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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 16, 2008 9:21 AM

Lackey fallout

Posted by Geoff Baker

steal 018.jpg

A look at the Mariners this morning, working with baserunners on how to avoid getting picked off by a lefthanded pitcher. Yuniesky Betancourt got nabbed the other day. Even Ichiro was picked off first base a couple of days ago. Guest coach Rich Amaral had the team's would-be base-stealers out on a back field for some tips on how not to get caught leaning. In this particular photo, Ryan Feierabend catches the lot of them off-guard. Feierabend has perhaps the best pickoff move in the organization. Much better read on him by the runners down below.

steal 017.jpg

Some reactions in Anaheim to the news that Angels starter John Lackey is likely out until mid-May, joining No. 2 starter Kelvim Escobar on the DL.

"I don't feel good at all. Lackey, he's our ace,'' said Escobar, who started a throwing program Saturday morning. "When you lose two guys like that it definitely hurts your team. I just hope it doesn't hurt too much.''

Angels pitcher Joe Saunders, in this morning's editions of the Los Angeles Times, states:

"It's going to be a huge blow. It's definitely not good. John is our horse, the leader of the pitching staff and a leader of the team. Our Nos. 1 and 2 starters are not doing so hot right now. We're going to have to step up our game.''

The key here is not to look at this as a case of the two pitchers merely being out until mid-May. When you miss that much time to start a season, there's no telling how long it's going to take to get that momentum back. Possibly until July. Perhaps not until 2009. Bartolo Colon missed a month before rejoining the Angels rotation last season and never really found his groove. Now, let's be clear. The conditioning of Lackey and Escobar is far superior to that of Colon. Their injuries are also not as serious as the one Colon required surgery for.

All that said, it's fairly clear the M's are about to be spotted a huge edge over the first third of the season.

Here's a gander at the Halos Heaven fan site. They have a post titled John Lackey Injury: Glass Half Full. We call that type of thinking whistling in the dark. But yes, losing their top two starters does allow the Angels to "play the kids". Lucky them. Go around their clubhouse and see if anyone's thrilled about that. The first responder to the post in their comments section, someone named shiftyeyedgoat, kind of captures the mood well.

Here's the take from Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports.

"Could this be a repeat of 2001, when the Mariners locked up the division with a 20-4 start? It's doubtful, because these M's aren't nearly as good. Still, the Mariners' opening day rotation currently looks much stronger than the Angels' -- an important consideration as (Angels GM Tony) Reagins ponders his next move.''

The Mariners are already out on the field, about a half-hour early today. There are thunderstorms expected in the area later and it's unclear whether they will be able to work out outdoors in a couple of hours. Today's game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Peoria Stadium is also in doubt.

Here's a look at the lineups, just in case they do play.

Brewers at Mariners

Milwaukee Brewers (12-6):

23 Rickie Weeks 2B
25 Mike Cameron CF
2 Bill Hall 3B
8 Ryan Braun LF
1 Cory Hart RF
13 Eric Munson 1B
7 J.J. Hardy SS
14 Gabe Gross DH
18 Jason Kendall C
15 Ben Sheets RHP

Additional Pitchers:
51 Brian Shouse LHP
73 Seth McClung RHP

Mariners (7-9-1):

51 Ichiro Suzuki CF
3 Jose Vidro DH
28 Raul Ibanez LF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
13 Miguel Cairo 3B
4 Jose Lopez 2B
15 Jamie Burke C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
34 Felix Hernandez RHP

Other Pitchers:

20 J.J. Putz RHP
33 Chris Reitsma RHP
53 Arthur Rhodes LHP
57 Mark Lowe RHP
62 Cesar Jimenez LHP

steal 011.jpg

Above, you see coach Eddie Rodriguez hitting choppers to third baseman Adrian Beltre during batting practice.

