Saturday, May 22, 2004

Oh, and JJ Putz' scoreless streak? Forget it.
She's a good girl, loves her mama
Loves Jesus and America too
She's a good girl, crazy 'bout Elvis
Loves horses and her boyfriend too

It's a long day living in Reseda
There's a freeway runnin' through the yard
And I'm a bad boy cos I don't even miss her
I'm a bad boy for breakin' her heart

And I'm free, free fallin'
Yeah I'm free, free fallin'

All the vampires walkin' through the valley
Move west down Ventura Boulevard
And all the bad boys are standing in the shadows
All the good girls are home with broken hearts

And I'm free, free fallin'
Yeah I'm free, free fallin'

(Backing Vocals)
Free fallin', now I'm a, free fallin', now I'm a
Free fallin', now I'm a, free fallin', now I'm a

I wanna glide down over Mulholland
I wanna write her name in the sky
Gonna free fall out into nothin'
Gonna leave this world for a while

(with backing vocals)
And I'm free, free fallin'
Yeah I'm free, free fallin'

(with backing vocals)
And I'm free, free fallin'
Yeah I'm free, free fallin'
You can thank Alan Trammell for making the eighth inning that much easier for Mike Myers. With the bases loaded and one out, Carlos Pena was due up, but Trammell pinch-hit Greg Norton, because he's a switch hitter. Now, Norton's having a terrible year anyway, but check out these career splits:

Norton vs. lefties: .219/.288/.319
Pena vs. lefties: .231/.299/.430

This year's splits are consistent with the career numbers.

Two managers who play the matchups, rather than the numbers. This one has "seventeen innings" written all over it.

Update: well, it HAD "seventeen innings" written all over it until Monroe doubled in three runs and Munson doubled in another.

Mariners try to bounce back vs. Tigers

Remember this?

If Ichiro and Pedro Martinez are said to "put butts in the seats", what's the polar opposite? Nate Robertson, that's what.

Fittingly, 39,102 people showed up at Safeco for the sole purpose of proving me wrong. After seeing the Mariners explode for an 11-0 victory the previous night, you can't really blame the fans for jumping at the opportunity to maybe, just maybe, catch the Mariners during a little hot streak. Alas, hopefully those fans learned their lesson - there is no hot streak, there never was a hot streak, and there never will be a hot streak. Not with this team, anyway. We've reached double digits in runs scored three times this year; in the games immediately following those, we've scored a total of five runs.

We've also been shut out five times already (five times!). Of course, a lot of people saw it coming last night; Spiezio and Ibanez were out of the lineup, in favor of Willie Bloomquist and Quinton McCracken. Here's a little breakdown for you, in the form of Runs Created/Plate Appearance:

Spiezio: 0.127
Ibanez: 0.134
Bloomquist: 0.098
McCracken: 0.018

Now, McCracken and Bloomquist combined to get six plate appearances (each were pinch-hit for late in the game), three each. Based on their season averages, you could expect them to create 0.348 runs. Were you to give three PA's to Spiezio and Ibanez, you could expect them to create .783 runs. However, if you started those two players, then you wouldn't have had to pinch-hit for them later in the game, so they'd really get *four* plate appearances each. That means that, based on their averages, they'd create 1.04 runs in yesterday's game.

Bloomquist/McCracken: 0.348
Ibanez/Spiezio: 1.04
Difference: -0.692

The Mariners, as a team, average 4.12 runs per game. By sacrificing about 0.69 runs (starting Bloomquist/McCracken over Spiezio/Ibanez), you're essentially losing 16.8% of your offense. Now, does that strike you as a good decision for a manager to make when his team's collective OPS is already below .700? No, it doesn't.

I'm not quite done with the numbers yet. Here are a few Gil Meche averages:

  • 4.75 innings per start

  • 19.7 pitches per inning

  • 4.58 batters faced per inning

  • 1.42 HR/9

14 of the 25 batters Meche faced last night saw five or more pitches in their at bats. Already a relatively inefficient pitcher, Meche now leads the majors in pitches per inning. Not coincidentally, he's running out of steam way too quickly, and his outings have been short as a result. Last night, he flashed glimpses of the kind of pitcher he could become if he were ever able to smooth out certain problem areas - striking out 11 hitters in 6 innings is impressive, regardless of your opponent. Unfortunately, it took him 118 pitches to get there, and two bad deliveries ruined his overall line. In essence, his start last night encapsulated Meche's entire career to date: terrific stuff, flashes of putting it all together, but ruined by a few rough patches. Starts like this one make me want to leave him in the rotation and hope against hope that everything comes together down the road, but we can't keep letting him throw so many pitches in stressful situations ("All pitches are not created equal"), and he's really better off in the bullpen. Will that happen with the Mariners, though? Stay tuned...

Eight hits. Eight singles. With last night's five-walk effort, it seems like we've been more patient than we were earlier in the season, doesn't it? Well, it ain't true. We drew a walk for every 11.8 plate appearances in April, as opposed to once every 13.6 PA's in May...

