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Old 04-13-2019, 10:41 PM   #1
jaa36
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2019 Mariners: The Reimagining

"We're open-minded to different ways we can get better, but what we're hoping to achieve is to reimagine our roster to look at it in terms of what is our quickest path to a championship club... We want to build a championship roster. If that means in 2019 we field as competitive a team as we can while earmarking and gathering talent, we're not looking to rip our club down. We're just too talented to do that." -Jerry Dipoto, November 6, 2018

The 2019 Mariners are coming off a season in which they won 89 games, but finished well behind Oakland for the second Wild Card spot in the American League. Dipoto recognized that the aging core of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Felix Hernandez were not likely to make a meaningful playoff run and began the process of "reimagining" the roster.

The first sign of things to come was the trade of Mike Zunino to Tampa Bay, which netted center fielder Mallex Smith and minor league outfielder Jake Fraley. Zunino had just two years of team control left, while Smith, who had been a Mariner for just over an hour (in between Jerry Dipoto trades) several years ago, had four.

The next move was sending James Paxton to the Yankees. Paxton brought back pitcher Justus Sheffield, who instantly became the Mariners' top prospect, as well as two other minor leaguers, Erik Swanson and Dom Thompson-Williams.

And the moves kept on coming. Alex Colome was sent to the White Sox for catcher Omar Narvaez. Jean Segura, Juan Nicasio and James Pazos all went to the Phillies for first baseman Carlos Santana and shortstop J.P. Crawford. Santana was sent on to the Indians, his former team, for designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion.

But the biggest and most controversial move was sending franchise icon Robinson Cano and 2018 Reliever of the Year Edwin Diaz to the Mets for outfielder Jay Bruce, pitchers Anthony Swarzak and Gerson Bautista, and prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. Cano still had five years and $120 million on his contract, and at 36 years old, it seemed likely that the second half of his deal would be worse that the first. Giving up Diaz was a tough pill to swallow, but it netted a top prospect in Kelenic and a potential rotation piece in Dunn.

Other moves followed, including acquiring outfielder Domingo Santana from Milwaukee for outfielder Ben Gamel, and swapping minor league outfielder Josh Stowers to the Yankees for infielder Shed Long. Hunter Strickland was brought in to be the closer and Tim Beckham to play shortstop. Ichiro Suzuki was given a chance to make the club for the first games of the season, to be played in Japan.

The plan was clear: don't worry about 2019, aim to contend in 2020 or (more likely) 2021. The Mariners jumped from last in the prospect rankings to middle of the pack. Their roster was an odd hodge-podge of first basemen and anonymous relievers.

The real life 2019 Mariners bizarrely jumped out of the gate with a 13-2 record. I do not anticipate my attempt with them will be quite that good. I'll be playing out each game and reporting the M's progress monthly. Trading will be hard, and injuries on high (real life MLB frequency). I did edit Ichiro back onto the team (as the game's current opening day roster did not include him), and I'll re-retire him after the first two games. Since I'll be Jerry Dipoto, I'll make a lot of trades and free agent signings. I anticipate going to the bullpen very early in most games and churning through relievers like crazy.

Owner John Stanton expects us to play .500, upgrade third base (Kyle Seager is currently on the IL with a broken hand), and make the playoffs in 2023. BNN projects us to win just 62 games, and the M's farm system is currently ranked #15 overall.
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Old 04-13-2019, 10:49 PM   #2
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Very nice report. As season ticket holders we are excited to see them do well in real life as well as in the game.
Good luck with your trades and taking some risk on bounce back players.
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Old 04-14-2019, 09:43 AM   #3
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April 1, 2019

The Mariners split their first six games of the season and are currently 3-3.

The big story was Ichiro, who started both games in Japan and had three hits in six at-bats, including a bunt single in the second game. He was removed in the late innings of both games to thunderous ovations, and announced his retirement following the second game.

Thus far Daniel Vogelbach, Edwin Encarnacion, Dee Gordon and part-time catcher Tom Murphy have provided much of the offense, with Gordon collecting four hits in one game. Yusei Kikuchi pitched well in his first two starts and leads the team in innings pitched and strikeouts. The bullpen has been a mess in the early going and it'll be hard to keep pitchers fresh as only a few are able to be optioned to AAA Tacoma.

