Saturday, June 05, 2004

With a record of 19-34, is there anything I could say that could possibly make it any better or worse? This team is as close to turning the season around as they were four weeks ago. Something just isn't clicking with this team and it's time to start making changes to try to find a formula that will work for 2005, before 2005.

Now out that Raul Ibanez will be out for at least a month or more, Jamal Strong should be promoted. Promoting Jamal Strong will allow us to shift Winn back to left field, where he is much better defensively but more importantly, a position where he would be much more marketable. If Winn makes the shift to LF and continues to play as well as he has the past 7 days or so, his trade value will only go up. Whereas if he stays in CF and continues to play mediocre defense, his trade value will continue to remain low.

Freddy Garcia trade rumors are starting to pop up more frequently, with the latest rumor sending Freddy and Mike "Stop Laughing" Myers to the Yankees in exchange for Jose Contreras, Dioner Navarro, and Duke Sardinha. The trade in itself is laughable, but is just a sample of the absurd offers that will be circulating in the weeks prior to the trade deadline. My personal favorite thus far, Gil Meche to the Padres for Josh Barfield and Xavier Nady.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma was tripped up by Sacramento, 8-5. The Rainiers decided to have Jared Hoerman (who has been the epitome of awful) start the game. Predictably, it was a failure as he gave up five hits and three runs in only two innings of work. New Rainier and Independent League journeyman Tim Christman temporarily saved the day pitching a perfect 3.2 innings while striking out five. But wait! This is the Tacoma bullpen! Didn't they blow it? You bet, both Jeff Harris and Scott Atchison got pasted en route to another Tacoma loss. Jamal Strong and Jose Lopez both had good days, and Leone homered. Notables:

Jared Hoerman: 2.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HR.
Everyone but Tim Christman: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.
Jamal Strong: 2-3, 3 R, 1 double and a walk.
Jose Lopez: 1-3, 2 RBI.
A.J. Zapp: 0-4, 4 K.
Justin Leone: 1-4, a homer.
Ben Davis: 1-4, 1 RBI.

San Antonio lost in extras to Frisco, 5-4. Emiliano Fruto pitched to one man and Jason Botts made sure that was the only batter he'd face by homering in the bottom of the 10th. Starter Chris Key went five solid, if not spectacular, innings. Greg Dobbs led the Mission offense with two hits and Vince Faison also added a homer. Notables:

Chris Key: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.
Dustin Delucci: 0-3, 2 BB.
Greg Dobbs: 2-5, 1 double, 1 RBI.
John Lindsey: 0-4, 3 K.
Vince Faison: 1-4, 1 HR and a walk.
Brian Moon: 0-4.
Christian Guerrero: 1-3.

Inland Empire lost again, this time to Lancaster, 6-1. A pretty good outing for Juan Sandoval was wasted by a lack of run support by the 66'er lineup. Carlos Arroyo managed two hits, both singles, and Jon Nelson homered. Notables:

Juan Sandoval: 6.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 8 K.
T.J. Bohn: 0-2.
Juan Gonzalez: 0-5.
Jon Nelson: 1-4, a homer.
Carlos Arroyo: 2-4.
Rene Rivera: 1-4, one double.

Lansing beat up on Wisconsin, 7-2. Michael Moorhead was lit up early and lasted only 1.2 innings before giving way to Jason MacKintosh. Wladimir Balentien homered and Evel Martinez and Jeremy Dutton contributed two hits in the losing effort. Notables:

Michael Moorhead: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 HR.
Josh Womack: 1-4.
Adam Jones: 1-4.
Evel Martinez: 2-4.
Jeremy Dutton: 2-3, 1 double and a walk.
Wladimir Balentien: 2-3, 2 RBI, 1 homer and a walk.
Justin Ruchti: 0-4.
Why in the hell is Wilson bunting in the 8th inning when you are down three runs?

Update: After Paul Konerko over ran a pop up in foul territory, Ichiro lined out to Carlos Lee. Now there are two outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd.

Update of an update: Wild pitch by Marte scores Aurilia, then Winn struck out looking
Bavasi did say he would scour the waiver wire looking for a possible replacement. Well look no more Bavasi, your search has come to an end.
Reports out of Seattle have Ibanez on the shelf for 4-6 weeks. Apparently, it was mentioned during Mariners Warmup that Ibanez won't be back in the initally quoted 15 days.

Mmmm, nothing like an extended dose of Ramon Santiago. Or even a waiver pickup! Yay!
Well expecting and liking a move are two different things. While Leone, Strong, Bucky and the rest of the prospect group were the one's we were all hoping for, the chance of them getting more than a handful of AB were slim to none over the next two weeks. Add into the equation that Bucky, Lopez, Blackley, Zapp and Sherrill are not on the 40 man roster. Plus, anyone we call up most likely wouldn't hang around after Ibanez came back and would have to be optioned back to Tacoma, ultimately wasting an option year. I don't necessarily believe Bavasi thinks Santiago is any more ready that the rest of the group, but having already used an option an Ramon and his unwillingness to wave the white flag on the season, it was the "smartest" choice in his opinion.

Let Ramon sit on the bench for the next 15 days and let the prospects play regularly in Tacoma.
Well, Trent, it depends on what you think is "needed". Another utility infielder with no semblance of a bat? Not really, we have about 67 of those on the MLB roster. An outfielder who can hit? Ding ding ding! Yes, I realize that Bloomquist can hide himself in the outfield, but don't you think calling up Strong or Leone (who has played quite a bit of left field this season) would make more sense? I don't see how promoting a middle infielder does the Mariners much good. And if Bavasi thinks that Santiago is "ready" and Leone is not, well, I don't know what to say. I'm beginning to think that M's management thinks Santiago was and is a major league ready ballplayer simply because he was forced into a bunch of starts with the Tigers last season.
Update per KJR: Ibanez to the 15 day DL, Ramon Santiago up from Tacoma.

I feel like they are just toying with our emotions, especially following an article like this. But this should have been the move I expected. Leone and Lopez are better served playing everyday for Tacoma rather than sitting on the Seattle bench. Sherrill and Jacobsen are not on the 40 man roster, which would've caused a whole other roster dilemma. Strong, who is on the 40 man, has been dealing with some nagging injuries and could use the playing time in Tacoma as well. It's to bad that they didn't get the chance, but Bavasi has stated his stance on the issue numerous times. He won't promote players out of need. Only when they are ready.

Greg Jacobs was also promoted to Tacoma today to take the place of Bocachica.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma blew another late lead, but this time paid for it losing to Sacramento, 9-7. The Rainiers managed sixteen hits off of the Sacramento staff with Bucky Jacobsen leading the way with two moonshots. Gustavo Martinez went six before handing the ball over to (lately) the PCL's worst bullpen. Take a wild guess what happened to his nice lead. Notables:

Gustavo Martinez: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 6 K, 1 HR.
The Pen: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 HR.
Jamal Strong: 3-5, 1 R, 1 RBI.
Bucky Jacobsen: 3-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI.
Justin Leone: 4-5, 1 double and a run.
Ben Davis: 1-4, 1 BB, 3 RBI, 2 K.
A.J. Zapp: 1-4, 1 R, 1 BB.