Shigetoshi Hasegawa's ERA is up to 6.20, more than four times where it was last year. One of the biggest differences? He's become a flyball pitcher this year (0.88 GB/FB), after inducing a bunch of grounders in 2003 (1.47 GB/FB). The last time he was an extreme flyball pitcher was 1999, when his ERA was 4.91. Not surprisingly, he's on pace to allow a bunch of extra-base hits, doubling last year's total. One of the other major differences between 2004 and 2003? Walks. Where he was throwing with pinpoint control last season, he's suddenly walking nearly five hitters per nine innings (exluding IBB's), a figure he hasn't come close to approaching before in his career. When you're walking a bunch of hitters and allowing a lot of doubles, it's difficult to maintain a low ERA...

Mike Myers is facing about two batters per appearance. Although it seems like Melvin's leaving him in to face too many righties, this actually isn't the case - only 29% of his batters faced have been right-handed, whereas he was facing 44% righties the three previous years. Of course, any right-handed batter might as well just walk to first base without making Myers throw a single pitch. Oh, and lefties are starting to hit him, too, so be on the lookout. George Sherrill can't come up a moment too soon.

Pineiro vs. Johnson tonight in the battle of the 6.00+ ERA's.
I've learned through David that Justin Leone was drilled in the wrist last night. It's just a bruise, and he'll miss a week, but you always have to be cautious when it comes to a wrist injury. Leone's value right now is a direct function of his enormous power, and if it takes a little while for his bat speed to return, then his numbers could suffer. Nobody wants that.
Mariners looking at Mondesi?

According to the report by The Associated Press in the Dominican Republic, the Angels are among four teams pursuing Mondesi, whose contract the Pittsburgh Pirates terminated on Wednesday because of a breach of contract. The other teams listed are Boston, St. Louis and Seattle.

I don't really see how this would suit our fan-friendliness.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma lost to Omaha, 10-7. Craig Anderson got roughed up as the starter, and Andrew Shibilo allowed two runs in his Rainiers debut. Elpidio Guzman's three hits led the offense. Notables:

Andrew Shibilo: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Justin Leone: 2-3, 2 homers, 1 BB (.262/.329/.651)
Jamal Strong: 2-5
Bucky Jacobsen: 0-3, 2 BB
Ben Davis: 0-5
Jose Lopez: 2-4, 1 double, 1 homer

San Antonio lost to Round Rock, 7-5. Juan Done allowed ten hits and seven runs as he picked up his second loss. The Missions rallied for three runs in the last two innings, but it wasn't enough. Notables:

Greg Dobbs: 1-4
Greg Jacobs: 0-4
Shin Soo-Choo: 0-3, 1 BB
Hunter Brown: 2-4
Luis Oliveros: 0-4

Inland Empire beat up on Lancaster, 16-2. Felix Hernandez rebounded with a strong start, and he added his fourth win as the 66ers provided more than enough run support. The team got 22 baserunners and 18 hits (seven for extra bases) in just eight innings, victimizing opposing starter Jared Doyle. Notables:

Felix Hernandez: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HR
Juan Gonzalez: 3-6, 1 double, 1 triple
TJ Bohn: 2-5, 1 homer, 1 BB
Vince Faison: 2-4, 1 BB
Rene Rivera: 1-5
Matt Hagen: 1-4, 1 double
Hyung Cho: 3-5, 2 doubles

Wisconsin lost to West Michigan, 6-2. The Rattlers couldn't make a comeback after starter Nibaldo Acosta allowed 11 hits and six runs in just 5.1 innings. Wisconsin only struck out once, though, and that's got to mean something to someone. Notables:

Josh Womack: 0-4
Adam Jones: 1-4
Chris Colton: 0-4
Wladimir Balentien: 1-3

Friday, May 21, 2004

Bloomquist up, Santiago down.
We signed Andy Shibilo to a minor league contract today. He had allowed 26 baserunners and 11 runs in 13 innings out of the Iowa bullpen before being released by the Cubs organization.

Here's the lowdown on Shibilo:

  • 27 years old

  • right-handed

  • 3.66 career minor league ERA

  • Hasn't been a starter since 2000; has a 1.88 ERA since becoming a full-time reliever

  • 8.11 K/9

  • 2.94 BB/9

He's got the typical righty relief repertoire, and will probably assume Craig Anderson's old role, as the Australian southpaw slides into the rotation to cover for the injured Bobby Madritsch.
No writing tonight; I won't be home.
The Optimist has gone on strike. Won't post again until the Mariners have won five in a row.

Some might call this a cop-out by a guy who's just tired of writing (a number of blogs have already fallen through, after just a few weeks/months of existence [or one day, anyway]), but I'm going to give M.O. the benefit of the doubt and assume that it's nearly impossible to convey a positive outlook for this team.

Living in San Diego, I don't get to watch the Mariners live very often. For the last five years or so, I've watched them online, using ESPN's Gamecast, Yahoo!'s GameChannel, or's Gameday. For a while, I watched them religiously, scheduling my days around Mariners games. This year, it's not really like that. At all. I was glancing at the screen every so often, but later I decided to watch a movie and go out to play some poker, deciding that the game wasn't worth watching. Imagine my surprise when I came home and saw what I saw.

Rodrigo Lopez entered the game having allowed just one run in 27.1 innings. Jamie Moyer wasn't pitching like his normal self. We'd lost nine of ten games, and Baltimore owned our season series to date. So, naturally, we beat them 11-0. Moyer threw seven shutout innings, while Ichiro led the offense with three hits, including his second homer of the year. Current line for our overpaid right fielder: .320/.370/.388.