No major roster moves as of yet, though I've been sniffing around Craig Kimbrel, seeing if I can find a creative way to get him on a one-year deal with a team option for a second year.
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Old 04-18-2019, 10:56 PM   #4
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May 1, 2019

An uneven month of April left the Mariners at... a .500 record, 16-16 overall heading into May. The highlight of the month was an 18-0 drubbing of the Royals in which the club was up 12-0 by the third inning. Mitch Haniger had five hits and seven RBI in that one, including a grand slam. Unfortunately, a week later Haniger sprained his ankle scoring the game-winning run against Cleveland; he was off to a hot start, hitting .299 with four home runs and 15 RBI, but he should return in a few weeks.

Other than Haniger, Daniel Vogelbach has put together a great start to his season offensively, hitting .298 with seven homers in the early going, and leading the team with 23 RBI. Yusei Kikuchi has been the most consistent starter, with a 3-0 record and 3.27 ERA. The bullpen has somehow put together the third-best ERA in the American League at 3.34, with most of that credited to Zac Rosscup (1.04) and Roenis Elias (0.54).

As always, there were moves aplenty for Jerry Dipoto. Both of the major deals were with the Rangers, who went into rebuilding mode after the season started. Asdrubal Cabrera and reliever C.D. Pelham came over for reliever R.J. Alaniz; Cabrera at the time was hitting an AL-best .406 with seven home runs, and only cooled down a bit upon coming to Seattle. Cabrera replaced Ryon Healy at third base; Healy committed seven errors in just 20 games.

The big deal came at the end of the month, when I picked up Craig Kimbrel and reliever Jeffrey Springs (in a ridiculous heist) for Elias, who had been so successful in the early going. The Rangers will pay all of Kimbrel's $8.8 million salary for this season (which makes you wonder why they signed him in the first place...) and he's got a team option for $17 million next year. I don't have any illusions that we'll contend this year, but Kimbrel is a huge asset at the back end of the bullpen, and we might be able to swap him for something valuable (e.g. more than Roenis Elias) at the deadline.

The two extra pitchers (Pelham and Springs) were icing on the cake- both are half-decent rookie lefties with minor-league options remaining. Springs actually could slot into our rotation if we needed him to. Outfielder Brett Eibner and infielder Christian Adames were minor additions as well.

Wade LeBlanc suffered a minor injury near the end of the month, and since we don't need a fifth starter for now, I called up J.P. Crawford to supplement the infield. Crawford will start against righties for the time being, but I'll ship him back to the minors upon LeBlanc's return to further manipulate his service time.
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Old 04-26-2019, 10:37 PM   #5
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June 1, 2019

It was a rough May for the Mariners, who lost the first seven games en route to a 10-18 record on the month. The collapse had many factors. Craig Kimbrel blew his first two save opportunities with his new club. Mallex Smith and Dee Gordon managed to get caught stealing 12 times between them. Omar Narvaez hit .186. The team hit just 18 home runs in the month. Felix Hernandez went 0-2 with a 5.85 ERA and was suspended after sparking a brawl by hitting Jurickson Profar with a pitch. The team lost three pitchers (Yusei Kikuchi, Ryne Harper and Cody Gearrin) to injury in one apocalyptic game, and lost Gio Gonzalez the next day.

Mitch Haniger made it back from his injury, and the lineup is relatively healthy, with Kyle Seager set to return in a few weeks. J.P. Crawford came up to join the big club for good. The pitching injury situation remains a bit grim, and Justus Sheffield was just called up to join the rotation. Gonzalez was picked up as a waiver claim, and Harper came over from Minnesota for a low-level minor leaguer.

Sad to say, but the season is pretty well over already, as the M's are 13 games out in the AL West, and 9 1/2 games out of the second Wild Card already. Oof.
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Old 05-04-2019, 12:28 AM   #6
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July 1, 2019

A funny thing happened in June, in which the Mariners suddenly became good at the end of the month? The club won the last five games, including a sweep of the first-place Astros, and eight of the last nine, and had a 17-11 record in June overall. The high point of the season (and almost the low point) was a game against Houston in which we jumped out to a 9-2 lead, frittered away the whole advantage and went down 10-9 heading into the ninth, then roaring back in front on Mallex Smith's first home run of the year and ultimately taking the game 13-10.

