Saturday, July 03, 2004

According to KOMO's post-game show, Justin Leone is slated to get the start tomorrow at shortstop.

...and the people rejoiced!
I'm pulling for Mariotti.

I don't think I could ever hate a guy more than I hate Kenneth "Hawk" Harrelson.


I wasn't able to follow tonight's game, on account of taking in my first ever minor league experience at Petco, as the new-look Royals stumbled into town to take on the Padres. Hardly an alluring matchup, but it's tough to turn down free tickets ($55 face value) to a Friday night ballgame, and so I accepted the offer and spent the night peeking at the out-of-town scoreboard, hoping to see a message like "Justin Leone RBI single" show up on the screen at some point. It never did (because Leone didn't drive in a run, as it turned out), but that wasn't enough to ruin my evening. The Padres and Royals combined for seven home runs tonight in a stadium averaging just 1.2 homers per game. Phil Nevin hit two of the hardest hit balls I've seen in my life, and three balls cleared the fence in a noisy bottom of the sixth. And hey, I even got to hear Hells Bells for the second time in two games, which is a nice little bonus. All in all, it was a hell of a night, capped off by the fact that Leone made his Major League debut today.

Due to an extended rain delay, Leone's first ML at bat came earlier in the game than anyone could have expected. Pinch-hitting for the cold Jamie Moyer (sitting for two hours will do that to an arm - unless, of course, said arm is attached to Woody Williams) in the top of the third with one out and none on, Leone fell behind in the count 0-2 before taking three consecutive balls and eventually grounding out to Rolen. It's not a hit, but it's still a good debut against a solid pitcher. Leone didn't swing through any pitches - supporting the Dan Rohn-ism that part of Justin's problem is having too much patience, rather than simply missing the ball a lot - and was able to work the count back into his favor before putting the ball in play. There's only so much you can get from a single AB, though, so I'll leave further analysis for Leone's first start. I'm just thrilled that he's up with the big club, and half of me is still in disbelief.

Now that the important matters are out of the way, some quick notes on the game, since going to Petco wore me out:

  • Jamie Moyer's getting screwed. First he pitches out of the bullpen in an 18-inning loss, then he starts a game on two days' rest, then he gets yanked after two innings because of a long rain delay. Uncool. At least he'll be nice and rested for the stretch run...

  • Matt Thornton can't throw strikes in AAA. Thus, nobody should be surprised when he can't throw strikes in the Majors. He did a decent job in his debut, but tonight was brutal; you won't get anywhere in this league when half of your pitches are missing the zone. He got to three-ball counts on ten of the 17 batters he faced, and also started ten of those 17 plate appearances with a first-pitch ball. Anyone can see that Thornton has some pretty good stuff, and he's allowed a wider margin of error given his velocity, but when you can't rely on your fastball to find the zone on a consistent basis, it's time to work things out in a low-pressure environment - like Tacoma. That he entered the year with a career BB/9 north of 4.5 calls into question whether or not he'll ever start putting everything together, which is too bad - you can hide a shallow repertoire by being moved to the bullpen, but you can't hide bad control *anywhere*.

  • Putz, meet Cheney. Cheney, Putz. What's this? You've already been introduced? Good, then we can skip the formalities and get right down to business. Yeah, I know, there's no sense in sending him back down - who cares whether or not the last man in a bad team's bullpen is reliable? - but his strikeouts have gone to hell in June, and when you combine a lot of balls in play with a .319 BABIP (hooray, defense!), you're to get some bumpy streaks of performance. We need Putz to finish with a strong second half, because otherwise we'll find outselves dipping into the free agent relievers market, handing seven figures to the Jay Witasicks of the world. It's worked out with Villone, but much like putting your head in the mouth of a crocodile, is that really a risk that you want to make twice?

  • Willie Bloomquist: 0-2, 3 LOB, 1 Extended Track Record Of Suckitude. Justin Leone: 0-1, 0 LOB, 0 Track Records Of Suckage. Advantage: Leone!

  • Would Bill Bavasi consider putting Scott Spiezio on waivers?

It's a 1:05pm start time tomorrow, with Ryan Franklin going up against the erratic Jason Marquis. The homer-happy Cardinals could have a field day with Franklin, while Mariners fans should expect a healthy diet of straight Marquis fastballs getting hit straight into the ground.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma won it in the 9th against Portland, 5-4. A Greg Jacobs single scoring Greg Dobbs won it for the Rainiers as Gil Meche was pretty good in his eight innings of work. A.J. Zapp continued pounding the ball with another homer and Jeremy Reed chimed in with a triple. Notables:

Gil Meche: 8.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HR.
Bucky Jacobsen: 0-2.
Jeremy Reed: 2-4, 1 triple.
A.J. Zapp: 1-2, 1 HR, 2 BB.
Greg Jacobs: 2-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI.

San Antonio copied Tacoma and won in the ninth against Arkansas, 2-1. This time it was John Lindsey knocking in Shin-soo Choo to win it for the Missions. Rich Dorman was superb in his six innings of work giving up only four hits and striking out seven. Every Mission had a hit tonight except Choo, who walked in the ninth. Notables:

Rich Dorman: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K.
Vince Faison: 3-5, 1 R.
Shin-soo Choo: 0-4.
Ryan Christianson: 2-4, 1 R.
T.J. Bohn: 1-4, 3 K.
Brian Moon: 1-4.
Oh, and no Michael Morse. What in the world is taking him so long? Anyone know?

Rancho Cucamonga outlasted Inland Empire, 2-1 (12) An effort wasted from Juan Sandoval who was excellent tonight. The 66'er offense on the other hand was anything but excellent as Matt Hagen stole the show with one...double. It was that bad. Notables:

Juan Sandoval: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K.
Juan Gonzalez: 1-5.
Jesus Guzman: 1-4.
Carlos Arroyo: 2-5, 1 RBI.
Matt Hagen: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 BB.
Michael Garciaparra: 0-3, 1 BB.
Rene Rivera: 1-3.

Wisconsin beat Cedar Rapids, 4-1. Michael Moorhead = Thomas Oldham? It seemed like it this evening as Moorhead struck out fourteen as he was straight awesome for eight innings. The top of the order (8-17, 2 2B, 1 3B) provided all the offense Moorhead would need. Notables:

Michael Moorhead: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 14 K.
Josh Womack: 2-5, 1 double.
Nick Orlandos: 2-4, 1 BB.
Adam Jones: 2-5, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI.
Justin Ruchti: 1-2.

Everett beat Vancouver in extras, 5-2. Shawn Nottingham followed suit and had a nice little start going six and scattering only three hits and striking out five. Oswaldo Navarro, Brandon Green and Yung-Chi Chen all had multi-hit nights. Notables:

Shawn Nottingham: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K.
Casey Craig: 0-3, 2 BB.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 0-3.
Yung-Chi Chen: 2-5, 1 RBI.
Brandon Green: 2-4.
Omar Falcon: 1-3, 1 double.
Oswaldo Navarro: 3-4, 1 3B, 1 RBI.

Friday, July 02, 2004

A few days back I promised I'd post a few lines on last night's Rainier game. Not so much a Jeff-type game recap, but more of an insight into Jeremy Reed.

As with every other player in the history of baseball, there is no way to gauge a player's talent adequately by watching just one game where he gets very limited chances to strut his stuff. Last night was no exception, nothing I am about to write should be taken and preached across all lands simply because that's probably not exactly what he is or isn't capable of. That said, I'll divide my observations into the two obvious catagories: at the plate and in the field.

