Saturday, June 19, 2004


Before I get to the game, some injury news:
-Ibanez was cleared to hit off a tee, and will begin a rehab assignment once he feels comfortable
-Ryan Anderson is about a month away from returning to action (We haven't heard this before...)
-Chris Snelling is targeting an August 1st return date
-Aaron Taylor has recovered from shoulder surgery and is throwing with good velocity in AA
-Jose Lopez could also return around the beginning of August
-Jeff Heaverlo's got sore 'pits, and is currently in Peoria

With the good Lopez missing from Tacoma's lineup, Justin Leone was moved to shortstop, not an unfamiliar position for the versatile infielder. Some good work with the glove, along with continued success at the plate, could help bring about a promotion, given that the big club will have to get tired of Ramon Santiago's antics sometime. Right? Right??

Anyway, as many of you know, there was a baseball game today. And it wasn't just *any* game - it was a win, our eighth in twelve games. We even gained a game on Anaheim, and you just know that Bill's keeping an eye on that situation. So, how about today's contest (with recap again coming in shortened form)?

  • As I mentioned yesterday, there would be no excuse for losing this game. Pittsburgh entered the day hitting .236/.295/.343 as a team against southpaws, and Moyer had allowed just six runs in his previous five starts. Meanwhile, Vogelsong came in with a BAA of .318, serving up a bunch of walks, hits, and homers. At the end of the day, a disappointing effort against the Pirates' starter turned out to be enough, as Moyer predictably shut down a helpless lineup. Remember when I was worried about Jamie about a month and a half ago? Such are the perils of early-season statistics. His biggest problem so far - home runs - seems to be going away, as Jason Bay's first of two solo shots was the first bomb that Moyer's allowed in June. Also, his erratic command appears to be a thing of the past, as he's got a 4:1 K/BB ratio since the end of April (which, if stretched over a full season, would be a career best). Verdict: yeah, he'll be fine...

  • Just when you thought things were looking up for Shigetoshi Hasegawa, reality set in with a resounding thud. A streak of six consecutive scoreless appearances (spanning just 4.2 innings) came to an abrupt halt as he allowed three hits (and two runs) in the span of four batters. Jose Castillo led off with a ground-rule double, the twelfth of the season against Hasegawa. Who cares? Well, that "12" equals last year's total number of doubles allowed; it took 149 fewer batters faced to achieve that mark. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: a flyball pitcher (0.76 GB/FB) isn't going to end up with a pretty ERA, throwing in front of this defense. Amazingly, despite allowing a significantly greater proportion of fly balls this year, Hasegawa has only allowed one home run in 28.2 innings. Yeah, the defense really has been that bad.

  • It took us three pitchers and 28 pitches to get through the bottom of the eighth, in which Jose Castillo, Tike Redman, and Jason Kendall were scheduled to hit.

  • Time to rag on a Melvin bullpen management decision again. Bottom of the eighth, men on the corners, one out, Daryl Ward steps to the plate to face Hasegawa. Melvin elects to bring in Mike Myers for the lefty-lefty advantage. Problem? Ward's career shows a reverse platoon split. Not only is he more likely to reach base against a lefty, but he's also more likely to hit the game-tying home run. Craig Wilson, playing like a man possessed, is on deck, and he also shows a career tendency to hit lefties much better than righties. Solution? Two-fold. Either you go with JJ Putz, a right-hander who keeps the ball on the ground, or you go with Eddie Guardado to throw two critical at bats against hot hitters. Eddie might be a little tired after throwing yesterday, but if that's a concern, then you don't need to leave him in there for the ninth; realistically speaking, the worst case scenario is that you enter the ninth with a 5-3 lead with Bay/Mateo/Stynes coming up. I appreciate that Melvin is willing to extend Guardado into the eighth inning, but if you're going to start acting like an enlightened manager, be consistent. Instead, he spent a pitcher who could've been used to neutralize, say, Jack Wilson. I don't really want to see any more Myers/Ward matchups in close ballgames...

  • If not for Jamie Moyer's potent bat, we might've been shut out by Ryan Vogelsong. This offense blows.

  • Randy Winn in June: .306/.380/.500. The first thing that leaps to mind when I see a player performing well is "trade value". Does that make me a bad person? Anyway, he's improved as the year has worn on, going from an abysmal April to a replacement-level May to a smokin' June. He's showing crazy home/road splits (see for yourself), which isn't consistent with last year's full season sample size - draw your own conclusions. Anyway, yesterday's question about Winn vs. Erstad was completely serious. Winn is the better hitter, but he's worse than he was last year, and Erstad comes with the best center field glove this side of Mike Cameron. I suppose it comes down to personal preference, along with context; a strong defensive team will take Winn, while a strong offensive team can absorb a few outs and take Erstad. Of course, the Mariners are weak in *both* categories, requiring some extra help at the plate and in the field, so I wonder which player they'd select if given a choice (independent of contracts). I think it's become pretty clear that the front office greatly underestimated the importance of defense this past winter, but they were also under the impression that they'd slapped together a pretty good lineup when, in actuality, they didn't have a clue what they were doing, so being forced to decide between a defensive whiz (Erstad) and a gap-hitting 'tweener (Winn) would come down to a rochambeau best-of-seven. Or, knowing the nature of the people manning out front office, best-of-eight...

