Updated Apr 11, 2013 - 4:32 pm
The Go 2 Guy on 710 ESPN Seattle
Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 10:11am
By Brent Stecker
The Seattle Mariners are counting on some surprises to lead them to a successful 2013 season. Just don't count on those surprises coming from first baseman Justin Smoak or outfielder Jason Bay, ESPN baseball analyst Keith Law said on "Afternoons with the Go 2 Guy" on 710 ESPN Seattle.
Smoak, a former first-round pick who was the centerpiece of the Mariners' haul from the Texas Rangers in their 2010 Cliff Lee trade, has managed just a .223 average in three full Major League seasons. The 26-year-old has had a promising spring training, hitting .390 with three home runs and eight RBI in 13 games, but that isn't enough to sway Law.
"As a long-time supporter of Smoak, I think that ship has unfortunately probably sailed," Law said. "If you'd seen him at (the University of) South Carolina and you see him now, just everything is slower about him. I've seen the data that he just basically can't hit a slider at this point. The agility he had ... seems to be gone. (There has been a) decline in athleticism over the last three or four years."
Bay, a 34-year-old free-agent pickup and three-time All-Star, came to the Mariners looking to revive a career that was on life support after three disappointing seasons with the New York Mets. He also has played well this spring, hitting .323 with two homers and four RBI, while challenging Casper Wells for the team's fourth outfielder spot, but Law doesn't like what he's seen from the veteran.
"Bay stinks. I really think Jason Bay has nothing left to offer a big league team," Law said. "Stats aside, just watching him I don't see any chance that he's a productive big leaguer this year, whereas Casper Wells I think is a very useful fourth outfielder. You need fourth outfielders -- you need guys who can confidently bounce around the outfield and have some ability to come in and pinch-hit. That's to me a much better use of a roster spot than what almost feels like a sentimental play of Jason Bay.
"I saw Bay a week ago and walked out thinking, well he's gonna get released in a week. There seems to be nothing left at the major league level. To me, no way I'm keeping him over Casper Wells."
Law also talked about what to expect from second baseman Dustin Ackley and catcher Mike Zunino this season, the formerly defensive-minded Mariners' switch in philosophy, and the rest of the AL West with Jim Moore, Danny O'Neil and Dave Wyman on "Afternoons with the Go 2 Guy."
Saturday, March 16, 2013 @ 4:29pm
It's only March. We're still just a week into free agency. We're still a month and a half away from the draft. We're still five and a half months from the season starting.
But when you look at the moves the Seahawks made last week and project what kind of season it might be this year, it's impossible to not be wildly optimistic.
That's why I say things on the air such as ...
• I don't care what Vegas thinks, the Seahawks should be favored to win the Super Bowl this year. (Bovada.lv currently feels otherwise, listing Denver and San Francisco as the co-favorites at 7-1. The Patriots are 15-2, and the Seahawks are 10-1).
• With the addition of Percy Harvin, the Seahawks might have the NFL's best offense in 2013.
• The Seahawks also addressed their biggest need – pass rush – by signing free agents Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, who combined for 18.5 sacks last year. When you add three players of this caliber to a team that went 11-5 last year, it gives the Hawks a shot at going 19-0.
The addition of versatile wide receiver Percy Harvin gives the Seahawks a championship-caliber offense. (AP)
Maybe they'll finish second to the 49ers in the NFC West and lose on the road again as a wild-card team, falling short of the Super Bowl.
Those two outcomes are more likely than what I'm suggesting. But would you agree that winning the Super Bowl is possible this year? Would you agree that the Harvin addition and a full season of Russell Wilson unleashed gives the Seahawks a chance to have the NFL's best offense?
Harvin's electric. If defenses key on him, fine. The Seahawks can pummel you with Marshawn Lynch or out-finesse you with the read option or passes to Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Zach Miller.