At the plate

He really didn't seem as patient as I have heard him described in a few scouting reports. He likes to jump out at the ball, especially the first pitch. While this sets off the "STRIKE OUT KING!" nerve in the brain, he rarely misses the ball when he swings but has tendency to foul the ball off rather than hit it weakly into the infield. He was fooled badly twice, both on breaking balls that ended up in the dirt. Other than that, everything he hacked at was at least close to the zone. His stance is partially open, or at least looked that way from my angle (3rd base line, 15 rows up) which gives him the ability to pull the ball better. In his first at-bat he got jammed and nubbed it up the third base line, a pretty routine play, however Reed shows great speed out of the box and really starts to burn about halfway up the line, he was out by maybe a half-step. At-bat #2 featured a pretty cool homerun. Not because it was a bomb, far from it. What was neat was he got a fastball and pulled it 335 feet, hitting the top of the right field foul pole. It had a golfball-like trajectory, starting low and rising quite a bit before going over the fence. His third at-bat was a pop-up to shallow left, again, he was jammed on what must have been the 300th pitch of the at-bat (quite a few fouled off before the pop-up). Finally, his fourth at-bat was the most fun. He wasn't jammed this time, but didn't get good wood and hit the ball eerily similar to his first at-bat, dribbing up between third and short. It would have taken a nice throw to nail a normal speeded runner at first, but Jake Gautreau had no play on Reed from the very beginning. Gautreau eventually missed the ball when it got to him, but the scorer got it right giving Reed a basehit.

In the field

Reed didn't have many chances the entire game so it was extremely difficult to really see how well he holds down his position. In the few balls that were smack his way, he took an awkward first step, and, in one case, a pretty strange route. However, he gets to ball and makes the play just like a normal centerfielder should. I am willing to write off his first steps and routes as "getting used to the ballpark" as this is the first time he has played in it and he still isn't used to the backdrop and lighting scheme. His arm really wasn't tested, but it was pretty apparent he doesn't have Randy Winn syndrome. I'll report more on this area of his game as soon as I see some more.

Finally, I wanted to see what kind of reaction Reed would have when he saw the line of children and fans up against the dugout wailing for autographs. Most players ignore the fans, while others are pretty generous and will stay out there for a half-hour making sure everyone who wanted one, got one. Where was Jeremy Reed? He was right in the middle of it all with a big smile on his face.

I like him.
Tui signed today.
After last night's Red Sox vs Yankees game, I was joking with Jeff about the Red Sox needing Johnny O to help stabilize a sub-par Sox infield defense and bring a soothing presence to the clubhouse. This morning, the Times had reports that the Red Sox and Mariners had been talking about Johnny O and possibly one of the bullpen arms heading to Boston. To quote Larry the Cable Guy, one of the most annoying comics since Jeff Foxworthy, "Git R Done Bavasi!"
To borrow a line from DMZ, I agree with Trent's post below, and give it my full endorsement.

Everyone involved with the Mariners organization should regret winning the game today, because it gave ESPN’s clever writers the opportunity to employ a headline reading “Mariners look Blackley at Texas, grab Winn”. I’m ashamed, ESPN should be ashamed, and – more than anyone else – Travis Blackley should be ashamed for becoming a professional baseball player with the knowledge that his surname could and would be used in such wordplay.

I was fighting with a slow connection at work during the day, so I was probably the last Mariners fan to hear the news. You have to feel for Matt Thornton, who flew in a bunch of friends and family for what was supposed to be his first Major League start, but I’m sure that, deep down, he knows he’s not ready, and that Travis Blackley is a superior pitcher. Nageotte made his way back down to Tacoma, but it’s nothing that he shouldn’t have seen coming, given the way Texas manhandled him twice in eight days. Blackley is simply a more polished, ML-ready pitcher than the other two, and he earned his promotion instead of parlaying a 40-man roster spot into a big league gig.

Is there any way you’d rather begin your Major League career than by driving a little bit up the freeway to start a home game against John Wasdin? Well, yeah – it’s nice to be staked out to a seven-run lead after three innings. Blackley retired nine of the first ten batters he faced before running into trouble in the fourth, allowing a leadoff double and back-to-back walks before salvaging the inning with a run-scoring DP and a fly out. It’s been suggested that a long bottom of the third slapped together by Seattle’s overpowering lineup knocked Travis off his game, and there might be a little something to this. As a guy who succeeds with his command, it’s difficult for Blackley to get back into a groove when his arm’s gone cold because he can’t get a good feel for his pitches – of the off-speed variety especially – resulting in high-ball counts and hitters sitting dead red. He seemed to settle back in a little bit, but he ran out of gas in the sixth and got torched for a three-run homer by Kevin Mench. Blackley finished the day with 108 pitches – more than I’d like to see him throwing, and certainly not the model of efficiency – but given that he already had 92 under his belt before he went out there for the sixth, you’d think that Melvin would have the bullpen ready to go at the first sign of trouble. Instead, Bob let Travis put two men on base and then get slammed for the home run. The preceding singles were admittedly not very well struck, but he was at 103 pitches before Mench came up, and he should’ve been pulled. Nevertheless, despite the four runs allowed, it was a very encouraging start for Blackley, and he should be up here for good. A strong second half gives me a lot more confidence in next year’s rotation, which will be critical in determining whether or not the team is able to compete again in 2005.

In the past, the organization has been cautious with recently promoted pitchers, starting them out in the bullpen before throwing them to the wolves (see Pineiro, Soriano as most recent examples). While I’ve been critical of the team’s occasionally over-conservative approach to managing its minor league system, I am in complete agreement with the idea of letting young guys get their feet wet in low-pressure short-inning situations before letting them start ballgames. That said, I think they have the right idea with Blackley. He doesn’t have the repertoire of a typical reliever, and he’s only come out of the bullpen once in his professional career, in A-ball two years ago. He isn’t the kind of guy who you worry about being overexposed – like Soriano, who feeds off one successful pitch – he hasn’t shown any significant problems with stamina or injury, and he has smooth mechanics that diminish that usual injury concerns surrounding any given 21 year old pitcher. He doesn’t have a potential future in the bullpen, so there’s no reason to let him get comfortable in a role that he’s not very likely to see again in his career. As it turned out, he was more than ready to take on a full lineup of Major Leaguers, and despite the result of his final pitch, Blackley and the Mariners organization should be very encouraged by how it went.

Boone’s heating up. Randy Winn’s still swinging it. Dave Hansen is getting in his fair share of quality at bats. Could these hot streaks possibly come at a better time? These are all guys who can help contending teams, and as certain general managers become more and more desperate to improve their rosters, contracts are overlooked, and we find ourselves with a veritable bevy of ways to unload expensive players. I haven't been this excited about a Mariners team in some time. Who'd have thought that the same organization who put such a premium on veteran leadership would be willing to begin a youth movement just three months into the year?

You've all heard it. You've all wandered over here to see what I have to say about it. I gotta admit, the Leone promotion took me by complete surprise. I came back from work to find two messages flashing on my screen; the first, from Devin, said that Justin had been called up. I didn't believe him, so I closed the window and moved on to the next. This one was from Trent, saying the same thing. I navigated to a handful of websites, and they confirmed what I couldn't believe. He's finally here, if only for two weeks while our catcher gets clumps of phosphate deposits removed from his kidney. Is Leone going to get a bunch of playing time? Unlikely, as the team wants to showcase the remaining veterans to set up deadline deals. Is he going to tear the seams off the ball when he gets a chance to play? It's possible, but also not very likely - Leone took about two weeks to adjust to AAA pitching on the heels of a hitless Spring Training, so he's the kind of guy who needs consistent playing time in order to find his offensive groove. Predicting the performance of bench players is a fool's errand, as the complications extend well beyond simple issues with small sample sizes - just as it was hard for Blackley to go out and throw the fourth inning with a cold arm, it's tough for a hitter to go up to the plate and face a series of Major League fastballs when he hasn't taken a cut against live pitching all day. How he does in his brief stay with the big club isn't nearly as important as the fact that Leone's been given a shot, and I couldn't be more thrilled for Justin.

