Saturday, April 03, 2004

For those of you who are mourning the loss of Ryan Ketchner, there remains the consolation that his older, slightly less-handicapped equivalent is still in our organization.

Bott's another finesse lefty who breezed through high-A ball last year in the same rotation as Ketchner, posting eerily similar peripherals. Troy Cate wasn't far behind, either.
Jolbert Cabrera, if nothing else, is the textbook definition of a utility player. Just last year he played at least nine innings at seven different positions (all except catcher and pitcher), with varying degrees of success. It looks like, with Bloomquist primed to take over third base early in the year, the Mariners wanted someone experienced to take over Wee Willie's bench role as the ultra-sub. Another way to read into this is that Seattle fears Spiezio's injury is worse than originally thought, and that Bloomquist could be stationed at the hot corner for more than a month or two. Regardless, here's what we know about Cabrera:

  • Very versatile player who is athletic enough to hold his own in center field and at short

  • had a career-best offensive season last year in Dodger Stadium at the age of 30

  • lackluster plate discipline

  • marginal power; career .100 ISO (SLG - BA)

Here's how it shakes down: if the Mariners get the 2003 Jolbert Cabrera, then they swung a decent deal and brought in a valuable bench player. If the Mariners got the pre-2003 Jolbert Cabrera, then they just gave away a B-grade pitching prospect and an ML-ready righty reliever for free. Cabrera was indeed quite strong with the bat last year, putting up a .282/.332/.438 line in an extreme pitcher's park. However, he doesn't draw walks and doesn't hit for much power, meaning his value is closely dependent on his batting average (a bad strategy). Check out his track record and you'll see that he needs to hit around .300 to have value as a 250-300 AB player.

My first instinct? I don't like it. For all of Cabrera's improvement last year, it's just one season (in a non-peak year), and he's got a PECOTA projection of .254/.317/.370. He seems to be a good example of Backup Catcher Syndrome, where a weak batter puts up an impressive offensive line in 300 at bats that ensures his employment for the next ten years. There's not much in his career suggesting that last year was anything but an abnormality, and I think Cabrera will be lucky to wind up with a .700 OPS in 2004.

So, what of the guys we gave away? Aaron Looper is a 27 year old right-handed reliever with gigantic ears who has managed a composite 2.66 ERA in AA/AAA. He's also put up the following peripherals:

7.59 K/9
3.04 BB/9
0.76 HR/9
8.02 H/9

Even allowing for having played in two big parks, those are good numbers, worthy of a roster spot near the back of a bullpen. While he still struggles with lefties, he held right-handed batters to a .189 batting average last year in Tacoma, striking out nearly five righties for each walk. You'd like to see him improve against lefty batters, and it would be nice if he could push that BB/9 just under 3, but he's ready to be a middle reliever right now, and could put up splits reminiscent of Steve Reed in a few years if given the chance.

Ryan Ketchner, as you may or may not know, is well-known for being partially deaf. He's also a 21 year old (22 in two weeks) southpaw who posted amazing peripherals in high-A last year. Take a look at this chart:

Year K/9 BB/9 HR/9 H/9 ERA
2001 9.98 3.06 N/A 6.54 2.92
2002 9.57 3.16 0.24 6.08 2.59
2003 9.13 1.90 0.57 7.64 3.45

That's no mistake; Ketchner put up a K/BB near 5.00 last year while limiting home runs against tougher competition. Now, impressive stat lines aside, there have been questions about how much success he'll have in the higher levels, because he has mediocre velocity with a very limited repertoire. Still, he looks to be on a level below Rett Johnson but ahead of Craig Anderson, and these are the kinds of guys you like to have sitting around the upper minors in case someone in the ML rotation goes down. I have no problem with trading these kinds of players should the right opportunity arise, but Jolbert Cabrera has never been the answer to anybody's problems, and lesser-known equivalents can be found on the waiver wire (see Marco Scutaro, quite frequently). Ketchner's never going to blow anybody away, and he won't suddenly turn into a staff ace, but he has a ceiling as an innings-eating #3, a Mark Buehrle without the deceiving early career success.

