Wednesday, August 31, 2005

FelixHernandoBlog

So anybody interested in tonight's game? A little bit?

Felix versus Randy, I'm getting chills. Its killing me that I cannot go. I wish Niehaus was doing the whole game, I may have to mute Rizzs and whomever in the second half. I cannot be distracted.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Guh!

I post, without comment, John Levesque's P-I column on the "blossoming" of Willie Bloomquist.

Who is hitting .257, with an OBP of .289 and a SLG of .331, below his pathetic career numbers.


Friday, August 26, 2005

Waiver Gems

Our intrepid Mariners have hooked themselves a decent longshot for a job on the major league pitching staff simply by fishing the waiver wire.

Now, don't get me wrong. Francisco Cruceta (RHP, 24 years old, repeating AAA this year at Buffalo) is no Felix. But he IS a live arm who at 6-2, 215 is something of a power pitcher. Indeed, his K/9 in the minors has been above 6.0 every stop except the 15 games he started for AA Akron in 2004; this year it has returned to a very respectable 8.09 as a Bison. He has walked 32 and struck out 92 in 102 1/3 innings, and has been thought of as one of the Indians better pitching prospects for the several seasons since they got him in trade from the Dodgers as part of the Paul Shuey deal.

Cruceta is another creative way in which Bavasi and company are preparing for the pitching issues that we can clearly see in the short-term future of our Ms. Well done.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Pitching

Is Jeff Harris our second best starter right now? He just might be. Jamie has been fairly mediocre to decent except for one really bad stretch in May and the rest of the non-Felix rotation has been a disaster.

Mariner starters are 11th out of 14 in ERA despite playing in an excellent pitchers park. Pick a pitching measure, they suck at it. K/BB ratio? 13th. WHIP? 12th. OPS against? 12th. They are easier to score on than a room full of drunk soroity girls.

I don't know that next year looks any better. Of course you've got Felix. That'll help a lot. But after that who knows? Burnett and Millwood are going to get huge contracts, probably beyond their worth. Can Bavasi swing a trade for someone else? He's probably going to have to, because you cannot really afford to just roll Piniero, Franklin and Meche out there again and hope.

And what about Brian Price? How much blame does he get for this? I don't think he had a ton to work with, but a few years ago we were talking about him being in the elite of pitching coaches. After the last two years I don't think we can put him in that class anymore. He's not Leo Mazzone that's for sure, although frankly, who is?? I'll tell you this, if long-time Grover crony Mark Wiley comes free this off-season (he's coaching for the Marlins) Price probably better dust off his resume.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Notebooks

A few tidbits from the local papers:

According to the TNT, its hot in Texas! Shocking! Actually, the fact that they are playing a day game on Thursday is just criminal, I agree. Let's hope Kenny Rogers isn't pitching, the heat might get to him.

Also, Bobby Madritsch has pain in his shoulder. Again. He was playing it off in the article, but I am officially very nervous about him for next year. And it goes without saying that Bob Melvin should have to provide for Madritsch's children.

In the P-I, John Hickey seems to be implying that the Mariner's shouldn't let Felix throw more than 50 innings so he's eligible for next year's Rookie of the Year award. Because, you know, that's real important. I mean look at A-Rod, the same scenario (he played enough in 95 that we wasn't ROY eligible for his brilliant 96 campaign) pretty much killed his career. It hurt his long-term earning potential, frankly.

In that same P-I notebook, we learn that Morse is going to get a start in the outfield. Whether you think that is a good thing depends on your view of Morse I guess. If he think he is part of next year's team then, great lets make him a little more versatile. But, if he is trade bait, you'd rather see them use him at short. He has more value to other teams as a shortstop than an outfielder. His line of 293/360/399 is pretty decent for a SS, not so much for an outfielder. I don't think I realized he was slugging that low, thats only 13 XBH in 188 ABs. Bleach.

In case you haven't guessed it, I'm in the second camp. Betancourt has the job for now, and if he can't hit enough, the M's have about a billion minor league shortstops (give or take), so Morse's value lies primarily in the pitching he might be able to bring in a trade.


