Thursday, March 29, 2012

Carp hurt, recalls memories of Mike Morse

Deja Vu for the Mariners in a number of different senses this morning. No scoring, a flimsy bullpen, and a non-natural outfielder being put in the outfield and getting hurt.

No, Carp isn't expected to be out more than a week or two, unlike Mike Morse half a decade ago. But both are natural infielders who, thanks to a combination of players blocking their natural positions and improperly used DH slots, were shoved into the grass out in front of the hand operated scoreboard.

Morse was coming off an absolutely stunning spring that year, hitting .492 with a slugging pct. of over 1.3. But his natural position of SS was filled (Morse didn't have the range for it in MLB anyway), first base was filled by a declining Richie Sexson, and our DH was one Jose Vidro. Morse wasn't even the starting left fielder, with the Mariners dead-set on putting BRAD FREAKING WILKERSON out in the field. (Wilkerson was cut less than a month into the season.)

So, despite the fact that Mike Morse had only sparring played outfield in his previous baseball career, someone in the Mariners coaching circle decided to spend half a summer trying to adjust him to the outfield.

Morse played in 5 games that year before taking an awkward slide going after a pop fly and hurting his leg bad enough that the rest of the season was out of the question. He has since been traded and, while note elite, is playing better than the majority of first basemen in the league.

Carp isn't coming off a blazing spring training, but instead a rather promising second-half of 2011. He also has a little more experience with the outfield than Morse did. But his position today is ostensibly being filled by Miguel Olivo. I won't compare him to Brad Wilkerson or Jose Vidro, but the fact is that we have a catcher on the roster that would make more sense for this team actually playing behind the plate, rather than filling the DH position on an interim basis. Jesus Montero should be catching, and Mike Carp should be the starting DH. Casper Wells, Carlos Pegeruo, or Chone Figgins should be out there, and Kyle Seager, Alex Liddi, or Vinnie Catricala should be at third.

Carp seems to have a decent bat, but he is a straight-up liability on defense. The Mariners have a potentially good lineup on their roster, they just need to put the right puzzle pieces out on the field in the right spots. Carp's piece does not fit in left.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ideal Lineups for 2012: Seahawks

Free Agency has started, and now that we're a few days into things, the picture is becoming a little clearer for our Seattle Seahawks. The starting-caliber chips are visiting their options, or deciding not to take phone calls with 206 area codes.

At this point in the rebuilding process, it's becoming increasingly unlikely that rookies will be filling any roster spots on this Seahawks team. There's certainly room for improvement up and down Pete Carroll's big board, but the lack of talent that Tim Ruskell left this team with is long gone. With Robert Gallery gone (THANK YOU) the only real openings are on the offensive line and linebacking corps (unless they draft a stud of a wide receiver).

Matt Flynn (Free Agency-Green Bay)
Tavaris Jackson
Josh Portis

From the top I'd just like to point out that I still don't really believe that our FO wants Matt Flynn all that much. From what I understand, John Schneider has already made it clear he doesn't think all that much of the Green Bay backup. That said, I didn't think he'd be flying out to the great northwest for a visit, and suitors don't seem to be willing to pay as much for him as I assumed. If Schneider's comments were nothing more than a smokescreen, and he can be had for a reasonable price, then by all means pick that kid up!

I'm not going to be all that disappointed if we don't get Flynn though. I think he can be very good, but he's far from a guarantee, and Jackson with another year getting to know is teammates behind a gelling offensive line could produce very strong results.

Marshawn Lynch
Trent Richardson (Draft-Round 1)
Leon Washington
Justin Forsett

HB is not a position of need, but Trent Richardson would anchor the position for years, and make Seattle's rushing attack unstoppable in the fourth quarter. What defensive player would want to defend against a rested Lynch or Richardson in the fourth quarter of a game? It's a lot of money to sink into one position, but if Richardson is available at 12 and if Pete is really serious about pounding it on the ground, Seattle would be sure to have one of the top rushing attacks for a decade (assuming our young offensive line continues to gel and improve).  Brandon Jacobs is a fun possibility as well, but rather unlikely considering the price he'd demand and the expectation that he would be a number one back.

