Saturday, April 10, 2004

Oh, Mark Ellis is officially out for the year.

Hudson threw 86 pitches.
Guardado gives up an RBI single to Kotsay. 2-1 A's.

Good times™.
And Scutaro ties it up with an RBI double. Ichiro was a little too relaxed chasing that one down.

Meche's line:

6.2 IP
7 H
1 ER
2 BB
5 K

Also responsible for SKOOTER-oh on second; Eddie's getting his first action of the year to face Mark Kotsay.
1-0 lead, with no signs of us adding to that lead very soon.

I'm getting those bad vibes again.

And there's a bad play by Bloomquist that could be an error...
This team doesn't take pitches anymore.

What better way for an offense that won't get on base very often to score runs than swinging early in the count?
By the way, here's your box for Inland Empire's win yesterday. Beat Lake Elsinore 5-4. Notables:

Juan Gonzalez: 1-4 (still not notable)
Ismael Castro: 2-5
Matt Hagen: 0-3
Rene Rivera: 0-3
Michael Garciaparra: 2-4, 1 triple
Felix Hernandez: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K

That's right, King Felix had a very strong start in his first high-A game. Good news.
RBI single for Ibanez in the first. It's been a miserable four games, but Raul's hitting a healthy .333 so far. Good starts for him and Aurilia this year (defense not included).
Today's matchup:

Gil Meche vs. Tim Hudson

Prediction: 7-2 A's (Yesterday's prediction: 4-2 Oakland. Score wrong, outcome right, I'm 4-0).
I direct you to David's post...

With all the access to numbers we have, why doesn't anyone carry a breakdown of types of hits allowed by pitchers/teams? We're told hits allowed and homers allowed, but apparently no one cares about doubles and triples allowed. I'd love to see a breakdown of how many doubles and triples the M's opponents averaged per game last year. I have a feeling it would be about half of what they've allowed in the first four games this year.

Well, always on the cutting edge of new-age quantitative analysis, ESPN's player pages provide this information for our enjoyment. What follows is a chart of last year's breakdown of types of hits allowed for anyone who threw a pitch in a Mariner uniform:

Name Hits Singles Doubles Triples Homers Extra-base Hit%
Hasegawa 62 45 12 0 5 27.4
Soriano 30 20 8 0 2 33.3
Sweeney 7 7 0 0 0 0.0
Benitez 10 6 3 0 1 40.0
Mateo 69 46 9 0 14 33.3
Moyer 199 140 39 1 19 29.7
Nelson 34 29 2 0 3 14.7
Franklin 199 138 25 2 34 30.7
Pineiro 192 137 35 1 19 28.7
Sasaki 31 23 6 0 2 25.8
Rhodes 53 38 10 1 4 28.3
Garcia 196 126 37 2 31 35.7
Meche 187 127 25 5 30 32.1
Putz 4 2 2 0 0 50.0
Looper 7 6 0 0 1 14.3
Carrara 40 28 5 1 6 30.0
Taylor 17 14 2 1 0 17.7
White 3 1 0 0 2 66.7
TEAM 1340 933 220 14 173 30.4

What does this table show us?

  • 30.4% of hits allowed were for extra bases

  • Among relevant pitchers, Freddy Garcia gave up extra-base hits most often

  • Jeff Nelson allowed the fewest (or, if you prefer a non-reliever, Pineiro did)

  • 16.4% of all hits were doubles (1.37 per 9 IP)

  • 1% of all hits were triples (0.09 per 9 IP)

  • 12.9% of all hits were homers (1.08 per 9 IP)

These are the league averages for 2003:

  • 34.0% of hits for extra bases

  • 20.0% of hits were for doubles (1.83 per 9 IP)

  • 2.1% of hits were for triples (0.19 per 9 IP)

  • 11.8% of hits were for homers (1.08 per 9 IP)

Now compare that to our early results this year:

  • 46.9% of all hits have been for extra bases

  • 34.7% of all hits have been doubles (4.37 per 9 IP)

  • 12.2% of all hits have been homers (1.54 per 9 IP)

Our 2003 pitching staff held the oppositition to double and triple totals below the league average, but more of the hits allowed went for home runs (while the Mariners had a league-average HR/9).

In our first four games, we've allowed 238% last year's league average of doubles per nine innings.

Good times.
Update on the minor league results:

Here's the box for the Tacoma win. Nageotte gets the win, with Sherrill and Rose (?) finishing it off. Notables:

Clint Nageotte: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR
George Sherrill: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K (By the looks of things, Tacoma pulled Sherrill with two down in the ninth inning of a 13-4 game just to get Rose some action)
Jamal Strong: 4-6, 1 triple
Bucky Jacobsen: 2-4, 1 double, 1 home run, 1 BB
Hiram Bocachica: 1-6, 1 double
Ramon Santiago: 3-5, 1 double, 1 BB
Jose Lopez: 2-5, 1 home run

No Leone today.
Get your Official Fire Bavasi gear here!

No, I didn't set that up, but I'm going to make a purchase. Maybe a few.
Eight doubles for Oakland so far today. Good times.

Anyway, have I got news for you...

Jack Cust was designated for assignment by Baltimore today (here's your link). There's not a chance he goes through waivers unclaimed, so the Orioles have ten days to trade and trade him.

Here's what you need to know about Cust:

  • 25 year old left-handed ideal DH candidate (post-Edgar?)

