Saturday, August 21, 2004

Since Fox blocks out all afternoon games on Saturday for their use on their regional programming, I am unable to watch the game today on MLB Extra Innings. I am not particularly fond of giving a game recap of a game I have not seen, so I figured I would take time to focus on various topics of interest and allow the readers to read over the box score and draw their own conclusions of the M’s 11-10 11th inning loss.

Ichiro went 4 for 7, raising his league leading batting average to a robust .372. Much like the bearded lady and four leaf clovers, Ichiro is proving to be a freak of nature. Not much has been able to slow down Ichiro in his pursuit of George Sisler’s record, and the hits keep on coming. The Ballpark Guys have an interesting article about George Sisler and his major league career. Ichiro’s four years in the majors are eerily similar to Sisler’s career; a lot of singles, some power, good SB numbers, and low strike out and walk numbers. Grant that Sisler spent 14 years in the majors, but compare the career stat lines between the two players:

George Sisler: .342/.382/.472
Ichiro Suzuki: .336/.381/.443

Bill James called Sisler one of the most over-rated players in baseball history in his Historical Baseball Abstract, which in my opinion isn’t exactly a fair assessment. Sisler may not be from the same HOF first baseman mold as Gehrig, McCovey, Cepeda or Foxx, and he didn’t play the game like they did either. Sisler, much like Ichiro, didn’t have the power to hit 30 home runs a season and could have taken a few more walks. But he took the talents he was given and turned them into a successful career. All he needed was a pitch he could hit.

Randy Winn appears to be heating up again as well, going 5 for 6 with a double and a home run today, good for 4 RBI’s. Randy Winn took a lot of flak for his mediocre center field play from a lot of us in the blogsphere, (myself included), but has gradually begun playing better as the season has progressed, despite his noodle arm. While Winn will never win a Gold Glove in center, he has posted a remarkably similar stat line to former CF Mike Cameron this year defensively. Winn who has a .280/.349/.431 line so far this season has become a consistent producer in the Seattle line-up, especially in the two hole. In a perfect world, Winn would shift over to LF next season, allowing the M’s to shop for potential FA center fielders (Beltran, Drew) or seek one via trade. Of course, you could also shift our current right fielder to CF, but the current management team lacks that type of outside of the box thinking necessary for such a move.

Jamie Moyer failed to get a win tonight, his first since June 18th. To the naked eye, it would appear that there is something wrong with Jamie Moyer, whether it’s mechanical, old age or indifference, which isn’t necessarily the case. Moyer lasted just four and a third innings tonight, throwing 99 pitches and giving up 7 runs, 5 of which were earned. More than anything, the defense that had been behind Jamie since 2000 is no longer there. Opponent batting average against has risen from .230 in 2002, to .242 in 2003, to .265 this season. Jamie has had his fair share of good games during this drought squandered away by the bullpen or has received minimal run support. One startling stat that can’t be attributed to lack of defense is the number of HR allowed this season, 33, compared to only 19 last year. Hopefully Jamie can right the ship over his last 7 or so starts, since the Mariners are going to need him to be in top form for 2005 if they hope to return with a vengeance.

A.J. Zapp had a monster game last night, going 5 for 5 with 2 HR and 9 RBI’s. A.J. Zapp’s a name that has been somewhat lost in the shuffle, but he is putting up some solid numbers for Tacoma this season, .296/.366/.531. The knock on Zapp, even when he was in the Atlanta organization, has been his propensity to strike out. As of this morning, he has struck out 951 times in 2945 minor league at-bats, which is about a strike out every 3.1 AB’s. For those who discount his ability because of his strike out rates, an out is an out anyway you slice it. Grant it, a strike out, unlike a ground out or fly out, doesn’t force the defense to make a play, the end result is always the same. Zapp who really established himself with the Mission’s in 2003, has developed into an interesting prospect. With the ability to hit for power (24 doubles and 26 home runs), coupled with 92 RBI’s, Zapp is the MVP of the Tacoma Rainers this season. Zapp, who also plays a solid first base, doesn’t project as much more than a role/bench player, but he seems to be developing into a consistent player and it might be time to give him a look. Besides, who wouldn’t want 26 HR’s and 92 RBI’s in their line-up?

Gil Meche faces Mike Maroth in tomorrow’s 10:05 AM game. Gil Meche looks to continue his success since his return to the majors and Seattle is searching for just their fifth win since the All-Star break.

Friday, August 20, 2004

One of the benefits of the M’s playing on the other coast is the ability to make plans for after the game. Which is why I am going to have to keep tonight’s post short.

