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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 8:15 PM

Two in a row for M's

Posted by Geoff Baker

rays2 010.jpg

The pitching was there from Jarrod Washburn and the bullpen tonight and the hitting finally put something together with men on base. The result was a 7-1 victory for the Mariners over the Tampa Bay Rays, their second win in a row after an 0-4 start to this road trip.

"We know we're a talented ballclub,'' Washburn said. "Obviously Baltimore didn't go the way we wanted it. But nobody in here was real worried, I don't think.''

Washburn added: "I don't think we're the kind of team that's going to blow many teams out, but we're going to win a lot of close ballgames with the pitching staff that we have and the way we can make things happen offensively.''

This was the first real "blowout'' of the year for the M's, but the game was far closer. Washburn had just a 3-1 lead entering the sixth, something becoming all-too-familliar for M's starters. That home run by Jamie Burke really took some pressure off.

Burke said Rays reliever J.P. Howell kept busting him inside in hopes of notching a double-play grounder. As the count moved full, those inside pitches started coming closer to the plate. Burke barely missed cranking a three-run homer on the previous pitch, then cheated a little, expecting another offering -- also close to the strike zone -- and turned on it.

"I was probably guessing in more than anything and was able to keep it fair,'' said Burke said.

He'd been told earlier in the day at the team's hotel that he'd be starting at catcher in-place of the slumping Kenji Johjima. He contributed earlier, notching a single and scoring a run in the third inning. But then he popped out with runners at the corners and none out in the sixth, allowing a promising rally to begin fizzling and finally die on a Yuniesky Betancourt double-play.

But his home run finally gave the team's pitchers a lead they could relax with somewhat. Ryan Rowland-Smith looked sharp again in the eighth and Sean Green pitched a scoreless ninth.

"It was nice to put some runs on the board,'' Mariners manager John McLaren said after his team improved to 4-5. "It gave us a bit of a breather.''

These two wins, the first consecutive ones all year by the M's, also allows the team to breathe a bit.

It wasn't always pretty. But Richie Sexson, strikeouts aside, kept working counts. Brad Wilkerson notched a double. Jose Vidro drove in a run. Adrian Beltre made another error (how's that thumb?) but also a superb barehanded play. Not to mention hitting that home run in a 2-1 game.

Do you know what would make this road trip feel much better for the M's heading into their weekend series with the Angels? A sweep tomorrow. The Rays are down. They had Matt Garza and Cliff Floyd go on the DL the past 24 hours. Not a bad time for Seattle to strike. A sweep can cure a lot of ailments this time of year.

It's an eary start tomorrow, 9:40 a.m. for those of you on the West Coast. Let's see if the Mariners can carry over some of this momentum.

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Posted by Adam

6:48 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Not to pick nits, but why RRS? A night after going 1 2/3? Was that really necessary?

And I say this with no reference to Washburn: Tampa's offense sure doesn't look very good.

Posted by Nat

6:55 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Oops, my bad. If M's win tomorrow we will NOT be at .500. That would come after Felix and the M's cream the Angels on Friday night...

Posted by Husky Fan In New York

6:58 PM, Apr 09, 2008

I didn't watch the game but also noticed RRS in after going 1 2/3 last night. Is there something in the thought process we're missing? Looks like we were already up 7-1 when RRS came in in the 8th. Is McLaren trying to preserve the notion that Erik O is still the #1 LH in the pen?

Regardless, winning 7-1 is mighty fine.

Posted by antsy in anaheim

7:06 PM, Apr 09, 2008

What a relief. Did Wash really finish 7? Question: Can JBurke play everyday? If so, can we trade Joh in a package deal for Junior? ESPN says Cincy could use a catcher? Clement can be the backup as well as DH. A sweep tomorrow and we'll have some sorely needed momentum to face the Angels. Go Ms!

Posted by scottM

7:07 PM, Apr 09, 2008

To everyone who loves to rag on Ibanez for his defense, that was one heck of a throw from left field on a rope to home plate to keep this a 4-1 game. One of those momentum stopping plays. Raul may have average range, but he's far more effective and much less of a defensive liability than many here suggest.

Posted by Samuel L. Jackson

7:09 PM, Apr 09, 2008

I also don't understand the coaching. If placing EOF in a non- pressure situation was their intentions then this was the perfect game to get him back untracked. Why use RRS then with no days off coming up? Also, why didn't the manager get Cairo, Jimerson, and/or Bloomquist in there to at least get an at bat unless they are planning to release one or two of tem soon to bring up Norton and a pitcher *which is what I would do).

