Introducing Your New 2014 Mariners

UPDATE:

Both Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus wrote articles on how yesterday’s moves changed playoff odds for teams, including winners and losers. Thankfully, the Mariners saw a 9.4% increase in Wild Card odds and a 0.6% increase in WS win odds from Fangraphs! Please consider checking these articles out as they feature great analysis by the best in the business!

 

 

Goodbye Detroit, hello Seattle!

Goodbye Detroit, Hello Seattle!

 

Well, the MLB trade deadline was today at 1pm and Mariners did not pick up Drew Stubbs! The Seattle Twittersphere was abuzz when it was announced that the Mariners not only traded for  Padres OF Chris Denorfia, but also Detroit’s CF Austin Jackson!

 

Denorfia came at the cost of OF Abraham Almonte and P Stephen Kolscheen, both currently playing for AAA Tacoma. Jackson was involved in a three way trade with Tampa Bay for the price of Nick Franklin.

 

Alone, the Denorfia move seemed like a deadline bust as many hoped Trader Jack would seek to make an impact on the hitting side. Denorfia has been posting a .242/.293/.319 line in 2014 with a wRC+ of 76 (100 wRC+ is considered an above average hitter) and a WAR of 0.6. However, the impact of the Denorfia acquisition truly comes from his prowess and versatility in the outfield. His outfield UZR this year is 6.0 (compare this to Endy’s 0.3) and this includes playing in all three outfield positions. This flexibility will be very important moving forward as he could step in as a CF replacement for Jackson when needed.

 

While Denorfia’s 0.6 WAR may not seem significant, it is important to remember that the rest of our outfield has yet to truly impress. As of right now, Endy Chavez is posting -.2, Jones is at -.7, Hart (lol) is at -.7, and Romero is at a whole -1.0 WAR. Denorfia’s positive contribution is a medium-sized upgrade to an outfield struggling both offensively and defensively.

 

On the other side of things, Jack Z pulled off a last minute surprise today (I first heard of it 11 minutes before the deadline) in acquiring the staple CF of the Tigers’ lineup. Jackson adds many plusses to this team despite having a relatively down offensive year. The last two years, AJax (for all of you who don’t live in Michigan) has posted a 134 and 107 wRC+, respectively, while he has only been putting up 100 this year. However, looking at his right and left handed splits bring some optimism, as his wRC+ against lefties this year has been a killer 131!

 

Aside from his bat, Austin Jackson brings the M’s a competent CF who is still putting up a 1.2 WAR in spite of his down year. Thankfully, AJax is under control through next year when he become a free agent. This gives the Mariners a great deal of wiggle room as it allows Jonesy to head down and work on his walk rate and routes in center. At the end of next season, the M’s could take a long look at either extending Jackson or giving Jones the call as he should be close to complete by that time. James has the physical tools to be a great defensive outfielder, so having an opportunity to play every day in AAA will serve the Mariners well down the road.

 

With the addition of Jackson and Denorfia – and by saturday, Paxton – roster moves are coming fast. As mentioned above, the M’s now have center field depth and will probably be looking to send Jones down tonight or tomorrow. I know many of you fans love his big smile and baserunning antics, but this move will ultimately be for the better. As far as Denorfia and Paxton, it would make sense to send down an outfielder and a pitcher. Romero has already been optioned this year so he can be sent back down, and Leone looks to be a candidate for similar reasons. Having this sort of depth on the 25-man roster is huge for the team not only in 2014, but for next year and beyond.

 

However, the return of Saunders and Willie (WFB) Bloomquist off the DL will raises some big question marks for roster moves in the not-too-distant future. Willie is still guaranteed the better half of a 2-year 5.8 million dollar contract and Saunders is actually a good player so something will have to give. This is a tougher call as our outfield plus Saunders would actually be pretty damn good especially compared to just four hours ago. I believe that the return of these two will ultimately spell the end of the Corey Hart experiment as he has posted a -0.7 WAR over 222 plate appearances, which is dismal by a veteran hitter’s (also lol) standards. The guy was paid to come here and hit and he hasn’t, so he may just have to HIT THE ROAD, JACK! (triple lol).

 

C'mon Willie, can't you just "have another accident?"

C’mon Willie, can’t you just “have another accident?”

As far as a second move, I could see this being the point where they make a call on the Miller/Taylor situation despite it being a pretty good platoon option. I’m not one to wish physical harm on other people but I have been watching The Sopranos lately. In any case, whoever is getting it done between Miller and Taylor will probably get the chance to finish out the season while the other might just get the boot back down to Tacoma. I’ve also heard some rumblings about sending Ackley to play some first base and DFA’ing LoMo (he’s played almost everywhere else so what the hell), but this is how Willie Bloomquists are made in the first place so ah maybe I don’t know what the hell. Sure, try it.

