Look at Nelson Cruz

In the first two games of spring training Nelson Cruz hit a home run in each one of them. It looks like he is ready to go for another season. It is amazing to think that this will be his third season with the Mariners and he has been well worth it. Sure means that time is going by so fast.

The thing about Cruz is not only has he been effective hitting home runs and driving in runs for the Mariners he is good in the clubhouse and in the community. He always has a smile on his face and along with Robinson Cano works well with the younger players. It is almost like they have another couple coaches on the staff.

Cruz will have one more year left on his current four year contract after this one. His first year with the Mariners he primarily played in right field and then last year was at designated hitter more than in the field. Most of his time in the field was during the first half since he did come down with some injuries. It was quite amazing during September though he was hurting a lot he still went to the plate as often as he could to see if the Mariners could make it into the playoffs which they just missed by. He didn’t play in the final game of the season since they were eliminated at that point.

This year the Mariners will primarily have him at designated hitter though he will get into some games in the field depending on how healthy he can stay. Again he will bat fourth in the lineup. The last three years has been his best years hitting forty or more home runs in each of them. With the Mariners he hit 44 in 2015 and 43 in 2016. It will be interesting to see if he can keep up with that another year. Although it would be nice to see another year in the forties I am sure we will take over thirty home runs long as he is able to stay healthy all year and the Mariners make the playoffs. He will be turning thirty-seven years old on July 1 and he will be thirty-eight when his contract expires. I am sure the Mariners will look to give another contract may be two years if he continues to contribute.

Robinson Cano will be turning thirty-five years old in October so it will be interesting to see if the Mariners will want both in the lineup at older ages in two years. Cano is on a long term contract so he will still be around for some time. His defense at second base was good as ever last year and he keeps himself in pretty good shape as well.

This all shows along with Felix and Iwakuma getting older it will be important that the Mariners make it into the playoffs and hopefully the World Series in the next two years. Knowing Dipoto he will look to improve the Mariners again during the next off-season as well. It is good that he is adding depth for this year and for the years to come. Go M’s.

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Mariners Make It Two and Zero

The Mariners have now played two games against the San Diego Padres in Peoria, Arizona. Both teams share the training site so the Padres were the home team in game 1 while the Mariners were in game 2.

The Mariners have made thirteen their lucky number so far winning both games scoring thirteen runs while Padres scored three in game 1 and two in game 2.

The Mariners managing staff for the second year say the team must control the batting zone on both ends in pitching and hitting and so far have done it. In game two the Padres pitchers had a hard time getting the ball over the plate so the Mariners walked fourteen times along with eleven hits. In the meantime the Mariner pitchers were able to keep the ball in the batting zone themselves. The Mariner pitchers did not walk a batter though they only struck out four while yielding eight hits. Out of those hits five were given up by Christian Bergman and the two runs in the fifth and sixth inning. Bergman is expected to start the season with Tacoma. He did pitch the last three years with the Colorado Rockies. He was used both starting and relieving.

Chris Heston who started the game and pitched two innings gave up one hit and struck out a better to. In the first inning he got the first three batters out on six pitches. Likely will start the season with Tacoma but won’t be surprised at some point he will start at least one game for the Mariners.

Nelson Cruz started the scoring once again for the Mariners leading off the second inning. He got a single in his only other appearance in the game. It looks like Cruz is all ready for the season. He isn’t in the starting lineup for Monday’s game against the Kansas City Royals.

Jarrod Dyson will be leading off against his former team the Royals on Monday. He looks like not only he is ready to get on and steal bases he is good in the Mariners locker room too. He has a personality that shines and loud. Other regular starters for the Mariners against the Royals will be Segura batting second again at shortstop followed by Kyle Seager at third base. Neither Cruz nor Cano will be in this game so Valencia will be starting at first base and be hitting fourth. He will be followed by Mitch Haniger in right field and catcher Mike Zunino both making their second starts of the spring. Utility player Taylor Motter will follow playing second base than minor league catcher Tyler Marlette will be designated hitter and Leonys Martin will be ninth and playing center field.

