Game 20, Mariners at Rangers

marc w · April 21, 2013 at 11:05 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Aaron Harang vs. Justin Grimm, 12:05pm

Ok, no one threw a perfect game, but you couldn’t realistically ask for a better outcome from yesterday’s game. The Rainiers had a 5-0 lead five batters into the game, following Mike Zunino’s three-run homer. Sure, he’d been in a horrendous slump, and his home splits are concerning. But the fact that he instantly starting hitting again in a new environment, and that Eric Thames and Alex Liddi continued their strong starts as well, is legitimately encouraging.

With the ball flying out of the park in Salt Lake, Andrew Carraway’s strong start is all the more impressive. He hadn’t been off to the best start in 2013, but six innings of two run ball, with six K’s to only two walks represents a real step forward for the Virginia product. Andrew Kittredge was so-so in relief, but he came in with an 11 run lead; nobody cares that his command wasn’t sparkling.

All in all, it was a great night, and word that Taijuan Walker’s pitched a solid six innings in AA made it even better. The team’s able to move players like Liddi and Romero around the diamond, and Zunino gets to work on his blocking with the benefit of a huge lead (if anything was concerning about last night’s game, it’s that the Rainiers threw three wild pitches). At this point, it’s only a matter of…. wait…what?

I’m being told that this is a Mariners blog, and that I should talk about the M’s getting blanked by Nick Tepesch, Derek Lowe and the rest of the Rangers’ B-team bullpen. I need to talk about another atrocious game from the M’s young bats, and how bad it’d look if they come up empty again against Justin Grimm. We’re supposed to talk about all of that while refraining from knee-jerk, emotional responses. We’re supposed to talk about Dustin Ackley’s BABIP or Jesus Montero’s single when the sheer magnitude of their struggles is right in front of us. Repeated daily, in baseball’s cruel way of focusing attention on the players at either end of the results and/or talent distribution. This is hard. I wonder if maybe that’s why I like AAA so much. Eric Thamtes *Eric Thames* isn’t a flawed, defensively-challenged corner OF – he’s basically Ryan Braun. Danny Hultzen has a command lapse, then fixes it, and we can tell each other that everything’s fine, and that player development is a matter of pointing something out, and “working on it” for a month or two and that’s the end of it. But this is an M’s blog, so Ackley and Smoak and the boys take on Justin Grimm in front of thousands of people screaming that they suck. Go M’s!

1: Chavez, CF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Morales, DH
4: Morse, RF
5: Smoak, 1B
6: Shoppach, C
7: Ackley, 2B
8: Bay, LF
9: Ryan, SS
SP: Harang

Divish reports that they’re giving Gutierrez a day off in the hope that he’ll be able to go back-to-back games sometime next week. Facing a right-hander with a four-seam and a good curve, maybe it’s not the end of the world.
Aaron Harang was pretty good in his first start with the M’s, but obviously Arlington presents a challenge for fly-ball pitchers without a ton of swing-and-miss stuff. Still, if he’s able to pitch effectively here, it’d go a long way towards shoring up the rotation – a rotation the M’s are evidently going to rely heavily on this year the way the offense is producing.


76 Responses to “Game 20, Mariners at Rangers”

  1. The_Waco_Kid on April 21st, 2013 2:52 pm

    I hold out some hope that there will be a couple cuts and a couple callups that could boost us later in the year. Sometimes you’re cutting dead weight in April. That’s why I like Dave’s idea of having the 40-man in April not Sept.

    I also hope there are no panic trades. Our farm system is still in great shape despite our big league struggles.

  2. tmesis on April 21st, 2013 3:07 pm

    You don’t get fired in this business because you make fans unhappy; you get fired only when your boss is unhappy. Z and Wedge are secure because management is uninterested in winning. Management is uninterested in winning, and is secure, because ownership is uninterested in winning.

  3. WTF_Ms on April 21st, 2013 3:11 pm

    Spring Training is a place to get warmed up for the season. IF….IF you are already a MLB level player. We have a roster FULL of AA+ and AAA players.

