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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 9, 2008 9:27 AM

On hitters and missers

Posted by Geoff Baker

So, for those of you who heard the radio spot on KJR AM 950 this morning, you know that Mitch Levy and I discussed the hitters and who I'm more worried about than anyone else. For me, the top two worry candidates are Jose Vidro and Brad Wilkerson. I don't like to pick on guys when they're down, as Wilkerson certainly is, in spite of his two-run single last night. But for me, of all the struggling hitters, these two may be the ones with the most to prove. Wilkerson struggled the past two seasons and a lot of that was attributed to injury. He is still struggling now, even though he's healthy. If you want people to believe the downward trend in numbers since his heyday is related to health, then you have to start showing something when health isn't a factor. Otherwise, one would have to believe there are other factors causing the drop. And that maybe those earlier career numbers will never be replicated. It's too early to tell. Let's see if Wilkerson can keep putting some steady at-bats together (if he draws a walk every game, you'll know he's being more selective on the pitches he's swinging at) and bunch some hits together. Otherwise, right field is too valuable a spot to be giving away this much on offense.

As for Vidro, I was one of his biggest defenders over the winter, but there is no way the team can wait three months for him to get his act together this season. He has popped two home runs already, a sign that perhaps some of the missing power is about to return. But then again, his batting average and on-base numbers are not what they were last year. And the DH spot is not a place where you can give away the farm and expect the offense to survive.

Vidro does have a lot to prove. It is only the first week, but the clock can't be allowed to tick on indefinitely with him. There have been times the first eight games where his No. 7 spot in the order appears invisible. That can't happen. For Vidro to be effective, he has to keep his on-base numbers high because he does not bring traditional power to the table. I will be watching this series keenly because it's the first time these hitters have been out of the cold air. No one should lose thier job the first few weeks of April, but you'd like to see signs they are turning it around

A team can sustain slumps by a catcher on the offensive side, since that is traditionally not a big hitting position. You can't have Kenji Johjima hitting .100 all season, of course. But who else is going to be the full-time catcher. I don't think his bat has regressed all that dramatically from one year to the next. His recent track record suggests Johjima can be a decent hitting catcher (albeit one who hits into too many double plays, which is why he's batting eighth). But the track records on Wilkerson and Vidro are not the same. As big a fan as I was of Vidro's second half last year, he has to start hitting more consistently, or is unlikely to make it through the year as a lineup regular.

The other guy with a spotty recent track record is Richie Sexson and -- I've got to say -- I've been impressed by the at-bats he's taken so far. Even at Safeco Field, where he was admittedly pressing too hard. Sexson is making pitchers work in every at-bat. Yes, he had that one awful strikeout in a crucial loss to the Rangers, but usually he is a lot more selective. He made the D-Rays pay both times they walked Raul Ibanez ahead of him last night and that's all you can ask.

The reason you see Sexson glaring back and chirping at umpires every called strike is that he does have a keen eye and is trying to use it to his advantage. That was a poor call on a 1-1 pitch in the sixth inning last night, putting him behind 1-2 instead of ahead in a 2-1 hitter's count. But he protected the plate and went out and got a pitch that he poked to right center for the game's decisive hit.

In Baltimore the other day, Sexson lined a rocket shot to right center for a double. For a right handed hitter, when you are driving the ball to right center, you know your swing is dead-on. That's what hitting coaches (most of them) like to teach at this level. To go center-and-away to the gaps. Some balls go over the wall. Some hit the gaps for doubles and some are caught. But hit the ball hard to right center all year and Sexson should have that bounceback season that many -- including myself -- are expecting.

As for Vidro and Wilkerson, I'll be Missouri on them. Show me something.

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Posted by Chris from Bothell

9:39 AM, Apr 09, 2008

*cough* *cough* Wlad *cough* *cough* MIkeMorse *orseorseacck*

Sorry, something stuck in my throat when I was reading about Wilkerson.

*coughcoughAAAAHHHAK* Clement *cough* bench *cough* platoon *ack*

...and again with that darn cough, reading about Vidro! I should go get some water.

Posted by NB

9:46 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Mike Morse sucks. A team that starts him in the outfield on a consistent basis will be accepting a giant void of offensive and defensive suck.

Posted by scottM

9:47 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Nice post, GEOFF. Watching Wilkerson last evening, his face looked way too tense. Sexson looked more relaxed, except when that low pitch was called a strike. [Don't the Umps make adjustments for the knees of 6'8" batters?].

Right now, I have more confidence that Vidro will find his groove, and that O'Flaherty will contribute. Except for some good plays in the field and one good single last night, Wilkerson seems to be playing himself off this team

Posted by Mere Tantalisers

9:51 AM, Apr 09, 2008

I have no doubt Wilk will start hitting soon. For someone in a major slump he's getting on base enough, and as you said its just a week into the season. I'll wait until mid May to say that he's an offensive liability.