Ever wondered about the perils inherent in taking the mean value of a small sample size? We'll here's a pretty good example for you: the Mariners are averaging 5.8 runs over their last five games. Nice offense, right? Not really - they've scored 11 and 13 runs in two of the games, but just one, two, and two in the others. I've said it before, but I'll say it again - when you have an offense based around a bunch of singles-hitters, you aren't going to score runs on a consistent basis; you'll be prone to long lapses of inefficiency, bookended by mammoth games of odds-defying productivity. Tonight's game was a pretty good example of this in and of itself. Lopez had a no-hitter through the first four innings, but we exploded for six runs in the fifth, thanks to six singles, a walk, and an error. We've exhibited a remarkable ability to string together big, yet powerless innings, probably why Melvin made his idiotic "home runs are rally-killers" statement the other day. The reason this is good is that we've never really out of it; we're one huge inning away from making it a whole new ballgame. The reason this is bad is that we're so inconsistent that we'll often find ourselves falling behind early, and our lineup is incapable of chipping away at leads. It's kind of all-or-nothing with this offense, and I never thought that I'd be saying that before the season began.

You know the good thing about blowouts? You can't complain about Melvin's bullpen management. Moyer got pulled after throwing 122 soft pitches through seven innings, and Ron Villone came in to finish it off. 11-0 games were invented for the sake of keeping mop-up men employed; Melvin could have resurrected Kevin Jarvis and put him into this game, for all I care, because there's just no negativity when you're up by that much. Worse comes to worse, Jarvis implodes and lets Melvin insert Guardado into a save situation. It's win-win, I tell you.

Every regular got a hit today - even Quinton McCracken. Ichiro and Spiezio had back-to-back extra-base hits in the seventh inning, the odds of which are extremely slim (roughly once every 300 chances). The team pushed its overall line up to 260/.325/.373, ever so close to that elusive .700 OPS. What's more, we actually managed to narrow the OBP gap between ourselves and our opponents to 12 points; the real difference between our hitters and theirs is that they're hitting for a lot more power than we are (go figure).

Offensive comparison, this year versus the last:

(2004) - (2003)
PA/H: (4.17) - (4.07)
PA/BB: (12.7) - (10.5)
PA/K: (6.33) - (6.22)
PA/HR: (57.4) - (44.2)
PA/Xtra-base: (15.2) - (13.3)

Striking out a little bit less, but not walking as much, and not hitting as often, or for as much power. Nothing you didn't already know. I think it's funny, though, that for all the talk about putting together a "contact-hitting lineup" this past winter, the team's actually on pace to strike out three more times than it did in 2003. At least we're making up for it by hitting more homers.

Rich Aurilia pushed his OPS over .600, the highest it's been since the first of the month. He's been the subject of trade rumors early on...

The Chicago Cubs had two scouts watching the Mariners — former Boston Red Sox manager Grady Little and Gary Hughes, assistant to the GM. They may be looking for a shortstop, with Chicago starter Alex Gonzalez out with a broken right wrist.

...but Chicago has denied said rumors.

But Cubs sources deny any interest in the 32-year-old Aurilia, whose production has gone steadily downward since he hit .324 with 37 home runs and 97 RBIs hitting in front of Barry Bonds in 2001.

I think that Aurilia's going to start hitting one of these days, but he has no future as a Mariner, so it would be nice to keep dangling his name in front of Dusty Baker until the Cubs finally cave in. Still, even though I know that dealing Aurilia for younger pieces would be for the betterment of the organization, I refuse to put up with half a year of Ramon Santiago. If we had a legitimate shortstop alternative, then I'd be all for it, but since the front office doesn't think that Justin Leone can handle shortstop, we've left with a terrible Ramon Santiago, an incrementally less-terrible Willie Bloomquist, a terrible Mickey Lopez, an atrocious (that's worse than "terrible") Luis Ugueto, and a Jose Lopez that is currently developing the agile physique of a defensive tackle. This is when the overwhelming cynicism kicks in - "Bavasi wouldn't get anything for Aurilia, anyway" - and I just want to keep him around for as long as possible. This team messes with your psyche, man.

Attendance tonight: 27,967. Now the Tigers come to town. If Ichiro and Pedro Martinez are said to "put butts in the seats", what's the polar opposite? Nate Robertson, that's what. He goes against Meche tomorrow, at 7:05.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma shut out Omaha, 8-0. Matt Thornton allowed six baserunners in 5.1 innings for the win (4-1). Bucky Jacobsen destroyed the ball, launching two homers, and the Rainiers had five bombs on the night overall. Notables:

Matt Thornton: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 3 K
George Sherrill: 1.1 IP, 2 K
Justin Leone: 1-4, 1 homer
Ben Davis: 2-4
Jose Lopez: 1-4
Bucky Jacobsen: 3-4, 2 homers
Jamal Strong: 1-5, 1 homer
William Bloomquist: 0-4
Hiram Bocachica: 1-1, 1 homer

San Antonio lost to Round Rock, 5-3. Emiliano Fruto lasted just three innings, but Renee Cortez got the loss by allowing the eventual winning run in the seventh inning. John Lindsey was the lone offensive bright spot, going 3-5 with a double. Notables:

