Friday, April 29, 2005

Tink, Tink, CLANK

What IS that noise?

It's the sound of the Mariners tinkering with their bench, as only they can. After giving Shin-Soo Choo a grand total of ONE trip to the plate since his call-up, the Mariners signed veteran wet-bag-of-not-very-much (just a sight better than nothing) Dave Hansen. According to Grover, the plan is to get him into shape in Tacoma, and then get him onto the bench where he can ply his trade.

Oh boy. I'm so excited. Dave has a grand total of eight dingers in the last four years, hitting .253. That, as my good friend Rick Rizzs would say, "is good clutch hitting." The good news? He's not right-handed.

In other news, Project Keep The Dream of Willie Alive got new legs, as Wee Willie strapped on the tools of ignorance in a never-ending effort to find relevance. I just can't bring myself to say anything more than the TNT did (it's the same story linked above). Some good stuff in there as the team gets some good laughs at Willie's expense.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Ack! Pfttht!

Wild Bill Catt of Deathtongue joins me in rejecting the catastrophically bad broadcast team of the Mariners. You know, I remember when Dave Valle's batting average was the price of drinks at watering holes around the old Kingdome, and yet I believe that I would rather have him back at starting catcher than have to listen to any more of him and Rizzs.

Good game today by Meche, Sexy, and Ichiro!; even "Second Coming" didn't seem so scary tonight, as we handled the Rangers. All this despite the 6-foot-10-ness of Texas starter Chris Young. Although I saw no pictures of the game, nevertheless I couldn't help but be impressed by the height of Mr. Young. Perhaps this is because Valle and Rico insisted on stating that fact no fewer than FOUR times in the ten minutes heading up to the first pitch. It wasn't until the third of those references that we got any baseball stats on Young. Yeesh. (Actually, I could be wrong; I only counted four, but I admit to dozing off to Rizzs and Valle, for no apparent reason, so the height count could be higher, much higher.)


Running the Gauntlet

Despite how early it still is, the stretch of the next nineteen games will tell us an awful lot about the Mariners' chances in 2005.

Between now and May 20 (when we host the San Diego Padres to open interleague play), the Mariners schedule includes one more with Texas, three-game series against each of Oakland and the Angels, and then away-and-home sets totaling six games each against Boston and the Yankees.

Whew.

By May 20th, if the Mariners are within a game of .500 (where we sit right now), I will be a great deal more confident that this team can compete as constructed for the AL West this season.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Alas!

The boys from the Jet City go down to the Rangers 8-2. Ryan Franklin, not too surprisingly, got lit up. Some parks are not well suited to Frankie's put it in play style of pitching. Rangers starter Kenny Rogers goes six shutout despite walking 5 guys.

The M's two runs came in the ninth off of Texas closer Francisco Cordero. With two men on, he knocks Ichiro down with a pitch. Bad, bad move as Ichi smokes the next ball into the gap for a double.

I don't put a lot of stock in the "Ichiro could hit 40 homers if he wanted to" crap, but he does have a different swing when he is trying to drive the ball. He really uncoils himself into the ball and keeps his feet still, instead of his usual swing. It looks more like a "normal" big league swing.

Despite this, the clear moment of the game came in the fifth, when the Phillie Phanatic (in town to promote the Phils first ever trip to Arlington later this season) molested Rizzs in the TV booth. Basically he suck Rizzies head into his long tubelike nose, with Rico cackling like a schoolgirl the whole time. That's your Magnolia Moment!


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

M's farmhand suspended

Tacoma Rainiers outfielder Jamal Strong was suspended today for a postive steroid test.

Strong is a speedy, hit for average type with few walks or power. He has been injured for big chunks of the last two seasons. Wild-ass speculation, but it seems many players have admitted they used steroids to try and come back from injury, so maybe that's what's going on here.

One thing is for sure, coupling this with the other suspensions of M's minor leaguers. Roids are available in the M's system. Definitely available.


Monday, April 25, 2005

Mickey Brantley sighting!

Former Mariner outfielder Mickey Brantley has been named hitting coach of the Toronto Blue Jays!

This would be like Jose Canseco being named chairman of Mensa.

Brantley was a career .259 hitter, with a career OPS of 707! When he came up Niehaus originally nicknamed him Mick the Stick. After a couple of years he changed the nickname to Mick the Quick (he did nab 18 bags in his only full season).

