Tag Archives: Mariners

Walk-up Music Rankings 2014: The Starting Rotation

In the spirit of March Madness and NBA Playoffs, I had intended here to create a bracket in which we would pit the Mariners walk-up songs in a gladiatorial, mano-a-mano competition by which we could ultimately determine who has the ultimate taste in walk-up songs. Having subsequently looked at how much effort that would take (read: more than 20 minutes worth), I have decided against it in lieu of a more traditional, “lets rank these motherfuckers like I’m writing for Buzzfeed” style.

Let’s break this down the criteria by which they will be judged.

Fit – The first category here will pertain to the interaction between player and song. This takes a couple of factors into account – is the song emblematic of the player? Does this song somehow provide us with greater insight into the man behind the uniform? Bonus points can be awarded in this category for weirdly inappropriate fits – think something along the lines of Jon Rocker walking up to that John Legend song from Selma, Delmon Young walking up to “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” or Ichiro walking up to a song about having friends.

Inherent Song-ness – Is the song good? Does it suck ass? Does it suck enough aforementioned ass so as to be entertaining? Is there some clear intentionality underlying the choice of the aforementioned but still unnamed ass-sucking song that could make me believe that it was a clever choice rather than simply a shitty one? Does that forgive the player for knowing the ass-suck song well enough to employ it in an ironic capacity, knowing that for it to even come to mind as something they could leverage as a joke they probably had to hear it a few times already anyway? And if they are in fact listening to this song enough to be able to call on it in an ironic way, is there a chance they are basically just doing this as a smokescreen to cover up their miserable tastes like how I laugh furtively when Fall Out Boy comes on via Spotify but do nothing to actually change it?

Baseball-ness – Does the song mention baseball or games or baseball games?

Having concluded the front matter, if you will, here are the starting pitchers for your Seattle Mariners:

5 – J.A. Happ – “Hysteria” by Muse.

JA Happ is the new kid on the block and it remains to be seen whether he maintains the track he was using last year. Let’s assume so because repressive content quotas and making wild assumptions are the bedrock of sports journalism.

Based on the title alone, I am a little disturbed if this song actually “fits” Happ at all. I prefer my pitchers to be sub-hysterical whenever possible. Sans-hysterical if they can pull it off.

As far as inherent song-ness goes, this is an OK song. That being said it is featured prominently in the Twilight soundtrack which takes it down a couple of notches through no fault of its own.

They actually DO play a game of baseball in Twilight (which this song is featured in). In fact, they even have a goddamn music video that features the game. That being said, by looking up this song, realizing it was in the Twilight soundtrack and then subsequently realizing that they played baseball in that movie, I was reminded that I have seen Twilight which is an unpleasant revelation.

Conclusion: Fuck you JA Happ’s walk-up song for reminding me that I have seen probably about 60% of the Twilight series. Last place.

 

4 – Roenis Elias – “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony

Props to Roenis for keeping it real with the random Marc Anthony deep cuts. As a player from Cuba with a pretty fascinating origin story I can certainly get behind the choice as it reflects music that Elias actually listens to. I would prefer if he had chosen “Hero” by Enrique Inglesias but that might be more of a preference on my part than anything else (read: esta noche).

The title to the song itself is “Live my life” in Spanish. This brings up a few interesting questions that we should sort through before we come to any conclusions. Whose life is being lived here? Is this a call to action for the listener to bang Jennifer Lopez and otherwise live the life of Marc Anthony, Latin pop-music sensation? Or is this instead just a call for the listener to identify with the lyricist which would render the title as an urging towards self-actualization and authenticity. Either way it seems kinda gay so I’m going to go ahead and put it in 4th place, narrowly edging Happ since the song has Spanish in it and Robinson Cano speaks Spanish.

 

3 – James Paxton “???” by  “???”

I have no idea what Paxton’s walk-up song is. It wasn’t listed in the first result I saw in the google search, but I am going ahead and putting his song in 3rd because I love James Paxton.

 

2 – Felix Hernandez “All Hail the King” by Avenged Sevenfold

So I primarily know Avenged Sevenfold as a band I am retrospectively embarrassed to have liked in middle school. Regardless, the song chosen here has some pretty clear parallels to Felix’ monarchal moniker which, for me, warranted inclusion in the upper-tier of this list. That being said, there was research to be done.

Having migrated to Wikipedia, I came upon this weirdly existing Gantt chart showing the timelines of the various contributors to the band over the years. Sharing below with no permission:

a7x

Wow those are some fucking names. M. Shadows, Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance have stayed true to the cause for years, resounding the faux-metal bugles heralding our own monarch’s trips to the mound with aplomb. I think the Rev died so that’s a bummer. As to the rest of these clowns, props to Johnny Christ for sticking with the crew after hopping on the ole A7X bandwagon following the untimely maybe-demise of Demon Ash who sounds like a fuckboy.

1 – Hisashi Iwakuma – “Feel this Moment” by Pitbull

Fuckin A.

Nothing says baseball quite like a Japanese pitcher walking to the mound to the overproduced sound of a son of a pair of Cuban expats by way of Miami—that is, Pitbull’s dulcet tones serenading crowds to the collective squelches of corona-lubed panties dropping in a Tuscon night club.

Love in this club. Indeed.

A Tale of Two Videos: Tony Stewart & Ray Rice

Tony Stewart will not face charges on the murder, the vehicular homicide or the accidental death of Kevin Ward, Jr.

I’ve lost all hope in humanity.

The American justice system has failed yet again. I can only surmise Eric Holder’s recently announced resignation comes as a result of the inaction by officials to hold yet another a popular white “athlete” accountable for his crimes (see: Duke Lacrosse team, Oscar Pistorius, baseball players).

 »«

Two weeks ago, the last apparent last bastion of the fourth estate TMZ released a video of Ray Rice shamelessly knocking out his then-fiancé Janay Palmer.

Once revered as maybe the top running back in the world, Rice’s career as it stands appears unredeemable. The Baltimore Ravens terminated Rice’s contract, and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. The NFL Players Association has since appealed on his behalf, sighting tired (but unfortunately, most likely true) slippery slope, two punishments for one crime arguments.

 «»

On August 9th in upstate New York a 43-year old man driving a 1400 pound vehicle at a speeds of nearly 140 miles per hour hit a 20-year man—a boy really. The young man with a long, bright future ahead of him died, almost immediately. It was caught on tape.

One would hope—given the above circumstances—that the full weight of the law and public reaction would fall on the culprit. One would imagine that said culprit would be collapse under the pressure, a charged and convicted criminal as the world celebrates the triumph of justice.

 »«

So here we are. The NFL is the midst of a once-in-a-generation scandal. Employees are answering to the former Director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (the goddamn Director of the F-B-goddamn-I!), turning over communications, cataloging steps taken and not taken in an investigation completed or not completed. Even Commissioner Roger Goodell—the shoot-first sheriff, self-proclaimed judge and jury of the NFL when he ascended to power—finds himself in the unusual position of target practice.

Rice is at fault, and the NFL and Goodell screwed everything to hell.

