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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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March 4, 2008 9:58 AM

Today's Mariners lineup

Posted by Jose Romero

At Oakland...

Seattle Mariners (2-2):
13 Miguel Cairo 3B
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
28 Raul Ibanez LF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
9 Jeff Clement DH
2 Kenji Johjima C
50 Wladimir Balentien CF
12 Mike Morse RF
17 Yung Chi Chen 2B

43 Miguel Batista RHP

Other Pitchers:
18 Ryan Rowland-Smith LHP
41 R.A. Dickey RHP
48 Roy Corcoran RHP
59 Eric O'Flaherty LHP

Oakland is 3-2. Their starting pitcher is Joe Blanton, who is 0-1 with a 27.00 ERA in the spring.


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Posted by AKMarinersFan

10:32 AM, Mar 04, 2008

Yeah Miguel Cairo hitting first again!!! Way to go Mac! There will be a lot less pressure on Yuni to move the runner, since there won't be a runner. Balentien in center....kind of a strech I think. Nice to see Chen getting a start. Morse keep it up!

Joh and Dickey will be interesting.

My guess is Blanton's ERA will be less than 27 after this game...way less...

Posted by scrapiron

10:47 AM, Mar 04, 2008

Love to see Johjima getting some work in with Dickey. I hope that works out well. I still want Dickey as a long reliever over Ho-Ram.

Of all the guest coaches coming to camp, I think Dan Wilson has the potential to make the most impact.

Dan can work with Joh on calling a game and reading hitters, something Dan was excellent at. He can also work with Clement on overall catching ability. The Mariners have a big choice to make in 2009. Make a big offer to free agent Johjima or hand over the reigns to Clement and let him be the starter. Clement is either going to have a career as a catcher or DH, and I think this season is the 'make or break year' for whether he'll be a major league catcher or not.

Posted by Smarto

11:24 AM, Mar 04, 2008

Just got back from Peoria last night. What a blast!! Yesterday seemed more a yuk fest than serious baseball with Lou back in town. The guys were having a lot of fun.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8-V7tkjyQM

Posted by scottM

11:37 AM, Mar 04, 2008

Okay, so ST doesn't mean much for the guys assured of making the big club. However, for those guys on the bubble, it means a whole lot.

Yesterday's game against the Cubbies: bottom of the ninth, rallying back to make it a one run game, and only one out. Jimerson chokes with a big whiff. Then with two outs, Tuiasasopo does the same. Game over for the M's, and probably lights out for those two guys making the show this year, too.

Posted by Smarto

11:41 AM, Mar 04, 2008

Nobody's chance of making the big club will hinge on one at bat. Come on!

Posted by Rain King

12:00 PM, Mar 04, 2008

scottM,

With that logic, it would seem that Ichiro should be off the team too since he's done basically nothing.

Batting averages are one of the most prominent stats for a reason.

That said, I'm sure those guys are beating themselves up for whiffing when they could have had a huge impact. (or as big of an impact as you can have in a game that doesn't count)

Posted by Merrill

12:01 PM, Mar 04, 2008

Scott, I think Tuiasosopo had a very very very small chance of making the team.

Jimerson's chances depend on the whole Cairo/Norton/veteran/pitching staff thing, not on one AB in the fourth game.

I'd really like to see Dickey, not HoRam, with 11 pitchers, and Morse, Jimerson, Bloomie, Burke, and Norton. Let Reed have a full year in AAA to get his confidence back.

I don't believe it's true that he's "proved he can't hit ML pitching," to paraphrase a recent poster. I think he had a bad, snowballing season.

Of course, I agree with the folks who'd like to see Vidro at PH and Morse or Jimerson--not Balentien--pushing Ibanez to DH.

But I reiterate that it's highly likely Ibanez' defense was affected by his HAMSTRING injury last year.

Is that really such a stretch to swallow?

And in-form Wilkerson and Sexson make up for the lack of "real" DHing.

I'd like to see the repetitive whining stop. We all know what their shortcomings are. Let's see how things play out.