San Antonio was trashed for the third straight day by Midland, 9-2. San Antonio jumped out to a 2-0 lead and that's when the bats stopped swinging. Rich Dorman fell completely apart by the 3rd and took the loss. A grand total of zero extra-base hits for the Missions all night, however Shin-soo Choo and Greg Dobbs managed two singles a piece. Notables:

Rich Dorman: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 6 K, 2 HR.
Dustin Delucci: 0-3, 2 BB.
Greg Dobbs: 2-5.
Shin-soo Choo: 2-4, 1 R.
Luis Oliveros: 0-2, 2 BB.

Rancho Cucamonga shut out Inland Empire, 9-0. Aaron Taylor was ineffective in his rehab stint giving up three runs (two earned) in only 1.1 innings of work. Ryan Rowland-Smith wasn't much better. However, it was the offense that put on the suck-show. 4 singles, 0 extra-base hits, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts. 1-4 batters: 0-15, 4 K. I'm sure the crowd in San Bernardino was thrilled. Notables:

Aaron Taylor: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K.
Ryan Rowland-Smith: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 1 HR.
Juan Gonzalez: 0-4.
Gary Harris: 0-4.
Frederico Balet: 2-3.
TJ Bohn: 0-3.
Rene Rivera: 0-3.

Wisconsin went up early and never looked back beating Lansing, 5-3. Thomas Oldham went 7.2 sparkling innings as Josh Womack and friends provided enough offense for the Rattler victory. Notables:

Thomas Oldham: 7.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 2 HR.
Josh Womack: 2-5, 1 double and 2 RBI.
Adam Jones: 1-3, 1 double and 2 RBI.
Evel Martinez: 2-4, 1 RBI.
Wladimir Balentien: 0-4.
Chris Colton: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Well today marks day one of Jeff’s hiatus/vacation, (a.k.a drug rehab). As most everyone already knows, Devin and I will be filling in for Jeff while he is gone and will be calling Leone for Third home for the next week and a half to two weeks. Devin has already contributed a couple of the Minor League Wrap-Up’s, so together we will both be doing our best to supply Jeff’s loyal readers with news, opinions and wrap-ups of the Mariner organization while he is away.

You know there is a dark cloud hanging over Seattle when as a fan, you are glad there is an off day and the Mariners are unable to lose another game. The off day allows Seattle the opportunity to closely evaluate the Raul Ibanez injury and allow them a little extra time to see how his hamstring responds to treatment. With some luck, Raul can avoid the DL and only miss a few games. But with the way things have gone so far this season, Raul will probably be placed on the DL. Which might not be so bad, as we might be able to see one of the prospects, right? Wrong. Bavasi in all his infinite wisdom stated that if Raul was to go to the DL, he would probably scour the waiver wire to find Raul’s replacement, which means there would have to be room cleared on the 40-man. Bavasi’s idea of roster management is as perplexing as a rubik's cube and I might be better off having a 2x4 cracked over the top of my head rather than try to comprehend his thought process.

I have yet to touch on the bizarre signing of Ben Christiensen, the college pitcher who decided that he would result to head hunting to teach the opposing players not to time his warm-up pitches. For years, we have made jokes at the Mariners sixth tool, niceness/character. For years we have watched the Mariners sign players of less talent, (arguably at a premium rate), and side step talented players with questionable character or a troubled past. Earlier this season, a player of exceptional talent and ability became available in Milton Bradley, and the Mariners refused to even consider bringing him aboard because of his past problems. Milton Bradley never ruined the career of a fellow player. He is guilty of having a short fuse and a bad temper. Christiensen purposely threw at a fellow player because he felt the other player was trying to get an edge up on him. Is their a silver lining to this story? No. Is their icing on the cake? No. Christiensen is a year and some change removed from Tommy John surgery and no longer has the pop on his fastball that once made him one of the top rated relief prospects of his draft class and earned him a first round selection. Congratulations Seattle. You finally ignored a player’s character when evaluating whether or not to sign him to a contract and signed Christiensen, broken wing and all, because he was once a ‘hyped’ prospect. The problem is this is the one of those times when a player’s character outweighs the player’s so-called talent/ability.

I’m going to step out of character briefly and do something I haven’t done in a while, tip the cap in Bavasi’s direction. I have to give the guy some serious credit over the way he has handled such a putrid start to his tenure in Seattle. Sure, a majority of the futility that we are being subjected to nightly needs to be placed on his shoulders, but you can’t knock a guy who, despite all the problems surrounding the team, refuses to mail it in. Sure, as an executive, he is paid to be optimistic and try to convince the masses that things really aren’t as bad as they are. But I tend to believe that he is being honest when he says he thinks this team can still rebound, (which might indicate why they promoted Hiram Bocachica instead of one of the prospects).

The M’s currently have a record of 19-33 and a winning percent of .365, good for last in the AL West and the second worst record in baseball. If the M’s were to return to the playoffs, they would more than likely have to win the division outright, since counting on a wild card berth would be difficult with New York and Boston playing good baseball to this point this season. In order to get back into the thick of the playoff hunt, here is a table listing the number of remaining games the M’s would have to win in order to meet and exceed the 90 win plateau, which would put them back into serious playoff contention:

Wins # of Wins Needed Winning %
90 71 .645
91 72 .654
92 73 .664
93 74 .673
94 75 .682
95 76 .691
96 77 .700
97 78 .709
98 79 .718
99 80 .727
100 81 .736

Barring some miracle, will the M’s front office accept the fact that the season is no longer salvageable before August or September? The longer we delay the inevitable, the longer our rebuilding process is going to take. Can the M’s somehow put a nice little run together and somehow go Florida Marlins on the AL? Sure. Is it likely? Probably not. As long as they refuse to give the Leone’s, Lopez’s, Strong’s, Jacobsen’s, etc, the chance to prove themselves at the major league level, the longer the rebuilding process becomes.

And finally, did this article bug anyone else as much as it bugged me? Larry Stone has always been a Mariner front office homer of sorts, but this article really got me heated this morning. This smells a lot like front office propaganda, so that when the dust settles on August 1 and we are left with a package of C grade prospects or Jose Valentin because of front office ineptitude, they can refer back to this article and say, “See, we tried our best. There just wasn’t much of a market out there.”

After the game, Bill Bavasi kept hinting at his club's imminent return to competitive baseball. They'll spend some money at the deadline if they get back in the race. They'll keep Freddy if they get back in the race. That sort of thing. Let's think about this for a moment. Last year's division winner (Oakland) finished the first half with a 54-39 mark - a .581 winning percentage. This year, we'll play 86 games in the first half; winning 50 of those games would give us a .581 winning percentage of our own. With 34 games left until the All Star Break (enjoy watching your mandatory single Seattle Mariner chat with Aubrey Huff at the end of the bench during the action), we'd need to win 31 of those games to achieve the desired 50-36 mark. Of course, that's last year. This year's division leader is winning games at a .615 clip - to equal that mark, we'd have to win all 34 remaining first half games.

Think about that for a second.

