Seattle Mariners

Jacob’s: A Progressive Experience

By: Joshua Ellis

 

As I shake hands, exchange hugs and walk down the long corridor to my hotel room, I wear the biggest baseball grin I have had in quite some time. Tonight was magical, epic and despite not being in Safeco Field for opening night, felt just like home. The much needed sleep delayed by swirling thoughts and bowels that only planned impulsiveness and six white castle burgers can allow. Before I finally drift to sleep I know I will be missing out on a tribute to the World Champion Seattle Seahawks, Kings Court pandemonium, and the home field debut of Robinson Cano. In the end and throughout the evening, my spontaneity and trust in complete strangers would make for a memory of baseball I would not soon forget. Two months ago, a phone conversation with my brother made this night a reality. A thought provoking night thrown together on a hop from baseball to bars. A progressive night. Only fitting that it should start at Progressive Field.

For the past several years my brothers and I have gone to opening day at Safeco Field. During a conversation with my brother, I tell him that I will not be able to attend this year. Instead, my job is sending me to Cleveland for advanced training during opening week of Mariners baseball. Understandably bummed, he realizes that if he wants to go to opening day that he will have to go one brother short. Currently, Mariners baseball doesn’t attract the fair weathered fan. Instead, it brings the folks who understand that baseball, at its essence is a past time to be spent with family and friends. Baseball, for us, will not be the same without me there. This thought and my absence leads to a decision. No one is going to Opening Day.

My trip to Progressive Field was not without its adventures. I made a conscious decision that I would be attending a baseball game long before I actually arrived in Cleveland. The excitement of being in a different stadium followed me throughout the work day and any kind of baseball mythology and lore that I could soak up. My journey downtown found me on a train traveling at the speed of my own anticipation. The sprawl of a city nestled along the banks of Lake Erie allowed me to see many different adjuncts of lifestyle. Suburbs, architecture, people, restaurants, vegetation laid out on flat terrain as I rolled closer to the skyline of Cleveland. Seattle never felt so far away. Thankfully, I met a few out of town stragglers on the way downtown in the same predicament as myself. Amongst the four was a middle aged man with tough rugged features, a leather jacket that screamed Midwestern blue collar and Indians gear from head to toe. I knew instantly this was my fate, I had to befriend these people. I introduced myself, my situation and within no time we were exchanging small talk and baseball enthusiasm while the train whistled along. I would now be able to see baseball through the eyes of an east coast baseball nerd and relax in the company of his friends. He knew absolutely everything about the Cleveland Indians. As far back as the Cleveland Spiders when they played at a “dump” called Cleveland Municipal. He would tell me about the infamous drummer that didn’t randomly appear at any given spot in the stadium, but rather always in the outfield. This now iconic drummer leads the charge to get fans clamoring for their beloved Indians. However, I had a hard time finding this supposed drummer and for good reason. The Indians absolutely killed any chance the National League representing San Diego Padres could muster. Between cheers and runs scored I kept my ear tuned to my new found friend’s rants on upcoming farm system talent, recent trade acquisitions and praise only a die-hard fan could spit out. However, my fascination in his stories proved difficult when trying to discern my hunger levels. It was only during a lull in the conversation I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since lunch earlier. It wasn’t until I excused myself that John, the Indians fan, would stop me and insist that I get a hot dog with the Cleveland Indians signature mustard called Bert’s. What he didn’t tell me is that this knee buckling condiment would change my experience of ball park hot dogs forever. Twenty-five dollars and four bottles of mustard later I walked out of the team store relishing in my purchases. This experience had to be shared, shared with the people I would normally be watching baseball with. Baseball might be cooler here.

