Archive for January, 2011

The Mariners Add Three Home Games

The Mariners were scheduled to play the Marlins in Florida for a three game series as a part of inter-league play.  The series will begin Friday, June 24th and end that Sunday. Now it turns out that the Marlins will be giving up these three home games and they will be played in Seattle.

The reason for the schedule change is that U2 is coming to Florida on June 29th and the concert will be taking place in Sun Life Stadium, the Marlins home field. Although the Marlins are not scheduled to play at home on the 29th, the concert requires advanced preparation.

 

The Marlins are still listed as the home team despite the games being played Safeco field. Many personnel in the Marlins organization expressed the desire to play the games at a neutral site. The league did discuss this idea ,but from a business end, Safeco was a better option. The league talked about locations such as Vancouver, B.C., or at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando. The reason playing the games in Safeco is smarter from the business end is that the Marlins play the following two series in Oakland and Texas, respectively.

This is a great opportunity for Mariners fans. They get a chance to see an NL East team that rarely comes to town and they will also get a chance to see their own pitchers hit in the home park. How fun would it be for Mariners fans to see the reigning CY Young winner blast a homerun?

In the mean time, we are just over two weeks until pitchers and catchers report for spring trainings. Let’s get ready for baseball!

Mariners Sign Chris Ray

It was just announced on Twitter by the Mariners twitter feed that the Mariners have signed RHP Chris Ray. He has been signed to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. He is now the 20th non-roster invitee meaning that Seattle will have 60 players reporting to major league spring training.

Ray just turned 29 and began pitching in the majors at the age of 23. The relief pitcher stands 6’3” 210lb. Ray had his best season in 2006 in which he posted a 2.73 ERA and recorded 33 saves. Ray missed the entire 2008 season after having Tommy John surgery. He pitched last year for the Rangers but was then traded to the Giants on July 1st as a part of the Bengie Molina trade. His total ERA for 2010 was 3.72 in 55.2 innings pitched. He did not make any appearances in the post-season.

Ray’s arsenal consists of a fastball, slider, changeup, and cutter. His fastball sits in the mid to lower 90s. His slider is his most used secondary pitch and he throws it in the mid 80s.

The Mariners get a cheap bullpen option in Ray. He has struggled with keeping the ball in the park but Safeco can turn that around. He has performed much better against right handed hitters over the course of his career so if he does make the big league club, I assume he will be used against righties more. Bill James projects Ray to post a 3.86 ERA in 49 innings pitched. This is a good move by Seattle as they add a veteran RHP to the bullpen.

Washington named to 2nd team All-Pro

Seahawks Kick Returner Leon Washington earned four votes in the Associated Press All-Pro voting earning him second team All-Pro honors.

First team honors went to Chicago Bears Devin Hester with 43 votes.

Washington was the lone Seahawk to earn the honors and finished with 1,461-yards off of 57-returns for an average of 25.6 he also had three returns for touchdowns- two against the San Diego Chargers and the most in Seahawk team history.

Washington was traded to the Seahawks during the 2010 NFL Draft for a fifth-round draft pick. The Jets selected RB John Conner of Kentucky with the pick. Conner played in all 16-games with the Jets scoring one touchdown off of eight rushes for 44-yards.

Washington will be a free agent this off-season and showed he is healthy after suffering a broken fibula in 2009 with the New York Jets against the Oakland Raiders. He might return to Seattle as a kick returner and a third-back behind Justin Forsett and Marshawn Lynch.

Hard Knocks coming to Seattle?

Most of the East Coast doesn’t know about the Seattle Seahawks. Other than they play in a weak division and were the first team in NFL history to make the playoffs with a losing record- and to win a play-off game with a losing record.

That could change if HBO’s series Hard Knocks comes to Renton, WA for Seahawks Training Camp in August.

Since 2001 HBO has brought NFL fans the everyday documentary of a certain team throughout training camp. The battles for spots, the rising stars and the ego filled stars.

Now it may be coming to a city near you. Since Pete Carroll has taken over Seahawks head coaching job since Jim Mora he’s proved he can be a major promotion for HBO.