Monday, August 22, 2005

King Felix's 4th (Start that is)

Another masterpiece from "Young" Felix Hernandez. I wonder when Fairly will drop the "Young" from his name? When he is 30,40? More on Fairly in a minute.

Felix's Line 8 IP, 5 hits, 2 ER, 9 K's, 1 walk. Brilliant.

Like most of his starts, Felix threw a lot of fastballs early and it looked like a few of the Twins at least were waiting on them early. Shannon Stewart hit the second pitch he saw for a single and the next three batters all swung at the second pitch, foul balls each time.

Matthew LeCroy hit a second pitch fastball into center to score two and as is typical for Felix, he then struck out Jones on three pitches. "Young Hernandez" seems to recover from adversity well.

As the game went on he threw more curveballs and in the middle innings, that was his strike out pitch. In the 4th through 6th innings he stuck out 6. Almost all on curves or changes. Honestly I have trouble telling them apart.

In the 7th, with his pitch count getting up our phenom became a "pitch to contact" style pitcher, getting 5 straight ground ball outs before Joe Mauer lined out to Reed to end the 8th. All told he had 20 outs on either groundballs or K's, leaving just 4 fly outs in 8 innings of work. At the risk of repeating myself, Brilliant!

I would not have had him pitch the 8th, he had thrown 103 pitches at that point and those 12 pitches in the 8th seemed kind of unneeded. In the context of the game though it made sense, Felix was throwing better than anyone in the pen, and didn't look tired or show the loss of control that he did in the last inning of the KC start. As long as letting him throw 115 doesn't become a habit, I can live with it.

There are many things that bug me about Fairly, but one of the big ones is that he tends to put everything in terms of black and white. You "have to" move the runners over, you "have to" score 4 runs to win. In this case, in LeCroy's second at bat, he mentioned that Fatty had gotten a hit off a fastball, so he sure wouldn't throw him one of those again!

Well first of all, it was only a single! Its not like LeCroy hit it 500 feet. And if everytime a batter got a hit, the pitcher had to take that pitch out of his repetoire, the game would get pretty easy for the hitters! Of course you don't want to make the same mistake twice, but if the hitter is looking breaking ball, you would want to throw something else, even if he did hit your fastball into the parking lot. SHUT. UP. RON!

Luckily Felix is smarter than Ron as he threw LeCroy 4 fastballs in 5 pitches to strike him out.

Next Start is Friday the 26th against the White Sox, if you haven't him pitch yet, get yourself out to the Safe! Go! Now!


Sunday, August 21, 2005

See Ya Later SandFrog

The Mariners finally released Scott Spiezio. I understand the reluctance to eat his contract, but please, the guy had nothing left. And really, what is he owed for this season and next, 4 million? Hardly chump change, but also not crippling to the 3rd highest revenue club in the majors.

I know its completely unsubstantiated, but the circumstantial evidence that this guy was a steroid user is pretty high. He was fringe player in Oakland from 96-99. Lets see, who was on those Oakland teams? McGwire and the Giambi brothers. Leaving Oakland he found a power spike, slugging over .450 for the next 4 years in Anaheim, never having slugged that high before. Coming to Seattle after testing was implemented he stunk. Then in that last offseason he lost 50 pounds supposedly? By cutting out pizza and ice cream? Right. Its unlikely to ever be proved, but I think Scott Spiezio used steroids and I think it cost the M's 9 million dollars. Bleach.

They replaced him with Dobbs on the roster, but lets hope the ABs go to Jamal Strong who deserves a shot to show whether he can be a capable 4th outfielder or not.

The other move the M's made was putting Meche on the DL. Its for tendonitis in his knee but I suspect that his arm is bothering him also. I also wonder if he wouldn't have been shut down sooner if he was under contract for next year. But maybe I'm just being cynical.


Thursday, August 18, 2005

1-1-4-4-4-1

Baseball is not just a spectator sport, it's an experience. The game tends to progress in leisurely ebbs and flows. As a fan at the ballpark, this phenomena allows plenty of time to take in the peripheral sights and sounds, as well as the collective atmosphere of 35,000 enthusiastic fans. Beer and snacks get "taken in" a bit more quickly on a warm summer day, naturally.