If the Seattle Mariners won 34 consecutive games, then we'd be tied with the Anaheim Angels for first place (assuming they continue their current pace).

Our pursuit of entering the race for a playoff spot was dealt a minor blow tonight, as Raul Ibanez strained his hamstring sprinting down the line after laying down a good bunt. According to Bill Bavasi's postgame comments, Raul will likely go on the 15-day DL this Friday, with his roster spot possibly being taken over by - wait for it - someone off the waiver wire.

Not Jamal Strong. Not Justin Leone. Not even Luis f-ing Ugueto. No, according to Bavasi, we could be picking up someone off the scrap heap. Didn't get in your goodbyes in time before McCracken was sent away? Fear not, a second chance could be right around the corner! Why call up Justin Leone or Jamal Strong, two established minor league players with useful skills who are playing well at AAA and who're already on the 40man roster when you can bring in some lesser-talented veteran from the wire and push a more deserving young player off the roster?

God, I'm glad I'll be away from this team for a little while.

Hiram Bocachica had a particularly active day, starting for Tacoma this morning, then being called up and thrust into a big league game after Ibanez crippled himself. He showed no signs of fatigue when he stole a base in the fifth inning, something that Willie Bloomquist hasn't done as often as you'd expect from a supposedly fleet-of-foot utility guy. As far as I'm concerned, the best thing that can happen in the near future is that Bocachica so badly outplays Wee Willie that the organization observes the situation and suddenly learns about freely-available talent. They do that, and suddenly guys like George Sherrill, Greg Jacobs, and Dustin Delucchi are held in higher esteem by the front office, while crapsacks like Bloomquist are ditched before they become mildly expensive. Either that or Bavasi starts overvaluing ex-Dodgers who used to play for him, and we get a Bruce Aven sighting. It can't get much worse than it is now, though, so even doing away with current philosophies and replacing them with a series of flawed new axioms would still represent an improvement over the current condition of the franchise.

Stop me if you've heard this before, but Rich Aurilia's on fire. Well, not really, but seven hits in six days from Jeff Cirillo Lite transcends my recently adjusted standard of performance. He's hit two homers in a week, and his .253/.321/.373 line since the beginning of May is around league-average for his position. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? I wouldn't think of it that way - as soon as October 4th rolls around, he's no longer a Mariner - but a little tear to show that he still has some value beyond what any organization could get from its local Manny Alexander department helps us salvage the situation by unloading him for an interesting prospect or two. It's been clear since the day it happened that replacing Guillen with Aurilia was a mistake; Bavasi needs to forget about that for right now and concentrate on getting as much in return as he can for his most conspicuous blunder. I'm sure San Francisco would have mild interest, as they're struggling to score runs with Neifi Perez starting at shortstop every day. They're familiar with Rich, they know his abilities and his shortcomings, and he could even help out a little bit while relegating Neifi to the utility role he was born to play. Get on it, Bill.

Joel Pineiro, if nothing else, has the makings of a horse. Check out these historical numbers:

Split opp.BA opp.OBP opp.SLG
Innings 1-3 .263 .336 .387
Innings 4-6 .246 .289 .394
Innings 7-9 .180 .224 .303

Opponents hit a paltry .196 against Pineiro when he's at 90+ pitches. He was the 16th most abused pitcher in the majors last year - up from 58th in 2002 - but he isn't showing any real signs of fatigue or arm damage, as his strikeouts are up while his walks have remained the same. His biggest problem right now is the .388 BABIP, along with an increase in doubles allowed (thanks a lot). While you don't really like the idea of a 25 year old throwing 121 pitches in a game, Pineiro is showing no signs of tiredness or injury, and the numbers show that he gets better as he gets deeper into games. One of the reasons that people are opposed to losing Freddy Garcia is because the Chief is able to throw so many innings. Well, my friends, Joel's ready to step in and take Freddy's place, as he's nearing the age at which point we can begin to stop worrying about his pitch counts (to a certain extent, anyway). Now if only we could get that whole "defense" thing working...

Why did JJ Putz pitch tonight?

Well, I'd love to stay and chat, but I've got to finish packing for my trip. As such, this is my last post until the 15th. That said, I'm confident that Trent and Devin will be more than able to keep you entertained while I'm gone; I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Garcia vs. Garland this Friday. Given the massive drawing power of the White Sox (you read that right, their road games draw the lowest percentage of fans in the league), might we see a dip below last night's record-low 24,848 attendance? Stay tuned, because it's something interesting to keep an eye on.

Have a great week and a half, all.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma slipped past Sacramento, 6-5. After blowing a late lead, the Rainiers won it in the bottom of the 9th on a Mickey Lopez RBI fielder's choice. Travis Blackley tossed five solid innings scattering only four hits and a run. Jamal Strong and Ben Davis both had two hits for Tacoma. Notables:

Travis Blackley: 5.0 IP, 4 H 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.
Hiram Bocachica: 1-2, 1 double and a walk. Also playing for Seattle this evening.
Jamal Strong: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI.
Bucky Jacobsen: 1-3, one double.
Ben Davis: 2-3 and a walk.
Justin Leone: 1-3, 1 double and a walk.

San Antonio was blasted for the second straight day by Midland, 16-1. TA Fulmer was god-awful, as was Ben Christensen. It got bad enough for Rob Gandolfo and Eriberto Menchaca to both end up pitching (Menchaca was bombed). The Missions line-up managed only three hits and five baserunners all day. Greg Dobbs was the lone bright spot with a solo homer in the 9th. Notables:

TA Fulmer: 4.1 IP, 10 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 4 BB, 7 K.
Ben Christensen: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 K.
Greg Dobbs: 1-4, solo shot.
Dustin Delucchi: 0-3.
Shin-soo Choo: 0-2 as a pinch hitter.
Christian Guerrero: 0-3.
Luis Oliveros: 0-3.

Rancho Cucamonga outlasted Inland Empire, 3-2. Juan Gonzalez and Jon Nelson both had two singles in what was a silent day for the 66'ers bats. Cesar Jimenez pitched well in his first start of the year before giving way to Tanner Watson. Notables:

Cesar Jimenez: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K.
Juan Gonzalez: 2-4, 1 RBI.
Hyung Cho: 0-4.
Jon Nelson: 2-4, two singles.
TJ Bohn: 0-3 with a walk.
Brian Lentz: 0-1, two walks.

Wisconsin beat Lansing, 7-5. Eric O`Flaherty went seven innings scattering eight hits and four runs (two homers) for the win. Chris Colton tripled and homered while driving in four. Brenton Metheny and Eric Blakeley also had multi-hit games. Notables:

Eric O`Flaherty: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K.
Chris Colton: 2-4, 1 triple, 1 HR, 4 RBI.
Adam Jones: 0-5, 4 K.
Josh Womack: 1-5.
Wladimir Balentien: 1-4, 1 HR.
Brenton Metheny: 2-3, 3 R, 1 HR, 1 BB.
Justin Ruchti: 0-4.
So Meche is down and Bocachica's up, in one of the more confusing roster management episodes that I can remember. A player gets three option years once they're put on the 40-man; Meche was tossed around in 1999 and 2000, spent time on the DL in 2002, and went down for a few days last season. DMZ explains this as well as anyone can, given the available information. Apprently there exists a rule such that an optional assignment lasting fewer than 20 days doesn't count. But that still leaves Gil with three used options, right? Well, maybe not - his 2002 situation may not qualify, given the injury concerns, and it's possible that 1999 didn't count because once he was promoted and added to the 40-man, he never went back to the minors. Whatever the case, he's going to Tacoma. No word yet on whether he'll take Craig Anderson or Scott Maynard's rotation spot.

