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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 8:16 AM

Hernandez's turn now

Posted by Geoff Baker

A beautiful Tuesday morning kind of helps you forget about the snow and swirling winds we saw at the ballpark yesterday, doesn't it? One thing I haven't forgotten was how Erik Bedard battled and refused to get away from his game plan. I mean, one bad pitch to Josh Hamilton in that fifth inning, with a runner on second and one out, and we might be talking about a much different outcome for the left hander. It doesn't seem fair that one pitch, in which Bedard broke Hamilton's bat and induced the first of two lazy groundouts that ended the inning, could sway a verdict on a guy. But that's the way baseball works. That's why the team's coaching staff kept preaching the need for pitchers to focus on every single pitch last season.

Which brings us to Felix Hernandez.

Some of you have written in to ask what I've got against Hernandez. Absolutelty nothing. It's true, I did not pick him to show Cy Young Award form this season when we did our baseball special section "ballots'' in Sunday's paper. But I didn't exactly pick Hernandez to drive off a cliff either. The question was simple: whether I thought he could win a Cy Young. My answer, as of Sunday and right now, is no. Why is that, you ask? For the exact opposite reasons of what I saw from Bedard yesterday and Hernandez last season and in spring training. At age 22 (as of next week), I don't think he's gained the maturity, as of yet, to be able to get through games like we saw yesterday. I remember Hernandez melting down and making one or two catastrophic pitches in Toronto last season when an umpire was squeezing him.

I can remember him letting the elements throw him off his game as well.

I do still believe Hernandez, on raw talent alone, is capable of improving this season, maybe becoming a 15-game winner if things break right and lowering his earned run average a bit while tossing 200 innings for the first time. I just don't see him at Cy Young caliber yet.



A big reason might be pitch selection. Bedard, as we noted yesterday, refused to give in and change his location even when squeezed by umpire Jim Joyce. He did not let the Texas hitters get another crack at the outfield fence the way Michael Young did on his first inning homer.

I'm not sure if Hernandez has that type of mental discipline just yet.

I've seen Hernandez force too many pitches, which isn't the same thing. Seen him try to mix bad pitches in after equally bad ones. Do I blame him for it? Not entirely. His age isn't always going to be an excuse, not when he's entering his third full season. But the guy is still learning how to pitch. I've told you all before, it took Roy Halladay three full seasons to learn how to pitch properly and Hernandez is two years younger than he was at this stage of their careers and only now entering his third complete season.

So, no, I do not expect miracles. I do expect improvement. Hernandez isn't 15. He's going to be 22 and that's still an age where employers can expect improvement from their workers. Hernandez is in better physical shape than he was two years ago and that's a start. He's also a young father, like Halladay was, and that adds a certain maturity level to any guy (you'd hope).

But I look at Hernandez and how he conducts himself in the clubhouse and on the field and I still see a 22-year-old.

When I looked at Halladay back then, I saw a 30-year-old. Maybe a 35-year-old. In his fourth full season, Halladay won 19 games. In his fifth season, he won 22 and the Cy Young Award. Now, I know what you're going to say, that wins aren't everything and you're right. I'm just using it as a quick reference because those wins were legit. Halladay could have won 25 or 27 games that fifth year if not for his bullpen blowing some games and an umpire throwing him out of one contest in the first inning (against an easy-win Tampa Bay squad) because he threw inside at a hitter.

Umpires will get to a guy from time to time.

All of Halladay's numbers shot upwards in his fourth full season. The point I'm making is, on and off the field, his maturity level soared with him. Halladay used to do his share of joking around in his early 20s, trying to be one of the guys, maybe show off a little. His workout routine was there and he was in shape. But he did not live and breathe it every day the way he did later on. He did not yet devote every minute of each work day towards improving on the mound. He was young once just like Hernandez is now, despite being far more shy.

But something changed and Halladay was a different person from one year to the next.

What was it? He failed. Big-time. In his third full season in 2001, he struggled so badly that he was sent back down to Class A ball to reinvent his pitching routine and rebuild his psyche. What emerged was something far more dedicated, focused and honed-in -- not to mention pitching-smart -- than I've seen out of Hernandez yet. And I do think the fact Hernandez has yet to fail to the dramatic extent Halladay did has not forced him to change -- to grow up if you will -- as quickly as Halladay did.

So, when I say I don't see Hernandez as a Cy Young winner in 2008, I'm just calling it as I see it without the benefit of any games having been played. I'm not rooting for him to fail. If he is a Cy Young candidate, my prediction of the M's winning the AL West becomes just about carved in stone. So, we'll see.

