Updated Oct 14, 2012 - 11:16 pm
Seattle Mariners Blog with Shannon Drayer
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 @ 11:58pm
Twelve-zero losses are not fun. Twelve-zero losses on the heels of four-game sweeps are even less fun. Twelve-zero losses and four-game sweeps are one thing in April. It's not April anymore.
Through the four-game losing streak I was pointing out that this was different and there is no need to panic because unlike in April, we had in my opinion seen enough good things recently to know that this was a bump in the road rather than a fall of the cliff.
With the losing streak at five games, I think they may need a nudge away from that cliff. They can start with the starting pitching, which has faltered of late. Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma will be okay but with such inconsistency from the bottom three of the rotation it would appear a change needs to be made. Eric Wedge himself pointed out that the bullpen cannot continue to be taxed the way it has been on this roadtrip.
"We will have to talk about that," he said in his postgame meeting with the media. "You want to give everybody ample opportunity, but having said that you can't keep doing what we're doing and expect to compete."
It all starts with the starting pitching for the Mariners. The offense is not going to carry this team for any long period of time. While there are a number of problems on this team that I believe are fixable, the first thing that needs to be tackled is the pitching. There aren't a lot of internal options. Jeremy Bonderman, Hector Noesi and Blake Beavan are it for now but if there is a chance that one of them can help keep the team in a ballgame every five days then a move needs to be made.
Tune in to "Brock and Danny" Wednesday morning at 10 to hear more about moves I think should be made as I take part in a Mariners roundtable discussion on the show.
Monday, May 20, 2013 @ 1:39pm
A conversation we had with Eric Wedge before today's 10-8 loss came to mind as we walked into the losing clubhouse.
The pregame talk was about the struggles to hit with runners in scoring position. Wedge was asked about some of the obstacles to that and whether he believed the theory put forth by some that hitting with runners on should be no different than with the bases empty. He clearly was not a fan of that thinking.
Charlie Furbush allowed a walkoff home run Monday to cap Cleveland's four-game sweep of the Mariners. (AP)
"It's just different," he continued. "Those people argue that the ninth inning is the same as the seventh and eighth. The ninth inning is different because we are human beings, we are not widgets. No different from when you are doing regular human being things and your heartbeat speeds up a little bit from different things you do in regular life. That's what happens when these guys are playing and millions of people are watching and there are 30,000 people in the stands.
"It's a situation to where it is a little bit more important. The outcome is going to be more important, and you feel that."
From the looks of things, that was felt today. We saw a lot of human in that game. Not in the situational-hitting department but rather in the late-inning defense and decision making. The heartbeat that Wedge often talks about may have contributed to late-inning mistakes that cost the Mariners a ballgame. This is by no means an excuse.
Justin Smoak failing to dig a ball out of the dirt on a good play by Robert Andino, Tom Wilhelmsen failing to catch a ball and Charlie Furbush appearing to not be ready are not things we typically see, yet they happened today.
We talk about the steps that this team needs to take. Three home runs today – all big, all clutch – were great to see. Hitting with runners in scoring position, however, needs to remain the focus. Minimizing errors needs to be a focus. Generating something, anything, on the bases needs to be a focus.
The Mariners are now in their longest losing streak of the season. This isn't April, however. We have seen too much good to think that this is it for this team. We have seen some bats come around. We have seen the bullpen redefine itself and have success. This should only be a bump in the road, but it is up to them.
We are just about wheels up now. I will have more from Anaheim.
Sunday, May 19, 2013 @ 9:06am
Not going to lie, back-to-back to back East Coast day games are a little rough. The team took batting practice on the field this morning but will not be able to do so tomorrow with the 12:05 start and an event scheduled on the the field.
• There was a lot of surprise with the folks around here and apparently on Twitter as well that Jesus Montero was in the lineup today after a number of miscues yesterday. After the game Eric Wedge said he hadn't had much of a chance to look at the final play. He has since then and didn't sound too thrilled with what he saw.
"He just released too early," Wedge said. "You've got to keep your foot planted. You're not going to turn two on that so you've just got to keep your foot planted on that."
Wedge said that coming off the plate was not because of an issue with the throw from Brendan Ryan.
"I didn't think he had to go out and get it. Just released off the plate a little too early," he said.