Moyer goes up against Woody Williams in the opening game of a riveting interleague matchup against the Cardinals. 5:05pm start time. The Mariners will have ample pinch-hit opportunities during the series, given that the pitcher has to bat, so look for Leone to make an appearance or three.
I know I speak for Jeff and Devin when I say that we enjoy reading the comments and receiving emails from our readers. Occasionally, we’ll receive an email that sticks out from the rest and we will tackle whatever topic that was addressed in the email. Yesterday, I received an email from a reader who asked me of my opinion on trading Eddie Guardado. My first reaction was to keep Guardado and his reasonable contract around, especially if the M’s intend to compete next season. But upon further inspection, (and another save by Sherrill tonight), if the right deal presents itself to Bavasi, I would think he would have to take it.

Don’t get me wrong, Eddie has been more dominant than I expected him to be and if he was pitching for a better Mariner team, there is no doubt he would be among the league leader in saves. Couple that with his reasonable 3 year $17 million contract (if the team picks up his team options and he collects all bonuses), Guardado would appear too good of a bargain to trade, and he probably is. But let’s look at this objectively. Eddie is 33 years old and is potentially under contract until his 35th birthday, and might arguably be having the best season of his career. For an aging team with a shortage of young, talented positional prospects, the only way to fill these needs would be to acquire players outside of the organization. By trading Guardado, (who would command a package similar, if not larger, to the package the M’s received for Garcia), the M’s could fill several needs and at the same time save his 2005 and 2006 salary and invest it into the offense, (Carlos Beltran anyone?). Plus, the market is just going to heat up for Guardado’s services as the White Sox, Cubs, Astros, Giants, Indians and Twins have all expressed an interest in his services.

The M’s are not without possible replacements “if” they do decide to trade Guardado. George Sherrill has, for the most part, assumed the closers role for the Rainiers and has performed remarkably well. Rafael Soriano, dubbed the closer of the future, should be back by the end of the month or in early August. Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who is as likely to be traded as shares of Enron, performed well in the role last season. So to say the M’s would be without a legitimate option at the end of games is not a fair assessment.

Bavasi is faced with an interesting dilemma. By keeping Guardado, the M’s should have one of the AL’s best closers for the next two and a half years. If he decides to trade Guardado, he has the possibility to add some more young organizational depth and free up roughly $13 million dollars over 2005 and 2006. It’s an interesting predicament and one that I’m sure the M’s front office has put some serious thought into. Do I have a definite opinion? Not really. I’m on the fence on this issue. If Guardado is retained, great. If Guardado is traded, that would be great too. Whatever happens, at least we have Jeremy Reed and Miguel Olivo.
He's no Raul Ibanez:

Tim Salmon is 0-35 against lefties this year.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma came back from an early deficit to beat Portland, 7-6. Tonight was the night to get a first look at, arguably, our best prospect in the system and he didn't fail to delight the crowd. Jeremy Reed went deep in his second at-bat as a Rainier launching what we all hope is a successful career in the Seattle system. Oh, and A.J. Zapp went deep twice, both of which were absolute bombs. Jeff Harris was lousy, but hats off to the Rainier bullpen who pitched like pros, even Sherrill who made the game extremely interesting in the ninth. Notables:

Jeff Harris: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 HR.
Jeremy Reed: 2-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
Bucky Jacobsen: 0-2, 2 BB.
A.J. Zapp: 2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI.
Greg Dobbs: 0-4.
Luis Ugueto: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 R.

Frisco snuck past San Antonio, 3-2. King Felix's debut in AA was a dandy as he went six strong innings scattering seven hits, one run and striking out eight. Didn't matter however as the Mission offense was anemic against John Hudgins who punched out eleven. Notables:

Felix Hernandez: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 1 HR.
Vince Faison: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
Shin-soo Choo: 0-4, 3 K.
Ryan Christianson: 0-4, 2 K.
T.J. Bohn: 1-3.
Still no Morse.

Inland Empire smoked Rancho Cucamonga, 11-3. Ryan Rowland-Smith was solid in his six innings of work and the offense provided the rest with Jesus Guzman, Carlos Arroyo and Rene Rivera. And hey, Michael Garciaparra is back and still not very good. Notables:

Ryan Rowland-Smith: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 2 HR.
Juan Gonzalez: 1-5.
Jesus Guzman: 3-5, 3 R, 2 RBI.
Carlos Arroyo: 3-5, 2 doubles.
Matt Hagen: 2-5, 1 double.
Michael Garciaparra: 1-4.

Wisconsin shutout Dayton, 4-0. Ryan Feierabend continued his excellent season this evening going seven innings surrendering no runs and striking out seven. Chris Colton's two RBI helped pave the way for the Rattler offense. Notables:

Ryan Feierabend: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K.
Josh Womack: 1-4.
Adam Jones: 2-4.
Bryan LaHair: 0-2, 2 BB.
Chris Colton: 1-3, 2 RBI.

Everett fell to Vancouver, 2-1. Not a bad night for Ruben Flores who six solid innings in the losing effort. Very poor offense was to blame for Everett in this one, only four hits. Notables:

Ruben Flores: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 0-3.
Brandon Green: 2-4.
Yung-Chi Chen: 1-4.
Casey Craig: 0-2, 2 BB.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Blackley has a very good outing in his first makor league start, Leone gets called up to the majors and Jeremy Reed hits a two run home run in his second AB in the Mariner organization. Great day for Mariner fans.

And how can I forget King Felix and his line tonight:
6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2BB, 8 K

Great, great day for the Mariner organization
Blackley has been nothing short of spectacular thus far, throwing three hitless innings, while striking out three and walking one, (39 pitches, 25 have been strikes).
In the continuation of the "youth" movement, Mariners have called up Justin Leone to take the place of Miguel Olivo, who was placed on the 15 day DL this afternoon, (apparently he will need to undergo another procedure for the kidney stone). I know that there are at least three people smiling about this move.

Confirmed by
It appears that Clint Nageotte has been optioned to Tacoma, and Travis Blackley has been added to the 40 man roster and is on his way to Seattle and might very well get the starting nod tonight over Matt Thornton. David at USS Mariner first broke the news and I'm trying to confirm it.

It's official. Travis Blackley was added to the 25 and 40 man rosters this morning and will make the start this afternoon against Texas.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Sorry about the delay with Everett's box, I forgot to post it before work this morning. Anyway, it's up now and on we go.

Tacoma had the night off and will take on Portland tomorrow night at home. It's a good bet that Jeremy Reed will get the start and I'll be sure to get out to Cheney and post a quick recap for everyone on how he looks. I expect to be fully impressed.

San Antonio took out Frisco, 3-1. Minor league journeyman Phil Devey went six innings giving up only three hits and a run while striking out three. Not a single extra-base hit for the Missions this evening though Ryan Christianson, T.J. Bohn and Rob Gandolfo all had two singles. Notables:

Phil Devey: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.
Shin-soo Choo: 0-3, 2 BB.
Ryan Christianson: 2-4, 1 BB.
T.J. Bohn: 2-4, 1 BB, 1 RBI.
Rob Gandolfo: 2-3, 1 BB, 1 R.
Again, no Michael Morse.

California League will be back in action tomorrow night as Inland Empire will take on Rancho Cucamonga.