But right now, I'm expecting subtle improvement as he learns to pitch. And if he goes out and one-hits the Rangers tonight, none of that thought process will change. I still want to see how far along he's come and whether he's consistent enough to make every pitch count -- like Bedard tried to do on Monday -- even when the day as a whole is clearly not going his way. Even when there isn't a "win'' at stake for his personal scorecard.

And come June or July, we'll see where we are with him and perhaps it will be time to re-evaluate. For now, the Mariners need a good performance from Hernandez tonight to improve to 2-0. As a contender in 2008, the M's have to win series like this against clubs like the Rangers.

I'll be on KJR 950 this morning at 9:15 on the Mitch in the Morning show if anyone wants to tune in. I'm sure we'll cover Hernandez, among other topics.

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Posted by NB

9:21 AM, Apr 01, 2008

Goeff I love this blog but the emphasis on consistency screams for a Firejoemorgan post. If only the Mariners can consistently be consistent with their consistency then maybe they can finally be consistent.

Posted by M

9:35 AM, Apr 01, 2008

Measuring a pitcher based on wins Geoff? Really?

Posted by scrapiron

9:51 AM, Apr 01, 2008

Geoff, the Mariners agree with you, which is why they went and acquired Bedard and ended the silly experiment of making a 21-year old pitcher their ace like last year.

Ballplayers typically enter their prime at age 25-26. Felix is a perfect #2 pitcher while he will show flashes of brilliance, but not the consistency to be a #1, nor should he be expected to. In 3 years you'll see him make a run at the Cy Young. Let's hope he's in a Mariner uniform while he does that.

Posted by jujay

10:13 AM, Apr 01, 2008

I think Felix has about a 50/50 chance of having a real break out year. I think it will come down to staying healthy and whether or not he can maintain composure when things go bad. Obviously he has filthy stuff to get the job done.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

10:32 AM, Apr 01, 2008

I thought when the M's picked up Bedard that Felix would be the second best starter. I am convinced that Felix is the better pitcher right now.

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

10:32 AM, Apr 01, 2008

I can't agree more about your analysis of Hernandez - lets just hope we can lock him up so we get to enjoy his future success.

Was it you geoff, or one of the sports writers at the times, who last year said that the true measurement of a team's strength and dominance is how long it takes them to secure their first sweep (of 3 or more games)? I believe last year it took the M's until almost June. It will speak volumes if Hernandez can deliver a W tonight, then Silva can do the same tomorrow.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:38 AM, Apr 01, 2008

I think your pitch selection comments are right on; all of King County knew when he was going to throw a fastball, last year.

But at the same time, that has as much or more to do with the coaching staff and catcher than it does with him. He's not just picking which pitches to throw on the spur of the moment, by himself. Unless the game isn't run from the catcher and from the bench as much as I think it is.

My point being, I'd like to think having Mel in there spotting trends and correcting him will produce vastly better results than Mr. "Teh internets say ur doing it wrong" Chaves.

Posted by Bruce

10:44 AM, Apr 01, 2008

I agree with the observations here. Felix, while a great talent, is not ready and does not have the maturity or the mental toughness to be a #1 starter. I think having Bedard is a catalyst in taking Felix to the next level. He's a solid pitcher that has the mental toughness and maturity (i.e. in control of his emotions) that Felix lacks and lets his pitching do the talking. Felix is very competitive and will be challenged, in a positive way, and will blossom this year. These two may be our version of the Unit and Schilling. We hope...

Posted by oregongal

10:49 AM, Apr 01, 2008

I can't believe I'm actually looking forward to Mariner pitching two nights in a row. Ah, it's a wonderful feeling. Unfortunately, I won't be able to watch the game, but I'll know Felix is out there.

I agree with Geoff's analysis of him and the thought that having Bedard around is going to help. There were some moments in the second half last season when he did buckle down and take care of business. I'm not expecting Cy Young, but I am expecting another big step forward. This is definitely the fun part.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:50 AM, Apr 01, 2008

AKMF - Felix > Bedard? Really? Just because Bedard threw too many pitches last night? Because he didn't go 7 innings like Santana did?

Santana: 7IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 8SO, 1HR. 2.57 ERA. 100 pitches

Bedard: 5IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 4BB, 5SO, 1HR, 1.80 ERA. 106 pitches

Bedard went 2 less innings, but gave up 1 less run, than Johan Santana. And it's pretty well-documented how much Bedard was getting squeezed last night.

Can you just change your display name to "Eeyore" and be done with it?