Mike Morse is not a good option in the outfield - his bat is not significantly better than Bloomquist's and his defense is a lot worse. Balentien would be a better bet.

Clement is going to be a far better player if he stays in Tacoma at least until July.

Posted by markus

9:54 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Wilkerson would have been a great signing, if he was signed to be a bench player. But he is not a starting OF in this league. We gave away two decent OFs in Jones and Guillen and now have a void in RF that outside of Wlad we cannot fill in-house. But knowing Bavasi like I do, I'm sure he will give up Wlad to pick up a veteran OF that will be on ESPN Baseball tonight by July :(
And I can only imagine who he will give up to pick up an aging vet to DH, since you know he doesn't trust Clement.

Posted by Paul

10:02 AM, Apr 09, 2008

I'd written a few days ago that Sexson is not my biggest concern this year....so far at least. His OPS was 5th on the team a couple of days ago...Wilkerson, Joh and Vidro are the biggest concerns, but Ichiro needs to be setting the table better too - like last night. Sexson's OPS is up to .893 right now, good for 3rd on the team. If we keep the pressure off of him when he comes home and let him keep his blinders on for a few weeks, he may bring Sexy back after all.

There really isn't a logical reason NOT to bring up either Clement for Vidro's DH spot or Wlad for Wilkerson's spot. I can at least see a bit of argument to not dismantle things all at once and lean heavily on two rookies at once (although I think the benefits outweigh the concerns there too). But leaving them both down while we get a .100 batting average out of our starting DH and RF is rediculous. Wilkerson hasn't earned a damn thing, but they're treating him like he's entitled to that RF spot no matter what.

At least Mac finally realized O'Flaherty shouldn't be allowed to lose games for us every day. Although I'm sure he'll be back on the horse today....

Posted by i heart Morse

10:06 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Spot on Geoff...I've like Wilkersons ability to see pitches, but on those that he swings he looks terribly late and like a player severely regressing.

And the DH is too valuable a spot to settle for Vidro's numbers...the team has options.

Posted by Bill

10:07 AM, Apr 09, 2008

I actually have my hopes up for Sexson based on what I've seen so far. I don't know what to think about Wilkerson. I'd never pick him to play in my OF, nor would I pick Vidro to be my DH. I do hope that Kenji can get "back on the horse" though. I would like to see the team keep him and play Clement at 1B or DH, depending on what happens with Sexson and Vidro.

Posted by mironos

10:14 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Interesting how Sexson gets another pass from Geoff. Vidro starts slow, and Geoff starts talking about what he has to prove, how the clock can't tick indefinitely on him, etc. We were in the exact same situation a few days ago w/ Sexson (who, in my opinion, has a lot MORE to prove than Vidro, since Vidro played well for at least HALF of last year), and Geoff was in there scolding people for judging him prematurely.

Don't get me wrong, I think Geoff's right about Vidro, and it's encouraging to see Sexson doing better. Just wondering what it is about Sexson that Geoff likes so much.

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

10:18 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Sexson is batting nearly 2.60 and has been taking walks...

Posted by Mike

10:22 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Since Bonds seems like a non-starter with Ms management I think I'll agree with Dave at USSM and suggest Kenny Lofton.

I feared Lofton might be a downgrade offensively but he actually had a higher OPS than Vidro last year plus Lofton would actually get to pop ups in left . Vidro to the bench. Raul to DH. You add speed, defense and improve your pinch hitting. You also habve the ability to put Raul in right in a pinch (but why would you?) or move Wilkerson or Vidro to first occassionally.

It would also give us all a chance to see if McLaren might take advantage of this flexibility or simply pigeonhole guys in set roles.

Posted by Mark in Kirkland

10:22 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Wilkerson is my #1 concern right now too. What does he bring to the table that makes him more valuable to the team than hot-hitting Mike Morse? The presence of a natural solution to this hole in the lineup puts a lot of pressure on the skipper. It's a long season, but the generally weak opposition this first month requires that the M's be firing on all cylinders to capitalize.

Posted by shortbus

10:24 AM, Apr 09, 2008

With the starting C and DH both struggling...now long before Clement gets a call up? Is he ready to play catcher at the major-league level?

Posted by rossco

10:31 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Paul - i completely disagree with you about Clement. A good hitting catcher is far more valuable in this league than a DH. Bringing Clement up to DH will only diminish his chances of becoming an acceptable defensive backstop, thus lessening his value to the team. Keep him in AAA and let him work on his catching skills and bring him along next spring when Joh is gone.

At DH, use Vidro until it's apparent he's not improving (1 week is not enough time), then if we need to bench/drop him, fill in and improvise with Wlad, Morse, Wilk, Norton for the rest of this year. in '09.... GRIFFEY BABY.


shortbus - short answer: No.