Dustin Delucchi: 0-5
Shin-soo Choo: 1-4, 1 BB
Greg Jacobs: 2-5
Greg Dobbs: 1-2, 1 BB
Luis Oliveros: 1-5

Inland Empire lost to High Desert, 12-2. Bobby Livingston took his first loss of the season, but Melvin Pizarro allowed seven runs without recording an out in the bottom of the eighth to turn it into a blowout. Notables:

Bobby Livingston: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R (2 ER), 4 K
Hyung Cho: 1-4, 1 homer
TJ Bohn: 1-3
Matt Hagen: 0-2, 1 BB

Wisconsin beat West Michigan, 9-5. Bryan Heaston picked up his third win, in relief of Ryan Feierabend, by striking out five in four innings of shutout work. The Rattlers offense managed 13 hits, three from Adam Jones. Notables:

Ryan Feierabend: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 R (4 ER), 1 K
Adam Jones: 3-5, 1 double, 1 triple
Wladimir Balentien: 3-4, 2 doubles
Chris Colton: 2-4, 2 doubles

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Great news.

McCracken wants more playing time, and Bloomquist's almost back.
I can't get access to the minor league box scores right now; navigating to the scoreboards page calls up a Terms Of Use page, and when I click "Accept", it just goes right back to showing me the Terms Of Use. So, no box scores tonight. Fortunately, J's got you covered.

You know that feeling you get when you fall on your elbow and it stings like all hell, until you hold it with your other hand and the pain gradually recedes? This season is like that, only once the pain is almost gone, you fall on your other elbow and snap your ankle when you try to get back on your feet. This team has found a way to lose nine of its last ten games, with five of the losses being decided by one run. Remember when we were 6-8 after winning four consecutive low-scoring games? We've won 28% of our games since then. Only 29,575 fans showed up tonight - compared to 36,423 against Kansas City at this point last year - because the fans are beginning to take notice. Attendance is down more than 12%, and this includes three straight sellouts against the New York Yankees!!. The bigger crowds usually come in the summer months, but that isn't going to happen this year, not without a miracle.

Ryan Franklin was pitching a good game until he reached the seventh inning, when a bunch of bad things happened. Some might chalk it up to Murphy's Law, some might blame it on the Law of Averages, and some might brush it off as a coincidence, but whatever the case may be, four straight Orioles got hits, and three of them scored before Franklin was yanked. His final line looks just about right: five extra-base hits allowed, including a homer, a handful of runs, but good command. He actually managed to strike out four Orioles before his day was through, but he's not missing any more bats than he did last year, so there's not much "good" here. His numbers so far look pretty bad, but if you exclude a godawful game against Texas, he's not that far from where he was in 2003. His percentage of quality starts is down, though, so take that for what it's worth.

You might've missed it, sandwiched between Franklin's meltdown and Guardado's inexplicable appearance, but JJ Putz threw another 1.2 shutout innings, needing just 11 pitches to retire five batters (and walk one). He's been a model of efficiency so far, throwing just 3.34 pitches per batter faced, which would place him in the top-5 in the majors had he thrown enough innings. He's only allowed ten baserunners through 13 innings, and two of those were intentionally put on base - somewhere along the line, Putz became our best right-handed reliever. Unfortunately, Melvin seems reluctant to let him pitch more than two innings, something that shouldn't be a problem for a guy with 75 career starts. Maybe it's a fear of overexposure, or maybe it's because Melvin likes to get the other guys some innings, but Putz has been one of the few bright spots on this steaming pile of Old we call a roster, and he deserves the chance to throw some critical pitches. Ideally, his future is as the 2001 Ryan Franklin, sopping up the middle innings while keeping the team close and providing rotation insurance. Letting Putz assume the long reliever role (which demands that he be given the opportunity to exceed two innings pitched) leaves open the option of turning Meche into a high-leverage setup guy. There are a lot of similarities between Meche and the pre-2001 Octavio Dotel, and I'd like to see how he performs out of the bullpen before thinking about dealing him away.

Edgar Martinez' at bats today:

-two outs, man on second - strikeout
-two outs, none on - ground out
-two outs, man on first - single
-two outs, bases loaded - strikeout
-two outs, men on second and third - strikeout

Needless to say, it was a day to forget for Edgar. There's nobody you'd rather have up at the plate in tonight's seventh- and ninth-inning situations, but Edgar couldn't deliver. Sadly, this has been the case more often than not so far. While he's struggling in many facets of the game, he's really having a problem with strikeouts - he's whiffing once every 5.1 PA's this year, well below his career average of 7.2. If you infer this as a sign of a slower bat, then it also serves to partially explain his lack of power thus far; Edgar's always hit a bunch of opposite-field home runs, so if you slow his swing down even the slightest bit, he starts hitting those balls foul, if not missing them altogether. It's really hard for any Mariners fan to entertain such thoughts, given that the entire team is having problems hitting, but Edgar's getting old, and he wasn't going to hit .300/.400/.500 forever. Seattle appears to be fighting Colorado for the distinction of being the organization where old 1B/DH types go to die, and it's difficult to watch Edgar and Olerud struggling so much. This isn't how I pictured Edgar's final season - this isn't how anyone pictured Edgar's final season - but at the very least, it will make his decision that much easier come this offseason.

