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?

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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.

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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.

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