A Facebook group and Twitter account has been started by Tim Williams an Executive Producer of Fox 12 in Oregon. Fellow 12th Man members can join the group and get up-to-date alerts on Hard Knocks and the Seahawks involvement.

Carroll’s the first ever coach with a losing record in a season to make the play-offs and win a play-off game. He stresses competition- over 275 roster moves and finding the talent in a guy like Mike Williams a former first-round pick that had been out of the NFL for two-years.

He’s a player’s coach. All he asks from his players is to buy into his coaching style one that’s main goal is to- Win Now.

Sure the Seahawks may not have household names like Adrian Peterson or Peyton Manning, but they have rising stars in the making in Earl Thomas and 2010 sixth-pick overall Russell Okung.

No they’re not like the 2001 Baltimore Ravens coming off of a Super Bowl win that was the first team documented by Hard Knocks. Over the years most of the teams Hard Knocks has covered has had history behind them and success.

The Dallas Cowboys in 2002 and 2008 have been chronicled. In 2002 it was Emmitt Smith’s final season as a Cowboy and his quest for the NFLs all-time rushing record which was set against the Seattle Seahawks in Dallas.

In 2008 they promoted Pacman Jones’s reinstatement to the NFL, Ray Lewis’s younger brother Keon Lattimore competing for a roster spot and an undersized wide receiver named Danny Amendola competing for spot on the 53-man roster.

In 2007 the Kansas City Chiefs were followed around as Priest Holmes attempted his comeback to the NFL after missing the 2006 season with a career-threating neck injury and Arena Football League star Bobby Sippio’s attempt to land on the Chiefs roster.

2009 was Cincinnati Bengals chance to shine on HBO as they’re main advertising person was none other than Chad “Johnson” Ochocinco. It also provided HBO with its highest ratings than any of the other seasons and earned them a Sports Emmy award.

The New York Jets in 2010 may have been the best team to cover. Whether it was the antics of head coach Rex Ryan or the daily contract ordeal between the Jets and Darrelle Revis. It was also Mark Sanchez’s second-season in the NFL a common time for a player to go through a sophomore slump.

Sure the Seahawks don’t have a player that will provide the media with voice-clips like Rex Ryan does or the household name like Ochocinco and Emmitt Smith brings to the table, but the Seahawks are sure to have storylines come August.

-How will a 7-9 team respond with so much competition that is pushed by their head coach?

-Will the Seahawks go with 13-year veteran Matt Hasselbeck as starter if he returns to Seattle or do they see if trading for Charlie Whitehurst was worth it?

-Will Earl Thomas suffer his own sophomore slump or will he keep blossoming into an elite safety in the NFL?

-With the NFL possibly going through a lock-out how will some guys who are given chances respond? Will the turn out to be like Mike Williams and earn an extension at the end of the year or do they turn into a Reggie Williams and won’t even make training camp?

-How do the players continue to buy into Carroll’s competition drive? Will players lose trust in him or will it push them to play better than they can?

-Pete Carroll won’t give you the one-liners like Rex Ryan, but his passion for the game and coaching will be a great thing to see on Hard Knocks. Will they want to see a successful college coach entering his second-season in his second chance in the NFL?

-How will having a former head coach who once hit one of his coordinators now as offensive line coach in Seattle effect the team and line?

The story-lines are there and it’s only January. Imagine what else may come up by August.

Because we Seahawk fans know that one-day in Seattle doesn’t mean anything. Changes happen and nothing is for sure.

If you would like to get involved in making the push to HBO for Hard Knocks: Seattle Seahawks join the Facebook group:

12th man for the Seahawks on HARD Knocks

And follow the Twitter account at:

hawkshardknocks

Mariners Invite 4 more

 

I recently posted an article on the Mariners Major League Spring training invitees. When I posted it the amount of invitees was as at 15… today we are now at 19. The Mariners announced that they have invited Steven Baron, Blake Beavan, Nate Robertson, and Jody Gerut. Baron and Beavan are currently in the Mariners minor league system and Robertson and Gerut are veterans signed to a minor league contract.

