Game 2: Curtain Call
We didn't know when the game began that Ichiro was calling it quits. That news came a few innings in. Kyodo News had the story and those of us keyed in to Twitter started getting the alerts. The ESPN broadcast caught up to us a bit later, and for half the game or so half the drama was how was Ichiro going to leave the game.
Next Year is Here
Winter is over. Well, not technically, but hey, it was nearly 80 degrees today in Seattle (in your face, Miami!) and tonight the Mariners take the field for the first official game in the 2019 championship season. Or tomorrow night, or tomorrow morning, based on your time zone. It's complicated. Temporal mechanics and all. Anyway, come 2:30am PDT the Tokyo Dome will be abuzz with excitement when the Oakland A's take the field as the "home" team against our Seattle Mariners.
Around the Division
We all know the Mariners have been active over the offseason, generating a dizzying amount of roster turnover. But what have the other clubs in the American League West been up to? What's the competition going to be like this year? Let's take a look.
Doug Fister retires
Former Mariner pitcher Doug Fister has retired from baseball, his agent said today. Reported by MLB.com, Fister's agent Page Odle described the decision as "100% family driven," noting Fister's desire to spend more time with his young children. There were several teams interested in Fister's services this year; according to Odle, Fister received Major League contract offers from multiple clubs over the winter.A seventh-round draft selection by the Mariners in 2006, Fister was never thought of as a top prospect but climbed the minor-league ladder relatively quickly and made his Major League debut in August of 2009.
Manfred pumps the brakes on big rule changes
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred today said that the MLB Players' Association's proposals for major rule changes—universal designated hitter rule, draft rules that penalize losing teams—are not under consideration...for now. Rather than declare such ideas dead on arrival, Manfred instead declared that the time for discussing such things is in the negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement. The current one expires at the end of 2021.
On the Eve of Destruction: Universal DH proposed
Acouple weeks back, we noted that Major League Baseball had proposed some small rule changes for next season and beyond, tweaks to do with time a player would have to spend on the disabled list and time necessary to spend in the minors after being optioned down. Now, according to a piece by Ken Rosenthal in The Athletic, the players' union has responded with a counter-proposal that expands on MLB's change ideas and adds an explosive to the conversation.
MLB seeks new rules on DL, options
According to sources speaking with the Associated Press this week, Major League Baseball has proposed changing the minimum length of a stint on the disabled list back to 15 days and adding to the length of time a player must stay in the minor leagues after being optioned down.
M's unveil new Spring unis
At a media event yesterday, the Mariners showed off new uniforms that they will wear in spring training. Instead of the northwest green jerseys and inverted trident "M" caps worn last spring, the new outfits consist of "powder blue" jerseys and a capital "M" against a four-pointed compass on the caps. The caps will also be worn for batting practice throughout the season.
Mariners sign free-agent Strickland
Right-handed reliever Hunter Strickland, last seen in the uniform of the San Francisco Giants, today signed a one-year contract with the Mariners. Financial details were not yet available, but the contract value is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $2.5 million. Strickland, 30, is still shy of the six years of service time needed for unrestricted free agency, so even though the deal is for one year, the M's still have team control through 2021 via arbitration.Released by the Giants last November, Strickland has a career record of 14-14 with a respectable 2.91 ERA over four-plus seasons in San Francisco.
Ichiro officially returns
The Mariners announced today that they have re-signed franchise icon Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training.It was an expected move, telegraphed all the way back in May, when the team moved Ichiro off the active roster and into a non-player role with the title of "special assistant to the chairman," an invented position that allowed Ichiro to train and travel with the club but not suit up for games. At that time it was clear that Ichiro was not retiring as a player and intended to try to play again the following year.The contract...
Edgar Martinez: Hall of Famer
It's finally official: Edgar Martínez is going to the Hall of Fame. Announced today, the lifetime Seattle Mariner is one of four new Hall of Famers; the class of 2019 includes Martínez, Mike Mussina, Roy Halladay, and Mariano Rivera—the first player to be elected unanimously.