  • At the annual Bloomquist Family Barbecue, the dinnertime entertainment is provided by a short film depicting Wee Willie's professional success on the field. With today's pinch-hit double, they finally have a second video clip to add to last year's grand slam. "Three cheers for Willie," they'd say, "for proving that perceived performance gets you farther than actual production." "Hip-hip, hooray!" "Hip-hip, hooray!" "Hip-hip, hooray!" No word yet on whether or not Willie's been good enough to enter the Bloomquist hall of fame, already featuring stock car champion Scott and Merlefest Chris Austin Songwriting Contest winner Ruth.

Burnett vs. Pineiro tomorrow, at 4:05. Joel's pitching well, but the Pirates mash righties, and Burnett is one of those unfamiliar young pitchers who gives us fits. This one won't be as easy as today (which, coincidentally, wasn't that easy).
Juxtaposition of the day:

I was checking my Hotmail inbox, and in the lower right of the screen they link to a few articles by MSN. The first headline:

"Why Are Kids Obese?"

Two headlines down from that one:

"Best Burgers Near You"

Minor League Wrap-Up:

Sacramento blanked Tacoma, 3-0. Gustavo Martinez pitched well in the losing effort going 6.2 IP while fanning six. Greg Dobbs had the only multi-hit game. No extra-base hits for the Rainiers tonight. Notables:

Gustavo Martinez: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K.
Justin Leone: 0-2, 2 BB.
Bucky Jacobsen: 0-3.
Greg Dobbs: 2-4.
Greg Jacobs: 0-3, 3 K.
Jorge Maduro: 0-3.

San Antonio beat Arkansas, 7-5. Chris Key wasn't particularly impressive this evening, but kept the Missions in it. Like the Rainiers, the San Antonio offense managed no extra-base hits and only drew one walk, but somehow managed to put up seven runs. Notables:

Chris Key: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K.
Dustin Delucchi: 2-4.
Hunter Brown: 2-3.
Shin-soo Choo: 0-3, 1 BB.
Brian Moon: 2-4, 2 RBI.

Rancho Cucamonga skated by Inland Empire, 3-1. Nice start for Ryan Rowland-Smith, going seven and scattering seven hits while striking out nine. However, it was all for naught as the 66'er offense was horrible. The 4-9 hitters went a combined 1-20, striking out six times. Notables:

Ryan Rowland-Smith: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K.
Juan Gonzalez: 2-4, 1 triple.
T.J. Bohn: 1-4.
Rene Rivera: 0-3.
Matt Hagen: 0-3, 2 K.

Clinton trounced Wisconsin, 10-3. Nibaldo Acosta was god-awful in his five innings of work and (stop me if you have heard this before) the Rattlers didn't muster one XB hit. Notables:

Nibaldo Acosta: 5.0 IP, 10 H, 9 ER, 5 BB, 2 K, 1 HR.
Josh Womack: 0-3.
Adam Jones: 0-2.
Chris Colton: 1-4, 2 RBI.
Evel Martinez: 0-4.
Wladimir Balentien: 1-3.
Justin Ruchti: 0-3.

Everett beat up on Vancouver in their season opener, 11-1. Aaron Jensen went five scoreless albeit wild innings (5 BB) to pick up the win. The Everett offense was en fuego as five Aquasox had multi-hit games. Notables:

Aaron Jensen: 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 1 K.Z
Asdrubal Cabrera: 2-4, 1 double.
Yung-Chi Chen: 1-4, 3 RBI.
Bryan Lahair: 2-4, 2 RBI.
Casey Craig: 2-3.
Josh Ellison: 2-4, 1 double.
Omar Falcon: 1-4.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Who would've thought that we had two 40+ year old sluggers on this team?
Stop bunting, you jackaninny.

It's been a busy day for Jeff; after staying at work for eight and a half hours, I sat in traffic for a while (to the delight of my car's smoking engine), ate, and took off for a poker game in which I left with an 80% profit. All right, so it hasn't necessarily been a bad busy day, but it's been busy, and - as such - I don't have much time to write about today's game. Corey, I know you're out there, so don't take this as a sign that I don't like blogging about Mariners victories. They're tolerable in small doses, although one must always remember to keep his ensuing optimism within the realm of reason. So, let's get to the game:

  • Jolbert Cabrera hit his first homer of the year (118 at bats), prompting a handful of remaining enthusiastic fans to point out what an asset he's been. Simply put, those people are wrong. On a better team with a better bench (read: consisting of major league-caliber players), Cabrera would be relegated to a small role, where his hacktastic approach to hitting would be acceptable, given his decent center field defense. The guy doesn't hit for any power, and doesn't have a plan at the plate - he's fanned 25 times, to just three walks. I love a guy who can hit singles every now and then, but Cabrera's doing so while contributing absolutely nothing else. But at least he's not...

  • Ramon Santiago, possibly the worst professional baseball player in the state of Washington. Seriously, not only must we deal with Wee Willie getting himself a bunch of playing time, but we also have Santiago, Hiram Bocachica, and Jolbert Cabrera to do similar things. That makes four players whose skillset is best suited (optimistically) for a utility role. Problem is, you can't have four utility players on the roster at any given time, meaning we're forced to watch at least one or two of these clowns in the lineup every day. I'm not accepting Paypal donations to the Free Justin Leone! Campaign.

