Here Comes Olivo, There Goes ?

The ever-great Mike Curto, voice of the Rainiers (What? You don’t follow him on twitter? Shame on you!), reported this morning that Miguel Olivo is not with the Rainiers this morning and that catcher Ralph Hernandez is on his way to Tacoma from Double-A Jackson.

You don’t require a crystal ball to figure this one out. Miguel Olivo is on his way back to Seattle. Now, after you’ve finished your fist pumps and whoo-hoo out your car window, let’s discuss what this could mean for the big league 25-man roster. Someone has to go when Olivo comes back, after all.

Scenario 1 – Say Goodbye to Chone Figgins

This is probably the clubhouse leader for the move favored amongst most fans. Figgins is in Wedge’s doghouse and there isn’t a scenario remaining where he comes back out to get significant playing time.

Alex Liddi has seized his opportunity as far as Wedge is concerned and has likely captured the left field starts when a left-hander is on the bump. There’s Mike Carp and Casper Wells around, too, so left field is no longer an option. Liddi also blocks Figgins at third base, playing there when Kyle Seager slides over to second when Dustin Ackley gets a day off from the field.

Right now, Figgins is basically a pinch-runner and third string infielder making $8 million. The Mariners won’t even lose anything there should they part ways with him as they have Munenori Kawasaki on the roster.

While eating the rest of his contract has been avoided thus far — and still not something management would like to do — there’s simply no trade partner out there. Though most of us feel like we’ll be forced to look at his stupid smirk after making a mistake for the next year-plus, I think this could finally be the time we see Figgins punted.

Carsoncalc odds of this scenario: 70%

Scenario 2 – Hisashi Iwakuma Goes 

Eric Wedge doesn’t seem too inclined to use Hisashi Iwakuma, so he’s the most likely option should Wedge feel comfortable with a smaller bullpen and can convince Jack Zduriencik that this is the right call.

There’s Steve Delabar, too. He’s been bad, but his xFIP is 3.33 so there’s reason to believe he’s had some bad luck in a small sample. Wedge continues to use him, so this option doesn’t seem likely unless Jack overrules.

The rest of the bullpen seems safe.

Carsoncalc odds of this scenario: 18%

Scenario 3 – Casper Wells or Mike Carp Go Down

Some people have thrown this out as an option but I just don’t see it happening. There is nothing for either of these guys to prove in Tacoma and they have useful skills that can be applied in the big leagues.

Carsoncalc odds of this scenario: 10%

Scenario 4 – Some Sort of Trade is Cooking

I really shouldn’t even list this because I can’t figure anything in my head that makes sense. No team is taking Figgins. Why would anyone trade for Iwakuma or Kawasaki? Is the team willing to part with any of the young bullpen arms with a shaky rotation in place? What team is going to come calling for League in May when his performance hasn’t screamed shut-down closer?

There are certainly GMs in the game still that will bake bad decisions. That’s the only thing keeping this scenario on the radar. However, unless Zduriencik’s socks are knocked off or he’s left with no choice but to pull the trigger before the guy on the other end realizes how dumb of a proposal he made, this scenario doesn’t really have legs.

Carsoncalc odds of this scenario: 2%

Honestly, the first scenario should probably have odds closer to 80-95% at this point. But if that were the case, I’d have no reason to write these 619 words.

Reactions to Yoenis Cespedes Homer

There are several reactions you can have to a home run. If it’s a player on your favorite team, you may pump a fist. If it’s a player on team facing your team, you may let out a deep sigh. These reactions can vary, depending on the magnitude of the moment and the importance of the game.

With the Mariners up five runs, your only reaction to this bomb should have been one of amazement and admiration. Yoenis Cespedes absolutely demolished this baseball and sent it to a place most balls don’t go in this particular ballpark, especially on a cool damp night in April.

So, I don’t know what your reaction was, but here are 17 reactions I noticed thanks to the beauty of screen shots.

1 – “Oh, my.”

2 – “Hey, oh!”

3 – “Whooo!”

4 – “Yeah, baby!”

5 – “Whoa. I mean, whoa, man.”

6 – “Oh no. Now everyone is going to see me picking my nose.”

7 – “Ahhh!”

8 – “That’s the most amazing homer I’ve ever seen. And I’m really old, so you know this ain’t based on a small sample, sonny.”

