12 May 2014

2014 Draft Recap

Good news everybody, the draft FINALLY came. While Seattle came into the 2014 Draft with only six picks, they were able to knock out 9 players in addition to adding another nine undrafted free agents. To recap, Seattle was able to nab:

Round 2, Pick 45: Paul Richardson, WR - Colorado
Round 2, Pick 64: Justin Britt, OT - Missouri
Round 4, Pick 108: Cassius Marsh, DE - UCLA
Round 4, Pick 122: Kevin Norwood, WR - Alabama
Round 4, Pick 132: Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB - Boston College
Round 5, Pick 172: Jimmy Staten, DT - Middle Tennessee State
Round 5, Pick 199: Garrett Scott, OT - Marshall
Round 6, Pick 208: Eric Pinkins, DB - San Diego State
Round 7. Pick 227: Kiero Small, FB - Arkansas

Seattle has mastered the art of trading down in drafts to gain more picks throughout the process. They've also mastered the art of drafting certain styles of players that might not fit other teams' molds.

The biggest surprise I saw from Seattle was choosing a WR with their first pick. Not that I don't think Richardson isn't ridiculously talented or that I think our WR corps is the best in the league, but I assumed an O-Lineman or D-Lineman was going be first. When I found out that Seattle traded out of the first round after New England drafted DT Dominique Easley, I figured they would take the best available from that point on. What surprised me is how they did that while still filling out needs. Let's look at the position groups and how the draft has changed the possible depth charts.

Quarterback: HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA. No, we didn't draft a QB. Yes, we have 5 on the roster. Essentially, be prepared to see Terrelle Pryor, BJ Daniels, or Keith Price cut or sent to the practice squad. I'd be shocked to see Tavaris Jackson cut. Bold Choice: Russell Wilson wins competition. Shocker, I know.

Running Back/Full Back: The Hawks did draft FB Small from Arkansas in the seventh round, so look to see competition between Small, FB Derrick Coleman, and FB Spencer Ware for that starting position. Look guys, Mike Rob isn't coming back, especially with rumors of his retirement. We didn't draft a RB, seeing how Marshawh Lynch, Robert Turbin, and Christine Michael have that position locked down. Bold Choice: Turbin is turned into a FB, and he splits plays with Coleman as FB this year.

Wide Reciever/Tight Ends: No tight ends were chosem, as Seattle seems very happy with the trio of Zach Miller, Anthony McCoy, and Luke Willson. What is going to be interesting is watching what happens to the WR Corps. This is a team that ranked 31 (out of 32) in pass attempts. Adding speed with Paul Richardson and physicality with Kevin Norwood, this year looks to be the one where the drafted WR actually plays. To be honest, I don't think Seattle will have more than 5 WRs on their roster, again as a team that doesn't pass much. Bold Prediction: Both Richardson and Norwood make the team, along with Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, and Jermaine Kearse. Sidney Rice cut, much like Antoine Winfield last year.

Offensive Line: Britt impressed the Hawks with how physical he plays. O-Line coach Tom Cable has a tendency to draft physical players over so-called "better fundamental" players. When it comes to O-Lineman in Seattle, the draft is a hit or miss. They also picked up Scott from Marshall in the fifth round, so look to see early competition in the O-Line after seeing (my least two favorite) linemen Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini leave. Essentially, Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey will be battling Britt and Scott for those positions. Don't forget about JR Sweezy though, as he has started 15 NFL games in only his second season as an O-lineman. Bold Prediction: Seattle continues to use multiple o-lines throughout season. Max Unger, Russell Okung, Sweezy, Bowie, and Bailey are opening day starters. James Carpenter sent packing.

Defensive Line: Depth is going to be huge on defense, especially after seeing D-Linemen Chris Clemons, Chris McDonald, and Red Bryant leave. While I don't predict Marsh or Staten to become starters on the D-Line, I see Staten and Jesse Williams getting solid playing time as role and situational players. Bold Prediction: Cassius Marsh doesn't record one down on the D-Line this year.

Linebackers: While I said Marsh wouldn't play any D-line this year, I do see him fitting more as a Bruce Irvin-esque LEO. Again, depth is key on this defense, and I don't see any gaping holes in the linebacking corps. I don't expect to see a whole lot of Pierre-Louis this year, but simply because they don't need him. I do expect them to keep him, but as a developmental player. Bold Prediction: Cassius Marsh leads all rookies in sacks.

Secondary: The Legion of Boom did lose CB Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner, but Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell has proven time and time again that they will not be missed. Pinkins is a large DB, much like the rest of the LOB. He will play heavily in competition, as Seattle is still looking to replace Thurmond. Bold Prediction: Pinkins becomes the next Kam Chancellor as a role player, earns significant playing time in the next few years.

Look, obviously this is all speculation. Nobody knows anything until the first week, and even then, who knows. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay get paid a boat load of money to be wrong year in and year out. Pete Carroll and John Schneider have a system and if 2011 and 2012 are any indications, I will trust their picks with no questions asked.

Compared to San Francisco, Arizona, and St. Louis, Seattle had arguably the weakest draft in the division. Makes sense, because the teams above had holes to fill. Seattle already has a solid core group and if last postseason was any indication, few holes exist. The biggest key to this draft was depth, and I think Seattle has a fairly solid draft.

The 2014 NFC West will have no teams winning more than 12 games. Each of teams have a legitimate arguement and chance to win the division. I am happy with Seattle's draft, and confident that have the team to return to the promised land. Thankfully we can FINALLY look forward to seeing this new squad develop in front of our eyes. 2014 has started off strongly, and I don't see it faltering.

Facebook. Twitter. You know what to do.

28 April 2014

Nothing but Seahawks

Although the M's have been playing decent ball of late (knock on wood), let's focus on the reigning Super Bowl Champs for a little while. The two biggest things that concern the Seahawks as of late are the unveiling of the 2014 regular season and Earl Thomas' extension. Let's check out the latter first.

