Saturday, August 14, 2004


I'm a little pressed for time right now - I'm getting ready to go to Los Angeles for a few days before flying up to Seattle and seeing my first game at Cheney Stadium. I'll return between trips on Wednesday, but Trent will cover for me the rest of the time. As such, this post will be shorter than usual. Moving right along...

Thanks to certain regulations, I was blacked out from watching the game today, so what I know comes from either the box score or the extended highlights available after the game. To make my day even worse, the following advertisement was present in the ESPN game recap:

Needless to say, I don't think anyone actually clicked it.

The game itself got off to a rocky start, with Gary Sheffield and Bernie Williams hitting back-to-back homers in the first to give New York a 2-0 lead. The Mariners were able to rally back and take the lead, but Jamie Moyer was having a tough time missing bats, and New York tied it up in the seventh. The decisive blow came in the eighth inning off the bat of John Olerud - after Shigetoshi Hasegawa put men on second and third without recording an out, George Sherrill entered the game and allowed the two-run single to Olerud after picking up a groundout and an intentional walk. Unable to rally against the likes of Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera, the Mariners dropped the second game of the series to the Yankees.

Perhaps the extended highlights left out a lot of footage, but it looked like Moyer was getting hit pretty hard again. He served up two homers, three doubles, and a rocket into the gap that Ichiro was barely able to track down. After a strong June, Moyer has reverted to his April form, getting slapped around left and right by hitters willing to wait on a changeup that he accidentally leaves over the plate. I've talked about his struggles plenty of times, so I'll leave that one alone for now, but I will say that I don't have much confidence that his 2005 performance will justify the $7.5m price tag. Were we shaping up to be a competitive team next year, that would be a problem.

Today's Winner: This has got to go to Jose Lopez. After smashing his first extra-base hit in the Major Leagues in the third inning - a laser into the left-center gap - he led off the fifth inning with a long home run in the same direction. Esteban Loaiza left an 88-mph fastball over the middle of the plate, and Lopez turned on it, using his quick wrists to drive the ball over the left field fence. After struggling to hit the ball with much authority through his first two weeks in the big leagues, Lopez finally showed the pop that made him such a good infield prospect at San Antonio and Tacoma. It would be nice if today's game becomes something of a turning point (a little Loaiza will cure what ails you), as Lopez leaves his adjustment period behind and emerges as a quality Major Leaguer, if only because an Olivo/Jacobsen/Boone/Lopez/Leone infield is a hell of a lot more interesting than the Wilson/Olerud/Boone/Aurilia/Spiezio quintet that started the year.

Today's Loser: Shigetoshi Hasegawa is a worthless scrap of garbage. At least, he is this year. Everything that went right in 2003 is going wrong in 2004, and when he's not busy allowing doubles or issuing walks, he's drilling Gary Sheffield to lead off the eighth inning. While it's nice to see his strikeout rate return to his career average, the wildness and hittability have gotten unbearable. Where once Hasegawa was able to keep his bad pitches low in the zone, now he's starting to leave them up, resulting in the worst doubles rate of his career (look no further than the 0.88 GB/FB ratio, lowest since 1999). Next year's bullpen isn't going to be a strength, which all but ensures that Hasegawa will remain a Mariner in 2005, but that shouldn't be interpreted as a sign that he's ready to pitch like he did in 2003 again. The good Shigetoshi Hasegawa is gone, and I fear that he may be gone for good.

I need to be on my way. Enjoy tomorrow's Kevin Brown - Gil Meche matchup (1:05pm), and cross your fingers that Gil is able to pitch as well as he did last August 9th at Yankee Stadium.

There comes a point at which baseball just isn't fair anymore. An opponent may be corking his bat without being caught. It may begin to rain in the fourth inning of a game you're winning 8-0. Or maybe the other team, without its superstar third baseman or OBP-machine at first, fields a 2-through-6 of Jeter/Sheffield/Williams/Posada/Matsui to face to face your starting pitcher, Ron Villone. Long-term concerns aside, Brian Cashman has put together an unbelievable team, and while I silently curse George Steinbrenner for New York's astronomical payroll, I admire the Boss' tenacity and commitment to winning. I wonder what it's like to have an owner who cares.

This one had the look of a bad game before the first pitch was thrown. The Yankees absolutely destroy left-handed pitching - a total .280/.366/.480 line against southpaws for 2004 - and the Ron Villone mirage was already beginning to fade. Meanwhile, Jon Lieber presented a dual problem for the Mariners:

-Lieber had held righties to a .270/.289/.369 line on the year
-Similarly, Seattle had a .257/.322/.375 line against righties entering the game

Thus, it came as no surprise that Lieber sped through the lineup with little difficulty, his slider showing the same sharp break that it did three years ago, when he won 20 games with the Cubs. Lefty Raul Ibanez and legend Edgar Martinez were seeing the ball pretty well, but the rest of the hitters ranged anywhere from torpid to discombobulated, helpless against Lieber's precisely-located breaking balls. In one sequence, Lieber used seven pitches to strike out Justin Leone and Jose Lopez in order, throwing a single borderline ball and inducing poor swings with five of them.

Not that Seattle would have scored eleven runs against Jaime freakin' Navarro, mind you, but any half-assed pregame analysis of the pitching matchup would reveal the Mariners' slim hopes.