Harvin should greatly enhance the play-making abilities of his teammates while providing frequent scoring bursts of his own. The guy has averaged seven touchdowns a year during his four-year career.
The Seahawks were 17th in the NFL in offense last year, but everyone knows how conservative they were during the first half of the season. Pete Carroll didn't want to ask Wilson to do too much.
In their last six games, including the playoffs, the Seahawks averaged 37 points a game. With Harvin and Wilson leading the way, if the Hawks don't have the league's best offense, they should be in the top five.
This is one of the reasons why I think they have a shot at going 19-0 or at the very least overtaking San Francisco to win the NFC West. As everyone knows, it's much harder to win on the road than at home. The Seahawks' defense never seems as good as it is when they're playing at CenturyLink Field.
If that's the case this year, they're equipped to win high-scoring games now. With Harvin, I like Seattle's chances in a shootout.
The Seahawks have also gotten over that road bugaboo. Remember last year how they couldn't win on the road? When they went to Chicago in November, they had one road win to their credit, and they were lucky to pull that one out at Carolina.
But they beat the Bears in a wild overtime affair at Soldier Field and went on to hammer the Bills in Toronto and edge the Redskins in Washington in the playoffs. Yes, I know, they lost to the Falcons the following week, but we all remember how close and heart-wrenching that defeat was.
Another thing: Predicting a 19-0 season might be really ridiculous. But consider that last year's team without Harvin, Avril and Bennett lost its six games by a combined 26 points or 4.3 points a game. Every loss could have been a win – the Seahawks were right there in the fourth quarter.
Looking at their 2013 schedule, I'm assuming they'll go 8-0 at home again, just like they did last year. The Seahawks' home opponents – Arizona, San Francisco, St. Louis, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Tennessee and Minnesota – had a combined record of 46-80-2 in 2012.
I'm guessing that the Seahawks will be favored in road games against Arizona, St. Louis and Carolina. If oddsmakers are correct, that gets us to 11-0.
I'm guessing games at the New York Giants and Indianapolis will be toss-ups. You can make a case for the Giants and Colts to win those games, but you can just as easily make one for Seattle, too. In my book, that gets them to 13-0.
In the other three games, the Seahawks likely will be slight underdogs to Atlanta, San Francisco and Houston. You're probably right, they might lose two of those three, but I'll tell you this – if you give me Seattle and the points against anyone in 2013, I'll take 'em and bet with both hands.
If they finish the regular season at 16-0, they'd play the next two playoff games at CenturyLink, where the 12th Man gives them a huge edge, assuring 18-0 and a trip to the Super Bowl.
I know, this is a Fantasy Island post. John Clayton would rip it to shreds and tell me why I'm out of my mind.
I'm just saying that crazy-good things are possible with the Seahawks this season.
Friday, March 8, 2013 @ 2:17pm
While the Seahawks have a glaring need for another edge rusher, improving the interior pass rush also ranks high on their list of offseason priorities.
That helps explain why Dane Brugler's latest mock draft sends UCLA's Datone Jones to the the Seahawks with the 25th pick. Brugler describes Jones – who's listed at 6-feet-4 and 283 pounds – as a hybrid defensive lineman whose versatility will have added appeal to a team like the Seahawks.
UCLA's Datone Jones has the versatility to play defensive end and tackle, which could appeal to the Seahawks as they try to improve their interior and outside pass rush. (AP)
"He can play outside as a pass rusher, defensive end, but he also has experience lining up inside at defensive tackle. For UCLA, in their three-man front, he played both the five-technique, he played zero-technique at the nose tackle. He's done a lot of things."
The Seahawks signed a similarly versatile player last offseason in Jason Jones, who's roughly the same size as Datone Jones. Jason Jones had three sacks before his season ended with a knee injury. Questions about his health and productivity might make the Seahawks seek an upgrade in the draft.
Datone Jones had just 13.5 sacks during four seasons at UCLA, which isn't the type of productivity teams look for in first-round picks. But, as Brugler noted, Jones also made 19 tackles for loss last season, the fifth-most in the Pac-12.