Obviously, Earl Thomas is the best safety in football. He's the heart and soul of the best defense since the 1985 Bears (stats back it up) and deserves to be paid as such. Although Thomas is still under contract, t
he biggest concern for the front office was securing this guy for years and years to come. Insert a 4 year $40 million extension to the mix, and we have two happy parties.

Thomas will be making $10 million a year starting in 2015, an unheard of amount of money for a safety. He is the first to be making 7 figures per year at the position, as Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu was the recently highest paid at $9.8 million per year. While extending Thomas was a no-brainer, his contract will be friendlier on the cap than originally thought, as $24 million of the contract is guaranteed money. Don't worry Seahawk fans, the Hawks are still in a position to resign Sherm, Russ, Baldwin, and Wagner under these conditions. Greatest news this offseason, easily.

As for the recently released schedule, well... that deserves its own segment.

First Impressions:
  • The Seahawks have the 6th toughest schedule in the NFL, according to last year's winning percentages.
    • Every team from the NFC West and the AFC West are in the top 8. Makes sense, seeing how each of these teams have to play eachother. 
  • The first divisional game will be the road in St. Louis on Week 7.
  • The Hawks don't play San Fransisco until week 13, only to turn around and play them again on week 15.
  • The last 6 games of the season include 5 divisional games.
  • Week 4 is the bye week, the earliest possible week.
The biggest concern I had about the schedule was the very early bye week. Especially with the final six weeks of the season essentially seeding the playoffs, the Seahawks are at a huge disadvantage with no time to rest weary bodies. Before I looked into it further, I was freaked out. Then again, this is the Seahawks we are talking about.

First thing I did was look into the recent Super Bowl champions' records and see when they were able to take a week of rest. I also looked at the runner ups as well as the worst teams' schedules to get an idea of when the best time to rest was.
Since 2010 (Average):
Champions Bye Week: 9.25
Super Bowl Runner Up: 7.5
League's Worst Record: 6.25 
If we were to take the stats at face value, the common theme is that the earlier your bye week lands, the worse your record will be. While there may be a slight correlation, I didn't really like my initial findings, as way more variables are obviously there. Instead, I wanted to check out the average record of teams that landed on a week 4 bye since 2007.
Average Record for Teams with Bye Week 4 Since 2007:
2013: 10-5.5-.5
2012: 9.5-6.5
2011: 6.2-9.8
2010: 8-8
2009: 9.5-6.5
2008: 8.3-7.6
2007: 9.25-6.75
Combined, the average record for teams with a Bye Week 4 since 2007  is 8.67-7.23.

While we might be able to bank on an 8-8 record, these stats can be misleading. Of the 29 teams listed above, 13 of them won 10 or more games. The list also includes the 0-16 2008 Detroit Lions, so the numbers again can be misleading.

14 of the 29 teams since 2007 to have the early bye week went to the playoffs. Nearly half have at least made the playoffs. Good news? Probably. Nostradamus? Nah.

Look guys, it's WAY too early to tell what can happen. Even the numbers I looked into said the same thing. Half of the teams with the early bye week went to the playoffs and had great years, the others weren't great. Essentially, the Seahawks will have to overcome tough odds to make the playoffs and repeat their awesome run last year. We still have the Draft, Training Camp, and the Preseason to worry about what's gonna happen next. Many things change, injuries, trades, unexpected cuts.

My best advice? Soak in last years victories. Be pumped up and excited for this upcoming year. Don't expect anything quite yet. It's simply too early to tell.

Twitter fan? How about Facebook user? I think y'all know what to do...

22 April 2014


Well, we are three complete weeks through baseball season and the short handed M's have begun to falter already. Injuries and an inconsistent bullpen have been the catalysts of their recent slide.There must be good news, right? Well, it's a long season. The bad news? It has started off as badly as it could have been. Remember when everyone was excited about a 3-0 start? BOY OH BOY I wish we still had that. A horrendous road trip it was, but not all is lost Mariner fans. Not all is lost.

AT Texas 1-3 (7-8)
Seattle started the series in my new hometown with a convincing win against Colby Lewis. Here is where I legitimately get my hopes up, and the Mariners do everything in their power to make me feel foolish. At 7-5, I'm confident.

I was lucky enough to find a few $7 tickets to the Felix-Yu duel game in Texas. While I'm (still) emotionally drained and still quite annoyed with the Mariners and their utter lack of looking like a professional baseball team, I'm not going to use this to vent. Instead, I'm going to say something nice and move on.

Shocker: Felix Hernandez is a once in a lifetime talent. The man is not only the best pitcher in the big leagues, but he battles for a team that isn't really worth battling for. He was angry he got pulled out because he wants to be out there. He deserves better. He deserves to be in Detroit, St. Louis, or Boston. The man deserves to play on a team that will battle with him. But he stays in Seattle. He doesn't complain, and he shows up every outing with the same mentality. I'm glad I was able to see him in person, because even with the way that game turned out, his performance will last far longer than the loss.

The next two games in Texas pan out the same. For the series, Seattle at worst should have been 2-2. Unfortunately, this club doesn't like to show up and score runs. After scoring 7 the first game, they were shut out, scored only two, and finally scored six. The bullpen is a whole different ordeal. Texas needed a good series to infuse life back into their short season, and Seattle was the perfect team to do so.

AT Miami 0-3 (7-11)
How do you get swept by the National League's version of Houston? Well, play like Seattle. Friday night in Miami, the M's had a great opportunity to get a win but the transfer rule would come back to bit the M's this time. That would load the bases for Giancarlo Stanton who hit a ball that hasn't landed yet for a walk-off grand salami. 

Saturday night was a disaster. Roenis Elias pitched well enough early to keep them in the game, but one inning would get away from him, issuing 5 walks, probably his least sharp outing thus far. The hitters were of no help, held to just one hit by Henderson Alvarez, who was brilliant, taking a perfect game into the 6th. 