Otherwise mature adults have time to be kids again. "You suck!" gets screamed at the opposition and suck-worthy home teamers alike. Games get played, like the Eddie Guardado grab-game mentioned in Kevin's humorous post several months ago. Little wagers are concocted and speculations about players and the teams are made throughout the game.

Wednesday afternoon, we sat in the afternoon sun once again, watching the Mariners systematically paste the hapless Kansas City Royals sweeping them yet again this season. No wagers were made this time, but after a spectacularly futile Scott Spiezio at bat, Tad stood up and screamed "worst ... player ... EVER!", drawing chuckles from the nearby denizens. I pointed out later that with the M's firmly entrenched in the mid-20's in everyone's power ranking on planet Earth, the gap between the roughly 25th-ranked Mariners and the 30th-ranked Royals must be the conceptual equivalent of one astronomical unit (the distance between the earth and the sun, or 93 million miles for the non-astrophysicist reader). They are really that bad.

We arrive at the ninth inning of an 11-1 drubbing and lo and behold, Matt Thornton and his wild right arm stride to the mound to finish off the game. This development leads to instant speculation: what will his stat line look like today?

In 44 2/3 previous innings, he'd given up 25 runs. It was a better-than-even chance that he'd give up a run, statistically, so we agreed that he'd allow one here. He'd whiffed 45 year-to-date, so we were certain that he'd notch one today as well. Hits and walks are a bit tougher to forecast, although we knew he'd give up some of each. We collectively agreed upon a total of three, likely comprised of two hits and one walk. His WHIP (walks, hits plus innings pitched) of 1.66 coming into the contest bolstered our strange, perverse confidence in these lazy musings at the tail end of a Mariner romp.

The Thornton report card? Let's go blow-by-blow: Mike Sweeney walked. Joe McEwing walked. Quintessential K.C. uber-scrub Chip Ambres bounced into a 5-4-3 double play. Despite that mild setback, we're still brimming with confidence that Thornton will give up at least one hit and one run before finishing off the game. Mark Teahan proceeded to draw a walk, Thornton's third of the inning. Not quite what we expected, but with that wild arm, not wholly unexpected either. Next up was 72-year old Denny Hocking (whom we both were shocked to see still in the major leagues), who also walked. Even for Matt Thornton, this is unusual. Or as Walter Cronkite used to say, "we have a developing situation."

If Vin Scully were announcing, this is what we'd hear over the radio speakers: "Bases loaded, two outs, and here comes Chris Phillips." Mind you, Phillips was yet another faceless nobody on a team chock full of them, but Thornton was doing his best to create a sense of drama in a game long devoid of that. Let's go back to the imaginary Scully call after Phillips works Thornton to a 1-1 count: "One and one the count, the pitch to Phillips ... and there's a high drive to deep left field ... back goes Morse, a-waaay back, she isssssss ... gone!" Thornton serves up the grand slam to account for four of the Royals' five runs before striking out faceless scrub redux Donnie Murphy to end the game.

The final stat line: 1 IP, 1 hit, 4 runs, 4 earned runs, 4 walks, one strike out. 1-1-4-4-4-1. We underestimated Matt Thornton's ability to suck, and in this case, Royally so. That's our 1998 first round draft pick, all right.


You're the scout

Hardcore M's fans (like the 10-year old future human+cylon stat+scout mentioned in Tad's last post) who see a lot of games in person might be interested in participating in the following project. Tangotiger is engaged in the third year of collecting fans' knowledge of the fielding prowess of their team's players, in on ongoing effort to marry stats and scouting to solve the current Riddle of the Sphinx, to wit, how many legs does Willie Bloomquist have? Oh, wait, that's not the question. It's instead this: how do we measure fielding meaningfully? In any case, navigate on over to Tangotiger's site to check it out.

Sadly, I'm reduced to enjoying the M's from the vantage point of Rick Rizzs, et al., so I'm pretty much unable to contribute anything meaningful to this study in 2005. That's what I get for living thousands of miles away from the Safe. But by all means, you lucky dawgs who get to attend the King's court every five days, go rate our fielders.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Random Ballgame Stories

In addition to being on FSNW's broadcast just above the shoulder of left handed hitters on the 3rd base closeup camera, I made the Big Screen for the first time ever. I did not notice until I was told.

