Saturday, April 24, 2004

Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma beat Edmonton 10-5, with a six-run fourth leading the way. That six-run inning was the biggest of the year for the Rainiers. Randy Williams got the win (1-0), and JJ Putz picked up his third save. Notables:

Bobby Madritsch: 4.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 10 K, 1 HR
George Sherrill: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 3 K
JJ Putz: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K
Justin Leone: 2-5, 1 triple (.250/.291/.596)
Jose Lopez: 2-4, 1 homer
Ramon Santiago: 1-4, 1 triple
Bucky Jacobsen: 0-3, 1 BB

San Antonio defeated El Paso, 3-2. Troy Cate got his first victory of the year (1-0), and Jared Hoerman picked up his sixth save. Notables:

Troy Cate: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Dustin Delucchi: 3-3, 1 homer, 1 BB
Shin Soo-Choo: 0-3, 1 BB
Greg Dobbs: 2-3, 1 homer
Greg Jacobs: 0-4

Inland Empire beat Lancaster in 10 innings, 9-8. Greg Wear got the win (1-1) with two shutout innings out of the bullpen, as the 66ers survived four errors, including two from Michael Garciaparra. Notables:

Melvin Pizarro: 2 IP, 1 K
Juan Gonzalez: 2-3
Ismael Castro: 3-4, 1 double, 1 homer
Rene Rivera: 0-4
Matt Hagen: 1-4, 1 BB
Michael Garciaparra: 1-4, 1 BB (2 errors)

Wisconsin fell to Beloit, 6-3. Brandon Perry got his third loss of the year in relief of Eric O`Flaherty, allowing four runs in 2.1 innings. Notables:

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

Nageotte pitches against Edmonton tomorrow.
I was listening to part of the Tacoma broadcast tonight (available here), and Julius Matos - on Edmonton - managed to accidentally throw his bat into the seats on three separate occasions tonight.



Scoring 16 runs in five games against the Texas Rangers is a pretty lousy way to win ballgames. Joaquin Benoit is the latest Texas starter to keep our offense under wraps, joining Chan Ho Park, Colby Lewis, and last week's Ryan Drese. Benoit wasn't pitching with pinpoint control tonight, but we only drew one walk, which isn't showing good patience against an inconsistent pitcher. This lineup needs-...


This lineup needs Raul Ibanez.

At least, the red-hot Ibanez who has nine hits and four homers in his last six games. Quinton McCracken has had nine at bats this year, and I've dreaded each one.

The good news from tonight is that Fredddy Garcia had another strong start, throwing seven shutout innings before succumbing to fatigue in the eighth. He's been very sharp in three of his four games this year, and was tonight the kind of Garcia that we need to show up through the summer. One of the more curious things I've read since the eighth inning tonight was people claiming that Bob Melvin made a bad decision in removing Garcia from the game in favor of Julio Mateo. Mateo, as you know, has been one of our few reliable pitchers so far, and for his career has allowed just 14 of 44 inherited runners to score. However, with two men on base and two out in a 1-0 game, Mateo allowed a double to Kevin Mench that effectively killed our hopes of winning the game. Did it turn out the way we wanted? Of course not, but those two insurance runs scored through no fault of Bob Melvin's; Garcia was tiring, having allowed three hits in four at bats (including a homer) prior to being pulled, and at 108 pitches he was at the end of the rope. Observe (2001-2003 splits):

Pitches 1-15: .238/.292/.368
Pitches 16-30: .255/.320/.448
Pitches 31-45: .232/.276/.358
Pitches 46-60: .263/.336/.451
Pitches 61-75: .223/.275/.320
Pitches 76-90: .249/.302/.406
Pitches 91-105: .258/.303/.397
Pitches 106-120: .279/.366/.484

Freddy Garcia has historically been at his worst once he reaches the triple digits in pitches, and leaving him out there to face Kevin Mench may very well have resulted in the same runs being scored. For as often as I blame Bob Melvin for his various indiscretions, I think he managed this one just about as well as you could up for a team lacking its best hitter (to date).

Why Mike Myers made an appearance, however, I'm not really sure. I guess Melvin wants him to face as many lefties as possible, regardless of the situation.

John Olerud lowed his line to .218/.338/.309 with an 0-3 day (he drew a walk). While many of us were hoping for a comeback year from him, the chances are getting slimmer by the day. I'm reminded of a Baseball Prospectus 2003 remark for Craig Biggio:

Batting average is an overrated statistic, but it might be the best offensive indicator of when a player is nearing the end.

I think this is generally correct. A dip in batting average suggests that a player's bat speed is slipping. You'll also see a bit of a power decline, consistent with the slow bat, but the player's ability to draw walks should remain largely the same. So what do we see with Olerud? He has a career 104-point separation between his BA and his OBP (OBP - BA); this is a pretty decent measure of a player's patience, and Olerud's has remained remarkably steady over the past few years (99, 103, 103, and 113 since 2001). Clearly, Olerud is still as patient as he was in his good years. However, his BA dropped by 31 points last year, and his ISO by 69. A down year, to be sure, but was it a fluke? Well, he's had another 38-point drop in BA so far this year, and his ISO is down to 0.096, or 51.3% of the league-average. You read that right: John Olerud has about half as much power as an average 1B.

Fortunately for us, he's a free agent after the year, and may decide to retire if he continues to have a bad year on a bad team. However, if he chooses to give it another try in 2005, don't be surprised if we bring him back, because he's a local guy who's liked by the organization and the community, and offering him an incentive-based one-year deal would be precisely the kind of gesture you can expect this front office to make, should it come to that. Those of you hoping for Carlos Delgado to sign here next year are going to be disappointed, as it appears that we're setting our sights on Scott Spiezio at first next year.

Bret Boone's o'fer lowered his OBP to .266. Remember how Gillick was toying with the idea of trading for Tony Batista? We already have him.

With his two-hit night, Dan Wilson continued his relative dominance of the Rangers' pitching staff. For his career, Wilson is a .300 hitter against only two teams - Kansas City and Texas - and has hit .344 against the Rangers since 2001.

Spotlight on the offense: we're on pace to score 639 runs this year...

Congratulations to the Texas Rangers for lowering their team ERA to 4.24. However, they're giving the ball to John Wasdin tomorrow, so even with another game against the Mariners, I fully expect that figure to rise. He's going up against Ryan Franklin, who I'll never trust as much as the majority of Seattle fans, so it could get ugly, early.
The Expos have scored one run in Tomo Ohka's starts this year. Total.

Ryan Franklin doesn't know the meaning of the term "bad luck".
One of the funniest things I've ever read, about Neifi Perez giving up switch-hitting:

"It's no big deal because a lot of people bat right-handed against right- handers," Perez said. "I just have to make the adjustment, but don't hang a curveball. If you hang a curveball, you're going to pay."
The good news:

Rafael Soriano's velocity is reportedly improving, and we should see him pretty soon.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Cha Baek and Tacoma fell to Las Vegas, 6-4. Baek got pelted early and often by the Dodgers' affiliate, and proved a disappointing adversary for stud prospect Edwin Jackson (who wasn't too great himself). Notables:

Justin Leone: 2-4, 1 triple (now hitting .234/.280/.574)
Cha Baek: 2.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
JJ Putz: 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K
Aaron Looper: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
Ramon Santiago: 0-4, 1 BB
Wiki Gonzalez: 1-4
Bucky Jacobsen: 0-2, 2 BB
Jose Lopez: 1-3, 1 double, 1 BB

San Antonio was shut out by El Paso, 4-0. Juan Done was shaky in his start against Casey Fossum, picking up his first loss of the year. Notables:

Dustin Delucchi: 1-4
Shin Soo-Choo: 0-4
Greg Dobbs: 1-4
Greg Jacobs: 0-4
Luis Oliveros: 0-3

A four-run fifth powered Inland Empire's 4-3 win over Lancaster. Rich Dorman got the win, and Ryan Rowland-Smith picked up his first save with four shutout innings of relief. Notables:

Juan Gonzalez: 1-4
Ismael Castro: 0-4
Rene Rivera: 1-3
Matt Hagen: 1-3
Michael Garciaparra: 0-3

Wisconsin was limited to two hits in a 4-1 loss to Burlington. Three errors led to three unearned runs that cost the Timber Rattlers the game. Notables:

Josh Womack: 1-4
Adam Jones: 1-4 (with an error)
Wladimir Balentien: 0-3 (with an error)

Wisconsin is hitting .198 as a team.

Notable starting pitchers tomorrow:

Bobby Madritsch, vs. Edmonton
Troy Cate, vs. El Paso

Losing three in a row sucks. Not as much as five in a row, though. Hey, we're improving!

Has anyone else noticed that, when our hitting is good, our pitching sucks, and when our pitching is good, our hitting sucks? Check it out:

We have scored 5+ runs in eight games. In those eight games, we have allowed 57 runs, for an average of 7.13 per game.

We have scored four or fewer runs in nine games. In those nine games, we have allowed 32 runs, for an average of 3.56 per game.

It's an unfortunate coincidence.

Pineiro had another rought start, but that's for later; what I'm wondering is why Kevin Jarvis made it into yet another game. Sure, some curious bullpen management rendered Mateo and Villone unavailable for tonight's game - I know that Villone pitched, but he shouldn't have - but Melvin still had Hasegawa, Myers, and maybe Guardado in the 'pen when he elected to go with Jarvis. Consider the situation: we had just closed the gap to 7-5 with an Aurilia RBI double, and we had a little bit of momentum going into the bottom of the seventh. Pineiro was ineffective and did deserve to be pulled after 107 pitches and six innings. Who do you go with in the bullpen?

Well, you'd like a guy who could pitch more than one inning, because you're a little short in the bullpen for the game and you don't want to use a guy up with an at bat or two. Myers certainly doesn't fit that description, so you're left with Hasegawa, Jarvis, and Guardado. God forbid you use Guardado in any situation occurring earlier than the ninth inning, so he's out, leaving Hasegawa and Jarvis. Melvin, remembering that Jarvis used to be a starter and is capable of pitching many innings (to varying degrees of effectiveness), put him into the ball game, and bad things took place. Right decision, or wrong?

Pretty simple answer: in 2003, Shigetoshi Hasegawa threw two or more innings in a game on ten separate occasions. Sure, he's no Rafael Soriano, and I don't think he's going to be much better than league-average this year, but league-average is light years ahead of Kevin Jarvis, who has inexplicably appeared in more than 40% of our games this year. Jarvis threw five pitches, allowed two hits, and eventually got tagged for two earned runs when Villone let them score. It was 10-5 Texas before the seventh inning was over, and the optimism and momentum had been completely sucked out of the dugout. Given that Spiezio homered and Edgar had an RBI double in the eighth, you wonder how the game would have turned out if not for Melvin's bullpen circus.

The bullpen is beginning to turn into a glaring weakness for the club, when it should be one of our strengths. Our collection of relievers has amassed a 4.67 ERA in 52 innings, and Kevin Jarvis isn't helping any. Why Kevin Jarvis and Ron Villone lead our bullpen in innings pitched isn't an indication that we're falling behind early, and having to turn to our mop-up men in the middle innings; no, it's an indication that our manager believes that these two guys are useful pitchers, and deserve every opportunity to prove themselves. I don't have nearly as much of a problem with Villone as I do with Jarvis - Villone has actually been good, once - but he shouldn't be pitching this much. We need Soriano back, and fast.

A little math: Kevin Jarvis is on pace to allow 67 runs this year, in 95 innings. If you were to replace Jarvis with a roughly league-average pitcher - one with a 4.45 ERA - that pitcher would allow 20 fewer runs than Jarvis, and thus add two wins to our total. Nice to know, isn't it?

Ichiro went 2-4 today with two singles and two walks; he's still not hitting with any kind of power (.027 ISO), but his OBP has risen to .346, an acceptable level were Ichiro slugging about 130 points higher. I'm glad that he's seemingly making a conscious effort to be more patient at the plate, and for the time being, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he's just adjusting to a new approach. However, if he's still only hitting an empty .300 by June, I'd say it's time to abandon the experiment. We need him to produce from the leadoff spot if we want to score runs, and a .290/.340/.330 line isn't enough.

Scott Spiezio: man, or machine? Now hitting .367/.406/.667, with four of his eleven hits going for extra bases. He's not going to bet on base at a pleasant rate - probably around .325 or .330 - but his power is going to be much appreciated from the 6/7 slot in the lineup once Olerud gets moved up to #2. Of course, Boone, Aurilia, and Ibanez are all similar hitters to Spiezio, in that they hit for power without posting desirable OBP's, but Spiezio's contributions are coming from third base, a position we have all associated with plague, disease, and suffering over the past few years. A .270/.325/.440 line from third base is more than acceptable, particularly given our team's recent history.

Ben Davis still sucks. Had a "wild pitch" go right between the wickets. Can't hit a lick, either, and it looks like he needs a change of environment to get back on track.

Joel Pineiro has always had shaky control at the start of the year. He has a career 5.3 BB/9 ratio in April, which settles to a healthy 3.0 in May. What he hasn't had, though, are problems with hits and home runs. He's already allowed 34 hits and six homers in just 22.1 IP, rates that are significantly worse than his career numbers early in the year. To Joel's credit, his four starts have come against Anaheim and Texas (twice each), so he hasn't had the "luxury" of facing Oakland like our other starters, but I don't have very much confidence in him right now. A weaker defense doesn't give you a 13.7 H/9 ratio and cause you to allow one or two homers per start, even when you turn into a flyball pitcher (where once you were rather neutral). With this organization, I will always fear the worst with pitchers, and I really hope that my concerns are proven false by a few solid starts in a row. You know something's wrong when these kinds of problems befall Joel Pineiro and Jamie Moyer, our most dependable starters year in, year out.

Something I just remembered: Bob Melvin had Mike Myers come in to face one batter in the eighth inning of a 10-8 game, and then pulled him in favor of Hasegawa. When you have a fatigued bullpen in the condition that we did tonight, how does it make any sense to use up an arm on one guy?

Freddy vs. Benoit tomorrow (at least, according to ESPN, but it may be Snare). Why bother even pretending to have a clue which Freddy shows up?

Friday, April 23, 2004

Having had a couple of free hours this afternoon, I decided to - what else? - create a table that would compare how our hitters have performed thus far, as opposed to how they were expected to perform, according to PECOTA projections. The easiest statistic to use would be EqA, as Baseball Prospectus updates those numbers daily, and PECOTA spits out a specific number. However, in order to see how the entire team has done, compared to how it was forecasted to do, you need to use a cumulative stat, so that you can just add up individual values. What's the next best thing to EqA? Why, EqR. This took a little time and effort (PECOTA doesn't project EqR), but the formula is pretty easy:

EqR = 5 * Outs * (EqA ^2.5)

BP uses AB - H + CS + Sacrifices to determine the number of outs a player made (it's not perfect, but it's close). Now, there would be no reason for PECOTA to project the number of sacrifice hits and flies a player will have during the year, so in order to account for these I made the assumption that each player would hit as many sacrifices as his career thus far would indicate. For example, Ichiro had twenty sacrifices in 2018 AB's between 2001-2003. All I did was divide 20 by 2018 and multiply by 604, the number of AB's PECOTA projects Ichiro to have. And so:

Player Exp. EqR Actual EqR ∆EqR
Ibanez 5.9 12.1 +6.2
Martinez 7.5 9.6 +2.1
Hansen 0.9 3.2 +2.3
Boone 9.3 8.7 -0.6
Spiezio 6.4 4.3 -2.1
Aurilia 5.8 5.8 0
Wilson 2.2 4.4 +2.2
Bloomquist 2.3 3.6 +1.3
McCracken 2.0 0.6 -1.4
Olerud 7.7 5.4 -2.3
Ichiro 8.6 6.9 -1.7
Cabrera 2.9 0 -2.9
Winn 6.5 4.2 -2.3
Davis 3.1 0 -3.1
Team 71.2 68.8 -2.4

The table isn't all that telling for individual players; Willie Bloomquist has exceeded expectations, but that has a lot to do with the fact that he's gotten more playing time early this season than PECOTA thought he would. Same goes for Scott Spiezio, only the other way around; he hasn't produced very much so far, but that's because he missed a bunch of games with his injury.

Of course, Raul Ibanez *has* exceeded expectations. By quite a bit.

The important part of the table is at the very bottom: the Mariners have created 68.8 runs to date, whereas PECOTA would have projected them to create 71.2 runs over the same sixteen games. This means that, if you're willing to believe the predictive value of PECOTA, our offense is underachieving by 3.4%.

Now, the Mariners have actually scored 63 runs this year (not 68.8). So if you apply that 3.4% to this total, the Mariners should be around 65 runs scored by now, rather than 63 (63 * 1.034). Over the course of a full season, that equates to a difference of 20 runs - we're on pace to score 638 runs, whereas PECOTA thinks we're on pace for 658 runs.

Let's use these numbers in the Pythagorean Winning Percentage equation. We're on pace to allow 800 runs. A team that scores 638 runs and allows 800 should finish with a W/L record of 64-98. A team that scores 658 runs and allows 800 should finish with a W/L record of 67-95. Neither record is good - in fact, they're downright terrible - I'm just using them to display the impact of 20 runs scored over a full season. It gets even more significant as you allow fewer and fewer runs, and since we probably aren't going to give up 800 runs this year, the gap could widen even more.

So, what am I getting at? Well, to those who say that our early-season offense has underachieved, this lends a little support. It has done worse than expected, by about 3-4%. As Ibanez, Spiezio, and Hansen regress, Ichiro, Winn, and Boone will pick it up, and we'll be better off in a few months than we are now. However, banking on Ibanez to carry the offense for the rest of the year is - as we all know - an unwise move, because he has more than doubled his expected production through the first two and a half weeks of the year.
On Drese, by the author of the Texas Rangers blog:

He's like the good looking girl you are friends with, and are sort-of kind-of trying to hook it up with.

And every once in a while, y'all go drinking together, and you might smooch a bit, but nothing ever comes of it.

Then, out of nowhere, when you've written her off, she calls you up, you go hang out, and you end up making out, maybe even actually finally hooking it up.

Tonight's start is like the next time you are going to go hang out somewhere she's gonna be...when you are hoping you can knock boots again, but you know, more likely, she'll pretend nothing happened, and probably even make out with some stranger in front of you.
I've added links on the right-hand menu to the stat pages for each of our affiliates. Of interest:

Justin Leone: .209/.261/.535
Jose Lopez: .245/.298/.377
Hiram Bocachica: .244/.380/.341
Wiki Gonzalez: .286/.333/.679
Bucky Jacobsen: .271/.352/.563
Ramon Santiago: .192/.300/.231
Jamal Strong: .517/.576/.621
Cha Baek: 12.1 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 4 HR
Travis Blackley: 15.2 IP, 28 H, 11 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, 1 HR
Bobby Madritsch: 17 IP, 16 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 14 K, 1 HR
Clint Nageotte: 18 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 15 K, 1 HR
Matt Thornton: 14 IP, 12 H, 11 ER, 12 BB, 11 K, 1 HR
George Sherrill: 9.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 15 K, 0 HR

Shin Soo-Choo: .321/.397/.661
Greg Dobbs: .354/.392/.438
Greg Jacobs: .548/.576/1.032
Dustin Delucchi: .328/.400/.431
Luis Oliveros: .313/.353/.656

Ismael Castro: .296/.345/.444
Michael Garciaparra: .175/.214/.275
Rene Rivera: .289/.333/.447
Juan Gonzalez: .300/.333/.320
Matt Hagen: .243/.293/.514
Felix Hernandez: 15.2 IP, 12 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 22 K, 2 HR
Rafael Soriano: 8 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR

Wladimir Balentien: .256/.289/.465
Adam Jones: .239/.340/.326
Josh Womack: .208/.236/.377

Minor League Wrap-Up:

Matt Thornton and Tacoma doubled up on Las Vegas, winning 8-4. Thornton was effectively wild, and three Rainier home runs powered the home side to victory. Notables:

Matt Thornton: 5 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K
George Sherrill: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 K
Justin Leone: 2-3, 1 double, 1 homer, 1 BB (also stole his second base of the year)
Wiki Gonzalez: 2-4, 1 double
Bucky Jacobsen: 2-4, 2 homers
Ramon Santiago: 0-2
Jose Lopez: 0-4

