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The LL staff picks their Second Teams for the 2020 season

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we’re here for a good time, not a long time

MLB: APR 04 Red Sox at Athletics
don’t tell the moose
Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mariners fans knew what they were signing up for in 2020: a lot of looks at a lot of young guys, a lot of young guys having welcome-to-the-bigs moments, a lot of losses. But as fans of the sport in general we enjoy watching baseball of any stripe, and with a pandemic-shortened 2020 season it’s not like we’re marrying the teams or anything, except John and Mr. Met maybe, those two have history. These are the teams we’re queuing up the most often in our MLB TV accounts:

Eric - Tampa Bay Rays

First of all, it’s really difficult for me to get actually invested in any other MLB team besides the Mariners. I’m just in too deep, and having conflicting rooting interests feels dishonest to me. But, I love watching baseball and having some tiny degree of interest in other teams or players makes watching other games more fun. It’s also hard because I just have so many grudges, rational and irrational, toward other AL teams. Obviously, the entire rest of the AL West is out of the question (murderous side-eyes at all M’s fans who low-key love the “plucky” Athletics). I gave plenty of consideration toward the Brewers because I have plenty of love for Benjamin Ballgame Gamel and Logan Morrison, but the problem is that I also have equal amounts of irrational hatred toward Justin Smoak and Eric Sogard. Plus, the whole Seattle Pilots thing that happened 14 years before I was born. This midwestern aggression will not stand.

So! The Tampa Bay Rays are like the original 2020 Brewers because they’ve been building their rosters out of ex-Mariners detritus for like a decade. But, the real reason I’m drawn to the Rays these days is because they have my platonic ideal baseball player (who was also once a Mariner, but we were playin’). I speak of none other than Ji-Man Choi, of course, who recently did this just for yucks, I guess? He is perfect.

Mikey - Oakland Athletics

It’s only right that I pick the A’s after Eric threw shade at people who have an affinity for them. It seems like most years, they throw together a roster that doesn’t seem that great, but then most years, they have a roster that performs really well. Aside from the Rays, the A’s serve as the gold standard for how a small budget franchise should operate. Perhaps these feelings of warmth will subside once the M’s are actually competitive, but it’s hard not to feel romantic about a ballclub that does more with less that the A’s seem to do every year. It’s truly a sight to see to watch a rotation featuring players like Chris Bassitt, Brett Anderson, Homer Bailey, and Mike Fiers put up the numbers that they do.

On the offensive side of the ball, it’s been fun to watch players like Marcus Semien and Ramon Laureano develop, and that’s nothing to say of the fact that Mark Canha was a 4.0 fWAR player last year. [Ed note: staff writer Matthew Roberson demands this fact be redacted.] This is probably the biggest copout of a choice, but they have perhaps the best uniforms in baseball with a strong front office and a fun group of players. I hope to see a battle for the top of the AL West for the next ten years between the Mariners and Athletics.

Matthew - San Diego Padres

This is not a difficult decision. The Padres stepped into 2020 as a remixed version of their already-exciting 2019 version. They have the best uniforms in the game. They have one of the five most joyous players in the league manning shortstop every night, and right next to him is one of the most gifted players we’ve seen in quite some time. Their broadcast booth of Don Orsillo and Mark “Mudcat” Grant are consistently hilarious while not distracting, and they’re on the West Coast! Not only are the Padres one of the easiest teams for Mariner fans to watch, they’re also a fun peek into what the Mariners could have in a few years. If Seattle chooses to supplement its prospect garden with a big, splashy free-agent fountain, they could like to the Padres and what they’ve done to surround Fernando Tatís Jr., Chris Paddack, and Dinelson Lamet with quality veterans that help the team win now.

For the baseball nerds, the Padres have framing maestro Austin Hedges behind the dish AND Francisco Mejía, a more offensive-minded catcher who they got in the Brad Hand trade. Speaking of which, San Diego dealt Hand for a prospect at a premium position and still have the best bullpen in Major League Baseball. With Drew Pomeranz, old friend Emilio Pagán, and Kirby Yates, San Diego has the ability to shorten the game better than any of their competitors. New additions Tommy Pham and Jurickson Profar also add to the team’s fun quotient, which was already running high on the sheer power of Wil Myers’ hair.

Watch the Dads whenever you can.

Amanda - Oakland Athletics

There are several things I don’t like about the A’s. The first is that they’re the Mariners’ rivals and someday that will mean something again. The second is the infernal drumming during games. Well, the year 2020 is a strange one in a multitude of ways. Since baseball has begun I’ve had games on whenever they’re being played. Strangely enough I’ve found myself drawn to the A’s. The Mariners aren’t competing for anything other than a decent draft pick, so the A’s aren’t a rival for that. If there were a silver lining to playing games in front of cardboard cutouts rather than humans, it’s that cardboard cutouts don’t have the opposable thumbs necessary to hold drumsticks.

The A’s have those spectacular green jerseys, which makes their games aesthetically pleasing to watch. Dallas Braden is on the broadcasts, and while I can’t decide if I love him or if I can’t stand him, he is entertaining. After hearing him describe a fantastic play by Marcus Semien as “getting nasty in the six hole” I began watching just to hear what he would say next. Then, there’s Jesus Luzardo. I watched him start in the last game at Cheney Stadium last season. There is something about watching good pitchers work that is mesmerizing. I fell in love with his pitching and I’m taking advantage of the chance to enjoy watching him work before I have to start rooting against him when the Mariners become competitive.

