Saturday, July 31, 2004

For all of you checking for the minor league update, you will need to check back later tonight as Jeff, Devin and I are all enjoying the night life in our respective cities on the west coast.

In the mean time, check out Jeff's analysis of all the trades in the past couple days and then compare his notes with obviously superior analysis, mine. Feel free to stop laughing at any time.
Trade Deadline Wrap-Up

Kansas City Royals acquire C Justin Huber from the New York Mets in exchange for INF Jose Bautista.

A friend and I were touring Pompeii two months ago on a brilliantly sunny day when we decided to step into the welcoming shade of a restaurant near the exit. This was an establishment that operated in an arid desert, and acted like it; possessing the only cold beverages within Pompeii's walls, the restaurant could charge extroardinary prices for a small bottle of water, knowing that patrons would be all too willing to hand over the cash in return for instant refreshment.

Jose Bautista was that bottle of water yesterday. The Pirates insisted on getting back a player they had lost in the Rule 5 Draft last December, instructing the Mets to acquire Batista by any means necessary so that the two teams could consummate the Kris Benson trade. Allard Baird, aware that the Mets were eager to bring in the sought-after starting pitcher, knew that he held the key to their fortunes, and managed to get quite a haul in return for a third baseman he had acquired from Tampa Bay for cash just a month earlier. Huber is a gifted offensive player, with a good eye and developing power, making his AAA debut at the age of 22. Which isn't to say that this trade won't backfire; it's looking more and more likely that Huber will have to move to first base, where his offensive value is diminished, and Bautista flashed some excellent numbers in the minors before breaking his hand punching a trash can early in 2003. However, the Mets wildly overpaid in this deal, and losing Huber would cause much more of an uproar, if not for...

New York Mets acquire RHP Victor Zambrano and RHP Bartolome Fortunato from Tampa Bay in exchange for LHP Scott Kazmir and RHP Jose Diaz.

All the hype surrounding Kazmir is justified. He's always posted terrific strikeout rates, and made his AA debut as a 20 year old this year, putting up a 1.73 ERA and allowing 25 baserunners in 26 innings while fanning 29. There are questions about his durability and injury risk, but these are the same concerns you have for any young pitcher, and the Mets have done a good job of handling him and preventing overextertion.

So what's going the other way? Zambrano has far and away the worst control problems in the Majors, walking 6.75 batters per nine innings. He's able to maintain a respectable ERA by limiting home runs and hits while striking out a fair amount of hitters, but his pitch count gets up there quickly, limiting his innings. Rick Peterson is convinced that he can work out some mechanical flaws and turn Zambrano into a top-of-the-rotation pitcher, but it will require a lot of bad things to happen in order for this trade to turn out even.

Fortunato is a useful relief arm with Major League-caliber stuff, but he's already 29 years old, which makes his minor league track record considerably less impressive. He's got a better future than Jose Diaz, though, a converted catcher who's having Zambrano's control problems in AA. He's capable of reaching the 90s, but like so many conversion projects, his stuff is limited and his approach raw, so there's a lot of work to do here.

Pittsburgh Pirates acquire INF Ty Wigginton, RHP Matt Peterson and INF Jose Bautista from the New York Mets in exchange for RHP Kris Benson and INF Jeff Keppinger.

Alas, the trade that made it all worthwhile, right? Not so much. The hype surrounding Benson has always ignored his performance - how many career 4.25 ERA pitchers would be considered borderline aces? - as he hasn't been able to translate his excellent stuff into consistent performance. Again, Rick Peterson gives Mets fans hope that Benson can turn into that #1 pitcher he should have been four years ago, but he just doesn't miss enough bats to be an ace. As a #3/4 pitcher who can give you six or seven innings a start, Benson isn't without his value, but his perceived value has always exceeded his actual worth, and Mets fans will probably be disappointed with him down the stretch.

In order to acquire Benson, Jim Duquette surrendered his starting third baseman of the past two seasons, a more popular Shea Hillenbrand who makes up for a lack of walks by hitting for power. With the recent promotion of David Wright, Wigginton became expendable - these are the kinds of spare parts that you hang on to until they start getting expensive - and isn't much of a loss. What he gives the Pirates is a league-average 3B for a few years while they search for a more permanent solution, be it via free agency or the minor league system. It also allows Rob Mackowiak to slide into center field, sitting Tike Redman back on the bench where he belongs. In Matt Peterson, Pittsburgh adds a 22 year old live arm having success out of the rotation in AA. One of the best arms in the Mets' system before being traded, Peterson has begun to locate his offspeed pitches, and is beginning to take the shape of a legitimately exciting prospect. He'll need to shave off a few walks here and there, but better command will come with experience throwing breaking stuff. The Pirates have something here.

Bautista could wind up being that 3B that pushes Wigginton out of the organization. He's lost a year and a half of development due to injury and being selected in the Rule 5 Draft, but he has a good eye and surprising power, and is the brightest young third baseman in the organization. Jeff Keppinger, going with Benson to the Mets, is a 24 year old second baseman whose calling card is an empty .300 average with few walks and fewer strikeouts. The Mets have always had a fetish for slap hitters, though, so Keppinger should get every opportunity to prove himself to be a worthy part of the future.

San Diego Padres acquire IF Dave Hansen from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for RHP Jon Huber.

I've already talked about this one. Hansen, the only decent player the Padres and Mariners have exchanged in the past half-dozen years, is going back where he came from, as Kevin Towers couldn't stand to be the guy who gave up a useful part. Hansen will do what he does best, provide a lefty pinch-hitting option in the later innings, rendering Terrence Long essentially useless. Jon Huber, the right-hander going to Seattle in the trade, is about as interesting a guy as you're going to get when dealing a veteran bench player, having moderate success as a 23 year old in high-A. He won't be making any prospect lists in the near future, but his two-pitch repertoire may allow him to have a future in the bullpen. Huber's got a chance to be playing professional baseball in five years, which is more than you can say for Hansen. By that token alone, this was a good move for Seattle.

Philadelphia Phillies acquire RHP Todd Jones and minor league RHP Brad Correll from the Reds for minor league RHP Josh Hancock and minor league SS Anderson Machado.

Ed Wade, ever eager to stock his bullpen with reclamation types, brought in Proven Closer Todd Jones, at a fair expense. Machado is a flashy defensive shortstop who knows how to take a walk, hitting .227/.337/.363 in his first exposure to AAA. He's lightning fast and has hit for a little power before, drilling 39 extra-base hits in 2002, and has a decent chance to become Jimmy Rollins in two years. Hancock immediately becomes a starting rotation possibility in Cincinatti as a righty who hardly issues any walks. Hancock could turn into the pitcher Bryan Rekar was supposed to be, and this is too high of a price to pay for a reliever who doesn't do anything that Spike Lundberg couldn't for a fraction of the cost.

Brad Correll is a 23 year old outfielder hitting .285/.357/.407 in high-A Potomac. You won't need to know this name.

Philadelphia Phillies acquire RHP Felix Rodriguez from the Giants for OF Ricky Ledee and minor league RHP Alfredo Simon.

Rodriguez is a guy who's been something of a disappointment since dominating opponents in 2000 and 2001. He doesn't record the strikeouts you'd expect from a guy with his stuff, and his home run rate has reached a career high. Rodriguez is becoming vulnerable to right-handed hitters, but has a track record of being a successful setup man on contending teams, which is what Wade was looking for. In exchange for the reliever, Brian Sabean brought in a fourth outfielder he doesn't need and a talented arm in high-A. With Bonds, Tucker, Grissom, and Mohr already established in the outfield, Ledee doesn't look to collect very many at bats over the rest of the year, a strange acquisition given that it required Sabean to weaken what's already one of the worst bullpens in baseball. The young pitcher involved is a 23 year old with a 3.27 ERA in 134.2 innings at Clearwater. Simon has good command, but doesn't miss very many bats, and needs to string together some terrific performances in order to have a future. As it is, he's an AgeGate victim pitching well against younger competition, which isn't going to get a guy much consideration as a prospect in any organization.

Florida Marlins acquire C Paul Lo Duca, RHP Guillermo Mota, OF Juan Encarnacion and cash from the Dodgers for RHP Brad Penny, 1B Hee Seop Choi and minor league LHP Bill Murphy.

A controversial trade for both teams, the Miami media criticizing the organization for trading its youth, the LA media criticizing the organization for trading its popular vets. It's also one of the rare trades you can break down piece by piece. Lo Duca is a 32 year old backstop who's having his best offensive season in three years. However, he has a history of breaking down in the second half due to the wear and tear of playing behind the plate, and needs to be moved to first base to stay healthy and rested. Choi, on the other hand, is a young, cheap 1B who gets on base, hits for power, and is surprisingly nimble in the field. While it's nice to have an .800 OPS from the catcher position, Lo Duca's performance isn't likely to continue, and Florida displayed a lack of foresight when they brought him in. It will be interesting to see how McKeon handles Lo Duca; with Redmond and Castro disappointing, he might feel inclined to put his new player behind the plate for the rest of the year. For the Marlins' sake, let's hope this isn't the case, as a Wil Cordero/Damion Easley platoon at first base isn't going to solve anything.

This brings us to Mota and Penny. Mota's a talented setup man who established himself last year, pitching well in front of Eric Gagne. However, he's regressed in 2004, his walks going up and his strikeouts falling by a hitter per nine innings. He has value as a multi-inning reliever, but not as much as a starter who's put up a 3.15 ERA and is on pace to exceed 200 innings. Penny has strong peripherals across the board, and may finally be realizing the potential that made people tab him as a future ace five years ago. He provides instant stability to an inconsistant rotation.