Posted by PRchef

10:54 AM, Apr 01, 2008

Felix will be just fine

Last year he dominated until he got injured and then got in that funk the rest of the season. Hopefully that was a good learning experience for him.

All the talk before the beginning of the year last season was of how good Felix looked, focused more mature,etc... He showed it in the first couple of games then the injury hit him. After that he was not able to recover and seemed like a different pitcher. Unfocused and not able to dominate. Almost like he was being brought down by the expectations from all the talk about KING FELIX.

If he looks in better shape than last year and more mature from life experiences he could get off to a better start. Mix that in with not having the weight of carrying the whole team on his shoulders for a full season, having the wisdom of Mel Stottlemyre to guide him and barring any major injuries, I think he will begin to show the upside of what should be a very bright future.

This should be a very good year for KING FELIX...

Posted by jujay

10:57 AM, Apr 01, 2008

While I won't go so far as to say felix is better than bedard, I think he has better stuff and will pass him in the near future. That is saying a lot about felix, not knocking bedard

Posted by AKMarinersFan

11:10 AM, Apr 01, 2008

Hey Chris - Nice reference to Santana because that means.....well nothing. Why are all the dumb guys Mariner FO office supporters?

Posted by Mint Husky

11:13 AM, Apr 01, 2008

Geoff, what's your deal with failure as a road to improvement? I've seen you write in the past about eating dirt and tasting failure - as recently as a post of yours on 3/11:

Many have far more life experience than a ballplayer in his 20s, who's yet to taste real failure, or the collapse of childood dreams...

I don't want to say you're asking for Hernandez to fail, but it's almost like you're saying he can't improve until the wheels come off first.

Posted by jujay

11:13 AM, Apr 01, 2008

FO office? calling other people dumb? and since when does thinking bedard is good mean supporting FO?

Posted by K-Man

11:19 AM, Apr 01, 2008

Who is better? Who cares? Felix and Bedard are as different as their handedness. Bedard is a shortarm lefty who relies on deception. He was great last night, considering Joyce's absurd calls. I hope Felix was watching as Bedard refused to "give in" to either the ump, the hitters or his own emotions. I really really like Bedard, short answers and all.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

11:34 AM, Apr 01, 2008

AKMF - If Santana is the premier pitcher in the game, and Bedard's line last night was fine, then Bedard is fine.

You still haven't given a reason why you think Felix > Bedard. I doubt you're going to, either.

Posted by scottM

11:41 AM, Apr 01, 2008

One of the more disconcerting aspects of last night's game were the two pathetic attempts by the M's at base stealing. Not even close.

Last year's third base coach, Carlos Garcia, was fired for a pattern of poor decisions in sending runners, so expecting improvement is not unreasonable. In other words, whomever was giving the steal signals last night (Sam Perlozza/Eddie Rodriguez/McLaren?????) should feel some heat, too.

I know McLaren wants to generate more steals, but trying to steal third with two outs and Wilkerson up was ludicrous.

Also, Mac needs to know who it is that he's having steal. Beltre--one of those thrown out--actually was last year's second best base-stealer. In 2007, he was caught stealing twice and succeeded 14 times. Lopez, however, was caught three times '07, and only stole two bases the entire season. (Hint: Maybe he's not the best player to send).

Last year, the M's stole 71 bases all season and were caught 29 times. Ichiro had over half of our SBs with 37. (He was caught 8 times) Except for Ichiro, and Beltre's 14 steals (being caught only twice), this '07 stat was anemic.

The aggressiveness is great, but MAC needs to be smart about who he is sending and when. Running the team out of innings is stupid.

On a positive note (hey, and some notes can be positive AKM'sFAN), last night's play-of-the-game was Beltre hustling down the line to beat out the throw to first and allowing our second run to score.

Posted by BavasiRocks

11:45 AM, Apr 01, 2008

It's obvious that there are some who are not supportive of the Bedard deal. Those who say that Bedard isn't the best pitcher on this team weren't watching last night's game, or Felix all last year. Bedard is a better "pitcher" than young Felix. Pitching is not just about stuff. It's also a mental approach. Bedard showed us how it's done last night, when he didn't have the best stuff and was getting squeezed. Yet he came out of it with 5 tough innings of 1 run ball. He's certainly the best pitcher on the team, when combining the mental toughness and approach with the physical ability.

Posted by oregongal

11:49 AM, Apr 01, 2008

Lopez went on his own last night, admitted it was a bad move, and said he learned a lesson from it. He'll probably get caught stealing again this season, but I suspect he'll wait for a sign the next time he tries.