«»

There is a video that shows Ward’s murder. It wasn’t shown on ESPN or your local news, because it’s a video of someone dying (as if all that war footage of rockets firing and landing on nightly network news weren’t). Watch it here—if you can bear it.

The 43-year old man—Stewart, let’s be painfully clear—is free. He woke up this morning to a loving family, doting fans, a dedicated racing team and a job that he loves.

Ward will never get a chance to realize the NASCAR dreams Stewart shamelessly tried preserved in his all-too-early return to the track.

But more than that, Ward will never get to find and marry the love of his life, to swell with pride as he watches his children stumble and get back up, to grow old and see the world change. Ward will never get to turn the ignition or choke the throttle of his beat up no. 13, joke around with his team or get angry at his opponents, relish in victory or rise again from a loss.

Ward graduated from high school two years ago. Two years ago. And will remain fixed in his family’s memory an eternal 20-year old.

 »«

The institution of the NFL has been turned inside out—and rightfully so—for countless reasons. Among these include: the culture of violence that has been absorbed by the players’ family members for years, the countless players facing even more countless charges of violent crimes and the apparent cover-up (or shameful ineptitude, if you’re an optimist) of the Rice incident—only the most recent indication of the NFL’s unspoken mandate to “protect the shield.”

Despite all this, last Sunday came and went. Hundreds of thousands of fans across the country flocked to their football meccas and millions tuned in at home. Billions of dollars were made in salary and advertising revenue. The testament of sport.

It would be pretentious, and in many ways wrong, to call for a boycott of the NFL—and not just because it would never happen. After all, most football players are by-and-large good people (I think) who understand that they’re not actually allowed to pulverize other people off the field.

I would hope that recent events have disrupted fandom—at least for a blip—causing unease and skepticism. There has been some reporting on this, but not nearly enough.

Football is good. Ray Rice is bad. And the NFL fucked up.

End scene.

«»

Ray Rice knocked someone unconscious—his partner nonetheless. He may never face judge or a jury, but he is being punished—by the league he belonged to, the team he was a part of and the American public at large.

Tony Stewart Killed a person. Where’s the indignation? Why hasn’t ESPN rushed to Ward’s aide with hours of outraged Olbermanns and Wilbons?

When we were talking about Ward’s death—for that brief two week period that quickly was swept under the rug the moment Stewart gloriously returned to the race track to bravely not lose his position in the Sprint cup race—we seemed to shy away from what actually happened. Our headlines never used the words like “killed” or “fatally struck.” Instead it was an unfortunate accident that happened to an unfortunately young person.

“…an on-track accident that left 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. dead.”

“…he was involved in an incident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr.”

“Kevin Ward Jr.’s death…”

“A sprint car racing incident involving NASCAR driver Tony Stewart left another driver with fatal injuries…”

It’s no wonder that Stewart got away with murder. Our verbs hid him from the truth of it. I don’t know yet if that was for his sake or ours. Both are infuriating reasons.

Accidents and death are part of the machismo of racing. I get it. But Ward didn’t die in an accident. He died after an accident—when Stewart’s right front tire clipped Ward, throwing him in the air like a rag doll. As for machismo, the NFL certainly doesn’t lack in it, and they’ve still managed to hold individuals to a modicum of accountability—no matter how disjointed and backwards-ass the path is to get there.

Stewart Killed a person. It’s on tape. I’m still waiting for the Fury of God’s Own Thunder.

The Mariners, luck and overcoming adversity

So here we are.

Coming into the season, if you were to tell me that the Mariners would be a mere half game back from the Tigers in the Wild Card spot in September, I would have likely told you to politely go fuck yourself. That being said, now that the Mariners are in this situation, expectations have skyrocketed and the whole “at least we were competitive” argument doesn’t work for me anymore.

This Mariners team is good. Over the course of a season, many things can go right and many things can go wrong. Baseball mitigates some of this statistical chaos by virtue of having 162 games a season and with it, pretty enormous sample sizes. Despite this, there is a luck factor that inevitably worms its way into any conversation regarding professional sports and the Mariners are not exempt from this motif. Roenis Elias has been far better than anyone could have predicted as an untested rookie making his first starts above AA to begin the season. Chris Young has been astronomically better than his status as a last-ditch reclamation project would have indicated at the year’s beginning (though of late some chinks in the armor have revealed themselves). Both of these circumstances can be portrayed by nay-sayers as being instances of “luck” insofar as players wildly exceeded what would have been tepid expectations from even the most optimistic of fans.

Yet, cherry-picking feel-good stories as a means to discredit a ballclub that has been, if not play-off caliber then at least something approaching it, is fucking whack. There have been far more disappointments for the Mariners this year then there have been surprise contributors. At the beginning of Spring Training, we were looking at having Taijuan Walker and James Paxton in the rotation at year’s beginning. Taijuan found himself hurt at the beginning of camp and struggled to regain his form following an extended absence. James Paxton began the season with the club only to injure himself for the vast majority of the season following a dick-tickling display of early-season dominance.

While untested—a guy with Taijuan’s stuff could have undoubtedly made this team better. Recent history shows that untested pitching prospects with great stuff, while not always measuring up to their full potential, trend towards being at least serviceable guys which, when following proven veterans Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma in the rotation is certainly enough to assemble a solid rotation.

Paxton, on the other hand, has picked up right where he left off at the beginning of the year. The rotation this year has been a strength. I shudder to think what it could have been like with a full season of healthy James Paxton pitching the way he is presently.

On the position side of things—remember the insane MDMA-fueled optimism regarding Brad Miller at the beginning of the season? He has lost his job to a guy drafted in the 6th round labelled as a glove-only shortstop with some speed being his only serviceable offensive tool. While I think those reports regarding the aforementioned shortstop (Chris Taylor) were largely unfair, it does little to change the reality that the Mariners were forced to compensate for Brad Miller losing all semblance respectability at the plate and cratering in a way that most deemed, if not impossible, then comically unlikely.

Remember our starting centerfielder? Which one(?) you may ask if you are one of the few people who hasn’t amnesia-fucked Abraham Almonte out of your brain-cube by now. The Mariners have had several starting centerfielders this season including the aforementioned Almonte, non-prospect James Jones, Endy Chavez, Michael Saunders and now the far more reliable Austin Jackson. Of those players (disregarding recent acquisition Austin Jackson who I have coveted for years) Michael Saunders is the only player better than replacement level. Michael Saunders, who could be one of the better players on the club, has not been healthy all year and is presently mired in an extended rehab stint with no definitive date of return.

How about Cory Hart and Justin Smoak? Hart, a player who I had tabbed for a big-time resurgence has been utterly worthless. Smoak, a player who I had tabbed to remain a waste of the space he occupies continued to be himself, which is to say, bad.

The replacements? Logan Morrison who has yet to raise his head above the stagnant nether-regions of his sub-0.700 OPS and Kendrys Morales who has yet to return to the form we saw last year when he was the most consistent offensive producer on the team.

