A brief look at an opponent we play this weekend.
Dates we play them: 4/23-4/25 at home, 7/19-7/21 @ Seattle, 7/26-7/29 at home
Offense: A potential lineup: Ichiro Suzuki-RF, Chone Figgins-2B, Franklin Gutierrez-CF, Jose Lopez-3B, Ken Griffey Jr.-DH, Milton Bradley-LF, Casey Kotchman-1B, Rob Johnson/Adam Moore-C, Jack Wilson-SS. Bench: Mike Sweeney-DH, Eric Byrnes-OF, Matt Tuiasosopo-UTIL, Ryan Langerhans-OF.
Seattle's offense reminds me a lot of a Rube Goldberg machine. When it works, its a joy to watch. When it fails, watching paint dry can be more exciting and less frustrating. Ichiro is, without a doubt, my favorite non-White Sox player to watch. The American League hits leader the past four seasons, Ichiro is as consistent as it gets. He's likely to steal less now, with Figgins behind him and old age creeping around the bend. This won't hurt his value much though, as he'll still be playing top-notch defense, gunning runners down, and getting on base at a .370+ clip. His contract, which was panned at the time of signing, has turned out to be worth it (plus it has fun provisions). Future 2014 third-baseman Chone Figgins, signed with the M's this winter to play the hot corner. He is now playing at second. So it goes. Chone's off to a bad start so far, but this is luck-related as his BABIP is currently over .100 points lower than normal. Fun SB fact: out of the top 25 active leaders in steals, 8 have played for Seattle (three currently). Chone will bounce back, just hopefully not against us. And his full name is Desmond DeChone Figgins. The best defensive centerfielder in baseball hits third. Dave Niehaus is trying to get "Death to Flying Things" to stick, which I am all for. While the majority of his value comes from the glove, Franklin is by no means an unimpressive hitter. He has mid-teens power and can steal, but isn't really who you'd expect to be hitting this high in the order. This will be a common theme. Jose Lopez, whom you may remember as being the man Dave Cameron declared equal to John Danks, has been moved to third this season. I'm still not entirely sure why. Lopez is yet to go yard this season, which is a little strange seeing as he did so 25 times last year. His BABIP is normal and his line drive percentage is high, but his ISO for some reason remains horrific (.016, not a typo). He currently has one extra base hit. This will change, but a down year isn't out of the question for Jose.
General Soreness decided to keep the reunion tour together for another season. Some people have a harder time than others admitting that its over. I get it that he's great for team chemistry and he can help keep Milton Bradley in line, but enough is enough. Let me have my fond memories of you, not a season where you won't crack a .700 OPS. His ISO is .026. That's right, the 4 and 5 hitters for the Mariners have a combined two doubles and little else this season. Then again, we feel the need to trot out Mark Kotsay and hit A.J. Pierzynski higher than sixth, so I really can't talk. Milton Bradley, renowned malcontent and ne'er-do-well is playing for his eighth team. His life would have been much better if he hadn't signed with a National League team last year. Returning to the Junior circuit will be great for him, as he can be a DH again and be productive. What's that? He's primarily played left field so far? Never mind. He too is struggling mightily so far, but remains second on the team in homeruns. With two. Who is the team leader? Why, none other than perennial White Sox target Casey Kotchman. The mighty Casey has left the yard three times this season, accounting for half of the team's homeruns. Sidebar, Kotchman and Figgins reunited again? Kenny Wiliams must be champing at the bit. Kotchman has twice been traded for other first basemen, which can't feel good. While he may be hitting better than the entire rest of the team right now, don't expect this to last. Casy has had one full season where his bat has been worth more than that of a replacement player, he draws his value from his glove. Enjoy being the new Doug Mientkiewicz. The Rob Johnson/Adam Moore platoon is bad. I will say no more. Jack Wilson is the third Mariner this season, joining Ichiro and Chone, to hit in the same spot in the order every game. Kudos Jack. Wilson is reaching the point in his career where we can safely refer to him as Adam Everett.
Pitching: A potential rotation and closer: Felix Hernandez-RHP, Ryan-Rowland Smith-LHP, Ian Snell-RHP, Doug Fister-RHP, Jason Vargas-LHP, and David Aardsma-CL.
The rotation was supposed to be the strength of the team this year (sounds familiar). Losing Cliff Lee and Erik Bedard before the season started dropped their dominant 1-2-3 into simply a 1, making their staff more like Detroit's. Felix Hernandez is throwing exactly like he should be, seeing as he is a top 3 AL pitcher. The righty finally had his big year last season, winning 19 while striking out 217 with an ERA of 2.49. Thankfully, we miss him this first series. He throws a mid-90s fastball and a devastating changeup, along with a slider and curveball. He's going to be in Seattle for at least another five seasons, so the AL West better get ready to hail to king, baby. Ryan Rowland-Smith allows me to use my love of hyphens in a proper noun. In fact, he is the first person to ever play in the majors with a hyphenated last name. Neat! The Australian southpaw is off to a rough start, having walked 9 and only struck out 5. Since becoming a starter, his K/9 has declined each season which is bad for anybody, but especially someone who isn't a groundball pitcher. RRS throws a high-80s fastball, a changeup, a slider, and a curveball. These have all been above average in the past. Ian Snell has pitched using three different surnames, including his wife's (Oquendo) and his step-father's (Davila-Snell). Snell enjoyed a nice return to not being terrible when the Mariners obtained him last July, posting his first ERA+ above 100 since 2007 (it was 104 in his 64.1 AL innings). This young season has not been kind to him. His K/BB ratio is never going to be good, which will neuter any true chance he has at being successful. He has a low-90s fastball, slider, changeup, and curveball. Doug Fister has a great name and could be good if he can keep his ratios where they are at right now. Spoiler alert: odds are he won't. He throws a high-80s fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. Being a groundballer, he benefits greatly from Seattle's good infield defense. Jason Vargas was a part of the J.J. Putz and Franklin Gutierrez trade. At one time, he was viewed as a fairly good prospect. That time has passed. Vargas will most likely be sent down as soon as either Lee or Bedard are ready to come up. Vargas throws The same pitches as everyone else in this rotation that isn't named Felix Hernandez. David Aardsma is well-known around these parts, as he used to give us heart attacks pitching on the South Side. His sister is an actress who used to compete in beauty pageants. Once Aardsma decided to virtually abandon his non-fastball offerings, he started to succeed. His name appears first in the alphabetical register of baseball surnames. Take that Hank Aaron!
Outlook: The Mariners have won 9 games so far this season, with almost no one on their team hitting. We have managed to win 5 with almost no one on our team hitting. This is going to be a very ugly series, that I want to believe we can take six of the games in this season. Prediction: 6-4. And if you don't already, go read Lookout Landing. They are the best (well, most entertaining) non-SSS baseball blog in the SBN network.