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Preview of the 2018 Seattle Mariners – The Infield

USA Today

Preview of the 2018 Seattle Mariners – The Infield


As pitchers and catchers assemble in Peoria, Arizona with position players not far behind, it’s time to start thinking about baseball. Barring any last minute free-agent signings, the Seattle Mariners lineup is pretty much set for the 2018 season. Barring injuries, the following players will be in the infield for the Mariners for the majority of innings this season. Let’s take a look at what to expect in 2018.

Catcher – Mike Zunino

Two years removed from a horrendous 2015 season in which he hit .174/.230/.300, Mike Zunino has settled in behind the plate for the Seattle Mariners, posting a solid 3.6 fWAR while hitting .251/.331/.509 with 25 home runs. While Zunino still strikes out a ton – 36.8% last season – he makes up for it with solid defense behind the plate – ranked 13th in fielding runs by Baseball Prospectus – and is recognized by his peers for handling pitchers well.

This season he is projected by Steamer to hit .224/.298/.450 with 25 HR while catching around 110 games and adding roughly 2.5 WAR to the lineup. Zunino will turn 27 before opening day and agreed to a contract in arbitration for this year of $2.975MM. Barring injuries or any unexpected regressions, the M’s should be above average behind the dish.

First Base – Ryon Healy*

The majority of the plate appearances at first base should be by off-season acquisition, Ryon Healy. Healy, who came over from the Oakland Athletics in November, primarily played third but has played first as well. He is a big guy. Listed at 6’5”, 223, Healy hit .271/.302/.451 with 25 HR in 605 PA for the A’s last season. In a very small sample size, Healy seemed to be about league average defensively at 1B with one defensive run saved in 307.1 innings. At his size, he was expectedly below average at 3B, so the switch to 1B may generate more WAR for the Mariners than Healy did for the A’s last season, that being 0.2.

Ideally, it would be nice if Healy walked more – just 3.8% of the time last season for the A’s – which would improve his below average OBP of .302. Perhaps the M’s emphasis on “controlling the zone” could pay dividends this Spring. Steamer projects Healy to hit .259/.297/.430 with 16 HR and 0.1 WAR in 110 games. Depth Charts projections are a bit more bullish on Healy’s playing time at 140 games, but the same slash line of .259/.297/.430, albeit with 21 HR and 0.3 WAR.

However, many scouts have noted that Healy changed his mechanics in 2017 and that the power on display last year is legit, thus discounting many of the projection systems that predict major regression.

Playing on a pre-arbitration eligible contract in 2018 at age 26, Healy could either be a big surprise for the Mariners at 1B or the decided weak link in an otherwise top infield.

Second Base – Robinson Cano

In 2017, the fourth year of his ten year $240MM contract, at age 34, Robinson Cano remained productive at second base. Ranked ninth in the majors for the position in fWAR at 3.2, Cano hit .280/.338/.453 with 23 HR. His hitting and average defense – exactly zero DRS last season – made Cano one of only three Mariners hitters with 3 or more WAR. The other two being Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager.

For his age 35 season, Steamer projects Cano to put up a stat line very similar to last season – .282/.339/.470 with 25 HR, a weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 116, roughly 16% better than league average, and a 3.1 WAR.

However, despite the above average numbers at his position, Cano is no longer one of the premiere hitters in the game. The 2017 campaign saw Cano post the second lowest wRC+ of his career. (The lowest of 86 came in 2008 with the New York Yankees was fueled by a .151 BA in April and speculation that he may have been injured and/or feeling the pressure of a new contract extension.) He also posted the third lowest WAR of his career, the others being that very same 2008 season and his second season with the Mariners when he battled an abdomen injury much of the season.

It’s interesting and possibly alarming that one of the most recent comps for a hitter of Cano’s profile, according to Baseball Reference, is former Texas Ranger 3B, SS, and 2B Michael Young. Young fell off precipitously at age 35, losing nearly seventy points off his lifetime SLG, dipping below .400, and retiring after his age 36 season. Cano isn’t going to retire with four or five years left on his contract, but then maybe the severity of Young’s drop off isn’t in the cards either, but a drop off is coming. But, for 2017, Cano should continue to be one of the best 2B in the league.

Shortstop – Jean Segura

In his first season with the Mariners, Jean Segura, acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Taijuan Walker deal, produced 2.9 fWAR at shortstop. While that contribution fell short of what will more than likely end up being his career best 5.0 fWAR from the season before in the desert, last season’s contribution in the middle infield was a major upgrade in the Emerald City.

Segura hit .300/.349/.427 with 80 runs and 22 SB. The 20 HR from the 2016 campaign in Arizona was probably an outlier, but he still managed 11 dingers in a shortened season of 125 games due to early injuries.

This season, Steamer projects Segura to hit .275/.323/.404, which seems a bit conservative given the previous two seasons of over 1200 plate appearances. Segura clearly changed his approach in 2016 and projections trending more back to the light hitter of pre-2016 seem out of whack. With the launch angle and exit velocity revolution of the past few seasons, it’s reasonable to accept up-ticks in contact and power as more legit than in the past. Even with the conservative projection, the 2.0 WAR at SS will ensure the Mariners have one of the more productive middle infields in baseball.