9 – “Yes!”

10 – “Man, our offense sucks. Trust me, Tim, this was a good time to hit the head.”

11 – “Wait, so if the guy hits it over the fence, he can just round the bases uncontested? And we get a run?”

12 – “Yeah, broski! YEAH! Get me another brew!”

13 – “I knew my lucky visor would pay off!”

14 – “Seems like a good time to adjust myself.”

15 – “I’d better run out to make the call. Just in case!”

16 – “Yup. That was so tight, I’m roundin’ the bases backwards.”

17 – “So, anyways…”

The Importance of Local Ownership in Seattle Sports

While the Mariners were on their jaunt across the globe, there sat a secondary interest in the back of some people’s minds: Would team principle owner Hiroshi Yamauchi finally watch his Mariners play a game?

He didn’t. Feathers have again been ruffled amongst the masses. I’d ask, though: who cares? Does it really matter?

Our city’s sports history is littered with outsiders trying to run for the hills with our teams in tow.

Ken Behring isn’t from Washington. He wasn’t even a transplant who ran a big business here. While the Seahawks remained in Seattle under his control for the better part of a decade, he actually packed the operations into boxes and had them neatly stacked into a moving truck with Anaheim as the destination.

Paul Allen saved the day.

In 2006, the Seattle SuperSonics were up for sale. The team’s owner, a billionaire who runs a massive corporation just down the street, wants out of the hardwood game. It’s a business, after all. It wasn’t making him money, so why continue to invest? The state was unwilling to fund a new arena, and Schultz sure wasn’t going to kick in his own dough.

His Majesty of Mocha decided to sell the franchise to an out-of-state owner known to have aspirations of running a team back home. After the sale, Schultz could have slowly faded back to the land of money-pouring espresso machines, lining his pockets with cash one drip of java at a time. Instead, he filed a lawsuit. He claimed Clay Bennett deceived him. Here, we have one of the most brilliant businessmen in the world trying to tell us he was duped. Not surprisingly, the lawsuit quickly faded.

The Sonics were gone.

Two decades ago, sandwiched between a debacle and a close call, Yamauchi stepped in to buy a Seattle baseball club that had one foot in sunny Tampa and a second eager to escape the rainy Pacific Northwest. Baseball didn’t like the idea initially. An owner abroad? How could this possibly work? With the help of a senator and the promise that Yamauchi would not be involved in the operation of the club, the sale was finally approved.

Think about this for a moment. A powerful businessman was willing to invest millions into something he had no interest in and wanted no control of. Could he really be trusted?

In America, we’ve seen too many stories like Enron and AIG. We’ve watched the ponzi schemes unfold. Executives blinded by greed, willing to roll the dice with their employees futures as their wager. Wearing their Armani suits, they collect millions in bonuses as thousands of their grunts are sent to the cheese line. Lies, cover-ups and scams leave honest folks wondering how they’ll feed their children.

That wasn’t Yamauchi. He decided to give, knowing there would be little return.

Fast forward to 2012.

During times where the win column shows scary figures, the pitch forks and torches come out. The results on the field during Yamauchi’s tenure haven’t always been favorable. He’s been at the helm for two 101-loss seasons. He was in charge when three of the franchise’s icons wanted out.

What about 1995, though? Oh, glorious 1995! We love celebrating that team. There was also the 1997, 2000 and 2001 playoff clubs. If you chip in the 93-win 2002 and 2003 squads that each narrowly missed the post-season, should Yamauchi not be given credit for the only relevant stretch of baseball in franchise history?

People love Paul Allen around here. He saved the Seahawks. The 121-119 record amassed under his watch is good for a .504 winning percentage. The Mariners, since Yamauchi’s investment, are at a .467 clip.

We can split hairs over which owner has presided over a more successful team, but the fact remains that neither has held a parade through the streets of Seattle. And neither is particularly close to doing so today.

Of course, we know Nintendo of America is the actual owner of the Mariners after Yamauchi transferred control of the club for estate planning purposes. So who is bothered if the man, now 84 years-old, doesn’t put on a smile while watching the club in person?

The Seattle Times’ Steve Kelley apparently was bothered:

Mariners owner Hiroshi Yamauchi cares so little about his team he didn’t attend either game at the Tokyo Dome. Isn’t it past time to sell?