Mariners sign different infielder Beckham than last year's infielder Beckham
The Mariners signed two free agents yesterday to Major League contracts, infielder Tim Beckham (not to be confused with veteran Gordon Beckham, who spent the last two years bouncing back and forth between the M's and their Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma) and relief pitcher Cory Gearrin.Beckham, who will be 29 later this month, came up with the Tampa Bay Rays and spent the last season and a half with Baltimore. Primarily a shortstop, he's also logged plenty of innings at both third base and second base.
An odd reunion
In a weird but no-risk move today, the Mariners signed Dustin Ackley to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training.
Yusei Kikuchi signing official
The Mariners have officially signed Japanese free-agent pitcher Yusei Kikuchi to a multi-year contract. The former Saitama Seibu Lions star was posted for Major League teams' consideration at his request by the Nippon Professional Baseball club last month and chose Seattle after meeting with representatives of several MLB teams in December.
Kikuchi deal coming?
According to Yahoo! Sports, the Mariners are close to signing Japanese southpaw Yusei Kikuchi to a multi-year contract. Details are sparse, but due to the rules of the posting arrangement with Nippon Professional Baseball, Kikuchi must sign by January 2nd or forfeit is right to leave NPB for 2019.Kikuchi had reportedly been open to signing with any Major League team when his posting became official early in December and has met with several clubs.An eight-year NPB veteran, all with the Saitama Seibu Lions, Kikuchi holds a career record of 74-48 with a 2.81 ERA and 1.177 WHIP to go with...
Dipoto deals another
Mariner General Manager Jerry Dipoto has made another trade, this time with the Milwaukee Brewers. The trade sends outfielder Ben Gamel and 22-year-old minor-league pitcher Noah Zavolas to Milwaukee in exchange for outfielder Domingo Santana.Santana—not to be confused with first baseman Carlos Santana, whom the M's recently dealt to Cleveland—is a right-handed batter, offering some platoon balance to an outfield that had been overstocked with lefties. Since breaking into the Major Leagues with the Astros as a late-season callup in 2014, Santana has produced a career batting line of .261/.349/.458, mostly as a part-time player.
True to the Pink
It's official. The Mariners, T-Mobile, and the Public Facilities District all admit what we've known for a while, that the Bellevue-based mobile phone/cellular network giant T-Mobile is the new corporate sponsor of what used to be Safeco Field and will now be known as T-Mobile Park.
So Long Santana
Well, that didn't take long.
Jerry Dipoto is bored.
Trades are official
The deals are done, and the Mariners are no longer the team of Robinson Canó, Edwin Díaz, or Jean Segura.
The Demolition Continues
Another day, another big trade for the Mariners. Well, "big"; the word has a lot of room for interpretation. It's big in that General Manager Jerry Dipoto is dealing away another big name, All-Star shortstop Jean Segura. It's maybe not so big in what he's getting back. Or maybe it is, this one's hard to project.The deal isn't final yet, and what the whole package will include isn't known. What is expected is that Segura will be traded to Philadelphia and that in return the M's will get young Phillies shortstop J.P. Crawford and not-so-young first baseman Carlos Santana.
Trader Jerry ships Colome to Chisox
While the giant trade of Robinson Canó and Edwin Díaz to the Mets is still pending, Mariner GM Jerry Dipoto did trade a closer today. Reliever Alex Colome, who came to Seattle in an in-season deal with Tampa Bay last May, was dealt to the Chicago White Sox for catcher Omar Narvaez.Trading Colome leaves the Mariners without an established closer (presuming the deal with the Mets goes through), but adding Narvaez gives the M's a starting catcher, something they're in dire need of after trading Mike Zunino last month.Narvaez, who will be 27 in February, hit .275/.366/.429 in a part-time...
End of the Canó era?
Reports are flying around the Interwebs (sourced to Joel Sherman of the New York Post and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic) that Mariner General Manager Jerry Dipoto is close to unloading second baseman Robinson Canó and his giant contract onto the New York Mets.