I'm still hoping he'll turn it around and show us the talent he's got. All in all, yesterday was a good start.

Posted by Batter Up!!!

11:50 AM, Apr 01, 2008

I was at the game yesterday also; field level seats w/good line of sight on the batters from 3rd base side. I thought EB struggled early with a lot of his pitches low (especially after Young took him yard) and several in the dirt. Squeezed, yes, but a lot of the early pitch count was just him trying to get close. Thought he did a good job and settled in nicely under very adverse weather conditions.

If we are going to have to argue who our best starter is, I'm going to really enjoy this year.

Felix's Turn to show his stuff!

Go M's!

Posted by daddydriz

11:57 AM, Apr 01, 2008

Actually, scottM, there was only one out when Lopez tried to steal 3rd. In that respect it makes some sense--if you get a guy to 3rd with one out then a fly ball or grounder to the right side scores the runner. With the score at 3-1, every run was precious. What didn't make sense was to try the steal when a lefty (Ibanez) is at the plate. The catcher has a clear shot at 3rd. When a righty is batting the catcher doesn't have a good view and has to make the throw around the batter.

Posted by dfb

12:00 PM, Apr 01, 2008

The development of maturity is different for everyone and works differently as well. Halladay needed to fail but Felix may need something else. Sometimes it all just comes together, sometimes it never does, and it has nothing to do with coaching or environment or anything else, it just a persons makeup. Felix has gotten better the last couple of years, there is no doubt. He may just need to keep at it for awhile. And it wasn't a failed experiment with him being the #1 guy last year. Sometimes you just have to go with the best you can because of circumstances. The Mariners did that last year and made tremendous improvement. Everyone is looking for an immediate fix, it rarely works that way.

Posted by Pete

12:06 PM, Apr 01, 2008

I don't care what anyone says. Felix is my favorite player. He is the present and future King.

Tonight, I envision a game much like last year's Fenway Park game. Cold, heavy air. Nasty two-seamers and hammer curveballs.

Screw maturity. Felix is the best pitcher on this staff. This year, he will make Bedard look silly more often than not.

Long live.

Posted by Nat

12:35 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Geoff: I agree with the gist of what you say about what it takes to become a Cy Young winner, but looking back at each of the CY winners from 2000=2007, I'd say they all brought the goods but wouldn't say each and every one of them hold up to the Halliday model. You have several ptichers in this list (below) who have not had to FAIL before they won it, neither did they all meet the criteria for being 100% "dedicated, focused, and honed in." Or even very mature necessarily. Remember Pedro Martinez knocking Don Zimmer on his butt and/or Roger Clemens throwing a broken bat at Mike Piazza? Not particularly mature if you ask me. I also believe it has a lot to do with a pitcher's makeup.

2000 Randy Johnson NL / Pedro Martinez AL
2001 Randy Johnson NL / Roger Clemens AL
2002 Randy Johnson NL / Barry Zito AL
2003 Eric Gagne NL / Roy Halliday AL
2004 Roger Clemens NL / Johan Santana AL
2005 Chris Carpenter NL / Bartolo Colon AL
2006 Brandon Webb NL / Johan Santana AL
2007 Jake Peavy NL / C.C. Sabathia AL

Not sure all these guys would or could live up to the Halliday model. I think it takes talent+++, lots of dedication and focus, being honed in, and maturity, but oviously allowing for individual differences in players - in other words, who's to say that horsing around in the clubhouse is going to mean a pitcher won't win a Cy Yound award?

Personally, I don't think Felix is going to win a CY award this year b/c I do think it will take another year or so for him to become more consistent. I hope he's not even thinking about the CY award this year, but concentrates on learning the finer nuances of pitching. With Mel here I think he may learn quickly. If Bedard stays around it should spur his motivation and focus as well. I'm really excited for tonight's game and thrilled to have such a great 1-2 pitching duo!

Posted by Get Griffey

12:54 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Chris from Bothell-"Eeyore"

That was just too perfect. lol

AK Mariners fan-"Why are all the dumb guys Mariner FO office supporters?"

Why do you think people who disagree with your argumentative posts are dumb?

Also, he wasn’t even supporting the FO so chill “Eeyore”. lol

Posted by scottM

1:24 PM, Apr 01, 2008

daddydriz. I checked the play-by-play. Wilkerson was up in the fourth with two outs when Beltre attempted to steal. It wasn't close. We ran ourselves out of that inning.

You're right about Lopez in the seventh. That was with one out. But again, he was out by several feet. Again, he only stole two bases all last season.

