Good morning! That smell wafting into your nostrils is the semi-sweet acrid burn of the hot stove being lit after 8 months. Give it a second, it always belches smoke like that at first. By Thanksgiving it'll be purring like a kitten.
When Wade Davis threw a cutter close enough to the inside corner last night that the home plate umpire decided the proceedings were over the 2015 baseball season officially ended, and the Kansas City flipping Royals were crowned champions of baseball. It's a remarkable story, as the Royals' back-to-back World Series appearances and one championship are a level of success not seen since the Phillies of the previous decade. While the San Francisco Giants are already the 2016 champs the 2014-15 Royals are filled with lessons to learn, and non-existent lessons to make up.
One of the things that I love about baseball is there is no Way to win a baseball game. Wait, well, you have to score more runs than the other team so I guess there kind of is. BUT the method through which you score those runs is widely varied, and there isn't necessarily a fool proof better way to do that. The St. Louis Cardinals of the 80's ran like crazy while playing good defense. The Moneyball A's walked and dinger'd their way to wins while simultaneously lashing formless cowhides to their hands instead of gloves. The Kansas City Royals built a team around an incredible bullpen, good defense, and an unrelenting ability to make contact at an amazingly high rate.
It's exciting and hope-inspiring to know that there are so many routes to success, and perhaps so many things about this game we still don't comprehend or fully understand. Life would be a very boring thing with complete knowledge, and baseball would be the same. We've turned over a lot of rocks, but it's a big beach. New discoveries are always out there, and though the Mariners' roster is seemingly in a tough spot it was just 15 months ago that both Ned Yost and Dayton Moore were on the verge of being fired. Colin sings it true:
Before going to back-to-back WS and winning a title, the Royals hadn't made the playoffs in 28 years. With sports, you can never lose hope.— Colin O'Keefe (@colinokeefe) November 2, 2015
Some quick links/bullet points as we get this offseason rolling:
- With the season's end Free Agency is officially ongoing. I won't brutally and amateurishly blockquote the hell out of Bob Dutton's excellent synopsis of the Qualifying Offer. Rather you should just go read it. Of the Mariners' three free agents (Hisashi Iwakuma, Franklin Gutierrez, Joe Beimel) only Iwakuma seems a to be a candidate for the QO. It will be a huge surprise is he isn't both offered it and declines it, allowing him to test the free agency market. As Dutton states and we've thought for awhile Iwakuma's skills make retaining him a priority.
While Iwakuma's health will always be a concern he's shown over the past 2 1/2 seasons that when healthy he is an upper level starting pitcher. Given the state of the Mariners pitching depth, both in the major and minor leagues, and Iwakuma's apparent comfort in Seattle I think Dutton is correct when he calls re-signing Iwakuma the "Mariners top priority". Free Agent pitchers aren't cheap or plentiful, and thanks to the Mariners stupidly winning too many games that number 11 draft pick goes away if the sign one.
- If you are the type of person that enjoys fiddling around with rosters, salaries, and Excel I highly recommend this Fanpost, which will equip to do all those things and more*
*nope not more just that.
If you missed it over the weekend new contributor Sam Clark did an excellent job getting Braden Bishop to answer some questions for us. Bishop's answers are insightful both in how he and the coaching staff in Everett view the game and development. There are obvious (cough walks cough) things in there that run counter to a lot of philosophies we view as gospel around here but I would encourage you not to read too much into that. For one thing Bishop is coming off just his first year in professional baseball, and both his skills and approach to the game are far from a finished product. Secondly remember that this organization is in the process of overhauling the entire player development system.
I would not be surprised if a similar interview with Bishop in 12 months resulted in far different answers. Could I be wrong? Actually, no I cannot. Sorry. Huge thanks to Braden for taking the time to answer some questions.