Yovani Gallardo who the Mariners traded for with the Baltimore Orioles will make his spring training debut. He is expected to be the Mariners fifth starter. He had a poor season last year after signing as a free agent with the Orioles. The Mariners are hoping that he can pitch close to what he did for the Texas Rangers in 2015. He had a 13-11 record that year with an era of 3.42 starting thirty-three games. Early in his career he was known as a strikeout pitcher. He averaged more than one strike out per inning but now he hasn’t. The Mariners will be thankful if he can start around thirty games.

The Mariners will have three pitchers also going for them Monday against the Royals who are expected to be in their bullpen. Left handed specialist Marc Rzepczynski, hard thrower Dan Altavilla who made his major league and Mariner debut in August and Nick Vincent who the Mariners picked up at the end of last spring training. Jonathan Aro and Rob Whalen both expected to pitch for Tacoma will pitch as well. So we will see if the Mariner pitching continues in the control zone on Monday. The game again will be broadcasted on the Mariner radio network.  Tomorrow I will profile outfielder and designated hitter Nelson Cruz. Go M’s.

 

Good Start For Mariners in Game 1

We all know that spring training games are meaningless in many ways however it is great that the Mariners at least started off in a good way winning 13-3 over the San Diego Padres. They play the Padres once again on Sunday.

The importance of spring training for those who have been around for a while is to get prepared for the regular season. For all the rest of the guys is to see if they can make the ball club. We know that some of the players will be sent down to the minor leagues while others who don’t make the ball club are hoping to show their skills for other ball clubs. Unfortunately there will be for others where spring training will be an end to a career. Those players are usually veterans who are one last effort to extend their careers. The players that are young and invited to major league camp are wanting to make at least an impression that when they go down to triple A or double A that the manager and coaching staff will remember them when and if they are going to be called up. This usually happens when an injury happens however they can be called up if a player is not playing up to expectations.

Nelson Cruz started the spring training season by hitting the first home run with two runners on base to put the Mariners up 3-0. The Padres did tie the score 3-3 in the fourth inning off of Ryan Weber however that was the end of the story for them. Weber is expected to start the season at Tacoma. The Mariner offense scored ten unanswered runs and the pitchers shut out the Padres the rest of the way.

Ariel Miranda started the game giving up no runs in two innings and one hit; a good way to respond after Cruz’s home run. Since the starting rotation is primarily set for the season Miranda will be in the bullpen or sent down to Tacoma. This could depend on how other lefties do during training camp.

The three pitchers who followed Weber in the game Pazos, Cody Martin and Simmons not only did not give up any runs they did not give up a single hit or walk. Pazos could be a lefty in the bullpen if Miranda is sent to Tacoma. Martin on the other hand will likely start in Tacoma adding depth in case the Mariners need a starter brought up. Simmons could be the last man in the bullpen especially if Steve Cishek isn’t ready to go when the season begins. Simmons is competing primarily with Dan Altavilla as the hard throwing right hander late in game. Tony Zych could be another possibility if he is ready to go as well.

Jarrod Dyson who looks like the leadoff batter at least against right handers showed his speed getting on base in the fifth inning and stealing second before coming home on a Shawn O’Malley hit. O’Malley went in for Segura and had two hits in the game. He is expected to be the utility player starting the season for the Mariners though he does have competition.

Daniel Vogelbach got a couple singles in his Mariner spring debut. He is expected to be the first baseman against right handed pitchers at the very least. Former first round pick D.J. Peterson got in a couple hits including a double playing first base taking over for Vogelbach. Peterson is expected to play in Tacoma when the season starts however he hopes to impress the Mariners this spring training. Danny Valencia who the Mariners got from the Oakland A’s is expected to play some first base well as third base and outfield. Playing first base primarily against left handed pitchers; how much will depend on Vogelbach.

Guillermo Heredia who is competing for the fourth outfielder spot on the roster had a really good spring training debut getting three hits in three at bats including two doubles and driving in three runs. Making the roster would be good dividends for the Mariners because he would be a right handed bat off the bench. He came in the game for Leonys Martin to play center field. Heredia is good defensively at all three outfield spots so that makes him valuable to along with his speed.

