The Twitter mailbag returns after a one-week hiatus and the All-Star break looming. A little break from the greatest game in the world isn’t a bad thing. The first half of this “step-back” season has been eventful at times and utterly awful to watch at others. It’s highly possible that it could get worse in the second half of the season … so you got that going for you, which is nice.
And 2020? Well, that’s for a different mailbag.
As always these questions are from the weary but persistent group of baseball fans known as my Twitter followers.
Manager Scott Servais was going to announce his post-break rotation on Saturday, but he was waiting for pitching coach Paul Davis to inform all the pitchers about the situation. I would’ve had a direct answer to see if your interesting prediction was correct.
I do think they will slot out Marco Gonzales and Yusei Kikuchi to be the last to start. The hope is to get both of them extra rest coming out of the break. They did that with Gonzales and James Paxton last season, getting them 10 days of rest.
My guess would be:
- Friday at Angels: Tommy Milone with an opener
- Saturday at Angels: Mike Leake
- Sunday at Angels: Wade LeBlanc with an opener
- Tuesday at A’s: Yusei Kikuchi
- Wednesday at A’s: Marco Gonzales
Remember that’s just a guess. I’ve been wrong before. People remind me about it often.
It’s difficult for me to really judge much of anything with Kyle Seager and this season given the injury he suffered relatively early in an already truncated spring training. Seager basically missed spring and then had a limited rehab stint before returning from the 60-day injured list. It’s not a recipe for success. And now he’s dealing with an injury to his other hand that has affected his swing.
Coming into Saturday, he has a .199/.290/.346 slash line with five doubles, five homers and 15 RBI in 36 games. That’s less than ideal. It has looked like his timing has been off for extended stretches. Since injuring his right hand in Milwaukee on a swing, he has just one hit in his past 21 plate appearances.
I’m curious to see what happens in the second half of the season. The All-Star break should allow him to get his hand healthy and the rust of missing so much time should be gone. Can he return to a healthy level of production?
With each year, it does seem less likely that he’ll ever return to the hitter he was from 2014-2016 where he posted a .271/.340/.468 slash line and averaged 33 doubles, 27 homers and 90 RBI a season.
This is from the AP story that ran on Ichiro’s 5-year, $90 million contract he signed before the 2008 season:
“The All-Star outfielder’s new contract extension calls for the team to defer $25 million of the $90 million he is owed, money that the team will not have to fully pay until at least 2032. Suzuki, MVP of last week’s All-Star Game, gets a $5 million signing bonus and annual salaries of $17 million from 2008-12 under the terms of last Friday’s deal.
Seattle will pay $12 million in salary each year and defer $5 million per season at 5.5 percent interest. Suzuki, who turns 33 in October, will receive the money in annual installments each Jan. 30 starting with the year after his retirement from the major leagues.”
That’s not quite a Bobby Bonilla level payout, but Ichiro will be on the Mariners’ payroll for a while whereas it just felt like Chone Figgins was on the payroll forever.
It’s not something that I considered. But given how Vogelbach approaches hitting and his preparation, it’s not likely a reason. There is some empirical data that speaks to it not affecting his swing.
In 2017, Vogelbach represented the Rainiers in the Triple-A All-Star Game at Cheney Stadium. He participated in the home run derby and finished second to Bryce Brentz of the Red Sox. A quick look at Vogelbach’s numbers before and after with the Rainiers and a few games with the Mariners.
- Pre-derby: 83 games, .274/.372/.416, 12 doubles, 10 homers, 48 RBI
- Post-derby: 56 games, .304/.400/.487, 14 doubles, 7 homers, 37 RBI
His knowledge of his swing and the strike zone and how he uses them to hit doesn’t seem likely to be affected by a one-day homer-hitting contest. Hell, his last few rounds of batting practice are spent trying to send balls into the third deck of T-Mobile Park.
Vogelbach wasn’t chosen for a number of reasons. A major factor is minimal recognition from fans as a whole and the Mariners’ lack of visibility on a national level. If this team was playing well with Vogelbach leading them to that success, then he may have gotten a push to participate. Instead, the Mariners are just another rebuilding team with an awful record that is stuck up in the Northwest corner.
If you look at the field, there is a name-recognition factor for all of the participants. Even Carlos Santana is a relatively known player, but his selection was to be a representative for the hometown Indians.
Think about how much MLB has hyped up Ronald Acuna last season and Vlad Guerrero Jr. this season. Josh Bell’s video game numbers and his emergence made him an easy choice. Also when the reigning National League MVP wants to participate, that’s a huge bonus.
The decision to go with Alex Bregman of the Astros and Joc Pederson of the Dodgers isn’t surprising. Both players have participated in the derby in past years and had solid showings. Also that they are key players for two teams that have been perennial playoff participants of late is a huge factor. There is a recognition factor for the common baseball fan that MLB and ESPN crave for the event.
But if Vogelbach were to get into the event, it’s easy to see him becoming a fan favorite. He’s got an every-man feel to him. He’s not a physical specimen like Bell. He doesn’t have the pedigree of Guerrero. He looks like a normal dude that could be bouncing at a bar or sitting next to you having a beer.
