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Mariner CEO seems a little concerned about MLB in Portland

Mariner CEO seems a little concerned about MLB in Portland

John Stanton, the CEO of the Seattle Mariners, paid a visit to Portland last week -- a rare move for someone that high up the team's organizational ladder. I'm not sure why he showed up here but I have a hunch it was to deliver a message.

I believe Stanton wanted to make sure everybody here understands that he considers Portland part of the Mariners' territory -- and he wants to throw a little cold water on this city's thoughts about acquiring a major-league baseball team. There is a local group working behind the scenes on bringing MLB to Portland and the sports' commissioner has mentioned this city as a possible expansion site.

From Stanton:

“Success and a sustainable position very much depends on the size of your market,” he said. “Seattle is already one of the smallest markets in terms of population and the smallest market in the AL West, adding that San Diego was the smallest market in the NL West and that “Portland would be smaller than both.”

“If I were in Portland’s position, I would look at what it would take to generate the revenues to be successful, and that is a challenge,” said Stanton.

I was amused to see this man try to paint Seattle as a small market.  That metropolitan area is listed as the No. 12 market in the country -- which, obviously, is anything but small. Portland has moved up from No. 24 to No. 22 recently and is moving upward. But even now, Portland's market is bigger than existing MLB franchises located in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Kansas CIty, Cincinnati, San Diego and Milwaukee. Portland is also listed ninth in future growth rate among MLB cities.

Stanton is rightly concerned with the impact an MLB team in Portland would have on the Mariners. But I would suggest he should fret a little more about the possibility of the NHL and NBA coming to his town soon. The M's have been struggling at the gate for a few seasons now and the presence of two more major-league franchises in a city already crowded with them -- plus the University of Washington -- is likely to result in revenue declines in other sports.

But good luck up there in your tiny little hamlet. John. Portland has been helping prop up your franchise for decades and perhaps it's getting close to a time for your city to return the favor.

 

Video: Canadian 7-foot 12-year old dominates on eight foot rims

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YouTube

Video: Canadian 7-foot 12-year old dominates on eight foot rims

Meet Oliver Rioux, a Canadian youth basketball player born in 2006. That makes him 12 years old. He also happens to be 7'0'' tall and plays in a youth league with 8'0'' baskets. This is one of the more interesting 'highlight' reels you'll ever see:

One reason why the Seattle Mariners have surged to first place – Jean Segura

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USA Today Images

One reason why the Seattle Mariners have surged to first place – Jean Segura

BY MARIO MARTIN DEL CAMPO

This week, the Seattle Mariners played six games and won four of them, increasing their record to a superb 41-24. They currently hold one of the best records in baseball, third only to the powerhouse Yankees and Red Sox, both teams that the Mariners will face for 10 of the remaining 19 games in the month of June.

Many factors have contributed to the Mariners’ successful season; Paxton’ dependable domination on the mound, the resurgence of Wade LeBlanc, Dee Gordon’s abilities on the basepaths as well his charm in the clubhouse, the meteoric rise of Mitch Haniger, the excelling bullpen, and the quiet consistency of guys like Mike Leake, Kyle Seager, and Ben Gamel.

But then there is Jean Segura, the shortstop, who in Seattle is called, “The Hit Machine.” Sometimes he’s referred to as El Mambo and sometimes as Seggy. No matter what you call him, he’s been the silent savior of the Mariners this past season.

Last year, Jean Segura played 125 games for the injury-riddled Seattle ballclub, taking a couple of trips to the disabled list himself for a hamstring injury and an ankle sprain. In those 125 games, he hit an even .300, with a .776 OPS and was worth 2.9 wins above replacement (fWAR) for the Mariners. Despite the injuries, last year was one of Segura’s top seasons since his debut in 2012.

He’s already surpassed last year’s margin, and its only June.

The Mariners started the year with only a 9.4% chance of entering the postseason, according to Fangraphs. As of now, the Mariners have a 56.1% chance. How has Segura contributed to this rise in playoff probability? For starters, El Mambo was projected to score 48 runs, impulse 36 runs batted in, and steal 14 bases by the first 88 games of the season. He’s surpassed all of these margins while only having played 62 games this season.

In only 62 games played this year, Jean Segura has almost tied his wins above replacement for the previous year, needing only 0.3 wins to reach the 2.9 fWAR he attained in 2017. He’s currently batting .341/.363/.483 with 134 wRC+.

