Thursday Off However Roster Be Set on Friday.

The Seattle Mariners have two remaining spring training games against the Colorado Rockies before heading to Houston to start the season against the Astros. The Mariners will face the Astros in a four game series before going to Anaheim to take on the Angels before opening up at Safeco Field against the Astros once again for three games. It is important that the Mariners get off to a good start.

The Mariners will announce their twenty-five man roster starting the season most likely on Friday. The starting lineup will probably be in there for the beginning of both games against the Rockies however we will see minor leaguers throughout both games.

The question we have right now is what’s up with Drew Smyly. He was supposed to start Friday’s game for his last tune up before the season begins but manager Scott Servais said on Wednesday while doing a bullpen session Smyly looked soggy. No one really knows what that means and whether he will be able to start his first game of the season or not. Today he is expected to see a doctor to find out what is really going on. No one is sure whether he will miss his opening game or even be out for a couple starts or more. Whatever the case not great news even if he is able to start his opening spot in the rotation; I am sure if he isn’t able to start next week either Wednesday or Thursday we will probably see Ariel Maranda pitching instead. Although he was optioned to triple A Servais said that Maranda was the sixth starter on the staff. The only other option I would see pitching in Smyly’s spot is Dillon Overton who had an outstanding start last Saturday. Both Maranda and Overton are lefties just like Smyly.

As far as position players go the only spot to decide should be the backup outfielder. If it were me I would take Guillermo Heredia as the fourth outfielder however they may add Ben Gamel to the roster instead. Both could make the roster if the Mariners decided to go with seven relief pitchers in the bullpen instead of eight.

Speaking of the bullpen the Mariners have five relievers already counted toward making the opening roster. One of the remaining relievers will be a second lefty and at least one right hander. There is a possibility that the second right hander could be someone who isn’t in Mariner’s camp as of yet. Other words the Mariners could make a trade for another reliever or take someone off waivers from another team. Knowing general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais we might be surprised and most likely will. Anyway we all look forward to Monday and the start to 2017 Mariner baseball season. Go M’s.

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Mariner Season Starts in One Week

The Seattle Mariners have one week until the regular season starts next Monday on April 3. The position players are already set. The only difference since the beginning of training camp Danny Valencia will start at first base. The thought was that Daniel Vogelbach would start at first and Valencia may play against tough left handed pitchers in a possible platoon situation however things did not work out that way. Vogelbach will start at Tacoma and how long he will be there will depend on him. Taylor Motter who is the utility player for the Mariners will backup Valencia at first base as well.

This all means that things change for the outfield as well; at least for the backup role. Guillermo Heredia most likely will be the fourth outfielder though hasn’t totally been determined as of yet. We will hear sometime this week how that all works out. Ben Gamel still has a shot at being the backup outfielder too. Heredia has had an outstanding spring training so far. The decision may come down to whether the Mariners staff feels that Jarrod Dyson can be the everyday left fielder or has to be platooned against lefties.

The starting pitching looks the same position when spring training started however the Mariners may change who the fifth starter will be. The Mariners did send Ariel Maranda down to triple A to start the season. Depending how he performs in Tacoma and how the starters for Seattle do. Also on Saturday Dillon Overton pitched an outstanding game going six innings even though he gave up a home run in the first inning only. The Mariners want him to still be a starter so he could begin the season in Tacoma unless they add him to the bullpen or make a surprise move in the starting rotation.

Right now it looks like the Mariners will start with eight men in the bullpen. How that works right now is hard to say. Five of the spots are set as of now so it will be the final three spots that we will have to see what happens. This could come down until Sunday when the Mariners set their roster. Edwin Diaz will be the closer at no one surprise. Dan Altavilla who has had a wonderful spring will be one of the other right handers in the bullpen. Two others will be Nick Vincent and Evan Scribner. The sure left handed specialist will be Marc Rzepczynski. Most likely two of the three will be right handers and the third a left. The Mariners have three right handed relievers that will start on the disabled list in Steve Cishek, Tony Zych and Shae Simmons. The Mariners may go out and pick up another right handed reliever depending on how long they believe any of the three will be on the disabled list. If they don’t Casey Fien and Jonathan Aro may begin the season in the bullpen however Aro will have to be added to the 40-man roster. This year though the disabled list will be ten days instead of the fifteen like it has been in the past. This will show more maneuvering with the twenty-five man roster over the season.