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Posted by blah

9:55 AM, Mar 16, 2008

This is great news for the Mariners.
Now is the time we see what our boys are really made of.
Like an experienced pugilist who smells blood, the Mariners as a whole need to take their game up a notch the first month of the season.
They have been handed, gift wrapped, a one armed opponenet and need to jab, uppercut and rabbit punch their way into a fomidable division lead by the time the Angels Aces return.
We cannot afford a lethargic start by Sexson, Ibanez or Beltre.
Time to man-up, stay focused, stay healthy and kick some ass!

Posted by Get Griffey

9:59 AM, Mar 16, 2008

I second that motion!

lets play ball!!

Posted by Mr. X

10:03 AM, Mar 16, 2008

And to think of all of the wasted hours spent by all of the mathletes. The season hasn't even started yet, and they have to do all of that manual self-gratification all over again. All of the childlike position vs. position and starter vs. starer evaluations. All of the failed arguments that we shouldn't trade for Bedard (aka try to improve the Major Leage team), because we still wouldn't be "better" than the Angels. All of the hand-wringing over trading the unprofessional "excuse machine" Adam Jones. As per usual, real life gets in the way of those who choose to live in fantasyland. It's a shame, really.

The season can't start soon enough, IMO.

Posted by BraveLittleTailor

10:15 AM, Mar 16, 2008

It is great news for the Mariners but lets not count all our wins just yet. Remember in the NBA, the Rockets lost Yao Ming, people thought they would miss the playoffs in the competitve west. They have now won 21 in a row!

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:17 AM, Mar 16, 2008

quote of the day from Ken Rosenthal's article:

"Two of the remaining free agents, Jeff Weaver and Horacio Ramirez, are ill-suited for the American League."

I think it'd be hilarious if the Angels picked them up as 4th and 5th starters. Especially if they did so right before we had a series with them. :)

I can't say it enough, though: in this specific situation, the Ms have to over-achieve. It's a hollow victory if the only way to get to the postseason was because of someone else's huge misfortune. Yes, injuries and bad timing like this are a part of the game. A true contender is better than the margin of error. If you rely on one injury, one bad call, etc. to get in, you don't really deserve to be there and when push to comes to shove you'll get blown out every time.

And hey, Mr. X - Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, passed away recently. I'm surprised you didn't have a word or two to say, given your previous stance on hobbits and elves. :)

Here's hoping we don't have to trot out links to all the past sabermetrics articles again, though. (e.g. "Even if a 100 coinflips happen to come up heads 99 times, the odds are still 50-50 and you should still plan for 50-50 the next 100 times", and so on, and so on.)

Posted by cheese whiz

10:17 AM, Mar 16, 2008

Ah, Mr. X using others to try and pump up his self esteem and bring some meaning to his life. Just the fact that he feels a need to make such statements speaks volumes.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:19 AM, Mar 16, 2008

Oh, and Geoff, your link to the Halos Heaven post is busted. There's a garbage character in place of the last space.

If folks want to follow it, cut-n-paste, minus the quote marks:

" title"

Posted by Bobby Ayala

10:42 AM, Mar 16, 2008

I hope they play. It's the second spring training game being broadcast on FSN... I want to see some baseball!

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

12:26 PM, Mar 16, 2008

cheese whiz-welcome to the blog. Have you ever posted under a previous handle?, you sound eerily familiar yet your current name doesn't sound familiar? Other than your reportable personal attack, what is your opinion of spring training so far?

I don't see too much that moves me to panic or to celebrate so far. I watched Adam Jones today on the dish and he looked okay, it was fun to watch. However, if Bedard does indeed put up 200+K's and innings we are going to quickly forget about AJ, especially now that the Angels strong rotation is in shambles. I only wish we had a competent manager to take full advantage of facing Mosely and Saunders in April.

Posted by Adam

4:10 PM, Mar 16, 2008

And guess what, Mr. X:

The analysis of non-saber geeks is thrown on its head as well. This changes everything for anyone looking at the AL West. It's baseball.

Get over yourself.

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