 

Jack really surprised many of us today (for the better, thankfully) and I for one am excited to see what we can do with a competent outfield. This team has some promise not just for the end of this season but for the next year seeing as they survived this deadline without giving up any of their top 10 prospects. All of the people screaming “SELL WALKER NOW” are probably changing their tune to “omg walker 4 life” and that’s a good thing. People being excited about the M’s is a good thing and we just took a series in Cleveland which is also a good thing. Today was full of good things you guys, and that is a . . . good thing.

 

Go M’s!

 

P.S. – Feel free to post what you think the lineup should look like with our shiny new pieces and the return of Condor/WFB below! I’m interested to see what you guys think!

 


 

Author’s Note: I tend to use a decent amount of sabermetric statistics on this blog as I feel they are more accurate measures of player value. I do also understand that many may not understand what these values mean so I will be including hyperlinks to definitions of what these stats mean. Thanks!

 

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Beast Mode is Back!

Hopefully Beast Mode will have more Super Bowl-victory-parade cigars to light after this season.

Hopefully Beast Mode will have more Super Bowl-victory-parade cigars to light after this season.

Rest easy, Seahawks fans. The Beast is back. After holding out of training camp for over a week, Marshawn Lynch has reported to the VMAC. The often-unorthodox running back arrived at the Seahawks training facility this afternoon, much to the delight of fans and reporters. This comes as a bit of a surprise because most people were thinking that this holdout would last through mid-to-late August. It’s even more shocking that Beast Mode showed up because the Seahawks didn’t give him any new money or a new contract. So the Hawks kept to their plan…sort of. Money was moved around in the remaining two years of Lynch’s contract to make it more appealing for the running back. Here is a quick breakdown of Marshawn’s “new deal”:

  • On top of his $5 million base salary in 2014, Lynch will also receive an additional $1 million that was previously incentive-money ($500,000 for per-game roster bonuses and $500,000 for rushing for over 1,500 yards).
  • The Seahawks also moved $500,000 of his incentives from 2015 to his guaranteed 2014 salary.
  • Lynch is now scheduled to make a guaranteed $6.5 million in 2014.
  • He is also eligible to make $7.5 million in 2015.
  • The team has waived all of his fines for missing camp

Lynch had threatened to hold out of mandatory OTA’s (Offseason Training Activities) earlier in the year because he was unhappy with his contract, but ended up showing up. But then former Seahawk and Lynch’s good friend Michael Robinson reported last week that Marshawn would hold out of training camp for the same reason above. The issue was that Lynch wanted more upfront money because, in today’s game, running backs, even the best ones, tend to have very brief careers. The above deal did that for Lynch without giving him any new money. So it’s a win-win situation for both sides. Beast Mode gets the upfront money he desired and the Hawks get one of the best running backs in football back without reworking his contract too much. Even better, the organization didn’t set a bad precedent by giving Lynch a new deal. Technically, Lynch is still “honoring his contract” because the money he is receiving was already taken into account.

It’s uncertain if Seattle will hang on to Lynch after this year as he will be turning 29 next offseason – an age where running backs’ careers often begin to decline, especially if they run as violently as Beast Mode. But it is certainly very comforting knowing that he will be wearing blue and green this season.

Marshawn has been the center of the Seahawks offense since he joined the team in the middle of the 2010 season. When GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll signed Lynch, they knew they wanted to build the entire team around his running game. Since then, he has amassed 4,624 yards and 45 touchdowns on his way to leading the squad to a 36-24 record (excluding playoffs). His physical running style has completely changed the culture of this organization. The run-first and hit-em-in-the-mouth mentality of the current Seahawks was practically trademarked by Marshawn Lynch himself. In all seriousness, without Lynch, the revitalization of the Seahawks under Pete Carroll would have taken a lot longer.

Simply put, everybody loves Beast Mode and the Hawks don’t win the Super Bowl last year without him.

Expect Lynch’s carries to decrease once again this year, as the Seahawks begin the transition into the “Christine Michael era.” But having (at least) one more year of Beast Mode leading the rushing attack gives Michael a chance to ease his way into the offense without throwing him into the fire.

Ah…the Beast is back…and all is well! Below is his highlight video from last season.

Husky Football: Position Preview – WR

Jaydon Mickens poses for Husky Nation after a touchdown in 2012.

Jaydon Mickens gets ready to receive a kick off in 2012.

Husky Football: Position Preview – WR

Husky football season is right around the corner (fall training camp begins on Aug. 4th). As camp approaches we will be going position by position, providing a detailed preview of the Dawg’s roster. Today we are diving deeper into the wide receiver position.

Who’s Gone:

Kevin Smith: Smith battled knee injuries throughout his career, but gradually became UW’s most reliable receiver in 2014. His athleticism and chemistry with Keith Price proved to be an essential part of the Washington offense, particularly on 3rd downs. Smith graduated and is currently battling to make the Seattle Seahawks roster.

Antavius Sims: Sims’ transfer from a JC to Washington earned a lot of hype due to his elite athleticism. Unfortunately, he never seemed comfortable and couldn’t land significant playing time. He was a valuable practice player who contributed on special teams.

Demore’ea Stringfellow: One of the biggest losses this off season is certainly the transferring of Stringfellow to Ole Miss. Stringfellow found significant playing time as a true freshman towards the second half of the year to help mitigate the loss of an injured Kasen Williams. String filled in beautifully and showed the potential to be a prototype NFL receiver with his blend of size, speed, and hands. Unfortunately, he ran into some off the field troubles and found himself suspended indefinitely by new Head Coach, Chris Petersen. Coach Pete seemed open to  the idea of Stringfellow returning to the team, as Miles did, but apparently Stringfellow wanted to move on to greener pastures. He is an elite talent; expect to see him playing on Sundays in a few years.

 

2014-2015 WR’s:

Kasen Williams: (6-3 217 lbs; Senior; 2013 Stats: 29 receptions, 421 yards, 1 TD) All signs were pointing that the 2013 season would be Williams’ breakout year on a national level; however, a devastating lower leg injury sidelined him for the majority of the season. As much as we hate to see our players injured, this may have been a blessing in disguise. If Kasen had the season he was expecting to have in 2013, he probably would have left for the NFL Draft. Having an experienced, strong, possession-type receiver return will be extremely helpful as the young quarterbacks try to adjust to prime time college football. Williams was sidelined all spring ball, but should be a full go come the start of fall camp. Expect Williams to emerge as somewhat of a “safety net” for our young QB’s, and to finish his career off with a huge season and 2nd all-time in career receptions.

Jaydon Mickens: (5-11 174 lbs; Junior; 2013 Stats: 65 receptions, 688 yards, 5 TDs) Mickens had a breakout year in 2013. He showed tremendous quickness and agility that make him a threat to score every time he touches the ball. He has an uncanny ability to make people miss in the open field and is also the best route-runner on the team. He is not only the leader of L.O.Z (Legion of Zoom), but also found himself in a position to be a locker room leader. Look for Mickens to continue this momentum and have a brilliant 2014 campaign.

John Ross III: (5-11 179 lbs; Sophomore; 2013 Stats: 16 receptions, 208 yards, 1 TD) Ross plays a very fast brand of football, much like Mickens. Ross proved he belongs in the L.O.Z when he returned a kickoff 100 yards in the bowl game against BYU. Also, Ross reportedly ran a 4.29 40 yard dash making him not only the fastest player on the Husky roster, but also one of the fastest players in the nation. With another year under his belt, expect Ross to contribute more consistently on offense, special teams, and perhaps even defense. He is certainly one of the most exciting players to watch in the PAC-12 and Husky fans should be anxious to see what he can do.

DiAndre Campbell: (6-2 206 lbs; Senior; 2013 Stats: 3 receptions, 34 yards) Campbell graduated last spring and was ready to move on from football until Coach Pete convinced him to exercise his last year of eligibility. Campbell hasn’t been a regular contributor throughout his career; however, he is a veteran player who can offer valuable experience and advice to a younger WR corps. Also, Campbell has an opportunity to contribute more under this new coaching regime.

Marvin Hall: (5-10 188 lbs; Junior; 2013 Stats: 8 receptions, 140 yards) Hall is the third and final member of L.O.Z and lives up to the name. Hall is certainly one of the faster players on the roster as evidenced by his punt returning skills. He has mostly contributed solely on special teams, but look for his role as a wide receiver to expand under the new coach staff.

Kendyl Taylor: (5-10 202 lbs; Redshirt Sophomore; Redshirted in 2013 and played RB in 2012) Taylor has been somewhat of a nomad throughout his Husky career. He was recruited as a WR, immediately moved to RB, switched to DB last season, only to return to WR this season. Taylor has not seen significant playing time at any of the aforementioned positions, but he has generated a lot of buzz this off season thanks to a jaw-dropping combine workout. He displayed tremendous athletic ability in the 40 yard dash (4.47), 3-cone drill (6.48), pro agility (3.90), and vertical jump (40.5). The Huskies are hopeful that this athleticism will translate onto the football field come gameday.

Taelon Parson: (6-1 184 lbs; Sophomore; Walk On) Has not seen any significant playing time. Valuable practice player; don’t expect too much more from Parson this season.

Neel Saluhke: (5-11 167 lbs; Sophomore; Walk On) Has not seen any significant playing time. Valuable practice player; don’t expect too much more from Saluhke this season.

Dante Pettis: (6-0 177 lbs; Freshman) Pettis is the younger brother of Boise State legend, Austin Pettis. Clearly the connection between the Pettis family and Coach Petersen lured Dante to Montlake. Dante possesses the kind of athleticism and soft hands to make a successful jump to college football. Expect Pettis to redshirt this season due to the depth in front of him, but look for him to become a household name in the future.

Brayden Lenius: (6-5 217 lbs; Freshman) Lenius is an intriguing prospect; he possesses the kind of size and athleticism that makes all college and NFL scouts to drool.  It seems that he will begin his career at WR, but don’t be surprised if he puts on some weight and ends up at TE. Expect Lenius to redshirt this season due to the depth ahead of him at both WR and TE, but Husky fans should be excited to have a young athletic specimen like Lenius on the roster.

2014 Outlook:

The Huskies have a deep and talented pool of wide receivers entering the 2014 season. With Kasen Williams returning to form the Dawgs will have a big possession type receiver who will be complemented nicely by the L.O.Z. Expect the top three contributors in the passing game this season to be Williams, Mickens, and Ross. All three of these players have all-conference ability and should provide plenty of excitement this upcoming season. If these receivers can develop good chemistry with whomever the starting quarterback ends up being, expect the Huskies to have a potent passing attack in 2014.

Highlight Videos:

Kendyl Taylor

Dante Pettis

Brayden Lenius

Way Too Early Predictions for 2014 Seahawks

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Russell Wilson throws a pass to rookie receiver Paul Richardson during training camp.

Today was only the fourth day of training camp for our 2014 Seattle Seahawks, but in the Pacific Northwest that means it’s football season. And already there are several storylines revolving around the VMAC:

  • ESPN’s SportsCenter aired live at the Seahawks training facility this morning in a Tuesday edition of “Competition Wednesday.”
  • Marshawn Lynch is holding out in the hopes of renegotiating his current contract, which the Seahawks front office seem unlikely to do.
  • And NFL Players Association president Eric Winston has signed with the team.

We can only expect more headlines to come our way as the preseason approaches, but in the spirit of the new season coming up, I’ve decided to preview this year’s team by choosing my predicted MVP’s, Rookies of the Year, and Breakout Stars of the Year. I’ve provided highlight videos to accompany each description.

Let’s start with the offensive side of the ball.

Offense:

MVP – Russell Wilson, QB

This one is probably the easiest to pick, especially with the uncertainty regarding “Beast Mode.” Wilson has been absolutely brilliant in his first two years at the helm of the Hawks offense. Entering his third year in the league, he has won more games than any other quarterback in their first two NFL seasons. While the running game is the juggernaut of this team, Russell’s play-making ability is what makes the offense truly dangerous. He makes something out of nothing, and does so routinely. With Percy Harvin healthy, expect Wilson to create even more explosive plays for the Hawks this year (remember the Super Bowl?).

Rookie of the YearPaul Richardson, WR

Two words: pure speed. Seattle’s 2nd-round pick out of Colorado is a major deep-threat that will help the Seahawks stretch out opposing defenses. His ability to get behind secondaries will make this offense even more deadly. At the very least, opponents will have to account for Richardson’s 4.2-speed, which will open things up for the running game or short passes underneath. Expect this burner to make an immediate impact and get lots of playing time, because even having him on the field is an effective threat.

Breakout Star of the YearChristine Michael, RB (Michael’s highlights are the first 2:50 of the below video)

This pick also largely depends on the outcome of Marshawn Lynch’s holdout. We didn’t see much of Michael last year because he was injured for most of the season and we didn’t need him. But with the possible exit of “Beast Mode,” Michael may be called upon to carry the running game. Even if he comes back, Lynch’s carries are already likely going to decrease this year, which means that Michael and Robert Turbin are going to get more chances – and I’d expect the Texas A&M-product to get the bulk of the remaining carries. Without a doubt, Michael’s combination of speed and power makes him the unanimous choice as the running back of the future for this organization. Is that time now? Is he ready? Those are both questions that will get answered in the coming weeks.

We’ll move on to the defense now.

Defense:

MVP – Kam Chancellor, S

You can easily argue that Richard Sherman or Earl Thomas are rated as better players than Chancellor. But this award should go to who is most valuable to the team – i.e. least expendable. The L.O.B. as a whole is really the most valuable piece to this defense. However, the player who is least expendable in the Seahawks secondary is Chancellor in my opinion. Why? The guy is a bone-crushing enforcer and, perhaps more importantly, the tone-setter of the entire D. His hit on Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas in the Super Bowl set the table for the entire game. Suddenly, Peyton Manning couldn’t just throw short passes over the middle of the field, a staple of their passing game. That one hit changed the entire game plan for Denver’s record-setting offense and, as a result, they were never able to get going. I look forward to “Bam Bam” putting the hammer on many more receivers coming over the middle this year. That kind of impact is deserving of MVP.

Rookie of the Year – Cassius Marsh, DE

The fourth-round pick out of UCLA has been one of the most impressive players in offseason workouts. His incredible quickness and pass-rush savvy have left Seattle’s coaches drooling, including Pete Carroll. He has already seen a large amount of reps with the first-unit. A pass-rush specialist, Marsh anticipates getting some solid playing time this year, something that is difficult to do for a rookie on this defense.

Breakout Star of the Year – Tharold Simon, CB

Who? Most of you may not remember last year’s fifth-round choice out of LSU because he was on the injured reserve list last season. Simon is another late-round gem for which Pete Carroll and John Schneider have become so well-known. He has all the characteristics of a “Carroll Corner,” meaning he’s tall, lanky, and extremely athletic. His 6’2″-frame has been picking off passes regularly in many of the offseason practices. While Sherman and Byron Maxwell may have secured a starting spots at cornerback for now, look for Simon to get some first-unit reps in nickel-situations. If all goes well I could see him taking Maxwell’s spot by the end of the year.

There ya have it, folks. It’s obviously really early to be thinking about end-of-the-year awards, but I expect all of these names to be making an impact on this team this year. Obviously, Marshawn Lynch’s holdout affects some of the picks I have made. Hopefully, this situation gets resolved sooner rather than later and the organization can move on in the appropriate way.

Until then…GO HAWKS!!!

Mariners at Cleveland Indians Preview

Hopefully we see him making this face all week.

Hopefully we see him making this face all week.

 

WHEN: 

            Tuesday, July 29 at 7:05pm ET

            Wednesday, July 30 at 7:05pm ET

            Thursday, July 31 at 7:05pm ET

 

STARTING PITCHERS:

  7/29 –  H. Iwakuma, RHP (SEA)  vs. T. Bauer, RHP (CLE)

 

  7/30 –  F. Hernandez, RHP (SEA) vs. C. Kluber, RHP (CLE)

 

  7/31  –  C. Young, RHP (SEA) vs. Z. McAllister, RHP (CLE)

 

LAST 10 GAMES:

Seattle:             3-7

Cleveland:      4-6

Both the Mariners and the Indians have been struggling since the All-Star break and both are in the race for the second wild card spot. The Mariners have an advantage in their lefty-heavy lineup facing three right handed starters for every game. However there IS a history of disaster whenever the Mariners head to Cleveland, so we all have to cross our fingers and make sure to poke our Nick Swisher voodoo dolls.

If the M’s can bust the slump and win the next two games we may be right back in the mix as buyers at the deadline. If we drop both games, then Jack Z might be pulling us out of the market. Although as we have heard recently, Jack may still be in control for some weird reason.

 

I’ll be at the game tonight so make sure to check back tomorrow for some pictures of Progressive and hopefully some pictures of our guys.

 

LET’S GO M’s!

Reality Check for the Sounders

ESPN’s summer edition of “Monday Night Football” didn’t go as planned for the Seattle Sounders. Not only did they lose in a building that just saw the Seahawks beat the Saints 34-7 in what’s regularly Monday Night Football, they were obliterated by their California rivals. The score was only 3-0, but I say only because it easily could’ve been more. Local favorite Kasey Keller said on the telecast that his only criticism of the Galaxy is that they should be up more than the 3-0 score line.

After a rare power surge that knocked the coverage out for 5 minutes, the game came back on with Gyasi Zardez and his crazy yellow Mohawk opening the scoring from an intricate back pass from an ageless Landon Donovan. The Galaxy’s possession and passing continued until the 18th minute with star Landon Donovan cleaning up a save that was previously made by Sounders keeper Stephan Frei. In the 36th minute, Galaxy midfielder Stefan Ishizaki fired a pass from Keane to the left side of the goal to make it 3-0 and complete the rout early.

Landon Donovan was up to his old tricks Monday night.

Landon Donovan was up to his old tricks Monday night.

After a largely uneventful second half (besides a slightly amusing shoving match between U.S. soccer teammates Omar Gonzalez and Clint Dempsey), the Sounders sulked to the locker room knowing they played poorly. Despite the loss and the score line, here are three reasons the Sounders and fans alike should keep their heads up and confidence high:

1.   Short term memory – After the Sounders lost to the New England Revolution 5-0 in early May, they racked off a six game unbeaten streak, five of those six being wins. The Sounders have enough quality to fix their poor play.

2.   Chad Marshall – Chad was unfortunately involved in a car accident Saturday night which kept him out of this clash, but is due to be back against San Jose on Saturday. His presence alone changes the back line, with him sliding back to center back and Anibaba back to left back (or out of the lineup after this performance). There’s a reason he’s an all-star this year, and has been arguably the best defender in the MLS to date.

3.   The Supporters Shield Race – Despite the loss, the Sounders still lead the race to end the season atop the standings in the MLS. They are tied with Sporting Kansas City with 38 points, but the Sounders have played two fewer games, giving them first place.

Here are the highlights from tonight’s match:

Upcoming match for the Sounders: Seattle vs. San Jose Earthquakes-Saturday August 2nd, 7:30 PM

And The Trade D(r)eadline Approaches

Stubbs, upon hearing that he has been requested by the Mariners

Stubbs, upon hearing that he is being targeted by the Mariners.