Today's Winner: Raul Ibanez went 2-for-4, his first multihit game since the third and serving to reverse a six-game trend of lowering his OPS. Raul is gradually reverting to the form that many of us expected - hitting righties fairly well while flailing against southpaws - and tonight provided the kind of matchup in which he has the most success, going up against a lefty with a wide platoon split. With Jeremy Reed on the way in the outfield and Scott Spiezio remaining deeply immersed in his funk, Ibanez could be playing for the starting 1B gig in 2005 (as the organization must certainly be cursing its decision to prematurely name Spiezio the starter next year). Not that he'd be a particularly good solution, mind you, but he's better than Spiezio, and the available first basemen this winter aren't very smart bets to have good 2006 campaigns - the earliest we could return to being a competitive team. With the deterioration of both Scott Spiezio and the bullpen, and our dreams of a quick fix rapidly fading away, Ibanez is finding himself with some future job security that nobody wanted him to have.

Today's Loser: Literally hours after we learned that the Mariners had approached Scott Boras with the intention of discussing a contract extension for Ron Villone, he got bombed by a depleted (albeit still terrific) offense. Less than three weeks ago, Villone came away from a strong start against Anaheim with a 2.88 ERA. All of a sudden, having had two disastrous starts since reaching his peak, Villone's ERA is all the way up to 4.24 - not too distant from his established career mean, given his pitching environments.

And then you notice something else: Villone has allowed nine unearned runs this year. Say what you will regarding the merits of excusing a pitcher from allowing those runs to score, but I have a little something for you to look at.

2004 RA: 5.19
Career RA: 5.18

(RA, of course, being calculated just like ERA, only including unearned runs into the equation.)

So, Villone is allowing more runs than his career average would suggest, taking environment into consideration. And then you realize that his strikeouts are down, while his walks are up. This is a guy we want back next year? The only reason his numbers appear respectable - other than unearned runs, I mean - is extraordinary luck with balls in play, with a .250 BABIP that would rank second in the AL if Villone had enough innings to qualify this year.

The role of swingman has been slowly disappearing from the game, and has reached the point at which it no longer requires such a player to be on the roster. They have their uses, of course - most notably on a team starved for starting pitchers - but if anything, Ryan Franklin should be that guy for the 2005 Mariners. With George Sherrill establishing himself as a legitimate southpaw reliever, there are three possible roles for Villone on the 2005 team:

-Starting pitcher, in which role Villone's career ERA is well north of 5.00
-Long reliever, a spot we could give to JJ Putz, saving money while - at worst - costing the team a game in the standings in what will be a bad year anyway
-#2 lefty reliever, even though A) these guys shouldn't get seven-figure contracts, and B) Villone's platoon splits don't demand a LOOGY role

There's no reason to bring the guy back. He may enjoy playing in Seattle, but I'm sure that he took a liking to at least one of San Diego, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Cincinatti, Houston, Colorado, and Pittsburgh in the past, and none of those teams handed him an extension. General managers are people - sympathetic to the concerns of their players, unlike the stathead automatons readers and writers alike often imagine - but at the same time, they realize that re-signing a replaceable player simply because he enjoys the city makes one person happy, whereas improving the team in other areas with the money saved delights hundreds of thousands of local fans.

Contrary to what a few have suggested, Ron Villone hasn't "figured it out", and - as such - should be shown the door the minute his contract expires. I have nothing against the guy, and I hope that he does well with the next franchise entering a transition stage, but baseball is a business whose ultimate goal is profit from winning. Villone decreases the former while inhibiting the latter, and so I will be less than pleased if Bavasi hands him a new deal for 2005.

Not that I don't expect him to return...

Two other things stood out in tonight's game. One was Miguel Olivo's continued problems with balls in the dirt. It's no coincidence that he leads the AL in passed balls; he isn't good at getting in front of low breaking pitches, and he isn't very good at judging in which direction the ball will bounce out of the dirt. The issue is magnified, of course, by catching so many unfamiliar new pitchers with middling command, but it's still a problem that needs to be addressed. With Justin Leone beginning to look more comfortable in the field at third base, perhaps it's time the coaching staff directs its attention behind the plate, as Dan Wilson's ability to block balls clearly hasn't rubbed off on Olivo.

The other thing I noticed was just how difficult Scott Atchison would be on right-handers, were he ever to improve command of his breaking ball. He flashed a slider every bit as good as the one Jon Lieber had today, but his release point was all over the place, keeping Olivo on his toes behind the dish. The first thought that came to mind when I saw him bounce another pitch was, "This guy looks like a high schooler just learning to throw a breaking ball." Pretty much every 28 year old minor league reliever trying to make it in the bigs has the same Achilles' heel - inconsistent command - but not as many of them show the kind of promise that Atchison does, if he ever learns how to throw the pitch consistently. Every bullpen needs a guy who's murder on righties, and Scott could become that guy with a little instruction.

Esteban Loaiza goes up against Jamie Moyer tomorrow at 1:05pm. Although Loaiza isn't nearly as tough on righties as Lieber, expect the Yankees to pound Moyer into submission, rendering Esteban's performance insignificant.

Friday, August 13, 2004

More brilliant analysis from the YES crew:

"Olivo will know every season ticket holder behind home plate by name by the end of the season." Wise Guy #1

"Hello, Mrs. Smith. How are you this evening?" stupid laughing ensues. Wise Guy #2

"He has a good arm, but he can't catch the ball all that well. The catcher that went to the White Sox in the Garcia deal, Ben Davis, he can catch." Wise Guy #1
More from the Yankees' broadcast team:

"(Boone's) offense has really slipped over the past few years...I think the reason his numbers are down is that he doesn't have many opportunities to drive in runs. He's got Ichiro in there...but he doesn't have...Junior..." is giving me the YES feed for this game.