Despite all of this, the Mariners are a good team. We have had our fair share of disappointments and despite them, have felt like a team that is capable of winning games without them seeming like wild flukes. We have one of the best run differentials in the league, a bullpen that has been largely lights out and a rotation headed by two of the best pitchers in the game. We have 2 position players in the middle of the order (Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano) who are, as we stand right now, worth more than 5 WAR apiece.

Now we head to a 4 game series against the Rangers. While the Mariners are an example of a team that has exceeded expectations by responding favorably to adversity, the Rangers are an example of a projectably superior club at season’s beginning that has been subsequently sodomized by injuries and negative regression.

On paper, this is an opportunity for the Mariners to do some damage and firmly entrench ourselves as leaders in the playoff race. Now we just need to do the damn thing.

Go M’s…

…and Seahawks too. By the way HOW FUCKING SICK would it be for the Mariners to sneak their way into the playoffs during the NFL season? If I could watch the Seahawks continue their dominant run in the regular season while also getting the privilege of watching playoff baseball with something at stake…needless to say work, responsibility and human interaction may have to be reduced to beer, pizza, hot dogs and escapism. Oh and what a sweet escape it will be. I’m gonna live forever.

Mariners scoff at modern, civilized notions of consent, abduct Kendrys Morales with possibly leud intent

The ever-reluctant Kendrys Morales just got abducted by the Mariners front office. The “Hit-it-here Café” never sounded less like a place to drink beer and eat sandwiches and more like a fuck-dungeon

Kendrys Morales has recently, against his will, been bound and gagged and dragged to Safeco Field under the guise of darkness in exchange for Hard-throwing but control-challenged reliever Stephen Pryor

I am not entirely sure what to make of this exchange. Honestly, it is hard to be excited or terribly dejected about this trade. It is just about as Mariners a move as I have seen in awhile. The fact that it weirdly corresponds to a Jesus Montero promotion makes it even a tad more head-scratching, not in light of the Montero promotion itself (he will almost certainly be sent straight back down upon Morales’ arriving with the club) but in light of how I am reminded that Montero is mashing down in AAA and could actually maybe be exactly the same sort of player Kendrys will be. Whatever.

In the meantime, the Mariners have placed WFB (Willie Fucking Bloomquist) on the DL to make way for Montero. Since Chris Taylor was called up as well, there will need to be some other room made on the roster for Kendrys. I imagine we will just send Montero back down but what we could see is a Hart DFA corresponding to a situation where Lomo sees some outfield playing time which ought to be terrible.

Kendrys Morales has been worth -.9 WAR in limited action this year. This is a bad number.

We know he is a good hitter from last year where he proved that he was more or less recovered to his pre-leg-injury self (or some such approximation of that bygone state of being). He has not been good this season- though he has recently embarked on a 12 game hitting streak during which he has batted .292 with some walks and doubles thrown in for funsies. Morales has a career wRC+ of 114 so we know at least that the generalized, platonic form of Kendrys Morales is a player worth having in your lineup. That value is increased when you look at the disparity between that wRC of 114 and Cory Hart’s present wRC+ of 77. When looking to assess value in a trade or acquisition, it pays to look at the player being replaced as well as the general need of the organization. Kendrys would be a downgrade on many teams but the Mariners offense is ostensibly inferior to many teams.

The above paragraph is all well and good but my sunny outlook gets smothered and covered cumulonimbus-style when we realize that the positive picture I misleadingly portrayed earlier totally is totally cloud-metaphor’d by the admittance of Cory Hart’s career wRC+ of 115. When you compare career numbers between the two players, they are basically the same guy from an offensive standpoint, with Hart being less of a liability on the basepaths. These have been 2 solid career hitters who each have sucked mightily this year due to rust.

So basically the Mariners have made a lateral move with the expectation (read: desperate, clawing, raving, drug-addict-in-a-methadone-clinic hope against hope. Like a bigger long shot then sending the fucking ring to Mordor) that Morales has less rust to shake than Hart. The difference here is that Hart missed an entire season with injury rather than missing a few months of a season waiting for a contract during which time we can assume that Kendrys was at least able to play some sort of baseball against someone whereas I imagine Cory was just able to lift weights and shoot things down in wherever the hell he is from, which I imagine is the sort of place where one would shoot things because like holy fucking Christ have you seen the guy?)

Despite my inclination to think every move the Mariners make is a poor one—I am willing to let this one play out a bit. I have been disappointed that Hart has been unable to turn it around this year and I was never terribly disappointed with what I saw from Morales as recently as last year. Sure, he is a nightmare on the basepaths and he can’t really field a position but he was a guy who could help a team score a run or two that they might not otherwise have scored without him around. Conversely, Hart has been a black hole of suck for a while now and his prospects of improvement grow bleaker with each passing day. The word ‘bleaker’ should be eradicated from existence, it sounds like the name of my 3rd favorite muppet.

If the Mariners want a rental to help out in this contrived, ridiculous playoff-push of ours than there are certainly more costly rentals than buying low on a fairly consistent performer at a position of need for a young reliever recovering from a serious injury who is struggling in AAA.

I am sure most Mariners fans and bloggers wildly disagree with this, but I am willing to bet some of that is just based on the whole cringe-inducing notion of trading for a guy we could have potentially resigned. But if that is the case, consider this: the Mariners offered Kendrys a 3-year deal worth substantially more than he was ever offered by another team and he turned that money down to hold out and potentially waste an entire season. Kendrys really doesn’t want to be a Mariner, but the Mariners really want Kendrys. By trading for him, he has no choice in the matter. The Mariners scoff at modern notions of consent thereby ostracizing themselves from Jezebel writers nationwide. Given this paradigm, perhaps we should all reconsider our fandom?

Welcome to Seattle, come die with us Kendrys! You figuratively don’t have any choice.

Everyone Needs A Hobby

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] S [/dropcap] eems appropriate at this point in time, in light of a few recent victories that could be readily classified as very un-Mariners insofar as said victories were not only emphatic but, in a way, expected, to address the elephant in the room: this Mariners’ season has coincided with the invention and subsequent growth of the blog you are reading today. Luckswing may be responsible for the Mariners’ successes.

What are the things required as a winning baseball team? Good players are certainly nice. Baseball is a good place for identifying good players because the numbers over large sample sizes tend to allow for some pretty well-thought predictions as to a players’ future successes  and failures. That being said, Chris Young sort of flies in the face of that. Chris Young sort of flies in the face of everything though. The term “Flies in the face of” is an unexamined idiom. Idioms are pretty much always unexamined which is why idiomatic language pretty much never translates well between languages. They just do not make sense divorced from the cultural context that birthed them. To shatter the generalization I just made, apparently this particular idiom’s origins involve some rural-ass scenario where a hen flies in the face of whatever predator, probably some canine like the dogs we keep as pets or the foxes we wish we could keep as pets, attacks her. So basically Chris Young is waging an assault against conventional metrics and expectations fueled by sheer farm-animal-desperation and he, like the rest of this improbable team, is succeeding.