Third Base – Kyle Seager

It’s funny how four years after signing Kyle Seager to a seven year $100MM deal that seven-year deals seem a thing of the past but $14.3MM per year seems like a bargain. Entering his thirties, Kyle Seager has been eclipsed by his younger brother, Corey Seager, in Los Angeles, but remains a solid fixture at the hot corner.

In 2017, Seager struggled at the plate, hitting a career low .248, with his second lowest OBP of .323, and a .450 slugging percentage that reversed a three year upward trend. Still his 3.5 fWAR ranked third in the AL and 8th in all of baseball at third base.

While a return to 2016 form when Seager generated 5.5 fWAR and a 132 wRC+ would be welcome, Steamer does project a slight bounce back for Seager, predicting a slash line of .262/.338/.469 with 26 HR and a 116 wRC+, up 10 points from 2017. And, like his compatriots to the left of the diamond (or maybe the right in a shift), Seager is an average glove at third with 11 DRS in his 8,545.1 innings over seven seasons. Thus, third base finishes out what should be one of the better infields in baseball.

Infield Grade A-/B+

Definitely the strength of the 2018 Seattle Mariners lies with it’s infield play. While there are no plus defenders, the infield is solidly average with no serious liabilities. The upside over most major league rosters comes at the plate. In Zunino, Cano, Segura, and Seager, the Mariners could legitimately have four 3+ WAR players in the infield. The question mark is Healy at first. The projection models are skeptical, but we do seem to be in an era where approaches at the plate are changing with the advent of Trackcast and the identification of exit velocity and launch angles. Look for Healy to perhaps outplay his computer model projections and insure Seattle has all 2+ WAR players in the infield for 2018.

*Editor’s Note – Ryon Healy is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a bone spur in his right hand – ESPN

Portland Fighters Jake Smith And Tyree Fortune To Make Bellator Debuts Friday At Bellator 193


Portland Fighters Jake Smith And Tyree Fortune To Make Bellator Debuts Friday At Bellator 193


With Bellator 193 just two days away, a pair of Portland-based fighters are set to make their promotional debuts. Jake Smith and Tyree Fortune are two of the rising stars coming out of Gracie Barra Portland. Head coach Fabiano Scherner has turned the once small Jiu Jitsu school into a mixed martial arts powerhouse, with Smith and Fortune being two of the hottest prospects. After a successful promotional debut by their teammate, Cris “Sunshine” Williams, last month at Bellator 189, Smith and Fortune will look to keep the rising stars of Gracie Barra Portland undefeated in the Bellator cage. The pair will have their hands full for their debuts and neither has an easy road ahead. Let’s take a look at the matchups and discuss just what we can expect to see from the two of them this Friday.

Tyree “X-Man” Fortune vs. Michael “The Brown Tiger” Quintero  

This matchup seems to be rather favorable for Fortune. One half of the Fabulous Fighting Fortune brothers (Tyree’s twin brother, Tyrell, also fights for Bellator), Fortune has a very strong wrestling background. As a senior at Lakeridge High School in Lake Oswego, he was the state runner up in both Freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling. This is a problem for his opponent, Michael Quintero. Quintero is a very large light heavyweight who has not always shown great ability to stop the takedown. In many of his fights, his takedown defense was solely based on strength (of which he has plenty), and he allowed his opponents to win the positional battle. However, even out of position, he was able to use his strength to stay standing. This will not work against a wrestler the caliber of Fortune. Fortune’s takedowns are often paired with explosive striking and quick returns to the takedown attempt. These tools will make it difficult for his opponent to avoid the mat. Quintero does possess dangerous power and should Fortune leave himself exposed, it could end violently for the young prospect. Beyond that, Quintero is a very coachable athlete; he does an excellent job of listening to his corner and making adjustments. If he and Fortune end up in a stalemate, he may be able to turn the tables on Fortune if his corner can walk him through the position. Quintero has good straight punches and knees from the clinch but he his lack of speed will likely make both of these tools even more situational.

Prediction: Fortune takes it by 2nd round TKO

Jake “The Half Black Attack” Smith vs. Steve “Thunderbeast” Kozola

This fight is almost certain to bring fireworks. Both Smith and Kozola have a penchant for striking and knockout power to go along with it. Kozola has the edge in experience, having fought for Bellator four times already. He is 3-1 with the promotion but is coming off his first professional defeat. The loss showed a hole in Kozola’s game, as his opponent put him on the mat and kept him there throughout the fight. Smith would be wise to keep an eye open for the takedown but, like Kozola, his bread and butter is his striking so don’t expect to see him shoot in on Kozola too early. Kozola is a larger lightweight, so any size advantage Smith was looking for coming down from welterweight will not be there. Kozola brings good speed and accurate strikes when throwing in the pocket but has shown a lack of head movement and wild strikes coming in and backing out of exchanges. He will need to keep his strikes disciplined if he hopes to work his game effectively against Smith. Smith has very sharp striking and excellent head movement on his feet. Expect to see Smith try and use accurate counter strikes as Kozola comes in and heavy leg kicks when they are striking at a distance. Smith can at times over extend in exchanges if he is looking for the knockout; in the past, he has taken some unnecessary damage as a result. While Smith is known as a fighter who likes to stand and trade, my gut tells me he will look to exploit Kozola’s wrestling deficiency.

