Friday, October 7, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Free Agency Madhouse Day 1: OVER

Soo, Hasselbeck's gone for good. In his place we've got Tavaris Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, and Matt Leinart. A shame that they don't get to take the cumulative ability of every QB on the roster, because then they'd might have a serviceable signal caller! ZING!

Nah, I'm actually pretty okay with this "Post Lockout Insane Asylum FA Period Day One". While I would have liked a certain other USC alumni to be reaching between Unger/Spencer's legs this year, I do like Tavaris Jackson and think he can be a worthwhile QB. Seriously though, Bengals Owner Mike Brown is a huge twat, is he not? A straight bastard. I can only imagine how livid Carson Palmer is about the whole situation. 

As for players we DO have this year... I have to think that Tavaris is the clear front-runner to start in San Francisco on September 11. His career QB rating is actually BETTER than that of Kolb, and with arguably a worse team around him. Certainly a lesser WR corps, though perhaps a better front line.

I'm totally in favor of the competition as well, and it might be just the thing to try to get the most out of Leinart. Since he got drafted, he has always either been the clear frontrunner, or clear reserve. Now he's got a coach that made him what he is, and a WR in Mike Williams that helped make him what he is, but won't be handed anything. I don't think he'll push for the starting job, but I won't complain if he does. 

Of course, we can't forget about ol' Charlie Whitehurst. The man of two 2010 starts.

Frankly, no matter who starts, I want them to do well. If the Seahawks will be in contention for a Luck or other rookie QB next year, it should be through a trade BEFORE the season starts, not through a later trade or throwing the season. 

None of the QBs on the roster look to be the long-term answer at the position for our Seahawks, and that's fine. I'd rather they wait until they can get their guy than to spend Ryan Leaf money on... Ryan Leaf and devastate the franchise in such a way. It's clear that that is how Schneider and Carroll feel about it too. They are going to get their guy, and aren't going to settle for anything less. If that means a placeholder for a year, than so be it. 

Truth is, any one of these potential Seahawks starters could perform better than the more expensive alternatives this year, depending on how our team spends the rest of their free agent money, and the development of our young guys. If we pick up Gallery and Leach, and our young Offensive Line develops and gels together, Leinart could end up looking like Matt Schaub. Jackson could be the second coming of Michael Vick. Whitehurst could be Tom Brady. Well, maybe not quite that far, but I think the point is pretty evident. I'm much more interested in how the rest of our cap space is spent than I am on today's revelations. And those moves will mean more to the fortunes of Seattle's 2011-2012 season. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ideal Seahawks 2011-2012 team

Tomorrow's going to be a whirlwind, and I imagine that by the end of it I'll be feeling a bit dizzy. Regardless, here's what I hope our team looks a bit like by the end of the week. Note this is only 45 players. The depth for the defensive line is a crapshoot, and with the expanded roster there's no way in hell to guess what will happen with the third stringers.

Carson Palmer (Cincinatti Bengals)
Tavaris Jackson (Minnesota Vikings)
Charlie Whitehurst

Marshawn Lynch
Justin Forsett
Leon Washington

Vonta Leach (Houston Texans)

Mike Williams
Ben Obomanu
Brandon Stokley

Deon Butler
Golden Tate
Kris Durham

John Carlson
Cameron Morrah
Anthony McCoy

Russell Okung
Tyler Polumbus

Robert Gallery (Oakland)
Ray Willis

Chris Spencer
Max Unger

John Moffitt
Mike Gibson

James Carpenter
A body

Ray Edwards
Lazarius Levingston

Brandon Mebane

Anyone but Colin Cole

Red Bryant

David Hawthorne
Will Herring

Lofa Tatupu
Malcolm Smith

Aaron Curry
KJ Wright

Marcus Trufant
Richard Sherman
Byron Maxwell

Walter Thurmond
Kennard Cox

Earl Thomas
Mark Legree

Kam Chancellor
Mark Legree

So for big new faces, I'm looking mostly at offense. Carson Palmer would be a dream come true. If he can do what he did last year with two aging smacktalkers, he can perform some real magic with Williams and the Youngsters (band name TM).
To protect him, two more big signings in Vonta Leach and Robert Gallery, to go along with a bunch of Seahawks draft picks. Leach is a real difference maker, and while I'm somewhat wary of Gallery, even his worst-case scenario is better than what we've got now. This setup could give a huge boost to the running game, both this year and in the next half-decade. That of course assumes our draft picks on the line both this year and last stay healthy and get good.
The last signing would be either Ray Edwards or Osi Umeniora. Osi would be awesome, but you can't win every Free Agency battle, and I'd rather have Leach, and would take a high draft pick.