San Antonio defeated El Paso, 4-2. Elvis Perez picked up his first win of the year, spreading out seven hits over five innings. Jared Hoerman got another save. Notables:

Dustin Delucchi: 2-5, 1 double
Shin Soo-Choo: 2-4, 1 double, 1 BB
Greg Dobbs: 1-4, 1 BB
Greg Jacobs: 3-4 (.548)

Inland Empire lost to Lancaster, 3-2, with all five runs coming in the last three innings. Darwin Soto got the loss, allowing the winning run with one gone in the ninth. Notables:

Ismael Castro: 2-5
Michael Garciaparra: 0-4
Rene Rivera: 1-2, 1 BB
Juan Gonzalez: pinch-runner

Wisconsin shut out error-prone Burlington 4-0, in a shortened game. Ryan Feierabend was strong in the win, as he didn't allow a walk through seven innings. Notables:

Josh Womack: 1-3
Adam Jones: 1-2
Wladimir Balentien: 1-3, 1 double

Of interest today: Cha Baek gets the start for Tacoma.
Justin Leone went 2-3 tonight with a double, a homer, and a walk. Full minor league wrap-up in the morning.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

The Mariners re-signed Moyer, who represented himself in negotiations, to a unique three-year deal where the third year only guarantees $1.5 million, but can go to $7.5 million if he meets playing time incentives in the next two years. It’s a creative compromise. As long as Jamie can hold it together, he’ll be outstanding, but the drop should be a hell of a toboggan ride.

-Baseball Prospectus 2003, on Jamie Moyer

If it is premature to be concerned about Jamie, I would appreciate it if someone would let me know just when it becomes appropriate to worry. He hasn't had a start to the year like this for as long as I can remember, and it hasn't just been a function of the defense. One could reasonably expect him to allow a few extra hits this year, given the less-talented bunch of guys behind him, but his walks have gone up and he's allowed a quarter as many home runs as he did last year in about one-ninth the number of innings. I'd be having some real difficultly beliving in Moyer if not for his April 17th start against Texas, but as it is, he's struggled twice against Oakland - a team against whom he's typically effective - after getting bombed by Anaheim in the opener. PECOTA projects Jamie for a 4.09 ERA, and while that seems like it should be about right, I'm torn. On the one hand, Moyer's been terrific for three consecutive years, and players don't suddenly hit the wall (although there are exceptions); it should be a gradual process that takes place over a few seasons. I'm not ready for Moyer to fall apart, and so I'm going to have confidence in him until I am positively, 100% certain that he can't throw the ball to home plate anymore.

But I don't like how it's been going.


When Eric Chavez teed off to give Oakland a 3-0 lead in the first, with nobody out, you knew that it was going to be one of those days. No inspiring comeback this time. It was 4-0 before we got a guy to third base, and there was something unsettling about loading the bases for Dan Wilson, Jolbert Cabrera, and Willie Bloomquist.

What's gotten into Raul Ibanez? He singles twice and draws a walk from Mark Mulder, and makes his only out in the ninth inning against a right-handed pitcher. Some might take this as an indication that Paul Molitor has turned Ibanez into a certified lefty-masher, but skeptics such as myself prefer to chalk it up to just the latest example of why early-season stats should be taken with a grain of salt. Raul's reached base ten times in just 18 plate appearances against southpaws. At the end of the year, this hot start is going to boost his overall numbers against lefties, but the regression to the mean is going to be conspicuous, and it is going to be painful to watch. But man, it sure is fun to be along for the ride, isn't it?

Bob Melvin's bullpen usage was, once again, the end result of some sort of minor synaptic misfire. Julio Mateo in for long relief after Moyer was pulled? Good decision. Pulling him after 47 pitches late in a 6-2 ballgame? All right; he did just throw 40+ pitches a few days ago, so you don't want to wear the guy out early. Bringing in Ron Villone? Sure, he deserves some innings. But bringing in Eddie Guardado for the ninth inning while we're losing by six? Surely, you must be joking. Guardado should have pitched last night, something that has been discussed ad nauseum by other bloggers. If Melvin has something against using his closer in non-save situations, then that's one thing, but using him the next day when we're losing 8-2? Completely non-sensical. You can't tell me that Ron Villone was tired after throwing 28 pitches. This is a guy with 83 career starts.

THESE are the kinds of games where Kevin Jarvis should make his appearances. He should never set foot on the mound during winnable games against division rivals. Some ridiculous bullpen management resulted in Jarvis being unavailable to pitch today after he threw 36 pitches in yesterday's loss, with the immediate result being that we won't have Mateo or Villone against Texas on Friday. These kinds of bad ideas aren't going to kill us in the short-term, but they will start losing us games (if they haven't already); how many times must I go back to that whole "optimizing individual performance" statement? Bob Melvin is an all-right manager, who has a strong relationship with his players and knows the value of getting on base. However, he isn't Jim Tracy, in that Melvin isn't capable of squeezing dollars from dimes. Those individual losses start to add up, and decisions like the ones Melvin made last night that lose us games could wind up the difference between winning the division and picking high in the draft.

Ichiro: .282/.320/.310
Winn: .197/.258/.279

We aren't going to hit many home runs this year. We're on pace for about 120. Can we really afford to have most of those bombs coming with nobody on base? If the top of our lineup can't draw walks or slap singles, we're going to wind up with a whole bunch of none-on-two-out AB's for Bret Boone, and a whole bunch of Edgar Martinez at bats that lead off the second inning.

I'm done for the night, as sleep beckons. Pineiro vs. Drese on Friday, so this is as good a shot of any at getting back into the Win column.
Congratulations to Omar Vizquel, who got his 2000th career hit tonight.

Just think, he could've done that as a Mariner!
I miss Jay Buhner.

That's Ibanez's style. He would never want anyone to take something the wrong way.

When he said Ichiro, whose locker abuts his own, has been teaching him Japanese phrases, he quickly noted they were "good phrases," not salty, locker-room aphorisms.
Meche is changing his delivery.
8-2, top of the ninth, and...

Eddie Guardado is pitching??

Why not leave Villone in there? Why not let Guardado pitch last night? Weeeeeeeeeeee!!
And Ibanez now draws a walk. Will the madness ever cease?

Fittingly, Dan Wilson followed by lining into an unassisted double play. Looks like that hot streak has come to a conspicuous conclusion.
Today's lineup for the Giants, giving Barry Bonds an off-day:

Ray Durham
JT Snow
Jeffrey Hammonds
Pedro Feliz
Michael Tucker
Dustan Mohr
AJ Pierzinski
Neifi Perez
Kirk Rueter

Well, all right, Alfonzo and Grissom were also on the bench to start the day, but that's quite possibly the worst lineup I've ever seen.
Line on Moyer:

4.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 HR

99 pitches, 55 strikes.

Very disappointing.

In comes Julio Mateo, to hopefully throw three or four frames. Sure would be nice to see Mateo start getting Jarvis' innings.
It's not 4-2, on a sac fly and run-scoring groundout.

