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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 8, 2008 9:43 AM

Happy Saturday

Posted by Jose Romero

I wanted to say first that I'm excited because I got two tickets to Opening Day on April 7 at PNC Park, Cubs at Pirates. Afternoon game, Opening Day, all the pomp and pageantry...etc. I'm not a Pirates fan but I enjoy baseball and have six more major-league stadiums at which to see a game. I've been to all the others.

This will give me the chance to break out my Roberto Clemente T-shirt. The Pirates are one of my earliest baseball memories with the "We Are Family" team from 1979, with Stargell, Parker, Moreno, Don Robinson, Tekulve, Madlock, Garner and Rick Rhoden.

Attention Bubba Crosby fans: Crosby reported to minor-league camp but failed his physical, so his contract was voided and he's been released. You heard it hear from BubbaFan first!!! Nice going.

Adrian Beltre is back in the lineup after missing day with a sore lower thumb. So is Jose Vidro, who's been out since March 3 with a tender right elbow.

After today's game, manager John McLaren and a lot of players are off to Tucson to play in games there. Not all the regulars will go right away, however. It appears the team will bus down players for Monday's game, when Erik Bedard is scheduled to pitch against the Chicago White Sox, and some will come back that very same night.

Seattle's first split-squad games are tomorrow, with Miguel Batista coming off lower back stiffness from his last outing to pitch against Milwaukee at Maryvale, while Horacio Ramirez will start in Tucson against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Both are 1:05 p.m. games, with the Tucson game on the radio.

Here's the scheduled lineups for the split-squad games tomorrow:

at MIL
Jose Vidro
Raul Ibanez
Richie Sexson
Adrian Beltre
Wladimir Balentien
Miguel Cairo
Jamie Burke
Willie Bloomquist

at AZ
Jeremy Reed
Yuniesky Betancourt
Greg Norton
Brad Wilkerson
Kenji Johjima
Mike Morse
Jose Lopez
Matt Tuiasosopo

And now, the starting lineups for today's game in Peoria against the Oakland A's:

Oakland A's (6-3):
19 Chris Denorfia CF
28 Carlos Gonzalez RF
4 Emil Brown LF
5 Mike Sweeney DH
18 Rob Bowen C
12 Donnie Murphy 3B
66 Casey Rogowski 1B
62 Brooks Conrad 2B
2 Gregorio Petit SS
58 Justin Duchscherer RHP

Others Pitchers:
71 James Simmons RHP
44 Santiago Casilla RHP
59 Andrew Brown RHP
13 Jerry Blevins LHP

Seattle Mariners (4-4):
51 Ichiro Suzuki CF
13 Miguel Cairo SS
3 Jose Vidro DH
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
50 Wladimir Balentien LF
39 Bryan LaHair 1B
15 Jamie Burke C
16 Willie Bloomquist 2B
56 Jarrod Washburn LHP

Other Pitchers:
33 Chris Reitsma RHP
35 Brandon Morrow RHP
38 Jon Huber RHP
57 Mark Lowe RHP

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Posted by BraveLittleTailor

10:24 AM, Mar 08, 2008

Hi Merrill, thanks for the response. I think it is kind of interesting that if they keep 12 pitchers, then Cairo would be the first to go, not Norton? I almost see Norton as being the #1 PH option vs RHP off the bench? If we keep just a 4 man bench, Cairo and Bloomsquist would be much harder to pair together. As far as bullpen goes I kind of hope Lowe makes it but it is starting to seem like he may not be ready yet. In that case Ramirez makes it in his place. That would be 3 leftys. I cant see them carrying 4 lefties regardless so I dont see Feierabend or RRS making it. Baek wont either. If they only keep 6 pitchers then HRam is definitlety on the bubble.

Posted by Batter Up!!!

10:24 AM, Mar 08, 2008

Jose.... I grew up in Pittsburgh and love the Pirates. I was a sophomore in HS when Bill Mazeroski hit the walk-off HR in the bottom of the 9th at the old Forbes Field to beat Casey Stengal's NY Yankees 10-9 in game 7 of the 1960 WS. My pal and me had stood in line all night for standing room only tickets. By the 9th we had managed to get down by the 1st base boxes. My O My!!!! Yogi Berra's assessment of what happened to his club: "We made too many wrong mistakes." Enjoy the trip it's a great baseball town.

Posted by oregongal

10:55 AM, Mar 08, 2008

I'm jealous, Jose. Clemente and Stargell are two of my favs. I loved the We are Family team and I always have a soft spot in my heart for the Pirates. Plus, I was a Steeler fan before the Seahawks existed.

Here are two links I found really interesting.

In this one, there's a discussion of what changes people would like to see in baseball. A lot of it centers on speeding up the game by enforcing the 12-second rule for pitchers and restricting throws to first base. Either one of those would pretty much destroy Batista's game with men on. Man, he drives me nuts in those situations.

Speaking of Batista, Fangraphs now has a stat for clutch pitching. I'm not sure it means much, but it's interesting. As expected, JJ was lights out (20th best in the majors). I was a little surprised though, to see that Batista was 9th best.

