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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 5, 2008 9:34 AM

A modest beginning

Posted by Geoff Baker

Not to repeat myself, but it has been only four games since the regular season began. No, a 2-2 start is probably not what the Mariners envisioned, starting the regular season at home against Texas and then playing one game in Baltimore against one of that team's weaker starters in Steve Trachsel. But a lot of funny things have happened around the game the first four or five days. I'm not making excuses. Just telling it like it is. Ask the Detroit Tigers if they thought they'd be 0-4 to start the year, especially getting to feast off the Kansas City Royals at home the first few days. So, what do you think? Are the Tigers out of it already? Hmm, I would not make that bet.

I know, I know. The offense hasn't looked very good and the bullpen is a little shaky. Tell you what, if the same thing is happening a couple of weeks from now, it will be time to worry a bit. In the meantime, the Los Angeles Angels are not exactly running away with the AL West. The Mariners could even be in first place by the end of tonight. Their goal coming in here had to be to at least split, if not flat out win this series by taking three of four. Win tonight's game and there's a strong chance that will happen with Erik Bedard and Felix Hernandez going after that. The advantage of a staff with dual aces. The Angels don't have that right now, started replacement arm Dustin Moseley last night and got torched by Ben Broussard and the Texas Rangers. It's a long season folks. Strap yourselves in.

In the meantime, here's something to cheer you up. This is one of the funniest Mariners-related videos I've seen in a long time, submitted by Charles Armstrong, one of our regular readers. If you can't laugh at this, you seriously need to seek treatment. Especially after the winter we all endured arguing with one another back and forth. Enjoy it. Something for everyone.

If not, we can still talk about panic areas.


What is hurting the Mariners right now? As I said, it's still very early, but the team is clearly not getting the offensive production it needs from Raul Ibanez, Richie Sexson, Brad Wilkerson and Jose Vidro. It's that simple. When your No. 9 hitter is the most productive guy on the team, the offense is going to struggle. I blame a lot of last night's defeat of Cha Seung Baek for not getting the job done. Jarrod Washburn takes some of the heat for only going five innings at a time his team needs more. His lack of a true out-pitch cost him last night. But again, Washburn left with the score at only 3-2. A productive offense and decent bullpen should have allowed Seattle to come out on top, playing against what should be one of the worst teams in the American League.

Ibanez is 3-for-15 and hitting .200 with four total bases. Sexson is 3-for-14 and hitting .214 with seven total bases, four of those bases courtesy of his ninth-inning homer last night. Wilkerson is 1-for-12 and hitting .083 with one total base. Vidro is 2-for-15 and hitting .133 with five total bases.

Now, again, it's very early. A few hits tonight and Sexson will be at .300 for the year. Do not, I repeat, do not attempt to forecast anything based off these numbers. I'm just going to state a fact, so listen up. When a team's first baseman, left fielder, right fielder and designated hitter put up numbers like those, over any sample size of a couple of games or more, chances are the team will not get the results it wants. I suspect the Mariners wanted to be 3-1 after their first four games, not 2-2. Is it the end of the world? No, it is not. But the fact is, the four spots I just mentioned -- all power-hitting postions for most clubs -- need to produce more. And the thing is, they could all be hitting .300 with far more total bases by the time this series ends. But they cannot continue at this pace, obviously, for any prolonged stretch as a group without the consequences being serious.

Some of you have your opinions as to who will continue and who won't. I am not going to base any opinions off of what I've seen so far because it's too early. Have I mentioned that yet? But clearly, if we're going to look for reasons why the offense has sputtered at times, those four spots are the best place to start.

Want the good news? There are still six AL teams with equal or worse total bases numbers than Seattle has. Among them, the Tigers, Blue Jays and Yankees -- all expected to be playoff contenders this season. In other words, measuring a team's slugging ability at this stage is pointless. The Tigers have one of the most feared lineups, on paper at least, that we've seen in years.

ESPN and Fox Sports have tried to do some early-season power-rankings and are all over the map with them. Why? Because as I've said, it's tough to spot any real trends taking shape after four or five games. In Fox's case, after no games.

