Seattle Mariners: 2016 Winners and Losers

Seattle Mariners baseball ended in somewhat disappointing fashion as Seattle finished just three games out of a playoff berth.

The Mariners were in it right up until the second to last day of the season.

Despite the season ending without a long-awaited return to the playoffs, there were plenty of positives to be had.

Here are the winners and losers of the 2016 Seattle Mariners season.

Winner: Edwin Diaz

Edwin Diaz certainly made quite the impression in his rookie season. The flame throwing reliever pitched to a 2.79 ERA while racking up 18 saves in 51.2 innings pitched. He also struck out 88 batters. If you do the math, that comes out at 15.3 punch outs per nine innings. So yeah, this Diaz guy is pretty good.

Diaz will likely continue to close games in Seattle for the better part of the next decade.

Loser: Adam Lind

Acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers for a trio of minor-league prospects, Lind had an opportunity to establish himself as the team’s first baseman for at least the next few seasons.

However, the former Brewer and Blue Jay hit just .239 with a sub-par .286 on-base percentage. It didn’t help that the veteran’s RBI total dipped from 87 in 2015 to just 58 this past season.

Winner: Mike Zunino

It seems that Mike Zunino is once again in Seattle’s plans. The slugging catcher collected 31 RBI, 16 runs scored, 12 home runs and seven doubles in just 55 games. While his .207 batting average isn’t much to write home about, the backstop did produce a career-best .318 on-base percentage and a 1.8 WAR.

Loser: Chris Iannetta

Like Lind, Iannetta was brought in to start. The backstop started his fair share of games (94), but ultimately lost significant playing time to Zunino.

Winner: Ariel Miranda

Acquired for Wade Miley, Miranda turned in a string of quality performances for the M’s down the stretch. The 27-year-old could be a long-term piece in the Pacific Northwest if he continues to put up numbers similar to the 5-2 record and 3.54 ERA he posted in 2016.

Miranda’s performance looks even better when you consider that the pitcher he replaced in the rotation and was traded for, Miley, owned a 4.98 ERA and a 4.76 FIP. Miley also did all that after being traded for both Carson Smith and Roenis Elias.

Losers: Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma

Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma didn’t have the best seasons compared to their high standards. The duo, who have All-Star Game appearances and numerous Cy Young votes to their name, struggled in 2016. Hernandez’ FIP sat at 4.63, while Iwakuma’s wasn’t much better at 4.27.

Seattle will need the two back at their best next season in order to make a push for the playoffs.

Seattle Seahawks Lock Arms During National Anthem: Images and Video

Before the Seattle Seahawks played the franchise’s home opener against the Miami Dolphins, the entire team and coaching staff locked arms and stood together in a sign of unity.

Here are some images and video.

 

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Seattle Seahawks: Even as Six Seed, Hawks Remain Poised for Another Super Bowl Run

Another season, another playoff appearance for the Seattle Seahawks. The two-time defending NFC champions enter the playoffs as the sixth, and lowest, seed in the National Football Conference. Seattle opens the playoffs against the Minnesota Vikings, the highest seeded NFC team not to receive a first-round bye. Additionally, even if the team wins it all, the Seahawks are guaranteed a total of zero home games.

And yet, the Seattle Seahawks have the look of a team poised to make a third consecutive Super Bowl.

Pete Carroll’s squad trounced the Arizona Cardinals on the road to wrap up the regular season. Playing without starters Russell Okung, Kam Chancellor, Marshawn Lynch, J.R. Sweezy and Luke Willson, the Hawks beat the team’s division rivals 36-6. Seattle’s defense bottled up one of the league’s best offenses while Russell Wilson and company shredded an equally elite defense.

The win was not only impressive, but it showed a sign of things to come for the Hawks.

Seattle will now take the show on the road during the playoffs, but that shouldn’t be a cause for worry. The team’s opponent in the first round is the Minnesota Vikings. Obviously it’s the playoffs and anything can happen, but the Seahawks did steam role the Vikings in Minnesota just last month. The score in that contest was 38-7, with Wilson tossing three touchdowns and Adrian Peterson being held to just 18 yards.