In my experience as a baseball fan I have had the privilege of seeing Candlestick Park, Oakland – Alameda, Camden Yards, Safeco Field and now Progressive Field. I was able to fully appreciate what I have and don’t have back home as I strolled around the stadium demolishing a hot dog and sipping on surprisingly quality craft beer. What I do have, at Safeco Field, is a nothing short of state of the art. A ball field that caters to both fans and players. Safeco Field’s identity lies underneath a retractable roof and is illuminated by the Major League Baseball’s largest jumbotron. The scent of garlic fries and brewed Pyramid beer masks the spray of ocean water coming from Puget Sound. Seattle’s progressive skyline hovering behind left field giving just an inkling of what the city truly has to offer. However, this package comes with a sense of what baseball means in the 21st century.. A far cry from where it started over a hundred years ago leading to its eventual manifest destiny. Without knowing any better, one might assume that the fans and city are rich, full and drunk with power in the best sports city in America. Sadly, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. We haven’t been playoff contenders in over a decade and are still seeking our first World Series appearance! We are a fan base trying to find an identity, while the 12th man, voted as the NFLs best are literally across the street. What I don’t have is a Midwestern city that clings to sports as if it’s the only thing worth getting out of bed for. I have seen this attitude in St. Louis, another Midwestern city.. In my opinion, I haven’t found much else outside sports to get excited for when visiting the Midwest. Seattle, Portland and San Francisco have so much to offer in terms of culture, personality and general things to do than your average Mid-Western city. The Mid-West feels like a post apocalyptic desolate wasteland. An area on the map that looks overpopulated but feels like a ghost town. Sports, thankfully, gives the locals an excuse to go downtown, support the team and give the illusion of a bustling city. Its this mindset that fuels the desire and need for sports to exist in this area of the country. For example, the Cleveland Browns NFL team moved to Baltimore and their fans cried for their return and got them back several years later. Conversely, when the Seattle Supersonics left for Oklahoma you saw an outcry in Seattle but not strong enough to bring them back to the city. Cleveland has that, we don’t. This all became more clear as I circled the concourse. Random cheers amidst random bits of silence encapsulated the feel of a baseball game. However, the aging stadium resounded more with me than any of the familiarities that I have come to expect during a game. The stadium has this rustic, old, dirty and industrial feel. Massive steel poles acting as foundation for bleachers crisscrossed along the perimeter of the concourse. It was as if the local fans griminess caked on each towering pole fueled the organizations profile, mantra and character of the city. This was part of Cleveland’s identity, part of their birthright, part of history and no one recognized it more clearly than myself. This was not just any Tuesday night, it’s their way of life. Baseball is different here.

After purchasing the necessary memorabilia without being a traitor to my own team, I found my way back to my seat. In the relatively short trek around the somewhat unoriginal stadium, the Indians had managed to pull together a very strong lead. The fans being robbed of their opening day festivities due to inclement weather the day prior were able to relish in the glory of their beloved Indians. It was then, that I was able to relax and truly take in the awesomeness of being in a different stadium, to take notice of what I was watching and also what I was missing. Behind the curtain, the sanctuary and past-time of baseball has always been an escape. An opportunity to revel in the mystery of the dreamers out there that made their dream a reality. The American Spirit and American dream that anything is possible tucked underneath the pleasure of good company is what makes baseball sacred and special. Only later in life have I been able to realize this. It took an Indians – Padres game in the middle of nowhere America for me to realize this. At the 7th inning stretch I had a revelation but not before I took notice to mascots dressed as condiments raced around the stadium punching and kicking their way to bragging rights. I cleared my throat and braced myself for the singing of take me out to the ball game. Goose bumps littered my skin as I started into song, knowing full well that I could never let myself actually root, root, root for the Indians. It was in this moment where that I realized that although I was amongst the family of baseball, I missed my actual family. I missed my own anticipation of the drive up to the game, the dreadful parking at Safeco Field, sitting in a different part of the stadium, being late for the third consecutive time, opening day festivities, laughing about the most ridiculous things with my brothers and taking in the feeling of being in the midst of my personal family. So, even though I was singing take me out to the ball game, I cheated and root, root, rooted for a team that had not even started playing their home opener. Baseball is not only different here, its cathartic.

