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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 1:13 PM

Royals at Mariners: game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

stadium 024.jpg

Kansas City Royals (11-10):

9 David DeJesus (L) CF
13 Alberto Callaspo (S) 2B
4 Alex Gordon (L) 3B
11 Jose Guillen RF
16 Billy Butler DH
24 Mark Teahen (L) LF
7 Ross Gload (L) 1B
1 Tony Pena, Jr SS
12 Matt Tupman (L) C
55 Gil Meche RHP

Additional Pitchers:

45 Ron Mahay LHP
48 Joakim Soria RHP
27 Yasuhiko Yabuta RHP
66 Chin-Hui Tsao RHP
46 Leo Nunez RHP

Seattle Mariners (9-11-2):

13 Miguel Cairo SS
3 Jose Vidro (S) 1B
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
44 Richie Sexson DH
6 Brad Wilkerson RF
50 Wladimir Balentien CF
2 Kenji Johjima C
12 Mike Morse LF
23 Tug Hulett (L) 2B
45 Erik Bedard LHP

Additional Pitchers:

18 Ryan Rowland-Smith LHP
48 Roy Corcoran RHP
54 Sean Green RHP
57 Mark Lowe RHP

2:55 p.m.: Mike Morse finally made up for some of his recent bungling by driving a doulble to right center to bring hom Rob Johnson from second and end the day of onetime M's pitcher Gil Meche in the seventh. Morse did get thrown out by a big margin at home trying to score from second on a Tug Hulett single to center. The ball was bobbled somewhat, but waving Morse home was a poor decision. Now a 7-2 game heading into the eighth.

Was just in the clubhouse talking to Erik Bedard. He inisists he's had no troubles gripping the ball down here and that he's right on schedule for where he wants to be heading into the season. No problems, he says, other than the home runs. Says he'll only start to care about the long balls if they happen during the regular season. Wow. Maybe he can flip and switch on and off. Fans will have to hope that's the case.

My take? There is something going on down here that's causing all those balls to carry the way they are. Just because Bedard won't say so doesn't mean it's not so. We'll see once the games start to count. Until then, just hold your breath.

Sean Green did a great job in relief of Bedard, holding the Royals to just one walk over two innings.

2:28 p.m.: Erik Bedard is done for the day, having allowed seven runs (five earned) on nine hits over five innings. Of the nine hits, two were home runs and three were doubles. Sean Green is now on the mound. Mike Morse took a called third strike in the bottom of the fifth, by the way. Still a 7-1 game.

2:21 p.m.: The good news for Erik Bedard in the fifth inning? The two additional runs he gave up were unearned, thanks to a scorekeeping decision in which a laser shot that nearly de-cupped third baseman Adrian Beltre (not that he wears a cup to begin with) was ruled an error instead of a double down the left field line. Two more doubles later, the second one dropping in front of left fielder Mike Morse like a Raul Ibanez special, and it's now a 7-1 ballgame. Yikes. Well, at least Bedard lowered his ERA. Take that, cynics.

BTW, poor Morse hasn't done much to help his cause the last 18 hours or so, has he?

2:08 p.m.: Can't figure out the fans down here. They boo Richie Sexson for taking a breath, but then, in the fourth inning, they calmly ignore the fact that he had to settle for a single after drilling a ball off the left field fence. Sexson appeared to have hit a home run off Gil Meche to lead the inning off, but the ball dropped just before reaching the wall and skipped off it. Couldn't see if Sexson was doing the home run trot as he neared first, but for whatever reason, he wasn't going fast enough to try for two. Ball was hit hard, but you've got to be at second on a play like that. It cost Seattle big, since an ensuing grounder to second by Brad Wilkerson became a 4-6-3 double-play instead of a situation where the M's would have a guy on third with only one out. It's the little things like that which will cost you a season if they pile up.

2:04 p.m.: Erik Bedard did himself a favor in the fourth inning by getting the leadoff batter out on a fly ball to center. Got the next one as well. Matt Tupman then notched a single, but David DeJesus popped out to third to end the frame. Still a 5-1 game.