...which brings us to Hiram Bocachica. Rather than call up someone like, say, Justin Leone (dammit...), the Mariners elected to promote the Little Ball Of Moxie, who wasn't previously on the 40-man roster. DFA'ing McCracken cleared up a spot - which Bocachica has now taken - but Aaron Taylor is reportedly close to returning to action, meaning that we might have to say goodbye to someone pretty soon. Or is this not true? I have been unable to officially verify whether or not Aaron Looper is on the 60-day DL, which would clear up an extra spot. What matters in the here and now is that both Willie Bloomquist and Hiram Bocachica have spots on the ML roster, delighting both supportive camps to no end. Bocachica's been hitting well in Tacoma this year, putting up a .295/.390/.552 line with seven home runs (there is some serious power inflation on that team right now), but that's been the story of his career so far. Look at this lines:

A: .306/.397/.428
AA: .280/.361/.420
AAA: .280/.357/.494
Majors: .216/.240/.369

I've discussed this matter before, but for the sake of brevity: his bat hasn't translated to the major leagues yet, but he's drawn inconsistent playing time in extreme pitchers' parks (Comerica and Chavez Ravine), and he plays adequate defense at a bunch of positions. He is not Wee Willie's doppelgänger, but the two players are dissimilar in the way that a little boy missing a toe and his identical twin missing a finger are dissimilar. It should really be a one-or-the-other situation for the organization, but their inability to get rid of Melvin's favorite little trouper has led to this rather embarrassing situation in which we have two essentially identical players fighting for the chance to become a gritty fan-favorite utility player on a rebuilding squad. Neither of them are going to be contributing to the next competitive Mariners team, so in the long run this move will have the historical significance of Queen Matilda.

There is a good side and a bad side of sending Meche down to start in Tacoma. The good part is that he'll be able to sort out his problems in a low-pressure environment, where he'll face lesser competition with the knowledge that thirty thousand people won't be watching his mistakes. The bad part is that he'll still be starting games, which might be the whole problem - if he's not fessing up to fatigue or soreness, then letting him throw 90-100 pitches every fifth day isn't going to make things any better. I have successfully convinced myself that Meche's chances at an extended career will come out of the bullpen, and I'd be disappointed if the organization didn't give him a shot at relief before sending him away. However, since he wound up with a mysterious extra option year, I'm willing to wait it out a little longer to see if he ever starts turning things around.

Already losing 4-0 tonight. Good times.

You've got your worst pitcher going up againt Roy Halladay, one of the premier aces in the American League. In a matchup of two sluggish teams, this one isn't looking particularly good for the home side, and they seem destined to end their one-game winning streak. Then, out of nowhere, comes terrific news (for Seattle): Halladay's out with shoulder soreness (seriously, this is frightening stuff for any baseball fan). The Blue Jays are forced to put Jason Kershner on the hill, who has never started a game in the majors, and who has spotty numbers when he reaches the 20-pitch mark. They went with Kershner instead of the pug-faced Terry Adams, a quality pitcher who started 19 games for the Phillies two years ago. Things are suddenly looking a lot better for the Mariners.

And then the game starts, and you remember that you gave the ball to Gil f-ing Meche.

Meche got off to a rocky start, going to three-ball counts on the first three hitters of the game and putting them all on base. He rebounded by retiring Wells, Zaun, and Phelps in rather imrpessive fashion, but went right back to optimal suckage in the second inning. Gil was yanked after two innings and 73 (!) pitches, fresh off walking in a run to tie the game. On the year, he's walking an eye-popping 14% of the batters he faces, good for a 6.0 BB/9 ratio. Meche has never been known for his pinpoint control, but he's somehow managed to double his 2003 walk frequency. What does it tell me when a pitcher with Meche's history starts throwing the ball all over the place? That he's fatigued and in serious danger of getting hurt (again). Let's look at a few numbers that might support this argument:

-Career-high innings pitched in 2003, at 24 years old, coming off major medical problems
-4.1 average innings pitched per start in 2004
-20.7 pitches per inning in 2004

Gil Meche is the least efficient pitcher in baseball, throwing over two more pitches per inning than runner-up Victor Zambrano. He's spending a lot of time working out of jams, and as many of you know, all pitches are not created equal. Pitchers tax their arms more in stressful situations than they do with nobody on, and Meche has been putting people on base like it's going out of style. Everyone knows that he's got the stuff, and I understand that the people in charge may be anxious to see him turn the corner, but is it really worth risking further damage to his career, at this point? If anything, Gil should be taking things slowly, since there's no real benefit in throwing him out there every fifth day to get hammered. He's not learning anything, he's losing the plate, and he's putting a lot of strain on his delicate shoulder. Bullpen or bust, dammit. If you're not going to give Meche a shot at a relief role, deal him to the Padres or Reds before he gets hurt and loses all his value.

And then there was Nageotte. If you were just paying casual attention to the game, you may not have noticed that Meche was yanked at all. Clint game in throwing electric stuff but struggling to find the strike zone, as could be expected from a guy who, until he was called up, was having the same problems in AAA. Just 52% of his 81 pitches tonight found the strike zone, and even in his 1-2-3 third inning (hooray, Clint!) he threw first-pitch balls to such threatening thundersticks as Gregg Zaun and Simon Pond. The good news? When he found the zone, he was tough to hit; Wells blasted a moonshot in the sixth, but two of Nageotte's four hits allowed were singles by Reed Johnson that didn't laeve the infield. The bad news? You can't walk in a run twice in a row, especially when you throw four straight balls to the second guy. Verdict? Just about what anyone could reasonably expect. Nageotte struggled with location, as he's been doing for a while, but he was throwing some great pitches and looks like he'll be extremely difficult to hit should he start finding the corners.

Clint Nageotte will give Bob Melvin everything that Gil Meche does, for less than a sixth of the cost. No, he shouldn't have been promoted to the majors, but you can't change what's already done, so you might as well make the best of it. If you insist on leaving Nageotte in the majors, give him Gil's rotation spot. One of them's likely to get better, whereas the other one's likely to have a limb fall off.

Seattle pitchers threw 23 pitches per inning tonight. Good stuff.

Ichiro had two hits and reached base three times. That's neat. You know what *isn't* as neat? His .073 isolated SLG, placing him comfortably in last place among major league right fielders. If he were to double his power output, he'd still be 20th among 24 qualified RF's. Take a look. He's 51 points behind last year's number; where the hell did that power go?

Also on Ichiro: he stole his 12th base tonight, making him 12-for-17 for attempted steals. At a 70% success rate, he's hovering around the break-even mark (at which point it's actually worth trying to steal). He's stolen six bases in a row, now, suggesting that his earlier 6-for-11 mark was due to a small sample size, and nothing else.

John Olerud's mini-tear has his OBP up to .386. Boy am I glad that we stuck Randy Winn's wet noodle of a bat behind Ichiro in the lineup again.

When did Edgar Martinez turn into a strikeout machine?

Pineiro vs. Lilly later today, in the last M's game I'll get to see for a week and a half. Yeah, I can't wait for it to be over, either.
Our future is looking a little brighter, and we didn't even have to do anything.

The Rangers might let John Hart remain the GM next year.

Previously, Grady Fuson was being prepared to become the general manager in 2005, but now ownership is waffling, and Buck Showalter is pushing for Hart to stay where he is.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma got bombed by Sacramento, 14-4. Craig Anderson lasted just 3.2 innings, and Jared Hoerman later allowed five runs while retiring just two batters. Hiram Bocachica's home run was the biggest hit of the day for the Rainiers, who allowed 26 baserunners. Notables:

Ben Davis: 1-4, 1 double
Justin Leone: 1-3, 1 BB
Bucky Jacobsen: 1-4
Ramon Santiago: 0-4
Jose Lopez: 1-4
Hiram Bocachica: 1-3, 1 homer
Jamal Strong: 1-4

San Antonio also got blasted, losing 12-0 to Midland. Troy Cate was positively awful (again), putting his team behind by four runs before they got to swing the bats. Dustin Delucchi and John Lindsey each reached base three times. Notables:

Troy Cate: 3.2 IP, 12 H, 10 ER, 5 BB, 1 K, 2 HR
Dustin Delucchi: 1-2, 2 BB
Shin-soo Choo: 0-4
Greg Dobbs: 1-4
Hunter Brown: 1-2, 1 double, 1 BB

Inland Empire lost to Rancho Cucamonga, 5-3. Felix Hernandez was getting the strikeouts, but struggled with command and allowed eight hits in six innings. Juan Gonzalez's three hits from the leadoff spot led the offense. Notables:

Felix Hernandez: 6 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K
Juan Gonzalez: 3-5
TJ Bohn: 2-4
Rene Rivera: 0-4

Wisconsin lost to Lansing, 10-6, as all four of our affiliates came up short tonight. Nibaldo Acosta had a rough game, allowing eight runs in 5.2, while Eric Blakeley led the offense by hitting a double and reaching three times. Notables:

Josh Womack: 2-4, 1 BB
Adam Jones: 1-4, 1 BB
Wladimir Balentien: 2-4
Chris Colton: 1-4, 1 homer, 1 BB

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Rafael Soriano had a setback. Nevermind what Melvin says.

The article also says that Nageotte should pitch at some point during this series.
There's a little piece about Leone/Dobbs in the paper today, discussing how bright the future is with two players of their magnitude fighting for the same position.

I'd like to step out of character for a moment to point out just how bad things must be when the organization responds this way to a 27 year old and a guy who's a month away from being 26 with no AAA experience.

They also talk about Dobbs possibly sliding in the DH role, which I interpret as saying "We're so desperate to get some of our own players into the ML lineup that we'll consciously make ourselves worse in doing so." There are plenty of better hitters than Greg Dobbs who can take over for Edgar when the day comes, so I hope it never comes to that. Lopez at second, Leone at short, and Dobbs at third might work. Anyway, moving right along...

"To tell you the truth, I think Dobbs is better," Jongewaard said. "They both have a chance. They are different types of players."

Is this really the case? Let's take a look.

Level Dobbs Leone
Low-A .321/.396/.478 .263/.361/.439
Single-A .275/.338/.431 .267/.407/.513
High-A N/A .240/.331/.459
AA .333/.405/.518 .288/.405/.541
AAA N/A .246/.312/.592

They are similar players, with Leone drawing more walks and Dobbs hitting more singles. The main difference is that Leone beats the crap out of the ball when he hits it - ISO's consistently well north of .200 - while Dobbs is still exploring the boundaries of his gap power. You might say that this is because Leone's got an extra year and a half on Dobbs, but at Dobbs' age in AA last year, Leone hit 21 homers and collected 66 extra-base hits (all while drawing 92 walks). As he nears his 26th birthday, the chances of Dobbs turning some of his doubles into homers are growing slimmer by the day. Not that this is a bad thing, because gap power has its uses, particularly when you hit for a high average.

Leone walks more than Dobbs (even this year, when Justin's walks are low), and hits for considerably more power. He also plays terrific defense at third base, according to scouts, something that Dobbs is still working on. So why does the organization think higher of the younger 3b? I present to you a comparison between two statistics:

Dobbs: .308 / Leone: .259
Dobbs: 7.05 / Leone: 4.17

The first? Batting average. The second? Plate appearances per strikeout. This organization absolutely hates useful players who strike out a lot while hitting for a low average, which is why Dobbs is said to be the more highly regarded of the two. I'm not saying that Dobbs will never amount to anything, mind you, only that it's unfair to judge Leone on what he doesn't do well, all the while ignoring his massive power, solid defense, and ability to draw walks (more than Dobbs, anyway).
And there's Devin's first post.

Well done.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma was outslugged by Las Vegas, 11-9. Another unimpressive start for Matt Thornton and a disastrous night for the pen as the Rainiers couldn't overcome a Las Vegas six-run sixth inning. Notables:

Matt Thornton: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 5 K.
Jamal Strong: 3-4, 2 BB.
Hiram Bocachica: 1-4, 1 HR, 4 RBI.
Jose Lopez: 2-5, and a homer.
Bucky Jacobsen: 1-4, 1 double.
Luis Ugueto: 0-2, 3 BB.
Leone had the night off.

San Antonio beat Midland, 6-2. Dustin Delucci and Eriberto Menchaca led the Missions with two hits as everyone else had one (unless your name was Greg Jacobs). Juan Done went five innings for the win. Notables:

Dustin Delucci: 2-4, 1 R, and a walk.
Greg Dobbs: 1-4, one double.
Shin-soo Choo: 1-4 with one run.
Greg Jacobs: 0-3, 3 RBI.
Eriberto Menchaca: 2-3, 1 RBI, and a double.

Inland Empire edged Rancho Cucamonga, 8-7. Bobby Livingston was tagged for ten hits and six runs before being yanked in the 7th. Frederico Balet, Jon Nelson, Gary Harris and Brian Lentz all had multi-hit games to lead the 66'ers. Notables:

Bobby Livingston: 6.1 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 3 K, 1 BB.
Frederico Balet: 3-4, one double, 3 RBI.
Jon Nelson: 2-4, a homer, 3 RBI.
Gary Harris: 3-3, one double, 3 R and a walk.
Brian Lentz: 2-4, one homer.
Juan Gonzalez: 1-5, one double.

Wisconsin annihilated Peoria, 18-7. Wisconsin collected 18 hits behind a strong outing by Ryan Feierabend. Notables:

Ryan Feierabend: 7 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 4 K and a walk.
Josh Womack: 2-4, a triple, 3 R, 3 RBI
Adam Jones: 1-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB
Chris Colton: 3-6, a double, 2 RBI
Josh Ellison: 1-4, 3 K.