There was a 10 year old kid sitting behind me who needs his own blog. He not only knew fanboy stuff like that Andrew Sisco was a local boy and that Sexson's nickname really is Big Sexy, he explained to his Dad that he could tell Felix's pitches apart by the speed on the gun and that Betancourt had hit okay at Tacoma but it was all batting average driven (he really doesn't walk much, Dad). He also explained to his sister when Jonah Bayliss came in for the Royals that it wasn't just his ERA that was bad really all his stats were bad. Too many hits, not enough strikeouts, and the walks, come on! I seriously wanted to hug him. It was awesome. Statheads reaching out to the next generation!

His Dad had a thick Scandanavian accent and an enormous camera that he was having problems with. Its always funny to hear people swear in English with an accent. He must have said, "It makes no fucking sense!" twenty times in nine innings.

John Buck had a bad game for the Royals. No actual errors but he reminded me of Olivo behind the dish. He probably dropped 10 balls. Most of them with no one on and all but he just was having trouble catching the ball. He also bobbled a throw home, and then bounced the throw to second on the only steal attempt against him. After the 4th or so miscue, my wife said, "Maybe he should consider another position. You know one that doesn't have 'catch' in the actual name of the position?" And from then on she repeated it everytime he muffed another one. My wife is not a heckler, so its really funny when she does get on someone.

I'm at the day game today, so I'll check in with a game report afterwards!


Monday, August 15, 2005

Viva La King!

Yes, that was me. I am not missing a Felix start the rest of the year.

There are simply not words to describe the young man's performance. The fastball is electric. Its just jumps out of his hand. I have yet to see a pitch that I could identify as a slider, I don't know if he's thrown one. I can't tell with the naked eye the difference between the change and the curve. The bottom just falls out of both pitches, its only from the radar gun that you can tell them apart.

His poise is amazing. In the 7th he gives up two singles, then gets two double play grounders, and the M's turn neither. Unfazed, he strikes out Teahen on 4 pitches. Just amazing.

11 of his first 12 pitches were strikes. Here you go, hit it. He blew guys away on fastballs, he made them look foolish on pitches in the dirt. I know that it was only the Royals, but think Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens or Rookie-year Kerry Wood. He was that good.

I want to temper my enthusiasm. I want to say that he's got a long way to go before we start comparing him to Hall of Famers. That he's more likely to have arm surgery than win 20 games. But I can't, I just can't. He's the real thing, he's bonafide, he's amazing.

Back tomorrow with a couple of good stories from the game.


The King, who cares?

It was 85-degrees at Safeco Field. King Felix pitched a spectacular game. Home runs from Sexson, Ichiro, and Morse. Betancourt made some nice plays at 2nd. Jeff Nelson looked terrible. Our Mariners got the win.

Yet that may not be what interests our readers. Sitting in the seats directly in the camera line of left-handed batters, (next to the lovely woman in pink) was our founder Tadster. Most of the night he spent yelling out blather to hitters, fielders, and fans alike. The other half he was stuffing his furry face with all manner of food and drink. I hope for Walts sake you got the family pack of licorice, cracker jacks, and peanuts for $5. Whata bargain.


Soriano Sighting

Took in the Aquasox game on Saturday and was surprised to see Rafael Sorianon making a rehab start for the M's Rookie League affiliate. RS was dominant in the first, looking like a major league ready guy pitching against 18 and 19 year olds. In the second though he gave up a long double and a couple of singles eventually giving up two runs, one unearned on a bizarre error/interference play, before calling it night after two innings. Not the best results actually, but his fastball had some pop and he threw a lot of strikes...

The ASox scored 12 runs so naturally everyone looked like a solid prospect, but I was especially impressed with Luis Valbuena who had two homeruns and first sacker Reed Eastley who had three hits. I was also surprised to see Casey Craig in Everett. After starting the year hurt, I thought he had gone to Inland Empire. I wonder if the club has something they want him to work on or if he is just a victim of the M's logjam at middle infield.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Depression and Elation

Its hard to reconcile the highs and lows of the last week or so in Mariner-dom.