If the Seahawks beat Minnesota, the team will travel to play the Carolina Panthers. Carolina did beat Seattle earlier this year in the Pacific Northwest, but the Hawks led 20-7 at one point and controlled most of the game.

While the Panthers are an extremely good team, Cam Newton doesn’t have a lot of weapons at his disposal in the same way Russell Wilson does. In other words, if Newton has an off day, Carolina is susceptible to defeat. Case in point, the Panthers only loss came against the Atlanta Falcons, who held Carolina’s star quarterback to 188 total yards and one total touchdown.

Of the three teams the Seahawks could face in a potential NFC Championship game, none should be overly intimidating. Washington owns the worst record of any playoff team, while Seattle has experience against both Green Bay and (obviously) Arizona.

The Hawks lost by 10 to the Packers on the road in Week 2. However, Seattle had a lead in the fourth quarter despite playing without Chancellor. Green Bay also needed a passing masterclass from Aaron Rodgers to earn the win.

One of the NFC’s two wild cards, Green Bay faltered down the stretch, going 4-6 over the team’s final 10 games. That included losses to the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears. Additionally, three of the Pack’s four wins came against struggling teams such as the Lions, Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders.

In addition to a potentially favorable schedule, the Hawks will get Lynch back from injury. The Seattle offense was already dynamic without the team’s star running back. Now it seems the offense will only become more explosive with a healthy “Beast Mode.”

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With Lynch’s return, the Hawks are now equipped to play any style required. The team can slug it out in a run dominated and low scoring affair, or throw it 50 times per game.

However you slice it, the Seattle Seahawks are equipped for another Super Bowl run. Watch out NFL.

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New Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto’s First Priorities

The Seattle Mariners wrapped up a disappointing season on a positive note, claiming a 3-2 win over the Oakland Athletics. The attention now shifts to the offseason, where new general manager Jerry Dipoto will be tasked with turning the team around.

Dipoto has already made it clear that he’s keeping hold of, and building around, “core” players Kyle Seager, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Felix Hernandez.

Thankfully, none of those four players will be leaving the Emerald City any time soon. If the M’s finished 76-86 with that quartet, who knows how they’d fair without the foursome? Odds are it wouldn’t be pretty.

Dipoto has his work cut out for him, but if he can creatively fill some of the team’s needs without losing much either in a trade or in salary, the M’s have a chance to contend next season.

Among the most prominent needs is at catcher. Per Baseball Reference, Seattle catchers collectively finished last season with the worst wins above average by any backstop grouping in the league. Mike Zunino and company were worth -3.9 wins below average. No other catching group was worse than -2.6.

The problem with the situation is that Zunino is only 24-years-old. The Mariners aren’t going to bail on the former third-overall pick that quickly, but he has to start improving offensively. Zunino has a career .193 batting average in 1055 plate appearances. This simply isn’t going to cut it. Adding another catcher to the roster in the same vein as the Wellington Castillo transaction.

In addition to a catcher, Seattle needs a leadoff hitter. Ketel Marte performed atop the order, hitting .283 and stealing eight bases in 57 games. However, the team may find easier to find an outfielder who hits atop the order. Mariners’ center and left fielders both were below league-average in terms of wins above average. Seattle left fielders were worth -0.2 wins below average while centerfielders were worth -1.3 wins below average. Only four teams had worse production from their centerfield groupings, so perhaps someone like Denard Span, Dexter Fowler, or even Rajai Davis, could make sense.

(RELATED: Analyzing Jerry Dipoto’s Top 14 Career Trades).

The M’s could use stand to score more runs. Only six teams scored fewer runs in the league. Another bat would certainly make sense. Mark Trumbo showed flashes of the talent he showed in Anaheim, but only managed to hit .248 against right-handed pitching. Logan Morrison was supposed to fill that role, but he hasn’t hit much either (.241 against righties, .190 against lefties). Justin Morneau could hit free agency and would be a fit. The former Minnesota Twin hit .316 with an .850 OPS in 184 games for the Rockies over the past two years. He’d be a great fit alongside Trumbo, especially considering he’s a career .297 hitter in over 4,000 (4,169) plate appearances against right handed pitching.