In game three the Mariners had some great situational hitting with two leadoff doubles and sac flies to score and take a 2-0 lead. Starter Brandon Maurer retired the first 13 he retired but was pulled in the fifth after allowing two runners to reach and a run to score. Miami would tie the game in the 8th, with the bases loaded a hard groundball to Justin Smoak was bobbled and allowed speedy Christian Yelich to score. Initially he was called out but after video review he was clearly safe. The Marlins took a 3-2 lead going to the 9th. In the 9th Corey Hart led-off with a double and was pinch ran for by Brad Miller. After a groundball and walk by Smoak, Michael Saunders was K'ed by Steve Cishek. 

It leaves the M's 1-6 on the road trip and coming home for 6 games with the Astros and Rangers.

You don't win many games without hitting. You don't win many games without pitching. Seattle is trying so hard to do both, to no avail. With Taijuan Walker and Hisashi Iwakuma coming back, the starting rotation looks to improve, but the hitting needs to increase. It's early, and Seattle tends to do this after the halfway point of their season. Here's me hoping that they're getting the growing pains out now and a winning ball club shows back up. Wishful thinking, I know.

Now onto the non-disappointing team in Seattle.

The Seahawks have come to an agreement with WR Sidney Rice, the same guy we cut after the Super Bowl. I love this decision, because Rice is a big receiver that when healthy caught everything thrown at him. While the numbers aren't out yet, I would be surprised if he got anything more than a one year deal worth around $1.5 million. Essentially keeping a guy you were owing almost $8 million for a fraction. I like the move.

Seattle also acquired QB Terrell Pryor from Oakland in exchange for a 7th round pick. I don't necessarily dislike the move, but I'm confused by it. He comes in getting paid more than Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson, but depth is always nice. He's also an impressive physical specimen, so while there are no current talks about switching him to a WR or TE, it's a possibility. Don't be surprised to see either Tavaris Jackson or Pryor cut before the season, as Seattle still has QB BJ Daniels.

How long until football season?

Have a twitter? How about a Facebook? I think we all know what you need to do. 

14 April 2014

On The Road Again

"Just can't wait to get on the road again."

Home should be a haven, yet for Seattle it never seems to be the case. The M's finished there recent homestand at 2-3, not great. After splitting a two game series with the Angels, the M's found a way to lose 2 of three to the A's. When I say found a way, I mean it.

VS Oakland 1-2 (6-5)
I feel like a broken record when I review the last three series. "Pitching was great, hitting was weaker than it should be. Missed opportunities, but at least Felix won." Unfortunately, that's how it seems again. Against the A's, Mariners pitching only gave up 10 runs. For those who don't love math, that's a little over 3 runs a game. THREE. Yet Seattle was only able to score 7, 6 of them coming in the first game. It really doesn't matter how well you pitch if you only score 1 run in two nights. Inexcusable for a team with the amount of raw talent that Seattle does. Silver lining? Oakland is the defending AL West champ, with many (including myself) pegging them to win it this year. The team needs to start hitting, plain and simple.

(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Reasons to Worry:
"The season is young."
"The Mariners have a winning record."
"They are second in the AL West and only trail by .5 games."
"WHY should we be worried?!"

Well, you're right. This is the Mariners we are talking about, we should be excited they're doing well early on.

But I'm spoiled. I watched the once horrendous Seahawks turn into a dominating force these last two years. As fans, we shouldn't be content with horrible play year in and year out. So while I am very excited about the potential about this squad, here are a few statistics to bring you back down to earth.
  • In 4 of their 5 losses, the Mariners have only given up 3 runs or fewer.
    • Meaning, they couldn't score three runs in 4 games. Since going 3-0 and scoring 26 runs, the M's have only scored 15, being shut out twice. Yikes.
  • While Robinson Cano is hitting a respectable .333, he has yet to hit a home run.
  • Brad Miller has 17 Strikeouts (K) to only 1 Walk (BB).
  • Mike Zunino has 12 Ks to NO BBs.
  • Corey Hart has 9 Ks to 1 BB.
  • Since starting the year 6-13, Justin Smoak has slumped to a 3-28.
  • Kyle Seager is hitting .121.
What does it mean? We are seeing the Seattle Mariners that we are used to seeing. No offense, great pitching. The M's are 4th in the majors in ERA (2.79), 2nd in Walks/Hits per Innings Pitched (1.06), and 1st in Batting Average Against (BAA) with 1.94. It's early and we've faced arguably the two most talented teams in the division, so it might be a little early to start throwing in the flag and praying for football season. The bats need to wake up, and this upcoming roadtrip might show us what the Mariners are really about.

What's the best remedy to aid failing bats? Play against teams who have trouble pitching!

We start this trip for a 4 game series in Texas (Yes, I will be trying to get tickets to as many games as my empty wallet allows.) Normally a pretty daunting foe, the Rangers have started this year a meager 6-6. While on paper their offense is one of the best in baseball, Seattle has the pitching to deal with it. It sure doesn't hurt having Adrian Beltre on the 15-Day Disabled List, either. Pitching wise, however, Texas is weak. Minus Yu Darvish, who faces Felix on Wednesday, the Rangers have struggles. They currently rank 18th in ERA and 25th in BAA. Waking the bats up early could bode well for the M's.

After those four games, Seattle takes their talent down to South Beach to take on the Miami Marlins. At 5-8, the Marlins are one of those pesky teams with talent, yet can't do much with it. (Sound familiar?) The Marlins rank 17th in ERA and tie Texas for 25th in BAA. While they have a possible Cy Young candidate with Jose Fernandez, Seattle fortunately doesn't have to face him.

If Seattle can leave the road trip with a 5-2 record, we will finally be seeing this team playing the ball we know they can. 4-3 at an absolute minimum. Honestly, anything less will be disappointing. This team proved to us in the first series that they can pitch and hit. They then proceeded to show us that our pitching can win us games if out bats even pretend to show up.

But hey, they're still 2nd place, and that definitely means something...right?

Check us out on Twitter and Facebook for more up to the minute Seattle updates!

