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MaiLLbag Time!

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Let’s usher out January together, the best way we know how - with a maiLLbag.

HeLLo, and weLLcome to the LLatest MaiLLbag! This week, we brought on three new faces to join the team and assist us as we’re gearing up towards the season. We’re still working through the final stages in our hiring process, but for now please meet the interns!

Three things about Ben the Intern:

  1. I am an avid collector of baseball cards and autographs. Anyone who wants to engage in a long conversation about those things should @ me. I won't be able to resist dropping whatever I'm doing to chat.
  2. I co-own and operate a small group personal training facility with my twin brother. This has led me to earning the nickname Iron Benn. [Ed note: if there’s one thing we’re good at here at LL, it’s giving nicknames. Please feel free to submit your nicknames for the other two interns.]
  3. My Top 3 Favorite Beers are, in order, Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, Paradise Creek Huckleberry Pucker, 10 Barrell Cucumber Crush. I apparently like fruity things.

Three things about Adam the Intern:

  1. Last summer I went to Thailand and got scuba certified. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life and I would highly recommend giving it a try if you ever have the opportunity.
  2. I’m still sad about trading Brad Miller, and will forever remain that way regardless of his baseball abilities.
  3. I live in a house with seven other guys near UW’s campus. Last weekend we ran out of forks and threw a party with an entry fee of one fork per guest. College is a wonderful place.

Three things about Luke the Intern:

  1. I went to the Dominican Republic last summer and got to play baseball with some locals. I struck out three times in as many at bats, but actually made contact twice.
  2. I have a twin sister who is way cooler than me (my younger sister is cooler than both of us). She goes to Gonzaga and likes to trash talk about basketball. At least UW has a football team.
  3. One of my roommates just bought the third season of Spongebob on Amazon and it's consumed the majority of our free time since.

***

ZZHop, LL: Which one of the alley hot dog vendors is the preferred choice for LLers?

SG: Joe is my guy. He’s the guy who used to be fat and now looks like Tom Delonge. The hot dogs are named after Mariners/Seahawks/Sounders depending on the game. I’m all in on Joe.

Ben: I'm not 100% certain, but I think his name is Al. The one with the yellow tent. That was the first one I ever went to, and you don't mess with perfection.

debaucheandroid, LL: Mariners record at 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 mark?

Ben: ¼ mark 21-19, ½ 45-35, ¾ 64-56

japanjohnny, LL: Please rank the outfielders including the high minors on terms of playing time you expect to see on the major league team in 2017. And yes, I would like you to include Boog Powell and others who may be trade bait.

Anders: Martin, Dyson, Haniger, Gamel, Heredia, Cruz, O’Malley, O’Neill, Waldrop, Powell.

Ben: Martin, Haniger, Dyson, Gamel, Valencia, Heredia, Cruz, O’Malley, O’Neill, Powell

Kate: Martin, Haniger, Dyson, Gamel is eaten by a bear so Heredia, Cruz, Valencia, O’Malley, me, that guy who wears the stuffed moose necklace, Zach Sanders sipping some boxed wine on his rolling lounge chair, O’Neill, Powell

the old wisdom, LL: What is your earliest Mariners memory?

Grant: I can’t go past 2001, when I truly became a fan. I remember being at Opening Day that season and reading the sports section of the newspaper every day (I’d literally lay it out on the floor and lie down to read). But my favorite moment is when I was lucky enough to go watch BP from the field and get my picture taken with Lou Piniella. I was all of 7 years old, and when Lou came over he said something along the lines of “Aw, I hate this crap.” Seven-year-old Grant immediately started crying, thinking that Lou Piniella actually hated him and wondering what he did to deserve this. But all was cleared up and I have a great framed picture where I’m wearing a Hawaiian shirt with Sweet Lou.

(By the way, we lost 4-1 to Steve Sparks that day.)