Segura’s contributions to the team have been immense. He’s current 2.6 fWAR leads the Mariners and is almost a full win higher than Mitch Haniger’s 1.7 fWAR. He has the highest wOBA of any Mariner with at least 50 plate appearances, and this is despite his low 3.9 BB%. His strikeout percentage of 13.5% is the lowest of all Mariners, proving that his ability to discern pitches and turn them into hits is one of the most effective on staff.

The season isn’t even halfway through and Jean Segura is already on track to have his best season yet, surpassing even his All-Star 2013 season. His approach at the plate is not only one of the greatest contributions to the Mariners’ offensive capabilities but a magnificent sight to witness. Segura covers all parts of the plate, teeing off on pitches low and inside with the grace of a golfer and taking hacks at pitches far and outside with the strength and prowess of a man hungry to lead his team to victory. This isn’t a player who swings and anything thrown at him. Segura is calculating and wise. The average player swings at pitches outside of the zone 30% of the time and makes contact with those pitches 62% of time. Segura swings at outside pitches 35% of the time and has made contact nearly 77% on those pitches.

For pitches in the zone, Segura is even better, making contact on pitches over the plate almost 95% of the time. Currently, there are 11 players with more wins above replacement than Jean Segura, and none of them match his ability to cover the plate.

Therein lies the beauty that is Jean Segura. He is currently ranked 12th on Fangraphs’ MLB leaderboards, and he’s ranked as the 10th best position player when only counting position players in the American League. Segura has proven that he’s not only been the Mariners most valuable position player, but one of the better position players in all of Major League Baseball this season.

Seattle Mariners: The surprise that is Marco Gonzales

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Seattle Mariners: The surprise that is Marco Gonzales

BY BRIAN HIGHT

Over the weekend, I noticed that Marco Gonzales, starting pitcher for the Seattle Mariners, had been picked up on waivers in my oldest fantasy baseball league. The league originally started back in Memphis, TN, so long ago I’d prefer not to say. But these days, as people have gone on with their lives, players live in Seattle, (obviously me), Atlanta, and Tampa. Coordinating eastern time, central time, and pacific time auctions can be challenging, but it’s always fun.

But, back to Marco Gonzales. Mariners fans know that after suffering through a rocky April, Gonzales has been brilliant for most of May and now into June. But, it was kind of surprising that Gonzales had made it on to the national radar, albeit among a group of fans that is possibly more keenly aware of statistical trends in players’ performance than the casual fan. And, to be fair, this group jumped all over Mitch Haniger when I brought his name up for auction at a dollar, hoping to sneak him past my Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals centric playing partners. So, Gonzales being plucked from the free agent pool of fantasy players made me want to see just how good he’s been lately.

Marco Gonzales May Have Figured It Out

Back in April, Gonzales had a three-game stretch, that, at the time, raised some concerns. On April 9th, the Mariners faced the Kansas City Royals in Kansas City and Gonzales would only give them 2.1 innings, his shortest outing of the season, up to then and since, where he would yield 8 hits and 4 earned runs. Then in his next outing on April 14th, Gonzales went only one inning deeper versus the Oakland A’s at home, 3.1 innings, and also gave up 4 earned runs. This time on 5 hits.  In the last game of this rocky period, Gonzales took the bump on April 19th against the Houston Astros in Safeco and stretched it out to 4.2 innings, allowing 5 hits and 3 earned runs.

Over the three-game stretch, Gonzales pitched 11.1 innings and gave up 16 hits and allowed 11 earned runs for a WHIP of 2.79 and an 8.92 ERA. Not entirely encouraging. However, over the same stretch, he did manage to strikeout 17 batters while only walking 3 for a K/9 of 13.78 and a BB/9 of 2.43.

Since the fourth start of the season on April 19th, Gonzales has failed to go 6 innings only once, in the 2-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Safeco on May 17th. But in that outing he did not allow an earned run in 5.2 innings pitched. In fact, starting with the May 17th Tigers game, Gonzales has only allowed 1 earned run over four consecutive outings.