New York's announcers are debating who they'd want at the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth in game seven of the World Series.

And I quote:

"I'd have a hard time choosing between Sheffield and Jeter."

I have no words.

I've been pretty nervous about this entire situation as a relocation to Portland would devastate me. Even if they brought in a A club, I'd still be pretty sad to see the Rainiers go. Let's all pray the vote goes well and the Rainiers can stick around through '06.
Some good and bad news:

Good: Willie Bloomquist has a (mild) concussion

Bad: The Mariners have already met with Scott Boras for the purposes of re-signing Ron Villone
Minor League Wrap-Up:

No action for the Rainiers. They'll be back in Tacoma tomorrow night to face Edmonton.

San Antonio held off Midland, 7-6. The Mission bullpen hates Juan Done and tried relentlessly to blow a great game for him as they gave up five runs in the eighth to surrender the lead. Michael Morse, however, apparently loves Done and once again flashed his power that was partially missing since his arrival from the Barons. Morse hit a two-run shot in the 8th to secure victory and hand an undeserved win to Rick Guttormson. Notables:

Juan Done: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K.
Dustin Delucchi: 1-3, 1 RBI.
Shin-soo Choo: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 RBI.
Michael Morse: 2-3, 1 HR, 3 RBI.
T.J. Bohn: 1-4.
Luis Oliveros: 1-4.

Lancaster blanked Inland Empire, 5-0. Rett Johnson got the abbreviated start (1 IP) again this evening and walked two and struck out two. Thomas Oldham took over for Johnson in the second inning and was decidedly unimpressive, something Oldham isn't accustomed too since he's been pretty lights out in the California League. Like the goose egg will show you, the 66'er offense was virtually non-existent. Notables:

Rett Johnson: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K.
Thomas Oldham: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HR.
Juan Gonzalez: 0-2.
Jesus Guzman: 1-4.
Carlos Arroyo: 0-4.
Rene Rivera: 1-3, 1 BB.
Michael Garciaparra: 1-3, 1 double. Obviously hitting a bit better, line now at .206/.305/.303.

MinorLeagueBaseball has Wisconsin and Beloit marked as postponed. However, the TimberRattlers website has the following blurb:

0 9 3 Timber Rattlers 5 9 1 Beloit Snappers

Robby Deevers hit a pair of solo homers and Dana Eveland pitched seven shutout innings to lead the Beloit Snappers to a victory over the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Thursday night at Miller Park. This was the first time the Rattlers have been shutout since June 7.

Huu-ok. Obviously, I can't say much else since I didn't 1) see it, 2) listen to it or 3) have a box for it.

Spokane beat Everett, 5-3.
Jason Snyder wasn't a big fan of "control" tonight as he walked five in his 4+ innings of work. Aquasox offense eventually chimed in with a few runs, too little too late. Notables:

Jason Snyder: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 4 K.
Casey Craig: 1-4.
Oswaldo Navarro: 0-4.
Brandon Green: 2-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 0-4.
Matt Tuiasosopo: 1-4.
Omar Falcon: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI.

Thursday, August 12, 2004


If anyone out there is likely to assume Pedro Martinez's old role as Mariners Killer, I nominate Johan Santana. A similar pitcher to Pedro, Santana has a knee-buckling fastball/changeup/curveball repertoire that is becoming increasingly deadly as he improves his command. There is a very short list of pitchers I'll pay money to watch pitch - Santana is right up there with Roy Oswalt and Oliver Perez.

So, yeah, it was pretty easy to see this kind of stinker coming. Actually, credit the Mariners for managing nine baserunners over seven innings against Santana (a higher rate than his season average), who entered the game having allowed just 43 hits in his previous 98 innings since the start of June. Leading the way - as usual - was Ichiro, who had his fifth consecutive multi-hit game, and who is now on pace to break George Sisler's record for hits in a season by two. In what must have felt like an impossible task as soon as they saw the pitching matchup, the Mariners' offense still managed a decent day (given the circumstances), as everyone but Jose Lopez picked up a hit. Let's move on to...

Today's Winner: I was tempted to present this honor to Matt Thornton, who made an appearance without issuing a walk for the first time since 1986, but I couldn't do it. Intsead, I'll give it to Hiram Bocachica, who homered in his first at bat since being recalled from Tacoma. Those two home runs he has in 64 AB's this year are one more than Wee Willie's got in 359 at bats, and as much as I've complained about having him on the roster, maybe I haven't been giving him the credit he deserves. He's had 400 Major League at bats to show that he can't handle good pitching, but so does Bloomquist, and at least Hiram has been able to smash the ball at AAA - something Wee Willie could only dream of accomplishing. I've always advocated giving extended opportunities to anyone who crushes minor league pitching - you needn't look further than the name of this site for an example - so I probably shouldn't be so quick to judge Bocachica. Maybe it's the recent rejuvenation of the Wee Willie Lovefest that's making me detest him more with each passing day, but I'm tired of Bloomquist. As long as we're going to get our asses kicked, let's do it with new players instead of the old, crappy ones. The only problem is that Bocachica has played so much outfield in the past few years that the front office may consider keeping both Hiram *and* Wee Willie on the bench in 2005, rather than facing an either/or situation.