Into the Wayback Machine
While we wait for the next episode of Jerry Dipoto's Mariner Makeover Trade Bonanza, we thought we'd post a few items from the great history of The Grand Salami. During its 22 year run as a print magazine, we featured player interviews, news of the day, and columns from local sportswriters like Rob Neyer, Mike Gastineau, and Jim Caple.
More trades coming
More Mariner players may soon be on the move.
Big Maple to Big Apple
Prompting memories of 1998’s trade of Randy Johnson to the Astros, today Mariner General Manager Jerry Dipoto dealt his team's ace left-hander to an already-upper-echelon team: James Paxton is now a New York Yankee.Much like the Johnson deal made by then-GM Woody Woodward, Paxton was traded for three relatively-unknown minor leaguers, two pitchers and one position player. One of them, left-handed starter Justus Sheffield, may be ready for the bigs as soon as next season. The other pitcher, righty Erik Swanson, has a chance to crack the bigs but will likely play in Tacoma next year, while the position player,...
Mariner Makeover Begins
Seattle General Manager Jerry Dipoto began rebuilding the Mariners for 2019 this afternoon, making a big trade with his favorite trading partner, the Tampa Bay Rays.Addressing one of the bigger questions of the offseason—do the 2019 M's try again with the 2018 plan of Dee Gordon in center and Robbie Canó at second, or do they get a new CF to play full time?—the Mariners acquired outfielder Mallex Smith from the Rays in exchange for defensive wizard and strikeout artist Mike Zunino and reserve outfielder Guillermo Heredia.Smith played all three outfield positions for Tampa Bay last year, most often in center.
M's are done, but 2018 continues
When a series win instills the air of defeat
The Mariners just finished a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles, winning two of the contests and finishing the season series with the Orioles at 6-1. Pretty good, right? A series win after some trying times in this second half is something one might think would lift the flagging spirits of Mariner fandom.
It's September, which means Major League roster limits expand from 25 to 40 for the rest of the regular season. Who have the Mariners added? Well, today we saw a number of moves:
Signs of Life
After dropping three of four to the underachieveing Blue Jays and two of three in frustrating fashion to the Rangers, the Mariners have somehow come back to take the first three of a four-game series in Houston against the first-place Astros. It's been a huge lift for the club and, frankly, for a fan base that was all but giving up on what has been a tremendous season until the past month or so.Credit manager Scott Servais for trying something different and shaking up his lineup for the Houston series.
Well, that was ugly.
Two in a row is a start(?)
The Mariners are on a winning streak. Not an impressive one, sure, but two games is technically a streak. And with the way the M's have performed since they broke their last actual win streak—eight games—on July 4th, two in a row feels like a notable achievement. We all hope this is the beginning of the resurgence Seattle needs to reclaim its playoff standing, but a win like tonight's doesn't do much to calm the nerves of the Mariner still-for-now-but-for-how-much-longer-faithful.
Are the Mariners collapsing?
With yesterday's loss to the woeful Toronto Blue Jays, The Mariners have been overtaken by the Oakland A's in the Wild Card race. The M's had held either first place in the division or a Wild Card position from May 18th through August 1st, but after their fantastic June—when they won 19 out of 28—they stumbled badly, playing under .500 for the month of July (10-13) and they've now dropped the first two games in August. Meanwhile, Oakland has surged, going 18-8 since July 1st, and the Astros and Yankees have held their own to hold onto their playoff positions.
Trade Deadline Roundup
July trade season is now over, and it was busy for Major League general managers. Some of the players we speculated about switched teams, some didn't, but all in all, there were 45 trades made since the All-Star Game (July 17th). Many involved the typical rental-type players, but there were some surprising longer-term deals among them too. Here's a quick wrap-up of the moves made by contenders and would-be contenders:
Mariners trade for Maybin
As today's 1:00pm trading deadline approached, GM Jerry Dipoto was, naturally, still working the phones. His efforts landed the Mariners one more piece as we head into the dog days of August, outfielder Cameron Maybin.
Mariners trade for more relief help
The Mariners made two more trades today, bolstering their bullpen with two veteran rental pieces.