Randy Winn, Edgar Martinez and Jolbert Cabrera each picked up a RBI in tonight’s 8-3 thumping at the hands of the Tigers. After the 16-3 shellacking the M’s handed the Royals, the M’s have scored just 5 runs on 14 hits. The team continues to struggle on the road, posting a 5.33 road ERA and hitting a paltry .269/.330/.394. All this accounts for 17 road wins, with only 4 road wins since the All-Star break.

If you thought the only way to stop Ichiro was to hit him in the back of the helmet with a 90 MPH fastball, think again. Following a much needed day off, Ichiro picked up right where he left off, collecting three more hits tonight against the Tigers raising his ML leading average up to .369. Teams have tried for years to find Ichiro’s Achilles heal and he continues to collect hits, which is amazing.

Ron Villone struggled with his command once again tonight, giving up five runs, (4 ER), over 6 innings, while walking 3 and giving up 8 hits. The Detroit hitters were able to sit back and wait tonight, as Villone consistently had to pitch his way out of hitter’s counts, throwing 106 pitches in just 6 innings. Villone’s ERA currently sits at 4.35, up 1.47 runs since August 1st, which in just three starts, is quite the jump this late in the season.

Quick Notes:
~Olivo was charged with another passed ball tonight on a pitch that he clearly wasn’t expecting, making me wonder how many of the passed balls are actually a direct result of signals getting crossed up.
~Matt Thornton stunk tonight. He was all over the place, and when he finally was able to get the ball into the strike zone, he wasn’t fooling anyone. I understand the M’s would like to get him some ML innings under his belt, but when he isn’t fooling anyone and struggling with command, it can’t be helping his confidence.
~I got an email asking me about the rumors that the Angels have expressed interest in Bret Boone and Jolbert Cabrera. I think at this point, they are nothing more than speculation and rumors, and the chances of them materializing are slim. With Boone’s 2005 option kicking into effect this past week he becomes a costly addition to a club for 2005, and leaves the M’s with a sizable hole both offensively and defensively at second next season. Cabrera is very much in the Mariner’s plans for 2005 and they are expected to pick up his $1.5 million option.

Tomorrow’s game has Jamie Moyer going against Jason Johnson. Johnson pitched well against the Mariners earlier this season, and Jamie Moyer is looking to get his first win since June 18th.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma beat Fresno, 9-6. As Jeff and I sat and watched from the first base side tonight, he said perhaps the funniest thing I have ever heard from him:

"Honestly, is there anyone on this team worse than Willie Bloomquist?"

Anyway, Gustavo Martinez got the start and while he was extremely shaky in the first few innings (read: where the hell is the strike zone?) he settled down to pitch an, if not impressive, adequate game. The Rainier offense finally decided to show itself in the fifth as it broke out for four runs and it didn't stop truckin'. Leading the way were Mickey Lopez and A.J. Zapp with three hits and Jeremy Reed with two (yes, I know the box score says three, but the official scorer is a moron and decided that an obvious error was in fact a single). Notables:

Gustavo Martinez: 6.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP.
Mickey Lopez: 3-4, 4 RBI, 1 BB.
Jeremy Reed: 3(2)-5, 1 RBI.
A.J. Zapp: 3-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI.
Greg Dobbs: 1-4.

San Antonio was postponed as they were in the same area as the Mariners (Wichita).

Bakersfield shut out Inland Empire, 3-0. Despite going the entire game, Juan Sandoval got the short end of the stick as he got no run support from the anemic 66'er lineup. Except Josh Ellison, of course, who managed three hits from an otherwise stingy Jamie Shields. Notables:

Juan Sandoval: 8.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR.
Juan Gonzalez: 1-3, 1 BB.
Jesus Guzman: 1-4.
Carlos Arroyo: 1-4, 1 2B.
Josh Ellison: 3-4.
Michael Garciaparra: Sucks.

Wisconsin lost in extras to Lansing, 3-2. Solid start from Michael Moorhead = wasted. You can thank the Rattler offense who couldn't drive anyone across the plate despite a gaudy eleven hits. Notables:

Michael Moorhead: 8.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 1 HR.
Nick Orlandos: 3-4, 1 BB, 1 2B, 1 RBI.
Adam Jones: 1-5.
Bryan LaHair: 1-4.
Justin Ruchti: 1-3.

No Northwest League action.
Tonights game versus the Kansas City Royals was rained out and will be made up as a day/night double header on August 28th in Seattle.