It’s that time of year again, but this time the Mariners JUST might be buyers instead of sellers. Despite an underwhelming showing since the All-Star Game, it seems that the M’s are still willing to make some moves and grind out the rest of the season for that coveted second wild card spot. Just a few days ago in a move that could arguably be considered a hostage situation, the Mariners traded Stephen Pryor to Minnesota for Kendrys Morales. As Connor noted, this move alone fails to impress as Morales has been pretty dismal since return from his extended vacation. He’s put up .266/.257/.311 and has been worth -1.0 WAR in 42 plate appearances. Now, we do have to keep in mind that this small sample size does not clearly reflect his career numbers and true abilities, but the Mariners are really not in a position to let this play out with the season hanging by a thread.

Jack Z bears all.

Jack Z bears all.

But fear not! Jack Z must have something hidden up his sleeves (or in his jacket), right? RIGHT???

Well apparently he does, but it may not be the answer we’re really looking for.   It seems that the Rockies, who have also been having a few rough years, have the outfield depth and  losing record that makes them candidates for helping Seattle out. As such, It has been made clear that Zduriencik has made a public offer for Colorado’s CF Drew Stubbs. Stubbs has been putting up decent numbers on the surface this year with 1.9 WAR to-date and a line of .302/.338/.517 but upon further inspection, it seems that his numbers are bolstered by the thin air at Coors Field. Unfortunately, his numbers on the road paint a very different picture with a line of .229/.277/.343 and 2 HR vs. the 9 he has at home. This would not bode well for a player who has spent the majority of the season in the hitter’s haven, as Safeco is quite the opposite.

Some of you may be thinking, “Hey, but what about James Jones?” To which I say, maybe he’s not actually that good. While Stubbs’ offensive production is not much greater than Jones’, he does provide much more pop, better defense (0.4 UZR vs. Jonesy’s -9.1),  a right hand in a lefty-heavy lineup. Check out this sweet catch Stubbs made just a few weeks back:

 

 

 

Personally, I could see a world where we play Stubbs in CF while moving Jones to a corner so that both may provide strong outfield defense. This could keep Jones’ speed in the lineup and also rid us of the very weird Romero-Chavez-Hart platoon that McClendon has been putting out.

In all, this is a very sticky situation that the M’s are treading, as the M’s would likely have to give up too many pieces to acquire Stubbs seeing as the Rockies have yet to answer the phone. He is only a year and a half away from free agency so giving up one of our top prospects would probably result in another loss of a future perennial All-Star and an increase of Rainier sales throughout Seattle. Regardless, Stubbs is probably not the answer on his own but would still make for a decent upgrade in our Saunder-less outfield. In the end, the Mariners still need to be thinking about making smarter offensive upgrades and acquiring another starting pitcher (Bartolo, where art thou?) before they blow their farm on these band-aid solutions. I just hope that Z thinks long and hard before he makes any brash decisions.

Mariners Depressing You? Ride the Sounder Train!

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Sounders forward Clint Dempsey dribbles around a Portland defender.

With the Mariners losing yesterday (another one-run game…sigh), they are now 3-7 in the 10 games since the All-Star Break, and they’ve lost 5 of the last 6 games. In other words, it’s bleak times for the M’s right now. However, Seattle fans should not be depressed! Football season right around the corner, and in the meantime there is another successful team in Seattle to cheer for: Seattle Sounders FC. Since they joined MLS in 2009, the Sounders have attracted quite a following, yet remain below the Mariners in the hierarchy of Seattle sports. Whether you like soccer or not, I strongly encourage you to follow the Sounders over the next couple of months.

Here are my top five reasons why:

Best team in the MLS. The Sounders sport a record of 12-4-2 for a total of 38 points. That’s good enough for the top spot in the Western Conference (6 points better than Real Salt Lake) and a tie with Sporting Kansas City’s 38 points in the race for the Supporter’s Shield (Seattle has played 3 less matches than SKC).

Highest scoring team in the league. For those of you who like watching goals, the Sounders are the right team to watch when it comes to the MLS. Without a doubt, this squad plays a very entertaining brand of futbol. With a relentless, attacking style of play, Seattle likes pushing the ball forward and getting it on the feet of the two people below in dangerous spots.

Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins. They are arguably the best forward combination in the MLS. Dempsey has been Dempsey. After struggling to find the back of the net last season in his first two months with the club, he leads the team with 9 goals this season, and he’s done so in only 10 matches. He also has 3 assists to add to his stat sheet. Meanwhile, Oba has worked his way into the MVP discussion. His 8 goals are second on the team and his 6 assists are tied for the team lead with Gonzalo Pineda. When these guys are on the field together they are almost impossible to stop.

