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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 27, 2008 7:57 PM

Signing off from Peoria

Posted by Geoff Baker

Lots of questions from all of you. I'll provide a handful of answers for you in this video, shot from our Seattle Times condominium in Peoria, Ariz. I'm packing the condo up as we speak, ready to fly back to the Emerald City first thing tomorrow morning. I'll spend the weekend preparing for the team's season-opener. The first two questions you'll see me answer on the video come from Lola and DR in the comments thread. Lola asks what it is about the Arizona air that would impact Erik Bedard as a pitcher and cause him to give up so many home runs this spring. Many of you have asked that question, as well as why someone like Randy Johnson could have success as a strikeout arm down here.

Two different things. Johnson is more of a power pitcher than Bedard. The pitchers most impacted down here are those who rely on a lot of movement to their pitches. A curveball guy like Bedard fits that description. The thing most impacted by the dry air is a pitcher's grip on the ball. If you can't grip it properly, or release it when you want, it's going to be tough to generate the movement needed.

DR's question was about whether Bedard gets along with his teammates in the clubhouse. Yes, he does. From what I've seen and the people I've talked to, he can be a very funny guy. He may not share any jokes with the media, or offer anything in regards to insight into what he does, but as far as any clubhouse problems, absolutely none. Let's clear that one up.

Many of you have asked me about R.A. Dickey. As I say in the video, I saw a report on a website citing an anonymous source that says the M's offered him back to the Minnesota Twins -- which they'd have to do if he wasn't going to make the roster, since he's a Rule 5 draft pick. I've heard nothing that confirms that. From what I've heard, the team is high on Dickey. They like the idea of having a rubber-armed long reliever, especially with the bullpen health concerns. John McLaren has compared Dickey to Tim Wakefield. Unless he's just blowing hot air, you keep Tim Wakefield if you think you've got him on your club. That's a no-brainer. Unless, as I've said, the Wakefield reference was mere hyperbole. If it was, then it probably should stop.

Hopefully, we can make these video Q&A's a regular feature as the season progresses. Looking forward to it.

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Posted by oregongal

8:15 PM, Mar 27, 2008

Thanks, Geoff. Hopefully we'll be done with the snow by the time you get north so it won't be quite as much of a shock to your system after AZ.

Posted by Bobby Ayala

8:28 PM, Mar 27, 2008

Thanks -- and I hope you're right about Dickey (and I'm pretty sure you are). I know it's just spring training, but I'm watching him pitch in SF on TV and he's looked mighty good. A mid 70's knuckler, 85mph fastball mixed in..

He can help this team out a lot, I think. Plus he had to make a spot start in my Mariner's franchise in MLB 2k8 and he threw a complete game shutout... so as per my video game playing skills, this guy also has a lot of upside :)

Posted by Nat

8:54 PM, Mar 27, 2008

Geoff: thanks for making ST accessible for those of us who can't get down there! I really appreciate the posts especially at this time of year when I'm getting antsy for baseball to start up.

Bobby, I agree that Dickey looks great through 4 innings - with a 6-0 lead! Overall, I feel very good about the pitching even if the bullpen isn't quite in place. Yuni just hit a home run! Hope the rest of the offense will step up to take advantage of the breaks the Angels have handed us in the next couple weeks.

Woohoo, four days til the opener! Dickey's back out there now, bottom of the 5th, really nice to see him in there. Iím excited, this upcoming week should be a lot of fun!

Posted by Maui Mariner

9:05 PM, Mar 27, 2008

I am listening to the San Fran game too. Heck, 5 innings of 1 hit ball Dickey would be starting for most clubs. We are looking so good with our rotation and the rest of the guys are starting to get cooking. That Yuni creep down the line and break for home was classic.
This is going to be a great season.
I am shooting for an August trip over to see a game.
Any rally fries again this year?
Let's go M's!

Posted by Maui Mariner

9:07 PM, Mar 27, 2008

Oh and Geoff, this has been the best Spring Trainig coverage ever.
Mahalo nui loa

Posted by Bobby Ayala

10:03 PM, Mar 27, 2008

I also want to thank you Geoff for this in-depth spring training coverage. I've always sort of followed the team during past springs, but with this blog you've taken it to a whole new level. I've never been so interested in who gets cut and who makes it before.

