Atlanta. I had really good company, but I could take a shower, step outside, and have a lather of sweat almost immediately. I’ve spent very little time outside the Seattle area in my lifetime, and most of that time was spent in a similarly moderate climate. But it is great baseball weather.

Two hours before game time there were clouds in the sky.

Because my mom knows her son, and knows the type of friends he keeps, she also got us reservations at a hotel in town. She didn’t want us drinking and driving, and if anything characterizes my trip to Georgia, it’s the countless empty pint glasses and cans of the most average beer money can buy.

On the freeway it started to rain. Once we got into town it started to pour.

There is rain in Seattle, and a lot of it. But our rain spreads out over time. In Atlanta, apparently, when it rains it fills the street with six inches of water in a matter of minutes. I needed to use the bathroom when we got into town, but I may have had to swim to any convenience store, so I held it.

Sitting in the hotel bar, too many beers deep for that time of the day, we found out the game was cancelled.

So when I sat down in my right field seats at Safeco on Tuesday (bleachers are the best seats in any house, in my opinion), not a cloud in the sky, I was ready to find out that a storm front was coming and the roof was malfunctioning.

What I wasn’t ready for, though, was the miserable feeling of sitting in the stands and rooting against my own team. You see, for the first time in my life, I’d adorned the opposing team’s colors.

With the same Carlos Zambrano jersey as I’d worn in Atlanta, I sat in a sea of Mariners fans, with whom I’ve shared many sober victories, and many less-sober losses, and was the enemy.

I was with some of the best company I’ve ever been to a baseball game with, a Mariners fan, and was clapping in her face in the first inning when Marlon Byrd singled to lead off the game.

But when Franklin Gutierrez hit a home run to scored the only two runs of the game, I was halfway out of my seat when my eye caught the blue pinstripes on my jersey, and my mind remembered the half-dozen Cubs fans to my left, and I sat back down. It was awful.

I had said before the game that the pitching matchup favored the Cubs. Ryan Dempster’s biggest problem was the home run, and the Mariners are really bad at hitting home runs. And the Cubs mash left-handed pitching, and Jason Vargas is left-handed.  

Well the Cubs didn’t mash Vargas, and Dempster gave up a home run. I went home a loser.

The following day, I watched the Cubs try to figure out Cliff Lee. No easy task, but yet another lefty that seemed beatable for them. Randy Wells is a pitcher who the Mariners should struggle with. He doesn’t walk many hitters, and his platoon splits don’t indicate he’s completely unable to get left-handed hitters out.

Again, my theory was worthless. The Mariners reeled off six runs and ten hits against Wells in six innings. Lee completed the game, in what may be his last start in blue and teal. But at least, for this game, I was wearing the victorious colors.

Then, for Thursday’s game, I left my house for work in the seventh inning with the scored tied. When I arrived at work, it was the 11th inning, still tied. We had a 401k meeting, and afterwards I was informed that the Mariners had lost to the Cubs in the 13th.

That my investment portfolio has begun to bounce back held no candle to the fact that I’d missed the only Cubs victory I’d have had the opportunity to see live to this point in my life.

But what really sucks is that the Cubs have a reasonable chance of making the playoffs, but with an ugly series loss against the Mariners, those chances just got dimmer. 

I guess the baseball gods want me in Wrigley, though my present record with Cubs luck may make the fans’ opinions slightly different. 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Seattle Mariners: What’s in Store for 2011?

Well Mariners fans, lets face it, the 2010 season is a bust.

There will be no comeback, no 1995 style legendary run to the post season. No, I’m afraid the last exciting moment for the Mariners will be watching who they dump in the upcoming midseason fire sale.

Cliff Lee is a lock to be traded, and rumor has it that everybody not named Felix or Ichiro is up for grabs. I’d expect a lot of familiar names to be playing in different markets come August.

So, what does that mean for the 2011 squad? What does the future hold for Seattle baseball?

Well for starters, expect a lot of call-ups here in the second half of 2010, young players auditioning for a role in the 2011 campaign.

I expect Mike Carp to get a lot of reps at first base the rest of the season. But I do not expect to see him starting there following the end of the year.

Who do I see as the Seattle first baseman in 2011?

Prince Fielder.

I imagine that the Seattle will make a heavy push for the hefty slugger in the offseason to anchor what is this year a horrid offense. This is more than just a pipe dream from a fan with an active imagination as Fielder has connections to the club.

The man who drafted Fielder, is current Seattle general manager Jack Zdurineck.

After his failure to improve the offense, while actually ending up with a worse team, Zdurineck must make a move like signing Fielder to save his job.

Felix Hernandez has been inconsistent this year to say the least, unable to capture his 2009 form that saw him finish second in the American League Cy Young voting.

He will still be the top starter in 2011, and I fully expect him to regain his consistent dominant form.

But who will follow him in the rotation?

Lee will be gone by the deadline, and even if they make the foolish mistake of hanging on to him all year, they will have virtually no chance to bring him back in the off season.

Rumor has it they have been talking with the Mets, about Jon Neise, but New York seems hell bent on keeping him around.

So who follows King Felix?

Doug Fister had been fantastic before going on the disabled list, and Jason Vargas has pitched way above his career standard.

But who would really be comfortable going into a make, or break year with them as your second and third options in the rotation?

I wouldn’t be, and I doubt anybody in the Seattle front office is either.

Look for them to pick up a decent, middle of the road guy in the offseason.

Tim Hudson, Jeremy Bonderman, Kevin Millwood could all be solid options to bridge the top and middle of the rotation.

That brings us to the bullpen.

For the rest of the 2010 season everybody in the bullpen will be auditioning for their own jobs.

Including David Aardsma.

After blowing onto the scene last year and being the definition of a lights out closer, he has regressed dramatically this year, posting a 5.85 ERA with four blown saves.

If he continues to struggle, look for a new gunslinger coming out in the final inning for Seattle.

The expectations will not be high in 2011, it will be a brand new team. One that needs to succeed for the people in charge to keep their jobs.



Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress