Monthly Archives: February 2015

Mariners Offseason Report

Mariners

Achieving a winning record for the first time in four years, the Seattle Mariners finished the 2014 season one game out of playoff contention and have completed an offseason that suggests a continuation of such success.

Possessing a defense that ranked second in fielding percentage and a pitching staff that dominated opposing hitters by posting a league best .230 batting average against, the Mariners solidified themselves as a worthy candidate for an AL Wild Card spot. But their post-season dreams were squashed when they couldn’t find their bats late in the year.

Despite the offensive successes of Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano, the Mariners lineup struggled to find themselves at the plate. Fortunately, the Mariners front office made offseason dealings that attempt to remedy a collectively stagnant offense that ranked 27th in on base percentage.

Nelson CruzThe Mariners acquired the best power hitter of 2014 when they signed Nelson Cruz to a four year, $57 million deal. Hitting forty pitches over the fence last season, Cruz led the majors in homeruns while also finishing third in RBIs with 108. Granted, Cruz accomplished these feats while playing within the confines of Camden Yards, arguably the most batter-friendly ballpark in all of Major League Baseball. Transitioning to Safeco Field means that Cruz’s numbers will see a decline. But regardless of his statistical decline, Cruz’s power will provide a huge help to a struggling offense.

Through a trade in which the Mariners dealt relief pitcher Brandon Maurer to the San Diego Padres, the Mariners acquired outfielder Seth Smith. Smith isn’t overtly impressive, but should provide a compliment to the M’s new addition of power within the lineup, as he had a .367 OBP in last year’s stint with the Padres.

Earlier in the week the Mariners also signed second baseman and longtime Milwaukee Brewer Rickie Weeks to a one year deal worth $2 million. Bouncing back from an ugly 2013 season, Weeks improved his batting average last year by .065 and will compete for a spot in the outfield, as the position at second is clearly occupied.

Maurer and Michael Saunders have both departed, but overall the Mariners have managed to keep their core intact while adding a couple of key players and hoping for the return of another. Riddled with injury and illness Franklin Gutierrez missed all of last season and has played in only 81 games in the last three seasons. But a potential return is imminent as Gutierrez has been invited to spring training.

Projected rotation prior to spring training:

  • Felix Hernandez
  • Hisashi Iwakuma
  • James Paxton
  • Taijuan Walker
  • JA Happ (acquired in Saunders trade)

 

Although Chris Young had a successful year, it doesn’t look as if the Mariners are going to re-sign the 35 year old starting pitcher, as they have Erasmo Ramirez and Taijuan Walker vying for the last spot in the rotation.

Facing position battles at starting pitcher and in the outfield, it’ll be interesting to see what transpires during spring training.

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Super Bowl XLIX Reaction: Seahawks hand it over

butlers-super-bowl-winning-interception-imgur

It’s been almost 48 hours since the Seattle Seahawks lost, and confusion persists as 12s everywhere attempt to process the worst call in super bowl history.

Set up by a miraculous heads-up play from wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and a subsequent 4-yard run from Marshawn Lynch, the Hawks faced second-and-goal with 26 seconds remaining in the game. The Hawks needed all but one yard in order to repeat as Super Bowl Champions, and an attempt to get Lynch in the end zone would have most likely secured that fate. Instead, that second-down play will be infamously remembered as the worst call in super bowl history. Calling a pass play despite having arguably the best running back in the entire league, quarterback Russell Wilson targeted Ricardo Lockette on a slant pattern. With little hesitation, Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler jumped the route and intercepted the football, resulting in a 28-24 Patriots victory.

The Seahawks’ loss would be easier to stomach if the reason for it made more sense. Unable to digest the irrationality of the call, the sporting world remains perplexed. There are some who object to “second-guessing” and “Monday morning quarterbacking”, but the majority of the Seahawks fan base is smart enough to realize that this circumstance involved immediate questioning as soon as a passing play was discernable.

courtesy of ESPN.com

courtesy of ESPN.com

In his efforts to defend the call, Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll made it seem as if the play was a throwaway; that they would have attempted a run just after—had it resulted in an incompletion. However, history (the NFC Championship Game) indicates that an incompletion was the best possible outcome of that play. A slant pattern over the middle in the most condensed part of the field was dangerous, and if a pass was the desired action then the Hawks should have thrown a fade to the only receiver that had made plays on that day.

Super Bowl Football

Seahawks wide receiver and former Foot Locker sales associate Chris Matthews is the lone bright spot of Super Bowl 49. Catching four passes for 109 yards and a touchdown, Matthews’ performance was essential in providing Russell Wilson with a much needed target on a day in which the Hawks wide receiving corps was virtually shut down. The Patriots secondary was extremely effective at holding the Hawks receivers to a minimum. Unfortunately, the Hawks couldn’t duplicate such play from their own secondary, and injury took its toll in the form of Jeremy Lane.

After breaking his wrist following his first career interception, Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane was replaced by fourth-stringer Tharold Simon. Thoroughly beat on almost every play, Simon struggled to defend Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (among others). Witnessing Simon’s inability to cover the Patriots’ receivers, quarterback Tom Brady exploited the dime corner on his way to becoming Super Bowl MVP.

Surprisingly, Wilson had both a higher QBR and quarterback rating then Brady, but all that remains relevant is Wilson’s single interception. No feeling of confidence has ever regressed into utter disbelief so quickly. Hawks fans everywhere will forever ask themselves “Why?” without ever gaining rationale behind the most incomprehensible loss in Hawks history. Both having taken credit for the play call, the mystery of whether Carroll or offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was responsible may go unanswered forever. Hopefully, in due time, one of them will apologize rather than defend their decision.

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