Posted by Nat

7:11 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Pokenour: in response to your comments on the other thread, I am not unhappy because I know from past experience last year that as time goes on this season, no doubt I'll get angry with Mac again. And so, I can be happy for the win today.

I can hope Mac will go with another closer tomorrow. But if he puts RRS back in to close it out tomorrow, I'll probably get ticked off. But why borrow tomorrow's problems today? We won!

And I'll be home to watch the game tomorrow morning at 9am as Angie Mentink just reminded me on FSN, so all is well with me for the moment...:)

Posted by Nat

7:16 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Adam, I hear what you're saying about TB's defense, but I wouldn't mind having Caril Crawford in LF.

Posted by Adam

7:20 PM, Apr 09, 2008

To everyone who loves to rag on Ibanez for his defense, that was one heck of a throw from left field on a rope to home plate to keep this a 4-1 game. One of those momentum stopping plays. Raul may have average range, but he's far more effective and much less of a defensive liability than many here suggest.

Perfect example of why we shouldn't let one play by itself have any bearing on a player's ability. The minute I heard that call on the radio I knew someone was going to make a post like this.

Posted by Raulito is the man!

7:32 PM, Apr 09, 2008

On the radio? So you didn't see the play? Can you really comment on how good he is on defense if you don't watch him?

Posted by joe

7:33 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Kudos for Ibanez on his Gun tonight, but I must say that Aybar ain't that fast either.
.
Good win! Keep on keepin on...
.
Funny how the posts are less when we win

Posted by Zach C

7:40 PM, Apr 09, 2008

RRS was warming up when it was 4-1...would you want EOF to come in with a 3run lead? and sitting RSS down after he got loose is really bad according to norm so they used him. Three days in a row is stupid, but would anyone really be surprised...I know I wont

Posted by Samuel L. Jackson

7:48 PM, Apr 09, 2008

I was just glad to see the bench (besides Burke)get used tonight. Now they will be sharp when called upon when it really counts. At least Cairo, Jimerson, and Bloomquist don't have to guess or wonder if they are going to play or not. McClaren has very defined roles for each player. Sit on the bench.

Posted by Pokenour

7:56 PM, Apr 09, 2008

For what it is worth lets examine McLaren's strategic moves in this win.

First, he continued his revised batting order - proved effective; good move.

Second, he inserted Burke for a slumping Jojima - proved effective, Burke hero of game: good move.

Both of these moves were predictable and expected by a good manager. The Burke move could have as easily have failed but it was worth a try and timely.

Third strategic move, the Wilkerson bunt in the eight with Sexson on first, a good strategy to manufacture a run - but made with a lack of consistent foresight - you use a speedy runner at this point when trying to make it happen. Hence, a tactical error by McLaren - he should have inserted Jimerson or another speedy pinch runner. Worked out by the homer, but more luck that sound strategy.

Fourth strategic opportunity - choice of reliever - you are six runs up, RRS pitched the day before to wonderful effect giving hint that he can handle closer situations, but this is not a closer situation and RRS does not need the work, he may need to be available for tomorrow night to close a close game. 17 pitched the night before is 17 pitches, something that you do not throw away, as your closer must be kept rested and used for a few pitches as possible for frequent closing. Putz would not have been used tonight were he healthy, RRS appears to be simulating Putz's role, so inappropriate to use him for mop up. Green was subsequently used to finish, but now can RRS be called upon to close tomorrow if necessary. Not a sound tactical decision by McLaren.

These are real concerns that ought to be carefully studied and considered as the season progresses. In my opinion, they suggest that McLaren is not an effective strategist and therefore unlikely to give his team the best chance to win.

Posted by 2o6radicaladem

8:02 PM, Apr 09, 2008

recall in the middle of the game when Richie was Ohfer 3, but still had 2 runs scored (Error, BB) of course that has alot to do with Burke hiting the well timed homerun (Off the field for so many impatient "move the World Series to April" fans and on the field for obvious reasons), my point being is Even with 3 whiffs today he still got on twice in what turned to be crucial table placement for smooth win.

Posted by 2o6radicaladem

8:03 PM, Apr 09, 2008

recall in the middle of the game when Richie was Ohfer 3, but still had 2 runs scored (Error, BB) of course that has alot to do with Burke hiting the well timed homerun (Off the field for so many impatient "move the World Series to April" fans and on the field for obvious reasons), my point being is Even with 3 whiffs today he still got on twice in what turned to be crucial table placement for smooth win.

comparing last years catching du-Oh to what we should expect this year and I personally am willing to lean back in my Lazyboy knowing that 8-9-1-2-3-4 (with tonights line-up format)are all .285+ hitters.