Now that we have introduced improbability and desperation into the scenario, let us subsequently introduce the creation of this blog and by doing so really obviously connote (the words obvious and connote are also indirectly competing words but fuck you) that there was a certain degree of desperation in this blog’s creation—the quiet sort of desperation that manifests itself in really boring symptoms from probably more boring causes.

Luckswing was created, in a way, out of desperation. It shouldn’t take any reader a very long time to realize that this blog is more of a hobby than a job. Jobs pay you money and are almost by definition boring. If you think your job is exciting, there is a fairly decent chance that you are a habitual abuser of anti-depressants and are rapidly accelerating towards a hell of a wake-up call or you simply haven’t worked at your job for a very long time.

Hunter S. Thompson has a quote for this scenario that I have liked for some time: “Old whores don’t giggle.” Seems simple enough given a brief, cursory look. Great job on that first glance because it is every bit as simple as it seems initially or “out of the gate,” (to further estrange this from whatever subaltern other we feel like alienating today by using more idiomatic language).

Fuck it though. Let’s dig into the aforementioned simple-ass quotation just for funsies. Sex is fun and that is probably the jump-off point Hunter is trying to construct to then jump to the second axiom “jobs are boring” and see where he gets from there. Sex is fun because the chemical response to orgasm is literally a volcanic eruption of fun-chemicals attributed to the release of the neurohormones oxytocin and prolactin as well as endogenous morphine. But that is not all that there is. Obviously this is not the case. There is a different part of people who enjoy sex because it intrinsically validates a perception that is browbeaten into young people in American society and likely several other societies as well: the idea that the subject, male or female, can attain objects of their sexual desire and in doing so simultaneously validate their own need to be desired as well. It is the exultation in possessing and being possessed. Feelings of attachment post-sex make sense because the act correlates so strongly with notions of objectification that it will usually take real, mental work to adopt the kind of loosey-goosey collegiate attitude towards sex that most people can only get or at least pretend to get once they have done it enough. But even then, this work can often only be internally justified if the sexual subject is themselves confident of their own ability to possess multiple objects and thereby require less of an attachment to just the one, in which case they are more a collector than anything and they still covet the sexual object of possession but in their case what they covet is less of a single entity and more of a state of mind whose passivity is only supported by the ability to switch into successful attainment of a unique object at any given point in time. Basically this is like the Spotify of people fucking each other and similar to Spotify once your wifi connection ends up sucking i.e. you get fat or old and can no longer possess the multifarious objects of attainment at will any longer and are forced to either A) settle down, a term that explicitly includes the uncomfortably connoted “settle” or B) die cold and alone with your better years behind you and the distinct feeling that you may have wasted whatever energy you had on something that ended up being about as frivolous as a heroin addiction except perhaps even more expensive if you managed to knock/get knocked up along the way.

Neither of these seem like good options, which is why people will struggle with notions of “want” wherein they claim to want somebody to see past their own ability to be objectified and bitch and moan and wail about how nobody perceives the real them when in reality the only “real” thing under the surface essentially is anxiety regarding the desirability of the surface. Sucks to suck, as they say.

Ignoring all of that, let’s just accept the supposition that yeah, sex is fun. If that is the case then sex as a job is inviting tedium into what should be qualified as an escape from tedium. That is essentially Hunter’s point then when he says that “Old whores don’t giggle.” Any activity when pursued for and subsequently equated to financial benefit for too long shifts from having its end as something pleasant to having its end as something we deem necessary. It becomes an act of survival and the performance of that act repetitively until elevated to the rank of “profession” becomes just a faculty or aptitude, an adaptation for capitalist survival.

Fun things become un-fun very quickly when you are forced to participate in these activities against your will for extended periods of time for fiscal compensation that is in no way related to the object, subject or product of your labor but is instead a function of whether or not you are doing whatever it is you told somebody you were going to be doing for money. Somebody thinks that what you are doing for work is worthwhile. They have to. “Worth” is even in the fucking word and worth in this context is referring to money. To then retranslate the sentence above: Someone is giving you money to do something that they think is worth money. If they are paying you to do something that they did not think was worth money, then they are either extremely generous people or clinically insane and these two possibilities are not mutually exclusive in the least.

Operating within the worth-as-fiscal-compensation paradigm it is pretty easy to see that this site, what I am doing presently, is “worthless.” Writing doesn’t intrinsically benefit anyone if your notion of benefit is restricted to those things that allow you to, as they say, “put food on the table” or “pay the bills” or whatever else. Earning money for doing something has become the human equivalent of being say, a hunter or a gatherer, except that in this case there are actually just a few entities providing the necessary elements to living such as food and shelter while the rest of us basically just wallow in our own compensatory filth. Homeless or unemployed people in this setting become sort of the equivalent of a lion with a broken leg or a really lazy vulture and basically have no place in the edifice we have constructed over time beginning with whatever fuck thought capitalism as a system was a good idea when really it was just a way to create a society that flits from distraction to distraction and constructs flimsy, lazy narratives to ascribe meaning to what is essentially a living breathing game of flappy-bird untowards death with the worst part about that ride being the fact that we evolved to realize how pointless it is and in so evolving now strive to counter that helpless feeling by assembling a meaning as to “why” we have this awareness when really all we want is a compelling reason to stick our fingers in our ears going ”LALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALA.”

So yeah, blogging is worthless. It compounds its worthlessness by virtue of it being but one of many blogs amidst an absolute sea of un-edited unrestricted buttfuckery that plagues every deep corner of the internet—millions of people advocating their right to be heard without realizing that the cacophony of the group and the singular lack of specialness inherent to each individual entity makes their voice but one dissonant tone amidst a garbled scream that sounds like a stadium filled with teenage girls all enacting some sort of reverse-peristaltic apocalypse. Word vomit. It’s like Mean Girls, basically.

So yeah. This site was created as one of those voices amidst the cacophony-orchestra (the cacophestra?) as a means to exert some sense of voice or will or something that is pointless. If the rantings and ravings of this post haven’t made it abundantly clear how I feel on the matter there is this tidbit: participating in activities for one’s own survival are necessary but necessity is not enjoyable and necessity does not satisfy the “want” to feel as though the ever-elusive and ever-self-deluding “I” has a voice separate from its efficacy within a system of buying and selling.

The worst way to conceive of this voice is the whole “My voice matters, I am going to change the world, blah blah blah.” These are the words of deluded millionaires and their children-turned-sofa-activists who probably aren’t even 100% sure what their definition would be of “the world” and certainly do not seem conscious of the fact that the pedestal for ignored reform and change is itself a luxury inherited by being born to the royalty of the system they pretend to hate. Seems kind of shitty that “change the world” has become a cliché, but it has. The whole notion of changing the world has become one wherein it is less important that this nebulous “world” has changed but rather that the person wants it to be themselves who have changed it and thereby validate their status as a precious little snowflake for which there is none other so special and unique and just lovely.

