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Mariners and the Trade Deadline

By Bliadd Drwg

Somehow, the Mariners find themselves in the playoff hunt. Granted, this is more a result of luck than skill, but it is happening so the Mariners need to start thinking about making some sort of a move before the deadline. It won’t be easy because there are only about 8 teams in the majors who are truly out of contention. What the Mariners really need is 2 bats and an arm if they want to have any really serious shot at winning a playoff series. Why two bats and an arm? Well let me tell you.

Pitching – their bullpen has been lights out but bullpens are a fickle thing, especially one that gets used as much as the Mariners have relied on theirs. Hernandez and Iwakuma are a tough 1-2 combination but the rest of the rotation is a mess:

Chris Young is due to turn back into a pumpkin at some point; his numbers are just not sustainable as his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) ERA is 1.74 higher than his actual ERA. He is also sporting a mutantly low BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) of .219. Let’s put it this way, the MLB average BABIP is .298. For a pitcher who does not strike out that many hitters to have a .219 BABIP means that he is incredibly lucky. At some point those outs will become hits and that will be the end of Chris Young as a viable starter.

Roenis Elias has been figured out by the league. After a decent April, he basically is sporting an ERA pushing 5 since then, and with the diminished offense in the league, that is not acceptable anymore. They will keep trucking him out there, but that is eventually going to have to change.

The #5 starter is a real problem right now. Ramirez is terrible as a stopgap, Maurer showed he can’t handle it, Walker can’t seem to throw strikes, is back in Tacoma and is probably still hurt and Paxton can’t stay healthy enough to pitch more than once a month. Just a reminder why TNSTAAPP. Things are so bad that they ended up using Tom Wilhelmsen to start a game.

You don’t need David Price here, although he would not hurt. You really just need a middle of the rotation guy – just like what the Yankees did when they picked up Brandon McCarthy. You don’t want to go into a 7 game series with the prospect of getting only 2 or 3 starts out of Hernandez/Iwakuma. The M’s won’t win in that scenario.

More after the jump…

Continue reading Mariners and the Trade Deadline

Beer of the Week: Nitro Chocolate Dry Stout Randall

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitled2Thanks to the Reuben’s randall project, we have a fairly steady stream of variations on beers that they have regularly on tap. It is nice to see how flavors interact with each other and in some cases enhance what is already found in the beer. Every once in a while, they completely take it over the top with a randall, like the Nitro Chocolate Dry Stout that not only included Theo Chocolate cocoa nibs but vanilla in the process. Dry Stout, chocolate and vanilla, I am all over that. It clocked in a 4.9% ABV and 36 IBU.

The beer pours jet black with a creamy tan head. Strong notes of dark chocolate, dark roast coffee and vanilla dominate why nose with hints of malt and milk – the beer smell like an adult version of Yoo-hoo. The initial sip hits you with notes of malted milk and dark chocolate with some notes of coffee before transitioning into a slightly bitter chocolate profile. The beer finishes with a velvet mouthfeel with a wandering lingering vanilla, dark chocolate, malted milk, sugar profile. The finish is somewhere in-between a really good chocolate shake (just missing a hit of whipped cream on top) and a great dark chocolate bar.

Reuben’s Nitro Chocolate Dry Stout Randall hammers home its point with 5 six packs out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Maritime Pacific Dunkelweiss

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Every once in a while you will see a beer style pop up in Seattle that does not get a ton of airplay in the Northwest. Dunkelweizen is one of those that makes a rare appearance. What is a dunklelweizen? Well according to the German Beer Institute, it is this:

Dunkelweizen is the dark version of the regular golden-yellow Weissbier or Weizenbier (more commonly called Hefeweizen in North America), the spritzy, creamy Bavarian wheat beer with pronounced clove, vanilla, banana, apple, bubblegum, and sometimes nutmeg flavors.

maritime_logoBasically a dark wheat beer. Maritime had one on tap a few months back, calling it a dunkelweiss, and I felt the need to try it.

The beer pours cloudy brown in color and kind of looks like a root beer float. There are strong notes of roast and grain with faint hints of smoke and chocolate. The beer hits the plate as creamy with hints of grain before quickly moving into chocolate and roasted notes, reminding me of chocolate milk in both texture and flavor. The finish is odd with a fading chocolate notes, which are pleasant but dominate the beer to the point that nothing else shows. The beer really lacked a distinct fruit and grain profile that you would expect from a wheat based beer and was heavy on the roasted flavors. It was out of balance, but there are definitely times I could see myself drinking this beer because of its flavor profile.

