Quietly, Triple-A Free Agency Begins

October 17, 2018

We haven’t had any news to write about here on the blog the last two weeks, as all is quiet in baseball while the major league playoffs continue.

The current League Championship Series have been entertaining and close, which is nice to see after a (mostly) drama-free round in the Division Series. My sure-to-be-wrong playoff predictions might be mistitled this year, as I actually got three of the four LCS teams correct, and I’m drawing live on my World Series pick.

As soon as the World Series ends, we’ll be diving right into the free agency period and the roster reshaping that we expect Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto to do with both the major league team, and our team in Tacoma.

Many of the players who finished the season with the Rainiers are eligible to become minor league free agents, and some have officially declared. So far, I can find records of pitchers Ross Detwiler, Christian Bergman, Mike Morin and infielder Zach Vincej choosing free agency.

These players can still come back. Christian Bergman finished the 2017 season with Tacoma, declared free agency, looked around for a while, and ultimately signed back with the Mariners and was a valuable member of the organization in 2018.

Another transaction that has been reported: the organization released catcher Garrett Kennedy. Kennedy was the Rainiers surprise opening day catcher last year, and he spent quite a bit of the season with the club appearing in 31 games.

We’ll follow all of the minor league moves that impact the Tacoma Rainiers here on the blog.

A friend called it quits earlier this week, as Bob Robertson retired from Washington State football broadcasts on Monday. I’m sure this was a difficult decision for my Sunday partner, who has been the voice of WSU football for 52 years. More in the first link below, which has a secret code buried in it just for fun.

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Former Rainiers On Postseason Rosters & Some Terrible Predictions

October 5, 2018

It’s a baseball smorgasboard today, with four straight major league playoff games being televised with very little overlap.

With that, let’s find out who the former Rainiers players are in the postseason this year – and then I’ll make my annual incorrect predictions.

First off, there are not many former Tacoma players on the postseason rosters this year. To really load up on ex-Rainiers, we need one of Jerry Dipoto’s trading buddies to make the playoffs – but both Tampa and Arizona came up short.

American League

Boston Red Sox: no active players have Tacoma ties. Two ex-Rainiers are on the coaching staff: Andy Barkett and Ramon Vazquez.

Cleveland Indians: the bullpen includes Oliver Perez, the veteran lefty who re-started his career as a reliever with the Rainiers in 2012. Also in the bullpen: sidearming Adam Cimber, who never pitched for Tacoma but is a graduate of Puyallup High School (Class of 2009). Ex-Rainiers pitchers from long ago Brian Sweeney and Scott Atchison are both on the Indians coaching staff.

Houston Astros: there are no former Rainiers on the active roster, but if you come to Cheney Stadium a lot you have probably seen about half their team suit up for Fresno on the visiting side. Here’s a deep pull for you: first base coach Alex Cintron played brifly for Tacoma in 2009.

New York Yankees: another team with no ex-Rainiers on the roster. Bench coach Josh Bard caught for the Rainiers toward the end of his career, in 2010 and 2011.

National League

Atlanta Braves: ageless catcher Rene Rivera is on the playoff roster. He played for Tacoma parts of three seasons: 2004 to 2006. The coaching staff includes 2010 Tacoma interim manager (and PCL Championship winner) Jose Castro, former Tacoma Tigers infielder Walt Weiss, and trivia question answer* Jose Yepez who caught for the Rainiers in 2010 and 2011.

Colorado Rockies: like the Astros, the Rockies don’t have any former Tacoma players but do have a lot of familiar names from the opposing roster when Albuquerque has been in town the last few years.

Los Angeles Dodgers: super utility man Chris Taylor played for Tacoma extensively from 2014 to 2016. Third base coach Chris Woodward was a regular infielder for the Rainiers in 2009 and 2010.

Milwaukee Brewers: catcher Erik Kratz was with Tacoma briefly in 2015.

That’s it, that’s all we’ve got. Four active ex-Rainiers players, one local guy, and ten coaches.

Now for the predictions, which are always wrong, so don’t even bother reading the next part. Why am I even typing them? I could be taking a nap right now. Anyway, here we go.

NL Division Series: Braves over Dodgers in five games, and Brewers over Rockies in four.

AL Division Series: Astros beat Indians in four, and Red Sox defeat Yankees in four.

NL Championship Series: Brewers take it over the Braves in six games.

AL Championship Series: Red Sox edge Astros in seven

World Series: Red Sox 4, Brewers 1.

So that’s not going to happen.

* Jose Yepez was called up by the Seattle Mariners and spent a few days in the big leagues without ever appearing in a game. The only other Rainiers player in the last twenty years to do this was pitcher Ryne Harper in 2017. 


M’s Season Ends With Questions About How To Move Forward

October 3, 2018

The Mariners finished the season by taking three-of-four from the Texas Rangers, wrapping up the season with a record of 89-73. It was the most wins by a Mariners team since 2003.

Seattle drew 2,299,489 fans to Safeco Field, averaging 28,388 per game. It was the team’s largest attendance total since 2008.

Most wins since 2003. Biggest crowds since 2008. These are things that should please the Mariners owners, management, and fans. Yet the season is looked at as a disappointment, because a second half fade saw the Mariners miss the playoffs for the 17th straight season.

Take a second and go back six months. If someone had told me on opening night that the Mariners would win 89 games and not be in contention for a playoff spot during the final two weeks of the season, I would have told them they are crazy. Eighty-nine wins and not in contention? Really? Which five teams are going to blow past 90 wins? OK, we’ve got the Red Sox, Astros, Indians, probably the Yankees… uhhhh… I’m not seeing the other one. Angels, maybe?

Not many saw it coming, but Oakland finished with 97 wins, and even Tampa reached 90.

Now the Mariners front office has to decide how to proceed this offseason – which is the subject of many of the links down below.

Several key Mariners had seasons well below their expected level of play: Kyle Seager, Robinson Cano (due to suspension), Mike Zunino, Felix Hernandez… can they improve in 2019?

Only a few players had what you might call “career best” seasons that seem unlikely to be replicated. Edwin Diaz, Wade LeBlanc, maybe Marco Gonzales (but this could be his actual level of ability).

Do you do a casual reset, hope for return to something close to normal levels by the disappointing players, and hope the A’s don’t win 97 freakin’ games again? Or do you do a major shakeup?

From the second story below, it sounds like the Mariners themselves aren’t sure which path to take. It’s going to be an interesting offseason.

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We’ll be back on Friday with some sure-to-be-incorrect playoff predictions, and any ex-Tacoma players in the postseason.