Yusei Kikuchi pitched well, striking out 19 against just two walks, and Connor Sadzeck and Brandon Brennan provided some unexpectedly good innings at the back end of the bullpen. Omar Narvaez hit .414 to turn around what had been a dismal season. Daniel Vogelbach had a torrid month, going on a 13-game hitting streak and hitting .327 with seven home runs, and Mitch Haniger and Asdrubal Cabrera continued good seasons. On the not-so-good side, Mike Leake went 0-4 with an excruciating 11.32 ERA.

Before all the winning, Edwin Encarnacion demanded a trade, and he was sent to the Phillies (who had lost Rhys Hoskins to injury) with two low-level minor leaguers for three prospects, outfielder Adam Haseley, pitcher Ranger Suarez and catcher Deivi Grullon. We retain 60% of Encarnacion's salary, and none of the prospects are all that impressive, but Edwin wasn't a part of the club's future. We also successfully arbitraged Craig Kimbrel off to the Twins for three prospects, shortstop Nick Gordon, first baseman Brent Rooker and pitcher Jorge Alcala. Rooker was rated the league's #104 overall prospect, and Gordon #152, so this wasn't a terrible haul.

There were a few other minor moves, including trading away Tim Beckham (upon Kyle Seager's return) for pitcher Ian Hamilton, and slightly upgrading the backup catcher position by getting 26-year-old Jamie Ritchie for Wade LeBlanc, who was a disappointment after a promising season last year. Outfielder Jake Fraley impressed in a few games filling in for Domingo Santana, who got suspended after charging the mound recently. All the wheeling and dealing means the club has already used 50 players- with the season just half over! And more is to come this month, with Felix Hernandez, Leake, Cabrera, Seager, Dee Gordon and Jay Bruce all available to anyone who wants them.

The club had the 20th overall pick in the draft and selected college infielder Ryan Wetzel- he could be a fast riser who appears most likely to play second base. The M's also had the #48 overall pick and got another collegiate infielder there in Jose Marcano.

We're still 9 1/2 games out of the second Wild Card, and I have no illusions of contending this year, but suddenly, .500 seems like a realistic possibility. We'll see if the M's can keep up the pace while continuing to shed spare parts and looking towards the future.
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Old 05-07-2019, 01:13 AM   #7
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allow me to pause for just a moment.

This was hands down the most bonkers, bananas game I have ever been a part of. The line score speaks for itself, but among the highlights:

-Yusei Kikuchi was pulled after three ineffective innings, in favor of a tired but eager Mariners bullpen.
-After the bullpen continued to hemorrhage runs, with the score 13-5, I considered putting King Felix (the fifth starter) in to sop up the last two innings.
-Then we scored eight runs off a very tired Rangers bullpen, capped off by a game-tying home run by Mitch Haniger.
-I proceeded to burn through the rest of my relievers by the end of the tenth inning as the game remained scoreless, despite the M's putting the game-winning run in scoring position three times in the ninth inning and beyond.
-King Felix came in and pitched three scoreless innings before, exhausted, he gave up three runs in the fourteenth inning, including a crippling error by Haniger.
-No worries. Matt Bush (the last Rangers' reliever) gave up a walk, a single, and two more walks to put the tying run on second and the winning run on first. Ryon Healy grounded into a double play; a run scored. Jake Fraley grounded the ball to Elvis Andrus- who booted the ball to allow the tying run to score! What!!!!
-Marco Gonzales, the second M's starter to make the trek out to the bullpen, and pitching on two days' rest, gave up a two-run homer to Rougned Odor and allowed another run to score, throwing 35 pitches in the inning.
-Again, no worries. Bush walked two more and gave up two hits before giving way to starter Drew Smyly. Domingo Santana fouled off four straight pitches before whacking a bases-clearing double to right-center to give the M's a walk-off, 20-19 victory, in the bottom of the fifteenth. It was his fifth hit and third double of the game.
-The game lasted for 7 hours and 4 minutes.
-Suck it, Rangers! Ahhahha haaa!
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Old 05-07-2019, 01:35 AM   #8
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Yes! What a game!
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Old 05-10-2019, 09:59 AM   #9
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August 1, 2019

Despite the team's best efforts to sell away any veterans that had any value whatsoever (and some that did not), the Mariners had a great July, advancing all the way to seven games above .500 before dropping the last four games of the month agains the cellar-dwelling Tigers and Rangers to finish the month at 57-54. Other than the amazing 20-19 win, the most notable moment was Mallex Smith managing to get fooled by the hidden ball trick to make the last out of the game at third base against the Angels. Seriously. Yusei Kikuchi had a perfect game through seven innings in a game the M's eventually dropped 6-3; Kikuchi gave up a home run to lead off the eighth, and the bullpen imploded. Recent waiver claim Alec Mills pitched the team's only complete game of the season, winning 8-1 the day after the 15-inning game.