In his last four starts, Gonzales has pitched 5.2 innings against the Tigers, allowing zero earned runs; 7.0 innings against the A’s, allowing zero earned runs; 6.2 innings against the Texas Rangers, allowing zero runs; and 6.2 innings against the Tampa Rays, allowing 1 earned run. Over that four-game stretch, the Mariner left hander has a 0.884 WHIP and an ERA of 0.346. Wow.  He has stuck out a modest 21 hitters for a K/9 of 7.27, while walking 11 for a 3.81 BB/9. The walk figure is somewhat inflated in the small sample by a 4 free pass game against the Rangers.

For the season, Gonzales has contributed the second most fWAR on the pitching staff for the Mariners with 1.4, just a tick ahead of closer Edwin Diaz who has 1.3 and behind James Paxton who sports a 2.3 fWAR. Something about no-hitters and 16 K games will bump a pitchers WAR slightly. Gonzales’ season ERA is 3.38, but his FIP suggests he might be a tad better with 3.22.

Good in Both Fantasy Baseball and Real Baseball

Who would have thought coming into the season that Marco Gonzales would be the second-best starter on the Seattle Mariners? The three outings in April cast some doubt on the season and seemed to suggest that the Mariners could spend the Summer chasing their own pitchers on offense, trying to put up enough runs to stay in ball games. But, what appeared to be a liability in April (and that was much of the pitching staff, both starters and relievers, not just Gonzales) has turned into a major asset for the first-place ball club from the Emerald City.

So, if you play fantasy baseball and Marco Gonzales is still on your waiver wire, go get him. If you just like to watch good pitching and root for the Mariners, Gonzales’ next start will come on the road against the Rays. Don’t be surprised if he has another good outing.

One on one with the newest investors in the Portland Diamond Project: Russell Wilson and Ciara

One on one with the newest investors in the Portland Diamond Project: Russell Wilson and Ciara

The Portland Diamond Project (PDP) added some big names to its investment group over the weekend. Seattle Seahawks star quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife, Grammy Award-winning singer Ciara joined the group as owners/investors.

The PDP held a press conference on Saturday where Wilson said, “we’re excited about this opportunity. We’re excited about the potential of bringing a Major League Baseball team here to such a great city.”

Wilson and Ciara took a quick second after the press conference for an exclusive interview with our Dwight Jaynes to talk about the duo’s ambition to bring MLB to PDX. 

 

Seattle Mariners first place in AL West thanks To Felix Hernandez’s best start – is The King back?

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USA Today

Seattle Mariners first place in AL West thanks To Felix Hernandez’s best start – is The King back?

By 

I’m writing this as Félix Hernández takes the mound for his 13th start of the season; a season that, for Félix, has been clouded by more than just Seattle overcast.

Félix will always be the King, but there is no denying that, other than in the season opener, he’s taken a backseat to the rest of the Mariners starting rotation. Mike Leake, the back-end starter for the M’s, has a 4.71 ERA on the season and his FIP of 4.41 shows that he, unfortunately, has been pretty consistent in earning himself some runs. After a season of hurtful starts and terrible first-inning woes, Hernández’s ERA of 5.83 is more than a full point higher than Leake’s. That stellar game at the beginning of the season is now a whole two months gone, almost seeming like a fluke in the distance.

The Opening Night game against the Cleveland Indians is worth noting in retrospect. Interestingly enough, the first pitch Hernández threw was a poorly located 89 mph fastball that was almost at Francisco Lindor’s ankles when it crossed the plate. His second pitch was a sinker that ended up being faster than his previous pitch when it was clocked at 90 mph. It was that sinker, his one of his three secondary pitches, that might have caused him to crumble through the season.

Hernández has always been a crafty pitcher, but when your fastball goes from an average 98 mph to 90 mph ten years later, it’s time to up the deception, which he has tried. His second pitch in the season opener, the sinker previously mentioned, was popped up for an out. The next batter he faced, Jason Kipnis, also when down on two sinkers, grounding out on the second pitch. He started off the next plate appearance with a sinker and seven pitches later, forced José Ramírez to ground out on a sinker just as the batter before him. After a tumultuous 2017 season, Félix had to come into 2018 with something to rely on, something to help him regain his confidence. He must have found that confidence in his sinker, a pitch he’s always favorited and used almost exclusively since 2014.

Félix went on to pitch 5.1 innings in that game, allowing only two hits and striking out four batters. Since then, he threw the sinker more than any other pitch this year, making use of it a whole 34.4% of the time throughout the month of April.