Prediction: Smith by unanimous decision   

This Card takes place this Friday on the all-new Paramount Network (Formerly Spike TV). Jake Smith is the first fight on the main card so be sure to set your DVR for the event. Tyree Fortune will be on the undercard, which will air live on Bellator.com

Bellator.com Prelims – 4:55pm PST

Bellator 193 Main Card, Paramount Network – 6:00pm PST

Will The Seattle Seahawks Pass The Torch On Sunday?


Will The Seattle Seahawks Pass The Torch On Sunday?


This is the game. There is no larger match up looming on the 8–5 Seattle Seahawks’ season. Sunday, Dec. 17 at 1:05 p.m. (CenturyLink Field), the Seahawks will host the 9–4 NFC West-leading Los Angeles Rams.

The Seahawks, division winners of four of the last seven seasons, find themselves one game behind the Sean McVay-led Rams in the NFC West standings for the first time in, well, forever*. The Seahawks have never been looking up at the Rams in mid-December in the entire Pete Carroll era. So this is new. The edge of tomorrow.

Too dramatic? Hardly. In fact, the Seahawks defensively passed the torch already this season — exactly where and when can be debated — but what cannot be debated is that they came up short compared to their defensive counterparts in the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday as they got pushed around by the upstart Jags. And lost their poise in the process. To wit:

Defensive bullies no more, the Seahawks are now forced to rely upon the fourth-quarter magic of Russell Wilsonand the offense. And yes, Wilson was called upon and delivered again in the fourth quarter last Sunday, with 14 points via two bombs to Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett in the last stanza, to losing effect.

The Seahawks could merely slow the second-half Jaguars, when they needed a stop. A disastrous, 21-points-allowed third quarter was the blue birds’ undoing.

Where are they?

The latest practice reports are more grim news, on top of the already well-known defensive personnel shortages: Linebackers Bobby Wagner (hamstring) and K.J. Wright (concussion) did not practice Thursday and are uncertain for Sunday’s game against the Rams. To compensate, the Seahawks added practice squadder Paul Dawson to the linebackers group.

Should Wagner’s and Wright’s absences linger, the defensive talent lost this season (Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Dion Jordan, Nazair Jones, among others) coulda woulda shoulda been a stout defense. A Seahawkian defense.

As of now, it’s a patchwork affair making the Seahawks’ offensive line a model of continuity by comparison.

This is not the look you want when the division leaders come to town with a score to settle. To contrast, the Rams are getting some key players healthy just in time for meeting the Seahawks at the Clink. McVay said that wide receiver Robert Woods and outside linebacker Connor Barwin are expected back in the lineup after missing time recently, and tackles Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein are expected to return after they had to leave last Sunday’s game against the Eagles.

This Sunday, it’s not “just a game.” Might as well call this one the crown game, here in week 15. This one is for the NFC West — and given the defensive turnover the Seahawks will endure in the offseason — maybe for the next few seasons to come.

But the Seahawks can win

Indeed, they can. The outlook could be quite rosy: Complete season sweep of Rams on Sunday, and they reclaim first place in NFC West with prospect of entering playoffs with the NFC’s best healthy quarterback. Lose, and the division is all-but lost and the Seahawks’ Wild Card prospects more grim than ever with tiebreaker disadvantages from several opponents.

This is the game.

* (Actually, the Seahawks were behind the Rams in the 2010 season up until the final game, when the Seahawks tied the Rams at 7–9 with a week 17 victory and took the NFL’s lamest division with a losing record.)

Glass Nabs Top Award In The CHL, Portland Winterhawks Gets Bladed


Glass Nabs Top Award In The CHL, Portland Winterhawks Gets Bladed


The road trip from Alberta ended with the Portland Winterhawks nabbing eleven of twelve points and provided a solid cushion atop the US Division standings and got them within nipping distance of the Moose Jaw Warriors for the overall lead as the Warriors played a few extra games to keep their now very slim lead.

As the Hawks approached home, there came word of Cody Glass receiving the CHL Player of the Month award. Glass, who had been drafted sixth overall in the 2017 NHL draft and signed shortly thereafter, amassed 26 points in 12 games including a 5-game point streak toward the end of November and recorded points in all 12 games played in November. He was announced as the CHL winner after capturing the WHL On the Run Player of the Week ending in November.

The Hawks, after battling a tough Central Swing tour of six games in nine nights, came home to start a whirlwind five game in nine night run with three games at home and two back to back away games. Portland would start it off at home with a game against the Saskatoon Blades, who had been winless in their US Division swing thus far. On the same night, the Hawks welcomed the Les Schwab Fox 12 Toy Drive as they looked to collect a number of toys for the drive ending in mid-December.

The best part of the night was the over 2,000 toys collected at the Moda Center which will go to a variety of local area charities for Christmas. Either Saskatoon was very good on this night, or Portland took them way too lightly. Shane Farkas made the start in net for Portland and held the Blades scoreless in the first period; the same could be said for Nolan Maier in the Saskatoon net. The second period appeared to be the undoing for the Hawks as a costly penalty to John Ludvig gave the Blades their only powerplay goal of the game and the only goal the Blades really needed.