But no complaints about this team ending up with a winning record at this point. Mitch Haniger and Domingo Santana were on fire in July, both hitting over .300 with five and six home runs respectively. Kyle Seager successfully returned from his injury. Ryon Healy was like a new man upon returning from Tacoma (and playing first base), but tailed off near the end of the month. J.P. Crawford hasn't hit much, but gets on base OK and has really stabilized shortstop defensively after suffering through Tim Beckham at the start of the year. Shawn Armstrong has quietly become a solid reliever, pitching to a 1.32 ERA on the month and 2.87 on the season.

We got perhaps the highest-regarded international amateur prospect in catcher Juan Calvo for a cool $5 million. Mike Leake was swapped to the Cubs for reliever Steve Cishek, and Cishek was later flipped to the Braves for 26-year-old reliever Chad Sobotka. We had to cover a good chunk of Leake and Cishek's salaries, but Sobotka is a decent asset. Asdrubal Cabrera (the team's lone All-Star) and Zac Rosscup, both of whom were quite good for us, were sent to the Astros for left-handers Cionel Perez and Framber Valdez and 22-year-old outfielder Seth Beer. Perez joined the rotation immediately, and Beer has a lot of potential with the bat, in addition to having a name the fans will love. Jay Bruce, who hit .177 and was worth -1.1 WAR, was mercifully sent away to San Diego for a middling pitcher; we'll cover 95% of the rest of his contract, which runs through next year. Infielder Nick Solak and catchers Reese McGuire and Jake Rogers were acquired in minor-league deals; all of them might contribute to the major league team in the future.

The biggest (and saddest) deal was the departure of Felix Hernandez. After pitching four innings in the 15-inning game, he was unceremoniously DFA'd and traded the next day to San Francisco for outfielder Steven Duggar, who isn't anything special necessarily but gives us some more defensive depth. Hernandez had a miserable season and wasn't in the club's plans for the future, but he had been the face of the franchise for over a decade, and it's a shame we couldn't have given him a better send-off.
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Old 05-17-2019, 11:35 PM   #10
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September 1, 2019

The M's sunk below .500 in August, landing at 68-69 as rosters expanded. It was a relatively uneventful month, with no ability to make trades, and thankfully, it was relatively injury-free.

Mitch Haniger paced the offense once again, hitting .323 with six homers and driving in 18. Meanwhile, rookies Jake Fraley and Jamie Ritchie did the best they could to play their way off the team, hitting .100 and .114 respectively. Yusei Kikuchi had another solid month (2.10 ERA in 30 innings) and reliever Jeffrey Springs was excellent (1.15).

The biggest change over the course of the year was the shift towards youth. The M's shipped off quite a few veterans and managed to acquire seven top-200 prospects just during the regular season. Hopefully that will pay some dividends in the coming years.
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Old 05-23-2019, 08:51 AM   #11
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October 1, 2019

The Mariners pulled off a 15-10 record in September to end the season with an 83-79 record. It felt like a real accomplishment to eke out a better-than-.500 record in a rebuilding year.

The M's managed to break one record- using an incredible 61 players (36 pitchers), one more than the Texas Rangers used in 2014. For the Mariners, it wasn't entirely about injuries, more about moving players that didn't fit into their competitive window.

Mitch Haniger had easily the best season of any Mariner, hitting .290 with a .375 OBP, 22 home runs and 79 RBI, and 5.5 WAR. J.P. Crawford hit .328 in September and finished with a .231 average (after hovering around the Mendoza line for much of the season) and 2.7 WAR, largely due to his excellent defense. Daniel Vogelbach had a sweltering final month of the season (.315/6/16) and finished with a .387 OBP and 25 home runs. Mallex Smith and Dee Gordon both got on base at a reasonable clip and hit a bunch of triples, but got caught stealing way too often.

Yusei Kikuchi won the AL ERA title in his first season in the US, with a 3.14 mark over 163 1/3 innings. Justus Sheffield managed an excellent 3.08 mark in his rookie season. The bullpen, to my great surprise, finished with the fourth-best ERA in the American League.