With my new temporary ‘baseball’ family we finished watching the game and I soaked in as much of my remaining experience as possible. The sights, smells, feels and look of our national pastime represented under a different set of lights while illuminating a very real and cherished memory in the making. These days, I am smarter about what I eat and drink but felt the necessity of sharing a smoke with one of my new comrades. It only seemed fitting that with every inhale and exhale of smoke that I could truly appreciate the dizzying effect of not only the cigarette but what I had just had the privilege of witnessing. After the game, my crew and I deemed it appropriate to get drinks at a Hooter’s knock off called The Tilted Kilt of Cleveland. It was then, after treating these strangers to drinks, that I looked up and saw my beloved Mariners on the jumbo screen. My heart sank but was lifted simultaneously when the expected shit talking that only sports fans can appreciate started barreling towards my direction. For a moment, ironically, it felt like home. However, my current home (i.e. The Hilton) was beckoning my return. The time I had to return to the train station for a shuttle ride back to my hotel was quickly dwindling away. I then communicated my dilemma to the group and Jon, baseball guru, stopped me before I could finish. My love of fast food and the stipulation of going on a quest to White Castle would guarantee a ride back to my hotel. It was a no-brainer. Harold and Kumar would be proud.

One hour and six hot off the oven White Castle burgers later I found myself tired, excited, happy and most of all, safely back in my hotel room. As I have gotten older and allowed the world to frame my thinking on things I never would have guessed at this point in my life that I could surprise myself. A spontaneity I haven’t felt since I left home for the first time. Could I put my complete faith in people I just met? Could I make the best of a lonely awkward situation where I would rather be someplace else? Could I pull myself out of the personal shell that with time I have created? Could I look back on this experience as something of a life lesson and gain some value out of the situation? It was these thoughts that rattled around in my head as I finally was able to lay down for sleep. It was these thoughts that kept me awake for longer than I had wanted to stay awake. It was these thoughts that when answered, “Yes” that I was able to finally escape to dream world and leave the dream that I had just experienced behind.

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A look at strikeouts

By: Jared Ellis

Follow on Twitter @jarlyjarhead

Baseball is a simple game. You throw, catch, hit and run. The team that scores the most runs wins the game. The winner of the last game of the season is the champion. When put simply, yes, baseball is a simple game. When put less simply, it is anything but. The statistics that were on the back of my childhood baseball cards of Batting Average (AVG), Earned Run Average (ERA) and home runs (HR) have evolved into statistics that aren’t as intuitive. Now we analyze the game using Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA), Weighted Runs Created (wRC) and perhaps most importantly Wins Above Replacement (WAR). These and many other advanced statistics are the new normal for the ever changing sabermetric baseball world.

Thing is, I don’t know how to analyze most of these statistics; at least not as quickly as I would the now arcane statistics. They require reading and sometimes rereading the description before fully grasping the stat. And then after a few months, I’ll probably need a refresher of reading and rereading the description again.

The question I ask myself with most of these stats is:

  1. What new stats are the most important?
  2. When can we trust the stats?
  3. What is league average for these stats?

The answer to the first question is that there probably isn’t only one way to analyze a player. Sure WAR encompasses all that a player does, but there are inconsistencies with it. The first and most obvious inconsistency is that there are multiple versions as both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference have their own formulas. In addition WAR uses defensive metrics that vary, as both Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) and Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) are considered. Not only do they have different ways to measure performance but are often times far apart in the actual analysis on an individual player. In addition, WAR doesn’t tell specific stories about the player’s statistics, it is simply the long range view. The reason why a hitter struggles against right handed pitchers will require some additional digging.

Questions two and three are what I hope to cover over a period of time on this blog. The sabermetric community will often times cite small sample size (SSS) when analyzing a player. What is so neat about SSS is that someone incredibly smart has found out when a specific stat will stabilize (you can find the tool here) and becomes a large enough sample to have proper context. And to find league average of each these stats, we have decades of data to apply to what is now a very large sample size.