Things got a bit rough for the Hawks as two scraps resulted in Portland’s top line scorers Sklyer McKenzie being off the ice for 17 minutes and Keiffer Bellows getting ejected from the game for a separate scrap. Without the two, the burden fell to other members of the Hawks, who despite a 48-42 shots on goal difference, couldn’t find the back of the net. Oddly, that would be the end of the penalties with the Blades going 1 for 2 and Portland unable to convert on their three chances. Saskatoon would add their second goal of the game late in the second period and add another late in the third to take a commanding lead. Portland tried to add strength up front as they pulled Farkas for the extra attacker with just under two minutes left in the game, but couldn’t convert and allowed Saskatoon an empty net goal with about thirty seconds left to close the scoring and hand the Hawks only their second shutout defeat of the season.

The Hawks will have no time to dwell on the loss as they hit the road for games Tuesday in Vancouver, BC and Wednesday in Everett before returning to Portland to play in order the same two teams Friday and Saturday. The Saturday game will be the annual Teddy Bear Toss where thousands of plush toys will hit the ice following Portland’s first goal. Once that game is over, the Hawks will play just three more games as they head to the Christmas break. They will feature a home and home series with the Spokane Chiefs and an away game versus the Everett Silvertips.

Rumble At The Roseland 95 And Submission Underground 6 Set For Weekend Doubleheader


Rumble At The Roseland 95 And Submission Underground 6 Set For Weekend Doubleheader


The weekend is fast approaching and your holiday hangover is nearly cleared up. What’s left to do? Get ready for a weekend full of live mixed martial arts and aggressive submission grappling, that’s what! Rumble at the Roseland 95 and Submission Underground 6 (SUG) will be taking place at the Roseland Theater this Saturday and Sunday. With SUG coming back to the Roseland that means not only will fans have some of the best amateur fighters on the west coast they can watch, but some of the best MMA fighters in the world as well.

For a mixed martial arts fan attending this weekend’s shows, it is truly a unique and inviting experience. These back-to-back events allow you up close access to the fighters of the future and a chance to meet and talk to current UFC stars and even former UFC champions. Between the two events there are 42 matchups (that is not a typo there really are 42 total matchups) for the fans to get excited about so let’s take a closer look at a few that could be especially interesting.

Rumble a the Roseland 95

Sean Kalinoski vs Keaneo Moyer

Saturday night’s main event for the 125-pound title is certainly the fight most people are talking about. Keaneo “Young Gunz” Moyer is the most vocal champion in recent memory in the Full Contact Fighting Federation (FCFF) and he has been just as loud inside the cage as out. While “Young Gunz” has been dominant in the FCFF cage, he hasn’t done it without controversy. His contentious relationship with former FCFF champion Cris “Sunshine” Williams has certainly helped Moyer look the part of the bad guy in some circles. Love him or hate him, he is a captivating champion with finishing power, rare speed, and great confidence. On Saturday, Moyer will be facing his toughest test to date as he steps into the cage against Sean Kalinoski. Kalinoski has nearly three times the experience in the cage as Moyer and has more than twice as many wins. Beyond that, Kalinoski is a natural bantamweight with the height and length to give most flyweights trouble. He has a big advantage on the ground and will be where he looks to take the fight. This should be a great headlining bout.

Chance Marsteiner vs DJ Nuttall

This matchup is likely the last amateur fight for local fighter and standout prospect, DJ Nuttall. Nuttall has become one of the top amateur prospects on the west coast and with this lightweight title fight being his last as an amateur, it is one that fans of the Oregon fight scene won’t want to miss. Nuttall is the heavy favorite here; his top game is strong and his submissions have proven to be the real deal. His opponent, Chance Marsteiner, had suffered two losses in a row prior to a big head kick-TKO victory at Rumble at the Roseland 94. With the highlight reel finish fresh in his mind, expect him to come into the fight looking to build on that moment and a victory over the highly touted Nuttall would be a huge feather in his cap.

Submission Underground

Tim Sylvia vs Fabiano Scherner

Former UFC heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia will be making his SUG debut on Sunday against Gracie Barra Portland head coach and one time SUG winner, Fabiano Scherner. Sylvia is a very interesting personality in the world of mixed martial arts. The once loved UFC Champion had a precipitous fall from grace and eventually found himself on the outside looking in. Even with a series of wins out the UFC, Sylvia was never able to find his way back to the top of the sport. While his fighting career has ended, he has become one of the brutally honest personalities in the world of MMA and his desire complete has clearly never waned. Many remember him as an aggressive striker but his love for the ground game has always been clear to those who were true fans of the former champ. Famously, he out-grappled submission expert Jeff Monson at UFC 65; he was looking for a submission the whole time. As far as submission expertise is concerned, Sylvia will be at a severe disadvantage against Scherner, but it will be incredibly exciting to see him inside the cage walls for the first time in years.