Seattle is fully healthy and at full strength. After having its depth tested in May and June by injuries and players away on international duty, the Sounders are finally getting healthy. Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin were representing the U.S. in Brazil, while many key players like Brad Evans, Djimi Traore, and Leo Gonzalez have been sidelined by the injury-bug. Even Oba has struggled with a hamstring injury for the past few weeks. While the group performed admirably with thin depth, getting healthy is just what the Sounders need right now – mainly because of the reason below.

8 matches in just over a month. Following a two-week break from MLS play, Sounders FC have a busy month ahead of them. It starts tonight in a nationally-televised match (ESPN2) at home against L.A. Galaxy. Seattle has won it’s last 6 MLS-matches at CenturyLink.  5 of the next 8 games are at home, and it is important that the team takes advantage of their recent brilliant home-field play. This next month is a crucial one for Sounders FC on their quest for their first MLS Cup.

You may not be a huge soccer fan, but neither was I just a few years ago. It was exactly this time of the year that I first started watching the Sounders play – mainly because I wanted to cheer a team on before football season started, and the Mariners were struggling. With the M’s playing depressing baseball the last two weeks, why not follow a team having a great season? Hop aboard the Sounder Train, it’s a one-way ticket towards success.

Husky Football: Position Preview – RB

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Deontae Cooper zig zags through traffic against Boise State.

Husky Football: Position Preview – RB

Husky football season is right around the corner (fall training camp begins on Aug. 4th). As camp approaches we will be going position by position, providing a detailed preview of the Dawg’s roster. Last week we covered the fierce quarterback battle; however, the competition for the starting running back spot may be even more intense. Let’s take a closer look:

Who’s Gone: 

Bishop Sankey: Sankey left the University of Washington as one of the most accomplished running backs in school history. His 2013 campaign is arguably the greatest season ever by a Husky running back. He rushed for 1,870 yards and 20 touchdowns, both single season school records. Replacing the production and consistency of an NFL-caliber running back will be a high priority on Coach Pete’s fall camp agenda.

Ryan McDaniel: McDaniel has had two injury plagued seasons and has taken a medical retirement.

 

2014-2015 RB’s:

Jesse Callier: (5-10 206 lbs; Senior; 2013 Stats: 48 carries, 213 yards, 3 TD’s) It was only two seasons ago that Callier was the starting running back ahead of Bishop Sankey. Unfortunately for him, he tore his ACL in the 2012 season opener. Callier has not been able to completely regain his old form; however, he proved himself as a consistent contributor in 2013. The jury is still out on whether or not Callier can carry the load once again, but he will be given every opportunity to seize the starting spot.

Deontae Cooper: (5-11 199 lbs; Senior; 2013 Stats: 43 carries, 273 yards, 3 TD’s) Cooper has had his fair share of ACL injuries as well. Coop has had three ACL tears in his career at the University of Washington. Much to the delight of the Husky Faithful, Cooper overcame these setbacks and made his long-awaited Husky debut in 2013. Cooper has flashed his athletic ability throughout spring camp; however, much like Callier, it’s uncertain if Coop can carry the ball 20+ times each game.

Dwayne Washington: (6-2 219 lbs; Sophomore; 2013 Stats: 47 carries, 332 yards, 4 TD’s) Washington is without a doubt the most naturally gifted running back on UW’s roster. Washington’s combination of NFL size, speed, and power gives the Huskies an every down threat at RB. As much potential as Washington has, he has been hampered by inconsistency and poor ball security. If he can mend his fumbling issues and master the playbook, expect Washington to have the best shot at starting week one against Hawaii.

Lavon Coleman: (5-11 217 lbs; Redshirt Freshman) Coleman is the wild-card of this group. He was one of the more reliable running backs throughout spring and displayed his big play potential with a long run in the spring game. We haven’t had the chance to see what Coleman can do on Saturday’s, but expect a hard-nosed, north and south runner who seeks contact. This style of running has been a commonality with all of Coach Pete’s previous running backs at Boise State. Coleman is the dark horse of this group; don’t be surprised if he capitalizes on the opportunity to start and never looks back.

Ralph Kinne: (5-10 201 lbs; Redshirt Freshman; Walk-On) Scout team player, don’t expect to see too much of Kinne this season. He will be an important practice player, but not much else.

Shaq Thompson: (6-1 228 lbs; Junior; Played exclusively on defense/special teams last two years) Thompson has been one of the biggest stories this off-season. With depth issues at RB all spring, Coach Pete decided to have Shaq help out at practice and take some reps on offense. What initially started as a move to provide temporary depth may end up being the best move of the entire off season. It is no secret that Shaq was an All-American running back in high school; however, that was high school, this is big boy Pac-12 football. With that being said, Thompson shredded our defense on limited reps throughout spring, and Coach Pete was intrigued enough to continue the experiment into fall camp. Shaq would offer the Huskies a home-run hitting RB who punishes defenses with bone-crushing physicality. Shaq is without a doubt the best all-around player on the roster, and the sky is the limit with his potential at the running back position. (It is important to note that Shaq’s priority remains on defense and his availability to the offense will be indicative of that).

