Contention is the goal
A few days back I posted this piece evaluating the Mariners after the 2020 mini-season with an eye toward readiness for 2021. As usual, the post got linked to some of the Mariners fan groups on Facebook, and as usual, more people remarked on it there than here onsite. Considering the attitude of some of those people, I'm OK with that. There are a lot of haters on Facebook.
We've now passed the two-thirds mark in the 2020 miniature schedule, and so far Your Seattle Mariners have done a fairly OK job in achieving their goals in this bizzaro-not-really-a-season. There's been good, there's been bad, and because this is the Mariners, you know there has been ugly. But on the whole they've done all right; thanks to the pandemic and the short schedule and the lack of minor leagues and all the rest, 2020 has been first and foremost about evaluation. Winning will resume as a priority next year (fingers crossed).
Doubleheader game notes—8/27/20
With yesterday's game against the Padres called off due to righteous social outrage, today we have a doubleheader. It's a 2020-style doubleheader, which kind of blows—each game will be only seven innings long—but, in the vernacular of the day, it is what it is.
More roster moves
The Mariners made another pair of roster moves today, placing relievers Erik Swanson and Taylor Guilbeau on the injured list with muscle strains. To fill their spots, the club has activated veteran reliever Yoshihisa Hirano from the COVID-19 injured list and recalled left-handed pitcher Aaron Fletcher from the satellite camp.
Breaking the format
Well, that was...weird.
Nancy and the Heart Attacks
There's a lot that's different about this Mariners season from last year. A lot. From leaguewide (and nationwide) changes related to the pandemic to the Mariner-centric issues with young players getting big-league playing time. But one thing that is thud far exactly the same is the revolving door in and out of the Seattle bullpen.
The 2020 M's: Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, one pitching change at a time
If last night's series finale with the Texas Rangers gave you a feeling of déjà vu, well, it's probably because you've seen this before. The 7-4 loss to the Rangers pretty much followed what we can now call a template for your 2020 Seattle Mariners. It hasn't played out like this in every game, but since leaving Houston after the opening series of the season, the formula goes like this:
M's make minor moves
The Mariners made a couple of minor transactions today ahead of their game tonight in Arlington, Texas. They are:
8/9/20 Notes after the fact—M's upset Colorado
It was a beautiful day in Seattle and, harkening back to the days of the Kingdome, the Mariners played under a roof. Because of a ridiculous protocol that says closing the roof on lovely days is preferable to installing some sort of shade canopy over the seats behind the dugout for the benefit of players seated there for social distancing purposes. Why? I'm going with laziness. You may have other theories.
Just when it looked like things might start going the Mariners' way, the Oakland A's come to town and take three of four, with the last one being both the most and the least irritating. Quite the simultaneous feat!
Game notes - 8/1/20
Observations and brain droppings as I watch Saturday evening's tilt against the Oakland A's:
Mariners firming up roster in advance of Opening Day
For good or ill, Major League Baseball will open its truncated 2020 season this week, and the Mariners are getting ready.
Early offseason odds and ends
It is not going to be an offseason like last year's for Your Seattle Mariners, with massive roster churn and a constant check of the Twitter feed to find proof of life on Jerry Dipoto when we haven't seen news of a trade in 48 hours. But there will be some tweaking, and said tweaking has begun.
Trade deadline action
Greetings from our nation's capitol, where while attending the Nationals-Braves game this afternoon grandsalami.net kept tabs on all the wheeling and dealing as today's 1:00pm PDT MLB trading deadline approached. The Mariners were involved in a couple of notable deals (one involving the Nationals, as it happens).
Pitching failures turn series win into series loss vs. Cards
The just-completed Interleague series vs. the St. Louis Cardinals was a frustrating experience from before the first pitch of the first game, and not just because I was prevented from getting into the ballpark on time Tuesday night because of an electronic ticketing fiasco. In the greater Mariner fan universe, we were given yet another experiment with "the opener" Tuesday (and Thursday), which was enough to make one shake one's fist and scream into the void and diminish any expectations of things getting better.
The "opener." The "headliner." You may have heard these terms being bandied about lately on Mariner and other Major League teams' broadcasts or read them elsewhere in the baseball press. It refers to a fad—some would charitably call it a "strategy"—that has become increasingly popular among big-league managers this season and that has infected Scott Servais and the Mariners over the past couple of weeks.