The play was something they worked on in spring training, according to Wedge. Ultimately it came down to his footwork.
"He should have gone with the other foot and then kind of caught the ball like this (backhanded) instead of this. Just put himself in a tough position and I think that is where he pulled himself off."
• With the exception of Danny Farquhar, the bullpen should be fully available today although they may try to stay away from Oliver Perez as he has pitched a bit more than they would like him to at this point. With any luck and Felix on the mound, a lot of pen should not be needed.
• No official word as of yet on Aaron Harang being ready to make the start on Tuesday but I am told he did throw his bullpen this morning and it appeared to go well. We should find out more about that after the game.
Friday, May 17, 2013 @ 9:32pm
By Shannon Drayer
Some things can't be measured by statistics. We can learn a lot about a player by the statistics but the intangibles, the immeasurables need to be picked up by the eye. I know what Joe Saunders is on paper but I saw and then learned much more about him earlier this week.
At Yankee Stadium they do something somewhat odd in that they allow player/team guests to exit the field by walking directly in front of the visitors' dugout. At just about every other field I can think of on field guests are only allowed behind a rope behind home plate. At Yankee Stadium you will often see the guests stopping for a bit right alongside the dugout railing.
Tuesday while the team was stretching a family stopped in that spot and watched the players. Joe Saunders broke away from the team stretch and came up to the family and gave the mother a big hug. They talked and laughed for awhile and clearly were happy to spend time together. When I ran into Saunders in the clubhouse the next day I asked about what I saw.
"Those were friends of mine that took in some foster kids," he told me with a smile.
He seemed ready to leave the conversation at that but when I remarked about what a great thing that was for them to do he shared a little bit more of their story.
Saunders told me the children has been horribly neglected and abused and that they were discovered when the eldest brother was found rummaging for food in a dumpster.
As he told the tale it began to sound familiar. It dawned on me that this is what he was talking about. The four New Jersey children had been so horribly starved by their adoptive parents that their growth had been stunted. When authorities rescued the child found in the dumpster they believed he was about ten years old as he was just four feet tall and 45 pounds. He was 19.
Fortunately, the story had a good ending as the children were taken away from the abusive parents. Three of the four were fostered and eventually adopted by James and Amber Parrish.
"We flew them out, brought them to the park, sent them to Disneyland for the first time," Joe told me.
I asked who "we" was, assuming he was talking about his former team the Angels. I was wrong. Joe and his wife Shanel did it on their own.
Joe and Shanel were no strangers to giving back. They had done numerous charitable things in their baseball communities including hosting disadvantaged or sick children at their ballparks. They had heard about the story of the Parrish family in Joe's final year with the Angels and decided that they wanted to give them a once in a lifetime experience. They have kept in contact with the family who were guests of Joe's at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday.
There was no press release about this. If I hadn't asked, I wouldn't have known. Obviously this was about Joe seeing some old friends and giving them the opportunity to spend some time on a big league field and not drawing attention to himself. Still, as long as you know that Joe is left handed, has a home ERA of 0.94 and a road ERA of 12.54, a K/9 of 3.80 and a FIP of 5.03 you might as well know this too.
The Mariners have a good guy taking the mound Saturday in Cleveland.
Friday, May 17, 2013 @ 2:28pm
By 710Sports.com staff
The Mariners optioned Hector Noesi to Triple-A Tacoma and transferred fellow right-hander Stephen Pryor to the 60-day disabled list before tonight's series opener against the Indians at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
In the video above, Shannon Drayer explains the reasoning behind those moves and looks ahead to tonight's game. Note: The video was filmed before the Mariners scratched outfielder Michael Morse from the lineup due to irritation in his eye. The lineup below is up to date.
First pitch for tonight's game against is 4:05. The game can be heard on 710 ESPN Seattle, and you can also follow along with our live gametracker.
Here is the Mariners' lineup:
Michael Saunders, CF
Dustin Ackley, 2B
Kyle Seager, 3B
Kendrys Morales, DH
Justin Smoak, 1B
Raul Ibanez, LF
Kelly Shoppach, C
Endy Chavez, RF
Brendan Ryan, SS
Brandon Maurer, SP
Update from Shannon: In the video I point out that moving Pryor to the 60-day DL does not necessarily indicate a setback. I asked Eric Wedge shortly after I filmed this if there was indeed a setback and here is what he said:
"It's just been slow coming. He tried to play catch the other day and it didn't feel great so we backed him off a little. We knew when we started out it would be some time but I don't think we know how much right now because it is kind of on its own timetable. It's kind of a different thing."