We're left with Bill Murphy to Juan Encarnacion, a lopsided exchange. Encarnacion is the classic toosly outfielder, flashing good speed, a strong arm, and a smooth swing, but translating none of it into performance. He's an expensive outs-machine, and the Marlins decided to cough up an interesting arm in order to see him for a second time. Murphy's 23 and pitching in AA Carolina, where he's posted good strikeout numbers and a ridiculous 6.95 H/9 ratio. As a southpaw, he'll get opportunity after opportunity until he either succeeds or retires, and he could have a future as a slightly more successful Ron Villone.

Kansas City Royals acquire OF Abraham Nunez from the Florida Marlins for RHP Rudy Seanez.

Seanez is one of those guys who's always been right on the brink of excellence, the relief version of the pre-2003 Esteban Loaiza. He brings a mid-90s fastball to the table with sharp breaking stuff, but he's always been guilty of trying to nibble at the corners, not having enough trust in his stuff. With a strong August and September, Seanez could earn himself the multi-million dollar deal from Ed Wade that so took Rheal Cormier by surprise a few years back. In exchange for this gamble, Florida sent another frustrating player in Nunez over to Kansas City. Nunez used to be a solid prospect, but he aged by two years over night, and has been hampered by injuries for as long as anyone can remember. When he's healthy, he's a passable fourth outfielder with good speed, above-average power, and a decent batter's eye, but it could be a few years before he gets the chance to be somebody else's free talent.

San Diego Padres acquire minor league RHP Travis Chick from the Florida Marlins in exchange for RHP Ismael Valdez.

What's the market price for journeyman right-handers with extreme home/road splits? Talented 20 year old pitchers with encouraging strikeout rates in A-ball, apparently. Valdez will be leaving one pitcher's park for another, but even Petco couldn't help his home run problems, and an absurdly low 2.92 K/9 ratio portends disaster. Expected to step into Brad Penny's rotation spot, Valdez really isn't much better than Darren Oliver, who Florida gave away a few days ago. Chick is a 20 year old righty arm who's fanned 112 hitters in just 90.1 innings at single-A, walkind 27 and allowing 79 hits. He's a long ways away from the Majors, just two years removed from high school, but he's an intriguing prospect, and certainly more than the Marlins needed to give up for an undependable, fungible starter.

New York Mets trade RHP Scott Erickson and cash considerations to the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later.

If Erickson throws one inning for the Rangers in 2004, they lose this trade.

Los Angeles Dodgers acquire minor league LHP Matt Merricks from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for LHP Tom Martin and cash considerations.

Martin is a lefty specialist who's allowed a .328/.417/.534 line to left-handed hitters on the year. However, lacking a veteran southpaw in the bullpen, the Braves went after Martin, giving away a 21 year old (turns 22 in a week) lefty starter putting up a 3.31 ERA in his second go-around in Myrtle Beach. Merricks has intriguing peripherals, and didn't embarrass himself in a brief stint at AA early in the year, but almost certainly qualifies as a long-shot. But then, he's probably the better pitcher than Tom Martin, right now, and he won't collect $1.8m in 2005.

Chicago White Sox acquire RHP Jose Contreras and cash considerations from the New York Yankees for RHP Esteban Loaiza.

With Magglio Ordonez and Frank Thomas' seasons in jeopardy and Carl Everett feeling some aches and pains, it rationally followed that Kenny Williams would go after a miserable starting pitcher due $20m through 2006. While Loaiza has returned to his old form, allowing hits by the handful and struggling to strike batters out, Contreras has been downright horrifying, surrendering 22 home runs in 95.2 innings to go with a 5.64 ERA. Granted, he's shown flashes of the ability that made him such a high-paid Cuban refugee, but by the same token, Loaiza has shown flashes of returning to his 2003 form, so there's simply no positive spin to put on this, from Chicago's perspective. What it gives the Yankees is an innings sponge who will prevent the soft underbelly of the bullpen from getting exposed, a valuable cog in the rotation when you've had more than your fair share of Tanyon Sturtze and Felix Heredia sightings.

Minnesota Twins acquire LHP Justin Jones from the Chicago Cubs for 1B Doug Mientkiewicz.

Jones was the 62nd overall pick in the 2002 amateur draft, but after pitching well in a half-season stint at Lansing last year, has regressed a little bit in 2004. He's still just 19 years old, and teenagers who are striking out a batter per inning and limiting home runs while showing good command make for exciting prospects, but Jones has gone from being a potentially fast-tracked top prospect to a guy who'll have to prove himself at every level before advancing. He's still having problems with his endurance, suggesting that problems with his arm strength haven't gone away.

Mientkiewicz was forced out of Minnesota by the explosive Justin Morneau, who finally got his shot. A talented defensive first baseman who makes contact and has a pretty good eye, Mientkiewicz nevertheless needs to hit .300 to have value to a team, as he lacks the kind of power you'd like from a first baseman. At 30 years old, he's not going to get any better, and the $3.75m he's due in 2005 looks like a major mistake.

Boston Red Sox acquire 1B Doug Mientkiewicz and infielder Orlando Cabrera from the Chicago Cubs for infielder Nomar Garciaparra, minor league outfielder Matt Murton and cash considerations.

The biggest deal of the deadline, without question. Early rumors reported that the Red Sox would receive Matt Clement in the deal, rather than Doug Mientkiewicz, which looked a hell of a lot better than the end result (for Boston fans). Mientkiewicz and Cabrera provide definite defensive improvements at first base and shortstop, helping to solve what many considered Boston's biggest problem. However, that may be all there is, as each player has fallen off from productive 2003 season to have miserable 2004 campaigns at the plate. What acquiring Mientkiewicz does accomplish is give Francona the flexibility to play Kevin Millar more often in RF, at Gabe Kapler's expense, while Trot Nixon is on the mend. Doug's doubles may turn into a few home runs over the rest of the year, with the short porch in right field inviting line drives off the bats of left-handed hitters. Mientkiewicz also doesn't show any significant platoon split, which makes the job a lot easier for Francona.

Orlando Cabrera wasn't supposed to struggle like this. He's played in every game this year for the Expos, but hasn't posted an OPS north of .681 in any month so far. He's a guy who puts the ball in play, promising the silence the critics who claim that the Red Sox don't do enough of the "little things" to win ball games, but he also has the potential to resume hitting, taking advantage of the Monster in left field just like Bill Mueller did in 2003. Boston's going to need Cabrera and Mientkiewicz to re-discover their strokes if they hope to salvage this trade. Nomar was probably going to walk after the year, but he provided an excellent bat from short, and it's unlikely that Orlando Cabrera makes the fans forget about the guy they've watched play the infield for eight years.

Matt Murton is a corner outfielder who might have to shift to first base due to defensive limitations. He has a decent eye and hits for a little power, but he needs to turn it up a notch in order to be fast-tracked to the Major Leagues. .301/.372/.452 in high-A is good, but you'd like to see more from a corner position.

Chicago Cubs trade infielders Alex Gonzalez and Brendan Harris and right-handed pitcher Francis Beltran to the Montreal Expos in exchange for infielder Orlando Cabrera. Traded Mientkiewicz and infielder Orlando Cabrera to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Garciaparra and Murton.

It was a hefty price to pay for Cabrera, but the end result turned out pretty well, didn't it? Brendan Harris needed to have a good year at AAA in order to avoid the Dave Kelton career path, and he responded by hitting a robust .311/.353/.531 as a middle infielder in Iowa. Beltran, meanwhile, has spent the year in the Cubs' bullpen, strugging with command and home runs but striking out more than a batter an inning. Possessing a mid-90s fastball and a sharp slider, Beltran has the potential to become a devastating closer down the road, but will more importantly provide cheap, effective relief for the Expos/Senators for a few years. Alex Gonzalez, of course, is addition by subtraction, as his woefully low OBP failed to justify his $5.5m contract.

So in return for these three players and Justin Jones, the Cubs managed to land Murton and Nomar Garciappara, who instantly beomes their best shorstop since Ernie Banks. with Lee, Walker, Garciaparra, and Ramirez, the Cubs have one of the most productive infields in baseball, and Nomar should slide right into the top of the lineup. It's a gamble, as Hendry gave up some talented prospects in exchange for a shortstop who could walk after the year and who has benefited from Fenway Park, but the trade turns the Cubs into immediate favorites to win the Wild Card. The Padres have had a pretty rough few days.

The Montreal Expos acquire infielders Alex Gonzalez and Brendan Harris and right-handed pitcher Francis Beltran from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for infielder Orlando Cabrera.

Doomed to the reality that Cabrera would be gone after the year, Montreal nevertheless managed to bring in a nice haul, landing a talented infielder and a live arm who could become half of a terrific one-two punch with Chad Cordero in the eighth and ninth innings. Alex Gonzalez will fill the hole at short left by the Cabrera deal, but the Expos would be better off releasing him and seeing what they have in AAA shortstop Maicer Izturis, who is hitting .365/.446/.443 in Edmonton on the year. With Tony Batista leaving after the year, don't be surprised if the Expos train Brendan Harris to be their third baseman of the future, moving him back to the hot corner after having spent most of the year at second base. Omar Minaya did pretty well for himself here, and this is a team that could very easily wind up playing 85-win ball in 2005 if things fall into place.

Boston Red Sox acquire outfielder Dave Roberts from the Los Angeles Dodgers for outfielder Henri Stanley.

When Gabe Kapler is playing center field on Johnny Damon's off days, you know you have a problem to fix. In Dave Roberts, Boston has a legitimate backup outfielder who can play all three positions and collect a handful of at bats a week without embarrassing himself. He can hit for average, get on base a little bit, and run like the dickens, which provides a new weapon in the later innings for Terry Francona, who once used David McCarty as a pinch-runner in a recent game.

