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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 20, 2008 4:48 PM

Looking at the No. 2 hole (again)

Posted by Geoff Baker

bunt 006.jpg

Up above, lefty starter Erik Bedard makes a throw to first during a bunt coverage drill taking place as I write this. Spoke with manager John McLaren not too long ago and he's going, as you know, with Jose lopez once again tonight in the No. 2 spot in the order. We talked a bit yesterday about why the M's would be experimenting with No. 2 hitters this spring, one of which being the team would need somebody to take Jose Vidro's spot if he:

a) struggles
b) gets too close to his 2009 vesting option kicking in while putting up mediocre numbers

Well, McLaren presented a third option this afternoon and I can't disagree with it.

bunt 008.jpg

McLaren wants to look at others in the No. 2 hole because he wants the option of using the switch-hitting Vidro further back in the order if a lineup contains too many righty hitters in a row. That was a problem at times last season, when McLaren said his lineups would sometimes have five consecutive right handed bats. So, if the team has some other No. 2 hitters it's comfortable with, then Vidro could be bumped further back to break up a string of righties on any particular night.

Now, this doesn't rule out the other two reasons we talked about yesterday. The M's would be foolish not to have a contingency plan if Vidro struggles, especially given his contract and the vesting option. So, that's part of it. But this also makes sense.

McLaren was asked for his thoughts about having too many strikeout-prone hitters in a row in any lineup. He more or less admitted that it's a problem for this team no matter who hits where.

"We've got a lot of hitters that mirror each other,'' he said. "They're slashers.''

That said, McLaren does feel his team is chasing fewer bad pitches this spring than before. McLaren handed out sheets to his players about two weeks ago, highlighting their tendencies at the plate. Some of them were embarassing -- like Jose Lopez being only 1-for-12 (with nine walks) with a 3-1 count. The idea was for players to recognize their shortcomings and take steps to correct them.

In other news, Brandon Morrow should throw in a game on Sunday, if his final bullpen goes well tomorrow. McLaren feels Morrow is still on schedule to open the season on March 31. Willie Bloomquist will also likely play on Sunday, returning from that tight quad problem.

Jeff Clement was 3-for-3 today with a homer, a double and four RBI for Class AAA Tacoma, beating Oklahoma 9-3...If the team is going to trade Clement (whoops, excuse me, I meant to say Jeremy Reed. Clement isn't going to be traded. Nix that. Too much sun for me today), it should do so soon. Reed doesn't need more AAA ball and really doesn't fit much into Seattle's plans. I do like the Padres as trade partners because they have a real need. Good chance of getting a half-decent return in a situation like that.

Pitching for the Royals tomorrow, against the M's? Gil Meche. Heard of him?

Hey, lookie here. An Adam Jones sighting, right on the front page of ESPN.com.

Here are tonight's starting lineups. Richie Sexson is still sore, so he sits.


Seattle Mariners (9-11-1):

51 Ichiro Suzuki (L) CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez (L) LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
3 Jose Vidro (S) 1B
6 Brad Wilkerson (L) RF
15 Jamie Burke C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
43 Miguel Batista RHP

Additional Pitchers:
41 R.A. Dickey RHP
48 Roy Corcoran RHP
49 Jake Woods LHP
59 Eric O'Flaherty LHP


San Diego Padres (10-9-1):

24 Brian Giles (L) RF
10 Tadahito Iguchi 2B
5 Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
23 Adrian Gonzalez (L) 1B
3 Khalil Greene SS
33 Jody Gerut (L) LF
12 Scott Hairston CF
28 Josh Bard C
57 Justin Germano RHP

Additional Pitchers:

21 Heath Bell RHP
41 Kevin Cameron RHP
51 Trevor Hoffman RHP
59 Jared Wells RHP

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Posted by AKMarinersFan

5:07 PM, Mar 20, 2008

I would like to see Vidro bat second myself...for the Angels.

Posted by MatthewAlan8

5:20 PM, Mar 20, 2008

Geoff,

About the Clement trade thing. Has there been talks of him being traded? I really hope they hold on to him because he is such a good hitter and I hope to see him develop behind the plate. Not to mention he could be the left-handed bat that we have been looking for.

I am afraid of trading him for fear of what we would get back. I don't see us getting anything more than a utility player or a relief pitcher or two. I just don't think it is worth it.

Posted by Matt W

5:37 PM, Mar 20, 2008

On trading Clement - he is a left hand power bat in Safeco; Raul is not getting younger; potentially he is a catcher - Joh may not be here next year; Vidro is hitting at DH, Sexson is at 1B, he is cheap and under team control. Maybe his numbers at AAA are deceptive and the Ms should sell while the going is good, but to an outsider like me it is difficult to see how he should he not fit into this team's plans.

Posted by Get Griffey

5:38 PM, Mar 20, 2008

What happened Geoff??? Last I heard we were planning on Clement to be the catcher (or DH) in the coming years, has the FO made any comments that changed that?

Posted by Nat

6:09 PM, Mar 20, 2008

The article from the link on Adam Jones made me happy for him -but also sad at the same time. The Orioles FO has apparently embraced him this season - unlike the half-hearted and frustrating atttitude of the M's FO toward him last season, in particular, their unwillingness to 1) bring him up to the majors and 2) play him regularly when he did come. Don't anybody get upset now, THIS IS NOT ANOTHER COMMENT ON THE JONES-BEDARD TRADE! I understand Jones was probably the best and only puzzle piece from the M's roster that would assure that trade. I get it. It's the lack of and need for a FO that can evaluate talent properly and in a timely manner that really irks me.

