The SB Nation conglomerate has the occasional benefit of putting us into contact with devout fans and writers for other teams. With the Mariners slated to face the Colorado Rockies six times in the next week and a half, we turned to Purple Row editor Adam Peterson to get the important info on a team (and fan base) that often feels like the Mariners’ kindred NL spirits.
You can read my answers to Adam’s questions here!
Q 1: At least a few Mariners fans were intrigued when the Rockies spent heavily on bullpen arms this offseason, since Seattle’s offseason plan appeared to be “have a good bullpen and chill.” What has been the issue with Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw this year? Relatedly, why is Wade Davis #71?
Bullpens are fickle. That was part of the reason many of us saw the league-worst 2016 bullpen turning into a good bullpen in 2017. Turns out, three of the most reliable guys left in free agency so they had to rebuild. Given a lot of money was coming off the books after 2017, and the team (apparently) reluctant to spend on clear areas of need (*cough* the offense) spending money on guys with track records like Davis and Shaw (and re-signing Jake McGee) seemed to reflect a mantra of “build a good bullpen that looks like our good bullpen from last year and chill.” Then June happened, a horror show of bullpen disasters so traumatic that if the trailer were shown before a Pixar movie, children and parents would run out screaming.
Davis hasn’t been that bad, all things considered. He is allowing a tinge more walks and hits than last year, but has been otherwise effective and three bad outings are blowing up his overall numbers. Shaw is a different story. Starting in mid-May he just seemed to forget how to throw strikes that wouldn’t be clobbered. The worst part was, on Terry Francona’s advice, Bud Black kept running him out there in high leverage situations. After a month long stretch where he had an ERA that resembled an old SAT score, he came down with a “calf injury” with an “indefinite timetable.” By then I’m sure everyone was relieved.
Oh, and Davis wore no. 17 in Kansas City before joining the Cubs. Apparently some kid named Kris Bryant didn’t want to give up the number so he switched to 71. Since the Rockies retired Todd Helton’s 17 a few years ago, he stuck with 71. Really compelling stuff, I know.
Q 2: Nolan Arenado and Kyle Seager seem like kindred spirits in the “nationally under-appreciated franchise great” experience. What should Mariners fans know (and fear) about y’all’s elite hot corner coverman?
Since you are going to see him six times in 10 days, you will get a better chance to appreciate just what makes Nolan great in a way most other fans don’t. It’s not that he makes spectacular plays on defense; it’s that he does it so often you wonder if bunting into a shift is a better strategy. I imagine it’s like your first taste of good craft beer after drinking nothing but Miller/Bud/Coors: once you go back to your “usual” you wonder why you ever thought it was good.
The other thing is he’s not a Coors Creation. This year he’s walking more than ever before (up to 12% BB%), slugging more than ever before (from a guy who averaged 40 dongers over the last three years), and hitting more line drives than ever before. Oh, and he plays with his heart on his sleeve which makes him incredibly fun to watch.
Q 3: So… who would win in a fight? Dinger or the Mariner Moose?
If it were a triceratops against a moose--well, there’s a reason land mammals didn’t start to gain ground until after the dinosaurs were gone. But, much as I love Dinger, his belly goes way beyond Dad Bod and I think Mariner Moose has a serious athleticism advantage. Gimmie the moose.
Q 4: At risk of picking at an open wound, um, what happened to Jon Gray? If we told him Smith Tower was full of ghosts, do you think we could entice the Rockies to trade us Colorado’s ace-in-absentia?
The smartest baseball writers in the country have been tackling that question for the past week so Google “Jon Gray” and odds are you’ll get a better answer. But what I’ve come to is he tends to lose focus and give away pitches or at bats at the worst possible times, and his outings have snowballed from there. He allows a .722 OPS with the bases empty (right around league average) and a .892 OPS with men on base (38% worse than league average). He’s incredibly self-critical (in a good way), so it’s not like he’s unaware of the issue. Sending him to Triple-A isn’t a punishment for a 5.88 ERA or a mechanical reset so much as it’s a mental reset. When he comes back up the results will be better, but it will be impossible to say how much will be due to the reset and how much due to regression to his 3.08 FIP.
Of course, if it doesn’t, he’ll at least entertain the idea of a trade but I’m betting you’ll have to make good on those ghost claims.
Q 5: Who should we as usually impartial observers feel worse for - Ian Desmond, Chris Davis, or Kole Calhoun?
Ian Desmond is making $22 million this year and $38 million over the next three years. Chris Davis is making $23 million this year and each of the next four years. Kole Calhoun is making $8.5 million this year, $10.5 million next year and has a $1 million buyout for 2020. You tell me who you feel worse for.
By all accounts Ian Desmond is a great human being and he’s actually hitting just enough home runs to make himself useful lately (up to 80 wRC+!). Kole Calhoun also seems to be getting better and gets to play with Mike Trout and Shoh--sorry, open wound? So if you take out the money it’s probably Chris Davis.
Q 6: With the prospect of expansion being discussed, should MLB expand to 32 teams, would you be interested in joining Seattle, Oakland, and the Angels in the new AL West? We think you’re pretty cool, and, just as importantly, not in Texas.
Anything to get away from the Dodgers. Though, I will miss watching Nolan Arenado absolutely destroy Giants pitching 19 times every year. Those with strong feelings on the DH will adjust just like Astros fans, I’m sure. If it happens, though, you’re not allowed to complain about playing in Coors Field; that’ll get you on our Crap List.
Q 7: A sneaky extra question: a few of our staff writers will be in Denver for next weekend’s series. What is the ideal Coors experience?
We have a post for that! If you’re asking me personally, take the LightRail (or Uber, or scooter) from wherever you’re staying to Union Station, an area where there are a number of great places to get a pre-game bite or brew. Start walking toward the stadium and you can hit up Wynkoop Brewery (started by our current governor!) for a tasty buffalo burger or find the hot dog stand on 19th and Wynkoop and tell Joel the vendor I sent you (you can take everything inside and you won’t find a better deal). If you have the big bucks, sit behind home plate. If you have fewer bucks, sit in the third deck behind home plate (first base side if you can’t get directly behind the plate). If you have fewest bucks, go to The Rooftop for standing room tickets that come with a $6 food/drink/concession voucher and enjoy a local brew. Watch the Rockies hit a bunch of homers that fire up the fountains in the park over the centerfield wall, catch a Colorado sunset, and enjoy the summer warmth without humidity (but bring a jacket just in case; the weather here can turn in a flash). After the game, go to Falling Rock on Blake St (between 19th and 20th) for a nightcap of the best beers Colorado--and most of the rest of the world--has to offer.
But that’s just, like, my opinion, man.