Monday Morning Update from PNW Crew

FeaturedMonday Morning Update from PNW Crew

By Con/PNW Sports Fans

The team as been MIA. We apologize. But what is there to really write about? Neil Olshey sucking for the third straight year? Summer MLB baseball; YAWN. Pac-12 media day? Meh.

At PNW we are still on the euphoria of shutting down TD Ameritrade, having a chariot pick us up for our victory parade in downtown Omaha towards an authentic Cuban cigar lounge. Who has it better then us in college baseball? Answer: No one!

In the next few days we will be coming out with a few previews for Seahawks 2018, OSU football fall camp and whatever Brian Braught can drum up.

As always, our info will be detailed, fans perspective, realistic and always free to everyone. We are die-hards who believe in coverage that is accurate and detailed that other die-hards will appreciate the overall picture of each program and team we cover vs the paid stuff you get or the local things that are written by people who don’t even like those teams or some unpaid high school journalist. Looking at you Danny Moran.

That being said, any suggestions or questions are ALWAYS welcomed and wanted to improve our coverage or assess certain positions or questions about players specifically. Reach out to us on twitter or our personal lives if you know… you know…

PNW Sports Fans

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Mariners Post Trade Deadline Update

Mariners Post Trade Deadline Update

The trade deadline has now come and gone and this the team the M’s will have as they attempt to end the playoff drought. As of this morning, the M’s are 2.5 games back of the 2nd wild card spot held currently by the Royals. A brutal August schedule in terms of games on the road is under way. Despite only 6 games at home, the M’s do not have the toughest of schedules and it should be reasonable to expect them to go 16-11 in the month. This would be a drastic improvement compared to their 22-26 record on the year on the road thus far and would be the best month of baseball for the club.

Despite Paxton having an unreal month in July and showing why many see him as a #1 starter, the M’s starting pitching will not be striking fear in any of these teams when Ramirez and Gallardo are on the bump. Jerry attempted to combat this by dealing a couple of prospects for David Phelps in an attempt to bolster the bullpen and Diaz appears to have righted the ship with a great month on July (0.951 WHIP and 13.8 SO/9). If Pazos can regain the command he had in April and May and Zych continues to throw heat, we could have a chance to make up for shaky starts from the back-end of the rotation. But no matter what we do, what is going to carry the Mariners to the playoffs is their bats.

The M’s have one of the best 1-2-3-4-5 lineups in the MLB. Cruz, at the age of 36, is having a season similar to his other two in Seattle with an 130 OPS+ and is on track to have more RBIs than any other year. Segura is  setting the table for these guys while matching the year he had last year in AZ, with .322 BA and over 100 hits thus year.  Seager and Cano are there usual selves, hitting for average and power. And the new kid on the block, Gamel, continues to hold his own out there with a .333 OBP. Even the  of the lineup is holding up well for the team.

One of the things I believe the team can change when it comes to their approach, is to be more aggressive on first pitches. After 400+ plate appearances, the Mariners are batting almost .370 on first pitches. This is in line with the over .380 they batted last year on first pitches.

If the Mariners can go 16-11 in the month of August, it will set up for a fun month of September baseball in the AL West with all but 3 of their games against inter division opponents. The Astro’s will be the run away winners of the division but there will be fight for the wild card spot and I expect another AL West team to be right there for it. I hope it is the Mariners and we are watching meaningful baseball in October.

SoDo Mojo.

Photo from The Seattle Times

2017 Mariners (2-6)

2017 Mariners (2-6)

By Braught / PNW Sports Fans

Stop me if you have heard this before, Mariners’ starting pitching does enough for the win but the offense doesn’t come through. Yeah, that seems like every year since Felix was called up. Yet again, that is what has mostly occurred in the first 8 games.

The Mariner’s starting staff had a 2.5 ERA prior to Paxton great performance yesterday. Their WHIP is 1.17. The only concerning thing that has stood out about the starting rotation is the 9 HR’s they have given up over 46 innings pitched. But we all know the most important thing for this starting staff is health. Drew Smyly is on the 60 day DL after his brilliant showing in the WBC. Iwakuma is 36 and Felix is 30 now. Both are going to have to pitch to contact this year. Felix has already flirted with DL with his groin.

Meanwhile, the relievers have been a different story. They have thrown 25 innings and have given up 19 earned runs. Don’t even get me started on the bottom of the 9th 6 run lead they had against LAA. But in their defense, many of them should not even be in the show. Casey Fien? Really?! When Jerry brought him over he was supposed to be insurance if our bullpen all gets injured and that is exactly what happened.

First you have Steve Cishek who is still recovering from his hip labrum surgery. Then you have Tony Zych who is also on the 10 day DL. And then the Mariners have both the young guys who would probably be in the bullpen before Casey Fien. Those guys Robert Whalen and Shae Simmons are also both on the 10 day DL. Bullpen help is on the way and should stabilize the roller coaster they have put us on these first few games.

A bright light in the bullpen has been Dan Altavilla. In the limited innings I have been able to watch, he has some killer stuff. Upper 90’s fastball with a low 90’s slider! In 5 innings pitched he has 8 strike outs. That’s what you want to see coming out of your bullpen.

Now the offense; with RISP, this team has been abysmal. Cruz is batting .170 with 11 SO. Martin is batting .107 with 10 SO. The only guy over .300, is now on the 10 day DL, Segura. This offense is not going to continue. It is too good and too deep to.

Compare this team to last years team and you will find a much more athletic, more disciplined, deeper team. The only real contributor they lost is Walker and they won 86 games last year. I find it hard to believe that this team cannot match last years win total if they do not have crippling injuries. Remember even the cubs had a 1-6 stretch last year, unfortunately for the Mariners, it happened in September, not June. That’s the difference in the microscope put on them.

