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It's hard to believe we've only got one more of these.

I mean, granted, Opening Day feels like ages ago (although I still vividly remember the two total meatballs Brad Radke served up to Richie Sexson), but when you've been following something for such an extended period of time, it begins to feel like a constant, something you deal with every day like the morning shave or the drive to work. You come to depend on its reliability and consistency to the point where you're almost taking it for granted, because it's hard to imagine a time when you didn't have that kind of constant in your life.

That the season is finally winding down may seem like a good thing to those who've been following a team that gave up long before they ever did, but give it a few weeks and you'll miss it again, just like you did last winter and the winter before that. It's remarkable that we've put so much time and effort into developing new and innovative ways to enjoy the regular season without ever finding out how to remain enthused during the lull of November or the dead of February. I mean, yeah, great, we can watch our hockey, football, or (God help us) basketball, but none of us would be here if not for a borderline irrational love of the Mariners. We'll get thrown a bone here and there with a free agent acquisition or a juicy trade rumor, but that isn't enough. It's never enough. This team sucks, and it's almost impossible to watch, but I don't think there will ever come a day when I'm ready for baseball to go away for six months. Do parents ever have an easy time sending their kids away to college? Yeah, they know they'll see them again before too long, but they love their children too much to say goodbye.

To follow the analogy, then, the Mariners are like my child. My bratty, spoiled, underperforming, never-says-"I-love-you-too"-when-we-talk-on-the-phone child. Don't leave. Improve, but please, don't leave.

(Well, okay, Matt Thornton can leave.)

Biggest Contribution: Jeff Harris, +32.3%
Biggest Suckfest: Julio Mateo, -46.2%
Most Important Hit: Betancourt homer, +24.4%
Most Important Pitch: Ellis single, -24.6%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +10.8%
Total Contribution by Hitters: -65.6%

(What is this?)

I had a bigger post all written up, but the website devoured it, unleashing the fullest extent of my rage. I made sure that my closet took the brunt of it, although you could say the same about my fist. Now it hurts to type. Whatever. Suck it up, the season's almost over.

I'll be brief. The question that must surely be on the minds of at least two or three people: did Jeff Harris show enough to stick around in 2006? A quick look at the surface stats - 4.19 ERA, fewer hits than innings pitched, not many walks - might suggest that he did, but dig a little deeper and you see that this guy's lucky he didn't get totally blasted.

K%: 11.1%
BB%: 8.9%
HR%: 4.0%
BABIP: .232
GB/FB: 0.73
FIP: 5.55

As a comparison, Clint Nageotte's cup of coffee in 2004 was considered to be a complete disaster, and his FIP was only 3 points higher than Harris'.

Jeff Harris didn't embarrass himself. He rode a wave of crazygood luck, but even so, he gave us more than anyone could've expected from him coming into the year. He earned his shot, and I'm glad that the Mariners were willing to give him an opportunity to test his stuff against big league hitters.

Now that we've seen him for more than 50 innings, though, I think it's clear that he still has a lot of developing to do, and that - at 31 years old - it wouldn't be wise to have him try and do it here. The risk is too high and the potential payoff too low for it to be worth it. It'd be nice to keep him in Tacoma, given that he's apparently mastered the PCL, but Harris will want to go somewhere where he'll have better chances of getting another shot, maybe as someone's 26th man who gets called up from AAA whenever someone on the ML staff gets hurt. It's not really a great career, but it's something, and it's more than Harris would likely get with Seattle. I expect him to sign with a pitching-starved organization, probably in the AL Central, and I wish him the best of luck.

With his shot to left-center today, Yuniesky Betancourt narrowly avoided a homerless rookie season. The list of players who have gone 200+ plate appearances in 2005 without going deep is now down to seven as we head into the final day, with current and former Mariner teams well represented by Willie Bloomquist and Scott Podsednik. Betancourt joins a much more distinguished group of players who have gone 200+ plate appearances while going deep once, alongside such luminaries as Nook Logan and Gary Bennett.

George Sherrill:

K%: 33.3%
BB%: 6.9% (unintentional variety)

Brian Fuentes:

K%: 28.7%
BB%: 9.5%

BJ Ryan:

K%: 35.2%
BB%: 7.7%

Billy Wagner:

K%: 29.2%
BB%: 6.3%

When people see ".396" next to a hitter's name, they get pretty excited (and for good reason). So it is with Rene Rivera, who's having Willie Ballgame's 2002 small sample size extravaganza. He's smacked 19 hits (15 singles) in 48 at bats, leading some to believe that he may be the answer behind the plate for 2006. This is foolish. Even with the crazy batting average in Seattle, Rivera's overall season batting line stands at .285/.311/.395. It's better than his awful 2004, but it's still not good, and the high-singles/low-walk rates give it all kinds of crater potential.

Handing the ball to The King for the last game of the year tomorrow. 1:05pm PDT first pitch. Be there. No excuse for missing this one.