Last but not least, Dipoto must fix the bullpen. Generally a strength for Seattle, this year’s bullpen was often an eye soar.

Going back to the “Wins Above Average by Position” leaderboards, the M’s relievers finished fourth-worst in the league. The relievers were worth -3.4 wins below average. The group may get better simply by subtraction. Fernando Rodney has already departed while a number of ineffective relievers could, and should, be jettisoned.

A number of quality relievers (Tyler Clippard, Joakim Soria and Darren O’Day, just to name a few) could hit the free agent market, so Seattle will have its pick should the team chose to spend. Additionally, effective relief pitchers are found on the waiver wire every month, so there’s plenty of options for Dipoto to fix the bullpen.

New M’s general manager Jerry Dipoto has his work cut out for him, but he’s shown he can make shrewd trades. Seattle has a number of issues, but if Dipoto can fix them, the team has a chance.

New Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto’s Major Trade History and Grades

Unlike his predecessor, new Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has previous experience as a top decision-maker (for lack of a better term) in a major league front office.

Dipoto presided over the Arizona Diamondbacks for a short spell as the Snakes went through a transition period. The GM shipped off a number of key players.

Following his stint in the desert, Dipoto took over as the general manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

However, before we get to the spending and all-in moves made by Dipoto in Anaheim, his tenure in Arizona must be properly gone over with a fine-tooth comb—at least in terms of his trades.

Dipoto made a few major trades in Arizona. The most prominent of which occurred on July 25th, 2010 when he dealt Dan Haren to the Angels for Tyler Skaggs, Rafael Rodriguez, Joe Saunders and Patrick Corbin.

Haren was generally pretty outstanding in a Diamondbacks’ jersey. He earned All-Star nods in 2008 and 2009 while finishing fifth in the Cy Young voting in ’09. Over the two seasons he went 30-18 with a sparkling 3.23 ERA and 429 strikeouts in 445.1 innings pitched. His FIP was an even more outstanding 3.12. Haren led the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio in both 2008 and 2009.

The 2010 season was different for Haren. He went 7-8 with a 4.60 ERA in 21 starts. His FIP was a still-respectable 3.88, but it was clear his numbers were nowhere near his usual best. So with the Diamondbacks struggling, Dipoto sent Haren packing to his future employers in Anaheim.

The Haren trade was actually sneaky-good, in retrospect, for the Diamondbacks. Despite the ace posting an impressive 13.2 WAR in two-and-a-half seasons in the desert, he was traded. Haren was essentially dealt for three starting pitcher (Rodriguez threw 2.2 innings for the D-Backs and hasn’t seen the Majors since).

The first pitcher, Skaggs, posted a 5.43 ERA in 13 career starts for the Diamondbacks. The young pitcher was never quite able to put it together in Arizona. Dipoto later acquired Skaggs during his tenure in Anaheim. Skaggs and Adam Eaton to the Angels and White Sox respectively for Mark Trumbo (who strangely enough, was just dealt to Seattle a few months ago).

Saunders was extremely dependable as a member of Arizona’s rotation. He posted a 3.96 ERA in 424.2 innings for the D-Backs, serving as an innings eater. He only won 21 games in three seasons with Arizona, but was worth a 2.1 WAR.

Last-but-not-least, Patrick Corbin is the centerpiece of the deal. The starting pitcher has won 26 games in his three seasons with Arizona. He made the All Star team in 2013 and posted a 14-8 record with a 3.41 ERA and 178 strikeouts in 208.1 innings pitched. He missed 2014, but came back to post a 3.60 ERA in 16 starts this season. The 26-year-old is clearly one to build around for the D-Backs.

