Updated May 28, 2013 - 9:51 am
Wyman, Mike & Moore on 710 ESPN Seattle
Friday, June 14, 2013 @ 9:12am
If Eric Wedge asked me, I'd tell him to give Tom Wilhelmsen one more chance. I'd tell the Mariners' manager to hand him the ball in the ninth inning Friday night in Oakland to close out the game.
Or if it's not Friday night, the next time there's a save opportunity, give the ball to The Bartender, skip.
Why would I still support Wilhelmsen after he's blown four saves in his last nine games? Why would I still support him when he's been gawd-awful with nearly a 20.00 ERA this month? Why would I still support him after he gave up five runs and coughed up a 1-0 lead to the worst team in baseball Wednesday night?
Tom Wilhelmsen has blown four of his last nine save chances, putting his job as the Mariners' closer in jeopardy. (AP)
I'm like 53 percent of the respondents to a Seattle Times poll who voted to stick with him because they think he'll bounce back. The other 47 percent are like tri-host Michael Grey on "Wyman, Mike and Moore", who said he's ready to see "anyone else" as the closer.
Thing is, that's the problem. There is no one else. Well, there are other guys you can trot out there, guys such as Oliver Perez, Carter Capps and Yoervis Medina. I'm guessing those are the top three candidates, not necessarily in that order.
Or maybe, if Wedge opts to replace Wilhelmsen, the Mariners will go with a closer-by-committee approach, using Perez one night, Capps the next and Medina the night after that. Or the closer-by-committee approach might call for two relievers to be used in the ninth inning.
None of those thoughts make me think: "Yeah, that's a good idea, those guys are solid." Capps might be the best option of the three with his good strikeout-to-walks ratio of 34-to-7, but he's had his own share of hiccups.
The only thing that would excite me is if Wedge made the following statement:
"After talking to Jack, we've decided to give Tommy a break and let him work out his issues in non-save situations, fully expecting him to return to the closer's role at some point in the near future.
"In the meantime, we know we could go with Cappsy or Oliver or Yoervy, but we're gonna roll the dice on Danny Farquhar because we like his get-after-it, bulldog approach."
I understand that he has the worst ERA on the team at 8.44, but there's something that I like a lot about Danny Farquhar, and I wish someone would tell me what that is before I make the transition from partial fool to complete fool, if I haven't already.
Forget the Farquhar and bullpen-by-committee nonsense and give The Bartender one more shot. If he fails in his next opportunity, OK, I'm with you, Michael Grey – it's time to make a move.
I put my money where my mouth is, betting Grey a six-pack of Kilt Lifter that Wedge will stick with Wilhelmsen.
I still feel like Wilhelmsen will find himself in the nick of time. I still feel like he'll find his knee-buckling curveball and fastball command again. I still feel like he'll own right-handed batters. Remember the 0-for-38 success he had against them to start the season? And have you forgotten how he was 11-for-11 in save opportunities with a 0.41 ERA in the first seven weeks of the year?
Plus a guy with his back story gets all kinds of slack from me. Former pot smoker who tested positive twice for marijuana and was basically booted out of the Brewers' organization. Either that or he lost his passion for the game, maybe both.
A free spirit who loves the Grateful Dead, Wilhelmsen backpacked around Europe with his girlfriend between leaving the Brewers and joining the Mariners' organization.
Then he landed that job as a bartender at "The Hut" in Tucson, leading to his nickname and status as a genuine cult hero in my book.
You don't bench cult heroes; you give them another chance. Especially when the cult hero pays homage to Seattle legend Jimi Hendrix, entering the game from the bullpen while "Voodoo Child" blares through Safeco Field.
It's last call for Tom Wilhelmsen. If he gets it, I'm betting he'll make the most of it.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013 @ 5:46pm
Top Mariners catching prospect Mike Zunino will make his MLB debut Wednesday, becoming the first position player from the 2012 draft to do so. But even more so than recent rookie phenoms like the Nationals' Bryce Harper or the Angels' Mike Trout, there are big question marks surrounding the 22-year-old's arrival to the big leagues.
Mariners rookie catcher Mike Zunino says his struggles at Triple-A Tacoma were more of a product of an overly aggressive approach than an inability to hit curveballs. (AP)
"It's just pitch selection, not necessarily just (curveballs)," Zunino said. "It's one of those things where if you don't get good pitches to hit and you try to do too much, you're just gonna chase pitches out of the zone. I always think I've been able to recognize curveballs and off-speed pitches fairly well and hit them fairly well.
"I just think it was poor approach and being too aggressive."
Zunino rebounded for the Rainiers to the point that he leaves 11 home runs, 43 RBIs and an .806 OPS in 47 games on the stat sheet in Tacoma.