To begin in this young season of only April, a time when a more casual observer will say that the Milwaukee Brewers are destined for a championship and that Charlie Blackmon will be our first .400 hitter since Ted Williams, we have two stats that have stabilized for most regular players around the league. The first we’ll cover is strikeout rate, a stat that stabilizes at 60 plate appearances. Since this is a Seattle Mariners blog, we’ll stick to them.

Of the Mariners 25 man roster, only eight have qualified for stabilization of strikeout rate. This shows not only how young our season is but also shows consistency with Lloyd McClendon’s daily lineups. And out of those eight, a whopping five are higher than league average in 2014…that’s a bad thing.

K% 2013 2014
League Average 19.90% 20.90%
Corey Hart *24.3% 18.80%
Mike Zunino 25.40% 29.70%
Justin Smoak 22.80% 23.80%
Robinson Cano 12.50% 13.30%
Kyle Seager 17.60% 21.50%
Dustin Ackley 16.90% 18.40%
Abraham Almonte 25.60% 35.10%
Brad Miller 15.50% 30.20%
*2012

My first takeaway from this data is, oh geez this is bad. The youngest of the Mariners’ players are the ones that seem the worst off. Brad Miller’s strikeout rate has nearly doubled since his short stint with the team last year. Mike Zunino has regressed as well and sweet Christ look at Abraham Almonte! This guy is our lead off hitter and he strikes out more than a third of his at bats.

Let’s take an even closer look at these three folks. For a guide on these fancy pants stats, go here.

2014 O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% Contact%
League Average 30% 65% 46% 81%
Mike Zunino 47.20% 76.90% 62.70% 66.70%
Abraham Almonte 19.50% 59.10% 39.70% 72.00%
Brad Miller 41.60% 62.10% 51.90% 74.50%

Zunino can be explained as a swinger with limited pitch recognition, the dude swings at everything. His contact rate will obviously be low when he’s swinging at nearly half of the pitches he sees that are out of the strike zone. I also mentioned in an earlier post that he has a high swing and miss rate on fastballs, which explains his high swing rate for pitches in the zone coupled with having a low contact rate.

Miller has pitch recognition issues as well, as his O-Swing% is nearly as bad as Zunino’s. That also explains his contact problems and I think that this is representative of both players being very young still.

Almonte is an interesting case. I think he simply has trouble making contact. His O-Swing% explains why he is at the top of the order as he has a strong understanding of what his strike zone is and while walk rates haven’t stabilized yet for this season he has a history of promising walk rates in the minors. He simply has trouble making contact, once again I believe this is mostly a sign of him being a young player that is still getting used to big league pitching.

While those three young players are concerning and are certainly the outliers when looking at their strikeout rate, it is encouraging to see Dustin Ackley maintaining average strikeout rates considering his struggles up to this point. In addition, Corey Hart has seen a significant dip since his last full season in 2012 and the dude is starting to rake, also an encouraging sign as he is sorely needed in the middle of that lineup.

The past week of Mariners baseball has been tough and it has been the same old story, they can’t score runs. I get the feeling though that as these young guys start to settle into the season and feel more comfortable, that the strikeout rates will drop, the contact rates will increase and we’ll start to see some hits drop in.

Next up on my sabermetric tour will be the counterpart of strikeout rates for batters, but with pitchers!

Mariners win 6-4; First in AL West!

By: Jared Ellis

Follow on Twitter @jarlyjarhead

 

Me: Those Ks are short for the word strikeout.

Daughter: Don’t they mean King for Felix?

M: Well…that certainly makes sense!

D: I think they mean King because Felix is the King of baseball.

