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Lookout Landing’s Second Half Hopes and Dreams

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We talk about what we need out of the Mariners for the rest of the year

bdutton@thenewstribune.com

Zach Gottschalk: Alright, so we’re trying a new format for our coLLab today. Hopefully it doesn’t crash and burn, but that seems like it might be asking for a bit much.

I’m not sure that last week could have been much more rough. John, Isabelle, Grant, and myself all went to Denver for that Rockies series, and those games were about as un-fun as they could have been.

So, coming off of that devastating week, we took Monday off to refresh ourselves and talked a bit on Wednesday about our main worries for the second half.

With that in mind, let’s try to be uncharacteristically optimistic and talk about our hopes! Guys! What are your hopes?

Eric Sanford: Yeah, I can’t believe you guys traveled to see the Mariners get swept. I would be super mad.

Isabelle Minasian: The food was too good to be mad. Frosés go a long way to eliminate sweep frustrations.

Connor Donovan: And I thought traveling down to San Fran to see Félix get destroyed was bad.

Kate Preusser: [takes up tiny violin] I would say the person who had to sit at home and recap two of those three games had it worst.

John Trupin: Spoken like someone who did not sit in front of a man who dictated the entire game to his wife as the game went along with such insights as “Fly ball. Need a strike. Gritty pitch.”

Isabelle: In response to Zach though, the simple hope is playoffs. But, more than anything, I just really don’t want them to rip my heart out and stomp on it again. I hope they pick a narrative and stick to it, good grief.

Zach: Is there a situation where they don’t make the playoffs and also don’t rip our hearts out, though?

John: I don’t think so at this point.

Kate: No, because it will be such a disappointment on such a fun season.

Isabelle: Would y’all be satisfied with a single Wild Card game?

Zach: I would not.

John: I don’t think a Wild Card loss would be a dramatic disappointment.

Kate: Raise your hand if you’re haunted by the image of Félix sitting in the dugout alone in 2016.

*seven raised hand emojis*

Tim Cantu: At the time, I wouldn’t be satisfied with a Wild Card loss, Isabelle. Before this season, I would have been.

John: I would be devastated, but this is a flawed team - all I want for them is a shot.

Isabelle: I guess I don’t think a loss in the playoffs would rip out my heart. I genuinely can’t even fathom the Mariners in the playoffs, so there existence there would just wow me.

Eric: I will take a Wild Card loss, absolutely.

Kate: I think at least a Wild Card would be something. It’d mean the franchise is headed in the right direction. But not making it at all and having to hear about the drought for another year?

Grant Bronsdon: What I want, more than anything else, is one playoff game at Safeco. A Wild Card loss would be frustratingly close to that goal to fail.

Isabelle: YES Grant.

Zach: I agree with Grant. A Wild Card loss would be more easily stomached if it were a home game. Which won’t happen, but whatever.

Isabelle: Single game at home is lightyears away from a single game somewhere far off in enemy territory

Grant: I want to walk down Occidental and just wash in the teal & blue celebration before Game 3 of the ALDS. (Or the Wild Card game, should the M’s pass the Sox/Yankees.)

John: So what do we think achieving that goal is riding on?

Isabelle: HEALTH. Stay healthy, ya noodles.

Connor: The bats really need to turn it around soon.

Tim: I want them to figure out a way to fix the guys not producing or replace them. As much as I love them, Dee and Ryon aren’t giving us much right now and whether it’s the Canó return or a trade, shoring that up with actual production would leave me feeling a lot better regardless.

Isabelle: Edwin, more so than any other single player, needs to keep doing exactly what he’s been doing

Eric: RyOn, Dee, and Guillermo all need to turn it on.

Tim: Ending up in the second Wild Card spot and losing while getting garbage production from a couple positions would leave a powerful “what could have been” feeling.

Eric: Yeah, this season pretty much rests on Díaz being a complete badass like he was in the first half

Kate: Losing Canó is beginning to really show up as a major detriment, as much as they stiff-upper-lipped it early in the suspension.