Haren never posted the brilliant stats he did in Arizona after leaving the desert. The fact that Dipoto received three major league starters for Haren, including an All Star and frontline starter in Corbin, makes the trade a win for him. Dealing an ace is never easy, but when you acquire three big-league starters, it’s looked at as a win—especially when one of the three has the potential to be a front-line starter for the foreseeable future.

Trade Grade: A

Five days after that Dipoto sent Edwin Jackson to the Chicago White Sox for David Holmberg and Daniel Hudson. Continue reading

Seattle Sounders: New Lineup Hopefully a Sign of Good Things to Come

It’s safe to say things haven’t gone exactly as planned this season for the Seattle Sounders.

The Sounders sit sixth in the Western Conference with 35 points. They trail fifth place FC Dallas by three points and are eight behind the first place LA Galaxy.

Much of the team’s current place in the standings has to do with a recent slide that saw the team lose seven of eight games, claiming only three points out of a possible 24. The Sounders recently broke out of that slump in a big way thanks to an Obafemi Martinsfueled 4-0 home win Sunday versus Orlando City SC.

During the game, fellow new additions Nelson Valdez, Erik Friberg and Roman Torres also shined. The relatively new Thomas also showed well. Valdez added a goal of his own on a perfectly executed set-piece while Torres played solid defense at the back while also setting up Thomas’ goal with a deftly-played long ball. Not to be outdone, Friberg handed out an assist and won Man of the Match honors (at least according to WhoScored).

The additions of Valdez, Friberg, Torres and Thomas (likely) bring an end to a busy stretch for the Sounders. The team experienced quite a bit of turnover after last season’s triumphs. DeAndre Yedlin, Jalil Anibaba, Djimi Traore, Kenny Cooper, Josh Ford and Marcus Hahnemann were among the team’s more notable departures. Indirectly replacing them in the first team are not only the aforementioned quartet, but also Tyrone Mears, Cristian Roldan, Troy Perkins and fellow new arrival (though he didn’t play against Orlando) Andreas Ivanschitz. Younger players Oniel Fisher, Darwin Jones and Andy Craven were also added.

What has been crucial (at least when you consider the future) is that the team was able to keep its core together while also adding pieces that may end up being members of that core moving forward. This meant keeping the band (i.e. Martins, Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, Stefan Frei and Osvaldo Alonso) together. Going on Sunday’s result alone, it would seem that Valdez, Friberg and Torres are all going to have large parts to play in Seattle’s success. Ivanschitz could also join that group. After all, you aren’t dubbed the Austrian David Beckham for nothing.

The Sounders will be hoping that this newly formed team will be able to go places and achieve things (cough…MLS Cup…cough) that no other Sounders incarnation has. With all the talent assembled, its safe to say the fans will be doing a great deal of hoping as well.

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Seahawks vs Broncos Recap: Youngsters Show Potential in Loss

In a game that saw the Seattle Seahawks suiting up without stars/impact performers Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Marshawn Lynch and very little of Russell Wilson, Jimmy Graham and the rest of the starters, the Hawks’ youngsters showed well.

Rookies Step Up

Tyler Lockett showed exactly why the Seahawks used a third-round pick on him. The receiver was electric on kick-returns, racking up 186 yards on the day, including a 103-yard touchdown return. He also added 18 yards on a punt return while displaying the speed and elusiveness that will make him such a vital part of the Seahawks’ receiving corps not only this season, but for years to come.

In addition to Lockett, fellow high draft pick Frank Clark (2nd round-pick) looked sharp up along the defensive line. Clark accumulated a team-high nine tackles, while constantly causing problems along the line. At the very least, he’ll be part of the rotation, if not playing a bigger role as the season progresses.

Thomas Rawls wasn’t drafted, but had almost as much an impact as Lockett and Clark. The running back brought a physicality to the running game that reaffirms the Seahawks preference for hard runners. Rawls scored on a 19-yard reception while also adding 31 yards on nine carries.

Pete Carroll’s Referee Collision Course

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than a video is worth significantly more.

