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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 8, 2008 6:34 AM

Time to try again

Posted by Geoff Baker

Well, that was fun wasn't it? I'm trying to get out of Baltimore as we speak. Continental Airlines doesn't seem to want to co-operate by getting its flights out on-time. Hey, what's an on-time flight in the airline industry these days? I think you have to buy a luxury upgrade for that one. The Mariners, fortunately for them, flew out last night and rid themselves of the karma they experienced here. At least, they hope.

A 2-5 start does not have them looking like a contending team. Yes, it's early. But it's also time to step up. No comfort zone this year. The team is expected to win. So, it's time for some folks to get uncomfortable and start delivering. It won't be as easy to do that at Tampa Bay as it's been in previous years. How often have you seen a headline like that regarding the Rays? They're disappointed to be at .500 after playing on the road against the Yankees and the O's team that just waxed Seattle. Uh-oh. Looking for "a fresh start" with tonight's home opener. Tampa Bay is loaded with talented young players, courtesy of all those high draft picks, and now have some pitching to go along with that. Seattle is fortunate in that it won't have to face the shelved Scott Kazmir, or second-year phenom James Shields, this time around. They will get a look at Matt Garza, acquired in the Delmon Young trade with the Twins, as well as Edwin Jackson -- he of multiple trade rumors with Seattle this past winter. Bullpen probably won't be as good as what the M's faced here in Baltimore. Not with Troy Percival closing and representing the Rays' best quest for stability in their relief corps. What year is this again?

Here's a look at one humorous take on some of the goings-on this first week. No, the M's do not come off looking very good.

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Posted by CMH

7:32 AM, Apr 08, 2008

Although many of our bloggers say spring training doesn't count, the M's looked really flat in the two weeks I was there in Peoria ... and don't look any better now. Regardless of how well the starting pitching may perform, the offense is generally weak. Scoring three runs per game isn't going to get the team to the playoffs. Regarding the ineptness of the umps calling balls and strikes, it's time for electronics to take over that portion of the game. Apparently MLB's "supervisory review" of these meatheads isn't having much effect.

Posted by Will

7:37 AM, Apr 08, 2008

The "humorous take" is absolutely hilarious...but sadly, it's also completely accurate.

Posted by Stevo in Oregon

7:49 AM, Apr 08, 2008

Geoff, good luck getting out of B-Town. That Page 2 article is hilarious, and right on the mark. And you wonder what's wrong with us Mariner fans. I'm glad it mentioned Jose Lopez' lack of range. It's been overlooked here on this blog. I mentioned it a few days ago. He's had at least three balls to his left that a quality second baseman gets to. I suggested Willie at 2nd in the late innings. Did everyone also get a look at this Page 2 funny on Team T-shirt rejects? It's great too.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=alwest/080407

Posted by markus

7:52 AM, Apr 08, 2008

It drives me mad to hear people wonder why the M's seem flat and without heart. The guys playing haven't had to earn a thing since they joined the club. Once the team identifies you as 'their guy' you don't have to do squat. It even starts with our younger guys. Ever notice that once we sign our arbitration eligible guys to long contracts they tank? Piniero first and now Lopez for example. It's in the fabric of this team, they will let you suck it up as long as you want because you've been there. I know it's the first week, and I know that the Tigers are worse off right now. But the Tigers have guys that can play and can only go up. Our guys are doing the same thing they've done for a while now. What hope is there that they CAN be better than they've been for a while now?

Posted by Jordan Spektor

7:58 AM, Apr 08, 2008

Geoff - Great find on that ESPN Page 2 article - that is sadly very funny. Bevasi is a complete loser.

Posted by mpowercc

7:59 AM, Apr 08, 2008

Yech. The Jose Mesa bit would be funnier if he weren't exactly the brand of "veteran presence" that the front office was scrounging for all last season.

Between J.J. going down, O'Flaherty's quick hook and McLaren's insistence that RRS doesn't exist, maybe we go get Mesa AND bring both Heathcliff Slocumb and Bobby Ayala out of retirement! What a veteran-y bullpen we'd have then!

Posted by Jordan Spektor

8:07 AM, Apr 08, 2008

Although it is too early to jump ship - I am honestly very very sketched out by our performances. This season reminds me completely of every mismanaged game Jonny Mac has managed since Grover quit. Somehow we lose all these close games and look horrible doing it. When you keep losing the way we do it comes down to managing and thats that.

Posted by Mike

8:48 AM, Apr 08, 2008

Well it is time to send a signal to the team...I know it is still early but Drop Wilkerson and bring up some attitude in Rhodes. There needs to be a decision made by Mac. Bat Morse everyday...Vidro and Sexson should be next if ??? This isn't apopularity contest and salaries shouldn't play a part in it also.

Get on a roll, it will carry them a long way.

Posted by K-Man

9:17 AM, Apr 08, 2008

C'mon, you guys, cheer up. One-run losses are part of the deal. It's not like we're getting blown out, because the rotation was fixed. I know, I know...they forgot to fix the offense. That's a problem, but I have a feeling that they'll do a bit of feasting off of TB and ANA pitching this week.

Posted by Choska

9:35 AM, Apr 08, 2008

K-Man, I appreciate your optimism but I don't understand it. We face Garza, Sonnanstine, Jackson, Weaver, Garland, Saunders, and Greinke over the next 7 games. Of those, only Saunders might be considered "easy."

Also, keep in mind that it is the Seattle Mariners and its lineup that includes Sexson, Wilkerson, Vidro, and Johjima.

Geoff, can you ask Bedard if his hip was bothering him last winter, or if he knew his hip was bad during the trade negotiations?

Also, is there any precedent in baseball where a trade was undone because one team negotiated in bad faith because they knew the guy the were trading was hurt?