"I think it's one of those where if you get your mind racing it sorta goes down pretty quick and it spirals. I just did a couple things, tried to stay focused and get my swing back on plane, and I did that," said Zunino. "I worked with Howard Johnson a lot, our hitting coach (at Tacoma), and he helped me a lot. It was just one of those things, just trying to keep things simple, and keep my approach simple also."
With both Jesus Sucre and Jesus Montero nursing injuries, Zunino will split time with Kelly Shoppach for the foreseeable future behind the plate. Another question has been whether he's ready to call a Major League game, but luckily for him he'll start off his career catching former Rainiers teammate Jeremy Bonderman.
"I've been able to catch Jeremy Bonderman a couple times, so I have a little bit of familiarity with him, so hopefully that helps me out some," he said.
Zunino has just 91 games of minor-league service under his belt, and considering the recent struggles of highly-touted prospects like Montero, Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak, fans and analysts alike have wondered whether Zunino was rushed too quickly to the Mariners. For his part, Zunino has tried to avoid the talk.
"I have no clue," he said in response to when he expected to be called up to Seattle. "I never really put a timetable on anything. I just went out there and tried to get better everyday, and whenever they thought suited best, that's when I was gonna be ready. It just happened to be pretty soon, and I hope I can come here and contribute."
Wednesday, June 12, 2013 @ 11:29am
Jim Harbaugh is a smart man, a fantastic football coach, a driven competitor and a man I think football fans here in Seattle are lucky to have in the NFL.
Jim Harbaugh fanned the flames of the Seahawks-49ers rivalry with comments about Seattle's recent string of suspensions related to performance-enhancing drugs. (AP)
No part of me believes that it was at all accidental that Harbaugh included a line like this when asked about the recent run of PED-related suspensions up here in Seattle: "You don't know what it is. Even when people say what it is, you don't know that that's what it is. I've heard this thrown out or that, but that's usually the agents or the players themselves saying it's, for example, Adderall. But the NFL doesn't release what it actually is, so you have no idea."
Is he stating a fact? Yes. Is he right? Yes. Is that where the meaning of a line like that ends? Absolutely not.
It's unfortunate, in this case, that the carelessness of a few Seahawks players gave Harbaugh this particular piece of ammunition, but he would have found something else, something incendiary, in its place if he had needed to. From his days running up the score at Stanford to Handshakegate in Detroit to jibberish quotes about "jive turkeys" to his classic sideline tantrums, Jim Harbaugh has proven to have an incredible knack for getting under the skin of his opponents, and for that Seahawks fans should be thankful.
The 49ers-Seahawks rivalry is quickly becoming the marquee matchup in the NFL, and while it may not have needed extra hot sauce, Harbaugh saw fit to supply some anyway. None of this is to say that I don't respect that man, because I do, but his demeanor makes it oh-so-easy to find that little extra fire for the games in which the Hawks and Niners square off. For their part, and to their credit, the Seahawks' brass and players will downplay the significance of Harbaugh's words, but I don't believe for a second that they won't resonate at 12 Seahawk Way.
I'm confident in the weeks and months to come that San Francisco's head man will fire additional shots over the bow here in The Emerald City, and I'll be smiling each and every time. There's no hero without a villain and no rivalry with genuine vitriol that goes beyond the logo on the helmet. As long as Harbaugh is coaching the 49ers, Seahawks fans will have that vitriol by the freighter load.
And for that I can only say, "Thanks, Jim".
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 @ 6:43pm
Tarvaris Jackson's tenure with the Buffalo Bills is over, and as ESPN's John Clayton reports, the former Seahawks quarterback will make a visit this week to discuss a return to Seattle.
"I know from T-Jack's standpoint, he would like to come back ... (and wide receiver) Doug Baldwin tweeted out that he would like to have T-Jack back," Clayton said. "Say what you want about T-Jack – he was a quarterback that could get you seven wins, but as a backup quarterback you really want a quarterback that can get you to eight wins ... and I think T-Jack's good enough to do it."
Clayton believes Jackson would be an upgrade as Russell Wilson's backup over Brady Quinn.
"He's got a better track record, he's had more starts, he's scored more points, he's been on good teams," Clayton said of Jackson. "He has credibility in the locker room, he averages 19 points a game, so you're getting a better quarterback coming off the bench. And now that he's gone to a different place and found out that he wasn't gonna start against Kevin Kolb and a rookie, I think he comes back with the attitude, 'OK, fine, I'll be the backup. I'll be fine with it.' "
Clayton said that with the current weak crop of backup quarterbacks, the addition of Jackson would be a coup for the Seahawks.
"You're not gonna get too many great backup quarterbacks. He would, in my opinion, be in the top six or seven backup quarterbacks (in the NFL)," he said. "Whether they bring in to compete with Brady Quinn or replace Brady Quinn, I think it's the right move."