Henri Stanley has bounced around a little bit, being claimed off waivers by San Diego from Houston, and then shipped to Boston before being sent to LA. He's a corner outfielder with a decent eye and some gap power, but he's overextended in center field, limiting his value as a potential fourth outfielder. There remains a slight chance that he turns into a well-behaved Carl Everett, though, which was more than enough for Paul DePodesta.

Los Angeles Dodgers acquire outfielder Steve Finley and catcher Brent Mayne to L.A. in exchange for minor league catcher Koyie Hill, outfielder Reggie Abercrombie and Double-A left-hander Bill Murphy.

This is a difficult trade to gauge. Finley's a talented player with power, a good eye, and the ability to play a mean center field, but at the same time he's been helped a bunch by his home park, hitting just .267/.338/.441 on the road since 2001. He'll be a definite upgrade on Juan Encarnacion in the outfield, both at the plate and in the field, but the magnitude of the improvement may be lower than DePodesta would like, given that Finley's offensive numbers will decline further by playing half his games in Chavez Ravine. To make things worse, not only might Finley decline rapidly, but Jim Tracy may feel inclined to hand the starting catcher job to Brent Mayne, rather than seeing if David Ross can re-discover his 2003 stroke. Mayne, at this point, is a useless player, his defense having eroded, his offense having disintegrated, and his veteran leadership being negated by the fact that he's spent his career on lousy teams. It could very well end up being a tight race to the finish in the NL West, so the Dodgers will need to squeeze every last drop of production from everybody on the roster. Giving Brent Mayne a bunch of at bats isn't a very good way to accomplish this.

You have to feel for Koyie Hill, who must have thought that his moment had finally arrived when Paul Lo Duca was traded. Instead, Hill's been sent to Arizona where he will look good standing next to Juan Brito until Robby Hammock returns from the DL. Hill will need to make an immediate impression on the organization, which is very high on Chris Snyder (.306/.398/.538, AA). Koyie's a good catch-and-throw guy who's hit for good power in AAA, but his plate discipline has eroded since drawing 76 walks in 2002, and there are concerns regarding how he will adjust to Major League pitching. Regardless, he's a hell of a lot better than Brito, and should be given every opportunity to show off before Snyder arrives and kicks him out of the way.

I've already discussed Bill Murphy (23 year old having moderate success in AA), which brings us to Reggie Abercrombie. Here you have the embodiment of a scout's wet dream: great speed, smooth swing, terrific arm, and a strong body. Unfortunately, Abercrombie remains completely and utterly lost at the plate, where he swings at everything and misses most of it. Abercrombie began the year at AA Jacksonville, where he hit an abysmal .173/.193/.327 in 168 at bats with four walks an 66 strikeouts before being sent back down to Vero Beach, where his OBP hovers around .300. His career peak, if everything goes right, is Juan Encarnacion (who, ironically, was also just shipped out), but it's significantly more likely that he flames out in the minors, pleasing Florida State League fans with mammoth home runs in between strikeouts for another few years before retiring from baseball completely.

The biggest winner at the deadline has to be the Cubs, who dramatically improved themselves without subtracting anything of significance from the Major League roster. On the flip side, the Padres have to be considered the biggest loser, as Kevin Towers sat still while his main competition for the division and Wild Card went out and made significant additions.
Unless something is announced pretty soon, it appears as if the Mariners have elected to hold on to Ron Villone, Mike Myers, and the rest of the roster. More on this later.
Jose Lopez is in the starting lineup today. I suppose Santiago was sent down after all.
A blogosphere welcome to The Power Valley, a promising multi-authored blog that's sprung up just this month.

If there are any other blogs I've missed that you'd like linked on the right, drop me a line.
But wait, I know why we lost!

We were without the World's Greatest Pitching Coach!

Something else to pass on: with Dave Hansen being shipped out earlier today, there's room on the roster to keep Ramon Santiago hanging around. As he and Bloomquist are the only capable shortstops with the team, expect to get a steady diet of outs from the ninth spot for at least another day or two until the front office gives the job to Jose Lopez.

And I didn't mean to cover it up with my post: Devin will be interviewing Jeremy Reed, minor league extroardinaire, and you are all urged to send in questions you'd like Devin to ask. You can either reach him via the link to the right, or you can leave comments. We read them all, so we won't miss your submissions.

Sometimes, even the worst teams are capable of heartbreaking losses. Which isn't to say that this one ranks right up there with, say, the Justice-Rhodes games in the annals of Mariner lore, but I really don't like the Angels, and I thought that Bucky delivering the game-winning hit off of Francisco Rodriguez would make for a nice marker in the season's timeline. Alas, JJ Putz couldn't get the job done and Troy Percival took care of our 8-9-1 in the ninth. They say that fans of bad teams get used to losing, but this is true only in the way that one can get used to HIV, where the minute your body has built up a resistance, the virus mutates into a devastating variation on the previous version that requires the futile pursuit of immunity to recommence. The good news is that I'm beginning to become accustomed to poor appearances by JJ Putz, but with Scott Athison joining the big club today, dozens of new doors have opened, all of which inevitably lead to the same adjustment of the standings.

The good news of the night was that Gil Meche, three-run homer aside, pitched pretty well, lasting six innings and fanning six while eschewing the base on balls. Indeed, Meche was the victim of some poor luck, as Darin Erstad legged out an infield single that may only be described as 'impuissant' immediately prior to Quinlan's homer in the second, and the offense was unable to mount any sort of rally against Ramon Ortiz, he of the 5.33 ERA as a starter since the start of last year. Nevertheless, I suppose it really hasn't been about wins and losses since May, and try as I might to find a solution, there is simply no honorable way to play satisfying baseball and still be in position to have the #1 pick in next year's amateur draft.

Today's Winner: Gil Meche, who was able to avoid the control problems that have afflicted our pitching promotions from Tacoma. After he struggled with walks and the longball in AAA, presumably finishing his minor league season with a 5.05 ERA, people were openly questioning whether or not he was worth keeping around, and why the organization has valued him so highly. Tonight, he pitched better than expected, lasting six innings without reaching a triple-digit pitch count. With next year's rotation in limbo, it will be important for Meche to finish the year strong - otherwise the front office may non-tender him, rather than risk having to pay $2m to the bad Esteban Loaiza. He got off to a good start tonight, a welcome break in what has been a string of disappointing starts for our young arms.

Today's Loser: JJ Putz, who inherited a mildly difficult situation in the eighth inning, only to make it significantly worse. With a man on first base and nobody out, Putz got Vladimir Guerrero to foul out before fanning Jose Guillen, leaving it up to Darin Erstad to continue the rally. Putz suddenly lost the strike zone, walking Erstad on five pitches and proceeding to bean Tim Salmon, who is hitting a woeful .248/.302/.327 on the year. It's not hard to see why Melvin keeps tossing Putz out there time and time again, as he's shown glimpses of ability against tough hitters, but when you're fighting for your Major League career, you can't afford for those glimpses to be few and far between. While I usually don't put too much stock in relievers' ERA, Putz is up to 5.76, and that pretty much says it all.

Meanwhile, Mike Myers beaned Adam Kennedy, the only batter he faced tonight. On the year, lefties have had to face Myers 70 times, and they've reached base on 26 occasions - 37% of the time. Myers has been a complete disaster in July - in stark contrast to Ron Villone, the other piece of lefty trade bait - and at this point, I consider it unlikely that we're able to move him, as there's no sense in acquiring a lefty specialist who can't retire lefties, particularly when the team most interested already employs Myers' minority equivalent.

After driving in Bucky Jacobsen with an RBI single in the second (he hits singles?), Justin Leone went on to strike out in his final three plate appearances, whiffing against Ramon Ortiz twice and Brendan Donnelly once. His second strikeout came on a questionable fastball that looked off the plate, but on a 2-2 count you have to be protecting, not watching borderline pitches go by. Leone's best at bats have come when he takes a more aggressive approach the plate, going after first-pitch fastballs instead of taking them for strikes. He finds himself in two-strike counts far too frequently, often after taking at least one reasonably good pitch to hit. This sets him up for changeups just off the plate, which he's struggled with since being promoted (see his first strikeout against Ortiz). There's no shame in being struck out by Donnelly, so there's no need to discuss his final at bat.

One thing I (and a few others) have noticed: pitchers really haven't been throwing many balls to Leone. You look at his walk total and think he's more of a hacker than anything else, but really, pitchers have been able to stay pretty close to the strike zone when he's at the plate. I find this to be pretty surprising, because the first order of business for a pitcher when facing a newly-promoted hitter is to pitch him off the plate and try to get him to chase bad pitches. I'm reminded of the first Blackley/Zito matchup, in which Zito couldn't locate his curveball at all, save for when Leone came to the plate.

Ichiro's obnoxious hitting streak (three extra-base hits, all doubles? Are you kidding?) came to a close, allowing Joey Cora to breathe easier with the knowledge that his 24-game streak still stands as the longest in franchise history. Two long streaks have ended in two days, meaning this team has less news appeal than it has all year long.

Travis Blackley goes up against Kelvim Escobar tomorrow at 1:05pm. I hope Atchison is ready to soak up a few innings, because I don't think Madritsch will be loose enough after throwing four frames last night.
I've been extremely busy the past few nights so please forgive the lack of Wrap-Ups. The good news is, however, that I am soon going to be interviewing Jeremy Reed one-on-one. When exactly is not certain, but probably sometime in the next few weeks. I originally had plans to sit down with Justin Leone, but he was called up only two days before the scheduled interview. I would love to ask him anything you readers feel you need to know, so go ahead and send queries to my e-mail address to the right. Also, so I can differentiate your e-mail from other matters, I'd appreciate it if you could put "Reed Question" or something like that in the subject header.