  • Eddie Guardado is really good. He's pitching well at home, on the road, against lefties, against righties, in the eighth inning, and in the ninth inning. Lefties have two hits against him in 30 at bats. He's striking out 30.4% of the batters he faces, while allowing just 21.4% to reach base. A 33 year old successful closer with a modest contract (given the market) who's had great success on the year and has already said to the media that he regrets signing with Seattle? Looks like Freddy isn't our only desirable trading chip...

  • This was not a good Ryan Franklin day - rather, it was just about a normal Ryan Franklin day. A bunch of pitches, a good number of innings, a handful of walks, a handful of strikeouts, a few runs, a bunch of hits, and a homer for good measure. So far this year, Franklin's had good success with runners in scoring position, a trend that isn't consistent with his history. I'm not intentionally trying to sound pessimistic, but that other shoe is going to drop sooner or later, and it isn't going to be pretty.

  • Who's the better all-around center fielder: Randy Winn, or Darin Erstad?

Moyer against Vogelsong tomorrow. Vogelsong hasn't been getting anyone out this year, the Pirates are reeling, and they can't hit lefties for beans (.639 OPS). I'm feeling good about this one.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma had its second doubleheader in three days. The Rainiers took the first game, 4-2 over Salt Lake. This one completed a game that had been suspended in the bottom of the third inning more than a month ago. Jeff Harris shut out the Stingers for six innings while Bucky Jacobsen hit a two-run homer to power the offense. Tacoma also took the second game, this time 7-0. Travis Blackley threw a complete-game (seven inning) shutout, lowering his ERA to 2.49. Jacobsen and Luis Ugueto had multi-hit games. Notables:

Travis Blackley: 7 IP, 2 H, 6 K
Justin Leone: 1-6, 1 double
Bucky Jacobsen: 3-5, 1 homer, 2 BB
Ben Davis: 0-5, 1 BB
Greg Dobbs: 2-6, 1 homer
Greg Jacobs: 2-4, 2 BB

San Antonio beat Arkansas, 6-3. TA Fulmer had a strong start, pulling his ERA down to a staggering 6.85, and a three-run eighth propelled the Missions to victory. Three Missions had two-hit games. Notables:

TA Fulmer: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 2 HR
Aaron Taylor: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Dustin Delucchi: 1-4
Hunter Brown: 2-3, 1 double, 1 BB
Shin-soo Choo: 0-4
Ryan Christianson: 1-3, 1 BB

Inland Empire lost to Lake Elsinore, 12-2. Tanner Watson had a day to forget, allowing seven runs in 3.1 innings, and the 66ers could manage just six hits and eight baserunners on the day. Carlos Arroyo and Taylor Pullins had two hits apiece. Notables:

TJ Bohn: 0-4
Matt Hagen: 0-3
Jon Nelson: 1-4

Wisconsin held on to beat Dayton, 15-14. The Rattlers allowed 13 runs in the seventh and eighth innings, but a three-run ninth saved them from the monumental collapse. Seven of the nine hitters in Wisconsin's lineup had two-hit days, and Juan Ovalles picked up the win despite allowing three runs in one inning of work. Ryan Feierabend pitched well enough to earn the victory, but sometimes those late 11-1 leads just don't hold up. Notables:

Ryan Feierabend: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR
Josh Womack: 2-6
Adam Jones: 2-6, 1 homer
Hyung Cho: 0-5, 1 BB
Wladimir Balentien: 1-5, 1 homer

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma beat Salt Lake, 13-8. After blowing a 5-0 lead in the top of the eighth, the Rainiers proceeded to score eight runs in the bottom half of the inning to put it out of reach. Gil Meche held the Stingers hitless for six innings and departed after a solid 7.1 innings, while Andy Shibilo did his best to make things interesting at the end. The 3-through-5 hitters in the Tacoma lineup reached base a combined 11 times. Notables:

Gil Meche: 7.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 5 K
George Sherrill: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER
Justin Leone: 2-3, 2 BB (.273/.351/.616)
Bucky Jacobsen: 2-3, 1 double, 1 homer, 2 BB
Ben Davis: 0-5
Greg Jacobs: 1-4
AJ Zapp: 2-4, 1 homer, 1 BB

Blackley tomorrow.