The Felix home debut was the most fun I've had at a baseball game since 95. It was that good. Electric.

But almost everything else this week has been an absolute disaster. Snelling is hurt, again. Franklin is back and apparently going to be trotted out there every 5 days. Jeff Harris is rewarded for his two solid performances by being kicked back to the pen. The Angels, admittedly a much better team, go for a sweep today. We were subjected to FOX announcers soooo bad on Saturday, that a three man booth with Fairly, Hendu and Buhner sounded like a great idea!

The club, desperate for offense, makes the bizarre decision to carry a 13th pitcher rather than someone to either DH or play OF. Scott Fucking Spiezio apparently is going to be allowed to play while Morse sits. Hmmm, play the young guy who might improve or play the post-roid role player who has no chance of helping this club, this year or next. Choo is not hitting at Tacoma, Reed is stumbling badly at the big league level.

Bleak. Bleak. Bleak.

But Monday all will be right again. The King is on the hill and I'm in the 5th row.


Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Gorokan Horror

After six years of nightmare and terror, saved only by a desperate conviction of the mythical source of certain impressions, I am unwilling to vouch for the truth of what the Mariners think they found in Eastern Australia on the second day of March, 1999. There is reason to hope that my experience was wholly or partially an hallucination--for which, indeed, abundant causes existed. And yet, its realism was so hideous that I sometimes find hope impossible.

Christopher Doyle Snelling was born on December 3, 1981 in north Miami, Florida, but he grew up in the lakeside fishing village of Gorokan, New South Wales, over 100 km north of the bustling Sydney. Gorokan sits on the western side of the Walleran Point Bridge spanning Budgewoi Lake. This bridge was erected between 1983-5 to link humble Gorokan to its larger neighbor, Toukley.

Little did the residents of Gorokan dream that only fourteen years after completing their bridge, the terrifying and macabre tale that has impressed itself indelibly onto my brain would have opened in their charming township.

There were indications, to be sure. Young Chris Snelling played high school baseball at Corpus Christi College in nearby Tuggerah until his graduation in the fateful year of 1999. He was good enough to attract the interest of a scout from across the vast Pacific, who sought young Mr. Snelling's signature on a contract with the header "Seattle Mariners." This seemed like such a good turn of events.

Woe to us when we fail to see danger signs in a timely fashion! Of course, if what I have learned is correct, then there was nothing that could be done, and nothing that can be done. In those lucid moments when I realize that horrible truth, I try to imagine that I am on another hallucinatory rant. In the end, it is hard to deny the power of the facts of the story.

While I wish to spare you, dear reader, from the horror that has claimed me, I must write it down. In short, the facts are these. Chris Snelling brought with him from Gorokan a great talent to hit a baseball with a bat; to run; to catch; and to throw. He brought all the qualities necessary to become a major league baseball player, nay, a star.

After being signed in March of 1999, he joined the Mariners organization and played for the short-season Everett AquaSox in 69 games. After hitting .306 as a 17-year old in the Northwest League, he was sent in 2000 to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, where he hit .305 in 72 games. Thus it was that young Mr. Snelling earned a promotion in 2001 to the high-A California League San Bernardino Stampede. He played 114 games in Southern California, hitting .336 with 29 doubles. Each year his OPS had hovered near .900, always against older competition. Snelling looked likely to add to the success story that is the Mariners' overseas scouting department.

But he was plagued by a litany of injuries so incredible that it seemed he had been cursed. In 2002, Snelling was rewarded with another promotion, to the AA San Antonio Missions. By May, he appeared briefly with the big league club, before tearing his ACL on June 4th against Oakland.

Then Snelling had ACL surgery. In 2003, he managed to make it back during the season and to play well again at San Antonio, earning a midseason promotion to AAA Tacoma on July 25th. He performed adequately in that late-season promotion, and appeared not to injure himself.

