As World Series Begins, Let’s Get Caught Up On The News

October 21, 2019

The World Series starts on Tuesday, with the Washington Nationals facing the Houston Astros.

The Nats coasted past St. Louis in the NLCS and now have to face the class of the majors this season, in the Astros. Houston needed six games to dispose of the Yankees, winning two of them on walk-off homers including Jose Altuve‘s game-ending blast on Saturday to clinch the series.

Houston is a heavy favorite to win the series, according to the oddsmakers in Vegas. Yet the Nats still have outstanding starting pitchers to match-up against the Astros aces. Washington was able to negotiate around its inferior bullpen in the previous playoff games by using its starters in relief in key situations – it will be interesting to see if they continue with that strategy now.

It will be a fun one to watch if you love dominant pitching.

A huge story in the world of minor league baseball hit over the weekend, when it was revealed that MLB is looking to make massive changes to the structure of the minors when the two sides meet to renegotiate the Professional Baseball Agreement following the 2020 season.

The MLB owners want to streamline the player development process by staffing fewer minor league teams. They have additional concerns about quality of facilities and travel within the various leagues. MLB is facing an ongoing lawsuit regarding minor league player pay that would, if successful, ramp up its player development costs.

Baseball America has a story covering the initial proposal by MLB, which suggests extraordinary changes including the elimination of 42 minor league teams and restructuring leagues across the nation. It would bring extreme change to the minors, with much of the impact felt at the lower levels of the system.

The Athletic (a subscription site, but it’s the best story I could find that covers the other side) has the response from Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner, who does not want to eliminate 42 teams.

These are just the early stages of what is going to be a long negotiation. Considering the extreme changes suggested by MLB in its opening salvo, it seems that the minors will have some sort of different structure in 2021. How different, and what those changes are, will be determined as the two sides talk over the course of the next year.

Personally, I doubt that Tacoma will be impacted by any league restructuring. With Tacoma’s proximity to the major league affiliate, strong fan support, and easy travel by PCL standards (direct flights out of SeaTac to all seven of the other Pacific Conference cities), it would be surprising if MLB was concerned about our franchise.


  • ESPN Insider’s Keith Law explains some of the big picture issues with the current MLB-MiLB agreement, and why changes are probably coming.
  • Really good stuff here from Ryan Divish, who looks at the Mariners preseason Top 15 Prospects list, reviews their season, and projects where they will play in 2020. We’ll have some hitting prospects coming our way next year, it seems.
  • Seattle Times columnist and longtime baseball writer Larry Stone spent a few days in Arizona recently, double-dipping on Huskies and Mariners coverage. He saw top prospect Julio Rodriguez in the Arizona Fall League and came away very impressed.
  • Double-A Arkansas shortstop Donnie Walton – who we expect will open the 2020 season with Tacoma – was honored with a Minor League Baseball Gold Glove Award.
  • Larry Stone watched the playoffs, and thought about the Mariners, and realized that the Mariners need to get some stars.
  • The Mariners made modern baseball history, in a not-so-fun way.
  • Former Rainiers first baseman Ji-Man Choi has become a fan favorite this postseason.
  • We’re four months from the start of spring training. Report dates were announced.
  • Dust off your resume: the M’s are hiring a video coordinator and a Baseball Operations intern.
  • After seven years as the manager of the Colorado Rockies Triple-A club – the last five in Albuquerque – Glenallen Hill is out as manager.

Ex-Rainiers In The MLB Playoffs & (Probably) Wrong Predictions

October 3, 2019

The Wild Card games are done – we had one thriller, and one firm win – and it’s time for my annual Sure To Be Wrong MLB Playoff Predictions. It’s that time of the year when you read the picks, and then bet your family fortune on the exact opposite results.

Except, here’s the thing… this sort of came out of nowhere, and I’m not sure how to handle it… but last year the Sure To Be Wrong MLB Playoff Predictions were, uh, not very wrong. Somehow I correctly picked three of the four division series, and nailed the Red Sox as World Series Champions.