10 April 2014

Home Opening Series Vs Angels

Safeco Field is arguably one of the best ballparks in the entire Major Leagues. With its beautiful views, unique roof, and killer food, baseball is better in Seattle. Thankfully it's back in the Northwest, as the Mariners are set to start their homestand against our usual AL West foes.
VS Los Angeles-Anaheim 1-1 (5-3)
And what a spectacle it was at Safeco Field on Tuesday night! The Mariners returned home for their opener in Seattle as the fans buzzed for the 2014 campaign to keep up the momentum. 46,000 packed the house to watch James Paxton square off against the Angels, hopeful to see him build on his first game's successes. After a rocky first inning surrendering, long home runs to Albert Pujols and David Freese, Paxton would settle in and remind M's fans why we should stay excited about this staff. Paxton would leave without throwing a pitch in the 6th inning and later be placed on the 15-day DL with an issue to his left lat muscle. The M's would answer with 2 missiles off the bat of Corey Hart. The bullpen held strong and kept the Angels scoreless and was anchored by a scoreless inning from Rodney to seal the deal. 5-2 to start the season, pinch me.

Game two pinched me the following night, as instead of the exciting 2014 squad, we witnessed the 2010 Mariners lineup. Roenis Elias took the mound, still building on his success from his previous start. He only allowed two earned runs in five innings of work, surrendering a two run homer to the much despised Albert Pujols. Garrett Richards of the Angels, doing his best Roger Clemons impression, was dominate over 7 innings, allowing only one Mariner hit. While it seems easy to blame the Seattle bats, give credit where credit is due. He changed speeds effectively all night and located some nasty breaking stuff to go along with a fastball that touched 98. The hitter's seemed to fall into their old habits. There were a lot of swings at bad balls and no plan or confident approach at the plate was evident. Elias gave them a chance to win, but as with baseball, it happens.

With Paxton down, the M's will need to keep hitting to stay in the race early in the year. While Taijuan Walker and Hisashi Iwakuma are rehabbing and looking to bounce back soon, the bats need to stay hot. Remember Mariners fans, it's a 162 game season. While nobody wants to see a one hit shut out, especially at home, I don't see that as being an every day thing. Watch the M's to bounce back against the A's. More situation hitting, more balls in play, and less strikeouts.

5-3. Winning record folks, tied with the A's for first place. Embrace the early successes, prepare for the long season. This isn't your typical Mariners team. While they aren't totally complete (need a nice right handed hitter from the outfield), they have something they haven't had in years. They have a chance.

Have a Twitter? How about a Facebook? You know what to do!

09 April 2014

The Seahawks "Terrible" Offseason

We couldn't sign Jared Allen. We couldn't keep Golden Tate. Red Bryant and Chris Clemons moved to Florida, while Walter Thurmond III went to New York. Seattle's offseason is turning into the Raven's of last year!

Or nah.

Super Bowl champion teams lose a lot of players the following offseason, that's how it works. Teams try to fill up on as many successful cogs in hopes of taking some of that mojo the champs had. Many teams are unsuccessful in returning back to the Super Bowl, as re-signings and free agency take a toll on the roster. Seattle has a different situation, in large due to great rookie contracts. Unfortunately, those rookie contracts are coming up, and players need to be paid.

Biggest loss:
WR Golden Tate - (Free Agent) Signed with Detroit Lions
  • I liked Golden Tate. He was a play maker who could return kicks well. After saying he would take a "Pay Cut" he turned around and signed a five-year, $31 million deal. 
  • First off, Seattle didn't offer anything near that, and absolutely nobody would take an $11 million cut anywhere. 
  • Second, Detroit paid that much money for a guy who only caught  64 receptions for 900 yards and 5 TDs. While the offenses differ, Seattle has never been a pass happy team.
  • Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, some guy named Percy Harvin, and Zach Miller are all more than capable of picking up those extra 5 TDs.
Other Notable Losses:
DT Clinton McDonald - (FA) Signed with Tampa Bay Buccaneers
CB Walter Thurmond - (FA) Signed with New York Giants
DE Red Bryant - (Cut) Signed with Jacksonville Jaguars
DE Chris Clemons - (Cut) Signed with Jacksonville Jaguars
OT Breno Giacomini - (FA) Signed with New York Jets
CB Brandon Browner - (FA) Signed with New England Patriots

These losses represent a loss in depth, one of Seattle's biggest keys to dominating so many teams. Fresh players are able to do just a little more than tired players, obviously. McDonald, Clemons, and Bryant will all be missed, but players like Bruce Irvin, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, among others, are licking their chops at the additional snaps they will have. Browner was gone after his suspension, while Thurmond was another oft-injured or suspended player. Both really good, but both didn't play as much as they'd like. Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell will have no problem.

Biggest Win:
DE Michael Bennett: Resigned!
  • Signed a four-year, $28.5 million contract to stay in Seattle. 
  • Arguably the most important D-Lineman last year, especially towards the end of the season. 
Other Notable Wins:
WR Chris Matthews - Played in CFL last year
WR Taylor Price - Played for Jacksonville Jaguars last year
CB Phillip Adams - Played for Oakland Raiders last year
K Steven Hauschka - Resigned!
Head Coach Pete Carroll - Contact Extended!

Matthews is a big receiver (Sidney Rice or Mike Williams -esque) who will get a chance to compete. Price is athletically gifted, but has battled injuries. Adams was cut by Seattle in 2012, had a great 2012 year in Oakland before getting injured last year. We already know about Carroll and Hauschka, both huge keys to the 2013 success.

"We lost big names and signed a bunch of nobody's! Why shouldn't we be worried?"
If you had to name the three most important players on the Seahawks, who would you name? If you named anybody but Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, or Russell Wilson, thanks but try again. This offseason has been focused on signing Earl Thomas to a nice extension that will keep him in Seattle for quite some time. Rumors are that Richard Sherman is even in negotiations, which would be absolutely huge. If Seattle was able to extend both contracts, and thus keep the defensive heart and soul alive, the entire 2015 post season can be focused on Russ.