Anders: Oh man. Well despite the fact that I was born the day the Mariners first clinched the playoffs, I obviously don’t remember that. My earliest memory is Raul Ibanez hitting a home run while I was barely paying attention to the game (I was probably playing Pokemon on my GameBoy Color or something). I remember thinking it was cool how they had a “RAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUULL” chant. It sounded like a wolf call to me.

Adam: When I was really little my parents would always make me go to bed before the game ended. I remember sneaking out to the TV in the basement and watching the Mariners come back to beat the Angels with a crazy rally in the 9th. I can still picture the confusion/happiness on my dad’s face as I told him all about it the next day.

Luke: On my eighth birthday (I zoned out for the first seven years of my life and literally don’t remember anything from 1996-2003) I went to a Mariners game with my dad and a few of my friends, one of whom wore an empty bucket of popcorn on his head for the majority of the game. The M’s lost a two run lead and went to extras, but Bucky Jacobsen saved the day with a walkoff dinger in the bottom of the 10th.

John: I remember walking up a seemingly endless series of spiral ramps in the Kingdome to sit in the nosebleeds on the third base side, way down the line. Randy Johnson pitched. We beat the A’s. I was full of joy.

Ben: I remember my first game I saw was against the Red Sox, and we had seats in the 300 level and I saw that Nomar Garciaparra was signing autographs all the way down at the third base dugout. My brother and I sprinted down the endless stairwells, and got there just in time to see him walking away. I did get a Jackie Robinson Little League Day poster, I believe.

Kate: I remember going to kid’s picture day at the Kingdome and Junior was there and he was so nice to all of us. I couldn’t get anywhere near him because I was pretty little, like eight at the time. Randy Johnson was also there and he was a little more gruff and I really wanted him to smile so I got on my dad’s shoulders and called out, “Hey Mr. Johnson, I like how you pitch” and he gave me this giant smile.

cfred, LL: Do you think Sonny Gray will return to form this season?

Luke: There’s reason to believe he could. He was just punished by the longball last season; his 17.5% HR/FB rate in 2016 was almost double that of the previous two years of his career. He also surrendered a staggering .319 average on balls in play, which is .051 higher than he’s allowed in his career. I would expect both of those numbers to fall this year.

Henry H, LL: Of all the iterations of team colors, etc – which is your favorite throwback (or current) uni?

Isabelle: I adore the cream Sunday alts, and if they brought back the powdered blue throwbacks I might actually be persuaded to purchase a real jersey.

Grant: I agree with Isabelle - the Sunday jerseys are amazing, and I love my Kyle Seager teal jersey as well. But my absolute favorite, without question, is the Turn Ahead the Clock jersey from 1998. It’s weird, it’s irreverent, it’s bizarre...but what a look!

Ben: My uniform preferences seem to go against the grain from the common man. I was absolutely elated when it was announced the M’s were bringing back the Northwest Greens (Teal). I also was a huge fan of the Turn Ahead the Clock uniforms. SPOILER ALERT: Kevin Mather confirmed they tried to bring that promotion back this year, but ran short of time before the promo schedule had to be out. He said they're “not giving up on it” though. I also won't rest until we bring back the sleeveless jerseys.

SG: I feel the silver billed cap with the compass is incredibly underrated. I also love those deep navy jerseys with the silver piping that say “SEATTLE” across the chest that they wore when they opened Safeco in 2000. They need to replace the current navy jerseys with these for the sake of my OCD.

Henry H, LL: Who is your least favorite Angel on their roster now, and least favorite all-time? And who is your favorite Angel all time, and on their roster now?

John: Least favorite currently: Kole Calhoun. Least favorite all-time: Tim Salmon. Favorite currently: Andrelton Simmons. Favorite all-time: Mo Vaughn.

Ben: My current least favorite would probably have to be Pujols, just for the damage he's done to us. I know Trout has too, but that man is just fun to watch. My least favorite all time would probably be Jered Weaver, just for being a tool to Mr. Nice Guy Kyle Seager.