So, my best advice? Sit back, relax, try to enjoy the games and leave the chronic worrying for a couple of weeks down the road. Nothing has been sorted out yet. Again, I'm not making excuses for the underperformance of certain guys. But trust me, it's too early to get worked up about any of it, regardless of what Sexson, Vidro, Wilkerson and others did a year ago. Let's at least wait until this series ends, and see if we can spot any trends taking shape.

For now, try to enjoy the video.

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Posted by Adam

9:46 AM, Apr 05, 2008

I agree. It's only four games. I do expect Ibanez and, to a lesser degree, Wilkerson, to improve. The starts of Sexson and Vidro are not surprising, however.

Re: the Angels. Yes, they are only 3-2, but at least after one week, their replacements for Lackey and Escobar have performed well. After the Escobar news, I said the Mariners should hope to have a four or five-game lead coming out of April. So far, the Angels are hanging tough. If the Mariners are not in first by a few games when Lackey comes back, they will have missed their opportunity.

We'll see what happens as the month moves along.

Posted by Get Griffey

10:24 AM, Apr 05, 2008

Adam- I mostly agree, but isn't Dustin Moseley one of their replacements??

I mean the two 4 and 5 guys should be considered as such right? The opposite of the m’s they have put two men in the bottom of their rotation so shouldn’t they count as the replacements?

Posted by ethan

10:31 AM, Apr 05, 2008

washburn is going to have another 9-15 season. and the day the Angels lose..the Mariners lose.. I SEE so MUCH has changed from last year.

i watched the Angels game last night. they actually went into the locker room smiling with momentum and confidence having scored 6 in the ninth. whens the last time "momentum" and "confidence" were mentioned with the M's?

Posted by AKMarinersFan

10:40 AM, Apr 05, 2008

Yeah lets wait until August like last year before we start to worry. Getting rid of Vidro or Sexson has nothing to do with their (lack of) peformance this year (or in spring training). It is a continuation of what they didn't do last year. These guys are done, the fork is in, it is to cut bait and move on.

The funniest video? Geoff you need to get out more.

Posted by Kruse

10:58 AM, Apr 05, 2008

Did you read the blog entry Ethan? Geoff clearly states not to get worked up after 4 games. The Angels got shelled last night and just because you saw a couple of Angels smiling after their loss doesn't mean they are brimming with confidence. It means that you saw a couple of guys smiling and decided to turn it into an attack against the M's. Take those attacks backed with no facts somewhere else, they don't belong here.

Posted by K-Man

11:03 AM, Apr 05, 2008

"If you can't laugh at this, you seriously need to seek treatment." AKMF, go to rehab!

If someone pretends to be a Mariner Fan and fails, are they a bad actor or a Yankee Fan?

Continuation of 2007? All this whining after four games, and a Sexson HR? LOL! You crack me up!

Posted by Scott

11:20 AM, Apr 05, 2008

Watched the video. Not funny.

Posted by Lance

11:27 AM, Apr 05, 2008

No one will appreciate how much I hate the terms "a bit" or "a little bit"!

People should say what they mean and stick by it and quit trying to water it down with such phrases or don't say anything at all..

It's not just you, Geoff. It's EVERYBODY! And, I wish they'd just stop it. Just listen for it and you'll see how pronounced it is. Then, take it out and you'll see what said person is REALLY trying to say, but is afraid to just come out with it.

#1 culprit. John McLaren.

Posted by Full Count

11:30 AM, Apr 05, 2008

It's the same old crap we see every year for the past 4 years, high expectations for an average lineup, these guys never start well and they sure don't have the ability to play catch up not with a pant load of average contact hitters.

