BY Art Thiel 06:15PM 07/29/2015

Thiel: Cano out, Mariners down as they’ve been

Sweep by Arizona again showed the feebleness of Mariners’ roster, seven years into “the plan” by Jack Zduriencik. At 46-56, the season is nearly done, as should be the GM’s tenure.

Felix Hernandez, whose career has always been in the shadows in Seattle. / Alan Chitlik, Sportspress Northwest

No seven-year tenure should be judged on a single outcome. Then again, when a game like Wednesday’s happens, there’s nothing wrong with metaphoring the hell out of it.

A player that general manager Jack Zduriencik traded away to Arizona June 3, C Welington Castillo, hammered Felix Hernandez for two home runs and reached base all five times in an 8-2 triumph (box score) that made for a three-game sweep — right after the Mariners played their most exciting game of the year Sunday, a 6-5 win over Toronto.The main player the Mariners received in the trade, Mark Trumbo, was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. In 43 Seattle games, he is hitting .229 with three homers and 13 RBIs. In 34 games for the D-backs, Castillo is hitting .279 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs.

Small sample size, true. And yes, the Mariners also acquired Vidal Nuno, who is suddenly a reliable guy with no runs given up in his past nine innings — at least until Wednesday, when her gave up his old club’s final run in the eighth inning.

The move for Trumbo was for a quick fix — getting the Mariners into contention and help avoid a panicky move at the trade deadline.

On June 3, the Mariners were 24-29 and in the middle of a 2-9 homestand that was the worst in club history for a stand of 10-plus games. Now, they are 46-56 and 10 games out. The lone Zduriencik move in midseason so far not only was no help, the Mariners appear worse.

And in the greatest club tradition, the guy they traded came back to gut-punch them. Castillo, a Mariner only 15 days, drove in three runs in his first two at-bats against Hernandez as was also aboard on a walk, a fielder’s choice and a hit by pitch.

In the sweep by the 49-51 D-backs, the worn-down pitching staff allowed 20 runs and the defense made several errors/misplays. Wednesday, Kyle Seager made another error and another misplay on a hard-hit grounder that went for a double. The offense managed three hits and and one run off youngster Patrick Corbin.

Manager Lloyd McClendon, having seen this tired tableau many times, fell back on cliches.

“We got our butts kicked in this series,” he said. “We gotta regroup and win a game. We got short memories. Tomorrow is the biggest game of the year.”

What was most galling for Mariners fans was that on the day Hernandez passed Jamie Moyer for most games pitched (324) in club history, the grim outcome illuminated how little progress the franchise has made since he first became a major leaguer in 2005.

None of those games includes a single start in the playoffs. Only three of those seasons included a winning record. And it looks highly likely there will be no playoffs or winning record this year.

Alone with him for a moment, I asked Hernandez what it meant to him to have none of those starts in the postseason.

“How many games?” he said, genuinely unaware of the milestone. Told 324, he paused and reverted to his good-soldier rhetoric.

“I made a decision to stay here for a long time,” said. “I don’t regret it. I love this team. I think we’re going to make it.

“If they want me to play (324 more), I’ll be happy.”

Well, good for him — if showing up is the the goal. It’s neither part of his job nor his character to publicly demand more. But 10 years of mediocrity is squandering one of the best pitching careers of this century.

It’s a sporting shame. After seven years of Zduriencik’s GM tenure, there’s little sign of hope. After five seasons, he and his lamentable predecessor, Bill Bavasi, had identical records. He bought himself time with a 87-win season in 2014. But now, the payroll is more than $120 million, yet the Arizona series again demonstrated the current roster’s feebleness, while the farm system has precious few sure-fire major leaguers.

Zduriencik already indicated he made his in-season move with Trumbo/Castillo. Something else may happen by Friday’ s 1 p.m. PT trade deadline, but why would baseball fans care?

Zduriencik probably will be gone at season’s end, but his successor will be chosen largely by the same management team that picked the past two GMs.

Oh well. At least Hernandez loves it here. At $175 million, why not?

Cano out with abdominal strain

After an MRI exam, 2B Robinson Cano sat out Wednesday’s game and will be out “a couple of days” with a grade-one strain of an abdominal muscle, McClendon said after the game. After that, he’ll DH a couple of games, then resume play in the field.

“He was trying to make a play a couple of days ago and he felt it,”  McClendon told reporters pre-game. “It’s gotten a little worse.

“Robbie’s stubborn. His pain tolerance is so high that he actually wanted to play again today, but the doctors said, ‘We need to get this looked at and make sure that there’s nothing going on.’