I backed up richie some but don't get me wrong, I'm glad i didn't see Raul being intentionally walked today, it can be an emotional rollercoaster that I'm not prepared to engage in on an everyday basis.

Give Kenji another day off please, startem with Felix @ Anahiem

Posted by FukodomeFan

8:03 PM, Apr 09, 2008

I personally felt that OFlaherty should have pitched the 8th, and Lowe the 9th...

Lowe needs some work.. he's pitched very little so far this season..

And in a 7-1 game, OFlaherty could have had his soft landing McLaren was talking about..

This would have given two of our better arms (RRS and Green) another night off.. and the ability to go at it tomorrow when the game could be much closer..

Posted by Chris from Bothell

8:16 PM, Apr 09, 2008

++1 to pokenour, SLJ and adam above.

This was a needed win. Wash did well in a setup that didn't seem favorable on paper. Jamie continues the trend of "power from unexpected places".

Still doesn't give me faith that Mac can manage well enough against the likes of Scioscia, and/or choose how and when to use the bench and bullpen. Season's early, but I have a bad feeling about 1-run games now that it's going to take a bit to undo.

Posted by Pokenour

8:19 PM, Apr 09, 2008

The eighth inning bunt was a strategy to manufacture a run, but it was inconsistent in its execution because when manufacturing a run you need a swift base runner which Sexson is not. Therefore under normal tactical circumstances you pinch run for your slow first baseman, no reflection upon him. The subsequent home run was more a matter of luck or at best Burke's skill as a batter with first base open after the sacrifice bunt. But McLaren did not give the team the best chance to win by retaining Sexson at second base during this manufacture a run strategy.

The point is that mistakes in April from sloppy management result in games behind in September and a failure to make the post season. A good manager thinks ahead and makes the moves that will give his team the best chance to win. Certainly in Baltimore there were likely three giveaway games that a good manager might have effected a winning strategy for a positive outcome necessary for a competitive team.

As I suggested earlier, Batista has an effective history as a closer and he can work often to effect a better chance to secure victories in closing while Putz is out. Baek had been a decent starter who could take Batista place temporarily while Putz remains disabled. Baek every fifth day, Batista every tight game in closing - with this combination, rather than closer by committee, there would likely be three more victories in the Mariners win column. Mistakes like these in April will make the difference in September - McLaren seems clueless to basic baseball strategy necessary to win close winnable games like those in Baltimore which wasted terrific efforts by the starters.

Posted by scottM

8:30 PM, Apr 09, 2008

I knew that would wake you up, Adam. I just get tired of so many people here who want to rush unproven AAA players into left and platoon Raul at 1st, when Raul is playing adequate defense. Wilkerson looked good at the plate tonight, but his offense is FAR more of a concern than Raul's glove. Raul's range isn't great, but he knows what to do when he gets to the ball. Even IF (big big unlikely if) the M's get Bonds, it would be to replace Vidro at DH, not Ibanez in Left.

Too bad you missed the play, Adam, or you might have posted this yourself!

Posted by Adam

8:35 PM, Apr 09, 2008

No - Raul is not playing adequate defense. He's incapable of doing so. One play is not going to change that.

And you really wouldn't take Wlad in LF and Ibanez at DH instead of Ibanez in LF and Vidro at DH?

Methinks that move improves the team in the field and at the plate.

Posted by Adam

8:42 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Minor league report:


Morrow went an inning, struck out one, gave up an unearned run, allowed a double, and had a wild pitch.

RA Dickey has a no-hitter through 5 with 5 Ks and a BB in Tacoma.

Clement is 1 for 2, hitting .412 on the season. Wlad is hitting .071.

Posted by Pokenour

8:42 PM, Apr 09, 2008

You are exactly right Adam, yesterday Raul missed a pop up that a normal left fielder could have reached. While it had no outcome on the game, over time such failures may prove destructive to the M's ability to win close games. Two slow DH types - Ibanez and Vidro - not a sound game plan, Ibanez seems to me to best the best candidate for DH, Vidro was a poor trade in the first place as he was never a power hitter suitable for the DH. As a result, he is somewhat of a liability holding back this team despite his success as a singles hitter last year. Give Wlad a chance, he has an upside equaling that of Jones and it is necessary to develop such a player rather than stay with worn out veterans, something which McLaren seems blind to in his dogmatic devotion to his veterans.