I would imagine the situation would have to be particularly bad, but maybe we can undo the damage the Bedard trade has done by picking up a couple of draft picks as compensation.

Posted by Bill

9:40 AM, Apr 08, 2008

What damage has the Bedard trade done? The trade was negotiated over several weeks, maybe even months. The guy pitched once and did a pretty decent job. I think Bedard deserves a longer leash than some of the others on this team.

Posted by higbie

9:40 AM, Apr 08, 2008

While I have defintely questions a few a Macs moves so far this season, i think that the most glaring problem with this team is the offense. It's to complain about the bullpen or the coaching moves when this team goes out and produces at best 4 runs a game.

Posted by VanFan usta be

9:45 AM, Apr 08, 2008

I suggest that the Marinades take one week off and be required to watch Arizona ,Milwaukee, and a stop over KC and be required to take a beginners test of what BB is. In the same week that Mac be required to sit next to Torre and be allowed to ask some basic BB skills to rise above LL stature and application. Maybe, just maybe, the lights might shine in nogginville???

Posted by scrapiron

9:50 AM, Apr 08, 2008

SteveO- those t-shirts are hilarious. Unfortunately, the motto for the Rays is "Last chance to make fun of us" which is unfortunately true. I think the M's are going to walk into a hornets nest in Tampa, not exactly an elixir for a struggling team.

Posted by Choska

10:10 AM, Apr 08, 2008

What damage has the Bedard trade done?!

The bullpen is a mess. Our right fielder can't neither hit the weight of an 8th grader nor out run one. And we have no pitching left down on the farm.

But, everyone is right, let's give him a few more starts. Rather, let's give him the opportunity to make a few more starts.

My fear is that there is something seriously wrong with his hips.

Geoff, is there a precedent for the Commissioner punishing teams for negotiating in bad faith, e.g., trading a guy they knew was hurt.

Posted by scrapiron

10:13 AM, Apr 08, 2008

Posted by scottM

10:23 AM, Apr 08, 2008

Bedard said he was ready to pitch the day Felix took the mound. The hip thing was precautionary....a good thing in April.

Fix these weak spots and the Mariners are winning the close games and not losing them:

O'Flaherty
Wilkerson's bat
Johjima's bat
Vidro's bat

Ibanez, Sexson are (recently) showing good signs of life at the plate. A few close wins will calm the troops. As will the return of JJ.

Posted by mike

10:32 AM, Apr 08, 2008

I am seeing the light on BONDS!! but if we do that we should try and add Griffey Jr. They are friends and the fun that Jr. would have would keep Bonds in sight of the team goal!!

Could you imagine that line up..

Vidro, Wil;kerson need to go away. Baek Reed and others don't have a chance to make the M's in the next couple of years anyway.

Make an impact, make the trade.

Posted by joe

10:33 AM, Apr 08, 2008

funny article Geoff, thanks. Kind of puts thigs in perspective eh?
.
I was so sure I would wake up to a Seattle Times headline that read
" Dozens of Desperate Mariners fans don black Nikes and take their lives"
.
glad that wasn't the case, but I'd hate to see what happens if The M's lose today.
.
Take a deep breathe everyone, count to ten and put the panic button in the back pocket for now.
.
Go Mariners!!

Posted by Adam

10:34 AM, Apr 08, 2008

It is interesting how the offense is performing. I pointed out last month that the 2007 Mariners were the worst team in the league drawing walks and one of the worst teams in hitting for power (bottom 8 in doubles, triples, and HRs). It was an offense that got by on a ton of singles.

This year, however, the team is walking more and hitting more HRs. Yet the offensive struggles remain. Go figure.

I am encouraged that the team is drawing more walks. Because this is not a power-laden group, it will be key that they be more patient at the plate. Of course, we are only seven games in, but it appears there is at least a concerted effort to be more patient. Especially from two guys who really struggled last year, Lopez and Sexson. We'll see if it sticks.

Bottom line, we just can't keep getting the kind of production we see from Vidro, Johjima, and Wilkerson (and to a lesser extent, Richie).

Thankfully, three alternatives are available:

Bonds to DH
Clement to C/DH
Wlad for RF

So options exist. While it may be too early to think about Clement and Wlad, I'd pull the trigger on Bonds right now.

As for the pen - the best thing to do is just bring up DIckey, cut Cairo, and wait for Putz to get back. Morrow has walked four batters in 3 2/3 innings at AA. We have NO idea about Rhodes.

Let's just weather this storm for a couple weeks longer, then talk about some more drastic changes.

Posted by scottM

10:36 AM, Apr 08, 2008

Good link, Scrapiron. I'm beginning to like the sound of this, more and more. Bring on Barry "The Asterisk" Bonds. Why should the M's be hypocritical and take the ostensible high road when players like Mike Morse, Jose Guillen, Brett Boone, and many untold others were just as tainted as Bonds.

Why go after Sammy Sosa the right hander, when Bonds' lefty at bat is tailor-made to wake up those M's fans out in right field who would rather eat than watch the game?

Posted by Squatch

10:38 AM, Apr 08, 2008

uh yeah great ideas ADAM that is if this was your FANTASY TEAM!! now come back to reality man, geez you guys all act like running a MLB team is like making a pot of tea....uggggghhh experts all of us right

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:39 AM, Apr 08, 2008

I don't trust Mac in a close game now. I just don't trust him to manage the bullpen well. And it's going to take a bunch of close games before that's fixed.

Anything less than winning the next 2 series (i.e. pulling even with the Angels), and this month will have officially been wasted. Not ready to give up on the season by any means, but April was supposed to be the easy schedule, and the Angels' injuries were supposed to be a gift. That's been all but completely squandered.

Still looking forward to taking the family to the Angels game Friday night, though.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:44 AM, Apr 08, 2008

Adam - agree with you on everything but Bonds. As some other poster put it the other day, we're already San Francisco Giants north as it is, with this lineup...

