For many years it seemed like the Mariners always hosted the Athletics or vise versa for the home opener. This year the Mariners will be traveling to Anaheim on March 31st to play the Angels and then the Angels are coming to Safeco Field on April 8th for the Mariners home opener. It changes things up a little bit and I certainly think it breaks up the monotony of baseball schedules. But really, does it matter? There are only five teams in the American League West (used to be four) and that hasn’t changed for some time. I think in retrospect, it’s nice to see these small but subtle changes.
The Athletics aren’t far behind, though. The team comes to Safeco Field that opening night weekend for a three game series.
In other Mariners news, Dustin Ackley has a full beard going on right now. It’s quite the beard, I must say. Along with growing an epic beard, he’s not doing too bad in Spring Training right now. Of course, batting .457 won’t follow him into the regular season, it’s still nice to see Ackley hitting like he was projected to do in 2009.
“People don’t put a lot into the stats in Spring Training. But I put a lot into how I’ve felt and the confidence you build in the spring,” Ackley said Sunday morning. “I think that’s huge. You can’t really put into words what that does for you. I think taking everything I’ve done and just being consistent with that is going to be the biggest thing.”
The never-ending debate whether Spring Training “counts” or not has never really dissolved. Baseball fans continue to have their opinions about Spring Training-stats do not count but the work and the team cohesion do count. Obviously Ackley isn’t going to hit .457 throughout the regular season. We all know that. He has come a long way since the last couple of seasons with the Mariners, though. I think McClendon has played a huge part in that.
“I hear scouts all the time say, ‘Don’t get caught up in Spring Training.’ Well, we have to get caught up in something,” McClendon said. “You have to believe in something. We try to temper it.
“What I try to do is put guys in the most pressure situations I could this spring, to see what we really have. But the fact is, when the lights come on, you don’t really know how anyone is going to react, other than guys who have track records.”
Ackley says he feels confident and mentally ready. But what if he has a slow start? How will the fans react to that? How will Ackley handle it?
“I want my confidence to be there even when I’m not doing well. I think those are the most important times, when you are struggling and kind of doubting yourself. That’s when you need to step back and tell yourself this isn’t what I’m going to do; I’m not going to go down this path again, because I’ve already been down it before and it didn’t work.”
The Mariners start the regular season in less than one week and I think we are all ready for some Mariners baseball.
Who’s going?! I’m excited to go! The gates open at 5:30PM and the tickets are just one dollar! First pitch is around 7:05Pm, I think and we get to watch the game on the giant big screen that they put up in centerfield last season. How cool is that?!!
I’ll be leaving Australia soon. I’ve spent the last week or so overseas watching the series opener at the historic Sydney Cricket Grounds and you can read all about that by clicking this link. It’s been an absolutely amazing trip, too. I’ve walked all around Sydney, seen the Taronga Zoo, ran into Dodgers pitcher Brian Wilson…it’s been a real treat.
I also started a new Facebook page designed specifically for this blog. So have a look and “like” it if you like it!
I hope to get a few blogs out this week about the Mariners, so we will see what happens!
Thanks for reading!
“PEORIA, Ariz. — With his contract situation clarified by Saturday’s agreement on a one-year deal, Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak said he’s eager to turn his attention to baseball, as position players are scheduled to report on Monday.
Smoak avoided a Wednesday arbitration hearing by agreeing on the $2.63 million deal, which also contains a vesting option for 2015 at $3.65 million. If Smoak accumulates 525 plate appearances this season, the $3.65 million will be guaranteed for the following year. If not, the Mariners have the choice of keeping him for that amount or giving him a $150,000 buyout and letting him return to the arbitration process.”- Seattle Mariners
That’s basically the details you need to know about Smoak. My thoughts? I would’ve cut him loose. After picking up Corey Hart and Logan Morrison and rumors speculating that Jesus Montero might be focusing on 1B.. not sure if there’s room for a Justin Smoak in the line up.
