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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 21, 2008 3:54 PM

M's "flat'' in 8-3 loss

Posted by Geoff Baker

stadium 029.jpg

That's what manager John McLaren just called his team. Said they came out "flat'' and were never really in this game with the Kansas City Royals, taking an 8-3 loss. The game ended on an Oswaldo Navarro double-play ball after Seatte tacked on a run in the ninth. Mike Morse had a great at-bat in the inning, staying alive by fouling off numerous pitches before lining a single. So, his day ended better than it began.

But most of the post-game talk was about Erik Bedard.

"I thought Erik centered some balls,'' McLaren said. "An 0-2 count, he was trying to go in and he got it out over the plate. A change-up on Guillen, he got it up and he hit it out. It didn't look like he had a lot of adrenaline to day to be honest with you.''

I asked McLaren whether he thought the dry air in Arizona was wreaking havoc with Bedard.

"I would think that would have a lot to do with it,'' he said.

Hear some of what McLaren said in this audio clip.

stadium 028.jpg

You can hear the sound in McLaren's voice. He's not too happy with his ballclub right now. As for me, I'm not all that concerned aqbout Bedard, as I've told you all day. Some parts of this offense are going to worry me if some trends down here continue. That's likely what's got him more worried than anything else. This team does have to do a better job of manufacturing runs. Didn't do that again today. Seattle swung its way out of some potentially big innings yet again.

We all know that Barry Bonds isn't coming here. But this is looking like a team in need of another bat. I would not be surprised to see the M's swing a trade of some sort prior to the season opener.

McLaren was asked whether he cared if Bedard was able to get a really solid start in before the end of spring.

"Not really,'' he said. "For your (media) benefit I would. It would make me feel better. But, like I said, veteran pitchers have ways of doing things. I've seen some real ugly numbers over the years from my veteran pitchers.''

McLaren added that his club was "working out some issues, here and there, with all our pitchers and catchers. We're getting everybody on the same page.''

To conclude, he really doesn't have a good feel yet for what Bedard is all about.

"I think it's really hard in spring training to get a feel for pitchers,'' he said. "In Arizona, it's really hard. You've got so many elements here, we've talked about them.''

That's about all I'm going to write on this one. You read about it here all afternoon. Not much going on for the M's today that will be worth remembering -- or carrying over -- when the season begins. Good thing it's only spring training because, exhibitions or not, this team just doesn't look entirely ready to go.


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Posted by Tacoma Rain

4:20 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Geoff,
You and Mac are right. The Arizona weather is to blame for Bedard's, Felix's, Morrow's and several M's pitchers problems.
That just illustrates HOW BAD the Mariners OFFENSE is, that they can not even use the weather advantages to actually LOOK like they have a DECENT offense....except for Morse...but of course Mac does not want him on the team because of his defense.
Oh, but the M's are the favorites to win the division.

Posted by Bellevue Rob

4:24 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Nick Johnson is looking good in DC. He can take over for Richie either this year when Richie fades, or next year when Richie is done.

Posted by Marysville

5:02 PM, Mar 21, 2008

What are the excuses going to be when they come to Seattle? Bedard has never pitched that close to a large body of salt water? Also, are the Mariners the slowest team in baseball? I was trying to think off the top of my head and it seems like we are by far. I am already getting upset about this season. Give me some cockiness, a winning attitude, some flair or fire. Anything to get me excited M's!

Posted by Nat

5:04 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Bellevue Rob, say Richie wasn't a problem at the moment - what or who do you think it would take to get Nick Johnson in a trade?

Posted by Ed Schrob

5:10 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Don't the other Cactus League teams have to play in Arizona? What kind of lame excuse is that, that the climate and conditions are having an adverse affect on the team? Johnny Mac is starting to remind me of George Bush: not all there and full of ridiculous platitudes.

I have high hopes for Bedard. He'll snap out of it and be a decent pitcher, but it is still far too much to give up for one player.

Posted by Win Now

5:16 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Stop making excuses. It's time to produce. If the weather is the reason, than why isn't it bothering Meche or other pitchers? ST is coming to a close. You've made your cuts. You have your major players. This is why Mac's upset. He's got his team and they're not producing. Geoff, there is no way the Ms will take the West w/o a professional bat. Sexson and Lopez are history. Vidro and Cairo are not the answers. Ms can't experiment anymore. They need to bring in run producers. Period.