Today's Loser: I'm also tired of Ryan Franklin. He's had the kind of year that all of us saw coming, but the front office decided to reward past performance with a shiny, $4.3m multiyear contract. Given that his season to date has been analyzed and re-analyzed ad nauseum, let's look at something else. Check out this table comparing Franklin the starter to Franklin the reliever, since 2001:

Stat Starting Relieving
K/9 4.36 6.40
BB/9 2.51 2.32
K/BB 1.74 2.76
HR/9 1.28 1.48
H/9 9.28 8.51
RA 4.51 3.94

He allows a few extra homers, but Franklin is clearly the better pitcher when he's coming out of the bullpen. Not only can you point out the numbers - strong strikeout and walk rates - but there are subjective components as well, such as the fact that Franklin threw harder out of the 'pen than he has as a starter, and that he relied on his better pitches instead of employing a broad repertoire.

At $2.4m in 2005, Franklin looks like a sunk cost. It's unlikely that there will be much demand for his services on the trade market, and it doesn't make much sense to enter him into the rotation when he's just going to provide six mediocre innings every five days, so we might as well try to salvage what we can out of his deal before (hopefully) cutting ties. Next year's bullpen, at this point, will probably include:

-Randomly generated southpaw

Nobody other than Sherrill on that list inspires very much confidence, and while there will be ample opportunities for minor leaguers to break into the Majors and get their feet wet pitching in relief, the bullpen will almost assuredly be a problem area for the 2005 Mariners. Doesn't it make sense, then, to return Ryan Franklin to the role in which he had the most success, allowing him to sop up the middle innings while simultaneously making sure that the starters don't get tired and the relievers don't get overexposed? His home run rate demands that Franklin not be forced to handle critical innings, but he can pitch anywhere from the second to the seventh without much problem. It sounds as if I'm relegating him to the last spot in the bullpen, but I am genuinely curious to see whether or not he would be able to embrace a return to his most successful role. Besides, with next year's rotation guaranteed to have its ups and downs, Franklin would collect a bunch of innings in relief of poor starts. The front office and manager have displayed a habit of appreciating past performance more than anyone would like, and you'll probably see Melvin quoted as saying something along the lines of "Ryan provides some stability and veteran experience for the young guys in the rotation" next spring, but I can still hold out hope. It certainly worked in getting Leone promoted.

Not too much news today. Shigetoshi Hasegawa threw eight pitches - pretty much the outermost boundary of my tolerance - before getting yanked. He's only thrown two innings and 27 pitches in August following a busy July, and I applaud Melvin for actually giving the rookies a chance, rather than throwing the vets out there every day and having the younger players learn from the dugout. I didn't think this team would allow itself to enter a stage in which it was shuttling players to and from Tacoma seemingly every few days, and I was wrong about that. While some of the promoted players haven't exactly fulfilled expectations, I've still been far more excited about watching games now than I was in May, and the organization deserves credit for beginning to make some of the necessary moves.

Matt Thornton did, in fact, face three batters without issuing a single walk, getting ahead of each of them with a first-pitch strike. I can't think of a better team for our wild young pitchers to face than the Twins, who seem to have some over-aggressive hitter at the plate every time you look up (save for Justin Morneau, who rules, and who should be treated as such). On that note, I'm afraid to see what New York's patient, powerful lineup does to us.

Jon Lieber goes up against Ron Villone tomorrow at 7:05pm. Who knows, this might be one of the last times you ever get to see Gary Sheffield!

...I won't shed a single tear. Brewers fans know what I'm talking about.

The only thing this game lacked, from my point of view, was a Justin Leone homer.

Bobby Madritsch tossed another terrific game in his second career start.

George Sherrill plowed through Jacque Jones and retired all four batters he faced.

The Mariners won a game in dramatic fashion.

And, finally, Willie Bloomquist got hit in the head.

It's hard to find anything that went wrong tonight (although you may rest assured that there will be a Today's Loser). Three guys who started the year pitching for Tacoma limited the Twins to three runs on ten baserunners - while fanning nine - over the duration of the game. Justin Leone even managed to make some good plays in the field without throwing a ball away. So, with Spiezio's clutch infield single and Wee Willie's gritty baserunning antics in mind, let's advance to...

Today's Winner: Bobby Madritsch wasn't as good as he was a week ago in Tampa, and still managed to spin a solid start. What does that tell you about his raw talent? Unable to locate his breaking pitches and missing up high pretty often with his fastball, Madritsch nevertheless shook off a rough first inning and settled into a groove, remaining there until striking out Cristian Guzman with his final pitch of the day. Lefties who can reach 95 inevitably get tons of attention (many get too much), but it's rare to find a guy with such a devastating fastball/changeup combination. Madritsch's straight change is second only to Moyer's on the team, and he was keeping Minnesota's overaggressive hitters off balance most of the day - when hitting his spots. He still have his fits of wildness, but unlike the rest of the Tacoma callups, Madritsch was able to put the struggles behind him and focus on pitching effectively. It will be interesting to see how the league adjusts to him once the advance scouting reports get around - he hasn't shown much confidence in his third(/fourth?) pitches, and it's rare for a two-pitch repertoire to succeed out of the rotation - but in the meantime, it's just nice to get some quality starts.