Kelley has a press pass. He attends games. There’s a chance he even possesses Howard Lincoln’s telephone number. Instead of asking tough questions to those who can answer them, he opts to protect his credentials and cast stones around the globe with a snarky bullet point.

There is a local ownership group in place. They may be proxy owners, but these are people who actually get paid a salary to run this club. They’re the decision makers who should be held accountable for the outcomes of their choices.

There aren’t any World Series banners hanging from the retractable roof at Safeco Field. But the reason that multi-million-dollar roof sits above our baseball paradise is due to an unselfish man half a world away who chose to give when no one on our own shores cared to be bothered.

We were given an incredibly kind gift, and we show our thanks by spitting in Yamauchi’s face when the waters get choppy.

How insulting and unappreciative can we Seattleites be?

 
 
Alex Carson can be reached via email at carson@prospectinsider.com. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Ron Santo Still Doesn’t Get His Call

Seattle native and Cubs great Ron Santo has finally been welcomed into the Hall of Fame.

Santo’s career has been long underappreciated by members of both the BBWAA and the Veteran’s Committee, who stand guard at the gates of Cooperstown.

It’s impossible to prove why this year, after so many head-scratching rejections, was the year Santo was granted admission. His passing from bladder cancer nearly a year ago was surely part of it. Maybe the Golden Era Committee, which replaces the Veteran’s Committee, is doing what baseball had hoped.

What troubled me was the explosion of tweets I saw from media members to announce his election. The phrase “long overdue” was a popular inclusion in their proclamations. Which begs a rather obvious question: Why didn’t they vote him in when they had the chance?

I don’t know which members of our media voted for Santo and which didn’t. I don’t know which members of our media were members of our media the last time our media voted on this matter. I could probably do the research, but does it matter?

I at least wanted to see what two writers I highly respect wrote back when Santo drew little support. From everything I could find, Ken Rosenthal has long been in Santo’s corner.  Jon Heyman previously voted against Santo but switched to being an advocate of his candidacy.

In 1998, Santo’s last year on the BBWAA ballot, he received only 43.1% of the vote. A guy that our media is now heralding as long overdue couldn’t even get half of the vote roughly a decade ago.

Ron Santo is finally going to be a hall of famer, so discussing what type of hall of famer he was may be moot. It doesn’t matter if I think he was a first ballot, second ballot, fringe or veterans committee electee.

What matters is that I can’t find a single member of the BBWAA making a case right now that Santo’s election was a bad choice. Just 13 years ago, more than half of them held that view. Just two years ago, the Veterans Committee felt the same way. Now that the man can’t enjoy his enshrinement, they all seem in agreement that he belongs.

It’s troubling that a player, with a long list of worthy reasons for this honor, is probably being granted admission because his death finally opened some eyes.

Alex Carson can be reached via email at carson@prospectinsider.com. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Clichés Suck, But…

Ed. note: This is a baseball blog. One I don’t even use much, since my scribing these days is done at Prospect Insider. I wanted to talk a little football, though. So, on the off chance that someone should see this, you now know why. These thoughts just couldn’t be kept off the internet. They’re important.

The 49ers failure to defeat the Cardinals on Sunday could hurt down the stretch. With the loss, coupled with the Saints win over Tennessee, we now have a tie for the NFC’s second seed.

However, there is good news! I’m going to use a cliché right now. You  should duck and cover if you hate clichés. I wish I could join you undercover, but writing this piece means I also have to read this: The San Francisco 49ers are in control of their destiny.

The Niners currently hold the edge over the Saints per the tiebreaker rules. In fact, so long as they end the season with the same record as the Saints, you won’t have to go any further than the first applicable tiebreaker to find the boys in red and gold with a first round bye.

The two teams won’t meet this season, so we go down the tiebreaker list to conference record. Currently, the Niners have the edge with an 8-2 mark against the Saints tally of 6-3.

In the final three weeks of the season, the Saints are playing exclusively intraconference while the Niners have one interconference game remaining (Pittsburgh). The Saints cannot end the season with more conference wins if each team has identical records.