But everything else, yes. The walks and HRs are a good sign. Lopez and Sexson are more patient, good sign. Need Dickey up now. Clement and Wlad couldn't do worse than what we have now, as far as DH/RF.

Posted by California Bob Kelly

10:54 AM, Apr 08, 2008

McClaren is already making excuses for the blunders that he has made, notably the makeup of the bench and anointing starters because they're veterans or, in the case of relief pitchers, what they did last year. Why do we have Bloomquist, Cairo and Jimerson if they are all utility, pinch running specialists, or role models for other players? Instead of Reed, Clement and Balentien, we have three nice guys who are content to sit on the bench and watch the futility continue with 3 starters hitting under .200 and several others barely above that mark. We have McClaren continue to destroy the bullpen as he did last year by putting the same gopher ball specialists out there day after day. Mac has gotten 5 very good starts out of 7 games and we have two whole wins to show for it. Remember the 2nd game of the series with the O's when we were behind by one and had the first two batters on in the 7th or 8th inning....no bunt, no hit and run with those speedy bench sitters, instead we get a double play by the next batter...game over.

Posted by pbk13

10:57 AM, Apr 08, 2008

If Bonds plays this year, it be for the Folsom Prison Blues. I doubt they'll let him play for the Mariners on weekends.

The frustration among Ms fans is understandable, but imagine what might happen in Tampa. I think the fans should drink more and panic less.

Right now Bavasi is kicking himself for losing Rick White's phone number.

The team formerly known as "the favorite to win the AL West" is in dire straits, to be sure. But hey, that's why they play the games.

Posted by Nat

11:05 AM, Apr 08, 2008

Scrapiron, that link has appeared here at least once if not more in the last few days, old hat. I'm curious why people who are pro-Bonds don't realize this FO is not going to bring him aboard. Are you new to this team, and by extension to this organization? Didn’t think so. Realism, guys, please let’s get realistic about what the FO can do to improve this team!

Btw, at least we're not the only AL team with a BP implosion as someone else alluded to in yesterday’s comments.
http://www.halosheaven.com/2008/4/8/390749/what-to-do-with-k-rod

It's too bad we have to hope the other team has injured players in order for our team to win, rather than being constructed with overall strength in the RO, BP, defense, and an offense that wins games!

Posted by higbie

11:16 AM, Apr 08, 2008

THis is a really gasey problem. There's no way in a mortivito that J MAc has the tank still full

Posted by Donovan

11:19 AM, Apr 08, 2008

Fan reaction to early season developments is always interesting. At least half of the comments here (and on other blogs) are not really driven by any objective analysis of anything happening this year. Rather, they are fans acting on a pre-existing belief system, who are literally looking for something that validates that bias. Interpreting one missed start by Bedard with a minor ailment as evidence that he's damaged goods would be in this category. A bigger picture example is going in with the assumption that Bavasi isn't capable of assembling a contending team, therefore every setback is the beginning of total collapse. Such sentiments are irrational, and not very interesting to read or debate.

Sticking to the 7 games that have actually been played this year, I think the rotation is as advertised. Our 5 starters will likely be considered in the top 2 or 3 in the AL all season. The bullpen has weaknesses, but isn't as bad as people are making it sound right now. EOF is a fine pitcher. He doesn't "suck". He isn't "done". He has really only made a few bad pitches. We need Putz to contend, there is no question, but the bullpen isn't my biggest long term worry on this team, not with the depth chart we have. The offense will be a concern all year, but you just can't draw many firm conclusions after the first week about that. Most hitters don't start hot in April. That even goes for top tier professionals like Ichiro. He's never been that good in April. I'm actually encouraged by changes I see in the approach of last year's problematic hitters Sexson and Lopez. Kenji and Wilk look terrible right now. Beltre and Ibanez look great. On balance, it is about what I expected for early April. I also expect it to be a lot better in a couple of weeks.

The most intriguing debates to me right now are about strategic direction of this team. With Putz going down, I think the strategy of carrying two trade bait players on the ML roster that we had no intention of using (Baek and Jimerson) looks really suspect. Those guys were carried for no reason other than they were out of options. That made sense IF you had a plan to trade them. I had hoped that there was a reasonable plan to trade one or both in the first few weeks of the season. We will see soon if that's true. I think Morse is prime trade bait too. Clearly Mac has zero confidence in him. If they can't get Wilk going, I'd rather see Wlad brought up to start than Morse. His upside is orders of magnitude higher.

The other worthy debate I see right now concerns Mac's approach. I posted yesterday that I liked his non-panic reaction to the slow start of the offense - He gave the original lineup a week, then started gradually tweaking the batting order yesterday. No random lineup changes or shakeups like a guy running scared. Fans can panic. The manager can't. On the other hand, I don't understand Mac's obsession with slotting every guy on the team into a rigid role. When I look at winning teams, I see some interchangeable parts. Sure, you have guys who you look to in certain situations, but you also have flexibility and redundancy. Why does every guy in the bullpen have to have one and only one slot he fits into? I flat out don't understand why you need the same guy in the 8th every night. Rotating duty, optimizing matchups (actual career matchups, not just lefty-righty matchups), and distributing workload seem way more important to me than anointing a "situational lefty setup guy". I was pretty unimpressed with his post-game interview comments about EOF yesterday. We don't need a bullpen competition for hierarchy, we need a cohesive bullpen that picks each other up. I'm also really unimpressed with Mac's use of the bench so far. Perhaps he's just trying to give the starters enough at bats to get warmed up before he starts rotating in the relief. I watched in dismay as Grover let his bench rot and burned up his starters when he was here. I saw Lou do it for years too. I was really hoping Mac would be different. The jury's still out, but I'm not impressed so far.