 

Truer words were never spoken. Tonight was Felix’s first home start of the season and ROOT Sports led their broadcast with stats highlighting the reign of Felix since he joined the Mariners in 2005. The short version of these stats is that Felix has dominated the league since he first stepped onto big league dirt. The long version is that since his arrival he is first in strikeouts, first in quality starts, first in starts with at least 7 IP with two earned runs or less and third in complete game shutouts. They even created a stat called mega quality starts and since 2010, he leads that category as well. The short version again, Felix is the man. Going against the A’s (again) only solidified the fact that Felix would be dominant once again. See, the King has faced the A’s 30 times in his career coming into tonight’s game and holds a 16-7 record with a 2.60 ERA against his AL West rival. Tonight was a foregone conclusion.

The Supreme Court was in session for tonight’s game as 30,000 fans were wearing the King’s gold throughout the ballpark. The energy of the crowd was palpable even while watching on television and early on it was obvious that he was especially excited for this game as he was consistently getting up to 94 early on. Usually, a dominant Felix will have at least his changeup and fastball working. Tonight, he had his curve biting as well and was even mixing in his slider. There was even a point in the game after Felix threw Yoenis Cespedes a slider and after waving at the pitch for a swinging strike, all Cespedes could do was shake his head with a look of disbelief. It’s difficult enough to prepare for two dominant pitches, when adding a third and a fourth it’s nearly impossible for the hitter.

This was the story for most of the night and while he didn’t strike out a batter in the first he struck out one in the second, two in the third and then struck out the side in the fourth and again in the seventh. In total, Felix finished with 11 strikeouts in seven innings of work. He also didn’t walk a batter and only gave up four hits. This was a night fit for a King and he received a standing ovation as he walked off the field in the seventh to Aloe Blacc’s “The Man”. Fitting, for The Man that is the King of Baseball, go ahead and tell everybody.

***

On to the bullets!

  • Tommy Milone was throwing first pitch strikes and the Mariners were swinging. Abraham Almonte ripped the first pitch from Milone for a double, followed by a bunt single from Brad Miller on the very next pitch and another infield single by Robinson Cano on his first pitch. The simple math, three pitches for three hits to start the game. The last of which scored the first run of the ballgame.
  • Despite the win, the Mariners squandered an opportunity in the first inning with the bases loaded and only one out. They followed with an infield fly ball from Kyle Seager and a strikeout by rookie Stefen Romero.
  • Dustin Ackley clocked in with three hits tonight in four at bats and it looks like his hot streak at the end of last season was real and has continued into this year. His first hit was an outside pitch that he punched the other way through the infield. He then followed with a hard hit double that one hopped the wall and he ended his hit parade with a whoops single over the heads of the infield. Fingers are crossed real tight that this is sustainable, but I like seeing him hit the ball hard and hitting it the other way.
  • The significant scoring came in the sixth when Mike Zunino absolutely crushed a ball from Milone to left for a two run home run. It was one of those shots where the outfielders don’t even move. A no doubter for anyone who was watching.
  • In the same inning Miller hit another home run, his third of the season and this one was a big boy home run. In the cold sea air of Safeco Field Miller hit one to straight away center. An impressive showing of strength. He’s a shortstop!
  • Things got hairy in the eighth, Felix convinced Lloyd Mclendon that he should pitch and then quickly allowed two base runners without recording an out and the bullpen that has been solid up to this point showed signs of weakness. Lucas Luetge in his first appearance of the year walked a batter on four straight pitches to load the bases, followed by Danny Farquhar walking in a run. Then Charlie Furbush allowed a run on a single, a wild pitch and a fielder’s choice.
  • Fernando Rodney coming into this season has inspired fear, when he’s on his game he is terrifyingly good. When he’s not, he’s just terrifying. Tonight he was very good. His location was spot on and his changeup when paired with a 96 MPH fastball is simply unfair. Rodney is yet to allow a run in this young season.

The Mariners are in first place in the AL West! They play the A’s again tomorrow. Sonny Gray vs. Erasmo Ramirez.

Brad Miller oh man!

