Saturday, July 05, 2008

Kids and Disasters

Hello all...I'm back from a good long trip through China and the Philippines, where I successfully isolated myself from Mariner malaise (at least until Typhoon Fengshen/Frank made my homeward trip an epic ordeal for the ages, and I had to read SOMETHING about the M's).

You'd think that time off would have improved my mood. I even return to find that the morons in charge of the organization decided to fire the GM and manager (yeah!) but not themselves (boo!)...and that the M's remain about as horrible a team as you could imagine. It has been postulated that a random team of AAA scrubs could win about 30-35% of their games in the major leagues, and here we have a $100 million dollar juggernaut plugging along at a .395 clip...truly scrumptious!

Upon my return, my family celebrated by taking me to see the local AA team on the 3rd of July (the team was away on the 4th, so this was the big fireworks extravaganza). So on Thursday night, we headed south to Chattanooga to join a capacity crowd at beautiful AT&T Field to witness the Lookouts vs. the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx (yep...that's the AA Mariners affiliate).

The game was plenty eventful, ending up a 7-6 victory for the visitors (yeah M's!). We even saw a little of the minor league talent that is supposedly Bill Bavasi's one positive legacy with our franchise.

-Matt Mangini: good eye, massive power (so say the long foul balls), massively long swing...but he avoided striking out at all, which was surprising.
-Mike Wilson: looked good, with a solid double, two walks, and an intentional walk.
-Joe Nelson and Greg Halman: showed batting-practice power against non-prospect reliever Mike Hrynio, whose 6.28 ERA entering the game was no fluke. (While warming up when he came in for the 6th, he did an unintentional Nuke LaLoosh impression, punishing the backstop, and not for the last time in the evening, with a pitch.)
-Mark Kiger? He's the guy whom the Oakland A's brought to the majors to reinforce their injured middle infield spots for the playoffs in 2006. He turned 28 two months ago, and yet he's starting at SS for the M's AA team. Yeah, we're loaded with prospects! A 1-3, two walk, CS performance got his season average up to .228. Yeesh.
-Lefty Justin Thomas looked interesting on the mound, although his results were meh. Some innings he was dominant against a not-horrible Lookouts team.

Actually, though, the most interesting M's-related feature of the game was that this year's pitching coach for the Lookouts (currently the Reds affiliate here in Chattanooga) is none other than Chris Bosio. BOZ! The team was holding an auction of the special pre-4th of July patriotic jerseys of their players and coaches (winner gets an autographed game-worn jersey), but I couldn't bring myself to bid the $85+ it would have taken to get a Bosio tent. Good times.

Perhaps I'm spoiled (last season I got to see real prospects Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey for a while; two years ago we had Joey Votto all year as the starting 1B), but this game really didn't seem to have the minor-league star power that I might have expected at the AA level for the Mariners. Oh, I know--many of our gems are still in Rookie/single-A leagues. Sure. Still, pretty disappointing. From the one game (extremely small sample size), I'd say that only Mike Wilson "looked" like he might be ready to move up. From the stat lines they brought into the game, it looks like 1B Thomas Hubbard, OF Johan Limonta, and C Adam Moore are having decent seasons, along with Nelson and Halman. No pitchers stand out.

I'm pretty reluctant to trust the Mariners organization with any hope until the idiots atop the chain are sacked. This game didn't give me much real hope for the future...but hey, it's just one game.

More sunshine and Pollyanna predictions from me later....