Today's Loser: I can't let this one get away, so I'm breaking my own rules and assigning Corey Koskie as the goat of the game. How will he be able to face his wife and kids, with the knowledge that he was completely taken out by Wee Willie Bloomquist? Someone should form a support group for guys who've been smoked by the league's hustling-est supersub. God knows Jarrod Washburn and Rob Bell would sign up.

Ichiro set another record today - most hits by a player in his first four seasons in the Majors - his 841 base knocks breaking Paul "Big Poison" Waner's mark. Of course, 34% of Waner's hits went for extra bases, whereas 151 of Ichiro's 179 hits in this record-breaking season have been singles (an absolutely astounding percentage)...

Miguel Olivo is going to have big problems with Scott Atchison's patented 45-Footer (TM).

The most refreshing part of the night - for me, anyway - was George Sherrill coming in and slamming the door on the Twins. With a man on first and two out in the eighth, Sherrill toyed with Jacque Jones, and slapped together a 1-2-3 ninth for good measure, employing a series of hard fastballs and impossible curves. You watch him pitch to a guy and you think to yourself, "What was he swinging at? That pitch was way down and away". Then you watch Sherrill throw the same pitch a few more times and you begin to realize just how much late-break is on his curve, screwing with the hitters' balance and perception of the pitch. When a guy has shown the ability to spot his fastball around the zone, you can't take a chance on that breaking pitch that looks pretty straight until the very end, so you begin to swing and only realize how foolish you must look after the ball has already passed. Sherrill is by no means an A+ reliever, but his last two outings have been very encouraging, as he's beginning to display the location that made him so much better than PCL hitters.

Ryan Franklin goes up against the best pitcher in the AL - Johan Santana - tomorrow at 1:35pm. If I wanted to, I'm pretty sure I could write the "Today's Loser" section right now, and wind up mostly correct.

Update: Jeff reminded me that Matt Anderson is actually right-handed. He's correct, but I love linking to Matt Anderson, so it'll stay there for the time being.
Sporadic Minor League Wrap Up:

New Orleans beat Tacoma, 7-2. Travis Blackley was nailed in his first two innings of work (six runs) but settled down somewhat to put up just a bad line instead of a disastrous one. The offense was nowhere in sight and it's possible that they show up for tomorrow's game. Guess we'll see. Notables:

Travis Blackley: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 2 HR.
Jeremy Reed: 1-4, 1 RBI.
Ryan Christianson: 0-4.
A.J. Zapp: 0-4, 4 K.
Greg Dobbs: 0-4.
Vince Faison: 1-3, 1 triple.

San Antonio got by Midland, 5-1.
Chris Buglovsky was excellent and Michael Morse finally found some long lost power as he homered to lead the Missions. Notables:

Chris Buglovsky: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K.
Dustin Delucchi: 1-3, 1 BB, 2 R.
Shin-soo Choo: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI.
Michael Morse: 1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
T.J. Bohn: 0-3.
Luis Oliveros: 1-4.

Inland Empire edged Lancaster, 2-1 (10). Bobby Livingston was great but got minimal run support. Same story for Darwin Soto, but, in the end, Jon Nelson came through with an RBI single in the 10th. Notables:

Bobby Livingston: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.
Juan Gonzalez: 1-5.
Jesus Guzman: 1-3, 2 BB.
Jon Nelson: 3-4, 1 RBI.
Carlos Arroyo: 3-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI.
Rene Rivera: 0-3.

Beloit bombed Wisconsin, 11-4. Casey Abrams sucks. There, I said it. Not that I'll go real easy on Kenly Chang or Nibaldo Acosta (Chang was terrible, Acosta wasn't A-material) but Abrams walked five guys and threw a wild pitch this evening. He only faced six batters. Add in one homerun (thanks Michael Cox) and that's your ballgame. Sorry, no refunds. Notables:

Nibaldo Acosta: 6.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K.
Casey Abrams: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 1 K. (and he's A.)
Chris Colton: 1-5.
Bryan LaHair: 1-5, 1 double.
Chris Collins: 1-3, 1 RBI.
Michael Cox: 2-3, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 RBI.

Spokane handled Everett, 6-1. It looked promising after Casey Craig homered to lead off the game. Oswaldo Navarro, who hits after Craig collected the next Aquasox the 9th inning. Mumba Rivera could have pitched his socks off tonight (he didn't) but it still would have been tough for him to win as Everett was simply dumbfounded by the Spokane staff. Notables:

Mumba Rivera: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR.
Casey Craig: 1-4, 1 HR.
Oswaldo Navarro: 1-4, 1 2B.
Brandon Green: 0-4.
Matthew Tuiasosopo: 0-4, 3 K. Something new.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 0-3.
Brian Schweiger: 0-2, 1 BB.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Dear Dave,

Dan Wilson is not "due". The word you are looking for is "bad".

Leone just made a good backhand stop, set his feet, and made a strong throw right on the money that beat the runner.

Very, very nice to see.
Man on first, nobody out.

Runner takes off, but Madritsch throws over to first with a pick-off attempt.

Runner continues to second base.

Spiezio throws the ball in the dirt to Lopez, resulting in a late tag and the runner reaching.

Why does this guy play at *all*?
Remember this?

Well, now I've come across an airborne species of cricket in the hallway.