San Antonio lost to Arkansas, 6-1. Phil Devey threw strikes but allowed six runs through 5.2 innings, and the Missions could muster just four hits against the Anaheim affiliate. At least Dallas McPherson didn't homer. Notables:

Dustin Delucchi: 0-4
Hunter Brown: 1-2, 1 BB
Shin-soo Choo: 0-3, 1 BB
Ryan Christianson: 0-4
Christian Guerrero: 0-3, 1 BB

Inland Empire beat Lake Elsinore, 7-1. It was King Felix's night, as he allowed a run and eight baserunners in 8.2 innings while fanning eight. Jesus Guzman had three hits as a two-run first for the 66ers provided enough support for Hernandez. Notables:

Felix Hernandez: 8.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K
Juan Gonzalez: 1-5
TJ Bohn: 0-2, 2 BB
Rene Rivera: 1-3
Matt Hagen: 0-3, 1 BB

Wisconsin beat Dayton in 11 innings, 8-7. Jason Mackintosh had a terrific start but watched as Brad Rose threw it all out the window by allowing five runs in a third of an inning. Fortunately, an unearned run wound up winning the game, and Brian Stitt picked up his second victory of the year. Hyung Cho had four hits and reached base five times to lead the Rattlers. Notables:

Jason Mackintosh: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 10 K
Josh Womack: 2-6, 1 homer
Adam Jones: 2-6, 1 double
Hyung Cho: 4-4, 1 double, 1 BB
Chris Colton: 0-6
Justin Ruchti: 0-5

An improvised substitute for something lacking; a temporary expedient.

Rich Aurilia is a stopgap. With the organization having soured on Carlos Guillen and Jose Lopez being at least a year away from competing for the job, we needed to bring in an adequate replacement for the short-term. Nothing much; all the team was looking for was a half-decent player to bridge the gap between two talented young shortstops. Aurilia, as we're all well aware, has fallen off the map, but he won't be back next year and this team isn't about to jump back into the race, and so he just needs to keep the position warm for Lopez's probable debut next April.

Willie Bloomquist is not a stopgap. A local fan favorite, Wee Willie is a talentless sack of anguish who has earned consideration for a significant role both now and down the road through sheer alacrity. He certainly isn't bridging the gap between two high-profile third basemen, and at the low low price of $0.33m he is often overlooked by the front office as a hindrance. Because he's versatile, popular, and hits for a decent (yet empty) batting average, Wee Willie is a virtual guarantee to make the roster with each passing year, becoming a gradually bigger problem as the team attempts to justify his annually increasing arbitration-fed contract by giving him more playing time.

These kinds of things irk me.

Willie Bloomquist is not protecting Justin Leone from being rushed to the majors. At 27 years old, the time is now for this particular blog's favorite player, and there's nothing Wee Willie can do that Leone couldn't accomplish upside-down while blindfolded. Leone is currently destroying AAA opposition, building on last year's success while establishing a solid track record of production in the upper minors. Bloomquist - who never hit in the minors - is proving that he can't hit in the majors, either, as his o'fer day sank his OPS to .547. To make things even easier for the organization, Leone's already on the 40-man, so they could make room for him on the ML roster by optioning down - oh, say, Willie Bloomquist. .273/.351/.616. The time is now, Bill: make it happen.

* * * * *

There was a game tonight. Just ask Bob. For the second night in a row, we were shut down by the Brewers, with Doug Davis being today's unwitting beneficiary of the team's stifling inability to score runs. Here's a tip, Bob: the problem isn't getting hits with men in scoring position, it's getting guys into scoring position so that one of our middling hitters can drive him in once every four opportunities or so.

I called it yesterday. Not that predicting this lineup to struggle against a marginal pitcher requires clairvoyance. Davis - a guy whose career K/9 ratio hovers around five and a half - fanned seven Mariners in seven innings, with the only run coming on a Pat Borders (seriously) bomb (his first since 1999). But then, consider the number of automatic outs in our lineup today, and perhaps we actually overachieved. Borders' "special relationship with the organization" seems to have something to do with our startling tendency to suck whenever he's around; we're 8-19 (.296) in games in which Borders has appeared since becoming a Mariner. Fortunately, he provides veteran leadership that, when combined with the veteran leadership emanating from Edgar, Moyer, Boone, Olerud, Wilson, Myers, Villone, Aurilia, Hansen, Spiezio, and Guardado, conjures the spirit of Captain Planet, who arrives to eliminate all adversaries in a non-lethal and educational fashion when the players arrange themselves in a circle and put their Experience rings together.

The story of the day, as you all should have expected, was Clint Nageotte, who survived a rough start and pitched a strong five innings before leaving due to a hand cramp (which could be due to a number of things, including calcium deficiency or a simple fluke). The first inning was rough, but things would've been different had Olerud been able to make a play on Podsednik's leadoff bunt single. Milwaukee obviously planned to run on Borders early on, and it rattled Nageotte, but he was able to settle down and retire 11 of the final 12 batters he faced. The game provided another snapshot of why Nageotte draws raves from scouts, but has performance analysts riding the fence: he's frequently damn-near unhittable, but he struggles with command more often than you'd like and throws a lot of pitches when he gets off his game. As such, there's a chance he turns into Kerry Wood, but Nageotte's got as high an attrition rate as you'll find in a young pitcher. If nothing else, though, it's exciting to have him up on the roster, because I sure as hell wouldn't go out of my way to spend my evening watching Ron Villone throw 110 pitches in five innings.

Franklin against Capuano in a day game tomorrow (11:05am start time). Capuano's a southpaw who records decent strikeout rates while struggling against righties. Two of our best hitters against lefties so far will be out of the lineup. We should pick up three or four runs in this one, so cross your fingers for another Ryan Franklin Smoke & Mirrors Show ©.
Jeremy and I are on the same wavelength. Too bad that's not a good thing, in this case.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Over the past couple weeks, I have started to have a change of heart on the Freddy Garcia trade situation. For the past two months we have watched Freddy absolutely dominate opponents like he did two years ago. We have watched Freddy win more games than any other 28 year old in baseball. Can they really put a talent price tag on that? Teams will not send us top prospects for a half season rental of Freddy. The Justin Morneau's, James Loney's, and David Wright's will not be available. So does trading Freddy really benefit the M's if all they get are a couple of prospects that could be ready to contribute in a few years?