But his newfound faith in the pitch would soon be sullied as Hernández began to throw it extensively. So far, 20 hits have come by way of his sinker, three of which were home runs, and he’s only gotten seven swinging strikes off of the pitch. And so began the continuing troubles of Félix Hernández. Throughout the season, Hernández has gone 5-4 in 12 starts, allowing 65 hits in 66.1 innings pitched, with 17% of those hits ending up outside of the park.

But the best pitchers, the best athletes, adapt. They take in their struggles, work with them, learn from them, and change their approach. Félix, the King, is one of those pitchers. After a gruesome April of earned runs and varying pitch selections, Félix has begun to adapt. In May, he began to use the sinker less and relied more on his curveball and changeup, two pitches far superior than his sinker.

For the first time since 2014, Félix has started using off-speed pitches more than his sinker, and making more use of the curve. He’s been able to deceive more batters with those pitches as 22 swinging strikes have come off of Hernández’s curveball and 21 off of his changeup. He’s now only used the sinker about 24% of the time in May and has increased his use of the curve and changeup by 6%. This change in pitching approach, the need to adapt is what will allow Félix to develop into his next stage as a major league star.

Hernández’s changeup has allowed only 13 hits, compared to the 20 from the sinker, and mostly due to poor location. Batters best capitalize of off Hernández’s off-speed pitch when he’s throwing it in the middle of the zone or off to the right side of the plate. His curveball has come in for 15 hits, most of which were located all over the lower part strikezone, save for one he hung to Mike Moustakas on April 10th, which ended up in the stands for a home run; it happens to the best of pitchers.

What is important to note here is that despite all of the trials Félix has had on the mound this season, he seems to have reflected on his woes and adapted accordingly. His secondary pitches have allowed him to make up for a fastball that just doesn’t have the life and speed it used to, and make up for a sinker that just wasn’t working the way he thought it was. He is adjusting, albeit slowly, and improving throughout the season.

In his most recent outing against the Tampa Bay Rays, Félix opened the game with a changeup, then two curveballs to Mallex Smith, three changeups in the zone for C.J. Cron, and a sinker-changeup-curveball-changeup combination to strikeout Joey Wendle. It was a 1-2-3 inning for the King. He didn’t throw a single fastball until facing his 6th batter and his sinker would make the occasional appearance amidst the myriad of breaking and off-speed pitches.

In that start against the Rays, Félix pitched eight complete innings, the first time this season that he’s gone past six. He struck out seven while only issuing one walk. He allowed five hits, but halted the Rays to only one run.

You can’t say the King is back after one outing, but it is a boost of confidence for the long-time ace, and a necessary one at that. While he may not be the pitcher he once was, his reign seems to be far from over.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and singer/songwriter Ciara have signed on as owners/investors in Portland Diamond Project

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and singer/songwriter Ciara have signed on as owners/investors in Portland Diamond Project

The following is a press release from the Portland Diamond Project:

Portland, OR – June 1, 2018 – Local management group Portland Diamond Project (PDP) today announced Super Bowl Champ Russell Wilson and Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Ciara have signed on as owner/investors in PDP’s campaign to bring a Major League Baseball team to Portland, according to PDP managing director and spokesman Mike Barrett.

“We believe Portland is the next great Major League Baseball city, and that’s why Ciara and I are excited to announce we are a part of the Portland Diamond Project,” Russell Wilson said. “It is time for MLB in Portland.”

“Athletics has always been important to me. As a young girl growing up in Atlanta, I was a tomboy who ran track and worked the hot dog stand at Turner Field,” said Ciara. “I am excited about the opportunity to bring the comradery of the game to the city of Portland. I want to see this vision come to life and empower more women owners in major sports franchises.”

The Seattle Seahawks star quarterback, who led the team to a Super Bowl victory in his second season, and the platinum recording artist, who has been dominating the stage nearly 15 years, look forward to having a significant role in Portland’s MLB team. Owning a professional sports franchise has long been one of Wilson’s dreams. He is also a partner in an initiative to bring an NBA franchise back to Seattle.

“Having Russell and Ciara sign on as owners and investors in PDP is game-changing, and has elevated our campaign significantly,” PDP founder and president Craig Cheek said. “I got to know Russell and Ciara when we signed Russell to his Nike endorsement deal. I saw firsthand their passion, pursuit of excellence and impact they bring to every endeavor. We know they will bring that same energy, sense of legacy and entrepreneurialism to the Portland Diamond Project.”

