Fun with Photoshop: The Condor Flies North for the Summer

Michael Saunders Card copy

C’s Get Degrees: Mariners Lineup First Half Report Card

Who needs plate discipline with a winning smile like that?

Who needs plate discipline with a winning smile like that?

Mike Zunino (B) The young catcher has been invaluable behind the dish for the Mariners as his stellar defense and pitch framing have been a major reason for Seattle’s staff success. At the plate Zunino shows above-average pop (13 HR) but his abysmal pitch recognition (11 BB/97) needs quite a bit of fine tuning.

Kyle Seager (A) After struggling out of the gate Seager has been nothing short of sensational over the past three months, launching himself into the upper echelon of American League players. He is currently third in the A.L. in WAR (trailing only Mike Trout and Josh Donaldson) and is on pace for career highs in nearly every statistical category. Get that man a long-term contract!

Robinson Cano (A) The 240-million-dollar man has been as good as advertised in his first half season with Seattle. Despite a slight drop in power numbers there’s little to complain about with a slash line of .334/.393/.462. His presence in the lineup seems to have a positive effect on the rest of Seattle’s hitters and he’s no slouch on the defensive side either. Will he finally break the curse of Mariners’ free agent signings?

Brad Miller (C-) Miller had a forgettable April (.173) and even worse May (.136) before turning in a solid June (.298) at the plate. He has struggled at times defensively but the numbers show him to be above-average at short despite some costly errors. The Mariners showed unwavering faith in Miller throughout his slump and he looks to be on the verge of repaying their trust in him.

Justin Smoak (D) The sun might be just about ready to set on the Justin Smoak era in Seattle as the first baseman continues to show little of the promise that once made him a top 10 prospect in baseball. Although he still flashes some pop at the plate, Smoak’s ongoing lack of ability to make consistent solid contact grade him out as a below average corner infielder. It’s a make or break second half for the one-time first round pick.

Willy Bloomquist (C) Willy Ballgame has done a little of everything for the Mariners this season in perfectly mediocre fashion. Although his .269 average in 119 AB is almost entirely hollow (just 6 XBH and 3 BB) WFB’s ability to play multiple positions has been crucial to a team with major roster construction issues.

The Condor's inability to stay off the D.L. has put a damper on the M's playoff hopes.

The Condor’s inability to stay off the D.L. has put a damper on the M’s playoff hopes.

Michael Saunders (B-) The Condor was quietly putting together the best season of his career (2.0 WAR in 65 games) before shoulder inflammation and serious oblique injury landed him on the disabled list. Saunders was Seattle’s third best hitter before the injury but his inability to stay healthy has thrown a major wrench into the M’s lineup and outfield defense. Fans hope he’s not becoming Franklin Gutierrez 2.0.

Stefen Romero (D) Romero crushed the ball in Spring Training but couldn’t carry that success into the regular season as he slashed just .196/.236/.324 in 148 AB with a ghastly 4 BB/40 K ratio. Still just 25-years-old, he has a chance to be a part of Seattle’s future with improvement in plate discipline and in the field, but he shouldn’t play a major role in 2014.

James Jones (C+) The speedy outfielder has been a pleasant surprise since being called up to replace the struggling Almonte. A spark plug atop the order, Jones has tallied 17 stolen bases while being caught just once. The left-hander makes consistent contact but will need to show more patience at the plate (just 11 BB in 245 AB) to become a long term fixture in the leadoff spot.

Abraham Almonte (F) Almonte got off to a hot start but quickly cooled down once the league’s pitchers figured him out. The switch-hitting rookie was unable to make any adjustments (40 K’s in 106 AB) leaving him as dead weight atop the lineup for the better part of a month. Almonte also struggled defensively in centerfield leaving many wondering why he stuck around as long as he did.

Dustin Ackley (D-) The former #2 overall pick in the 2009 draft has the third most at-bats on the Mariners this season with just 4 HR, 3 SB and a -0.5 OWAR to show for it. His defense in left has improved to the point where he is at least average at the position (despite one the worst arms in the game) but the player who was supposed to be able to roll out of bed and hit is posting an anemic .616 OPS for the year. It might be time to pull the plug.

Endy Chavez (C-) Chavez probably shouldn’t be in the majors right now, and he certainly shouldn’t be hitting leadoff, but the gritty veteran hasn’t been a complete disaster filling in for Ackley and Saunders. The 36-year-old has struck out just 12 times in 127 AB but his unwillingness to draw a walk and lack of extra-base pop make him unsuited for anything more than a 4th or 5th outfielder. If he gets significant playing time in the second half, the M’s are in trouble.

Logan Morrison (C) LoMo has been adequate at first base since his return from the disabled list, but it’s not tough to look good when you’re replacing Justin Smoak. He’s playing better than his .230 average suggests (due in part to a .252 BABIP) and a strong second half may allow the former top prospect to carve out a long-term role as the Mariners’ first baseman.

Corey Hart (D+) The Mariners were hoping they got the player who averaged 24 HR between 2007 and 2012 when they signed Hart in the offseason, but the ageing slugger has shown a considerable amount of rust after missing 2013 to  knee surgery. Since he can’t play the field anymore Hart is strictly a designated hitter so he had better start hitting before he’s designated (for assignment that is).


Raising Arizona: Mariners Move to 12-4 in Spring Training

kings of spring copy

Death from Above – Bird with a Gun – Condor Cannon

The Condor Report: July 30th–August 5th

Card of the Week: 2007 Bowman’s Best Blue Refractor RC #/99

Michael “The Condor” Saunders stats for the week of July 30th through August 5th:

AB: 19

Hits: 5

AVG: .263

Runs: 4

Doubles/Triples: 3/0

Home Runs: 0

RBI: 1

SB: 0

BB/K: 0/4

What Went Wrong? Saunders used to draw walks on the regular. Now? Not so much. That has to change.

What Went Right? The Condor had three more doubles last week (including this rocket off southpaw Ricky Romero) and has a shot to reach 40 on the season. If he can convert more of those into home runs next year…watch out!

The Condor Report: July 23rd–July 29th

Card of the Week: 2009 Bowman Draft Blue Refractor #/99

Michael “The Condor” Saunders stats for the week of July 23rd through July 29th:

AB: 28

Hits: 6

AVG:  .214

Runs: 4

Doubles/Triples: 1/0

Home Runs: 1

RBI: 1

SB: 1

BB/K: 1/9

What Went Wrong? Following up a seven strikeout week with a nine strikeout week would be great if Saunders were a pitcher–but he’s not. Three of those punchouts came in a day game–a topic we will delve into further at a later date–against the Royals.

What Went Right? The Condor tattooed a homer off former Mariners pitcher Freddy Garcia and then made a sensational leaping grab later in the game. Take that Yankees!

The Condor Report: July 16th–July 22nd

Card of the Week: 2011 Topps Factory Set Exclusive #/245

Michael “The Condor” Saunders stats for the week of July 16th through July 22nd:

AB: 23

Hits: 7

AVG: .304

Runs: 2

Doubles/Triples: 1/0

Home Runs: 1

RBI: 5

SB: 1

BB/K: 1/7

What Went Wrong? Saunders got a little “K” happy, striking out seven times in the week. He’s on pace for 134 punch outs and that will need to change in order for his average to climb above .250-.260.

What Went Right? The Condor had a productive week including this monster homer to dead-center in Kansas City and a two-run single against Tampa Bay that proved to be the difference in the Mariners 2-1 win. Notice anything about those two highlights? Saunders didn’t pull either of those pitches, and his ability to go to centerfield and the opposite way is a big reason for his breakout season.