“I’m playing around with it a little bit. I still stand by the fact that Morales and Morse are both trying to do too much. They know they’re the guys here. I think that with that, I think sometimes put a little too much pressure on yourself to do too much.
“Both of them are chasing more than they should be chasing. Then you start to try to do a little bit more than you should be trying to do. Sometimes, you’ve just got to lay the bat down and let the next guy try it. They’re not going to come in the zone unless you allow them to.
He made similar remarks on Wednesday, following the Mariners’ win over the Pirates. This time, to Ryan Divish:
“What we need to continue to do is if they are not coming into to you, you need to lay your bat down and go to first base and give the next guy a turn,” he said. “I think it’s especially true for (Kendrys) Morales and (Michael) Morse.
“These are guys in the middle of our lineup and sometimes their hearts get in the way. They want to do it so much and they know they need to do it, and they come out of the strike zone a little bit. Once they start to reel that in and allow themselves to lay the bat down and leave it to the next guy that’s going to help them and help us so much, too.”
There’s worlds of difference between the approach of the players in question, but compare this to Wedge’s philosophy from 2011 when speaking about Jack Cust (god, Jack Cust. Remember that?) and the rest of the Mariners lineup. From Shannon Drayer for 710 ESPN Seattle:
"There are points in time when we need to be more aggressive, there is no doubt," Wedge said when I asked if the hitters seemed reluctant to pull the trigger at the plate. "It’s like we are looking for the perfect pitch to hit." […]
Cust has been battling it himself. He admitted his struggles have led him to be less aggressive from time to time. When that happened Wedge addressed it.
"Skipper has talked to me about it and I felt more aggressive the last three games or so," he said. "I have gone up there trying to swing the bat more. It’s about just getting ready on time and not trying to be so perfect with your swing and trying to get a perfect pitch to hit and just letting it go."
Ultimately, I think it has a lot more to do with the players (as it did way back then, noted by Matt at Lookout Landing) but it’s interesting to see Wedge adjust based on what he’s working with. Earlier in his tenure in Seattle, he was universally decried for the approach he seemingly instilled in hitters. There’s still areas worthy of criticism, but credit to Wedge making adjustments here.
It’s easy to forget what Raul Ibanez is capable of. It’s easy because, at this stage in his career, he isn’t capable of much. I don’t mean that as any form of disrespect—that’s just how it is. But he does have a purpose on this team, and as long as the Mariners put him in positions where he’s capable of succeeding—namely, only facing righties—then we’ll see things like what happened last night.
Raul wasn’t expecting a slider. He was way out in front of it, and when ball met bat, he was swinging with mostly with one arm, and had his eyes closed. No, really.
And it wasn’t as if he made great contact either. It caught the barrel, sure, but if it were anyone else you’d assume it to be a pop-up the right fielder would have to take a few steps in on. Raul put it eight rows deep.
"I’m sure at some point, it will happen. But physically I feel great, I wake up every morning, I feel good. I come to the ballpark, and I can take as many swings as I want and physically do anything I want, and I don’t feel fatigued or anything like that."
Ibanez is convinced that his dietary changes, particular the absence of gluten, have allowed him better recovery from his workouts and games.
"I don’t have any joint soreness ever," he said. "It’s kind of a weird thing, but it’s a tested thing. Time tested. I’ve told other guys about it, and they’ve had the same results.
"Soreness is a thing of the past. I have to really get in the gym and really blast, have a really intense, crazy workout, and I’ll feel some soreness the next day. But doing normal activity, I don’t feel anything."
It’s interesting. I’m having a hard time tracking down any reliable information, but this completely-biased source says gluten can destroy muscle. I’m not buying that, but if it’s working for Raul, it’s working for Raul. And for all the credible detractors Raul Ibanez has, it’s hard to deny that, when bat meets ball, he still has some pop.
Franklin Gutierrez, when healthy, has the potential to be one of the 10-20 best players on the planet. In 2009, by WAR, he was the 11th-best position player in the Majors. But saying “Franklin Gutierrez would be one of the best players in the game if he could stay healthy” is like saying “Carlos Peguero would be as good as Prince Fielder if he could hit for contact.” It’s not happening.
Nevertheless, Guti’s early-season success had many Mariners fans raising the ceiling on the expectations not just for him, but for the entire team.
Jeff Sullivan wrote a piece over at USSM on why “Franklin Gutierrez is baseball,” elaborating on the range of possibilities each season presents and the optimism it instills. Franklin Gutierrez and a World Series were loosely linked.
I suspect Franklin Gutierrez is going to be out for some time. And this is a big thing that we could talk about on the next podcast—I’ve heard some things, I’m not convinced he’s ever playing for the Mariners again and if he does, I’m not convinced it’ll be much.
It’s alarming, to say the least. To say the most, it wipes out any chance of the Mariners winning the World Series. But, I mean, come on.