Posted by Mark in Kirkland

10:38 AM, Apr 09, 2008

The opposing pitching gameplan for Sexon is clearly to throw him nothing but junk. He was pressing in that first series against Texas, but has since appeared to catch on to the strategy. He's being selective, making pitchers work more, and that piece of hitting he did last night to poke the ball over the 2nd baseman and score 2 runs was a purely professional at-bat.

People bagging on Morse are missing the point. He doesn't have to be a better fielder/hitter than Ichiro to be an effective OF for the M's...he just has to bring more to the table than Wilkerson.

Anyone else think Wilkerson looks like a 5/8 scale version of Larry Walker? His skills level is about 5/8 of Larry Walker too.

Posted by Blair

10:47 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Wilkerson definitely needs to get it going and not turn into another Everett/Aurilia type signing of an aging veteran past his prime. I'm not sure Balentin is the answer though. Decent power last year in Tacoma but 105 strikeouts in 125 games. This year he is 1/13 with a single. Yes, that is obviously a small sample. But so is Wilkerson's. Against better pitching in the majors my guess would be an avergae below .240 with a ton of strikeouts and maybe 20 home runs for Balentin. If Wilkerson doesn't get it going by the end of the month I think Morse is our best option right now. And one other thing, when is Ichiro going to get a steal? I have seen him go a few times in the hit and run but I don't know why they try to bunt him over so often. Ichiro is a great player but he can be maddening to watch sometimes. Especially when he bunts with a man on second and two outs.

Posted by Lance

10:48 AM, Apr 09, 2008

I'm not worried about Vidro or Kenji. They'll pick it up. Vidro hit .314 last year and won't just fall off the map. We've just started week two.

Wilkie I'm not so confident about. Eventually, I think the real answer is to have Jeremy Reed platoon with Mike Morse in RF and hit 9th. Not much power but in that spot you don't need a lot of power. Still, better than the sub-.200 with little power that Wilkie is going to bring. I see him as Carl Everett redux. Gone by June, if not sooner.

Geoff, your right about Sexson Especially with his beginning to show some plate discipline. FINALLY! If he sticks with that approach he'll have a good year. The pop will come as soon as teams realize they can't play rope-a-dope with him anymore.

Still, Richie is a guy who doesn't perform well under pressure. That's just him and I won't knock it. That's why it's best to keep him out of the cleanup spot, maybe even the fifth hole. He'd relax more hitting further down, and perform better as a result. Six would be ideal. But, five is ok, too.

I think the team would be much better off if Adrian was hitting #5 and Yuni #3. It's such a waste keeping Yuni at #9. That's where our RFers should be hitting. Yes, RF is a spot you'd want more production from, but it is what it is. That's baseball. The consolation is that you'll probably get more from shortstop. Not AROD production, but still pretty good.

Posted by Get Griffey

11:02 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Mark in Kirkland-
Totally agree with our Sexon comment, wouldn’t it be nice if they just keep that strategy for the next couple of months. Then Sexon could survive with walks until he starts up in the second half (hopefully).

To the posters about Clement-

I think the benefits of him staying in AAA to catch are grater then his short term DH(ing).

In 09
Clement, C
Get Griffey for DH
Wlad, or VLAD (if we can sign him) in RF

GO M'S

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

11:02 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Cool I don't enjoy listening to the other people they interview on KJR. I definitely will be listening now, as long as Geoff doesn't talk about roles in the bullpen. LOL.

The sooner they call up Wlad for right, and Clement for DH the better we can take advantage of the Angels losing Kendrick and Escobar, and Lackey for the month of April.

Posted by Get Griffey

11:04 AM, Apr 09, 2008

YOUR Sexon coment not "our", sorry not trying to steel the idea. lol

Posted by Lance

11:22 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Just a couple of observations on yesterday's victory.

In addition to his mad dash to second base, not to be overlooked from Lopez is his at bat earlier in the game. With runners on first and second and no outs, a sacrificing situation, Jose motioned to bunt but he passed because it wasn't a good pitch to bunt at. Then with two strikes, he was able to inside-out the pitch to tap it to the pitcher. It worked just as well as a sacrifice. A great piece of hitting in that situation, I'd say.

Earlier I said Lopez is the best bunter and has the best bat control of anyone on the team. Even Ichiro. Some argued with me on that, but I think that AB was an example of what I was talking about. That's why he's an ideal #2 hitter. There's certainly more of that coming.

Also, I hope that last night's game won to guys new jobs. Corcoran as a setup guy and RRS as our new situational lefty (starting can wait). Sean Green can move to the middle-reliever spot that Julio Mateo used to have. At least when J.J. comes back. The bridge to J.J. should be Corcoran-Lowe-RRS.