Lets hope they do get through this road trip with at least a split and no worse, so there not mental defeated when they come home. Next weekend will tell fans how much these guys want to be Division Champs

Posted by M's Fan in Oahu

11:32 AM, Apr 05, 2008

Ok the video was funny...clearly sarcasm is a trait many people on this forum do not share. The optomistic journalist vs. the black and white statistician...both being told off by a computer. I was a bit surprised Mac started Wilkerson last night though. I can only hope the offense picks up a little bit but what I have seen from Yuni has been pretty nice. We all know Raul is capable of numbers. I still dont get a good feeling from Vidro as the DH. Just not sure thats going to pan out as a big run producer. Granted he isnt going to hit 20+ homers but I cant even fathom 80+ RBIs from him. So does anyone think there is anything to Sexson having more patience at the plate? Is it going to help him out or just prolong the agony since the strikeout will take longer...lol

Posted by Mariner PR Dept

11:43 AM, Apr 05, 2008

"Especially after the winter we all endured arguing with one another back and forth"

Ha, the joke's on you Geoff. Adam and Mr. X are the same person. OregonGal is Cubbie in drag (where is Cubbie?). We all take turns on the ledge as Frankie. AKMariner'sFan really works in a Fairbanks neighborhood as a Mr. Rogers impersonator. This is all a carefully orchestrated plot to stir up fan interest in the team. There are no bloggers. All these posts come from us.

Posted by scottM

11:46 AM, Apr 05, 2008

Watched the video. Funny, but no oscars for the acting, except maybe to the computer.

Posted by oregongal

11:59 AM, Apr 05, 2008

Riiiiiiiight!

Posted by cesame

12:06 PM, Apr 05, 2008

The difference between Seattle's offense and the Tigers, Blue Jays and Yankees offenses are those teams have players that are expected to bounce back and have good years offensively. Seattle doesn't. The whole "it's early" thing doesn't work for this offense. They're doing what most people expected them to do. The crappyness from Sexson and Wilkerson is just a continuation from last year. It should be no surprise to anybody.

I wish people would start looking at why the M's offense is struggling and not just write it off as "it's early". There's just no reason to believe either will bounce back. More power to them if they do, and I hope they do because it obviously makes Seattle better, but I would only give them to the middle of May at best to figure it out.

Posted by Lenny Randle's Breath

12:15 PM, Apr 05, 2008

Geoff, It's crazy that you even have to mention that it's only 4 games.

The Mariners are a terrific baseball team. Period. Now either be a fan or work to get into the front office so you can put your "magic" to work.

GO MARINERS!!!!

Posted by PayClayBennett

12:17 PM, Apr 05, 2008

McLaren is lost - saw his post game last night and he's clueless.

Posted by Bobby Ayala

12:28 PM, Apr 05, 2008

So RA Dickey got roughed up in his first start in AAA.... I feel like I should say something sarcastic about 'sticking a fork in him' because he had one bad start.

I'm not too worried, yet. Well -- I'm a little bit worried about Sexon (thanks USS Mariner and your stupid pitch-by-pitch graphs) because his at bats have not really looked good. I'm worried about Vidro for the same reasons - he hasn't looked good out there. Ibanez will get his hits and RBI's... and I'm willing to give Wilky more than four games to see what he is capable of. Either way, this team isn't doomed. Give it a month and see what happens.

(And free Dickey!)

Posted by DustininCorvallis

12:40 PM, Apr 05, 2008

It's true ... Jeff Weaver's hair WAS sub-optimal ...

Posted by Get Griffey

12:54 PM, Apr 05, 2008

LOL

Posted by Get Griffey

12:56 PM, Apr 05, 2008

its true EVERY thing about him was sub-optimal.lol
Nice vid!!!

Posted by marinersbrian

1:30 PM, Apr 05, 2008

To play hypothetical manager, I'd suggest using Mike Morse more. If Sexson doesn't get going (yes- last night was a good start) I'd consider moving Wikerson to 1st and use Morse in RF.

Just an idea- but if Morse does not get some solid pt, that great start he got in spring training will be a distant memory.

Let's now take the next 3 against the O's.

Posted by Maui Mariner

2:21 PM, Apr 05, 2008

Geoff, great video.

oregongal, good response.

Let's Go M's. Time to pull away. The Angels really looked clueless against the Rangers for Pete's sake and at least the M's held them to way less runs for the whole series.

Posted by fortheloveofsexson

2:27 PM, Apr 05, 2008

Geoff -- will you please get real. There is no reason on god's green earth that any manager with half a brain and a commitment to winning would continue to play Sexson, let alone bat him fourth. I don't care about the HR last night. It was garbage time and anybody formerly talented major league player as big as Sexson is, and who swings as big and hard as he does, is going to strike out a high percentage of his at bats, and will accidentally hit one out every once in a while. It will make me sick if McLaren uses that HR as continued excuse to keep playing Sexson.