Posted by thatgirl

11:22 AM, Apr 08, 2008

Markus; right on with your comments!.... "Once the team identifies you as 'their guy' you don't have to do squat."

I agree that there seems to be something in the fabric of the M's system that allows guys who have 'made it' so to speak sit back on their laurels. This translates into no fire in their belly to stick it to the Angels early in the season. So even as Adam mentioned that the M's HR and walks ratio's have improved - if their ain't no fire, they ain't gonna win games. Especially one run games.

Posted by Everett fan

11:33 AM, Apr 08, 2008

I've been on vacation the past two weeks (Hawaii), so I haven't seen a game, so I appreciate the coverage by all.
Some pointed out Lopez' lack of range wrt Willie - I said that two years ago, and everyone called me a racist.
Have you looked at Vlad's b.a in Tacoma? Let me know if you can find it (takes a magnifying glass . . . .)

Posted by oregongal

11:37 AM, Apr 08, 2008

The ESPN page 2 was funny for just about everybody. How sad that he included a joke about our GM, knowing people would get it. I do have concerns about how Mac is managing (as I said before, I can't believe he used to be the Mariners' bullpen coach), but I don't think Bavasi assembled a playoff caliber team. However, I still think it's an above .500 team and we'll have things to cheer about.

Donovan--right on!

joe--perfect Seattle headline!

Posted by Steve

11:38 AM, Apr 08, 2008

So what people, it looks like we will need to take on the halos like a real team and battle it out down the stretch. And in reality, we don't have any business being in the playoffs if we can't take on the Angels down the stretch and come out on top. Are we really so afraid of them that we don't even want it to be a fair fight?

Posted by Mike

11:38 AM, Apr 08, 2008

Nat---Just because the FO won't do it doesn't mean it isn't a good idea. We are looking for ways to improve the offense and a cranky jerk possibly facing jail time with a 1.045 OPS would help.

We gave up a lot of the future to win now in the Bedard trade. I didn't think we did enough to bolster the offense to win now. We are counting on too many things having to go right and certainly they all won't.

We need Ibanez to maintain his mashing of righties in the year he turns 36.

We need a Wilkerson to come close to duplicating what Guillen did last year.

We need Sexson to bounce back big at age 34, when typically sluggers like he lose bat speed and become guess hitters.

We need our DH who will be 34 to put up for 6 months what he managed only for 6-8 weeks last year.

And we need production out of Jose Lopez.

That's a lot of BIG ifs.

Bonds is an option now because we didn't do anything to bolster the offense when we were making our make-or-break trade.

The other hopes are Balentien or Clement who might or might not be ready.

Posted by Mike

11:43 AM, Apr 08, 2008

Nice post Donovan.

Posted by Nat

11:57 AM, Apr 08, 2008

Mike: meant to say in the first paragraph (to quote myself) let's get realistic about what the FO WILL do to improve this team.

Posted by B'Ham

12:03 PM, Apr 08, 2008

I wonder what kind of reaction Bedard gets in Tampa today because really pissed off their fans the other day by saying not to worry about his hip but if they'll be someone to pitch in front of in Tampa.

Posted by gk91

12:20 PM, Apr 08, 2008

What's the point of trading away a significant part of your future for 2 years of a pitcher that gets you to 'above .500'?

Posted by byronebyronian

12:25 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Nat,

I've been saying this about Frankie for months now. Some believe Frankie is still elite but the Angels fans are wondering about that.

His walk rates are way up and that should be a sign to anybody he's not right. I will continue to call my shot on this regardless if some think I am crazy for insinuating it.

While stats tell one part of the story, the human side of the equation is now proving what the stats are hinting at. The guy isn't right.

I feel like I am the only person who doesn't buy that K-Rod is an "elite" closer. Just because he has some serious save totals on a very good team doesn't mean anything to me (see: Joe Borowski or Todd Jones). It's the other factors that show me he's not as good as some label him.

If I was an Angel fan, I'd be REJOICING that the team didn't extend that guy.

Posted by Adam

12:25 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Regarding the complaints surrounding Bonds -

Bonds will be spending time in jail or court!! No, he isn't going to spend a minute of time in jail this year, so let's just nip that one in the bud. It's very unlikely that any trial would start before 2009. Shoot, the parties aren't due in court for any pre-trial hearings until June. So let's please stop with the ideas that Bonds will be spending half of the year in court. He won't.


As for Bonds the hitter, there is no reason not to add him to the lineup. No real logicial reason, anyway. He had a 1.047 OPS as a LF last year. Is there any question that he couldn't put up the same numbers as a DH? And is there any question that he wouldn't be a massive improvement over Jose Vidro?

But Bonds is bad for the clubhouse!! No. Find a former teammate of Bonds other than Jeff Kent that speaks poorly of him. Sure, he's not the nicest guy in the world, but who cares? Give him an ultimatum: If he wants to play, then no entourage in the clubhouse, no perks, no extra lockers, etc.

Bonds is a trouble-maker!! Bonds isn't Elijah Dukes. Shoot, he isn't even Lastings Milledge. There simply is no record of him dividing a team. He keeps quiet and produces. Any distraction that would come from signing Bonds would be media-created, not Bonds-created.

And if he does act up (why would he?), then cut him. Move on.

But he used steroids!! That's unacceptable!!! If Tejada or Giambi or Pettitte or Brian Roberts can get jobs, Bonds should. And let's not pretend that the Mariners are at all lilly-white when it comes to the steroid era.

But what about the perjury charges??? Well, last time I checked, he was indicted, not convicted of such charges. He hasn't been proven guilty of anything.


But Bonds is a jerk!! So were Carl Everett and Jose Guillen. Shoot, Everett had been accused of wife beating. (Personally, I'd rather have an accused perjurer on the team than an accused wife beater). Baseball history is replete with me-first jerks. Big Whoop.


