Let this be the first “real” entry I’ve written since…oh, a month ago? Either way, too long ago! Not only do I finally feel settled back in the Pacific Northwest, but I even have internet! I haven’t been up to much, just working from home and waiting for a response from the interview I had last week (crossing my fingers!). No offense to any Michiganians but I am truly glad to be back here where I’m surrounded by friends and family and am extremely excited to see how my life pans out from here on!
First of all, congratulations to all the teams (and their dedicated bloggers) that are competing in post-season! I only wish I could say the same for my boys but it’s alright because this season has been such a huge turn-around for them; who would have thought we would go from 101 losses to 85 wins? I definitely didn’t! I believed in baby steps but apparently the Mariners are making much bigger steps than that!
Now speaking of making big steps into a successful season, I’d like to present to you the 2010 Mariners lineup DG style.
Skipper: Don Wakamatsu – No brainer here; as a first-time Major League skipper, he invented the “belief system” for the then-40-man-40-cab team of 101 losses in the ’08 season and with the help of Griffey Jr and Sweeney‘s amiable nature, Wakamatsu (aka Wak) made a family out of the team. ..and not to mention a winning season with 85 victories.
1st Base: Russell Branyan. Yes, this poses a couple problems. 1, he has been out of the active roster for the past month and a half with a herniated disk in his back. Apparently his back had been an issue for almost the whole season despite leading the team with 31 homeruns (none of the Mariners caught up to that even after he was placed on the DL) and setting career highs in RBIs and doubles…but that’s probably because Wak gave him a chance to play (also a career high) 116 games. Of course the other problem is his number of strike outs. 149 of them this season but perhaps it comes with swinging for the fences? Oh and another thing…Branyan was a gamble for the Mariners and only signed him for a year. Now he’s a free agent and although he’s expressed his intentions of returning, I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.
2nd Base: Jose Lopez. Another no brainer, especially after this season where Lopez reached his career high in doubles (42), homeruns (25) and RBIs (96). He’s even nominated for the Heart and Hustle Award after his performance and improvement this season. With this years’ stats, he was one of the most productive AL second baseman.
Shortstop: This one is a complete tossup. Do I want solid defense and poor quality offense, or do I want mediocre defense in such a crucial position and a matching level of offense? I’m talking about Jack Wilson (mid-season addition from the Pittsburgh Pirates) and Josh Wilson (also a mid-season addition but from the San Diego Padres). Jack Wilson’s defense is stunning but it seemed as though he was having a hard time maintaining the same average from his Pirates days. As far as Josh Wilson, his defense is not as great as Jack’s yet his batting average is a lot better. I’ve talked to a lot of Mariners fans and interestingly they all fall 50/50. Who will climb to the top and take on the daily role of SS in ’10? Only the off-season improvements will tell.
3rd Base: This will largely depend on Beltre‘s return to the team or the lack thereof. Beltre is a management and fan favorite at third base which mean if he returns, he’ll be back manning the territory. However, the base is empty if he chooses to leave. Who would be able to fill Beltre’s shoes as far as defense goes? Jack Hannahan has played third base while Beltre was on the DL and did a phenomenal job, yet his batting average of .213 is not all too impressive. Perhaps Bill Hall, one of our newest members of the family from the Brewers can attempt to take on the role. However it’s the same issue as Hannahan; batting average issues.
Right Field: I’ve got 3 syllables for you and no explanation; I-CHI-RO.
Center Field: Franklin Gutierrez. Wow what a great idea to acquire Gutierrez from the Cleveland Indians! Not only can he play center field seamlessly, but this man can hit! He’s played very well batting after Ichiro with an average of .283 and 70 RBIs which are both career highs.
Left field: Oh boy, what a tough one. The most interchanged position of the season. We’ve had Bill Hall, Ryan Langerhans, Mike Saunders. We’ve already discussed Hall so onto Langerhans hailing from the Washington Nationals. He had a couple walk-offs which was memorable, but two walk-offs and a .218 average isn’t going to get you a permanent spot on the daily lineup. Now Mike Saunders seems like another management favorite although his batting average is .221; sure a little better than Langerhans but he did play more games than he did. Actually, I’m going to go on a limb and say Saunders. This is because my Grandpa loves Saunders and thinks he’ll succeed. But mostly because I love my Grandpa.
Catcher: Putting aside my bias for favorites, I’m going to call up Rob Johnson as next season’s daily catcher. He was Felix’s personal catcher all season and obviously he was successful. His offense struggles but are there many catchers with great batting averages with the exception of Joe Mauer? Johnson is such a fan favorite and I think I’m alright with Kenji Johjima being back-up. At the end of the season, we were introduced to Adam Moore. I can’t judge much considering he played only a handful innings but as far as watching him bat, I’m not too optimistic. Perhaps he’ll be back next season and prove me wrong.
Well there we go, If I were the GM, I would have it this way. A team mostly full of newbies but just enough veterans to keep them together. After this successful season, I can’t imagine them doing anything but get better, and it’s never been more exciting!
1. A rookie catcher that can remain in the game for 14 innings and catch 213 pitches.
2. A struggling starting pitcher that is newly back from AAA.
3. 7 relief pitchers that can hold the White Sox down.
4. 1 homer in the bottom 7th for joy.
5. 1 homer in the bottom 9th (0 outs) for hope.
6. 1 homer in the bottom 9th (2 outs) for a tie.
7. 14th innings worth of time.
8. A ‘single’ drop of Ichiro.
9. A sprinkle of quick feet.
1. The Mariners had their newbie catcher, Moore, making his Major League Debut after getting called up from AAA Tacoma. He didn’t drop one ball and caught all 14 innings and an unbelievable 213 pitches.
2. The Mariners starter Brandon Morrow had much proving to do to Wakamatsu, his teammates and fans after becoming a little bit of a let down earlier this season; thus getting sent to AAA Tacoma for a while. Considering the great line up of the White Sox, I think Morrow did alright. Went 5 and 2/3 innings giving up 6 hits and 3 earned runs.
3. Not only did newbie Moore catch the whole game, he was basically introduced to 8 Mariners pitchers in total. After Morrow, 7 relief pitchers came out to throw an outstanding 8 innings while the Mariners offense tried to conjure up some runs.
4. A home run from Beltre in the bottom 7th gave fans at the game some joy knowing at least the Mariners scored once even if they did lose (because we all know that as much as we love our home team, when we’re at a game, we’d like to see them score…someone! Anyone!).
5. After a quiet 8th inning and praying for a miracle, Lopez hits his 24th home run with 0 outs against White Sox pitcher Bobby Jenks.
6. 1 out….2 outs….a few fans starting to pack up…until Hall comes out to hit a game tying home run!
7. Awesome! Extra innings! Maybe 10…maybe even 11 innings? Yeeeeaaah, no. The White Sox and Mariners decided to pitch it out for 14 innings. Thank goodness the game started early yesterday or else lil’ ole me couldn’t have witnessed the victory here in Mo-Town!
8. Bottom of the 14th, Langerhans hits a single against the soon-to-be losing pitcher Linebrink who beans Johjima (Joh gets beaned a lot..I think he actually held a record there for a while.). 2 men on base and our future Hall of Famer comes up to base. *Drum rolls please*. Ichiro hits a line drive single between CF and RF just enough for Langerhans to score the winning run.
9. Oh, and the quick feet? You need quick feet because if you don’t, you can’t chase after a grinning Ichiro as he runs away from his teammates. It’s true.
Don’t believe me? Click Here! It’s pretty comical, actually.
There you go, a perfect recipe for a home cooked Extra Inning Victory.