"He's a guy that can only be blocked for so long. Terrific blend of length, of strength, quickness, makes plays all over," Brugler said. "He's a guy who might not last to 25, but if he's there, it makes a lot of sense for the Seahawks."
Brugler's first-round mock draft also has the Patriots selecting former Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant with the 29th pick.
Brugler shares the popular opinion among draft analysts that Trufant raised his draft stock with strong showings at the Senior Bowl and the scouting combine. Brugler originally gave Trufant a second-round grade after watching his senior season.
"He looked outstanding with his footwork, his quickness out of his breaks, did a nice job with his anticipation (at the Senior Bowl)," Brugler said. "And we saw more of that at the combine, just the sheer athleticism. Obviously he has the bloodlines, and he's a good kid, too, coachable and a guy you can trust."
Friday, March 8, 2013 @ 9:20am
By Jim Moore
You've probably heard about Richard Sherman's appearance Thursday on ESPN's "First Take" with Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith.
The Seahawks' cornerback lashed out at Bayless, who has criticized Sherman, saying he's not one of the NFL's best defensive players just yet. Bayless also said that Sherman, to this point, is better known for his trash talking than his play on the field.
Sherman fired back at Bayless, saying: "I'm better at life than you." He also called Bayless "a pompous, egotistical, arrogant cretin." He added: "I'm gonna crush you in front of everybody."
Sherman kept saying that he would let his numbers speak for themselves, referring to his 12 interceptions and four forced fumbles over his two NFL seasons.
But we can't hear or see the numbers when Sherman keeps babbling the way he did Thursday.
I was sort of OK with Sherman when he got in Tom Brady's face after the New England game and tweeted out a picture with the caption, "You mad, bro?"
I really liked it when he changed his Twitter name to "Optimus Prime" when he faced Calvin "Megatron" Johnson and the Lions. That was creative.
I thought it was a little curious when he baited Trent Williams after the playoff game with the Redskins, causing the offensive lineman to shove Sherman in the face.
Then in New Orleans when he shot his own video asking fans if Richard Sherman was the best cornerback in the league, I thought that was fun stuff.
Even last week, when he had a Twitter battle with Darelle Revis, I was OK with that, too, though I started to wonder if he could ever just put a lid on it.
But he went too far and crossed the line with Bayless. We all know that Sherman is smart, graduating with a 4.0 GPA from high school and earning a degree at Stanford.
But he sounded like an idiot on "First Take." He probably thought he was really showing Bayless a thing or two, but what he actually showed was an unflattering side of himself.
Danny O'Neil, Dave Wyman and I talked about Sherman's comments on Thursday's show. We were a cross-section, representing what the listeners were thinking – Danny was fine with Sherman's comments, I wasn't, and Wyman was somewhere in between.
Here's a sampling of texts we received:
• Awesome! Skip Bayless is a tool.
• I'm fine with Sherman talking trash, but he needs to use his Stanford education and elevate things.
• I love Sherm, but he's starting to lose at his own game. He needs to choose his battles wisely. That's when he's been fun to embrace.
• Sherman is turning into a Gilbert Gottfried commercial. First time you see it, it's funny. By the fourth time, you're changing the channel as quickly as possible. Shut up, bro.
I admit to being a hypocrite. For sports talk radio purposes, I appreciate that Sherman stooped to Bayless' subterranean levels because it gave us something to talk about besides Matt Flynn, free agency and the draft.
As a sports-talk show host, I'd rather have Sherman speaking his mind and being candid about everything than hearing clichés from Russell Wilson.
But as a dad and a Seahawks fan, I look at it differently. If one of my 8-year-olds ever has the good fortune of being a professional athlete someday, I don't want them to act like Sherman.