So maybe hang on to that family fortune, and keep it invested in bitcoin or Microsoft stock or Mike Trout rookie cards or whatever. You never know what’s going to happen in these playoffs.

We’ll start with the ex-Rainiers on the playoff teams, and then get to the picks. At blog post publish time, the NL teams had announced their 25-man rosters for the Division Series, but the AL teams had not.

American League

New York Yankees: Former Rainiers lefty James Paxton is not only on the Yankees roster, but he was announced as the Game One starter for Friday night. After a rocky first couple of months with his new team, the switch flipped for Paxton and he was terrific down the stretch with four straight starts in September allowing one run or fewer. He could really shine in the playoffs.

Minnesota Twins: The two ex-Rainiers with the Twins are not locks for the playoff roster. Reliever Ryne Harper (2017 Rainiers) faded a bit down the stretch and his spot is not secure. Outfielder Ian Miller does not expect to make the playoff roster, but he may get to travel with the team as a potential replacement in case of injuries – we’ll look for him in the dugout. Miller, by the way, did get his first MLB hit last week.

Houston Astros: The best team in the majors, the Astros do not have any former Rainiers on their 40-man roster. Let’s not read too much into that, OK?

Tampa Bay Rayniers: These are our boys. Because of all of the trades that Jerry Dipoto has made with Tampa, there are lots of ex-Rainiers on the Rays. They had four former Rainiers active for the Wild Card game last night, and could add more when the Division Series roster is announced tomorrow. Pitchers Emilio Pagan (2016-2017 Rainiers) and Chaz Roe (2011), first baseman Ji-Man Choi (2013-2015), and catcher Mike Zunino (2013, 2015-2018) were active in the Wild Card game. They could add reliever Andrew Kittredge (2013, 2015-2016)  and outfielder Guillermo Heredia (2016, 2018) for the Division Series.

National League

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Chris Taylor redemption continues, as the former Rainiers infielder/outfielder has maintained his strong performance since rebuilding his swing after being traded by the Mainers.

Washington Nationals: Get in the way-back machine, because Nationals infielder Asdrubal Cabrera played for the Rainiers in 2005 and 2006. He’s had a very nice career. Nats reliever Hunter Strickland pitched in a couple of rehab games for Tacoma this season before being traded to DC. And while not a former Rainier, outfielder Adam Eaton will forever be known at Cheney Stadium for being the first player after the ballpark’s 2010-11 renovation to hit a foul ball at my head and into the new radio booth, which he did in 2013 as a member of the Reno Aces. I ducked that one, Adam. Will you be able to duck when I get my revenge? Will you?

St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals do not have any former Rainiers on the playoff roster. Outfielder Tyler O’Neill was in the majors with them for much of the season, but he did not make the cut for the Division Series. I believe he is travelling with them in case of injury, in which case he could be activated.

Atlanta Braves: None. They do have a former enemy of the Rainiers in Josh Donaldson, going back to his three years in Sacramento, 2010-2012.

And on to the Sure To (Possibly) Be Wrong MLB Playoff Picks:

AL Division Series

Yankees vs Twins: The Twins broke the MLB record for home runs with 307. The Yankees hit 306. Not sure you guys are aware, but the baseball was juiced to the gills this year. These teams could hit 25+ home runs in a five-game series. I’m picking the upset: the Twins have been surprising people all year. Twins in four.

Astros vs Rays: Most of us are probably rooting for the Rays. All of those former Tacoma players, plus the fact that they are not the Astros. But I can’t pick my Rayniers to win this series. They’re going to get chewed up and spit out by the Astros machine. Astros in three.

NL Division Series

Dodgers vs Nationals: The Nationals have the starting pitching to give the Dodgers a fight. The Nationals do not have the bullpen to finish the job. Dodgers in five.