For fun, though, here’s a look at how the teams stack up if we were to go down the tiebreaker list:

  1. Head-to-head
    • Not Applicable
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
    • 49ers: 8-2; Saints: 6-3
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
    • 49ers 4-0; Saints: 3-2
  4. Strength of victory (record of all the teams they defeated that season).
    • Saints .454; 49ers .406
  5. Strength of schedule (record of all the teams they played that season).
    • Saints .464; 49ers .449
  6. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
    • Projected: Saints 36.22; 49ers 39.11
  7. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
    • Projected: Saints 35.5; 49ers 35.0
  8. Best net points in conference games.
    • 49ers +120; Saints +49
  9. Best net points in all games.
    • Saints +129; 49ers +125
  10. Best net touchdowns in all games.
    • Saints 32; 49ers 15
  11. Coin Toss.

Fine print!: Color me confused in regards to No. 6 and No. 7. I did some research to find out exactly what that means, but Google mostly yielded thousands of websites that copy and pasted the list verbatim from NFL.com. The best explanation I found was that you add each opponent’s offensive and defensive rankings and add them together. Lowest score wins. Sort of like golf, except football is actually exciting.

I don’t know if you’re to use conference ranks for No. 6 and NFL ranks for No. 7 or if you use NFL ranks for both. The Saints are better either way, but for ease I just used the NFL ranks for each. Please, if you know the answer to this, let me know so I can sleep tonight.

If I were a Saints fan in this situation, I’d probably wish conference tiebreaker rules considered similar opponents before conference-wide numbers. The Niners clearly had the easier conference schedule this season. Then again, the Saints did lose to the Rams, so either way, haha!

Follow Alex on twitter: @alexcarson

Farewell Jack Cust

We hardly knew you. More than Jeff Gray, so that’s something

What I find most interesting about this, because Jack Cust being DFA’d isn’t interesting or shocking, is how surprised and interested some of the local beat writers appear.

Greg Johns is scratching his head. Shannon Drayer contemplates what surely no one else does.

These folks aren’t dumb. They’re probably busy prepping for tonight’s game, or maybe they’re spending some quality time with the former Sonics in town since they’ll never see the team play again.

If they thought about it, they could connect the dots. Players sent down to the minors cannot be recalled for 10 ten days after they’re optioned. In this case, Blake Beaven is the sixth starter on the roster.

If no one (Bedard, Fister, Vargas) is traded, the M’s can simply send him down Sunday night  and Wily Mo Pena comes up to hit the crap out of baseballs. If someone is traded, he stays and Wily Mo Pena comes up to hit the crap out of baseballs.

Other members of the media thought before they posted. Mike Curto is awesome as always. Jason Churchill makes the best point of the day.

At any rate. Toodles, Jack.

Yellowstone Is Different Than Mariners Baseball

Spending some time away on vacation was a pretty good idea.

Not just because of the normal reasons like recharging and whatnot. No, in this particular case it allowed me to escape right as the team was entering one of the more putrid stretches of its existence.

Seventeen sounds even better when it’s spelled out, even though editing rules say it should generally be in numerical form. Seventeen losses. 17 losses. You decide, I guess. I’m just glad I wasn’t around for most of it.

Being 130 yards away from a grizzly, seeing an osprey clutch a dying trout in its determined talons, watching a wolf boldly approach a bison and witnessing an elk chasing a wolf was quite a deal more interesting than the feeling of my blood boiling at Serengeti temperatures with its pressure soaring to the heights of a sequoia.

So, luckily for me, I came back in time for a win. A win, baby!

What’s next for these Mariners? Trade some pieces like Doug Fister, Erik Bedard, Brandon League or Adam Kennedy? I don’t know. The team spiraled from contention to 2010 form in a hurry while I was gone. I’m still trying to digest all that.

Reading what Jack Zduriencik has to say about most of this is interesting. As we’ve come to learn, he typically only speaks on stuff once something has been decided. Sure, there was the Don Wakamatsu “vote of confidence,” but there were also the surprise trades involving J.J. Putz and Cliff Lee.

Jack is a pretty smart guy, as anyone who has seen him speak would attest. He thinks out his words. So, when he says he doesn’t want to trade away the team’s strengths to fill a weakness, I tend to believe him. And it makes sense, too.

There are guys like Hultzen, Walker and  Paxton on the way. But I don’t think Zduriencik is in a rush to ship off a club controlled guy like Fister for minor pieces that won’t immediately add value elsewhere.

You know what else is interesting? How nasty regression can be and how quickly it can rear its ugly head.