Dayton outgunned Wisconsin, 8-6. Rattler hitters absolutely pounded the ball this evening but couldn't seem to get many men across the plate (read: Mariners circa 2002, 2003). Nibaldo Acosta really wasn't too shabby in his start going six while giving up a handful of hits and two runs, but he should pull a gun on his bullpen help which was downright dreadful. Notables:

Nibaldo Acosta: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, 1 HR.
The Pen: 3.0 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR.
Nick Orlandos: 4-5, 1 triple.
Bryan LaHair: 2-5, 1 2B, 2 RBI.
Eric Blakeley: 3-5, 1 double.
Wladimir Balentien: 2-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
Chris Collins: 3-5, 1 double.
Adam Jones: 0-4, 1 BB.

Everett edged Spokane, 9-8. Ivan Blanco throws hard. The problem with Ivan Blanco however is that while he can blow guys away quite frequently (8 K's tonight), he gets way too much of the plate when he gets ahead and that gets him chased from games early. It was another one of those nights for Blanco, who, when the dust settled found himself in the dugout after only 4.2 IP. Asdrubal Cabrera and Brandon Green both went deep to help lead the Aquasox to victory. Notables:

Ivan Blanco: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 1 HR.
Oswaldo Navarro: 2-4.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 1-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
Brandon Green: 2-3, 1 HR, 3 RBI.
Casey Craig: 1-3, 1 double.

I know that I was excited when Nageotte was called up - and admit it, you were too - but it's becoming painfully clear that he doesn't belong in the Majors yet. He's got tons of work to do on his command, which has gotten him in trouble this year because high-ball counts have forced him to throw fastballs for strikes, which have been slapped around the field. That said, his disappointing ML debut shouldn't do anything to diminish his prospect sheen, as it didn't so much display a vulnerability to better hitters as it did highlight and exploit his known faults. Throughout his ascent to the highest levels, Clint battled with his control, but he was able to get away with it more often than not thanks to one of the best sliders you'll ever see thrown by such a young kid. Now that he's been facing the best batters in the world, though, he's had a slimmer margin of error, and it's cost him. Although, in retrospect, burning some of Nageotte's service looks like it was a mistake, he has a better idea of what he needs to work on in the minors in order to become a successful Major League pitcher, so not all has gone to waste. Hopefully he's able to make some adjustments and make a re-appearance in the rotation next year, before the organization writes him off as a future reliever like it did with Soriano.

This one got ugly quick, and although the score was 5-3 at one point, you just got the feeling that we never had a chance to get back into it. Nageotte did an admirable job of escaping a bases-loaded-none-out jam in the second (allowing a run on a sac fly), but he came unglued in the fourth, surrenduring four runs on six baserunners. Clint wasn't getting any help from his defense today (thanks, Winn), but he's an inherently shaky dude, so he needs to assume some of the blame. At that point, it was time to throw in the towel - and we did - but the game did have some redeeming qualities. For example:

  • Two shutout innings for Villone, lowering his ERA to 3.28

  • A double and a walk for Aurilia, finishing June with a .260/.329/.442 line. Hey, Dusty!

  • A homer for Winn, finishing his June with a .286/.377/.486 line. Well I'll be damned, that makes him one of the best center fielders in the Majors, right? That's the story we should try to sell to other GM's, anyway, attempting to avoid entirely discussions regarding his defensive prowess and a streakiness at the plate that rivals Mike Cameron.

  • Pinch-hit RBI for Dave Hansen. If I've learned nothing else in my years of baseball fandom, it's that professional pinch-hitters remain gainfully employed until they either retire or die. Hansen serves no other purpose these days, but he's a guy who'll draw a walk or hit a single for an NL pitcher in the seventh inning every so often, so he'll be getting some looks.

Yes, on nights when little else goes right, we always have potential trades to look foward to. None of the most likely departees remaining on our roster - among them Myers, Villone, Winn, Aurilia, and Hansen - are going to bring us anything more than salary relief and a live A-ball arm come July 31st, but ditching the veterans opens up a bunch of opportunities for deserving minor leaguers, which will resurrect my enthusiasm. And hey, maybe Bret Boone heats up (five hits in his last three games...) and brings in a B-grade prospect or two from the Dodgers or Phillies. All kinds of things going on in Mariners camp this summer!

The idea of moving Ichiro to center field has been discussed ad nauseum by the blogosphere; for the sake of brevity, Melvin will not move Ichiro because "he's the best right fielder in baseball." As it turns out, this determination to adhere to given roles reaches other parts of the roster. Can anyone explain to me why Willie Bloomquist was playing first base today, while Scott Spiezio - a pretty damn good defensive 1b - remained at third? Melvin downgraded the defense at two positions today because he didn't want to move Spiezio away from his specific role. Indeed, Scott hasn't played an inning of baseball in the field anywhere other than at third base. It boggles the mind is what it does.

Matt Thornton tomorrow against John Wasdin. Will Matt be able to last longer in his start than Clint did in his? Stay tuned to find out! 1:35pm start.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Re: Olivo

When Miguel is healthy and ready to play, Pat Borders will be sent down to Tacoma, with George Sherrill coming on up.

Update: The Times implies that it's likely, but nothing definite. Still, I think it's a pretty safe bet.
From KJR: Miguel Olivo underwent minor surgery this morning to remove kidney stones. Olivo isn't expected to be placed on the DL, but will most likely miss the St. Louis series and is expected to return to action Tuesday in Toronto.

It's time for everybody's favorite kind of post:

...a pretty quick one!

Yes, with a job and other activities that eat into Jeff's otherwise leisurely schedule, he has less time to post during the day, and less energy and enthusiasm when doing so. Which is why I'm so thrilled to have Trent and Devin on board on a (for the time being) permanent basis. Trent will continue to post on everyday matters and concerns, like myself, while Devin will assume the role of Minor League Wrap-Upper, along with writing a little something about the Rainiers if anything jumps out at him while he's at a game. As a regular attendee at Cheney Stadium, Devin could prove to be an invaluable resource as far as information about Tacoma is concerned. Anyway, some quick points on tonight's game:

  • Joel Pineiro is a hungry young man. What I mean by this is that he's already planning to be the ace next year:

    ``Getting the nod and saying you're going to be the opening day starter is going to something great,'' Pineiro said.

    Bob Melvin has high hopes as well, calling his pitcher "a number one guy waiting to happen." Pineiro has been victimized by a poor defense all year long, with a BABIP well north of .300 and a dERA 30 points below his actual figure, but he's improved on his most important numbers; his walks are down and his strikeouts are up, to the point at which he's flashing a 2.55 K/BB ratio - just about what he did in 2002. He has a 3.32 ERA since the start of May, and his biggest problem all year long - home runs - seem to have been left behind in April. Although dramatically different opening months have created a different picture, Pineiro has actually pitched better than Freddy Garcia for the majority of the season, which is a promising trend as the second half approaches. That $14.5m/3yr extension Joel signed in the winter is going to look like one hell of a bargain when all is said and done.

  • Miguel Olivo went 0-for-3 on the day, but he had a good AB against Benoit in the third and roped a ball to first base in the sixth, that caromed right to the pitcher and setting up an unlucky out. Why he was hitting behind Aurilia and Spiezio at the bottom of the order is beyond me, but I suppose Melvin didn't want to put too much pressure on teh kid's shoulders in his first game with the club...

  • Rich Aurilia in June:


    Rich Aurilia's career line:


    Looks like the real Aurilia decided to show up for at least a portion of the year. The four home runs he's hit in the last month (dating back to May 28) equal his homer production in the second half of last season. Just as is the case with Boone, now is the ideal time for these tradeable commodities to start swinging the stick well, because scouts are scattered throughout the seats at every game, and a strong AB or shiny defensive play could be just the thing to take you from a cellar-dwelling nursing home to a Series contender. After coming so close against the Angels in 2002, you know that Aurilia would love another chance at a ring, so this is when all his veteran guile and knowhow should come into play as he tries to earn a spot on somebody else's roster.

