The last out of the game secures Felix Hernandez's 12th win of the season. Photo by Brett Bivens

Mariners photo blog: Mariners vs Indians 8/21/12

Mariners Photo blog

Felix enters the supreme court. Photo by Brett Bivens

John Jaso looks pretty pleased with himself after his ground rule double gave the Mariners the lead. Photo by Brett Bivens

Jesus Montero touches home plate and points to the sky after his home run. Photo by Brett Bivens

Felix Hernandez heads for the clubhouse up 5-1 with his night over. Photo by Brett Bivens

Strike three, you’re out!

The last out of the game secures Felix Hernandez’s 12th win of the season. Photo by Brett Bivens

The Minor League Baseball Season Kicks Off Tomorrow

The Mariners farm system had a terrific year last year, and it was actually the best year by the Mariners minor league affiliates in Franchise history. Only one affiliate did not make it to the postseason and two of the affiliates, the Tacoma Rainiers (AAA) and the Everett Aqua Sox (Short Season), each won their league’s title. This year’s minor league teams have some big shoes to fill but there is still a lot of great talent remaining and even more has been added to the system.

The reigning Pacific Coast League Champions kick of their season on the road against the Sacramento River Cats. Luke French will be pitching for the Rainiers tomorrow. The Rainiers don’t make their home opener until Friday, the 15th in the brand new Cheney Stadium. The biggest name to watch for on this team is Dustin Ackley who shouldn’t stick around at AAA for long. Once June comes around, Mr. Ackley should be manning second base on the big league roster.

The Jackson Generals, formerly the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, will be kicking off the season with a brand new name, logo, and everything else that comes with. Anthony Vasquez will be on the mound for the Generals as they start the season on the road against the Mississippi Braves. The Generals will be going up against one of the top pitching prospects in the league in Randall Delgado. Their first home game is on Wednesday, the 13th.

As we head down to the desert, the High A Desert Mavericks kick their season off on the road against the Lancaster Jethawks. The opening day starter has yet to be announced but I’m making a guess and saying that it will be right-hander Yoervis Medina. This league is known for its huge offensive numbers and we often see a lot of players really break out while playing here. Watch for the toolsy outfielder James Jones to really take off this year.  The Mavericks first home game is Thursday, the 14th.

The Clinton Lumberkings won the Midwest League West division title, but they fell short of bringing home the MWL Championship Title as they lost in the final series to the Lake County Captains. Forrest Snow will be on the mound for the Lumberkings as they kick off the season at home against Burlington Bees. I did an interview with Snow this offseason and he is a great guy.

He spent last year as a reliever in which he was very dominant but he has been stretched out and will now be working as a starter. This is a talented group of players and they should compete again for the division and league championship.

Make sure you follow me on twitter @Mike­_Schwartze for updates on all of the Mariners Minor League Affiliates throughout the season.

It’s Time

The wait is finally over! The Mariners kick off the 2011 Major League season against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland. The game is scheduled to start at 7:05 PT and we will see a great pitching matchup between the reining AL Cy Young Award Winner, Felix Hernandez, and right-handed pitcher Trevor Cahill.

The active 25-man roster heading into the season look as follows:

Pitchers: Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Doug Fister, Erik Bedard, Michael Pineda, Brandon League, Chris Ray, Aaron Laffey, David Pauley, Jamey Wright, Josh Lueke, Tom Wilhelmsen.

Catchers: Miguel Olivo and Adam Moore

Infielders: Justin Smoak, Jack Wilson, Chone Figgins, Brendan Ryan, Luis Rodriguez, Adam Kennedy

Outfielders: Ichiro Suzuki, Milton Bradley, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders

Designated Hitters: Jack Cust

The rotation will be Hernandez, Vargas, Fister, Bedard, and Pineda.

Tomorrow’s opening day lineup will be as follows:

  1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
  2. Chone Figgins, 3B
  3. Milton Bradley, LF
  4. Jack Cust, DH
  5. Justin Smoak, 1B
  6. Miguel Olivo, C
  7. Ryan Langerhans, CF
  8. Brendan Ryan, SS
  9. Jack Wilson, 2B

P. Felix Hernandez

Some more Opening Day Notes:

The Mariners have a few notable players starting the season on the DL, Franklin Gutierrez and David Aardsma. Both should be back by mid-April so we shouldn’t worry too much. Brandon League has been named the closer in Aardsma’s absence. Another thing to watch for is that Ichiro needs only 3 hits to tie Edgar Martinez for the franchise record in hits.

This is what we have all been waiting for, baseball season is finally here. Let us enjoy tomorrow’s game and hope for progress to be made this year.

Mariners Re-Assign 5 to Minor League Camp Including Dustin Ackley

One of the biggest questions heading into spring training was where Dustin Ackley would start the year. Many projected that he would begin the year at AAA Tacoma (including myself) so that he could fine tune his defense at second and avoid Super Two arbitration status. Well the decision is final as the Mariners assigned him to AAA today. This will be a great opportunity for fans to see Ackley at the brand new Cheney Stadium to open the year. He should make his major league debut sometime in June.

The Mariners made a lot more moves today regarding non-roster invitees.

The Mariners announced that Gabe Gross will be assigned to minor league camp. He has had a very rough spring, hitting .077 in 26 at-bats. He could end up at AAA Tacoma or possibly be released.