Another player who did well was Tyler Smith who came in and played third base for Seager. He had a couple hits in three at bats and scored two runs while driving in a run too Smith though is expected to start the season in Tacoma. He most likely will play shortstop at Tacoma depending on who else is sent down. He is the only pure shortstop the Mariners have besides Segura.

Chris Heston who the Mariners signed as a free agent that last pitched for the San Francisco Giants will start on Sunday’s game. The Mariners signed Heston to add depth to the Mariners starting rotation. Depending on how he does likely will start the season in Tacoma. At this point he is considered the seventh starter in a five man rotation. He could be traded to another team during the spring that needs a fifth starter. Though it is unlikely he could be a right handed long reliever coming out of the bullpen. The Mariners don’t have much room in the bullpen either.

The remaining pitchers expected to pitch on Sunday most won’t pitch for the Mariners starting the season and end in Tacoma. Nick Hagadone who is one of the pitchers recently signed to a minor league contract out of Sumner, Washington could be an extra lefty in the bullpen depending on how he works out. He was out all of last season with an injury however he is a veteran pitcher who is comfortable in being a lefty setup specialist. Most likely he will start the season in Tacoma. He could be like Heston where he is traded during training camp, he is doing well and another team needs a lefty specialist.

Sunday’s game the Mariners will see more players making their spring training debut. It will be interesting to see if the offense will continue to do the job once again and where the pitching goes. A reminder the Mariners first television game will take place next Sunday March 5. Go M’s.

 

Game One Spring Training Coming Up Saturday

The day has arrived where the Mariners will be having their first game of the spring training on this day of February 25.

The starting lineup for the game looks like the one that may start the regular season. Only three players that we are familiar with will start this game along with Mike Zunino at catcher and Leonys Martin in center field. Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager will again be in the middle of the lineup batting three thru five.

The Mariners will be starting two guys at the top of the lineup in Jarrod Dyson in left field and Jean Segura at shortstop. These two will get things going for the big three as we will call them. We hope that either or both will get on in the first inning in most of the Mariner games. Manager Scott Servais have giving both of them the green light to steal bases. Last year before coming to Seattle combined they had more stolen bases than the whole Mariner team. Not only we hope that they score early but they can help with runs throughout the game. The problem with last season’s team is that they would only score early and then the opposition was able to get back into the game. There were times that the Mariners rallied late in the ninth inning but the Mariners don’t want to count on that this season. It would be nice to score at least one run during the middle innings to put pressure on the other team and the pitching staff will feel comfortable with a good lead.

Mitch Haniger in right field and Daniel Vogelbach at first base will bat sixth and the seventh in the batting before Zunino and Martin. With Martin batting ninth that will help rally continue with Dyson and Segura at the top. Danny Valencia who will play some at first base or in the outfield will bat in either Haniger or Vogelbach’s spot in the lineup or could bat second when Dyson isn’t in the lineup. Although the lineup is suspected to look like this when the season opens there could be a little change depending on how Haniger and Vogelbach do during the spring. Depending on their performances either or both could start the season in Tacoma as well. The Mariners are hoping that is not the case.

Ariel Miranda will start Saturday’s game for the Mariners against the San Diego Padres. There will be no television only on the Mariner radio network. Miranda is expected to go two innings followed by Ryan Weber, Cody Martin, James Pazos, Shae Simmons and Casey Fien. Martin was only one of those who pitched at all for the Mariners last year though he spent most of the season in Tacoma. Simmons and Fien are the only ones to have a chance to make the bullpen out of spring training. Pazos being a lefty could start the season in the bullpen if the Mariners either have Miranda in the starting rotation or he is sent down in Tacoma. He would only be in the rotation if something is wrong with any of the other pitchers expected to start. The Mariners staff so far likes what they see out of Pazos.

The Mariners first television game telecasted in Arizona won’t be until March 5 so those games on the radio only the fans will have to use their imagination on how the players are doing at the plate in the field. I expect though that some video will be shown on the Mariner’s website too. Go M’s.