Maritime Dunkelweiss scores a goal with 2 bianconeros out of 5.

Beer of the Week: NW Peaks Rye IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitle8dAnother review of a NW Peaks IPA? The gods must be crazy. I had actually been waiting for this one since the guys at NW Peaks told me it was one their brew schedule. I have become a huge fan of rye beers and they had tremendous success with their Cave Rye last year, so I wanted to know what they could do with a full blown rye IPA. I don’t think it is currently available at the brewery, but it clocked in at a nice 6.5% ABV.

The beer pours orange in color with a nice white head and there is an explosion of citrus on the nose when you first smell this beer, but with deeper investigation, you will find additional notes of orange peel and orange blossom, spice and rye and grain notes. The beer starts off with juicy fresh squeezed orange and tangerine with orange blossom without being cloyingly sweet before brining mild amounts of bitterness into the picture in the form of citrus peel combined with some grain and spicy heat. The beer finishes extremely long with signifiant citrus tempered with a pleasant bite of the rye and coupled with a hint of resin and spice in a moderately bitter finish. Not quite a good as my favorite rye IPA, Reuben’s Imperial Rye IPA, this beer is extremely well balanced and very easy to drink and is outstanding in its own right.

NW Peaks Rye IPA finishes strong with a perfect 5 stone mills out of 5.

Sugar Rush

by A.J. Coltrane

We watched Wreck It Ralph again. (Way fun film, btw.) Afterwards I was digging around YouTube and ran into this priceless video:

It’s right in line with what some sushi joints will play on television as white noise.

I Didn’t Watch The MLB All Star Game But

by A.J. Coltrane

I’m watching the Triple A All Star game. It just seems like there’s more at stake.

1.  It’s the Pacific Coast League against the International League — it really is two different leagues opposing each other. Actual bragging rights!

2.  The players are invested in doing well. A really outstanding performance could get every teams’ attention, not just the franchise that they’re currently playing for. Nobody’s going groove a pitch to Derek Jeter. (During the MLB All Star game Adam Wainwright’s pitch to Jeter had 0.3″ of horizontal break.)

[For those of you who didn't watch the game either, Wainwright had this to say before later changing his story:]

“I was going to give him a couple of pipe shots,” Wainwright said. “He deserved it. I didn’t know he was going to hit a double or I would have changed my mind. I thought he was going to hit something hard to the right side for a single or an out. I probably should have pitched him a little bit better.”

I think the “pipe shot” reference was excellent from a visual standpoint — Wainwright pretty literally threw the ball straight down a pipe.

3.  The players are younger, and in many cases it’s my first look at a player who will be in the Major Leagues for years to come. As I write this M’s prospect Chris Taylor just hustled out a double to go 3 for 3 with two doubles and a single. For what it’s worth, both of the starting middle infielders for the PCL are Mariners.

4.  The game is being played at the Durham Bulls home field. Anything that evokes the movie Bull Durham is a win in my book. They’ve even got this awesome billboard “Bull” that blows smoke and has glowing red eyes whenever someone hits a home run.

Which of course leads me to “Candlesticks always make a nice gift”:

Beer of the Week: Bad Jimmy’s Pale Ale

By Iron Chef Leftovers

1398797369618It is not too often that you will see a pale ale that is pushing over the 6% abv threshold. Pales are generally lower in hops and lower in alcohol than their IPA cousins and are meant to be much more approachable. Bad Jimmy’s takes the opposite approach with their extreme beers, putting out a pale that is 7.2% and 72 IBU, putting it firmly in the range of most IPAs.

The beer pours hazy golden in color with notes of citrus and grain dominating the nose. The beer starts out bitter in an extreme way, assaulting the palate. It is a harsh bitterness that completely overwhelms any other flavor that you might find in the beer, making this extremely one note. There is no balance and a significant alcohol burn. If you are hard pressed, you might be able to find a hint of citrus note in this beer, but it is a challenge. It might have worked better if it were called an IPA, but as a pale, this beer is just plain terrible.

Bad Jimmy’s Pale needs to get out in the sun more with just 1 pasty white boy out of 5.

Award Winning Caprese Salad

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Mrs. Iron Chef needed a dish for a work pot luck recently and of course she turned to me to ask if I would make something. I debated making my Mac and Cheese, but we weren’t sure if there was any way to heat it up and it has been too bloody warm to make Mac anyway. I figured that since the event was outside and during the heatwave we have been going through that a nice Caprese Salad would be a good choice and I would do it with a twist. Tomatoes are just about in season, watermelon is in season and I have more basil right now than I know what to do with so it seemed like a good candidate with easily accessible ingredients. It would be quick to make and easy to transport also. So I went with it. At the event there was a contest for best dish and guess what took home the top prize?