Sure the M's have a plethora of young arms in the high minors and another wave of talented young arms in the low minors as well. So trading a strength to fix a weakness is a necessity at this point. But instead of trading our best pitcher to fill the need, why not trade a couple of the other arms to fill these needs. Teams may be just as willing to offer up the same quality of prospects for an arm who won't be able to walk away at the end of the season. For example, Ryan Franklin won't be getting any better, so why not trade him to a contender looking for fourth or fifth starter that can eat up innings for the next couple seasons. Teams like Milwaukee, Florida, Los Angeles, and Houston are all in need of another arm for the stretch run, but are somewhat budget strapped. Wouldn't those teams be more than willing to trade for Franklin as an alternative to Freddy Garcia? Counting on pitchers like Moyer, Pineiro, Franklin, Meche, Nageotte and Blackley to carry the team next season is subjecting fans to the same torture that we have witnessed so far this season, inconsistency. While they are all extremely talented, Moyer is in the decline phase of a great Mariner career and Franklin has peaked. Pineiro and Meche have proven this season that while talented, they aren't worthy of the top spot in a rotation, yet. Nageotte and Blackley should be expected to be inconsistent at times. Would anyone be opposed to trading players like Thorton, or Baek, or any other minor league pitcher if it meant the M's could get a couple of talented minor league positional prospects? As it stands right now, the M's don't have a need for the majority of the pitching talent in the high minors now, or in the near future. By the time they will need to start bringing up talent from the minors again, the current lower minor leaguers will be ready to contribute, led by King Felix.

So is the front office missing the big picture in the grand scheme of things? Is Freddy really not worth the four year forty million dollar contract he is supposedly seeking? Regardless of his struggles in 2002 and 2003, Freddy is still one of the most dominant starters in the game, a durable work horse, and is proving this year that he may have put his immaturity behind him. With veterans like Wilson, Olerud, Edgar, coming of the books next season, is a $3.125 million dollar raise really too much to hand to the best starting pitcher on the M's staff?

It appears Yahoo ran an article today regarding the same topic, which goes into good detail about why Freddy should stay.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma had a doubleheader today, against Salt Lake. The Rainiers lost the first game, 6-1. Matt Thornton was extremely wild, and the typically strong Tacoma offense could manage just two hits while striking out ten times. A Luis Ugueto bomb was the only real offense from the home side, while the defense committed four errors. The second game was much better, as the Rainiers won, 5-1. Scott Atchison got the win, striking out six in five innings, and Justin Leone hit his 18th home run of the year (2nd in the PCL). Notables:

Matt Thornton: 6 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 7 BB, 3 K
Justin Leone: 1-6, 1 homer, 1 BB
Jamal Strong: 1-5, 2 BB
Bucky Jacobsen: 2-5, 1 homer, 1 BB
Ben Davis: 2-3, 1 double
Greg Jacobs: 2-5, 1 BB

San Antonio lost to Frisco, 5-3. Juan Done allowed 11 baserunners and four runs through 6.2 innings, and the Missions' lineup couldn't get it in gear until it was a 5-1 game. Greg Dobbs and Luis Oliveros had multihit games for San Antonio, but Oliveros remains in search of his first walk on the year (he has 143 AB's). Notables:

Greg Dobbs: 2-4
Hunter Brown: 0-4, 1 BB
Dustin Delucchi: 0-3, 2 BB
Shin-soo Choo: 0-4, 1 BB
Luis Oliveros: 2-4
Vince Faison: 1-1, 1 double

Inland Empire beat Lake Elsinore, 9-1. Bobby Livingston allowed one run on nine hits through seven for his seventh win of the year, while a four-run second provided more than enough offensive support for the 66ers. Gary Harris had a magnificent day, going 5-5 with a triple and three RBI. Carlos Arroyo and Rene Rivera added three hits apiece. Notables:

Bobby Livingston: 7 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 6 K, 1 HR
Juan Gonzalez: 1-5
Rene Rivera: 3-5, 1 double
Matt Hagen: 1-3, 1 double
Gary Harris: 5-5, 1 triple (not really notable; he's 24)

Wisconsin lost to Dayton, 10-8. The Rattlers couldn't hold onto a 6-0 lead as Juan Ovalles allowed four runs whilst recording but a single out. Thomas Oldham fanned ten in 5.1 innings, and four Wisconsin players had two-hit games. Notables:

Thomas Oldham: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 1 HR
Josh Womack: 2-5
Adam Jones: 2-5
Chris Colton: 0-4, 1 BB
Wladimir Balentien: 0-4
Hyung Cho: 1-3, 1 BB

Meche goes for Tacoma tomorrow, while King Felix throws for Inland Empire.
Anyone else like to see Matt Thorton possibly give closing a try? The guy has the stuff to be a dominating closer.
In the last week, Devin posted about some funny comments he heard while attending a baseball game at SafeCo, from apparent "knowledgeable" baseball fans. I drove down to Los Angeles tonight to catch the Orioles vs. Dodgers game and I had a similar experience that is just too good not to pass on.