    Somebody has to go. Wedge would be my first choice to send a message. The rest of the coaching staff could follow. If not Wedge, then whomever taught these guys how to hit anything BUT an “off speed” pitch. The rest of the league has already caught on that we can’t hit those, and we get a steady diet. Thus almost (Not sure after today) leading the league in strike outs.

    I said yesterday, the motto should be: Seattle Mariners: Swung on and missed!”.

  4. pgreyy on April 21st, 2013 3:15 pm

    I didn’t like the Wedge hire when it was made. I thought he was exactly the wrong kind of guy to what Z wanted to build–but since the perception was that Wakamatsu had completely lost the team, I felt Wedge (or a Wedge-like type) was forced on him.

    I remember, though, that the upside on Wedge was that supposedly he worked great with young talent…he was supposed to know how to get the most out of them.

    Is the sample size now big enough to evaluate Wedge’s strengths and weaknesses? (I’m going to guess that “managers really don’t matter, statistically, as much as traditional baseball people think” is a possible answer.)

    Can it just be sheer coincidence that a group of highly rated young players are all underperforming at the same time without any signs of improvement? Is the problem in evaluation? In coaching/motivation? Are we breaking them, unknowingly, somehow?

  5. G-Man on April 21st, 2013 3:16 pm

    tmesis, you are right to a point. They aren’t interested in winning, but they are interested in performing well for a given cost. Evidence suggests they aren’t getting the moist out of their resources, be in money (Jack Z) or personnel (Wedge).

    You also have to realize the PR value of making changes. Bring in new guys with new promises – hey, things are looking up! Fan interest rises! For more details, Google “new boss three envelopes”.

  6. r-gordon-7 on April 21st, 2013 3:18 pm

    WTF, that leads us to what should be the M’s new (or ongoing) Theme Song (with apologies to Chubby Checker, “[Let’s] Missed Again Like We Did Last Summer, [Let’s] Missed Again Like We Did Last Year…”

  7. tmesis on April 21st, 2013 3:21 pm

    I’m not sure how pr sensitive management is after the ROOT deal. That is their resources win. Do they really care how many fans show up?

  8. Westside guy on April 21st, 2013 3:30 pm

    Please, ROOT guys. Enough with the “Harang didn’t get much spring training” crap. You may be right, and he may not be in regular-season shape yet. But if that’s really true, he should be in the Minors getting into shape – not pitching for the big club – until he IS in shape. That’s what the minor leagues are for.

  9. eponymous coward on April 21st, 2013 3:37 pm

    Let’s recap Dave’s thoughts on the “management/ownership doesn’t care about winning”:

    One final note – if your plan is to respond to this post with a rant against ownership being cheap bastards who are just pocketing all the money and screwing the fans because they don’t want to win, don’t bother. In fact, go away. You don’t know what you’re talking about. The perpetuated myth that the team is intent on screwing you out of your money by putting a bad product on the field is stupid and wrong. Winning teams make more money than losing teams. If the Mariners were completely and utterly intent on maximizing profits with no regard for anything else, they’d have invested more heavily in the product, because winning breeds revenues. It isn’t a lack of desire to win, or a preference for profit over winning, that has caused the team to stumble the last decade. They just made a bunch of bad baseball decisions that ended up doing real long term harm to the franchise. It is as simple as that. They aren’t losing on purpose. Stop believing that crap.

    So, I guess you can go away?

  10. pgreyy on April 21st, 2013 3:38 pm

    I hate the “they don’t care about winning” argument.

    They care. They want to win. What they’ve done just hasn’t worked.

    What would prove to you that they “want to win”?

    Fire everyone at the first hint of failure? (Plenty of examples on players and front office folks that were given up on too early by one team who found success elsewhere.)

    Do they have to throw money at the problem like the Yankees do? (How are the Yankees looking right now? And who would you have thrown money at that would have fixed what’s wrong with us this year? Getting Josh Hamilton…or having gotten Prince Fielder the year before…would not have “fixed” us.)

    Mortgage the future for an unsustainable one year run? (How’d that work for the Marlins last year?)