And thanks Geoff for your hard work on our behalf - especially your thoughtful and critical comments since you returned from your vacation. Your posts have been highly astute IMO. Maybe you should take a break more often. Truth is, we all need a break to get refreshed and gain insight from time to time!

Posted by Big Wil

6:17 PM, Mar 20, 2008

I would love Yuni in the 2 hole if he can maintain strike zone discipline, which might take a couple years, but give him a shot. Lopez was GREAT in that role for the first half of '06. He's still our best hitter at going the other way...when he remembers how. Both of them should get major ABs there before the end of spring because Vidro is more valuable as a pinch hitter and moving part to break up the righties.

Another major issue I have is the possibility of giving Baek away for free OR him taking RR Smith's job and making the bullpen weaker. Simple answer, CUT CAIRO! I know he's a veteran and his $850k salary is guaranteed, but is it really responsible to let Baek (winning record as a MLB starter who I've seen shut down the Yankees) go for free or weaken the bullpen by sending RR Smith to Tacoma? Am I the only one who thinks this is CRAZY? Morse and Willie are my bench guys. Of course Burke too, but we're shooting ourselves in the foot if we keep Cairo. I hate Pedro Martinez, but I'm gonna quote him here, "Who the BLANK is Miguel Cairo?" And who decided he's speedy? I don't know a lot of guys in their mid 30's who are considered speedy. Did he save his legs by never starting for a team? Was his .240 batting average helpful in keeping his legs fresh? I'd rather pay $850k to someone not on my team than to either a) weaken the bullpen OR b) give Baek away for free and watch him become somebody's #3 or #4 starter.

Posted by jujay

6:26 PM, Mar 20, 2008

I'm still not completely sold on RRS, I didn't get the chance to see him pitch much last year, but when I did he was not impressive.... (that doesn't mean i like Cairo though)

Posted by scrapiron

6:29 PM, Mar 20, 2008

How about Reed to the Padres for Tony Clark? I like Clark off the bench better than Norton.

Posted by helpFelix

6:49 PM, Mar 20, 2008

My current worse nightmare?

Seattle cuts Baek, and the Angels grab him for NOTHING!

Baek is better than Moseley, and I would say that he's closer to Saunders. In fact, with Saunders late season troubles in 2007, and in the AL West...Baek "could" actually perform better than both Saunders and Moseley!!! Especially what he's done this Spring!

Mariners can't afford to cut Baek, especially considering the Angels current pitching situation!

Angels are drulling over what kind of SPs will be cut, AND better than Saunders/Moseley, so they can find a fillin for Lackey & Escobar thru May/June!!!

John Patterson was cut today, and that "might" be an option for them hoping he returns to 2005 form. BUT I personally gaurantee you that the Angels will grab Baek in a flippin heartbeat and pitch him thru May when Lackey returns!

That would be HORRIBLE if Baek went 11-2 thru May for the Angels...feasting off of the pathetic A's and Rangers!

HORRIBLE NIGHTMARE!

Posted by Brian

6:54 PM, Mar 20, 2008

Has anyone noticed that the FO seems to always make a late addition to the team at the end of spring training--Jason Ellison last year, a few years ago it was Wilson Valdez. Any ideas on this happening again?

What is the love affair with Cairo? Morse and Norton are more than enough to add versatility and to eat Cairo's salary doesn't really hurt anything in the big picture for what we are spending overall. A storn bullpen is vital to retaining a lead and would prefer to have Baek, Woods or Lowe as an extra reliever than to carry Cairo and prevent either Morse or Norton from making the team

Good suggestion for trading Reed for Tony Clark

Posted by infinitejestingone

6:56 PM, Mar 20, 2008

I don't know about anyone else, perhaps I am childish, but the title of this Blog is funny and gross at the same time. Seriously, somebody else had to think it was funny. Anyone?

Posted by markus

6:59 PM, Mar 20, 2008

Baek will get cut because he is young and 'unproven'. Cairo will stay because he's a vet and 'has been through the wars' even though he sucked going through the wars. It is a stupid philosophy that Bavasi/Mac have adopted to try and save their jobs at the expense of whatever future the team will have. The M's get the least out of their payroll because they don't understand that they can get the same/more from talented youngsters as they could from Vidro, Cairo, Ibanez in LF and I could go on.

Cairo sucks! Free Morse!

Posted by markus

7:00 PM, Mar 20, 2008

HaHa! If only we had a proctologist on the board to give advise on the two hole!!

Posted by infinitejestingone

7:07 PM, Mar 20, 2008

Perhaps the funniest thing about the title of the blog is "again". Man, I thought my humor would refine with age.

Posted by Nat

9:34 PM, Mar 20, 2008

Listening to Rizz and Bone just now as Bone was pretty much raving about Mike Morse and said it's almost a lock that he'll go North with the team. Until now I haven't taken time to watch any of the few ST games that have been televised. It's hard to get too excited about it yet but it does make me salivate for the beginning of the REAL games!

Stottlemyre brings such an authority to the game...while the coaches may not make a big difference, I can't wait to see how the pitchers respond over the course of the season to him. It doesn't strike me that he'll let anybody skate or fall into any bad habits. I'm as excited as anybody about this rotation, and that has as much to do with Mel being at the helm as anything. I think he probably commands the respect of the guys, not b/c he's so tough but b/c of the cred he brings to the game.

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