We usually referred to him as Mick the (insert euphemism for male genetalia that rhymes with Mick).


Sunday, April 24, 2005

This is getting offensive!

27 innings, 3 runs. The pitchers have been pretty good in Harden, Sabathia and Cliff Lee. But 3 runs! Puh-lease.

Previously I discussed that by bringing up Choo (who he has used all of one time, for one pinch hitting appearance), Grover's right handed pinch hitting options were Bloomquist and Wilson. Of course when he has The Two Willies in the game, he has no one! He had Olivo and Valdez of course, but since he's taken them out to get more offense, its not likely he's going to use them for pinch hitting.

So there we were, bottom of the 7th, two on, two outs, and he's got no one to hit for Wilson. Actually I think I would have rather seen a left hander like Choo or even (gulp) Dobbs hit in that situation than Danny-boy. Just because you hold the bat a certain way, doesn't make you the best hitter for a given situation. Of course this all would be rendered moot if the M's had one decent right handed bat off the bench.

I don't no what to make of Olivo. I'm inclined to say that he has hit in the majors before, and he hit in the minors so we should just let him work his way out. But he looks terrible. Just terrible. His plate discipline has just completely vanished. As a White Sock, over parts of three seasons, he struck out 114 times and walked 31 (about 3.5 Ks to BBs). As a Mariner, 68 to 11 (a ratio of 6 to one!). This season he has walked once with 13 k's. He is absolutely hacking.

Okay! Today we get to take some hacks at Scott Elarton! ERA this year: 7.90. Career ERA: 5.27. Lets get some hits boys!


Friday, April 22, 2005

Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Bloomquist, n. (from ME blome, "lump of metal", & quist, cf. Icel. "kvisa" a kind of bird, "kvistra" a branch of a tree)
1) Mysteriously overrated. 2) Pretender. 3) Long-running and misguided Seattle Mariners' fan promotion in which a random kid from Bremerton would be selected to play with the major league team. Accidentally never terminated.

I think it's time to ask seriously what Willie Bloomquist is using to blackmail individuals in the Seattle Mariners organization into keeping on the major league roster and then giving him playing time. I can't think of a position that this "versatile" player plays well other than "bat boy," and there I have my doubts. Center field? Serious? Ichiro!, Randy Winn, Jeremy Reed, and Shin Soo-Choo are ALL on the active roster, and Bloomquist starts in CF?? Again??

He's 27 1/2 years old, and has accumulated two hundred major league games, managing only a limp .660 OPS. His career league-adjusted OPS is 20% BELOW the average major leaguer. He "plays" any number of positions. Plays in this sentence means "stands in the general part of the field that a fielder with his position usually stands, watching the game from an excellent vantage point." I realize that other blogs have piled on Mr. Bloomquist as well, but I cannot contain this rant any longer.

Not a prospect. Not a good player. Not a good defensive replacement. His one and only demonstrated skill is baserunning. This man should, for the league minimum on a championship team needing such a creature, be a pinch runner. Instead, he's taking meaningful playing time away from real major leaguers for YOUR Seattle Mariners.

Seriously, I smell blackmail. Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, where are you when we need you?


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Mmmm....Harden

He's real good. Real good. 8 Ks in 7 shutout innings to beat the M's 3,zip. He lowered his ERA to 0.44! Sick. And enough about that.

When can we bring Felix up? I yearn for an ace. Not a pseudo ace (Freddy Garcia). Not a "you can't believe he's still doing it" ace (Jamie Moyer). An ace! A guy that makes you say, "Hell ya!" when he starts. I know we should leave him in Tacoma to mature, but, well, I yearn.

So, the M's brought up Shin-Soo Choo from Tacoma as Speez goes on the DL. Now we can add Korea to the expanding empire of the Pacific Rim Mariners of Pugeto Soundo. Lets hope they use him more than they used Leone in his earlier call-up. Hargrove basically will pinch hit for either of the catchers, Valdez and occaisionally Reed, so Choo should get a few ABs, plus some spot starts in the OF hopefully.

Wonder who the first bat of the bench will be, Dobbs or Choo? Of course if Hargrove wants a righty to hit for Reed it's Wilson on Bloomquist.
(Foghorn Leghorn Voice) Eeeeeeeee.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

M's Beat Oakland 7-6

Nice win for the Mairners who score 7 runs on only two scoring plays. Boonie hits a Grand Salami in the 1st (bat flip!) and of all people, Greg Dobbs hits a three run double in the 7th.