After breaking it down, I still don't like the trade. It's nothing that's going to come back to hurt us in the future (that is, unless we run into Ketchner in a few years while we're still struggling with the Mark Hendrickson's of the world), but it rids our system of two trade commodities that could have brought something more valuable back in return. Bavasi panicked and DePodesta took advantage.

This move goes along with BB's entire offseason: a bunch of ill-advised moves, none of which will single-handedly burn us but will, as a collective, act as a significant detriment to the team. I don't think I want to know how much we'd give up for a legitimate slugger come deadline time.
The Mariners just completed a trade with the Dodgers, sending Ryan Ketchner and Aaron Looper for Jolbert Cabrera.

More to come.
Obligatory hockey note:

I'm ill. Again. I hate Toronto.

Bring on the playoffs...
More trade news:

The Mets are now freed of their Roger Cedeno problem, dealing him for Wilson Delgado and Chris Widger.

This also frees Tony La Russa of his third catcher problem. Potentially.
Trade news:

The Rangers sent Einar Diaz, Justin Echols, and cash to Montreal for Josh McKinley and Chris Young.

Gerald Laird will take over the starting catcher duties in Arlington (as it should be).

McKinley is a miscellaneous infielder who suddenly learned how to hit for power last year, and Young is a huge (6'10, 258) right-hander with good command but disappointing velocity (87-89) for a pitcher of his size. Neither are particularly strong prospects, but losing Diaz is its own reward.
DiamondMind projections for the season:

Your Seattle Mariners:

87-75. They won the division about 1/4th of the time, and took the wild card once every 40 projections. The system has our offense dropping off a slight amount, while our pitching surrenders an average of 83 more runs than it did last year.

AL division winners:


AL wild card:

New York

NL division winners:

St. Louis
San Francisco

NL wild card:


Freddy Adu isn't starting today for DC United.

That's got to be among the worst decisions in MLS history. Precious few people watching this game care how DC does; everyone just wants to see Adu's professional debut.

I'm sure he'll wind up in the game at some point, but how many people will still be watching?
Scott Spiezio's back injury may be worse than originally thought, so says Bob Melvin. Sandfrog is apparently going from doctor to doctor, trying to find a quack who will declare him physically fit and eligible for immediate playing time. Nevermind that back injuries have a long and painful history of lingering and popping up at the most inconvenient of times; the article mentions more immediately alarming news:

With Spiezio likely heading for the disabled list, it would appear that utility man Ramon Santiago, acquired in the trade with Detroit for Carlos Guillen, will make the 25-man roster.

It is a well-known fact that Ramon Santiago is garbage, has always *been* garbage, and will always *be* garbage. We're talking a few levels below Bloomquist/Bocachica here (okay, not really, but he is worse). And so, assuming that this will take place, Spiezio's injury will lead not only to a decrease in third base productivity, but also a worse performance from the utility position, as the Mariners have achieved the remarkable feat of finding someone worse than Wee Willie Bloomquist. It's really too bad that there isn't anyone else to call up. I mean, if we had a useful infielder somewhere in the minor leagues with a ML-ready bat then we'd really be well off, because a player like that could really help us...

But seriously, the article claims that it's Leone's defense that's holding him back. This is something I'd never heard before; since I became aware of this true man among boys in AA last year, all I ever read were scouts' ravings about his glove, that he already had ML defense. When your third baseman gets a significant chunk of playing time in the middle infield, chances are he's pretty strong behind the pitcher. Oh, and that bat doesn't hurt, either: .235/.341/.455 translated line from last year, and he has a PECOTA projection of .232/.311/.418. Granted, the latter isn't particularly good, but it's better than Bloomquist, and there's the potential for so much more (.296 EqA for his 90% projection).

At least the article acknowledged Leone's existence, I guess.

But wait. What's this?

Depending on how long Spiezio could be out, the club may entertain the idea of trading for a veteran third baseman.


Why learn a lesson, when you can continue along the same path that led to this problem in the first place? Go, go get Robin Ventura, and see what happens when he hurts his back in two weeks.

It's not really difficult to understand why the organization dislikes Justin Leone so much, though. Just check out one of his quotes from this P-I article:

If you could have the swing of any player, past or present, who would it be?

Alex Rodriguez. When I was in college, I used to try to hit like him, to emulate his swing. He hits the ball pretty far. Him or Otis Nixon. Just kidding.

We can't have anyone on the major league roster respecting a talented young player who slapped the organization in the face, now can we?
Frightening news from Mets camp.

New York Mets pitcher Al Leiter was hit in the head by a line drive Saturday, forcing him out of a spring training game against the Florida Marlins.

Leiter seems to be fine, but while he got drilled by a screaming liner, he dodged a major bullet. Less than two years ago I had the same thing happen to me in baseball practice, and there were severe complications from which I'm still recovering. Al Leiter should thank his lucky stars each and every day that he isn't brain-damaged (or worse).
Leave it to reality to interrupt our daydreaming.

No Bradley for Seattle.

The Mariners had asked about Bradley in the past few months, but "he is not a good fit for us," according to the source.

You could see that one coming a mile away. Doesn't explain why were were apparently interested in him *last* year, but I guess that's the kind of thing only team officials would know...

Oh well; not like we ever really thought we had a shot. This remains a fascinating story, and I will be very interested in seeing what Cleveland winds up getting in return for their talented, irritable center fielder.

Something else I noticed in the article:

Asked about the rumors yesterday, general manager Bill Bavasi said, "I'm not going to get into specifics about specific players, but we're happy with our roster the way it is...

I guess all that jibber-jabber about looking for another bench bat with pop from a month and a half ago was just for show.
Obligatory hockey note:

With their wholly unimpressive 3-1 win in the Wachovia Center tonight, Ottawa slipped into a first-place tie with Boston (while the Bruins have a game in hand). If the Senators manage to pull out a victory on home ice tomorrow night against the Maple Leafs, then the pressure will be on Boston, who will need to take at least three points in their home-and-home series against New Jersey if they want to win the division.

Lalime and Todd White (finally!) might be back in time for tomorrow's contest. They will certainly be back in plenty of time for the playoffs.
I wonder what it means when you lose to your AAA team.
Get your P-I staff predictions here. Jim Moore had some fun with this, while three of the other four writers believe that one of two historic curses will come to an end this October.
For those of you who pay attention to ex-Mariners, Jeff Cirillo has come down with a nasty case of Rule 5 Syndrome and will miss four to six weeks.

Friday, April 02, 2004

You know, if there's one thing that annoys me more than bulk mail, it's bulk mail that tries to be clever.

Nevermind the whole "Re: Your paper" subject bars (or what have you) that try to seem legitimate; that's been going on for a while, now. But replacing a phrase like "offers exceptional value with no down payment" with "ófférs éxcéptíónál válúé wíth nó dówn páýmént"?

That's genius. And I don't like it.
This has nothing to do with anything, but if you've got a few minutes, read this piece on Lew Ford.

Rather than copy and paste sections of the article, I suggest you check it out yourself. It'll brighten your day.
Might as well mention the Bradley article that's getting passed around the blogosphere. Moving on...

More of the back-and-forth banter between myself and Rick at Mariner Bullpen:

I am of the opinion that, while neither Bloomquist nor Bocachica deserve major league jobs (hello? Leone?), Bloomquist is the better option if you absolutely have to pick one of them for the roster. He's simply better prepared to "contribute" at the major league this year than Ee-rahm is. Bocachica's ST performace is great and all, but it's nothing new; over his career, he's amassed a .294 BA in March, to go along with a significantly more impressive .545 SLG (8 homers in 143 at bats). For whatever reason, Hiram seems to be one of those guys who plays lights-out during ST and doesn't have it translate into regular season performance, joining the ranks of such household names as John Roskos and Kory DeHaan. Could a light turn on in Bocachica's head, resulting in some sort of utility player offensive powderkeg? Sure, I guess, but if anything's been killing him so far in his career it's been inconsistent ML playing time, and that sure as hell wouldn't get any better in 2004 were he given Bloomquist's job.

Not that any of this should matter. Free Justin Leone! Give the third base job to someone who's earned it through performance, rather than rewarding hustle and a stunning ability to fill out a uniform.

Also, thanks to Rick for the compliment near the beginning of his entry, but it'll be a cold day in Missoura' before a Seattle-based media outlet directs its readership to visit a website entitled Fire Bavasi.
Ben Maller insists that the M's are interested in Bradley.

Whether or not Ben Maller is to be trusted is a matter I'll leave up to the individual.

Update: Maller's source is The Plain Dealer, so you may lend a little more credibility to the story. Thanks to the other Jeff for pointing this out.
Brendan Donnelly will be placed on the 15-DL because of a nose that is broken in 20 places...
Center Field (non-)news for you:

The Mariners won't be pursuing Griffey, for better or worse. Steve Kelley minces no words in voicing his disagreement with this, but personally, I think it's probably for the best. You can't swing a dead cat in the blogosphere without hitting a Griffey opinion piece, so if you want to hear more about something that'll never happen, take a look around.

The Dodgers, Pirates, Rangers, and A's are among the teams looking at Milton Bradley, says Ken Rosenthal. Maybe it's me, but this seems like exactly the kind of situation that Billy Beane loves; look for a three-way deal, with the third team (not the Indians or A's) losing out in the trade. There's no mention of Seattle in the article.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

This may or may not be redundant with what I've already said, depending on where you've been reading what I have to say (the other place being here), but my take on the Bradley situation can be summed up in a pretty concise fashion:

While I'm not comfortable with the idea of trading Blackley or Nageotte for a player as risky as Milton Bradley, I would gladly send Cleveland any number of lower-grade prospects, including (but not limited to) Tacoma's entire roster from last April. The Madritsch's, Baek's, Thornton's, and Ketchner's of our organization won't be missed, if it means bringing in a player of Bradley's caliber. However, while Cleveland isn't necessarily looking for equal value in trading their center fielder, I think that enough teams will enter the bidding that Shapiro winds up with a good package anyway, one that's better than whatever we felt comfortable offering.
You know, if there's any indication that stathead principles are beginning to gain popularity with baseball fans, it's that more and more fantasy leagues are using OBP and SLG as replacement categories for HR and batting average.
John Hickey takes a piece-by-piece look at your 2004 Mariners.

There are lots of things that I disagree with - the suggestion that this year's is a deep team, the comparison between Pineiro and Pedro Martinez, Ryan Franklin improving - but it's in line with the kind of stuff you expect this time of year. That said, I don't really think an extended criticism of the "article" is necessary here, since I've spent the last three and a half months laying out my various differences of opinion. Just read the piece and take pleasure in the fact that there are still optimists out there, and everybody likes being happy, right?
Trade news:

Jeriome (pronounced "Jeremy") Robertston is an Indian. Luke Scott and Willy Taveras aren't (anymore).

Also, David Cameron brought a few things to my attention in an email earlier today, re: Bradley. His main points:

  • Hitters have significant control over BABIP, and thus it doesn't mean very much for them

  • Bradley's PECOTA projection is skewed, as his reduced playing time results in his being compared to various 4th-OF types with similar numbers of at bats

  • Wily Mo Pena's projection is hilarious

  • Milton Bradley is very good

David, of course, didn't phrase his points so poorly. That's a direct function of his experience, I'd guess.

Rather than copying and pasting my reply, here are *my* main points:

  • There are many examples of hitters who put up large BABIP figures in one year, only to regress closer to their career mean the next

  • Bradley's PECOTA projection does seem low, but its 90% performance is still lower than what Bradley did last year, which has to mean something, somewhere, to somebody

  • Wily Mo Pena's projection is hilarious

  • Milton Bradley is good, but probably not the superstar he could've been last year without the injuries, and would represent a pretty considerable risk

And since I'm just bouncing all over the place today, here's my response to something completely unrelated: Mariner Bullpen's criticism of me putting Bocachica and Bloomquist in the same category of suckitude.