The point is to pick our spots better, AND with the right players. Lopez/Vidro/Sexson/Johjima/Ibanez are NOT the right players. In '07 they attempted a combined 9 total steals and were caught five of those times. Ichiro/Beltre/Yuni ARE the right players. Those three starters stole 56 bases and were caught 14 times. Wilkerson is a marginal base stealer (about like Yuni). In the last three seasons he's averaged 5 steals/year and was caught an avg of 4 times a year. Bottom line, this is a slow team, and our legitimate base stealing opportunities will be limited as a result.

Instilling more patience at the plate will go far further with this team than trying to pretend this is Whitey Herzog's St. Louis Cardinals small-ball W.S. team of 1985.

Posted by scrapiron

1:31 PM, Apr 01, 2008

The bottom line: Jeff Weaver or Horacio Ramirez gets "squeezed" by the umpire, they give up 8 runs in 5 innings.

Erik Bedard gets "squeezed" his pitch count accumulates, but he give up 1 run in 5 innings.

That's why he's an ace. Good pitchers overcome adversity and find a way to win when they don't have their best stuff. I hope Felix was taking notes.

Posted by couga

1:32 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Not only is felix better than bedard this season as well as last but batista might also be better. Bedard really stunk up the joint and was lucky as sin to escape with only one run. gift calls and bounces saved him from going 3ip 5 ER. Mean while, jones played spectacular Defense in CF something our OF is incapable of.

Posted by HelpFelix

1:32 PM, Apr 01, 2008

I personally liked the comparison numbers of Bedard/Santana last night! Now lets compare the 2007 AL Cy Young Sabathia #s last night to Bedard, and there isn’t any comparison…OUCH Sabathia & Buerhle! This is ONLY one game, but in my fantasy draft I had a choice in the 3rd round with either Sabathia or Bedard…I picked Bedard! Unfortunately, I also have Buerhle in my fantasy league.
I LOVE IT…All my life as a Mariner fan and in the past all fans have done is criticize M’s pitching day-in…with good reason…day-out throughout the entire regular season every year. NOW, we hear fans bickering about what pitcher is greater Bedard OR Felix! The way I look at it is we have 2 solid ACES on our staff, for the 1st time in Mariner history at this caliber. FINALLY a positive shift of scenery in pitching land for the M’s! It’s really meaningless to argue over who is better at this point, lets just enjoy this top duo as long as we can…and hopefully it will be for the next 6 years+
After watching the Rangers bullpen implode last night, Washington has got to be concerned with running Padilla out there tonight against Felix! Does the Rangers even have a closer? Guardado just gotten pounded in the last week of Spring Training worse than any other Closer! Washington last weekend was adamant to the public last weekend that he feels they can seriously win this division in 2008! I was watching Hamilton in 2007, and the guy is going to be a superstar “eventually”…if only we could of landed Hamilton for Baek?! I really can’t believe Cincy traded away Hamiliton with Griffey and Dunn coming up as FAs this next offseason. I think Cincy should of kept Hamilton and traded away JR. I think Kinsler is going to have a great year too, and I have both Kinsler & Hamilton on my fantasy team.
To address the running game & SB issue. If Mac is big on the running game, maybe the FO should of tried harder with landing Brian Roberts for 2B and sending Lopez back to the O’s?! Robert and Ichiro in the #1 & #2 spots would be killer!
Another option that would be CHEAP is land Juan Pierre and his 63 SBs in 2007 with a career BA of 280-290 and throw him in left field for defense & then speed on the basepaths. I read last night that LA Dodgers are trying to move him aggressively, and will probably pay half his salary for the next 3 years of his contract. That would be like getting Pierre for approximately $4-5M. The ONLY problem with that solution is that we need a BIG power LH hitter to add to our lineup…which we could very well have by July with Clement in our DH spot…and depending upon the Sexson issue have Ibanez either platooning or even replacing Sexson @ 1B.
This is the FIRST year that I can recall that the Mariners FO has a TON of positive directions to go. AND it’s the first year that I totally expect them to make the necessary adjustments in April/May/June & July to accommodate their needs AND position them for a division title even “if” it means adding additional payroll in the 1st half of 2008.

Posted by scrapiron

1:37 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Chris - you bring up a good point on Mel. One of the big knocks on Johjima was that he didn't always call a good game. I even found that it was one of the reason cited by Jamie Moyer when he accepted a trade to the Phillies.