  • .237 ISO (SLG - BA) in minors

  • Career .435 minor league OBP

  • Showed flashes of ML success last season (.260/.357/.521 in 83 PA's)

  • Walks a bunch

  • Strikes out a bunch more

  • Can't play defense

The last two points, of course, are the reasons Seattle won't show interest; Cameron was damn near despised for his strikeouts by the end of last season, and given how the Mariners are trying to build around pitching, defense, and contact hitting, Cust embodies all that Seattle considers evil.

What's his story, anyway? Why has someone with such impressive minor league numbers been ditched by Arizona, Colorado, and Baltimore? There's something there that we aren't seeing, and I'm guessing that it has something to do with his attitude. Perhaps Cust has shown indifference towards learning how to cut down on his strikeouts - this is all guesswork, remember - and that rubbed the teams the wrong way. Also, Josh Glassey (who you remember from this post) played with Cust in Arizona's system, and claims that Jack's a 'roider. Now, this doesn't make him a bad person - lots of players are doing it - but it suggests that his power could come down if he goes off the juice. However, take this with a grain of salt, because Glassey was a second-round draft pick who flamed out, and he has a history of acting bitter towards his peers who have realized greater success.

So why go after Cust? Well, the most obvious reason: he'd be great off the bench. A legitimate on base/power threat is something we sorely lack. He'd be fungible with Dave Hansen in the short-term, but that's not really a big problem when you consider the rest of our bench. Why else? He gives us an option for the post-Edgar era, something of which this organization is completely devoid. He's a left-handed power hitter who's probably as good as Raul Ibanez is right now, and would come for a fraction of the cost. He's just a flat-out *good hitter*. When they're available for pennies on the dollar, you collect them as fast as you can.

And he'll never be a Mariner.

Oh hey, the M's lost 8-6 tonight. Good going.

Friday, April 09, 2004

San Antonio lost to Midland 12-11. An 11-10 8th inning lead didn't hold up, and Midland won it in the 9th. Notables:

Shin Soo-Choo: 1-4, 1 homer, 1 BB
Greg Jacobs: 4-4, 2 doubles, 1 homer
Greg Dobbs: 2-5

Wisconsin lost to Clinton 3-2. Notables:

Adam Jones: 1-3, 1 double, 1 BB
Wladimir Balentien: 3-4, 2 doubles
Josh Womack: 0-1

Tacoma beat Tucson 13-4, but no box yet. The Rainiers scored eight runs in the last three innings, and also had a five-run fifth.

Why is Rafael Soriano's velocity hovering around 90? Much as I hate to say it, this guy needs a week or two in the minors to get himself ready for the season.
There's your tie ballgame.

This team is the Bad News Bears.

Did Randy Winn forget how to make catches??
Hey, look at that! We've got a lead, thanks to Rich Aurilia (who's had a great game).

Since when do we hit Chad Bradford?
Jolbert Cabrera's Mariner debut: line out.

Does anyone else see anything strange about having to pinch-hit for someone in your starting lineup in the sixth inning?

At least Olerud drove in a run. 4-2 bad guys.
And the Franklin extra-base hit circus has begun.

Five doubles for Oakland already, through 4+.
Heads-up baserunning by Bloomquist. He got a double off the wall, but Chavez muffed the ball so Willie took the extra base.

That's why he's on the roster: for hustling his way to third base after Eric Chavez makes an error on a Bloomquist double.

Whatever, I'll take it. Winn singles to tie the game at 1.
Is it Marco "Skoo-TAR-oh" or Marco "SKOOTER-oh"?

The latter sounds stupid.
Quinton "Death Spiral" McCracken's debut: groundout to the pitcher.

I sure am glad that we aren't using Jolbert Cabrera's subpar-yet-superior .281/.321/.411 line against lefties in this game. But McCracken is our fourth outfielder, and so when one of our OF's gets a day off we NEED to use him, right Bob? After all, isn't that what "fourth outfielder" means??

On a different topic, Wee Willie made a strong defensive play on Damian Miller. On a ground ball. With Franklin pitching. Weird night.
We've got our first Quinton McCracken sighting of the year!

In for Raul Ibanez, batting 8th.
Today's matchup:

Ryan Franklin vs. Mark Redman

Prediction: 4-2 Oakland (Yesterday's prediction: 6-3 Anaheim. Score wrong, outcome right, I'm 3-0).

Eric Chavez is why we need a better left-handed reliever.
Justin Leone went 0-6 in yesterday's Tacoma loss. However, Luis Ugueto had two doubles and three hits total, so I'm going to assume that this was a freak occurrence.

Tucson tried to hand the game to the Rainiers by committing an incredible six errors; three by third baseman Chad Tracy, two by hot prospect Scott Hairston, and one by Alan Zinter (Jose Lopez managed to boot one at third as well, along with going 1-5 with a walk). Jamal Strong went 3-4 from the leadoff spot - all singles - while Ramon Santiago was 0-2 with two walks. Madritsch was unspectacular, and among the relievers, only JJ Putz is really worth keeping an eye on (rough outing in two innings, although he did strike out four batters).

San Antonio lost to Midland, 9-8. Notables:

Troy Cate: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HR
Shin Soo-Choo: 1-3, 1 double, 2 BB
Greg Dobbs: 2-4, 1 BB
Greg Jacobs: 2-3, 1 double, 1 homer, 1 BB

Inland Empire lost to Lake Elsinore 1-0. Notables:

Bobby Livingston: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 K
Ismael Castro: 1-4, 1 double
Matt Hagen: 1-2, 1 double, 1 BB
Rene Rivera: 0-3
Michael Garciaparra: 0-2, 1 BB
Juan Gonzalez: 1-4 (Okay, he's really not a "notable", but he's our only hope of salvaging the Guillen trade.)