I was seated directly behind the Dodgers dugout, about five rows up, and sitting directly behind this older gentleman, a man who appeared to be his son, and a younger boy that I assumed was the son of the younger man. This wasn't just your normal three generation father-son night at the ball game. These guys looked like they hit the Dodger Stadium gift shop just before the game. Brief run-down of the gear:

Grandson - Dodger hat, Dodger shirt, Dodger sunglasses
Father - Dodger hat, Dodger shirt, Dodger jersey, Dodger sunglasses, Dodger wrist watch
Grandfather - Dodger hat, Dodger shirt, Dodger Hawaiian shirt, Dodger socks, Dodger wallet, Dodger chain, Dodger watch and a Dodger windbreaker

So here me and my dad are, sitting behind three people plucked from the Dodger merchandise catalog, obvious Dodger fans. Turns out they have had season tickets for 13 years and both the older men proclaimed to be knowledgeable of the game. Of course this was just a segway for comedic comments like these:

1 - "That Micky Bradelton (while pointing to Milton Bradley) is going to be a great LF some day." Compliments of the grandfather
2 - "Jose Lima looks like he is getting tired, he has already thrown a lot of pitches." Father in the fifth inning, (Lima only threw 68 pitches over 7 innings)
3 - "Miguel Tejada doesn't have that much power. That ball barely got over the wall. I'd be surprised if he hits 15 home runs this season." Father
4 - The two older gentlemen got into an argument over who was the better pitcher, Sandy Koufax or Nolan Ryan. The younger guy saw me laughing at them and then asked me who I thought was the best pitcher of all time, Sandy Koufax or Nolan Ryan. I told them Bob Gibson. The younger guy laughed and said (I can't make this up), "Bob Gibson played second base and he wasn't even that good."

There were some others, but those were the real gems.

I had never noticed this before today, but next time you can watch an Oriole game, check out Miguel Tejada when he is in the field. In between pitches and during the pitchers warm-up throws, the guy is bouncing all over the place, twirling his arms, jumping, kicking the dirt, tossing his glove from hand to hand, etc. It's like watching a hyperactive child eating a Hershey bar.
Some news on Jose Lopez:

NO SURGERY FOR LOPEZ: A preliminary look at the MRI performed on the left knee of Class AAA shortstop Jose Lopez is that he will not need surgery for the injury he sustained Monday night in the Tacoma Rainiers' game against Salt Lake.

Lopez had to be assisted off the field after hurting the knee while trying to break up a double play.

Although Mariners' team orthopedist Dr. Larry Pedegana will not look at the MRI until today, the early report was that Lopez suffered a Grade 2 sprain of his medial collateral ligament and that rehabilitation and not surgery is the likeliest course of action.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


What better way for the Mariners to welcome me back home? Fresh off a sweep of the worst team in baseball, the team looked to be picking up at least a little steam - even going so far as to convince the general manager that there are still shreds of hope here and there - but they collapsed upon my return. Lacking two of its best hitters due to injury (Ibanez) and regulations (Edgar), the lineup predictably struggled against a wholly mediocre pitcher, and we were treated to a shutout loss. Useless trivia alert: today's game marked the second consecutive contest in which one of the teams was held to one or fewer runs. Six of the last seven games have been shutouts. This team has an ERA of 2.44 in June, but we're only 6-6 for the month. The more things change, the more they stay the same...

This particular game featured the curiously delightful inability to hit journeyman malcontent Victor Santos. Even at his best, Santos has been hittable; his career 9.46 H/9 ratio entering the game was a little below average, and his ability to miss bats at a reasonable rate was negated by his middling control (5.55 BB/9). Nevertheless, if there's a way to make a pitcher look good, this lineup will find it and put on a staggering display of offensive ineptitude closely mirroring that of the 1988 Atlanta Braves. Victor Santos threw seven innings today (requiring just 86 pitches...). For his career, he's averaged about 12 baserunners allowed per seven innings. Today? Three. Our only hits were a Boone single (who got out stretching for a double - brilliant idea) and the following Olerud double in the top of the second. There's really not much more I can say about the fact that we came alarmingly close to being no-hit by the Brewers. Come back, Raul...

Freddy had a strong start, retiring fifteen of sixteen batters between an Overbay two-run double and a Jenkins solo shot. Good things happen when you throw strikes, and this marked the sixth time in 13 starts that Garcia had at least as many strikeouts as innings pitched (he did it six times in 33 games last year). Unfortunately, Freddy isn't really seeing the big upside to all of his good pitching; he lost by a 3-0 score despite pitching well for the second time in a week, and his 3.23 ERA hardly supports his 3-6 record. Of course, as a career .280 hitter, Garcia should know better than to rely on the other guys to provide run support...

Whoa, how does Tampa Bay have a six-game winning streak?