Chaves was a little inexperienced to handle difficult situations larger than what he was used to. Mel won't have the same issues. I bet Mel sits down with Johjima before every game and goes over a gameplan on how to pitch every hitter in the opposing lineup and what to call with his pitching staff.

A side note that is understated is that not only will the pitching staff improve, I bet you'll find a much improved field general in Kenji this year as well. You won't see it with a veteran like Bedard, but tonight with Felix on the mound I bet you'll find a much better pitch selection.

Posted by OC Jeff

1:44 PM, Apr 01, 2008

I , too, would like to know more about who was calling for the steal of third by Lopez. It seemed to me that he was going on his own as McClaren didn't look to terribly happy with the result. I didn't think there was anything wrong with Beltre's attempted steal early on since he was one of the better stolen base guys last year. Any insight on this Jeff?

Posted by scrapiron

1:44 PM, Apr 01, 2008

OPTIMISTS:
The Mariners will NOT win 162 games
Erik Bedard is NOT better than Johan Santana

PESSIMISTS:
The 2008 Mariners would NOT be better off with Adam Jones in right field and Horacio Ramirez on the mound
Felix Hernandex is NOT better than Erik Bedard

Posted by Joof

1:56 PM, Apr 01, 2008

"AKMF - If Santana is the premier pitcher in the game, and Bedard's line last night was fine, then Bedard is fine."

Hmm, logically that doesn't follow. If Bedard posted a better line then Santana, you'd have an argument. However, right now, your argument is:

p1: Santana is the best pitcher in the league.
p2: Bedard posted a line that wasn't as good as Santana's.
C1: Bedard was fine.

You need something there to show Bedard was fine, besides the fact that he pitched worse then the best pitcher in baseball. If he posted a better line then Santana, you'd have a case. However nothing follows from your posting of lines other then the fact that Santana is better then Bedard. Otherwise, your assuming that everyone who pitches worse then Santana pitches fine, which we all know isn't true.

Also, for the conditional if->then you posted, you're assuming Bedard was fine to prove he was fine. That kind of circular logic doesn't work.

I agree with you that Bedard was fine last night, and that he was getting squeezed. Your argument just bugged me, probably since I'm pretty much taking a course on this right now, and my teacher jumps on people for jumping past things that need to be proven first.

Posted by jujay

1:59 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Joof- okay this isnt a logic course, it was pretty easy to understand that he was saying bedard was fine because his line was comparable to santanas, we dont want page long posts b/c people feel like they have to go through every step of logic, use your brain

Posted by oregongal

1:59 PM, Apr 01, 2008

From Larry Stone today about Lopez:

Now the Mariners are hoping for more of a sprint than a step. But not the sprint that stunned McLaren from his dugout vantage point in the seventh when Lopez, after his decisive double, took off for third and was thrown out on a dubious stolen-base attempt.

"I have no clue," McLaren said with a laugh. "I have to research this a little. I want to open the game a little bit, but that wasn't quite the situation I had in mind. I know where he's coming from. We talked about it. We do want to be aggressive, but not there."

Lesson learned.

"I like to play aggressive, but in that situation, I shouldn't go," Lopez said. "Raul was hitting. You have to let the best guy in the lineup hit. It's my fault. It's over. We won the game. I won't try again."

In the same article, Jose says he has the concentration this season that he lacked before. I hope so, I'm pretty sure this is his last chance. For all the good offense yesterday, his D wasn't. Hopefully, just Opening Day jitters. My fingers and toes are crossed for him.

Posted by oregongal

2:01 PM, Apr 01, 2008

OK, I screwed up the italics. Everything through Jose's quote is from the original article.

Posted by JJ

2:07 PM, Apr 01, 2008

His name is Geoff....not "Jeff" Yes, I think we're all wondering what exactly happened on that idiotic steal attempt by Lopez. Was that ALL him?? Or was Mac involved in that call?

Posted by Babu

2:07 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Hi Couga!

What Jones are you watching? I don't care if you like or don't like the Bedard trade, but it doesn't help your case if you fudge the facts. Jones had a so-so opening game with Baltimore. He went 0 for 3 at the plate with one strikeout. He had no errors and no assists in the field. No highlight reel plays. A workmanlike game for AJ, but no "spectacular defense." If you are going to make this argument, watch the game first! Babu in Baltimore

Posted by Chris from Bothell

2:14 PM, Apr 01, 2008

joof - yeah, i worded that pretty poorly. but jujay got what i was trying to say. :)

Posted by seattle's finest

2:31 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Geoff, are you familiar with the book "Mental ABC's of Pitching"? It just may be the perfect compliment to your post today. Perhaps you can pass a copy of the book (mentioned in the link below) onto Felix to help him 'pitch with a purpose'.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/01/opinion/01brooks.html?ex=1207713600&en=8a2b07c000b598ce&ei=5070&emc=eta1

go M's!