By: Jared Ellis

Follow @jarlyjarhead

There has been talk all spring on other blog sites and people in the know that Brad Miller is really good at baseball, possibly a top level SS already. He broke with the team late last year for a cup of coffee that lasted for 76 games and hit .265/.318/.418 while also smacking 8 HRs. All the while adding defensive and base running value. Early on, it didn’t take people in the know to be able to tell that Miller had a bright future.

To catch you up even further, the dude is awesome. He’s the classic, old school type ball player that fans love to follow. He wears stirrups guys! And you know what else!? He doesn’t wear batting gloves, that’s unheard of and he may be the only active player in MLB that doesn’t. Plus he’s a hard worker and plays the game the right way and all of that other shit we talk about with players like Miller.

Signs of his hard work showed up as he got bigger in the off season, he said that he was in the best shape of his life, another thing that is always said about players in spring. But he may have been right.

I didn’t watch the whole game last night, I was in school, but was tracking on my phone and noticed that he hit a HR earlier in the game and that the Mariners were up early. Here’s his first HR:

BradMillerHR (2)

I got home in time for the top of the ninth, just in time for his second HR. And the sound that it made, I didn’t even need to be watching to know that it was gone. The ball jumped off his bat and didn’t have the arc of the first one but with intense velocity. In fact, his second HR of the night in this young season is the third longest HR of the year in true distance at 427 feet and has the fastest speed off the bat so far as well at just over 112 MPH. He’s a shortstop.

BradMillerSolo (2)

Miller is definitely stronger, there is a noticeable physical difference since last year and these HRs show that the strength is useful. Not to mention he led all Cactus Leaguers in with a 1.314 OPS (i know, i know…it was Spring Training). But with plus defense and power at a premium position we could have a real special player on our hands.

Mariners fill my glass

Jared Ellis

Follow on Twitter @jarlyjarhead

I tell friends of mine, most of which are non-baseball fans, that the end of the World Series isn’t a joyous occasion. It most certainly is for the winners and the fans of the winning team, but while the unkempt Red Sox were celebrating last October I was in a somber mood. The final out of the World Series signifies the imminent wet, cold winter ahead. The final pitch is the start of a long break with no baseball.

After baseball, the sports landscape becomes dominated by the Neanderthal sports that rely more on sheer athleticism and size than skill; racing against a clock in confusing sports that is mostly defined by running in a straight line. Oh, and hit someone. Play physical.

But yesterday that all came to a crashing halt, sure basketball will still be played well into June and the general public shifts into football come September. But for the months in between, only the thinking man’s game remains and for many baseball fans, that is all there is.

***

I worked during most of the day games, another gentle reminder that I need to start taking that day off in the future. Yet I was available during the Mariner game, Felix day! and sunshine and lollipops (credit: Lookout Landing).

It was a weird feeling throughout the game, I’ve become numb to this team from year to year because…Mariners. So while a lot of the Mariner community is feeling optimistic about the signing of Robinson Cano, Taijuan Walker starting his first full season, Kyle Seager still being a boss and Brad Miller projected to be a high-end starting SS, I feel level. The glass isn’t half full or half empty, there is simply half left. The Steamer and Oliver projections that have this team around 80 wins seem fair. And through the first six or seven innings of the first game it felt exactly like that.

The Mariners boringly manufactured a run in the second after Justin Smoak doubled and was moved to third after a productive out, he later scored on a Saunders sacrifice. In the sixth Seager doubled off the wall and scored Smoak but Logan Morrison thieved a run from his own team with his glacial movements around the bases as he was thrown out at home. Mix in some suspect defense from Dustin Ackley in left and an error from Seager at third base and it was 2013 all over again. Especially when coupled with the fact that Felix was absolutely dealing while getting little support from his offense.