Like I have mentioned before, while I attend many Rainier games, I don't wrap them up. However, I would like to say a few things about tonight's game:

- Jose Lopez is smashing baseballs. He's slugging over .500 in Tacoma with with a respectable AVG and OBP as well. If there was any doubt that he could compete for a spot on the big club, his campaign in Tacoma this year should clear things up.

- Interestingly enough, Jeremy Reed is hitting for more power in Tacoma than he was in Charlotte. Another nice night for him as well.

- Craig Anderson sucks. Sucks sucks sucks. I watched tonight in amazement as hitter after hitter swung on horrible offerings and either drove the ball directly into the ground, popped it straight up or struck out like a flailing idiot. I've heard numerous people say that Anderson is a lot like Moyer in the sense that he can get batters to go after junk. Well, I'd agree except that no one in the MLB would fall for Anderson's antics. He'd have enormous control problems (but hey, what else is new for newly promoted pitchers?) and then get hammered on the off-chance that he gets a pitch into the zone. Oh, and his release is bizarre too.

- A round of applause for Greg Dobbs as he drew a walk tonight. Too bad it was intentional.

- Finally, when I watch the game I don't normally cheer real loudly or go after the shirts they fire into the crowd. But tonight there was a game during the 7th where ushers were throwing huge beachballs into the crowd with the person who was holding it when the music stopped winning a prize from the "Rainiers Fun Squad". Sure enough, it came right to me as the music stopped, so I stood up and caught it only to have 61,000 kids try to wrestle me to the ground including one child who tripped me causing 170lbs of me to fall backwards on a 40lb 5-year-old. So, what did I get for this? One free pass to Point Defiance Zoo...which of course I gave to the poor girl. Stupid Rainier Fun Squad.

How about a Wrap-Up?

Tacoma beat Colorado Springs, 5-3. The aforementioned Craig Anderson got a bulk of the innings (Rafael Soriano got the actual start as he is rehabbing and went two quick innings) and while he wasn't impressive, he was effective as he went 4.1 IP giving up only a run. Jeremy Reed was a homerun away from the cycle and Jose Lopez and Greg Jacobs also homered to lead the Rainiers. Notables:

Rafael Soriano: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR.
Craig Anderson: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K.
Jeremy Reed: 3-4, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 R.
Jose Lopez: 1-3, 1 HR, 3 RBI.
A.J. Zapp: 0-4.
Greg Dobbs: 1-3, 1 IBB.
Greg Jacobs: 2-3, 1 HR.

Round Rock trampled San Antonio, 9-6.
Chris Buglovsky was chased early and was extremely wild as he only lasted 3.2 innings and the relief didn't get much better. The Missions did have a good night at the dish, though, as everyone not named Dustin Delucchi managed a hit. Shin-soo Choo homered and Michael Morse knocked in two. Notables:

Chris Buglovsky: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 6 BB, 0 K.
Dustin Delucchi: 0-4, 1 BB.
Shin-soo Choo: 2-5, 1 HR.
Michael Morse: 2-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI.
T.J. Bohn: 1-3, 2 BB.
Luis Oliveros: 2-4.

Stockton outlasted Inland Empire, 3-2 (10). Bobby Livingston pitched a great game only for the offense to not help him out. The 66'ers hit the ball well and drew plenty of free passes but 12 LOB killed them. Josh Ellison and Matt Rogelstad both had three hits apiece. Notables:

Bobby Livingston: 8.0 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 HR.
Juan Gonzalez: 1-3, 2 BB.
Jesus Guzman: 0-3.
Carlos Arroyo: 0-5.
Josh Ellison: 3-4, 1 2B, 1 BB.
Matt Rogelstad: 3-5, 1 RBI.
Michael Garciaparra: 0-2.

Wisconsin clipped Battle Creek, 3-1. Michael Moorhead pitched a superb 6.1 innings as Josh Womack walked three times and Bryan LaHair had a good night at the dish to lead the Rattler offense. Notables:

Michael Moorhead: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K.
Josh Womack: 1-2, 3 BB.
Adam Jones: 0-3, 2 K.
Bryan LaHair: 2-4, 1 RBI.
Wladimir Balentien: 1-3.
Justin Ruchti: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 RBI.

Boise outslugged Everett, 9-8. Another shaky outing for Kendall Bergdall, and while the offense was obviously productive, it just wasn't enough. Notables:

Kendall Bergdall: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.
Oswaldo Navarro: 2-5, 2 2B, 1 RBI.
Yung-Chi Chen: 2-5.
Brandon Green: 1-4, 1 double.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 1-4, 1 double.
Brian Schweiger: 2-3, 1 2B, 2 RBI.
Casey Craig: 1-3, 1 RBI.

Friday, July 30, 2004

The Mariners have traded Dave Hansen back to the San Diego Padres in exchange for pitcher Jon Huber.

Huber is a 23 year old right-hander who was the 139th overall pick in the 2000 amateur draft. He advanced slowly in his first 2.5 seasons of professional baseball, putting up a 6.25 ERA in rookie ball before being promoted to class-A affiliate Fort Wayne to begin the 2002 season. He struggled there in his first full year in a rotation, not missing bats or throwing enough strikes, but Huber picked it up in 2003 and earned a promotion to high-A Lake Elsinore, where the same struggles as he had in Fort Wayne befell him. However, in a critical season for his development, Huber has performed well so far in 2004, re-establishing himself as an interesting prospect. He earned himself a spot on the California League All Star team and has put up the following numbers:

3.70 ERA
8.41 K/9
3.70 BB/9
9.00 H/9
0.76 HR/9

Huber still struggles with his control, something that has plagued him for the duration of his professional career, but he has a live arm capable of throwing a fastball in the 90s, complemented by a sharp slider. As a two-pitch pitcher who hasn't expanded his repertoire in three full years, Huber's future may be in the bullpen, but these are the kinds of guys you expect to get for the Dave Hansens of the world. As a C-grade prospect, he still has a much greater chance of contributing to the next successful Mariners team than Hansen does.
Atchison, as you may know, is not only not left-handed, but he's also not Luis Ugueto, which makes this a rare promotion.
M's made a few moves today:

  • Julio Mateo goes on the 15-day DL with elbow tendinitis
  • Ramon Santiago is optioned to Tacoma
  • Gil Meche is recalled from Tacome
  • Scott Atchison is recalled from Tacoma

Atchison has spent the season in the Tacoma pen, going 5-3 with a 4.15 ERA while striking out 76, walking 26 and collecting 7 saves in 69.1 innings of work. Atichson figures to get s couple looks, but will ultimately return to the minors once Mateo returns.

A fascinating day of trades so far.

I look forward to sorting this all out and doing a little wrap-up later today, and then another tomorrow.
Trades are falling like dominoes. Check out Rumblings and Grumblings for full analysis of all the deals in the majors thus far.
In what might be the biggest head scratcher to date, the San Diego Padres acquired /DH Brad Fullmer from the Texas Rangers in exchange for a minor leaguer, believed to be Jake Gautreau. Dave Hansen is the player San Diego coveted, but San Diego turned to Texas after they felt Seattle priced Hansen out of their price range. I know that Gautreau's star has dimmed from previous seasons, but why in the world would Bavasi turn down a similar deal? Hansen is a useful commodity for a NL team in a pennant chase, but is absolutely useless for an AL team auditioning young players. Bavasi appears to have dropped the ball on this one.

In other trade news, Charles Johnson has been dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers. If Charles Johnson waives his no-trade clause, which he is expected to do, then the monster three way deal between LA, Florida and Arizona is set to follow. The trade as it stands now is as follows:

LA receives:
1B Hee Seop Choi
SP Brad Penny
CF Steve Finley

Florida receives:
OF Juan Encarnacion
RP Guillermo Mota
C Paul LoDuca

Arizona receives:
OF Jayson Werth
Florida prospects

Then the Dodgers could send Brad Penny and prospects to the Diamondbacks for Randy Johnson.

Paul DePodesta just might be the smartest GM in the game of baseball and was the best GM candidate available last winter, yet the Mariners didn't even consider him. Sad.

San Diego is the big loser here, as they miss out on RJ and Finley, and have no other deal currently in the works to add an athletic OF. Bavasi needs to call San Diego and offer a white hot Randy Winn and hope they overpay for his services. The trade dominoes are starting to fall and we will keep you all updated.

Update: The Dodgers and Marlins completed their part of the trade with Paul LoDuca, Juan Encarnacion, and Guillermo Mota heading east with Brad Penny, Bill Murphy, and Hee Seop Choi coming west.

Quick notes:

  • It looked like it might have been an attempted curveball - sort of - that Aaron Sele threw to Justin Leone in the third inning, but the general consensus among people with whom I've spoken is that Bengie Molina double-dared Sele to put an eephus over the plate to see if Leone would corkscrew himself into the ground. Leone yanked it into the left-center seats for his third home run in four nights. The encouraging news is that Justin's only struck out five times in his last 29 plate appearances; the bad news is that he only has five hits and two walks over the same timespan. As long as he's hitting for power, though, he's an improvement over the clowns we've had at third for two and a half years, and his defense looked particularly sharp tonight.

  • Raul Ibanez's OPS is down to .770, hovering around his .264/.324/.431 PECOTA projection. It looked promising, once, but it's becoming more and more clear by the day that Ibanez was a poor investment. Having Mike Cameron beating the crap out of the ball doesn't help matters much...

  • Could the Ron Villone experiment possibly be going any better? He's got a 2.88 ERA in late July, succeeding in both the bullpen and the rotation and pitching well against a solid offense two days before the deadline. All that's left is the storybook ending in which Villone is dealt to the Yankees in exchange for the two guys we were rumored to be getting for Freddy Garcia...