Listen, I understand the complaints against Bonds. I just don't think they are all that important. Bonds faces perjury charges - likely in 2009. In the meantime, he's no different than the dozens of users who are playing the game today. He would NOT cause a distraction of his own making. He would produce in the middle of a lineup that really needs a big bat. He would put butts in the seats (yes, he would). And the minute he goes on a three-game tear where he hits three HRs and gets on base 9 times in 12 ABs, he would be loved. (Mariner fans are as fickle as they come)

Sign Barry Bonds today.

Posted by byronebyronian

12:27 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Adam, you've convinced me. I HATE the guy but would be willing to give it a shot.

Why not as long as the guy isn't demanding stupid money (which I think he is).

Posted by Mike

12:32 PM, Apr 08, 2008

But Bonds isn't being offerred anything. How about $10M? Plus Eric Bedard gets the added bonus of the press focusing on someone else.

Posted by Frito Bandito

12:39 PM, Apr 08, 2008

"Plus Eric Bedard gets the added bonus of the press focusing on someone else."

Good point. At this time, I'm for anything that will add some punch to this offense.

Posted by Griffey24

12:41 PM, Apr 08, 2008

OK, I'll chime in on Bonds...
If he's still THAT good and should not be considered a clubhouse cancer, how do you explain the fact that 0 out of 30 MLB teams have offered him a contract? Don't tell me "he doesn't fit their needs"...as many of you have pointed out, what team couldn't use a LF/DH with a 1.047 OPS? Every team would be upgrading their offense if that is really what Bonds would bring.

No, the reason Bonds shouldn't be signed is the same reason none of the other teams want him - he's too much risk for too little reward.

Posted by Full Count

12:48 PM, Apr 08, 2008

"Throw Strikes, Hit Strikes"
J. McLaren

Posted by Get Griffey

12:51 PM, Apr 08, 2008

What people aren’t remembering is that there are also "long term goals" regarding Bedard it’s not just about this season. By “long term” I mean 09.
Next year
1.Bedard, and our starting pitching will still be here.

2. Sexon will be gone, finally!

3.Wlad will be ready and able to contribute even
more with his bat then he will this year

4.Wilkerson will be gone

5. Felix will be another year older and wiser

6.Clement will ether DH or catch

7.Johjima could be traded for a bat (Griffey?)

8.Big bucks will be available to offer Vladimir Guerrero.

9.Need I go on???

Of course for any of this to happen we will need one of two things. Either our GM goes on a lucky streak, or we get a new GM to pull all this off.

But my point is that even if we don’t “win it all” this year, the team will be able to make some major additions before the next season. Especially if the FO is desperate to win do to the failure to do so in 08.

Call me a dreamer, but my dreams will at least live on for 09! ^_^

Posted by Babu

12:53 PM, Apr 08, 2008

I was consoling myself with the fact that the Mariners were losing one run games until I read Manny Acta's comments in today's Washington Post. Acta (manager of the Nationals) said that frequent one-run losses are actually a bad sign, since they can mean that in a close game, the losing team makes a physical or mental mistake that costs the game. Acta was talking about the Nationals, not the Mariners, but his comments aren't off the mark in terms of the Orioles series, and I recall, Geoff, that you were concerned about mental and physical errors during Spring Training.

So pull up your socks, Mariners, and play the game!
And pull up your socks, Mariners fans, and live to cheer another day!

Posted by Griffey24

1:01 PM, Apr 08, 2008

And as I finished typing my post, I ran across this Jayson Stark article on Bonds...
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=stark_jayson&page=rumblings

Posted by Babu

1:02 PM, Apr 08, 2008

P.S. Sitting in the stands at Camden Yards, I heard fans voicing the exact debates going on in this blog -- except they were talking about the Orioles rather than the Mariners. (With one difference -- no one in Baltimore was advocating acquiring Barry Bonds.)

Lots of the fans I talked to thought Seattle would do much better than this series showed, thanks to starting pitching and J.J. (Despite some of the really obnoxious posts put on the blog by a few Os "fans", I've found Baltimore fans to be smart baseball fans who welcome a chance to chat with fans of the visiting team.)

Posted by scottM

1:09 PM, Apr 08, 2008

from Donovan: "We don't need a bullpen competition for hierarchy, we need a cohesive bullpen that picks each other up."

Well put. This is where the intangible of team chemistry, especially JJ Putz's leadership can instill confidence in the young bucks in the BP to step on the mound with more presence and a sense of intimidation. RRS should have pitched yesterday as part of this interchangeable BP.

Get Griffey. Nice post. I, too, for the reasons you listed, think that the offensive upside for the M's won't come until 2009.

Bonds makes sense, but I don't see it happening. Along with the real risk that is Barry Bonds, it would be an admissio

Posted by scottM

1:12 PM, Apr 08, 2008

(DROPPED OFF the last POST) it would be an admission that Vidro and his $8 million are expendable.

Posted by ChicoV

1:16 PM, Apr 08, 2008

The reason we have suffered only one run losses is because we are the away team!

They only needed one run to win!

Posted by Mj_Oregon

1:18 PM, Apr 08, 2008

I'm not quite in panic mode yet, but I'm not seeing a team with any chemistry among the players yet. There's more to becoming a winning team than just going out and trying harder. Seems to me there isn't anyone on this team who's stepped up and taken Guillen's place as a team leader. Without chemistry in the dugout/locker room, few teams can excel even with the best-on-paper players.

So, my suggestion is - bring back Bucky!

Just half joking - be kind, it's my first contribution here...

Posted by oregongal

1:19 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Babu - Can't believe you've been to Milwaukie!

I couldn't stand Earl Weaver (and especially Jim Palmer) when I was a kid (grew up a Red Sox fan, back when they were losers), but he sure gave Baltimore fans a leg up in how to play a smart game of baseball. Now with AJ and Sherrill there, I'm overcoming my instinctive hatred of the orange bird.