Now, I've talked about Bocachica before, about one and a half months ago. In essence, he's a somewhat useful player who could help our talent-starved bench if he weren't redundant with a player who's securely established himself as an organizational favorite. Normal sample size caveats aside, here's a quick little comparison between the two players:

vs Left: .286/.350/.390
vs Right: .274/.345/.331
Overall: .279/.348/.358

vs Left: .262/.321/.429
vs Right: .183/.218/.335
Overall: .214/.259/.372

I repeat what I said earlier: you really hate having to make a decision between these two guys, because doing so means that you have to choose one of them to stick on the roster. While Bloomquist has been better thus far in his brief career than Bocachica has been in his, a large portion of his perceived value comes from his Super Awesome 100% Small Sample Size September 2002 Fiesta, a performance which we may reasonably assume was the result of witchcraft. Bocachica has also put up good lines in the minor leagues, something Bloomquist was unable to do beyond A-ball. However, Hiram's inability to translate his plate discipline into the majors has greatly hindered his progress, leading to downright mortiferous (mortiferous!) OBP's and four years' worth of bus tickets between Los Angeles, Detroit, and their respective minor league affiliates. But wait, there's a silver lining here: neither Detroit nor LA are ideal organizations in which to properly learn how to take walks in the major leagues, and if Bocachica could ever figure it out, he could conceivably become a little Placido Polanco.

...however, he isn't Placido Polanco *yet*, and handing him Bloomquist's Opening Day roster spot would likely result in a dull .220/.260/.360 line. Sure, he hits the occasional extra-base hit - more than Bloomquist, anyway - but he doesn't get on base, and until some legitimate hitting coach teaches him how to read balls out of a pitcher's hand, he's never going to, not at the major league level. Right now, the Mariners are borderline competitive, and can't afford to give 150-200 at bats to someone who might reach base in 30% of those plate appearances. We already know what to expect from Bloomquist, and guaranteed inadequacy is more valuable to a team in our situation than a versatile Death Spiral with a 5% chance of achieving decency.
Good times.

So Spiezio's hurt, and if he goes on the DL we're left with The Artist Formerly Known as Dueling Banjo #2 at third base to start the year. Spiezio would be hard-pressed to time his injury any worse; Seattle's first nine games are against Anaheim and Oakland, and after playing Texas three times they've got Oakland again for a four-game home series from the 19th to the 22nd. If Spiezio were to miss fifteen days, beginning on Opening Day, then he'd miss 11 of our first 13 games against legitimate divisional rivals, and this isn't the kind of team that I want trying to come back from an early deficit. What's worse is that back injuries can linger - particularly in aging infielders playing out of position - and this could spell disaster for Spiezio's already questionable defense at third. Call it what you want - bad luck, coincidence, or the like - but this is exactly the kind of thing that you knew was going to happen to a team this old.

In other news, Milton Bradley could be riding his scumbag streak right outta town. David Cameron already covered this to some extent, so I'll be brief: the Mariners should inquire as to Bradley's availability and price, but they should make sure to limit themselves when it comes to negotiations. Bradley's a fine player, a league-average center fielder who put up a career-best offensive line last year at 25 years old. However, look at that line a little closer. See anything strange about it?

Now, there has been little to no research on the consistency of a hitter's BABIP, but just for kicks, here are Bradley's numbers over the last few years:

2000: .325
2001: .314
2002: .283
2003: .378

Keep in mind, also, that the majority of 2000/2001 was spent in the minor leagues, where one may reasonably expect a player's BABIP to be higher (worse defenses and the like).

Maybe it's me, but that 2003 line seems way higher than it should be. Cleveland's team number was .288, or a full 90 points below Bradley's figure. Even if you account for Bradley using his speed to beat out a few extra grounders (although it's questionable whether or not Bradley's ever run out a ground ball), he was, simply, very fortunate last year. You may be inclined to think that his BABIP was so high because he was stinging every ball he hit, but Jody Gerut was at .289, and he was also quite the good hitter last year. PECOTA projects a .266/.350/.418 line for Bradley, which, while good for a 26 year old AL center fielder, is well below where he was in 2003. Given his expected statistical decline, combined with his injury history and classification as a monumental jerk, I don't think he's the kind of guy for whom we should be dealing our top pitching prospects. I'd like to have him on the team, though, so depending on how generous the Indians get with Bradley, I'd throw some combination of B/C-grade prospects at them and see if they bite (Thornton, Baek, Strong, etc).

Finally, Frank Deford is a tool.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

When I turned on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn just now, I was surprised to see Bill Bavasi on the set.