Posted by Bluemick

5:34 PM, Mar 21, 2008

I don't know about the weather or the pitchers but WinNow has made a good point about Lopez. As much as I was impressed by the Yuni/Lopez combo in the field, he's just not hitting. Problem is: Remember how happy Vidro was when he got here to DH? First thing he said was how much better it would be not to have to play in the field. Which means if they use him at 2nd, he's an accident waiting to happen. Who do they use at second base?

Posted by The Masked Blogger

6:12 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Like Geoff says if Ichiro's stats don't matter why should Bedard's.

I seem to remember Sherrill having a terrible spring and then was grate last year, (I have also heard heís doing much better now that he's out of Arizona)

I know people are all concerned about our number one pitcher (or just want him to bomb so they can be "right" about the trade) but until the games matter itís all just practice.

Posted by Zach C

7:01 PM, Mar 21, 2008

we've been talking about how stagnant our offense could be all winter...its not a surprise and it won't be a surprise later on. The Ms don't need to be much better than last year, if at all, to win. But if our pitching doesn't live upto expectation, we have a problem...im not worried

Posted by skiba

7:19 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Geoff,
Does Bill Bavasi have it in him to pull off something big at this point? Where do you see the M's making a move. Its clear that they need another bat but will they make such a bold move as to supplant a veteran? It hasnt been their style for years. They let the veterans do what they want and struggle while doing it. A shake up would be nice to let everyone know that no ones job is safe and you have to produce. That is the attitude that a winning team has.

Posted by Bum Knee McGee

7:22 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Let's see we need: more speed
to plug the 2-hole
problem at 2B
another bat
break up the right'y in the line-up

How about Brian Roberts? He is still available right?

1. Roberts S 2B
2. Ichiro L CF
3. Beltre R 3B
4. Ibanez L LF
5. Johjima R C
6. Wilkerson L RF
7. Sexson R 1B
8. Vidro S DH
9. Betancourt R SS


Yes I know the Orioles would demand half of the farm, and it wouldn't get done for two months.
OK it's a pipe dream, but it's still fun to dream

Posted by nuin

7:53 PM, Mar 21, 2008

I blame the ball. If there was no ball in play when the Mariners pitch they wouldn't score. But they are still favourites to hand the torch in the AL basement.

Posted by skiba

8:53 PM, Mar 21, 2008

I actually think that this team would have been better off with Brian Roberts and Adam Jones on this team than Erik Bedard (his struggles notwithstanding; I think he'll have an excellent year). The defensive value added to the outfield would have been significant and the lineup would have considerable more pop than it does right now; not to mention a couple of guys who know how to watch a pitch once in a while. The problem with a team full of hackers is that the things that have happened the last two days will continue to happen. We will see an awful lot of double plays with the bases loaded this year.

Posted by Bellevue Rob

9:59 PM, Mar 21, 2008

The Nationals have to get rid of Johnson. They have Dimitry Young at first and no one wants to trade for him at his age and contract. Start with Jeremy Reed as bait. Nick Johnson brings three things we need, a reliable starter / back up for first base, a first baseman for next year, and some much needed LEFT HANDED POWER. Git'er done Bill.

Posted by faithful

10:13 PM, Mar 21, 2008

After watching the last few games here in Peoria I earnestly hope the oft heard comment that 'spring training records don't mean a thing' is true. If not, it's going to be along season in Seattle. The SPs are collectively 'terrible' . Bedard makes one wonder if we should have dumped Rameriz, and Sexson is completely out of synch. He has a lot more wrong with him than a 'sore shoulder'. You media types and Mac keep covering for him but he is 'toast'. The M's are stuck as no other team would want him, even for nothing. He can't be blamed for showing up since it means 14 mil. I'll guess he begins the year on the DL. There are some bright spots, Morse hitting, although his fieldng is a disaster; Green, JJ--but overall, this is not a contending team if they play beginning in April like they are playing in late March.

Posted by helpFelix

10:34 PM, Mar 21, 2008

I wanted Brian Roberts as part of the Bedard deal, even though it would mean dishing more players to the O's including Lopez!

Now that the Bonds things is CONFIRMED that he won't be a Mariner...How bout the Bring Back Griffey threads? :)

If Lopez doesn't pull his head out SOON, I say you run with Vidro @ 2B until he hurts himself! WHAT DID I JUST SAY?! Vidro on the DL by playing in more games than he should? Well heck, that would be one way of preventing his 2009 vested option...make him play @ 2B until he over does it. We then have a 300 BA switch hitting 2B for "awhile" that is a gap hitter.