This should leave plenty of cap room, so perhaps another big defensive signing could still be in the works. That said, i'd rather they came in well under the cap so they can keep adding next year.

Lockout over, now it's time for the Hawks to get to work

After what can only be the longest, most boring five months in NFL history, the lockout is totally, finally, officially over. About time, because I was about ready to strap on some pads and provoke James Harrison just to put myself out of my own misery. Now that it's over we can finally start speculating on what our team will look like, though we only get 24 hours before all the free agency craziness goes down.
I can almost guarantee that at some point between now and when the season starts there will be allegations that Pete Carroll broke the lockout rules by talking to free agents, and perhaps other teams. Because once the clock starts on these player signings, you know he'll have about 50 players he'll be making calls about, from undraftees to Galleries and (crossing fingers) the savior, Carson Palmer.
Another call he'll hopefully be making will be to the Bills or Panthers, in talks for their 2012 first-round draft pick. Don't really care what the Hawks have to give up, but one of these teams will be in the running to pick Andrew Luck next year, the Bills still believe in Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the Panthers will be desperate to trade out of that spot after drafting Clausen and Newton each of the last two years. They don't even necessarily have to be bad enough to earn that first pick, but they'll be in the running enough that it wouldn't take much more to trade into Luck. This will allow the Seahawks to compete without having to worry about their draft positioning.
When it comes to resigning our boys, Olindo Mare has to be back. While Leon Washington has received most of the credit for the play of the special teams, Mare has become a special surprise since he came to Seattle a few years ago. He's getting up there in age, but the new kickoff rules will extend his career by five years.
Will Herring, Brandon Mebane, Junior Siavii, and Chris Spencer should be back. Herring has shown that he knows what he's doing, and provides wonderful depth. If Curry continues to struggle, or gets put on the line, Herring could come in and strengthen our LB corps. Mebane is too talented to just let go like it looks like they will, and Siavii, while not as good as Bryant last year, would be great line depth to have. And call me crazy, but Spencer should continue to be our starting center. I don't believe in Unger, and Spencer had a pretty darn good year in 2010 considering his broken wrist. Centers take a notoriously long time to live up to people's expectations (see: Robbie Tobeck) and his physicality and experience will only help him. Putting Gallery next to Spencer would be a great situation.
Lawyer Milloy, Brandon Stokley, Jordan Babineaux and Ray Willis should be back at the right price. There are quite a few rookie defensive backs coming in this year, and nothing could be better for their development than practicing at the VMAC every day with Milloy. He might not be the best option to start anymore, but if he's willing to take a back seat his presence would be invaluable. A similar situation with Babineaux. If he's gone, his playmaking will be missed, but I imagine it won't be long before our rookies outdo him on most downs. I'd just as soon sign up Stokley as our WR coach, but in lieu of that, signing him to work with Golden Tate and catch the odd third-down pass would be well worth Seattle's while. Willis fits Cable's profile, and could compete for a spot on the line with Carpenter this year, though I wouldn't recommend starting him. The rookies need as many snaps together as they can get.
The rest are unimportant. If Carroll doesn't want them back, then so be it. I like Ruvell Martin and Raheem Brock, but I would be more surprised if Schneider DIDNT find some amazing UDFA to take their spots and outperform them.

An alternate 2011 for the Seattle Mariners

So often, when a ballclub is in the middle of a playoff hunt, when it’s on the cusp of competing, pressure mounts for that club to find a little bit of help finding that elusive title. Trades are often the avenue through which the best, most valuable pieces are added, as the Texas Rangers demonstrated when they rode Cliff Lee all the way to their first World Series. But getting those pieces doesn’t come cheap, and as the Mariners have seen over the last seven years, those trades can cripple a team. Trading prospects is a risky business, and for most of the last decade, Seattle has come out on the short end of the stick.