Mariners trade for relief help
Mariner General Manager Jerry Dipoto struck another deal today, trading minor-league pitcher Seth Elledge to St. Louis for right-handed reliever Sam Tuivailala.While not a high-profile trade, the acquisition does fit Dipoto's pattern of hunting down players in controllable contracts that fit specific needs. In this case, the 25-year-old Tuivailala slots into the Mariners' relief corps as a righty-batter specialist, though he has had full- and multi-inning appearances this year for the Cardinals and could be used that way here as well.Drafted by the Cardinals in 2010, Tuivailala is a converted shortstop with a power arm.
Trade Winds Pick Up
Now that the All-Star Game is behind us, July Trade Season begins in earnest. Manny Machado has finally been traded (to the Dodgers, for five minor-leaguers) and serves as an unofficial starting gun; let the wheeling and dealing begin!
M's lose Zunino to DL again
Mike Zunino was getting the day off on July 4th. Chris Herrmann started at catcher and Z was kicking back in the dugout. But then the Mariners mounted a threat against the Angels and Z was asked to pinch-hit and finish out the game. He walked and singled in his two plate appearances, a very good sign after he spent a good deal of pre-game time working on his batting mechanics with Edgar Martínez and Minor League field coordinator Mike Micucci, but rolled his ankle while running the bases.
It's All-Star season once again, and the 2018 contest in Washington, DC, should have plenty of Mariner representation. Jean Segura, James Paxton, Mitch Haniger, Edwin Díaz, Nelson Cruz, and perhaps Dee Gordon and Marco Gonzales are all deserving of a spot on the AL squad, and in the Mariners' best years they've sent a hefty contingent to the All-Star Game.
The Halfway Mark
Even though the All-Star break traditionally marks the start of the second half of the season, in terms of games played, the Mariners are there now. Having swept the Baltimore Orioles, the M's are now 51-31, 82 games into the 162-game campaign.
First-place(!) M's begin homestand on a roll
It was looking bleak for Your Seattle Mariners not too long ago. On a Sunday afternoon in Detroit, Robinson Canó was hit by a pitch and left the game with a broken hand, and fans began to wonder how the M's would manage without him for perhaps a month or more. Then it was revealed that Canó had also flunked a PED test, so he'd actually miss half the season. Their third-place hitter and MVP candidate gone for half the year?! How could they survive?!
M's draft pitcher in 1st round
Breaking with recent tradition, the Mariners used their first selection in the 2018 amateur draft on a pitcher, drafting Stetson University sophomore Logan Gilbert with the 14th overall selection.
Cast your ballot
All-Star voting season is upon us. Sadly, you can no longer vote in person at the ballpark; gone are the days of whiling away the between-innings time by amusing your fellows with ballots filled out for the "all-disabled list team" or "worst-stats-ever team" along with your real choices, consigned to history are seating areas littered with little paper ballot chads.
Better late than never
Marc Rzepczynski leaves the M's after posting an ugly 9.39 ERA this season
Trader Jerry Strikes Again
General Manager Jerry Dipoto made his first in-season trade of the year earlier today, acquiring relief pitcher Alex Colomé and outfielder Denard Span from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for minor league pitchers Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero.Colomé led the American League in saves last year with 47, but won't be asked to close in Seattle so long as Edwin Díaz remains effective. Instead, he will slot into a setup role, where Juan Nicasio has struggled.But the big piece of this deal, at least in the short term, appears to be Span.
M's Extend Lease with PFD
We don't yet know what it will be called, but the Mariners will continue to play at what is now Safeco Field at least through 2043. The team agreed to terms with the Washington State Public Facilities District for a new 25-year lease that has two three-year options attached that could stretch the life of the agreement through 2049.
You Get Nothing!