More roster juggling
The Mariners today made several more changes to their active roster. Infielders Dee Gordon and Ryon Healy have been placed on the 10-day injured list—Gordon due to lingering pain from being hit by a pitch in New York two weeks ago and Healy due to a lower back strain—reliever Parker Markel has been optioned down to Triple-A Tacoma, utilityman Dylan Moore has been activated from his stint on the injured list, and infielder Shed Long and pitcher Tommy Milone have been promoted from Tacoma to the big-league club.
Dipoto makes sixth trade of the season
When reliever Anthony Swarzak entered a game against the Twins last week in Seattle, an encouraging cheer was heard in the upper deck of the ballpark by Elliott Bay: "Swarzak! Raise your trade value!"He didn't, really, despite his one scoreless inning of work, but he was nevertheless traded today. Swarzak will head to Atlanta, where he'll join a similarly middling bullpen for a team that has some potential. In exchange, the Braves are sending left-handed reliever Jesse Biddle to the Mariners.Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto has a tendency to seek out potentially undervalued players and reclamation projects, and Biddle fits that profile.
Roster juggling redux
The Mariners made yet more roster moves today, recalling pitchers Matt Festa and Ryan Garton from Triple-A Tacoma. Both will be available in the bullpen immediately. To clear space for them, southpaw reliever Zac Rosscup has been designated for assignment and alleged starting pitcher Erik Swanson was optioned to Tacoma.
Homestand of Horrors
When the just completed homestand began, the Mariners were the talk of baseball. A surprise juggernaut that won 11 of their first 13 games and were very nearly undefeated, a powerful lineup hitting home runs and scoring at a record pace. It was a beautiful thing to behold.
In last night's game against the Cleveland Native American Stereotypes, the Mariner bullpen pulled off quite an achievement. Well, "achievement" . . . there are probably better words. But the relief corps, known from the get-go as a problem area for the Mariners this season, turned in an eighth inning for the history books.
The Mariners made two roster moves today, activating reliever Shawn Armstrong from the injured list and promoting fellow right-hander Ruben "R.J." Alaniz from Triple-A Tacoma. Pitchers Erik Swanson and Matt Festa were sent to Tacoma to make room.Armstrong was expected to be a significant contributor to the Seattle bullpen from the get-go, but landed on the IL just before the club opened the season in Tokyo with an oblique strain. The career reliever spent the bulk of last season with Tacoma, where he went 2-5 with a brilliant 1.77 ERA, and impressed with the big club after a promotion to...
More IL traffic
After pitching two innings in yesterday's drubbing of the Royals, reliever Chasen Bradford went on the injured list today with shoulder inflammation. Bradford had been one of the Mariners' more effective relievers in the early season. The injury is considered to be mild and he isn't expected to be out more than the minimum 10 days.
Don't Get Happy (Yet)
Don't look now, but Your Seattle Mariners are the best team in the American League.
Swarzak to the rescue(?)
The Mariners have activated right-handed reliever Anthony Swarzak from the injured list today, He will be available in the bullpen for tonight's tilt against the Angels.
Dipoto makes second trade of the season
We're just six games into the season, and General Manager Jerry Dipoto has already made two trades. The first, last Friday, brought in backup catcher Tom Murhpy. Today's deal with the Texas Rangers nets the Mariners relief pitcher Connor Sadzeck (not to be confused with Anthony Swarzak).Sadzeck has had a brief taste of the big-leagues—91⁄3 innings with the Rangers last season—but has little experience above Double-A. Last season he threw 38 innings for Round Rock in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he was uninspiring (5-3, 4.03 ERA, 1.368 WHIP) but not terrible.
Strickland out for weeks
After blowing a save in the second game of the Boston series, reliever Hunter Strickland was diagnosed with a grade-2 latissimus strain and will be out of action for at least eight weeks. Strickland felt discomfort while warming up in the bullpen prior to entering the game, but didn't consider it to be debilitating until he'd thrown pitches in the game. He was tagged with the loss after serving up a three-run home run to Mitch Moreland in the ninth inning.
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.
Well, that was ugly.