Eric: I am excited to see chip-on-his-shoulder Canó

Grant: This lineup could use another strong lefty bat in the middle, that’s for sure.

Isabelle: Seager owes us, like, two months of world beating production

John: Do we think there’s any shuffle of the lineup when Robbie returns? I’m thinking Ryon’s demotion or Dee moving down

Isabelle: DENARD SPAN LEADOFF HITTER. GIMME.

Connor: PLEASE move Dee down to the 9-hole.

Grant: Agreed and agreed.

Isabelle: Denard has been unreal good this year

Isabelle: What about individual player hopes? If you could wave a magic wand over just one, who would it be and what would you fix?

Connor: I would fix Félix to be completely honest.

Grant: I want Dee to start hitting again, or make him learn how to walk. He’s such a fun player and he could easily electrify the lineup down the stretch.

John: Kyle Duerr Seager. He’s the only player on the roster who has a history of being a star hitter that has the ability, theoretically, still to do so.

Eric: My heart says, yes, make Félix good again. My gut says Seager being a beast again at the plate would have the biggest impact

John: Exactly.

Tim: We need innings so much though.If you could get 90 good innings from Félix the rest of the year that props up SO much.

John: I think, I suppose, Kyle getting hot feels both possible and massively impactful, whereas Félix being more than passable seems like so much to ask.

Isabelle: Does Erasmo make any difference, or is his return like using a paper towel when the washing machine explodes?

Tim: It’s like adding water, Isabelle.

John: Erasmo matters. His return gives them the option to not make a really bad deal at the deadline for another starter.

John: They still SHOULD go get a starter upgrade, but having a guy who is competent like Erasmo means they’re not fully desperate. So where would you like to see them add? What position are you hoping they upgrade?

Zach: Starting pitcher, still.

Connor: I would like either a reliever or a utility upgrade. Preferably both.

Kate: Yeah a swingman like Mike Montgomery who could give you long relief or spot starts would be great. boils furiously over trade, again

Tim: They need innings, and it’s Paxton and Marco that are the problem, and they’re our best pitchers. They’re at 119 and 113 innings, and Marco is post-TJ and not pushing Paxton too far in the regular season is wise to keep him viable for October.

I’ve got a hope: GO TO A SIX MAN ROTATION

John: That’s what they’ve suggested, and I think is why acquiring a starter fits better, Tim.

Zach:I guess that leads into another “hope”. Is there specifically someone you don’t want them to trade? What would it take for you to be ok with trading that guy?

Isabelle: Kyle Lewis and Julio Rodriguez are the only two ones remotely close

Tim: Julio Rodriguez. And something he couldn’t fetch.

Kate: If J-Rod brings Chris Archer or something I would be okay with that. It’d have to be someone who is controllable for next year, and a near-guaranteed clubhouse fit.

Isabelle: You don’t think they’ll do a rental, Kate?

Tim: After ownership got meddle-y about Yonder Alonso? Seems unlikely.

Isabelle: Fair

Grant: Other than Yonder, most (all?) of the Dipoto midseason acquisitions have been guys with multiple years of control. If we’re going to give up anything of real value from the farm, I’d like to see that continue.

Zach: If they were chasing the division that would be one thing. Playing for the one-game playoff, it would feel bad to trade anything significant for a rental.

Grant: As long as we stay away from JA Happ...

Isabelle: Yeah, no Happ please. I’d also really dislike Hamels.

Connor: The only reason I lean towards Hamels is that he’d be cheaper talent-wise

John: My truest, purest hope is that Kuma returns from his year of wandering to stabilize the rotation.

Zach: Yeah John, same. Won’t happen, but same.

Kate: I’d like something like Mike Leake: something that they have for a while, who is also a good fit for this ballpark.

John: So, with all of the hemming and hawing, after all this, do we think they make it?

Isabelle: Yes. Not how we want them to, perhaps, but yes.

Connor: I think they do.

Grant: Yes. Because I can’t even bear to think about a world where they don’t. But also because I think this team has enough talent in a weak WC2 pool to make it.

