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Felix, Felix, Felix Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Posted by mrgenre in Mariners.
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As we approach the offseason essentially out of this year’s pennant race, and post-Ichiro record time, Felix will get to play in the limelight.  The first reason is the Cy Young race.  Most interesting is that writers are fighting over the chance to cover this year’s race, but only the National League portion.  However, according to this year’s Cy Young Predictor Seattle fans have a lot to get excited about.  Felix currently tops the “standings” according to ESPN and if he keeps things up at this pace, he may just finish with 18 wins with only Greinke challenging him in ERA (and let’s face it: KC’s assistance toward a 13-8 record leaves him well short of this award).

The only thorn in his proverbial paw could be Sabathia, whose Bombers have catapulted themselves to a possible 20 win season with CC on the mound, even if he hasn’t pitched at Felix’s level.  A Cy Young Award to a pitcher who might just win the World Series this year has to be tempting for sportswriters everywhere.  And with the M’s just a stone throw away from .500…

But what does it really matter?  If Felix had already inked a deal, you’d be hearing a little more about Cy other than just here.  And until he becomes a Mariner for the long-term, expect the Seattle media circus to downplay his shot (at least until he wins it, if he does).  So what does that mean?  And as many of you long-time Marination fans must be wondering, where do I stand on the signing of our young king?  Because let’s face it, he’ll certainly earn his royal bounty soon enough, even if it’s not out of Nintendo’s pocket.

I think that no matter what decision we come to, I have to echo an opinion I’ve heard infrequently over the last month: it has to happen now.  If we’re going to sign him long term, it needs to happen this offseason.  And if we can’t get it done on our terms, then we need to cash in.  I’ve heard many say that we need to cash in because he’s at his peak, or that spending that kind of money is an abomination.  I disagree with both reasons.  If he’s at his peak at 23, then I’m Ken Griffey Jr.  And while I’m in agreement with any notion that we shouldn’t offer him 6-10 years, I disagree about paying him what he’s worth.  Give him 20 million a season for all I care.  We can afford it if he’s holding our rotation together.  But please, please, please don’t give him more than 5 years.  4 would be even sweeter.  I don’t want another Zito or Hampton situation to happen anywhere, let alone Seattle.

Next up is why it has to happen this winter.  Because trading a guy this good, with 2 free years to whatever team wants him is basically forcing another team (or teams) to write us a blank check.  Did you see what they were offering Halladay for just a single year’s worth of contract?  Did you see what people gave us for Jarrod Washburn when everyone knew he was playing beyond his ability?  Just imagine what a team would pay for someone who not only has amazing potential, but is a Cy Young candidate without growth into that potential.  And he’s 23.  And he would have two full years left on his contract.  And he’s 23.  And he’s freaking amazing!

If Bavasi was still running things, I would be terrified at this trade prospect, but with Z at the reigns, I can only imagine what sort of team he might assemble if given a chip as big as Felix.  With that said, though, the thought of Felix pitching the next 15 years for some other franchise on his way to Cooperstown is absolutely heartbreaking.  I guess when it really comes down to it, as long as we do one or the other this winter (and no later), I’ll be happy with our future.

Go, M’s!

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The Oddity of “200” Monday, September 14, 2009

Posted by mrgenre in Mariners.
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Last night, Ichiro made history yet again.  Not 258 (eventually 262) or 2,000, but 200 this time was his magic number as he became the first baseball player to have 9 consecutive seasons with 200 hits or more.  As our obsessions with numbers that end in 0 or 5 prevail especially in baseball, I wanted to take a closer look at the significance of this achievement.

Ichiro’s “worst” season came in 2005 where he hit safely 206 times.  It seems likely he will actually finish the season with the record of 9 consecutive seasons of 206 or more hits.  An achievement 6 infield singles rarer than what we celebrated last night.  How do others stack up?

“Wee” Willie Keeler was the former record holder, although Ichiro had already beaten him.  Keeler had 8 consecutive seasons of only 202 hits or more, although he beat Ichiro with 7 consecutive seasons of 210 until he “struggled” and managed only 202 in 1901.

The infamous Ty Cobb, although he likely spiked his way on base on more than one occasion, has 9 seasons of 201 hits or more.

And what of Pete Rose, the man who still lords two substantial records over the current hit king?  Rose managed only 2 stretches of 3 seasons in the consecutive 200+ category, but still has 10 overall with so many hits.  Actually, he has 10 seasons of 204 hits or more, and only 7 seasons of Ichiro’s 206+ achievement.  So… didn’t Ichiro already beat him?

And this is all above that 200 hit threshhold: I didn’t even dip into 190+.  So why 200?  Why do we obsess over arbitrary amounts such as this?  As any stats hound will tell you truthfully: because we can.  I don’t say this to take anything away from Ichiro’s outstanding achievement, but I can’t even casually think about Ichiro without running over to baseball-reference.com.  That alone should tell you how incredible his achievements have been.  And as to his future achievements, I have just one more comparison to make.

Ichiro also had his 2005th career hit yesterday.  That puts him at 256th overall among career hits leaders (just past Todd Zeile and hall of famer Dave Bancroft).  Toss in his Japanese hits and he improves to 3283 professional hits and moves up to 11th on the list.  Yes, 11th.  Tied with Willie Mays.  Yes, Willie Mays.  He needs only 974 more hits to eclipse Pete Rose’s amazing achievement.

And do I care if you don’t think Ichiro’s Japanese hits should count?  No.  They play less games, they play in smaller stadiums (not spacious Safeco) and they play quality baseball.  As far as I’m concerned, if Ichiro should have 5 more seasons of 206 hits or more, he’s better than Pete Rose and should be crowned the new hits king.  Let’s just hope that’s on his to-do list.  Is it 2014 yet?

Congratulations, Ichiro.  Even if the M’s never have another playoff appearance, we can always count on you to save the day.