Hop aboard the A’s bandwagon with me! The next stop is one you’ll surely enjoy.

John - New York Mets

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It’s like watching the Mariners, but it’s 2017 again and way more people care what happens either way, so you don’t have to be nearly as invested. Regarding my previous statement of “Lets go Mets baby love da Mets”, you do not, under any circumstance, gotta “love da Mets”.

Anders - Atlanta Braves

The Braves feel like the future to me. Their building blocks at the plate include guys like Ronald Acuña and Ozzie Albies, who could be the best players at their position over the next decade. Then you’ve got Freddie Freeman and his enormous Dad Energy.

Their rotation is also littered with exciting young talents like Mike Soroka, Max Fried, and Touki Toussaint. The latter in particular is an exciting player to watch in the sense that you don’t know what you’re going to get. With a 10.24 K/9 rate and a 5.94 BB/9 rate for his MLB career, it’s almost like the Fernando Rodney experience stretched out across a whole start.

And if you’re tired of seeing former Mariners finding success and happiness with other teams, the Braves can help you with that too. Not a single former Mariner is on the Braves’ active roster [that’s right Alex Jackson you get to that alternate site and you stay there]. So enjoy some fun baseball without any of those entangling feelings of wistfulness while we wait for our own fun young core to develop.

Grant - Minnesota Twins

A potent lineup with a couple super sluggers. A record for the most home runs in a season as a team. One ace pitcher and a bucket full of question marks in the rest of the rotation. No, I’m not talking about the 1997 Mariners (which is good since I’d rather never think of Heathcliff Slocumb for as long as I live), I’m talking about the 2019 Twins. This squad has shed the “plucky underdog” label after winning 101 games and the AL Central a year ago, but they have yet to slay their postseason dragon: the New York Yankees. Will a 60-game season help them finally cross the Rubicon in 2020? How many more tortured metaphors can I make about this team?

This lineup is dominant from top to bottom. In 2019, only one player (our beloved Nelson Cruz) topped 40 dingers, but seven others hit at least 20 HR and four others (Mitch Garver, Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, and Max Kepler) hit at least 30. Now we’re adding Josh Donaldson and letting contact maven Luis Arráez play full-time? Be still, my beating heart. The Twins’ rotation questions will only serve to make every game more entertaining. And, once more for good measure: did I mention that Nelson Cruz is here to provide his trademark goofiness and cartoonishly large muscles?

Bonus points: Rocco Baldelli won my heart when he said he uses Out of the Park Baseball 21 to simulate game scenarios and provide discussion fodder for his coaching staff. Rocco, I’ve won 130+ games in a season with the Mariners, so if you need a new team GM, you know who to call.

Tim - Milwaukee Brewers

I was going to submit the Rays and just have my entire entry be the Ji-Man Choi RH home run video, but Eric took it, darn it. Instead I’ll pass on Mariners East and take Mariners Upper Midwest. Do you like ex-Mariners? The Brew Crew have them in spades. A slightly past his peak (?) Justin Smoak is the new market inefficiency! Oh, you like ex Mariners outfielders? Come on down, Ben Gamel! Behind the plate? Omar Narvaez is here for you. Logan Morrison? Check. Justin Grimm was technically a Mariner for like seven seconds although including relief pitchers in this is kind of cheating. Heck, even Manny Pina technically came from Seattle! A very important factor for me in any team selection is not doing a lot of extra work. We’re all busy, we’re all worn out, we just want to collapse on the couch and feel the warm sweet embrace of a team filled with vaguely familiar names and also a sweet blue and yellow color scheme. The Milwaukee Brewers, ladies and gentlemen.

Milwaukee Brewers v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Kate - Chicago White Sox

As a kind and benevolent dictator leader, I encouraged the rest of the staff to select their teams first, figuring I’d just pick whatever was left over, for coverage’s sake. I was super-surprised, however, that when the dust settled my number one backup choice was still on the board, as I’d already consigned myself to writing about the Toronto Blue Jays (I know, Bichette). The big selling point with the Cubs’ cooler citymates is obviously phenom Luis Robert, whose nickname is “La Pantera” and who does stuff like this:

Also I love that when he was asked how his name is said and how people should say his name (for some reason framed as two different questions????), he just said it the same way both times. Say people’s names how they want you to say them!

The White Sox have a good argument for being the most Latin team in the game, because in addition to Robert, the roster boasts other fun young Latin players like Eloy Jimenez, Luis Alexander Basabe, and Yoan Moncada, as well as more veteran presences in Leury Garcia, Jose Abreu, Yasmani Grandal, and Edwin Encarnacion, who I enjoyed making gifs of very much while he was a Mariner. And on the opposite end of the player spectrum from EE, Oregon State product Nick Madrigal, a contact machine who never strikes out, was recently added to the team. And I haven’t even gotten to Tim Anderson and his bat flips yet! This team is fun, man. The pitching side also has Lucas Giolito, one of my favorite players in the game, and Dylan Cease, who throws 100, and Dallas Keuchel, who I can finally appreciate now that he’s no longer an Astro. It’s not...the best pitching staff, which is the only reason this is my second-tier second team (like Matthew I am also True To The Brown), but the position players more than make up for that, which is a nice counterpoint to watching Seattle’s pitching-heavy rebuild.

Also, I’m totally here for the Luis Robert - Eloy Jimenez best friendship. “Yeah, right!”