1:54 p.m.: Mariners made four straight outs in the bottom of the third. Tug Hulett struck out, but reached base on a wild pitch. To answer AK Mariners Fan from the comments thread (hopefully, I don't regret this), Gil Meche has also spent his entire career pitching spring training down in Arizona. Probably has learned to adjust a little bit. This is Erik Bedard's first spring outside of Florida. Or, if you think these homers are all a precursor of what's to come, get set to witness a pitcher yield 80 homers in a season for the first time.

1:48 p.m.: OK, so it's now a 5-1 game after Erik Bedard gave up another leadoff hit to begin the third inning, this time a single by Alberto Callaspo, followed by a home run from Jose Guillen. I'll say it again. There is something quirky going on with the Arizona air. There is no way Bedard gives up seven homers in 16 innings unless something is preventing him from getting the movement he needs on his pitches. Could be his grip. Or maybe the balls carry better down here. But to me, as I said, this looks like George Sherrill all over again. Not so much on the leadoff hits. Those are things Bedard can try to eliminate. But this home run parade won't be happening during the regular season. Far too much statistical evidence to the contrary over the course of Bedard's career.

1:40 p.m.: Seattle is on the board after the first three batters reached base in the bottom of the second. Richie Sexson walked, Brad Wilkerson singled to right and Wladimir Balentien added a single up the middle to make it 3-1. That's where the familiar problem of the M's failing to cash-in on chances decided to rematerialize. Kenji Johjima rapped into a 6-4-3 double play. With a runner at third, Mike Morse bounced out 5-3.

On Erik Bedard, I do think the Arizona air is causing some of his long ball problems. The guy allowed 19 home runs over 182 innings last season. This spring? Now at six home runs in only 15 frames. Off the top of my head, that equates to about 72 homers allowed over the same 182-inning season. Big difference.

1:30 p.m.: The second straight leadoff double yielded by Erik Bedard came back to haunt him in the second inning of what is now a 3-0 game, Royals in the lead. Mark Teahen laced a double down the left field line and would eventually score on a chopper fielded by third baseman Adrian Beltre. The throw home was close, but Teahen beat it. Bedard has now yielded 17 earned runs in just 15 innings pitched this spring. Bedard allowed another hit, a single, in the inning, but escaped a two-on, two-out jam by picking off Alex Gordon.

Jose Vidro, playing first base, did a nice job on that play. Gordon was hung up between first and second, but the runner at third, Tony Pena Jr., did his job by heading towards the plate. Had Pena scored before Gordon could be tagged, the run would have counted. But Vidro froze Pena in his tracks -- halfway to home -- by staring at him and cocking his arm. Instead of making a long throw, which may have allowed Pena to score or get back to third in time, Vidro ran across the diamond pumping his arm. Once close enough, he finally did throw the ball and Pena was easily tagged out in the rundown.

1:20 p.m.: Another inning pitched, another home run ball given up by Erik Bedard. We've seen this routine before. Like, all spring long. Bedard yielded a leadoff double down the left field line by David DeJesus and then, after a groundout, put a 2-2 pitch into Alex Gordon's wheelhouse and watched it vanish beyond the fence in left center. This is all very bizarre because Bedard does not have the reputation of a pitcher who gives up a lot of home runs. Wonder if this is like the troubles George Sherrill used to have in the thin and dry Arizona air? Used to give up bombs during spring training, then nothing once the regular season began.

Anyhow, it's 2-0 after an inning of play. The M's went down in order in their half of the first.

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Posted by AKMarinersFan

1:24 PM, Mar 21, 2008

And we have the dynamic duo of Cairo and Vidro at the top of the lineup. What does it say if Meche outpitches Bedard?

Posted by Doc

1:29 PM, Mar 21, 2008

It says it is spring training

Posted by AKMarinersFan

1:31 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Maybe Bedards problems have something to do with Morse not providing the right kind of Mojo.