So basically, he played catch, felt something and then they needed to give him a little more time. With any kind of muscle tear you don't know until you get back out there and test it. He did and learned that he needs more time.
So is this something to be alarmed about? No. It doesn't sound like there is any other injury; this one is just taking a little more time than they hoped it would.
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 11:01pm
I'm not one that is big on big-win, big-game, or momentum talk. If you listen to me on the postgame show you have probably heard the phrase "it's just one game" from me often. In a 162-game season, most games are just one game. Tonight was different.
Tonight was big. To go into Yankee Stadium and overcome some bad calls that some would call hometown calls and come away with a series win over the first-place team means something to a young team. To get a win where your starter is scratched and your young bullpen is pushed is even bigger. To hold a lead in a building where you were not able to do the same two nights earlier is even bigger. The Mariners won a game that they probably couldn't have won a year ago.
The M's overcame adverse circumstances to beat the Yankees 3-2 Thursday night and escape the Bronx with a series win. (AP)
A big tip of the cap to Hector Noesi, who showed something tonight. More than the 4 1/3 innings he threw in the emergency start, Noesi didn't wilt under pressure. Hopefully this is a stepping stone for him.
Yoervis Medina pitched in a pressure situation and came out okay. Carter Capps survived three left-handed batters in the eighth inning and that was huge. The game was completely in his hands in the eighth as there was nobody up in the pen with just Tom Wilhelmsen and Charlie Furbush – who was being held back in case the game went into extras – left.
Wilhelmsen was spectacular. He didn't have his command early but was able to strike out Jayson Nix with a runner on third and one out when he needed to.
"In my head I said this one is going right by ya," he told me on the field following the game.
All that strikeout did was earn him a matchup with Robinson Cano. Wilhelmsen said he had been going over this matchup for the past two games. A closer that is looking forward to getting to Cano? You have to love that.
There was offense, too, with Michael Morse hitting a home run and Brendan Ryan putting up two hits and a RBI. Defensively, Kyle Seager made a couple of beautiful key plays and Kendrys Morales roped in an errant Ryan throw that could have scored the tying run.
It was a good game and the guys knew it.
"That was playoff stuff right there," Ryan said at his locker after the game. "Everybody's ready to make a defensive play. Our bullpen comes in and they are executing pitches. That's as fun as it gets there at the end with Tommy on the mound."
Now it is time to see what they can do against the Indians. The team arrived here at 2 a.m. no worse for wear. Truth be told, they were still a little up from the win as they should be.
This was a good one.
Seager is finally being noticed. Despite the fact that the New York television crew called him Sayger for two days, there is no doubt he caught their attention. Good to see.
Despite the success of the pen there is a good chance we could see a move later Friday. The pen pitched a lot of innings and with Brandon Maurer and Joe Saunders coming up they most likely will not want to risk not having enough pen this weekend. As terrific as Noesi was, I wouldn't be surprised if he is sent down as he will not be able to pitch this weekend. I wouldn't expect him to be down for long, however.
Thursday, May 16, 2013 @ 11:47am
Quick pre, pregame note: If you follow me on Twitter – and you should @shannondrayer – then you saw the news that Aaron Harang has been scratched from his start with lower-back stiffness. Hector Noesi will get the start in his place.
Noesi was sent to Double-A at the end of spring training and that is where he made his last start, throwing five innings on April 12. He hasn't pitched in a game since May 5.
As for the two heading to Tacoma, Franklin Gutierrez and Josh Kinney will begin their rehab assignments there tonight. As I said in my previous post, Kinney is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list and I think there is a good chance we see him back with the big-league club that day.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 @ 9:10pm
After reading the comments following Tuesday's post I thought I should share some insight on two issues.
Obviously a lot of you were upset with the umpiring in the Mariners' 4-3 loss to the Yankees. There is no doubt there were bad calls. Did they cost the Mariners the game? Ultimately, no. When a team is 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position I think the offense has more to do with the loss than the umpiring.