Kate: [Obligatory comment about strongly disliking Yunel Escobar]

former_jr, Twitter: Where at Safeco should they put the Dipoto statue?

Ben: Next to the Ben Gamel statue, of course.

Aussie Mariner, LL: Come up with a baseball haiku?

Grant:

Kuma throws a gem

Seager saves the day again

Isn’t baseball great?

GrizBronc, LL: What is the most inexplicable/supernatural thing you've ever experienced?

Ethan: Okay, I actually have a pretty decent (albeit long) response for this. My grandfather died when I was very young. I didn’t know him very well, but I know he had a love for birds. Immediately after his death, my family swore that whenever one of them went on a long road trip, they’d see a large, black bird that seemed to follow their car all throughout the trip. Sometimes it’d fly near the car, sometimes it’d hover high above it in the sky, and sometimes it would be perched on the side of the road. I brushed most of it off as a kid. Birds are everywhere and I was sure they were just convincing themselves it was the same winged guardian when really it was just hundreds of similar looking birds.

Flash forward a few years. I’m now sixteen and the proud owner of a license. I grew up in a fairly small town, the kind where if you leave your house after 9pm there won’t be one other car on the road. I was driving back from a friend’s house around one in the morning one night. Like I mentioned, no other cars on the road. I get to the final stoplight before my house, an intersection requiring me to cross the highway separating our two neighborhoods. Being an irresponsible teenager, I was nose-deep in my cell phone, spitting out a text message to another friend (this was back when operating a phone while driving was still legal). I look up, the light turns green, and I start making my way through the intersection, part of my attention still on the text I’m sending. Right as I’m about to get all the way out into the intersection, a bird smashes into my windshield, I jolt to attention, and slam on my brakes. Immediately off to my left, a large truck blows through a red light and misses my tiny jeep by no more than a foot. If not for that bird slamming into my windshield, I probably continue on and end up getting smashed to death by a F-350. We can call it coincidence if we like, but it’s still the most unexplainable thing that’s ever happened to me.

FlannelBacon, LL: Which Ken Griffey Jr. branded video game is the best?

Ethan: The first baseball game I was ever completely and totally obsessed with was Ken Griffey Jr. Slugfest for Nintendo 64, so I’m a teensy bit biased here, but it’s absolutely Ken Griffey Jr. Slugest for Nintendo 64.

Ben: Ken Griffey Jr Baseball for Super Nintendo, hands down. SO many buff guys smashing batts over their legs. This game is also back, featured as “Retro Mode” on the new iteration of the MLB The Show video game.

SG: Winning Run and it isn’t even close.

Sweezo, LL: Are you going to Edgar's number retirement ceremony? How much does this mean to you?

Kate: Wild horses, etc. For me--and I think I’ve said this before--Edgar is my baseball alpha and omega. He was the thing that really got me invested in baseball, and when he retired and I moved away, I stopped following the Mariners closely. Then I came back and he came back because sometimes you can go home again. I am going to cry SO MUCH, and you can expect to see some pretty sniffly sentimental stuff on the site around then, fair warning.

sanford_and_son, LL: Now that it's official, what will you miss most about not having a Dae-Ho Lee on the roster?

Grant: Well, I won’t miss the production, given that he was barely above average as a hitter (and didn’t contribute much as a fielder or baserunner). But wow, was he fun. And listening to Scott Servais on Brock & Salk today was fascinating, because he was positively glowing about Dae-Ho - even said the team will try to Skype him in at some point. Hopefully Vogelbach can rekindle some of that attitude. [ED NOTE: We are not implying that all larger people are necessarily jolly, just that we now have another first baseman who also seems to have a pretty good sense of humor]

Anders: He was such an easy player to root for. He’d played his entire career in Korea and Japan but just wanted to live out his dream. He also seemed to be willing to work hard and make any adjustment he had to make to do it. Even though he really tapered off hard at the end of the season, it was hard not to get excited when he stepped up to the plate. He was always a risk to go deep.

chrisso, LL: What will happen first? Edgar gets into the HOF or Mariners make post season.