Posted by scottM

2:34 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Thanks for clarifying the info on Lopez's steal, OregonGal. He's been told to be more aggressive, and he was. I'm glad that he wasn't sent. Lopez, who has never been a base stealer, should restrict himself to when he gets a signal.

As for Beltre's attempted steal to second in the 4th inning, with two outs and Wilkerson up to bat, the risk didn't justify the upside. I wonder if he was sent, or went on his own.

The calculated risks of when and how the M's choose to be aggressive on the basepads does bear watching.

Posted by ethan

2:56 PM, Apr 01, 2008

how are we going to ride Morse's hot bat with him on the bench?

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

3:05 PM, Apr 01, 2008

I thought Bedard's control was horrible and he was constantly working in deep counts or behind.The only person Bedard was battling was himself. He relied heavily on the curveball yesterday. Erik used more fastballs last year overall, so if it becomes an early trend to throw more curveballs than fastballs, Bedard is going to break down. On a positive note, he only gave up one run and gave us 5 innings.

Wow, is it just me or is Felix Hernandez being held to a higher standard at 22 than Bedard? That's the tone I get from reading Geoff's post above regarding Felix.

Posted by jujay

3:07 PM, Apr 01, 2008

I was checkin out some other blogs and wanted to mention that the comments here are much more enlightened and mature, thanks everyone

Posted by oregongal

3:35 PM, Apr 01, 2008

I think the worst thing that's happened to our #2 pitcher was getting dubbed King Felix, although I know it was done with the best of intentions.

He was too young, in both pitching and maturity, to earn such a label. For Internet use, it would have been fine, but once it went to the mass media and fans picked up on it, I think it's given a false sense of what to expect of Felix. And I mean that from both the side of fans and from Felix's viewpoint.

Bringing in Bedard and demoting Felix to a Prince seems like a good thing to me and I expect he'll fight to get that King status back.

Posted by DrNaka

3:44 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Dear Geoff.
A question to you. It as reported that at ST the agent of Hernadez as at ST for contract extention. There as no follow up articles about it. Are the contract extention talkes on hold now?

Posted by Pete

3:45 PM, Apr 01, 2008

oregongal,

How can you demote the King? What is this, some sort of coup? Haha!

Felix is the King. I don't think the label has affected him whatsoever. He is a kid who has dominated at every level his whole life. He can't stand to lose and puts the expectation that he should dominate on his own shoulders, and would have done so with or without the label.

He's that good, and he knows it. Being called The King has nothing to do with it.

I'll see him tonight! Let's see if wearing three layers to combat the cold works -- two layers did not seem to help. Guess I'm a native NW wussy.

Posted by oregongal

3:51 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Pete, I knew there'd be some, uh, disagreement. Thanks for letting me off so lightly. Enjoy the game tonight, and may Felix rock.

Posted by jujay

3:51 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Sorry this has no point but i was looking at some transactions and found out a kid who was my backup at shortstop way back when played at UW and now plays AAA for the braves, funny life

Posted by joe

4:09 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Geoff, if your theory, being that failure is a road to success and maturity, then should we expect an Super Breakout year from JOSE LOPEZ? He fits all the criteria.
.
I hope so, I'm pulling for Lopey

Posted by GeoW

4:14 PM, Apr 01, 2008

RE: Lopez' steal attempt. I think McLaren really screwed up here. He should have covered for Lopez, implied that anyone, even Lopez, may take off at any moment. That way the M's could have gotten some little benefit from Jose's misguided steal attempt, and Jose could have avoided a public reprimand. McLarenstill has a lot to learn about the fine art of managing, including not hanging his players out to dry.

Posted by jujay

4:16 PM, Apr 01, 2008

he left himself out to dry when he ran for it, there's no need to cover for him, jose's an adult and he addressed it well himself

Posted by Zach C

4:26 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Resin- Im not sure how you came up with that argument after his first 5 innings. could you expand a little? I certainly don't mind a pitcher throwing their nasty stuff, and it seemed to me that he was throwing his fastball a lot anyway...does he really havto continue %fastball trends closely to have continued success? no room for a little deviance with his own disgression?

as for this felix vs bedard stuff...all ive seen is "felix is better"...huh?! hes good, but how many Ks did bedard have on felix? not that it really means "anything", but was felix bedard caliber last year?...no

Felix knows bedard is the better pitcher, and its going to be really beneficial as he tries to keep up, stride for stride. I like to think as though bedard is draggin felix up the pyrenees(I like to watch the tour de france...I said it), and eventually he will take on the mountain by himself...but not yet, maybe next year

Posted by Faceplant

4:53 PM, Apr 01, 2008

"I thought when the M's picked up Bedard that Felix would be the second best starter. I am convinced that Felix is the better pitcher right now."

