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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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January 24, 2008 1:09 PM

Lots of Mariners news

Posted by Geoff Baker

charlton1 209.jpg

Just got back from the M's spring training luncheon at Safeco Field, where we got to quiz Bill Bavasi, John McLaren, J.J. Putz and the ever-quotable Norm Charlton (pictured above). Plenty of news came out from the answers they gave to our questions.

First, Bavasi still expects to get a deal done for a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. He never mentions names, but it's clear he was talking about Erik Bedard. It's also clear that Bavasi feels this team is ready to challenge for a playoff spot and is ready to give up Adam Jones and plenty of other names to get a deal done.

"We're in a position now where we have to do our best to make those moves for a top-of-the-rotation guy so we can slot the rest of the rotation where it should be,'' he said. "We feel we have to make a move -- one more move."

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Bavasi says he's already put his best offer on the table and that it's now a waiting game. He says there's been a genuine reluctance by some clubs to part with young prospects, but "we're not one of those clubs. We're prepared to move...but there is a limit.''

What would that be?

"I don't think you can give a club its terms and its price,'' he said. "We can move a premier prospect and numbers (of players), but we're not going to move a number of premier prospects."

So, what's going to happen now?

"As I'm sitting here today, I think we will (get a deal done),'' he said. "I think there's a good chance of that."

There was plenty of talk during the two hours of back-and-forth between reporters and the Mariners officials in attendance about what caused last year's bullpen collapse. Charlton raised some eyebrows when he suggested that former manager Mike Hargrove was playing for his job every day and that his "Hot Seat" might have spurred him into using relievers too early in games in April, May and June.

Miscenlaneous 208.jpg

Now, we should remember that Charlton wasn't with the major league team at that point, though he was in the organization as a minor league pitching advisor.

McLaren was with the M's, as a bench coach, early last season. So, I asked him whether he thought there was some truth to what Charlton said about Hargrove.

"Yes,'' he responded.

Miscenlaneous 214.jpg

To a follow-up question about how much Hargrove's early-season use of the bullpen cost the team in August and September, McLaren said something about how he doesn't like to make excuses -- but that it did hurt the team to some degree. How much of a degree? That's up to history to decide.

All of the people in attendance -- Charlton, McLaren, Putz -- seemed to agree that the lack of experience amongst most of the bullpen members finally caught up to them down the stretch. Charlton wouldn't flat-out suggest some of the younger relevers were nervous, though he did admit he was nervous at times as a young pitcher in similar circumstances.

Putz suggested some of his younger teammates may have learned the hard way that it's OK to take a day off late in the season.

"I think the only problem was that they were young and a lot of these guys, it was their first time pitching in September and they didn't realize what kind of a toll that takes on your bodyin the major leagues,'' Putz said.

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Charlton and Putz both agree the starters have to go deeper into games than last season. Charlton is going to insist -- along with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre -- that the Seattle pitchers do a better job of throwing inside.

Putz feels that -- and the addition of Carlos Silva to the rotation -- can only help.

"I don't see those guys throwing 100 pitches in four innings this year,'' he said.

Charlton also expects to see the "throwing inside" doctrine preached to Felix Hernandez. He can't understand why Hernandez abandonned his fastball in favor of breaking pitches as often as he did last season and is determined to find out why by the first week of camp.

"Watching him in the minor leagues, he was mean,'' Charlton said of Hernandez throwing inside. "I don't think he did that as well as he could have last year."

Charlton went on to add: "It bewilders me. Guys that have done it before...I don't know if he lost some confidence and was afraid to use his fastball -- I don't know. Those are things that we're going to have to find out in spring training."

Some spring training guest coaches being brought in? Former Mariner reservist Rich Amaral is coming in to help teach base-stealing and running techniques. The Mariners want more stolen bases out of guys like Ichiro and Yuniesky Betancourt this season.