    It’s not like a team has a switch that toggles between “wanting to win” and “not wanting to win”. It’s not like “wanting to win” is the missing ingredient in a winning team.

    For heaven’s sake, life is not like the movie “Major League.”

    The Mariners want to win. They don’t have the talent to do so, they haven’t managed to put the talent in place who can do so and they aren’t managing the talent they have effectively.

    That’s all frustrating because we can see ways they could have made better decisions–but it’s not like they’re actively “not trying to win.”

  11. eponymous coward on April 21st, 2013 3:43 pm

    Let’s be clear, here: if ownership wanted to go through the motions of having a bad baseball team in a way that guaranteed a large annual profit, while waiting for the day they can cash out selling the franchise, Felix wouldn’t be here. He’d have been traded for prospects, the team would have a $30 million payroll (so no Morse/Morales/etc.), and the team could count on revenue sharing money + shares of national deals. It’s worked pretty well for the Marlins.

    So, it’s not that they don’t care about winning. But just wanting to win doesn’t mean you’re competent at winning.

  12. tmesis on April 21st, 2013 3:45 pm

    You will note that I did not say they aren’t trying to win. I never doubted that the people we see every day are trying their best. (That’s what make the post-loss interviews so wierd: what can they say? “We’ll try harder”?) I said that ownership did not care much about losing or it would have long ago done what any other well run company does when its managers so utterly fail to achieve their goals. Management’s job has apparently never been in jeopardy during the last decade of fecklessness. That suggests to me that they are satisfying the owner with something other than wins. And that suggests to me that Z and Wedge will not be fired for losing, as was suggested.

  13. mrakbaseball on April 21st, 2013 4:02 pm

    Both Zduriencik and Wedge are in the final year of their contracts. It will be hard to justify bringing them back after another 4th place finish.

  14. californiamariner on April 21st, 2013 4:08 pm

    It almost makes me pop an artery when I read the comments saying the team doesn’t want to win.

  15. henryv on April 21st, 2013 4:20 pm

    To be honest, I’m not sure if I care if the M’s win. They’re just there. It would be fun if they did, but it’s probably not going to happen.

    It’s kind of like playing the lottery. I’ll play, if I remember to, and if not, so be it. It’s probably not going to happen, like winning the lottery. This team is probably never going to be good, at least for a long time.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love the M’s. But f-ing whatever. I’ll go see the games, but I simply can’t care if these team wins, because they’re not worth the emotional investment any longer.

  16. juneau_fan on April 21st, 2013 5:14 pm

    So, not a big deal that I went out to do yard work?

  17. Westside guy on April 21st, 2013 5:43 pm

    Much better use of your time, Juneau.

    Unfortunately it was raining here, so I couldn’t really do the same.

  18. wallmoon on April 21st, 2013 6:01 pm

    So with today’s loss, we’re 1/8th through the season….and the young players the M’s counted on to improve (who were improved during spring training) are, incredibly, playing even worse than last year! It’s true– Smoak and Ackley were huge disappointments last year but are just disappearing this year. And Montero is deservedly playing less. Ryan is Ryan. But how many teams have so many guys with sub .200 batting averages (I know there are other more important stats, but the Miranda line is an easy one to throw out.)

    good grief- we’ve got Ibanez playing outfield with Bay and Chavez! can we get Ichiro back? Wells?

    What to do? can we package a few of our “promising” youngsters and a good minor league pitcher (Paxton) and get just one legitimate corner outfielder back, someone young and with power? And bring up some of the kids.

  19. MrZDevotee on April 21st, 2013 6:12 pm

    I always love the “Mariners owners are cheap/don’t want to win” token arguments if our players suck… I’m guessing this comes from the same guys who when they hit on a girl and she says “go away”…

    They go sit with their friends and talk about what a bitch she is? “I didn’t wanna sleep with HER anyways! I was just being nice…” (laugh)

    What I don’t understand is how come spending all that money by the Blue Jays, Angels and Cubs but losing horribly doesn’t lead to the same conclusion? “They just spend all this money ’cause they don’t really want to win, it’s just to distract the fans– bobblehead billfolds!”