Wisconsin lost to Clinton 5-1. Notables:

Josh Womack: 1-4
Adam Jones: 1-3, 1 BB
Wladimir Balentien: 1-4 (two strikeouts, of course)
Thomas Oldham: 4 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 7 K

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Tacoma's winning 6-4 after seven tonight. Bucky Jacobsen has a three-run homer. Bobby Madritsch got the start.
I just watched Johnny Damon nail Melvin Mora at the plate to preserve a 2-2 tie in the tenth inning, so I have renewed confidence in Randy Winn's noodle arm.


What did we learn today?

The offense can disappear just as quickly as it shows up. Sounds obvious, doesn't it? Sure it does. Still, this is a team that managed a double, a single, and a double consecutively in the first inning (and no runs scored. Go figure), and then couldn't scratch and claw its way to more than four singles the rest of the way. I'm not sure how you can see the ball so well one inning and not at all in the rest, but if there's a way, we've found it out.

Bob Melvin has no problem with using a "closer by committe", if you will; bringing in Mike Myers to face GA in the ninth (a decision with an outcome for which I do not blame Melvin) shows that if Guardado goes down again during the year, we'll be playing for matchups in the later innings, rather than labeling a particular individual as the backup closer. Of course, he predictably brought in Hasegawa, for better or worse, but it's a step in the right direction. Now if only we had a real good lefty setup Arty Rhodes...

Freddy Garcia will have at least one quality start this year. His changeup was in rare form, dropping and shifting just when the hitter thought he had it lined up. Was there really something to that eardrum problem? Too soon to tell. What we do know, however, is that Old Garcia still exists, somewhere within that body of his, and that will be critical as we reach the summer months. He was about to collapse in the second inning, but unlike the Garcia of 2003, he got out of the jam just as quickly as he got into it. I couldn't believe it.

Ben Davis checked out a while ago and rented out his body to the spirit of Scott Bradley. He blocked a few pitches and apparently called a good game, but he muffed a throw to first base and struck out all three times he hit. He is not helping his case at all and could easily find himself out of a job in Seattle if he keeps this up for another few weeks - if he plays again. I couldn't blame Melvin for playing Wilson for seven straight games, because there's no reason to go with Davis right now.

John Olerud's bat is slower than Christmas. Or something really slow, anyway. So is Tim Salmon's, but you wouldn't know that from his ninth-inning at bat against Hasegawa.

Troy Glaus, barring injury, is ready to have another 2000. He might not walk 112 times again but he looks like he could approach that .604 SLG.

And this from the NESN broadcast of Red Sox - Orioles:

The "Or-ee-oles - OHHHHHHoh" will quickly replace Atlanta's FSU rip-off Tomahawk Chop as the most annoying sound effect at Major League ballparks.
Last thing I'll post for a little while:

Expect to see a lot of poor performances, much like this one, for Hasegawa this year.
What a disaster. Thank goodness for hockey.
And a balk brings in a run.

Good going.

Time to turn on the Ottawa/Toronto game.
Thanks, Hasegawa.


Looking like it.
People will jump on Melvin for bringing in Myers to face GA to lead off the ninth, but I think it was, at the very least, a defensible decision. Myers and Hasegawa have nearly identical three-year splits against lefties, and they haven't exactly been playing in the same kind of ballpark. Would I have made the same move? Probably not, but it was still a tough decision.

It didn't work out, but oh well. Now it's up to Shigetoshi.
Boston claimed John Stephens off waivers from Baltimore today.

I'm disappointed. Stephens has always had good peripherals despite underwhelming velocity (to put it euphemistically), even in the high minors, and deserves a chance in an ML rotation that he's not going to get as a Red Sox. Still, good move by Boston, and a bad one by the Beatagan duo in Baltimore.
Freddy Garcia, working on a four-hit shutout, was replaced by Julio Mateo in the eighth inning despite having thrown just 96 pitches.

Um, let's hope this works.
Ichiro's at bats this year:

  • Single on second pitch

  • Ground-out on sixth pitch

  • Ground-out on second pitch

  • Walk on ninth pitch

  • Strikeout on fourth pitch

  • Single on fourth pitch

  • Ground-out on fourth pitch

  • Line-out on second pitch

  • Ground-out on second pitch

  • Strikeout on eighth pitch

  • Ground-out on eighth pitch

  • Ground-out on first pitch

52 pitches in 12 plate appearances; 4.33 per. Not bad, and a definite improvement. He's also waiting on an average of 1.83 pitches per PA before taking a hack, which looks good.
When you can't throw the ball 90 feet to first, you don't belong in the Major Leagues. Ben Davis, either shape up or get out.

Also, what happened to the Freddy Garcia who used to succumb to such threats as second and third with none out?
I'll point you to David's post on Adam Jones...

Adam Jones is good friends with Josh Glassey, one of my high school baseball coaches at Francis Parker, and we played against Morse (Jones' school) last spring. Scouts were all over the place - probably the only people who actually paid attention to the game - but the most impressive player that day was Jeff Goodall, who wound up going to Pepperdine. Jones pitched a little and played short a little, and we wound up losing 3-0, but Morse is a Division 1 school, and Parker barely has 400 students. Needless to say, it was a lot closer than we imagined. Anyway...

From what I saw and from what Glassey has told me, Jones has a very strong arm. He has surprisingly fluid mechanics for someone his age and gets good movement on his pitches as a result of how he whips his arm when he's throwing. Not surprisingly, he makes good, strong throws from short (although he's been known to throw the occasional slider by accident), and as a terrific athlete he's going to develop into an excellent defensive infielder. He has a tremendous work ethic, and he spends a lot of his time outside of practice with instructors, looking to get better.