The opening roster is important and the reason the Mariners are looking to go with eight relievers because the first thirteen games are played within their division that includes seven against the Houston Astros. They start their season on the road at Houston than go to Anaheim to take on the Angels than home to play the Astros once again. The first home stand is finished by playing three against the Texas Rangers and three more against the Miami Marlins. They have only two off days in April as well so the fifth starter will be critical this time and the reason the Mariners are looking to go with eight relievers. They may have to make some moves during that stretch of games as well. Go M’s.

 

Ten Days Until Season Opens

 

For all of us baseball addicts we are ten days away from the opening of baseball season for the Seattle Mariners. It looks like they are getting into season form; hopefully they will start the season on good footing instead of what happened last year.

The infield looks set to go with Danny Valencia starting at first base when Daniel Vogelbach was sent down to triple A a few days ago. They want him to work on his defense and hitting. Dipoto and Servais both said that he is in the same spot that Zunino and Paxton were last year. Depending on how he does hopefully he will be up in a manner of weeks. The rest of the infield as expected Cano at second, Segura at short and Seager at third. For the Mariners to get off to a  good start it would be nice if Seager can do well in April. He generally starts of  slowly in April. Although his defensive was OK last year it wasn’t up to par over previous seasons so I expect that he is looking to do a lot better this year . Taylor Motter will be the backup at first base for now along with the other infield positions.

With Vogelbach being sent down it does look like Heredia will be the fourth outfielder unless Ben Gamel makes a push over the next ten days. Also the Mariners may start the season with eight relievers. As we expected Jarrod Dyson will be in left, Leonys Martin in center and Mitch Haniger in right field. Nelson Cruz will be the primary designated hitter though he will see occasional action in right field.

The starting pitching will be Felix Hernandez as the opening starter and number one pitcher. In his last two outings he looked a lot like his old self. It was announced on Friday by Scott Servais that Iwakuma will be the number two starter so that means that either Drew Smyly or James Paxton will be number three and the other will be number four. Gallardo is still expected to be the fifth starter though his spring training outings haven’t been that great.

The eight relievers in the bullpen will likely be known in the next few days. We know that Diaz will be the closer and it looks like Dan Altavilla along with Nick Vincent and Evan Scribner will be four of the six right handed relievers. Veteran reliever Casey Fien might be the fifth reliever and the sixth is questionable at this point. Of course the Mariners could still go with seven total relievers to start the season. Marc Rzepczynski will be the left handed specialist and Ariel Maranda could be the left handed long reliever out of the bullpen. Three right handed relievers dealing with injuries Steve Cishek, Tony Zych and Shae Simmons are all coming along. Not sure who will be ready in ten days. One of them may be the last reliever picked to be starting the season on the roster. Also would not be surprised if they all three start on the disable list and then do rehab assignment as well.

The catching position looks like it hasn’t changed at all during spring training. Mike Zunino will be the starter and Carlos Ruiz the backup. Manager Scott Servais would like Zunino though to walk at least one more time a week. The good news though he has walked more than he has struck out during training camp. At least early in the season with some off days Ruiz will likely catch only once a week unless Zunino gets off to a poor start.

So this looks like a pretty good roster to me. Of course there are some questionable spots as well. It would not surprise me at all if Jerry Dipoto goes out and makes a trade especially for  the bullpen. Go M’s.

 

Outfielder Mitch Haniger

When Jerry Dipoto made blockbuster trade early on in the off-season where the Mariners traded pitcher TaiJuan Walker and shortstop Ketel Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks the thought was that Jean Segura was the primary player acquired in the trade for the Mariners.

A few days later Dipoto said that outfielder Mitch Haniger could be that primary player instead. We find that maybe the Mariners have gotten two good players going into the 2017 season that can help them currently and in the future. Also they acquired left handed reliever Zach Curtis in the trade as well. It could be a couple years and we will find that the Mariners made quite the trade.