I apologize for the lack of posting over the last two days or so, but I have spent the last two nights watching the Inland Empire 66ers take on the Bakersfield Blaze. I hope to post a recap tomorrow as well as catch up with some of the goings in Marinerland.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

I'm not a doctor and I'm not Joel Pineiro, but this cannot be good. From today's Seattle PI:

Joel Pineiro said the pain in his right elbow, which landed him on the disabled list, is "getting stronger all the time." Pineiro is hopeful he'll be able to resume throwing next week, although no timetable has been set.

Pineiro, who hasn't thrown since July 25th, should have began to see some form of improvement by now and the pain should not be getting worse. For the sake of his young career, please send him for a second opinion.
I heard about Leone's hand while at the Rainiers game this evening and just like everyone else I shuttered when I saw Mike Collins take the field at shortstop in the seventh.

Also, that TCC vote on Cheney Stadium was today and while I am not privy to the results right this second, I am looking around to see how it went.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma beat Fresno, 3-1. Travis Blackley was quite good tonight as he picked up the win against the Grizzlies. Jeremy Reed led the Rainier offense with three hits and the same number of RBI. Notables:

Travis Blackley: 6.1, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 1 HR.
Jeremy Reed: 3-4, 3 RBI.
Ryan Christianson: 1-4.
A.J. Zapp: 1-4, 1 double.
Greg Jacobs: 2-3, 1 double.

San Antonio split their doubleheader with Wichita, 4-2 and 0-7. Game one pitted Rich Dorman and Thad Markray. Dorman was exceedingly impressive as he went the entire game (7 innings since it was a DH) giving up an earned run while striking out nine. John Lindsey smashed two homers for the Missions and Michael Morse also homered. Notables:

Rich Dorman: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K.
Dustin Delucchi: 0-4.
Shin-soo Choo: 1-3.
John Lindsey: 2-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI.
Michael Morse: 2-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI.
T.J. Bohn: 0-3.

Game two had Chris Buglovsky versus Kyle Middleton. It was all Wichita in this one as they jumped on Buglovsky and battered him for ten hits and seven runs. Aaron Taylor made an appearance albeit not real impressive. Michael Morse doubled and tripled and that was the extent of the offense. Notables:

Chris Buglovsky: 4.1 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 5 BB, 2 K, 1 HR.
Dustin Delucchi: 0-3.
T.J. Bohn: 0-2.
Shin-soo Choo: 1-3.
Michael Morse: 2-3, 1 2B, 1 3B.
Luis Oliveros: 0-2.

Bakersfield handled Inland Empire, 4-2. Despite high strikeout totals, Thomas Oldham was mortal (thus susceptible to fatigue) as he was nailed for eight hits and four runs in six-plus most of which came near the end of his night. Three 66'ers had multi-hit nights. Notables:

Thomas Oldham: 6.1 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 11 K.
Juan Gonzalez: 2-5, 1 double.
Michael Garciaparra: 0-3, 1 RBI.
Carlos Arroyo: 0-4.
Erick Monzon: 3-4.
Rene Rivera: 1-3, 1 double.
Matt Rogelstad: 2-4.

Lansing embarrassed Wisconsin, 12-0.
Nibaldo Acosta = BOMBS AWAY! No further recap is needed nor would be read if provided. Notables:

Nibaldo Acosta: 1.2 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 3 HR.
Josh Womack: 0-4.
Adam Jones: 1-3, 1 double.
Bryan LaHair: 1-3, 1 double.
Chris Collins: 0-4.
Michael Nesbit: 2-3.

Salem Keizer edged Everett, 2-1 (12). This is one of the games where you feel bad for the entire pitching staff, especially the starter (Jason Snyder). In the end it was the anemic Everett offense that just couldn't get the job done. Notables:

Jason Snyder: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K.
Casey Craig: 1-5, 1 double.
Oswaldo Navarro: 1-4, 1 double.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 0-3.
Matthew Tuiasosopo: 0-5. (REALLY starting to cool off.)
Omar Falcon: 1-4.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Well, there is some good news and some bad news and since I always like to hear the bad news first, here we go. Justin Leone broke two fingers in his left hand after being hit by a pitch tonight and will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks, ending his season. Leone, who had put together a line that was to be expected from him in his first stint in the major leagues (.218/.288/.446), will be ready by spring training and should contribute in some capacity next season. Leone is a favorite of all the contributors on this blog and it is incredibly unfortunately that his season has ended in such a bad way. As if this news wasn't bad enough, it does get a little worse. Ramon Santiago was pulled out of the game in Tacoma tonight and will more than likely join the club tomorrow in Kansas City.