This has been a great week. Really.
Will Carroll chimes in:

It's been a long time coming, but the Mariners finally admitted that Rafael Soriano would need Tommy John surgery. I'd heard the whispers but never been able to put a solid case together to let you know, but I hope the red flags I waved helped someone. Soriano is done for 2005, and the Mariners anticipate him being limited to the pen when he does return. Worse, the M's also lost their current closer, Eddie Guardado. A torn rotator cuff will require major surgery, also forcing him to miss much or all of 2005. Guardado will be seeking another opinion before going under the knife. For all the praise Bryan Price has been given, I don't see the results.

And hey, just for kicks:

I'll even check in overseas, where the Mariners might feel a bit good about waving goodbye to Kazuhiro Sasaki. The former M's closer was not only left off the Olympic team, but has lost his roster spot for the Bay Stars. Sasaki is not in a decline; it's a free fall.
By the way, this is from Will Carroll's June 7th Under The Knife:

Rafael Soriano is not making progress. A new MRI will be taken and whispers of Tommy John are making the rounds...

It's taken the Mariners two extra months to figure out what other were talking about in June.

...but then, the same column also reported a week ago that Guardado had no structural damage in his shoulder, so you can't believe everything you read.

I'm really pissed.

This was supposed to be a happy day.

Edgar homered in his first at bat after announcing his inevitable retirement. His apprentice went deep two batters later. Gil Meche was the model of brilliance on the mound, JJ Putz eventually nailed it down for a Mariners victory.

And then this happened.

Rafael Soriano has now gone the way of Gil Meche, Ryan Anderson, Jeff Heaverlo, Rett Johnson, Aaron Taylor, Ken Cloude, Sam Hays, Matt Thornton, Cha Baek, Jeff Farnsworth, Greg Wooten, Jordan Zimmerman, and - if you want to go back that far - Roger Salkeld (thanks to Steve for the convenient list) and severely injured himself, knocking our best pitcher out of action until 2006. I'm beginning to think it might be a good idea to send Felix Hernandez home, and tell him to come back when he's 27 years old. Eddie Guardado followed suit, blowing out his rotator cuff and keeping him away from a mound until the middle of next summer. Given that he will undoubtedly take his 2005 option, we will have about $5m of dead money in the bullpen - which will already be missing its two best arms - along with $12.2m tied up in Spiezio/Ibanez/Franklin/Hasegawa. Throw in whatever money Wee Willie Bloomquist will be given, and you've got about 20% of the payroll tied up in seven players who aren't going to help us at all in 2005. Remember how we all used to dream that the Mariners could rebound and contend next year? Forget about it. Any moves we make should aim to improve the squad in 2006 and beyond, and given that big free agents like Beltran, Beltre, and Drew won't want to sign with a rebuilding organization, I think it's safe to assume that we won't be big players this winter. Hey, at least that means we won't go on a veteran shopping spree. I hope.

Seriously, can we work on amending that "Everyday Eddie" nickname? I suggest "Every So Often, Approximately Whenever He Feels Like It Eddie".

I was going to make a longer post, but tonight's events have made me long for the cold stone hands of death. Sleep will have to suffice.

Today's Winner: Gil Meche

Today's Loser: Bryan Price, Rick Griffin, Tom Newberg, Kiyoshi Egawa, and Ken Roll can all take turns kissing my ass. Quite frankly, anyone who's ever so much as held a conversation with one of our young pitchers within the last five years should be handed their walking papers, because something just ain't right. As for the game, Ibanez is the goat. Anyone notice that .754 OPS? I sure have.

Madritsch against Radke tomorrow night, at 7:05pm. God, I hate this team sometimes.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

MRI's are back for Soriano and Guardado and the news is about as bad as it can get.

Rafael Soriano: Torn MCL. Tommy John surgery likely. ETA back in Majors: 2006, most likely.
Eddie Guardado: Torn rotators cuff. Surgery likely and, if lucky, could be back sometime next season.

Man, that sucks.
Hiram Bocachica's coming back, at Cha Baek's expense.

According to David, Baek won't use up an option, as his stay lasted fewer than 20 days.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

New Orleans trounced Tacoma, 9-4. Greg Wear continued to pitch like he wants to be released as he was hammered once again. However, T.A. Fulmer, a guy who SHOULD be there, pitched well. Mickey Lopez led the offense with a homer and Ramon Santiago tripled. Notables:

Greg Wear: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 7 ER, 5 BB, 1 K.
T.A. Fulmer: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K.
Mickey Lopez: 2-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
Jeremy Reed: 1-3, 1 BB.
A.J. Zapp: 0-4.
Greg Dobbs: 0-4.
Ramon Santiago: 2-3, 1 2B, 1 3B.

San Antonio beat Midland, 3-1. King Felix was pretty good as he went six innings giving up just three hits and a run while striking out seven. A Shin-soo Choo blast was all the Missions needed to seal it. Notables:

Felix Hernandez: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K.
Dustin Delucchi: 1-3.
Shin-soo Choo: 2-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI.
Michael Morse: 0-4.
T.J. Bohn: 0-4.
Brian Moon: 1-3.

Inland Empire enjoyed a day off.

Wisconsin staved off Beloit, 3-2. After a shaky first, Michael Moorhead focused in and was brilliant for the next seven innings as he struck out eleven on the night. Nick Orlandos, Adam Jones and Jeremy Dutton all had multi-hit nights to lead the Rattlers. Notables:

Michael Moorhead: 8.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 11 K.
Josh Womack: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 RBI.
Nick Orlandos: 2-5, 1 RBI.
Adam Jones: 2-5.
Bryan LaHair: 1-3.
Jeremy Dutton: 2-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI.
Justin Ruchti: 1-4, 1 double.

