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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 17, 2008 9:50 AM

Tightening up

Posted by Larry Stone


Hi, everyone. Larry Stone pinch-blogging today. The skipper, Geoff Baker, decided it was time to use the left-handed bat off the bench.

Like Archie Bell and the Drells (a musical reference that betrays my advanced years), John McLaren says it's time for the team to tighten up. It's two weeks to Opening Day, 10 days until they break camp in Arizona. After Tuesday's off day, he said, he will start playing the regulars almost exclusively, and work to settle on the ultimate batting order. He still is unclear, mainly, on who will bat second (Jose Vidro or Yuniesky Betancourt, presumably; I'll bet Vidro), and who will hit fourth, fifth and sixth. The candidates are Adrian Beltre, Richie Sexson and Brad Wilkerson (with Raul Ibanez at No. 3). The only question is what order. I'm thinking that they'll end up Beltre, Wilkerson and Sexson, which gives them a left-right-left-right setup in the middle.

I'll go out on a limb and predict that the leadoff hitter is going to be Ichiro.

Cha Seung Baek is going to pitch today in Surprise against the Rangers (the Mariners also play a game in Peoria against the Brewers (I've seen enough Brewers already to provide a scouting report to the Pittsburgh Pirates). Baek is kind of the forgotten man, but McLaren insisted he still had a chance to make the team as a long man. Listen to the audio HERE. Oh, wait, I just remembered. I'm a technological moron who has no idea how to download an audio clip. So you'll just have to read his words. I'm old school. Geoff is on assignment and will be back very soon with all his fancy gizmos. Suffice it to say, there will be no photos, videos, or artists' renderings today. I might do an interpretive dance later in the afternoon, or perhaps a haiku.

Anyway, here's what McLaren said about Baek:

"He’s in the mix. We’re goinng to give him a good look. He’s had some good games for us in Seattle, and he’s had some injuries. He seems to be well. Maybe he hasn’t got the headlines like some of the other guys, but we are giving him a good look."

The question with Baek seems to be whether he can get ready in the bullpen fast enough to serve as a long man. He's out of options, so they risk losing him if they send him down.

Here are the lineups:

Mariners at Rangers

MARINERS

8 Jeremy Reed (L) LF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez (L) DH
6 Brad Wilkerson (L) RF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
10 Greg Norton (S) 1B
13 Miguel Cairo SS
15 Jamie Burke C
25 Charlton Jimerson CF
----------------------------
58 Cha Seung Baek RHP

Additional Pitchers:
41 R.A. Dickey RHP
48 Roy Corcoran RHP
59 Eric O'Flaherty LHP
74 Philip Barzilla LHP
50 Rich Dorman RHP*
59 Jason Mackintosh LHP*

* from Minor League Camp

Texas Rangers
5 Ian Kinsler 2B
27 Frank Catalanotto (L) DH
10 Michael Young SS
32 Josh Hamilton (L) CF
29 Jason Botts (S) LF
9 Hank Blalock (L) 3B
22 Marlon Byrd RF
23 Ben Broussard (L) 1B
25 Jarrod Saltalamacchia (S) C
---------------------------------------------
Jason Jennings RHP

Additional Pitchers:
59 Josh Rupe RHP
55 Robinson Tejeda RHP
58 Wes Littleton RHP
-- Doug Mathis RHP

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brewers at Mariners


Milwaukee Brewers
23 Rickie Weeks 2B
30 Craig Counsell 3B
22 Tony Gwynn LF
1 Corey Hart RF
13 Eric Munson C
20 Laynce Nix CF
53 Ozzie Chavez SS
35 Brendan Katin DH
11 Mike Rivera 1B
----------------------------
39 Chris Capuano LHP

Additional Pitchers:
66 Chris Narveson LHP
75 Steve Bray RHP

Seattle Mariners
51 Ichiro (L) CF
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
3 Jose Vidro (S) DH
44 Richie Sexson 1B
50 Wladimir Balentien RF
2 Kenji Johjima C
16 Willie Bloomquist 2B
12 Mike Morse LF
78 Matt Tuiasosopo 3B
----------------------------
52 Carlos Silva RHP

Additional Pitchers:
18 Ryan Rowland-Smith LHP
31 Ryan Feierabend LHP
38 Jon Huber RHP
46 Sean White RHP
49 Jake Woods LHP


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Posted by

11:23 AM, Mar 17, 2008

Haiku haiku definitely a haiku!! lol ^_^

Posted by

11:33 AM, Mar 17, 2008

Also screen names arent coming up so please sign your name on your post.

your loyal blogger
Get Griffey

Posted by

11:41 AM, Mar 17, 2008

N-n-nice article today, L-l-larry. Though, did you really have to mention Kaz Matsui's injury so specifically? Some of us are trying to have lunch, here. Steak taco isn't looking so good at the moment.