Sounders lose to Santos Laguna

Well that sucked.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sounders vs Santos, what's next?

So last week our Sounders beat Santos 2-1, with goals from David Estrada and Brad Evans. It was a big win and an important start. But but BUT that lone Santos goal does hurt. Because now Seattle has to go into a tough place to play in Torreon, Mexico, and the team with the most away goals is the tie-breaker. AKA if Santos wins 1-0 Wednesday, the series goes to them. HOWEVER, if Seattle wins, ties, or loses 3-2, 4-3, or another, higher scoring one goal game, then the Sounders would be the team to move on in the Champions League.

And if the match a week ago was any indication, that fate will hinge on the play of Fredy Montero. Montero looked entirely unlike the player Sounders fans saw in 2009, 2010, and 2011. He looked strong. He looked patient. He looked driven. He looked like a DP.

Where Montero, when faced with a double team, would often be beat in the past, losing possession, Montero simply played with the ball and defenders before passing the ball off to someone in a good position. When fouled hard on the way to the goal, Montero went on his best freight train impression and just kept on running. Fredy even made his way into the defensive half more than once throughout the match. And he challenged for the ball every time it was reasonable. He looked savy. Like he was finally ready to carry a team on his back. And this coming week, he will need to.

Because in the Mexican Primera, Santos Laguna is on top. They are the number one team, and their home grounds are a fortress. The number of points Santos scores at home would look more at home in baseball. To move on in the Champions League, Seattle is taking one of the most difficult paths possible. They will have to prove that the status quo has changed. That Mexico is not the bane to MLS sides that it once was., They will likely have to prove it in an emphatic way, either managing to stifle the Santos offense they did Monterrey less than a year ago or keep up with an offensive onslaught.

Seattle has a handful of advantages in this matchup. They left early to practice in Dallas to get more acclimated to the heat of Central America. They've been focused on Santos ever since the playoff loss to Salt Lake. And Seattle, sans perhaps Steve Zakuani, is as healthy a squad as could possibly be. Santos has a pair of important starters missing for this matchup, and they have played a league match since their last Seattle encounter, leaving a presumably winded starting 11.

But make no mistake about it; this is still a mountain for Seattle to climb. It will still be an upset and a surprise and a wonderful development in the american game. If it happens. And man oh man, do I hope it happens.

A BETTER short-term answer at QB

Frankly, I'm tired of the Seahawks QB discussion. Barring injury or Mayan calendar, Tavaris Jackson will be the QB of the Seattle Seahawks when they take the field in September. That said, the talk about Chad Henne coming to the Emerald City got the few remaining gears in my head grinding together, thinking about the designated "competition" Quarterback, aka the backup. And a name came to me that I find somewhat intriguing. A name that I would trust to take over if something happened to T-Jack.

No, it's not Chad Henne.

Actually, it's his former backup in Miami, Matt Moore. Moore is currently slated as the starter of the Dolphins and set in a contract down in Florida. But it isn't a well-kept secret that Miami is going out of its way to find a new starter for 2012. Whether it be Peyton, Flynn, or a draftee, it's almost a certainty that Moore won't be Miami's starter when the season finally rolls around. Which makes Matt Moore not only expendable, but potentially valuable.

After taking the starting job from Henne after a week 3 loss to Cleveland, Moore went on to post a 16-9 TD-INT ratio and throw for nearly 2,500 yards with only a handful of games where he threw less than 59% accuracy. He only threw two or more interceptions in two starts. He put up these solid numbers on a team whose only weapons were Brandon Marshall and Jason Taylor. You don't believe me? Take a look at their current depth chart and tell me this is an NFL team. JP Losman and crew could easily be an AFL roster at this point.

He's not valuable for the Dolphins though, especially once they sign (insert QB name here). Moore, despite putting up solid numbers for an unattractive Dolphins team, isn't likely to command a bidding war. The absolute most he would command from another team would be a third rounder, but more realistically the Seahawks would have to give up a fourth or fifth (assuming they were interested).

