Sunday, December 7, 2008

Signs that winter is coming

---The days get shorter and colder. (Boo to 4:00 sunsets)

---Christmas music blares from retail stores, to the point where a day doesn't go by without one becoming subjugated to the wonderful, artistic majesty of Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."

---Hollywood starts releasing less crappy movies.

---For four days in December, general managers and agents from all walks of life in baseball convene in a crowded hotel lobby to discuss trades, sign free agents, and get sloshed on cheap cocktails.

Yes, the Winter Meetings are mere hours away, and your humble author will be here at "Rime" each day, covering the latest moves/rumor-mongering. I don't expect the Mariners to be in play for any of the A-list free agents...for that matter, I really don't know what to expect from the Mariners. Jack Zduriencik hasn't tipped his hand either way on whether he wants to blow up the team and write off the next 2-3 years entirely, or retool for '09 in preparation for a possible run in '10.

Anxiety. That about sums up the general feeling I have towards the next three-and-a-half days. Anxious about the possibility of shopping Beltre or Putz. Anxious about the upcoming Rule 5 draftees. Anxious to see which agent/GM will inevitably end up drinking too much egg nog spiked with rum and say things he will later regret.

More than anxiety, though, are two things I have not felt about the Mariners in a long, long time: faith and hope. Faith that, whatever may come, Zduriencik has a clear plan and vision. Hope that he improves the team, even if it means saying goodbye to some of my favorite players. Faith that, at the end of this winter, the team will be in a better position than it was at the beginning. Hope that Z-man will put Seattle back on the baseball map. Faith that he will.

Harvey Dent once said, "the night is darkest just before the dawn." 2008 was the darkest part of the night in Mariner-land, but Zduriencik and his forward-thinking crew have brought us a new dawn. Even as the sun outside becomes a rarer and rarer sight with each passing day (seriously, boo to 4:00 sunsets), brighter days are ahead for baseball.

Go Z-man. Go Mariners. Don't let us down.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Russell Branyan--new Mariner

Per Geoff Baker. No word on the financial terms, but I can almost guarantee it's a one-year deal.

Branyan is your prototypical feast-or-famine slugger. He can mash the ball, but his strikeout rates are almost Jack Cust-esque. Still, the left-handed power potential is there, and he'll be a massive improvement over the three-ring circus of Sexon, Cairo and LaHair at 1B. Plus, he can play a little 3B in a pinch. He can't hit lefties to save his life, so there will have to be some kind of platoon at 1B/DH.

I like this move a lot. Branyan is obviously not in the team's future plans, but he's the perfect one-year stopgap--someone who can give decent production for next-to-nothing while the team searches for a long-term answer. As Zduriencik's first on-the-field move this winter, this gets a solid nod of approval from me.

UPDATE: ESPN is saying one year, $1.4 million with performance incentives, which is around the amount I was expecting. There is almost no downside to this move at all.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ibanez offered arbitration

We all knew this was coming, but Larry LaRue makes it official: Raul Ibanez has been offered arbitration by the Mariners. As we all know, this should be the most obvious move, but given the Jose Guillen disaster last year, some may have been holding their breath. It's nice to know we now have a front office group who can actually tie their shoelaces together without tripping down the stairs.

This is pretty much a win-win for the M's. If Ibanez accepts---extremely unlikely, given that several teams are interested in giving him a multi-year deal--the team can sit him at DH and have a decently good bat for one not-too-expensive year. If he declines, they get two Type A draft picks, and we know how much Zduriencik loves drafts.

From a personal perspective, I'll miss Ibanez---his cool goatee, the "RAUUUUUUULLL" chants at Safeco, even his comic mishaps in the outfield were endearing in their own way---but from a baseball perspective, this move makes too much sense. Godspeed, Raul.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I hate Carlos Silva and I hope he gets ass cancer

Not that you didn't already know that.

Larry LaRue has the "big" story on Silva, as the man seemingly gained close to 30 pounds over the course of the season.

Let that sink in for a moment. A baseball player, spending upwards of six months playing almost daily in a grueling schedule, somehow managed to gain 30 pounds.

How bad was El Gordo this year? Let me count the ways:

--5.92 tRA, good for 16th-worst in the league.