To continue with *M*A*S*H* theme, Rafael Soriano did in fact undergo Tommy John surgery this afternoon during his exploratory surgery, as I alluded to yesterday. Soriano will need 12-18 months to rehab and shouldn’t be ready to contribute full time until the 2006 season. Eddie Guardado received much more encouraging news, as he will avoid the knife and will rehab for the next 4-6 weeks. This is about as good of news that could have possibly come of this and should help convince some Mariner fans that the sky isn’t falling. Having Guardado back in the fold and George Sherrill pitching well may make the front office reconsider the need to keep Ron Villone around for the 2005 campaign. And pigs could also fly out of my ass.

Now the good news. Tonight’s 16-3 pounding of the Royals was the largest win margin of the season for the Mariners and the first time they have scored 16 runs in a game since September 8, 2002. Ichiro once again led the way, going 4-4 with 5 RBI and hitting his second lead off home run in as many games. Ichiro is currently playing at a level that is unheard of and may be on his way to his best season in the big leagues. As much as I dislike his enormous contract, he is the sparkplug in the Seattle line-up and is one of those few players who is amazing to watch play the game. He is currently on pace collect 262 hits on the season, which would break George Sisler’s 74 year record of 257 hits by 5.

Bobby Madritsch picked the right night and team to be a touch on the wild side. Despite some control issues, Bobby allowed only one earned run and collected his first win as a starting pitcher in the majors. Doing his best Joel Pineiro impression circa 2001, (ironically taking the rotation spot held by the currently injured Pineiro), Bobby has pitched beyond any and all expectations posting a 16/9 K:BB ratio while allowing only 16 hits and 5 ER in 22 innings of work. Bobby has shown tremendous poise and confidence on the mound and has easily pitched himself onto the 2005 roster and quite possibly a spot in the rotation.

In addition to Madritsch and Ichiro, there were a handful of players who had terrific games. Raul Ibanez went 5-5 with a double and a walk. Bucky Jacobsen went 3-5 with 2 doubles and three runs scored. Bret Boone clubbed his 16th and 17th home runs which atoned for four of the runs. Edgar went 2-6 with a RBI. All the other Seattle starters (aside from an injured Leone) collected at least one hit as they lit Darrell May and the rest of the Kansas City bullpen up like a Christmas tree.

Couple quick notes:
~It must suck it be Ron Villone about right now. Not more than five days ago the club started talks with Scott Boras and Villone about a contract extension. The very next day he allows 8 ER to the Yankees in three and a third innings and watch his ERA jumpfrom 3.53 to 4.24. Then today he learns that Guardado will be ready in spring training. Then Bobby Madritsch and Gil Meche throw solid games making their case for a spot in the 2005 rotation. He has to see his big payday slipping through his fingers.
~In case you haven't had your fill of the ineptitude from Bloomy and Spiezio this season, now is your chance. Both will see an increase in playing time with Leone out, although Bloomquist figures to get the majority of playing time at the hot corner. Once again, he will be given another chance to prove to management that he has no reason being in the major leagues.
~Travis Blackley had a very encouraging outing tonight going 6.1 innings, allowing 1 ER on 3 hits and 4 BB. He also struck out 4.

Tomorrow's game has Ryan Franklin facing off against Jimmy Serrano. If you any of you are like me, you can't wait to watch this epic battle.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Quick update on Eddie Guardado and Rafael Soriano. Eddie's MRI today confirmed he had a torn rotator cuff, but they have yet to decide which direction they will take with Eddie. Surgery is still the most likely outcome, but there is a chance that he may opt for rehabilitation instead. Either way, Eddie's 2004 season is done and if he does decide to rehab instead of surgery, he could be ready in spring training in 2005. However, if he rehabs and is unable to repair the damage, surgery will be the only other option, most likely side lining him for the entire 2005 season.

Dr. Yocum noticed an abnormality in the MRI of Rafael Soriano's elbow and was unable to confirm if he in fact has a torn elbow ligament, so Soriano will undergo exploratory surgery tomorrow to get a first hand look at the damage. Often times a damaged ligament causes swelling and fluid build-up in the damaged joint, making it difficult to get an accurate depiction of what is exactly wrong in the joint. If he does in fact have a torn elbow ligament, they will most likely perform the ligament replacement surgery tomorrow.
Thanks to the inability to log into Blogger last night, I am running a little behind with this post and I will have to keep it short.

