BROCK AND SALK

Mariners’ Cal Raleigh talks: M’s offseason, end-of-year comments

Dec 14, 2023, 10:20 AM | Updated: 1:03 pm

After the Seattle Mariners were eliminated from playoff contention on the second-to-last day of the 2023 season, catcher Cal Raleigh made some pretty strong comments about the team falling short.

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Raleigh stressed that things needed to change, and he pointed to the team on the other side of the field that night – the Texas Rangers – and how they’d gone out and acquired big-name hitters and pitchers. That ultimately helped the Rangers win the World Series about a month later.

Raleigh apologized the next day for his comments, saying it wasn’t the time to talk about “what-ifs.” He did add, though, he wasn’t going to apologize for wanting to win.

On Thursday, the popular Mariners catcher joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk for a wide-ranging interview that touched on those end-of-season comments, the way the Mariners’ offseason has gone and much more.

Regarding what he said after Game 161, Raleigh said “there was no agenda.”

“I wasn’t trying to say anything to call anybody out,” said Raleigh, who slugged a career-high 30 home runs in 2023. “It came from a place of winning, and that’s what I want to do. That’s what guys in the clubhouse want to do.”

Raleigh pointed to other star Mariners such as Julio Rodríguez, J.P. Crawford, Ty France, Logan Gilbert, George Kirby and Matt Brash, saying “we want to win.”

“We know we have the talent. We’re right there at the cusp,” Raleigh said. “We’ve been close. We just want to get over the edge, and that’s all it comes down to. And not just us but the fans. The fans want to see a winner, as well. They want to come out, they want to support us, they want to see playoff games, they want to see us in a World Series. That’s where it’s coming from. Everybody here wants to win. There’s no secret to it. We want to win, and we want to play as well as we can and we just want to do our best for the fans and for the city.”

Raleigh was asked about being comfortable voicing his opinion like he did, and he said that “it’s not just me.”

“Like I said, we have great leaders in our clubhouse,” he said. ” … It’s whoever it has to be. And if it’s speaking up, if it’s leading by example, whatever it takes to get W’s on the field, guys are willing to step up and do that. I think you’re seeing a lot of guys who came up a few years ago, now they’re starting to understand their role, they’re starting to understand their place on the field and in the clubhouse. It’s our job to as players, it starts with us. It’s our job to find a way to get wins and find a way to get us in the playoffs. So that’s where it starts.”

Raleigh stressed later that the onus is on “us as the players” to win games.

“It doesn’t matter what staff, ownership, whoever (does),” he said. “If we don’t go out there and be prepared and play as hard as we can every day and do our jobs the right way, it doesn’t matter what kind of team is on the field.”

Raleigh said it all especially starts with him because of his position.

“It starts with me as the catcher and as a guy that pitchers throw to, as a guy that you know fielders are looking to. It starts with me and I have to make those adjustments, as well,” he said.

How has Mariners offseason gone so far?

The Mariners haven’t added much yet to their MLB roster this offseason, but Raleigh hopes that changes.

“The offseason is not over. We’re waiting, we’re still hoping we can try to add to make our team better,” he said, adding that he believes Shohei Ohtani signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers last weekend may mean “dominoes will start falling.”

What the Mariners have done so far is make a few trades that saw notable names head to other teams.

Seattle’s first notable move was trading Eugenio Suárez to Arizona. Later, the Mariners traded pitcher Marco Gonzales, outfielder Jarred Kelenic and first baseman Evan White to Atlanta. White has since been traded to the Angels and Gonzales to Pittsburgh.

“It’s sad to see those guys go,” Raleigh said. “Geno (Suárez)  is a guy who taught me a lot, is a guy who helped a lot of guys out in that clubhouse and brought great energy every day helped us tremendously on and off the field. Very thankful for him. Sad to see him go.”

Raleigh said that Gonzales was one of the first players he got to know upon debuting in 2021.

Raleigh also knows Kelenic as well as anybody as the two were regular minor league teammates before getting to the big leagues.

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“Jarred Kelenic, we came up through the system together, kind of each step we were at the same place,” Raleigh said. “And he realizes that this is a business at the end of the day, unfortunately. But we’re just hoping we can make a few more moves and try to help this team out.”

Cal Raleigh on Seattle Mariners coming up short in ’23

The Seattle Mariners finished the 2023 season with an 88-74 record, two games back of the AL West title and one game short of making the playoffs as a wild card team.

“It was tough. It was a tough pill to swallow because all the guys in that clubhouse, they put their heart and soul into it,” Raleigh said. “They sacrifice so much every day … and to come up one game short, two games short, it really hurts. It hurts everybody, the fans included. It stinks. And it’s something that we have to remember this offseason and we have to try to make those adjustments. As players and leaders in this clubhouse, we have to get better. We understand that we need to take the next step.”

That next step may not need to be that big, as Raleigh doesn’t think the Mariners are “that far off.”

“You look at it, it was one game behind two teams that were in the championship series in the Astros and the Rangers. We were right there,” he said. “But at the end of the day, nobody wants to hear that. Nobody wants to hear, ‘Oh, we just missed it by one game.’ Nobody really cares, and I don’t really care either because we didn’t make it. So it’s our job to figure out what we need to do to make up that ground and try to get closer to our goal of getting to a World Series and winning one.”

Listen to the full Brock and Salk conversation with Seattle Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh in either the video or audio player near the top of this post, or in the podcast at this link.

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