So instead: Sports! Why not? Has there ever been anything as meaningless as opining as to the outcomes of events structured within arbitrary rule-sets for which people are paid millions of dollars to skip their formative educations and hit round things with sticks? There probably has! But that doesn’t mean that this isn’t some pretty meaningless shit we are hitting on here. This is the point. If you ever find yourself taking things too seriously or losing grasp on the meaningless expressions within life’s little hell-ride towards extinction than you do so at your own loss. You lose the joy of, “wow that orgasm sure was nice” and creep ever closer to Hunter Thompson’s hypothetical whore being dully pounded into oblivion without so much as batting an eyelid and all of those little giggles become yawns and you have turned pointless hobby into vocation into job into total bore.

So now we can make claims like, “The Mariners’ successes coincide with Luckswing being created. We are responsible for their success.” Why not? I invite all readers to come bury their heads in the sand with us. Everyone needs a hobby, right?

Re-evaluating Past Success and Scuffles: The Logan Morrison Story

With another series win over the Boston Red Sox, the Mariners have vaulted themselves forward in the standings amidst another manic episode within the context of their season’s untreated bi-polar disorder.

Having won 6 games in a row before finally dropping one to the Sox, the Mariners continue to not surprise, but rather amuse, as they toe the line between a team that looks unbeatable and a team that looks utterly inept on offense as so many Mariners squads in past years have appeared.

And yet, in this maddening sea of inconsistency, reality does actually align ever so delicately to expectations, with perhaps a smidgeon of optimism crème-fresh-ed on top.

Let us ignore what we have seen before and what has, by virtue of being old, become stale and tired. Robinson Cano continues to be exactly what we need him to be—a reliable source of offense within the middle of the order. Seager continues to produce every couple days or so, as his season continues to trend towards the best of his career but in that particularly awesome, unflashy, 5’11” way that Seager does it. Zunino has hit 4 dingers in the past 5 games and will inevitably suck for another month or so while playing some pretty spectacular defense behind the plate.

Ignore.

Let’s talk instead about Logan Morrison.

Logan Morrison became a forgotten character fairly quickly in his first Mariners’ season. He played very inconsistently and, despite having what was at worst a pretty average spring, he seemed to garner quite a bit of hate among the folks lurking around the usual Mariners internet-haunts such as Lookout Landing and U.S.S. Mariner.

I personally have always been, if not a believer, then at least a proponent of Logan Morrison as experiment. It seemed to me that there were worse things the Mariners could do than simply run the guy out there and see if he had anything to provide. Admittedly, the injuries were there and they weren’t exactly minor injuries either. But, looking upon his acquisition from a perspective that assumes a return to health, we can see that the Mariners may have lucked out huge when trading rosey-cheeked and basically useless Carter Capps for Lomo this offseason.

Let’s look at Logan Morrison’s rookie season. The 2 years since that season and the statistics that accompany said years should themselves be accompanied by a huge motherfuckin asterisk. Lomo was playing hurt. In addition to that one particular piece of adversity, he was also playing for an organization that didn’t seem to want anything to do with him, at one point even demoting him to AAA under some flimsy pretense to reprimand him for being too much of a beast on twitter. 

Let us look at a couple of quick lines side by side.

G BA OBP SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+
100 .218 .307 .371 .678 13 48 82
123 .247 .330 .468 .797 23 72 116

 

Those rows represent the statistics for Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison, each in their age-23 seasons. Morrison’s line is the decent one. Smoak’s is predictably the one that is terrible.

Both Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison were highly touted prospects as they moved through the Rangers and Marlins organizations, respectively. Smoak has played semi-regularly since he was acquired in the Cliff Lee trade by the Mariners and, for whatever reason, we have been subjected to him on a consistent basis since that time. Morrison came up with the Marlins and produced right away, showing the power that blew scouts away as a prospect—with his HR numbers from his slightly-abridged age-23 season prorating to 30+ over the course of 162 games. Smoak has never hit 23 HRs in a season. Lomo did it more or less instantaneously upon his first call-up.

Now, this is glossing over a pretty substantial period of time during which Morrison fell entirely from grace in Miami. He suffered a couple major leg injuries that kept him off the field for prolonged stretches and limited his effectiveness during those times he made it onto the field. He has said himself that he rushed himself back. Could you chalk this up to simply an excuse? Maybe. Though it certainly seems a plausible explanation for a dip in production from a player who is still just 26 years old. It is unlikely that the skills that produces the numbers above simply vanished. They were simply masked by injuries until frustration caused the Marlines to ship him off for what may end up being a pretty sub-par return, though Capps’ does have projectable stuff if he gets his shit together.

Smoak, by contrast, has been more or less healthy for his years in Seattle and has never so much as allowed us a glimpse of comparable offensive upside to what Lomo brings to the table. Smoak has also been a first baseman his entire career, a position where offensive production is expected for any team to have a chance to even feign competency. Lomo and Smoak have both been terrible for a couple years, but Lomo was terrible with a half-broken leg, Smoak’s terribleness is just par for the motherfucking course.

We have seen Lomo come on for the Mariners in a big way the past few games. His 4 for 4 night with multiple HRs was eye-opening to be sure—though if we pay attention than maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised. He will undoubtedly have plenty of slums in the near future and maybe some hot streaks similar to the one he has presently, that is just part of the game. What matters though is that Lomo appears to be 100% healthy and if the potential he showed as a rookie was any indication, a healthy Logan Morrison provides another presence in the middle of the order that the Mariners sorely need.

Oh yeah, and he is hilarious on twitter.

Leave Smoak in AAA. Lomo party.

Jesus Montero is back and agility drills cannot save you

Jesus Montero is back in a Mariner’s uniform.

If you are anything like me then you had already more or less forgotten about Montero’s existence, save in those few moments where you chuckle to yourself whilst wondering if he could eat an entire lasagna and still find time to take some steroids.

The answer is yes motherfuckers and Jesus is back to show you just how effective he can be. Maybe.

A once prized prospect, Jesus Montero’s first season with the Mariners was bad(ish) but bad in a pretty forgivable, lets-wait-and-see sort of way that inspired people to hope for progress and made said progress seem inevitable in the same way as say, getting fat when you’re older. This expectation was framed by the narrative that accompanied Montero. Basically, his ceiling was fixed in the minds of those who had heard the scouting reports and saw the minor league production. His performance was then characterized as a low to medium baseline from which we expected Montero to steadily ascend and grow into the right-handed masher he was all but assured to be when poring through the scouting reports documenting his performance in the Yankees’ farm system.

Little did we know that those cheese eating fucks over in New York likely doctored those reports, wrote his SAT for him, proposed to his nonexistent wife for him, and genuinely disguised his all-up shittiness in every facet of his life for the sake of return value in the form of Michael Pineda who (haha) has ended up being fuck-awful (and a pretty bad/ineffective cheater) as well.

To add insult to injury and to build on the inevitability of getting-fat-whilst-aging comparison I lobbed to myself in the prior paragraph; Jesus went ahead and made a literalist out of me this year by showing up to spring training having eaten a swimming pool of sour cream and borrowed Guy Fieri’s thyroid glands. He got fat.