We'll head into the offseason with potentially a lot of money to spend- we currently have $66M that we could put towards extensions, but there's no one who warrants an extension. Kyle Seager and Dee Gordon are potential trade candidates, if anyone wants their salaries.
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Old 05-23-2019, 10:27 AM   #12
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October 30, 2019

The 106-win Dodgers toppled the 104-win Yankees in five games in the World Series. Mike Trout had a season for the ages with the Angels, hitting .314 with a .443 OBP, 48 home runs, 119 RBI, and 11.2 WAR.

As a Phillies fan, I greatly enjoyed seeing the Phillies win 12 of their last 13 as the LOLMets dropped seven of their last eight, culminating with a one-game playoff that saw the Phils make the postseason and the Mets head home empty-handed.

New owner goals are to achieve a winning record, acquire a "top player," improve attendance, make some cash, and make the playoffs by 2023. All of which seem doable!
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Old 05-25-2019, 12:04 AM   #13
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April 2, 2020

With some money to burn, I decided to push the chips in and see where this motley crew of Mariners ends up. The problem is, I'm not sure we're much better off than we were before...

The biggest pickup was free agent Anthony Rendon, who signed with Seattle for $140 million over seven seasons, with an opt-out after year three. At 29, we should still get some prime seasons from Rendon, who hit .271 with 3.5 WAR last year, but it's possible the deal could get ugly by the end. The other issue is that Rendon plays the same position as Kyle Seager, who still has two years left on his deal... So, I tried to get creative. Both Seager and Rendon have the chops to play other positions in the infield, and I spent spring training getting Seager able to play second and Rendon shortstop. Seager will open the season as the second baseman, with Dee Gordon backing him up, and J.P. Crawford will man shortstop.

The outfield is another perplexing situation. The Rangers traded me Willie Calhoun, who spent yet another year at AAA (winning the PCL MVP by hitting .336/33/120) in exchange for a minor-league pitcher; Calhoun is a terrible defender but may yet turn out to be a fantastic bat. Pittsburgh traded Starling Marte and minor leaguer Stephen Alemais for catcher Jamie Ritchie and pitcher Rogelio Armenteros, with the Bucs picking up 70% of Marte's salary. (The Pirates then left Armenteros unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, so I picked him and just traded him to the D-Backs for minor leaguer Pavin Smith.) And I picked up Lonnie Chisenhall for $1M. This leaves us with a bunch of good hitters that are not great defenders, and Domingo Santana (last year's cleanup hitter) was the odd man out and was DFA'd.

Reese McGuire will start at catcher, with Omar Narvaez starting the year in the minors. C.J. Cron was added as a free agent and can play first base against lefties.

The pitching staff was relatively strong last year, despite outward appearances, and could be a bit stronger this year with the addition of Marcus Stroman (who will earn $2.9M) and the return of Craig Kimbrel ($8.4M). 23-year-old Cuban import Alfredo Bautista signed a three-year deal for $10M and should join the club soon after a bit of minor-league seasoning. Rookie Wyatt Mills, who had a sub-2.00 ERA in the minors last year, joins the club as well.

All of this leaves the M's projected to win 90 games. Well, maybe. The farm system is #10 overall. The rebuild is speeding up.
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Old 05-31-2019, 09:50 AM   #14
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May 1, 2020

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... The M's jumped out to an 11-4 start before dropping the next seven games in a row. We won three of the last four to finish April with a 14-12 record, tied for second place in a crowded AL West.

Injuries hit the club hard in April. Anthony Rendon was the biggest lost, as he broke his kneecap and will miss nearly the whole season, though hopefully he'll be able to return for September. #2 starter Marcus Stroman went down too, leaving us with a rotation of all mediocre lefties. And Willie Calhoun, who was off to a blistering start, broke a finger, but will return in mid-May.

Mitch Haniger was on fire to start the season; he cooled considerably, but is still hitting .305. C.J. Cron started his Mariners' career well, hitting .284 with five home runs and driving in 20. The pitching staff has been nothing to write home about, though Shawn Armstrong has given us some good innings in relief.

I traded Domingo Santana, who was languishing in the minors, to the White Sox for Michael Lorenzen. The 28-year-old Lorenzen is a capable outfielder against left-handed pitching and can serve as a mop-up reliever as well.
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Old 06-08-2019, 12:08 AM   #15
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June 1, 2020

The Mariners played ugly, uninspiring baseball in May- just like in real life! The club went 13-16 in the month, including losing ten of the last thirteen games. The M's overall record has dipped below .500, at 27-28.