 

The Software

1 ¼ lbs. ripe, in season, tomatoes, cut into ½ in pieces

8 oz. Fresh Mozzarella, preferably Ciliegine size, drained, patted dry and halved

8 oz. Watermelon, cut into ½ inch pieces

1 ½ tablespoons coarsely minced fresh basil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)

2 table spoons extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

 

The Recipe

In a large bowl combine the tomatoes, mozzarella and watermelon and toss gently to combine. Add basil, oil vinegar and salt and toss gently to combine. Taste and adjust salt and add fresh ground pepper as desired. Let sit at least an hour to combine (don’t refrigerate it) and toss just before serving. That is it, there is nothing else to do but enjoy.

 

What fresh mozzarella looks like. The ones you want to buy are in the lower right of the board and yes, I do recommend the Belgioioso brand.

What fresh mozzarella looks like. The ones you want to buy are in the lower right of the board and yes, I do recommend the Belgioioso brand.

Notes

The key to this is to use in-season tomatoes. The riper they are, the sweeter they are so if you grow your own, this dish will be much sweeter than if you use store bought ones. I prefer roma or cherry tomatoes for this dish, but just about any tomato will work except for the ones that you will find in the supermarket labeled as “slicing tomatoes”. The mozzarella should be available in the deli section of most mega marts and the ciliegine size are about the size of the tip of your thumb. You can use just about any size mozzarella balls (don’t use the slicing mozzarella, it doesn’t have enough moisture), you just want to cut the pieces into roughly the same size as the tomatoes and watermelon. If you are using home grown tomatoes that are really sweet, I would recommend using red wine vinegar rather than balsamic – otherwise you risk a very sweet salad. A nice trick for mixing the oil and vinegar – put them into a small container with a lid and shake vigorously a couple of times until combined. I usually have a small container of the two handy so I just need to shake it up and pour over a salad. Adjust the recipe to taste – if you want more tomatoes, or basil or mozzarella, or watermelon, add it. You may need more oil and vinegar, if you do increase the other ingredients – just do it slowly. This salad is also great with some raw sweet onions sliced thinly added to the mix and served over grilled bread.

Beer of the Week: Reuben’s Zwickelbier

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitled2It has been a rough stretch of hot weather for Seattle, considering that most places don’t have air conditioning. That means a shift in my beer drinking habits – what is usually orders of IPA have lately been pints of lighter beers with a milder flavor profile and low hops as I am looking for something more refreshing. Reuben’s put on their Zwickelbier, which is an unfiltered lager and a style you don’t see really in the US. The beer clocked in at just 5.0% ABV and 24 IBU making it perfect on an 80 degree day.

The beer pours cloudy yellow in color with a white head. Notes of grain, pear and grapes show on the nose with hints of fresh cut grass and lemon hide in the background. The beer starts off with a nice grain not before bringing fruit to the party – green grape and pear give way to light apple and lemon with just a hint of bitter lemon peel. The finish is smooth with all of the flavors melding together in a crisp and slightly dry lager finish. Clean and refreshing, this is definitely a beer you want to be ordering on a hot day.

Reuben’s Zwickelbier keeps its true identity cloaked with 4 disguises out of 5. (There is an inside joke there, maybe some day I will tell it)

Beer of the Week: Cigar City Homefront IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

homefront-ipa-websiteWay back in 2011, Fremont Brewing, along with a brewery in NC called, ironically, Center of the Universe Brewing started making Homefront IPA as a fundraiser for a group that helps veterans returning home from war. The hook of this beer was that it is an IPA aged over Louisville Slugger baseball bats. The program has expanded and now includes 11 breweries. I was lucky enough to snag a bottle of the Cigar City version in a beer swap (wish I had the Fremont version to compare it to) and it came in a 22 oz bottle clocking in a 6% ABV.

The beer pours golden orange in color with a creamy white head. Strong notes of citrus and pine with supporting notes of resin and grain permeate the nose. The beer starts off on the palate with notes of grain and hints of floral hops before building in with an increasing bitterness with light notes of citrus peel and resin with touches opt pine needles. The finish is not a big one – a pleasant fade of bitterness with very light notes of maple syrup and a touch of sweetness with a nice lingering citrus peel note at the end. As the beer warms the citrus notes are replaced by a dry woodiness that is fine but unspectacular.

Cigar City Homefront IPA does its duty with honor, bringing in 3 star generals out of 5.