  • Yeah, I saw Cabrera hit two doubles today. Yeah, I still don't like him.

  • Shigetoshi Hasegawa hasn't allowed a stolen base since 2001.

  • According to a few metrics from his DT card, John Olerud hasn't been a plus defensive first baseman since 2000. Whether or not you believe this is true, there's no way he should've dropped that pop-up tonight...

Nageotte goes up against Rogers tomorrow night (7:05) as we attempt to close out the month of June with a win, which would push us to 13-13 on the month. Not that bad, all things considered. Not only does Clint get to pitch, but Reed and Morse should make their minor league debuts, so there will be plenty of things to pay attention to tomorrow. Don't bet on Olivo getting the nod again, though, with a rookie arm on the hill.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma fell to Sacramento, 6-2. One of Craig Anderson's better starts this season, but still not enough as the Rainier offense (which, irritatingly, didn't include Jeremy Reed) was shut down by John Rheinecker and the Rivercat 'pen. Greg Dobbs and Elpidio Guzman both had a pair of hits. Notables:

Craig Anderson: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, 1 HR.
Justin Leone: 1-4, 2 K.
Bucky Jacobsen: 1-3, 1 BB.
Greg Dobbs: 2-4.
Jorge Maduro: 1-4, 1 triple.
Elpidio Guzman: 2-4, 1 double.

San Antonio did a perfect impression of Tacoma losing to Frisco, 6-2. Juan Done was chased early and lasted only three innnings. The bottom of the Mission lineup was atrocious going 1-18, striking out six times. Vince Faison homered and Shin-soo Choo had a triple, which was about it for the hapless offense (no Michael Morse, by the way). Notables:

Juan Done: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 1 K.
Shin-soo Choo: 1-4, 1 3B, 1 RBI.
Brian Moon: 0-4.
Vince Faison: 1-4, 1 homer.

California League All-Star game today, so no Inland Empire action.

Wisconsin shutout Dayton, 6-0. Great night for Jason Mackintosh going seven while allowing six hits and striking out ten en route to his second win on the year. Four Rattlers had multi-hit games including red-hot Wladimir Balentien who was a double shy of the cycle. Notables:

Jason Mackintosh: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 K.0
Josh Womack: 1-5, 1 double.
Nick Orlandos: 2-3.
Adam Jones: 2-3, 3 RBI.
Wladimir Balentien: 3-4, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 R, 1 RBI.
Justin Ruchti: 1-4, 1 RBI.

Everett beat Spokane, 5-3. Kendall Bergdall didn't throw long before giving way to the Aquasox bullpen which was excellent for 5.3 innings. Robert Johnson led the offense with three baseknocks. Notables:

Kendall Bergdall: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 1-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI.
Robert Johnson: 3-4, 1 2B, 2 R.
Yung-Chi Chen: 1-4.
Omar Falcon: 1-4.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Remember all that work I was doing to find a decent way to predict player salaries? Well, Ben Murphy churned out a piece on a similar topic, although he was looking for answers to different questions. His main conclusion: general managers are paying a premium for power, as opposed to general performance. Check it out, if you've got a BP Premium subscription.
Congratulations to Randy Johnson for his 4000th career strikeout; he earns even more points for doing it against Jeff Cirillo.

1-6 since Lincoln's vote of confidence.

Clearly, Ryan Franklin wasn't working with his best stuff tonight (or was he?), but we had a chance to get a sizeable early lead, and we blew it, thanks to some curious decisions by Melvin and Ichiro. In the end, it was just another frustrating game in a week-long series of frustrating games, but given what went down last night I'm having difficulty staying upset.

On June 11th, Franklin tossed eight innings of shutout ball against the Astros, allowing five hits and walking two. Since then, he's put up the following numbers:

16.2 IP
25 H
14 ER
9 BB
12 K
5 HR

Where once I entertained the possibility that Franklin really did have the mysterious ability to limit hits on balls in play, no longer do I find this very likely. His BABIP is hovering at .295 - the pitching staff's collective BABIP is .294 - and his 4.87 dERA is eerily similar to his 4.74 *actual* ERA. Franklin has become a below average pitcher before our very eyes, victimized by a plodding defense, and the notion of "sell high" seems to have lost all its meaning. He can adequately fill the Dave Burba role for some mid-market team looking for a stopgap in its rotation for a few years, but his best chances of returning to the land of sub-4 ERA's rest on his accepting a demotion to the bullpen, where he can reduce his repertoire and put a little more into each of his pitches. He put up a 6.4 K/9 out of the bullpen in '01/'02, and would provide some valuable insurance for whatever collection of young starters we're going to have starting games in 2005. None of this is really news to any of you, but Franklin had to come back down sometime, and now that it's happened it deserves to be duly noted.

Hiram Bocachica made a diving catch tonight on a flare to center field. Fans love those. Problem? Bad route. Why is Jolbert Cabrera playing first base when he's the best non-Ichiro defensive CF on the roster? That just reeks of poor managerial strategy. Fortunately it didn't cost us tonight, because most of the flyballs were unplayable.

There were some Phillies scouts in the seats tonight - according to ESPN2, anyway - taking a good, hard look at Bret Boone. He delivered, clubbing a three-run homer off Bierbrodt in the first inning. This is as good a time as any for Boone to start swinging the bat well, because we need to get rid of his contract while preferably nabbing a useful young player in return as well. Even with how he's performed to date, I'm sure we'd be able to find someone willing to take a flier on our second baseman, but a red-hot Boone drives up the value and turns the hypothetical trade into more than a simple salary dump. Ever one to be careful and aware of its financial standing, this organization knows that Boone has a $9m 2005 option that kicks in with 450 plate appearances, and they won't want to shell out that kind of big money to an underproducing player. He's gone - it's just a matter of whether we get anything decent in return.

28,253 in attendance tonight. Abandon ship...

In the first inning, Nick Bierbrodt allowed a single, two walks, and a homer. In the second, he walked Spiezio to lead off the inning, and then threw a memorable wild pitch to move the runner to third.

And Bocachica bunted.

On a 2-1 count.

The next batter, Ichiro, drew a four-pitch walk.

What the BLOODY HELL was going through Melvin's head at that particular juncture?

Ichiro was then picked off of first, handing Bierbrodt two undeserved outs. Just for good measure, the next batter (Winn) walked, and Bierbrodt was yanked from the game. A potentially huge inning went to waste because our manager decided that bunting with the lead in the second inning against a phenominally wild pitcher was a good idea, and our leadoff hitter thought that he'd take a gigantic lead off first base while the pitcher worked on another walk. How do you justify these decisions? It boggles the mind, and I need to clear my head. Pineiro - Benoit tomorrow, at 7:05. Olivo will be in the lineup, so that's something (possibly the only thing) to watch for.
Couple of quick notes:

~KOMO TV in Seattle reported this evening that Jamie Moyer has informed the club that he would be willing to accept a trade if it helped the club, despite Bavasi's pledge not to trade Moyer, Martinez and Wilson.
~The Philadelphia Phillies had scouts at tonight's game watching Bret Boone (who went 2-5 with a 3 run HR) and possibly Randy Winn as well.
~Miguel Olivo will get the start tomorrow night.
~Tacoma slugged Sacramento into submission tonight, (check back Devin's update below)
~Felix Hernandez has been promoted to San Antonio, J over at Mariner Minors has the details.
~Melvin indicated that Borders days are numbered and he will probably be on his way back to Tacoma in the not so distant future (tomorrow?) opening a spot on the 25 man roster for _______ _________?
~And just for bragging rights, I told Jeff a month or so ago that any deal with the Sox would include Michael Morse, not to rub it in or anything

