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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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April 1, 2008 5:16 PM

Happy Day Two

Posted by Larry Stone

Geoff is taking a well-deserved breather before starting the road travail in Baltimore on Friday, so Larry Stone here, back in the blogosphere.

I love Opening Day, but I've always liked the second day of the season even more. To me, it's when the season really begins, the day-to-day grind of it. All of the dilettantes and poseurs are gone -- in other words, the type of people who wouldn't frequent a hard-core baseball blog like this one. The real fans come out for Game 2. The attendance drops from 47,000 to about 20,000, the ones who are delighted to huddle in the cold. The media attendance drops by about the same percentage, which is very welcome as well, from a selfish standpoint.

McLaren talked before the game about his high hopes for Felix, whom he referred to as "Big Dog." Not quite as catchy as "King Felix," but it will do. Here's what he said when asked about Felix's growth off the field (say it out loud in your best Texas accent, and it's practically the same as one of Geoff's audio file)s:

"I think he is a good guy. He is a wonderful person. He likes to kid, have a good time. He has got a serious side to him, but also has light side where he lets his guard down and have fun with the guys.

"He reminds me of Freddy a whole lot. I say that with warm admiration, because I really thought a lot of Freddy. He was one of my favorites of all time. I hope he comes back (to the majors) at some time. I think Felix thinks very highly of Freddy also. He did a pretty good job for us time he was here."

Freddy, of course, is Freddy Garcia. There were rumblings of organizational concern over his partying ways while he was with the Mariners, but he was a front-line pitcher for a few years. I'd have to say, however, that Felix has the potential to leave Garcia in the dust, performance-wise. I believe I was the only Seattle Times writer to vote yes on the "Is Hernandez ready to compete for the Cy Young" question.

I just have a hunch that this will be his breakout year. I liked the way he handled himself in spring training. I believe Mel Stottlemyre will have a good influence on him. And I think that after two full seasons in the majors, his maturity and experience are at a point to coincide with his raw talent, which is when breakouts happen.

I'm really anxious to see what tonight brings.


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Posted by knuckler

5:55 PM, Apr 01, 2008

I really thought that Geoff' blog on last nights performance and the upcoming performance were very insightful. As somebody who was not completely sold on the big trade ( I like cheap home grown talent and building from the farm). I really believe the positives from EB's performance yesterday- ICE in his veins He is not the aceman he is the iceman. Think Felix can get a transfusion? Maybe the veterans on the starting and closing staff can rub off some attitude and composure on the kid. Maybe we will see tonight (if the plate umpire calls a small strike zone?)

First the ACE, Now the KING!

Posted by idiot

6:02 PM, Apr 01, 2008

If Adam Jones was still here, we could have just gone with two outfielders. You can't tell me that him and Ichiro couldn't cover all of the outfield, and we could have someone like Willie B play shallow and also part of the infield. Then we would just need a better defensive first baseman to catch all the extra We dont' need Bedard anyway when we have Felix the King and we could have gotten Cy Young winner Colon

Posted by Adam

6:10 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Felix has all the tools to be one of the top-five pitchers in the game.

A few days ago I talked about xFIP, a stat which attempts to remove defense, bullpen, and all other outside factors from the evaluation of a pitcher's performance. It accounts for home park AND normalizes for home runs (takes into account home parks and league average for HRs/FB).

Felix had a xFIP of 3.41, which was fourth-best among all starters in baseball (Bedard was first at 3.13). In other words, Felix was as good as anyone at doing what pitchers are supposed to do. Whether it was defense, bad luck, or what, Felix's ERA doesn't tell the story.

At 21, he's as good as anyone in the game. He needs to catch some breaks, and we will see pure domination from the King.

So, to disagree with Geoff, he IS ready to win a Cy Young.

Posted by scrapiron

6:10 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Felix has been quoted before as saying that Freddy Garcia is his idol. Heck, I'd be all for signing Freddy to a minor league contract, ala Bartolo Colon, to see if he could make a comeback.

But we all know that the FO detested Freddy and his party buddy Carlos Guillen for their off field antics. At least they got something (Morse,Reed,Olivo) in return for Freddy. They got nothing, I mean nothing, for Carlos Guillen. That was an outrage.

Posted by scrapiron

6:18 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Adam - Felix is a great example of where sabermetrics doesn't tell the story. Felix has stretches of greatness, but due to lack of focus, or bad pitch selection, has stretches of mediocrity. The numbers will normalize and say he is one of the best pitchers in baseball. Actually, he is the best pitcher in baseball, followed by an average inning or two.

To me it's all about knowledge accumulation. As he starts to gather a book on all the hitters and learns from his mistakes, he will continue to get better and better. My guess: One of the top-10 pitchers over the next couple of years, and it all comes together with a Cy Young award when he turns 25 in 3 years.

The good news is that Mel Stottlemyre as pitching coach and Erik Bedard raising the pitching expectations can only help to fast track his maturity and he could potentially evolve faster.

Posted by Chuck

6:30 PM, Apr 01, 2008

I think Mclaren stole the Big Dog nickname. That is the name given to Hargrove by Mike Morse his first rip to the bigs. Bedard did almost all that was asked of him yesterday. The only thing he didn't do was go 7 innings. That will come in the next couple outings. One run in 5 innings is nothing to sneeze at.

Posted by scottM

6:50 PM, Apr 01, 2008

from drlo: "By the way, does anyone else think that a little more defensive focus by Lopez might have kept Bedard's pitching line to one hit?"

It looked that way to me. It would have been a tough throw, but doable. Bedard seemed a touch discouraged for a batter or two afterwards. There was one other early play where Lopez seemed unfocused, too. His late game hitting (and the win) overshadowed this, though.

Posted by Batter Up!!!

7:12 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Stolen or not I like " The Big Dog!"

This kid is the KIng! I like him a lot!!!

Play Ball !!!!

Posted by Basker

9:01 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Way to keep your composure tonight King!

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