Whatever TaiJuan Walker and Marte do in Arizona it does look like the Mariners have made a trade that benefits them. At this point they upgraded at shortstop and likely in the outfield as well. Haniger will play a lot in right field however we will see him occasionally in left field and possibly in center as well. So far in spring training he has shown some of his power and is hitting over .400 along with having a strong arm and speed. He is able to run the bases pretty well. I am sure that he will steal some bases though not as many as Segura and Jarrod Dyson. Like many in the lineup he will go from first to third on hits to right field especially.

I think we will all be satisfied if Haniger will hit a batting average of between .250 and .275 for his first full year in the major leagues along with fifteen to twenty home runs. Any more would be a bonus to the Mariners. His defense will be an added plus to the Mariners outfield as well.

Whatever Haniger does over the season if the Mariners are able to make it to the playoffs and we hope the World Series he will be a good contributor to the team. Getting two everyday players into the lineup looks like a win-win situation to me and if both Haniger and Segura become all-stars we will even be more excited. Actually if one of them becomes an all-star the trade has to be in the Mariners favor even if TaiJuan Walker becomes an all-star pitcher.

One thing we do know is that the Mariners defense will be much better in 2017 over 2016. They have three solid defenders starting in Dyson, Martin and Haniger. Also whoever turns out to be the fourth outfielder should be fine as well. The important thing can they all three hit for a reasonable average and allow the Mariners to score more runs too. We will see before April will end I expect. Go M’s.

 

Infielder Tyler Smith

It is now two weeks until the regular season starts for the Seattle Mariner. I decided that at times I will write about some of the players that will be playing in the minor leagues and begin with Tyler Smith.

The Mariners right now have three guys competing for the utility role for the opening day roster. Incumbent Shawn O’Malley and Taylor Motter who they acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays during the off-season are the two main guys along with Mike Freeman. O’Malley and Motter are the two primary guys since they are on the 40-man roster while Freeman was put on waivers and re-assigned when they traded for pitcher Chase De Jong with the Dodgers however now I see Tyler Smith who has had a good spring training a possible utility player in the future.

Tyler Smith was a eighth round draft pick by the Mariners in 2013 out of Oregon State. When he was drafted by the Mariners he had been a short stop but now has played some at second and third base as well. He has moved up through the minor leagues in the Mariners system at a pretty good rate. Last year he spent the whole season at Tacoma with a decent .268 batting average along with five home runs and thirty-seven runs batted in. He has shown some power during spring training hitting two runs and batting average of .326.

I see him as a player the Mariners brass should keep an eye on especially if his batting average goes up after last season. I am sure he will play again shortstop along with second base and third base at Tacoma. It would be nice to put him in the outfield during the season to see if he can play out there as well. Occasional first base would be a nice option as well since a utility player should get in some action at that position as well since the Mariners don’t have a lot of depth at that position. Outside of Daniel Vogelbach and Danny Valencia on the major league roster the Mariners have D.J. Peterson at Tacoma as well. It would be nice to see one of the outfielders on the Rainiers roster play some first base as well along with one of the catchers.

Anyway back to Tyler Smith I am rooting for him to make his way to the Mariner roster sometime during this coming season or next year. If he is ready for the majors soon and the Mariners don’t have a spot for him it would be good if Dipoto will allow him to be a part of a trade to get back another player. The best of luck to you Tyler Smith. Go M’s.

Lefty Drew Smyly

I am sure that everyone that calls themselves Mariner fans watched the World Baseball Classic where the USA went up against Venezuela was impressed on how Drew Smyly pitched well as Felix Hernandez.

Smyly pitched four and two-thirds of an inning throwing 61 pitches including 44 strikes giving up one unearned run, three hits and struck out eight batters. Since he is in spring training form right now it was a good sign for the Mariners. I am sure that the team will be very happy if he pitches anywhere close to that over the season. He threw filthy pitches and had batters going after balls that they should have left alone.

King Felix went five innings giving up three hits just like Smyly and gave up no runs while striking out three batters. He did struggle a bit more than Smyly however got out each inning.