Moore first caught my eye in his inaugural start against the 2007 iteration of the Seahawks, then playing for the Panthers. Jake Dellhome was hurt at the time, allowing Moore to march up and down the field against our defense instead. This was perhaps the first time I truly realized how bad Kelly Jennings was, and Moore took advantage of it (admittedly to a younger Steve Smith).

If Moore has one downside, it's that he has perhaps poor ball security, putting the ball on the turf 14 times in 14 weeks. Only six of those were lost, and those butterfingers can perhaps be attributed to an offensive offensive line (ah? AH?) but it's something to keep an eye on.

Moore has a track record of reasonable success on pretty terrible teams, and I'd like to see him play on a squad that looks to be a playoff competitor in 2012. He would take a trade, but I can't think of anyone better to compete with Jackson for a starting job. Hopefully Tavaris just takes the job and runs with it ALA Alex Smith, but if he doesn't the Hawks could do far worse than one Matt Moore.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Seattle Sounders FC vs Santos Laguna

Tonight, Concacaf Champions League. A contest to decide the best team in North America.

Tonight, a game of monumental importance. The Sounders win this series, move on to the semifinals, and come one step closer to a Club World Cup berth.

Tonight, Sounders national relevance takes another step forward.

Tonight, a shutout would all but punch Seattle's ticket to a match up with either Toronto or the Galaxy, whom play Thursday to a sellout crowd in Canada. (Hyperbolic? Sure)

Tonight, I predict a win. Let's go SUPER CYAN!

7:00 PM, CenturyLink Field and Fox Soccer Channel

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Rumor: Sounders to open up the rafters for Cascadia Cup matches in 2012

In 2011, the Seattle Sounders welcomed Manchester United to Seattle for a friendly. To increase ticket sales, they sold the friendly in a package together with two other matches, a game against Henry and the Redbulls along with Kasey Keller's finale against the San Jose Earthquakes. These games all saw a completely open Centurylink Field, two of which were completely sold out.

This year, if a tweet from Simon Borg (via Sounder at Heart) is to be believed, it appears that package could include games against Portland and Vancouver instead.

Ever since Portland and Vancouver were announced as MLS expansion franchises, there has been something of a war waged between the front offices of the three Cascadia teams and the fans over the number of visiting fans that should be allowed in each city. Because of Vancouver and Portland's smaller parks, Seattle has been reluctant to give them more than the minimum allotment of 500 tickets. The Sounders FO has also maintained that they don't believe the Cascadia clashes are especially huge draws that could support a full stadium. This latest development would seem to fly in the face of at least the latter statement and possibly the former as well.

With such a large capacity, there would seem to be an opportunity to at least expand the visiting section, if not quite meet FIFA's recommendation of 5% of seats set aside for visiting fans (about 3500 in Seattle).

If all of this is to be believed, there will be no more valuable ticket than the October 7th game against Portland. I'm somewhat worried that this is a push from the league office, whom have been pushing the rivalry's advertising aspect hard over the last year. I'd prefer they don't try to rush things. But if this is all going down as it sounds, it's going to be a fantastic thing for the league and for soccer in this country. Drawing these sorts of numbers simply for playing a rival is going to get attention within the country and within the worldwide soccer community.

Sounders show new colors in Preseason match, win 2-0

Seattle Sounders FC entered Centurylink Field last night, a different club than the one that left in an aggregate loss to Salt Lake last year. New personnel, a new turf, and a new style of play punctuated how long the four months have been since we last saw the boys in action.

Maybe it's just because I've been playing so much Fifa 12 over the offseason, but this team seemed almost fundamentally different from the one that finished second in the league table in 2011. Movement was fluid, possession was as good as I've ever seen in person, and balls were flying around the field in some spectacular displays. Not to be overlooked, the defense was largely shutdown all game despite Right Fullback Adam Johannson frequently making his way into the attack. The three man line of Parke-Hurtado-Gonzalez limited the opposition Jaguares to a single shot on goal.

And then of course, there was Fredy Montero's wonderstrike, a wonderfully weighted shot that, were it two weeks later in MLS play, would have been a likely winner of the Goal of the Year award. See it after the break.