No big contracts have been given out because they need the money to extend the necessary contracts. Players like Browner, Thurmond, Bryant, and Clemons come and go. They're all very talented, but there are plenty of good CBs and DEs. Players like Earl, Sherm, and Russ are rare. Seattle is focused on keeping them.

So no. Don't be worried about this offseason. With the draft coming up Seattle is poised to continue their streak of excellence. Don't lie, you had your doubts about Byron Maxwell, Jermaine Kearse, and even Malcolm Smith. Pete Carroll is able to find players that fit. He has proven it time and time again.

So Seahawk fans, relax. We aren't the Baltimore Ravens of last year. Trust that Earl and Sherm get their contracts (hopefully) soon, and go watch some 5-2 Mariners baseball.

Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for more up to the minute updates!


07 April 2014

Week 1 Wrap-Up

It is important for this blog to stay regularly updated, especially during baseball season. This will be the first of our new weekly post. Every Sunday (or Monday, people get busy okay?) I will take a look at the previous week in Mariners' baseball and see what we should be expecting this upcoming week. As big stories unfold between both the Seahawks and Mariners sporadically, this weekly posting will give this blog a better sense of structure. With that in mind, here is the first week's review!

And what a first week it was. With a clean three game sweep of my least favorite team, the Mariners have done something no M's team since 2002 has done; given me hope and excitement. While the M's tend to start off well, they never seem to be able to replicate that small amount of success into anything long term. While we are only one week into the season, this team has given me at least a small hint of changing that.

AT Los Angeles-Anaheim 3-0, (3-0)
The opening series took place in wretched Anaheim, home of my least favorite baseball team, the Angels. Seattle has been accustomed to seeing good pitching performances by the M's starters, but this was dominating. The "potent" Angel offense was only able to score 8 runs (only 6 earned) all series. 

Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and Raul Ibanez went a combined 7-33with 15 strikeouts. The Seattle pitching game was on fire. Felix Hernandez pitched the poorest of the bunch, pitching 6.0 innings and giving up 3 runs (2 earned) while striking out 11. Yes, I mentioned it was the poorest of the three. Erasmo Ramirez took the hill the following night, pitching 7.0 innings, striking out 6 while givine up 3 earned runs. James Paxton, the new guy, pitched 7.0 shut out innings while only allowing 2 hits. 

The offense was no slouch either. In the series, the M's scored 26 runs, almost averaging 9 runs a game. The main ingredients in the series were Brad Miller (5-15, 5 RBIs), Justin Smoak (6-13, 7 RBIs), Dustin Ackley (4-11, 4 RBIs), and Robinson Cano (5-11, 1 RBI). While Cano wasn't able to hit many runs in, he had an On Base Percentage of .600. Every successful team year in and year out have more than once player that is able to contribute offensively. Seattle's biggest weakness in year's past have been their inability to support steller pitching. The Opening Series was as perfect as it could have gotten on both sides of the diamond.

AT Oakland 1-2 (4-2)
The Oakland series was a bit different. These were the Mariners I remember watching every year for the last 10 years. After scoring 26 runs in the Anaheim series, the M's could only muster 8 in Oakland. Abraham Almonte, growing on me, went 4-12 with 3 RBIs in the series. Robinson Cano was the only other Mariner to have a solid series, going 4-12 with 1 RBI. Miller and Ackley continued to hit well, but at a much slower pace than the previous series. One bright note was that the M's struck first in every game. Giving your pitchers early leads is important, and this team will need to continue to do so if they want to stay successful.

The pitching wasn't nearly as bad as the series wants us to believe. Game 1 starter, Roenis Elias pitched 4.2 innings of no hit ball before a (terribly) botched third strike call turned into the only run he gave up all game. The Cuban only gave up 2 hits in his Major League debut, another big plus to the M's arsenal. Unfortunately, the worst pitcher in the history of the game of baseball, Hector Noesi, gave up an extra inning homerun to Coco Crisp to end the Mariners' winning streak. Thankfully, he was released the following day (hahahahahahha finalllllllly.) The following game, King Felix did what King Felix does, pitching 8.1 innings, only giving up one run. With that win in tact, Fernando Rodney was able to get his first (of hopefully many) save in an M's uniform. Erasmo Ramirez pitched the only poor perfomance of the year thus far, pitching 4.0 innings and giving up 5 runs. Again, not a horrendous day, and something the offense will need to be able to overcome in the future.

Overall, liked what I saw from the club this week. The offense looks much more energized than in previous years. Manager Lloyd McClendon has been able to put in successful lineups and put players in positions to succeed. Robinson Cano's impact has also been felt, not just in the box score. He has embraced his leadership role, and it seems to have rubbed off on the younger players. Some of the young guys have looked good early, but still have a lot of learning to do at the big league level. The key this week will be saving the bullpen arms and not wearing them down, which means the young guns (Ramirez, Paxton, Elias) will need to eat some big innings.

4-2 is nothing to scoff at, and the Mariners should look to continue this hot start once they get back to Seattle. This is baseball, however, and no team clinched a playoff berth in the first week. These guys need to continue playing well, and give something for M's fans to cheer about.

Seahawks News:
Good news everybody! We get this guy for an additional three years.

As with always, like our Facebook page for all your MariHawks news and updates!


31 March 2014

Opening Day Baby!

Can you feel it? There's just something about spring that makes people happy. Winter is finally over, the sun is out an hour longer. People are starting to put away their sweatshirts and coats and take out their t-shirts and tank tops. (Unless you live in Seattle, then you just keep on carrying on.) Symbolism is important, as spring is a re-birth of plenty of things. Dead plants start to live again. Grey skies are being pushed aside by blue sky and sunshine. And here we are, baseball is finally back.

The optimism of yet another new season brings excitement to a fanbase used to disappointment and mediocraty. New faces brings new hope to a historically bad franchise. Heck, even the SEAHAWKS were able to win the Super Bowl, why can't the Mariners be successful? That optimism needs to be cherished. It needs to be pushed into excitement. Seattle hasn't seen a swing like Cano's since Griffey. We haven't seen pitcher like Felix since... well Felix. Embrace it the new season. Prepare for wins and losses, prepare for ups and downs. And, when all else fails, prepare for the fact that we aren't the Astros, and won't be last place.