Steven Baron was drafted by the Mariners in the first round (Pick 33) of the 2009 draft. He proved hard to sign as the Mariners were tens of thousands of dollars apart. He received a signing bonus of $980,000 which is $44,000 more than the recommended amount for that slot. Baron, a right handed hitting catcher, is credited for his defensive skills. Baseball America lists him as the best defensive catcher in the system. He has a very quick arm and does a great job keeping the ball in front of him. The defense is all there but the offense is what is missing. Seattle knew he would be a project offensively when they drafted him. His AVG last year between Short-Season and Low A was .222. He had an OBP of .258 and a K% of about 30.3%. He is still only 20 years old so he still has a lot more time to develop. If he improves his hitting and discipline his defense could carry him the rest of the way. This is a very big season for the young catcher as he will be answering lots of questions.

Blake Beavan was acquired by Seattle in the Cliff Lee trade. He was drafted by the Rangers in the first round of the 2007 draft. He is a right handed pitcher that figures to be a starting pitcher. He has a huge presence on the mound at 6’7” 250lb. His fastball sits in the mid to lower 90s but he has very good command. He walks batters at a very low rate which is great news for the 22 year old pitcher. Last year he spent only 18 innings with AA West Tennessee after being promoted to AAA Tacoma. He has spent time at AA in the Rangers organization prior to being traded. His overall line last year was a 3.90 ERA in 168.1 innings which is a high amount for a minor leaguer. He has showed that he can carry a heavy workload over his minor league career. He doesn’t have great strike out numbers but his command helps carry him. I think we could see time in Seattle’s rotation this year and he could very well end up as a mid-rotation pitcher that has a good work-load.

Nate Robertson is a LHP pitcher and is now 33 years old. He is 6’2” 225lb. He spent last year with both the Marlins and the Phillies. He didn’t post the best numbers; a 5.95 ERA in 101.1 innings. He had previously spent a majority of his career with the Detroit Tigers. His best major league season was in 2006 in which he posted a 3.84 ERA in 208.2 innings. After that it has not gone too well. His career ERA is 5.01. He does have a HR/9 above the league average so pitching in Safeco would definitely help him. His career ERA at Safeco is 2.75. He has to prove himself that he can pitch again so signing him to a minor league deal is a smart move. After a very strong spring he could certainly compete with Luke French, David Pauley, and Erik Bedard for a spot in the rotation.

Jody Gerut is a left handed outfielder and is 33 years old. He is 6’0” 190lb. He previously played for Eric Wedge in Cleveland. Early in his career he was of to a decent start showing he could be an average outfielder hitting for a .270 AVG. In 2004 his season ended with a Torn ACL. He played very little in 2005 and then missed the entire 2006 and 2007 season due to the injury. He saw his career get back on track at the age of 30 with the Padres. That season (2008) he hit .296 in 356 plate appearances. After that season he has served as a back up outfielder with both the Padres and the Brewers. He saw only 74 major league at bats last year with the Brewers. His career ERA is .262 and over his career he has put good contact on the ball. He is capable of playing all 3 outfield positions. He could very well compete as a back up outfielder this season.

What lies ahead in Seattle?

7-9 normally doesn’t get you anything but a top-15 NFL Draft Pick. That was until this season in which the Seahawks went 7-9 and won the NFC West.

They didn’t just win that in fact they defeated defending Super Bowl Champions the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round at Qwest Stadium, but lost to No. 2 seeded Chicago Bears in the Divisional Round Sunday ending their 2010-11 season.

For first-time Seahawk head coach Pete Carroll it was a season that pledged competition. Carroll and first-year General Manager John Schneider made over 275-roster moves. Some of them worked out well like the signing of WR Mike Williams back in April- he would go onto lead the Seahawks in receiving yards and become a go-to-guy for Matt Hasselbeck.