The offense seemed to hit into double plays at every opportunity. Kyle Seager has scuffled to a .163 average on the season, with J.P. Crawford at .191 and Dee Gordon .221 with (of course) no power. C.J. Cron has been the only reliable source of home runs so far, with 13. Starling Marte has been a relative bright spot, hitting .305 in part-time play.

On the mound, things haven't been much better. Yusei Kikuchi has struggled to an 0-5 record and 5.72 ERA as the staff "ace;" he just hit the IL with a strained abdominal muscle. Ranger Suarez and Justus Sheffield both have ERAs over 6. The bullpen is a relative strength, with a 3.32 ERA, but they're all exhausted as the club is in the midst of a 20-game stretch without an off day.

We picked up starters Brian Howard and Zach Eflin on waivers, and acquired outfielder Daniel Johnson Jr. for the withered husk of Jon Lester, though none of them are anything special. I was hoping we'd be buyers this season, but things look like they're going in the other direction...
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Old 06-08-2019, 08:18 AM   #16
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Great stuff so far! As a lifelong Astros fan it is cool to see and follow another AL West team in their pursuit of making a dynasty.

Nice trades so far. Your haul from the Astros - getting Cionel Perez, Seth Beer, and even Framber Valdez - was solid. As a lefty, Perez is solid and has great stuff. Valdez can be a capable #5 starter (also a lefty) or he can be a long reliever. Beer can be a corner outfielder, but may want to look into training him at 1st base because of lack of range and foot speed. Just a suggestion since I know their farm system. But he can absolutely rake the ball!

Keep up the great work and best of the luck in season 2!

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Old 06-18-2019, 11:08 PM   #17
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July 1, 2020

Another middling month leaves the Mariners at 40-41 overall. It's hard to know what I should do at this point, as we're still in wild card contention (just three games back of the Orioles and four back of the Red Sox), but well behind the Angels (the Angels?!?) for the division lead.

The bats were a little better in June, but the offense is just 11th-best in the AL right now. Daniel Vogelbach and Mitch Haniger both hit six home runs on the month. Willie Calhoun hit .348 and is putting together a nice season after returning from injury. Kyle Seager has been unfathomably bat (.152/.231/.266 on the season) but still has $27 million left on his contract.

Craig Kimbrel and Ryne Harper both had good months in the bullpen, with aa 1.15 and 1.56 ERA respectively. Yusei Kikuchi continued to have a mess of a season, with his ERA nearly doubling from his league-leading mark last season.

We made a few more moves in June. Brent Rooker was traded to the Rays for pitcher Brendan McKay, who joined the rotation. McKay is 24, the #4 overall pick in the draft just three years ago, and could make for a mid-rotation starter. Dee Gordon and Lonnie Chisenhall, both of whom had outlived their usefulness to the organization, were traded to Arizona for pitcher Jared Miller, with the M's picking up nearly all of the veterans' salaries. Gordon was hitting just .235, with no home runs and just three walks to his name. I also picked up Maikel Franco in a minor deal to spell Seager against lefties, and I'd love to dump Seager in any way I can. At this point, he, Haniger, Vogelbach and Shawn Armstrong are the only major-league players who had been with the club just two years ago.

Framber Valdez, Justus Sheffield and rookie Justin Dunn should all return from injuries soon, which would finally leave our rotation at essentially full strength. Anthony Rendon remains on track for returning in September and would prove to be a great addition if we were in a playoff race.

We selected high school infielder Erik McDowell with the #19 overall pick in the draft. McDowell has good defensive chops and looks like he could be a solid all-around player. Catcher Jacob Matheny was our second-round pick.
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Old 06-26-2019, 12:25 AM   #18
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Yet again, the M's put together a good stretch only to immediately undo their gains in the standings. Including the last two games in June, the club won nine out of ten to jump into the second Wild Card spot, but then lost eight of the next eleven. A small hot streak at the end of the month led to a winning record in July overall, and the M's are now 54-51 overall, just a game and a half out in the playoff race.