Felix and Smyly look to be ready for the season. We hope that we can see this kind of pitching on a regular basis. I am sure each will have their moments in struggling on the mound however if they can pitch a lot this way on a regular basis the Mariners will be in very good shape.

I am sure it won’t happen at the beginning of the season but if these two guys can go at least seven innings in a game this will help out the bullpen in not being over used.

At this point Felix is the number one starter while Smyly is looking to be the number four starter. James Paxton right now will look to be the second starter in the rotation followed by Iwakuma before Smyly. This will really help the Mariners if Smyly can pitch well in the fourth position in the rotation. Most teams fourth and fifth starters struggle during the season so having someone who pitches like a second or third starter in the fourth spot will really help the Mariners out.

What will really help the Mariners out is if James Paxton can stay healthy. He could be the pitcher the Mariners have been hoping for the last several years. He is another pitcher the Mariners have that could go seven innings or longer in his starts. He has shown when healthy that he is stronger at the end of games much as at the beginning of games.

As long as the starters stay healthy this could be the best rotation they have had in a long time. Probably have to go back to when they were in the playoffs and won 116 games in 2001 or before that with Randy Johnson and Jamie Moyer being in the rotation.

The defense, the speed and offense the Mariners look to have going into the season having a descent starting rotation and bullpen can put them in the playoffs. It has been a long time coming and the players know that is what they want to do for the fans. You may have to get your seats early because if the Mariners make it to the playoffs it is going to be harder to get them. Go M’s.

The Mariners Nine Man Regulars

Now that the regular season is less than three weeks away where pretty much know who the nine regulars are going to be in the lineup. Manager Scott Servais mentioned that the Mariners may start the season with eight relief pitchers which mean that the team will go with one utility player who can play the outfield well as the infield and Danny Valencia will play outfield along with first base. If that is the case he would play right field and Mitch Haniger be shifted to left field when they are in the lineup at the same time. The utility player will have to feel comfortable at first base along with playing a good shortstop.

The infield of the Mariners will not get many days off early in the season. We know that second base and third have been stable for a few years and now with Jean Segura on board so will shortstop. Segura has been playing great ball for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic so he will be looking to play almost as often as Seager and Cano. Daniel Vogelbach looks to be playing a lot at first base as well. Valencia though will be able to back him and Seager along with right field. Valencia will probably play first base against tough left handed pitchers while Vogelbach will spend some time in the lineup against other lefties. This will depend on how often the Mariners will play against lefties.

This year without guys like Seth Smith and Franklin Gutierrez on the Mariners I don’t see them doing a lot of pinch hitting. I think it is a good thing because I thought the last couple years the Mariners have pinch hit too often. Most of the time it was because of platooning and I don’t think pinch hitting is that successful most of the time. I saw at times where the Mariners would pinch hit with no runners on base and I think it only makes sense when runners are actually on base.

The outfield looks to play almost every day as well early on in the season. Jarrod Dyson will start in left field, Leonys Martin in center and Mitch Haniger in right most of the time. Dyson may not start against tough left handed pitchers. In some cases Martin may not either. If that is the case the Mariners may have Haniger starting in center field.

The main reason Servais is looking to go with eight relievers because Steve Cishek will start the season on the disabled list and Shae Simmons who recently got hurt may not be ready either so Evan Scribner and Nick Vincent are the two right handed relievers expected out of the bullpen first thing. Servais doesn’t want to over use them and will need to have more right handed relievers available. If they do decide to stick with seven relievers instead the left handed relievers may face more right handed hitters.

I see that a lot of Mariner fans have mixed emotions when it comes to Mike Zunino and the catching position. I expect early on in April that Zunino will likely catch almost every day while Carlos Ruiz will see action about once a week. Depending on how Zunino performs especially at the plate that could expand to two games a week. Zunino has learned to take more walks and we hope that will continue into this season. It is important that he lays off the breaking pitches he has had trouble with since playing with the Mariners.

I am sure we all look forward to having a steady lineup for the Mariners and not seeing changes in the lineup so often. Dyson will lead off followed by Segura then Cano, Cruz, Seager, Vogelbach, Haniger, Zunino and Martin. Segura probably leads off when Dyson isn’t in the lineup. Go M’s.