Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
April 22, 2007 1:10 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
This game is rapidly coming apart for the Mariners, now down 5-1 and counting thanks to a pair of errors by Yuniesky Betancourt in the fifth inning. Word from the clubhouse is that Jeff Weaver is sitting there by his locker, but is otherwise in fine health. Unless we hear something different after the game, that was quite the early move by Hargrove. Not sure what the reprecussions will be. So far, thanks to some inept fielding, the move has not paid off despite Sean White's solid pitching.
WEAVER DONE EARLY
Big news here in the bottom of the fourth as Jeff Weaver has already been pulled after just three innings. He had thrown 68 pitches and was down only 3-0 with the No. 8 and 9 hitters due up. So, he's either hurting or his manager is trying to make a big statement of some sort. We're trying to get confirmation.
Sean White is on the mound and has just gotten the first two hitters out. For the offense, much of the same. More base runners, no results. I thought it was already the eighth inning there for a moment with all those hitters getting on. This is still a winnable game for Seattle. Perhaps, barring an injury, that is why Weaver was pulled with Gary Matthews Jr. (two doubles today) due to hit third. You can't give away any more runs and hope to come back later.
One note about Hargrove, based on a reader comment below: I actually did hear the other night, from an assistant in another team's front office, that Hargrove had quietly been given an extension for 2008 behind the scenes. Such an extension, I'm told -- and nothing has been confirmed to me -- would not preclude him from being fired this year. In other words, the team would eat the money. Again, just to repeat, this is just the word going around. Do not treat it as gospel. The point of me bringing it up now, rather than before, is that even if true, it would not impact the tenuous state of Hargrove's job security.
WEAVER CAN'T FINISH
We're in the bottom of the second inning and Jeff Weaver, while not giving up homers and blasts off the wall, is already down 2-0 and has yielded two more doubles -- both to Gary Matthews Jr. The big problem I see with Weaver is that he can't put hitters away. More on that later.
The Mariners managed to squander a leadoff triple by Raul Ibanez in the second inning. The highlight of that play though, which won't show up in the stats, was the unbelievable throw Vlad Guerrero made from the grass in deep right center to third base. The ball arrived without a hop and Ibanez was very nearly out.
That may have played a role in Ibanez's decision to hold up at third base one out later when Jose Guillen skied a ball to right field. The ball wasn't warning track depth, but it was certainly far enough to get the runner home on some afternoons. Not this one. Ibanez wisely bluffed a move to the plate, then retreated back to third as the throw came in a little offline. But it was still a rocket.
Weaver has gotten himself in a couple of jams the first two innings, but nearly worked out of them. He is throwng more early strikes, which has helped him somewhat. What concerns me a little is his seeming lack of an "out'' pitch on 0-2 and 1-2 counts. He's getting a lot of ensuing pitches fouled off and -- on at least one occasion -- lined to right field for a double. On another, this inning, Erick Aybar (a real speedster) chopped a ball towards third for an RBI single.
That's one reason Weaver's pitch count is already at 48 through two innings. Remember, the object is for the Seattle starters to go deeper. Throwing 24 pitches per inning won't get you beyond five frames. There's really no reason for it to be that high when the counts are continuously 0-2 as they have been today. Something to watch for.
Here are the lineups:
CF Gary Matthews Jr.
SS Orlando Cabrera
RF Vladimir Guerrero
LF Garret Anderson
1B Casey Kotchman
3B Maicer Izturis
DH Shea Hillenbrand
C Jose Molina
2B Erick Aybar
RHP Ervin Santana
2B Willie Bloomquist
DH Jose Vidro
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Richie Sexson
RF Jose Guillen
3B Adrian Beltre
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
C Jamie Burke
RHP Jeff Weaver
To answer a couple of questions, the "big changes" I was mentioning that could take place were indeed firings. From what I hear, the team will not hesitate to make an early mangerial switch if the season gets out of hand. I also am told that an in-season GM switch is not out of the question. The plan would apparently be to replace the GM role on an interim basis this year, with the replacement options being one of the current assistant GM types who used to hold that post elsewhere. There is also at least one former major league GM not currently employed by the Mariners who would get consideration for the interim role.
This is all premature right now. The team has only lost five in a row and is still not out of this game. That's why I'm holding off on mentioning the candidates' names for now.
Also, one thing I've learned is to never gauge reader interest by the numbers in the comments threads. There have been days when the comments field has been nearly empty, yet the blog has drawn three times as many hits as the most-read story on the entire site. For what it's worth.
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