Wilson led the Seattle Seahawks to their first world championship in Super Bowl XLVIII. He was a multi-sport star in high school and played baseball and football at North Carolina State. Wilson was drafted out of high school by the Baltimore Orioles in 2007, and then drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2010. Despite an outstanding college football career at NC State and Wisconsin, the 5'11" quarterback was considered too small by many NFL teams. Nevertheless, Wilson quickly became an elite pro quarterback, and led the Seahawks to a Super Bowl victory in just his second season.

Ciara is a Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter, producer, model and actress. Over her thirteen-year career, she has sold over 23 million records and 16 million singles worldwide, including chart-topping hits “Goodies,” “Ride,” “Oh,” “1, 2 Step,” “Body Party,” and “I Bet.” Known for her incredible visuals and stellar dance abilities, Ciara’s videos have been viewed over 1.4 billion times accurately earning her the moniker of “Queen of Dance.”

UFC 225 – A great card with a weird lineup

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UFC 225

UFC 225 – A great card with a weird lineup

BY DAVID GOLDEN

UFC 225 is fast approaching and fight fans are ready for a card that is absolutely loaded with talent. This card features fifteen fighters who are either ranked in the top-fifteen of their respective divisions or hold the title. Thanks to that remarkable group, it makes it a challenge to put the card together without more than a couple fighters feeling they are getting short changed. That being said, there are a number of curious choices with how this card was built and it seems fans and fighters alike are voicing their frustrations. Some argue this card is perfectly balanced from top to bottom, others think only proven talent should get a shot on the main card. No matter how you slice it, someone is going to have to grab that last tiny, misshapen slot from the pizza box that is this lineup. Let’s take a peak at a few of the issues and see if we can make heads or tails of it.

CM Punk

We first have to turn our attention the to straightedge elephant in the room, Phil “CM Punk” Brooks. Don’t try and kid yourself, Punk being on the main card is a joke. Even he has gone on record as saying he thinks it’s nuts and he would rather be on UFC Fight Pass. Obviously as a professional fighter with a record of 0-1, he has not earned his way onto the main card but Punk did not make his to the UFC the same way as other fighters either. He cut his teeth in the wrestling ring. Love it or hate it, he came to the UFC a hotter commodity than almost any MMA prospect and wasting the value of his name would be absurd. Couple that with the fact that this fight is in his hometown and it seems a no brainer that UFC officials tossed him out as the curtain jerk for this pay-per-view. Has he earned this slot? No. Will the UFC make more with him on than pay-per-view portion of the card? Probably. The whole thing is a little nuts but CM Punk is an investment in fans not an investment in the future of a 39 year old that spent over a decade getting slammed on a mat night after night.

Joseph Benavidez vs Sergio Pettis

Benavidez versus Pettis is a fight that is getting little to no love on this card. This may be because each of these fighters have shown a lack of finishing ability in their more recent fights. However, when you talk about championship contenders, Joseph Benavidez is a person who has only ever lost to two fighters: Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and Dominick Cruz. Having two losses to Johnson hurts Benavidez but prior to an injury that has kept him sidelined since 2016, he had won six fights in a row with four of those against former title challengers. Having Benavidez buried on the Fight Pass portion of this card seems odd at best. His opponent, Pettis, is a fighter that many felt would eventually be able to earn a shot against Might Mouse. Pettis never truly lived up to the hype, but he did manage to win seven out of ten UFC fights and was even on a four-fight win streak before losing a decision to perennial title challenger, Henry Cejudo. Pettis may not have caught the world on fire, but when two of the top five flyweights are competing in the Octagon, it should make the main card of a pay-per-view.

Colby Covington

Colby Covington is a polarizing figure and there is no denying he is on the rise in the welterweight division. He has won five fights in a row and in his last outing, secured the biggest win of his career when he bested Demian Maia. However, with three straight decisions, two of which came against fighters in the twilight of their careers, some would argue that Covington should not be in the co-main event of this card.   His talent has taken him up the rankings, but his mouth seems to have done some of the work as well. That is the difference between a fighter like Sergio Pettis and a one like Covington. While many disagree with his antics, his trash talk on social media has clearly made him standout from a sea of UFC fighters. Covington may have taken some inspiration from fellow Oregonian Chael Sonnen, but his twisted version of the call out has him looking more like Bizarro Sonnen than the American Gangster. Covington is a shoe in for a future title shot but he could us a little more seasoning. Additionally, there are some heavyweights in Alistair Overeem and Curtis Blaydes that fight fans would love to see in the co-main event.