A's starter Barry Zito really had trouble finding the plate in the biig first inning. Two walks in the inning, a single to Beltre on a 3-0 pitch and then the salami to Boone on a 3-1 pitch. This is true of all pitchers, but Zito especially: Ahead in the count, good. Behind in the count, bad.

Beltre makes a rare error in the top of the second that contributes to the A's 3 run inning. He gets caught in between hops, then tries to rush and barehand it. Inexplicably it is scored a base-hit. Beltre makes a mental error in misjduging the ball and then a physical error when it bounces off his bare hand. It was not particularly well hit. Its a hit how exactly?

In the 6th with Hatteberg at second , Willie Bloomquist, starting in centerfield, plays a shallow single on a hop off of his chest, Hatteberg scores easily. In the infield it's a good idea to knock the ball down and keep it in front of you, not as helpful in the outfield. Hard to tell from TV if he would have had a shot at the runner, but after bouncing it off himself he had. No. Shot. But the M's announcers tell you all the time he might be the best CF on the team!

Piniero exits after seven in a tie game, but the M's tally three off of rookie Huston Street. Jeff Nelson gives a run back (and it culd have been worse) and Everyday-I-like-to-make-exciting-Eddie, manges to get three outs after a long homer to Erubiel Durazo.

M's win! M's win! M's win!


BOONE!

We'll take it.


It's All About Market Share, Really

As much grief as the Angels ownership has been getting for their "clever" renaming of the team, I think they're on to something. After all, it is a business. So rather than resist, and make endless jokes at the expense of Art Moreno, I say we join in.

But Arty, apparently not a man of great vision, stopped short. LA is a nice market, but why stop there? I hereby propose that the Seattle Mariners be known hereafter as the... Drum roll please...

Pacific Rim Mariners of Pugeto Soundo

Your first question might be, what's wrong with keeping "Seattle"? Our market research has shown that Pugeto Soundo is much easier to utter in almost any Asian dialect than Seattle (in Japanese, for instance, Seattle is pronounced Shee-at-o-ru).

Just think of all the interest (read: cash) we'll draw by drawing upon this new, expanded fan base. The only shortcoming we have is that we don't have any non-Japanese Asian players with the big club. Well, that and Ichiro! is no longer front page news every day in Japan (just every-other day). And Shiggy wasn't exactly Shiggy with it last year. And Kaz is gone. Clearly, we need to make a few roster moves. We won't be making any announcements in that regard today, but don't be surprised if you see a young Korean pitcher up with the big club real soon now. He can't be any worse than Matt "the human-admission-of-defeat" Thornton, could he?


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Stinky six-innings of shutout ball highlight stinky Central division clash

"Senor Stinky" (Senor Apestado, courtesy of freetranslation.com) pitched six innings of ole! baseball en route to a Chicago 3-1 win tonight over the visiting Minnesota Twins.

Improving to 2-1 with a 2.50 ERA, Apestado managed to somehow scatter ten hits without giving up a run, striking out three in the process and out-dueling (if a ten-hit stint qualifies for such description) Brad Radke in the process. Ozzie Guillen must have particular love for Timo Perez. Not only has he been starting of late, but batted fifth in the order tonight. His harmless 1 for 4 outing improved his Mendoza-line batting average to .208.

Does anyone think Takatsu's job is in jeopardy? He's looked very bad to start the season and with Hermanson and Marte earning recent saves (Marte's being tonight after Takatsu yielded two hits and a run in a third of an innning), his situation has to be tenuous. Maybe he'll turn it around, but if not, go Hermy!


Monday, April 18, 2005

Hello Aaron!

So the real Aaron Sele shows up tonight as the M's get pasted 6 to 1. Not a good sign when Erstad takes you deep.

Random thought for the game: In the bottom of the 3rd, Valdez bunts up the first base line. That is one of the best bunts I've ever seen. Absolutely perfect. Context wise nothing beats Cora's two bunts past Mattingly in the 95 Division Series, but this was a better placed bunt then either of those. It rolls up the dirt about halfway up the line. then hops into the grass where it continues right up the line. Byrd tries to throw him out, but no chance.

And then he's wiped off on a hit and run lineout from Ichiro. Hoo-boy! Putting the game in motion!