They'll probably give the situational lefty spot to Rhodes once he returns. But, I don't see him holding it long. After blowing a few leads he and the team will realize it'll be time to hang 'em up, if he just doesn't go back onto the DL, again. Even before his current health problems Arthur didn't pitch well with Oakland and Pittsburgh. His best days are behind him. Nothing personal, it's just the way it is. Could he surprise me? Maybe, but I doubt it.

Posted by Adam

11:25 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Some interesting numbers:

Wlkerson leads the team in pitches seen per AB, with 4.5

Lopez, Sexson and Vidro all are at 4.2 pitches per AB.

So that's a good sign. Although, a word of caution: each of these rates are pretty high compared to their respective career rates, with the exception of Wilkerson. I'd argue that this patience from Lopez, Sexson, and Vidro will not last, but perhaps you can teach old dogs (and a relatively young one) new tricks.

Further, Wilkerson's BABIP is an incredibly low .143. He's been terribly unlucky - we should see him improve. It would be premature to kick him to the curb right now.

Meanwhile, Sexson's BABIP is .353 - which means he's been getting some breaks (his bloop 2-run single last night comes to mind). We should actually see some regression, despite his better eye. He's not the type of hitter who can maintain a high BABIP (usually it is something hitters like Ichiro do).

Jose Lopez's line-drive % is an unbelievable 3.3%!!! WOW!! And yet his BABIP is only .286 while his ground ball % is only 33.3%. So, he's hitting a ton of fly balls. And since more grounders become hits than fly balls, either a large portion of his grounders are getting through, or a highly inordinate number of fly balls are dropping. It is a very weird line for Jose. I expect him to start hitting the ball on a line better, due to his better ABs, but it might not necessarily translate into more hits.

Johjima and Vidro are getting pretty unlucky at the plate - BABIPs below .100. Look for that to improve, especially in Joh's case, as he's hitting the ball decently (17% LD rate). Vidro is really sucking it up, but should start to hit a little better.

http://www.hardballtimes.com/thtstats/main/index.php?view=batting&linesToDisplay=50&qual_filter=1&season_filter%5B0%5D=2008&league_filter%5B0%5D=1&team_filter%5B0%5D=SEA&pos_filter%5B0%5D=All&Submit=Submit&orderBy=pPerPa&direction=DESC&page=1

Posted by Squatch

11:28 AM, Apr 09, 2008

both rolly polly Vidro and Wilkerson look like they enjoy their eating and drinking, maybe if they got their heads together and focused they could slim down, get in shape and earn their paychecks. Now Silva is a fatass too, but that dude at least is earning his.

Posted by Alaskan

11:29 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Here's my biggest concern:
we're concerned about 5 of our 9 hitters. That is way too many questions coming into a season when the FO is clearly trying to go for broke.

When you have offense questions at DH, 1B, and RF, your offense needs help. At least one of these positions should be addressed.

How about Lofton in LF, Ibanez at DH and Vidro taking Cairo's spot on the bench? That's an improvement in both offense and defense. Wilkerson gets a little more time before we bring Wlad up. I honestly don't know what to do with 1B if Sexson struggles. I can't think of an appealing option.

Posted by Lance

11:31 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Geoff, one thing you failed to note in your referring to Upton's dash for a triple. He was running with one shoe. He lost the other coming out of the box. Pretty amazing run considering, even though he was out.

Then, again, Shoeless B.J. just doesn't have quite the ring to it that Shoeless Joe does, so I guess the monikor wouldn't stick, anyway.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

11:32 AM, Apr 09, 2008

What does Clement have left to learn about catching in AAA? (Not a rhetorical question; honestly curious.) Wouldn't he get a lot more from seeing real game situations, talking to the ML pitchers and to Joh and Jamie? What does he have to learn from calling games for guys who are likely still learning, or on pitch counts / rehab programs / working on specific pitches?

If Joh or Vidro are still hitting about the same a month from now, bring up Clement, platoon him with Joh/Vidro at C/DH. Send Jimerson down to make room.

If Wilkerson is still hitting about the same a month from now, DFA him and bring up Wlad. I haven't heard a convincing argument against Wlad here yet, except "ton of strikeouts", which is not unusual for a power guy.

Posted by oregongal

11:35 AM, Apr 09, 2008

I went to baseball reference.com to see if by any chance the J in BJ Upton could be for Joe, so he could be this generation's Shoeless Joe. Turns out BJ stands for Melvin Emanuel. They name people funny in Virginia.

Posted by Squatch

11:37 AM, Apr 09, 2008

By the way DOES ANYONE (including our manager) HAVE A CLUE AS TO WHAT CAIRO DOES ON THIS TEAM?????? why not fire him as a player and then rehire him as a coach?