In the spring of 2004, Snelling got the summons to Mariners Spring Training, but before he could get into a single game, he broke the hamate bone in his hand during batting practice. Snelling would miss the entire season rehabbing from the ensuing surgery, although he did appear briefly (10 games) in the Arizona Fall League.

In 2005, as some of you may know, Snelling injured his knee again in Spring Training, but recovered and played in AAA Tacoma for the first half of the season, hitting .370/.452/.553 to display that both his health and his baseball skills were intact. He was subsequently brought back up to the big league squad, and on August 5th he was handed the left field job for good after previous occupant Randy Winn was traded away. But in the 14th inning of our August 11th game, Snelling "tweaked" his knee, and the current report is that his ACL is torn, again.

Perhaps the more astute readers have already divined the horrible truth that I have learned. Even now I am reluctant to put these words down in print. But it must be said. Look at the dates: born December 3, signed March 2, injured June 4 (ACL), injured February 26 (wrist), injured February 25 (knee), injured August 11 (ACL). Clearly, there is a pattern that is beyond human science to comprehend.

The only viable conclusion is that Christopher Doyle Snelling did NOT come from Gorokan alone. Obviously, construction of the Walleran Point Bridge stirred up ancient evil, more ancient than even human habitation of this planet. Just as obviously, it attached itself in malevolent and imperceptible fashion to Snelling when he departed New South Wales, and has accompanied him to the United States. And now that unspeakable evil that we should be thankful that we cannot actually SEE has once again struck down Mr. Snelling, according to its own inscrutable logic. If only the madness raging through my brain would quiet down for a moment, I could penetrate the mystery. Ouch! My knee! My ankle!!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhgh.


Possibly the nine worst words you could hear in a close game:

"Bases loaded, two out, and here comes Willie Bloomquist!"

Relatively warm bat or not these days, that's just something you just don't want to hear with the game on the line.

Bloomquist predictably tapped the ball to second for the easy out, the score remaining 4-4. The Angels broke it open in the eighth and won going away, 9-4.

Uber-scrubs like Bloomquist should be relegated to what they do best: pinch running or serving as a ninth inning defensive replacement. And here comes Willie Bloomquist, to pinch run sounds 100 times better.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Return of the King

Ten years from now, a couple hundred thousand may claim to have watched King Felix make his brilliant Safeco debut, mowing down Twins hitters like Mike Gastineau does a pepperoni pizza. The reality is about 35,000 lively fans were in the house, including four of us who post in this blog.

For me, the two hours before game time were highly nerve wracking. The traffic was normal-bad but, due to an accident, both bridges heading across the water were packed. Compounding the traffic issue was my gas gauge, which started out at a seemingly-acceptable quarter tank when I got in the car but plummeted quickly and was firmly on "E" while I sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the bridge. And then, almost as if on cue, my phone started low-battery beeping and my charger wasn't in the car. I ran my fingers through my scalp in a sweaty panic, sure that I was going to run out of gas on the bridge, with no phone to call for help. Thankfully, I made it across and was able to fill up, not only with gas but with beer and 14-year old scotch from FX McCrory's. Empowered by booze and a sausage dog, we made it to our seats just in time to see the M's take the field for the start of the game.

I was impressed that Felix threw nothing but fastballs to start the game and yet the Twins were still overmatched. Gil Meche can reach 95 on the radar gun, but his fastball clearly isn't in the same league. Perhaps that extra 2-3 miles makes all the difference, though from what I've observed and read, Felix's ball moves wickedly. As the game progressed, Felix unveiled his slider, curve ball and change-up and pretty much made the Twinkies look silly -- as if a team with that colloquial nickname needs that.

The first inning took 21 minutes to complete. The rest of the game took 1:42. The M's were their usual anemic selves offensively, but a Reed double and a Betancourt triple, on this night, were enough. Everyday Eddie finished up with his 28th save of the year, preserving the entertaining 1-0 Mariners victory.

It's been said many times before, but I'll say it again: Hernandez has an easy delivery that belies the power in his arm. His arm speed seems to be the same, regardless of the pitch. And for a guy who walked about four per nine innings in the minors, he's started his big league career out with laser-beam control.