Schedule Oddities

A pair of games against the Big Ed Angels, followed by two games where we draw the top two of Oakland's rotation, and finally a normal three-game series with Cleveland, might just make for a tough week in trident nation.

I'm not sure how I feel about back-to-back, intentionally-scheduled, two-game sets. I suppose that nothing about the traditional three-game series is sacred, but this feels wrong. But I could be persuaded otherwise by the development of a nice winning streak. After all, we're already up to...one in a row.


Sunday, April 17, 2005

Distant Early Warning

Sure, it's early. Sure, it's only the ChiSox that we slapped around with a limp herring in the shape of Gil Meche's elbow. Sure, Everyday-I'm-Gonna-Have-A-Heartattack-Eddie (a.k.a. the "Second Coming" of Edwin Nunez) is terrifying on the mound.

But I would like to point out that not only do we close week two of the regular season tied for first in the division (again--sure, it's a tie at 6-6 with every other viable team in the division, only a half game ahead of Texas), but that our record is already roughly a game behind our Pythagorean W-L projection of about 7-5 (61 runs scored versus 50 runs allowed)...which might give cause to hope that the start is not ALL smoke and mirrors.

Of course, we could focus on the negative, like the atrocious bench or incredible lack of depth. But today, TO-DAY, I can continue to bask in the optimism that Spring brings with it.


Saturday, April 16, 2005

Donuts

Today's game, an enjoyable if unlikely pitcher's duel, offers exhibit #3,742 why the AL Central barely qualifies as Major League.

As big a fan as I am of the Mariners, there is no question that if we're throwing Ryan Franklin IN Chicago, we should expect to give up quite a few long fly balls that result in numerous White Sox runs. Indeed, Franklin served up two homers to Paul Konerko, but otherwise stymied the regular lineup. It should be rather disturbing to Sox fans that it took a masterful Mark Buehrle performance to nip the visiting Mariners.

I'm not complaining, mind you, but...AL Central. Yeesh.

One other positive feature of this game was that we got through Rizzs and Valle (ugh) quickly on the way to Niehaus. At least I could laugh at Valle's tenuous command of geometry: after a near-pickoff of Crede at second base, Mr. "I'm not paid to hit" described Franklin's move as a 360-degree spin move. I wonder if the White Sox have openings for backup color commentator?


The World According to Fairly

Mariners lose to the White Sox 6-4. They were no-hit for 6 and a third by Sox pitcher Jon Garland, who is not exactly Nolan Ryan over there (career ERA:4.66 with less than 5 Ks per nine).

Still Piniero pitched okay, but at least he was out there, Boonie had a couple of two run singles and Matt Thornton actually was effective for an inning and a third.

The Mariners had a rally in the ninth. After the second of Bert's two run singles, Winn reached to load the bases. The weakness of the Mariners bench was exposed yet again though as Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen was able to bring in a right hander to turn Spiezio around to his less-effective left hand side and get an out. Then Hargrove was left with Greg Dobbs to pinch hit for Olivo. Good night everyone and drive safely!

Best part of the game though was this exchange between Neihaus and Fairly on the radio in the 7th after Boonie had gotten the Mariners their first two runs.

Neihaus (excitedly): ...and the Mariners will bring the tying run to the plate!
Fairly: And they also bring the tying run to the plate.
Awkward Pause
Neihaus: Yes. That's what I just said.
Fairly: Luis Vizcaino, warming up in the White Sox Bullpen.

Beautiful.


Friday, April 15, 2005

The First Joel

Although it was disappointing to hear him serve up homeruns to Juan Uribe and Jermaine Dye, nevertheless Joel Pineiro impressed me this evening. In particular, while he was tiring and after giving up the Dye shot followed by Aaron Rowand's triple, Joel managed to record two outs before surrendering the runner at third base.

All this with fewer than 100 pitches. Should his shoulder be healthy, I think that Pineiro could be an important piece of M's success sooner rather than later.

Now if someone could explain how Jon Garland no-hit us for six innings....


Uh-oh

SO the Mariners beat the Royals 10-2 (Can we play the Royals everyday?). The big news yesterday was that third sacker Adrian Beltre had to come out of the game in the 4th inning with lower back stiffness. Beltre was quoted in both the Times and the PI as saying he would play today, but I don't like back problems one little bit.