    Or the accomplishments you have to skip over to call them cheap… Like most wins ever in a season… Most wins ever in a 3 year span… A damn high payroll for most of the mid-2000s, for the size of our market… Wheeling and dealing during that same period, signing EVERYONE they could get their hands on for too much money (and still losing).

    Or the latest completely contrarian happening– buying into their own TV rights deal, which requires having a winning and popular product to pay-off, instead of just cashing in on the huge $$$’s teams are getting, when so obviously the dollars are gonna start peaking out as new avenues of sharing the sport with fans changes.

    It’s really breathtaking that people can so easily tie together horrible talent evaluation by the staff on the field and a group of owners who don’t care about winning (but– sigh– meanwhile, we just signed a pitcher to the highest deal ever at the time, offered a guy $150 million at the end of his career, AND tried to trade their top prospects for another superstar… This all coming the year after trying to sign Prince Fielder, when they couldn’t actually afford it!)…

    Cheap bastards. No wonder our player development and on field managing is so awful! And our Top Prospects must be sucking just to SPITE those cheap ass owners… Like they’re DARING them to spend money instead of develop from within! OR, they know how cheap they are too, and want to get traded/released so a REAL team will pony up and pay them what they’re worth when they’re team control years run out!!!

    Geesh. Really?

    Wait, come to think of it, maybe our entire starting outfield wasn’t all hurt at the same time afterall…? They asked ’em to fake it, ’cause the team was starting to get popular again, with all Morse’s dingers, and fans would just expect them to spend more money… Awful! (Heck, maybe they PAID that pitcher to precisely foul a pitch off Morse’s bat and screw up his grip on the bat… The broken pinkie was just a bonus!)

    Next argument I’m looking for is that it’s because the owners are really bigger football fans and the end of the baseball season screws up their NFL interests if they play past September?

    Come to think of it, maybe “North Dallas Forty” is their favorite sports film of all time, so the idea is to populate their team with young guys and washed up guys, so they’ll lose? North West-Ass Forty”?

    I’m personally pushing for the story that the owners are SABOTAGING our bats! Making them crooked, with holes in them! It’s pretty obvious, really. Just watch some of these swings. Our owners are evil.

  20. tdhseattle on April 21st, 2013 6:21 pm

    Call me crazy, and I really might be wrong, but this is a player development issue. We do have talent. Ackley does have talent. But where has the coaching been to develop this guy…pointing out his flaws, etc? Ackley was better when he came up from AAA than he is now. Also, Smoak, regardless of what you all might think, has a LOT of talent. Montero, although he really should be a DH and get on a running program, has so much talent. So it’s not just as if players need to get their act together. It’s this management that does. They need to get a hold of this club house.

    I am a big fan of Jack Z. He is an excellent drafter. But he does not know how to hire managers. Wedge was a huge mistake. Wedge will be gone before midseason, that is for sure. We are all just sick of this perpetual losing. I don’t blame ownership on the money issue. They actually have invested in payroll. We just don’t have enough true baseball people here to evaluate and develop talent.

    It’s sickening. I’ve been a fan since I was three years old (’87) — and it is so saddening to me that we wasted an entire decade. Ichiro’s peak years — completely wasted because there was no one around him. Now I fear the same is happening with Felix. I’m hoping he hasn’t regretted signing that contract. BRING IN BETTER COACHING! GET WEDGEY OUT OF SEATTLE!

  21. NorahW on April 21st, 2013 6:23 pm

    Tmesis, which management are you saying hasn’t been in trouble no matter how much they lose for the last decade?

    Because I seem to remember at least two managers (Wakamatsu and Melvin) and one general manager (Bavasi) getting canned during that time. The same will probably happen to Jack Z and Wedge if there’s no improvement this year.

    Because Bavasi made such a mess of things and because the team needed to be rebuilt from the bottom up, they probably gave Jack Z a little longer to try to make changes, but I’m sure he’s on a pretty short leash at this point.