It took us 30 games to reach 19 wins last year. This time, it took us 30 losses.

Jamie Moyer did everything that he's been doing for a month and a half - tossing a quality start and allowing more homers than walks. He's currently walked 18 hitters while serving up 16 gopherballs, a ratio the likes of which I haven't seen since Curt Schilling's 39/37 season in 2001 (Update: Paul Byrd posted a nice 38/36 ratio two years ago). If you're going to be allowing a bunch of bombs, the best way to minimize the damage is by keeping runners off the basepaths, something Moyer has done successfully this year. However, there is some potentially bad news: Jamie's BABIP this year is .235, down 37 points from last year despite being the same kind of pitcher (flyball-oriented). You might see this kind of thing balance out over the rest of the season, so Moyer will have to tone down the meatballs if he wants to survive the impending defensive letdown.

In the top of the 8th, trailing 4-2, the Blue Jays had two on and two out for Josh Phelps. Bob Melvin elected to bring Shigetoshi Hasegawa into the game, for the righty-vs.-righty matchup. Vernon Wells has good speed on first base, so an extra-base hit here ties the game (at least). Let's think about this for a second:

  • Neither Phelps nor Hasegawa have exhibited any significant career platoon splits

  • Hasegawa allows extra-base hits to righties 8.7% of the time; to lefties, it's down to 7.1%

  • Phelps gets an extra-base hit against a righty 11.2% of the time; against lefties, it's down to 7.8%

With the way Hasegawa has pitched so far this year, this is a pretty undesirable situation. Yeah, Phelps gets on base a little better against southpaws, but he doesn't hit for as much power, and Bobby Estalella was standing on deck. If Phelps walks or singles, the worst-case scenario is that you've still got a one-run lead, with a non-factor at the plate and the bottom of the order due up in the ninth. Nevermind that Hasegawa wound up striking him out on a full count; this was a Guardado situation. Instead, Hasegawa pitched, we scored two more runs, and Eddie came in to protect a four-run lead. Christ, if you insist on using Shigetoshi Hasegawa in important situations, at least trust him with a wide lead in the ninth inning. You don't need your closer to face Estalella/Hinske/Rios.

More Melvin madness (oooh, alliteration): bunting with Dan Wilson in the third inning. Wilson has been moderately useful this year, getting on base at a .357 clip against righties despite a recent slump. Hentgen, on the other hand, is one of those reverse-split guys who send Melvin's brain into a tizzy. If getting Aurilia to second base is that important, just try a hit-and-run; Dan's a decent contact hitter who might be able to slap one through the hole the other way. Worse comes to worse, Wilson fails to advance the runner, and we're left with a man on first with Ichiro at the plate. There are worse situations. This is a team that's third in the AL in sacrifice bunts; do we bunt because we struggle to score, or do we struggle to score because we bunt?

Eddie Guardado had thrown the last two days in Boston, including a 29-pitch outing yesterday. Why, exactly, was he in there with a 6-2 lead in the ninth inning tonight? Okay, I'll grant you that he was already warming up in the bullpen, but Shigetoshi Hasegawa was already in the game, and he can throw an inning and a third without losing steam. You've got the 5-6-7 hitters of a depleted lineup standing in there, and Melvin went with the closer. I don't understand how the man can have so much trust in Hasegawa in the eighth inning and lose all confidence in his ability to protect a four-run lead in the ninth. Of course, with Meche taking the hill tomorrow, we aren't likely to need Guardado in any important situations...

Rich Aurilia has a little four-game hit streak going, and he's pulled his OPS north of .600. Our former shortstop, by the way, hit more home runs today than Aurilia has all year long.

Our offense in the first inning:

-I Suzuki singled to center
-R Winn struck out swinging
-I Suzuki stole second
-E Martinez struck out swinging
-R Ibanez struck out swinging

Boy, am I glad we've got a lineup that puts the ball in play and hits behind the runner.

By going 3-for-4 today, Ichiro finished the month of May with a sparking .400 batting average. That's the good news. The bad news is that he's still not hitting for much power (.096 May isolated SLG) or drawing many walks, so he has to hit .310-.320 to have real value beyond Juan Pierre v2.0. Ichiro is a textbook example of the inconsistency of batting average - and the foolishness of depending on batting average to remain stable - as his history shows wild month-to-month fluctuations. His offensive unpredictability troubles people like me, who hail Ichiro when he's hitting, and look for hidden problems when he's not. Just as with Jamie Moyer, this may be one of those cases where it's best for me to just sit back and not say anything at all, because the nature of his game makes it certifiably impossible to know when he's done, and when he's slumping.

Oakland called. They want Scott Hatteberg back.

A tale of two months:

-April: .225/.303/.300
-May: .258/.314/.366

After being considered a rally-killer for the first month of the year, Randy Winn is suddenly being considered by many to be a viable top-of-the-lineup bat again. Why is this? He's not getting on base much more, and most of his added "power" has come from turning three doubles into triples. He still hasn't homered, but he still feels like a useful player, despite an awful line. That's what an added 33 points of batting average can do for a guy...

Meche. Halladay. Tomorrow. Bring your brown bags.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Bunting in the third inning?

Is this a joke?

This Thursday, I will be leaving for vacation, returning on Tuesday, June 15th. Because I didn't want this blog to go untouched in my absence, please welcome two new members who will help to fill in:

-Trent Taylor. You know him from Rumblings and Grumblings, formerly known as "What The Hell Happened??", formerly known as "We Barely Knew You Greg Colbrunn". He has graciously accepted an invitation to cover the major league squad while I'm gone, and may stick around even after I come back.

-Devin Reilly. He doesn't have a blog, but a few of you might know him from the ESPN forum, and he's left a few comments regarding minor league posts here. He's going to be doing the minor league wrap-ups for the next two weeks, and - as someone who lives near Cheney Stadium - will provide some extra insight into the Rainiers, everyone's favorite group of minor leaguers.
Two things:

1) Freddy Garcia apparently enjoys pitching in Seattle.

When the Mariners were in New York two weeks ago, Freddy Garcia answered a reporter's question by saying what almost any player from another country says, that he would like to play for the Yankees.

It raised some eyebrows and comment back home in Seattle, especially since Mariners media and fans are sensitive to the possibility that the 6-foot-4, 240-pound pitcher will be the subject of numerous trade scenarios if and/or when the team starts to make significant moves.

"I don't know what the big deal was about," Garcia said. "I was just trying to say something nice."

When asked what his true preference is, he immediately said, "I want to stay in Seattle," with apparent sincerity.

Is he trying again to be, "nice?"

"No, no, I really like Seattle," Garcia said. "I am really comfortable there."


"My part is to pitch the best I can, and have a good year helping the team, and then see what happens. But more than anything else, I want to stay in Seattle for a long time."

2) Nageotte was promoted for no reason at all.

Asked if he was looking to get Clint Nageotte, recently called up from Class AAA Tacoma, into a game, Melvin said, "No. ... Well, yeah, in a blowout in our favor. I wouldn't be afraid to use him, not at all. He wouldn't be here if I had any reservations about him being here."