Everett beat Spokane 13-8. No box yet.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Well, as it turns out, Edgar's last AB won't have been a fly out to center field off Jesus Colome. He's retiring after the year - October 2nd is "Edgar Martinez Day".

That makes me feel a lot better.
For those of you blaming the freaky Edgar bear, keep in mind that Ivan Rodriguez didn't hang up the spikes after the Rangers marketed his Celebriduck.

To update Jeff's post, Edgar Martinez has retired from the game of baseball, effective immediately. So long Edgar and thanks for all the memories, and I pray that those creepy Edgar Martinez bears had nothing to do with it.

Update: Edgar will retire at the end of the season, not immediately. While this shouldn't be shocking to anyone, it is a lot less shocking then him retiring immediately.
According to KJR, Edgar Martinez is going to make a major announcement in a 2:30pm press conference.

Stay tuned...

28.1 IP, 21 strikeouts, 34 baserunners, 8 runs (5 earned).

That's what the likes of Jorge Sosa, Mark Hendrickson, Dewon Brazelton, and - most recently - Rob Bell did to the Mariners over a four-game span. Seattle needed some good fortune for Ryan Franklin and an unexpectedly brilliant start from Bobby Madritsch in order to salvage a split against the former dregs of the AL East, a team who's finally beginning to exhibit traces of a plan.

Once again, I was unable to watch the entire game, but this has the look of one I'm glad to have missed. Rob Bell, an early candiate for the title of Worst Pitcher Of The 2000's, sawed through the lineup with remarkable efficiency, tossing just 90 pitches through seven innings while fanning six (ties a season high). Meanwhile, Jamie Moyer did an early Kerry Wood impression, not getting hit particularly hard but also not really fooling anyone at all. It's not often that you see a guy go six innings without recording a single strikeout; even more seldom does it happens twice on the same day. Regardless, Jamie experienced the downside of a shaky defense as 13 of 31 balls in play went for hits - twelve of them singles and few of them being hit well. While it's easy to blame this on defense and playing surface (seriously, that turf is brutal), though, Moyer's got to carry some of the responsibility, because he didn't do his job by failing to record a single punchout. It was nice to see him keep the ball in the park for the first time since June 12th, but at 41 years of age, Moyer shouldn't be fixing some problems by creating others. Let's move on...

Today's Winner: Ichiro. With another multihit day - his fifty-fifth of the year - Ichiro maintained his league-leading .357 batting average while continuing to get on base from the leadoff spot, keeping his OBP near 40%. I got an email this weekend from one Noel in Vancouver, asking if Ichiro has a shot at the Hall by the time his playing days are over. Let's consider this for a brief moment: at approximately 230 hits per year, Ichiro would need 13 full seasons to amass 3000 hits while playing in the US, reaching the mark just a month before his 40th birthday. Conceding that reaching such a milestone is nearly impossible - so much of Ichiro's game relies on speed, and his numbers will decline as he loses a step - consider that 16 of the 24 players with better career batting averages than Ichiro are in the Hall, and that - of the remaining eight - one (Helton) is still playing, one (Gwynn) will be inducted when eligible, and none of the other six reached any of those significant milestones that HoF voters love to look at. It is possible to support either side of the argument, but it is far too early to forecast Ichiro's shot at the Hall of Fame beyond assuming that he'll achieve certain milestones that improve his chances. We still haven't begun to see how he responds to aging, though, and as such, it would be advisable to hold off on suggesting that Ichiro will become the first Asian baseball player inducted into the Hall.

Today's Loser: Had he not turned on a blazing Jesus Colome fastball in the ninth, Justin Leone would be in this spot, having gone hitless in his previous three at bats (including a pop out with two RISP and one out) while having an admittedly well-struck line drive bounce right over him in the eighth. However, he picked up the hit, so I have to go with Randy Winn, who was the only member of the starting lineup to go hitless. Against a fungible arm like Rob Bell, you need the guys at the top of the lineup to get on base to set up run-scoring situations for the core. Winn failed to do so, achieving nothing of significance, other than a ridiculously long at bat against Baez to end the game. It's a good thing this section is entitled "Today's Loser", because Winn had been going crazy for more than two months prior to today.

The only other mildly interesting story of the day was Cha Baek making his Major League debut. Signed as a free agent late in 1998, Baek had some moderate success in the lower levels before going under the knife early in 2001, missing nearly two years of action, and falling off of prospect charts. He came back to pitch well at Inland Empire and San Antonio last year, striking out 96 while walking just 26 in 112.2 innings. Promoted to AAA Tacoma to begin 2004, he hurt himself early and returned to put up decent peripherals with a misleading ERA. Called up on Saturday to take Mike Myers' spot on the roster, it didn't take long for Baek to see some action. In an inning of work, he allowed a single and a walk while throwing 21 pitches - 11 for strikes. The single, by Brook Fordyce, hung over the inside half of the plate, and Fordyce drilled it down the line, where it hopped over a crouched Leone and into left field (fortunately for Justin, the team is leaving that artificial turf before a ball takes his head off). The results of the inning aren't nearly as important as Baek's pitches, though. He topped off at 91, throwing the majority of his fastballs in the 88-89 range - a few ticks below what I expected - while flashing a slider (84-85), a changeup (80), and a curveball or two (76). The first thing I noticed was that his fastball had a lot of downward movement on it, which will prevent too many balls from being hit hard to the outfield. He tried to keep his slider over the outer half of the plate, but it doesn't have a very sharp break, meaning that it won't be very dependable as a strikeout pitch. The changeup - unlike the rest of his repertoire - looked to be of the straight variety, but Baek was able to keep it down in the zone, where it will need to be if he doesn't want to get hit (he'll need more than a 10 mph separation between it and the fastball). I only saw one or two curveballs, but they may have just been variations on the slider, losing a few miles while adding some downward movement. While it's unfair to both yourself and the player to make a judgment based on a single inning of work, Baek strikes me as a guy who will post pedestrian strikeout rates, but who will also be able to have consistently good fortune on balls in play, thanks to the amount of movement on his pitches. He was also pretty confident with his three main pitches, suggesting that he may have a future in the rotation after all. Baek's a darkhorse candidate to be starting games in 2005.

