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Peter Gammons says he’s buying in on Mariners as a contender

Peter Gammons said third baseman Kyle Seager has a "tremendous motivation to be extraordinary." (AP)

PEORIA, Ariz. – Longtime baseball writer and analyst Peter Gammons joined the broadcast for an inning of the Mariners 10-5 win over the Brewers and it was interesting to get his perspective on the 2015 Mariners.

Gammons acknowledged the buzz around the team that has reached far beyond Seattle and said that he is “buying in” that the Mariners are more than a wild-card team. A combination of progress made last year and offseason moves have earned this buzz in his estimation.

On the off season moves:

“I think it was very wise to get the depth, to be able to have the platoon in left field and right field and not go hog wild, (but) I love getting (Nelson) Cruz, I thought that was a very practical move. The bat with Robbie (Robinson Cano), but I think the second half of last year proved that the Mariners are very good. That and you have (Taijuan) Walker and (James) Paxton coming with arguably the best bullpen in the AL.”

On an interesting conservation with Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane:

“I remember last year when they were really struggling in June, I think, and I said something to Billy Beane, ‘I still think the Mariners are really good,’ and he said, ‘huh?’ They scared the daylights out of him … They’re the most undervalued team. I know what the Oakland scouting report was, just pray that Taijaun Walker is not starting that playoff (wild-card) game. Which he was going to do.”

On Felix not winning the Cy Young:

Gammons points out that he is not arguing with eventual selection of Corey Kluber. “In some ways I think it is possible that the level of excellence that he has maintained through the years works against him. I think people take Felix a little bit for granted and also I think it is the whole Seattle is way out west, I sometimes think people just don’t realize how good he is. A lot of the SportsCenter stuff is done before he is finished pitching. But just the way other hitters, they so respect his competitiveness, his ability to finish people off with the splitter.”

Inside scoop on a couple of Randy Johnson trades:

Johnson to Seattle – “I was at Fenway Park the night they made the (Mark) Langston deal. I went into the Mariners clubhouse and talked to guys and they were all just ripping the trade. But it was actually really good. I talked to people from the Expos and asked what the key to the deal was and they said Gene Harris, they thought he was going to be the real deal. I know too many stories (laughs).”

Johnson to the Astros – “When they traded him, Jerry Hunsicker was the GM of the Astros and called me and said, ‘By the way, the Mariners made a phenomenal trade. We gave up a ton of talent, (Carlos) Guillen is really good, Freddy Garcia is really good.’ I really appreciated that because at the time they were bashed for the trade. As it turns out Randy was going to leave eventually so it worked.”

On seeing a very young Randy Johnson for the first time:

“I saw Randy Johnson pitching in Alaska after his freshman year, in Palmer, Alaska, in 1985. He was absolutely terrible. He was so skinny, couldn’t maintain his delivery. Throw one pitch at 95 then throw four more fastballs at 75. For him to get to where he got, the work he did to become one of the five greatest left-handers in the history of baseball, is astounding. He’s so appreciative of someone respecting that it wasn’t God-given ability, it was so much hard work.”

On being a big Kyle Seager fan:

“He was one of the most unheralded good college players. The assistant coaches were telling me he was just a really good solid player. I don’t think anyone had any idea that he was going to take off and become close to a star-level player. People always told me that he has a will that is just extraordinary. Somebody says to me that he has that really constructive chip on his shoulder. I don’t think it’s that, I just think he has that tremendous motivation to be extraordinary.”

On the other Seagers:

“We were talking about the youngest brother with the Dodgers (Corey Seager), who’s an incredible prospect. John Olerud, if he’s listening there at home, he’s got your swing. He’s a 6-5 shortstop with your swing. Kyle was telling me about the two younger brothers, in basketball they could never last more than three minutes because they all were getting into fights. I think it is the makeup of the family, they are so aggressive.”

Final thoughts on Kyle and a thought about his college teammate:

“It’s a great story what Kyle’s done. I’m really happy for him. I still think Dustin Ackley is going to bust out here somewhere along the line and become a really, really good player.”

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