It's time to play Second-Guess The Manager! USS Mariner already started - albeit with Francona, instead of Melvin - so I'm here to contribute a more comprehensive summary of some, shall we say, "questionable" moves.

  • Ryan Franklin was at 106 pitches entering the seventh inning, with Reese/Bellhorn/Youkilis due up. Though he supposedly has a "rubber arm", Franklin doesn't have much experience with high pitch counts, certainly not throwing so many pitches in such a condensed amount of time; as anyone who understands pitcher abuse points can tell you, all pitches are not created equal, and by throwing so many pitches in just six innings of work, Franklin was putting more stress on his arm than he would had he thrown those 106 pitches over a complete nine-inning game. So, not only was Franklin likely getting fatigued by that point, but he was more likely to get hit around, based on his splits (featuring an admittedly small sample size with high pitch counts). It's forgiveable to leave him in against Pokey Reese; the guy's worthless against right-handed pitchers, so he's a pretty easy out for Franklin. It took nine pitches, but Ryan finally got him to strike out. Now you've got a guy who's thrown 115 pitches facing two consecutive on base threats (Bellhorn and Youkilis) standing in front of Ortiz/Ramirez. Melvin leaves Franklin in the game, and he allows back-to-back singles. How might this have been handled differently? With one out and none on, you can bring in Myers to face Bellhorn, who struggles against lefties (Myers warmed up later, so he was available to pitch), and Youkilis, who - while right-handed - isn't likely to hit it out. If one of the two manages to get on base, you've got David Ortiz at the plate, who's also helpless against southpaws. Instead, Franklin gets yanked two batters too late, and two runs wind up scoring in the inning. Which brings us to...

  • Ron Villone: Lefty One-Out Guy? That's the way he was treated in the seventh inning. He inherited two on and one out against David Ortiz, who doesn't hit lefties at all. After whiffing Ortiz, there were two on and two down for capable slugger Manny Ramirez. Melvin brought Julio Mateo into the game for the righty-righty advantage, but Mateo - who's had a rough season so far - put Ramirez on base, setting up a bases-loaded matchup against righty-slugger Brian Daubach. Daubach flew out, but a wild pitch uncorked by Mateo during the at bat resulted in two runs scoring. How might this have been handled differently? Mateo vs. Ramirez doesn't give you much of an advantage - Manny's still one of the top threats at the plate, regardless of who's on the mound. Plus, if Manny reaches, Daubach's on deck, and he knows how to hit righties. What Melvin should have done was leave Villone in the game and intentionally walk Ramirez, setting up the same bases-loaded situation against Daubach. The only difference is that Villone's a lefty, and Daubach doesn't know what to do with those. Sure, Daubach didn't wind up getting a hit, but Mateo allowed two runs regardless, and the inning was managed poorly.

  • Rich Aurilia pinch-hitting for Dave Hansen in the top of the eighth? Ok, it worked out, and the platoon advantage is there, but there's something unsettling about this. It's like pinch-hitting Jeff Cirillo.

  • Shigetoshi Hasegawa came in to face Varitek and McCarty in the bottom of the eighth with a 7-5 lead. Varitek is a switch-hitter without much of a platoon split, and David McCarty is the rarest of breeds, a right-handed hitter who hits righties better than he does lefties. Melvin, always one to play by the book instead of the numbers, brings in his worst reliever, and he promptly puts both hitters on base. How might this have been handled differently? Well, first of all, there's no reason to pull Mateo if you're just going to go with Hasegawa. There's no platoon benefit, and Mateo had only thrown ten pitches so he wasn't tired. Besides, Hasegawa's worse against righties than lefties, and after Varitek there were three straight right-handed hitters coming to the plate. If Varitek goes deep off Mateo, so what? You've still got the lead, with three below-average players coming up. Of course, Melvin managed to make the right move by bringing Guardado in from the bullpen, so all was not lost.

  • JJ Putz in the bottom of the 10th. You'll notice that some of the moves I'm criticizing didn't actually turn out that badly, but this still wasn't the right move. Putz faced McCarty, Damon, Dominique, and Bellhorn in the inning; McCarty, Damon, and Bellhorn are all varying degress of worthless against southpaws, and Dominique's a replacement-level player who's not likely to deliver the final blow. This should've been Myers' inning, because three of the four players are decent-to-good hitters against right-handed pitchers, and Putz has been all kinds of awful lately. He did manage to pitch well today, even with the walkoff blast. Fanning Ortiz and Ramirez back-to-back? Impressive.

A lot of blame has to fall on the bullpen for generally not pitching well. Bob Melvin has a tough time understanding the numbers, so when previously dependable relievers go down the crapper, it creates all too confusing of a situation for our manager, who's incapable of working out just which guy presents the best odds of not blowing the game at any given point. In times like these, it's easy for Melvin to throw up his hands and exclaim, "What am I supposed to do? Everyone's performing miserably." What he fails to understand is that even underperforming relievers can be employed in such ways as to minimize their faults while maximizing their chances of succeeding. It cost us today, as a dramatic come-from-behind victory turned into a futile battle of the bullpens in a span of 15 minutes. You can't help but feel sorry for a guy like Raul Ibanez, who hits the go-ahead homer in the top of the eighth and then watches his manager and bullpen piss it away. He couldn't have known what kind of situation he was getting into when he signed here. One thing's for sure, though, this oughta teach a lot of ballplayers why going for the money isn't always the best idea. Instead of becoming a useful bat off a contender's bench, Raul jumped at big money and got himself trapped in this organizational death spiral. At least Quinton McCracken escaped before it was too late.

Curt Schilling retired the first 17 Mariners he faced before Randy Winn dove into first base with a single in the sixth. Something must've clicked, because five of the nine batters who faced Schilling in the 7th and 8th innings reached base. Our six-run rally featured a few improbable events, including a Jolbert Cabrera extra-base hit, a Rich Aurilia pinch-hit single, and a three-run homer to top off the comeback (what a rally killer, eh Bob?). What's more is that Ibanez' homer came off of Keith Foulke, who entered the game with a 0.36 ERA and no homers allowed through 25.1 innings and 94 batters. Raul, I hate your contract, but this power surge is a pleasant surprise.

Neither Mark Bellhorn nor Kevin Youkilis are particularly agile, athletic baserunners, but they're each good bets to post high OBP's. Terry Francona shouldn't be considered a cutting-edge strategist, but he understands the correlation between getting on base and scoring runs better than our manager does. While Ichiro's been doing a good job of reaching base from the leadoff slot, our #2 hitters have a miserable .286 OBP, with Randy Winn and Scott Spiezio getting the bulk of the at bats. John Olerud and his .381 OBP belong in front of the middle of the order, because doing so would present Boone and Edgar with more RBI opportunities. This isn't rocket science, Bob - hell, Olerud can even do all the things that a traditional #2 hitter is supposed to do, like get the bat on the ball and hit behind the runner. Yeah, he's slow, but so what? So is most of the lineup. Unfortunately, I'm afraid we'll be seeing Jolbert Cabrera up there before too long.

Dan Wilson's hitting .219 since May 20th, with one double and one walk. This time, it's over. Really. I'm serious.