Longtime major leaguer Tony Phillips will also come in to teach players how to, uh, be like...Jose Guillen, I guess. McLaren wants him schooling the younger players (hello Betancourt and Jose Lopez) about playing all-out for 162 games. Wants him to up the intensity level, so-to-speak. I got to know Phillips for a couple of months when he played for the Blue Jays in 1998 -- his final major league season. One thing I can tell you is, he was very intense. A good guy to talk to about baseball in the clubhouse as well. Yes, he had some highly-publicized off-field incidents (had plenty to say about those as well). But I liked the way he looked at himself and the game. I think having him there (like having Guillen around all of last season) can't hurt a team that, let's remember, has not won a darned thing yet.

Anyway, that's my update for now. On the medical front, Mark Lowe should be ready to compete for a job at spring training. Arthur Rhodes has a projected May 1 major league readiness date, though he could be back earlier. Putz has dropped 15 pounds (he does lose weight every off-season). The really encouraging thing about Putz is his body fat, said to be at its lowest point ever. He sure looks different. How will this translate out on the mound? I don't know. Tough to be better than he was.

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Posted by Dave Clapper

2:01 PM, Jan 24, 2008

Oh, God. Charlton's going to ruin Felix.

Posted by Librocrat

2:11 PM, Jan 24, 2008

I agree with Dave.

Posted by Mike

2:16 PM, Jan 24, 2008

Me too. Felix got killed in early innings by throwing fastball after fastball.

Posted by Big Wil

2:17 PM, Jan 24, 2008

Show me the Bedard! Bedard = playoff hunt for the next two years. Winning leads to...more winning. Look at Colorado. They came out of nowhere last year and had an improbable run. Now every veteran and their mom wants to go to Colorado to be on a "winning team." My guess is they don't make the playoffs this year, but that doesn't matter. If we win with a killer rotation (Bedard at #1), we can sign all those bats like Texeira that everyone wants us to go after next year and the year after. If we sit on our hands and are mediocre, those proven veterans won't even consider Seattle. I've beat this into the ground lately, so for the last time, TWO TEAM DIVISION! All we have to do is catch the Angels, which is doable with a little let down from their rotation and the inevitable injury to Vlad (who is by far the scariest man in baseball, if not the world. Seriously, when Chuck Norris goes to bed at night he checks his closet for Vlad and the small tree uses as a bat). Seriously, if Adam Jones is an all star in Baltimore in 2010 and beyond and we've been to the playoffs for two consecutive years, NO ONE WILL CARE! Same goes for Tillman in 2011 and Triunfel in 2012. Great prospects, yes. Value to the Mariners, only what we can get for them to help the big league club. Yes, Jones is pencilled in as our right fielder. Yes, he'll put up major league average stats in 2008 with plus range and an average arm (plus arm but he doesn't use it because he's inaccurate when he really lets it rip). But with Jones, we don't sniff the playoffs. With Bedard we play into October for a minimum of two years, which increases our attractiveness to free agents by leaps and bounds. GET BEDARD, let the rest fall in place, and enjoy some playoff baseball! If you're into that...

Posted by Everett fan

2:19 PM, Jan 24, 2008

No, Felix needs some toughness.
Bavasi is going to ruin the M's -
unless what he said, give up AJ and chump change.

Posted by Dave Clapper

2:28 PM, Jan 24, 2008

It doesn't matter how "tough" you are if the opposing batter knows what pitch is coming every single time.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

2:40 PM, Jan 24, 2008

With the players schedule I think it's normal to see players wear down unless Bavasi himself wants to administer Vitamin B injections since he has been so tolerant of cheaters in the past. (see: Mike Morse, Matt Lawton)

I'd love to see Charlton become the M's big league pitching coach one day. He did a great job with Mark Lowe in Wisconsin. I did see pitching abuse by Hargrove since he arrived see, Lowe was a huge victim from it.

I sure hope the top rotation starter is Ian Snell.
Anyways, great job in giving us the real insider information.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

2:43 PM, Jan 24, 2008

While I agree with Clapper that relying soley on the fastball will hurt Felix. I believe Charlton wants Felix to be confident on his fastball and not be afraid of it especially inside on hitters is the best location.