On the other hand the M's are over 500 for the first time since the last game of the 2003 season (other than Opening Day of course)! That's cause to celebrate right? 10 more runs! Two extra base hits from Big Sexy to raise his slugging percentage to almost 650! Ichiro still hitting over 400! Two nice starts from Jamie!

See what I'm doing here? Trying to focus on the positive.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Pitch counts help Mariners. Not in the way you think.

The M's beat the Royals today 2-1. They got to Jaime Cerda for 2 runs after KC starter Zack Greinke was pulled after 6 innings and 86 pitches. He was apparently on a strict pitch count of 85 to 90 pitches and the M's were happy to see him go.

Of course no one saw the game because there was no TV at all, but here are a few notes from the boxscore and and Gameday.

Wilson Valdez was picked off and thrown out stealing. Is Ozzie Guillen our manager?

On Monday Ryan Franklin threw 83 pitches in 8 2/3 innings and today Shiggy threw 6 pitches to get 4 outs. The Royals might be a shade too agressive, methinks.

On the other hand, "Every Day that my Hammy feels OK" Eddie threw 24 pitches to get the save. He just doesn't seem right. He went to a full count on the last 3 batters, sandwiching a pair of strikeouts around a walk.

A little too much bunting in this game for me. Reed bunting in the first inning? Where's Earl Weaver when you need him! Pitching, Defense, 3 run Homeruns? You cant give away outs like that. Then in the 5th after a leadoff double from Winn, Hargrove had Olivo try to bunt him over. It ended badly when he hit it back to the Grienke who got Winn at third. You are bunting to give Valdez RBI opportunities? That's just not right.

In the two run 7th, Hargrove had Winn bunt Ibanez and Boone over, setting up Olivo with one out. It worked, especially when Wild Thing MacDougal wild pitched in the go-ahead run, but its not great strategy. You don't take the bat away from Winn to set up Olivo, at least until Olivo hits for a decent stretch. I'm surprised Royals manager Tony Pena didn't walk Olivo to get to Valdez.

If Grover wants to bunt Valdez (and Pokey once he gets back), great, I'm all for it. But you don't bunt with Winn unless its the ninth and you are tied or down a run.

We want more of those 7 run innings from Monday. You don't get those giving up outs!


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The big inning

In Mondays's 8 to 2 victory over Kansas City the M's put up a 7 run eighth inning.

They had exactly zero innings of 7 or more runs all of last year. They put up quite a few 6 run innings but nothing bigger.

It only took them 7 games to have a bigger inning than all of last year. I think the offense is going to be okay.


Monday, April 11, 2005

M's Arms

Not a good weekend for the M's, dropping two of three to the Rangers. More disturbing to me were these two tidbits.

First Madritsch has a small tear in his ligament. He'll have another MRI in three weeks, but this is not a good thing. Another M's pitcher with an arm problem, although the good news is the word 'labrum' does not appear in the story anywhere. I bitched earlier about Melvin's use of Madritsch last year and I realize its not a definite cause and effect, but I hope BoMel at least feels bad. He probably doesn't.

Second, I think we may have a little window into the M's injury problems. Meche apparently complained of elbow inflamation during and after Sunday's game. Bryan Price apparently has gone all Piniella on us and is basically calling it mental:

"In these first two starts, he's had a hard time avoiding big innings and he's gotten knocked out," Price said. "He has to learn to avoid the knockout punch. Part of it is maturity. He's had trouble battling out of fatigue or stiffness, or whatever it is. "

Fatigue or stiffness or whatever it is? If a guy with Meche's history has swelling in his elbow, he needs to be shut down immediately!!! You don't tell him essentially to "Grow up." Its completely irresponsible and if its symptomatic of how they treat pitchers in the organization it could really go a long way to explaining their "bad luck" with pitching prospects.

Bleah.


Thursday, April 07, 2005

Buzz?

The Buzz that Jason heard from Safeco? Its apparently taken flight. Wednesday's crowd of 25,580 was the 7th smallest ever at the Safe according to the P-I.

The 3:35 starts have never really caught on. I kind of like them myself, but I work downtown. So I leave work a little early and I'm home before the kids are in bed. I don't think they are a particularly appealing time for the rest of the M's fan universe. If you are not already in the neighborhood its kind of weird time to try and get here.

The April weather does affect attendance when the team isn't so good. They paid an extra hundred million for a retractable roof, but what they really oughta do is bring in a few portable heaters....