Because of a rainout in Detroit last week, the Mariners needed to bring up someone from Triple-A to make a spot start against Texas this past Wednesday afternoon. To make room, the M's designated reliever Erik (don't call him Eddie) Goeddel for assignment.This move struck me as problematic. Goeddel had been very effective in his short time with the Mariners and would certainly be lost to the organization with the DFA; meanwhile, other pitchers had been, shall we say, bad, and probably ought to be cut anyway.Today Goeddel was claimed off the waiver wire by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Canó Suspended for PED violation
On Sunday, Robinson Canó was hit by a pitch and broke his right hand. Today he was handed down an 80-game suspension from Major League Baseball for violating policy on performance-enhancing drug use. He is not having a good week.
I think I can lay my concerns about James Paxton to rest now. In is first start of 2018, Pax looked bad, allowing six runs to the Indians without getting out of the fifth inning. He had three pretty good starts following that, but not great, and then another bad one in Texas. Was there something wrong? Had the Big Maple been cut down to size?
Irasshaimase! Tokyo Welcomes Mariners back to Japan
Major League Baseball has announced that the Mariners and Oakland Athletics will once again open the season in Japan in 2019. The two games will be held in the Tokyo Dome and the A's will serve as the "home" team. As was the case the last time MLB opened in Japan—also with the Mariners and Athletics, in 2012—the opening series will be held a week in advance of the rest of the league starting the campaign to allow for the M's and A's to readjust to the time difference between Japan and North America (Japan is 17 hours ahead during...
RUMOR: Ichiro may retire THIS WEEK
This is unconfirmed. To my knowledge, this remains informed speculation on the part of Root Sports' Brad Adam, based on a text exchange he had with Ichiro. But the scuttlebutt is that Ichiro may call it a career after this week's homestand.
State of the M's: April
Don't look now, but Your Seattle Mariners are a playoff team.
The Return of Roenis Elias
Following the 2015 season, the Mariners traded one of their promising young starting pitchers, Roenis Elias, to Boston along with reliever Carson Smith, for more seasoned starter Wade Miley. (Miley has since been traded himself, for pitcher Ariel Miranda.) Elias only made four appearances with the Red Sox after that, spending the majority of his time with Boston's Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket, and had a lengthy stint on the disabled list with a strained oblique. This week the Red Sox traded Elias back to the Mariners in exchange for either a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Mid-Road Trip Exam
The Mariners are halfway through their current road trip through Dallas-Ft. Worth, Chicago, and Cleveland, having taken the series with the Rangers two games to one and split the first two with the White Sox. How has it gone? Let's examine.
Some Mariner fans are elated. Some are skeptical. And some are disgusted. Whichever camp you may find yourself in, the fact of the matter is that, at age 44, Ichiro Suzuki is a Mariner once more. Personally, I am in the first camp. I have always loved watching Ichiro play, and I'm delighted to get the chance to see him in person once again at Safeco Field. That Ichiro has the opportunity to continue his Major League career at all is satisfying, and getting to see him climb up the hits leaderboard back in a Mariners jersey is a sweet,...
Grand Salami: A New Era
Welcome to the new Grand Salami website. After 22 years as a print magazine, the gameday program and feature publication is transitioning to a digital-only format. Our intent is to provide the same kinds of commentary and information on the Mariners and baseball that we ran in the print magazine here on the website. GrandSalami.net will contain features like player profiles, coverage of opposing teams, and analysis of the ongoing Mariners season, as well as, we hope, input from you the readers—you are invited and encouraged to comment on our articles, reply to our polling, and converse in our forums!
J Michael Kenyon (1943-2017)
One of the most interesting characters in Seattle sports history never took the field for one of its sports teams. Writer and historian J Michael Kenyon was not only the Seattle Post-Intelligencer beat writer for the first Seattle SuperSonics team in 1967, he was also the P-I’s beat writer for the first four seasons of the expansion Seattle Mariners (1977 to 1980).
Remembering Dave: Andy Niehaus shares thoughts of his dad
I know many of you reading this have lost a loved one, a close family member. Well, when my dad, Dave Niehaus, passed away late last year, it was my first, and I have found all of the tired old clichés to be true. I used to snicker when people said things like, “You never know what you have until you lose it,” but not anymore.