Heck, I worry about them acting like Sherman now. They want to but are currently resisting the urge to talk trash and celebrate with their discount-double check thing after making shots in their Bellevue Boys and Girls Club basketball games.
Sherman's dad or his mom or his buddy or his mentor or his girlfriend or his dog – someone, anyone – needs to pull him aside and say: "Richard! Shut the hell up!"
If he were my kid, I'd be so damn proud of him and what he's accomplished. But I'd be embarrassed and disappointed in him today.
Thursday, March 7, 2013 @ 11:38am
The Seahawks will be looking for a new weakside linebacker assuming two things:
With that in mind, Jim Moore led off Wednesday's edition of "Cold Hard Facts" with a question for John Clayton about outside linebackers who might interest the Seahawks when free agency begins next week.
Clayton described the list of available 4-3 outside linebackers as relatively unimpressive before saying Philip Wheeler would be one of the better options. Wheeler, 28, set a career high with 109 tackles with the Raiders last season. He spent his first four NFL seasons with Indianapolis, where he played inside linebacker.
Pro Football Focus ranks Wheeler as the fourth-best free-agent linebacker, noting some issues he's had against the run as well as his strengths as a pass rusher.
The latter could increase his appeal to the Seahawks. Along with a career-high three sacks last season, Wheeler added 14 quarterback hits and 13 hurries on 126 pass rushes, according to Pro Football Focus. Gus Bradley's defense didn't feature much blitzing, but if new coordinator Dan Quinn decides to be more aggressive, he might prefer a linebacker who has shown an ability to get to quarterbacks.
Wheeler's one-year deal with Oakland paid him $700,000, according to contract details available here. Both sides are reportedly talking about a new deal, but it sounds like Wheeler is unsure about whether he'll return to the Raiders.
"There's plenty of teams out there," Wheeler told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this week. "It's very important to me to get back to being part of a winning organization."
Thursday, February 28, 2013 @ 10:47am
By Jim Moore
Last weekend I watched the combine and rooted for Marquess Wilson to do well. I wanted him to run a fast 40-yard dash and catch every pass that was thrown to him.
My 8-year-olds were excited, racing up the stairs to ask: "Dad, did you see Marquess!"
But then it occurred to me that there might be a fair share of Cougs who weren't rooting for Washington State's all-time leading receiver. They're upset with him for quitting in November, three games before the end of the season, and citing verbal, mental and physical abuse by Mike Leach and his coaching staff.
That led to investigations by the WSU athletic department and the Pac-12, both of which cleared the staff of any wrongdoing.
I threw it out there on Facebook and got a mostly negative reaction to Wilson.
Enrique said: "Good luck, but I don't support him. No heart. If he thinks Leach was tough, then he won't last long if at all in the NFL."
From Dennis: "Hope he struggles. He let his ego dictate his actions."
From Gordie: "I would not waste a draft choice on that quitter."
From Joel: "He might as well be a dirty Husky for all I care. Lazy quitter."
From Jason: "I don't consider anyone who quits to be a Coug."
From Riley: "I hope he does terrible and doesn't get drafted."
From Doug: "Not a true Coug."
But there were a few Marquess supporters.
From Stephen: "He's just a kid. We all did dumb stuff when we were his age. He's going to pay for it when he falls in the draft, but I hope he has a successful career and represents WSU for life."
From Roy: "Still has a lot of work to do, but I'm hoping someone gives him a chance. Whether he likes it or not, when he makes the winning Super Bowl catch for the Seahawks, they'll always say he's from WSU."
From Michael: "Everyone makes mistakes. No need to crucify him for one of his."
There are a lot of factors that influence how you feel about Wilson:
• Some of it depends on how you feel about Leach. If you're 100 percent supportive of the new head coach, then what Wilson did is inexcusable.
• I wish I knew if he were a lazy prima-donna or a terrific kid. I've heard that he's both, from different camps, over and over again. Which is the truth?
• If you believe that everyone deserves a second chance, especially a youngster at his age, you're more apt to support Wilson.
