Aug 21, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners fans hold up signs and wear t-shirts in support of starting pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) during the gameagainst the Cleveland Indians at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE
I sent off some questions to Jeff Sullivan from SB Nation's terrific Seattle Mariners blog Lookout Landing. Seattle hasn't had a good season, they are sitting at 67-74, last in the AL West , course they are 2 games better out Jays. It doesn't help them that the other 3 AL West teams have been great.
I have a soft spot for the Mariners, for one thing Seattle isn't that long a drive from here, and it is a nice place for a holiday, so I've seen games there a few times. And my youngest son was a big Ichiro fan. Personally, I always kind of liked Jay Buhner. The also have a very nice ballpark.
They seem to have had a mix of bad luck and bad management. They have a mix of players that should have played better than they have (David Ackley, along others), players they overrated (Chone Figgins) and Felix Hernandez.
Anyway, on to the questions....
How is our old friend Eric Thames doing there? I'm sure you are enjoying his defensive stylings.
Thames has come through with just enough extra-base hits to keep people from getting frustrated, while striking out on three pitches often enough to keep from being a reasonably consistent and dependable weapon. I'm not kidding, while it might just be small sample size stuff, I can't remember a position player striking out on three pitches with Thames' frequency. He hasn't looked like a keeper and he hasn't looked like something that needs to be discarded, so he's just been kind of around, giving awkward but memorable and enthusiastic post-game interviews. His defense was a known thing at the time of the trade and I'd say Eric Thames plays defense like how you'd expect a guy who looks like Eric Thames to play defense. He is not a dull baseball player. We've had a lot of pretty dull baseball players.
I don't suppose there would be any chance you'd trade us Felix cheap? He'd made a nice pairing with Brandon Morrow.
At this point fans of other teams should give up on the idea of trading for Felix, and they should start just rooting for Felix to get worse or injured. "See, now nobody can have him." It wouldn't be the same as trading for Felix, but at least then Felix wouldn't be all over the leaderboards, statistically begging to be traded for. Basically, you won't get Felix from the Mariners, but you can always hope for Felix to go all Ricky Romero. Boy does that guy suck now! (Tom: We are award.)
I'd like to say "absolutely, yes, next year will be better," but I don't know that for sure. Just because a team is young doesn't mean it's automatically going to take steps forward, and Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, and Jesus Montero have been varying degrees of disappointing. These are supposed to be franchise cornerstones. Next year is when the Mariners' big trio of starting pitching prospects is supposed to break into the majors, but Blue Jays fans are the last people I need to warn about the perils of depending on young pitchers to remain healthy and effective. The Mariners are moving forward more than they're moving backward, and I do think they're the closest they've been to being a legitimate playoff team in some time, but if rebuilding always worked the way it works on paper, the Indians wouldn't be a pile of crap. All that's certain is that the Mariners need to get better.
Who is your favorite Mariner to watch? Who is the biggest disappointment?
My favorite Mariner to watch for performance reasons, obviously, is Felix. My favorite Mariner to watch for non-performance reasons is Munenori Kawasaki, because he is a small child who just drank three gallons of Sunny D. I don't know if his appeal carries over to non-Mariners fans, and I suspect that, no, it doesn't, but it's hard for me to imagine this season without him. Justin Smoak is the biggest disappointment because Justin Smoak has hit like Miguel Olivo and Miguel Olivo has hit like Jeff Mathis and Jeff Mathis is bad. It's actually kind of incredible how far Smoak has fallen. Failed prospects get labeled busts and I'm wondering if Smoak literally busted. Like I think something might have exploded within him.
Anything else we should know about the Mariners?
There is nothing that you "should" know about the Mariners that you do not already know. You know that the Mariners are not very good, you know that they're fairly young, and you know that they have Felix Hernandez on them. You know that they don't have Ichiro anymore and that's kind of weird but we've all more or less gotten used to it. You know that the Mariners are theoretically on the rise but realistically still a ways off. It's just not a team worth knowing a lot about right now as a fan of a different team in a different division. For me to give you a different answer would be delusional and dishonest.