Braves vs Cardinals: Unless you are a longtime Braves or Cardinals fan, this is probably the series you care about the least. The Braves are young and exciting, and they brought in two seasoned free agents to lead them (Donaldson and Dallas Kuechel). The Cardinals always seem to win these things. Both teams have annoying fan bases. Let’s take the youthful Braves in five.

Al Championship Series

Twins vs Astros: Those Twins were so surprising this year, belting all of those homers and winning 101 games. They will not win this series. The Astros chew up another opponent, Verlander strikes out 17 in a game, Astros in five.

NL Championship Series

Braves vs Dodgers: This will be an instant classic series, tense all the way through, with the Braves taking it when they rally against a relieving Clayton Kershaw in the eighth inning of Game Seven. Braves in seven.

World Series

Braves vs Astros: Hopes for a great series are dashed when the Braves, tired after a grueling seven-game grind against the Dodgers, don’t even score a run until Game Three. The machine has to eat. Astros in four.

Enjoy the playoffs!


  • Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto detailed his exact offseason plan to the Seattle Times.
  • The News Tribune lists ten winter storylines for the Mariners.
  • Congratulations to former Rainiers manager Pat Listach, who won a Mexican League championship last night with his Monclova club. They overcame a three games to two deficit by taking the final two games against Yucatan, and they trailed 5-2 in Game Seven before coming back to win it. Video of the final out is here, with Pat running into the pile at the 35 second mark.

Rainiers Will Have New Pitching Coach In 2020

October 1, 2019

The Mariners organization is shaking up some coaching staffs, and word is out that Tacoma Rainiers pitching coach Lance Painter will not be returning for the 2020 season.

Painter spent 13 years as an instructor in the Mariners organization, and he served as Tacoma’s pitching coach for the last four seasons.

The Tacoma pitching coach job has been extremely difficult the last three years, with the revolving door of players coming through, and very few spending any significant time with the team. In 2019 the Rainiers used 50 different pitchers, with not a single player reaching 100 innings pitched and only one (Anthony Misiewicz) reaching 80 innings. It was a similar story in 2018, with 44 different pitchers used. In 2017, Tacoma used 53 pitchers!

It’s really hard to do any quality coaching under these circumstances. Add in the new scoring standards with the juiced-up MLB baseball we used in the PCL this season (a 5.50 ERA is good now!), and it could really be a mental challenge.

Hopefully Lance can unwind this offseason, play some golf and relax, and enjoy a world without any 25-11 games in Reno.

Former Rainiers manager Pat Listach has his team in the Mexican League’s championship series, and he needs some wins. Two, to be exact.

Listach, who managed Tacoma from 2015 through 2018, took over the Monclova team mid-season this year. He then piloted them into the playoffs, where he has won two series already, with each series going a full seven games.

Now in the championship series, Monclova trails Yucaton three games to two. Listach has some former PCL players on his roster, including ex-Rainiers outfielder Eric Young Jr. Former PCL and MLB slugger Chris Carter has belted 49 homers for Monclova.

Monclova is at home for games six & seven. Good luck, Pat!

The MLB Wild Card Games are tonight and tomorrow. First up is the National League, in which the Washington Nationals face the red-hot Milwaukee Brewers. It starts at 5:00 on TBS, with the Max Scherzer-led Nationals the heavy favorite.

The American League game is Wednesday at 5:00, and that one is on ESPN. The Oakland A’s square off against the Tampa Bay Rays. There are a handful of former Rainiers on the Rays, with Ji-Man Choi, Mike Zunino and Andrew Kittredge likely to make the playoff roster.

Personally, I’m rooting for the Nats because I think they have the rotation to give the Dodgers a good fight later in the NL playoffs, and the Rays because of the ex-Rainiers and the fact that they are not the A’s.

Once these Wild Cards are settled, we’ll be back to post our annual Sure To Be Wrong MLB Playoff Predictions on Thursday.

The Mariners wrapped up the season with a couple of wins against the playoff-bound Oakland A’s, and finished the year with a record of 68-94. Most of the links below are related to the end of Seattle’s season.