Posted by Nat

1:25 PM, Apr 08, 2008

I have no comment regarding Bonds mainly b/c it feels like a colossal waste of time.

At the very least though if Wilkerson still isn't hitting, at least above the mendoza line by the end of this road trip, why not swap him and Balentien for a month. Or longer!

Another simple move would be to swap EOF for Dickey (since Mac already set Eric up for failure this last week, and then further humiliated him with postgame comments he made, why not go ahead and stick him in AAA for a few weeks, give him the time to work on his stuff). Give Dickey a chance to throw that knuckleball and that even s-l-o-w-e-r knuckleball he's been working on here in the big leagues where he belongs! If Baek gets traded -which everyone predicts he will be - bring EOF back up at that point.

It's not that I don't think BB and/or Mac won't call for these moves to be made eventually. But why drag it out, why not get something going sooner rather than later? Manage!

Posted by Mike

1:25 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Regarding Vidro. Last year the Ms brass made a big deal of how though he wasn't a typical slugging DH that he had a lot of value hitting second, keeping innings going and the like. I thought this was a silly argument but after making it strenuously all last year the Mariners seem to have changed their minds this year. What gives?

Posted by higbie

1:27 PM, Apr 08, 2008

There's no way in Mortovito's revenge would we ever get Bonds. He's old and more of a connie than a hitter.

Posted by Babu

1:34 PM, Apr 08, 2008

ChicoV - I understand we were the "away" team, but the point is the games were close -- not blowouts. Acta was saying that in close games, a single mental or physical mistake is often the difference.

Oregongal - I used to live in Eugene, and I have cousins in Tigard, Beaverton and (my favorite Oregon placename) Zigzag! Hence my familiarity with Milwaukie.

The nice thing about seeing games in Baltimore is that the fans are decent to those cheering for the other team. When I tried that at Yankee Stadium, I got to find out if beer really does make a good shampoo.

Posted by Adam

1:41 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Another simple move would be to swap EOF for Dickey (since Mac already set Eric up for failure this last week, and then further humiliated him with postgame comments he made, why not go ahead and stick him in AAA for a few weeks, give him the time to work on his stuff).


Great point. Mac really did throw EOF under the bus, didn't he? So much for being a players' manager... (Oh wait, EOF hasn't been through the wars yet. Once he does, Mac will stick up for him)

Posted by Brian

1:49 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Well the Mariners were the HOME team in game two when they lost by one run. Good teams win most one run games, regardless of whether or not it is home or away. Don't think the Red Sox would say "it's ok to lose by one run, we were on the road".

Also, the situation yesteray was a good situation for RSS. They see him as a long relief pitcher, and in the 8th inning of a tie game, it could easily end up being long relief, as it would go at least two innings if you get out of the 8th (and a chance for extra innings).

Posted by Rain King

1:58 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Baseball is a great sport in that, unlike most any other sport, you usually only have to only wait one day to forget about the days before. In baseball, you are only one day away from turning the season around!

Posted by Nat

2:09 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Mj_Oregon- I truly believe winning is the answer to the question of team chemistry. Winning is fun! We all know that. Take Beltre for example. He may or may not be a leader by nature (who knows? I don't know enough about him to say one way or another), but he seems like a guy who mixes it up well with his teammates and could push the team just by the way he plays the game. Here's a novel idea, a new game plan for Mac: Prioritize where Beltre should be in the lineup (hint: he likes hitting behind a righthanded hitter) >>> win games >>> having fun>>> fostering team chemistry >>> winning more games!!!!

Posted by scrapiron

2:12 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Here's a guy that was caught using steroids. Here's a guy that was such a clubhouse cancer that he was released, in the middle of a pennant race. Barry Bonds? No, ex-Mariner Jose Guillen, and was released by the Angels.

So how is Barry Bonds different than Jose Guillen? Perjury? Maybe, but the court date isn't until next year. Innocent until proven guilty.

Oh yeah, and Bonds hits better.

Posted by scrapiron

2:16 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Ok, so you don't want to sign Bonds. Bad guy, I get it. So how else can you improve the offense?

Sammy Sosa, who mashes left handers.
Jeff Clement, who mashes left handers, but need time to develop as a catcher.

I don't even have a solution for how to hit better against right handers.

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

2:21 PM, Apr 08, 2008

wilkerson is just so lame. as a fan, i just don't see the point in supporting him. he's terrible! and its not like he's been here for a few years and has a history with the team...

i just don't understand why mgmt would bring in an over-the-hill, average-to-below-average stop gap player, rather than play the future stars just sitting in AAA. what a waste. wilkerson sucks, and i can't wait to see someone else in his spot.

frustrated,

tallahassee

Posted by Pete

2:34 PM, Apr 08, 2008

scrapiron-

I think you already have a solution to the right-masher. I think you have Clement mixed up. He's a lefty who mashes righties. Or does he have some insane reverse split going on that I'm unaware of?

Posted by Mike

2:34 PM, Apr 08, 2008

I don't do a lot of defending of Bavasi but the Wilkerson signing was not a bad move. It is low-risk with decent potential reward. Plus, he's a lefty with pop in a park designed for lefties with pop. He has had injury trouble but he's still a couple months shy of turning 31.

Balentien may turn out to be pretty good but he didn't rip up PCL pitching the way that Jones did last year.

Look at it this way. If Balentien is ready we suddenly have a guy like Wilkerson on the bench which far superior to Cairo or Bloomquist. Now if we could only get Vidro there as well.

Posted by Nat

2:36 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Came across this post, and since we all know misery loves company, thought I'd pass it along: Rich Harden is hurtting - AGAIN!!!

thhttp://www.athleticsnation.com/e

Another team in the doldrums...