Based on one game?

Bedards control (while subpar) wasn't horrible. He was forced to pitch to a ridiculously tight zone, and rather than give in and throw meatballs just to get a strike, he stayed on the corners. I don't fault Bedard for doing that.

Posted by Faceplant

4:56 PM, Apr 01, 2008

"While I won't go so far as to say felix is better than bedard, I think he has better stuff and will pass him in the near future. That is saying a lot about felix, not knocking bedard"


I agree. From a pure stuff perspective Hernandez has the edge, and I would bet will have the better career when all is said and done. But Bedard is still filthy.

Posted by Faceplant

4:59 PM, Apr 01, 2008

"The 2008 Mariners would NOT be better off with Adam Jones in right field and Horacio Ramirez on the mound".


Well, that isn't the only other choice available. That's like saying that if you oppose the Iraq war then you must wish Saddam was back in power.


Posted by Faceplant

5:13 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Resin,


"I thought Bedard's control was horrible and he was constantly working in deep counts or behind.The only person Bedard was battling was himself."

I was at the game, and I saw the replay on TV. Bedard was quite clearly fighting a miniscule strike zone. He chose to stick to the corners, rather than risk missing over the plate. I'd say it worked pretty well.

"He relied heavily on the curveball yesterday. Erik used more fastballs last year overall, so if it becomes an early trend to throw more curveballs than fastballs, Bedard is going to break down."


Erik Bedard threw 65% fastballs, and 22.3% curveballs in 2006. In 2007 (his best season by far) he threw 57.9% fastballs, and 34.2% curballs. In fact, he threw a higher percentage of curveballs last year than any other pitcher in baseball with over 100 IP.

Far from breaking down, his success is arguably directly tied to the use of his curveball at such a high percentage.

Basically what I'm saying is that Erik Bedard ALWAYS relies heavily on his curveball. Especially when the umpires strike zone takes away his ability to get ahead with the fastball. I'd much rather throw my best pitch over the middle of the plate, than get beat on my second best.

Posted by Faceplant

5:16 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Crap. Sorry Resin, I misunderstood what you wrote.

I wouldn't worry about Bedard throwing more Curveballs than fastballs over the course of the year. Bedard isn't crazy. He was adapting to the situation. I would probably expect him to be back around his levels from last year. Maybe even closer to his 2006 levels since the M's LOOOOOOVE to "establish the fastball".

Posted by Faceplant

5:17 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Man, am I the only person in here?


ECHO!

Posted by Faceplant

5:24 PM, Apr 01, 2008

echo...

Posted by ABCajones (formerly "FireBavasi"

5:28 PM, Apr 01, 2008

No, Faceplant, you are not alone. Some of us are just sitting quietly in the corner.
Keep talking!

Posted by Get Griffey

5:36 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Faceplant-
lol ^_^

Posted by drlo

5:51 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Geoff used the term "fail", but we're putting too much weight on semantics. The idea is that Felix needs to mature, mentally more than physically, to reach his potential. Who can argue with that? Failure, or maybe a more appropriate term is "adversity", can certainly be a catalyst in forcing one to consider the need to think and act in new ways. Bedard's performance yesterday should be a strong object lesson to Felix and others. Bedard didn't winge or whine, he didn't shrug his shoulders or stomp around the mound, he just went about his business in the face of some adversity. If Felix can learn that from Bedard, perhaps is doesn't need the extreme of "failure". But it doesn't make Geoff's point any less valid.

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?

Posted by Idiot

6:01 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 Faceplant

6:01 PM, Apr 01, 2008

"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?"


I'd go easy on Lopez for that play. From where I was sitting it looked like that ball would have been a much easier play for Sexson, but he instinctively broke toward the bag. Lopez needs to come up with that, but Sexson is at fault as well.

Posted by scrapiron

6:04 PM, Apr 01, 2008

Faceplant - If the Mariners did not trade for Bedard, then Jones would have been the right fielder and Horacio Ramirez would have been the fifth starter. That's why they gave Ramirez the contract offer, he was an insurance policy.

Comparing that to Iraq is quite a substantial difference, don't you think?

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