In the end, I never did get around to deciding if I was buying or selling at the trade deadline. There weren't a lot of good players out there on the trading block, and no one wanted Kyle Seager, not to mention other veterans like C.J. Cron or Mallex Smith, or at leasts they weren't willing to give up anything that would help us. But I did make one big move- trading Justus Sheffield for the Giants' franchise icon, Buster Posey. The 33-year-old catcher has almost entirely lost his power stroke, but still gets on base, with a .369 OBP at the time of the trade, and he still plays great defense. The Giants picked up the entirety of Posey's salary this year and next, which makes all the difference in the world. Sheffield is a mid-rotation starter with four more years of club control, but we have several others who are just about as good in Framber Valdez, Cionel Perez and Zach Eflin, so I felt we could spare him. We also picked up young left-hander Travis Bergen in the swap.

I also fleeced the White Sox for reliever Zack Burdi, who had a 1.95 ERA and 17 saves for Chicago. For some reason the Sox wanted just two low-ceiling minor leaguers for him- yes please! I went back to the well a few weeks later, trading catcher Omar Narvaez (no longer in our plans) back to the Sox for 24-year-old pitcher Dylan Cease and 23-year-old outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe. Perhaps the most impactful deal of all was signing 16-year-old outfielder Juan "Heeney" Plascencia to a $5.2M bonus. Plascencia was the top bat on the international market and has a chance to be a true middle-of-the-order hitter.

C.J. Cron had a colossal July, hitting .347 with eight home runs. Willie Calhoun continues to rake- he's hitting .313 with 10 home runs and has moved into the leadoff spot. Nick Gordon has great in his first taste of big-league action, hitting .320 after taking over for Dee. Yusei Kikuchi started to turn things around, going 2-0 with a 2.97 ERA. Shawn Armstrong was terrific out of the pen, with a 0.73 ERA. Kyle Seager continued his descent into crappiness, hitting .194 with one home run; he's now at -1.1 WAR on the season. Come back soon, Anthony Rendon!
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Old 07-05-2019, 09:25 AM   #19
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The M's put together a very good August, winning 15 games, though dropping five of the last six left the team a game behind in the Wild Card standings. The club's record is currently 69-63, looking up at both the Twins and the Red Sox. The last game of the month was a real gut-punch, a 7-6 loss to the Dodgers on a three-run walk-off home run, but the M's won some good ones in August too, including a six-game winning streak against the division-leading Yankees and Angels, and a 16-3 rout that capped off a four-game sweep of the Rangers. In one of those games, Cionel Perez carried a perfect game into the eighth inning before it was broken up!

Daniel Vogelbach (.317/6/18) and C.J. Cron (.326/7/26) continued to be wrecking balls in the middle of the lineup. Buster Posey (.333, .457 OBP) has immediately made an impact as well. Kyle Seager (.169, 0 HR) has continued to be outrageously terrible, but at last, the cavalry is on its way- Anthony Rendon has started his rehab assignment in Tacoma and should join us in a few days.

Perez was quite good on the mound, striking out 35 against just three walks. Craig Kimbrel provided 15 1/3 innings of shutout relief.

The September schedule is fairly forgiving, with nine more games against the last-place Rangers. I think the club has the talent to make it into the postseason, where anything can happen...
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A slump at the wrong time leaves the Mariners on the outside of the playoff race looking in with just four games to play. It all started falling apart on September 25, when we managed to erase a six-run deficit and take a three-run lead heading into the ninth inning (fueled by a Willie Calhoun grand slam), only to see the Angels' Justin Bour tie the score with a three-run blast of his own, and the M's eventually went down 11-10 in 14 innings, which had the added effect of devastating the pitching staff for the remainder of the series. We dropped the next three games before lighting up Texas 12-4 and 15-1 to finish September with an even 13-13 record.

But that's not good enough. We're now fifth in the Wild Card race and need to make up at least two game on either Oakland or Baltimore- yes, Baltimore! They appear to be reimagining much more effectively than I am, with a profoundly mediocre team that has somehow cobbled together 84 wins.

Anthony Rendon returned but continued our habit of ineffective third base play, sputtering to a .195 average. I was able to put Kyle Seager out to pasture in Tacoma- he was playing so poorly that he accepted a demotion. Calhoun found yet another gear in his amazing season, hitting eight home runs (including two grand slams) and driving in 20. Relievers Ian Hamilton and Tim Mayza both had scoreless months, with Craig Kimbrel and Alfredo Bautista not far behind.

We finish the season with four game against the Angels, who have clinched the division. Meanwhile, the Athletics play the Yankees, and the Orioles play the Red Sox. We'll need to win at least three of four if not sweep the series to have a shot at the postseason, but stranger things have happened.
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