Posted by joe

11:38 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Oregongal: the B.J. stands for Boss Junior, a nickname given to him by his Dad, who is The Boss.
Really I am not making this up :)

Posted by Lance

11:39 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Squatch, pitchers seem to get away with it far more easier than position players. Look at David Wells and Bartolo Colon and others. Wasn't Fernando Velenzuela that way?

Still, just because a guy is not slim doesn't mean he's roly poly. I wouldn't say Wilkerson is. That's just his build.

Posted by Squatch

11:41 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Lance, if that is a "build" would you please give my wife a call and tell her that? I have been trying to convinve her of the same thing for years now LOL

Posted by Husky Fan In New York

11:43 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Why don't we make a run to get Larry Walker as a DH? He's younger than Bonds and just turned 41 in December! Kenny Lofton is just 6 months younger than Larry Walker.

Or as someone suggested, get Lofton for LF and move Ibanez to DH.

Posted by Lance

11:44 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Hey, CFB. A couple of days ago I cited how lefties Bedard and Washburn would have to go back-to-back. You said it wasn't a problem because they'd be facing different teams?

What were you talkling about?

I hope Wash isn't hurt much having to face TB today after following Bedard. It didn't work for him well last year.

Posted by oregongal

11:44 AM, Apr 09, 2008

joe--BJ Upton is Bruce Springsteen's son? I had no idea. ;)

Posted by Paul

11:46 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Rossco - there's no reason that Clement can't be the backup C as well...I don't want to see his progression as a Catcher stop here to be a full-time DH, but my god, if we want to win this year, I have no problem giving him a chance to steal the job from Vidro - at least against righties in a platoon.

Nonethesless, that's not the only solution. Wlad could replace Ibanez in the OF so Ibanez can DH. I just think that one of those two AAA bats can produce more than one of our ML bats b/w Wilkerson and Vidro.

Posted by Lance

11:48 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Squatch, your build is fine. You need a haircut.

Posted by Lance

11:53 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Let's just wait until July and see how Clement is doing then. I'm sure Vidro should have some marketability as a pinch-hitter for an NL team that needs a bat off the bench and is in contention.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

11:58 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Lance - The Bedard/Wash comment from the other day was just a gaffe on my part. Forgot handedness, then the schedule.

It'll be nice when the rotation can get reset from the juggling done due to Bedard's hip thingy.

Posted by cesame

11:59 AM, Apr 09, 2008

Easily Johjima. He has no approach at the plate, unless you call swinging at balls even Richie and Beltre don't swing at an approach.

Posted by Mike

12:00 PM, Apr 09, 2008

I don't think anyone is going to give you anything for Vidro. I think you can find comparable pinch hitters for much less than the $6.5M we have to pay of his salary.

Posted by Blair

12:03 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Chris from Bothell-
I don't know if Balentin can be classified as a "power hitter" yet because he hit 24 home runs in 477 AB last year in Tacoma. He also made 7 errors which is quite a few for an outfielder. I can't say I've seen him enough to properly judge his defense. Is he a good fielder? I don't have anything against him and I do hope to see him up here producing eventually. I just don't think he is ready right now. Now if we get to the summer and Wilkerson and Morse are both below .250 with no power and Balentin is hitting well in Tacoma I would certaintly reconsider. Go Mariners, let's see another W today in Tampa Bay!

Posted by Lance

12:06 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Mac says he wants to first chance he gets. But, it might end up with Felix #1, Bedard #2. Or, Bedard #3 and Wash #5. But, they certainty want a seperation for Wash's sake.

Awhile back I likened Bedard to Gil Meche. People jumped all over me for that, but as I explained, that like Meche, there always seems to be something with this guy.

I'm not expecting a great April from Erik. He seems to be a slow starter. But, if he's straightened out by May I'm fine with it.

Still, there's always something with this guy and I expect that to continue.

Posted by Lance

12:16 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Mike, I disagree with you. Money won't be an issue in dealing Vidro, at all. The M's would just pick up some, if not all, of the remaining tab. If that's what it takes to get Clement ABs.

The player the M's get in return will be determined on how much they'd be will to pay. But, either way, it won't be much. I mean, we haven't gotten much for Moyer yet, have we?

But, coming off the bench it's likely Vidro won't vest into that third year, so it's a no-risk acquisition for whoever picks him up. May even be a post-July waiver trade.

I'd be surprised if it didn't happen.

Posted by Drew

12:18 PM, Apr 09, 2008

So Geoff, now that you are officially a part of the KJR team every Wednesday, we need to know....

Who do you like in the Bigger Dance??

Posted by Nick in pdx

12:24 PM, Apr 09, 2008

To those of us who thought this team would have trouble scoring 700 runs, it's not so much worrying as it is disappointing that they might struggle to score 650. Here's hoping the team brass figures out that the collection of bats they're running out there do not make good odds to score enough runs this season to win games.