Posted by BubbaFan

11:49 AM, Mar 08, 2008

Thanks for the confirmation.

Poor Bubba. :-(

Posted by Merrill

12:11 PM, Mar 08, 2008

Yeah, Jose and Oregongal, me too on the 1979 team, and on the Steelers, O-Re-Gon. I've thought there's been an odd synchronicity in this whole Bedard thing for me because, even though the O's were the "enemy" then, I've always kept an eye on them and rooted for them. Definitely over the NE teams.

I noticed that with Batista last year, oregongal--he let so many guys on base that he had to be clutch, or lose a ton. And he was...

BLT, no problem... I'm pretty sure most teams don't carry more than two lefties, and sometimes only one! I think the M's have an embarrassment of riches with lefties. RRS and O'Flaherty have proven to be pretty good in the long and short of it, so to speak, and I think that'll carry a little weight vis-a-vis Jimenez.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but at this point, I actually think HoRam is a better option for SP depth than RRS, given the latter's AAA and winter league numbers. RRS seems to do quite well in long relief, though, and I wouldn't trust HoRam for more than a couple starts. Yet. But I do think the SP depth issue might come into play in their thinking. Someone mentioned the other day that HoRam still has an option. If money, pride/veteran prerogative, and coaching (Stottlemyre's magic) are not issues--and that's probably a stretch--I think he should be starting in AAA.

I think you and Adam may be right about Lowe not being quite ready yet.

And about Norton/Cairo/Bloomie, we all seem to agree with you, so far as I've seen here on the blog; I was passing along a report by scrapiron about some comments on FSN. *whew!*

Whether we believe them or not is another story, but I was commenting in response to your query about what we thought WILL happen rather than what we thought SHOULD happen.

Mac mentioned also, in an interview with Jose or Geoff, or with all the media, I forget which, that he had wanted to use Bloomie in some situations in the 6th or 7th last year, but felt constrained in case he needed him later.

I say you takes yer chances when they come up. Stay in the present, within reason. You may just go hit- and walk-less in the 8th and 9th.

But anyway, Mac mentioned that now, with Cairo, he felt a lot more comfortable using one or the other in the 6th. That's why I like Jimerson--young burst of speed for the bases, plus a good late-inning defensive replacement for those games when we're leading.

(I presume he's good on defense, anyway; never looked it up, but it seems a reasonable assumption.)

With Morse in there, you've got enough infield versatility and don't need a third infield guy. Plus I think Morse and Burke are both good clutch bats, so to me that makes Norton expendable if we keep 7 RPs.

The problem with this thinking is that Norton is a switch-hitter, while all the other possible bench guys are righties.

Apparently Cairo's super smart on base and a great baserunner, which, I guess in their thinking, makes up for the fact that Jimerson's faster. But I would guess Cairo can't hold a candle to J-son in OF defense; certainly Morse can't.

That's why I'd want him over Cairo or Norton. I'd like to see:

Burke (remembered this time!)

with 12 pitchers.

But I think they'll subtract Jimerson and keep Cairo and Norton, and Dickey as the 6th RP having a rubber knuckler's arm means they don't need a 7th.

White and HoRam starting in AAA, Jimenez and Lowe tearing it up alternating as closer/setup down there... hope that explains both what I'd like, and why, and what I think they'll do, and why, more clearly. (I think long relievers are a dime a dozen and to get any value out of HoRam they need him to pull his head out as a starter.)

So that's

Ryan Rowland-Smith

but they'll likely replace RRS with HoRam.

O, yeah, thanks for the answer on the previous thread, BubbaFan, and upstairs, Jose. Sorry about the outcome there, BF.

Posted by Merrill

12:13 PM, Mar 08, 2008

...that one's especially for you, blah! Read it carefully, now!

Posted by Merrill

12:17 PM, Mar 08, 2008

...and good night, all. Signing off until tomorrow (it's 3:15 am here).

blah, that's why I get long sometimes (that and my ginormous ego), because I'm 15 hours ahead of most of you folks and end up responding to 4-5 people in one post sometimes.

But anyway, thanks again for the feedback! As you can see, I am following your advice to the letter. Hugs and kisses from Bangkok!

Posted by oregongal

12:57 PM, Mar 08, 2008

Merrill, I knew Batista was tough, that's why I'm so gaga over him. I was still surprised at how highly he ranked. I think one of the problems I have with the idea of "clutch pitching" is that it doesn't take into account how often you get yourself into trouble before you get out of it. After all, if you're the one that creates the high leverage situation, that to me is a different than pitching in a high leverage situation because your team hasn't scored any runs for you. Besides which, I have trouble with the whole high leverage concept. But it's fun.

Posted by BubbaFan

1:04 PM, Mar 08, 2008

Thanks, Merrill. I was kind of afraid it would turn out this way. Ever since the Reds released Craig Wilson last month after he failed his physical. He had shoulder surgery, too, a month earlier than Bubba, so if he wasn't ready to play yet, I kinda figured Bubba might not be. Sigh.

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