I will not discuss Dan Wilson's age-defying rejuvenation anymore on this site, as I appear to have angered some sort of soul-devouring daimon with magical powers.

Ichiro's hit streak ended at 16 games, but he extended his reaching-base streak to 23 games by drawing a pair of walks. He's on pace to exceed last year's BB total by more than twenty...

ESPN headline: "Orioles' Bedard gets first major league win." It's nice to see that, as a team full of individuals who are involved with the community, we don't limit our volunteering efforts and collective altruism to off-the-field functions...

Rich Aurilia doubled. That's his second double in three days. One more and he'll push those irritating OBP and SLG marks above .300...

Moyer vs. Lopez tomorrow, 7:05 start time. Be part of the action as, through some act of subterfuge, the announced attendance dramatically exaggerates the actual crowd size! Things are looking pretty bad at the gates these days, but one must never underestimate the awesome drawing power of Detroit, who comes to town once we rid ourselves of Baltimore.
The Minor League Wrap-Up will be delayed, as is having some problems with its scoreboards.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

They did it again.

Franklin looks to lead Mariners turnaround

The Mariners hope Ryan Franklin is what they need to turn around their luck against the Orioles.
Remember how excited we were about Larry LaRue's article? Yeah, well, you can forget about it. By the looks of things, we're going to stay where we are, because "we're a veteran team that knows how to deal with rough patches in the schedule." You can never put too much stock in what a general manager says to the press, but Bavasi has been remarkably consistent in his statements, and I see no reason to believe that the team's about to be torn apart.

Meanwhile, Brian Price was being profound...

"He could be a very, very special pitcher, or he could be somebody that didn't get to reach his potential," he said. "We'd like to push him toward reaching his potential."

...and Bavasi doesn't want to promote minor leaguers because the ML team could use them, whatever that means.

"I would not bring him up until (farm director Benny Looper) tells me that there's not a whole lot more that he can do at Triple-A," Bavasi said. "Bob (Melvin), Benny, myself, none of us want to bring somebody up based on need."
All hail ESPN for staying with the times. As of tonight, the team pages now offer regular and expanded hitting stats. Neat stuff.

Ben Davis had another miserable day for Tacoma, going 0-for-4 while walking once. Through a week of games, he's hitting .148/.233/.185, after going 3-for-33 to start the season with the Mariners. This came on the heels of a spring training in which he hit .057 in 35 at bats. All together, Davis has hit .117 since last year's All Star break, with five doubles and one home run. To make things worse, he fell apart after a particularly strong first half, where people finally began to believe the hype.

How often do hitters just completely fall apart, as Davis has? He can't hit anyone, major- and minor-leaguers alike, pulling the offensive equivalent of a Rick Ankiel or Chuck Knoblauch. I'm not really certain whether or not there's a precedent for this kind of performance, but it causes you to think some pretty nasty things. Davis needs to fly to Peoria and get the Cirillo treatment, working on his swing in a non-competitive environment and gradually working through the lower minors until team officials are satisfied. You don't like to give up on a catcher with so many tools in his age-27 season, but something is dreadfully wrong, and the Mariners need to pull away if they deem it to be the appropriate time.

Could Davis be hurt? Derek Jeter is having a terrible season after getting hit in the hand by one pitch and injuring the other in a collision with a first baseman. Did Davis fall down in his house (or something) last July, hurt himself, and never disclose just how much pain he was in? You can just about pinpoint the day where everything went wrong; Davis had two multihit games immediately following the All Star break last July, but fell apart after watching the July 11th game from the bench. He hasn't gotten two hits in a game since, and I'm beginning to wonder whether or not cutting him open and seeing if he's got any structural problems would be in order. It's a truly mystifying situation, and it's a shame to see such a talented player go to waste when the team is in such a state of need.

While I was watching Randy Johnson and the Diamondbacks celebrate tonight, I saw on the Bottom-Line that Edgar Martinez was out of the lineup today (back). Aware that Boone has been missing games lately, I wondered aloud what this lineup would look like without them:


Prior to today, those players had combined for 728 home runs in 27,210 at bats - an average of 37.4 AB's per homer. As it turned out, Boone was back in the lineup today, but unless God is a sick son of a bitch, nobody should have to worry about this group of players taking the field at once. Coincidentally, Boone homered and drew a walk in his return to the lineup, pushing his numbers up to Tony Batista territory (I sure do mention him a lot). In the early going, Boone's been his normal self on the road, but he's been badly affected by Safeco. This hasn't been a problem in the past - Bret Boone's home and road numbers were identical from 2001-2003 - so I'm willing to chalk it up to small sample sizes and tough matchups in Seattle. While I'm not afraid to suggest that he's declining (he's reached that age where, as a second baseman, his career may hit the wall), I don't think that he lost 160 OPS points over the course of one winter. He'll pick it up as the summer wears on - hopefully for some other team, if they offer enough.

Ichiro had another multihit game, running his streak to six such games in a row. He has 29 hits through 15 games in May, and his hot play coincides with a time when many of us (myself included) wanted Melvin to let him rest and catch a game or two from the bench. His numbers currently display some disagreement; if you're willing to believe that a hitter's BABIP is influenced by his footspeed, Ichiro's hits are falling at his 2002 rate (and better than last year), but he's only stealing bases at a 58% clip. What does this mean? Bad jumps, good throws, pitchers who work well with the running game - it's only a 12-attempt sample size, after all. But it's something to look at over the course of the season, because one thing isn't agreeing with the other. Even in 2002, when Ichiro was having base-stealing problems, he was still successful two-thirds of the time. Now he's more of a liability in the 2003 Luis Castillo mold than anything else.