Vagner Rocha vs Jesse Taylor

Vagner Rocha is on a hell of a run in 2017. Rocha has two 2nd place finishes at the Eddie Bravo Invitational and became the first Combat Jiu Jitsu Champion earlier this month. Rocha has taken on some of the top grapplers in the country and has proven he is one of the best in the world. Fans will not want to miss the chance at seeing him live; he is aggressive, strong, and relentless on the mat. He will be going up against recent Ultimate Fighter winner, Jesse Taylor. Taylor has been a true comeback story on his run through The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption season. He took the longest road possible to make it to the UFC having once been removed from The Ultimate Fighter Finale and floundering out of the promotion after just one fight. However, with his life seemingly on track and winning TUF earlier this year, Taylor was flagged by USADA for a potential anti-doping violation. It would seem that this competition would serve as a way to keep competing while he continues to work with USADA and the UFC in making his first official return to the Octagon. All that aside, Taylor is a ferocious wrestler and his nearly 50-fight MMA career will give him a good bit of experience to fall back on when the cage door closes behind he and Rocha. With these two highly aggressive grapplers in the SUG cage, this match is sure to be one of the most physical of the night.

The Full Contact Fight Federation is feeling new all over again


The Full Contact Fight Federation is feeling new all over again


As the doors closed following Rumble at the Roseland 93 last Saturday at the Roseland Theater, one thing was clear: The Full Contact Fight Federation (FCFF) had delivered a near perfect show and the fighters loved it. Saturday night’s fight card was the first time in 13 events that the FCFF had a professional fight on the line up, the first time in 7 events that women squared off in the cage, and it was the first time they had ever held a post fight press conference to close the show. Individually these milestones don’t necessarily mean a lot but when the sum of all parts met at this event, it was truly inspiring. From start to finish, there was something different about the show on Saturday night.

The crowd seemed especially excitable. Fans of headliner Cris “Sunshine” Williams held up cardboard cutouts of the young fighter’s face adhered to popsicle sticks and cheered loudly as fight after fight ended without going to the score cards. Some of the region’s top amateur prospects were on the card so it is no wonder that 13 of 16 fights ended with a finish. The exciting fights definitely added to the exuberant nature of the crowd and in a place like the Roseland Theater, the energy makes the room come alive. If you have never been to a fight at the Roseland, you are missing out on an interesting experience. The close quarters make it feel as if you are sitting right on top of the cage and the better the fight card, the louder it gets, making a room of a few hundred feel like a few thousand in an instant.

Even with all the great fights that night, there was something electric in the air that was hard to put a finger on. However, as each fight was announced, it started to become clear. FCFF owner Kevin Keeney was truly in his element this night. As he introduced each fighter, donning his signature cowboy hat, his voice came alive more than usual. Keeney sold the show and the crowd loved it. His energy seemed to feed off the energy of the fighters and fans. By the end of the night, he had announced that the post fight press conference would be open to the public, giving the fighters another moment to shine in front of the packed house.

The fighters all seemed to enjoy the press conference experience, cracking jokes and basking in the spotlight. Fernando “FDOT” Alvarado seemed especially excited to get his hands on the microphone as he reversed roles to ask a question of his own,

“How you doing tonight Rose City?! You have a good time?! Make some noise if you had a good time! Give it up to Kevin Keeney, Kevin Keeney puts on a good show, man.”

Beyond that, there was some mouthy banter between Cris Williams and local up and comer Keaneo Moyer. Worlds apart in weight and experience, the two still can’t seem to get enough of jawing back and forth. Aside from that, respect was shown between most everyone on stage. The time to sell the fights had finished and this was a much looser room than the press conference the week prior. With Chael Sonnen off in the background soaking it all in and the packed bar cheering as their friends, teammates, and loved ones were asked questions it was clear that the team at the FCFF had found a way to dust off its coat and make one of the longest running MMA promotions in the country feel brand new all over again.

Kyle Lewis – Seattle Mariners’ lone rep. on mid-season Top 100 Prospects List

Kyle Lewis – Seattle Mariners’ lone rep. on mid-season Top 100 Prospects List


Personally, one of my favorite things about the Major League Baseball All-Star break is the aftermath that always includes an updated Top 100 Prospects List from MLBPipeline.com. This year was no different, as I was curious to see what Mariners – if any – would make the list, especially after trading No. 2 organizational prospect Tyler O’Neill to the St. Louis Cardinals last week.

Single-A Advanced outfielder Kyle Lewis came in at No. 47 overall as the lone representative for the Mariners on the prestigious list. O’Neill, meanwhile, slipped to No. 100 on the list after being ranked much higher during spring training.


It’s a small sample size due to a knee injury that set the 22-year old’s development back a bit this season, but in 19 at bats through six games for Modesto, he is showing both power and his ability to hit to contact. Lewis has a .368 batting average and three home runs with seven RBI.

Again, very small sample size, but that’s what Lewis has been up to so far this season for at least a somewhat competitive level of the minor leagues. He also played 11 games in the Arizona League, but analyzing Class-A Advanced is as low in the minors as I will go to evaluate a player’s major-league promise. If I start evaluating short-season, single-A players I apparently have nothing to do in my free time.