Chris Clemons proved worthy of acquiring as he led the Seahawks defense with 11 sacks. Another free agent signing in the season Raheem Brock piled up nine sacks as the two finished with a combined 20 sacks- more than half of the team totals with 37.

The Seahawks should feel good heading into the off-season. Sure like every team there are holes at spots.

Offensive line went through 10 different rotations during the 16-game season and Russell Okung proved when he’s healthy at tackle he has a lot of potential for Seattle. Still there are holes up front. Guard position will surely be addressed as well as possibly right tackle if they feel Sean Locklear isn’t the answer.

With the naming of former Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable as offensive line coach the Seahawks may use him to bring in free agent Raider Robert Gallery or see if he feels that Locklear fits into the zone-blocking scheme that will be ran by the front five just as they expected Alex Gibbs to run.

Cable’s presence should help the offensive line out and could bolster the running game as well. He will have to work with the new offensive coordinator as well and it looks like it maybe former Minnesota Viking offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

Defensively the Seahawks will look to improve the secondary out. Lawyer Milloy will be a year-older come September and it’s still uncertain if he will return for his 16th-NFL season. Jordan Babineaux will be a free agent along with Kelly Jennings. It appears Walter Thurmond may start in place of Jennings and if no depth at the safety position is found in free agency Babineaux may return to Seattle.

Earl Thomas had a great rookie season and is a bright spot for the secondary. Since Marcus Trufant signed his big contract he hasn’t lived up to the Pro Bowl status he earned in 2007, but he still has star cornerback impact on opposing offenses.

The biggest defensive priority this off-season will be in making sure DT Brandon Mebane stays put and doesn’t leave Seattle during free agency- if there is one. If they can keep him and bring back Raheem Brock opposite of Chris Clemons at the end spot it could keep the front-four intact and familiar with each other.

When Red Bryant went down it hurt Seattle a little in the run defense and having him back healthy next season will be key.

Sure Seattle went 7-9, but they were able to win a huge home play-off game against the Saints.

It’ll be hard to bring all 27 guys back and as Carroll has proven he will bring in guys for competition at any position. Names don’t matter to Pete, but productivity does.

The NFL has less than 50-days until the current CBA ends and the 2011 NFL Season isn’t for sure, but one thing is for sure in Seattle- competition will be presented on the 53-man roster come Opening Day.

Competition pushes players to preform to their best and that maybe enough in the NFC West. They’ll have the most experienced QB in the West and that maybe just enough for another Post-season appearance under Carroll.

CFL All-Star to sign with Seattle

The Seahawks have agreed to terms with former Oregon St., Denver Bronco and CFL star CB Brandon Browner according to his agent.

Browner was released by the Broncos in 2006 after being signed as an un-drafted free agent in 2005. He then signed with the CFLs Calgary Stampedes where he went onto make three-consecutive All-Star games from 2008-10. Through four-seasons in the CFL he’s had 12 interceptions- two returned for touchdowns, two sacks and 206 tackles.

The Seahawks CBs Kelly Jennings, Kennard Cox and Roy Lewis are all free agents and will most likely be starting second-year pro Walter Thurmond opposite of Marcus Trufant. Browner could compete as a special teams guy and provide depth at the cornerback position.

At the University of Oregon he was named All-American and All-Pac 10 Conference by the NFL Draft Report.

Seattle signed another CFL player Ricky Foley last off-season, but let him go at the end of August- he signed with the Jets and they too let him go allowing him to return to the CFL.

Seahawk Notes:

-ESPNs John Clayton is reporting that the Seahawks have offered former Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell the same role in Seattle. Tuesday the Seahawks fired Jeremy Bates and were linked to Josh McDaniels as the successor to Bates, but McDaniels signed with NFC West rivals St. Louis Rams. Bevell had been in town interviewing for the Quarterback coach vacancy left by Jedd Fisch. The Seahawks also offered Fisch a chance to take over for Bates, but he let them know he will still be leaving to join the University of Miami’s staff as Offensive Coordinator.

If and when Bevell accepts the offer check here first for a breakdown of the decision.