Before that game I interviewed Kelly Shoppach for the Mariners Insider segment of the pregame show. The interview ran a little long and I ended up editing out a portion that would have been very relevant to the topic at hand.
When talking to Kelly about pitch framing he told me that his main goal was to make things easier for the umpire. To give him a good look so it would be easier for him to make a good call.
"Those guys are graded but at the end of the day if you get out of there without getting yelled at by either team it is a good day," he told me.
He then went on to say that he believed the umpires in general were actually pretty good and that they miss one or two calls a game.
"One or two calls a game?" I asked skeptically.
He wasn't having any of that. His tone immediately changed. Serious. Dead serious.
"I actually do think that is right," he said.
Of course I had to revisit this in the clubhouse this afternoon.
"So ... nice call on the umps only getting one or two calls wrong a game," I teased Shoppach when he walked by Brendan Ryan, who was talking with a reporter about the 3-2 pitch to Brett Gardner.
I didn't have the recorder on but Shoppach stood by what he said. He said there were only a couple of bad calls in that game. How could that be?
He basically said that when you are in the game, behind the plate or at the plate, you have to go not with the strike zone, but the umpire's strike zone. He said what he saw that night was not surprising and consistent with what he knew of the home-plate umpire that night.
It is about consistency. I am not going to go back and look at how consistent Jerry Layne has been with his strike zone this year. I simply don't have the time and I am not interested in proving Kelly Shoppach wrong. If that's what he saw, that's what he saw.
In other words, the pitch tracker shows what the strike zone should be, but the umpire establishes what the strike zone is. Some guys have big strike zones, some tight. Players know which way an umpire is likely to go and they get a feel early for what he is calling that night and it's up to them to adjust to the umpire rather than to sit back and try to play the pitch tracker zone.
So yes, there were bad calls but not every missed strike was a strike in the zone that the umpire established in Shoppach's mind.
The other topic I wanted to address was Wedge not going to Oliver Perez in the seventh inning Tuesday night. I find it strange that I need to address it (because there were commenters asking why he didn't) seeing that I gave his explanation in that post. If you missed it, go back and read the post again.
I do want to talk a little bit more about the bullpen, however. While the bullpen has done well, particularly of late, it still has some shortcomings which most likely is one of the reasons why Wedge held Perez back.
First and foremost, keep in mind that the manager has information you do not have, and he may choose not to share, when he is making these decisions. The pitcher may have some ailment that day, he may have pitched too much recently. Maybe he was simply "off" earlier in the day. I don't know if there were other circumstances we didn't know about Tuesday. Just keep that in mind.
You can't go to Perez in every must-get situation. Outside of Perez and the closer right now the pen does not have a go-to-guy. The pen has been good but in my opinion it is short either a righty or another versatile lefty.
There's Tom Wilhelmsen and Perez and then working backwards you have Carter Capps, against whom lefties are hitting .391. Lucas Luetge's numbers against righties are even worse. Yoervis Medina is young and they are picking their spots for him and it is paying off. Hector Noesi is Hector Noesi. Charlie Furbush is not a bad option as he can get both lefties and righties out and pitch multiple innings if needed, but has had command issues at times.
With Wilhelmsen the closer and only available for the ninth – and in some situations an out in the eighth – you can't go to Perez every single time a fire needs to be put out. Tuesday night the team was up two in the seventh when Furbush was put in. That is not even a fire situation.
A healthy Stephen Pryor would help but he is still a ways away from a return. Closer to a return is Josh Kinney, who could be sent out on a rehab assignment in the next couple of days. I think there is a good chance we see him back with the club May 30, the day he is eligible to return.
Wednesday postgame notes
What a night for the Mariners. On the heels of a game that they couldn't quite put away, they put this one away in the first inning. The Mariners scored seven in the first en route to a 12-2 win .
Another big night for Raul Ibanez, who hit a grand slam and a two-run home run. The six RBIs were a career best for a road game.
Ibanez has been on some kind of a hot streak in New York, homering in nine of his last 11 games at Yankee Stadium.
Hisashi Iwakuma surrendered two runs and saw his ERA increase to a whopping 1.84.
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