Posted by scrapiron

1:34 PM, Mar 21, 2008

George Sherrill is also having a great spring this year, because he is in Florida. The Arizona air is death to breaking ball pitchers.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

1:44 PM, Mar 21, 2008

uh...Meche is a breaking ball pitcher

Posted by Jared

1:47 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Just heard Jose Guillen hit a HR off Bedard.. I cant beleive we let that guy go. Man.

Posted by Jared

1:49 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Even with this thin air you would think Bedard would have at least one decent outing. I know he wont pitch like this in the regular season but man they are really knocking his pitching.

Posted by Lance

1:52 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Don't look now, but Jake Woods is making an impressive charge to enter into the situation lefty race.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

1:55 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Yeah lets hope its the thin air cause this team mortgaged the future on him. Maybe Obama or Clinton could bail out the Mariners on the bad mortgage decision?

Posted by sunet

2:01 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Geoff, can you provide Bedard's pitch count and tell us what he's been throwing? Have most of his pitches been breaking balls? What's the velocity on the fastball? Is he throwing changeups at all? Does it look like his pitches are not moving? Would you ask him about his low number of recorded strikeouts?Thanks!

Posted by AKMarinersFan

2:06 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Geoff - You could be right. Or it could be there is something wrong with Bedard. Barry Zito anyone?

Posted by scrapiron

2:07 PM, Mar 21, 2008

I don't know how Bedard did in Spring Training last year, but he's always had poor Aprils in the regular season, then buckles down. He'll probably start out slowly this year too.

Last season Bedard ERA:
April 6.09
May 1.71
June 2.61
July 2.21
August 3.67

Posted by AKMarinersFan

2:08 PM, Mar 21, 2008

scrapiron - Bedard has always had great spring trainings. Someone posted his ST stats on here ar few days ago..

Posted by jujay

2:22 PM, Mar 21, 2008

If Sexson ca hit like he has been recently that will be a huge boost to the lineup. That gives some home amidst watching bedard this st

Posted by Mike

2:44 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Sherrill stunk it up in ST last year and this year was fine in Florida. Bedard throws a ton of curves and that is tough in Arizona. He'll be fine.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

2:51 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Geoff - Why the negativity regarding Morse? Don't we want the guys on the team (or hoping to make the team)

I understand that you think that us bloggers unfairly criticize some of the veteran players while at the same time give breaks to the younger players. I think most of us do it because the Mariners insistance of doing the opposite. Do we hear McLaren critize Sexson or Vidro through the media?

Posted by Chris from Bothell

2:57 PM, Mar 21, 2008

For what it's worth, according to

Peoria, 2:50pm, 11% humidity, calm, pressure 30.07 in, dew point 21 deg F.
Seattle, 2:50pm, 54% humidity, SW wind 7 mph, pressure 30.54 in, dew point 30 deg F.

Quirky Arizona air?

Posted by Chris from Bothell

3:01 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Scrap - Considering that the Ms season seems to depend more and more on taking advantage of a weak April schedule and the Angels missing 2/5th of their starting pitching for 6 weeks... I dunno, man, I really don't want to hear about Bedard having lousy Aprils. :) Or is this going to be the new mantra to replace "Sexson has always been a second-half hitter"? :)

Posted by jujay

3:03 PM, Mar 21, 2008

that should help Morse out....a 2 out RBI double while Cairo can't get it done with 2 down after Hullet hits. Its nice when the disparity is so clear

Posted by jujay

3:06 PM, Mar 21, 2008

nm, i thought Cairo got the chance to bat...that's what I get for relying on box scores.....still good for Morse though

Posted by Buschleaguer

3:08 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Bedard will be fine. I don't worry about it at all. He will dominate for us for many years to come. Scrapiron is absolutely correct - EriKkkkk is working on his breaking ball grip and feel and it just doesn't move down in the dry desert air. Wait till we get him up into the thick, Safeco field air and you'll be in for a treat.

AkM's fan: Give it a rest. At least give him till the middle of May before you proclaim the deal a complete waste.