After Raul's home run, he became the only regular with an .800+ OPS (again). He's not there anymore, but it was fun while it lasted...

It was his first homer in two weeks, dating back to May 4th. How has he been doing so far?

  • BA down 13.6%

  • OBP down 7.8%

  • SLG up 5.5%

  • EqA up 4.1%

Thanks to a mysterious ability to hold his own against southpaws - something he's never been able to do - Raul has fended off age-related decline so far and remained a league-average corner outfielder. He's also benefited enormously by playing in Safeco, where he's hit six of his seven home runs and slugged .565 altogether. Now all we need is for him to continue avoiding old age for another two and a half seasons until we're free of his contract. But wait, what's that?

If they choose to acquire or bring up an outfielder, left fielder Raul IbaƱez could move to first base.

It's one thing to have a bad first baseman whose contract runs out at the end of the year. It's another thing to replace him with a below-average hitter who will stay there for two more years. Raul Ibanez is, for the time being, a perfectly decent player to have in the outfield, because his bat won't cost you any games, and he hits for a few homers when the rest of the team is legging out pop-ups. He would become a distinctly bad first baseman, though, as his production would look worse in the context of other first basemen, and his defense would suck (just like it does in left field). The team is finding itself in an undesirable situation, where it has two league-average hitters (Ibanez and Spiezio) whose poor defense is on the verge of moving each to first base. Neither would hit enough, but at least Spiezio's got the glove for it; however, I'm afraid that that would leave Ibanez either in left field (bad) or at DH (worse). He just isn't going to hit enough, and it...I don't...why did he...asdfkjahsduadifdgsa

Rich Aurilia Watch: .236/.291/.293. He went 0-for-3 today with a walk. Can I, a simple college student glancing over the numbers on summer vacation, uncover the root of Aurilia's problems? Let's compare his performance to last year, and see where we get:

  • Groundball/Flyball ratio is the same, at 0.88 - Safeco's a big place, but so is SBC park, and this doesn't account for his problems

  • Striking out more often - from 6.6 PA's per strikeout last year to 6.0 in 2004. However, the difference over a full season is only about eight strikeouts, total, so that can't really be it

  • He's walking more. Certainly not the problem...

  • His pitches/PA rate is slightly higher than last year, but hardly out of line with his career average - not much of a problem

  • BABIP is down 23 points from last year, but only 12 from his career average - it's a dropoff, but not as immense as you'd expect, given his performance so far

None of these seems to be the cause of Aurilia's problems with the bat. A quick glance shows that he's gone homerless through a month and a half of action, but this is a strange erosion of talent, because power typically declines slowly in aging ballplayers, after batting average goes down the crapper (see the pre-2004 Craig Biggio). According to his hit charts, he's been a pretty extreme pull hitter his last few years, so even if he lost a little bat speed, he'd still be hitting balls over to center and the friendly right field area. The last possibility that I can think of right now is that playing shortstop has greatly accelerated his decline phase - clearly, he's a genuinely lousy defensive infielder, so perhaps his strength has evaporated with his athleticism. Aurilia's performance so far is a real mystery to me, but it looks like the fans were right to boo him.

I say a few kind words about Randy Winn, and he promptly goes 0-for-13 over the next three games. Forget I said anything, kid, just focus on your game!

Kudos to Melvin for proper usage of Mike Myers tonight; whether by design or blind luck, he elected to let Myers face the right-handed Luis Matos, who has displayed a bizarre reverse platoon-split over his career. Matos went on to ground into a double play. In a 5-2 ballgame in the eighth inning, I doubt that Melvin actually knew about Matos' splits, but sometimes you have to applaud happenstance when there's nothing else to feel good about.

Freddy finally had his second bad start of the year. Last year, it took him three games to get there. He was battling an inconsistent strike zone all game long, and wound up throwing just 56% of 123 pitches for strikes. He's exhibited a tendency to hit the wall around 105-110 pitches, as his 113th pitch was drilled for a double, and #117 was lifted over the right field fence. He's become the rotation's workhorse despite a performance history that warns against such usage - while a guy like Bartolo Colon can reach 130 pitches without losing much steam, Freddy starts getting gopher-friendly, and that's a role best left to the bullpen. Hey, as long as we're trying to trade him, we might as well try to make him look more valuable, right? Either Freddy needs to become more efficient with his pitches, or Melvin needs to figure out how to properly manage his pitching staff. $100 says that neither ever happens.

Some of the better news came from Larry LaRue, who discussed blowing up the team in a recent article. He claims that sources close to the team have hinted at major roster restructuring, and names off four players - Aurilia, Olerud, Meche, and McCracken - who could see some major changes in their immediate futures. Let's think about this:

-The only person, anywhere, who wants Rich Aurilia is Dusty Baker. This past winter, Jose Hernandez was forced into signing a minor league deal with the Dodgers despite being just one year removed from an All Star season. What do you think the odds are that there are people interested in Aurilia's services? He's an immobile defensive shortstop whose offensive game has disappeared. At the same time, though, dealing him away means that we have to stare at either Ramon Santiago, Willie Bloomquist, or Jose Lopez for the rest of the year, and each of these options comes with a major downside: you don't want to rush Lopez, and Santiago and Bloomquist are terrible baseball players. It would be one thing if the organization recognized Justin Leone as a capable shorstop, but they don't, so there's not much in the way of desirable alternatives.

-John Olerud is a lousy offensive first baseman who's due to receive another $5.9m this year. Nobody in their right mind would trade anyone of value for him, meaning that you either have to A) trade him with a good prospect just to get him off the team, B) cut him, or C) relegate him to the bench. The team won't want to throw away young arms, so forget A, and Olerud's done too much on the field and in the community for us to release him, so that means that he should be about ready for the bench. Dave Hansen is the piece we should be shopping.

-Gil Meche has disturbingly good stuff, but he's still learning how to throw it and how to remain energized for an entire game. He's running out of chances in Seattle, with the next wave of young arms about ready to emerge, but there are a dozen teams out there who would be more than willing to give him all the chances he needs. Kansas City or Milwaukee could offer us some talented young bats in return, and it sure would be nice to have Calvin Pickering (.312/.458/.785) back...

-Quinton McCracken sucks.

The article goes along at a pretty good pace, until reaching the second-to-last paragraph:

The Mariners' front office is in agreement - they will not rush young players like Lopez, Justin Leone, Madritsch or Nageotte before they think they're ready.

Rushing Lopez? Bad. Rushing Nageotte? Bad. Rushing Leone and Madritsch? They're 27 and 28 years old, respectively. The time is now.

Franklin vs. Bedard. We've lost eight of nine. Get all of it.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

A seven-run fourth helped Tacoma beat Memphis, 11-3. Travis Blackley didn't have his best command, but still managed to pick up his third win as the Rainiers beat up on Adam Wainwright. Jamal Strong's four hits from the leadoff spot carried the offense. Notables:

Travis Blackley: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 ER), 4 BB, 1 K
Jamal Strong: 4-5, 1 double
Willie Bloomquist: 2-4
Jose Lopez: 0-1
Hiram Bocachica: 1-3, 1 homer
Bucky Jacobsen: 2-5, 1 double
Justin Leone: 1-3, 2 BB
Ben Davis: 0-4, 1 BB

San Antonio shut out Round Rock, 4-0. Rich Dorman, called up to replace the injured Chris Buglovsky, was brilliant in his AA debut, and Renee Cortez got the two-inning save. The Missions managed just six hits and two walks, but that was more than enough support for the pitchers. Notables:

Rich Dorman: 7 IP, 3 H, 9 K
Dustin Delucchi: 2-4
Shin Soo-Choo: 1-3, 1 double, 1 BB
Greg Jacobs: 1-3, 1 double, 1 BB
Hunter Brown: 0-3

Inland Empire fell to High Desert, 7-6. David Viane allowed four runs in the seventh to get the loss, negating a strong offensive day from Rene Rivera. TA Fulmer picked up a quality start, allowing three runs in six innings. Notables:

TA Fulmer: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR
Juan Gonzalez: 1-4, 1 double, 1 BB
TJ Bohn: 1-2, 1 homer, 2 BB
Rene Rivera: 3-4, 1 double, 1 homer
Matt Hagen: 0-4
Hyung Cho: 0-3

Wisconsin beat Cedar Rapids, 3-2. Juan Ovalles got the win by recording a single out in the ninth, as the Rattlers scored in the bottom half of the inning to win. It was a miserable day for the offense, as Wisconsin slapped just three hits all game, but the support stood up in the end. Notables:

Jason Mackintosh: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 6 K
Josh Womack: 0-4
Adam Jones: 0-3, 1 BB
Wladimir Balentien: 0-2, 1 BB
Josh Ellison: 0-3
Congratulations to Randy Johnson. In recognition of his achievement, Yahoo! decided that Alex Cintron was the top performer in today's game.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Jeff is now back and comfortably settled in his San Diego home. Recap coming later, when I pull myself off the couch.
I wonder how many times the official website has said something like "The Mariners look to right the ship tonight against __..."
A few interesting articles for you to read whilst I recover my bearings:

Freddy interested in the New York Yankees!!.

Felix Hernandez is pretty good.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma lost to Memphis, 13-7. A disaster of a fourth inning did in Clint Nageotte, and seven Memphis players had multihit games. Willie Bloomquist led the Rainiers with three hits of his own. Notables:

Clint Nageotte: 4 IP, 10 H, 9 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR
Justin Leone: 1-3, 1 homer
Jose Lopez: 2-4, 1 double
Jamal Strong: 2-5, 1 double
William Bloomquist: 3-4, 1 homer
Bucky Jacobsen: 1-5, 1 double
Hiram Bocachica: 0-2, 1 BB

San Antonio held off a late rally in defeating El Paso, 8-7. Troy Cate was the winner, throwing a decent 5.2 innings, and Renee Cortez got the three-out save after El Paso narrowed the deficit to one with a homer. The 6-through-9 Missions hitters went 7-17. Notables:

Troy Cate: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR
Dustin Delucchi: 2-5
Shin-soo Choo: 1-4, 1 BB
Greg Jacobs: 1-4, 1 double, 1 BB
Hunter Brown: 0-5
Luis Oliveros: 2-5, 2 doubles

Inland Empire had the day off.