Fans -- what would you think about starting a movement to boycott games -- in the stands and on tv, until Sexson is benched? Seriously, I think the majority of us have had it with rooting for a team that has a manager that is so stupid as to be marching Sexson out there game after game. The only we can do at this point is talk with our feet and walk.

By the way folks, Sexson seems like a nice guy and I have nothing against him personally. I'm just a fan who commits time and emotions to a team and can't stand to see it fighting for wins without a near automatic out in the lineup and at clean up to boot. I note, too, that Sexon's defense has sucked this year.

Posted by Ronald Haggis

2:28 PM, Apr 05, 2008

The video was funny.. got a couple chuckles out of it..

Im not about to start drawing conclusions after 4 games.. that group of Ibanez, Wilkerson, Sexson, Vidro better start doing something... even if it's only two of them, we cant have all four looking this bad..

I think Ibanez will be alright.. and it would be nice if someone joined, preferably Richie, since i have little respect for the skillset Wilkerson brings.. and Vidro getting hot, will only equate to some more singles and walks.. Richie on the other hands could carry a team for a little bit if he can get his power stroke down. At least he's been drawing walks so far.. and he had a couple good swings yesterday resulted in XBHs..

As for McLaren. I dont like his attitude. He seems panic stricken in regards to the bullpen. Tell him to calm down Geoff, call up an extra pitcher, and we'll be fine. I dont know, he just seems really obsessed with finding roles for everyone in the pen, and now that JJ has went down, he seems lost as to how to set up the pen.

Posted by oregongal

2:43 PM, Apr 05, 2008

fortheloveof sexson--I applaud your sentiments and gave up on Sexson a long time ago, but I have too much fun watching select other members of the team. Besides, if I stop watching on tv, no one will know, since I'm not a Nielsen house. I don't advocate booing players when they're trying (which I think Richie is), but how about booing McLaren when he gets introduced? It's his decision when and where to play Sexson, so he's the one whose mind needs to be changed.

Posted by fortheloveofsexson

2:55 PM, Apr 05, 2008

Oregon Girl -- Really good idea. Leave big Richie alone but boo McLaren every chance we get. Perhaps fans attending the game can create signs that read -- "Fans, we are left with no choice: Boo McLaren until he benches Sexson." If we can get enough of these going game after game, maybe McLaren will get a clue.

Any fans willing to take this cause up and promote it so that we can create some momentum.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

3:28 PM, Apr 05, 2008

Going to a game specifically to actively boo not just a player, not just to boo a home team player, but to boo the manager... I... I...

...

Wow.

Posted by NB

3:29 PM, Apr 05, 2008

In their defense Chris, the manager IS an incompetent boob.

Posted by oregongal

3:46 PM, Apr 05, 2008

Well, I'm not a boo-er, but if you're going to do it, it makes sense to me to direct it properly. And we sure as heck know booing Sexson hurts his feelings.

Posted by FuKell

3:54 PM, Apr 05, 2008

First four games suggest a team failure-a stupid F.O, a dumb ass bavasi, an inexperience skipper, a shitty offense, and an unsteady bullpen even when JJ back and he's going to struggle this season. At least, I still can go to the game watch Erik and Felix and leave after 6 or 7 innings. hahaha. and on this series, 4-0 Orioles hahaha j/k. 3-1....Orioles.
P.S. I hate the Angels because they are going to beat up on us again.

Posted by scrapiron

4:46 PM, Apr 05, 2008

Loved the video.

Jeff Weaver is sub-optimal.

I also noticed the fictional reporter was from the P-I, but was quoted saying "that's why they play the games." I seem to remember a certain real Times reporter saying the same thing...

Posted by Phil

7:52 PM, Apr 05, 2008

Loved the video! Wow, I'm guessing there isn't a lot of talent like that in Toronto. Hope to see more!

The game tonight sucked. It doesn't take long to get through May, so Richie better wake up. I still think the bullpen will be OK when JJ gets back. Meanwhile, pedestrian pitchers look like cy young winners against the Mariners. Better bring up Vlad quick.

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