Defense and Base Paths

There were two areas that the Mariners were not good at last year except in a few positions and that was the defense. Also again last year they were terrible at times on the base paths as well. It was that way the last couple years before that to.

Last week when the pitchers reported one of the first things they did was working on taking grounders on the pitching mound and throwing it first base.

Now that the regular players are in camp this week they will be working on running the bases. Though they do have more speed this year it is important to be smart when to run the bases whether it is to steal a base or go from first to third or second to home. Even a little improvement could lead the Mariners to additional win or two.

This can be said for the defense as well. Robinson Cano had another stellar season last year at second base and I expect that will continue this upcoming season. Kyle Seager made some excellent plays however his defense seemed to be a little off at times last year. I know that he is proud of his defense so I expect that he will be back to where he was a couple years ago. Ketel Marte had an off year at shortstop especially coming off the disabled list a couple times. Now that Jean Segura is the regular shortstop this will improve the infield defense. This could improve the wins for the Mariners for another couple. At first base this is a question mark concerning defense. They say that Daniel Vogelbach looks more agile than he did when he was called up in September. The Mariners should be fine there as long as he and Valencia can match or surpass the defense of Dae-Ho Lee and Adam Lind last season. There is a good possibility whoever wins the utility position for the Mariners will spend some time especially late in games at first base too. This is especially true when Vogelbach starts and could be lifted for a pinch runner late in games.

Leonys Martin played a solid center field last year and I expect that he will do the same again this year. It looks though when he does needs rest or goes on the disable list for a short period like last year the Mariners will be much better position defensively as a replaced. Most likely newcomer veteran Jerrod Dyson will play some in center field as well. This is what makes the Mariners defense in the outfield better is that any of the guys in the outfield can play center field as well. They have all had experience out there. The only outfielder who won’t play centerfield for sure is Nelson Cruz. When Cruz is not at designated hitter he will be in right field. I don’t expect out there much especially in Safeco Field. Of course a lot will depend how healthy he can stay.

It will be nice to see that both left and right field will be played by guys that will be better than those last year. It will be nice to see the pitchers not having to throw extra pitches in some innings. The difference in defense should allow the starters to go a little bit further in the game.

It should be exciting to see the playing of the defense in the outfield this coming season along with running the bases. It would be great to see more hit and runs along with more stealing of bases. Dyson and Segura stole more bases than the whole Mariners team did last year. Also when Leonys Martin arrived in camp on Wednesday he said that he is looking to do more stealing and running the bases than hitting home runs. He feels that is the most important part of his game on the offensive side. He is looking to elevate his batting average well as his on base percentage. If he can raise that ten points on each that would help the Mariners out.

This coming Saturday on February 25th is when the spring training games begins. Look forward to seeing the action of the new guys along with the return players. Go M’s.

This Week in Spring Training

Last Tuesday was when the Mariner pitchers and catchers started in spring training and the regular players started on Sunday. This is the week that the players will continue getting ready for playing time. Some players like Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz will be playing the World Baseball Classic coming up soon.

Felix has thrown batting practice a couple times already. Like most of the pitchers he will be having short spirts throwing pitches. The first game coming up for the Mariners will be on this next Saturday February 25. At this point we will start seeing how everyone is doing. I am sure most will look forward to see how the new players are doing along with the key players.

General Manager Jerry Dipoto has brought in several left handed relievers though the two spots should be taken up by Marc Rzepczynski and Ariel Maranda. Rzepczynski is expected to be left handed short reliever specialist while Maranda will pitch long relief. The Mariners will have Maranda starting several games during spring training just in case they need him to start early in the rotation. This will depend on the health of the five pitchers in the starting rotation. The Mariners have a lot of confidence in Miranda at this time so he will likely start some games as well in the bullpen.

Nick Hagadone left hander out of Sumner, Washington was signed recently on a minor league contract. He didn’t pitch last season however was with the Cleveland Indians in 2015. He should start the season with the Tacoma Rainiers to add depth. Another lefty expected to start the season with the Rainiers is Paul Fry who pitched last year there as well. He was in 48 games for the Rainiers last season with an era of 2.78. He was drafted by the Mariners in 2013 in the 17th round. He could see some action with the Mariners during this upcoming season.