It's been over ten years since we've had a legitimate phenom on our hands in Seattle. Felix is the real deal. For M's fans suffering through a second dismal season in a row, we've earned something to look forward to every fifth day ... that is, besides a Mike Morse error.


Ah, to be young

Last night four of the five of us Tatonka bloggers got to see King Felix pitch in his home debut, and he certainly was as advertised. By now, I'm sure you read all about it. He dominated. I was particularly impressed by how well he fielded his position, including going to third on a bunt with runners on 1st and 2nd. He beat the runner by two full steps.

OK, so Felix totally rocks. It appears that every five days we've got a pretty darn good reason to at least flick on the tube. And at 19, he'll be around for a very long time, provided we don't really screw him up like we did Madritsch. And Sherrill.

Here's the down-side of youth: We were held to FOUR HITS by...wait for it...Kyle Lohse. Kyle pitched his second best game of the season last night (8IP, 1ER, 6K, 1BB vs. Tampa Bay), set his season high for K's (7) last night, and got the loss ONLY because of good King Felix.

Were Felix's pitches so mesmerizing that even the M's batters couldn't hit? Now, THAT's a pitcher. You certainly can't argue that he worked so slowly that he didn't keep the defense in the game. 2 hours, 3 minutes.

Stay tuned...


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Game Report: Mariners 1, Twins 0 (Felix's first home start)

Fuck. Yeah.


Saturday, August 06, 2005

Even more of the King

Venerable minors-oriented blogger Bryan Smith pointed out something else shiny and neat while commenting yesterday about the King's major league debut. You should read the longer post, but the gist is this: Felix surrendered ZERO fly balls off any Tiger bats in his debut. No balls in the air for hits, and no fly ball outs. This continues the pattern he has established in the minors.

That's good.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

All Hail!

The King has arrived and he was just as good as advertised. After first inning jitters (single, walk, walk, single), no doubt brought on by Rizzs invoking Edwin Nunez, the kid pitched great.

The run in the third had more to do with Wiki's essential Wikiness (SB, passed ball) than what Felix was dealing. 4 K's and only the two first inning walks, plus each K ended an inning. That's a great way to walk to the dugout. I was especially pleased with the 5th, where he needed a low pitch inning just to stay in and he goes 1-2-3 wiht his 4 th K. Nice.

The Felix Hernandez Era has officially begun and I have the scorecard to prove it.

Long Live the King!


ENFC Reunion!

I hate Rick Rizzs more and more with each passing game, but today he crossed the line.

Reviewing the Mariners' lineup for the momentous King Felix debut, Rizzs chose to emphasize the youngster's age--on the face of it, perfectly reasonable. But that meant that to introduce the King, Rizzs invoked the evil name of Edwin Nunez, who remains the youngest pitcher ever to make his major league debut in a Mariners' uniform.

As self-appointed president in the 1980s of the Edwin Nunez Fan Club, I must impress on Rizzs, and all listeners out there, just how horrific that invocation is. Nunez is one of my worst memories from the miserable 1980s-vintage Mariners. I went to many games, and saw more on TV, where Nunez demonstrated that he had absolutely no idea where the ball was going when it left his hand. Indeed, I once saw him thrown out of a ballgame by an umpire, essentially for wildness. I made it my goal in life to boo Nunez lustily every time he set foot on the field. (I had limited ambition then...now I've raised my aspirations to, uh, write for a little-read blog...).

Now, if you never actually watched Evil Edwin, and just look at his stats, he doesn't seem all that scary. But if you had to suffer through him on the mound for the Ms, you will agree that mentioning his name in the same sentence with Felix Hernandez is courting disaster.

Edit--now it's zero outs into the first inning, and sure enough, King Felix has given up 2 singles and 2 walks, has the bases loaded, nobody out, and one run in. Rick Rizzs, it's your fault, BUDDY.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The conscience of the King

Our savior hath arriveth, and although Tad has posted about it already, King
Felix deserves a second textual genuflect.