Grant: Mariners make the postseason, if for no other reason then I can’t imagine a world where the M’s have to blow it all up and rebuild - and that would happen should Edgar make the HOF first, since this team’s window is basically two years in its current incarnation.

Anders: Mariners make the postseason (I hope). These next two years are really the team’s best shot, and I don’t see Edgar getting inducted until his final year on the ballot.

sunlightgraham, LL: If by the trade deadline the Mariners hold or are in contention for a WC spot and nothing more (meaning Lastros are running away as Firstros), what should Dipoto's deadline course of action look like?

Grant: Continue the general policy of this offseason: measured win-now moves that won’t gut the future. AKA, don’t trade Tyler O’Neill or Kyle Lewis, but basically anyone else is fair game in the right deal.

Unknown: I second Grant’s answer. But I may add Andrew Moore to that list. [This answer wasn’t me (Kate) but it’s basically exactly what I would say, minus the “may”]

Broberg, LL: What are your favorite sports hot takes you've ever heard?

Isabelle: the father of a friend of mine is convinced that the M’s should trade Félix this offseason to get two or three good pitchers in return. He cited “that one good one on the Indians,” as an example, to which I have to imagine he was referencing Corey Kluber and/or Trevor Bauer. So, um, yes. I wish I lived in his world.

Anders: Last March, I traveled to Baltimore with three other guys from my school newspaper so we could cover the CAA men’s basketball tournament (go Hofstra). All three of the guys I went with are hardcore Yankees fans (not the bad kind though). It was about 2am when my buddy and I started getting into an argument because I made a hot take stating that Scott Rolen was as good as if not better than Derek Jeter (which is true at least by hitting metrics, and the fWAR battle is pretty close too: 70 for Rolen and 72 for Jeter). The other Yankees fans took his side, and one of them said Jeter was better than Ken Griffey Jr. We all quickly turned on him after that one, but he stood by it. To this day we still argue over which of the two takes was hotter.

Broberg, LL: For the 2017 season, if you had to pick one regular M's starter to have their career best year, and one to have their worst, who would you pick?

Grant: Gotta go with the King for the best season. Given that it’s not entirely ridiculous to expect a bounceback year, if he was truly his best self on the mound, the M’s pick up something like 3-4 wins over the projections, which is huge. As for worst...probably either Danny Valencia (hopefully giving Vogdor more at-bats would then work out) or one of our outfielders, since it seems like we suddenly have lots of depth out there.

Ben: I would like to have vintage Felix for 2017. Out current rotation with a lights out ace says “playoff bound” to me. I guess I would say Dyson having the worst season, because even at his worst, he's a valuable defender and base stealer.

Broberg, LL: If the M's host Game 1 of the World Series, who should throw out the first pitch?

Grant: Marilyn Niehaus. Dave would be smiling down from heaven.

ZS: Have to go with the only HOFer in team history: Griffey, preferably throwing to his dad.

John: I second Grant’s for maximum emotional breakdown by me.

Henry H, LL: How do you rank your hatred for the Rangers against the other AL West Teams?

John: They're all like plague sores, but the Rangers are like one that is on your elbow or kneecap, where it just can't avoid being moved and exacerbated.

Henry H, LL: Who is your favorite player on the Rangers (now)

Adam: Beltre, mostly due to his back and forth with Felix.

Henry H, LL: Who is your favorite Ranger all time?

Grant: Nolan Ryan, mostly because his “fight” with Robin Ventura is the greatest takedown in baseball history.

John: Fuckin Pudge.

Henry H, LL: Who is your least favorite Ranger (now), and all time?

John: Rafael Palmeiro Corrales *spits*

seiferguy, LL: In honor of PRO BOWL WEEK, how do you feel about the MLB ASG changes? Any changes you'd like to see to it?