This card could be built any number of ways. Is it wrong the way it is now? Could it be better setup? Just who should be on Fight Pass? The answers to these questions could take weeks to decide and likely did, behind closed doors with the UFC brass hoping they made the right choices. This is a fun card no matter how you slice it and there will never be a piece left in the pizza box, even if it is tiny and misshapen.

Actual Card***
MAIN CARD
Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Colby Covington
Holly Holm vs. Megan Anderson
Andrei Arlovski vs. Tai Tuivasa
CM Punk vs. Mike Jackson
FS1 PRELIMS
Alistair Overeem vs. Curtis Blaydes
Claudia Gadelha vs. Carla Esparza
Ricardo Lamas vs. Mirsad Bektic
Rashad Coulter vs. Chris de la Rocha
FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Rashad Evans vs. Anthony Smith
Joseph Benavidez vs. Sergio Pettis
Clay Guida vs. Charles Oliveira
Mike Santiago vs. Dan Ige

 

My Card***
MAIN CARD
Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero
Alistair Overeem vs. Curtis Blaydes
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Colby Covington
Joseph Benavidez vs. Sergio Pettis
CM Punk vs. Mike Jackson
FS1 PRELIMS
Holly Holm vs. Megan Anderson
Claudia Gadelha vs. Carla Esparza
Ricardo Lamas vs. Mirsad Bektic
Clay Guida vs. Charles Oliveira
FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Rashad Evans vs. Anthony Smith
Andrei Arlovski vs. Tai Tuivasa
Rashad Coulter vs. Chris de la Rocha
Mike Santiago vs. Dan Ige

Seattle Mariners – A week of mettle tests

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USA Today

Seattle Mariners – A week of mettle tests

By 

This past week felt longer than it had to for the Seattle Mariners.

The team hadn’t had a day off since May 7th, unless you count the delayed and later postponed game on the 11thin Detroit, which might have boded more tiresome than actually playing a full nine innings. This delay set off a chain reaction of feet-dragging events.

After the postponed game, the Mariners split a double-header against the Tigers the following day and ended up losing the series on the next day. The day that followed saw them travel up to Minnesota in an effort to make up for a game that was rained out on the 8th of April. The Mariners beat the Twins on that day after yet another rain delay and flew back home, arriving in Seattle in the darkest hours of the night. They managed to go 2-2 within three days and had a whole week of games to go until they were to see another off day.

But Tuesday morning brought even darker skies to Seattle, as a metaphorical storm was brewing for the Mariners front office. On Tuesday, May 15th, Robinson Canó was suspended for testing positive for Furosemide, a known PED masking agent. He is suspended for 80 games without pay and if the Mariners are to make the playoffs this season, Canó would be ineligible to play.

It was a cataclysmic Tuesday morning. Sports media outlets were burning every lead they could to find out every bit of information about the suspension and PED usage. Twitter was divided into three factions; Objective reporters, Canó supporters, and Canó accusers. The Mariners players had just come off a bad weather weekend and woke up to a torrential downpour of tweets and blurbs about their star teammate. But metaphorical rains do not delay games. The show had to go on as the Mariners were set to face the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers the rest of the week.

The Mariners scrambled. They called up Gordon Beckham from Tacoma. They began transitioning Dee Gordon back to second base. They called up Christian Bergman for a start and optioned him back to Tacoma to call up Ryan Cook, the 30-year-old right-handed reliever who had not been on a big-league mound in two years. In the process, the Mariners designated Erik Goeddel for assignment. It was all hands on deck for the Mariners, trying to cover the gaping hole at second base and make the most of what they have.

And thanks to the Robinson Canó foofaraw, the Mariners were given the opportunity to prove that they are the prime example of what a team should be; a true sum of parts working together to win games. A team made up of various players, not just one mega-star.

Out of the six games the Mariners have had without Canó, they’ve won four. These wins included complete games by pitchers, walk-offs, and come-from-behind wins with lineups that not only were Canó-deficient, but sans Nelson Cruz as well, since he was hit by a pitch on Tuesday and had to take a couple of rest days.

