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

3 Stats from the Seattle Mariners 4-1 Loss Versus the Kansas City Royals

  • Two

The number of hits by the Mariners. Austin Jackson and Robinson Cano were the only M’s with hits. This offensive output simply isn’t going to cut it, even against minor league opposition, much less Major League opposition.

  • Nine

The number of hits allowed by Seattle ace Felix Hernandez. King Felix threw 6.2 innings and allowed nine hits, four runs (all earned) and a walk. He struck out five.

  • 13

The number of strikeouts by Seattle hitters. Again, not going to cut it, especially when you only have one walk and two hits.

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3 Stats from the Seattle Mariners 7-2 Loss vs the New York Yankees

  • One

The number of hits by Mariners first baseman Logan Morrison in four at-bats. The Former Marlin also added a strikeout. In a surprising move, he hit leadoff.

  • Seven

The number of runs allowed by Felix Hernandez in 4.2 innings pitched. King Felix suffered only his second loss of the season, also allowing six hits, five walks and a home run. He only struck out four.

  • Zero

The number of runs allowed by the M’s after Felix exited. Mayckol Guaipe and Dominic Leone pitched a combined 4.1 innings, allowing one hit while striking out four.

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On this Date in 1979: The Seattle SuperSonics Won the NBA Finals

On this day back in 1979, the Seattle SuperSonics won the NBA Finals, defeating the Washington Bullets in five games after losing to the Bullets in the previous year’s finals. It represents one of three major sport titles in Seattle history, the others being the 1917 Stanley Cup (captured by the Seattle Metropolitans, the first American team to do so) and the Seahawks’ recent Super Bowl win. Dennis Johnson won Finals MVP.

Here’s hoping Seattle gets another NBA Championship.

Bring them back indeed!

5 Stats from the Seattle Mariners 6-3 Loss to the Cleveland Indians

  • Five

The number of hits by the Mariners in 12 innings. The M’s were lucky the game lasted as long as it did as Cleveland accumulated 18 hits and 25 baserunners total. Seattle had only five hits in 40 plate appearances.

  • Seven

The number of relievers used by Seattle after five solid innings from J.A. Happ. Tom Wilhelmsen, Charlie Furbush, Carson Smith, Joe Beimel, Fernando Rodney, Mark Lowe and Dominic Leone all recorded outs in relief.

  • Three

The number of Mariners to reach base more than once. Nelson Cruz and his eyebrows had a hit and a walk, as did Logan Morrison. Kyle Seager drew two walks to round out the trio.

  • 17

The number of pitches seen by leftfielder Justin Ruggiano. He struck out three times in three at-bats.

  • 11

The number of strikeouts by the M’s as a team. Of the 13 Mariners batters to register an at-bat, Wellington Castillo, Richie Weeks, Willie Bloomquist and Dustin Ackley were the only Seattle hitters not to strikeout. Weeks and Bloomquist went a combined 0-for-2 and saw a total of four pitches.

This article also appeared on Kingdome of Seattle Sports.com. Check out Kingdome for more on Seattle Sports. 

Why We Love Seattle: Mariners Fans Chant “Brady Cheated” During Mariners/Red Sox Game