But then something happened, Mike Zunino TRIPLED! to bring home Ackley and was later scored by an Abraham Almonte hustle double. In the ninth Smoak absolutely crushed a 3-run homerun, no doubt stringing along the desperate fan base just a little bit longer. Ackley hit a bases loaded triple in the same inning to extend the lead to 10-3, also stringing along hopeful fans. (Man, the Mariners must keep a large supply of yarn in the basement of Safeco Field.) Even the bullpen looked dominant as Tom Wilhelmsen was able to complete four outs without completely imploding.

Sure it’s early and it’s wise to temper expectations especially given the extreme small sample size of only a single game. But maybe this was the long game of Jack Zdurienik, build up a strong prospect base, fortify the ever important bullpen, make a splashy signing and lean on your stars until the youngsters come along. Only time will tell if it’s sustainable, but my glass might be half full now.

***

On to some bullet points!

  • Almonte hit in the leadoff spot for most of Spring Training and there were thoughts about whether that would be a good move going into the season, especially with more appropriate choices (Miller). But Almonte worked a seven pitch at-bat in his first appearance and later singled in that at-bat. He finished the day 2-5 with a double and drove in a run. He also attempted to steal a base in the first inning, perhaps representative of how Lloyd McClendon plans to use him.
  • Mike Trout hit a 2-run homerun off of Felix in the first inning that seemed impossible. A breaking ball that landed in the lower inside corner. But dude is strong and good and shit man, why can’t he be in another division?
  • Smoak doubled in the second and nearly doubled again later in the game that went just foul. McClendon said during Spring Training that Smoak could lead the league in doubles. It’ll be interesting to see how this progresses.
  • Ackley took a horrible route to a ball hit by Albert Pujols in the third that ended up scoring a run. This defense will still be an adventure from time to time, although not quite as bad as Raul Ibanez.
  • Speaking of Raul, he K’d three times and looked silly doing it. At least they’re DH’ing him.
  • Cano’s first hit was cued off the end of his bat and went about 35 feet. He hustled to first and was safe. So much for that no hustle thing.
  • I hustled, lulz.
  • Morrison looked out of sorts. Missing everything thrown his way while striking out three times. To his credit, Jered Weaver is a crafty dude. And also, Morrison looks like Private Pyle.
  • Felix was, is and will always be the man. After the Trout homerun he got visibly mad and then mowed down most everyone in the Angels’ lineup. He threw 30 pitches in the third that included Ackley’s terrible route in left and Seager’s error but he still made it through six innings while striking out 11 hitters. His changeup was filthy all night.

CJ Wilson versus Erasmo Ramirez next time out, hoping the glass stays full. ‘Til next time.

Mariners sign Corey Hart

Jared Ellis

Follow on Twitter @jarlyjarhead

The Seattle Mariners signed Corey Hart today on a one year deal for a base salary of $5 million. There are several escalators in the deal based on performance as well. Hart missed all of last season while with the Milwaukee Brewers but profiles as a good signing for the Mariners if they can keep him healthy. And a one year deal carries zero risk for the team.

In order for the Mariners to keep him healthy they will have to limit him defensively, this signing likely means that he will share the 1B/DH platoon with Justin Smoak and maybe Kendrys Morales*. It also creates the opportunity for the Mariners to rid themselves of Smoak, a player that has underperformed since his first days on a major league roster. Although I imagine moving Smoak would come in conjunction with another separate deal.

*If he accepts his qualifying offer.

Hart will supply some much needed right handed power in a punch less, lefty heavy, Mariners lineup while likely hitting behind Robinson Cano. Hart does strike out a lot and does not walk enough to balance his K% rate thus his better than average OBP is mostly sustained by batting average. But he does provide some pop with an ISO and Slugging percentage well above major league norms. At his best Hart has been worth close to 4 wins per year and Steamer projects that he will be worth about half of that in 2014.

Overall, this is a boom or bust signing for Seattle and the risk is low considering the one year deal. We know that Jack Zduriencik likes his homers, I imagine more moves are coming similar to this one to supply those.