A career .227 BA and smacking 20 HR’s, (19 in 2012) and batting a .230 last season, my mind is skeptical on keeping Smoak around longer than this season. Maybe this is the year he get’s his rhythm and proves the world wrong. I’d love to see that because this year the Mariners have all-star caliber players- and a nice playoff run would return faith to Safeco- especially after that Super Bowl victory by the Seahawks.
The bad news continues to flow as the Mariners report for spring training. First its Iwakuma’s middle finger strain and now Franklin Gutierrez has more health issues that will require him to sit out the entire 2014 season.
Gutierrez resigned with the Mariners earlier in the off-season for a 1/year $1/mil contract. Gutierrez, missing a lot of games in the last couple of seasons was unsure if he’d make it back into the lineup. Now that he’s on the restricted list, he won’t see any of that money or acquire any Major League service time.
With Guti now off the 40-man roster that opens up a spot for Fernando Rodney who has signed with the Mariners earlier this morning for two years at $14 million. Rodney, 36, saved 37 games last season, while posting a 5-4 record and a 3.38 ERA in 68 appearances.
“Valle played in 13 big league seasons – 10 with the Mariners. He interviewed for the Mariners managerial open in the offseason. While it was a longshot for him to get the job, Valle impressed enough people that they decided to offer him a chance to build up his managing resume in the minor leagues.”- Seattle Times (Ryan Divish)
I’m super-stoked about that, sports fans! Since I live so close to Everett, I think it’ll be my obligation to attend as many Aquasox games as I possibly can this year (along with Mariners games). How exciting! This year in Seattle sports has really been turning out to be a gold mine! With all the solid acquisitions that the Mariners have made over the off-season and the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl, I think the Mariners can turn that momentum they have building into something really special.
Welcome, 2014! You’ve been great so far!
|Scott Baker||P||32||Minor League***|
|Joe Beimel||P||36||Minor League**|
|Endy Chavez||OF||36||Minor League**|
|Cole Gillespie||OF||29||Minor League**|
|Logan Kensing||P||31||Minor League**|
|Matt Palmer||P||34||Minor League**|
|Humberto Quintero||C||34||Minor League**|
|Ramon Ramirez||P||32||Minor League**|
|Mark Rogers||P||28||Minor League**|
*: performance bonuses included in contract
**: player was invited to spring training
***: player was invited to spring training AND has performance bonuses included in contract
That’s the break down of what has happened with the Seattle Mariners over the course of the off-season. Excited much?
“The club turned down a $7.5 million option to retain Gutierrez, who instead will receive a $500,000 buyout. The 30-year-old Venezuelan completed a four-year, $20.25 million contract this past season, but he would have received a fifth year on that deal if the Mariners had exercised the option.”-MLB.com
I’m happy the Mariners decided to give up Guti to free agency. Not that I don’t like him. I do. Everyone loves Guti- when he’s healthy and producing. The last couple of seasons his career has simply been plagued with injuries. He’s a fragile human being and any team that signs him needs to take that into careful consideration. All the fans hold their breath when he goes sliding into second base or goes crashing into the CF fence.
He’s a dangerous hitter when he’s 100%. He’s the player you don’t want to hit the ball to or in the general area. When he’s on the disabled list, it’s no bueno for the Mariners. Or the fans. I hope whichever teams signs him isn’t in the AL West or a team who frequently plays the Mariners.
“Saunders, 32, signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal that included a potential second year at $8.3 million with Seattle just prior to Spring Training. Instead, the Mariners initiated a $900,000 buyout to void that second season after the left-hander went 11-16 with a 5.26 ERA in 32 starts.”-MLB.com
Safeco Joe. Jason Vargas is looking really good right now. Am I right? The good thing about this situation is the Mariners aren’t really lacking pitching depth. With Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Paxton as a solid 1-2-3, losing Saunders really isn’t going to leave the Mariners in a spot.
Other Mariners notes: The Mariners’ 40-man roster is now at 34 players, with reliever Stephen Pryor moved from the 60-day disabled list to the 40-man roster on Friday.
If you want to read the entire article on Franklin Gutierrez’ success along with what Joe Saunders have contributed, click here.