Ryan Langerhans has been hitting .333 in 36 at-bats and has earned the role of reserve outfielder on the opening day roster. He was brought in to compete with Gross, and Jody Gerut for the job.

The Mariners assigned catching prospect Steven Baron to minor league camp as well. Baron had zero chance of making the opening day roster but he was brought up to provide some catching depth and work with the veterans. Baron is great defensively but he will need to greatly improve his offensive game if he hopes to one day reach the majors.

Fabio Castro gave up 5 runs in 7 innings this spring which wasn’t enough to keep him around. The very small, 5’7” 185lb lefty should stick around at AAA for some left-handed relief depth.

Sean Kazmar came into camp with an outside shot to compete for a bench utility role. He hasn’t helped his cause, hitting .130 in 23 at-bats. He may end up in Tacoma to serve as a utility player but we will have to wait and see.

I Hope I can Add to Your Reading Experience…

Thank you to Brett for the invitation to offer some content on  I’ve been writing for Bleacher Report, and will be porting some of the relevant articles here.

I’ll be posting several articles today (sorry for the deluge).  I will also be adding weekly “Blue Friday” posts on the Seahawks’ draft needs heading up to the NFL Draft starting April 28th.

I look forward to your feedback and sharing thoughts and ideas on professional sports in our area.  Feel free to contact me with questions or article ideas…or if you think I’m nuts, which I’ve been accused of.  A few examples—I don’t think Pouncey or Solder are worthy of first round consideration at all, and I think Gabbert is as over-rated as a QB can get.  I could be wrong on that, but I was ripped pretty good for saying Anthony Davis was over-rated last year and he would need a few years at least to be considered a decent OT…and even then he should be considered a guard.

Anyway, a healthy dialog is a good thing.  I look forward to sharing with the community.

Cuts Have Been Made in Peoria

The Mariners made their first cuts of the spring today as it was announced earlier today. Six players have been sent down to minor league camp. Alex Liddi, Mauricio Robles, and Carlos Peguero were optioned to AAA Tacoma. Of that group, Robles is the only one that has played at the AAA level. Johermyn Chavez was optioned to AA Jackson. He finished the year at High A and he will really start to see some tougher pitching at the AA level. The players listed above are all on the 40 man roster.

The other two players are not on the 40 man roster and were re-assigned to minor league camp. The two players are James Paxton and Yusmeiro Petit.

Paxton, drafted in the 4th round of the 2010 draft, was just recently signed after a very long holdout. He is a great addition to the farm system and its great news the Mariners we able to sign him. After he was signed, he was immediately sent to major league camp. The 6’4” 220lb left-handed pitcher should start the year at Low A. He has the potential to be a frontline starter but it will be interesting to see how he does after the long holdout.

Yusmeiro Petit spent all of 2010 at AAA Tacoma but has had some major league appearances with the Marlins and Diamondbacks prior to being signed by the Mariners in 2010. The 6’1” 255lb right-handed pitcher has served mostly as a reliever but has made some occasional starts.

The Latest on Miguel Olivo

In yesterday’s game against the Indians, the Mariners first injury of the spring occurred. Catcher Miguel Olivo was tagging from third on a pop fly to center and on his way home he pulled up grabbing his leg and fell awkwardly. He did score but he needed to be helped of the field and then carted to the clubhouse.

The Mariners signed Olivo this offseason for a 2 year, $7MM contract. Injuries have been rare for the 32 year old catcher as he has never been placed on the DL for a baseball related injury. It appears that Olivo injured his groin muscle and he will be having an MRI this morning. The test results will not be available until Monday.

Many thought that Olivo would be the opening day starting catcher and would split time with Adam Moore a majority of the year. The Mariners need Olivo to be healthy and let’s hope the injury is not as bad as it appears. Stay tuned for an update on the test results.

Mariners Acquire Aaron Laffey



It was announced today that the Mariners have acquired Aaron Laffey from the Cleveland Indians. The left-handed pitcher is now 25 years old and will be entering his 4th professional season. In return for Laffey the Mariners will be sending infielder Matt Lawson to Cleveland as well as cash considerations.

Lawson was a part of the deal that sent Cliff Lee to Texas. In 527 plate appearances with AA last year, Lawson hit .293 with 9 homeruns and 56 RBI. Lawson doesn’t project to be anymore than a utility player so Seattle isn’t losing much.

To make room for Laffey on the 40 man roster, the Mariners placed Shawn Kelley on the 60-day DL. He is recovering from partial Tommy John Surery.

Let us take a look at the newly acquired Laffey. He has appeared in 320.1 major league innings as both a starter and reliever. He has a career 4.41 ERA and his strikeout/walk numbers are not the best. He does a very good keeping the ball in the park as he has a career 0.62 HR/9. That number could only get lower pitching in Safeco. Last year, he gave up only one homerun in 55.2IP. The 6’0” 200lb lefty doesn’t have much velocity behind his sinking fastball. His slider, cutter, and changeup are nothing special as well. Laffey could compete for the number 5 spot in the Seattle rotation or pitch in the bullpen. The Mariners are pretty thin on leftys in the pen and Laffey would certainly help.

The back end of the rotation and a majority of spots in the bullpen are all up for grabs. There is a long list of players competing for these spots and we can now add Aaron Laffey to the list.