But imagine if the Mariners hadn't traded away their history in the Bill Bavasi years? What if the Mariners didn't make any trades at all? What would the Mariners look like today?
1b: Mike Morse
Washington Nationals 29 yrs
.313/.360/.550/.911, 90 g, 96hits, 17 HR, 55 RBI
Traded for Ryan Langherhans in 2008.
2B: Dustin Ackley
Seattle Mariners 23 yrs
.297/.347/.505/.852, 30 g, 33 hits, 4 hr, 15 RBI
Drafted by Mariners in 2009
3b: Greg Dobbs
Florida Marlins 33 yrs
.298/.341/.399/.741, 83 g, 68 hits, 3 hr, 27 RBI
Claimed from Waivers in 2007
SS: Asdrubal Cabrera
Cleveland Indians 25 yrs
.289/.342/.492/.834, 98 g, 115 hits, 17 HR, 60 RBI, All-Star
Traded for Eduardo Perez in 2007
LF: Shin Soo Choo
Cleveland Indians 29 yrs
(2010) .300/.401/.484/.885, 144 g, 165 hits, 22 hr, 90 RBI
Traded with Shawn Nottingham for Ben Broussard in 2007
CF Adam Jones
Baltimore Orioles 25 yrs
.286/.327/.487/.813, 97 g, 107 hits, 18 hr, 60 RBI, all-star
Traded with Greg Sherrill, Kam Mickolio, Chris Tillman, and Tony Butler for Erik Bedard in 2008
Current RF: Ichiro Suzuki
Mariners 37 yrs
.268/.315/.318/.633, 100g, 112 hits, 1 hr, 25 RBI, 10 time all-star, MVP
Free Agent 2001
Future RF: Ezequiel Carrera
Cleveland Indians 24 yrs
.281/.361/.281/.642, 15 g, 9 h, 0 hr, 4 RBI
Traded with Juan Diaz for Russell Branyan in 2010
C: Yorvit Torrealba
Texas Rangers 33 yrs
.248/.283/.364/.647, 72 g, 62 hits, 3 HR, 19 RBI
Traded for Marcos Carvajal in 2005
SP: Felix Hernandez
Seattle Mariners 25 yrs
3.47 ERA, 158.0 IP, 148 SO , Cy Young, 2x All-Star
Free Agent 2005
SP: Tim Lincecum
San Francisco Giants 27 yrs
2.90 ERA, 136.1 IP, 146 SO, 2x Cy Young, 4x All-Star
Drafted by Giants in 2006
SP: Michael Pineda
Seattle Mariners 22 yrs
3.64 ERA, 123.2 IP, 123 SO, All-Star
Free Agent 2005
SP: Chris Tillman
Baltimore Orioles 23 yrs
4.69 ERA, 48.0 IP, 32 SO
Traded with Adam Jones, Greg Sherrill, Kam Micholio, and Tony Butler for Erik Bedard in 2008.
RP: Rafael Soriano
New York Yankees 31 yrs
(2010) 1.73 ERA, 62 IP, 57 SO, All-Star
Traded to Braves for Rafael Soriano in 2006
Larger font denotes current Mariners

Above is a list of former Mariners prospects that are now making their mark on the major leagues, as well as the remaining future of the downtrodden club. Only one of them has a batting average lower than Ichiro (currently the Mariner’s BA leader) to date.
There are eight non-Mariner starters on that list, among them a few that are all-stars, who were given away for essentially nothing by good-ol Bill Bavasi. The damage is akin to holding onto a grenade too long. Nearly every player on there is playing better RIGHT NOW than any single player on the Mariners today. And the most shocking thing is the youth of this theoretical, yet completely logical squad.
Only three players are over 30 years old. Five are over 27. This team, the way it is above, suddenly looks like a decade-long division leader, ready to replace Ichiro with the young Ezequiel Carrera, and with an incredible Felix-Lincecum-Pineda starting combo. Power from 1st, 2nd, and SS, all hitting near .300 with a combined 50+ home runs (twice what the entire Mariners team has today). Catcher, Third Base, and relief pitching are still problems. But it is it really a stretch to believe that such a good young squad would be brining the fans back to Safeco? That the Mariners would have a few extra bucks to spend on free agents? (Say, maybe, keeping Beltre?)
Jack Zduriencik doesn’t get off scot-free either. Mike Morse, while no longer a young scamp, is finally showing everyone what M’s fans saw back in his early Seattle days. Today, he’d be far and away the best offensive player the Mariners have. He was traded for a weak-hitting backup left fielder in Ryan Langherhans. The Chone Figgins disaster has devastated Mariners free-agent signing for the next three years. Casey Kotchman fumbled around the Mariners infield last year only to go to Tampa Bay and be a batting league leader. And while it hasn’t hurt yet, The Jack Hannahan for Justin Souza trade isn’t looking particularly good either, as Souza is pitching well at AAA Sacramento and knocking on the door of the Oakland Athletic’s big league club.
It is important to note that to assume the Mariners would be as much better as it seems on paper is a dangerous assumption to make. So many factors, including injuries, coaches, ballpark factors, and clubhouse chemistry, affect the development of youngsters in the major leagues. This is also assuming the Mariners would have been willing and able to resign each of these players as their talent is realized.
Still, those numbers are unheard of around these parts, and haven’t been seen since 2003.
Imagine this team taking the field every day at Safeco. Would the Mariners be leading the division? Would they be the equivalent of the Pittsburgh Pirates, or perhaps even better? There aren’t a lot of Major League clubs these days with more than a handful of .280 hitters. This team would have seven. This offense would be a force, scoring runs for the best starting trio in the league.
Alternate history sucks. 