Posted by tylerv

12:27 PM, Apr 09, 2008

I thought there were alot of bad ball/strike calls last night.

Posted by James from Walla Walla

12:28 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Hey NB or Mere,

Why are you hammering on Mike Morse?? You got to play to suck. He tore the cover off in ST. He made the team and was to platoon in RF. Mac lets him sit and get rusty. What like 5 at bats total in seven games. While Wilkerson hits squat!
The guy can hit if they let him play! He has hit over .300 at each level. So, I doNOT know where you come up with the he sucks comments??? How about letting him DH?? Vidro not cutting it right now.

Posted by scrapiron

12:44 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Ryan Divish of the TNT had some great Sexson observations and quotes:

A week ago, Sexson stood in the batter’s box at Safeco Field with the bases loaded and looked like he was trying to hit with a straightjacket on. He was the picture of discomfort and eventually struck out on a pitch far outside.

On Tuesday, he stepped to the plate twice with the bases loaded, having watched Tampa Bay walk Ibańez ahead of him both times. He didn’t look the least bit uncomfortable.

“At home, I just try to do too much,” said Sexson, who improved his batting average to .259 with two hits Tuesday to go with six RBI this season. “The last time I had the opportunity I just got too excited. I said that a week later it wouldn’t happen. This time it worked out.”

Scrapiron: So if McLaren takes EO out of the setup role and puts him in low pressure situations to build up his confidence, why doesn't he take Sexson out of the cleanup spot at Safeco for the same reason?

Posted by James from Walla Walla

12:49 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Geoff,

Nice Take!
Agree totally with your assessment of the two hitters. To go alittle further, if there is not a turn around soon? What do you think of the following?

We should move Ibanez to the DH! Let Morse play LF full time. This will allow him to mature into the player we think he can. Wilkerson should be released or sent down to AAA. Reed should be brought up to take his spot. We need his Left handed bat as well of speed in the OF. Finally, Norton should be brought up for the bench and Cario should be released. I contend the offense & defense will be muchly inproved with these moves.

They finally changed the batting order to what I thought it should be. Your thoughts on that??

Posted by slescotts

12:49 PM, Apr 09, 2008

I go to a batting cage, I hope to make contact. Brad Wilkerson has an at bat, I hope he makes contact--even if it's a ground-out or fly-out. His foot high of the ball whiffs are painful. The difference is, Wilkerson makes 3-4 million bucks and is a waste of 4-6 at bats per game. I am sure he is a nice guy and deserves a shot somewhere. I do appreciate the walks he's gotten, his hit last night... I just don't think that we should've signed him. There's nothing in his 'make-up' that has him making an appreciable impact with this team at this stage of his career. I am sorry to be such an a** towards the guy... This is Bavasi's fault.

Posted by scrapiron

12:53 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Notes from the farm:
The guy that can play right field, Wladimir Balentien, isn't hitting (.077 AVG with a .210 OPS).

The guy that can hit, Jeff Clement, (.400 AVG with .993 OPS) isn't major league ready at catching.

We're going to have to wait on these guys. C'mon Wilkerson and Johjima, get it going!

Posted by scrapiron

12:57 PM, Apr 09, 2008

James - It's not that Mike Morse sucks. That's irrational thinking by others here. But he does struggle defensively, at least in the outfield. Many major mistakes in ST in the outfield, but he's really just learning that position. He's never really fit well anywhere defensively.

Offensively, he can hit. I like your idea of letting him DH to see if he cools off or can hold the fort there.

Posted by Rock

1:05 PM, Apr 09, 2008

The M's need to find a place in the lineup for Morse's bat. Give the guy a chance and I believe you will find he is a consistant performer-which is something this team is sorely missing. Also, bring up Balantien as soon as possible, and bring up Jeremy Reed. Why not start the future today? The team as its presently assembled, is not going anywhere-so why the reticent to start building for the near future?

Posted by James from Walla Walla

1:13 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Scrapiron--

Yes, I noticed he misplayed some balls in SP. Brunner was working with playing in the bright sun light, etc. He made some good plays as well if I remember. Had a couple OF assists??
He has a good arm, former SS and all. I would rather see him back in AAA getting his at bats and
learning to play OF better. Than, sitting on the bench getting 5 at bats a week. Your thoughts??

Posted by scrapiron

1:21 PM, Apr 09, 2008

James - Morse is much better as a utility infielder. I would rather they carry Morse over Cairo and let him play in the infield. If the long term solution is to have Morse as your fourth outfielder than I agree that he needs to go to AAA to work on his defense. Based on McLaren's comments about Morse in the outfield, I don't think he has a lot of confidence in him out there. Let Morse be your second utility infielder and call up Reed to be your fourth outfielder.