Posted by scrapiron

2:38 PM, Apr 08, 2008

tallahassee - The Mariners love "comeback" players. They tried it with Carl Everett, and it was a bust. They tried it with Jose Guillen, and it paid off. But rather than re-sign Guillen, they went back to the well with Wilkerson. It's too early to call him a bust just yet, but it is a gamble. Basically history says that Wilkerson will hit, he just can't stay healthy. I'm calling the current ABs a slump for him, and not that he's washed up.

History says if he stays healthy, he'll hit. History also says he's never stayed healthy. He's just keeping the seat warm for Balentien. (Who is 0-for-10 at Tacoma)

Posted by scrapiron

2:43 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Pete - Yeah, Clement has weird reverse splits. This from Rotowire:

Consistent with last year's splits, he (Clement) is 0-for-3 against righties thus far and 4-for-7 with a walk against lefties.
-Rotowire

Posted by scrapiron

2:45 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Clement at AAA 2007:

1.101 OPS vs. LH
.781 OPS vs. LH

10 HRs vs. LH
10 HRs vs. RH
But, 200 less at bats against LHers.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

2:45 PM, Apr 08, 2008

"I can't explain it," Mariners manager John McLaren said after his team's second straight one-run defeat, in front of 10,774 fans at Camden Yards. "Eric was a big part of our bullpen. I don't know if he's lost his confidence."

I honestly want to put this under the rug and move on and just dismiss this as early season mishaps that we'll all laugh about during the M's lifting of the Division Title banner next year.

But in all honesty, I have to say I don't know what is worse? Is it that McLaren was perplexed why O'Flaherty struggled after three consecutive appearances without rest?

Or is it our very own Geoff Baker, not even slightly questioning Mclaren's decision making in the recent "Bullpen is leaking" article? Maybe it's me , but I sense a tone of agreement with this whole "relievers have roles" ideology. Even if I am interpreting the tone correctly, I really hope Geoff can see the validity of our argument against using relievers in consecutive days without rest that have struggled regardless of roles.

McLaren needs the local papers to at least politely question his bullpen useage. I understand there's a lot of politics behind the scenes. Doing so might plant a seed in Mac's noggin the next time he wants to use another arm three consecutive times without rest. And doing so may enlighten the coaching staff that maybe there are other options in handling the pen. I simply cannot stomach watching the pen being used in this manner all season long.

Posted by Mike

2:51 PM, Apr 08, 2008

And Wilkerson only costs $3M and for only one year....and despite having but one hit he still has a .304 OBP.

But Balentien's coming on could be a big help. If he came up and Wilkerson were hitting several moves could be made to improve the team.

You could platoon Raul & Richie at DH. Or if Clement came up you could DH him and platoon Raul & Richie at first. You could work Vidro into the mix as well. Wilkerson could also play some first.

And with McLaren's track record of being able to manage several moving parts and belief in platoon-splits...uh, never mind.

Posted by scrapiron

2:52 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Resin -
2007 Situational left hander = Sherril
2007 Situational right hander = Morrow
But O'Flaherty put up similar number vs. LHers as Sherril, thus the Mariners felt he was expendable and O'Flaherty could step into that role.

More to your point though, he didn't put up those numbers in back to back nights like Sherril did, and that is why you're seeing a different EO this year. And for all you RRS fans out there, the same thing could happen to him if you put him in the same role. No one on the team has done that role before at the major league level, so it's a crapshoot.

Posted by oregongal

3:08 PM, Apr 08, 2008

I know there are lots of ways to lead and it doesn't bother me that Mac looks distant or sad much of the time, or that various players don't show their passion on their sleeve. I also don't think the closer role is our main problem.

Having said all that, I would certainly prefer Mac to be a little more aggressive in taking the heat off the team at this point. How hard can it be to say, it's early, the guys are playing hard, and when things don't work out, that's my responsibility and I'm working on it.

And, of course, when necessary, kick some behinds in the clubhouse.

Posted by Longtime Sad Fan

3:10 PM, Apr 08, 2008

The O's just--if I may use your word--"waxed" the Rangers 8-1 at their home opener in front of 48,000+ on the road. So, the M's just ran into an unexpected, surprising buzz saw.

That's all.

LOL

Posted by Turbo

3:20 PM, Apr 08, 2008

People: Direct your wrist-cutting thoughts to Detroit, where a $130 million payroll has ZERO victories. And they predicted the world for this crew.

Yeah, we're struggling. What do you imagine is happening in Detroit?

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

3:23 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Babu,

I was at Safeco when the Orioles played (Bedard pitched I believe) and an O's fan sat in front of me. He was very cool and took active interest in our team and pitchers. He also answered a lot of my questions about some of his players.

Very nice man. If he's an example of the average O fan, then I have tons of respect for you guys :)

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

3:25 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Turbo,

We all called that they gave up a lot to get Cabrera AND Willis. Also, didn't the Tigers give Willis an extension?

Posted by oregongal

3:28 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Doesn't Detroit only riot when they win?

Posted by Chris from Bothell

3:30 PM, Apr 08, 2008

New acronym for Mariner losses, so long as Seattle has a better record than Detroit: WCBTF.

(We Could Be Tiger Fans)

Posted by Griffey24

3:31 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Here's a fun stat o' the day:
Adam Jones is hitting .227 (5-for-22) after today's game with the Rangers, but has managed 0 walks and the tough feat of having a lower OBP (.217) than BA. Meanwhile, Wilkerson is 1-for-17 with six walks, a .304 OBP. Jones has 2 RBIs to Wilkerson's 0.
Where are all those who hated the Bedard trade + Wilkerson signing???!! Bottom line for both players: IT'S TOO EARLY TO READ INTO NUMBERS.