Friday, June 7, 2013 @ 11:26am
"We nearly have reached the point where we don't have enough hours in the day to publish a post every time Richard Sherman speaks critically about an NFL contemporary."
That was the opening line from Dan Hanzus at NFL.com in a piece about the latest verbal battle between Richard Sherman and his new adversary, Roddy White of the Atlanta Falcons.
Sherman was quoted as saying that White didn't deserve to be listed anywhere in the NFL's "Top 100 Players" list (which is clearly not the case) and, as has become custom, the media powers that be immediately sought out a reaction from White himself.
Richard Sherman has popped off again, this time saying Falcons receiver Roddy White isn't among the NFL's top 100 players. (AP)
If you're a fan of swagger (and I am) you have to just laugh and shake your head at the kid's confidence. If you're not a fan of swagger (or as it's more likely to be identified, "arrogance") then you're more than likely hoping that Sherman shuts his beak and lets his play do the talking.
Don't hold your breath.
Just as Pete Carroll and John Schneider have reworked this roster with the right kinds of athletes, they've also worked to create a locker room with the right mix of personalities to take this team through to a championship. Not everyone can be as stoic as Russell Wilson, and truth be told, a locker room full of one kind of personality would never work anyway.
Sherman is brash, he's rude, he's vulgar and he's rapidly becoming the face of the Seahawks at the national level. He has set the bar for the coming season, not just for himself but for the entire team. Expectations are sky high for this Seahawks squad and with those expectations comes opportunities to be heard.
In fact, it's a safe bet that until the ball is snapped in Week 1, the only thing higher than the expectations for the Seahawks will be the volume knob on Sherman's squawk box.
Friday, June 7, 2013 @ 8:51am
At this point, it's a given that Hisashi Iwakuma will be an American League All-Star. But I'd argue that he should be the AL's starter as well.
How cool would that be? When he was signed by the Mariners in January of 2012, The Seattle Times ran a poll asking readers for their thoughts on the Iwakuma acquisition. Forty-eight percent said they liked the deal, narrowly edging the 44 percent who said they were lukewarm about it.
If that poll were held today, no one would like the deal; 100 percent would love it.
It's hard to believe that the Japanese right-hander was an afterthought when the Mariners broke camp last year. He didn't stir from the bullpen until the Mariners' 15th game, the last player to see action.
Hisashi Iwakuma, ranked second among American League starters in ERA and first in WHIP, has come a long way since starting last season in the Mariners' bullpen. (AP)
When he did make his infrequent relief appearances, Iwakuma didn't look anything like the pitcher he is now. He didn't start a game until early July of last season, lowering his ERA from 5.13 to 3.16 the rest of the way.
And as you know, he's been sensational this year with a 6-1 record, 1.94 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP. He has struck out 79 batters and walked only 13. In seven of his 13 starts, he has not issued a single walk.
I was skeptical when the Mariners signed him to a two-year, $14 million contract in the offseason, but he looks underpaid now. He's been better than Felix Hernandez, who's making $25 million a year.
Iwakuma will take a 21 2/3-inning scoreless streak into his next start Monday night against the Astros at Safeco Field.
You've got to like his chances in that game, facing the lowly Astros and considering that Iwakuma is 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA and 0.55 WHIP in his starts at Safeco Field this year.
Now then, his numbers aren't quite good enough yet to be the AL starter in the All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York on July 16. But they will be by the time July 16 rolls around.
In terms of record and ERA, Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox is ahead of Iwakuma at 8-0 and 1.62. But he's got a higher WHIP at 1.02 and has more than doubled the number of walks given up by Iwakuma with 28.
In craps, I like to bet on the come, and that's what I'm doing here – expecting Iwakuma to be better in his next seven starts before the All-Star Game than Buchholz will be in his.
Buchholz was 11-8 with a 4.56 ERA last year, suggesting a return to earth in the coming weeks. Nothing of the sort is expected from Iwakuma.
It's probably pathetic to root against another pitcher just so Iwakuma can be the starter in an All-Star Game, but that's what I'll be doing tomorrow when Buchholz faces the Angels at Fenway Park.
The other would-be contenders for the AL start are Alex Cobb of Tampa Bay at 6-2 and 2.39 and Chris Sale of the White Sox at 5-3 and 2.44. They are the only other AL pitchers in the top 14 of the MLB's top ERAs. Felix checks in at No. 5 at 2.58.
I'll keep my eye on Sale, but I'm not worried about Cobb, who was 11-9 with a 4.03 ERA last year.
There's only problem that might prevent Iwakuma from starting the All-Star Game for the American League. As it sits right now, he's scheduled to start against the Angels on July 14, the Mariners' final game before the All-Star break.
That's just two days before the game itself. Surely with off-days, something can be done to let him face the Angels on July 12 or 13 so he can be the starter in the All-Star Game.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013 @ 4:43pm
How clean do you want to be?