No, wait, that was Robert Schimmel.

Thanks to Mike Thompson (of PI Blog fame) for sending me this picture of Craig Wilson:

Craig is reportedly entering a Billy Ray Cyrus Look-Alike contest this weekend.

Seriously though, between Craig Wilson and Nick Johnson, Fire Bavasi endorses some really ugly dudes.
So Bocachica's gone - to the minors, anyway - curtailing our supply of no-hit utility players destined for the ML roster down to one.

Now, Bloomquist sucks, and there exists no justifiable reason for his presence on the Opening Day roster of a competitive team, but deciding between him and Bocachica is like deciding whether to rent Glitter or Kazaam; there is no desirable solution to the problem, and you just hope that your long-term happiness isn't dependent on the choice you make. The only problem with this analogy is that, in this case, the Hypothetical You has already rented You Got Served, Spice World, and Baby Geniuses, and making another bad choice could drive your loyal prom queen girlfriend away for good.

Alas, cutting Bocachica in favor of Bloomquist doesn't do much (if anything) to alter our odds of winning 90 games this year, and after browsing over what Melvin had to say this spring, it's not like anyone could legitimately believe that Bocachica had a shot, anyway. What it really comes down to is the fact that it would've taken some real balls to demote Wee Willie, but when you run an organization that values interpersonal respect and communication over all else, you can't really expect Bavasi to take away one of his manager's favorite players.
Dave Andriesen's been poking around the blogosphere.

It started from the day Bill Bavasi was hired as general manager of the Mariners.

There are entire Web Sites dedicated to how stupid he is, petitions calling for him to be fired. It's the same thing that greets every GM for every team, though perhaps not at the same volume. After 30 years in professional baseball, Bavasi is used to it.

Of course, Andriesen's being a jackass about it:

So when the new outfielder is Raul Ibanez instead of Vladimir Guerrero, when the new shortstop is Rich Aurilia rather than Miguel Tejada, people on the Internet and sports talk shows who think the GM's job is like running their fantasy team call for everyone in the organization to be tarred and feathered.

I think it's been discussed ad nauseum how this team could have made room for Guerrero or Tejada without hurting the competitive nature of the roster. But that's not important, because those two guys don't speak good English, and aren't the kind of laid-back character guys that you've got in Ibanez and Aurilia...

Later in the article:

There were a few high-profile dalliances with Tejada and Ivan Rodriguez, but in the end, he made deals that were in keeping with Mariners philosophy: good, veteran guys with good character who don't cost too much money over too many years.

I'm not completely sure how Ibanez' contract doesn't qualify as "too much money over too many years," but it's very possible that the organization has a set amount of money that it isn't willing to breach. Any player can approach that ceiling, regardless of value, but nobody can top it. It's like an elevator that collapses under too much pressure. You can pack the elevator full of most anything - people, boxes, vacuums - but the elevator is always going to plummet to the bottom of the shaft when it reaches a set weight capacity limit, regardless of what's inside. The Mariners don't see much of a difference between giving Raul Ibanez $13m or Matt Stairs playing for $1m this year, because hey, at least Raul isn't getting $10m a season, because nobody who isn't named Edgar deserves that kind of scratch...

BB goes on to discuss such things as veterans, health, and experience, but it's nothing we haven't heard before: rookies make too many mistakes, so in order to eliminate said mistakes, bring in the most non-rookie players you can find (that may be paraphrased). I don't have time to think about this kind of stuff; I have bigger concerns, like whether or not I should wear white socks or the ones with a gray heel today.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

See ya, Eric Owens. We're going to go with your African-American equivalent.

Seriously though, I'm glad we wound up cutting Owens. Handing him McCracken's job would've given us the same "production" for about $300k more. Unless we decided to keep both of them on the roster, which would be a whole new can of worms...
The Brewers traded Wayne Franklin to San Francisco today. Now, there are two ways to read into this:

  • the Brewers now need Kevin Jarvis even more, since they're down a starter

  • the Brewers won't want Jarvis, since they just got rid of a cheaper, equivalently bad starter

I guess there's a third option, which would be that Milwaukee doesn't really think ahead when it makes moves, but I prefer the train of thought that anything and everything has some kind of impact on the Mariners.
Ned Yost = Tony Muser.