Finally, what the hell is Bob Melvin doing having Bocachica lay down a sacrifice bunt when Bierbrodt can't throw the ball across the plate? I know this team can't score runs but as long as you keep wasting outs like that, the trend isn't going to stop in the near future.
There has been a lot of speculation regarding the actual events that led up to the trade and if Bavasi should be given credit for the trade or if the trade just fell into his lap. My opinion, does it even matter? The M’s received two promising players and a project with some nice power. But it makes for a good space filler to talk about what transpired up until the trade so I have compiled a rough timeline of how the trade actually came together, (using newspaper articles and some inside information). Bavasi started placing preliminary phone calls in early June, trying to assess the market. Then the Mariners put a streak of wins together, including sweeps of the Expos and Brewers, and put all trade talks on the back burner for the time being, (see my Blackjack analogy). Following or during the Texas series, Bavasi reportedly called the New York Mets and Chicago White Sox and proposed a trade to each, David Wright for Freddy Garcia and Joe Crede/Jeremy Reed for Freddy, respectively. Mets countered with Ty Wigginton and talks stopped. The White Sox and Mariners countered each others trade proposals for a couple days with the two sides eventually agreeing to the offer that was eventually accepted. The Yankees, the team thought to be the team who was willing to do whatever it took to get Garcia, were called on Sunday asking if they could beat the White Sox offer, but told Bavasi they couldn’t match the White Sox offer. Bavasi then summoned Melvin into the dugout to inform him that he had traded Freddy and then the announcement was made during the game. Of course, there is also a story that the Mariners front office had no intentions of dealing Freddy until the White Sox overwhelmed them yesterday and forced their hand. The latter is from one less credible source, whereas the previous timeline has been confirmed by multiple sources. Either way, Bavasi made out like Bartolo Colon at an All-You-Can-Eat buffet.

Derek over at USS Mariner discussed how he believes Bavasi was not playing coy this season, but brought in parts that he felt would assist the team already in place. I agree wholeheartedly. What Bavasi did this past off-season was bring in parts that he felt would help this team win. To think that Bavasi had the foresight to sign Villone, Myers, Guardado and Aurilia just so he can trade them at the trade deadline is preposterous, but it makes for a good story. If he really thought that this season would turn into a failure, he wouldn’t have given Spiezio the 3-year deal and wouldn’t have trade two minor league arms for Jolbert Cabrera. However, things couldn’t have panned out better for Bavasi, as Cabrera, Villone, and Myers are having good seasons and should net a decent lower to mid level prospect at least. Hell, even Aurilia could be traded for a couple of bats and a roll of gauze tape.

However, after viewing the trade and the supposed timeline of trade discussions, I thoroughly believe the rumored trade that had Brandon Inge being swapped for Gil Meche trade was in fact just that, a rumor. What better way to get the attention of a possible trade partner, then to make them think that you are going to trade other pitchers from your system and make a run at resigning Freddy?

Bavasi, in the post game news conference as well as some newspaper articles today, discussed that the Seattle organization has been known as pitching rich and that the organization is ready to tap into this talent and see what happens. Nageotte has gotten his chance and has performed about as well as expected and Matt Thornton is going to get his chance on Thursday. With the more than likely trades of Ron Villone and Mike Myers, pitchers such as George Sherrill, Travis Blackley and Bobby Madritsch should all see some action this season.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma massacred Sacramento, 21-4. Twenty-five hits for the Rainiers tonight as they chased every pitcher thrown at them. Greg Dobbs gets Player of the Game honors as he had four hits, homered, and knocked in six. In all, seven Rainiers had multi-hit games. Gustavo Martinez wasn't real impressive, but obviously it didn't matter much. Notables:

Gustavo Martinez: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 1 HR.
Luis Ugueto: 4-7, 1 3B, 4 RBI.
A.J. Zapp: 5-6, 5 R, 3 RBI.
Bucky Jacobsen: 1-4, 2 BB.
Justin Leone: 3-6, 1 3B, 3 RBI.
Greg Dobbs: 4-6, 1 HR, 6 RBI.
Greg Jacobs: 2-5, 2 R, 1 RBI.
Jorge Maduro: 3-6, 1 2B, 2 RBI.

Now think about what it would have been like with Jeremy Reed this evening. Wow

San Antonio shut out Frisco, 4-0. Wonderful, albeit short, outing for Chris Buglovsky who went five innings to pick up his fourth win of the year. The Mission offense was pretty dry with Dustin Delucchi being the only guy worth mentioning with his two-hit performance. Notables:

Chris Buglovsky: 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K.
Dustin Delucchi: 2-4, 1 double.
Shin-soo Choo: 1-4, 1 RBI.
Ryan Christianson: 1-4.

Michael Morse was not in the lineup.

Inland Empire was off, All-Star break for the California League.

Wisconsin blanked Dayton, 6-0. Thomas Oldham, well, he probably will never throw another game like he did this evening. Oldham went eight innings scattering four hits while striking out fifteen Dragons. Fifteen. Oldham in the process brought his season ERA down to 3.03 and his K/9 ratio to a sizzling 10.67. Nick Orlandos, Adam Jones, Wladimir Balentien and Michael Cox had multi-hit games and recently promoted Bryan LaHair homered to continue his smokin' hot offensive start. Notables:

Thomas Oldham: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 15 K.
Nick Orlandos: 2-4, 1 double.
Adam Jones: 2-4.
Bryan LaHair: 1-4, 1 homer, 1 BB.
Chris Collins: 0-4.
Wladimir Balentien: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI.

Spokane walloped Everett, 18-9. Aaron Jensen wasn't on his game this evening and the Aquasox bullpen thought that was fashionable as they followed suit opening the floodgates for the Indians. Everett did manage fourteen hits however, six of which came from Mike Wilson and Robert Johnson. Notables:

Aaron Jensen: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR.
Robert Johnson: 3-5.
Brandon Green: 1-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI.
Yung-Chi Chen: 1-5.
Mike Wilson: 3-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI.
Omar Falcon: 0-3, 1 BB.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Baseball America on the Garcia trade.
Olivo will be starting tomorrow.
Via Will Carroll:

Finally, some news on Rafael Soriano. He's cleared to throw, but not pitch. His return is targeted for August...

Also, it's rumored that Felix Hernandez has been promoted to AA San Antonio. Take it for what it's worth; Trent and I are looking for confirmation.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma beat Sacramento, 8-7. Bobby Madritsch was chased after three innings, but the Rainiers battled back and took the lead on a two-run single by Greg Dobbs in the eighth. George Sherrill escaped a bases-loaded-with-one-out jam in the ninth to earn his tenth save. AJ Zapp hit two homers as part of his three-hit night. Notables:

Bobby Madritsch: 3 IP, 5 H, 4 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 1 K
George Sherrill: 2 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 2 K
Justin Leone: 1-3
Greg Dobbs: 1-1
Greg Jacobs: 0-3
Bucky Jacobsen: 0-3, 2 BB
AJ Zapp: 3-4, 2 homers, 1 BB

Both San Antonio and Inland Empire had the day off.