Mariners Non-Roster Spring Training Invitees

The Mariners have brought in 15 players to minor league contract with a spring training invite. Greg Johns, the Mariners beat writer, states that the Mariners typically sign 15-20 players with a contract like this. Here is a look at the 15 guys and a little bit on each player. I still think we will see the Mariners bring in a few more guys, possibly a starting pitcher and/or an outfielder.

Pitchers:

  • Denny Bautista: Right handed pitcher who is now 28 years old. 6’5” 190lb. Bautista’s first major league appearance came in 2004 at the age of 21 with Baltimore. Seattle will be his seventh team and he has served primarily as a reliever over his career but he has also seen some limited time starting. Last year he played for the San Francisco Giants and it was one of his best seasons. He had an ERA of 3.74 in 33.2 innings. He also struck out batters at a great rate striking out 44 batters, a K/9 of 11.8. Sits in the mid 90s but he can touch the upper 90s He needs to work on lowering his walk totals. He is a fly ball pitcher and Safeco if friendly to those types of pitchers.
  • Royce Ring: Ring, a LHP, was drafted in the first round of the 2002 draft by the White Sox. He is now 30 years old and stands 6’0 220lb. He made his major league debut in 2005 with the Mets at the age of 24. He has served as a reliever only in his 68.0 major league innings. His career stats at the big league level aren’t pretty; A 5.29 ERA with a WHIP of 1.574. He played with the Yankees last year but only pitched in 2.1 innings in the Majors. The one thing that the lefty does have going for him is that he has fared well against lefties over his career- a lefty specialist (to some extent) which could help the Mariners bullpen.
  • Charlie Haeger: Haeger stands at 6’1” 210lb and is now 27 years old. He was drafted by the White Sox in the 25th round of the 2001 draft. He has seen a majority of his career at the minor league level. He has played in the Dodgers organization over the last two years. He pitched in 30.0 innings in the majors last year. He had a very high ERA of 8.40. He has served as a reliever at the big league level with the very occasional spot start but in the minors he is a starter. One more thing to note is that he does throw a knuckleball that has worked well for him from time to time in his career.
  • Fabio Castro: Castro now 25 will be turning 26 shortly… January 25th to be precise. The LHP does not have much of a presence on the mound at 5’7” 185lb. Castro began his career with the White Sox as an amateur free agent signing in 2001. He made his Major League debut in 2006 with the Rangers. He spent all of last year with the Red Sox AAA as a starter and a reliever. Has only seen 43.2 Major League Innings with an ERA of 3.30. He has posted impressive strikeout rates over his career. I’ve read reports that really like his curveball-change up combo. One last note is that he was the #1 pick in the 2005 Rule V draft by the Royals.  
  • Justin Miller: Miller a RHP was originally drafted by the Rockies in the 5th round of the 1997 draft. He is now 33 and stands 6’2” 200lb. He made his ML debut in 2002 with the Blue Jays. In the early stages of his Major League career he was a starter but since 2004 he has worked only out of the bullpen. He has pitched in 375.2 innings at the big league level. His career ERA is 4.82. The majority of his career has been spent at the minor league level. He played for the Dodgers last year and he pitched in 24.1 innings and had an ERA of 4.44.  
  • Chris Seddon: Seddon has been in the Mariners organization the last two years. At the age of 27 he stands 6’3” 220lb. He was drafted by the Devil Rays in the 5th round of the 2001 draft. The lefty made his debut in 2007 with the Marlins. He has spent the last two years at AAA Tacoma and saw a limited 22.1 innings with the Mariners in 2010. He compiled a 5.64 ERA in that stint. Seddon has been used in the Minors as a starter but has only seen 4 major league starts, the rest of his appearances have been out of the pen. His K/9 is on average very low and K/BB is typically high which is the opposite of what you want!
  • Yusmeiro Petit: Petit was in the Mariners organization last year as he spent all of 2010 at AAA Tacoma. He is a LHP, 26 years old, and stands 6’1” 255lb. He was originally signed by the Mets in 2001 as an amateur free agent. He made his debut in 2006 with the Marlins. He has seen time starting in the majors. He has pitched in 229.1 major league innings including 26 starts. His career ML ERA is 5.57. He is very much a fly ball pitcher. For AAA Tacoma last year he had an ERA of 4.85 in 59.1 innings. 
  • Chris Smith: Smith is 29 years old, a Right handed reliever, and stands 6’0” 190lb. He was drafted in the 4th round of the 2002 draft by the Red Sox. Smith made his Major League debut in 2008 with Boston at the age of 27. He has pitched in 67.2 Major League innings. His career ERA is 5.19. He played with the Brewers last year but only pitched in 3.1 innings in which he had a 5.40 ERA. At AAA his stats were better especially the 11.63 K/9. Smith does not have too much velocity but he has great command.