Connor: Yeah I really think the A’s are going to cool down, too.

Tim: I do too. As bad as it feels now, they have played well way more than they’ve played poorly these years, and their competition is a fairly weak A’s team that’s still 3 games back, with 10 left against us.

Zach: I just have to believe the A’s pitching will sink them

Isabelle: I think we can’t underestimate the impact of bringing back one of the best players in recent years, right in the dog days of August. (Editor’s note: Robinson Canó.)

Tim: Who’s basically 100% fresh.

Eric: Okay here’s a fun one: The Mariners make the Wild Card playoff game. They win. Who is the player of the game?

Isabelle: Jean.

Connor: JEAN.

Zach: Or Paxton.

Isabelle: Or Cruz.

John Trupin:

Isabelle: I watch that clip every time someone shares it

Eric: Yes. That’s what I want. Right there. But in a playoff game.

John: I think it is Nelson. The Mariners are a good team with a lineup full of good hitters, but with a game on the line the most intimidating hitter imaginable is Nelson Cruz.

Zach: I mean, it sounds like we all need a Wild Card win, regardless of who wins it.

Kate: True confession: I want nothing more than Andrew Romine to suddenly get it together.

Zach: That’s... a weird “top want”.

Kate: He’s so nice, so overshadowed by his brother, and Edgar has been working with him so intently. He has tried so hard. I just want people who try to get rewarded.

Isabelle: Yes but maybe Romine’s reward could be, like, not in a high leverage moment. Reward him with, say, a nice vacation. If the Mariners make it to a multi game series, Zunino is going yard at least once in an epic way. Actually that’s a fun question: what would you predict in the playoffs?

Zach: Predict, or hope?

Connor: I just want Félix to dominate in one start.

Isabelle: What could you see happening, in a good way, since this is the hopes article?

Zach: A hero moment from one of the emotional guys. I think a huge reason why I want these Ryon, Nelson, Jean, Félix, or Dee-led hero moments is that those moments will be ridiculously emotional for fans. And you know those player will react with just as much emotion, and it’s going to be sooo validating.

Eric: Yeah, if Félix gets a playoff start, I just want him to do well so badly it hurts. I will cry so hard either way, probably

Isabelle: I will not survive a Félix playoff start.

Connor: Just one last Supreme Court.

Isabelle: Talking about all of this, I can actually hear Safeco roaring. I can feel the way the crowd’s noise reverberates in the stadium. That’s what I want more than anything.

Kate: Oh man that stretch when they were going so good and Safeco was just electric was the happiest I’ve ever been at Safeco.

Zach: And also the hardest comedown.

Connor: Do we pick up Span’s option if he keeps hitting like he has?

Zach: Do you want them to?

Isabelle: Zach with the socratic method.

Connor: It’s an expensive option, for sure, but it would be really nice to have some insurance.

Kate: He’s been such good Gamel insurance.

Isabelle: Oh man, I totally forgot about Ben Gamel.

Zach: God, if we get a Ben Gamel playoff moment and not a Jean one...

John: I am trying to forget Ben Gamel: Center Fielder.

Kate: That did not work well.

Zach: Please, no more Ben Gamel talk. Really though, how far do you hope they go? Like... obviously we all want a World Series, but what would leave you *not* having a bad taste in your mouth?

Connor: Reaching the ALDS.

Grant: ALDS.

Zach: I think I’m there as well

Connor: As long as they don’t get swept.

Isabelle: They’ve gotta win one playoff game. That’s all I need.

John: ALDS appearance.

Eric: I mean, I hope they luck out and make it to the World Series but honestly not even a Wild Card game loss would leave a bad taste in my mouth. It would still be so much better than I ever expected out of this season

Isabelle: I just think there’s no way they make it through the ALCS

Grant: Going back to what I said earlier: a home playoff game is what I want.

Eric: A home playoff game would be most ideal, absolutely.