Anyways, the Mariners like Lewis. If he didn’t start the season injured, I would have expected him to be in Double-A by now, but I would assume that’s where he will begin 2018 with a projected major-league debut in 2019.

By then, the 24-year old outfielder will be ready to make an impact – assuming he doesn’t get traded at the deadline next year like O’Neill was this year.


The trade with the Cardinals for SP/RP Marco Gonzales was a bit of a head scratcher for me at least.  I know the Mariners need relief pitching and the 25-year old Gonzales gives you some flexibility with the ability to start as well. At least general manager Jerry Dipoto realized the trade for Miami Marlins pitcher David Phelps was NOT going to solve the bullpen issues independently (Unfortunately, that is old news at this point, so ranting about how much I dislike David Phelps wouldn’t be relevant.)

Anyways, I am guessing that the numbers O’Neill put up at Triple-A this year were underwhelming for the Seattle brass. It’s a pretty healthy sample size – 349 at-bats in 93 games for Tacoma, but the 22-year old hit only .244 in a hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He did add 19 home runs and 56 RBI with nine steals, and I’m not sure how he is defensively, but Dipoto must have seen a red flag somewhere.

I really don’t know, but I am trying to justify it for him.

Gonzales, meanwhile, has some major-league experience this year. It might be an experience he wants to forget though – lasting 3.1 innings, giving up five earned runs and three home run balls when he pitched for the Cardinals. At triple-A, however, he pitched well this year, going 6-4 in 11 starts with a 2.90 ERA for Memphis. In his one start for Tacoma, he went six innings and gave up three runs.

I get it that the Mariners need pitching depth and Gonzales can start or come out of the bullpen, I just don’t know if trading a power hitter who is three years younger for Gonzales was the best move. It will end up being one of those ‘wait and see’ trades, I guess. Until we see how it turns out, I am proceeding with skepticism.

Keep in mind the Cardinals system produces outfield talent so quickly, they resemble a Chinese manufacturing plant. This year alone, Tommy Pham, Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty and most recently Harrison Bader, who doubled and scored the walk-off run Tuesday night, have all come from the Cardinals minor-league system. There’s also former Cardinals outfielders Colby Rasmus and that Albert Pujols guy – who came up at as a third baseman but started his career in the outfield.

Tyler O’Neill will be next… I’m not saying Gonzales won’t be worth it – just saying O’Neill will be better.


Sorry, I got super distracted. I have been pretty hot about the O’Neill trade, so I needed to get that out of my system.

Anyways, Lewis will be a fun one to watch over the next two years in the minor leagues. The bottom line is he will need to stay healthy and will the knee injury hinder his speed at all? That could be a huge factor.

The former Golden Spikes award winner in 2016 was drafted 11th overall by the Mariners and immediately jumped to the top of their organizational top prospects list. The Golden Spikes Award is given to the top, amateur baseball player in the country, so winning it in 2016 is nothing to scoff at.

Lewis is the real deal (when healthy).

To put it into perspective, other recent winners of this prestigious award include Andrew Benintendi of the Red Sox (2015), A.J. Reed of Houston (2014) and highly-touted Brendan McKay out of Louisville in 2017.

Lewis a big presence at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. Since he’s only 22-years old he will likely fill out that frame and add some muscle. He can hit for power and he can hit for average.

The big question remains: How is the rebuilt ACL going to heal and will that set back his development further? We shall see.


The Mariners’ farm system is fairly weak – to be polite, making not only Kyle Lewis more valuable to the team than most No. 1 organizational prospects, but it also limits what kind of pitching additions the M’s can make before Monday’s trade deadline.

Taking the first two games against Boston has been refreshing and maybe Seattle can make a playoff push without landing a top-level, pitching talent.

Enjoy the rest of your week, readers. Go Mariners!

Michael “The Count” Bisping strength and speed workout

USA Today Sports Images

Michael “The Count” Bisping strength and speed workout


Michael “The Count” Bisping is a world-renowned MMA fighter. His workouts are legendary. He is also slated to do battle with Georges Saint-Pierre in the later part of 2017. Here is his strength and speed workout. Enjoy.

Trap bar jumps

5 sets of 3 reps

How to do it

Using a trap bar (substitute in a dumb-bell in each hand if your gym doesn’t have one) set up like you’re about to perform a deadlift. As you begin the lift, push the floor as hard as you can and explode upwards in a jump. Do not tuck in your knees: keep your legs straight and try to push away from the floor as much as possible. The weight should reach around thigh level. Reset after every rep.

Swiss bar bench presses with six chains

5 sets of 3 reps

How to do it

Set up for a bench press but using a Swiss bar, which allows a neutral grip (palms facing each other) and thus lowers strain on the shoulders. Each rep is performed as explosively as possible, then lowered slowly and under control. “We also add six chains to the bar, so the weight increases as Mike lifts,” says Keefe. “The initial load is about 50% of his one rep max.” The downside of this move is that fellow gym-goers may think you’re re-enacting medieval torture. If you don’t have a Swiss bar or chains just use a regular bar-bell.

Swiss bar bench presses with four chains

3 sets of 3 reps

How to do it

Perform the same move as the previous slide, but increase your load and decrease the chains to switch the focus to boosting maximal strength. Again, the chains and Swiss bar aren’t absolutely necessary – just use ‘em if you got ‘em.