Posted by weebs

3:05 PM, Jan 24, 2008

Why's Putz gotta mess with a good thing? Any change from him scares me.

Posted by -k

3:06 PM, Jan 24, 2008

You guys need to calm down about what Charlton said about Felix. He wasn't talking about throwing only fastballs. He was talking about throwing inside fastballs. Felix has a great fastball, but he never moved it around. That was why he got crushed early. He kept throwing the same pitch, over and over again.

Later in games he'd stop throwing the fastball almost completely. He'd stop attacking hitters like great pitchers do. That led to an increased pitch count per inning.

Charlton wont ruin Felix. He'll give him the mental toughness to be dominant.

Posted by dart93

3:16 PM, Jan 24, 2008

I was surprised to hear that Bavasi is so confident that he's going to be able to add a top of the rotation guy. Obviously, we all know about Bedard, but I'm starting to think that with every passing day, the likelihood of a Bedard deal getting done decreases. Might Bavasi be thinking of someone else? I've heard the names Ian Snell and Kyle Lohse mentioned, but those guys certainly are not top of the rotation guys. Will Bavasi surprise all of us by getting a top of the rotation guy from a team we haven't even considered?

Posted by shane/olympia

3:26 PM, Jan 24, 2008

jones plus whatever for bedard would not sit to well right now but could down the road

jones + whatever for bedard and roberts i am down for that right now

did anyone get the feeling that the deal could go down within the next few days

Posted by East of Enumclaw M's Fan

3:30 PM, Jan 24, 2008

Felix owned the plate early last season, and pitched with confidence. That can be perceived as toughness. However, he never regained that after coming back from his injury. You have to have that confidence, arrogance or toughness to be successful at the big league level. If he doesn’t regain that edge he will never be the pitcher he should be. He needs to have the attitude and toughness of an “ACE”.

Charlton, as was Gossage, was a valuable presence as teacher and mentor in his years in the bullpen. I would expect him to be even more of an asset as a coach.

Posted by Adam

4:13 PM, Jan 24, 2008

Ugh. Bavasi's comments make me sick. Mark my words, Mariner Nation will regret an Eric Bedard/Adam Jones trade.

Big wil:

Now every veteran and their mom wants to go to Colorado to be on a "winning team."

Namely who? Kip Wells and a washed-up Marcus Giles?

All we have to do is catch the Angels, which is doable with a little let down from their rotation and the inevitable injury to Vlad (who is by far the scariest man in baseball, if not the world.

Why would you suggest that their rotation is due for a let down? If anything, now that Colon and Santana are out, their rotation should be better. And they should be healthier. Remember, Figgins, Hendrick, Anderson, Napoli, Kotchman, and Speier all missed significant time, and Vlad and Shields and Escobar also were injured. Don't count on the Angels coming back to earth. It's much more likely that the Angels are better than they were last year.

But with Jones, we don't sniff the playoffs. With Bedard we play into October for a minimum of two years, which increases our attractiveness to free agents by leaps and bounds.

If you've got any way to prove that, I'd love to see it.

Posted by Scott

4:16 PM, Jan 24, 2008

Charlton is spot on with his assessment of Felix. By throwing more inside hard stuff, his off speed-off the plate pitches will be even more effective. And don't start telling me that his inside fastball is going to ruin him. Very few hitters will even touch his 97 mph inside heat if it's properly placed. He only got in trouble last year when his fastball drifted back towards the middle of the plate.

Posted by Dave Clapper

4:56 PM, Jan 24, 2008

Charlton preaching an inside fastball to Felix doesn't concern me. Here are the lines that worry me:
"He can't understand why Hernandez abandonned his fastball in favor of breaking pitches as often as he did last season and is determined to find out why by the first week of camp."
and:
"I don't know if he lost some confidence and was afraid to use his fastball -- I don't know. Those are things that we're going to have to find out in spring training."
If he's just talking about throwing inside more? Great. If he's talking about trying to "establish the fastball," the philosophy that so often got Felix in trouble last year? No, thanks.