In the wake of the latest PED scandal involving A-Rod, Ryan Braun and allegedly Seattle's own Jesus Montero, MLB has some serious soul searching to do.
Unfortunately, that is where the real talk stops and the ether begins. It's not a secret that the steroid era of baseball, while now considered a black mark on the history of the game, was a boon to the sport. A lot of folks in the league knew what was going on, knew it was helping the sport and chose to do what was right ... for TV ratings.
That time in the game created the culture that you have today and it's obviously not under control. So what is MLB to do? Will it actually take the harsh steps necessary to drum PEDs out of the game? Will we live to see the Major Leagues ex-communicating its star players when they are found to have violated? Will it send a clear message that the upside of cheating is nowhere near as bad as what waits for you on the other side of a dirty test?
Or will they continue to rattle the sabre while players like Melky Cabrera, who are caught cheating, get a deal worth $16 million or more the very next season? For what it's worth, Cabrera feels just terrible about cheating, though I am guessing not bad enough to give any of that money back.
Of course no player would (or should) offer up his salary back. They are simply playing within the rules and policies of the day in MLB, and until those change, nothing else will.
The question is whether or not MLB really wants to clean up baseball at the risk of eliminating some of its most popular players or if it would rather continue to stumble forward from scandal to scandal simply treading water in a sea of excuses.
Friday, May 31, 2013 @ 10:03am
I'll bet if you don't like the job he's doing, you could come up with all kinds of reasons why Eric Wedge should be fired.
And I'm guessing a lot of them would support your case.
The Mariners' manager fueled things this week with his derogatory comments about the role sabermetrics had in Dustin Ackley's demise.
"It's the new generation," Wedge told reporters. "It's all this sabermetrics stuff, for lack of a better term, you know what I mean? People who haven't played since they were 9 years old think they have it figured out. It gets in these kids' heads."
The Go 2 Guy's wide-ranging reaction to Wedge's comment:
Eric Wedge was way off-base when he said that sabermetrics played a role in Dustin Ackley's offensive struggles. (AP)
I have 9-year-olds who are playing baseball right now. I can't picture them crunching numbers someday and posting stuff on U.S.S. Mariner that will somehow affect the confidence of a Mariners' prospect in 2033.
But my 9-year-olds knew before you did that Ackley needed to be sent to Tacoma. They don't read the sabermetrics stuff on-line. They watch the games. They see him strike out or ground out to the second baseman all the time. They wonder if you're watching the same games they are.
Here's something else that their dad gets a kick out of: As recently as last Friday, you said that Ackley had to figure it out at the major-league level, indicating that it wouldn't help him to go to Tacoma. Then three days later, you turn him into a Rainier.
You also said that it was silly for me to think that a No. 2 overall draft choice should be a .300 hitter. Sorry, I thought if you were deemed to be the second-best player in the 2009 draft, I just kind of expected stardom. Silly me. My bad if I'm way off-base on that.
I'm still mad that the Mariners swept the A's in the season-ending series in 2008, preventing them from having the worst record and getting the first pick to draft Stephen Strasburg.
Imagine that, Eric: Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Strasburg at the top of your rotation, and seamheads in Washington, D.C. would be blamed for Ackley's struggles with the Nationals.
I understand that you were trying to defend your player, just like general manager Jack Zduriencik did when he praised Ackley's play at second base while demoting him.
And let's say you're right, that the sabermetrics stuff messed with Ackley's head. Do you really want a mentally fragile guy like that on your team long-term?
One more thing: After making those comments, why would you come back the next day and soften your stance with follow-up comments about the importance of sabermetrics, how you used them in Cleveland and still use them now?
You'll tell me that you were asked a question about it, so you answered the question. You should have brushed the question off. You made it even worse by saying, "That's not the reason Ackley was having issues at home plate."
Well, what is it then? And why did you bring sabermetrics up in the first place if it weren't having some sort of impact on Ackley?
This is a classic case of a manager having rabbit ears. Why would you go out of your way to irritate and blame seamheads? I would never want to go as deep into the game as they do, but I respect those guys, and correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Athletics GM Billy Beane the king of seamheads? Look at what he does year after year.
The A's, with a roster that isn't that much better than the Mariners', are 31-24 to your team's record of 23-31, Eric.
I'm still going to support you. I think I'd like playing for you. I cut you slack because I don't think the best manager in baseball could win consistently with the lineup you're forced to go with night after night.
But give the seamheads a break.
Bonneville Media encourages site users to express their opinions by posting comments. Our goal is to maintain a civil dialogue in which readers feel comfortable. At times, the comments can descend to personal attacks. Please do not engage in such behavior. We encourage your thoughtful comments which: have a positive and constructive tone, are on topic, are respectful toward others and their opinions. Bonneville reserves the right to remove comments which do not conform to these criteria.