Wisconsin also held off a furious late rally in defeating Cedar Rapids, 9-6. Thomas Oldham was positively brilliant in his start, and got his second win despite the bullpen allowing six runs in two innings. Wladimir Balentien powered the Rattlers' offense to an uncharacteristically strong day. Notables:

Thomas Oldham: 7 IP, 5 H, 13 K
Wladimir Balentien: 2-4, 2 homers
Josh Womack: 2-4
Adam Jones: 2-5, 1 triple
Josh Ellison: 0-3

Blackley goes for Tacoma tomorrow.
This article from the official website mentions Bucky Jacobsen as a possible replacement for Edgar. It also notes that Bucky has established himself as a popular clubhouse leader, so that only betters his chances.
Troy Glaus will miss at least two months following shoulder surgery, and could be out for the season.

Sunday, May 16, 2004


No time for writing. Here's the quick of it:

  • Second good start in a row for Pineiro - he's on the way back

  • You can't expect much when you face Kevin Brown, Tom Gordon, and Mariano Rivera

  • Rich Aurilia had his second multihit game since April 14th

  • Ichiro's still cookin'

  • We shouldn't let struggling pitchers throw 121 pitches in a game

  • Remember when I said that Winn was turning the corner? Yeah, forget it

  • Spiezio's home run was our first since the 12th

Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma beat Memphis 5-4, in 13 innings. Greg Wear got his first win of the year with three shutout innings, as the Tacoma bullpen allowed just two runs in 7.2 innings. The Rainiers were able to overcome four errors, two each by Jose Lopez and Justin Leone. Notables:

Cha Baek: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 5 K
George Sherrill: 1.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 K, 1 HR
Justin Leone: 1-6, 1 double
Ben Davis: 0-5, 1 BB
Jose Lopez: 0-6
Jamal Strong: 0-6, 1 BB
Hiram Bocachica: 1 BB
Bucky Jacobsen: 2-5, 1 homer, 1 BB

San Antonio beat El Paso, 6-2. Juan Done recorded his third win of the year, allowing two runs in 7.1 IP, while Rick Guttormson picked up the two-out save. The Missions' offense put 18 runners on base during the game. Notables:

Juan Done: 7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K
Dustin Delucchi: 1-4, 1 BB
Greg Jacobs: 2-5
Shin-soo Choo: 2-5
Hunter Brown: 2-4, 1 double

Inland Empire lost to Rancho Cucamonga, 9-6. Felix Hernandez had an uncharacteristically rough start, getting his second loss, and a six-run sixth inning wasn't enough for the 66ers. Notables:

Felix Hernandez: 4 IP, 8 H, 7 R (5 ER), 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR
Juan Gonzalez: 1-5
TJ Bohn: 1-4
Rene Rivera: 1-4, 1 double
Hyung Cho: 2-4

Wisconsin was, as is typical of Wisconsin, shut out by Cedar Rapids, 8-0. Eric O`Flaherty got the loss (1-2), but the Rattlers' lineup could manage just four singles against Nic Touchstone and two relievers. Notables:

Eric O`Flaherty: 5 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Adam Jones: 0-3
Wladimir Balentien: 1-3, 1 BB
Chris Colton: 0-4
Tacoma beat Memphis, 6-2. Matt Thornton got the win despite walking seven in five innings, and Hiram Bocachica led the offense with three hits. The bullpen threw four shutout innings, and everyone in the Rainiers' starting lineup got at least one hit. Notables:

Matt Thornton: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 7 BB, 3 K
George Sherrill: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 3 K
Justin Leone: 1-5, 1 homer
Jose Lopez: 1-4
Hiram Bocachica: 3-5
Jamal Strong: 1-4, 1 BB
Ben Davis: 1-4, 1 BB

San Antonio fell to El Paso, 11-7. Elvis Perez got nailed with his fifth loss in another rough outing, and Chris Key allowed three runs while getting just two outs in immediate relief. A Hunter Brown error led to three more El Paso runs that put the game out of reach. Notables:

Greg Dobbs: 1-3
Luis Oliveros: 1-5, 1 double
Greg Jacobs: 0-4, 1 BB
Dustin Delucchi: 2-4
Christian Guerrero: 1-3, 1 BB

Inland Empire beat Rancho Cucamonga 4-2 in 10 innings. Bobby Livingston was brilliant through nine and was rewarded with his fifth win when the 66ers took the lead in the top of the 10th. Melvin Pizarro recorded his first save with a shutout inning, lowering his ERA to 0.59. The winning run was unearned. Notables:

Bobby Livingston: 9 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K (1.44 ERA)
Juan Gonzalez: 2-3, 1 homer, 2 BB
Matt Hagen: 0-5
TJ Bohn: 1-5

Wisconsin lost to Cedar Rapids, 8-2. It was another poor effort from the Rattlers' offense, as they managed just five hits while their opponents racked up sixteen, courtesy of Nibaldo Acosta and company. Notables:

Josh Ellison: 0-4
Adam Jones: 0-4
Wladimir Balentien: 1-3, 1 homer, 1 BB (back in the lineup)
Oswaldo Navarro: 2-3, 1 BB