“So if this was the seventh game of the World Series, Robbie would play and would want to. But this is the right thing to do.”


1B Logan Morrison injured his thumb during and at-bat and came of the game. McClendon said he is day to day . . . The sweep was the first by the D-backs since the teams began interleague play in 1998 . . . In his previous five starts, Hernandez had a 1.09 ERA in with 33 strikeouts in 32 innings. Wednesday, he gave up seven runs on 12 hits in 6.2 innings . . . Brad Miller is hitting .294 over his last 26 games . . .Nelson Cruz is hitting .375 during his nine-game hitting streak.


The Mariners go on a seven-game road trip with four in Minnesota starting at 5:10 p.m. PT Thursday. LHP J.A. Happ (4-5, 5.27) goes against RHP Phil Hughes (9-4, 3.93).




  • coug73

    Thanks for the box score, I couldn’t read it. Didn’t listen on the radio even while sorting and repaired my fishing tackle. My favorite spinning reel has given up the ghost after helping me land 6 pink salmon on the beach this year. Smoked the fish today.

    Art, ever think of covering Puget Sound fishing?

    • art thiel

      My history of skunking has discouraged me. Yet I write about the Mariners . . .

  • coug73

    Oh, Z stand down.

    • art thiel

      Won’t be voluntary,. although we will be offered a cigarette and a blindfold.

      • 2nd place is 1st loser

        Art do you believe given the current situation regarding team control, “Howard Lincoln”. Who can the Mariners convince to come here and right the ship? I personally believe that Howard and some others need to be replaced, this year end and year out misery can’t be blamed entirely on GM’s and managers. All though the GM is hired by Howard, which is where I believe the finger should be pointed. Your thoughts?

        • art thiel

          Nintendo owns the team. Lincoln is on its three-man board. The board sees positive cash flow and equity appreciation. Why get rid of Howard? NOA doesn’t care about W-L record.

  • Effzee

    I see Felix has as little ambition as Lincoln does when it comes to winning. How disappointing. Everyone is content to be what they are, from top to bottom. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Serious baseball people get out of town as quickly as they can when they realize what an absolute sham of an operation the Mariners baseball club is.

  • Rj Smith

    The so-called “King-Felix” got destroyed AGAIN & was rocked by an ex teammate…… they are so damn sad & pathetic it’s downright hilarious! What’s funny is, they seriously need to find a REAL gm & start fielding trade offers for “the King”. THREE starts this year allowing 7 runs, that is not a real #1 SP. But of course all the goofballs think “there’s no way you trade Felix”, that’s exactly why the M’s will be awful in 2016, not to mention they’ll find a way to screw up the 2nd pick in the draft. Sigh.

    • Pixdawg13

      And they’ve got such “fans” as Rj Smith too.

      • dingle

        Rj’s a little frustrated. And who can blame him? (Er, I assume “him”.)

        The Mariners make money faster than they can count it, and the product on the field is, more often than not, dog. I think he’s being a little hard on Felix, who’s been a damn fine pitcher toiling away in this baseball backwater.

        The Mariners need to clean house, from the top down. Unfortunately, the cleaning won’t get any higher than the GM level. And there’s no doubt, Jack needs to go, and should have been gone a long time ago. But as long as the clowns above him are still in charge, the Mariners will be mostly inept, sprinkling in an occasional over-.500 season to sow false hope among the long-suffering faithful and keep the turnstiles rotating.

        • Kevin Lynch

          Felix has been a great pitcher. You kinda feel for the players. Probably mostly good guys. Maybe they’re all good guys. They’ve sure had some guys struggling this year. But when you’re in a hole it’s hard to climb out. Still…it was great see Arizona’s team speed the last few days. Tagging from first on a fly to center that didn’t even make the warning track? They had aggressive steals of second base, a sharp double play combination, and the catcher and pitching coach were right on top of the pitchers when they wandered a bit. The Snakes impressed with a lot of little things. They play like they expect to win.

        • kzka

          Lincoln is cutting corners on player development and scouting to increase the margin for his his employers in Japan.

          • art thiel

            His employers are here. There’s no corner cutting in player development. They just aren’t very good managers of talent.

          • kzka

            Houston is a huge market, bigger than Seattle’s yet the Astro’s payroll is a fraction of the Mariners. Where’s all that revenue going? Not into signing free agents to long-term contracts but back into the infra-structure to develop home-grown talent.