Hyperbole aside, he was more or less unapologetic for his mockery of the term “athlete,” saying straightaway that he had done figuratively nothing but eat all offseason.

To be entirely honest, Montero can totally be fat and probably still play baseball. Having watched Montero pretend to be a catcher and then subsequently mime around first base for a few months, it is clear to even the most aggressively casual observer that Montero cannot play any position on a baseball field. Note here that when I say “casual observer” I am not even referring to the observations of a non-baseball-fan. That degree of casualness does not convey the hyperbolic message for which I am striving. When I say “casual observer,” think instead of your hypothetical Grandma, having recently immigrated from Serbia or some such place and having never even seen baseball before watching Montero play baseball on a satellite TV over a poor signal out of the corner of her eye while you try to teach her how to text with her new iPhone at the same time.

The dumbed down message is: it is abundantly clear that Jesus Montero will never play in the field. He is a DH and that is all he will ever hope to be. The thought process that leads people to occasionally believe that any rube with 7+ fingers can play first base has been proven incorrect.

Jesus Montero committed 9 errors in 59 games at first base down in AAA Tacoma. This number looks pretty bad on the surface. It looks worse when one considers that 1st basemen will typically only get an error assigned to them if they fuck up in an extremely egregious, obvious, and costly way. Often times a catchable throw across the diamond that the 1st baseman cannot pick will simply result in an error for the poor guy making the throw—even if everybody in the stands, having watched major league baseball or even minor league baseball once or twice knows that a 1st baseman should catch any throw that he can get his glove to. It is pretty much his only job.

The resulting logic suggests then that if Montero was assigned 9 errors in 59 games then it is fairly safe to assume that he was responsible for even more buttfuckery on defense that simply didn’t get charged to him and statistically qualified as his own personal little error—even though everyone watching, scorer included, was likely aware that, similar to 9/11, it was all Jesus’ fault.

So Jesus Montero is a DH and a DH he will always be. As of right now—despite my obvious misgivings regarding Jesus Montero, the player—I prefer seeing his name slotted into the lineup against left-handed pitching than say, Willie Bloomquist. While I appreciate that Willie has been less than completely useless in his starts this year that does not change the reality that an offense featuring Bloomquist as either a 1st baseman or DH is likely to be an offense that is terrible. While I have pretty much zero confidence in Montero as a player or human being, the guy at the very least has some power, which is something our current roster lacks in pretty much any capacity. The Mariners can do worse than rolling out Montero against lefties. They already have done worse.

So take heart in low expectations my morbidly-obese-but-working-slowly-towards-being-just-chubby friend—you can’t possibly disappoint us more than you already have! And to you Mariners’ fans: take heart in the weird optimism that comes with the thought that Jesus can’t possibly get any worse than last year (can he?) and therefore he really has nowhere to go but up!

Optimism reigns supreme in Mariners’ town.

Mariners draft profiles: Alex Jackson and Garreth Morgan

So the Mariners went ahead and drafted another catcher. I know what you must be thinking: “But wait! The Mariners already have a highly drafted catcher playing for them RIGHT NOW and he was the only one of several first round catchers the Mariners have taken in years passed to pan out and even still, he is not playing particularly well and our opinion of him is inflated by solid defense and the reality that his only tool at his disposal just so happens to be the flashiest offensive tool a player can have, even if it hasn’t really shown itself in months as he is basically a guess hitter still who can only run into pitches like a somewhat more lithe and certainly more Italian iteration of Paul Bunyan.”

Whoa! Watch the run-on sentences, reader. As you do so, listen to me preach.

Alex Jackson is a boom-or-bust prospect. The excitement for him comes from his bat, which profiles as plus in the majors, with most of that value and projection coming from his 60 grade power which has a chance to grade higher should he develop as many anticipate he will.

Jackson stands at 6’3” and weighs in officially at 220lbs though some scouts claim that number is actually a bit low. He is athletic but not particularly fleet of foot and most likely profiles as a slightly-above average outfield defender with slightly below-average range due principally to an excellent arm which undoubtedly comes as no surprise given his background as a High School catcher (and a fairly well-regarded one).

Watching some brief highlight tapes of Jackson are clearly misleading—as highlights are a very honest and open skewing of a player’s median talent level being a compilation of things that player has done well, looped together to erect the fairly flimsy façade that this is how that player performs all the time.

That being said, there are some pretty damn impressive highlights. Straight away it is easy to notice why scouts fell in love with Jackson’s bat. The only hiccup that I could foresee is in regards to a timing mechanism that may cause some issues during slumps. Essentially I see a guy who will likely be a timing hitter, and being such will find himself prone to occasional slumps when his slightly-complex hitting mechanism “falls out of alignment” so to speak. Though, as these sorts of hitters tend to be, the hot streaks will likely balance out the former cold ones, provided his power grades out to its expected levels and, with his frame, work ethic and general bat-to-ball skills I expect that it should.

All-up, I am very impressed and pleased that Jackson fell to the Mariners as are most scouts in the baseball world. It seems the Mariners have fallen into a situation where they have added a player who will likely become almost immediately the top prospect in our organization while simultaneously filling a need that they have sought in vain for a few years now: a true power hitting corner outfielder. Note that when I say corner outfielder I actually MEAN a corner outfielder and not some 40-something first baseman that is being trotted out there for a lark, providing little with the bat and mitigating that production completely with the glove (or lack thereof) *cough* Ibanez *cough.*

On to the next, Minnestora to the Netherlands, Caravans, getting cheddah mannnnn. Round the world in a day, up in LA, Oklahoma, Dallas, Kansas City to the Bay!

The Mariners second round pick in the 2014 draft will undoubtedly have fans salivating over his potential. Listen to this one scout’s ridiculous and probably lazy but still pretty awesome and optimism-inspiring scouting comparison for Mr. Garreth Morgan:

“He has Edwin Encarnacion’s power and body with Jose Bautista’s outfield tools,” said one veteran scout. “Gareth is unlike any Canadian player I can think of. He has Justin Morneau’s power from right side.

“But Gareth is a better athlete. Justin was a catcher than couldn’t catch, Michael Saunders was a really good outfielder, Gareth has way more power than Saunders. Brett Lawrie, doesn’t have that kind of power. Joey Votto didn’t have his power, he’s more of a gap hitter.”

The fuck.

According to the paranoid schizophrenic Canadian interviewed here, Morgan projects to be probably the best player in the MLB. That is obviously unlikely. That being said, to warrant anything even resembling these glowing comparisons merits a second look. Morgan appears to be in a remarkably similar mold to the Mariners’ first round pick Jackson insofar as he is a young player with extremely high upside.

Where Morgan diverges curiously is in the competition he faced.

As a member of the Canadian Junior National team, Morgan faced players who were on their way to the MLB, and in facing those players he had the opportunity to let the bat play against pitchers who were throwing closer to the 90-92MPH range than the 82-84MPH range that most high school-aged players face on a daily basis. Additionally, he has ample experience using a wooden bat—which does nothing but enhance the perception of him as a legitimate threat in the middle of the order. His power is real, his power is impressive, and further his power is not inflated by an aluminum bat.