  • Approximately 24 hours after tossing things around and swearing up a storm in the locker room after last night's loss, Eddie Guardado blew the save by allowing a two-run homer to the alpha Molina. He's a good closer who isn't without his flaws, and, as such, there's no reason for him to stick around if other teams are offering shiny packages.

  • Is anyone rooting harder for Villone to be traded than Bobby Madritsch?

  • How can it not warm your heart to see Curtis Pride make an appearance as a pinch-runner?

  • Ichiro picked up his first career five-hit game tonight. His .347 batting average is approaching his 2001 mark, although a mind-blowing 85% of his hits have gone for singles. Ichiro has the lowest isoSLG (.070) in the AL, and is just two thousandths of a point away from tying Sean Burroughs for being the weakest hitter in baseball.

A small part of me is disappointed that we broke our road losing streak, because it was the only thing keeping media outlets interested. Regardless, Meche vs. Ortiz tomorrow at 7:05. Be afraid.
After 15 straight road losses, the M’s finally were able win a game on the road. Ron Villone threw an absolute gem (for Ron Villone), allowing 3 R (1 ER) on 6 hits and 1 walk, only to have the bullpen blow another lead. He also struck out six. What the box score doesn’t show is a pitch in the dirt that Vlad hit off Villone, (seriously it looked like he used a sand wedge), that would account for his only earned run. Either way, Villone more than likely pitched his way out of Seattle tonight and assured the M’s that they would get a nice return from the team acquiring his services.

So after tonight’s near miss, it begs the question, just how valuable is Guardado to the M’s bullpen? So far this season, Guardado is kind of like a used car. Sure his ERA is nice and shiny on the outside, but when you open the hood, all you see is a cardboard cut out of an engine. Following tonight’s blown save (BS), Guardado has 6 BS on the year, which translates into a blown save 25% of the time he takes the mound in a save opportunity. Compare his BS percentage with a handful of closers from around the league that have been labeled as bad or below average closers:

Shawn Chacon - 23%
Matt Herges - 23%
Jorge Julio - 11%
Rocky Biddle - 21%
LaTroy Hawkins – 22%
Billy Koch – 27%
Joe Borowski - 18%
Jose Freakin’ Mesa – 6%

Even though Guardado’s ERA is hovering around 2.30 after tonight’s game, he has been helped dramatically by his appearances in non save opportunities this season. Kind of puts a new spin for the advocate’s of the Mariner’s keeping Guardado and his $7 million contract for next season. Would Rafael Soriano be any worse, especially if he was making $6.5 million less?

Bobby Madritsch should have just pitched his way to the Mariner rotation, in possibly the most dominate performance by any Mariner rookie pitcher this season. Madritsch held the Angels to 4 hits and 1 BB over 4 shutout innings, all under the added pressure of extra innings. In the 12th, Garrett Anderson hit a fly ball that Winn was unable to get to. Madritsch went right after Vlad, only to have him single, moving GA to third, but in his haste to stretch a single into a double, Vlad was thrown out. Madritsch that proceeded to pound Darin Erstad with pitch after pitch until he finally popped out. Madritsch recorded the final out on a Josh Paul strike out. Bobby lowered his ERA from 6.75 to 3.38 and showed the confidence that all of the other rookies seem to lack at times.

Very little happening on the trade front since I last posted on Rumblings and Grumblings, but here are a few tidbits of info I can pass along:

~Philadelphia had a scouting crew at tonight’s game, scouting Villone, Boone and Winn (in no particular order).

~Chicago White Sox Gm Ken Williams and Bill Bavasi had talks this morning surrounding Shigetoshi Hasegawa.

~With New York “apparently” throwing in the towel on the RJ sweepstakes, Brain Cashman is going to turn to the possibility of acquiring a bat at second and bullpen help. It is also believed that Bavasi and Cashman talked in the past couple days regarding Ron Villone, Mike Myers and possibly Bret Boone.

~Dave Hansen could be a Padre as soon as tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, July 29, 2004


It's been a busy few nights, and I'm going to have a busy few more, so unless I find myself with an unexpected amount of free time, I won't be able to do game recaps. That said, with the trade deadline approaching, I intend to be on top of each and every move the Mariners make (if any), so stay on the lookout. In the meantime, drop by Trent's site, because nothing's more fun than trade rumors.
Some of you may have noticed, but my posting has been sporadic and pretty much non-existent for the past few weeks, but I do have an excuse. I recently received a promotion at work (which of course came with an increased workload) and I really haven't had the desire to post with any regularity. But with the trade deadline just a few days away, it is hard for me to pass up an opportunity to discuss possiblities and rumors that are floating around baseball.

For many baseball fans out there, the July 31st trade deadline brings the anticipation of a child on Christmas Eve. It allows fans to watch their team acquire players to help them make that post-season push and allows fans from teams who are all but out of the race, to watch as their teams begin to make moves toward next season. Since I know that Jeff isn't a big fan of posting trade rumors and such, I dusted off the old blog and will be posting with regularity on that blog for the next three days, as I update Mariner trade rumors, speculation and analysis leading up until the July 31st deadline.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The Mariners made another Independent League signing, purchasing the contract of Bryan Ward.

Ward was a 20th-round selection by the Florida Marlins in 1993 and made his Major League debut in 1998 with the White Sox. Over three years, he logged 93.2 innings of ineffective relief pitching, and has since been toying around in Colorado Springs and Camden of the International League. At 32 years old, the best scenario is that he winds up throwing some moderately high-leverage innings for Tacoma once or twice. He has no business being near a Major League roster, so there's no point in making an effort to get familiar with him.

With Ryan Franklin getting the start tonight, I couldn't turn down an invitation to a poker game that would prevent me from watching the Mariners. As such, not only am I battling fatigue in the wee hours of the morning, but I also don't have very much to say about the game.

Fortunately, what I'm about to show you hardly needs any added commentary:

With Olivo on first, manager Bob Melvin had the option of hitting Bucky Jacobsen, taking a shot at a long ball to get the game even.

But he instead took a shot at a longer inning.

"Willie (Bloomquist) had been swinging the bat well," the manager said. "Bucky was cold and had never seen Dotel before. I thought Willie had a better chance to get on base and get us to the top of the order with two on."

Like Leone before him and Ichiro after him, Bloomquist, who had hits in his previous two times up, went down swinging as Dotel fanned the side in the ninth.

Bucky Jacobsen has been, quite literally, twice the player Wee Willie has been since being called up from Tacoma. Nobody else on the roster provides better odds of tying up the game with one swing of the bat in that situation. Melvin's excuse is that Bucky hasn't faced Dotel before, but neither has Bloomquist (seriously), so you can throw that out the window. Furthermore, Dotel's primarily a fastball pitcher, which just so happens to be Bucky's pitch of choice. It's one thing for a manger to appreciate the hustle and determination of one of his players, but it's another thing entirely to start jeopardizing winnable games out of loyalty for said lil' scrapper. Not that these wins mean anything, mind you, but it never hurts to get Bucky some experience in high-pressure situations (he already hit one winning homer against Oakland this week), whereas letting Wee Willie step up to the plate pains any and everyone watching.

Justin Leone hit his fourth homer run of the year, an absolute bomb that easily cleared he left-center field fence. We've established that he is a very capable fastball hitter, so what's going through Mark Redman's head as he floats his 88mph heater over the inner half of the plate on a 0-1 count? Leone was baffled by Redman's changeup earlier in the game, so I have to question the pitch selection there. Justin also managed to get through an entire game without making an error, although his only chance came on a pop out, which he's been able to handle with ease. At .229/.315/.521, Leone is hitting just about where you'd expect given his performance in Tacoma, with the extraordinary power helping to make up for the low OBP. As long as he makes a habit of these 1-for-4-with-a-homer games, he'll be a productive Major League bat, which is already an improvement over what we've had at third base in recent years.

Nothing else really stands out, so I'm going to call it a night. Jamie Moyer goes up against 13 game-winner Mark Mulder tomorrow at 12:35, but with Dan Wilson all but assured of starting at catcher, I won't feel too bad about having to miss some of the game because of work.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma bopped Colorado Springs, 8-1.
Clint Nageotte was absolutely dominating in his seven innings of work as he gave up only a single hit and struck out a couple. Greg Jacobs led the Rainier offense with a double, homer and two RBI and A.J. Zapp chipped in three RBI of his own. Notables:

Clint Nageotte: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K.
Jeremy Reed: 1-4, 1 BB, 2 R.
Jose Lopez: 2-4.
A.J. Zapp: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 BB, 3 RBI.
Greg Dobbs: 1-4.
Greg Jacobs: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI.

Round Rock shut out San Antonio, 6-0.
Phil Devey was hit hard once again, this time only lasting 3+ innings while giving up seven hits and five runs and a few homers. The Mission offense was spellbound by Jared Gothreaux who pitched eight brilliant innings. Notables:

Phil Devey: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HR.
Dustin Delucchi: 1-4.
Shin-soo Choo: 0-4.
Michael Morse: 0-4, 3 K.
John Lindsey: 2-4, 1 double.
T.J. Bohn: 0-2.
Luis Oliveros: 0-3.

Inland Empire handled High Desert, 7-2. Ryan Rowland-Smith only pitched two innings before giving way to Darwin Soto. I am not sure why he came out so early (injury or otherwise) but as soon as I can figure it out, I'll update this. Anyway, Soto was just dandy as he gave up a pair of hits over five innings while picking up the win. All the 66'er batters (except you, Matt Rogelstad) collected at least one hit and Jon Nelson went 4-5 on the night. Notables:

Ryan Rowland-Smith: 2.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K.
Darwin Soto: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K.
Gary Harris: 1-4, 1 HR.
Juan Gonzalez: 2-5.
Jesus Guzman: 1-5, 1 double.
Jon Nelson: 4-5, 2 2B, 3 RBI.
Carlos Arroyo: 1-5.
Brian Lentz: 2-4.
Michael Garciaparra: 2-4, 1 2B.

