The holiday season has always meant two things to me; spending time with family and reflecting on what we were thankful for that year. I know, it sounds cliché or something out of a Hallmark movie, but it was an annual tradition in our family to make our way around the Thanksgiving table, stating one thing that made the year better than expected. So, as we approach Turkey Day, I’d like to dive into three things that make me thankful to be a Mariners fan in 2022.
I’m thankful for competent leadership from the Mariners
If you’ve followed the Mariners for ten years or ten minutes, you’ve heard the phrase “Same Old Mariners” a few times. We’ve uttered it when the front office tried to resurrect Milton Bradley, Rickie Weeks, or the shell of Ken Griffey Jr from the dead. Or when they traded young phenom Adam Jones and Chris Tillman to Baltimore for Mr. Five and Dive, Erik Bedard. But unfortunately, the hometown team’s leadership has made questionable decisions throughout the years.
Thankfully, Dipoto and Hollander are a class above Bill Bravasi and Jack Z. They made moves that launched the next Seattle superstar into the stratosphere, infused the starting rotation with a long sought-after ace, and brought continuous good vibes to the hot corner.
Their willingness to break camp with Julio Rodriguez and take on the salary of Eugenio Suarez and trade top prospects for Luis Castillo, a true ace for this team, set the stage for a memorable 2022. Imagine achieving what this team did without those three players. I don’t think we even sniff the playoffs without that core.
I’m thankful for the Big Dumper.
Who would’ve thought the second-round pick out of Florida State University would make this much of an impact? Or better yet, the nickname Jarred Kelenic gave him would go viral.
Nicknames aside, Cal Raleigh is one of the toughest guys around. The fact that he played the last quarter of the season with his thumb falling off is a testament to his burgeoning leadership skills. Don’t kid yourself. He was the only option down the stretch, and he continued to show up on both sides of the ball.
Raleigh established himself as one of the better catchers in the league, providing massive power (27 homers) and showing off his quick release to gun down would-be base stealers (32% CS). He finished with a slash line of .211/.284/.489, 27 HR and 63 RBI, and an OPS+ of 122. That’s a four-win catcher!
Raleigh caught all 18 innings of the heartbreaking playoff loss to the Astros, but most fans have the drought buster itched in their memory banks instead and for that, I’m forever thankful.
I’m thankful for A.J. Preller.
The longtime San Diego Padres President of Baseball Operations and General Manager has struck a few deals with the Mariners in recent years. Two transactions stand out as culture-changing. First, the 2020 deal netted Ty France, Taylor Trammell, Luis Torrens, and Andres Munoz. The contributions this team received from those four players this year were astonishing.
Ty France made his first All-Star team and became one of the AL’s most clutch hitters. Luis Torrens played three positions and rocketed the game-winning single into right field to end the 13-inning marathon with the Yankees. Taylor Trammell continued his progression to solid fourth outfielder providing energy off the bench. Lastly, Andres Munoz ditched the fastball-heavy strategy and became one of the most dominant relievers on this side of former Mariner Edwin Diaz.
The other 2020 deal included reliever Trevor Williams going to sunnier climates and Canadian flamethrower Matt Brash landing in Seattle. The rookie starter would transition to the bullpen and throw massive innings for this club flashing improved control after joining the Los Bomberos.
Reasons for Thankfulness
What are you thankful for as an M’s fan this year? Maybe it’s Julio’s love of the game, Scott Servais’ mastery of the bullpen, or Sam Haggerty’s ability to impact the game no matter where he plays. There are many reasons fans enjoyed the ride this year. It was 168 games of good vibes, clutch hits, and exuberance in the field and the dugout. Here’s to 2023 being even better. Now pass the cranberry sauce.