What excites me the most about the first 2 picks of this draft is the3 fact that Z has finally determined that we don’t need guys to simply rush through the system to the majors. It has been the MO of the Mariners for the past few years to go for guys with higher floor and somewhat lower ceilings for the sake of quick, safe production at the major league level. What we have discovered with these picks is that there is no such thing as a safe bet when drafting and evaluating baseball talent from college. If there are no safe bets, and everything is a gamble, does it not make more sense to invest those gambles in players with ceilings comparable to Major League stars? If you have 5 draft picks, would you rather draft 5 guys who each have a 20% chance to become average major league regulars, or draft 5 guys who each have a 5% chance of becoming legitimate stars? Average grows on trees in baseball. Average trees. The Mariners organization has had a whole motherfucking grove of average trees cultivating in Tacoma and the fruits of said trees have been decidedly average, which isn’t surprising, as that is the function of the average tree.

Playoff teams are differentiated by superstar performers. Do you think the A’s don’t have superstars on their roster? Josh Donaldson is worth 3 WAR and we aren’t even halfway through the season.  When I hear a guy has high upside but is high risk, I am happy. Every single one of these guys that teams draft is high risk insofar as the risk is that they do not become a productive major leaguer. The fact that all of these low-floor low-ceiling guys make it to the big leagues quickly only to be terrible is evidence as to the fact that the “draft safe” strategy is not a good one. AAAA players are worthless. AAAA is not even a league that exists.

Who cares if a guy never makes it to the majors or if a guy makes it to the majors only to be useless when he gets there? Neither of them are helping you win. In fact, the second guy in that scenario might even hinder your opportunities to win actively.

Anyway, regardless of your opinions of the Mariners, they are sitting a few games above .500 right now and just added two potential impact bats to develop in their hopefully-soon-to-be-less depleted farm system. Legitimate reasons exist to get excited about this club, which is more than we have been able to say in quite some time. Glide with the thermal effervescence of hope and progress and drink your weight in hopskip when you later come crashing into the volcano of this team’s regression.

 

 

Mariners diddle mediocrity, Kyle Seager flirts with a perhaps underestimated ceiling

 

The Mariners, having recently crushed the Yankees in their own stadium for the third time in a row, have crawled back above .500, continuing the trend where they diddle with mediocrity while various players experience cavernous lows and inexplicable highs—often in such a way as to balance out the latter with the former, producing the same sort of mediocrity you see now except typically worse because, you know, Jason Bay.

The Mariners story this year was supposed to be one of change- like Barack Obama in the 2004 Presidential election, these bleeding-heart liberal fuckers just don’t know when to quit! Yet, similar but also not at all similar to Obama’s reign as supreme high sultan of the White House, the Mariners are not changed insofar as they are relying on new faces, they are changed instead by the increased production of old ones.

Utterly worthless analogies aside, much was made regarding Robinson Cano’s arrival with the Mariners this past offseason—and reasonably so. Cano came with an enormous price tag. The money Cano received to be the Mariners’ second baseman for the next 10 years was more than “go buy yourself a new car” sort of money; it more closely approximated “Sylvio Burlesconi sodomizing 15 Italian prostitutes in a pile of cocaine” sort of money.

Cano has been very good yet simultaneously disappointing since his arrival. He is without question the steadiest source of offense on the squad and far less prone to the precipitous ups and downs that plague even the more talented and productive of the Mariners’ other offensive contributors. That being said, the power numbers have yet to show up. Admittedly, this has hindered his production, as his slugging percentage is presently sitting well below his career average. Though really, anyone who thinks this is a long-term issue is a buffoon. Cano did not forget how to hit dingers out of the blue. In fact, Cano is not even a guy whose offensive game is predicated around trying to hit the ball out of the park all of the time anyway. Cano likes to spray the ball around the field. In doing so, he achieves a level of consistency that most Mariners (who commonly feature all-or-nothing approaches spurred by either the ignorance of youth or the ignorance of their coaching staff) lack.

If this sounds familiar, then you are one of about 20 people to have read my prior post from about a month ago pertaining to Kyle Seager. In this post I discussed Seager’s approach at the plate as well as his batted ball profile. Seager is a fly ball hitter who tends to pull the ball to right field—that is his greatest asset but it is also one of the reasons that his production tends to fluctuate between the frigid, Regina George-esque slump with which he entered the season and the zesty, Michelle Rodriguez-style hot streak that he has been riding ever since.

Guys who pull the ball and guys who hit the ball in the air suffer when the ball doesn’t leave the yard. These same guys tend to post below average BABIP (Batting average on balls in play) as well. Both of these trends make sense as most fly balls that do not go for dingers tend to be caught by the oft very good and in the worst case probably adequate fielders who are literally paid millions of dollars to ensure these balls do not touch the ground. Further, by pulling the ball all the time those few ground balls that these types of hitters DO hit are far more likely to be gobbled up by the shift—something that has become increasingly en-vogue in Major League Baseball since managers have apparently realized finally that you do not need to look like David Ortiz in order to pull the ball all of the goddamn time.

As I discussed earlier, Kyle Seager will get his. That has been proven over the course of two years and I am of the mind that the numbers Seager has had in the past will likely resemble the numbers he puts up in the near future, until age and injury eventually catch up to him, though those two events may exist in a place relatively far in the future.

All that being said, I think I (and other like-minded Mariners’ fans) may have been unfair to Seager in making this assumption. The Mariners have been so consistently terrible over the past few years that our appreciation for Seager has probably been greater than say, a fan of the Red Sox rooting for a similar player over a similar period of time. We have not been accustomed to good players, so when we have actually had one, we cherish him and do not demand any more than the 3.6 WAR that Seager seems readily capable of. In adopting that sort of mindset, however, we lose some of the space for hope in terms of progressing towards something even better than what we have now.

It is possible that Seager, as of right now, is simply in the midst of one of his many hot streak to which we have become accustomed. He will ride this wave of productivity like Patrick Swayze in Point Break until the wave crashes and he dies and comes back to haunt his wife like Patrick Swayze in Ghost. I can live with that progression, as the hot and cold streaks have thus far happily balanced out to an effective aggregate product. But I cannot help but wonder if there isn’t more to see here.

Seager is only 26 years old. He came out the same year Ackley did and while Ackley is commonly pegged as somebody to whom the “Breakout Candidate” tag can be fairly attached; Seager is represented as a guy who has reached his potential and will coast until decline inevitably seizes him by the balls and renders him old, wealthy and chubby with a flaccid power stroke and a struggling libido.

But why not discard this notion and instead believe that this is Seager’s breakout year. In doing so we are taking a leap of faith only insofar as Seager’s stature indicates a player whose ceiling could not possibly be that high. But hey, is that really a fair judgment to make, seeing as that same player with that same stature has been crushing dingers like these to right fields all over the league for 2 years and doing so with only about 2 years of major league experience under his belt?