By selecting Morse over Reed out of spring training, they've obviously made the decision that offense is more important than defense. Ok, so let him hit then.

Posted by Adam

1:23 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Mike Morse does not SUCK, but he isn't very good, and isn't a better option than Wilkerson.

First of all, let's forget about spring training, ok? Otherwise, you'd better be willing to accept that Eric Bedard is a likely flop.

Second, let's pay very little attention to his MLB numbers. We are talking about 296 ABs over four years. Aside from sample size problems, he's never hit for much power in those 296 ABs. (His Isolated Power number (Slugging minus BA) is .98 - meaning most of his slugging is built on singles).

His BABIP?

2005 - .341
2006 - .421
2007 - .571
2008 - .333

Again, average for BABIP is about .300, meaning he's been incredibly lucky with hits falling in.


So, if his MLB numbers tell us anything, (and they really don't) he's a lucky singles hitter.

As for his minor league numbers, he's only broken .800 OPS twice in eight seasons. He had his best year last season in Tacoma, but he did it as a 25 year-old going through Tacoma for the THIRD time. And he only hit 6 HRs, so the power really didn't show too well - again, as a 25 year old.


Add all this to the fact that he's a below-average defender at every position he's played, and it's a wonder anybody would think he's a valuable piece. Honestly, there are guys like Morse in every organization. He's not that good, and hasn't done squat to take many ABs away from Wilkerson.

I'm all for getting him some ABs, just to spell Wilkerson or Richie. But he's not the answer, and he's not going to develop into an impact player.

Posted by scrapiron

1:43 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Adam - completely agree. But you have a struggling offense right now, and a guy in Morse that seems to be hot in April, luck or not, so I'd plug him in at DH to replace our other lucky singles hitter that hasn't started hitting yet.

Long term Morse has little pop, no wheels, and average defensively but will hit .300. Sounds like a young Jose Vidro.

Posted by FuKell

1:46 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Enough of offensive sucky suck already! Trade joh, wilkerson, vidro, jimmerson and a minor leaguer for Prince Filder. Bring up Vald and Clement. 12 pitchers instead of 11 please. I'm so mad waking up this morning knowing stinky big Mc still manage the mariners. btw, when booovasi is going to get fired????

Posted by slescotts

1:48 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Someone please explain giving Wilkerson the kind of moolah we did. This is the issue. It shows a fundamental lack of judgement on Bavasi's part. He builds this team. He is the issue. That a guy that's past his prime is having hitting woes is one thing... He shouldn't have been signed by this organization. It was a poor decision that made us 'poorer' and shows that Bavasi's 'blank check' decision making is for 'his' short term benefit. He'd corrupt this franchise if it meant winning a couple more games before getting canned, being nicely asked to leave, resigning and then spring-boarding to another position. This isn't a parliamentary system, otherwise we could have a no confidence vote. Wilkerson will improve and hit better than he has... Unfortunately, 'better' likely means just north of Mendoza, followed by retirement. Do we remember what happened to Bret Boone? Players decline. We signed one on his for a ton of money. That said, I hope I am wrong.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

1:53 PM, Apr 09, 2008

I agree that Clement HAS to remain a Catcher. Why not consider using Norton at DH or calling up Wlad to play RF and giving Wilkerson a look at DH (or platoon with Norton in that position)?

I might be in the minority here but if we bring up Jeff Clement, he needs to be the Catcher full time. Vidro is replaceable and we have cheap solutions that should easily out slug him.

Baek released = Dickey up
Cairo DFA'd = Norton up
Wilkerson benched or platooned at DH, Vidro cut, Wlad up and playing RF OR sign Kenny Lofton (I accept he can be an upgrade in both the field and at the plate).

Posted by rossco

1:53 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Paul - again, bringing Clement up to catch once a week and DH will diminish his development as a catcher. Trust me, i'd love his bat today, i'm just not willing to give up our future hot-hitting catcher for it.

i agree with scrapiron (12:53): Neither Wlad nor Clement are ready for the big show. it's going to be exciting when they are ready.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

1:54 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Also, I don't consider moving Raul as we all know Mac won't make that happen. Raul seems to proud to be the DH and because Mac is a buddy to his vets, he won't do that to his LF, no matter how slow he is.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

1:57 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Scrapiron,

At least Morse will get more XBH than Vidro. I believe Morse's power is in the fact he will get more doubles at least.

I firmly believe in giving Norton a look. The guy has some pop.

Posted by scrapiron

1:58 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Wilkerson

First off, his salary is a bargain at $3 million, which is $1.35 million less than he made last year. He was the best available outfielder at the time of the Bedard trade. We needed someone to man right field until Balentien was ready.