Jomon Dotson: (5-10 164 lbs; Freshman) With all of the depth on the 2014 roster, expect Dotson to redshirt this season. Dotson will spend this time adjusting to school, college football, and getting stronger in the weight room. He is a natural runner who has a knack for creatively breaking tackles. Dotson also has the speed and athleticism to make the jump to the college game.

Gavin McDaniel: (5-8 172 lbs; Freshman; Walk-On) Expect McDaniel to redshirt as well. McDaniel will most likely be a key practice player much like Ralph Kinne.

 

2014 Outlook:

The running back position is one of great depth and uncertainty for the Huskies entering the 2014 season. The popular opinion throughout most of the media outlets suggests that Coach Pete will use a running back by committee approach. This would entail two to three different running backs equally contributing to the running game. In my experience, more often than not, the running back by committee approach does not last long. Expect one of the aforementioned running backs to carry the bulk of the load by the second half of the season. Nearly all of Husky Nation is rooting for Cooper to be the emerging star, but expect Washington or Coleman to seize the No. 1 RB spot. Also, look for the Shaq Thompson experiment to carry into the season with him getting a few carries each game. Considering the depth, experience, and athleticism, the running back position will be an area of strength for the 2014 Huskies.

 

Highlights:

Jesse Callier

Deontae Cooper

Dwayne Washington

Lavon Coleman

Ralph Kinne

Shaq Thompson

Jomon Dotson

Gavin McDaniel

The Mariners’ Kryptonite

Kendrys Morales is back with the Mariners, whether he likes it or not.

Kendrys Morales is back with the Mariners, whether he likes it or not.

Reading this title, I’m sure any Mariners fan would respond with, “It’s the offense, of course.” While this is definitely true, I want to take a step further back and look at the bigger picture. After another heart-wrenching loss yesterday afternoon, the M’s have now lost their first two series following the All-Star Break – a trend that this team cannot afford to continue. Worse than that, four of those games were decided by one run (and three of those are losses). I decided to go back and count the one-run games the M’s have played this year, and I found that they have a 12-17 record in those 29 games. This, too, is a trend that this team cannot afford to continue.

If Seattle wants to be in the playoff race, these are the games that the M’s need to win. Why? Because of the way this team is built. Strong pitching plus weak offensive output equals a lot of close games. In fact, nearly 70% of the Mariners games have been determined by three runs or less (70 of the 101 games played). Seattle is 32-38 in those games, which means that they are 21-10 in games that determined by four runs or more. The Mariners need to win the close games if they want to be playing in October because they don’t have the consistent offense to blow teams out by 4+ runs.

More than anything, it’s those one-run games that really are the kryptonite, mainly because they can go either way. To win these games, a team must have a great bullpen (check), grit (probably still a check), timely hitting (uh…not so much), and a bit of luck (not making the playoffs for over a decade qualifies for unlucky). You know your team doesn’t hit well in scoring situations when they are out-hitting opponents 225-213 in one-run ballgames but only have a .414 win percentage to show for it. Throwing luck out of the window, this timely, situational hitting is what the Mariners MUST improve to win these close games and stay in playoff contention.

And management knows this. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik just acquired Kendrys Morales (pictured above), who played for Seattle last year, from the Minnesota Twins for reliever Stephon Pryor. Morales has not had a great year so far, but we know what he is capable of. His .277 batting average led the team last year along with his 80 RBIs. He will, no doubt, be used as the primary DH in a lineup that has struggled to find production from that spot (current designated hitters Corey Hart and Logan Morrison have batted .212/.211, respectively). Seattle tried to re-sign Kendrys this past offseason but they couldn’t agree on a contract – and he didn’t seem too interested in coming back. Even if Morales doesn’t pan out, the Mariners didn’t give up much to get him, so it’s low-risk and possibly high-reward.

Either way, the Morales move alone will likely not be enough to make the Mariners a playoff team. Look for the Mariners front office to follow this move up with another one. This lineup still desperately needs a right-handed bat in the outfield. With the trade deadline one week away, it will be interesting to see what Jack Z does to improve his offense – and hopefully the timely hitting too. One more bat (or two?) may be what puts this team over the hump and into the playoffs come October. We’ve been talking about how awesome it is that the M’s are “buyers” in the trade market this year…it’s time for them to start buying.

The M’s kryptonite isn’t just offense in general. It’s timely hitting and being able to win the close, grind-it-out games that are often the definition of playoff baseball. Remember, Seattle’s lineup is out-hitting their opponents in one-run games. But it’s about turning these hits into runs. If they start winning these games more consistently with some timely hitting then that will go a long way towards their playoff hopes.

For those who forget what playoff baseball feels like…here is a little reminder below.