That's the Mariner way.
Ibanez: 2-2, 2 singles.

And he keeps on going.
Just in time for the start of today's game (which, by the way, has started about as poorly as any game could ever start), we have a recap of last night.


Some people might say that Gil Meche didn't have his best stuff. I say that he had it, he just didn't know where he was throwing it from pitch-to-pitch. At the end of the day, Meche had thrown 112 pitches (yikes!) and 61 strikes; that's 54.5%, for the number-crunchers among you. Oakland doesn't really have the kind of lineup that will punish a pitcher for inconsistent control, but they did a pretty fair job of being patient and chasing Meche before Melvin would have wanted to take him out. 11 baserunners in 5.2 IP is a pretty lousy performance against a lineup like that, but when your first relief option is Kevin Jarvis, leaving Meche in for that long makes perfect sense.

This game wasn't the fault of Jarvis, though, which will just encourage Melvin to keep on using him. Seriously, what is Kevin Jarvis doing with ten innings pitched? He's on pace to finish the year with 108 IP, and the difference between those innings going to Jarvis and a decent pitcher could turn out to be 10-15 runs saved (or about 1-1.5 wins). Once again, this is one of those things that we can't afford to be doing if we want to contend for the division title; to win the ALW, we need to optimize the production from everyone on our roster, and giving Kevin Jarvis more innings than anyone else in the bullpen isn't going to accomplish that.

Dave Hansen homered yesterday, which might turn out to be our only pinch-hit bomb all year (no joke). It was a timely shot, too, because when you're losing 4-1 to Tim Hudson in the seventh inning, things are looking bleak. I wouldn't be surprised to see Hansen start getting some more at bats at first base, as it's becoming painfully clear that Olerud can't catch up to a good fastball anymore. Do I think this is a good idea? Not really; Olerud can still coax a walk and get on base at a reasonable rate, but Hansen's got the hot bat right now so it's worth a shot. Playing Bloomquist at first base, on the other hand, as Melvin is doing today, is borderline moronic.

In all, Hudson allowed four earned runs in eight innings last night. It's one of our best performances against him to date, and there's no doubt in my mind that the contact-hitting ability of our lineup helped out a little bit yesterday. Hudson is not a strikeout pitcher (and only has a 4.91 k/9 ratio this year, which is alarming), and Oakland's defense has been pretty bad this year (.301 BABIP), and so the end result was eight hits against their best pitcher. I'll take it, and we might have even come out of it with a win if not for Melvin's poor management of the ninth inning. His decisions have been pretty well chronicled, so I won't get into it very much; the bottom line is that there was no reason for Mike Myers to pitch when he did last night, and that Eddie Guardado should have played in his place. Hasegawa came in and continued his early-season struggles by allowing the winning hit - a double by Dye - and the RBI sacrifice fly that followed was the nail in the coffin. We went down pretty quietly against Arthur Rhodes, and that was that. A winnable game was lost because of a series of bad decisions by our manager, and this goes right back to that whole "optimizing individual performance" thing I was talking about earlier.

Today's a new day, with Jamie Moyer going up against Mark Mulder. To spare you the suspense, Oakland just scored its fourth run of the game as I was typing the last paragraph, and the score is 4-0 A's in the bottom of the third. Good news? Jolbert Cabrera got a hit. Now ever position player has at least one on the year. Bad news? Moyer is struggling again, and coughed up a first-inning homer to Eric Chavez, who recorded his second big hit against a southpaw in consecutive innings (dating back to last night's ninth, when he singled off Myers). Willie Bloomquist is playing first base and Bret Boone's on the bench. The latter decision I can understand, as Boone's been struggling to get on base an needed a day off, but Wee Willie at first? I don't like it, even if Mulder is an upper-class left-hander. Why not put Spiezio at first, Cabrera at third, and give Boone a day off tomorrow or the next day instead? Boone destroys lefties, and should be playing today.

On to the top of the fourth. Mulder's thrown 48 pitches through three, Moyer 60.
Let's hear it for Buck Showalter, who - with two on and none out in the first inning - had Alfonso Soriano attempt a sacrifice bunt.
For what it's worth, I'd like to thank all of you other bloggers who changed my site's name in your templates. I appreciate it.
I wonder how long it will take for Melvin to lose confidence in Hasegawa.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma was shut out by Tanyon Sturze and Las Vegas, 1-0. Blackley got the loss, with a marginal start. Notables:

Travis Blackley: 6 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HR
Aaron Looper: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 K
Bucky Jacobsen: 1-3
Justin Leone: 0-3
Ramon Santiago: 1-3

San Antonio blew Midland out of the water, with an 8-1 win. Gustavo Martinez got his first win with a strong start, and Greg Dobbs had a three-hit day. Notables:

Greg Dobbs: 3-4, 1 double, 1 triple
Greg Jacobs: 2-4, 1 double
Cristian Guerrero: 0-4 (.158)
Luis Oliveros: 0-2
Shin Soo-Choo: 1-3, 1 homer, 1 BB
Dustin Delucchi: 0-5

After rallying to tie it in the ninth, Inland Empire lost to Lancaster, 4-3. Felix Hernandez got the start and wound up with a no-decision. Notables:

King Felix: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 2 HR (finally looks human)
Juan Gonzalez: 1-3, 1 BB
Ismael Castro: 0-3, 1 BB
Michael Garciaparra: pinch-runner
Rene Rivera: 0-3
Matt Hagen: 0-4

Michael Moorhead and Wisconsin shut out Burlington, 5-0. Moorhead's season ERA? 0.00. And hey, Josh Womack finally hit the ball. Notables:

Josh Womack: 2-4, 1 double
Adam Jones: 2-4
Wladimir Balentien: 0-3, 1 BB (really cooled off)

M's lose, 7-4. More on that later.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

And Melvin leaves Jarvis in to pitch the 8th.

Bob Melvin actually thinks that Kevin Jarvis is a good pitcher.
Dave Hansen is the latest to continue this trend of surprising extra-base hits from unexpected sources.
112 pitches before Meche was yanked. I'm not sure why Melvin left him in that long when he obviously couldn't control where he was throwing.

Of course, now Jarvis is in; I think I'd risk further damaging Meche's arm just so I don't have to watch this.
Meche has some legitimately terrible control tonight. 100 pitches, 52 strikes, and five walks in 5+ innings so far.
Why does Edgar keep getting beaned?
Meche survived would could have turned into that "one big inning" that he always manages to allow. Chavez hit a leadoff homer, and then Oakland loaded the bases with just one out, but Meche retired Melhuse and German to end the inning. Now we've got two on and none out for Boone. Stay tuned.
Chris Snelling had more surgery to repair cartilage in his wrist.

Rotoworld unofficially declares that he will be out for a few months.

I'm off the Snelling wagon.
Prepare yourselves for the first ever Quinton McCracken Starting Lineup Experience. Winn's on the bench tonight.
If I've learned one thing at college, it's that the people who like the worst music are the ones who leave their doors open for fresh air.
I was inspired by Gareth Owen to calculate some confidence intervals and such, until I realized that I don't know how to do that with baseball statistics. Gareth, if you're out there, remind me.



Franklin continues to boggle the mind. His strikeouts are down from last year and his walks are up, but he's still keeping people away from home plate, as he's only allowed seven runs through 20 innings. His early-season BABIP is down 40 points from last year, to .210, despite our defense being considerably worse overall.

So, what's the deal?

I wish I had the answer. This is just one of those things that we'll have to examine as more time passes. As is, Franklin's only had three starts, two of which came against a weak Oakland lineup and the third against a Glaus-less Anaheim team. While I'm certainly not rooting against Ryan, I find it next to impossible that he keeps this up, and so every time he takes the mound I expect him to hit the wall. God bless you, Ryan Franklin, for serving as a constant reminder that people will occasionally succeed despite having seemingly disastrous habits (is that a good thing?).

...which brings us to Raul, a textbook example of why individual early season statistics are as worthless as a third-party vote (). On April 16th - less than a week ago - Ibanez was the proud owner of a .242/.316/.364 line. Five days and four home runs later, that's up to .261/.364/.609, with an ISO that reminds one of Albert Pujols. Not only that, but a lot of his damage has come versus lefties, against whom Raul has five hits and two homers in 13 at bats. You love to see the guy do well, particularly in areas we all thought were hopeless, but there isn't much long-term good to Raul's strong start. He's going to stop slugging the ball one of these days, but Melvin will remember Ibanez' little streak long after the home runs are a thing of the past. If you didn't get enough of Edgar Martinez hitting fifth, then you can probably look forward to much more of that in the future as Melvin decides that Raul is our main power threat.

We're scoring 4.07 runs per game and allowing 4.57. Over a full season that equates to a -81 run differential and a 72-90 W/L record. Our offense has managed a .255/.317/.382 line and is on pace to barely surpass the 2003 Mets in terms of run production. We're also hitting well above the mean with RISP (.301/.396/.416), a line that should lower as the season progresses until it and our overall numbers meet somewhere in the middle - or, at least, approach each other (teams have hit a few percentage points better with runners in scoring position over the last few years than they have overall).

One can only imagine how poorly off we'd be if not for Ibanez these last few games.

Before the year started, there were rumors flying around that Ichiro was going to start learning how to take pitches. So far so good, I guess; he's facing 3.93 pitches per PA, as opposed to last year's 3.50. However, he's only on pace for 34 walks, and his patience may have resulted in a power outage. Ichiro's managed just two extra-base hits (both doubles) out of 19 hits in all - 10.5% - which is well below last year's 23.6% mark. Looks like Raul snatched up the entire lineup's power and used it all for himself.

Randy Winn needs to remember how to hit. And field. Preferably soon.

How about that ballgame last night? We drew four more walks. Harden was throwing strikes all game, but we managed to coax a handful of free passes from him anyway, and all of a sudden we're not last in the majors anymore (now we're 22nd, 31 walks behind the league-leading Yankees). While the walks haven't directly led to an increase in runs, over the course of the season we have significantly better odds of scoring 5+ runs a game when we're drawing a walk 3.5-4 times every game than when we're drawing one or two. Aggressive hitting? Fine. Just make sure you're swinging at strikes.

John Olerud also needs to remember how to hit.

Congratulations to Ben Davis, again. Just days after he made sure not to be the last Mariner to reach base, he also made sure yesterday that he wouldn't be the last Mariner to get a hit. That honor belongs to Jolbert Cabrera, who is 0-10. Our bench of Cabrera/Davis/McCracken/Hansen/Bloomquist is hitting .215 on the year, with a .246 slugging percentage. Good times. Even better, four-ninths of our starting lineup has an OPS of .662 or lower.

It's a good thing early statistics don't mean much. Bring on Tim Hudson!

I'll probably regret saying that.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma defeated Las Vegas, 4-1. Clint Nageotte picked up his third victory (3-0), and JJ Putz got his second save. Las Vegas could manage just three hits all day. Notables:

Clint Nageotte: 6 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 6 K
JJ Putz: 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K
Justin Leone: 2-3, 2 homers (finally)
Jose Lopez: 1-4
Hiram Bocachica: 1-3, 1 BB
Ramon Santiago: 0-3

Leone also had an error.

San Antonio lost to Midland, 6-2. Chris Buglovsky got the loss by allowing four runs - all unearned - and Allen Levrault made another appearance out of nowhere. Notables:

Dustin Dellucchi: 1-3, 1 BB
Shin Soo-Choo: 1-4
Greg Jacobs: 1-4
Cristian Guerrero: 0-3

Inland Empire lost to Lancaster 6-4, allowing three runs in the ninth. Greg Wear gave up four runs in 1.2 IP for the loss. Melvin Pizarro pitched again. Notables:

Rafael Soriano: 4 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Melvin Pizarro: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 K
Juan Gonzalez: 0-5
Ismael Castro: 1-4, 1 homer
Matt Hagen: 1-4
Rene Rivera: 2-3, 1 double
Michael Garciaparra: 0-3, 1 BB (.194)

Wisconsin vs. Burlington was postponed.

Recap of last night's game to come later, when I find some time.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Bobby Jenks was yanked from a game with an elbow injury. The Angels are concerned. Keep an eye on this.
Raul does it again.

Everyone, go to your windows and check for four horsemen.
Ryan Franklin: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K (1 HR)

Two hits on 19 balls put in play. Every passing start is making it harder and harder to pass that off as a fluke (although I still believe that it is). Where did those walks come from, all of a sudden?
Ibanez homers again.

A little too depressed to be enthusiastic about it.

Roberto Alomar broke his hand on Tuesday.

Maybe now he'll start hitting.

(ba-dum tsssshhhh)
I give up.

I'd tell the Sens to go ahead and prove me wrong, but...


The season's over.
In non-Mariner minor league news, the Devil Rays designated Jason Romano for assignment, meaning that they gave Antonio Perez to the Dodgers for free.

Yes, Chuck LaMar's contract was recently extended.
We re-signed Ryan Christianson to a minor league deal today.
What do you get when you ignore the Mariners in favor of some astonishingly exciting playoff hockey? A 14-inning victory over our principal rivals, that's what.

There are so many positives from the game that I don't know where to start. Ibanez went deep of a lefty for the second time in two days. Freddy Garcia had a brilliant start and didn't once get flustered by a jam. Mike Myers came in and retired three batters - including a righty - in order. Quinton McCracken scored the winning run after reaching via a single. Eric Chavez didn't homer. It goes on.