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Bummer

M's go down to the Twins 4-1. Bummer
Bobby Madritsch comes out of the game in the 5th with a sore shoulder. Bummer.
Jeremy Reed: 0 for 11. Bummer.
Lopez had surgery and Pokey's going to get a rehab assignment before he comes back so Valdez IS the SS for most of April at least. Bummer.

I hope Madritsch is okay, if not though, does anyone remember this start??
133 pitches in September for a team farther out of first than I am from six-pack abs.

Or how about the back to back starts of 122 and 126 pitches earlier in September?
Bob. Melvin. Sucks.


Ms and Zs

I have missed hearing Dave Niehaus for several years now, as I currently reside several time zones away from Seattle, so I finally broke down and paid mlb.com for their radio feeds this season. Given the hiatus since the last time I got to listen often to the Ms broadcasts, I was shocked at two different things at about the same moment during last night's exciting collapse against the Twins.

First, while Ron Fairly is white noise for me (sure, he's an idiot, but one that fades into the background and may be easily ignored), Rick Rizzs has transmogrified into my least favorite M's announcer of all time, Ken Levine. This was nowhere more evident than in his first inning call of Richie Sexson's double, when he interrupted his partner's commentary with a dramatic "swung on and belted...," only to sheepishly end with "that'll reach the base of the wall...", etc. I should say that I've never really disliked Rizzs before, but he's also not good enough to suffer through if he's not going to pay sufficient attention to the game.

By contrast, the other noteworthy element of the game was the incredible buzz audible over the radio broadcast during and after that first inning. I submit that the excitement was more than just what a game during Opening Week might produce, or what playing against (and at least early on, hammering) reigning Cy Young winner Johan Santana could be expected to generate. Instead, it seemed to me (at the vast distance from which I comment, transplanted Ms fan that I am) that there is a genuine effervescence in Seattle that would not normally be warranted by a team that lost 99 games last season. Did the Beltre and Sexson signings really revive the Seattle fan base? (Or, equally likely I suppose, was Wilson Valdez's entire entourage of friends and family at the game?)

Either way, pretty electric. Disastrous 2004 and all, it's good to be an Ms fan. Now if they'd just find a way to exorcise Levine from Rick Rizzs's body....


The Old Hit and Run

Well, it couldn't last forever right? The Twins defeated the hometown nine 8-4. The M's jumped out to a 4 run lead in the first. 4 Runs off Santana? Inconceivable! With his first inning double Sexson is slugging 1.667 by the way. Nice....

Meche had thrown 73 pitches in holding the Twins scoreless through 4, when the wheels came off. He gave up 4 singles and a ground out, before being lifted for the dubious Matt Thornton. Thornton didn't pitch that bad, but a hit and run single, a check swing blooper and a bomb to Jacque Jones and its goodnight, nurse. The M's never even got as many as two men on after the first.

I'll leave off the obvious harping about what Thornton's doing on the roster, and why he's being used as a long man instead of a LOOGY (Lefty One-Out GuY) to talk about the hit and run.

Its one of those plays that the "fan" in me and the "stathead" in me are conflicted over. I hate hearing Fairly and Hendu and Joe Morgan talk about "putting the game in motion." We know the straight steal is a losers play, and though I haven't seen anything definitive on the hit and run, I expect that it is also. But when it works, its a beautiful thing. Bartlett takes off, Valdez moves towards second to cover and Mauer hits it right into the hole behind him. Literally into the place where poor Wilton was standing just seconds before. Beautiful.

Madritsch versus Silva today in a 3:35 start!


Monday, April 04, 2005

Opening Day Report

Missed the Presidents because my buddy was 45 minutes late meeting me. Thanks Walter!

Got inside just in time to see Boonie get his Golden Glove, Beltre his Silver Slugger and Ichiro his Player's Choice Award. Yawn. Bavasi sure looks like Buhner.

Edgar throws out the first pitch to a Standing O! Lots of Edgar love from the crowd. I've never seen him in street clothes.

Bottom of the first, Ichiro on first, Beltre at the plate. Ichiro takes off, Beltre hits it right back to Radke. He inexplicably turns and tries to get Ichiro at second. Throws it in the the dirt, all safe. The Hell? Its a tough play under any circumstances, but when Ichiro is running with the pitch? You have. No. Chance. Its just crazy. Sexson batting, I bet he pops out here, WHACK! Holy Crap! Was there a meal on that flight? 3-Zip M's. Just like that.