 

Batters:

  • Josh Bard: Bard is one of the most notable names to Mariners fans as Bard saw some time with the Mariners last year. The 32 year old catcher is 6’3” 205”. He was originally drafted by the Twins in 1996 and then later drafted by the Rookies in the 3rd round of the 1999 draft. He made his debut in 2002 with the Indians. He spent last year at AAA Tacoma and saw some time with the Mariners. He hit .214 last year in 112 at bats. His AAA stats weren’t much better, a .235 AVG in 85 at bas. I figure he spends a majority of 2011 at Tacoma.
  • Chris Gimenez: Gimenez is 28 years old and was drafted by the Indians in the 19th round of the 2004 draft. He is 6’2” 200lb and was played a variety of positions over his career (C, 3B, 1B, RF, LF) but the majority of his appearances have been at catcher. He made his debut in 2009 with the Indians. He has only 169 at bats at the major league level and a very ugly .160 AVG. He has spent his entire career with the Indians.
  • Adam Kennedy: At the age of 35, Kennedy has by far the most major league experience compared to all the other players on this list. He is 6’1” 195lbs and bats left handed. He was drafted in the first round of the 1997 draft by the Cardinals. He plays primarily second base but should serve as a utility player with the Mariners if he is on the active roster. His career AVG is .275 and he shows decent speed on the base paths. He has a good eye and is an above average fielder. Look for him contribute a lot off of the bench for the Mariners this year.
  • Sean Kazmar: Now 26 years old, Kazmar was drafted in the 5th round of the 2004 draft by the Padres. The right handed shortstop stands 5’9” 170lb. He made his debut in 2008 with the Padres. He has had only 39 ML at bats in which is AVG is .205. He spent all of last year at AAA in which he hit .275. He is a decent defender. Nothing outstanding but no gaping wholes. He could be a good MLB utility man.
  • Luis Rodriguez: Rodriguez will be entering his 13th professional season at the age of 30. The switch hitter was signed by the Twins as an amateur free agent in 1997. He stands 5’9” 190lb. He is quite the utility man as over his career he has seen time regularly at shortstop, second base, and third base. He has 855 Major League at bats in which he has hit .243. He played with the White Sox last year and he spent the whole year at AAA. He hit well as he had an AVG of .293 and he hit 16 homeruns. He has a good approach to the plate and does a good job putting the bat on the ball.
  • Mike Wilson: Wilson has spent his entire career in the Mariners organization. He was drafted by Seattle in the 2nd round of the 2001 draft. The right fielder bats and throws right. He is now 27 and stands 6’2” 215lb. He has yet to make his Major League debut. He spent all of last year at AAA Tacoma hitting .273 in 286 at bats. He showed some power with 17 homeruns but he struck out a lot which has been the story his entire career. He does have good range in right field. It would be nice to see him finally make his major league debut this year.
  • Ryan Langerhans: The left handed outfielder is 30 years old and has spent the last 2 seasons in the Mariners organization. He was drafted by the Braves in the third round of the 1998 draft. He split time between AAA and at the big league level last year. With the Mariners he hit .196 in 107 at bats.  I think he will again serve as an outfielder back up that will play at AAA Tacoma. Bill James projects him to hit .237 in 151 plate appearances.