Wisconsin was annihilated by Peoria, 15-5. Michael Moorhead got the loss, but the real damage came against relievers Juan Ovalles and Ruben Castillo, as Peoria had a 13 run seventh inning. Bryan LaHair came up from Everett and had a double and a homer in his debut, and Michael Nesbit also homered. Notables:

Michael Moorhead: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 7 K
Josh Womack: 0-4
Adam Jones: 0-4
Brian Lahair: 2-4, 1 double, 1 homer
Hyung Cho: 1-4
Wladimir Balentien: 0-3
Michael Nesbit: 2-3, 1 homer

Everett bombed Spokane, 11-1. Shawn Nottingham threw a brilliant 6.2 innings, while Brent Johnson had four hits from the leadoff spot. Four Aquasox had multihit days in all, with Brian Schweiger hitting a homer and reaching base four times. Notables:

Shawn Nottingham: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K
Brent Johnson: 4-5, 1 double
Brian Schweiger: 3-3, 1 homer, 1 BB
Casey Craig: 0-4, 1 BB
Yung-Chi Chen: 2-2, 1 double, 1 BB
Brandon Green: 0-4, 1 BB
Trevor Heid: 1-3

Sunday, June 27, 2004

As you all now know, Freddy Garcia and Ben Davis have been shipped to the White Sox for Jeremy Reed, Miguel Olivo, and Michael Morse. Jeff has covered it well, so I will point those looking for more information on the guys we got in the deal to travel due south, (after reading my rambling of course). Bavasi appears to have pulled the wool over the eyes of Mariner fans and baseball personnel alike, as he was able to convince us all, for the past couple weeks, that he thoroughly believed the team was still competitive and would be buyers and not sellers. Which makes me wonder, was the trade of Guillen to the Tigers part of his master plan of trying to convince those in baseball that he was incompetent?* And speaking of the Tigers, it would appear that the Meche for Inge rumors that stirred up such a fire storm the other day may have been front office propaganda to help further the belief that this team was still competitive. Regardless, this was a large bounty for Freddy Garcia and this easily squashes any regrets I had with front office not offering him a contract extension. So where do the M’s go from here?

This trade could easily have a ripple effect on how other teams deal with the Mariners in the future. For starters, we are officially open for business. Bavasi indicated, after the game, that this was just the beginning and that he has a daunting task of improving a struggling offense and an aging club.

So who else is openly on the market and who might be the most likely players to go? Well if you believe the papers, everyone except Ichiro can be had for the right price. After today’s trade, I seriously doubt they would move Pineiro. I think it is fair to assume that Rafael Soriano and Clint Nageotte are untouchable. So if today’s trade was really just the tip of the iceberg, what else could possibly be on deck? Who knows? The M’s could very well be done making moves. However, I am a firm believer that Aurilia, Hansen, Myers and Villone will all be with new clubs by the deadline and with a little luck Hasegawa and Franklin. If the M’s were smart, they would deal Boone for the best deal possible, just so they can get out of paying $9 million for a Gold Glove second baseman next season. Moyer, Martinez, Boone, Meche, Olerud, Guardado, Winn, Ibanez and Spiezio are all candidate to be traded, but each comes with baggage and it is high unlikely that more than two or three of those guys are dealt.

Which direction the M’s go from here should is a mystery and it should give us die hard Mariner fans a new reason to follow these Mariners as the rebuilding process has begun. And I still haven't stopped smiling.

*100% sarcasm

I'll get to the game later on. For now:

Freddy Garcia Traded to White Sox

To White Sox: Freddy Garcia, Ben Davis, cash considerations
To Mariners: Jeremy Reed, Miguel Olivo, Michael Morse

Important Things to Know:

-Neither Reed nor Morse were on Chicago's 40man, meaning that we open up a spot
-Olivo is in his second ML season, getting paid just $320k
-Nobody has been named as a Garcia replacement in the rotation (probably Meche or Villone)
-Olivo is staying with the big club, Reed is going to Tacoma, Morse to San Antonio - Borders is probably out

Yes, my friends, the same guy who traded to give Gil Meche away for Brandon Inge just yesterday has pulled off arguably the greatest trade in recent Mariners history. Freddy Garcia was as good as gone three months from now - and rightfully so, since we shouldn't be the team to give him $40m/4yr - and Ben Davis lost his swing a year ago, and badly needs a change of scenery in order to jumpstart his career. Rather than dealing Garcia for the astonishingly overrated Dioner Navarro/Robinson Cano package in New York, Bavasi held out for a better trade, and Kenny Williams just happened to fall into his lap. The White Sox are developing a nasty habit of paying too much for midsummer improvements, and we finally decided to take advantage. Here's how our new guys look:

Miguel Olivo (ESPN card, Sports-wired card, Forecaster card)

Olivo is best known for the rocket launcher attached to his right shoulder, an absolute cannon of an arm rivaling the best in the game. He's nailed 35% of attempted base-stealers so far in his ML career, and a little fine-tuning on his mechanics has the potential to turn him into Henry Blanco behind the plate. He's had some battles with balls in the dirt, but at 25 years of age he has plenty of time to improve. His bat is what separates him from the rest of the catch-and-throw horde of young catchers; he's shown the ability to hit for average and power at every stop so far. He was rushed to the majors, being handed the starting job at the age of 24 without ever getting an at bat in AAA, but after struggling through 2003 he's putting up a .270/.316/.496 line through 141 at bats this year. He's improved his plate discipline in 2004, but it remains a problem, as he's drawn just ten walks - to 29 strikeouts - in 151 plate appearances. Just two years ago, though, he put up a 40/66 BB/K ratio in AA, so the potential is there for him to start waiting for better pitches. The good news is that he's turning into a pretty powerful hitter, as he's put up a .226 IsoSLG, with 42% of his hits going for extra bases on the year. Olivo destroys southpaws but has struggled against righties, something that he'll need to improve on if he wants to fulfill his potential. Although, as a right-handed hitter, he'll be hurt by Safeco, he looks to have a park-neutral peak around .280/.330/.500, potentially better if he works on his approach.

Jeremy Reed (Sports-wired card, Forecaster card)

David Cameron wrote a piece on Reed a year ago. All the kid has done since then is sustain a .400 batting average in half a season at AA while drawing more walks than strikeouts and clubbing 27 extra-base hits at the age of 22. Defensively, Reed is an athletic right fielder who's been playing a little center field in his spare time. He's been improving in center, but with Jamal Strong firmly entrenched in Tacoma, it looks like his future will be as a corner OF. Regardless of where he plays, he's going to hit. Through just about two full seasons in the minors, Reed has drawn 130 walks to just 86 strikeouts, and is currently putting up a 36/33 ratio in his first exposure to AAA. He's also a career .334 hitter with a level swing who could turn into an annual 40-double threat down the road. Reed isn't likely to hit a bunch of home runs, probably peaking around 20, but he'll hit the ball to the gaps while getting on base 38% of the time. Even better, Reed is a quick baserunner (104 career steals) who bats from the left-hand side of the plate, essentially fitting the Mariner mold to a T. Reed is what Chris Snelling was supposed to be (and still may become), and draws PECOTA comparisons to Tony Gwynn. There's a lot to like, here, and he instantly becomes our top offensive prospect. Reed isn't quite ready yet, but he just turned 23 years old two weeks ago, and should be in the running for a starting gig by next spring.

Mike Morse (Sports-wired card)

Morse is the "unknown" in this trade, a gigantic (6'5) shortstop currently having a breakthrough year at AA Birmingham. A high school infielder selected in the third round of the 2000 amateur draft, he struggled through his first two and a half professional seasons, showing doubles power but having trouble hitting for consistent contact or average. His biggest problem at the plate was discipline, fanning 91 times (to just 25 walks) in A-ball last year while putting up a .296 OBP. However, he's made some strides this year, picking up a handful of extra walks in his first exposure to AA while hitting .287/.336/.536 in a pitcher's park. Morse's 11 home runs in the first half are already a career high, and 42% of his hits are going for extra bases - as opposed to 34% in his previous seasons. While it seems inevitable that he moves from shortstop, where his defense has been rated anywhere from "bad" to "atrocious" to "Special Olympics", it looks like he may be developing enough of a bat to make up for the position switch. What we can be sure of is that Morse has a powerful bat on the left side of the infield, something the system sorely lacks. At just 22 years of age, Morse has plenty of time to improve his batting eye.