Posted by the bruin

8:46 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Can I just point out that there is alot more to like about this team right now than there is to hate. I mean, we are 4th in MLB in walks. Last year we were dead LAST. We are 4th in HR... which some of you were worried about this year. And we are 12th in runs. This offense isn't terrible. Its actually ok. Because you figure we are doing this with some guys struggling who will turn it around, and nobody is way over performing. Maybe Lopez and Yuni just a tad.... Everyone knows our starting pitching is fantastic. But what I'm loving are the little things we are doing. The perfectly executed hit and runs, Beltre scoring because no one is paying attention, Lopez tagging on a foul pop up to the catcher, hitting cut off men.... These are little things losing teams don't do.

Do you realize that we have had the lead in every single game this year. For those of you concerned about bullpen management... relax. I would guess RRS came in tonight because he was warming up for the 8th when it was still a 3 run game. Mac probably didn't want to get him hot and then not use him, which can be very detrimental to a pitcher. I'm not concerned about our coaching, we've got a really experienced staff.. Mel is one of the best. The only thing that is concerning is our bullpens work. Which i'm convinced will turn around when JJ gets healthy. RRS has emerged as a solid option. And I've still got faith in EO as a decent bullpen arm, maybe not setup though. Also, Arthur is on the way, and maybe Morrow can help out.

Overall what I'm saying is, this team could win alot of games this year. It will be an awesome judge to see how we stack up agaisn't the Halos this weekend.

Posted by oregongal

8:55 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Everybody's covered everything, but I just gotta say, way to go, Burke. Nice to see him picking up where he left off last year. Even if he wasn't an Oregon boy I'd be an enthusiastic backer. I greatly admire a person who makes the most of their talent by working hard.

Posted by BavasiRocks

9:19 PM, Apr 09, 2008

oregongal,

I second your comment about Burke. Great to see him get untracked. What would be even better is to see him do well against his former club this weekend.

Update from Tacoma, the boxscore reads:
GS: Balentien (1)
Dickey: 7.0IP, 0R, 0ER, 1H, 7K, 1BB. ERA 1.93.
Tacoma leading 5-0.

Posted by mark logan

9:20 PM, Apr 09, 2008

FYI ... Dickey had a no-hitter into the 7th tonight. Gave up a single in the 7th.

Posted by thatgirl

9:20 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Ditto - great posts, not much else to say. I do learn a lot from all the great insights. I especially agree with Bruin, that RRS went in because he was already warmed up. Plus he's a real gamer and I think they wanted to make sure they sealed this game up and didn't let it get away by giving EOF that 'soft landing'. Go M's!

Posted by mark logan

9:23 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Oh ... and Balentien had a salami. First HR of the season for him.

Posted by Mike

9:32 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Geoff -

I was wonderinf if McLaren stated at all why he did not put EOF in for the "soft landing" or why Lowe did not get any work. So far Lowe has 3 appearences, for 1 2/3 innings in 9 games. Last time he had 4 days off he had no control. So my question is, why didnt Mac try to get some relivers with lfew outtings some work?

Posted by Pokenour

9:37 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Mike -
Perhaps McLaren did not use Lowe because he is planning to return to his closer by committee plan. Now that RRS has been spent, he will most likely not be available to close tomorrow so that leaves Lowe or EOF. So much for McLaren vaunted notion of everyone's role in the pen.

Posted by GeoW

9:38 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Only one thing bothered me about the use of the bullpen, and that was the TV shot of O'F warming up in the 8th. Why are the M's getting their 2nd left hander up, considering that RSS had the 8th inning well in hand? Otherwise, I have nothing but positive thoughts about the game.

Posted by PRchef

9:43 PM, Apr 09, 2008

WOW! After reading most of the posts it is hard to stay positive.

I for one am just glad to be seeing them win two in a row. Hopefully this will be the beginning of something good for the rest of the season.

Remember guys, relax a little and enjoy this. It is hard to do when analyzing every little aspect of the game. Especially focusing on all the bad things when we get a win...

Time to root for the sweep!!!

GO Ms!

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:55 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Loved the blowout, but it's guaranteed, RRS makes his third consecutive appearance tomorrow.

Posted by BrettJMiller

10:01 PM, Apr 09, 2008

scottM--

No one ever said Raul couldn't throw anyone out. But he will be costing us runs and a few wins all year with his range. It's not average. It's not even below average. It's wayyyyyy below average. While the stats may agree with me, you don't even need stats to understand this. You can just, you know, watch.

Posted by sjazzdude

10:02 PM, Apr 09, 2008

McLaren subs Burke for Johjima to add some pop to the offense. Look what happened? Now he needs to give Beltre and Wilkerson some time off. Come on Mac, insert Bloomquist and Morse. They can't do any worse. In fact, Either Bloomquist or Morse at third will be a defensive upgrade.