What he doesn't have is much of a bat. He makes contact often and doesn't strike out much, but a bunch of hits hits came as a function of his speed, beating out infield grounders. He's eager to hit and doesn't have very much patience, and his power is about what you expect from a middle infielder fresh out of high school. In a word, Jones is raw. Very, very raw, and he's a ways away from becoming an impact player at the major league level. There's been talk about shifting him to third base as his body fills out, but I don't think he's ever going to hit well enough to justify such a decision. But then, the Mariners have been playing Lopez at the hot corner, and he's about as good a hitter as Jones can hope to become within the next few years, so stay tuned...

We've got a dearth of position player prospects, so it's not surprising that the Mariners are trying to hype Jones as better than he really is. Because of the condition of our farm system, Jones will be given every opportunity to succeed, and might very well be rushed to the high minors, but I'm not very high on his chances of becoming a useful player down the road. Not with the bat, anyway.
According to David, Vince Faison's experiencing pain when he throws, rendering his arm virtually useless. I wonder if we can send Randy Winn to rehab with him.

Anyhoo, today - quite similar to yesterday - sucked. We were trailing 5-0 before you remembered the 7:05 start time and Pineiro's outing only got worse, eventually being yanked after 13 baserunners, two homers, and eight runs in four innings. A previously lackluster offense halved the deficit in the bottom half of the inning, but Bob Melvin still unwittingly went with Jarvis in the fifth. Admittedly, things could have gone much worse, but pitching Kevin Jarvis in any game in which the score is closer than 345728349652 to zero may generally be considered a bad move, and Melvin got lucky this time. We continue battling and manage to bring it to 9-7 with three innings left, thanks in part to Dan Wilson, who succeeded despite my heckling being in tip-top shape (as I shouted at my computer), but the 10th Anaheim run was a backbreaker. High school teams spend hours upon hours going over how to handle a rundown, but this team hasn't really got a good grasp on the fundamentals. Between Soriano dropping the ball there, Aurilia dropping it earlier, and Randy Winn stealing third base with none out trailing by eight, it appears as if there is still a lot for this team to learn. That's not really something you like to hear about a veteran-laden franchise.

A few things:

We knew the defense was going to be worse this year, but I never really entertained the thought that it would be this bad, this soon. Certain things aren't going to become problematic habits (Aurilia's trick glove, for one), but others look like they'll be worse than we imagined. I mean, c'mon, Ibanez has looked terrible in left field in these first two games.

Jose Molina eventually remembered that he's Jose Molina and struck out twice after doubling. This bodes well for tomorrow.

Bob Melvin has spent the winter learning how to both under- and over-manage at the same time. I think it's time somebody buys him some tinkertoys to keep him occupied in the dugout, because right now it's like he thinks the game is one gigantic Rubik's cube, where you just have to keep trying different combinations of moves until something works.

Bad things happen when Joel Pineiro's early-inning struggles meet up with Vladimir Guerrero's perpetual thunderstick.

The offense is showing signs of pop. Not the kind that winds up bashing 200 home runs, but the kind that smacks a couple doubles a game. Randy Winn had a pair of them, and Aurilia hit his second in as many games. While his defense has gotten off to a rocky start, Aurilia's hit well, and I think he'll have a moderately productive year.

Edgar and Boone can still hit.

John Olerud cannot.

It's been two days, and already Dave Hansen appears to be Melvin's top choice off the bench. So far he's been inserted for Willie Bloomquist both times, against the likes of Ben Weber and Scot Shields. He's also played a few innings at third base (which you expect from players who replace Willie Bloomquist), which makes you realize that the ability to adequately field a certain position is of no consequence to our manager. This also calls into question the demotion of Justin Leone, which reportedly had a little something to do with "iffy defense". Something doesn't add up.

Oh well. Another loss, but tomorrow's a new day. However, tomorrow's also the first day of the Ottawa/Toronto World War IV, so I imagine I'll miss part of the ninth.

Tomorrow's game: Kelvim Escobar vs. Freddy Garcia.

Prediction: 6-3 Angels. (Prediction for earlier game: 7-5 Anaheim. Score wrong, but outcome right, so I'm 2-0 on the easier forecast.)
It's becoming painfully clear that, somewhere along the lines, John Olerud turned into Scott Hatteberg.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

There is something seriously wrong with our scorekeepers.

What does it take for something to be considered an error these days?
9-7, top seven, all the momentum in our favor, Jarvis still pitching:

Update: he was just in to retire the Jose Molina powderkeg, who is only slugging .667 today. In comes Mike Myers in the second stage of Melvin's bullpen circus.
Down 8-0 and bringing in Jarvis: fine. That's why we have him.

Down 8-4, with a shred of momentum, and bringing in Jarvis: noodle-scratcher.
It's Jose FREAKING Molina, for God's sake!

After watching Troy Glaus steal a base, I've come to the conclusion that our catchers are terrible.

5-0, third inning. Losing is one thing, but falling behind convincingly in consecutive games? Ouch.
Smart move by Tampa Bay: Aubrey Huff's returning to third base (for the time being).

A lot of us have been waiting for this to happen for a while.
Joe Mauer needs knee surgery for torn cartilage, and will miss a few weeks.

That can't be a good thing for such a young catcher...
Tonight's game:

Jarrod Washburn vs. Joel Pineiro

Prediction: 7-5 Angels. Anaheim comes out strong, and the Mariners are forced to play catch-up again.

(Yesterday's prediction was 9-7 Angels. Score wrong, outcome right. 1-0 on the year.)
And this is why I love Gareth Owen. What better way to find out about Punch and Judy shows than to learn from a Briton?

Yes its a children's puppet show as you now know.

I'd imagine the link with baseball, and slap-happy offense in particular, is that our "hero", Mr Punch carries a big stick, which he has a prediliction for hitting the other characters, Toby the Dog, the Crocodile and, most frequently, his long-suffering, spousally-abused wife, Judy (usually while shouting his catchphrase "Thats the way to do it".)

Sounds like Punch makes a great role model for young children watching these plays.

Of course, David already got his answer, but even so. Neat.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Arthur Lee Rhodes:

Two nights, two innings, no runs, two saves.
One of the weirder things I've seen recently:

It's just four innings, but Chan Ho Park looks good for Texas, spending a lot of time in the low-90s with movement. Two hits, a walk, and five strikeouts so far.

Of course, he's pitching against Oakland, which helps, and could be due for one of those trademark CHP collapses with which Rangers fans have become all too familiar in the last few years. Still, he looks good early, and Opening Day's all about positive thoughts, right?

Update: meltdown-alicious! Kielty triples, Chavez singles, and Dye homers. Goodbye lead, and goodbye Texas optimism.
Well, that was a disappointing (albeit slightly predictable) start to the year. Inconsistent defense + pitcher who doesn't record strikeouts = Bonzai!

Rich Aurilia didn't get off to a good start (poor play on a single in the first, followed by an error). Raul Ibanez did (first-inning double). Jamie made Vlad Guerrero look foolish, but also succumbed to the animate powderkeg that is Troy Glaus. On the plus side, it's baseball - meaningful baseball - but on the downside, Melvin's still playing his little managerial games with the bullpen, and we got our first taste of Kevin Jarvis way too early in the year.

Your Mariners Player of the Game goes to Willie Bloomquist (who thought that would be the case??), who drove in Seattle's first run of the ball game and made a few good plays at third base. Ideally, Melvin would be able to pat him on the butt, give him a "hey, atta boy, good job out there kid" and sit him on the bench for the rest of the year, but these aren't good times, and we're going to need more big games from Wee Willie if we hope to contend...

The Angels defense isn't very good. I believed the hype that Garret Anderson would be able to take over in center field, but he should've caught Bloomquist's hit, and he was questionable on a few other plays. The Colon/Eckstein play? Well, normally you like your pitcher to have an idea of who he's throwing you; that's a play that has to be made.

Jose Molina = machine. Against us, anyway. Hit a homer and a double, and pegged a consciously mobile Dan Wilson at second (which is another matter entirely...). Like with Bloomquist, now is when Scioscia should congratulate Molina#2 on a good game and sit him down, but unlike with Bloomquist, Scioscia actually has that option.

Dan Wilson's at bat in the eighth inning is exactly why this team could use a good bat off the bench. Sure, it was still a five-run game with only two on and two out, but a double turns it into a save situation, and you've got the top of the lineup due in the ninth. Hopefully all the soccer moms went home happy, knowing that they got to see Gentle Dan get some action, and even get on base a few times (once not by choice).

Troy Glaus had laser eye surgery over the winter. Think it helped? Early indications are that yes, it most certainly did.

Finally, I'd like to share what might be the funniest thing I'll read all year:

"One day, the ball will actually throw Eckstein to first."

Rough day, but it's still baseball season. The Yankees are losing, Kaz Matsui is hitting, and things are all right.
To answer David's question, the term "Punch and Judy" has its origins in classic British puppet shows. Unsurprisingly, "pleased as Punch" has the same origin. What it has to do with baseball, I have no idea.
Jose Molina has been hiding his power for his entire 3000-plate appearance career, in anticipation of one day lulling Jamie Moyer into a false sense of security. Well, that day is today, as his first two AB's resulted in a home run and a flyball to the track in center.
Update on Spiezio: after visiting five doctors, the consensus seems to be soft tissue damage around the spinal cord from which it will take weeks, not months, to recover. Surgery is not currently in the forecast.

Secondly, it appears as if I completely mauled the lineups in yesterday's behemoth post. Well, hopefully that means that none of what I said will happen.

Here's to you, 2004. May you balance out the overwhelming pessimism of the last five months with a delightful bounty of walk-off...stolen bases...and Randy Winn assists at home plate.
Does anyone else find it ironic that Bavasi Stinks thinks the M's will win more games than any other blog?
With Luis Ugueto, Jose Lopez, Mickey Lopez, and Ramon Santiago all crowding the AAA middle infield this year, just how much playing time is our favorite third baseman going to get?

Good news!

Spiezio's back injury is much worse than they though. He's looking at a lot of time on the DL, and possibly surgery.

If you're not yet familiar with Wee Willie Bloomquist, you sure will be by June!

Monday, April 05, 2004

Terry Mulholland declined to become a free agent, accepting a demotion to the minor leagues. However, other teams are looking at him, and the Mariners are more than willing to let him go somewhere else.
After hearing that Eddie Guardado is going to miss the Anaheim series with shoulder stiffness (which, by the way, he is), I thought to myself, "what else could go wrong this year?" The offseason was, shall we say, sordid, and just when I thought the arrival of Opening Day would displace my pessimism in favor of jovial excitement, it got worse. Our only legitimate improvement from the winter - Sandfrog - hurt his back and is headed for the DL. Spiezio, being decidedly post-prime and playing out of position, could have himself a lingering problem, but at least that means that Justin Leone will get some playing ti-WAIT! No, what's this? Wee Willie Bloomquist to the rescue! That's right, rather than give Spiezio's job to 2003's Mariners Minor League Player of the Year, who was also 2003's Texas League Player of the Year, and leaving Bloomquist in his normal role, we decided to give Dueling Banjo #2 the hot corner. So, then, what do you do about Bloomquist's *old* job as the ultra-sub? Well, you hand that to Ee-rahm Bocachica, who played his ass off in spring trai-WAIT! No, what's this? We traded for a Bloomquist clone! He has experience and the super-awesome-100% ability to play center field! Well, now I can't contain my excitement. It's a good thing we ditched Li'l Looper and the deaf kid; those guys were creeping me out.

So, now what?

Oh yeah, our closer's hurt and we haven't even played a game yet.

Well, my friends, it may be darkest before dawn, but I'm afraid sunrise is still a long ways away. I took a gander into the future and believe you me, it's only going to get a whole hell of a lot worse. Without further ado, I give you April 6th, 2004, 2:05 PM local time, Safeco Field.

First pitch of the 2004 season, Jamie Moyer to David Eckstein.

Strike, looking. Changeup right over the middle of the plate.

Second pitch of the 2004 season, Jamie Moyer to David Eckstein

A weak chopper hit down the third-base line is fielded well by a lightning-fast Willie Bloomquist, who fires the ball a little high and wide to first. Olerud manages to snag it for the out, but he grimaces as the ball hits the mitt, and gingerly rubs the small of his back after returning the ball to Moyer. Top first, one out, none on.

Top first, one out, two on, Jamie Moyer to Vladimir Guerrero

Guerrero goes after the first pitch and pops it up to shallow center. Randy Winn gets a late jump on the ball, but he manages a terrific sliding catch for the second out. He catches Erstad breaking for home out of the corner of his eye, but his throw one-hops Aurilia, and the Angels take a 1-0 lead on the sacrifice fly.

Between innings, Melvin to Moyer

“Hey, atta boy, Jamie. Good job limiting the damage. We’ll get ‘em here and give you a lead. How do you feel?”

”Good, skip.”

Bottom first, two out, none on, Bartolo Colon to Bret Boone

Boone strikes out on a high fastball, ending the inning.

Top second, none out, Jamie Moyer to Troy Glaus

Belt-high changeup gets driven a mile into deep center. Winn turns around in time to see the ball landing about thirty feet behind the wall. 2-0 Angels.

Between innings, Melvin to Moyer

“Hey, atta boy, Jamie. Kid’s got a dandy swing, it’s no problem. We’ll get ‘em here and give you a lead. How do you feel?”

“Good, skip.”

Bottom second, one out, none on, Bartolo Colon to Raul Ibanez

Ibanez drives a fastball on the outer part of the plate straight to second base, where Adam Kennedy makes an amazing catch diving to his left. Murmurs of “Gosh!” “GEE WHIZ!!!” and “Holy cow!” emanate from the Mariners’ dugout. Melvin congratulates Ibanez on his solid contact and pats Winn on the butt as he strides to the plate.

Bottom second, two out, none on, Bartolo Colon to John Olerud

Olerud strikes out on a high fastball, ending the inning.

Top fifth, one out, two on, Dan Wilson holds mound conference with Jamie Moyer

“Hey, atta boy, Jamie, way to make them put the bat on the ball. This kid Erstad’s got a nice swing, so keep it where he can’t hit it.”

Top fifth, one out, two on, Jamie Moyer to Darin Erstad

Erstad lines a low changeup into the left-center gap. Ibanez gets a good jump but the ball drops just behind him. Winn cuts him off and hits the relay man, but both Kennedy and Eckstein cross the plate before Aurilia’s able to turn around. 4-0 Angels.

Between innings, Bob Melvin to Jamie Moyer

“Hey, atta boy, Jamie, you were pitching with confidence out there. How are you feeling?”

“Good, skip.”

”All right. You got another one in you?”

”Sure thing, skip.”

Bottom fifth, three on, none out, Bartolo Colon to Rich Aurilia

Aurilia chases a high fastball and pops it up into foul territory. Troy Glaus gives chase, leans into the seats, and manages to pull the ball back with him. One out.

Bob Melvin, to himself

“Kid’s got a nice glove.”

Bottom fifth, three on, one out, Bartolo Colon to Willie Bloomquist

A first-pitch low fastball is put on the ground between first and second, sneaking underneath Kennedy’s glove! Vladimir Guerrero rushes in to retrieve the ball, but his throw doesn’t reach Molina in time, and two Mariners cross the plate. 4-2 Angels. The guys in the dugout lineup to congratulate Ibanez and Edgar on their runs scored. A misplaced butt-slap hits Edgar in the hip, causing him to stumble down the lowest step. Edgar grimaces and signals for the trainer to come rub his hamstring.

Bottom fifth, two on, one out, Bartolo Colon to Dan Wilson

A sharp ground ball is hit to Eckstein’s left. He picks it and flips it to Kennedy, who leaps and fires the ball to Erstad to complete the double play.

Between innings, Bob Melvin to Willie Bloomquist

“Hey, atta boy, almost broke up the DP there. Kennedy didn’t even see you coming. You feeling good?”


Top sixth, two out, one on, Jamie Moyer to Ben Molina

A mid-high changeup is popped into the seats near third base. Willie Bloomquist scrambles over to the edge of the field, climbs over the railing, and leaps over three rows of fans in an effort to make the catch. The ball pops out of his glove, though, and rolls to the floor. Bloomquist picks it up, signs it, and hands it to a young orphan.

Bottom sixth, none out, none on, Bartolo Colon to Ichiro

First pitch: ball, low.

Bottom sixth, none out, none on, Bartolo Colon to Ichiro

Second pitch: strike, down the middle.

Bottom sixth, none out, none on, Bartolo Colon to Ichiro

Third pitch: strike, down the middle.

Bottom sixth, none out, none on, Bartolo Colon to Ichiro

Fourth pitch: strike, down the middle.

Dugout, Bob Melvin to Ichiro

”When we were talking about learning patience, kid, you can still swing the bat! We appreciate the effort, though. Way to use your eye!”


Bottom sixth, one out, one on, Bartolo Colon to Edgar Martinez

A belt-high fastball is sent screaming into the left field seats! 4-4! Edgar drops his bat as he begins to round the bases, but the air particles put in motion by the falling lumber disrupt the myosin and actin fiber interactions in his lower leg. Edgar signals for the trainer to come rub his hamstring.

Between innings, Melvin to bullpen

“All right, guys, I’m going with Myers this inning. My decision reflects my newfound aggressiveness and thirst for risk. Eckstein, Erstad, and GA are 1-13 in their careers against Mike, so he’s definitely the guy here.”

Top seventh, none out, none on, Mike Myers to David Eckstein

A first-pitch slider is hammered into the right field seats, giving Anaheim a 5-4 lead.

Top seventh, one out, none on, Mike Myers to Garret Anderson

A two-strike fastball paints the corner, and Myers records his second straight strikeout against a lefty.

Between innings/seventh inning stretch, Bob Melvin to Mike Myers

“Atta boy, kid. You really showed some resilience out there, not getting down after the hit. How’s the arm?”

“Good, skip.”

Bottom seventh, none out, one on, Melvin talks strategy with Bloomquist

“All right, kid, I want you to hit this one to the right side and move Rich around. Throw your hands at the ball, right? Throw your hands at the ball.”


Bottom seventh, none out, one on, Bartolo Colon to Willie Bloomquist

Bloomquist pulls an outside curveball down the third base line, and Troy Glaus makes a full charge for the ball. He collides with Colon, however, and Bloomquist is safe at first. Aurilia advances to third on the play.

Bottom seventh, none out, two on, Ben Weber to Dan Wilson

A first-pitch sinker is drilled into the ground. Molina throws to Kennedy for one, who gets it to Erstad for a double play. Aurilia holds at third. Wilson limps back to the dugout, rubbing his left leg.

Bottom seventh, Bob Melvin to Dan Wilson

“Hey, atta boy, kid, way to make contact with the ball. How’s your leg?”

“Not so good, skip, but I think I can keep going.”

“Good, I don’t want to have to bring in a replacement this early, not for my starting catcher.” Melvin casts a sinister glare at the distant end of the dugout, where a large padlocked box with airholes sits on top of the bench.

Bottom seventh, two out, one on, Ben Weber to Ichiro

A first-pitch fastball is hit on the screws. Weber flinches, but doesn’t reach the ball; it ricochets off his leg and rolls towards the visitors’ dugout. Aurilia scores; 5-5!

Top eighth, two out, none on, Rafael Soriano to Chone Figgins

A fastball on the inner part of the plate catches Figgins by surprise. Nine pitches, three strikeouts.

Between innings

Willie Bloomquist takes a can of Jolt out of his cleats, chugs it, and smashes the can against his forehead.

Bottom eighth, none out, none on, Francisco Rodriguez to Bret Boone

Boone chases a two-strike high fastball, but manages to get a piece of it, fouling it straight back. The next pitch is about two inches lower, which enables Boone to get all of it, launching the ball 450 feet to straightaway center. Darin Erstad, who had been playing slightly off first base, took off on a full sprint, in hot pursuit of the flyball. But his efforts, including standing on Garret Anderson’s shoulders with glove outstretched, proved futile. 6-5 Mariners!

Bottom eighth, none out, none on, Francisco Rodriguez to Edgar Martinez

Edgar watches a low fastball blaze by at 98 miles per hour. Molina returns the ball to Rodriguez, but as he’s following through his arm comes in contact with Edgar’s leg. Edgar falls to the ground and signals for the training to come rub his hamstring.

Bottom eighth, none out, one on, Francisco Rodriguez to Raul Ibanez

Raul swings at a fastball and pops it into shallow center. Thinking that it’s going to drop, Edgar takes off for second base, his speed hindered by the trainer still rubbing his hamstring. But wait, the ball gets by Anderson! Ibanez is off to the races! Unfortunately, he passes Edgar on the basepaths.

Between innings, Melvin to bullpen

“All right, this is what we’re paying you for, Eddie.”

“I’m not Eddie.”

“Well, put Eddie on the phone.”

”Eddie’s hurt, skip.”

”What? When did this happen?? Then put in that kid who we used last year. The bald one.”

Top ninth, none out, none on, Shigetoshi Hasegawa to Ben Molina

A first-pitch sinker is fouled off. Hasegawa grimaces after the pitch. The trainer comes out, and Hasegawa indicates that his index finger is hurting. The trainer rubs his hamstring and returns to the dugout.

Top ninth, none out, none on, Shigetoshi Hasegawa to Ben Molina

His sinkerball now unavailable, Hasegawa leaves an 88mph fastball over the inner half of the plate. Molina sends a ball rocketing towards left field, where it gets over Ibanez’ head for a double.

Top ninth, none out, one on, Shigetoshi Hasegawa to Adam Kennedy

Hasegawa leaves an 89mph fastball over the middle of the plate, and Kennedy drives it to left field, where it gets over Ibanez’ head for a double. Molina scores, tying the game at 6.

Top ninth, none out, one on, Shigetoshi Hasegawa to David Ecktsein

Hasegawa leaves an 86mph fastball over the outer part of the plate, and Eckstein drills it deep to left. It sails over Ibanez’ head and lands for a double. Kennedy scores, giving the Angels a one-run lead.

Wilson calls a conference at the mound

“Hey, don’t worry about it, Shiggy, they’re just hitting it where we aren’t.”


“Willie, why don’t you go ask skip about playing left field?”

”I’M ON IT!!!”

Dugout conference


“Good idea. Where’s that new kid? Jolby, you’re at third.”

Top ninth, none out, one on, Shigetoshi Hasegawa to Darin Erstad

A hotshot grounder is sent to third, where Jobert Cabrera muffs it. Eckstein advances to third, and Erstad is safe at first.

The Angels would go on to add two more runs in the inning, taking a 9-6 lead into the bottom of the ninth.

Between innings, Bob Melvin to Willie Bloomquist

“Hey, atta boy with the defense. Now you’re facing a guy who can get it up there, so I want you to wait him out, see what he’s throwing you, then try to pop it to left field.”


Bottom ninth, none out, none on, Troy Percival to Willie Bloomquist

A first-pitch slider was tapped down the first base line. Darin Erstad takes a step to retrieve the ball, then steps on first for the out.

Bob Melvin to Dan Wilson

“Hey, this guy’s had good success against you in your career. How’re you feeling?”

“I really hurt, skip. I think I need a pinch-hitter.”

“All right, but I didn’t want it to come to this…go unlock that box down there, Jolbert. He’s gotta hit sometime, I guess.”

Bottom ninth, one out, none on, Troy Percival to Ben Davis

A fastball over the outer half of the plate gets nailed, deep to left field! Nothing Figgins can do; it’s outta here! 9-7 Angels.

Bob Melvin, to Davis

“I told you to go out there and try to work the count, and you disobey my orders? Are you trying to reduce your playing time?”

“I hit a home run, coach.”

“Home runs don’t start rallies! Get back in the box.”

Bottom ninth, two out, one on, Troy Percival to Bret Boone

After an Ichiro single and a Winn groundout, it all comes down to Boone. After taking two strikes, he chases a high fastball, but fans on it. Game over, Angels win it 9-7.

Opening Day is less than a day away. Hey now, get all of it!
Highly recommended reading:

Page 2 predictions!

April 6 -- The Tigers' Ugueth Urbina tallies his first save in a 7-4 win over the Blue Jays. To comply with new federal decency standards, broadcasters for both teams cut away from the action as Urbina and catcher Pudge Rodriguez approach one another to celebrate.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Congratulations to the Seattle Mariners, your 2004 Cactus League champions.

And no, that's not a good thing.
It came to my attention yesterday that Milton Bradley has a blog.

Surprisingly, it hasn't been updated since March 11th.
Update on Guardado: team officials says that he just slept on his shoulder wrong, and that he isn't injured.
Pedro hit David Segui after allowing a home run and a single.

And now he just went inside to Larry Bigbie.

Looks like another year of "Pedro = headhunter" accusations...

I love baseball season.
First pitch of the non-Yankees year:

Strike looking.

NOW it's baseball season.
Eddie Guardado hurt himself throwing warmup pitches today and was pulled from the game. He pointed to his left shoulder when the trainer came out.

This is bad.
Well Milton Bradley's officially been traded, to the Dodgers for Franklin Gutierrez and a PTBNL (reportedly an athletic OF prospect).

While I'm not sure why the Indians need another young outfielder or two, they got good value in return for Bradley. This isn't a price that I would have tried to match.
Hey, these "Take Five With..." articles are pretty useful, in that they determine who'll wind up the next unfortunate castoff. Justin Leone was left off the roster for praising Alex Rodriguez' swing, and we can't have that kind of respect for backstabbers here in Mariner country. Well, Aaron Looper didn't really do much to secure his job security with the Seattle organization in *his* Take Five, either:

What was the craziest thing you ever did when you were courting your wife?

I bought her a gun for Christmas. That was probably the thing that shocked her the most. My friends led her on to believe she was getting an engagement ring, and I don't think she was too happy when she opened it up and it was a .38 special. I was leaving, and I just wanted her to be safe.

Looper's a funny guy (see #4), but we can't have guys touting the merits of firearm possession on this team, no sir. Giving your future spouse a pistol when she's expecting an engagement ring is just a little too radical for the guys upstairs, and so Looper just had to go.

On the other hand, JJ Putz' Mariner future looks bright.

Besides your wife, who's the most beautiful woman in the world?

My mother.

Doesn't that just have the sound of something the throwbacks in the front office would appreciate? That's the kind of thing that will get you noticed in this organization. In a good way, I mean. Not the kind of way stealing candy gets you noticed.
J has a little more to say about Ketchner. Give it a read.
Two more things:

First of all, after the Padres beat us in Safeco's debut (thanks a lot, Jose Mesa), it's nice to return the favor, however meaningless the game.

Secondly, Woody Woodward vs. Bill Bavasi? It's a tie!
Santiago and Mulholland were left off the roster today. Congratulations Mike Myers, and too bad for Santiago; Jolbert Cabrera rendered you redundant.

Wait, but isn't Cabrera already redundant with Bloomquist...who's redundant with Bocachica...I...forget it...