Seattle Mariners – Smart Move Bringing Edgar In As Hitting Coach

Edgar Martinez

First, let me say that the Seattle Mariners screwed up my idea for an article to bring Edgar Martinez in as a hitting coach.

Reason why I am so late in writing this article is because I needed to check my home, my car and all of my clothes for any listening devices or hidden cameras because surely someone is tapping me for all the great ideas I have!

All kidding aside, I really did have an article in mind about having Edgar come in as a hitting coach.  My wife and I went to the game Friday night between the Mariners and Astros and as we were watching the game, witnessing some of the futility the Mariners have at the plate is just painful.

Granted, they did win the game…but the margin of victory should have been much greater than the final score of 5-2.  Especially when, in the first inning, they had the bases loaded with no outs and can only manage to score 2 runs.   And even those were gifts by the Astros…Logan Morrison hit a pop-fly to left that should have been caught to start the game and Nelson Cruz drew a bases loaded walk to drive in the first.

After Kyle Seager struck out on 3 straight pitches, Mark Trumbo grounded out to the right side to drive in the second…Seth Smith struck out with men on second and third for the second out and Brad Miller flew out to the end the inning, perhaps the hardest hit ball of the inning.

But what really got me thinking about Edgar as the hitting coach was watching the futility of Mike Zunino.  If it wasn’t for his outstanding defensive abilities, Zunino would be toiling somewhere in Double-A ball.

Zunino, who’s averaged dropped to .160 after yet another 0-4 night, was pitiful with 3 strike-outs.  And what’s frustrating is you can see he has the tools to be at least a .240 to .260 hitter.  He also has enough power to hit at least 18-22 home runs a year and the capability to drive in 70-80 runs a year.

But right now, he is a black hole at the bottom of the Mariners line-up.  That’s not to say that Zunino is the problem to all of the Mariner offensive woes…our highest paid player, Robinson Cano, prior to this year, was a perennial .300+ hitter with some good pop in his bat.

Prior to this year, Cano had a .310 career batting average along with averaging 184 hits, 90 RBI, 22 home runs and an OPB of .357.  This year, he is woefully below all of those averages and yet McClendon still has him in the three hole hoping he will battle his way out of it.

And let’s not even get into the mental errors he’s had on the base paths.   I can remember at least 3 times he’s been picked-off or caught in a rundown that has ended an inning that could have been big.

Will the hiring of Edgar Martinez fix any of the Mariner woes?  Perhaps not right away…but I was encouraged by the fact that Edgar didn’t waste anytime yesterday getting with Zunino to work with him.  I don’t expect immediate results but I’m guessing if Zunino really pays attention, we’ll see his average start to rise by the end of the year.

But in the end, hiring Edgar isn’t going to resolve the hitting woes…unless the hitters put in the work.  Edgar isn’t the one batting anymore but I would dare say that even at 52, he could still hit for better average than any of the current Mariners.

Welcome back Papi!

Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson – Get The Deal Done!

All he does is win games.
All he does is win games.

I’m not so sure what the hold up is on either end of the negotiations between the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson.

Wilson, who has done everything that has been asked of him by the Seahawks, is looking to be paid as an elite status quarterback.  To be honest, I do believe that he has a very strong case.

I understand that he doesn’t have a lot of 300 yard games and isn’t your prototypical NFL quarterback.  But all he does when he’s in the game is win them.

Since he has been the starter, he has gone 36-12 in the regular season, taken the team to the playoffs three straight years, the Super Bowl two years in a row, winning one of them.  The Hawks are 6-2 in playoff appearances in that time.

There has been a speculation that the reason for Wilson’s success is due to having a premiere running back in Marshawn Lynch as well as a top 5 defense during those seasons.  And I agree with that speculation because it’s true.

Why?  Because football is a team sport…and it takes a team of very talented players to get to a Super Bowl let alone win one.  And a great leader at QB to guide them.

Let’s take a look at a football quarterback the complete opposite of Russell Wilson.  This guy is a former player and during his playing days, he was 6’4″ and weighed 240lbs.  Many consider him to be one of the greatest passers to ever play the game, including myself.

I am talking about Dan Marino who played for the Miami Dolphins for 16 years.  And despite all the accolades heaped upon Marino, despite all of the passing yards and 300 yard and 400 yard games, Marino played in only one Super Bowl in 1984, his second season.  The Dolphins lost that game to the San Francisco 49’rs who had another QB that wasn’t your prototypical QB in Joe Montana.