There is simply no way to spin this as a bad trade for the Mariners. Olivo is a decent catcher right now, with the potential to develop into one of the better backstops in the league, while Reed looks like a virtual guarantee. Morse is far away, in terms of making an impact in the majors, but he's impressing the hell out of everyone at a new level. It's difficult for me to fathom a situation in which this works out in Chicago's favor. Thank you for all the good times, Freddy, and best of luck to you as you enter a pennant race; try not to take it to heart when I say that trading you may turn out to be the best move by this organization in years.

So, how about that ballgame we played?

I fell out of my seat twice today. Once when Mark Grant announced the trade, and once when Jeff Cirillo went deep. He didn't just hit a homer, either; he hit a bomb, tearing more seams off that ball than he ever did with the Mariners. I think I speak for the majority of Seattle fans when I say, "where the hell was that the last two years, dingus?" Nevertheless, congratulations to Cirillo for his first home run as a Padre. It was a humongous blast that wound up winning the game, and I'm happy for him; it's not Jeff's fault that he was perceived as being worth twenty-nine million dollars.

This wasn't a particularly good day for any facet of the game for Seattle. Jamie Moyer wasn't very good, throwing just 57% of his pitches for strikes while putting nine men on base and allowing five of them to cross the plate in five innings of work. The offense was shut down by the streaking Adam Eaton, who combined with Linebrink and Neal to limit our lineup to three singles and three walks. The defense didn't impress anyone either, with Bloomquist almost taking one off the kisser, Spiezio dropping a grounder, and Randy Winn taking stranger routes to balls than Ray Charles. I hope the 43,649 fans in attendance learned their lesson - this is a lousy ballclub that's only exciting when it's screwing up. Seriously, other than Raul Ibanez's game-winning homer in mid-April, has anything drawn a more intense reaction than Cirillo's homer today? If only Kevin Jarvis had been the one pitching.

Randy Winn's a bad defensive center fielder. The first thing you learn in outfield practice is that, when a ball is hit, you shift your feet so that you are parallel with the direction of the ball. You don't start running backwards, locate the ball, then pull a 180 and go full-sprint back foward again. Diving catches look nice and all, but fans are too easily fooled - you need the context to know whether or not a sprawling grab was really the act of a gifted defensive OF, or just compensation for a lousy first step. Mike Cameron would've made that catch standing up.

Matt Thornton made his Major League debut in the sixth inning, in relief of Moyer. Not surprisingly, the guy who'd walked 56 hitters in 63 AAA innings on the year came up and issued a base on balls to the first batter he faced (Cirillo). He managed to bear down and start throwing strikes, though, getting 64% of his pitches into the zone while reaching a three-ball count three times in 13 plate appearances. All in all, his control was pretty good today, and the pitches that found the strike zone weren't getting hit very hard. Two double plays helped him out, as the Padres' hitters were behind on his fastball (to be expected, given that Moyer had thrown five innings earlier). What impressed me about Thornton was how smoothly the ball came exploding out of his hand; he had a fluid delivery that resulted in mid-90s fastballs shooting out from a 45-degree arm angle. However, his fastball was also pretty flat, and hitters are going to start catching up to him if he doesn't start mixing in a few off-speed pitches. I didn't see him throw much under 90mph this afternoon, but what's important is that he survived his ML debut in admirable fashion. Now that the jitters are gone (as much as they ever will be, anyway), we'll see if he forces Melvin to keep him on the roster, or if he goes back down to Tacoma. Whatever the case, he'll be right back up here when Villone and/or Myers are dealt.

Another thing: with a free 40-man roster spot, who gets added? Jacobsen? Sherill? Blackley? Given that we're likely going to get rid of Aurilia, Villone, and Myers without a significant return, it's probable that all three current Rainiers will wind up on the roster soon anyway, but there is a decision to be made. Bringing in Olivo probably boots Borders back down to Tacoma, and I imagine that Meche will be brought back up to even out the pitchers/position players on the roster. That leaves us with a full ML squad but just 39 players on the 40-man, suggesting that maybe - just maybe - we could have a Bucky appearance before too long. Or Leone. I'm not picky.

Ryan Franklin vs. Nick Bierbrodt tomorrow at 7:05, kicking off a four-game set against the Rangers. I can't wait to see how many #3 hitters we try out.
The Mariner Fire Sale is upon us. Kudos Bill Bavasi, you have just scored major points with Seattle fans. More to come later on the impact of this trade and what Mariner fans might expect to happen in the very near future.
Breaking news:

Freddy Garcia and Ben Davis to the White Sox for Miguel Olivo, Jeremy Reed, and Michael Morse.

More to come. First impression: good deal.
Sorry to break my streak, but I won't be putting up a recap of this past game due to time and fatigue. Which is just as well, I suppose, since having Ron Villone start a game for a team in our situation is something that should be quickly forgotten.

I will say this, though: as long as 39,272 people are showing up at home games, Lincoln & co. will have no reason to change.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow afternoon, when I'll be able to sit back and watch Jamie Moyer and Adam Eaton go head-to-head in a matchup of two of my favorite pitchers. Now, if only I could get an Oliver Perez game televised...
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma lost to Sacremento, 8-3. Gil "I suck less than Brandon Inge" Meche walked another five and allowed three runs in six innings, but Randy Williams took the loss by giving up four runs in the seventh. All of Tacoma's runs came via solo longballs. Notables:

Gil Meche: 6 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 5 K, 2 HR
Justin Leone: 1-4
Jamal Strong: 2-3, 1 double, 1 BB
Bucky Jacobsen: 1-3, 1 homer, 1 BB
Ben Davis: 1-4, 1 homer
Greg Jacobs: 0-4
Greg Dobbs: 2-4, 1 double, 1 homer

San Antonio beat El Paso, 6-1. Rich Dorman put nine men on base but allowed just one to score through six innings, and the Missions ran away with the game in a four-run sixth. John Lindsey's three hits - including a double - led the offense. Notables:

Aaron Taylor: 1 IP, 1 BB
TA Fulmer: 1 IP, 1 BB, 2 K
Dustin Delucchi: 1-5
Hunter Brown: 1-2, 2 BB
Shin-soo Choo: 2-5
Ryan Christianson: 0-4

Inland Empire beat High Desert, 7-3. Five errors by the Mavericks caused their pitchers to allow four unearned runs as a five-run sixth for the Missions put the game out of reach. King Felix was utterly dominant for another seven innings, further establishing himself as one of the top prospects in all of baseball, while Jon Nelson and Frederico Balet had three hits apiece. Notables:

Felix Hernandez: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K
TJ Bohn: 1-4
Rene Rivera: 0-4
Gary Harris: 0-5

Wisconsin lost to Peoria, 2-1. Ryan Feierabend had a strong game, but allowed two runs in the seventh and eighth to pick up his fourth loss of the year in ten decisions. The Rattlers could muster just four hits all day long, with Wladimir Balentien providing the only power. Notables:

Ryan Feierabend: 7.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 8 K
Wladimir Balentien: 1-3, 1 homer
Adam Jones: 1-4
Josh Womack: 0-3
Hyung Cho: 0-3
Chris Colton: 1-3

Everett lost to Spokane, 4-3. A good start from Ruben Flores went to waste as Phil Cullen allowed an eighth inning homer to Michael Nickeas that proved to be the difference. Brandon Green's three hits led the lineup, as he was the only Aquasox to have a multi-hit day. This game featured another B. Jacobsen - Brock Jacobsen, an outfielder for the Spokane Indians. Notables:

Ruben Flores: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 8 K
Brandon Green: 3-4, 1 double, 1 BB
Omar Falcon: 1-4
Yung-Chi Chen: 1-5, 1 double
Casey Craig: 1-3, 2 BB
Trevor Heid: 1-5, 1 double
Brent Johnson: 1-4