Another lefty the Mariners got was in the trade with the Arizona Diamondback for TaiJuan Walker and Marte in Zac Curtis. He is expected to start the season in Tacoma as well. His success could swing the trade really into the Mariners favor.

So depending how spring training goes the Mariners may have three lefties in Tacoma to bring up if Miranda goes into the starting rotation at some point in the season.

Look forward to see how everything goes throughout spring training. Besides the depth in the pitching there is

the utility player position that will be interesting to see who wins the spot along with the outfield. Right now everyone is in camp except Leonys Martin. This will allow the outfielders to have more action and be seen by the coaching staff. Go M’s.

About Other New Players

There are other new players that could make it with the Mariners besides the ones that I mentioned in my last posts. This includes those who the Mariners picked up during the last season however did not get into a lot of action.

Two of those guys are outfielder Ben Gamel and first baseman Daniel Vogelbach. Gamel most likely if he makes the opening day roster will be the backup in the outfield. If not he will add depth in playing at Tacoma; Vogelbach on the other hand is expected to be the starting first baseman for the Mariners. It is not a sure thing though. If he struggles in spring training he could start the season in Tacoma as well.

The Mariners have three guys going for the utility role for the Mariners. Besides Shawn O’Malley who was in that role most of last season the Mariners picked up Mike Freeman late in the season and came up after spending a little time in Tacoma along with Taylor Motter the Mariners traded for with the Tampa Bay Rays. Motter is the best of the three at shortstop though Freeman saw some good action there to along with O’Malley. There is a possibility that two of the three guys could start the season in Seattle depending on how things turn out in the outfield according to manager Scott Servais along with first base. So the Mariners carry two utility players at least one of them if not both will spend time in the outfield well as first base. You have to figure they won’t get in a lot of action in the other infield positions since all three players there will play almost every day.

In the bullpen the Mariners signed a left handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski to be a specialist to take Charlie Furbush’s spot. Furbush is out all season and is a free agent. Zep as he wants to be called pitched last season with the Oakland A’s for most of it and then ended the season with the Washington Nationals. He had an era of 2.64 in seventy games last year. If he does something like that this season it will be alright. The Mariners did get Zac Curtis another lefty in the trade with Arizona Diamondbacks. He is expected to start the season in Tacoma however adds depth in the spot along with being the guy long term.

A trade the Mariners made with the Atlanta Braves gave them Shae Simmons. He didn’t pitch in 2015 and only a few games in 2016 because of Tommy John surgery. He is a hard thrower in a lot of ways like Edwin Diaz, Dan Altavilla and Tony Zych. Speaking of Zych he won’t start throwing until the end of February in spring training so he may start the season in Tacoma. The Mariners have a lot of depth where they will have a lot of experience in the bullpen so anything happens to anyone the Mariners will be able to plug in anyone. Steve Cishek isn’t expected to start throwing until early March so he likely won’t be ready to go at the beginning of the season. The Mariners won’t have many spots in the bullpen so there is a good possibility that Dan Altavilla and Shae Simmons will start with the Mariners. There could be a dark horse that makes the Mariners too. Whoever that is I am sure that it will be mentioned here at some point.

Christ Heston and Rob Whalen are two starting pitchers the Mariners got during the off-season. Most likely they won’t be with the Mariners unless a starter goes down however they do give the Mariners needed depth there. Since the Mariners went through thirteen starters last year we should expect both guys to have starts.

The Mariners have Guillermo Heredia who played most of last season after signing with them before the season began out of Cuba. He spent most of the season in Double A and triple A before making his major league debut with the Mariners late in the season. He was able to get 92 at bats and had a batting average of .250. He will be competing as the right handed hitter off the bench. He is known for his defense and speed to as most of the outfielders coming into this year. He could start the season in Tacoma however he will get some playing time with the Mariners I expect.

Spring training will show if any other players who may get in some playing time for the Mariners during the season. Most likely only happen if they have a lot of injuries. The spring training games will begin on February 25th against the San Diego Padres.