On that note, Ryan Roland-Smith with an impressive couple of innings. Gave up a couple fluke bloopers in the 7th, but struck out the side. That makes 14 innings pitched this spring, one 1 earned run? I know it's only spring, but I'll be glad to see him get a chance to pitch in games that matter this year... see what he can do. He's for Norm's endorsement as well, which is nice to hear. As a whole the bullpen won't be nearly as deep as last season, but with our starting depth -- I'm feeling pretty confident they won't be a liability.

... now if we can just score more than 3-4 runs a game, we're in buisness.

I can't wait 'till Monday!

(PS: Can anyone else not tell the difference between i's and r's on that captcha field when you post a comment? I never get it right on the first try.)

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

10:19 PM, Mar 27, 2008

Brandon Webb has great movement on his curve, change and fastball. I watched highlight clips of Webb on from last year at Arizona's dry air and his breaking stuff was filthy. Geoff has every right to his opinion, but Brandon Webb completely debunks the dry air theory.

Anyone watch the FSN interview by Bedard? Wow, night and day.

Posted by Maui Mariner

10:36 PM, Mar 27, 2008

Come on would you guys please get off of these Az air conditions.
The retractable dome is closed all of the time in the summer the conditions are completely different inside an air conditioned venue.
From their website
Since the air-conditioned facility first opened its doors to a regular-season game on March 31, 1998, nearly 15 million baseball fans have enjoyed the opportunity to watch the Arizona Diamondbacks without worrying about Phoenix's summer heat or monsoon storms.

Not same same as ST with no dome! I recall a game where it was 118 deg outside and 80 deg inside da dome. You can't tell me that that doesn't change the dynamics of ball movement.

Posted by Bavasi Rocks

10:58 PM, Mar 27, 2008

Bavasi looks like a genius picking up RA Dickey. After the way he threw tonight, there is absolutely no way he doesn't make the 25 man roster.

Posted by Donovan

11:07 PM, Mar 27, 2008

I also enjoyed watching Dickey do his thing tonight. Just what you expect from a knuckleballer on his game - a lot of pitches, but a lot of ugly swings, and very few well stuck balls. His fast ball is better than I expected - a lot better than Jaime Moyer's, and he can locate it. I can remember watching Phil Niekro pitch for Atlanta in the 80s. Career ERA of 3.35 - over 24 yrs! - and most of that for lousy teams.

Yuni's dinger and baserunning were great to see too, but I really appreciated that 4 pitch walk he drew late in the game. The 4th pitch was 3 feet over his head, but, hey, he didn't swing at it! I think Yuni could have a monster year this year if he can develop some judgment at the plate.

RRS and Green looked great in relief. Morrow's pitches were live, but his control isn't there. He will be fine, but he should start in AAA. I'm not nearly as worried about the bullpen as some out there. My only real concerns are about where the runs will come from.

Add my kudos to the chorus on the epic job covering ST Geoff (and Jose and Larry). I'm so ready for Monday. Got my tickets, got my wool shirt, got my parka. Not exactly my mental image of baseball weather, but I'll take it. A meaningful game in March! Can't wait.

Posted by Tacoma Rain

11:43 PM, Mar 27, 2008

You are right. Bedard is a girli-man. No way that Bedard could throw harder than some 40 year old has-been with a bad back....

Posted by Charles

12:21 AM, Mar 28, 2008

I was just watching Sportscenter and Tim Kurkjian believes the Mariners will win the AL West. Apparently, his position changed two days ago as the Angels might lose Escobar for the whole season. He also believes our offense is pretty good, but didn't elaborate on that aspect at all. My primary concern about this team is the distribution of hitting. Tonight is a prime example where burke and yuni have 4 of the total 7 hits of the whole team.

Posted by Greg K.

7:49 AM, Mar 28, 2008

Looks like the Elite 8 polls are up for the offseason fleece tourney bracket. Love this stuff!

Posted by Chris from Bothell

8:34 AM, Mar 28, 2008

Thanks for the great ST coverage, Geoff.