Wisconsin broke up a tie in the 9th to beat Beloit, 5-4. A late Justin Ruchti double that scored Wladimir Balentien won it for the Rattlers as Nibaldo Acosta went seven passable innings to keep Wisconsin in it. Notables:

Nibaldo Acosta: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K.
Adam Jones: 1-3, 1 2B, 2 RBI.
Bryan LaHair: 1-3, 1 RBI.
Josh Womack: 0-4.
Wladimir Balentien: 2-4, 1 double.
Justin Ruchti: 1-4.

Tri City beat Everett, 5-3. Ruben Flores didn't have a real impressive night and the offense wasn't much better as Craig Johnson was the lone bright spot with three baseknocks including a homer. Notables:

Ruben Flores: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 HR.
Casey Craig: 1-4.
Brent Johnson: 3-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 1-4.
Brandon Green: 0-4.
Yung-Chi Chen: 0-4.
Omar Falcon: 0-3.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Super-slugger Ramon Santiago is back with Seattle.

Rotoworld believes he is just filler before Meche comes up on Friday.

With a .388 winning percentage, your Seattle Mariners are on pace to have their worst season since 1980, back when Tom Paciorek was still playing and Bruce Bochte was the only thing even remotely resembling a Major League hitter on the roster. Of course, the 2004 team is different, in that there's a chance that - with a few additions - the group may become competitive next year, something it took the 1980 boys thirteen seasons to accomplish. There are a few striking similarities between the two seasons, though; observe:

1980 Mariners
-Last in the AL in batting average
-13th (out of 14 AL teams) in OBP
-Last in the AL in slugging
-11th (out of 14 AL teams) in ERA

2004 Mariners
-12th in the AL in batting average
-12th in the AL in OBP
-Last in the AL in slugging
-10th in the AL in ERA

That's depressing, so let's move on.

Today's Winner: Willie Bloomquist. In going 2-for-4, Wee Willie had just his second multi-hit game since April 18th, and by driving in two runs Bloomquist increased his season RBI total by 33%. The speedy contact hitter (who honestly hasn't shown very much speed or contact ability) has a lot to gain right now, as a few good games before Jose Lopez is promoted and handed the shortstop job with the big club will force Melvin's hand and get Willie continued playing time down the stretch. Nevermind that he's had 329 Major League at bats - along with another 1000 away from Lancaster in the minors - to prove just how bad of a hitter he is; with another small sample size coming-out party similar to the show he put on in September 2002, Bloomquist will ensure job security as somebody's fifth infielder for the next ten years of his life.

Today's Loser: I'm inclined to say that any time Willie Bloomquist is Today's Winner, then the Seattle Mariners' organization is the default Loser, but this section of the writeup should belong to a single player on any given night, and so I have to give it to JJ Putz. Putz faced seven batters in the bottom of the sixth and each of them reached base, effectively sealing the game for Oakland. Since three sharp innings of mop-up duty against the Indians ten days ago (ironically in relief of Travis Blackley), Putz has thrown 4.1 innings and allowed 18 baserunners and 11 runs, raising his ERA from 4.46 to 6.12. Here's a guy fighting for his career, as the Mariners have no need to keep a replacement-level bullpen arm on the 40-man roster. JJ's shown flashes of having some talent, but he needs to prove over the final two months of the season that he's not simply a fungible spare part. He hasn't gotten off to a particularly good start, and tonight's performance may have already sealed his fate, as Sherrill and Madritsch look to eat up some of his innings the rest of the way.

Travis Blackley was beyond awful tonight. Even when he had a shutout through three innings, he was missing his spots; it caught up with him in the fourth, when he issued consecutive bases-loaded walks - just two of the nine total bases on balls he allowed in four innings. Those encouraging few innings he had in his ML debut seem like they happened years ago, as Blackley hasn't been able to do anything consistently right in his following starts.

Of course, wildness hasn't been unique to Blackley; rather, it's been a characteristic of each and every Tacoma call-up on the year. Blackley, Nageotte, Thornton, Putz, Sherrill, and Madritsch have combined to issue 76 walks in 112.1 innings for an astounding 6.09 BB/9 ratio. Another way to put it is that this collection of intriguing arms has been accountable for 21.2% of the team's walks despite logging just 12.6% of our total innings pitched. Is it fair to blame Blackley for his poor command when even George Sherrill - he of the 62:8 K/BB in Tacoma - is having trouble throwing strikes? We've known for a while that it takes a little bit for most pitchers to establish themselves at the ML level, and while we all expected better from our young arms, it's important not to lose sight of this fact. How they perform now is of little performance when compared to how they're performing in September, as the primary objective of these next two months is to get our prospects' feet wet and see how they adjust to facing Major Leaguers. Punishing underperformers by sending them back down to Tacoma does no good for anyone (save for devoted Rainiers fans), now that we've started everyone's service time clocks, so we all need to exhibit more patience than we've had to in the last few years and hope that our talented players begin to develop and improve as they gain experience. It's going to be rough - as Devin can tell you, I was quite vocal in my disapproval of Blackley's start tonight - but this is what we all wanted earlier in the year, and it's unfair to expect everyone to make a smooth transition from AAA to the Majors.

Justin Leone had what may be considered a textbook Justin Leone day: 1-for-4, with a homer, a strikeout, and an error. Why anybody throws this guy a fastball over the plate I haven't the foggiest; Barry Zito isn't going to blow his heater by anyone, and his fastball to Leone in the fourth inning got absolutely demolished, just like Cliff Lee's and Jake Westbrook's a little over a week ago. The ball, hit to dead center, eventually hit something between the bleachers and the batters' eye about 20 feet behind and 30 feet above the fence, which is already 400 feet from home plate. At this point, I think it's fair to say that Leone is a capable fastball hitter, and that - at worst - his strength will grant him Russ Branyan's staying power.

Speaking of Branyan, I consider him to be a pretty fair approximation of Leone's probable career. Branyan is the owner of a career .227/.318/.472 line, a .262 EqA, and a whole bunch of strikeouts. In other words, he'd be really useful on teams like the recent Mariners, who have been able to get on base at good rates, but who haven't hit for much power, and who haven't had a good offensive third baseman. If you glance at Leone's current line, it is remarkably similar to Branyan's - .227/.320/.477. Granted, you can only get so much from 50 plate appearances, but Leone has been exactly what we expected: a strikeout-prone, low-average power hitter with a reasonable eye. A quick and dirty park-adjusted translation of Leone's performance gives you something in the neighborhood of a .245/.330/.500 line, a reasonable forecast of Leone's career peak (as he has recently turned 27). Whether or not he continues to hit like he has we can only guess, but I think it's safe to say that what we've seen so far is just about in line with what we could expect to see from him over a full season of play.

One of the more encouraging things is that Leone has looked better against offspeed pitches of late, laying off breaking balls off the plate and making some contact, rather than swinging through them. Of course, anyone who watched Leone hack at a Jim Mecir changeup in the eighth inning knows that there's still plenty of room for improvement...

Leone's error tonight (sure as the sun will rise in the East...) was, surprisingly, not of the throwing variety. In the bottom of the sixth, Marco Scutaro hit a soft grounder that Leone bobbled, leaving him helpless to make the play. Dave Henderson blamed the pitchers for not keeping the defense on its toes - "You expect the pitch to be a ball, so you don't expect it to be hit to you" - but this was only part of the issue. Leone's shown some indecisiveness when it comes to deciding whether or not to charge a ground ball, and as a result he's had to backpedal to receive the ball quite often. This has been one of the reasons behind his wild throws - by backpedaling, Leone forces himself to throw off his back foot - but tonight, it left him trying to field a short-hop. It seems like Leone would benefit from taking a more aggressive approach both at the plate and in the field. The good news is that he made a spectacular stop on an Eric Byrnes grounder in the seventh, diving to his left to prevent the ball from reaching the outfield, although he couldn't get back to his feet and throw to first in time to get the out. Hopefully, he'll be able to build off the good stop and accurate throw, and be able to put all these errors behind him.

Ryan Franklin goes up against Mark Redman at 7:05pm tomorrow, in a matchup of two of the most nondescript pitchers in the game today. Don't miss it!

Monday, July 26, 2004

Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma edged Edmonton, 2-1. After a shaky first inning, Gustavo Martinez was on cruise control for the next six innings en route to his fourth win. Greg Dobbs gets the game ball for the offense in what was an otherwise dry hitting day. Notables:

Gustavo Martinez: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.
Jeremy Reed: 2-5, 1 double.
Jose Lopez: 1-4.
A.J. Zapp: 1-4.
Greg Dobbs: 3-4, 1 triple. (128:1 walk ratio, ugh)
Greg Jacobs: 0-2, 1 BB, 1 RBI.

No Texas League action tonight.

High Desert smashed Inland Empire, 15-8. Greg Wear was wretched in his 3.2 innings of work. While the 66'er offense was on this evening, it was all just stat-padding as IE never closed the gap enough to take advantage of a bad Bo Hall. Notables:

Greg Wear: 3.2 IP, 12 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 3 K.
Juan Gonzalez: 2-5, 1 3B, 1 RBI.
Jesus Guzman: 1-5.
Jon Nelson: 2-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
Carlos Arroyo: 2-4, 2 2B, 1 BB.
Josh Ellison: 4-5.
Rene Rivera: 1-3.
Erick Monzon: 2-3, 2 HR, 1 BB, 3 RBI.

Wisconsin eeked by Beloit, 3-2. Jason Mackintosh went eight outstanding innings but blew it in the ninth only for the Rattlers to come back in the bottom half thanks to a clutch Chris Colton single. Wladimir Balentien homered to help lead the offense. Notables:

Jason Mackintosh: 8.0 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HR.
Adam Jones: 2-3, 1 double.
Bryan LaHair: 0-4.
Chris Colton: 2-3, 1 RBI.
Wladimir Balentien: 1-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
Justin Ruchti: 1-3.

