Welcome, Mariners family, to the first weekend of the regular season. It hasn’t exactly been a good start to the year, but it’s a long campaign. And we know just the thing to take your mind off it: the mailbag!
JLoLo: Over / Under: Safeco Field average attendance will be 28,000 during the 2017 regular season.
ZS: For reference, average last year was 27,999 according to ESPN. I say Over, but just barely.
AR: I think a lot of this depends on their performance in April. If the M’s avoid digging themselves into a hole, which would risk extinguishing a lot of their pre-season hype, they have a good chance to see their attendance grow for the fifth year in a row. Unfortunately, with their tough, road-heavy start to the season (and Smyly’s untimely injury), they could find themselves several games under .500 come May, which would not bode well for their attendance numbers.
JT: The preseason hype was well done and understandable, but I agree with Andrew - April’s schedule is really tough, and having seen the LL Twitter account’s mentions, I can imagine folks being gun-shy if they start out poorly.
12thDan: What are the best or funniest ideas you have for Mariner hitters ideal walk up songs? I have mine listed below:
Jarrod Dyson – Speed racer
Dan Vogelbach – Sexy back
Robinson Cano – Macho man
ES: I've long wished Felix would walk out to anything from T.I.’s “King” album. “Sexy Back” for Vogelbach is so perfect, but I also submit Big Pun “I Don't Wanna Be a Player No More” which could work on several levels, but hopefully just the part about “crushing a lot” (yes, let's do the radio edit).
AR: This answer is definitely way too much on the nose, and the lyrics make very little sense for a “get pumped” song, but I would absolutely endorse the idea of Danny Valencia using O Valencia! as his walk-up song. Baseball (like most things) would benefit from the addition of The Decemberists.
Thehooplehead: As of this date, what is the worst current contract in MLB?
ZG: I mean, it’s gotta be Albert Pujols, right? Even though he’s still at least decent, he’s still got another 5 years and almost $140 million left on his contract with the Angels.
JT: I agree, Pujols is the biggest albatross. Carl Crawford making $22 million to not play for the Dodgers is excellent though.
GB: Last year, I might’ve said Josh Hamilton, but now it’s definitely Pujols. Incredible that the Angels have/had both of those contracts on their books.
Corco: What is the best looking Mariners uniform among current players? I mean in terms of last name-number symmetry – which is the most aesthetically pleasing? For purposes of this question the player is not physically attached the the uniform.
ES: I love this question. I want to say Felix because the number 34 just looks great on the home whites, road greys, and Sunday alternates. But it's hard to beat the simplicity of Cano with 22 and Cruz with 23. 4 letter names with sequential numbers.
KP: 17 is a tall, slender number that looks nice with the tall, slender letters in HANIGER. The capital I right in the middle pleases me.
wyguy: I frequently see reference to an "80 grade" baseball name. What are the criteria for a great baseball name? And if you had to field an AL All-Star team based purely on name quality, who would the starting lineup be? I’m assuming Tuffy is the catcher.
GB: I’ll answer your first question - an 80-grade name needs to be easily identifiable by either first or last name. It also needs to sound good when shouted by an announcer/little kids pretending to be announcers in their backyards. So as both the answers below me say, I think Mookie Betts is a phenomenal baseball name. It also gets bonus points for the crowd being able to shout “MOOOOOOOO-KIEEEEEEEE” just like when Mariners crowds would do the same for Edgar.
- Catcher - Jesus Sucre
- Pitcher - Bartolo Colon
- 1B - Brandon Belt
- 2B - Brian Dozier
- SS - Didi Gregorius
- 3B - Manny Machado
- OF - Mookie Betts
- OF - Mike Trout
- OF - Yoenis Cespedes
- DH - Jim Thome (old timer’s vote)
- SP: Rookie Davis
- C: Buster Posey
- 1B: Yonder Alonso
- 2B: Jonathan Schoop
- SS: Dansby Swanson
- 3B: Manny Machado
- LF: Mookie Betts
- CF: Byron Buxton
- RF: Yoenis Cespedes
- DH: Xander Bogaerts (or, if they must be a DH, Shin-Soo Choo)
- CP: Jumbo Diaz
GrizBronc: When is the current window of opportunity for the Mariners likely to close, and what should the Mariners do once it’s clear that the window has closed?
ES: I’d say 2017 is the last year for the big 3 of Hernandez, Cruz, and Cano, obviously. What Dipoto does with that result will decide whether the window for contention is closed for next year or not. Cruz will in all likelihood be gone, Hernandez will sadly be relegated to 3 or 4 or 5 in the rotation, and Cano will still be good, but at least beginning to decline steeply. So, move Cano and Felix? Move Seager? Begin a true rebuild and try to restock the farm system? I would predict that Dipoto will try to make the kind of moves that make 2018 a contending year and will put off a complete teardown/rebuild until 2019, barring any catastrophic collapses from Cano, Felix, and/or Seager.
aussie_chop: What mostly popular foods can you not stand?
ZS: Any and all seafood. If I want to eat something that smells like it came out of a dumpster I can do so for free, thank you very much.
EN: I hate cheesecake with a passion. It’s awful.
Matt: I do not eat food.
GB: I don’t like smoked salmon. I like fish in general, and I even like salmon, but smoked salmon really isn’t my thing.
BSVulturis: So where were you when Edgar hit The Double?
EN: I was four years old and probably playing my SEGA Pico.
KP: In front of the TV, at home, ignoring my homework.
GB: I was really excited to turn two in a few days, so...probably eating crackers or something?
MichaelCTR: Any predictions on what the Mariners' best play of the 2017 season will be and who will pull it off?