Isabelle: I’m getting greedy, Grant. I want a home playoff win

Kate: As long as they play their best in the second half I am pretty sanguine about whatever happens.

Eric: Mariners fans deserve the playoffs. As much as sports fans can deserve anything in this dumb world.

Kate: I feel strongly they deserve it especially because so many other teams have stumbled into the playoffs post second-Wild Card. But also I’m trying to be realistic about the challenges that face them in the way the system is set up. Boston and NYY are just stronger teams and they’d have to get really lucky to win.

Isabelle: I want this very fun group of people to be rewarded, and to be remembered positively.

Zach: Yeah, I think they mostly need to do well because I’m not at all convinced the Mariners will be good next year. And the A’s and Angels will both be scarier than they are right now.

Kate: But the Mariners could be scarier too. They’ll have a full year of Canó, a better handle on Marco, and another year of development and trades provided they don’t make any rush moves with rental players this year.

Isabelle: You’re not going to get the same levels of production that have made this team great though

John: I think the Mariners could be in a similar position, because while their luck might fall off their performance could improve. That is, realistically, predicated on re-signing Cruz.

Isabelle: JERRY. RE. SIGN. NELSON. CRUZ. Like you DFA’d Rzep.

Kate: Some of that depends on what Cruz’s camp wants. The Mariners just have to outbid whoever else it is by a little. I don’t think people will be rushing to give him a huge multiyear contract and if they are, good for him

Isabelle: And I believe, more than with any other player, that Cruz wants to stay in Seattle

Kate: I guess I just feel like, with what we saw last year, we saw Leake and Marco and Haniger and Segura all come in and be good, but not amazing right off, and now they have a year of being used to being in the AL and playing in Safeco and getting coached by this staff and settling in and feeling like they’re going to be here for a while.

So next year you hopefully have Dee and Ryon and if they pick up anyone else all feeling the same. You already have Wade built in. I guess I just don’t see how they’ll be drastically a poorer team.

Zach: I can see it, and I hope you’re right. I just feel like the numbers say they’re “just ok” and that seems like the likeliest outcome next year, too

Isabelle: Kate, I wish I had those same ideas. I think Jean can sustain this production over a season. I hope Edwin can (it seems reasonable). I don’t think you’re getting those seasons out of them again next year, at least not to the same degree.

Zach: Alright, we should probably wind down, but let’s end with one last rapid-fire prompt. One answer from everyone: what is your hope for yourself, as a fan, for the rest of the season?

Connor: The Mariners make it to the playoffs and are just fun, dammit.

Grant: I want to enjoy late summer evenings with friends and make new ones as we celebrate our sport, our team, and our city.

Kate: I know it’s a lot to ask for the team to be as fun as they were in June but man, just please keep the good times rolling and the city excited about the Mariners and Safeco rocking every night.

John: It is my hope to get better at understanding and analyzing the game, because I want to be able to anticipate and help shine a light on this team and this season which has brought me so much joy.

Isabelle: Honestly, I hope I stay invested. Off and on the last few weeks I’ve felt the baseball love wane as the real world has loomed larger. I hate feeling defeatist, thinking “ugh, now I understand why people dislike baseball” - I hope that this team will let me continue to enjoy them, and that we’ll be able to write so much goodness.

Zach: Yeah, it’s really hard to take a step back from both the world and from the standpoint of analyzing the game, and just let yourself enjoy it. I just want, for one moment, to feel the same joy I felt watching this team when I was a kid.

Kate: Yeah the team has been tough to love the last couple weeks. I am really hoping the All-Star game and Jean’s performance as a sign for things to come: the Mariners will keep rocking out, and the national madia will keep ignoring them.

Isabelle: I hope to cry with my mom at the end of Game 162, like we always do, but with tears of joy and the knowledge that they’re not done yet.

Zach: Alright, we’ve run way over what we had planned, so I’m going to cut if off here. Thanks for chatting, everyone! To everyone/anyone still reading, we’d love some feedback on this format. Was it a fun read? Or did you absolutely hate it? And what are your hopes for the season?