SoDo MoJo!

With Deadline Looming, M’s First Trade Raises Questions.

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Photo Courtesy: Otto Greule Jr. / Fox Sports

By Braught / PNW Sports Fans

And so it has begun. The Mariners first trade (and I expect more) doesn’t tell us a whole a lot about them being buyers or sellers this year. Dipoto said “The attraction here was getting younger and deeper and really starting to fill some positions of critical needs for us moving forward.” Sounds like Dipoto is being realistic here and implying our playoff chances are becoming slimmer by the day, which is true, but damn is 15 years a long time and I sure would like to taste October baseball. We just may have to wait.

Here are my thoughts on this trade, meh. I really like Mike Montgomery. He has transitioned to  the bullpen and spot starting well. Pitching 61 innings and only giving up 16 ERs and a WHIP of 1.086 are great numbers. Even better is that he is team controlled for the next 5 years. That’s what hurts, but the Mariners have quite a few lefty relievers/5th starters in their system. Dan Vogelbach can mash the ball, so I’ve been told. But that’s it. He has no defensive value whatsoever and will be relinquished to DH’ing his entire career. That’s worrisome, especially considering we have DJ Peterson putting up similar numbers in AAA, albeit with far less PA’s, and more defensive ability at 1B. The secondary pieces, we came out on top in. Blackburn was 1st rd pick out of high school who hasn’t progressed as expected but is still a solid get, while Jordan Pries came out of Stanford in 2011 and has been at AAA level for most of the last 3 years. He probably won’t get further than being spot starter.

Now to look ahead. There’s reasons to be excited about this roster.Felix returning, Diaz throwing fire and our top three players; Cano, Cruz and Seager, are all performing to expectations. But there is much to be worried about; our outfield is not good, the closers are shaky, and starting pitching has not met expectations. If the Mariners are to be buyers, I don’t expect them to move any major prospects, not that we really have any highly coveted ones. Teams have inquired about Paxton and Walker but the Mariners don’t appear ready to move either and I agree. The only other big name on the roster that could be dealt is Cruz and this may be the time to move him, if we are giving up on this year. The Padres will be moving pieces this deadline, as they are rebuilding yet again. That means Upton Jr or Kemp could be available and we need a legit outfielder. I’d prefer Upton with his smaller contract and ability to continue to play all OF positions.

I am not sure what I want the Mariners to do. Not entirely ready to mail in the season but I see a roster with too many shortcomings to compete this year. Maybe I need to lower my expectations. All I can do for now though is wait for August 1 to come and go.

 

 

M’s Recent Struggles Serve as Reminder: This is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

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Photo Courtesy Jennifer Buchanon-USA Today Sports

By Braught / PNW Sports Fans

Today I received a text from a friend saying “I know it’s early but you can’t have downward spirals like this.” He was referring to the Mariners and their current 4 game losing streak. (Which will be snapped tonight as Cruz has just homered again.) I had to set him straight.

Normally I am a pessimistic Mariner fan. I’ve been through it all and been disappointed by almost all of it, holding onto only the small things, like Guti being resurrected last year. But this team has me optimistic. They have their warts and may not be as good as their May had us believing but here’s why I am optimistic as of June 7th.

The Mariner’s, losers of 8 of the last 11 games, have been operating without their starting SS, starting CF and their ace has missed his last two starts. Getting swept by the lowly Twins at home, with Felix and Taijuan pitching, is still unacceptable but the rest of the losses are unfortunate. Marte has been a solid SS for the M’s and on pace for a WAR over 3. Martin started the year off cold from the plate; he showed his power but wasn’t getting hits. Right when he was turning the corner and putting it all together he got hurt. Despite that cold start he is still batting. 262 with and OPS of 127. With Martin missing, we’ve had to see Aoki in CF. That isn’t a pretty site if your team is expected to make the playoffs.

Both of these guys will be back soon, Marte currently with the M’s and Martin playing in Tacoma come Thursday. Now Felix, hasn’t been his normal self, fastball is a couple MPH down, command isn’t always there but he is still the King. It appears he will miss more than the 2 or 3 starts we all hoped when it was announced. That gives us a chance to talk about our 6th starter, Paxton.

Paxton has shown glimpses of his ceiling but has struggled to maintain any consistency, losing the 5th starter spot to Karns. Paxton, in Tacoma, started really cold and confirmed the decision to send him there; since then he has performed ok. His first start up in the Bigs, was at Petco. A perfect pitcher friendly park to start in. Instead he gave up 6 runs in the first, mostly because of his throwing error and finished with a line of 3.2 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 1 BB, 7 SO. Compare that to last night and his 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1BB and 10 K’s. He even hit 100 MPH multiple times. Last night is when we were able to see all the parts working together. His 20 or so lbs he lost in the winter, his more ¾ arm slot, his new mix of fastballs, cutters and curves. Now which pitcher we get in the future, who knows. But if it is the latter, we are in for a treat.

Another tidbit to be optimistic about is Diaz, who debuted last night as a reliever, after having only thrown something like 13 innings as a reliever at AA. He also hit 100 MPH multiple times, 10 of his 11 pitches were strikes and his off speed looked good. Don’t want to extrapolate too much out of a debut, i.e Ackley, but DAMN, that’s nice to have.

With injuries to two vital defensive positions and an ace missing, I still can be optimistic. Cruz is crushing everything in his site, Cano is having an All-Star season, Seager again is quietly doing what he is doing, and Seth Smith is the Man. Our pitching has hit a rough patch, but I believe we can pull through it and our bullpen has surprisingly been able t0 hold for the most part, onto the torrid start they had. Again, this team may not be the best team in the AL, but there is plenty to be optimistic about.