With today being baseball's "first day of school," let's break down the Mariners' Opening Day roster from the shuffling of the rotation and some surprises that made the ballclub.

First off, the catchers. As everyone expected, Mike Zunino will be the everyday catcher. Zunino had a fair spring offensively, hitting.239 while batting in 5 runs. He also did a fairly decent job defensively, handling the pitching staff and the numerous new arms. John Buck, who signed a one-year, one-million dollar deal will back up Zunino. Buck is a nice addition with over a decade of experience behind the dish in the big leagues and should help Zunino mature this year. The big question looming: will Zunino hit? Let's all hope spring wasn't the answer.

As stated in our previous post, Justin Smoak was named the everyday day 1st baseman early in camp. Smoak displayed good power numbers (3 HR, 10 RBI) in spring camp and has embodied consistency at 1st base defensively. Seems like a theme with this team...will Smoak hit? We hope so. After giving up Cliff Lee for him, our patience is up.
Manager Lloyd McClendon has said Corey Hart (1B) isn't ready to be the everyday DH and will see most of his ABs vs lefties to start this season, but he could see some games at 1st or in RF. I'd pencil him in as a utility, replacing players on their days off. One thing Hart does offer is versatility and depth if he can hit and stay healthy. His spring was relatively weak, but he played in less than half of the games.
In arguably the most surprising move of all of Spring Training, Robinson Cano has been named the starting 2nd Baseman.

Moving to Shortstop, Brad Miller hit the ever-living daylights out of the ball this spring displaying some great power numbers by leading the Cactus league in homers (4) and hitting .439. McClendon said over the last two weeks of camp Miller really separated himself from Nick Franklin and it was clear to everyone. Franklin will begin the season at Triple-A Tacoma. Miller also will play a sound defensive SS, lets just hope he keeps up his hot-hitting when it counts.
Kyle Seager had a decent spring like most of the Mariners roster and will start at 3rd Base (surprise, surprise). As statedbefore, I expect good things from Seager at the plate this season and possibly a gold glove candidate at the three-bagger. Let's just hope he can pick up his average (only .191 this spring).
The Outfield is a little crowded and that's where the surprises come. Stefen Romero, who hit some balls in the spring that haven't landed yet, made the club after only one season at Triple-A. Romero is a big, athletic corner outfielder who could see a lot of playing time should one of the everyday guys struggle at the plate. Defensively, not a whole lot of speed but has shown he can adequately play OF at the major league level.
Much like I expected, Abraham Almonte also has made the ballclub out of Spring Camp. Almonte can hit from both sides of the plate with great speed and puts death to flying things on the outfield green. Just like Romero, I think he'll see limited time to start but will get lots of late game pinch-running and defensive replacement duties.
As far as the starters, Dustin Ackley, who had a very solid offensive spring, will be the everyday LFer. The skipper said Ackley has re-found his confidence at the plate and has really made some great strides in the OF. Hitting .382 and pushing in 13 RBIs will do that to you. It's nice to see Ackley confident again, as this is a hige year for him.
Michael Saunders will be the guy in CF. I think he could have a breakout year at the plate. If he can hit left-handed pitching, he's a valuable piece to the puzzle. He can bunt, has great speed, and has improved at the plate every year. Saunders is also a top 10 defensive outfielder in baseball when healthy.
In RF, it'll be a mix between Logan Morrison, Almonte, and Romero. I imagine whoever shows they can hit, will get most of the playing time there. This is a weak defensive unit, minus Almonte, so the bat will get the playing time. We might be stuck never having a true starting RFer this year. Who knows...maybe Jack Z is looking for a piece in a trade to patrol that spot, only one could speculate.
The pitching staff is a big ole' jumbled mess. Last week, Randy Wolf and Scott Baker were given their releases after being told they had made the club but would be asked to sign 45 day consent releases. Both declined and became free agents.
Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker will start the season on the DL with Walker hopefully coming back in mid-April and Iwakuma in late-April.
The starting rotation for now will be Felix Hernandez-Erasmo Ramirez-James Paxton-Roenis Elias-Chris Young.
Roenis Elias is a 25-year old Cuban native who was a Double-A all-star in Jackson last year. He had an impressive spring an showed the manager he's ready for the big leagues. I'm just hoping he doesn't end up like Brandon Maurer last year. He shows great upside, but don't expect to much from the rookie. While impressive, we will see growing pains. Unless he comes out like Pineda did, expect him to be relegated once Iwakuma and Walker come back.
Rounding out the rotation is newly acquired Chris Young who is a former all-star. He was released last week by the Nationals and signed by the M's after Baker and Wolf split. Young is a tall, lanky righty finesse pitcher who can hopefully eat innings until the cavalry comes.
In the bullpen will be lefties Joe Beimel (who's been a journeyman reliever), Charlie Furbush and it will round out with righties Todd Wilhelmsen, Danny Farquhar, Yoervis Medina, Hector Noesi (long relief), and Fernando Rodney who will anchor the back end. Farquhar will most likely set up most of the time for Rodney, but Beimel has shown in the past he can get guys out in the later innings, so I wouldn't be surprised if he nailed down that role during the season.
All in all, Marihawks is pretty satisfied with the decisions the Mariners made on the roster. We will see how the fare early with a beat up, makeshift pitching. The key will be staying healthy when those guys get back if they want to have success as many of them will be relied on for significant production this season. April will be a make or break month for every AL West team. Whoever starts hot will have the upperhand. Seattle starts with 22 of their first 25 games against their AL West foes, meaning we will get a decent idea of what kind of club we will have.
Here's to optimism, Seattle's biggest baseball ally. Let's see if the M's can follow the Hawks lead, or if they want to keep getting high draft picks.
Like the blog? Like our facebook page for more updates/discussions about the Seahawks and Mariners. Interested in writing a guest piece, like Spencer Hansen? Give us a shout!