Posted by scottM

5:01 PM, Jan 24, 2008

Good press conference. While I think Lowe was probably overused a couple seasons ago, I didn't get that concern about Felix. One he has such a smooth delivery. Secondly, they were talking about placement and having confidence in that placement, not about relying too much on one pitch.


Hey, GEOFF, can you get Bedard to come to the Blog-Fest when Bavasi pulls off the trade? If so, make sure to divide the room into pro-trade people on one side, and anti-trade people on the other. Let him sit with those of us who wanted him onboard! [and if you get him to come, I'll RSVP and drive two hours to take part].

Posted by scrapiron

5:09 PM, Jan 24, 2008

Charlton won't ruin Felix, he's just the bullpen coach. I'd be more curious to hear what Mel Stottlemyre has to say.

Geoff, did anyone say why Mel wasn't there?

Posted by scrapiron

5:13 PM, Jan 24, 2008

If the Mariners trade away Jones for Bedard, the latest rumor has the Mariners looking at Brad Wilkerson to play right field. He'd be a decent left handed bat to keep the seat warm until Balentien is ready by mid-season.

Posted by Stan

5:16 PM, Jan 24, 2008

I agree with the statement that the bullpen got overused in games early in the year. They were putting out the best guys in a whole series of close games night after night. It was fun to see us ultracompetitive and playing to win everyday. Unfortunately, it did take its toll by late August.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

5:19 PM, Jan 24, 2008

My concern re: Tony Phillips is that an upped intensity from Betancourt will mean more airmailed balls from deep in the hole, 10 feet to the left of Richie (which is a neat trick). Upped intensity translating to better routine plays, fine. More anything out of Lopez, fine. But if this upping-intensity level thing leads to panic and rushed defense... ooh boy.

And I know this is putting words in their mouths, and that Tony Phillips is focusing on the younger guys, but shouldn't Ichiro have an upped intensity level as well, i.e. diving for a ball more than once a season? ;)

Finally, put me in the camp that thinks Charlton's comments for Felix are fine. Felix needed a combination of confidence and location on his fastball; over-reliance on it, while not having confidence in it, was the killer. That led to predictable pitches. Doesn't need to use it more, needs to use it WELL more. Which is inside, and mean, and every once in a while, yes, just when they expect it to challenge the hitter. (I'm not a pitching instructor, don't even play one on TV, so any stat-heads who can point to location / fastball use from last year, do chime in with specifics.)

Hurray for M-Lowe being back, let's hope he returns to the glimpses of brilliance we saw forever ago.

Would have been nice to have one of the starters up there saying "yep, we blew, we need to go deeper into games". Having Putz say the starters need to go deeper into games is kinda like one of the starters saying "we'll be fine as long as we have a healthy bullpen". ;)

Posted by Pete L.

5:20 PM, Jan 24, 2008

I'm torn on the Sherrif's comments about Felix. Yes, he does need to develop more mental toughness (Norm's forte), and he probably could stand to throw hard stuff inside more often.

However, he also needs to get ahead, especially in the early innings, and his command of his fastball is not quite there yet - it may be the pitch he commands least, of all his pitches. And Dave Clapper is right - if he does what he did early last year, and "establish the fastball" by throwing almost nothing BUT the fastball, he'll continue to get hammered early. Look at his splits - in the first inning, his OPS against is .934. In the first three innings, it is .790. Innings 4 through 6, it is .777, and later it is .469. The strategy of "establishing the fastball early" clearly didn't work, and Norm needs to realize that FIRST and THEN fix any lack of mental toughness or unwillingness to throw hard inside.