--blamed his shitty pitching on injuries and bad defense (the latter part is actually somewhat true, what with Yuni air-mailing throws into the stands, but still.)

--threatened to throw teammates into the wall, which is exactly the quality you want in a clubhouse leader, because real leaders scream and cuss and threaten teammates with physical violence.

--gained nearly 30 pounds.

And the best part of all this? He's still owed $36 million over the next three years. Bill Bavasi, this is your legacy.

Bring me Solo and the Wookie! They will all pay for this outrage!

More moving and shaking

Geoff Baker has some bits and pieces worth looking into, as Zduriencik and Wakamatsu continue to shape the coaching staff. Mel Stottlemyre is out as pitching coach (yay!), and Dom Chiti is, reportedly, in. Like most of the other new hires, I know nothing of the guy. Norm Charlton is also out as bullpen coach (yay!).

It's been a pretty slow news cycle in the past few weeks, and I haven't been as regular in my posting as I'd like to be. Nonetheless, things should start picking up once the winter meetings and Rule 5 Draft begin in a couple weeks. I'll also be unveiling my own "Top 10 Sports Stories of 2008" series soon. Look for it around mid-December.

In the meantime, have a happy Thanksgiving, and enjoy my random video of the day:

Saturday, November 22, 2008


P.J. Carlesimo, coach of the Artist Formerly Known As The Seattle SuperSonics, has been given the pink slip after an atrocious 1-12 start (via ESPN.)

I haven't been following any basketball ever since The Debacle That Shall Remain Nameless Here, but found this amusing nonetheless.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Larry Stone on Life, the Universe, and Everything

Larry Stone is one of my favorite local writers, and his recent article on ESPN has some good stuff. It mostly confirms the new change in direction that Zduriencik is making, and conveys well the feeling of hope that many fans, myself included, share.

Seattle Mariners put their new hope in leadership

New name

It goes without saying that I never was satisfied with my original name for this blog, being something that I came up with on a whim at three in the morning after too much coffee and cigarettes. But thanks to the input of the fabulous miscreants of the Oscar Gamble League, this blog is hereby christened "Rime of the Anguished Mariner", a not-so-subtle reference to the famous poem. Hat tips to Onur and Tyler for the suggestions.

I welcome our new anguished overlords.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wakamatsu named new manager

After whittling the list of managerial candidates down to seven, most of them unknowns with no major-leauge managing experience, the Mariners today announced Don Wakamatsu as their new field general, thus continuing the recent tradition of bringing in guys with unspellable names.

Wakamatsu formerly served as bench coach of the A's and is generally known as a quiet, mild-mannered man, the type of personality that players tend to gravitate towards more nowadays. There's not a whole lot more out there on the guy, other than various snippets about how he likes to thoroughly prepare himself before every series--touring the stadium on road trips, scouting the opposing pitchers, etc. Sounds like basic stuff, but it's a nice change of pace from the McLaren-type "well, we're just going to play good baseball and see what happens" drivel.

Overall, another solid move by Zduriencik, who in recent weeks has quickly allayed fears that the front office changes will be just another "meet the old boss, same as the old boss" situation. He clearly has a plan and a vision, and slowly-but-surely that plan is starting to come into focus. I greatly look forward to seeing what changes he will eventually make on the field, because the off-field moves have been greatly encouraging so far.

Welcome to Seattle, Wakamatsu. If Jarrod Washburn asks you for a personal catcher, don't be afraid to tell him to piss off.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A sad day for the sports blogosphere

"Fire Joe Morgan", one of my personal favorite blogs, has closed up shop.

FJM gained fame (and notoriety) over the years with its critiques, criticisms and downright bitch-slappings of poorly written sports articles. Bill Plaschke, Jon Heyman, Steve Phillips, Colin Cowherd, Tim McCarver and, of course, the titular Joe Morgan were among the site's favorite whipping boys. But what really separated this blog from other run-of-the-mill "fire ____" sites was the hilarious and razor-sharp wit of Ken Tremendous, who in real life is known as Micharl Schur, one of the comic geniuses behind the American version of "The Office." I humbly present this as one of his greatest articles.

FJM will be sorely missed, but we'll always have the memories. And the food metaphors.