Posted by Zach C

3:21 PM, Mar 21, 2008

I have to say our bullpen is looking really good, howbout RRS for the situational lefty, from what theyre saying his stuff is nasty...and if we have lowe in the 8th it wont matter no one can touch this guy when hes healthy, left or right

Posted by Walrus

3:41 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Why should AK give it a rest?
Yes, it is spring training, but is it really off limits to question if there is something wrong with Bedard?
Bedard has yet to be effective in an outing - let alone good. Maybe he is hurt. Maybe Bedard does not feel comfortable being a Mariner. Maybe he thinks Geoff and other media guys are being too hard on him - or focusing too much spotlight on him....

Posted by glmuskie

3:59 PM, Mar 21, 2008

If you put any stock in to spring training statistics, as many posters here do (and I do to a certain extent), then you gotta start wondering at this point if the M's pulled a fast one on Baltimore, trading them their second best outfield prospect for Erik B. Wladimir Balentien's putting up a better stat line than Adam Jones.

I don't expect Bedard to repeat or exceed his perfromance of last year, but I do expect him to be one of the best 3 or 4 lefty pitchers in the game. That's who he is. I'm as worried about Bedard's poor spring as I am about Ichiro's.

Posted by waaaahhhhh

4:03 PM, Mar 21, 2008

AK is a hater and requires fear mongering, negativity, and rants to keep him alive.
He cannot beat his wife or the random person on the street, so he feels compelled to blow up and essentially assult things he has no control over, and it makes him feel like he is a success, when in reality, he is just a guy with too much time on his hands, and cannot affect the outcome

it is spring training, none of this counts, dont be stupid

Posted by Tacoma Rain

4:06 PM, Mar 21, 2008

OK, for the record, when can we "officially" start to get worried about the Mariners NOT be the favorites to win the division any more, that Bedard is not as good as advertised, that Beltre's injury is not serious, that the M's defense is as bad as many here have written, and that the offense is as bad or worse than what many have also been complaining about here.
6 weeks, mid May, June, All-Star break,...what???
I would just like to know.

Posted by AKMarinersFAn

4:09 PM, Mar 21, 2008

glmuskie - Your argument seems a bit illogical. On one hand you stating that because of spring training stats you like Balentein. But on the other hand you discount Bedards spring training stats.

Posted by glmuskie

4:10 PM, Mar 21, 2008

Tacoma Rain - LOL!

I'll put the over/under at world series appearance.

Posted by AKMarinersFAn

4:12 PM, Mar 21, 2008

for the record...I have beaten several random people.on the street. So that totally blows that argument.

Posted by glmuskie

4:20 PM, Mar 21, 2008


My argument's internally consistent. If one gives weight to ST stats, then one should be worried about Bedard's performance. And, one might think that Balentien's a better prospect than Jones.

Bedard's poor ST performance could be due to him experimenting, or the air in AZ, or luck, or... that he's regressed as a pitcher. I think the latter is the *least* likely reason, because nothing in his career arc suggests it's likely.

As far as my opinion on Jones/Balentien... Most people would guess that 5 years from now, Jones will be a better player than Balentien. But it's a pretty close call. Balentien certainly has more raw power, and has shown a better batting eye.

Posted by Chip1010

6:37 PM, Mar 21, 2008

I love Wlad, but one spring training isn't going to make him a better prospect than Jones. (I know you're not saying that per se, glmuskie, but I'm just making a general point.) Wlad is good. Jones is better. Erik Bedard is fantastic when healthy. Mike Morse can't play defense and his bat isn't good enough for a corner spot in the bigs. All these conclusions are based on their career performances, which I trust a lot more than a few games in the spring when players are essentially practicing, tweaking, trying new things, etc.

You can more or less ignore spring training stats. Bedard, if he's not hurt, will be fine. Morse can be a solid pinch-hitter but not much more. Ichiro isn't a .100 hitter. Etc. We should be looking at age, career progression and track record to see who our best players are. Making decisions based on 60 at-bats or three starts would be completely misguided.

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