Can't wait to be done with the what-ifs and get to some real baseball. Work is precluding me from the annual tradition of freezing my butt off @ SafeCo for the opener, but sure will be nice to have a real game that counts on in the background.

Posted by Chuck

8:34 AM, Mar 28, 2008


Awsome spring training--thanks to you. I loved the videos, and the addition of your speaking videos is also an excellent addition.
I just don't get McLean. Maybe he's too close to the situation. Send Marrow to Tacoma to gain arm strength. Dickey has a rubber arm and can make up for the loss of Marrow. Keep the pinch hitter. Its a no brainer. I still don't think Cairo should make the team--just as a pinch runner, so Willie can be used earlier in the game. Seems like a wasted bench spot.

Posted by Chuck

8:40 AM, Mar 28, 2008

Sorry, misspelled Morrows name, Grrrrr

Posted by scrapiron

8:52 AM, Mar 28, 2008

USA Today Sports Weekly did their annual baseball predictions. Of the 10 writers, half predicted the Mariners would win the division (I'm assuming this went to press before the Angel injuries), 2 predicted the Mariners would win the A.L. Pennant, and Bob Nightengale predicted the Mariners would win the World Series.

So the Mariner love is starting to grow. Go M's!

Posted by Mascott

8:53 AM, Mar 28, 2008

What are they telling us when they state that a player is out of Options. Would you explain Options.

Posted by scrapiron

8:55 AM, Mar 28, 2008

On last night's FSN broadcast McLaren said that he is "strongly leaning" towards an 11-man pitching staff.

My guess is that Morrow isn't quite ready with his control so they send him to Tacoma for some rehab, and Greg Norton now get the final roster spot as a pinch hitter.

So Morse is in, Norton is in, Dickey is in, and Baek is put on waivers. I also think the Mariners will trade Reed for a AAA pitcher.

Posted by Charles

9:09 AM, Mar 28, 2008

Mascott-options are basically rights to move players to the Minor Leagues. Once a player is placed on a team's 40-man roster, he can be moved to the Minors through an optional assignment (option) without being exposed to the 29 other clubs. Each option covers one season. Players are limited to three such options. Such players must clear waivers before they can be sent down. In the case of certain talented youngsters, that is not an option teams would prefer. But looming deadlines means somebody must go.

Posted by moscowms

9:11 AM, Mar 28, 2008

Oh. And I've been saying BedarD this whole time. Bedar it is then. Those Canadiens, funny people. How about removing the last consonant from all the Mariners players: Bentancour, Sexso, Lope, Wilkerso, Ibane, Bloomquis, etc. They could wear berets instead of caps in the field, instead of hydroplane races we'd have red, green, and yellow hockey players. Etc, etc.

Posted by Lance

9:20 AM, Mar 28, 2008

Hey, it's snowing in Seattle!

I've got an idea. Let's change the schedule round, bring in the Cleveland Indians, and leave the roof to Safeco Field open.

I mean, just for a little payback.

Posted by Get Griffey

9:43 AM, Mar 28, 2008

Geoff about the Arizona air, and why the Diamondbacks arenít affected, I seem to remember something I saw on TV where a team kept a machine to store their balls in. This machine kept them at a curtain temperature, air pressure, and humidity until they were used in the games. I really canít remember who it was, but even if it was another team do the Dbacks have something like this??

Posted by Lance

9:45 AM, Mar 28, 2008

As to the pitching staff, there's a very easy way to keep Dickey AND Cha Seuing Baek AND Greg Norton.

Brandon Morrow IS NOT RIGHT! He's either trying to tough it out and not coming clean about how he's feeling, or he's tiring already due to pitching as a starter during the winter.

Brandon should be DLed for 15 days before he does some real damage to that arm, if he hasn't already. Either way, he's only going to hurt the team pitching as he is.

The team can still carry a six-man bullpen of Baek, Dickey, Green, Lowe, O'Flaherty, and Putz, allowing them to keep Norton as a LHed PH.

Let these starters show that they can put in seven-inning stints, as their history says they should! It's no longer a Weaver/Ramirez led(downward) rotation. Mac needs to come to that realization, and I'm not sure he has yet. Dickey alone, with that knuckleball, is worth two guys in the pen. And, isn't that what picking him up was all about in the first place?