11 March 2014

2014 Seattle Mariner Season Preview

Rodney, Cano, and Felix. $, hopefully in more ways than one.
Opening day is only 4 weeks away... longest 4 weeks ever, amirite?!

I am bringing in Spencer Hansen to do the Mariner's Preview this year. I'll add my two cents at the bottom. Spence knows more about the Mariners than anyone I know, so I'm glad to have him.

Spencer's 2014 Mariner Preview:
Obviously there have been some bright spots to the 2014 off-season with the signing of Robinson Cano, Cory Hart, Logan Morrison, and Fernando Rodney, among others. 

There are still some looming question marks; who will fill the outfield? Who will hit behind Cano? Will they sign another starter? 

Almost 3 weeks into Spring Training (ST) Manager Lloyd McLendon has set the tone for the ball club. McLendon had stops in Pittsburg and Detroit as a manager and a hitting coach and has been a respected offensive mind in the MLB over the past decade. He has instilled a toughness and sense of accountability among the players and is regarded as a players coach...but is he the right man for this job? Can he lead the M's to the promised land after a 12 year playoff drought? 

I believe he was a good hire for two reasons; a) he past managing experience and he has past coaching experience with a winning club and worked with HOFer Jim Leyland for several years. b) He is a great teacher of hitting and will be a key asset for a young ball club that has hitters that could experience some growing pains in the big leagues this season. 

A full Safeco Field, unfortunately all too rare.
McLendon also made it known to the media this week that Justin Smoak is "his guy" at 1st base this season. Smoak, with many things to prove at the plate this season did see slight improvements at the plate in 2013, but I expect this is a make or break year for him. Either he hits and stays, or doesn't and gets cut sometime in late-June, early-July. I think an ideal good year for Smoak is a batting average around 250-260 and 25 HRs. I think that's key if the Mariners want to have a chance at the post season as he could potentially hit behind Cano this year, which could also benefit Smoak because he could see better pitches. I've been waiting for the news to break on ESPN that the M's have resigned Morales, but as the days to Opening Day dwindle, so do my hopes that'll he be back. 

SS Nick Franklin
Also another unknown is who will be the everyday SS as McLendon has said that it's about "50-50" between Brad Miller and Nick Franklin for that spot right now. There has also been much speculation about whether Franklin will be dealt. The M's have gotten numerous calls on him and the two suitors that make the most sense right now remain to be the Mets and the Rays, with no real moves being made as of now. If the season started today, I would guess Miller would be the guy. He has been smooth with the glove and has shown he can be a durable, everyday guy. On the other hand, Franklin has hit the crap out of the ball this Spring with a couple of dingers and played solid defense. I think the better investment is in Miller because he shows more upside at SS and has a nice left handed swing and he has that blue-collar, down and dirty, get it done no matter what attitude. Just an old school type of ballplayer. 

The pitching situation as far as starters has also become messy this spring. It's looking like Hisashi  Iwakuma and young phenom Taijuan Walker will start the season on the DL which leaves the M's looking for a free agent arm or giving young guys a significant role early in the season. When all healthy the rotation will look something like Felix-Kuma-Walker-James Paxton-Scott Baker. I imagine Scott Baker will see an increased role with injuries. He was non-roster invitee to Spring but will most likely make the club. He was above average in Minnesota but I think pitching in Safeco won't hurt him at all. James Paxton also has came in looking good and also more mature. He's making better pitches, has shown better control, and his arsenal of pitches is more well-rounded. 
Hopefully this King can make some magic.

The bullpen was shored up with the signing of Fernando Rodney at the back end and he hasn't seen much action due to a small injury but should be fine and on track to go Openind Day. I think our middle relief will also be improved now that Danny Farquhar and Tom Wilhelmsen will not be relied upon in the 9th to shut the door. I still expect one of those guys to set up Rodney, but I expect a bounce back year from Wilhelmsen. Also you gotta love Danny Farquhar, a blue-collar guy that throws upper 90s with wicked off-speed stuff. He just needs to work on his location and developing those off-speed pitches. 

In the outfield, it's a little crowded. Franklin Gutierrez was put on the Restricted List, meaning he will not play this season and will not be paid his $1 million. Pencil in Dustin Ackley in in LF. Ackley has sown a much better approach at the plate this season and I think he'll make a nice transition out there this season. I expect a bounce back year from Ack.

Hopefully there is more to fear than just the beard.
After Ack it gets tricky with no one guy taking control of a spot. I'd really like to see Michael Saunders break out this year and be an everyday guy because when fully healthy he is a top 10 defensive outfielder in this league. If he can show that he can hit left handed pitching and cut down on strikeouts he will very much be in the everyday picture this season. 

Some under the radar guys you may or may not know are Stefen Romero and Abraham Almonte. Both spent last season in Triple-A Tacoma and had good years. Romero is a corner outfielder who shows a lot of power from the right side and can also hit for average and is a plus defender in RF. Almonte is a speed-demon and switch hitter and can hit well from both sides of the plate. I think Romero is on the outside looking in but I believe Almonte will make the Opening Day roster. McLendon has said they can find multiple ways to get this guy in the game and has potential to be the leadoff guy this year. He understands the role of the leadoff, has plus speed and that ability to hit well from both sides helps him. Almonte is also a great bunter and will set the table nicely for Cano, Kyle Seager, and Corey Hart. 

Maybe the LOB could rub off on the M's.
The key to success this season will be guys staying healthy. With Kuma and Walker out to start it will be tough in April but position guys need to be durable as well. Corey Hart and Logan Morrison were nice pickups because they were cheap, low-risk, high-reward guys that could significantly contribute. Hart was a 30 homer, 100 RBI guy two years ago and a perennial All Star. Hart will probably DH for the most part but will see some time at 1st and possibly in RF. Morrison also could see time in the OF and at 1st base and if he hits will be a solid role player to plug in because he's very versatile.
I think this team is very much improved, but also still has some holes to fill, whether that be a RH bat or a starting pitcher. 