What can you say about Freddy? The guy didn't allow a runner beyond second base for the duration of his start, and only put five men on base in total. He also fanned seven hitters, upping his season total to 18 in 20 innings (8.1 K/9). Has something clicked inside that flaky head of his? Too soon to tell. What we *do* know, however, is that he's capable of rebounding from a shaky start and pitching well. Look no further than the seventh inning in last night's ballgame: Garcia pitches well to Hatteberg, but Spiezio makes an error and he winds up on base. Then, after retiring Bobby Crosby, Freddy threw a wild one with Melhuse at the plate, allowing Hatteberg to advance to second. Last year's Garcia would have wilted, but this 2004 edition stood in there, struck out Melhuse, then disposed of SKOOTER-oh on a foul pop-up to end the inning. Impressive, and uncharacterisitic to boot.

In the 8th, Myers came in to face Mark Kotsay, Eric Byrnes, and Eric Chavez (the first and third of whom are lefties). Whether by design or happenstance, Myers did the job, retiring a struggling Kotsay, a right-handed Byrnes, and perennial enigma Eric Chavez on 15 pitches. Letting him pitch to Byrnes was a risky move; Byrnes has been on fire this year, and Myers hasn't exactly owned righties over his career. But rather than go with Guardado to finish off the eighth, Melvin decided to stick with his guy and the move paid off. Let's hope that this does not portend the, it'd be nice to have a reliable southpaw like Arty Rhodes in the bullpen.

Guardado, pitching for the third consecutive day, allowed a leadoff home run to Dye that tied it in the ninth. This apparently caused a horde of fans to get up from their seats and leave the stadium, a phenomenon heretofore labeled as Dodgers Syndrome. Eddie finished the ninth, but the damage was done. He most certainly will not be available to pitch tonight, unless Melvin takes Guardado's popular nickname literally.

What else can we take from the game?

Shigetoshi Hasegawa needs to stop putting guys on base. The hits are palatable - we expected him to allow quite a few more than he did in 2003 - but the five walks in 7.1 innings needs to stop. As an indication of just how meaningful (or meaningless) that number is, though, he's also struck out seven hitters, so perhaps we can chalk it up to bad luck and a missed call or two.

Last night, Kevin Jarvis pitched. He wasn't the last option, either, as Villone was certainly available. Ron threw an inning in the previous game, but given Guardado's usage we may be sure that Melvin doesn't have anything against using a reliever in back-to-back (-to-back-to...) games. Why does Jarvis keep getting thrust into games in which he has no right to participate? The world may never know.

Julio Mateo likes to live on the edge, loading the bases in the 11th and putting the first two on base in the 12th. He hasn't allowed an unintentional walk yet on the year, though, and his strikeouts are still up there, which is good news. He also threw 49 pitches last night, suggesting that he's more than available as starting rotation depth, should the need arise.

Eight walks. Need I say more?

The only real bad news that you can get from last night's game is that McCracken played a critical role in the victory, as he came around the bases to score after reaching on a single. However, for every successful McCracken at bat yesterday, there were six putrid Dan Wilson plate appearances, so maybe this team will realize the uselessness of certain players before too long.

I'm through with this prediction thing, it's giving me a headache. For the second straight night I'll be paying attention to hockey instead of baseball, so hopefully it works out as well as it did yesterday.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma vs. Tucson was postponed.

San Antonio beat Midland, 5-2. Emiliano Fruto got the win in relief of Troy Cate, and Jared Hoerman nailed down his fourth save despite owning a 5.68 ERA. Notables:

Troy Cate: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
Dustin Delucchi: 1-4, 1 BB
Shin Soo-Choo: 1-4, 1 homer
Greg Dobbs: 2-4, 1 double
Greg Jacobs: 2-4

Inland Empire lost to Lancaster, 6-5. A four-run eighth was not enough, as the 66ers surrendered the tying and go-ahead runs in the bottom half of the inning. David Viane got the loss by allowing two unearned runs. Notables:

Bobby Livingston: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR
Juan Gonzalez: 2-5
Ismael Castro: 2-4
Rene Rivera: 0-3, 1 BB
Michael Garciaparra: 1-4

Wisconsin allowed six runs in the seventh as they fell to Peoria, 8-3. Michael Hrynio did his part in contributing to the loss, allowing four baserunners (all of whom scored) while retiring just one batter. Notables:

Josh Womack: 0-5 (.163)
Adam Jones: 1-4 (.216)
Wladimir Balentien: 1-4

Nobody in yesterday's starting lineup has a BA over .250, and five are below .200.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Absolutely terrific game from Freddy Garcia. Myers comes in and takes care of Byrnes/Kotsay/Chavez in order.

More writing tomorrow morning.
Another Ibanez homer off a lefty.

"That's amazing!"
Oh yeah, predictions.

Tonight: Mark Redman vs. Freddy Garcia. Prediction: 5-4 Oakland (I'm 8-4).
The second Inland Empire box was finally published. I added it to the post below.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma fell to Tucson 2-1, in 10 innings. Scott Atchison got the loss in relief. Notables:

Bobby Madritsch: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
Ramon Santiago: 0-5
Hiram Bocachica: 1-3
Jose Lopez: 1-3, 1 BB
Wiki Gonzalez: 1-5, 1 homer
Justin Leone: 0-3, 1 BB

San Antonio defeated Midland, 3-1. Jared Hoerman picked up his third consecutive save. Juan Done got the start and the win. Notables:

Dustin Delucchi: 1-3, 1 BB
Shin Soo-Choo: 1-4
Greg Dobbs: 2-4
Cristian Guerrero: 0-3

Inland Empire had a doubleheader today, after yesterday's game was postponed, and took both games. The first was a 6-2 victory over Lake Elsinore. Ryan Rowland-Smith picked up the win. Notables:

Juan Gonzalez: 1-4, 1 BB
Ismael Castro: 1-4, 1 BB
Rene Rivera: 2-3, 2 doubles
Michael Garciaparra: 1-4

The 66ers took the second game, 4-3, in seven innings. Juan Sandoval got his second victory, and Darwin Soto picked up his second save. Notables:

Juan Gonzalez: 1-2
Ismael Castro: 0-3
Michael Garciaparra: 1-3
Matt Hagen: 2-3, 1 double

Wisconsin lost to Peoria, 7-5. Rough day for Eric O`Flaherty, who couldn't last through the fourth. Kenly Chang got the loss. Notables:

Josh Womack: 1-5, 1 homer
Adam Jones: 0-3, 1 BB



Joel Pineiro survives a rocky start to pick up the win, and Eddie Guardado throws a 1-2-3 9th for his second consecutive save. Today's stars:

  • Raul Ibanez: two-run homer that was the difference in the game

  • Bret Boone: started the comeback with his solo shot

  • Scott Spiezio: insurance homer in the 8th that made us all more comfortable

  • Ichiro: three hits from the leadoff spot is always appreciated

I'm still concerned about Pineiro, because he's put 34 men on base in just 16.1 innings this year and his control is all over the place. That said, he had a rough April in 2003 as well, walking 17 in 31.1 innings, so this is nothing new. Joel's always had trouble in the early innings of a game, so why should the overall year be any different? He only allowed four baserunners after Young's two-run single in the second, and that's pretty encouraging. Pineiro hit a groove in the middle innings; it's amazing what can happen when you start at bats with strikes.