...anyway, as I've hinted at before, this new Freddy is more efficient than the one we've seen the past two years, and his 15.6 pitches/IP is down more than a full point from last year's mark. If you take a look at his peripherals (I'll save you the table), the only thing he's doing worse than he did in 2001 is allowing just under one more hit per nine innings. This is due almost entirely to a worse defense, and his strikeouts are well above his 2001 rate, so it's fair to say that Freddy's current campaign is on pace to be the best of his career.

Too bad you can't say the same for Rich Aurilia. I thought he might've been turning a corner when I left for vacation, but alas, he's hit just .171/.237/.229 since that day, with minimal success from the #2 slot. Remarkably, he hasn't been the worst offensive shortstop in baseball this year - his RARP (Runs Above Replacement Player) is actually ahead of five other shortstops with at least 100 plate appearances. Not that Neifi Perez is really the benchmark of acceptable productivity...

If I told you that John Olerud has been arguably our second-best hitter, would you believe me?

Bob Melvin is a tremendously frustrating manager. Lots of people complain about Jimy Williams, because he routinely makes a series of poor decisions based on such reliable foundations as "hankerings" and "gut feelings". Melvin, on the other hand, shows flashes that he knows what he's doing every now and then, but squelches any resultant optimism by faling to advance along the desired route of managerial reformation. We've seen him preach the importance of getting on base when he was first hired, only to watch as the team lays down a series of sacrifice bunts (only a handful of which actually achieve the desired result of advancing the runners). We've seen him use Guardado in appropriate situations a few times, and we've been pleasantly surprised, only to discover that Melvin doesn't intend to do that again very often. Now we've seen him move Ichiro to the #3 slot - where he belongs, thanks to his mysterious historical splits with runners on - only to put him behind Rich Aurilia and Randy Winn, the two worst hitters in our everyday lineup. Granted, there's only so much you can do with an offense in this kind of shape, but why not make things even better by throwing John Olerud's .380+ OBP into the top of the lineup? He's slow as all hell, but he's not an out machine of Aurilia's caliber, and the entire goal of moving Ichiro to #3 is so that he can hit with men on base. And while Bocachica's hot - and Winn isn't - why not bump him up to see what happens? What we know, at this point, is that Randy Winn and Rich Aurilia make a bunch of outs, while John Olerud doesn't and Hiram Bocachica *hasn't* (yet). I'm not much of a Bocachica fan, but at least with him there's the potential for more than Winn is going to offer us. What do we have to lose, other than a few more ballgames?

Nageotte against Doug Davis tomorrow. Here's what we know: Milwaukee draws an average number of walks, but strikes out a ton - second-most in the majors. That works in Clint's favor. Unfortunately, Davis is precisely the kind of control finesse guy that gives us so many fits, so this could be another low-scoring affair. Don't rule out another shutout.
Near the bottom of every team page, there's a little section entitled "Top Young Hitters", displaying various statistics of the position players who fit the mold.

The only Mariner that qualifies is Willie Bloomquist.
I have returned from my European vacation, but don't get too excited; it will take a few days for me to get back in the flow of things, so bear with me. All I have to say for now is:

.270/.343/.614. Leone's for real, I tells ya.
Jose Lopez injured his knee in last night Rainiers loss and is scheduled to undergo a MRI exam today. I'll keep everyone posted on what hopefully well be a minor injury.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Salt Lake made a late charge to beat Tacoma, 6-4. Craig Anderson put on a pitching clinic for the Rainiers, although the night was spoiled by Randy Williams and George Sherill who couldn't hold Tacoma's two-run lead. Don't let the four runs fool you, the Rainier bats were ridiculously quiet as Bucky Jacobsen single-handedly carried the offense with his three-run double. Notables:

Craig Anderson: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR.
Jose Lopez: 1-2.
Jamal Strong: 0-0, 2 BB.
Ben Davis: 0-3, 2 K.
Justin Leone: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB.
Bucky Jacobsen: 1-4, 1 double, 3 RBI

Frisco nipped San Antonio, 3-2. Tough break for Rich Dorman who pitched six quality innings, even fanning eight. The Mission offense just couldn't get it done as the top five in the order went a combined 1-18. Notables:

Rich Dorman: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 1 HR.
Dustin Delucchi: 0-4.
Shin-soo Choo: 0-2, 2 BB.
Greg Dobbs: 0-4.
Ryan Christianson: 2-4, 1 RBI.
Christian Guerrero: 0-4.

Lake Elsinore thumped Inland Empire, 8-3. Juan Sandoval pitched quite well, and then he made the mistake of trusting Miguel Martinez with finishing it out. Oops. Gary Harris had two triples to lead the 66'er offense. Notables:

Juan Sandoval: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.
Miguel Martinez: 0.2 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 K.
Juan Gonzalez: 0-4.
Gary Harris: 2-3, 2 triples, 1 RBI.
Frederico Balet: 2-4, 1 double.
Rene Rivera: 0-3, 2 K.