The Mariners are off tomorrow and take on the Twins on Tuesday night (7:05pm), with Gil Meche getting the start against Terry "One Dollar" Mulholland.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Minor League Wrap Up:

Tacoma went nuts in the 9th to beat Oklahoma, 9-4.
All Brad Clontz had to do was keep the Rainiers from scoring two runs. Oops.

- Clontz, B to p for Stamler, K.
- Santiago, R pinch hit for Horner, J.
- Santiago, R singled.
- Dobbs, G fouled out to c.
- Faison, V pinch hit for Collins, M.
- Faison, V homered, 2 RBI; Santiago, R scored.
- Guzman, E walked.
- Guzman, E stole second.
- Ugueto, L singled, advanced to second on the throw, RBI; Guzman, E scored.
- Ugueto, L stole third.
- Lopez, M singled, RBI; Ugueto, L scored.
- Miadich, B to p for Clontz, B.

Hey, it's nice to see the last vestige of the Cirillo trade (Faison) chipping in. Other than that Gustavo Martinez, the man who got the start, had control problems all night as he walked six in five innings. Jeremy Reed and A.J. Zapp also had two hits. Notables:

Gustavo Martinez: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 6 BB, 4 K.
Jeremy Reed: 2-4, 1 BB.
Hiram Bocachica: 0-3.
A.J. Zapp: 2-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI.
Ramon Santiago: 2-2, 2 RBI.
Greg Dobbs: 1-4...AND A WALK!
Vince Faison: 1-2, 1 HR, 2 RBI.

Round Rock hammered San Antonio, 9-1. Juan Done was just that after only 3.2 innings as he was smoked. The Missions offense provided zero help as they collected a grand total of four hits, none for extra bases, the entire night. Notables:

Juan Done: 3.2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR.
Dustin Delucchi: 1-3, 1 BB.
Shin-soo Choo: 0-4.
Michael Morse: 0-3.
T.J. Bohn: 0-3.
Luis Oliveros: 0-3.

Inland Empire edged Visalia, 4-3.
John Huber showed his wild side tonight as he walked seven batters in only 5.1 innings. He did strikeout seven though, and hitters weren't getting much contact either as they could only muster two hits. On the offensive side both Garry Harris and Jesus Guzman had multi-hit nights and Erick Monzon homered. Notables:

Jon Huber: 5.1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 7 BB, 7 K.
Gary Harris: 2-3, 1 R.
Erick Monzon: 1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
Jesus Guzman: 2-4, 1 RBI.
Jon Nelson: 0-4, 4 K.
Rene Rivera: 1-4, 1 RBI.
Michael Garciaparra: 1-2, 1 BB.

Kane County handled Wisconsin, 7-4.
Brian Stitt wasn't as bad as the score indicated as it was Casey Abrams' implosion (0.1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER) that put this one out of reach for the Timber Rattlers. Everyone not named Adam Jones managed at least one baseknock with Eric Blakeley the lone guy getting two. Notables:

Brian Stitt: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 1 HR.
Josh Womack: 1-4, 2 R.
Nick Orlandos: 1-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI.
Adam Jones: 0-5, 4 K.
Bryan LaHair: 1-4.
Chris Collins: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 RBI.
Eric Blakeley: 2-4, 1 RBI.

Everett swept a doubleheader against Eugene, 7-5 and 12-1. Kendall Bergdall, who's really be ineffective all season, didn't change his ways tonight as he was smashed for five runs in only three innings. All praise the Everett offense, though, as they came through with five players collecting more than one hit (Cabrera, Green, Wilson, Tuiasosopo and Johnson). Notables:

Kendall Bergdall: 3.0 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 2 K.
Casey Craig: 1-4, 1 R.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 3-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R.
Brandon Green: 2-3, 1 2B, 1 BB.
Mike Wilson: 2-3, 2 RBI.
Matthew Tuiasosopo: 2-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI.
Brent Johnson: 3-4, 1 RBI.
Brian Schweiger: 0-2.

If you like watching homeruns, game two was for you. Green, Wilson, Tuiasosopo and Elvis Cruz all went deep as Eugene was stymied by Jason Snyder. Notables:

Jason Snyder: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 0-4.
Brandon Green: 2-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI.
Mike Wilson: 1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
Matthew Tuiasosopo: 3-3, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB.
.700/.727/1.200 in 11 PA in Everett. It's extremely early, but man...
Omar Falcon: 2-3, 1 3B, 3 RBI.
Elvis Cruz: 2-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI.