By Terry Benish

Special to The Sports Paper


Senior ESPN baseball writer Buster Olney is saying the Mariners appear destined to sign a big-name starting pitcher and the reborn blog Lookoutlanding is saying “One of the three most prominent free-agent starting pitchers–Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza–seems bound to wind up w/Seattle.”

I’m going to repeat myself, but the whole thing is revelatory. Let’s parse some phrases and words first. The phrase “appear destined” is the first clue. Translated, it means Olney has not spoken to the Mariners.

Once that is understood, the rest is just correspondent as shill for a player’s agent or multiple agents. While Olney can be truthful about what he is reporting, the way to tell when an agent is lying is when sound comes out of their mouth. So there is just no way to think it is credible.

I assess the now, sort of Zen and Mariner speculation, concluding that all the silly talk about signing a new manager and staff and the retirement of club president Chuck Armstrong has left the Mariners stuck in the mud.

The pertinent question is why this has happened?

My people have tried to line up an interview with club CEO Howard Lincoln or general manager Jack Zduriencik, or both, but they tell me their phones are very quiet.

Lincoln says they have all kinds of money to spend, but they took to long to tell Jack that, or if he knew weeks ago, nobody wants near his toxicity if there are options. Surely top flight free agents have options a plenty. Lots of people already have signed.

Toxicity you ask?

Almost certainly Jack will be fired by the new team president at year’s end for next season. The Mariners will not pay for two general managers in same season. That we know.

The Mariners also have to convince player free agents and prospective general managers that the team is close.

Just to follow that through, no free agent wants to sign with a team only to be traded when the new general manager comes in and blows up team ‑ again. Perhaps I misstate, perhaps like Olney said earlier this week as well as ESPN’s Jim Bowden that there are guys who love where the Mariners are and are chomping at bit to take over for Chuck.

We’ll see.

What is behind Olney’s speculation/agent talk is he believes the only way to compete for the M’s is pitching, pitching and more pitching. The stated need for right-handed power hitters was due to the terrible results the team had against left handed pitchers. The slash line against left handed pitchers is really, really poor: .229 batting average/ .293 on base/ .364 slug for an OPS of .657.

Last year the M’s had three switch hitters and two right-handed hitters and Brendan Ryan, who is in effect a pitcher playing short stop. Mike Zunino’s OPS against left handed pitchers was .650. Justin Smoak’s as a right

handed hitter was .548. Nick Franklin’s was .599. Mike Morse’s was .667. Kendrys Morales was .794. Jesus Montero .531.

That is pretty boring reading/bad writing, but there it is.

With more time some of the M’s younger guys might improve. Montero’s numbers are in a free fall from his brief exposure as a Yankee. Normally this is where I would lose control and rant about an un-scouted player traded for, Or I would rant how the M’s have as bad a player evaluation as I’ve ever, ever seen.

So pitching it might be. But for the Mariners, if the past three years are prologue, this might just be a bunch of head faking as in Fielder, Hamilton stuff where the Mariners used the press to create an illusion they were signing important players.

It is charitable to ponder their actions as sincere, but there it is from me.

It might be possible I could be wrong, but my funny bone is twitching and it is not the great blizzard of 2013 that is supposed to hit on Monday.

One of my other favorite correspondents, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports ‑ the fictional center ‑ tweeted last week the Mariners are now desperate.

Again that is not reporting, but it certainly suggests that.

If not, it will play out as great theater.

Moving on, Matt Ellis wrote a little stream of consciousness piece, which brought up the best of Jack Kerouac, Hunter Thompson and William Saroyan, called The Day After Thanksgiving  (see it at

Mr. Ellis is just getting started, but when you read something that good it is like seeing a 16-year old hit a ball 450 feet. Awe struck and surprised. Check it out.

Watching Washington eke out a win over WSU on the back of a strong defense and a great running back made for frustrating viewing. Bishop Sankey is a kid that should have had primacy in all their game planning and play calling the whole year. They lost when the play calling turned away from him.

As a talent measure they at first thought he was a scat back and outside runner when he arrived.

They were wrong.

Comparisons to Emmett Smith abound now.

For any quarterback, passing when it is second and two or as a change up on first down is what makes their job easier. Safeties are sucking up to the line to stop the run.

The Seattle Times’ Bud Withers characterized the game as one where the Huskies had upside and Cougars did not. He threw in some pithy remarks about clinched Husky jaws.

So many of the local media attended WSU, as did Bud. So shouldn’t they self identify? They are hardly objective.

But it turns out Bud was wrong. The Cougars are bowl eligible with six wins, but it seems things are breaking bad for them, to steal a phrase, as they appear to have fallen out of bowl projections now.

The Huskies project to play in San Francisco on December 27 versus the BYU Cougars.