Eddie Guardado has been the best player on the team so far. A 1.08 ERA with 18 baserunners in 25 innings? He's got a 7:1 K/BB ratio, and he's starting to enter games in crucial situations, rather than simply with a lead in the ninth inning. Does he have more trade value than Freddy Garcia right now? He's already on record as saying that he regrets signing with Seattle, and there are a number of teams in need of a consistent closer. You can flip him to the Cubs, or maybe to Oakland in exchange for one of those irritating little position players who actually draws walks and hits for power...but I'm getting ahead of myself. If Soriano were healthy, the team might consider dealing Guardado, but with no clear-cut favorite to assume the closer role right now if Eddie were to depart, the front office will stay with things as they are.

Pity Clint Nageotte. He should have appeared in the game today at some point, if only to hit for Aurilia in the tenth.

Moyer vs. Hentgen tomorrow; pay attention to this one, because the following Meche/Halladay matchup won't be pretty.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Why do we keep trading with San Diego?

Ben Davis has turned into nothing.
Wascar Serrano is nothing.
Alex Arias is nothing.
Brett Tomko is a replacement-level starter.
Tom Lampkin is nothing.
Ramon Vazquez is a utility infielder.
Tom Davey is nothing.
Al Martin is nothing.
John Mabry is nothing.
Jeff Cirillo is nothing.
Brian Sweeney is a replacement-level bullpen arm.
Kevin Jarvis is nothing.
Wiki Gonzalez is nothing.
Dave Hansen is a bench bat near the end of the road.
Vince Faison is nothing.

How many of these players were supposed to help out at one point or another? Wascar Serrano was actually a prospect, once.

Have these two teams consummated a worthwhile deal since exchanging Andy Benes (and Greg Keagle) for Ron Villone and Marc Newfield back in 1995? Hell, even that trade involved some guys who went on to underachieve.
The Marlins have sent struggling starter Darren Oliver to the bullpen and replaced him with Tommy Phelps. Oliver offers a little gem from this Palm Beach Post article:

Oliver said his biggest problem has been keeping the ball down.

"I really haven't struggled like this, ever,'' he said.

Oliver apparently doesn't remember his 7.42 ERA in 108 innings four years ago, or the 6.60 combined ERA he had in 2000/2001.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma lost to Las Vegas, 6-1. Bobby Madritsch returned from a mild oblique strain to throw four unimpressive innings, and the Rainiers could manage just eight baserunners against Tom Farmer and the LV bullpen. Tacoma's middle infield accounted for four of their seven hits. Notables:

Bobby Madritsch: 4 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Justin Leone: 0-4
Ramon Santiago: 2-4
Jose Lopez: 2-3, 2 doubles
Ben Davis: 1-4
Bucky Jacobsen: 1-4, 1 double
Hiram Bocachica: 0-3, 1 BB

San Antonio had the day off.

Inland Empire beat High Desert, 12-9. The 66ers scored in seven of eight innings, with everyone but Rene Rivera picking up a hit and everyone but Rivera and Juan Gonzalez picking up two hits. The 66ers recorded 19 hits in total, providing enough support for Juan Sandoval, who got his fourth win despite a marginal start. 16 of the 19 hits were singles. Notables:

Juan Sandoval: 6 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 3 K, 2 HR
Juan Gonzalez: 1-4, 1 BB
TJ Bohn: 2-4, 1 double
Rene Rivera: 0-5

Wisconsin lost to Peoria, 3-2. The bats fell silent one day after scoring 12 runs in a three-inning span. Jason Mackintosh threw seven strong innings, but four hits weren't enough support to give him a win. Casey Abrams got the loss, as his walked batter came around to score in the bottom of the ninth against Juan Ovalles. Notables:

Jason Mackintosh: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 8 K, 1 HR
Josh Womack: 1-4
Justin Ruchti: 0-3
Josh Ellison: 0-3
Chris Colton: 1-4, 1 homer

Thornton goes for Tacoma tomorrow, Livingston for Inland Empire.
Kudos to Melvin for using Guardado in the proper situation again today. Good usage, bad result.
What the hell?

Seriously. What the hell?

How did...when...he just...we might've...
Does anyone else out there want us to get no-hit today?

Update: rats.
A good piece by John McGrath about the inexplicable Ben Christensen acquisition.

But if the Mariners can make room in San Antonio for a headhunter who almost killed a man, they might want to see if they've got a coaching spot open for a furniture mover (Molina) in southern Indiana.

Anthony Molina deserves a second chance. Ben Christensen stole the first one.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma got blasted by Las Vegas, 14-5. Knuckleballer Scott Maynard had one of the worst starts I've ever seen, allowing 11 hits, five walks, and 13 runs in five innings of work. Clearly, he's not cut out for AAA. The Rainiers didn't help him out by playing sloppy defense all night, committing three errors (Bocachica, Lopez 2) and making a few other bad plays that didn't show up. Tacoma managed just seven hits, with Elpidio Guzman getting two of them. Notables:

Justin Leone: 0-3, 1 BB
Jamal Strong: 0-4, 1 BB
Jose Lopez: 1-3, 1 homer
Bucky Jacobsen: 1-4, 1 double
Hiram Bocachica: 1-4
Ben Davis: 1-2, 1 BB

San Antonio lost to Round Rock, 9-7. A two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth couldn't hold up, as Renee Cortez allowed four runs - including a game-winning three-run bomb by Charlton Jimerson - to get the loss. Rich Dorman started and didn't pitch particularly well, despite fanning seven, while the Missions scratched together twelve hits. Shin Soo-Choo had three of 'em. Ben Christensen threw an inning, and sucked, which delights me to no end. Notables:

Shin Soo-Choo: 3-5
Greg Dobbs: 1-4, 1 double, 1 BB
Dustin Dellucchi: 2-5, 1 double
Hunter Brown: 2-5, 1 double
Luis Oliveros: 0-4 (111 AB's, no walks)

Inland Empire beat High Desert, 8-7. Ryan Rowland-Smith got the start and gave way to David Viane in the fifth, who allowed five runs while recording just one out. No worries, as Cesar Jimenez threw 3.2 shutout innings (despite allowing six hits) for the win. Every non-Gary Harris 66er got at least one hit, with Juan Gonzalez leading the way with three. Notables:

Ryan Rowland-Smith: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 5 K
Juan Gonzalez: 3-4, 1 double
Rene Rivera: 1-4, 1 double
Hyung Cho: 2-4
TJ Bohn: 2-5, 1 double
Vince Faison: 2-2, 1 double

Wisconsin beat Peoria, 12-9. It was a surprisingly display of offense from the Rattlers, who - powered by a seven-run fifth - scored all of their runs in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. Every Rattlers starter picked up a hit, with the 1-through-3 batters each recording two of them. Thomas Oldham struggled out of the gate and Bryan Heaston struggled more in relief, but Juan Ovalles picked up his third win of the season and Brian Stitt recorded his tenth save of the year. Notables:

Thomas Oldham: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 HR
Wladimir Balentien: 0-2
Josh Ellison: 1-4
Chris Colton: 1-4, 1 homer
Josh Womack: 2-4, 1 triple