Get Ibanez OFF the flippin field and in the DH spot AND platoon Ibanez's bat with Sexson's @ 1B!!! Bring in Griffey to DH and bring down Wlad to replace Ibanez in the field. When Ibanez isn't platooning with Sexson you put Ibanez in LF against LHBs, since LHB "usually" hit to RF anyways!

Nick Johnson would also be a decent platoon partner with Sexson in 2008!

Our SP has to "start" clicking SOON. Our offense too! It's getting a little close!

Posted by jujay

10:36 PM, Mar 21, 2008

How can Sexson be completely out of synch when he's hitting better than he has in a long time over the past week?

Posted by Bum Knee McGee

11:22 PM, Mar 21, 2008

I'd love to have Griffey back. I think most of the fans have forgiven him for holding the team hostage with his trade, but I don't think the higher ups in the FO have, and therein lies the problem.

Posted by David E

1:05 AM, Mar 22, 2008

Everybody - chill out. It's spring training, remember?

It means NOTHING.

The Devil Rays are in first in the Cactus League. The Red Sox are in last.

Media and fans both: chillll

Posted by DH Schmginsky

1:42 AM, Mar 22, 2008

David E, if it means nothing, then why does it have Mac's shorts in a twist?

Posted by Pete

2:01 AM, Mar 22, 2008

"Some parts of this offense are going to worry me if some trends down here continue."

Are the trends telling you that the offense is somewhere between below-average and downright sucky, like we knew going in?

"But this is looking like a team in need of another bat."

Um, yep. It needed another bat last year. It needed another bat in the offseason. It needs another bat now. And not just any old bat. An All-Star bat. A middle of the order power hitter. This has always been the case. This team has one of the most punchless, most pathetic 3-4-5 hitters in baseball. The only thing that made the offense average last year is that the surrounding hitters, especially the bottom of the order, were a bit better than average to make up for the sad middle of the order.

This offense is made up of three kinds of hitters:

1) Ichiro
2) Young, powerless hitters
3) Old, aching, powerless hitters on their last legs.

It's not a good offense, period. It was never going to be a good offense. If it finishes 8th or higher in the AL, I will eat the Mariners pillowcase I used to sleep on all through college. (Where is that thing, anyway?)

Posted by John

2:02 AM, Mar 22, 2008

Geoff,
You mention the team swinging a trade ... for whom? I agree with you that this team is short a bat, most obviously at first, second, and some might argue DH, although I'm not as down on Vidro as others. But, realistically, do you really see Seattle making a trade? Can you throw out some ideas. I do agree with you though. If this team wants to win they will have to have a better offense.

Posted by Pete

2:07 AM, Mar 22, 2008

Heck, make it 10th or higher. There are not five AL offenses worse than the Mariners'.

Posted by glmuskie

9:30 AM, Mar 22, 2008

Geoff,

Great blog, thanks for all your posts.

What McLaren is doing right now is the same thing Lou would often start doing at the end of spring training, IMHO. He's ratcheting up the intensity so that when the season starts, the players are in a focused and more competetive frame of mind. I'd imagine most managers are doing a similar sort of thing right now.. Getting their game face on, setting the tone for the start of the season, challenging their players.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:53 AM, Mar 22, 2008

I don't buy it Geoff. The Arizona Diamondbacks's ace Brandon Webb suffers no ill-effects of using his out pitch the breaking ball in the dry Arizona air. I grew up in Arizona and I can tell you this nonsense about dry air is myth. The Diamondbacks were ranked #4 in team ERA in the entire National League last year, #7 in the majors. The absurd notion that dry air is conducive to balls carrying out of the park just doesn't add up when looking at raw basic statistics. No excuses, Bedard is pitching horribly this spring.

Posted by robin

10:01 AM, Mar 22, 2008

Why did I come all the way from Seattle to see such a lackluster game? If Bedard is having trouble breathing dry air what will happen when he is in KC and the temp is 90 and the humidity 100%?

Posted by AKMarinersFan

4:32 PM, Mar 22, 2008

Resin - I don't buy the dry air either but the Diamondbacks play indoors in air conditioned stadium that has higher humidity.

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