Top of Second. Torii Hunter is about 5 miles out in front of two 69 mph changeups. Wow! How can you not look for a changeup from Moyer? Hunter taps out weakly to Jamie.

Bottom of third, Beltre on first, Sexson at the plate. Oh my God! I think Radke hurt his neck watching an absolute rocket shot to center. 418 feet. It took about a second and half to get out. Hmmmm, one medically unsound slugger, 50 million dollars. Two tape measure homers on Opening Day? Priceless.

Top of the fourth, Mauer on first. He steals second on the most incredible jump I've ever seen. I'm surprised Olivo even made the throw. Moyer never looked at him once. Later in the inning, Boonie makes a horrible throw from the hole that Sexson digs out nicely. Nice Gold Glove Bert.

Bottom of the fourth. Roof starts closing. It never comes close to raining the rest of the game. Thanks guys! Sunshine is way overrated anyway! And that roof is real neato!

Top of fifth, Cuddyer batting. Boonie drops a popup. Cuddyer advances on an infield single that Valdez probably should have handled. He ends up scoring on a single to right. Jamie kisses Boone's Gold Glove.

Bottom of sixth. Boonie does a bat flip on a routine fly to center. I don't know how it looked on TV, but as soon as he hit it, people started heading for the bathrooms. I think Hunter ended up on the track, but it had no chance. You can't say anything after one game, but the 2004 Boone looks to be back.

Top of 8. Grover goes to get Villone with one out to face the lefty Mauer, with the righty Morneau on deck. Couple of points here. Villone should be the long man, not the situational lefty.Next, if you think handed-ness is important enough to pull Mateo, shouldn't you be more worried about Morneau than Mauer? Morneau homered in every 14.7 at bats last year. Finally, how many pitchers are you going to use to protect a 4 run lead?

Top of the ninth. Guardado enters, but after various ads or races or videos or whatever on the screen, they've only got time for a few bars of Hell's Bells and they jump right to the guitar part. A) Hell's Bells is a little overdone for closers at this point and 2) If you're not going to start at the beginning with just the bells and dramatically build to the guitar line, don't bother. Just go ahead and play "School's Out" or "Enter Sandman."

Final thought, courtesy of the aformentioned Late Walter: The Bob Melvin Era has been wiped clean!


The Unit?

Was anyone else weirded out by the sight of Randy Johnson on Sunday night??
With short hair (okay, short-er)...
No Goatee?
Trimmed Mustache?
Wearing 41?
In Pinstripes?
It seemed like a very strange dream.


Our New Shortstop!

Yes you heard right, its Wilson Valdez, claimed off waivers from the Mets on Friday, after having been waived by the White Sox on Wednesday. So he's been waived twice in 3 days, but he's our starting shortstop.

He brings a string of empty 300 batting averages from the minor leagues and a good defensive reputation. BP Prospectus' PECOTA system forecasts a a .250 average with no power, few walks and little speed. The 90th percentile projection (best case scenario) is .290 with no power, few walks and a little speed.

I have no problem with the M's scouring the waiver wire for free talent. I'm a little bothered by the fact that they should have known they would need a backup shortstop. Pokey is injury prone. They knew they wanted Lopez in Tacoma. And yet they couldn't bring a guy to camp who was better than someone else's castoff?

Oh well, its Opening Day (note the capital letters, it oughta be a holiday), so all is right with the world. Even if your starting shortstop was cut twice this week by other teams.


Sunday, April 03, 2005

What I learned in Camp - A Spring Training Summary

The starting nine was pretty much set going into camp. Lopez did not really have a shot at the SS job, they really want him in Tacoma learning to play second. Reed never had any competition for the CF job, the only question was whether he would bat second, and he will. 4/5 of the rotation was set as well, so the only real battles in camp were on the bench, the bullpen and the 5th starter job.

For the out of touch, the lineup is:

Ichiro – RF
Reed – CF
Beltre – 3B
Sexson – 1B
Ibanez – DH
Boone – 2B
Winn – LF
Olivo – C
Reese – SS

And the settled part of the rotation is Moyer, Pineiro (opens on the DL) , Madritsch and Meche.

On to the battles then!