• Do you feel like he quit the team or quit on the team? There's a difference. I feel like he quit on the staff, not his teammates, though I can see how others wouldn't look at it like that.
No matter how you feel, he should have stuck it out for his own good. He didn't need to subject himself to questions about his toughness at the combine. If he had hung through the end of the season, he probably would've been drafted in the middle rounds. Now? He might not get drafted at all.
As I said before, I'm pulling for him. He's a kid who screwed up. He gets a second chance in my book. I prefer to think of him hauling in that game-winning touchdown pass at Colorado two years ago instead of picturing him on his way out of Pullman on terrible terms.
Why do I feel that way? I'm not entirely sure. But I won't take the time to try to figure it out – I'm just going to wish him well and hope that the Seahawks get a steal when they select Wilson with one of their three picks in the seventh round.
Thursday, February 28, 2013 @ 9:49am
Richard Sherman joined Jim Moore and Dave Wyman Wednesday afternoon just as the Alex Smith news was prompting speculation that the 49ers, now loaded with even more draft picks, might pursue a trade for Darrelle Revis.
So the stage was set. But anyone expecting fireworks heard a dud instead.
Sherman was asked how fun it would be to have Revis in the same division.
"It'd be fun either way, there's always a rivalry there," he said. "I still wouldn't get to play against him directly so it wouldn't really matter to me. I'm sure our receivers would have a little fun with him. But yeah, I don't mind either way, he's really irrelevant in my mind."
So there you go.
Sherman went on to talk about his offseason workout routine and answered some listeners' questions. You can hear the full interview here.
Friday, February 22, 2013 @ 9:24am
By Jim Moore
Ready for the Joe Saunders era to start in Seattle? Me too.
It might last one year, might last longer than that. I'm just glad the Mariners found a veteran left-hander to add to a rotation tentatively featuring four right-handers -- Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Erasmo Ramirez and Blake Beavan.
I like to think that Saunders is more than a Kevin Millwood-type place-holder who is only here to eat innings until Danny Hultzen or Taijuan Walker or another young hurler is ready to join the big-league team.
Saunders is only 31. In his major-league career, he's 78-65 with a 4.15 ERA.
When I think of Joe Saunders, I like to think of the guy I saw pitching for the Orioles against the Rangers in the wild-card play-in game last year. He came through in a big way, pitching the Orioles to a win over the heavily favored Rangers, who were playing at home. That's proof that he's a big-game pitcher.
Better than that, Saunders is 6-0 with a 2.13 ERA at Safeco Field. Granted, Safeco Field's dimensions are changing this year -- moving in the left-center field wall as much as 17 feet could certainly hurt a lefty like Saunders. Right-handed batters hit .307 against him last year.
But I like his chances to adjust to the new ballpark. I'll take a 4.15 ERA. If he gives up three to five runs in every start, the Mariners likely will be in every game with the lineup they have this year.
Dave Wyman and I talked to Saunders on Thursday. Besides his reasonably good numbers as a pitcher, we found other reasons to like him and pull for him.
As you may or may not know, if a guy drinks beer, plays golf and owns a dog, he's more than fine by me, and Saunders went 3-for-3. Or 2.5 out of 3 if you want to get downright technical about it.
Saunders "owns" an English Bulldog, but she stays with his mom because he didn't want to put her through the constant moves that a baseball player makes in his career.
He enjoys having cold ones while he's playing golf, and Saunders is a good stick, sporting a 4 handicap. He shot a career-best 68 at Ocotillo in Chandler, Ariz.
Saunders married his college sweetheart, Shanel Garofalo, a softball player he met while they were students at Virginia Tech. Garofalo, a native of Vancouver, B.C., still insists that she's the best athlete in the family.
Joe and Shanel have two daughters, 4-year-old Mattea and 2-year-old Avellina. More than anything else, he likes hanging out and "snuggling" with his kids.
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