Wisconsin edged Dayton, 10-9. Michael Moorhead had luck laughing in his face (only one of his six runs allowed was earned) and Brad Rose was shaky, however, it didn't matter as the Rattler offense was on fire. Wladimir Balentien led the way with four hits. Chris Colton, Adam Jones and Josh Womack had multi-hit games as well. 21 Rattlers reached base, 15 by way of hit. Notables:

Michael Moorhead: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K.
Josh Womack: 2-5, 1 double.
Adam Jones: 3-5, 1 triple, 1 RBI.
Evel Martinez: 0-5.
Chris Colton: 2-5, 1 HR.
Wladimir Balentien: 4-5, 1 double, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Monday, June 14, 2004

In this mornings PI, John Hickey discusses how the Mariners appear to be still trying to decide whether they are buyers or sellers. Coming of the first sweep of the season, (against the worst team in baseball mind you), some in the M's seem to think that the players may have turned a corner. But in case they haven't noticed, Oakland has won right straight, and Anaheim is starting to slowly get their injured players back. Make a long rant short, it's time to cut bait. This season is a loss and no matter how hard they want to win now, it can not happen this season. The best they can do is trade off some of the remaining parts in an effort to get younger and bring in some fresh blood for a shot at next year.

Obviously, Bavasi is a man trying to save his job. He took over the helm of a team that had won more games than any other team the past three seasons and has witnessed the team to a nose dive into the doldrums of the AL West. I liken this season to a sinking ship. In an effort to stay afloat for as long as possible, Bavasi is throwing the life preservers, food, life rafts and any excess weight overboard everyday, only to eventually find out that when the time comes to use the items he has thrown overboard, they wont be there and the ship will have already sunk to the bottom.
Hooray! My connection is back after two straight days of trouble. I was able to get it running yesterday for short while and then lost it once it was time to post the Wrap-Up. In anycase, here you are...

Minor League Wrap-Up

Tacoma was dusted by Tucson, 14-5. Gustavo Martinez threw in the towel early lasting only two innings and Jared Hoerman, who has been downright disastrous, was nothing different in his 2.1 innings of work. Justin Leone had a swell night for the Rainiers blasting a homer and driving in two. Bucky Jacobsen also went deep. Notables:

Gustavo Martinez: 2.0 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 3 K.
Jamal Strong: 0-4.
Justin Leone: 3-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
Bucky Jacobsen: 2-4, 1 HR.
Jose Lopez: 0-4.
Jorge Maduro: 1-4.
Greg Jacobs: 1-4, 1 R.

San Antonio got by Frisco, 6-3. It was a night to remember for Shin-soo Choo who not only got it done at the plate, but also in the field by taking away a double and homer away from recent Frisco call-up Ian Kinsler. Hunter Brown homered and Luis Oliveros had two hits to help Choo in the offensive assault. Notables:

Chris Key: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K.
Dustin Delucchi: 0-2, 2 BB.
Hunter Brown: 1-4, 1 HR.
Shin-soo Choo: 2-4, 2 R, 1 RBI.
Christian Guerrero: 1-4, 1 R.
Luis Oliveros: 2-3, 1 double.

High Desert beat Inland Empire, 4-2. Cesar Jimenez had his control tonight, but he left too much out over the plate giving up six hits and three runs in only four innings of work. Frederico Balet and Rene Rivera had multi-hit games in an otherwise dry offensive night. Notables:

Cesar Jimenez: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K.
Juan Gonzalez: 1-4
Jon Nelson: 1-4, 1 RBI.
Frederico Balet: 2-4.
Rene Rivera: 2-4, 1 RBI.
T.J. Bohn: 1-4, 2 K.

Wisconsin knocked off South Bend, 5-1. Nibaldo Acosta dominated the Silver Hawk batters going all nine and giving up only a single run on five scattered hits and no free passes. Adam Jones had a pair of doubles and Chris Colton and Michael Cox homered to lead the Rattlers. Notables:

Nibaldo Acosta: 9.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K.
Adam Jones: 2-3, 2 doubles and a walk.
Chris Colton: 2-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
Wladimir Balentien: 1-4.
Michael Cox: 2-4, 1 double, 1 HR, 1 RBI.
Justin Ruchti: 0-3, 2 K.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Tonight's game finally had some fireworks, only they weren't coming from the Mariner bats, they came from Brad Wilkerson, Carl Everett, and Frank Robinson. In the seventh inning Wilkerson got ejected arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Charlie Reliford. Then Frank Robinson got involved and somehow Carl Everett got into the fray and might have become the first player in ML history to be ejected from a game while he was on the DL. After all the dust had settled, three players had been ejected and two cameras were knocked temporarily out of service.

Melvin shook up the line-up tonight, placing Ichiro in the third spot and having Winn and Aurilia bat 1 and 2 respectively. While batting Ichiro third is probably a good idea at this point, I have to why it took so long for Bob Melvin to decide to shake things up. Winn has been one of the more productive Mariners over the past month, but placing Aurilia between Winn and Ichiro is useless, especially with OBP machine Olerud in the line-up. If Melvin is going to make this change permanent, which I doubt, he should give the line-up he was talking about over the winter a shot:

Ibanez (when he returns)

Tonight also marked the fifth straight dominant performances by one of the starting pitchers. Moyer turned in a gem, throwing seven shut out innings before giving the ball to the pen. It's nice to see the pitchers starting to throw better, but my main concern is that I hope the M's front office doesn't believe that there might actually be some hope left in salvaging the season. With Anaheim, Texas and Oakland (who is starting to turn it up a notch) all within a stones throw of one another, the M's and their 12 game deficit are to far back to realistically expect to get back into the race.