He’s been playing long toss and is expected to pitch off the mound soon. But I wouldn’t expect him back in the rotation till the end of July at the earliest. He will have to throw multiple bullpens, a live batting practice session and make at least two rehab starts before returning to the team. And all of that is without any setbacks.
There are some who believe that he has thrown his last pitch as a member of the Mariners. I do think he comes back for at least a handful of outings late in the season. But with each passing day with only minimal progress in his recovery, that possibility grows.
The young right-hander posted some video of him throwing off the mound to his Instagram account on April 8, which is a good sign. But a quick text to Andy McKay, the Mariners’ director of player development, provided some more clarity.
As McKay pointed out, it was a year ago last week that Carlson finally underwent surgery to repair a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament. After being selected in the second round of the 2017 draft, Carlson felt some discomfort in his elbow after pitching in the Arizona Rookie League that spring. They shut him down and tried to rehab the injury with platelet rich plasma injections and other techniques, but it never came around and surgery was finally needed.
“He is exactly where he should be time wise,” McKay said. “He is fully built up and has progressed through bullpens.”
Carlson, 20, will build up to throwing to hitters in the next few weeks in live batting practice and simulated games. The team will then shut him down until the offseason and expects him to be 100 percent for their January mini-camp for prospects.
“It has been a long road for him,” McKay said. “He’s a very bright kid who works his ass off and is a great teammate. Everyone is excited for him.”
Even with the surgery, his pre-injury talent and potential have kept him as a top prospect in the organization. He’s rated the No. 14 prospect by Baseball America and No. 12 by MLB Pipeline.
Ah, Shane, my former Times’ colleague who is living the Midwest small town newspaper dream. I don’t like calling it alt or alternative country because I think it’s closer to country music that what is being played on country radio. I think “popular” country music is a crime against humanity and Waylon Jennings. I listen to all the people you mention and have seen Sturgill Simpson in concert three times – all amazing.
If you have a Spotify, I have a few public playlists that you may find useful. Excuse the “Hair Metal Goodness” playlist sometimes you need Motley Crue to get you through your run.
Here’s a few bands:
Turnpike Troubadours: Lead singer Evan Felker is going through some personal issues and the band has stopped touring. But they are fantastic. The line in “Good Lord Lorrie” … “And if I ever set foot in Sevier county/Well your brother said he’d break my jaw.
Whiskey Myers: They are have a harder edge that typical Red Dirt country. “Broken Window Serenade” is about man in love with a girl addicted to meth. Fun stuff, right?
Band of Heathens: Their cover version of “Hurricane” is outstanding and even better live.
Hayes Carll: When you have a song titled: “She left me for Jesus” then you know where it’s going. His song “Hard out here” has the line: “And everybody’s talkin’ about the shape I’m in/They say “boy, you ain’t a poet, just a drunk with a pen.”
Cody Jinks: He’s gotten more popular of late and has some fantastic songs. But I can’t stop listening to: “Somewhere between I love you and I’m gone.”
Other possibilities based on what asked: John Prine, Shooter Jennings, Ryan Bingham, Will Hoge, Cross Canadian Ragweed.
I have Gold MVP status on Alaska Airlines. It’s really the only airline I have any real status on. Before Alaska perchased Virgin, the Alaska mileage program had a pretty good working relationship with American Airlines and Delta. But that has evaporated since then to the point where I just opened up separate program accounts with American and Delta. I don’t fly either enough to achieve any status level benefit.
I try to fly Alaska whenever possible. Their service to loyal customers is outstanding and the benefits of no bag fees and reduced charges for flight changes are pretty cost effective.
I’ve gotten creative in past years to build up miles to reach a status goal. But with the Mariners’ brutal travel schedule and a few flights in the offseason, it’s been pretty easy to reach what I need to get to Gold MVP. The holy grail is Gold 75K. I just don’t see that happening unless I make a couple Hawaii trips.
And, yes, like all sportswriters, I’m a Marriott-only person for similar reason to my allegiances to Alaska. The benefits you receive with status at Marriott – free wifi, free meals, rate flexibility – actually save money in the end. And if you book it early enough, you can usually get a good rate. For me, hotels aren’t about luxury or anything like that. It’s mostly location – near the park — and a usable gym.
If Aaron Sorkin writes or creates it, I will watch it … always. I will usually re-watch the entire series of The West Wing and The Newsroom every year – lots of flights and time on the stairclimber.
Unfortunately, Sports Night isn’t on Netflix or any other streaming service. Neither is the short-lived Studio 60, which was panned, but I still liked.
Sorkin is one of my favorite writers on the planet. Yes, his characters are often smarter and more idealistic than the average person. The banter is snappy and erudite to the point where some people believe it strains credulity.
But is that a bad thing?
And also Sorkin created the amazing character Toby Ziegler on West Wing. The brilliant curmudgeon uttered my favorite phrase in all of television: “There’s literally no one in the world that I don’t hate right now.”