Why didn’t Marino win any rings?  He didn’t ever have a running back to speak of and he had to outscore the other team because many of his defenses were ranked in the lower half of the defensive rankings.  And yet, he is lauded as one of the all-time greats to ever play the game.

Wilson has talent but also knows that he is an integral part of Pete Carroll’s offense that relies on a power running game and a staunch defense.

It’s not that Wilson can’t throw the ball.  He has three 300 yard passing games in his career and is the only player ever to throw for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards in the same game.

But what’s most important is Wilson’s ability to focus…focus on what needs to be done, focus his teammates into reaching for more and an unwavering belief that his team always has a chance to win.

He has 10 fourth quarter comebacks to go along with 15 game winning drives in three years.  He is cool and calm under pressure, takes care of the ball and doesn’t commit many turnovers.  What else do you want your QB to do?

Can anyone tell me how the Seahawks might have done if Tavaris Jackson would have started over the past three years?  Never better than .500 I would guess.

Or perhaps if Wilson hadn’t beaten out Matt Flynn who I believe was an overrated quarterback and would have turned into a turnover machine…and not at all a good fit for Pete Carroll’s offense.

Your quarterback is the team leader.  He is your field captain and he is the only player on the field who handles every single snap on offense.  He’s the one that all the plays funnel through.

So I ask, who else do you want as your NFL QB for the Seattle Seahawks?  I trust Wilson…he makes great decisions on the field and takes care of the ball to give the Seahawks a chance to win every game.

There aren’t many games the Seahawks have been blown out of with Wilson at the helm.  Yes, a lot of that is attributed to the fantastic defense the Hawks have.  But a lot of it can also be attributed to Wilson’s style of play.

So what are the measurable to justify the salary that Wilson could get?  Is it based on passing yards and touchdowns or is it based on wins?  I’ll take the winner thank you very much.

I’m not sure why the Seahawks even want to mess with that.

I Have Looked Into The Abyss and Survived!

The Abyss

For those who don’t know me, I love a good dark beer.  My “go-to” beer is Deschutes Black Butte Porter that I was turned onto by my good friend Rick Howe.

Back in 2005, Deschutes introduced a bold new imperial stout named The Abyss.  It is a very limited release beer with an 11% alcohol content.  When I first caught wind of this beer, I was on a mission to have some.

In this journey, I came upon several road blocks.  The beer wasn’t readily available to me in my usual haunts and when asking for it, I was either too early or they had just run out of their allotment and wouldn’t be getting any until the next release.

In 2009 (or thereabouts) we had an opportunity to use a friends timeshare in Bend, OR over St. Patrick’s day.  With our 2 friends Tim & Denyse, we drove there.  Seeing how Deschutes Brewery was based in Bend, Or, I was sure my journey to the promised land was going to end.

So we go to the Brew Pub on St. Patrick’s day and in anticipation of finally tasting this beer, the server asked what we all wanted to drink.  She finally got to me and I ordered in my most pleasant voice “I’ll have the Abyss please.”

She looked at me with sad eyes (point to be made here, she barely looked at me with any emotion but it makes the story better, right?) and said “I’m sorry, it isn’t available now.”

I was shocked…to travel all the way to Bend on one of the most beloved Irish holidays and I can’t have the beer that I have been salivating for?

Fast forward to a rather sad occasion, my friend Tim’s father, Frank, passed away and we felt it was important to attend his services in Spokane, WA.  Frank was a typical grumpy old Irishman but always had a twinkle in his eye and loved a good whiskey.

Nancy and I traveled with Rick and his wife Bonnie and we went to a restaurant called Hay J’s Bistro (check the website) .  It was right next door to the hotel where we were staying.  On the outside, the place is nothing much to look at.  It’s located in a strip mall and is adjacent to a gas station.  I wasn’t expecting much…imagine my surprise when we entered the place.  We were pretty much blown away by the food, service and of course, the fact they had The Abyss available.

We were handed menus and naturally we went to the drink section first.  Again, we were blown away by the selection with the varying varieties of  whiskey.  I turned the page and looked to the beer section…

A moment of pause here….did you ever have time stop?  I glanced down the beer selection and the words The Abyss seemed to float off the page and head toward my eyes…teasing me with selections from four different years.

