‘Tis the Christmas card season, and the Mariners have sent out a nice one this year. It’s a photo of Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez in full stride amid snowflakes, a Mariners logo and the words “Felix Navidad.”
Any image of Felix is sure the warm the cockles on a dreary winter night (or, as M’s fans have come to experience the past few years, a dreary summer night). But, like the Mariners on the field in 2010, I digress.
This is a time to celebrate the joy these guys can bring, however sporadic it was in 2010. Let’s say we host a holiday party and invite the Mariners. Here’s what they might bring:
• We’ve re-hired Mike Sweeney as the official greeter, which means everybody gets a big hug coming and going.
• Like the annual pair of brown socks from Grandma, Ichiro Suzuki brings the same thing he does every year – 200 hits and the wish that someone else does enough hitting to let him score.
• Jack Wilson arrives with a Crock Pot full of his famous pulled pork.
• Dustin Ackley has gift-wrapped himself, although it looks like we can’t open him until June.
• Erik Bedard asks everyone to gather ’round as he sings the “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Unfortunately, he can’t make it past five golden rings.
• Chone Figgins whips up his famous Figgy pudding (that was way too easy). It turns out much better than his dish last year, when he tried stir-fry and things got ugly in the kitchen between Figgins and his Wak.
• Who’s that with a plate full of leftovers? Why, it’s new (and former) Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo.
• That’s Milton Bradley entertaining folks in the other room. One minute he has ’em laughing; the next minute they’re all crying.
• You haven’t lived until you’ve dined on some melt-in-your-mouth Justin Smoak-ed salmon.
• You’re going to love what Michael Pineda serves up although beware, he brings some serious heat.
• Hey everybody, guess who just arrived? It’s Casey Kotchman, and he didn’t bring a thing to the party.
• And to put the perfect capper on this evening, a big guy in a red suit shows up with a bag over his shoulder. Santa? Uh, no. It’s Jack Zduriencik. And, as much as you love the gifts he’s handing out, nobody gets what they really want – a big bat. Maybe next Christmas.
• Nearly everybody has gone home, but guess who’s staying to clean up? None other than David Aardsma (although Brandon League is hanging around saying, “You go on, David. I can finish up.”).
And now, a few serious notes from around baseball:
• Kyodo News of Japan caught up with Ichiro Suzuki with this interesting Q and A. Among the highlights is what he said about the Mariners’ second 101-loss season in the past three years:
“The whole team had high hopes for the 2010 season because we thought we made good additions to the roster (such as left-hander Cliff Lee and second baseman Chone Figgins). And we ended up like this. From now on, maybe we shouldn’t even voice our goals.”
• There’s an AL West team being bashed for its relative lack of action this offseason and – surprise! – it’s not the Mariners. Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com writes this piece about the Angels, noting that they’ve added only some left-handed relief and “botched” their attempt to acquire Carl Crawford.
• Yankees GM Brian Cashman discusses the team’s apparently dire pitching situation (insert violin music here), telling ESPN.com in this story that the last two spots in the rotation could go to pitchers without big-league experience.
Deeper in the story, Cashman is asked about the possibility of trading for Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. “That ain’t happening,” he says.