My prediction for the season is 85 wins, who knows if that'll be enough to get that second wild-card. I think the M's undergo some growing pains but McLendon takes this club a step in the right direction and they WILL be a playoff team in 2015. As far as individual awards, I think Cano, Seager, and Felix are All Stars and Seager is my dark horse for the batting title.

Thanks Spence! I definitely appreciate the analysis. Hard to keep up when everything I hear is about the Rangers. And yes, they do have the best QB in the state of Texas.

As for my prediction, I was pretty off last year. I predicted the M's to finish third with an 85-77 record, while they instead fell to 71-91and fourth place (how great is it that the Astros are in the division?) This year I'm not as optimistic as Spencer is. Oakland is going to win the AL West, Texas is going to pick up a Wild Card spot at number two. I think Seattle was what it takes to finish third place, above the vastly overrated Angels and the hilariously bad Astros. I predict an even 81-81 this year. I do agree with Spencer though, if they get it together, the playoffs aren't too far in the future for us.

Like our Facebook page for more up to date info about the Mariners and the Seahawks. Also check out Spencer's Sports Rants, his hilarious babblings about everything. Worth the watch.

SODO MOJO. (I lost track of their annual sayings, so I'll stick with this one.)

25 January 2014

8 Days.

Great vs. Great
The Seattle Seahawks are going to play the Denver Broncos for Super Bowl XLVIII. Let me say that one more time, the Seattle Seahawks are going to play the Denver Broncos for the Super Bowl. Let that sink in. Soak it up. Enjoy the moment.

Obviously the story is going to be #1 offense vs. #1 defense. Best NFC vs. best AFC. Sherman vs. Manning. "Good Guys" vs. "Villains". Regardless of what the media wants to spin this Super Bowl to be, one fact remains: It features the two best teams in football. It features a young team trying to gain their first Lombardi Trophy against a veteran team trying to get another one. It is safe to say that the first ever outdoor cold weather Super Bowl(Minneapolis, Detroit, and Indianapolis all have hosted  the big game in domes) will be one for the ages.

For me, however, this game comes bittersweet.

Literally Everyone: "Bittersweet?! HOW? The SEAHAWKS are in the SUPERBOWL!"
Marihawks: "Well yes, but remember, I grew up a Bronco fan."
LE: "So it's a WIN WIN for you! Either way you should be happy!"
M: "Yes and no."
LE: "You're stupid. Suck it up and just enjoy the game!"
M: "Well I plan on.."
LE: "Nope you're just stupid."

Yuk Yuk Yuk
Here's the deal. I've dealt with many friends from both Washington and Colorado about who I am rooting for next Sunday. And it's true, I couldn't be happier that both teams are in. It really is a dream come true.  I lived in Colorado during the Broncos' best years. I watched them change from orange to blue and win back to back Super Bowls. Then I moved to Seattle. Stayed true to the blue and orange, and for the most part ignored the Seahawks.

My family had bought season tickets to the Seahawks games for many years, so (in my mind) I got to watch more pro football while rooting on the Broncos. My dad bought me a Trent Dilfer jersey (Yeah I know, hilarious. Yuk it up) because the 12th Man wasn't too kind to the young kid rocking his Terrell Davis to Seahawks games.

John Elway Starter jersey, circa 1997
Bronco socks circa 2004
The year 2005 was my second favorite football-wise since 1997. Denver and Seattle were both in their respective league's championship games. At this point I supported the Seahawks as a hometown team, but I was Bronco fan all the way. I distinctly remember being able to watch the Bronco game but having baseball practice that night, so I couldn't watch Seattle. Denver got absolutely handled by Pittsburgh that day. Jake Plummer had a heckuva year but couldn't figure out that defense, losing two interceptions and two fumbles. Dejected, I went to practice hoping that Seattle could salvage my year. I was able to come home later that night to hear that Seattle handily beat Carolina to advance to the Super Bowl. I didn't realize it, but at that moment, everything was changing.

Seattle obviously didn't win the Super Bowl, but I became more and more interested in that team. In 2006 I saw the Broncos bench my favorite quarterback not named John Elway for my least favorite not named Phillip Rivers. Once Jay Cutler took over for Jake Plummer, I stopped caring what Denver did. And it's definitely not because Seattle was any better, both teams relatively stunk it up until 2012. Maybe I was mad Denver gave up on Plummer, maybe I was annoyed the Seahawks beat Cutler in his first game, but in the end I simply stopped caring.

The rest is history. I've switched 180 degrees. Maybe it was Denver's demotion of Plummer. Maybe it was the bandwagoners that Tebow and Manning brought to Denver (Not their faults, but annoying when the fans don't know who Champ Bailey is). Maybe, (okay definitely) it's because they've gone back to the orange uniforms. (Look, Denver and Orange work. Just not with this template.) Maybe it's because I spent so much time watching the Seahawks and learning the roster. Maybe being a part of the 12th Man for so long has affected me.

Look, I obviously have a lot of factors going on to this. Judge me. What won't change is how I will always love the Denver Broncos. They were my earliest memories. You never forget your first love, and the Denver Broncos professional football team were mine (I was a weird kid, okay?)

The Seahawks are my team. Can't really debate that with anyone. I'm a Seahawks fan and an avid supporter of the Broncos. It's as simply as that.

I'm not going to predict the score for this game, both teams are more than deserving. I'm not really going to outwardly root for one over the other. A lot of "Yay Boos" will occur on Sunday. Instead, I'm going to wear a shirt with both helmets. I'm going to spend time with family and loved ones. I'm, for the first time all season, going to sit and enjoy football as it's meant to be played. Best vs. best.

Check out the facebook page for (WAY) more updates on all things Mariners and Seahawks.

I've been pretty busy lately working for a company that sells sports related sportswear. Check out their website, facebook, and instagram. You can also use the Marihawks exclusive code "jukz4me" to get a discount on any orders!