Tri City beat Everett, 4-1.
Jason Snyder got the start and while he struck out a boatload, he wasn't particularly effective in his four innings of work. The Tri City staff had no problem taking care of the punchless Aquasox offense tonight. Notables:

Jason Snyder: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K.
Yung-Chi Chen: 0-3.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 2-4.
Brandon Green: 1-3, 1 double.
Omar Falcon: 1-3, 1 RBI.
Mike Thompson has the official word on the Pineiro injury.

Unless his re-evaluation down the road is particularly encouraging, it seems to me like the best thing to do would be to shut Joel down for the rest of the year, so as not to push him. This gives the team an opportunity to see what Madritsch can do as a starter, while also ensuring that Pineiro's 100% by the start of 2005.

One thing's for sure: Gil Meche isn't going to be traded.
Jim Street collects some quotes regarding Leone's defensive problems so far:

Third baseman Justin Leone spent a few minutes in Melvin's office prior to Sunday's series finale against the Angels and defense -- throwing the ball -- was the primary topic.

Leone, promoted from Triple-A Tacoma on July 1, has committed seven errors in 14 games and six of the miscues came on throws.

"Once you've thrown a couple of balls away, you start thinking about it and the last thing you want to think about is your throwing," Melvin said. "I let him know that this is a great opportunity for him and I would rather have him take out a couple of fans sitting 10 rows deep with a four-seam, over-the-top throw than ease one to first base."

Melvin said Leone would return to the starting lineup in Monday night's game in Oakland.

"I know he's a better fielder than what he's shown," said Dave Myers, the Mariners' third base/infield coach. "He is good in practice, which tells me he has all the tools to play the position.

"It's a matter of getting comfortable out there and letting his ability to show through."

Curiously, it isn't one kind of throw that has given Leone trouble and he seems to make better throws when he has less time to make a play.

"There isn't one fundamental throwing problem," Myers said, "and that makes it more difficult to correct. He understands how the plays are supposed to be made and finished. He's been having problems finishing them."

The seven errors already match the team lead. Third baseman/first baseman Scott Spiezio also has made seven errors this season. But Spiezio has had 245 total chances compared with Leone's 38.
I'm confused.

Feeling a little better, now, but still confused.

Can we get some information from a Mariners official?

Update: the Rosenthal article has been changed. This is what it says, now:

"Mariners righthander Joel Pineiro will be sidelined for a significant period of time with an elbow injury, but he will not require ligament-transplant surgery, according to a source with knowledge of the pitcher's condition.

It was originally feared that Pineiro had a tear in his elbow that would require surgery but further tests indicated that was not the case."
In a weird turn of stories, is now reporting that Pineiro does not have a torn ligament in his elbow as originally feared, but will go on the DL with a sore elbow.  Looks like we will have to wait to get a definite word on his condition.
Let me say now that if the Mariners use this injury as justification for hanging on to Ron Villone, I'm going to flip out.
A note from today's Under The Knife:

Rafael Soriano had a successful side session. He's still on track for a mid-August return to the M's bullpen. Soriano could be the closer in '05, since Eddie Guardado won't be, whether through trade or exercising his opt-out.

In light of recent news, though, I don't really feel much like talking about this...
Our worst fears have become a reality. Joel Pineiro has a torn elbow ligament and could require ligament replacement surgery that would sideline him for the next 12-18 months.  More news forthcoming.
Welcome back to The Safe; Gabe has turned his site into a very useful news aggregator, collecting dozens of articles from the PI, Times, and Tacoma Tribune daily.
Uh oh.
In some potentially devastating news, Joel Pineiro was to undergo an MRI exam on his pitching elbow after yesterday's game or this morning, to determine if their is any structural damage after the right hander left the eighth inning of yesterday's game with what Pineiro calls "discomfort" in his elbow. This could be one of those injuries that is nothing more than a cramp or inflammation in the elbow joint, as Pineiro said he did not hear a pop or crack, (which is very good). I will keep you posted on the results of the MRI exam.

While we are on the topic of the walking wounded, Jason Giambi is to undergo a test today to determine if the cause of his fatigue is a potential
fatal intestinal parasite, entamoeba histolytica, which embeds itself in the walls of the intestine, making it almost undetectable to normal tests. If it is found that Giambi is in fact carrying entamoeba histolytica, he could potentially miss the rest of the season. Like slap bracelets and Beanie Babies of the past, hating the Yankees is the current trend. But I for one, hope that Giambi can have a full and speedy recovery.

It took Joel Pineiro's best start of the year, a two-run homer by a singles-hitting bench bat, an inflamed chest ligament in scheduled starter Jarrod Washburn, and an historically bad performance by Kevin Gregg, but we beat the Angels for just the second time in nine tries all year. Gregg's wild eighth inning, in which his four wild pitches tied the record previously held by Walter Johnson and Phil Neikro, provided a necessary insurance boost, the likes of which we haven't seen all year long.

Today's Winner: Joel Pineiro. Coming off his worst start of the year (eight runs in 3.2 innings against Boston), Pineiro needed to step it up and become the stopper in our fragile rotation. He did just that, shutting down a potent (albeit depleted) Anaheim lineup and walking nobody for the second time all year. With Moyer, Franklin, and Blackley struggling, and Villone likely to be playing elsewhere by next week, the time is now for Pineiro to establish himself as the future ace of this rotation. He certainly got off to a good start today.

Today's Loser: Scott Spiezio. An 0-for-3 performance has dropped his line to a season-low .210/.285/.359. His isolated patience (OBP - BA) and power (SLG - BA) remain consistent with his career totals; he's simply not hitting as many singles as he has in the past. His splits don't show any significant Safeco effect (he's been slightly better at home than on the road), so his problems can't be blamed on the home park. It wasn't a good idea to give him three guaranteed, reasonably expensive years - now it looks even worse. Don't expect him to go away, though, as Bavasi has mentioned that he'd like to see Spiezio starting at first base in 2005. Let's all pray that his performance to date has had more to do with a bad back than we've been led to believe.

Lightning Round:

  • With Bengie's homer today, we remain vulnerable to the Brothers Molina. They've hit .343 against Mariner pitching in 2004, with three home runs. The rest of the time, they've hit .264 with six homers...

  • In the seventh inning, Bucky Jacobsen drilled a high, outside fastball from Ramon Ortiz the other way, carrying into the right field stands. Bucky didn't think he got enough of the ball, so it appears that he has so much raw power that he surprises himself. As we're all aware, right-handed pull hitters haven't fared particularly well playing in Safeco; Boone and Edgar, our two most successful righties, have made proper use of right field over their years with the organization. If Bucky can learn to take pitches the other way, then he might actually have a future in Seattle, as two of the more interesting available bats this winter - Troy Glaus and Richie Sexson - are righty dead-pull hitters. As if health weren't already a concern, this may be enough to scare Bavasi away...

  • Miguel Olivo's hit .333/.394/.667 since coming over from Chicago. He's also collected eight hits off of right-handed pitchers in six days, encouraging Seattle fans everywhere who don't want their catcher of the future to become a strict platoon hitter...

  • Dave Hansen homered and made a terrific catch on a liner at first base. He and Villone seem to be racing to see who can get a ticket out of Seattle first...

I'm looking forward to this weekend, by which point we should finally see the 25-man roster we've been looking foward to since early May. As for the present, though, Travis Blackley takes on Barry Zito for the second time this week tomorrow at 7:05, as the Aussie looks to build on his moderately auspicious start last Wednesday.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Many thanks to Mariner Analyst, who provided an interesting synopsis of a recent Bill Bavasi interview. Check it out.
For those of you interested in the Fuson/Hart/Showalter situation unfolding in Texas, Adam effectively lays it all out for you.
Today's rumors:

  • The Mariners are discussing a Meche/prospect(s) for Mike Sweeney deal with Kansas City

  • Ron Villone is off the market

As far as Sweeney is concerned, I'm with Trent here - the only way I even think about swinging that deal is if the Royals take on a bad contract or two in return. If traded, Sweeney would have $12.5m coming his way each year through 2007. Still a talented hitter and just 30 years old, Sweeney is nonetheless an enormous injury risk, having missed 116 games since 2001. He's a surprisingly decent defensive first baseman, but his injuries may force him to become a permanent DH, and a quick glance at his PECOTA comps reveals that he isn't the kind of player one could expect to age very well. Sweeney has the potential to become an albatross, and the Mariners shouldn't be willing to spend nearly half of their available money on a guy who isn't a sure bet to play 120 games in any given year. A simple way to look at it: Carlos Beltran will probably earn somewhere around $15m per year with his new contract this winter. Wouldn't you rather have him than Mike Sweeney and $2.5m of extra money to spend?

As for the second rumor, I can only hope that the front office isn't truly that stupid. There is absolutely no reason NOT to trade Villone before the deadline.
If you are one of those people who believe everything you read in the newspaper and you like Mike Sweeney, then you might like this article. Sweeney is signed through 2007 and if traded, would make $12.5 million per season. The oft-injured first baseman would instantly fill a hole on the squad for 2005, leaving Spiezio without a definite role. The last time Sweeney played a full season, (2000, played in 159 games), he was one of the major league's best players. But since 2001, Sweeney has been plagued by nagging back injuires that have limited him 126 games in 2002 and 108 games in 2003. Sweeney has stayed relatively healthy so far this season, and is turning in a decent campaign for the Royals. While I am not opposed to trading for Sweeney, I hope that Bavasi has the wherewithall to send the Royals a pair of decent prospects, but also a bad contract or two to help off-set his contract, (Spiezio perhaps?).