I was comforted later in the day when I saw Todd Dybas of the Tacoma News Tribune tweet this out:
Gutierrez has been running and hitting for a week. Taking BP again today. Says he’s close to being ready. #Mariners
I don’t have much else to say. It’s concerning, and it makes you wonder just how much bizarre stuff is going on in this front office. It could be nothing—quite easily—but the inconsistency between the player and management is, again, bizarre.
Zduriencik didn’t slam the door on Hamilton, but indicated the length of contract and financial commitment the five-time All-Star outfielder will be seeking “might surpass where we’re going to be” […]
"There are a lot of great things to like about several of these guys on the market, and we’re doing our homework," he said. "But when you hear what players expect and the years involved, that’s a lot to consider. At the end of the day, when you gauge the market, you have to be realistic about where it will end up. And there’s a strong possibility that one will exceed where we’re at."
At this juncture, I would guess the Mariners will not end up signing Josh Hamilton (it only takes one desperate/short-sighted/spendy team to lure him away) and this article transparently states where the Mariners stand. That said, it doesn’t mean the Mariners out of the race and one must consider why Zduriencik intentionally puts this out now.
Echoing what I thought as soon as I read it, here’s how Shannon Drayer concluded her response post titled “Moving on from Hamilton…or not?" (emphasis added):
We certainly wouldn’t want to see the Mariners end up with nothing. Let the market unfold and see where you are at. This is not “the guy” in Zduriencik’s eyes. Maybe he is for the short term but on a longer deal? No. If Zduriencik thinks this will go in that direction than it would be foolish to invest too much time in him now. He can always jump back in and who knows, maybe these words will help get things going.
That is what I believe JZ’s intentions are here—at least partially. The most recent article/reporting I’ve read on Hamilton comes courtesy of Jon Heyman, as he explains that the Hamilton chase is a mystery at this point, with considerable credit for that going to the fact that Hamilton’s agent, by policy, doesn’t say anything to the media regarding his clients’ negotiations.
So why say you’re out—or probably out—when at this point you may be as “in” as anyone else? To prevent anyone from artificially slotting you in the market and potentially selling against you to drive up Hamilton’s price. The Mariners have already come out and said their payroll will be up, and them needing offense is as obvious as anything could be. Multiple general managers have come out and said they expect the Mariners to be serious players for Hamilton so it makes sense for Zduriencik to say “Hey, we’re just as horrified of this guy bottoming out and blowing up our long-term payroll as everyone else” before teams start putting more cash and years on the table than is necessary at this point.
I mean, as endearing as agent Michael Moye’s policy is of not publicly sharing info regarding ongoing negotiations is, he may well be telling teams “Listen guys, the Mariners are out there—they got the the money. Look at that scoreboard. Do it. Stare at it so long you go blind and don’t realize how many zeros you’re putting on that check—because that’s the only way you’re out-bidding them.” He probably isn’t, but it’d behoove him to tell suitors there’s as many teams legitimately in on Hamilton as possible. So Jack tells everyone exactly where he stands, or supposedly stands.
Then, there’s the alternative.
Maybe Zduriencik wants to play this straight, acknowledge to the fans and everyone else that this probably isn’t going to happen. Being blunt, if you remove all of the off-field stuff, and all of the injuries, Hamilton still isn’t “a Jack Zduriencik guy.” I say that because he has no control of the strike zone whatsoever and isn’t stellar defensively. But Jack signed Miguel Olivo. On purpose. Remember when that happened, and we had to pretend that it might turn out okay, because it didn’t really make much sense at all and we knew deep down how it’d really go? God, that was awful.
Anyway, here’s the actual alternative, a paragraph late and from someone better at explaining it than I am—Jeff at Lookout Landing:
Here’s the way this works. At the start of the offseason, front offices chat. They go over tons of possibilities, internal and external. Initially, the Mariners held Josh Hamilton in a certain regard. Then they investigated him more thoroughly, and here we are now, with the Mariners seemingly backing off. Not because of a lack of money, but because of a lack of a desire to give so much of that money to Hamilton for so many years.
It’s more-than-possible the Mariners were intrigued by Hamilton, called around, looked at the numbers and decided the entire proposition is just too terrifying for the price the market is currently setting. So they came out and said “Listen fans, don’t get too excited. Just don’t. We’ve gotten you excited before and it hasn’t turned out so well. So cool your jets. Hey have you heard about this Swisher charac—ah, never mind. Just trust us.”
I suspect it is a little of both. Though I won’t tell fans how to act—it’s more fun when you’re overly invested anyway—the Mariners probably will not sign Josh Hamilton. I’m among the nuts hoping they do for a contract slightly above market value, but prepare yourselves. Or don’t.
Just know that Zduriencik did indeed put this out there for a reason—at 9:20 Eastern Time on a Friday, no less—and there’s a reason for him doing so. It could be to calm you the hell down, or it could be to keep the Mariners in it. We’ll know soon enough.
I moved to Seattle from Wisconsin in the fall of 1999. I didn’t have ‘95 and “The Double.” Maybe that makes me something of an outsider, but whatever. This is my favorite call from Dave. I didn’t hear it live, because I was there, and it was incredible. Miss you, Dave. Go M’s.