According to the good man pictured above, San Diego is German for a certain part of a whale's anatomy, of course he, then relented and offered up the history of this fair city on the beach, "I don't know what it means. I'll be honest, I don't think anyone knows what it means anymore. Scholars maintain that the translation was lost hundreds of years ago."
If you think that's the only Ron Burgundy reference you'll be getting from me in the next four days, well, I will give you my duplex in Tacoma - it has many fine, leather-bound books and smells of rich mahogany. Ok, I'll quit for the time being.
Let's get to some links and thoughts
WEST W-L PCT GB STRK L10
Texas 35-27 .565 - Lost 2 4-6
LA Angels 33-29 .532 2 Won 4 6-4
Seattle 30-33 .476 5.5 Lost 3 5-5
Oakland 27-35 .435 8 Lost 3 5-5
It's amazing just four days ago the Mariners were sitting at .500 and fans were once again debating if they have a legitimate chance to contend. And now those same fans say blow it up.
Hasn't this happened like four different times this season? I've said it on here and on the radio often, just about the time you think you have this team figured out, they do something totally unexpected -- good or bad.
At this point, I don't know what to make of this team. I don't know that any of the Mariners coaches or executives do either. They play hard. The pitching has been good, but beat up. The defense - save for the duo at second and short - has been vastly improved. The hitting has been weak and inconsistent, but good enough in stretches to win them more games than they should. So they sit in the purgatory of being between contender and pretender.
Realistically 20 some days from now, we should know more. Yes the Mariners have two of the next three series with the Padres - a team that with the exception of Adrian Gonzalez - might be weaker offensively. San Diego is also without its best pitcher. But remember, Brandon Morrow will start one of those games on a reduced pitch count. Jarrod Washburn and Erik Bedard are still ailing - though we'll find out more later today.
But besides San Diego, the Mariners will face the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team that's playing vastly better with the improved health of Stephen Drew and the steady improvement of Justin Upton. But the big test will be nine straight games on the road against the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox.
Optimally, the Mariners need to win six of the nine games (including six home games) against the Padres and D'Backs to help withstand the brutal road swing that faces them after that. But if Seattle plays the type of baseball we saw in Colorado, they could be reeling before the tough road swing beings
But come July 5th when the Mariners wrap up the road trip in Boston, we'll have a pretty good idea if they can keep up the hope of contending or GM Jack Zduriencik can try and deal some players to add depth to the organization.
Let's get to some links and thoughts ...
Here's Larry's story on Ichiro's improved attitude and mindset with the presence of Griffey. I've seen Griffey wrestling Ichiro to the ground. I can tell you Larry's description of Ichiro's laugh is pretty accurate. It's not quite a squeal, but it's pretty high pitched.
Most of the commentary and thoughts have centered on Brandon Morrow and his transition to a starter. John McGrath has weighed in with his thoughts. Dave Cameron of the USS Mariner also voiced his opinions.
I have three thoughts ... some of you may have heard them before.
* This whole process started down the wrong track because Mike Hargrove and later Bill Bavasi were making decisions to try and keep their jobs. When Mark Lowe got hurt, Hargrove found a replacement for a then-injured Mark Lowe. Looking at Morrow's velocity, it's easy for Hargrove to want to use Morrow in that role. He knew he needed wins and having Morrow's power fastball in the eighth could help him.
But this is where Bavasi should have stepped in and said, "Sorry, Grover, but we drafted this kid as a starter and we're going to start grooming him for it now." You'll have to find another reliever. It's not impossible, just look at the Mariners this season with Kelley, White and Aardsma. In fact, Bavasi selected White in the Rule V draft -- but I'll concede White wasn't this polished. Still, there were arms out there, that could've provide adequate set-up relief, instead of stunting the growth of one of the most prized arms of the organization. Then again, that would require Bavasi finding a value player for minimal money - not exactly something he had a track record for doing.
* All the flip-flopping back and forth, never allowed Morrow to find an professional identity for himself. He's a smart kid, prone to be introspective to a fault. And he lacks the swagger or the short memory to be a reliever. But his setbacks from minor injuries and mechanical issues never allowed him to find any comfort in himself as a professional pitcher. And since he couldn't determine it himself, the Mariners should have done it for him and kept him as a starter even when he volunteered to be a reliever. Even if he starts the season at Tacoma as a starter, and later joins the team as a reliever, the amount of innings accrued from pitching as a starter, including the extensive use of his secondary pitches would have been helpful.
* I don't think any of this would have happened to Morrow if GM Jack Zduriencik would have drafted him and oversaw his development. Of course, that brings up the question as to whether Zduriencik would have selected Morrow ahead of Tim Lincecum, which is another debate for another day.
Here's my Sunday column on Mark Teixeira hustling play on Friday and the power rankings.
How about some former Mariners links ...
Cleveland RF Shin Soo Choo is having a solid season with the Indians, but says he can improve.
* Recently released LHP Horacio Ramirez has found a new home in Triple A Syracuse, pitching for the Nats organization.
* Right-handed reliever Jon Huber, who made a few appearances with the M's and plenty with the Rainiers, was pitching in the independent leagues before being signed by the Braves.
* And John Halama, yes that John Halama, is still pitching and also signed with the Braves out of the independent leagues.
* But Halama isn't the oddest player to still be pitching, that honor would belong to Hideki Irabu, who is pitching in Long Beach along with Jose Lima.
Let's go around the AL WEST
The Texas Rangers may be in first place, but that doesn't mean the organization isn't feeling the economic pinch. And they've laid off several people this week.
Closer Frank Francisco was placed on the DL this week.
Columnist Gil LeBreton still likes the Rangers' chances.
The Los Angeles Angels also know something about injuries. Ervin Santana is being scratched from his next start. That follows up the news of Scot Shields being lost for the year, and Kelvim Escobar's latest setback.
Oh yeah, and Torii Hunter hurt his ribs plowing into the wall.
The Oakland A's took a chance on Nomar Garciaparra, but he's battling injuries again.
Brandon Phillips ignored a take sign and swung at a 3-0 pitch and got fined. Phillips is scheduled to make $4.75 million this season so I'm sure he can afford it.
And finally, Ozzie Guillen talking about Wrigley Field as only Ozzie Guillen can.