Versatility, Versatility, Versatility

The Seahawks coaches are famous for their experimentation with players’ positions. J.R. Sweezy switched from defensive line to offensive line, and now it seems that B.J. Daniels is making the switch. The now-former quarterback is transitioning to wide receiver/offensive weapon. Daniels caught two passes for 15 yards and returned a pair of punts for 50 yards, including a long return of 35 yards. In addition to his offensive contributions he also contributed a tackle on special teams.

While not playing another position, Rod Smith showed an ability to contribute in both the running and passing game. Smith ran for 18 yards on two carries and hauled in four catches for an additional 29 yards. He’s got an uphill battle with both Rawls and Christine Michael also in the mix for backfield roster spots, but running backs who are receiving threats carry a certain usefulness on rosters. Smith’s definitely got a chance to make the Hawks’ final roster, if not the practice squad.

Players the Seattle Mariners Could Move at the MLB Trade Deadline

The Seattle Mariners came into the season with a realistic chance at contending. They added Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith to an offense that already features Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager. The team also brought back many of the same standout pitchers that helped propel the team on the mound.

Things haven’t gone as planned.

Only the white-flag waiving Oakland Athletics sit below Seattle in the American League West, so it may be time for the team to trade some pieces.

The team isn’t going into full rebuild mode, but rather “reload” mode. Expiring contracts who aren’t likely to stick around are some of the more likely players to be dealt. Consistently underperforming players should be shopped as well. In other words, Felix Hernandez, Cano and the rest of the team’s core aren’t going anywhere.

Here are some of the players who could be traded.

Logan Morrison, 1B

First base is a power position—or rather, players with a significant of power/run-driving in ability play there. Presenting Logan Morrison, a first baseman with only 12 home runs and a paltry .222 batting average and a .665 OPS.

Seattle should be selling teams on Morrison being a quality bench bat, because he hasn’t worked so far as a Mariner. The former Miami Marlin owns a .242 batting average and 23 home runs in 193 games with the M’s. That’s simply not cutting it, especially for a team in need of offensive-minded players.

Austin Jackson, CF

This one is tough. Jackson has the potential to be an impact offensive player, as well as a plus defender, but like Morrison he hasn’t hit in Seattle. Throw in his impending free agent status at the end of the season and you have two prime reasons to deal the former Detroit Tiger.

The M’s did well to acquire Jackson for Nick Franklin, but the centerfielder has struggled in the Emerald City. He entered Seattle as a career .277 hitter. This has translated to a disappointing .243 batting average and .598 OPS with the M’s.

He’s likely going to cost a good deal of money, so Seattle would be best off trading him for a good (but probably not great) return, and invest in another centerfielder in free agency.

J.A. Happ, Hisashi Iwakuma SP

Another impending free agent, J.A. Happ has been solid for the Mariners this season. He owns a quality 3.77 FIP (second lowest to Felix on the team) and has been a stabling presence in the rotation.

Iwakuma, on the other hand, hasn’t posted the numbers that saw him net Cy Young and MVP votes in 2013. He hasn’t posted the numbers that helped him win 15 games and post a sub-4 ERA/FIP (3.52, 3.25) last season.

Still, Seattle needs to make room in the rotation. Felix is an obvious lock and Taijuan Walker, Mike Montgomery, James Paxton and Roenis Elias aren’t going to fit into three spots. As it stands, the team’s rotation in four years is going to be Felix and the previously mentioned four. It’s plausible to keep Iwakuma around for another year or two, but he would bring much more in a trade than Happ given his track record. Seattle should be actively shopping Happ, while listening on Iwakuma.

Fernando Rodney, RP

This one is obvious. Rodney has been abysmal out of the bullpen for the Mariners, and dealing him will free up more innings for relievers like Vidal Nuno and Tom Wilhelmsen. Rodney is a free agent at season’s end, so the team should trade him for whatever they can get. Carson Smith, Mark Lowe, Joe Beimel and a soon-to-be-healthy Charlie Furbish leave the team with enough quality relievers so that Rodney wouldn’t be missed.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.