Adam: I’m happy the All-Star Game is no longer for home field advantage in the World Series. It was a crazy idea to begin with, and I think it’s better to truly keep it the fun exhibition game it’s designed to be. With this change, the players will still be incentivized to play hard because the winning team will now receive monetary bonuses, so I’m excited to see how that turns out. The MLB All-Star Game is my favorite All-Star Game in professional sports, so there really isn’t much I would change in addition to what they have already. Maybe they could host it at Safeco every year?

John: Metal Bat BP/Home Run Derby. BESRs.

ZZHop, LL: Where is your favorite pre-funk spot near the stadium? I generally hit Collins Pub, but I went to Flatstick last fall, and they had a nice beer selection, and mini-golf.

Isabelle: I like to be supplied with free snacks and people watching, so Hooverville was fun for me last season. However, if I may ask a question to your question, does anyone know of bars near Safeco that offer free popcorn? Because peanuts are nice but popcorn is better.

SG: Hooverville is dope, but I live and die by the Triangle. $2 Rainiers are the best way to ramp up toward buying a $9.50 Miller Lite at Safeco.

Ben: I’m still trying to find my spot, but I've had good experiences at Hawks Nest (cheap buckets of beer and plenty of seating) and Pyramid (tailgating atmosphere, and happy hour $5 good quality beers and ciders)

aussie_chop, LL: How would you rank your hate for our AL rivals?

Grant: 1. Angels. 2. Astros. 3. Rangers. Then fifty feet of crap. Then there’s [the A’s]. Right now, I pity them more than anything (whatever happened to superstar general manager Billy Beane??), but I’ll always hate the Angels for being obnoxious, the Astros for not perpetually living up to the Lastros moniker, and the Rangers for winning 95 games with a +8 run differential.

John: I forget about the Astros a lot. Rangers-Angels-A’s-Astros.

Ice Dad, LL: Which rookie has a bigger year, Vogelbachinator or Hanigermaester?

ZS: Depends on how you define “bigger”. WAR wise, Haniger simply because he actually adds some defensive value to the table. Offensively, maybe Vogey.

Isabelle: I’ll likely be the last person to jump on the Vogelbach train, even if he does perform strongly at the start of the season, so my money’s on Haniger. If you need further convincing check out his AAA numbers last season, they’re a little bit obscene.

John: Hopefully Anyone New Is Gonna Emerge Rapidly.

Ben: I’m fully on Team Haniger. I think he has a chance to be an underrated 5 tool guy, perhaps cut from the same cloth as Kole Calhoun. I'm excited about Vogie’s on base skills, but I'm just worried about his defensive prowess as our everyday first baseman. Hoping I'm wrong though!

Freaking Rodney, LL: Which player in the farm system is most likely to have his jersey retired by the Mariners someday?

Ethan: Kyle Lewis has, in my opinion, the highest ceiling in the system by a decent margin. He’s a five-tool player who will likely look even better when he makes the inevitable switch to a corner outfield spot. The rehab seems to be going well and with him being just 21-years-old, there isn’t a ton of obligation to rush him to the majors for any reason whatsoever. It will be interesting to see how he develops moving forward, including whether he settles his massive leg kick, but I’m overly excited for Lewis. I still don’t really understand how he fell to the Mariners in the draft.

Isabelle: Kyle Lewis. I know he played a grand total of 30 games in low-A ball, and is in the process of recovering from one of the more gruesome injuries I’ve seen take place on the field, but I have a lot of early faith in him. He’s got a natural athleticism that we haven’t seen in some of the Jack Z-era draft picks, and seems both baseball and real-world intelligent. I’m completely biased, since he profiles as my favorite kind of player, and can’t wait to see him debut at Safeco sometime in the next few years.

Ben: Isabelle and Ethan were dead on with this one. Lewis seems to have all the skills necessary, and could move through the system quickly, giving him a nice long Major League career. For what it's worth, listening to him all weekend at FanFest, he definitely has a ton of charisma for a young guy.

Aussie Mariner, LL: You are in charge of making one of the Mariners TV commercials for this season. How does it go?

ZS: Felix is followed around by Father Time and Death throughout his pregame routine. He turns, fires, and plunks them both with a heater to their faces. Then he awakes. It was all a dream...or was it?

Luke: Remember the commercial that showed Felix striking guys out and then gifting them some flowers and a kind note? My commercial would be very similar, but instead it would be Drew Smyly fanning some batters and they would return to the dugout with creepy smiles like those in the old Jell-O pudding face commercial. Get it? Smyly. Ha.

Adam: Due to the huge spike of athleticism in the outfield for 2017, I would have Dyson, Martin, and Haniger all catching ridiculous things in the outfield. Fish, teddy bears, ect. The Mariners outfield catches everything.

Chris (from Bothell), LL: Why?

John: You remember.

the old wisdom, LL: Dustin Ackley was released by the Yankees in November. How does that make you feel? Does that make you feel? Dustin Ackley has 6 more career WAR than Justin Smoak, but Smoak is signed for 2 more years. Is a long 0 WAR career better than a short, positive WAR career?

Isabelle: And once more my thoughts turn to the Dustin Ackley shirseys in the Mariners Team Store. When will they be gone? Will they ever? Will people have to eventually acquiesce and purchase them all, or will the manager eventually sigh and pack them away?

Grant: As the semi-proud owner of a signed Dustin Ackley jersey...and a signed Dustin Ackley M’s hat...I don’t really know how to feel. He was just so good his rookie year. Did the M’s absolutely destroy his development and prevent him from being the next retired number to hang in Safeco? (This is a rhetorical question, please don’t answer it, I don’t want to hear it.)

kennerdoloman, LL: How much do you expect Tyson Ross to contribute to the Rangers?

Ben: I imagine Ross will battle injuries in 2017 as well, but manage 1-2 WAR in about a half season’s worth of starts. Something about him makes me want to say “Rich Harden”.

Kate: I want to be wrong, but as Levi Weaver pointed out in the “Ask A Rangers Fan” article, he went to the Rangers specifically because their medical staff has experience with TOSS. This icky feeling in my gut says he rebounds and becomes extremely annoying to us late in the season.

wyguy, LL: Suppose Safeco adds one cocktail to the beverage selection to join the tasty assortment of beers. What should it be?

Ben: AMF’s, of course. They could charge $20 for them, and we could all swim in a sea of blue vomit in The Pen, similar to the swimming pool at Chase Field.

Kate: Ben, ew. I’m reconsidering your internship. And also, it should be the Moscow Mule, because a) it is a perfectly delicious and refreshing cocktail; and b) it’s Manny Acta’s favorite, and I would love to chill with him drinking some MMs and talking saber stuff.

Matthew Swinkey, LL: Who would win in a Home Run Derby: Jarrod Dyson or Giancarlo Stanton hitting left handed?

Grant: Amazing hypothetical here. I lean Dyson because I think there’s a huge learning curve to hitting from the opposite side of the plate, especially to actually hit a baseball at least 325+ feet. But give Stanton some BP to warm up and he might end up winning.

Kate: It depends. Is Giancarlo healthy?

I Love Compasses, LL: Seems to me we have 2 proven big leaguers in Martin and Dyson. What are your hopes for the rest between Gamel, Haniger, Heredia, and Boog*. Who starts opening day? Who starts then regular season finale (assuming all healthy)?

Ethan: My preferred player of the outfield pile is Mitch Haniger, solely because the guy has so many tools to fall back on. Between the power, speed/athleticism, and valuable defense at all three outfield spots, he appears to be the safest bet of the group to not implode. After Haniger, I feel strongest in Heredia’s ability for similar reasons (swapping out Haniger’s power for Heredia’s plate approach). For me, Gamel and Powell are pretty distant from those two.