3 sets of 3 reps plus 1 no-added-weight set

How to do it

Without any rest after your bench presses, start some chin-ups with added loading via the use of chains (or hold weights between your legs). Increase the weight every set. Scream in pain – then finish with a body-weight only set.

Prowler rope pull-ins and push-backs

3 sets of one rep

How to do it

Hand-over-hand rope pull in a Prowler for around 15 meters, then push it out on the low handles for approximately 5 meters. These guys have the right idea. “The focus is on upper-body work for the pulling phases then onto the legs for the pushing phase,” says Keefe. If you haven’t got access to a Prowler – or the space to push it around – substitute in a hardcore upper-body exercise and superset it with a taxing legs move.

Lateral raises with neck isolation

3 sets of 10 reps

How to do it

Taking no rest after the previous exercise, loop a resistance band around your forehead and attach it to a solid object. Pull back to create tension in your neck muscles. Then grab some dumb-bells and perform regular lateral raises (lift the dumb-bells from your side to shoulder height, keeping your arms straight at all times). Maintain tension in your neck musculature throughout.

Dragon flys

3 sets of 6-8 reps.

How to do it

Finish up with a Rocky favorite. Lie down on a bench and grab onto it with your hands behind your head. From here, kick your legs up into a vertical position and bring them down slowly with your feet first. Try not to touch the bench with your feet – just move up and down for the required number of reps.

Portland Winterhawks making the news in the offseason


Portland Winterhawks making the news in the offseason


With the loss in the second round of the 2017 WHL playoffs, the Portland Winterhawks went to work and have been keeping busy during the offseason. The Hawks saw overage captain from this past season, Keegan Iverson, sign an amateur tryout with the AHL Ontario Reign. The Reign, which is the farm team for the Los Angeles Kings, were impressed enough with Iverson to sign him to a regular contract for the 2017-18 season. The Hawks also saw assistant coach Oliver David, who had signed with the Hawks this past season from the Dubuque Fighting Saints where he was their assistant coach, make a deal with the Saints to return there, this time as their head coach.

The Hawks also saw a departure in the front office with Community Events Coordinator Lesley Dawson leaving the team after several successful seasons with the team. Coming in is Lesley Pfau, who is the current Director of Marketing for the Winterhawks as she takes on a larger portfolio.

The season for the Canadian Hockey League ended with the Memorial Cup. The Seattle Thunderbirds, who ended up winning the WHL Championship, had a very rough outing in the cup tournament, losing three straight games, with two being blowouts to end their season. The host team Windsor Spitfires ended up winning the Cup and once again bringing up concerns on how the cup favors host teams especially those which bow out early in the playoffs. Most would agree that the real trophy is their home league championship and that the Memorial Cup is more to be considered akin to an All-Star Game where the skill players play and those teams playing in it have loaded their teams with older players. Those teams which will dismantle the team the following year with so many overage players, lead into the “cycling system” with the team needing a couple of years to redevelop. The Portland Winterhawks have been the anomaly since 2011, with their teams not only situating well in the playoff race, but also competing close to the championship and an appearance in the Memorial Cup Tournament. The exception was the 2015-16 team which was swept in the first round of the playoffs.

Due to their strength in developing players, the Hawks have been courting those in university hockey and potential draft eligible players and landing a few. Recently, Kieffer Bellows left Boston University for the Hawks as a 19-year-old. Bellows, son of NHL great Brian Bellows, was drafted by the New York Islanders last year and the move is to strongly develop his stock. There may be others coming especially with the most recent NHL draft.

First off, four players from the current roster were picked by NHL teams. Cody Glass, projected to be a high first round selection, was selected by the new expansion team Las Vegas Golden Knights as the sixth overall selection. Later on in the first round, Henri Jokiharju who was looked at as a late first round selection by pundits, was selected at spot 29 by the Chicago Blackhawks, who had traded down the draft to get him. The sixth-round saw Brendan DeJong get called by the Columbus Blue Jackets at spot 166 and the Winnipeg Jets finished the Hawks selections with pick 198 and Skyler McKenzie.

The draft also saw a few players who were drafted in the CHL draft in previous years by the Winterhawks get drafted by NHL teams this year. Ryan Poehling (18) a Winterhawks list player, drafted by Montreal and Jake Oettinger (19) by Dallas in the first round and by the Winterhawks in the ninth round of the 2013 CHL draft have possibilities of being talked to about looking into the Winterhawks organization by their draft teams, Scott Reedy was picked by San Jose in the fourth round and Cole Guttman by Tampa Bay in the sixth round. Both Reedy and Guttman who are eighteen, have committed to their Universities for the coming season, Poeling and Oettinger ended their freshman years this season. It could be an interesting camp for the Hawks this season.