Posted by Pete

3:33 PM, Apr 08, 2008

scrapiron-

Cool, thanks for the numbers. Hadn't seen those yet. Funky. Gosh, if he can just learn to hit righties like a normal lefty, we've got a perennial All-Star.

Posted by Mariner's Fan in Hawaii

3:33 PM, Apr 08, 2008

While I refer to the Times religeously on my Mariner's coverage, an article in the P.I. caught my interest.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/baseball/358136_mbok08.html

Some of you may have read it already. I found it particularly interesting that Hickey was taking veiled stabs at McLaren throughout the article:

On the M's Bullpen:

- Asked if he expected any pitching changes before returning to Seattle for a series with the Angels, manager John McLaren indicated he didn't.

"At this point, I don't think so," he said. "Rhodes is on the DL and Morrow isn't going to be eligible until Thursday. We'll probably stay where we are."

That means the club isn't interested yet in knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who threw seven innings without a walk in his first start for Tacoma over the weekend.

On the M's Bench and (Mis)Use of Cairo:

- The bench is becoming a much larger problem than expected. One bench player, infielder Miguel Cairo, has yet to play. Another, outfielder Charlton Jimerson, has played in one game but doesn't have an at-bat. A third, infielder/outfielder Willie Bloomquist, has played in two games with one at-bat. Morse (1-for-5 in five games, one start) and backup catcher Jamie Burke (1-for-5 in two games, one start) make up the rest of the bench.

While I, much like everyone else here, is not a Cairo fan his roster spot is a question. If you aren't going to play this veteran, or anyone else for that matter, then bring up a Clement or Balantine.

My opinion" JMac is getting caught up going to his favorites. I didn't think managers could get like that but that sort of explains the O'FL three days in a row and why NO ONE is playing off the bench.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

3:37 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Resin,

I agree 100%. You can't overuse key components of a BP and not expect something bad to happen. In Mac's world he thinks using EOF over and over is okay. He thinks RRS can rest for upwards of a week and be fine. Problem with this thinking is that you underuse a part like RRS and then throw him out there rusty when it's his turn. In reverse, same can be said about overusing a kid like EOF (he's still a kid who's learning how to pitch at this level) where he's throwing too many pitches and may not be very sharp because of it.

Lowe looked rusty out there trying to clean up EOF's mess. But in Mac's world, the kid will be fine because he isn't the closer, but he will close (kills his argument for having "roles" eh?). Remember when JJ went down and Mac wouldn't commit to a closer? If it's all about defined roles, as Mac likes to hide behind, why not tell Lowe from day one HE is the closer until further notice?

The problem here is Mac and his idea of "roles!" If everybody has a role, why wasn't Willie or Jimerson brought in to run for Ibanez the other day in the 9th? If we are talking roles here, why is Cairo wasting a bench spot when Mac could have a switch hitting batter like Norton ready to come up and be used in situations like the other day when he pulled Wilkerson KNOWING that Tremblay would call in the RH reliever since there are no leftie bats on the bench. So he hurts us by sending up Morse when it would have been better to play the percentages and leave Wilkerson in.

Am I missing something here? Geoff? Why have a 5 man bench if one of the pieces (no matter how useless he is) hasn't seen ANY action at all after 7 games? Does Mac think Cairo is useful because he keeps Lopez in line or something?

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

3:48 PM, Apr 08, 2008

M's Fan In Hawaii,

I've been saying this for a while now...the guy whines about his BP YET tells the press he won't be making moves. I almost wonder if he's burning his BP to get the FO to make a move. They won't do it, so he's saying no moves will be made.

On the bench issue, he barely uses them YET he's the one who supposedly wanted a 5 man bench UNLESS Bill Bavasi forced him to keep Jimerson since he's out of options. Burke isn't going to play more than 1-2 a week anyway. Morse was put in a bad situation by hitting for Wilkerson against a RH. Bloomquist's lack of usage surprises me but I won't shed tears as he should only be used sparingly or late in games. Cairo is a joke. The same guy who begged Bavasi to sign him can't even figure out how to use him (not that we WANT Mac using Cairo too much, but c'mon).

As for Dickey, I can't figure that one out. Matt Okin recommended the guy. Bavasi grabbed him in the Rule 5. They hinted at keeping him depending on how well he pitched in SF. He pitched well (granted SF's lineup blows) BUT was sent down anyway. Is the club not interested in this guy because he's 33 and no other teams claimed him when he was put on waivers? They gave up a nothing Minor League Catcher for him, so I wonder what the problem is here?

Posted by Chopper58

4:05 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Anybody seen Gathright steal bases for the Royals vs the Yanks today. This is quality base stealing and the way I thought Ichiro was to be used.

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

4:10 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Steveo,

Willie Bloomquist is not the answer to any of the team's problems, least of all some blown-out-of-proportion range issues at 2nd.

Pbk13,

I hope you are kidding about Rick White, and are simply joking because you think Bavasi would actually think calling him would be a good idea. He's the textbook definition of a gas can pitcher who would make EO'F's temporary woes seem like a happy dream.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

4:11 PM, Apr 08, 2008

Scrap- I disagree if you support roles. But I understand why fans believe they are necessary. It's indoctorated by broadcasters all the time, but my explanation is as simple as possible why I disagree. Oflaherty is not as good as Sherrill is stuff wise.

Eric throws an 88 mph fastball, while Sherrill's topped out at 96 last year. Sherrill's breaking ball and command are superior to Eric.

To say Eric failed because he wasn't acclimated to throwing in the 8th inning is like saying Sherrill's lack of experience closing out the 9th means Sherrill is due to implode in that role with Baltimore. as we can see that isn't the case. Rafael soriano also had no problems closing out games after being our middle relief guy and set-up man his last year.

Bottomline, talent beats out experience every time. Bavasi and McLaren don't understand this concept.

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