Here are his stat lines over the three years that he's been rocketing up the M's system:

http://www.rotowire.com/baseball/player.htm?id=7886

Tasty. Zesty. This is the type of overpowering starting pitcher we've lacked since RJ left town. 100 K's in 88 innings pitched at Tacoma this year. Walks were a mite high (about 5 per nine innings), so I think we can expect jitters and general factors to equate to a few more walks than we'd like to see in his first start or two. Hopefully, we'll also see at least twice as many K's.

The M's rotation is an utter mess right now. Not that it really matters for this year, but King Felix couldn't have arrived at a better time.


Strong in the Force is this one

I'm absolutely aquiver. Tomorrow we get to see the Chosen One. The anointed savior who shall lead us from the desert of last place finishes to the Promised Land of Division Titles. O Felix, Lord Hernandez, show us your mighty right arm of courage and strength and use it to cast down our foes!

Not to put any pressure on him or anything...


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Say it ain't so Ryan!!

Ryan Franklin, in a noble gesture, does his part to take the heat off of Rafael Palmeiro by becoming the latest player to test postive for steroids according to ESPN.

Sheesh, you'd think you could do a little better than 64 k's in 133 innings pitched on the juice!


Monday, August 01, 2005

The Trades: A Quick Analysis

For starters, its just good to have a GM recognize where we are in the success cycle (down) and willing to trade well liked productive veterans to to get cheaper and younger. Bavasi also clearly has an idea of what he thinks are the organization's weaknesses and is willing to try and address them. We are thin on pitching and catchers and he made these trades with those weaknesses in mind. In this way we are way better of than fans of the Devil Rays or the Reds or the Giants, just to name a few. And for that I am grateful.

On the other hand, I'm not sure that deadline day is the time to address your weaknesses. By insisiting on getting pitching and catchers Bavasi may have severely limited his options. I don't know what other offers he had of course, I'm wildly speculating. But we do know that Allard Baird had better talent offered to him in the Beltran deal last year than Teahen, Buck and Wood, but he limited himself by insisting that he get a major league ready third baseman and catcher. I'm not saying you have to take the "best player available" route but you do have the whole offseason to deal the guys you pick up at the deadline. You don't have to restrict yourself to catchers and pitchers. I guess I would be making fun of Bavasi had he picked up another SS prospect though, so there you go.

To look specifically at the deals:
Ron Villone for Yorman Bazardo and Mike Flannery. This is the sweetest of the bunch for me. Moving Villone and his ridiculous salary and taterrific tendencies for two live arms is a great trade. This one is worth it simply for the possibility of hearing Niehaus pronounce Bazardo's name. It might rival Salome Barojas some day. Bazardo doesn't have a ton of strikeouts for someone with his stuff, but he has excellent control. He has also only given up 12 homers in 4 years. I think Sele gave up that many in July! Don't know much about Flannery except that he's striking out a man an inning this year in AA and AAA.

Miguel Olivo for Natanel Mateo and Miguel Ojeda. We got something for Olivo?!? Sweet! Mateo has a lot of upside and Baseball Prospectus thinks he's a big league ready reliever right now. Ojeda is roster filler, a guy that could play if all your other catchers got hurt. Not that that would ever happen.

Randy Winn for Yorvit Torrealba and Jesse Foppert. This is the deal that I am not so wild about. Yorvit is good defensively and has a little pop in his bat, but not much else to recommend him. I suppose he might be able to hold his own until Clement is ready, but I don't see much more out of him than that. Foppert, obviously, is the key to the deal. He's a gamble of course. He's almost two years removed from Tommy John surgery and he still hasn't recovered his velocity. And coming to the Mariners virtually guarantees him a setback in the near future. I sorta think we coulda got more for Winn than this, but I might be overstating the market a little bit.

A few words about the deals that didn't happen. I wish we could have found a taker for Everyday Eddie. I just worry about a guy "pitching through" a torn rotator cuff and he think he had the most value of anyone they were looking to deal. I'm also disappointed that Moyer mixed the trade to Houston. Not mad at him mind you, he absolutely has the right to refuse a trade and I respect him for doing so. Its just that Fernando Nieve, the prospect that was rumored to be in the deal is a serious stud from all I've heard. So I'm a little disappointed.

Later this week I'll try and revisit Jason's lineup post from earlier this season and we'll see how things look for 2006 and beyond.