  22. casey on April 21st, 2013 6:44 pm

    tdh – well said and exactly how I feel.

    Ackley was a world class player coming out of college, top star coming out of triple A and Arizona fall league (remember he hit near .400 in fall league)and has fallen so far they are using him to bunt a runner to third to stay out of a big inning and pinch hitting for him against lefty pitchers.

    Saunders who hit through minors was only rescued by hiring his own hitting coach and an unlikely collection of injuries gave him a 2 week reprieve to start the season in 2012.

    Seemed clear to all but Mariners management and coaches that Montero wasn’t a catcher and wasn’t going to be a catcher past 2013 with the M’s (Zunino) yet we painted him into the corner of catching and now newsflash his is sitting on bench because we have 5 dh’s ahead of him and he sucks at catcher.

    Pretty depressing week being a Mariners fan – other than Seager and Felix, Kuma and Maurer and the few chances we get to see the bartender not sure how things get better. Can see a bunch of guys getting blamed, a bus running back and forth to Tacoma (where surprisingly Thames does hit like Ryan Braun)and in the end coaches and front office changes.

  23. tmesis on April 21st, 2013 6:52 pm

    I’ll try once more. By “management” I refer to the corporate president and the CEO. They work at the pleasure of the owner. If winning games was the owner’s goal, I have to think that they would have been fired long ago, just as any corporate manager would expect to be who failed at his task. Instead, the product has steadily deteriorated over the last decade and they have remained happily in charge. I can only conclude that the majority owner does not care. About winning. And management understands that. They apparently give him whatever it is that he cares about, if anything. They may in fact care desperately about winning, although I really doubt that either of them feels a fraction of the pain expressed on this website. (Do you really think they were watching and groaning along with you tonight?) But they know that their jobs do not depend on it. They are not going to fire themselves. Of course they periodically fire GMs and managers. But I do not get the sense that they are under any undue pressure to win. Now perhaps there is nothing any corporate suit can do to influence whether a team wins or not. A lot of the comments on this site seem to suggest that from time to time. So maybe the owner thinks that there is nothing the CEO can do and the CEO thinks there is nothing the GM can do and the GM thinks there is nothing the manager can do: after all, they’re all good guys doing their best. So periodically we just switch out the bottom two for form’s sake.

  24. SonOfZavaras on April 21st, 2013 7:10 pm

    It feels weird to say this about a series in April…but we really, REALLY need a series win against the Astros and Angels.

    If they don’t, we’re all but buried in the division and we’ll spend months ferreting out the answers to the same damned questions.

    We’re not even on pace for 63 wins. No one can tell me Eric Wedge deserves a job skippering a bunch like this to a barely-60-win record.

    There’s more talent here than a frickin’ 61-to-63 wins pace.

    I KNOW there’s been injuries, but…Jesus Henry Christ. We deserve better baseball than what we’re getting.

    Maybe changing the skipper is just a cosmetic thing, but hey…let’s find out. While there’s still room for hope when the right moves start happening.

  25. californiamariner on April 21st, 2013 7:30 pm

    You do realize Wedge has been the manager for 2 full seasons so far on bad (very bad) teams. I’m not saying I like him, but do you really think firing him after that is necessary? After this year? Sure, then we can move on perhaps. The same goes for Jack Z. He took over a horrible pool of talent and has worked to improve it. Maybe it isn’t working, but again you have to at least wait until the end of this season. If you don’t like our manager and GM, well that is your opinion and I have no problem with that. But, please don’t act like this franchise doesn’t care about winning, because the two of them haven’t been fired. Unless you think bringing in a new manager and GM after every losing season is the mark of a winning franchise, which I doubt.

  26. Xteve X on April 22nd, 2013 9:51 am

    ” Unless you think bringing in a new manager and GM after every losing season is the mark of a winning franchise, which I doubt.”

    Since 2008 the Mariners are the worst team in the AL in W/L% at 43.1%, followed by Kansas City at 43.2%. I probably could have gone back to 2003 and the numbers would more or less be the same.

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