The NHL schedule has been released, meaning the WHL schedule isn’t far behind. Originally thought to be mid-June, the timeline looks to be within the next week. Teams have already leaked some details with season openers starting September 23 and 24. The preseason schedule has been released and the Hawks will once again play in the Everett Holiday Classic and the Tri-City tournament which start Labor Day weekend and conclude the following weekend. The Hawks have not announced any preseason games in Portland and have yet to announce the training camp location and dates, though a safe bet would be August 24 through 27 and with the success of last year’s run at the Memorial Coliseum, it’s a likelihood that this will continue. Space concerns at the Winterhawks skating center as well as safety issues with so many people wanting to go led the Hawks to moving the event to the Coliseum.

With the nice weather happening now, it must mean it’s time for the annual Winterhawks Golf Tournament. Monday, July 24 at The Reserve in Aloha will be the site of the one day charity fundraiser. Shotgun begins at 1:30 with check in one hour earlier.

Rates include a cart, on course refreshments and a dinner where Winterhawks GM/ Coach Mike Johnston will speak about the team and the charity which is the Knight Cancer Institute at OHSU. Contact Kyle Gustafson kyleg@winterhawks.com or Paul Doherty (503) 899-7203 or email hawksgolf@winterhawks.com for more information on this always highly anticipated event.

Bellator 180 Looking To Steal The Show This Summer


Bellator 180 Looking To Steal The Show This Summer


On June 24th at Madison Square Garden, Bellator MMA will make their return to pay-per-view (PPV) with Bellator 180: Sonnen vs Silva. This will be the first time the company has put a product on PPV since Scott Coker took over as president and they are certainly putting their best foot forward. The card boasts three title-fights along with a co-main and main-event that feature some of the most talked about fighters in the history of mixed marital arts. This fight card has the chance to be the best MMA PPV of the summer and it just so happens to have two of Oregon’s finest on the main card.  The full card is listed below:

Main Card — PPV

  • Light Heavyweight: Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva
  • Heavyweight: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione
  • Welterweight Title Fight: Douglas Lima(c) vs. Lorenz Larkin
  • Lightweight Title Fight: Michael Chandler (c) vs. Brent Primus
  • Lightweight: Aaron Pico vs. Zach Freeman

Preliminary Card — Spike TV

  • Light Heavyweight Title Fight: Phil Davis (c) vs. Ryan Bader
  • Featherweight: James Gallagher vs. Chinzo Machida
  • Welterweight: Neiman Gracie vs. Dave Marfone
  • Flyweight: Heather Hardy vs. Alice Yauger

Early On-line Prelims — Bellator.com

  • Welterweight: Ryan Couture vs. Haim Gozali
  • Lightweight: Jerome Mickle vs. Anthony Giacchina
  • Catchweight: John Salgado vs. Hugh McKenna
  • Cathweight: Matt Rizzo vs. Sergio da Silva
  • Lightweight: Nate Grebb vs. Bradley Desir

***As always, card subject to change

With 14 total fights there really is something for everyone on this card. Let’s break down what to watch for at Bellator 180.

Title Fights, Title Fights, Title Fights

There are three titles on the line at Bellator 180, and all three bring with them interesting matchups and fresh faces. First up, Ryan Bader will make his promotional debut for Bellator when he takes on Bellator light heavyweight champion Phil Davis. These two UFC cast offs are both 8-2 in their last 10 fights with Davis currently riding a 4-fight win streak and Bader having won his last 2. What makes this fight such an intriguing matchup is that these two have fought before and in fact Bader was the last man to hand Davis a loss. The fight was very close and won on a split decision. Davis will certainly be looking to wipe that loss off his record and Bader will be looking to make a huge splash in his promotional debut.

Next up, Michael Chandler will put his lightweight title on the line against Oregon’s own, Brent Primus. This fight is a huge step up for Primus and a major risk for Chandler. With Primus having so few fights, there isn’t nearly the footage available for Chandler to study while Primus has a good-sized library to watch on the champion. This fight pits the one time fresh face, Chandler, against the hot young upstart, Primus. This matchup really mirrors Chandler’s first title shot and could be the beginning of a new regime in the lightweight division. For more on this matchup, please see my recent article on this fight here.

Lastly, Douglas Lima will put his welterweight title up for grabs when he faces the recently signed Lorenz Larkin. Larkin comes to Bellator from the UFC riding a 3-fight win streak and looking more dominant than ever after dropping to welterweight from 185 lbs. His explosive striking and fast pace matches up perfectly with Lima, who has a very similar style. Lima has only lost twice in his last 18 fights and both were in championship bouts. In his last fight, Lima recaptured the welterweight title with an emphatic win over Andrey Koreshkov proving that he will not have problems facing larger welterweights like Larkin. This fight is going to be a barnburner and is my pick for fight of the night. Don’t blink this one might be quick.

Sonnen and Silva Finally Settle the Score

Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva have a beef that spans nearly a half a decade since the moment it was announced that they would coach opposite one another on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Some argue that this animosity on the show was fabricated; others say the editing made things look worse than it was in person. No matter how you slice it, there is video of Sonnen and Silva fighting on set during the filming of the show and since that time, people have wanted to see this fight. For Sonnen, this is a must win fight after losing his Bellator debut to Tito Ortiz. For Silva, this marks his return from a “lifetime” ban by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and his first chance at redemption. These two fighters are legends in the sport that hardcore fans adore. This fight is a must watch for the old school MMA fans of the world.