Good night, 2011

And just like that, the2011 season Is effectively over for the Seattle Mariners.
For 3 months, Seattle was teased with the idea that the playoffs could be, may be coming back to Seattle. For 3 months, for the first time in 8 years, this team knew what it meant to be in the hunt at the all star break.
But as with all illusions, our little dream world fell apart quickly and unceremoniously. Some of us truly believed that our incredible pitching staff would keep us alive all the way to the MLB playoffs. That they would make up for the second coming of the worst offense ever assembled. And when the playoffs start, who knows what can happen?
But it was not to be. After a great few months from the likes of Brendan Ryan and Adam Kennedy and Justin Smoak and Carlos Pegeuro and Miguel Olivo, the wheels fell off. And when these guys stopped producing, there was no one left to produce. Because Ichiro and Chone Figgins sure haven’t been getting it done.
And perhaps it’s as simple as that. This team was already cutting it close offensively as it was. When the supposed “sure things” weren’t so sure any more, it may have been one shave too close. A shave that has seen the Mariners lose nine straight. In that stretch, the division leading Rangers took the opposite road, winning every one of those nine and then some.
The Mariners could have added Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum to the rotation of Hernandez, Pineda and Bedard and they still wouldn’t be in a much better position right now. The Mariners have three players hitting over .260. They have no one hitting over .280. Like last year, these Mariners are looking to set records for offensive ineptitude, and an all-star lineup of pitchers can’t fix that.  
This end has made the Mariner’s constant issue all the more clear. Because no matter how great your pitching is, they can’t score runs by themselves, at least not in the American League. The Sounders scored more goals in their last game than the Mariners scored in their last homestand. A team can’t win when they can’t score, and this team is the Ben Stein of not scoring.
2011 must now be thrown to the rookies, the youngsters that can make a difference in 2012 in 2013. This year will be used to see if Mike Carp and Kyle Seager are part of the future, and to further develop the likes of Smoak, Dustin Ackley, and Michael Pineda into the stars of Seattle’s tomorrow.
Last Saturday was 2001 celebration night at the Mariners, marking the decade anniversary of that club’s 116 win achievement. It may as well have been a celebration of the last time the Mariners were good enough to be worth celebrating. Those ten years have been fraught with inept management and substandard play. A lot for GM Jack Zduriencik to make up for. But every year makes it that much harder to come back and support this team. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Seattle: Where sports fans always get the short end of the stick

It is hard to survive in the Seattle sports scene.

This city has seen generations go by without feeling the recognition of champions.

Teams have been dissolved. Moved. Stolen. Championships have been forgotten, ignored, dropped, and yanked from our clammy hands. Our heroes leave before their time, or stay long enough to become despised. Those most reverent, passionate, loyal members of our family, are taken from us, without ever tasting the glory they so deserve.

Every decade or so we are pitted against the elements, forced to prove we have even a right to exist. To prove that we are more worthy than Milwaukee, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, or Oklahoma City. No one cares about us, or anyone in our general vicinity. Clubs are given days to prove they work before a personal favor is called in. Even in our own city, we are second-class citizens, sold down the river for an extra buck. Another year of our team means another miracle was pulled out of the hat. We aren’t even allowed the dignity of keeping our pride, our history. WE are all we have.

Few would ask for such a burden. This is not a place where rings are expected. This is a place, a nation, where simply winning a playoff game is the stuff of legends, where making it to that final game is the ultimate goal. It isn’t a burden that a Yankee or a Laker could ever understand.

And yet it is this burden that brings us of the Emerald City together. We are the sixes, the twelves, the rave green. We believe in 137 decibels, and standing for the full 90. When there’s two outs, we say “SO WHAT?”.

Even despite our difficulties, our passion rarely gets its due. We are not respected. We are not recognized. Last on sportscenter, last on primetime, last on our own local news. But still, year after year, we crawl out of the woodwork to see the next runners-up, or who will win it all to the collective shrug of a nation. Other cities have trophies to fall back on when things get tough; we simply have the hope that next year will be just a little bit better. And that’s all we need.