For the first time in weeks, the Mariners reminded us of the Mariners of old. The Mariners jumped all over Yankee pitching in the seventh inning, collecting six runs on six hits and two walks. Miguel Olivo led the attack, collecting two hits in the inning, a stolen base, and two RBI’s. Jose Lopez added his second double of the season and is starting to hit the ball with more power and authority. But the real hero of the game was…

Gil Meche. In his three starts since returning from AAA, Meche has pitched like the Gil Meche from the first half of 2003. Facing three good offensive ball clubs, Meche lowered his ERA from 7.06 to 5.63, all quality starts. The key to Meche’s success, three walks in 21 innings. The confidence problems that plagued him during the first two months of the season seem to be a thing of the past, and he could quite possibly pitch himself back into a role with the club next season with a strong final month. As one player is beginning to make a case for a roster spot in 2005, two players should be playing their way out of the 2005 plans, known simply as …

The dynamic duo of Scott Spiezio and Willie Bloomquist. Together they combined to go 0-8 with 3 strike outs and an error in what has become the text book definition of futility. The pair has gone 8 for 43 this month, scoring three runs and driving in two. Melvin continues to give the pair AB’s, while Justin Leone and Bucky Jacobsen are forced to sit at their expense. Neither player should have a role on the roster next season, but we may be tied to Scott Spiezio and his contract for a while. Bloomquist has had two years to prove he has no reason being in the major leagues, and is nothing more than the 26th man on a major league roster. Hopefully the team will realize this and will add some legitimate bench bats this offseason, but it appears more and more likely that we will be carrying both players next season and beyond.

Rafael Soriano and Eddie Guardado both are in Los Angeles today getting second opinions from Angels’ orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lewis Yocum. Soriano is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow, unless by some miracle his elbow ligament has grown back together in the past week or so. Guardado is hoping to receive good news and avoid going under the knife, taking the Joe Borowski route and opt for therapy instead of surgery. If both pitchers go under the knife, neither is expected back until late 2005 at the earliest.

Tomorrow’s game has the two worst teams in the American League facing off, with the loser hoping to get one step closer to Justin Upton. Bobby Madritsch alone will make this game watchable; unfortunately, the rest of the series leaves a lot to be desired.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma snuck by Edmonton, 4-3. A Luis Ugueto RBI single in the 9th won it for the Rainiers as Bryan Ward got the start and while not exceedingly impressive, at least kept Tacoma in the game. A.J. Zapp homered in the victory. Notables:

Bryan Ward: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.
Jeremy Reed: 2-4, 1 RBI.
A.J. Zapp: 1-3, 1 homer.
Vince Faison: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 BB.
Greg Dobbs: 1-4.
Greg Jacobs: 0-3, 1 BB.

No Texas League action.

Inland Empire beat High Desert, 7-3 (6).
Troy Cate was superb for his five innings of work, Greg Wear not so much. Still, the 66'er offense clobbered David Bradley especially Carlos Arroyo, Josh Ellison, Matt Rogelstad and Brian Lentz as they all had multi-hit games in the shortened game. Notables:

Troy Cate: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K.
Juan Gonzalez: 0-4.
Michael Garciaparra: 0-3. (batting 2nd?)
Jesus Guzman: 1-4.
Carlos Arroyo: 2-3, 1 2B.
Josh Ellison: 3-3, 1 RBI.
Matt Rogelstad: 2-4, 1 RBI.
Brian Lentz: 2-3, 2 RBI.

Clinton shut out Wisconsin, 8-0. Tough day for Josh Mackintosh as he was hammered. The Rattler offense was mystified by Matt Farnum and got nothing going the entire day. Notables:

Josh Mackintosh: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 4 K.
Josh Womack: 0-3.
Nick Orlandos: 1-4.
Bryan LaHair: 0-3.
Chris Collins: 2-4.
Francisco Gerez: 2-3.

Everett edged Eugene, 7-6. Mark Lowe almost blew an OK performance from Aaron Jensen but got through the 9th still a run ahead. Brent Johnson and Brian Schweiger fueled the offense, Johnson with his two doubles and Schweiger with his homer and four RBI. Notables:

Aaron Jensen: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 2 HR.
Casey Craig: 0-4.
Oswaldo Navarro: 0-3.
Matthew Tuiasosopo: 0-2, 1 BB.
Brent Johnson: 3-4, 2 2B, 1 RBI.
Brian Schweiger: 2-4, 1 HR, 4 RBI.