ES: Only TOOTBLANing once every 2 weeks
KP: We’re talking defense, right? I feel like Dyson will be involved somehow. I still remember how he zoomed in to back up third base on a play in ST. He's very, very exciting to watch.
GB: Gimme an exciting walkoff hit, a la the Leonys dinger from a year ago, but this time from Robbie.
corco: What is your take on llamas as pets? Would you adopt (a) llama(s)? After which Seattle Mariner would you name said llama(s)?
EN: My cousin’s neighbor has a pet llama named Greg, so I guess I’d name mine Greg Dobbs.
btownfritz: Which Mariner hitter will lead the team in:
b) Home Runs
EN: a) Canó, b) Cruz, c) Seager, d) Canó, e) Paxton
KP: Segura, Cruz, Seager, Canó, Canó
JJ Keller: What will Felix's WAR be for 2017?
EN: I’ll say 3-4, somewhere in there.
GB: My heart tells me 4+, but my head tells me 2-3. I’m probably more pessimistic on Felix than most, but I’m pretty convinced his best days are behind him, and I’m even scared he won’t be able to do a whole lot in the years to come.
FlannelBacon: What would be a good name for a potential Seattle NHL team?
ZS: The Seattle Skating Sonics.
ES: I’m a big fan of incorporating a historical name, but it seems like that involves a lot of red tape. I’m not against just fully bringing back the Seattle Metropolitans, Christmas unis and all. I would also be very into the Sockeyes, the Steelheads, the Thunderbirds, the Breakers, or the Totems. Honestly, though, as long as the colors are royal blue and kelly green (the best colors for sports teams period, fight me), the name matters little to me.
Broberg: If you had to live the rest of your life out of North America, where would you live, and why?
EN: Probably Vancouver, although my fiancee would put up a serious fight for London.
Chris (from Bothell): Would baseball lose some of its poetry and flair if home plate were instead called fourth base?
ZS: That just sounds gross. I don’t think it could ever be called that because technically it has another job, as well, so it’s not an actual base. There is a clear distinction of duty.
AR: For better or worse, I believe that the phrase “fourth plate” would conjure up memories of consuming (enjoying?) late-night “fourth meals” at Taco Bell. This would probably take away from the poetry of baseball and make me hungry.
Chris (from Bothell): Are there reservations about this season that you had and/or expressed this past winter, that are still there, but are clouded by the optimism of spring training?
GB: Now that we’re a few games into the season, I’d say I’m a bit more pessimistic about the bullpen and that those worries took a backseat during spring training. They’ll figure it out, and getting Zych/Cishek back will certainly help, but it’s hard to be ebullient given the 1-4 start.
IncredibleSulk: How much more weight should we put into performances in the WBC relative to Spring Training?
ZS: Maybe a couple points more simply because it’s against better competition (in theory), but we’re talking about tiny samples and guys potentially overly amped up in a playoff-esque atmosphere. Watch it, enjoy, incorporate any new information, but don’t take it too seriously.
Aussie Mariner: Best infant onesie you've ever come across? Sub-question: Best Mariners related infant onesie you’ve ever come across?
ES: Hey fellow Dad! My family and friends fed into my awful Mariners obsession big time when it came to baby stuff and we ended up with no less than 3 Mariners onesies, 2 pairs of Mariners pajamas, a stocking hat, a cool t-shirt with rookie card Griffey on it, and other assorted odds and ends. I think my favorite is the Hernandez onesie that my friend Bobby gave us because if I were a baby who was aware of Mariners gear aesthetics, that’s the one I would want to wear. It’s still too big for our girl but she’ll grow into it soon. PS: Baby, I am so, so sorry.
olywriter: What is the highest amount of money you would be willing to pay for a World Series Game 7 ticket at Safeco Field?
ZS: About $3.50.
ES: Assuming I would have already paid out the ass for at least one of the preceding playoff games (including the one game WC playoff, let’s be real), I’d probably be broke and also scared to death so staying home and crying upon either outcome sounds fine to me.
GB: Independent of other games I’d have already shelled out for (Eric has a good point), I’d probably say a few hundred dollars? More? That would be a really tough game for me to miss.
Tony Chiechi: We’ve all heard about the lack of talent in the minors. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t every minor league team make the playoffs last season? With two winning championships and one making the final series? Did they all overachieve, or is it possible that our prospects are underrated?
ZS: Maybe our prospects are underrated because they are now in a better system for development and aren’t being dragged down by Jack’s bullshit, but with minor league teams, it’s not always about winning. A Triple-A team can be very good by having a large number of Quad-A guys who aren’t prospects. Ryne Harper in Double-A was a good example last year: he’s no longer a prospect in any form, but he was a good three or four years older than the level so he handled them with ease, as he reasonably should.
AR: To add to Zach’s response, Stefen Romero was the best/most productive hitter on Tacoma’s roster last year, compiling the highest OPS and the most plate appearances. Additionally, their pitching staff was led by Joe Wieland and Cody Martin, two very nice gentlemen who you don’t want to see pitch a lot for your big-league club. It’s easy to conflate “minor leaguers” with “prospects”, but they’re not necessarily the same.
EN: Don’t want to spoil the mood, but I’m not sure we see the same levels of success this year. The system had a lot of guys being held back to repeat a level last year, and because of it you had teams loaded with non prospects who were too good for their current level. Guys like Kyle Petty and Chantz Mack, who were just overwhelmingly good hitters in High-A ball but were clearly overmatched at any level above it, were able to stay down and put up crazy numbers. The organization has made most of those guys take the next step this year, and I expect most will come back down to earth. The only lineup that really truly excites me of all the full-season teams is the Rainiers’ lineup. Everyone else seems to have a neat pitching prospect or two, maybe a couple of intriguing hitters and that’s all.