            By contrast, the Mariners economic philosophy is :“How many farm teams over how many years does it take to generate one Robinson Cano.” When you consider the operating expenses of 8+ minor league teams, Cano’s contract doesn’t sound so crazy.
            The money’s gotta go somewhere and something has to suffer.

  • bob smith

    Although the chances of much improvement as a team appear slim, there are still goals to achieve on a personal level.

  • kzka
    • dingle

      I’ll have to go to a San Jose Giants game the next time Bakersfield is in town. It looks like there’s a good chance the Beer Batter will strike out a couple times and give us half-pricers for a couple innings.

      • kzka

        Clinton: 33-69, Bakersfield: 37-65, Jackson: 39-60. I realize that W% doesn’t have the same priority as in the majors, but this is shockingly bad. There really should be winning somewhere in the system. Something is fundamentally broken.

  • Rj Smith

    I see the immortal M’s killer Joe stinkin Blanton has been picked up by the Pirates after his release from KC. Good thing he’s in the NL now, no chance he’ll get to dominate the M’s & severely out-pitch the so-called “King Felix” again. Oh look…… the so-called “King” got clobbered yesterday & was beat by a chump. Shocking.

  • just passing thru

    It’s time for Jack to be fired, but likely they’ll fire Lloyd mid-season instead. Mather and Lincoln should just call Jack on the phone (Jack style) and tell him his office is packed and the boxes are shipping tomorrow. The Castillo/Trumbo trade is just the latest exhibit for a trader who consistently gets fleeced. Just pathetic.

    • Trygvesture

      But.. It’s still Lincoln et al that continue to run clockwise around the baseball management bases… they will never be capable of reversing course to score, let alone win. They manage equity appreciation and ensure there are no cash calls. Period. The ownership of this team just takes advantage of the stadium–our stadium– they lease to enrich themselves. Really unsavory, slimey, unfairly enriched fat cats of the old school, the lot.
      Can you imagine? A bunch of em went to Randy’s induction, Lincoln included.
      AS IF.
      He’s sucking on the teat of the Time Before He Arrived– and situating himself to look like a contributor. Lincoln Armstrong essentially ran Randy out– He wasn’t able to put the S-eatin grin on about everything for their benefit.
      Just stay away.

      • art thiel

        Almost 30,000 per game, up 7K from a year ago. Ratings up too. Somebody likes them.

        • kzka

          Really, how are those attendance figures calculated and ratings as well.

          • art thiel

            It’s obvious by eyewitness account attendance is up. The Mariners cook their books no more or less than any other team.

          • kzka

            That’s legitimately good news then. I think you understand how a Mariners fan can be a little cynical these days.
            The elephant in the room is what’s going on in the minors. Jackson (39-60), Bakersfield (40-63) and Clinton (33-70) are all completely over-matched in their respective leagues. That’s the heart & soul of the farm system and it seems that the future now rests solely on a player who hit .223 in AA.
            Jack Z, for all his failings as a GM is still an excellent evaluator of talent and the M’s made reasonable draft picks these last 7 years, (at least they were given high marks by those who supposedly know) but he has only Seager to show for it. Something is amiss, which brings me to Lincoln:
            Howard Lincoln’s job security involves first and foremost in turning a profit for his employers and the Mariners are very good at this. I wonder if there is an economic consideration for neglecting minor-league player development in favor of increasing the payroll and building around 2-3 big name players. Developing an infrastructure ala Houston may be too costly, even with a lower payroll. (BTW, Houston’s equivalent minor league affiliates are: Corpus Christi (67-37), Lancaster (53-50), Quad Cities (66-36). Maybe Lincoln is simply clueless as how to do it and it’s easier to show the boss a ledger with a lot of black numbers.
            In any case, the future looks awfully bleak for the M’s and awfully bright for the Astros.

    • art thiel

      Once the deadline has passed, all GMs are more or less done with what they can do, although the waiver deadline has some opportunities. A midseason firing of either usually does little.

      • just passing thru

        I s’pose. But it would sure make me feel better.

  • notaboomer

    morrison is slumping and now hurt yet jesus montero who is hitting 350 with 76 rbi and can play first remains in tacoma. mariner management also in a coma.

    i only go a 3-4 games a year and went yesterday (7-29). worst game i’ve ever attended. just pathetic play in all facets of the game. not to mention i drove instead of taking the bus as usual b/c i got a free parking ticket. took an hour to travel the last mile from I-90 to the parking garage for a day game. something wrong in marinerland indeed.

    • art thiel

      Now you know why Mariners don’t want an arena as neighbor.