Follow up: Why not wait until the offseason, assess the FA first baseman situation, and then make a move for Sweeney if you feel, that for the money, Sweeney is the better fit over Sexson or Delgado. Why spend $12.5 million of our $30+ million FA purse. Doesn't seem like the best decision right now, especially if KC isn't going to be taking on any of our bad contracts.


Well, there were certainly some fireworks today - they just weren't fallout from yesterday's Vladimir Guerrero Whine-a-thon is all. Oh, and they were in Boston, not Seattle. Today's activities were confined to the strictly curricular, although Darin Erstad, Robb Quinlan, and Josh Paul provided some fireworks of their own by clubbing the longball. In the end, the bullpen was our undoing, as Mateo, Myers, and Hasegawa combined to allow six runs, two homers, and seven baserunners in just 2.1 innings. I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce a new feature of these game recaps: Today's Winner & Loser. The Winner goes to the player who most helped himself and the team with his effort - the Loser goes to the guy who would've been better off staying home. So, without further ado, here's the first installment:

Today's Winner: Ron Villone. The veteran swingman has had a terrific season, and has essentially pitched himself right onto a contending team with his last two starts. With a 3.42 ERA out of the bullpen and a 1.69 ERA through three starts, Villone's proven that he can handle either role with reasonable comfort, broadening the market range to include teams in need of a starter or a southpaws for the bullpen. He's been murder against lefties while keeping righties in the park, and is exactly what the Yankees need: a bullpen arm who can pitch well against both types of batters, limiting Felix Heredia to the LOOGY role for which he's best suited. By the time you read this post, Ron Villone may have already been traded, and - thanks to his recent performances - we may actually wind up getting something shiny in return.

Today's Loser: Mike Myers. The best situational lefties in the game only have so much value; that value is significantly lessened when you don't pitch very well in your assigned role. Myers is allowing left-handed hitters a .241/.344/.370 line, while putting righties on base at a .409 clip. He could wind up getting dealt through reputation alone, but a brutal July makes this less and less likely. Look for Myers to wind up getting dealt for cash considerations on the 31st.

Unfortunately for whichever team swings a trade for Villone, that 3.00 ERA probably isn't going to last. He's been very fortunate on balls in play (unexpected, given the guys behind him), and his BB/9 is 50% higher than the league average. With his next start coming against Anaheim on the 29th, it's important for Bavasi to try hard to deal Villone as soon as possible, because his value isn't getting any higher. A rough start next week so close to the deadline could scare off potential suitors, and given Villone's middling peripherals and Anaheim's dangerous lineup, the benefits of dealing him now simply outweigh those of holding off. This is the guy most likely to have an interesting return, so keep an eye on who we've been in contact with - don't be surprised if it comes down to Philadelphia versus New York, with Bavasi having to choose between Ryan Howard and Robinson Cano.

Tonight's Justin Leone Wrap-Up: another night, another error. At least this one came with some good at bats. In the top of the sixth, Darin Erstad hit a groundball down the third base line that Leone backhanded. Thinking he had less time than he really did, Leone threw off his back foot and pulled Spiezio off the bag. An inning later, David Eckstein hit a similar grounder to Leone, who again threw off his back foot. However, this time he was able to make the play, tossing an accurate one-hopper to Spiezio that beat Eckstein to the bag. The errors all seem to be coming on rushed throws, as Leone doesn't think he has enough time to settle his feet and still make the play. Once again, this strikes me as a mental problem more than anything else, as Justin may be overrating the footspeed of Major League hitters. What I have to wonder is the difference between throwing across the diamond to Bucky Jacobsen, or throwing to Scott Spiezio. Spiezio is a good defensive 1B who can pick the ball pretty well, while Bucky's a DH - Leone may become more relaxed if his first baseman is able to make plays on inaccurate throws. I imagine he'll get his arm back soon enough, but I've been saying that for a week or two, and it still hasn't happened. I'd love to know how the coaching staff is trying to fix this problem.

The good news is that, a day after grounding a single off a curveball, Leone had a strong game at the plate, singling and drawing two walks. In the bottom of the second, he fell behind 0-2 before drawing four consecutive balls from Aaron Sele. Two innings later, he hit a curveball on the ground to Eckstein. Leone's third and fourth plate appearances were particularly impressive, though, as he roped a fastball from Brendan Donnelly into right-center for a single, and then drew a seven-pitch walk off of Francisco Rodriguez. The problem? In all four of his plate appearances, Leone watched first-pitch strikes. There comes a point at which one can have too *much* patience, laying off hittable pitches in the hopes that something easier comes along. Leone is improving his approach to the plate, and it's nice to see him reach base five times in two games, but he needs to be a little more aggressive at the plate. It's always hard to hit when you're behind in the count, and Leone's been behind 0-1 in 63% of his plate appearances so far. Still, though, baby steps - once he gets a read on ML pitchers, perhaps he'll start taking more liberties when he's at the plate. As he gets more comfortable with the bat, the power will come back. Ramon Ortiz has always been pretty homer-prone, so maybe we'll see a little something tomorrow afternoon.

Randy Winn is hitting .285/.357/.447 with 13 stolen bases. More than that, he's improved a little bit in center field, to the point of being bearable. I'm having trouble believing that the most any team's willing to do is take on the rest of his contract without giving up a decent player in return.

Ortiz/Pineiro at 1:05. Tomorrow's slogan: "Hey, At Least We're Not Starting John Wasdin."

I realize that Jason Varitek was in the wrong for keeping his mask on when he shoved Alex Rodriguez, but what kind of Yankee hater would I be if I stood up for the Pinstripes? It's all about the lesser of two evils in this situation. Go Sox.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma swept Edmonton in the double-header, 5-2 and 9-8. Game one featured a solid Cha Seung Baek who was hit (10 H in 6.2 IP) but didn't give up much in the way of runs (2 R, 1 ER). Four Rainiers had multi-hit games and Ramon Santiago, yes...that's right Ramon Santiago homered. Notables:

Cha Seung Baek: 6.2 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K.
Ramon Santiago: 2-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
Jeremy Reed: 1-4.
Jose Lopez: 2-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
A.J. Zapp: 1-3, 1 RBI.
Ryan Christianson: 0-3.
Greg Jacobs: 1-3, 1 double.

Game two had Craig Anderson pitted against Wilton Chavez. Both were bad and both offenses took advantage. Luckily for Anderson, it was the Rainier offense that came out on top with Jeremy Reed leading the way with three RBI. Notables:

Craig Anderson: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K.
Jeremy Reed: 2-4, 1 2B, 3 RBI.
Jose Lopez: 1-3, 1 RBI.
A.J. Zapp: 1-3, 1 BB.
Greg Dobbs: 0-4.
Greg Jacobs (as a pinch hitter): 2-2, 1 2B, 1 RBI.

San Antonio also swept their double-header against Arkansas, 8-5 (8) and 4-1. Juan Done went for the Missions in game one and despite not being real impressive, held the team in the game as Nick Roberts was also having issues. Five Mission batters had multi-hit nights and Shin-soo Choo and Michael Morse both homered. Notables:

Juan Done: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR.
Dustin Delucchi: 2-4, 2 R.
Shin-soo Choo: 3-5, 1 HR.
Michael Morse: 1-3, 1 HR.
T.J. Bohn: 2-4.
Luis Oliveros: 2-2, 1 double.

Chris Key was the starter for game two, and, unlike Done, pitched well in his five innings of work as he gave up only four hits, a run and struck out three. Shin-soo Choo had another good game and Eriberto Menchaca helped by poking a double. Notables:

Chris Key: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K.
Dustin Delucchi: 0-2, 2 BB.
Shin-soo Choo: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI.
Michael Morse: 1-4, 1 double.
T.J. Bohn: 0-3.
Luis Oliveros: 0-3.

Inland Empire flew by High Desert, 4-1. T.A. Fulmer was excellent as he went six innings to get the win. The 66'er offense wasn't spectacular, but they got the job done was Brian Lentz drove in two. Notables:

T.A. Fulmer: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K.
Juan Gonzalez: 2-4, 1 RBI.
Jesus Guzman: 0-4.
Carlos Arroyo: 1-3, 1 double.
Brian Lentz: 1-3, 1 2B, 2 RBI.
Josh Ellison 1-3, 1 BB, 1 RBI.

Beloit smashed Wisconsin, 10-2. Michael Moorhead wasn't as sharp as we have seen, but don't let that final score fool you; he wasn't that bad. You can thank atrocious Rattler defense (four errors) and Brad Rose's penchant for badly timed wild pitches for the blowout type score. The offense didn't help much as they were pretty lame the entire night save a Eric Blakeley homerun. Notables:

Michael Moorhead: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K.
Nick Orlandos: 0-3.
Adam Jones: 0-3.
Bryan LaHair: 1-4, 1 double.
Eric Blakeley: 1-2, 1 HR, 2 BB.
Chris Collins: 0-3.
Wladimir Balentein: 0-2.

Everett beat Tri City, 10-6.
Aaron Jensen was hammered, and that's going easy on him. But the Aquasox offense wouldn't let something like bad pitching get in their way as everyone (except Asdrubal Cabrera) collected a hit. Oswaldo Navarro and Mike Wilson (grandslam) did a majority of the run collecting as the two had three and four RBI, respectively. Notables:

Aaron Jensen: 4.2 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 HR.
Oswaldo Navarro: 2-4, 1 2B, 3 RBI.
Yung-Chi Chen: 1-4, 1 RBI.
Brandon Green: 2-4, 1 RBI.
Mike Wilson: 1-4, 1 GS.
Omar Falcon: 2-4.
Casey Craig: 1-3, 1 2B, 2 R.