“Felix for Cy Young” gaining steam

Sep 20, 2009, 7:05 PM | Updated: Apr 4, 2011, 7:51 pm

by Mike Salk

It won’t get a lot of press and we won’t talk about it enough this week (because of the two football games), but the Mariners capped off a nice homestand by taking 2 of 3 from the Yankees. In the process, we saw Ichiro with a pair of walk-off hits (including a home run off of future hall of famer Mariano Rivera) and Felix Hernandez improve his case for Cy Young consideration.

As for Felix, I am becoming more of a believer in his Cy Young resume. In fact, I spoke to a non-Seattle beat writer who has a Cy Young vote and he is leaning towards Felix as his top choice. He mentioned Friday’s win as a reason, though by no means the only one.

Meanwhile, Felix’s teammates are fully behind his candidacy. One reliever spent ten minutes pushing Felix’s merits to me on Saturday. He reasoned that Zack Grienke got off to a hot start, but his numbers have come back to earth and also that Grienke hasn’t had to face the Red Sox or Yanks with their premier offenses.

He also discounted CC Sabathia for having the benefit of one of those great offenses. I’m coming around on this one…

I’m not sure what to say about Ichiro other than that he looks very comfortable in all phases of his professional life right now. He is hitting at his usual clip, but also coming up with some nice, clutch hits and seems to be enjoying himself. I was privy to a comical moment in the clubhouse yesterday that had the whole team rolling with laughter. Ichiro was right there with them, a part of the “in crowd” so to speak.

I should also point out that the home run off of Rivera is another example of how Ichiro is just unique. Rivera is dominant against everyone, but he’s especially tough against lefties. That cutter runs right in on their hands and they ground it to the right side of the infield. But Ichiro is like no other left-hander, and he crushed that one Friday night.

We’ve been following the Type A and B free agent list all season long and a few recent changes effect the Mariners. Jack Wilson’s struggles at the plate have dropped him from being a Type B to being a regular free agent without compensation. The Mariners have a team option on Wilson for $8.4 million. If they pick it up (or sign him to an extension), this won’t matter. But if they decide to buy out his final year (for less than $1 million), they could not receive compensation.

Also, Jarrod Washburn has dropped from a Type B to a regular free agent, which could benefit the M’s if they decide to sign him again in free agency. Washburn is scheduled to visit noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lewis Yocum this week about his knee.

Speaking of Washburn, I spoke to one member of the Mariner coaching staff who believes some of Washburn’s struggles in Detroit could be related to switching catchers. He told me that Rob Johnson is a very “proactive” game caller, while Gerald Laird is more “reactive.” Washburn and Johnson obviously had good chemistry; I wonder how much of a factor that could be.

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