Rick Rizzs: ‘Mariners, you’re going to win a title next year’

Oct 2, 2023, 4:53 PM | Updated: 4:55 pm

seattle mariners...

Teoscar Hernandez #35 and Luis Castillo #58 of the Seattle Mariners hug after their season's end at T-Mobile Park on October 01, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

A 6-1 loss to the Texas Rangers Saturday, wedded with the Houston Astros’ 1-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, eliminated the Mariners from postseason contention one year after the franchise broke the longest active playoff drought in any of the four major pro sports in North America.

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“Well, they just, obviously, came up a little bit short,” Rick Rizzs, the lead voice for the Seattle Mariners radio broadcast, said on The Gee & Ursula Show. “But my goodness, they gave us one heck of a ride. This year was exciting with the young pitchers who really came through. Logan Gilbert had an outstanding year. So did George Kirby and Bryce Miller and Brian Woo. JP Crawford was amazing. Julio Rodriguez is one of the greatest players in the game of baseball right now.

“They just lost some games that they should have won, quite honestly,” Rizzs continued. “They got to fix some things with the offense. Cut down on the strikeouts.”

The Seattle Mariners became the second team in MLB history to have more than 1,603 strikeouts in a single season, only topped by the Minnesota Twins’ 1,654 strikeouts — which also happened in 2023. The Mariners finished seventh all-time in strikeouts in 2019 when the team won 68 games, the worst season by winning percentage in Manager Scott Servais‘ eight-year stint with Seattle.

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Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh took his frustrations with the end of the season to the media Saturday night after the team was mathematically eliminated stating, “We’ve got to commit to going and getting those players you see other teams going for. Getting big-time pitchers. Getting big-time hitters. We have to do that to keep up.”

Raleigh later apologized for his comments.

“What he said was from his heart, and he is passionate about winning and wanting to get to not only playoffs but to win a World Series,” Rizzs said regarding Raleigh’s statements. “And you got to love that he’s become a leader on this team. I just love this guy. Nobody loves Cal Raleigh more than I do. But there are certain things that you say at an emotional time that should be reserved for a private meeting with Jerry Dipoto, Justin Hollander, Andy McKay, Scott Servais and the coaching staff.”

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Raleigh, emphatically coined by the Mariners’ faithful as “The Big Dumper,” also spoke out against the team’s deadline trade when the team exchanged closer Paul Sewald to Arizona for Dominic Canzone, Josh Rojas and Ryan Bliss.

“Losing Paul at the trade deadline definitely hurt and I think was a big spot in our season,” Raleigh told the media Saturday night.

Despite the public apology, multiple teammates, including Ty France, Logan Gilbert and J.P. Crawford, said they supported Raleigh and agreed with what he said the night before.

“Everything he said for about 80% of his comments were right on. He wants to win. He wants to win a World Series for the fans and everything,” Rizzs said. “But, there are certain times where you should kind of keep those comments to the manager and the general managers because they’re going to come to him and say, ‘hey, how can we get better in that clubhouse, so we’ll get better on the field. He’s going to let him know.”

“But here’s my sense, informed by absolutely nothing,” Mike Lewis, guest host on The Gee & Ursula Show, responded. “If he’s saying this at a moment of frustration, it’s not like that thought just popped into his head after the game. That thought has been in his head for months. And it’s been probably openly discussed. I mean. doesn’t he actually bring credibility to his own position and the organization by saying, we really needed to do something a little better this year than what we did?”

“I think it does Mike, but again, there are times where you don’t let everything out to the media,” Rizzs answered. “I mean, you guys don’t go on the air and blast the people of KIRO Newsradio about how they do business and how to get better.”

“It doesn’t go over real well,” Ursula said with a laugh. “Your point is well taken.”

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According to Spotrac, which bills itself the “largest online sports team, and player contract resource on the internet,” the Mariners ranked 18th out of 30 MLB teams in total payroll, fielding a team with just under $135 million. The New York Mets paced the league with the biggest purse, spending just under $343 million on the 2023 roster.

“The other thing is we had young players really have the learning experiences here by watching what they say and what it means,” Rizzs said. “George Kirby came up and said, ‘I shouldn’t have been out there in the seventh inning,’ when all he does is want to go out into the seventh inning. And guess what George did after those comments? He apologized.

“Now, Jarred Kelenic had a great learning experience. He was one of our best players in the first half of the season, kicks a water cooler filled with water, breaks his foot. And then he has a tearful apology,” Rizzs added. “We had some young players have a great learning experience this year.”

But with Servais, who has been the Mariners manager since the 2016 season and has the second most managerial wins in franchise history, a young offensive core and elite pitching, Rizzs has his sights set on more than just two playoff appearances in three years.

“We’re going to move forward,” Rizzs stated. “Mariners, you’re going to win a title next year, and I can’t wait to get to spring training.”

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m.-noon on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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