"We've said from the beginning when we traded Richie (Sexson), we're trading home runs for doubles and the ability to manufacture runs... Doubles are almost better. I mean, home runs are great, but when you've got guys who smack those doubles, you're in good shape, you've got a lot of guys in scoring position."
Scary stuff.

Reportedly Donnelly had lost roughly half of his blood during a recent bout of nosebleeds.
For more on Lamar and the Devil Rays...
It sure didn't take long for the Yankees' defense to look terrible.

I've only been able to watch a few innings of this one (YES Network replay), but I've already seen:

  • a catchable ball get over Lofton's head

  • a moderately-paced ground ball get past Giambi for a double

  • a pickoff throw go right through Giambi's glove

  • poor coverage of a bunt

Looking forward to more.
It's amazing what kinds of conclusions people make based on a handful of spring innings.

Catch those spring games on TV if you can't make it in person. After seeing Mariners pitcher Freddy Garcia, who was nearly non-tendered in the winter, I'd be absolutely shocked if he didn't finish in the top 10 in ERA this season.

I wonder if Mr. Hunt watched Freddy surrender seven earned runs (eight total) in four innings against "Arizona" on Sunday. Suddenly, Garcia's ST ERA is up to 4.82, and his stats look mediocre. Mean anything? Not really. R.A. Dickey's only allowed two runs in 11 innings so far. Sure, Freddy's strikeouts improved in the second half last year, but so did his walks, and if he's going to continue the trend of being a slight flyball pitcher than he isn't going to get as much help this year as he did in 2003.

Will Garcia have a big year? It's possible; we all know he's still got the same talent that he did in 2001. He seems like the kind of guy who'd pick it up in a contract year (hey, look over there! It's Carlos Baerga!), and if he ends up with Pat Borders as his personal catcher, then he could perform at a level similar to last September's. That's about as optimistic as I can get when discussing a pitcher as maddeningly frustrating as Freddy, though, so I guess I'll leave it to M.O. to take over for me.
Billy Beane consummated a trade with Paul DePodesta yesterday, sending (ex-Mariner) Jason Grabowski to LA for cash. Keep an eye on this, as the two could form a pipeline similar to the one that exists between Beane and JP Ricciardi in Toronto.
Talk about a treat.

You wake up at 7:40 for class, but turn on YES to see what's going on in the opener.

D'Rays 8, Yankees 3.

There now, it's not that hard to beat 'em, is it? Great job by Victor Zambrano; not so great by the Moose.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Best game of the year?

It was a high-flying first period, and even though the second was scoreless, there was plenty of offense on either side of the ice. Ottawa took the lead early in the third but coughed it up 54 seconds later, leading to perhaps the best eight minutes of hockey in any game so far this year.

Tampa Bay 16:48, Dave Andreychuk 20 (power play) (Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis)
Ottawa 17:13, Marian Hossa 35 (Wade Redden)
Ottawa 18:51, Mike Fisher 4 (Martin Havlat, Zdeno Chara)
Tampa Bay 19:32, Dave Andreychuk 21 (Brad Richards, Vincent Lecavalier)


Ottawa 4:00, Chris Phillips 6 (Daniel Alfredsson)

In. Sane.

5-4 win. On the road. Against one of the top teams in the NHL. Gearing up for the playoffs? You bet!
Fire Bavasi(.) shall henceforth withhold its endorsement of Craig Wilson until he loses that awful, awful hair.


A scout who has been following the A's this spring says he's seen nothing that has convinced him Arthur Rhodes is going to be able to close.

"For the A's to win that division, they're going to have to prove to people that Arthur Rhodes can close," the scout said. "His stock dropped last year because his velocity dropped, and it's still down. He's in the low 90s, but this is from somebody who was throwing 95. And Arthur doesn't pitch back-to-back games very often. As a closer, you have to be capable of going in back-to-back games.

"I have a feeling it's going to be a very interesting ninth inning for the Oakland A's this season."

If you're curious, only 28 of Rhodes' 133 appearances over the last two years came when he'd pitched the day before -- and his ERA in those games was nearly 4.00.