I’m hardly guaranteeing that this is the case. In fact, I really doubt that it is. That being said though, why not wish for something better? It has been a long time since we have had a homegrown position player who has panned out as someone who contributes. It has been even longer since we have had a homegrown talent who has become a star. Seager is 26 years old and should only now be entering the prime of his career. He has been tearing the cover off the ball.

Who says he can’t keep it up?

Go Mariners.

Seattle Mariners 50 Game Check-in Starring: The Back End of the Starting Rotation

 

The Mariners have played 50 games of the 2014 season. We have seen some players fall well short of expected production (read: Brad Miller) yet we have also seen players exceed expectations and step into larger roles (read: Michael Saunders). We have seen players perched oddly in the middle of the disappointment-to-pleasant-surprise spectrum (Read: Robinson Cano). The middle of most visible light spectrums is greenish. Robinson Cano is green. Ish.

That being said, if you had asked me prior to this season’s beginning where the Mariners would be after 50 games, I would likely have given a far more modest projection than where they presently sit in this reality.

In an alternate reality, the Mariners could be much, much worse. Their pitching staff could easily have crumbled under the weight of a combined lack of depth coupled with a reasonable dose of the league-wide “all young pitchers must die” epidemic. Thankfully this alternate universe exists parallel to ours and does not cross it. In this parallel universe, I don’t even like the Mariners, but am rather an exquisite Russian Ballerina with skills that marvel fans yet private reservations regarding my unique but voracious sexual appetites.

We do not live in that universe, as my browser history suggests. We live instead in a universe where the Mariners have neither a losing record, nor a winning one. The Mariners, according to record, are neither bad nor are they good. We are decidedly average. Yet, I can’t help but translate this averageness to optimism. After all, the M’s are undermanned- having only had Hisashi Iwakuma for a month and having both James Paxton and Taijuan Walker on the injury block as well. When people argue that the Mariners are doomed towards negative regression, it is those 2 names I bring up as bullet points subsumed under my list of arguments for the rebuttal.

Think about Brandon Maurer, Roenis Elias and Chris Young for a bit. These are the 3 guys who round out the Mariners’ starting rotation following the one-two punch of Felix and Iwakuma. None of these guys were expected to be contributors at the beginning of the season. All of them have had to fulfill important roles for this team. This team has not tanked completely. That alone provides a space for positivity.

Let us start with Brandon Maurer. Maurer has been the one pitcher of the aforementioned 3 to come out every 5 days and basically suck every time. His ERA is presently above 6 and, despite having what appears to be excellent and projectable stuff, he has yet to show an ability to locate his pitches and has done a bad job of limiting damage once things begin to unravel. This has been documented in the past. Maurer, in a fashion similar to other young pitchers with throbbing libidos and a taste for Taco Bell, lacks the wisdom of age.

This is OK. We all didn’t expect Maurer to be a contributor this year and if things went according to plan, he wouldn’t be. Unfortunately, things seldom do go according to plan where Major League pitchers are concerned. The number of injuries to pitchers this year has been record-setting, and the Mariners are just one of several teams to have suffered through this irksome trend. The reality is that Brandon Maurer was a stop-gap measure who is merely holding a spot for James Paxton’s return. If Paxton is anything remotely akin to what he was before he went down to injury earlier this year, this is a huge upgrade and therefore instance 1 of the Mariners having reason to expect positive regression.

Next up: Roenis Elias.

Elias was a no-name left more or less completely off any of the prospect lists headed into the 2014 season. A defector from Cuba having never pitched at a level higher than AA, Elias went into the season requiring major mechanical tweaks. He had previously thrown from about 30 arm angles. When asked why he was pitching like an idiot, his response was “I’m from Cuba.” Needless to say, this does not fit the profile of a guy from whom one could expect big things.

Until we all actually saw him pitch.

Elias has the look of a pitcher whose ceiling is even higher than what we have seen thus far. He does not fit the traditional profile of a lefty throwing junk and trying to fool everybody. Rather, he comes at guys with strikeout stuff—a great lefty fastball that he throws anywhere from 92-94 MPH and a big curve that generates plenty of whiffs and standing strikes as well. Watching him drop down from the left side to get Brett Gardner looking was one of the better pitches I have seen executed in awhile. Observe.

Roenis Elias is here to stay. Taijuan and Paxton are returning, but I do not see either of them unseating Elias. While Chris Young has performed well—Elias has the kind of stuff as a young pitcher that makes you salivate. A rotation of Felix-Kuma-Paxton-Walker-Elias would be one of the better staffs in baseball.

When you add Chris Young to the mix, that’s just gravy. But not just any gravy! This is gravy that is only gravy until it becomes necessary, congealing into meat in a matter of moments out of the saucer of long-relief, if any such gravy exists.

Back to normalcy! Let’s look at the final third of our injured starting pitcher replacement roundup: Chris “Unique Gravy” Young.

Watching Chris Young pitch is hilarious. If you ever get the chance, I suggest you seize it. Young has some of the most “whatever” looking stuff I have seen from a Major League starting pitcher. He goes up there and throws 84 MPH fastballs up in the zone that get crushed for warning track flies. It kind of makes you cringe sometimes, but in a good way. Sort of like the face that precedes male orgasm.

Young was a former all-star pitching in the spacious confines of San Diego’s Petco Park and has quickly seized upon the opportunity to pitch in Safeco’s delightfully offense-suppressing marine-layer. When Young is on, he is pitching up and down in the zone, inducing weak contact and suppressing runs-scored by simply making people hit the ball a wee-bit less hard than usual.

To provide some context- FIP is a stat used to measure expected runs allowed by a pitcher, taking into account only such events that are obviously in the pitcher’s control. For this reason, it emphasizes whiffs, strikeouts and walks. The flaw of the stat is revealed only when pitchers are good at controlling and limiting effective, strong contact without generating whiffs and strikeouts.  

Young appears to be one such outlier. His xFIP sits at a hilariously shitty 5.85 and yet his ERA is at a sparkling 3.30.

Since FIP is the statistic used to calculate fWAR (the most common stat used to measure a pitcher’s value in terms of wins), his fWAR is -.01. Yet we, having watched Young go out and limit teams to 2 or 3 runs over and over know his value to exceed that.

He is a player whose unique skills are so unconventional that they break the statistical system used to quantify them. “Chris Young is meta as fuck” your little sister might say, assuming she exists, reads at around a 7th grade level and has Pinterest as her MacBook Pro’s homepage. That being said, it is fascinating as a baseball fan to watch expectations unravel in the face of a unique set of skills. While not a particularly sexy player, (think Bob Saget on stilts) Chris Young has been a remarkably interesting player insofar as he breaks the mold of any I have seen before. While I would recommend moving Chris Young to long relief when Taijuan Walker is ready to play, I have no problem with him as our 5th starter.

The Mariners are average. The faces of this team are not the faces we expected when the year began. The names accompanying those faces have similarly changed. Rejoice in this fact because the Mariners have hung in there in the face of diversity—and help is on the way.

Now if only that Brad Miller guy could figure his shit out…