Then after Brandon cools that arm, let him be a starter in Tacoma. Lowe's seeming full comeback allowes them to do that. Otherwise, you're on the verge of ruining a very fine young pitcher for good!

Posted by Get Griffey

9:45 AM, Mar 28, 2008

I second the motion!

Posted by Get Griffey

9:48 AM, Mar 28, 2008

Bothe the one at 9:30 and most of 9:45

Posted by Lance

9:53 AM, Mar 28, 2008

G.G. The machine is a humidifier, and is used by the Colorado Rockies. It's like a wine cellar for baseballs.

Thing is, team aren't going to go to that expense for spring training. They'll know how to measure the "air" factor.

Posted by Lance

10:05 AM, Mar 28, 2008

Of course, my suggested bullpen leaves out Rowland-Smith. He's certainly deserving. And, it leaves only one lefty in the pen.

However, he may be more useful starting in AAA for backup. He can be our #6 starter, which WILL be needed.

With his knuckleball, Dickey is essentially a lefty. That pitch doesn't know what side of the plate the hitter is standing on.

The only other option, short of letting Dickey go which is a bad idea, is to trade Baek and get what you can for him. Give a call to Pat Gillick. He loves acquiring ex-Mariners!

Posted by scrapiron

10:20 AM, Mar 28, 2008

Lance - You won't be able to trade Baek, since everyone in the league knows he's out of options. It's why established pitchers like Claudio Vargas and John Patterson were recently released with no return.

If McLaren didn't want to carry Norton we could go with a 12-man pitching staff, with Morrow being sent to AAA and carry both Baek and Dickey as injury insurance, but that isn't going to happen.

Posted by JDUB4UW

11:48 AM, Mar 28, 2008

This is why we should've drafted Lincecum when we had the chance. Morrow was injured when we drafted him...

Posted by Frankie

12:10 PM, Mar 28, 2008

3 days!!!!!!


Posted by Lance

12:20 PM, Mar 28, 2008

Scrapiron - I never said they could get a lot for him, but with so little pitching out there if a team thinks Baek can help them they'll be willing to give something for him.

Because, although he's on waivers it doesn't mean another team won't claim him before he gets to another team that wants him. The only way a team can be sure to acquire him is to trade for him BEFORE he is waived and claimed.

It all depends on what the market is for Baek right now. I'm sure Bavasi is working the phones to see what he can get for anyone they have to let go of, including Dickey. He, too, could simply be traded. He doesn't HAVE to go back to Minnesota.

Posted by scottM

1:24 PM, Mar 28, 2008

Frankie's back!

I need advice for opening day. Should I hang a sign from the nosebleed section? One that says "Sir Erik" with enough room to add "K"s as he goes (hopefully one per nine innings):

Sir Erikkkkkkkkk.

Then, if I do hang the sign, what shall I add so I can also beg for Rally Fries?

(I was going to help GEOFF with his in-depth Bedar(d) feature, but since he has that one paragraph article well under control, this is the most important Mariner's item on my agenda today.)

Three more days!!!

Posted by ricofoy

1:28 PM, Mar 28, 2008

Yeah, good thing Bonehead and his minions drafted the durable Morrow because that pitching motion of Lincecum is an arm injury waiting to happen.

Posted by Jason

2:56 PM, Mar 28, 2008

Couple things to keep in mind when comparing AZ D-Backs pitchers...1. half way through the regular season, the monsoon hits the valley and actually is very humid. 2. When the air is especially dry early in the year, good starter will have the roof closed at Chase field. (See Curt Schilling)

Posted by Nat

4:15 PM, Mar 28, 2008

Lance, From the few hints McLaren has given over the last couple weeks I'm putting my money on both RRS and Dickey making it - with Baek gone, whether that means a trade ar waivers or ? That may mean a 12-man pitching staff but there's no way the FO is going to leave either Dickey or RRS off as well as they're both pitching!

Posted by tominator

9:58 AM, Apr 03, 2008

They closed the roof during Wednesday's game....what are the rules about opening/closing the roof at Safeco?

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