Saturday, September 04, 2004

Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma stomped on Tucson, 8-2.
Gustavo Martinez was solid, albeit wild, in his six innings of work as Greg Jacobs had three hits and an equal number of RBI to lead the Rainier assault. Notables:

Gustavo Martinez: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 5 K.
Jeremy Reed: 2-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
A.J. Zapp: 1-4, 1 double.
Ryan Christianson: 1-5, 1 double.
Greg Jacobs: 3-4, 3 RBI.
Rene Rivera: 1-4, 1 double.
Greg Dobbs: 1-4.

Round Rock trampled San Antonio, 13-6. Phil Devey continued his bad stretch with yet another dismal start as he only went three innings while surrendering seven runs. Shin-soo Choo had three hits and John Lindsey smack two doubles to lead the Mission offense. Notables:

Phil Devey: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 4 K.
Dustin Delucchi: 0-3.
Shin-soo Choo: 3-5, 1 double.
John Lindsey: 2-4, 2 2B, 1 BB, 2 RBI.
T.J. Bohn: 2-5, 1 double.
Jamie Bubela: 1-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI.

Inland Empire beat Rancho Cucamonga, 6-1. Nice start for Jon Huber as he went six innings en route to his fourth win. Jesus Guzman and Jon Nelson both had multi-hit and RBI nights to stand out for the 66'ers. Notables:

Jon Huber: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K.
Juan Gonzalez: 1-3, 1 double.
Jesus Guzman: 2-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 R.
Jon Nelson: 2-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI.
Carlos Arroyo: 1-4.
Wladimir Balentein: 0-3, 1 BB.
Michael Garciaparra: 1-4, 1 double.

Fort Wayne hammered Wisconsin, 13-2.
For the second time in as many nights the Rattler pitching was hit hard as starter Brian Stitt gave up fourteen basehits in only 5.2 innings work. Like last night, the offense was a non-issue. Notables:

Brian Stitt: 5.2 IP, 14 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 2 K.
Josh Womack: 0-4.
Adam Jones: 1-3.
Bryan LaHair: 0-2.
Justin Ruchti: 0-3, 3 K.

Everett routed Salem-Keizer, 8-1. Another excellent start for Jason Snyder who has had a very solid year in Everett. Marshall Hubbard as his four hit performance help lead the Aquasox offense. Notables:

Jason Snyder: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 1 HR.
Casey Craig: 0-4, 4 K.
Yung-Chi Chen: 1-4, 1 RBI.
Marshall Hubbard: 4-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 2-4, 1 RBI.
Mike Wilson: 1-4, 1 2B, 3 RBI.
Omar Falcon: 0-4.

Friday, September 03, 2004

It appears that Blackley's injury might not be as severe as originally reported on USS Mariner, as an MRI disclosed tendinitis in his pitching shoulder. If I was Travis, I'd get a second opinion, despite the outstanding track record of the M's medical staff.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Sean Burroughs may be on his way out in San Diego. He was informed yesterday that he is now in a platoon role with ex-Mariner Rich Aurilia, (.292/.373/.431 since joining the Padres) despite posting a .296/.346/.358 line for the season. The knock on Burroughs is that he has not developed the power many thought he would, although at just 23, there is still plenty of time for it to show up. Burrough's is definitely the type of player you can take a risk on, as the reward could be extremely high. If the M's are unable to get Beltre this off-season, would anyone be upset with a Gil Meche for Sean Burroughs swap?
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma beat up on Sacramento, 7-2. Craig Anderson finally had a respectable start as he went 5.1 innings to pick up his fourth win. At the plate, A.J. Zapp homered and knocked in three runs and Jeremy Reed had two hits. Notables:

Craig Anderson: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K.
Jeremy Reed: 2-4, 1 RBI.
A.J. Zapp: 1-3, 1 HR, 1 BB, 3 RBI.
Ryan Christianson: 0-3, 3 K.
Greg Jacobs: 1-4.

San Antonio thrashed Round Rock, 8-1. The Missions jumped out to an early lead thanks to a four-run first inning. Rich Dorman was on cruise control for the rest of the game as was Chris Key who finished off the final four innings for the save. Four Missions went deep in the game as everyone except the 8-9 hitters managed at least one baseknock. Notables:

Rich Dorman: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.
Dustin Delucchi: 1-4.
Shin-soo Choo: 2-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R.
John Lindsey: 3-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI.
T.J. Bohn: 1-4, 1 homer.
Brian Moon: 1-4, 1 double.

Lancaster creamed Inland Empire, 12-4. Bobby Livingston was roughed up in his five innings of work tonight and Greg Wear did exactly what everyone thought he would do (read: sucked ass) as Lancaster had no problem routing the 66'ers. Wladimir Balentein homered in the losing effort. Notables:

Bobby Livingston: 5.0 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR.
Juan Gonzalez: 2-4, 1 double.
Jesus Guzman: 0-2, 1 BB.
Carlos Arroyo: 0-4.
Wladimir Balentein: 1-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI.
Michael Garciaparra: 2-4, 1 double.

Peoria embarrassed Wisconsin, 20-7.
When you have guys like Casey Abrams starting the game, hilarity is about to ensue. Wisconsin was out of this one by the third as they were down 10-4 at that point. But for Peoria, apparently six run leads just aren't enough as they unloaded ten more runs in the sixth inning in what was a laughable campaign for Rattler pitchers. Adam Jones had three hits tonight...but does it even matter? Wow. Notables:

Casey "Cut Me!" Abrams: 1.2 IP, 10 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR.
The rest of the Wisconsin pen: 6.1 IP, 13 H, 12 R, 9 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 1 HR.
Josh Womack: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 BB.
Nick Orlandos: 2-4, 2 RBI.
Adam Jones: 3-5, 1 2B, 3 RBI.
Bryan LaHair: 1-4.
Justin Ruchti: 0-4.

Salem-Keizer beat Everett, 10-2.
Phil Cullen was bad, Roman Martinez was atrocious and Kendall Bergdall was horrific. Put them together with a pedestrian offensive effort and you get tonight's game. How enjoyable. Notables:

Phil Cullen: 2.0 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K.
Oswaldo Navarro: 2-3.
Yung-Chi Chen: 1-4.
Matthew Tuiasosopo: 0-3. (Talk about falling off the face of the earth.)
Brian Schweiger: 0-2, 2 BB.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

I know I will get chastised for this by all you Meche fans out there, but seriously, do you really think that he is ready to be a full time contributor next season in the rotation? Since his return, he is 3-0, which looks great on paper. But in those six starts (39 innings), he is averaging 113.8 pitches in 6.5 innings, which looks bad on paper. Meche is still struggling with his command but has been extremely lucky or fortunate (whichever you prefer), but eventually, his inability to stay in the strike zone will catch up with him. Not to mention the additional stress it is putting on an already stressed bullpen. This is one blogger that would like to see Meche dealt for the best possible deal this off-season.

Another interesting note. Thumbing through ESPN the magazine I stumbled upon an interesting tidbit of information. St. Louis Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty is a free agent this winter, as he and Tony LaRussa have yet to be offered contract extensions by the Cardinals. Just food for thought.
It’s time to answer some more reader questions, and since the majority of the questions were focused on 2005, I’m going to combine them into one post.

Being that I think the M's FO is shining all of us on the payroll this year and will most definitely do so in '05 I'd love to see what "bargains" are available on the FA market. I think VORP versus expected # of suitors would isolate bargains. This is huge not just because the M's are so parsimonious but also due to the fact their cost per win will be close to the highest in the majors this year.


If you were the GM of the Mariners, which direction do you take the M’s in 2005? What areas of the team would you center your focus and what areas of the team are you happy with?

(Plus others. If I didn’t post your question, it doesn’t mean I didn’t like it or didn't read it, it just meant that in order to save room, I picked the most recent questions)

For the most part, all the questions I received over the past week or so focused on which direction the M’s are heading in and which free agents they should sign. Truth be told, I have no idea what direction this organization is headed and I’m not sure the people in the front office have a firm understanding either. The fan in me wants to believe that this season was a hiccup, a small blip on the radar in the grand scheme of things. But the realist in me sees a team who hasn’t learned a damn thing from their horrible season, indicated in them beginning to entertain the idea of a 2005 Ron Villone Seattle tour, which excites me in the same way as a Gilbert Godfried, Carrot Top and Wanda Sykes comedy tour. I firmly believe that Bavasi was under some form of orders to trade Cirillo for whatever he could get. Same goes for Guillen. Raul Ibanez was offered a contract before Bavasi was even hired, so, depending on which side of the fence you are currently standing on, he can’t be given credit for or chastised for that signing. What he did do was sign Scott Spiezio (to a horrible contract), Eddie Guardado, Ron Villone, Mike Myers and trade for Jolbert Cabrera and Quinton McCracken. Not exactly something you would want to stick on your mother’s refrigerator or put on a job application. Bavasi was able to receive a king’s ransom (Jeremy Reed, Miguel Olivo, and Michael Morse) for Freddy Garcia, flashing what might possibly be rays of hope.

This year’s crop of FA might be one of the riskiest groups in recent memory. The majority of the FA some form of strings attached or in some cases 15 lb fishing line attached. That being said, the two players I would like to see in Mariner jerseys next season are Carlos Beltran and Adrian Beltre. Richie Sexson and J.D. Drew are excellent fall back plans. Carlos Delgado and Magglio Ordonez should be avoided at all costs. Obviously the focus needs to be on 1B, 3B, SS, OF, one SP and some bullpen work. Below is a brief synopsis of the players I feel should be 1-4 on the M’s wish list.

The filet mignon of the free agent crop has to Carlos Beltran. Beltran has put up another stellar season with a .272/.368/.569 line, with 35 HR, 95 RBI’s, and 33 SB’s. Oh and did I mention he switched leagues mid-season and has a legitimate shot at becoming a 40/40 player? Combine that with a 71/79 BB/K ratio and Gold Glove caliber defense, it’s no wonder teams will be lining up for his services. Beltran shouldn’t be making more than Vlad Guerrero, but after all the dust settles and the Yankees and Red Sox have finished their pissing match, he will. In reality, fair market value should be around the 8 year $90 million offer the Cardinals gave Scott Rolen, (not that I’m advocating that length of contract). Both play premium positions, both play Gold Glove caliber defense, both swing a good bat. What Carlos does on the base paths, Rolen compensates by knocking in a few more runs. Beltran would be a perfect fit for the Mariners as they build for 2005 and beyond, but I just don’t see it happening.

Questions abound about Adrian Beltre. Does he reek of a fluke or the sweet smell of finally fulfilling the potential everyone thought he had 6 years ago? Someone is going to have to pay to find out and early indications have the M’s willing to take a chance to see if this is the real Adrian Beltre. Beltre has developed into one of the best offensive players in baseball and doing it while playing half his games in an extreme pitcher’s park. Beltre has a legitimate shot at 50 HR and will do so playing Gold Glove defense. Much like Beltran, Beltre will be searching for big time money over a long period of time. Beltre is entering his prime at the ripe age of 25 and any team that signs him will be paying him for at least the majority of his prime years. Chances of Beltre joining the M’s are better than Beltran at this point.

Richie Sexson and J.D. Drew are both equally risky players. Richie Sexson is recovering from shoulder surgery and played in only 23 games for the D-Backs this season. Sexson on the other hand, is recovering from surgery from an injury that plagued Jeff Bagwell and Shawn Green for the past two years, which means he should be in good shape once the season starts. J.D. Drew is having the best season of his pro career but there are still worries about the condition of his knees, which suffer from the same arthritic condition that ultimately forced Mark McGwire into retirement. Drew’s line for the season .307/.419/.580 is absolutely phenomenal and has hit 29 HR with 81 RBI with an 81/84 BB/K ratio. Add to the equation that Drew is left handed he would be a great addition to the club in right field next season.**

The question was asked about potential bargains of the 2005 draft class. With the current baseball economy, I think the true bargains of the FA class will be the big name players. Two years ago, would anyone believe me if I told you that one of the last outfielders to sign a FA contract in 2004 would be Vlad Guerrero for an average of $15 million per season, who would have believed me? The fact is, teams are looking for bargains more today than they were a few years ago. Players that might have been bargains a few years ago are being overpaid in this new market, as more teams are actively searching for a cheaper alternative to the big name stars. The result of this trend will cause "star" players contracts to shrink over time as teams who may have been interested in or had a need for a star player have subsequently spent their resources on a mid-tier free agent. With teams looking to consolidate their budgets, this upcoming offseason could be a positive one for the M's if they can utilize patience and not join the rest of the Joneses in their pursuit of mid-tier talent. With that being said, there are a few players that stand out as we look ahead toward 2005 that I think have the potential to be bargains this off-season:

~Odalis Perez – Over looked by many when they view the FA pitchers available this winter, but I think Perez should be at the top of the Mariners list. A LHP with a low 90’s fast ball, good curve and change.
~Paul Shuey – missed the 2004 season following hip surgery and a ruptured thumb ligament. For a team in desperate need of bullpen help, Shuey would fill a major need and will probably come on the cheap as well.
~Frank Catalanotto – Over the past three seasons has compiled a .306/.369/.474 line. Has played the OF primarily since 2003, but with the Tigers and Rangers played 1B, 2B, 3B as well.
~Steve Kline – Much like Paul Shuey, this teams need quality bullpen arms and will have to look outside of the organization this winter to find them.
~Jose Valentin – Heh, just kidding.
~Brad Wilkerson – he isn’t a free agent, but he broke off contract negotiations with the Expos the other day and instead stated a desire to take the team to arbitration. It’s a situation to watch, as Wilkerson may become available this winter.

That’s about all I got for this extremely long winded post and I know that I have left off players who should be considered as bargains. It is still premature to think about the off-season, when so much is still left to be determined. But it’s always fun to start thinking towards the future.

**On the pre-game show, Finnigan was discussing the Ichiro situation for next year. Said the team will like to talk to Beltran and Boras first, but he alluded to Ichiro shifting to center field in 2005. Winn would then be moved to LF. He didn’t mention Ibanez, but we can all assume that he will probably shift to 1B or DH. This is definitely good news if the team actually follows through on talking to Beltran and Boras, and then moving Ichiro to CF if they can’t get Beltran in Seattle.
Please welcome Masao Kida.

Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Bill Bavasi announced today that the Mariners have claimed right-handed pitcher Masao Kida off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers...Kida is expected to join the Mariners in Toronto prior to tomorrow night's game.

Historical Stats
2004 Stats (also tossed 4.2 scoreless innings with the Dodgers)

Kida is a 35 (36 in two weeks) year old righty who spent ten years in Japan, having moderate success with Yomiuri and Orix, before coming over to join the Tigers. His repertoire is limited to a straight fastball that hits the low-90s and an inconsistent curveball and changeup that seldom find the strike zone. He hasn't been able to miss many bats in either the Majors nor the minors, with his pitches being quite hittable when they're over the plate. There's no reason to believe that Kida will succeed, given his (at best) spotty track record, but a 35 year old warm body has some value to a team that wants to keep its remaining pitching prospects healthy in September.
For the next several days, I will be spending a lot of my time packing and performing various other tedious college- and moving-related activities. As such, longer posts - like game recaps - will be postponed until further notice, although I intend to drop by and offer my thoughts as current events deem necessary. As a bit of more bad news, the move back east will mean that M's games end after my bedtime, which could present a problem. Nevertheless, I dealt with the same issue back in April and May, so we'll see how things turn out.

In the meantime, Trent and Devin are still hanging around, and you may also enjoy the (presumed) return of the Mariner Optimist. As a bonus offer, I'll link you to this article which states that minor league attendance is on the rise. Check it out, and try to get yourself down to a game quickly - be it rookie ball or AAA - before the season ends.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma beat Sacramento, 3-2. Bryan Ward tossed a sparking seven innings but didn't get credit for the victory, as the Rainiers rallied for all three runs in the bottom of the ninth off of Jairo Garcia. With two on and two out, the River Cats intentionally walked Greg Dobbs, but Jim Horner smoked a bases-clearing double into left for the winning hit. Jared Hoerman picked up his fifth victory (in six decisions) by tossing two scoreless innings. Notables:

Jeremy Reed: 1-4, 1 double
Ryan Christianson: 1-4
AJ Zapp: 0-4
Greg Jacobs: 0-3
Greg Dobbs: 0-3, 1 IBB

San Antonio hung on to defeat Tulsa, 6-4. Felix Hernandez showed off for five innings, earning his fifth win, before giving way to Aaron Taylor after hearing the bad news. TJ Bohn and Shin-soo Choo each had two-hit days, including a home run each, propelling the Missions to victory. Chris Key made things interesting in the ninth, but Rick Guttormson got the final out for his 25th save. Notables:

Felix Hernandez: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
Aaron Taylor: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 K
Dustin Delucchi: 0-3, 1 BB
Shin-soo Choo: 2-2, 1 homer, 1 BB
Hunter Brown: 1-4, 1 double
TJ Bohn: 2-4, 1 homer

Inland Empire beat Lancaster, 7-5. Thomas Oldham spun a decent eight innings and eventually added his third vitory of the year as the 66ers put two on the board in the ninth. Gary Harris and Jesus Guzman each had four-hit days, and Jon Nelson drove in two to lead the team. Darwin Soto threw a perfect ninth for his ninth save. Notables:

Thomas Oldham: 8 IP, 9 H, 5 R (4 ER), 8 K, 2 HR
Jesus Guzman: 4-5, 2 doubles (torrid)
Wladamir Balentien: 2-4, 1 double
Matt Hagen: 1-4, 1 double, 1 BB
Michael Garciaparra: 1-4
Gregory Slee: Just here because of his name

Wisconsin fell to Peoria, 7-1. It was a rough night for Jason Mackintosh, who surrendered six runs in 6.1 frames, and the off-and-on Rattler offense could manage just five hits and one run of support. Four of those hits came from Bryan LaHair and Josh Womack, who also accounted for both of Wisconsin's extra-base hits. Notables:

Jason Mackintosh: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R (5 ER), 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR
Josh Womack: 2-4, 1 triple
Adam Jones: 0-4
Bryan LaHair: 2-4, 1 double
Nick Orlandos: 1-3, 1 BB

Everett was sloppy in a 9-7 loss to Salem Keizer. The Aquasox made five errors - Green, Chen, Jensen, and Cabrera (two) - which led to four unearned runs for the Volcanoes. But then, Everett was also handed four extra outs of their own, which they converted into *three* unearned runs. Anyway, Aaron Jensen lasted just 1.2 innings as the starter, surrendering five runs in the second, and the Aquasox were unable to come back and tie the game. Yung-Chi Chen helped make up for his error by reaching base three times, leading the offense. Notables:

Aaron Jensen: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 2 K
Asdrubal Cabrera: 0-3, 2 BB
Matthew Tuiasosopo: 0-5
Omar Falcon: 0-4
Yung-Chi Chen: 2-3, 1 BB
Brandon Green: 1-5
Brent Johnson: 1-4, 1 double

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

If you thought this season couldn't get any worse, there is even more bad news coming from Dave at USS Mariner. Preliminary reports on a Travis Blackley MRI show a torn rotator cuff, which could ultimately shut him down for the entire 2005 season. The topic has been hashed and rehashed on these blogs, but something has got to change with the way the Mariners handle their pitchers. Whether it be the medical, training or coaching staff, the Mariners are going through arms like Hugh Hefner goes through blondes.
The good news, of course, is that BJ Garbe can pick it up and throw it.
Pat Borders has been traded to Minnesota in exchange for outfielder BJ Garbe.

Historical Stats
2004 Stats

Garbe, 23, was the fifth overall pick in the 1999 draft, a high school outfielder out of Moses Lake, Washington. Possessing all the tools that scouts look for in a phenom, Garbe hasn't been able to put everything (or anything) together, struggling to hit for power in the low minors and becoming more aggressive in AA. His bat is simply too slow to catch up with minor league pitching, and it's impossible to succeed at the plate if you can never get the head of the bat around in front of the ball. The good news is that Garbe plays a pretty good center field, displaying a strong arm and good range, but even the most stubborn of scouts have given up on him. There's still a shred of potential in there, and Garbe's chances of being a part of the next competitive Mariners team are certainly better than Pat Borders', but 2004 was BJ's sink-or-swim year, and he failed to produce.

Here are his numbers:

Rookie: .316/.391/.415
low-A: .233/.333/.303
A: .240/.319/.321
AA: .192/.268/.274

He's regained a little bit of his patience this year (10.7 PA's per walk), but he's still got an OBP and SLG that look like someone's batting average, and a batting average that looks like someone's customary tip rate at a restaurant. There's a slim chance that he goes on to have Daryl Boston's career, but you probably won't need to remember this name.
To update the Stephen Drew saga, Arizona's top pick has withdrawn from classes at FSU in order to continue contract negotiations with the Diamondbacks.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Tacoma lost to Sacramento, 8-4. Brett Evert was shelled in his Rainier debut, allowing six runs in 2.2 innings of work, and a good day at the plate for Ryan Christianson wasn't enough to help Tacoma overcome an early 6-1 deficit. With the current five-game losing streak, the Rainiers are now 3.5 games behind Portland in the PCL's Northern division with eight to play. Notables:

Brett Evert: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R (4 ER), 6 BB, 2 K, 1 HR
Jeremy Reed: 1-4, 1 BB
Greg Dobbs: 0-5
AJ Zapp: 1-2, 2 BB
Greg Jacobs: 0-4
Ryan Christianson: 2-3, 1 homer, 1 BB (.276/.341/.455)

San Antonio beat Tulsa, 5-2. Hunter Brown and TJ Bohn had run-scoring hits in the first, and John Lindsey's home run in the third inning provided enough support for Juan Done, who threw seven sparkling innings. Rick Guttormson picked up his 24th save by tossing a scoreless ninth. Notables:

Juan Done: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Dustin Delucchi: 1-3, 1 BB
Hunter Brown: 2-4
Shin-soo Choo: 0-3, 1 BB
TJ Bohn: 2-3, 1 double, 1 BB

Inland Empire beat a sloppy Lancaster, 8-5. Rett Johnson was smacked around in four innings of work, but the 66ers rallied back to take the lead, courtesy of home runs by Jon Nelson and Matt Hagen. Melvin Pizarro tossed three solid innings of relief for his fourth win, and Cesar Jimenez notched his fifth save with two scoreless frames. Nelson's three hits led the offense. Notables:

Rett Johnson: 4 IP, 8 H, 4 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 3 K
Jesus Guzman: 1-2, 1 double, 3 BB
Wladamir Balentien: 0-4, 1 BB
Michael Garciaparra: 0-2, 2 BB
Rene Rivera: 0-5
Juan Gonzalez: 1-5
Matt Hagen: 1-4, 1 homer

Wisconsin beat Peoria, 13-8. Michael Moorhead scattered nine hits over seven strong innings for his ninth win, while Jeremy Dutton had four hits, four RBI, and reached base five times to lead the Rattlers' unusually potent lineup. The 6-through-9 hitters went a combined 10-17 with two doubles, a homer, and 10 RBI. Kenly Chang was the only disappointment on the night, allowing five runs in the ninth before finally closing the door. Notables:

Michael Moorhead: 7 IP, 9 H, 3 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 6 K
Josh Womack: 1-6
Chris Colton: 1-4, 1 double, 1 BB
Jeremy Dutton: 4-4, 1 double, 1 BB
Bryan LaHair: 1-5
Francisco Gerez: 2-5, 1 double

Everett fell to Vancouver, 3-2. Shawn Nottingham only allowed two hits over 6.2 innings, but four walks, a homer, and three runs marred his evening, as Ryan Ford was the better pitcher tonight. Mike Wilson had the only multihit day for the Aquasox offense, which managed five extra-base hits in a losing effort. Notables:

Shawn Nottingham: 6.2 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 K
Asdrubal Cabrera: 1-4, 1 triple
Matthew Tuiasosopo: 1-4, 1 double
Yung-Chi Chen: 1-4
Brandon Green: 1-4
Mike Wilson: 2-4, 2 doubles

Monday, August 30, 2004

Coming into the year, did anyone expect Melvin Mora to be the most qualified AL MVP candidate at the end of August?

That sure quieted the Justin Upton talk in a hurry.

After dropping the first game of a quintet with the Royals, the Mariners had slid into a virtual tie for worst record in the American League, and the voices grew louder. Upton. Gaining fame a mere two months ago, the kid brother of Tampa Bay's prize prospect was suddenly on everybody's mind, as hungry Mariners fans began to crave satisfaction in the form of a talented young shortstop. It got to the point at which Upton was all anyone would talk about, and the topic became tiresome seemingly before it even began.

And then the last four games happened, and everyone shut up.

Sure enough, the blogosphere's lone recusant is on the verge of a return as the Mariners rallied back from multi-run deficits to take the final four games of the five-game set with Kansas City. After tying the game at three with a two-run sixth, the Mariners (specifically Ryan Franklin) tried to give it away in the seventh, as Franklin loaded the bases without recording an out. However, Ron Villone, relieving for the first time since July 16th, got Matt Stairs to ground into a run-scoring double play, and eventually escaped the jam having allowed just the one run. For the curious, when teams have loaded the bases with nobody out this year, they've gone on to score an average of 2.27 runs in the inning, and just 42% of the time has the pitching team escaped by allowing one or zero runs. By wiggling out of the tough situation, Villone earned his fifth victory.

...of course, it wouldn't have happened had the Mariners not rallied for two more runs in the bottom of the inning, thanks in part to a display of poor bullpen management by Tony Pena. With Ichiro on first and two down, Pena brought the left-handed Dennys Reyes into the game to face Randy Winn, who has been a substantially better hitter from the right side of the plate over his career. Winn singled, and Ichiro advanced to third base. Up came Bret Boone, who has continued to destroy southpaws (.926 OPS) despite a down year overall. He singled, tying the game and sending Winn to second. Raul Ibanez came to the plate and, while the lefty-lefty matchup looked good to Pena, it didn't on paper, as Ibanez has hit lefties pretty well this year while Reyes has exhibited a reverse platoon split. Raul's seeing-eye single put the Mariners in the lead for good, and the Royals didn't know what had happened. It might *not* have happened if Pena had brought in DJ Carrasco, a right-hander with normal splits. Even if Winn reaches, Carrasco is tough on righties, and Boone probably would have gotten himself out, ending the rally. Alas, a win's a win, and we'll take it.

Today's Winner: With another three hits - including his eighth home run - Ichiro raised his batting average back up to .369. Hits number 207, 208, and 209 have put the right fielder on pace for 260 hits, which would eclipse George Sisler's season record by three. Even more impressive is that, while hitting .457 in August, Ichiro has homered four times (doubling his season total entering the month) and put up a .181 IsoP, above league-average for his position. I'll be the first to admit that I've been too concerned with Ichiro this year - I thought he'd lost some footspeed, I thought he didn't hit for enough power, I thought he'd wear down from all the playing time, and I thought the beanball to the noggin would have some consequences - but there comes a time when you just have to stop worrying about whether or not he'll justify his contract, sit back, and watch him do his thing. Sisler's record has stood for 83 years, and nobody since 1930 has come within 15 hits of tying his mark. What Ichiro is doing right now is the individual equivalent of what the Mariners did in 2001, a rare treat that comes around once, maybe twice in a lifetime. He doesn't walk or strike out very often, so Ichiro's got the right approach if he wants to continue this pace. Hell, he needs to go 74-140 (.529) over the rest of the projected season to hit .400, but after watching his second half, you can't even write that off as an impossibility. Talk about a special ballplayer.

Today's Loser: Willie Bloomquist went 0-3 today, as the starting first baseman. Versatility is great and all, but it's supposed to be used to one's benefit in emergency situations, rather than employed as a one-uppance in a spitting match against a team starting Desi Relaford at third. Willie Bloomquist's .230 EqA easily ranks him dead last among first basemen with 150+ plate appearances (although, to be fair, it also puts him near the bottom among second basemen, third basemen, and shortstops), and you have to wonder about Melvin's motivation to use him there in a ballgame. Sure, he might see a little Eric Young or Manny Mota in the kid, but there's a lot more Jerry Dybzinski than anyone cares to realize. With out-machines Bloomquist and Spiezio helping themselves to seconds, Lopez being totally overmatched, Dobbs having trouble reaching base in AAA, and Leone missing, this infield is going to be pretty ugly for the rest of the year.

Jamie Moyer goes up against Josh Towers at 4:05 on Tuesday. Moyer leads the AL in home runs allowed. The Skydome is inflating home runs by 27%. Bring your glove.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Larry LaRue comes close to hitting the nail on the head in his article in todays Tacoma News Tribune. This season is not Melvin's fault, not even close. In a perfect world, Bill Bavasi, Howard Lincoln, Chuck Armstrong and Bob Melvin should be looking for new jobs this winter and Grady Fuson should be trying to decide what color to paint his new office. I have never really been a huge Bob Melvin fan, nor do I dislike him as a manager. I think the major problem is that we have never really been able to get to know the guy calling the shots from the dugout, mostly because he won't let us get to know that guy. But this is the way the baseball business works. The front office makes bad decisions, managers can't get the results the front office expects out of the slop given to the manager, manager loses job. Melvin was handed chicken shit and expected to make chicken salad, and will likely lose his job for it.
Minor League Wrap-Up:

Portland got by Tacoma, 6-3. Craig Anderson season has been so forgettable it is sometimes surprising when you realize he's still on the team. Alas, he walked five in four innings this evening but didn't give up a run...that was for the Blast From the Past Bullpen! John Kelly (age 31), Tim Christman (age 29) and Bill Simas (age 32) all got equal time to suck tonight and they didn't disappoint. Speaking of old guys Mickey Lopez (age 30) did manage two hits this evening. Notables:

Craig Anderson: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 0 K.
BFTPB: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR.
Mickey Lopez: 2-4, 2 R.
Jeremy Reed: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 BB.
A.J. Zapp: 0-3.
Ryan Christianson: 1-3, 1 double.
Greg Dobbs: 0-3.
Josh "Why am I Here?" Ellison: 1-3, 1 double.

San Antonio came back to beat Wichita, 3-2. A clutch Shin-soo Choo single in the eighth was the deciding factor as the Missions rallied. Rich Dorman was almost identical to Craig Anderson tonight as he too had extreme control problems but didn't give up a run. Notables:

Rich Dorman: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 6 BB, 3 K.
Dustin Delucchi: 1-4, 1 double.
Shin-soo Choo: 1-4, 2 RBI.
T.J. Bohn: 0-2.
Brian Moon: 1-3, 1 double.

Inland Empire blanked San Jose, 5-0.
Bobby Livingston was damn near divine this evening as he went the whole game surrendering only three hits while striking out six. The 66'ers got all the offensive help they needed as Jesus Guzman and Carlos Arroyo both drove in two. Notables:

Bobby Livingston: 9.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K.
Juan Gonzalez: 0-3.
Jesus Guzman: 1-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI.
Carlos Arroyo: 3-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI.
Wladimir Balentien: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 RBI.
Rene Rivera: 0-4.
Michael Garciaparra: 0-2.

Wisconsin got blasted by West Michigan, 8-1. No box yet.

Vancouver beat Everett, 3-1. Not a bad effort by Jason Snyder but it just wasn't enough as the Aquasox offense couldn't get it's feet of the ground. Notables:

Jason Snyder: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.
Oswaldo Navarro: 2-4.
Yung-Chi Chen: 0-4.
Asdrubal Cabrera: 0-2.
Matthew Tuiasosopo: 0-3.
Casey Craig: 0-3.