Posted by Geoff

12:01 PM, Mar 04, 2008

Wow, put Clement behind the plate and Willie Ballgame at short and you might have the worst defense of all time. As it is, this is a pretty awful defense!

Posted by Donovan

12:26 PM, Mar 04, 2008

I think an in-depth piece on just what does get decided in ST with regard to the roster would be a nice blog post (Jose/Geoff?)

For the longshot guys, I'd say every at bat does count, because they aren't going to get very many, especially once we get to mid-March. The first few weeks are mainly for the regulars to get limbered up without pulling or breaking anything, and the non-roster guys are desperately trying to find the opportunity to show they can do something. It isn't just about making the opening day roster, but about positioning yourself for a call up down the road. In another week, the lineups will start evolving more into the first team, and those opportunities to show for all the coaches will dry up.

Realistically, there is only one position up for grabs - 4th OFer. That changes if Mac decides he can live with a 6 man bullpen (which I think he should consider). Right now, I think the bench is Burke, Willie, Cairo, and Jimerson. Burke is a dream backup catcher and nobody else is ready to catch (least of all Clement). Willie is versatile, experienced, and the best base-runner on the team (though I can't believe there are people who think he is really starter material). Cairo is the only 2B backup candidate in camp, and I think the M's feel they need one. Jimerson has the most speed (probably more important than fielding in his situation). I'd love them to live with 11 pitchers and bring another bat north. I think Balentien might knock peoples' socks off in Safeco, but I predict they will send him to Tacoma to prepare for callup as an everyday player. I don't think they want to sit him too much. Unless they have given up on Clement as the catcher of the future, he will definitely be in AAA. I can't believe I'm saying this, but Mike Morse has a real chance to make this team if he keeps hitting like he has been through March and Mac shortens the pen. I'd put the possibility of that at about 25%.

Every time I think about roster construction in the AL I get upset, because I'm reminded of what an abomination the DH is and how much I hate it. It is truly idiotic to devote a roster spot to a guy who can't field.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

12:37 PM, Mar 04, 2008

Donovan - well, if you're going to complain about the DH, complain about how pitching has evolved over the years too. It's just as much of a waste of a roster spot for the average ML club to carry a specialist pitcher (setup, LOOGY, bridge-to-closer, etc.) who pitches only the 7th or 8th inning, perhaps 3 days out of the week max, as opposed to someone who hits 3 or 4 times a game, every day, most of the season.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

12:43 PM, Mar 04, 2008

The youngters have outperformed the veterans in every game so far ( I know its early). One of two things we got some good young players that deserve a real hard look not only to make the roster but at starting! Or are "veterans" really suck! Maybe a little of both?

Posted by AKMarinersFan

12:46 PM, Mar 04, 2008

Good job Chen!!

Oh yeah that Jones guy...3 for 3 today....

Posted by Donovan

1:29 PM, Mar 04, 2008

Hey Chris - No argument there. It is getting as bad as football, where guys do nothing but play special teams. Why not just have separate offensive and defensive lineups? If you are going to monkeywrench the game, then why take half measures?

I'm a big believer that all players need regular rest and every guy on the roster should play regularly or he shouldn't be on the roster. I don't like fixed lineups. Like I said in a post yesterday, I understood carrying 12 pitchers last year, because both our rotation and bullpen looked weak coming out of ST. The bullpen proved tougher than it looked on paper in the end. This year, with our innings eating rotation and some long guys in the pen, we should be able to live with 11.

One of the key things that youth brings in a lineup is enthusiasm, energy, and a reminder to all the veterans that their time is finite and they should make the most of it. I'd like to see some young punks on the roster, but I want them to start some games too. Look, Piniella was one of the worst all time bench managers. His teams were always toast by September. In his defense, he never had much of a bench in Seattle. Hargrove used to talk about resting starters, but he was conservative by nature and reacted to the Hot Seat by getting more so. We've never had a manager who liked to mix up the lineup here. McLaren has that chance this year, but he needs to start from Day 1.

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