And is Geoff out b/c he's darkening the webmaster's door? First the weird error messages when sucessfully posting, now no screen names... and the "changes in the coming months" for moderation appear to be nowhere in sight. Whassupwitdat? The blog's content is great, but the site itself seems to be held together with duct tape...

- Chris from Bothell

Posted by

12:16 PM, Mar 17, 2008

Geoff is on assignment


Larry, is Geoff hunting down Bedard for an in-depth feature interview (six questions max, instead of four)?

Posted by

12:32 PM, Mar 17, 2008

Has anybody addressed the issue of batting two high strikeout guys back to back in the line up with Sexson and Wilkerson?

It seems like a good idea to bat Ibanez, Beltre, Wilkerson, and Sexson in the 3, 4, 5, 6 spots alternating the Lefties and Righties. But it just seems you could really kill off some rallies early in the game with Sexson and Wilkerson strike outs before the bullpen match ups start later in the game.

One idea would be not keep Ibanez in the 3 hole when facing a lefty starter....someone should let McLaren know Raul CAN NOT hit lefties.

Posted by

1:07 PM, Mar 17, 2008

I like Sexson in the 10 hole.

Posted by

1:13 PM, Mar 17, 2008

Interesting debate: Who should hit cleanup? Generally the cleanup hitter comes up with runners on base, and a high slugging percentage will bring those runners in.

2007 SLG with runners on base
.616 Wilkerson
.552 Ibanez
.464 Beltre
.400 Sexson

But if you are instead concerned about the pitcher on the mound, instead of situation:

2007 SLG vs. LH pitchers overall
.544 Beltre
.526 Wilkerson
.419 Sexson
.356 Ibanez

2007 SLG vs. RH pitchers overall
.528 Ibanez
.466 Beltre
.444 Wilkerson
.392 Sexson

So I would go with Beltre against LHers, Ibanez against RHers, unless you wanted to try out Wilkerson for a while and see if he is as "clutch" a hitter as his numbers seem to indicate.

-scrapiron

Posted by

1:24 PM, Mar 17, 2008

Rather than put the easy outs/empty batting average of Sexson, Wilkerson, and Vidro in the lineup, how about McLaren and Bavasi do something that will help the team.

CUT THEM

Let Clement bat DH, but Balentin in RF, move Ibanez to 1st, and put Morse in LF. Keep Reed around as a 4th outfielder and defense replacement.

The impact on the production is zero, but with a corresponding benefit to defense. (Yes, I know Balentin is shaky out there, but has anyone watched Wilkerson run and throw? He's done.)

BTW, interesting comments about the Rays from Bavasi in Sunday's NY Times. He clearly loves the team the Rays have. I love them too. But what I don't understand is how Bavasi can love the Rays' rookies but still assemble a team of broken down vets for the Mariners.

Posted by

1:35 PM, Mar 17, 2008

Man, I wish the names would show up so I know who I'm responding to.

You never cut anyone unless you are sure you will get no field production from them, like Ho-Ram as a long reliever. Rushing minor leaguers up before they're ready produces a last place finish, like the aformentioned Tampa Bay Rays.

Smart organizations let players develop in the minors and bring them up when they are ready.

Clement's bat is major league ready, but his defense isn't. Bringing him up to DH means you are giving up any chance that he could develop into your regular catcher down the line. With Johjima a free agent next year, you want to give Clement one more year at Tacoma to see if he could be our starting catcher in 2009. If not, you'll need to re-sign Johjima.

Balentien needs a little work on his defense, but mainly he needs to recapture his batting stroke he had last season at Tacoma. He fell apart in the Venezuelan league, so he'll need just a little more seasoning. He'll probably be ready by mid-season.

Patience, grasshopper. The Mariners are actually building up their depth chart, which is a good thing

-scrapiron

Posted by

1:43 PM, Mar 17, 2008

Lance says:

I love the fact that Mac has Yuni hitting #2 with Vidro at #3. Hope it's permanant. Followed by Raul, Adrian, Sexson, Johjima, Wilkerson and Lopez.

For a long time I've been beating the drum for Jose to hit #2. But, Yuni's just as well. He's becoming much more selective with his pitches. The turtle Vidro won't be as hurtful hitting #3. Think of them as 2a and 2b.

Yuni is much too good of a hitter to be hitting so low in the order. I still prefer Lopez' style better in the two hole, but Yuni should do a good job provided Mac is smart enough to keep him there.

Posted by

1:55 PM, Mar 17, 2008

Any guesses on which posts are AK(non)MarinerFans's? Just look for the dark cloud...

Ken

Posted by

2:14 PM, Mar 17, 2008

the "CUT THEM" post sounds like AKMsFan to me

Posted by

2:18 PM, Mar 17, 2008

LOL to Chris from Bothell,(about the Kaz stuff) good to see my hometown is contributing to the M's blogosphere.^_^

your loyal blogger
Get Griffey.

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