Not wanting to be disappointed, I called our waiter over and asked if it was really available.  “Oh yes, in fact, I’ll go get our expert over so that he can explain the differences in each year.”

Rick and I were pretty amped up.  He hadn’t had it either.  After the expert went over the qualities of each year (2011-2014), we each ordered one 22 ounce of the 2013 Abyss.  We requested that we have it served with our meals which was perfect because they needed time to chill.

I am not going to bore you with how much we enjoyed the beer.  It was immaculate…smooth with a light molasses taste and a great finish.  It went well with the steak medallions I ordered (which by the way were some of the best I’ve ever had) and, truth be told, one was all I needed to have a nice glow.

To make it even more perfect, Rick and I discovered that we could purchase The Abyss to take home with us…in fact, the expert made us such a deal that we couldn’t pass it up.  $80.00 for four bottles, from the 2011 to the 2014 vintage years.  We made the purchase without hesitation and are now proud owners of this amazing beer.

If you want to check out on The Abyss and other fine beers from Deschutes Brewery,  visit their website at dechutesbrewery.com.

Take care and enjoy!

 

Seattle Mariners – What’s Going On With You Guys?

Mairners Logo

I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with these guys…But I strongly believe that they need to be scared.

Anyone remember the classic scene from Bull Durham where the manager is lamenting to Crash that he’s tried everything he can think of to motivate the players?  Crash’s simple resolution is to “scare em.”

Next scene, the manager throws some bats into the showers and starts screaming what a bunch of “lollygaggers” the players are.

Here is a clip for those who want a good laugh:  Bull Durham – Lollygagger Scene

Now I don’t expect to have Lloyd McClendon to throw this kind of fit…but something has got to be done to get this team motivated.

I doubt benching Robinson Cano or Kyle Seager is going to do any good.  But I would like to see how Cano would react to say dropping to number nine in the line-up.  After all, he’s hitting like he belongs in the nine hole right now.

Some good things I have seen over this lousy home stand is the starting pitching has been outstanding.  Over the past 7 days, opposing teams have batted .255 against the pitching of J.A Happ, Taijuan Walker, Roenias Elias and Felix Hernandez.  Take out Hernandez’s .333 and hitters are going at a .229 pace.  I do believe that any major league team would take that in a heartbeat.

However, the relief pitching, the strength of last year, has just been abysmal.  Over the same seven game stretch, opposing teams have hit .272 with an on base percentage of .395.  Along with 11 walks and 10 extra base hits, that’s not what you expect from last year’s best bullpen in the majors.

I don’t have any faith in Fernando Rodney…in fact, I wasn’t to happy when the Mariners acquired him.  He has some good stuff but is unreliable.  I think we have all had enough of the “Rodney Experience” for a while.

McClendon should give Carson Smith a shot at closing.  He has an ERA of 1.13, has struck out 25 and walked only 5.  In comparison, Rodney’s ERA is 6.94, has struck out 20 with 12 base on balls.  McClendon has been reluctant to give the ball to Smith but just how many times does he give Rodney a chance?  I admire loyalty to a player but what about loyalty to the team and more important, to the fans?

We were hopeful at the end of last year when the Mariners missed getting into the playoffs by 1 game.  We were lifted even higher when Jack Z. went out and got Nelson Cruz to give some much some much needed power to the line-up.

No one expected to see Cano hitting only .243 right now.  And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  He’s has several notable base running gaffe’s, the last one against the Yankees, getting picked off at first after driving in a run.

I don’t see a need to panic just yet…but I do see a need to shake things up a bit.  As a team, they are hitting just .212 for the season with runners in scoring position.  They have struck out 212 times.  And it only gets worse with 2 out with runners in scoring position.  .212 along with 60 strike outs.

And it was typical in the game against Tampa Bay last night.  Down 1-0 in the ninth inning, Austin Jackson hits a leadoff triple….and stays there while Brad Miller struck out, Mike Zunino hits a shallow foul ball to right and Dustin Ackley flew out to left to end the game.

Pitiful…With Jackson on third and no outs, the Mariners could not get him in, not even with a productive count.

So what can be done?  With the exception of Cruz, change the line-up.  Drop Cano down in the line-up, get Seager in the 3 slot, let Miller lead off and put Ackley on the bench.

It may not produce wins but it could get these guys going.