Rhodes could make Oakland regret that $9.2m/3yr contract very soon, if he doesn't pick his velocity back up to the mid-90s.
Has Dayn Perry been reading Fire Bavasi or At Least The Red Sox Have 1918?
A few snippets of news:

Mark Prior will be out until May with his Achilles' problem. He's about as safe as any 23 year old pitcher, given his smooth, polished mechanics, but a month away from Dusty always works to the benefit of a young pitcher. I'll defer to other bloggers as to what this does to the Cubs in the short-term; Juan Cruz sure would be nice right about now...

If Oakland gives the second base job to Marco Scutaro, they could be better off than they were a week ago. He's posted strong minor league OBP's for as long as anyone can remember, and has a PECOTA forecast of .262/.337/.412 (with solid defense). For our sake as Mariners fans, though, let's hope that the A's go with Menechino, because he's far more likely to suck. However, with inexperience at short in Bobby Crosby, it's likely that Beane decides to deal for someone with a little more veteran know-how (D'Angelo Jimenez?) to take over at second, because nobody likes an error-prone middle infield (unless they hit enough to make up for it).

The Giants are looking at Jarvis. San Francisco is in so much trouble that Brett Tomko could be their Opening Day starter. Yes, that makes two teams who are taking a peek at one of the worst pitchers in our organization (the other being the Brewers). According to Hickey, "The Mariners are willing to move Jarvis," putting to rest the notion that we're completely against trading any pitching, ever, and this inexplicable pursuit of Jarvis by other teams gives us something to look forward to early in the year. It's possible that the Diamondbacks enter the mess as well, given that the back of their rotation currently includes Steve Sparks, Elmer Dessens, and Shane Reynolds.

Also from the Hickey article:

Ichiro Suzuki has never spoken directly to his manager about it, but Ichiro, a high-velocity pitcher in high school, longs to throw an inning in a big league game.

"He'd love to go in and get an inning," said Mariners manager Bob Melvin. "He's never said that to me, but if I was to ask for volunteers, he'd put both hands up."

So how does Melvin know Ichiro's secret desire?

"He has his ways of letting me know," Melvin said. "He'll throw curves from the outfield. Then he looks at me and nods his head."

If we threw curveballs from the outfield in baseball practice, the coaches made us run.

Just when you thought Tampa Bay was on the up-and-up, Vince Naimoli came along and spoiled everything. Chuck Lamar got a two-year extension today, with the article citing such facts as "(Lamar) has the fifth-longest tenure among Major League general managers" in attempting to justify the move. Quote Lamar:

"Continuity within any organization is how you build a championship team. And we have been fortunate to have a fine group of people who have been here since the beginning."

I wonder when it will dawn on him that maybe - just maybe - that the reason Tampa Bay has yet to become a championship team is a direct function of the team having had the same front office since its inception. But that's okay, because Lamar is a well-respected team official and Lou Piniella likes working with him, and comaraderie within the upper ranks of the organization is more important than success on the field...

From the same article: "Piniella received a gift of a crystal necklace and bracelet from Yomiuri manager Tsuneo Horiuchi before the game. Piniella gave Horiuchi a Rays jacket."

And finally, ESPN noted yesterday that Mariners scouts were on the prowl at the Cincinatti ST complex, adding to the Griffey speculation. If nothing else, this episode will serve to once-and-for-all either confirm or prove untrue the cliche "where there's smoke, there's fire."
Daniel Alfredsson = five-year deal.

Good times.
Oakland has lost Mark Ellis for the season with a torn labrum and separated shoulder (yes, both). Replacing his .248/.316/.371 offense shouldn't be difficult for Menechino/German/Scutaro, but replacing his defense *will*, so overall, Oakland just got a little weaker.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Ken Rosenthal mentions the Mariners as Mench suitors. He also mentions that we're looking at Adrian Gonzalez, but notes that we're reluctant to trade any young pitchers.

Here's my question:

What's the point of having interest in Kevin Mench and Adrian Gonzalez when you aren't willing to give Texas what they're looking for in return? Do you really think that interest will segue into serious negotiation?
Congratulations, Aaron Miles.
You want Griffey news?

I'll give you Griffey news.