This 2018 Mariners team is a team that, even if they are down and out, they find ways to make things work. In wake of the Canó news, they team banded together like brothers, and the fanbase followed suit. Off the field, they have chemistry and on the field, they have grit. Criticize what you will about intangibles, but the Mariners are every bit as talented as any team in the American League. Pitching may still be an issue, but with Canó’s suspension allowing an empty spot on the roster, the Mariners have an opportunity to keep their success moving despite the setbacks.

And that’s the thing about this team. They’ve managed to end this long and terrible week on a high note despite all the setbacks that came their way. Like Safeco Field, the Mariners too have a roof to shield them on the days were the downpour is just too much to handle, and that roof is their comradery as teammates and talent as players.  If they can keep it up, they can be ten games above .500 by Wednesday night and potentially in first place if the Astros drop their next two games. If they can ride this wave of success against all odds, their June schedule might not seem as daunting, as they are set to face the Red Sox and the Yankees, powerhouses of the east.

The Mariners are a bounce-back team this year. It’s time they bounce back from years and years of misery.

The Seattle Mariners will get better 'Dee' at second base

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USA Today Images

The Seattle Mariners will get better 'Dee' at second base

BY BRIAN HIGHT

In the immediate wake of Robinson Cano’s suspension for violating MLB’s drug policy, the front office of the Seattle Mariners stated that former Gold Glove Award winner Dee Gordon, who was obtained in the offseason via trade with the Miami Marlins and subsequently converted to a centerfielder, would remain in the outfield during Cano’s absence. The rationale was that the long-term plans for Gordon were for him to play CF and any interruption might hinder his development at his new position. But, after a few days of reflecting on the prospect of inserting light hitting Gordon Beckham into the lineup for 80 games, the GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais changed their minds. Gordon has been taking grounders in pre-game and will likely return to second this weekend in the home series against the Detroit Tigers.

An Improvement on Defense

Seattleites, just like the home fan base of every team in the major leagues, suffer through the incessant over-hyping of the prowess of their team’s players abilities from the local broadcasting crew. And despite the insistence of the ROOT Sports team, Robinson Cano has been about league average at 2B for most of his tenure with the Mariners. In his four-plus seasons with on the infield at Safeco and on the road as a Mariner, Cano has recorded DRS (defensive runs saved) of 0, -9 (minus isn’t good), 11 (worth about a win – good), 0, and 2 so far this season, for a total of about 4 DRS. He is solid, steady, and reliable. He is not, by any means, a gold glove 2B at this stage of his career.

The other sabermetric measure of defense reported by Fangraphs, UZR (ultimate zone rating) and its extrapolated companion UZR/150 (for a look at 150 games or roughly a full season – useful in smaller sample sizes), is even less kind to Cano. In 2016, the year DRS rated Cano at 11, UZR placed him at 3.9. The positive trend is the same, but the overall impact of maybe less than half a win versus a full win can be important, as Mariners fans who have seen their team fall a single victory short of the playoffs in recent memory. To be fair, the UZR of -1.7 in 2015 does look better than the DRS -9 of the same year.

By contrast, Dee Gordon, once the Los Angeles Dodgers moved him off of SS, has been pretty darned good at 2B. in 4,462.2 innings at 2B, Gordon has 13 DRS and 14.9 UZR. Cano’s overall cumulative DRS and UZR are greater than Gordon’s (30 and 24.5 respectively), but he has played 17,372 innings at the position, nearly four times as much.

In the outfield this season, Gordon has been less than spectacular. While metrics like DRS and UZR are admittedly not intended for small sample sizes like the fourth of a season that’s been played so far, Gordon currently has -9 DRS in just 341.0 innings and a corresponding UZR of -1.7. By improving the glove in both CF, with say Guillermo Heredia, and by the move of Gordon to 2B in Cano’s absence, the loss of Cano’s bat could, theoretically, be off-set in WAR.

The Present and the Future

The relatively younger Gordon (30), should offer a defensive upgrade over the thirty-five-year old Cano in the short term of half a season. It’s worth noting that Nelson Cruz, the Mariners regular DH, is in the last year of his contract. Cano, signed through his age forty season could easily slot over at DH, with Gordon remaining at second. And as for this season, pitching and defense have been the problem in a still so-far successful season, not the hitting. With Dee Gordon at 2B, one of the team’s deficits should get addressed.