Big Wil - I like your passion in favor of the Bedard trade, but you need to convince those of us on the other side (and really, I am only on the other side of the deal if it includes Jones) with something other than your own say-so (1) why the Mariners should be expected to overtake the Angels with an even more sub-average defense than they already have after losing Jones; and (2) who the M's can replace Jones with in their OF that might give them ANY shot of getting close to the same defense and offense. This is without projecting beyond this season - the trade clearly gets worse the farther away from this season you get...particularly if they DON'T get to the postseason in the next two years.

Oh, and this statement...

"[Jones, Tillman, and Triunfel are g]reat prospects, yes. Value to the Mariners, only what we can get for them to help the big league club."

...is mind-boggling short-sighted, to me. There will be a GREAT chance to compete in 2010-2013, not just in the next two years. It may well be still a two-team race, though the other team may not be the Angels, then. There needs to be a better balance between the "win now" and "win later" attitudes. For me, it has settled on sort of an "anybody but AJ" advocacy for the trade. Triunfel is the next guy I'd hate to lose most, but he is a long ways away. It won't bother me to lose anybody else, except if the numbers of guys we're giving up is too excessive.

If we give up AJ, we better be getting Roberts and Scott back, too.

Posted by Pete L.

5:26 PM, Jan 24, 2008

ScottM wrote:

"While I think Lowe was probably overused a couple seasons ago, I didn't get that concern about Felix. One he has such a smooth delivery."

Scott, Felix has anything but a "smooth delivery." His whole left side flies out, led by his head and ending with his right leg flying all the way around, a pretty good percentage of the time. Felix's mechanics are not an asset for him. They are a concern for both his control/command, and injury potential.

Posted by oregongal

5:31 PM, Jan 24, 2008

I certainly wouldn't say Felix is perfect, but he was 9-4 after the All-Star break, and I think he's worked out some things. He was also ready to take out somebody (anybody, maybe) in the great Ichiro-Blanton incident of 2007, so he's got the intensity, even if it doesn't always come through on his pitches.

All in all, I'd say he needs some help, but I'd hate to see him overcoached. Besides, we have a lot worse problems on the pitching staff.

Posted by oregongal

5:37 PM, Jan 24, 2008

Oh, and I'm not one who's a great believer that W-L records always mean that much for pitchers, but the Mariners played some really bad games around Felix's wins, so I'm inclined to give him more credit than I usually would.

Posted by Mr. X

5:50 PM, Jan 24, 2008

"He can't understand why Hernandez abandonned his fastball in favor of breaking pitches as often as he did last season and is determined to find out why by the first week of camp."

It's very simple. Somebody managed to get a copy of the now-famous "Open Letter from the Unathletic" into the hands of our rookie pitching coach last year. For some reason, this was enough for a professional pitching coach to ditch his own philosopy, and is probably a pretty good reason why he's our ex pitching coach.

Posted by oregongal

5:55 PM, Jan 24, 2008

Actually, the aforementioned pitching coach said he'd been trying to convince Felix of exactly the same thing that was in the memo, which is why he showed it to him. You might not agree with it, but it was, in fact, in line with the "professional pitching coaches" own philosophy.

Posted by Pete L.

6:02 PM, Jan 24, 2008

Mr. X - Are you suggesting that you know more about pitching than Chaves did? Because he showed that letter to Felix because he agreed with it. And, I might add, anybody who looked at ANY evidence of when and how Felix succeeded last year would agree with it (whether "athletic" or "unathletic").

Chaves actually did a pretty good job as pitching coach, even though he had had virtually nothing outside of Felix to work with (and still found a way for THAT STAFF to pitch its way to 88 wins).

Somebody over at USSM must've deleted a comment or two by you..... Sounds like, with good reason. Bring something to the table besides over-personalized vitriol, with no substance to back it up.

Posted by Daniel Carson

7:49 PM, Jan 24, 2008

Hey Geoff, just wanted to say great article. Very insightful, and nice to get some fresh tidbits of info regarding a potential move. It's been pretty dead in the M's blogosphere the last few days, which may be a good thing. But keep it up, I always look forward to your posts.

Posted by joe

8:19 PM, Jan 24, 2008

Geoff neglected to include the whole Bavasi quote. The part that Baker quoted, makes it seem as if Bavasi is going to pull off a trade tomorrow. That is misleading. Here is the whole quote from MLB.com.
.
"As I am sitting here today, I think there is a good chance we will [make a trade]," Bavasi said on Thursday, "but I should qualify that by saying that for the last month, I have felt that way four or five times, and it has gotten shot down. Right now, I guess the term is 'cautiously optimistic.'"
.
sounds a little different eh? nice spin job Geoff


Posted by Adam

9:49 PM, Jan 24, 2008

Regarding Felix using his fastball:

I think we all would agree (or at least I hope) that Felix throws his fastball the vast majority of the time to start out the game. Dave Cameron over at USS Mariner used the MLB Advanced Media’s Pitch F/X system to chart Felix's starts.

In June, for example, Felix started games throwing almost only fastballs:

Pitch 6/26 6/21 6/15 6/10 6/4 FB%
1 FB FB FB FB FB 100%
2 FB FB FB FB SL 80%
3 FB FB FB FB FB 100%
4 FB FB FB FB FB 100%
5 FB FB FB FB FB 100%
6 FB FB FB FB SL 80%
7 FB FB FB FB SL 80%
8 FB FB SL SL CH 40%
9 FB FB FB FB CH 80%
10 FB FB FB SL FB 80%


Overwhelmingly, Felix tried to establish the fastball early. Watching his starts throughout the year (Yes, Mr. X, I have actually watched a baseball game - although I'm still confused why they use a stick to hit the ball), I'd wager that his first 10-15 pitches were almost always fastballs.

Well, here's the problem. Hitters knew Felix's tendencies, and thus were able to tee off on his 97-mph fastball:

Opposing hitters' OPS:
Pitches 1-25: .884
Pitches 26-50: .751
Pitches 51-75: .623
Pitches 76-100: .809
Pitches 101+: .495

So, to the extent that Charlton thinks Felix didn't rely enough on his fastball, the evidence suggests that he's wrong. Felix was almost religious about trying to establish his fastball early in games, teams knew it, and he got rocked. Felix was at his worst early in games, when he was trying to establish his fastball.

Now, I'm not advocating that Felix not throw his fastball as much, but it might just be his worst pitch. It's okay if he starts the game with three curves and a change, just to mess with the other team.

But there's something to the idea that Felix relied too much on his heater early in games...

Posted by Chip1010

10:18 PM, Jan 24, 2008

Somebody managed to get a copy of the now-famous "Open Letter from the Unathletic" into the hands of our rookie pitching coach last year.

How clever. Man, it just KILLS you that there's someone on the Internet that can actually make a persuasive case instead of being an angry troll, doesn't it?

For some reason, this was enough for a professional pitching coach to ditch his own philosopy, and is probably a pretty good reason why he's our ex pitching coach.

1. As you surely know but insist on ignoring, Chaves had been trying to tell Felix the same thing all along. He used the letter as a way to persuade him: If some blogger can predict exactly what you're throwing, so can MLB hitters.

2. Felix before reading the letter:

4-4, 4.11 ERA, .792 OPS against

After the letter:

10-3, 3.80 ERA, .721 OPS against

You can't seriously be arguing that Chaves got fired because of Felix and/or one thing posted on USS Mariner. Maybe it didn't help a ton, but you have nothing to show that it harmed anything or anyone. Your argument is a transparent attempt to belittle people without paying attention to anything that actually happened. Just because you use the Internet for insults and incoherent yelling doesn't mean someone else can't use it for something productive.

Posted by Mr. X

7:38 AM, Jan 25, 2008

Chip, nice to see you back after you've had a chance to get your courage up elsewhere. Nothing like retreating to a place with like-minded people to give you a shot of self confidence and blog muscles. I notice that the other cowardly person still needs more time to build that confidence though.

You're just making my point for me. If Chaves needed to show Felix a blog post to get his point across, his days were numbered. Maybe they should have kept that between themselves. He just wasn't ready to lead a Major League staff. Rare kudos to Bavasi for recognizing a weak leader (just like him looking in the mirror, probably) and getting rid of him.

But if you really think that Felix changed his ways because he was persuaded by a blog post, I've got some carbon credits to sell you.

Incoherent yelling? Let's not get emotional here. Everything will be alright. Now run off to another blog and get your courage up again, see what the other guys/girls are saying and use that as an ego-boost if you can.

Posted by Mr. X

7:42 AM, Jan 25, 2008

Adam, there's a difference between using the fastball early, and using it effectively. Yet another thing that a "ready for prime time" coach would have corrected. By all accounts Chaves is a great human being, and I wish him all the blessings in the world, but he was not ready, and OJT is not the answer. He'll be back in that position someday when he's ready.

Posted by Paul

9:06 AM, Jan 25, 2008

Mr. X -

Do I really need to take time here to point out the delicious irony of your mocking other peoples' "courage" or "confidence" when you lack the courage to post with your real name?

Posted by George

9:14 AM, Jan 25, 2008

Hargrove has lost his desire, after losing in Baltimore he just goes through the motions after the All Star break. As for Bedard, he is done. You will be getting a pitcher who breaks down after July. He may win 10 games by July 25th but after this you won't be able to count on him

Posted by California Bob Kelly

10:05 AM, Jan 25, 2008

I hope I interpreted Bavasi"talk" correctly when he said that he is willing to give up a prospect, singular, and players for a frontline starter. Maybe a future star like Adam and a second tier prospect, and one of the Mariner players such as Sexson or Ibanez or Vidro. We should not rape the farm system of 3 or 4 top prospects for 1 player unless his name is Johan Santana, signed to a 5 year contract. The other obvious "good news" is the attitude change when I hear the "Sheriff" talk about pitching. Hopefully, his message is heard loud and clear by Felix and a few others who are afraid to knock somebody down. We could use a few bench clearing brawls to notify the rest of the A.L. that the M's are serious about contending so stay loose in the batter's box.

Posted by jro

10:57 AM, Jan 25, 2008

@Dave, @Librocat, @Mike:
Norm is going to ruin felix? Hardly. Norm knows the value of having at least one pitcher that other teams fear. Look at every other "true" number-1 starter out there. Not a wimp among them. It's the A.L. Finesse won't win anything in this league.

Felix is a big boy, and would benefit from learning to impose his will in the same way it that worked so well for Randy, Curt, Pedro, Nolan, etc. (Note: Clemens left off this list because he's a phony.)

Imagine a performing Bedard alongside Felix with a bad attitude toward the opposing team. Now THAT would be fun to watch.....

Posted by Mike

11:17 AM, Jan 25, 2008

jro---I think our reaction (or even overreaction) had to do with Felix needing to throw more fastballs. He's better when he mixes his pitches as Adam's comments above demonstrate.

If Norm gets him to pitch inside more, Great!

Posted by Chip1010

1:33 PM, Jan 25, 2008

Chip, nice to see you back after you've had a chance to get your courage up elsewhere. Nothing like retreating to a place with like-minded people to give you a shot of self confidence and blog muscles. I notice that the other cowardly person still needs more time to build that confidence though.

You're right, I'm a coward. Because I . . . can read? I really have no idea what you're talking about here; it's just more idiotic name-calling in the place of actual ideas and discussion. And what are blog muscles? Is that like a brain? If so, I apologize for trying to use mine. And where did I go to gain some "courage"? I went to Baseball-Reference to look at some numbers. Seriously, I'm confused. You're making no sense. And if I were so intent on being with like-minded people, why would I be here?

But if you really think that Felix changed his ways because he was persuaded by a blog post, I've got some carbon credits to sell you.

Hey remember like five posts up, when I wrote that it might not have had any effect? Are you reading anything before criticizing it? Anyway, the fact remains that Felix SAID he changed his ways. It might have only been for one game, but you're ignoring the entire point here: Something USSM did got Felix to think about how he's pitching, however briefly. I can't for the life of me understand why this makes you so angry. Chaves taking a different route did nothing to hurt Felix, and quite possibly could have helped.

Now run off to another blog and get your courage up again, see what the other guys/girls are saying and use that as an ego-boost if you can.

Again, my aplogies for reading blogs. Which is different from what you do . . . how? Does this not count as a blog because it says Seattle Times at the top?

I come here and often run into a lot of old-school thinking and number-phobia, which I understand and expect, while if you went to USSM or any other site that tries to advance our understanding of baseball, you'd run into a wall of facts and reason and your insults wouldn't get you anywhere. We both have comfort zones. I'm outside of mine here, and I don't see you anywhere else. So, please, could you explain to me again why you called me a coward?

Posted by Greg K.

1:57 PM, Jan 25, 2008

Excellent q&a session with Jim Callis here. Great read!

http://mlbfleecefactor.com/2008/01/25/q-a-with-baseball-america-jim-callis/

Posted by jro

3:00 PM, Jan 25, 2008

Totally agree, mike. Pitching inside is a lost art, IMHO. Given how batters are so inclined to jump into every pitch, seems like there should be a lot of room for success with pitching strategy that stresses location and speed mix. But, an easy interpretation from a guy who's never set foot on a major league ballfield -- until this weekend, anyway.

Posted by Terry

4:25 PM, Jan 25, 2008

*****Very few hitters will even touch his 97 mph inside heat if it's properly placed.*****

That's like saying Felix could order in Chinese if he could speak Chinese.

Posted by drlo

10:02 PM, Jan 25, 2008

On Felix and pitching inside.... He has better than average control, with 3.5 walks per nine and 15.8 pitches per inning. He obviously can throw inside, or anywhere else, if he is asked to. It begs the question whether or not he is being asked to. Perhaps the issue is less with Felix than with his manager, coach, or catcher who are calling pitches and locations. There is much less tendency to pitch inside in Japan than in the US, for example, and possibly the real issue is Johjima himself calling location.

My biggest worry is Felix's tendency to lose his cool when adversity strikes. If this is strictly a maturity issue (and frankly I think it rarely is) rather than a character issue, then we can hope for some improvement in 2008. If it is character, though, no amount of pitching tough inside is going to correct that.

Posted by finsta

1:11 AM, Jan 27, 2008

Ok, I have to say trading Jones for Bedard is a bad idea. Not only will the offense suffer but the defense will be crap. Id feel bad for Ichiro, he might've gotten a bad deal now because not only will he have to play center field, but also left-center and right-center as well if Jones is traded and Ibanez still starts in left. And getting Bedard and losing Jones probably makes the team only 2 wins better than they are now.

Please, BB, anyone but Jones. Id say the best idea is not to do it, but if you urge for that #1 starting pitcher is too strong, atleast trade the farm without Jones as part of the deal, including Morrow. Makes no sense that Morrow is off limits but Jones isn't. Should totally be the other way around. Morrow at this point is either going to be a struggling starter or a bullpen guy since management doesn't want to send him to the minors. What a waste of such talent. If they knew what they were doing, they would send him to the minors to gain experience as a starter and learn an off-speed pitch. Please BB, anyone but Jones.

See, trading the farm for Bedard is trading the future for the present, which I could live with. If they trade Jones for Bedard, its trading the present for the present.

Posted by tim

6:20 PM, Jan 27, 2008

Those of you guys who think trading away Jones for Bedard is a bad idea are idiots. Bedard is an ALREADY PROVEN ALL-STAR PLAYER. Jones is just a PREDICTION which aren't always right (remember Jose Cruz Jr, Ryan Anderson, or even the recent Jeremy Reed?... busts).

besides, looks like the trade went down today. Jones is headed to Baltimore for a physical.

I'm excited. Bedard is only going to get better and it'll take the pressure off of Felix and he'll light it up now too. This is a great move.

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