As for the offense, where'd those homers come from? Surely it couldn't have been the Mariners, the proud owners of just four home runs combined through the first 11 games. Ibanez finally came through with a longball, and it's very, very nice to get some offense from third base. Also, Boone continues to slug the ball, although he's making a lot of outs.

Ichiro needs to hit some more doubles and triples.

The way Ryan Drese was going, this looked like another Park-like shutout in the making. His final line isn't particularly impressive - 7 hits and 8 baserunners through 5.2 IP - but he started well before running into trouble in the fifth. He hit the wall around the 70 pitch mark, consistent with his career splits. The Mariners forced him out of the game, and Ibanez hit a surprise home run off a lefty reliever to push us into the lead. One can only wonder what the outcome of the game would have been if Drese had a little more endurance.

Wee Willie slapped his way to a .296 batting average, a number achieved via a hit collection replete with singles. Again, it's nice that he contributed, but these kinds of games just give Melvin more reason to use him, and that's the last thing we need. I want to see Aurilia and Spiezio in there as often as possible, and all we need is a few 0-4's from Bloomquist to make that happen.

Decent game, and we've won two in a row. I'd add a little more, but the puck is about to drop in Ottawa and I need to divert my attention to the TV for a few hours.
Scott Spiezio hits hits his first home run of the season to make it 4-2 Mariners in the bottom of the 8th.

Nice to have some punch from third base; Spiezio has just as many extra-base hits as Bloomquist on the year.
What is Edgar doing?

Why is he swinging on a 3-0 count against Jay Powell with Bret Boone on deck and a one-run lead?
Please pull Pineiro, Melvin...

He's thrown 110 pitches already, and that is unsettling...

Update: Thanks!
Ibanez finally homered.

Off a lefty, too.

About time.
Calvin Pickering homered again...
At least Boone is hitting.

Bases loaded now, against Ryan Drese.

Congratulations to Ben Davis for not being the last Mariner to get on base. That honor will fall to Quinton McCracken, who is 0-2 this year (pinch-running doesn't count).
...and Young makes Joel pay for it.
Walking Rod Barajas is not recommended.
Some good DIPS stuff.
Four walks. About 1.2 more than our average per game, leading into today.

It was nice to see some patience out of this team for the first time all year. Maybe they learned something from the previous game's debacle - or maybe it was a fluke - but either way, Lewis was chased after five innings and 95 pitches (only 51 of which were strikes). Ibanez was surprisingly disciplined, as he turned two good at bats into walks. It was looking like another one of those inexplicably anemic games until the fourth, where the following took place with two outs:

-S Spiezio singled to center
-R Aurilia walked, S Spiezio to second
-R Ibanez walked, S Spiezio to third, R Aurilia to second
-D Wilson doubled to deep center, S Spiezio, R Aurilia, and R Ibanez scored.

Indeed, good things can happen when you draw two-out walks. It seems that Dan Wilson is determined to use up six months' worth of hits in two weeks, but tonight's three-run double was much appreciated, and turned out to be the difference in the game. Is Wilson going to hit .367 all year? No, but Ichiro and Edgar have nowhere to go but up, and they're going to jumpstart this offense a little bit as Wilson regresses. I don't think you're going to see many more situations where none of Olerud, Edgar, and Boone can advance Ichiro from third base.

What can you say about Spiezio's start? He wasn't really challenged defensively, but his offense was quite helpful, as he finished 2-4 with a double and two runs scored. He started our first rally with a two-out single (that broke up Lewis' early no-hitter) and he opened the sixth with a double off Ron Mahay. It appears that, for the time being, he's completely healthy and ready to contribute, something that Willie Bloomquist, for all his hustle, couldn't muster. I've been looking forward to Spiezio's debut this year, not because I think he'll be dynamite with the bat but because I couldn't stomach many more Bloomquist appearances. The difference between the two players is probably about two wins over a full season, and we're going to need those if we have any hope of contending.

Admit it: after the first inning, you were worried about Jamie Moyer. He was fresh off two lousy starts against Oakland and Anaheim, and he'd just barely survived a first inning in which he allowed a double and two very deep fly outs. Even the most optimistic of fans had to be concerned that Moyer had lost a little something over the winter and had become eminently hittable. Well, Jamie managed to put those fears to rest, as he got through a rough first inning and coasted through the eighth, finishing with a stellar line:

8 IP
3 H
1 ER
2 BB
5 K

He was throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters most of the game, and the Rangers' bats were struggling once they fell behind in the count. Nobody's going to score many runs when their 3-through-9 hitters go 1-22.

Ichiro got his first stolen base of the year, courtesy of a Gerald Laird airmail. Randy Winn also attempted a bunt single, so Melvin seems to be stressing the whole "be aggressive with your speed" strategy. I like having Winn and Ichiro back-to-back in the lineup, as getting Winn on base lends itself to all kinds of fun situations that take advantage of their footspeed and Ichiro's contact ability. Also, I'm liking Olerud in the second slot. Now if only Melvin would switch Boone to #3, so that we don't have to deal with Olerud and Edgar in sequence. Ibanez at #7 seems about right.

All in all, it was leaps and bounds better than the night before. Still some kinks to be straightened out, but Spiezio's return adds a lot to the lineup, and I'm feeling more optimistic already.

This prediction thing hasn't been going too well, as I've gotten the last four games wrong, but I'll still give it a shot. Tomorrow pits Ryan Drese against Joel Pineiro, who's been having difficulty this year. However, nobody knows bad pitching better than Drese, so I'm looking for a healthy M's win. 8-4. (I'm 7-4 on the year.)
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Cha Baek is the hard-luck loser as Tacoma falls to Tucson 2-1. Phil Stockman allowed no runs on 1 hit in 5.1 IP, despite walking six. Notables:

Cha-Seung Baek: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HR
George Sherrill: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Ramon Santiago: 0-3, 2 BB
Hiram Bocachica: 0-3, 2 BB
Bucky Jacobsen: 1-3, 1 double, 1 BB
Jose Lopez: 2-4
Wiki Gonzalez: 1-4
Justin Leone: pinch-runner (scored)

A four-run fourth wasn't enough as San Antonio lost to El Paso, 12-5. The Missions fell behind by five after two, and trailed for the remainder. Notables:

Shin Soo-Choo: 1-5, 1 double
Dustin Delucchi: 3-4, 2 doubles, 1 BB
Greg Dobbs: 2-4, 1 BB (error)
Cristian Guerrero: 0-5

Inland Empire had the day off.

Wisconsin lost to Peoria, 7-2. Nibaldo Acosta had a rough start, allowing eight hits in 6.1 IP. Notables:

Josh Womack: 1-4, 1 BB
Adam Jones: 1-4

Balentien didn't play.