The Mariners first choice to play right field was Geoff Jenkins, who signed for $5 million with the Phillies. Jenkins would have been a substantial upgrade over Wilkerson, but the Bedard trade drug on so long that Jenkins got tired of waiting and signed with Philadelphia.

The Orioles owner is responsible for this mess. If he conducted business like most teams, the deal would have been made at the winter meetings and Jenkins would be in right field. But I guess I can't complain too much, at least the deal got done. The Cubs are still trying to make a deal for Brian Roberts.

Posted by Alaskan

2:07 PM, Apr 09, 2008

scrapiron,
Wilkerson was the best available outfielder? Did Lofton officially retire? Is Bonds not available? Don't you think either of those guys would be better?

Posted by zach

2:20 PM, Apr 09, 2008

I was the first to thin the Bedard trade was marvaleous what it would do for us. After these first 8 games, are weaknesses have been our bullpen and bench. I beleived pushing every started back in the rotation wouold benefit the team mightly. I didnt think our Bullpen by comittee was going to be terrible. we gave away too many young arms , and were going to pay so much on this trade. jones would be our RF, Sherrill would be closing out our games right now. Bonds should be in our line up (which to me if your freaking Bavasi after all those HORRIBLE trades, signings, what could u possible lose) Name one man in our lineup that would actually make any pitches fear. ICHIRO, ok but you want your feared hitter to be someone who can POP the ball. if you read any of these bavasi, read this : SIGN BONDS2008 . your a moron if you think vidro and wilkerson are going to even put up .280 28hrs 100 rbis together, which bonds would do easily as a DH, get over the one week barrage of reports that woul;d come and that would be it .

Posted by Adam

2:25 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Really Zach? You were the first to think getting Bedard was a good idea??

The very first??

Posted by James from Walla Walla

2:29 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Rock,

Right you are! Good take!
Look how long it took for the Mariners to finally let EDGAR stay in the biggs! I watch how some of
the other teams let there young stars play and mature. Like the Angels, Rockies, etc. We need
to not just stick with the Vets.

Hope it happens sooner than later!

Posted by zach

2:29 PM, Apr 09, 2008

ouch dog chill

Posted by scrapiron

2:42 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Alaskan - Best available outfielder for their needs, yes. They were looking to replace Guillen's 90+ RBIs and 20+ homers. Lofton doesn't qualify. Does Bonds qualify? Absolutely, but he's a bad guy, remember? :-)

Posted by Zach C

2:42 PM, Apr 09, 2008

what the heck do we need lofton for? seems like we've got a younger verson on the bench already...

oh right, USSM wants to pick him up. what was I thinking?

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

3:02 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Scrapiron,

Wilkerson took a pay cut to come Seattle? The guy should be making WA minimum wage-- $8.07/hr. And even thats too much really: at least at McDonald's, your fries are hot or you get a new bag- with Wilkerson, you're forced to eat those crappy, cold fries. Cut Wilkerson! Play Morse!!

Posted by NB

3:10 PM, Apr 09, 2008

James,

My suck comments were probably a bit hyperbolic. They mainly were referring to Morse's defense, which is adequate at best at the corner infield spots and Manny Ramirez with one leg awful in the outfield. Pitch hitter? Spot infield starter? Meh. Outfielder at any point in time? No thank you.

Posted by Mike

3:37 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Zach---And the younger version of Lofton on our bench is??? Neither Morse nor Jimerson will hit for an OPS of .781. Morse would not be much of an upgrade over Raul in left.

Posted by slescotts

3:54 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Yeah, Bonds is a fine hitter with juice or 'neat'. However, is he worth the 10-16 million bucks for half a year? Let the Yankees have him. I was skittish of the Bedard deal and hope it works out. However, his horrible spring, his strange couple of adequate starts (5-6 innings, those 25-35 pitch innings) our lack of a bullpen, our hitting and run scoring woes all make me nervous. I agree with playing the younger guys, saving some money and spending it on something with immediate impact. Is Bonds really worth it. Why not build a team instead of spot filling holes with 'legacy player' bondo.

Posted by Ben

6:12 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Johjima really better watch out now... way to go Burke.

Posted by Ben

6:13 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Not to mention Washburn has done a great job tonight too.

Posted by slescotts

6:29 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Additionally, any team that takes on Bonds must deal with the possibility that he gets dragged out of town by the Feds and MLB. Lot-o'-risk in that wager that doesn't show up in his stats.

Posted by Faceplant

3:47 PM, Apr 10, 2008

"The guy can hit if they let him play! He has hit over .300 at each level. So, I doNOT know where you come up with the he sucks comments???"

Not that it's really relevant to how we can expect him to perfrom but Mike Morse did not hit over .300 at every level. He hit over .300 once over a 76 game span in AAA, and he hit over .300 once in 21 games for the Mariners.

Don't put to much stock into spring numbers. They are pretty much worthless.

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