Bench - Wilson, Spiezio, and Bloomquist all had the club made before Spring Training started. Speez is untradeable, unless the M's want to pick up a huge chunk of his salary. He's especially untradeable after undergoing the Jason Giambi diet plan in the offseason! I'll say it for the hundredth time, as a 25th man, Wee Willie's got some value. But since Hargrove is carrying 12 pitchers (including two long men!!!), despite 3 off days in April, Willie B ends up as your only backup in the middle infield. That's a problem, especially when your starting shortstop is injury prone and will have to be pinch hit for late in games.

Last bench spot - This comes down to Dobbs and Santiago. Since Santiago can play short better than Willie and with the late spring health problems of Pokey, I would have gone with him, but Dobbs had a good spring and the club loves him. Of course that went out the window when the M's plucked Abraham Nunez off waivers from KC. Nunez can handle all 3 outfield positions, so if the M’s keep him he becomes the in-game sub over Bloomquist, with Raul being the backup when someone needs a day off. Nunez has had some good seasons in the minors, but he's an “Age-gate” guy who picked up three extra years on the old birth certificate. Now those good seasons start to look like a guy that was old for his level. In ay event, in 302 big league At-bats he's hit .209, with a .288 OBP and a .308 Slugging Percentage so he’s not helping us with the bat.

Actually with Nunez, Bloomquist and Wilson, that’s 3/4 of the bench that cannot hit. If its Santiago or Dobbs instead, that’s still a terrible bench. If Speez doesn't bounce back, this is an absolutely brutal bench. Just terrible.

Bullpen - Guardado, Hasegawa, Villone, and Putz were all locks in the pen. Franklin will be here too after losing the 5th starter job. That left Sherill, Mateo, Thornton and Jeff Nelson fighting for 2 spots. This became 3 spots when Joel needed to open the season on the DL. The odd man out here looks to be Sherrill for no good reason that I can see. Sherrill had a nice audition last year, putting up a 3.80 ERA, striking out 6 batters per nine with a K to BB ratio of 1.78. He has had a tough spring, striking out only 8, while walking 6, but its surprising that he lost out to Thornton, who had a higher ERA last year (4.13) and while striking out 8 per nine also managed to walk 25 hitters for an abysmal 1.20 K/BB ratio. His ratio in the minors last year was even worse at 1.17. Thornton is classic wild hard-thrower and hoping that he can find control at the big-league level is just wishful thinking on the M’s part. He was out of options, so the M’s risked losing him on waivers if they tried to send him down. I assume he’ll be waived when Joel comes off the DL in mid-April, so he’s got two weeks to prove himself.

Overall this is not a great pen. Guardado will be good if healthy and Putz should be effective. Hasegawa, Mateo and Nelson need bounce back seasons big-time and the odds are they won’t all have one. I’m betting Mateo’s solid peripheral numbers will lower his ERA back to acceptable levels, Nellie gets hurt again and Hasegawa is done. Franklin and Villone are innings eaters as long men, miscast as something else, and Thornton will be out of the pen by May. Not exactly the A’s stable of power arms is it?

Finally we had the 5th starter job. There were a bunch of guys with a shot here, Franklin, Sele, Reichert, Baek and Nageotte to name a few. Mexican league signee Jorge Campillo probably had an outside shot as did uber-prospect Felix Hernandez. Sele won the job with a good ERA (4.57 after getting bombed in his last start), but unspectacular peripherals. He only struck out 11 guys in 20 some innings, so I wouldn’t count on the Aaron Sele Experience lasting too long. In reality, the M’s hope that this spot ends up in the hands of Hernandez, perhaps as early as midseason.

Putting it all together, I think the M’s have done what they needed to do this year. They should get within a few games of .500 and have a few things to build on for next season. That bench, though, eewwww.



Tad


Welcome!

Welcome to Tatonka, a Seattle Mariners weblog. We are named after former Mets and Giants slugger Kevin Mitchell, who after averaging 32 homers a year for the previous 4 seasons, managed to hit exactly 9 in his one year in a M's uniform. It was pretty typical of what happened to most players who became Mariners during that period.

If you've only followed the Mariners since 95 or thereabouts you may not appreciate just how bad the team was in the eighties and early nineties. Mitchell's one year with the club was the nadir. The M's went 64-98 and fired manager Bill Blummer. His replacement? Lou Piniella.

We'll have a variety of posters offering commentary on all things Mariner. We'll try and do game posts for each and every M's game, but the operative word is try. We hope you enjoy it!