Posted by the bruin

10:11 PM, Apr 09, 2008

sjazzdude,

Its really hard to interpret sarcasm in a blog... but you can't be serious...?????

Posted by Rod

10:19 PM, Apr 09, 2008

sjazzdude, What are you smoking? Morse or Willie at third would improve the defense there?!?! Are you kidding me??? We've got a gold glover at 3rd, and you wanna replace him with Morse or Bloomquist? I think you need to sit back down and take another hit of whatever that whacky weed.

Posted by sjazzdude

10:28 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Bruin,

Serious about what?? Beltre is clearly showing he's tired and needs a rest. He already has made three (official) errors and with the exception of his homerun earlier today, his batting average is in the low 200s. Look at Wilkerson, he can't hit worth &*^% and his fielding range is less than Ibanez'. I think they need a break from the pressure.

Bloomquist only has one official at bat and Morse has pinched hit only once. They need some serious playing time.

Posted by Nat

10:34 PM, Apr 09, 2008

I don't agree with sjazzdude's ideas of replacements but there's an article in the P.I. about Mac and the Mariners I think you'll all agree with:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/baseball/358471_kolloen10.html

Will MacLaren read it and/or take anything from it? We can always hope...

Posted by Ned

10:36 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Excellent run differential today. That should bode well for the M's Pythagorean record. BTW, can someone tell me what trophy we win if we end the season with the top Pythagorean win percentage? *tongue in cheek*

http://www.imarc.net/examples/pythagorean_wins/?sport=mlb

Posted by sjazzdude

10:51 PM, Apr 09, 2008

I don't understand such discontent for Bloomquist and Morse. Bloomquist is able to play every position on the field expect pitcher and catcher. He's also the fastest runner on the team. Morse is a natural third baseman and is a gap hitter.

I'm not talking about replacing Beltre, just give him a day off. Tomorrow would be the perfect day to give Beltre off because of the games early start. If Beltre is to withstand this season, he's going to need days off. Both Morse and Bloomquist are more than able to take over those duties for a day or two. There would be no significant loss.

Posted by Merrill

11:09 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Yeah, so far I have to agree with a lot of the comments on bench management, but not necessarily BP management. I just moved and had to get the Internet service set up in my new home, so I've been lurking but not commenting.

It's been especially hilarious to see Facey and Resin agreeing on so much (unsurprising since you've always shared the same basic opinions, if not your route to reaching them) and Adam as the voice of moderation, not that I ever thought you were especially extreme.

Also nice to see some new "faces" to balance the usual suspects and contribute to the conversation.

On BP management, it's nowhere near unprecedented to give a short guy 3 days of appearances in a row. I don't think it's a good idea to just pull a guy from his role and disrupt everyone's roles when he fails once or twice. Even the best guys fail once or twice a millenium.

I agree with Mac in letting EOF pitch himself out of the role, just as he pitched himself into it. Same with Green.

I know Resin and a couple of others have made the case for "rolelessness," but I humbly disagree. Whatever RRS says (what else could he have said, really? I mean his Sunday postgame), establishing and meeting expectations provides predictibility and thus, stability, which in my view, promotes successful outcomes. I think Resin could make the case that unpredictibility is in itself a form of predictibility.

I like Pokenour's idea about Baek and Batista, but I understand Mac's thinking on this: the less role disruption, the better. At first blush, P's idea goes right along with that idea, but then I thought: It's a pretty big disruption to get Batista stretched back out again after 2-3 weeks of closing, and Baek is right in the middle of transitioning to a change of role; he'd then have to start the process all over again.

Better to use the mid-90s guys you already have in relief (Lowe, Green, RRS), and the role adjustments are small all around.

Re: this past game and RRS redux, I think BandwagonJumper and a couple of others nailed it: RRS' role has changed to the high-leverage, often-used short guy, which means he should be used often, and he was warming up before the game got outa hand.

Thus Green rather than Lowe, and Baek, Corcoran, EOF, Green, and Lowe are very available tomorrow morning (tonight, my time).

In the same vein of establishing roles and maintaining them, I'm as confounded as everyone else by the bench makeup and "use."

New posters: Write your post, save it, reload the page, and paste and submit. The captcha code times out...

Posted by pj

11:18 PM, Apr 09, 2008

It's funny, the m's get a couple of "solid" wins after a tough 4 game skid and blogger "raven" is nowhere to be found.

crow. crow.

eat it.

Posted by oregongal

11:32 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Welcome back, Merrill. I hate moving, so I hope it went easily.

I only saw a few minutes of the game (like JB's HR) so I didn't realize earlier how many pitches Washburn threw. I have to admit, I wouldn't have let him stay out so long, but it worked out great. Be a big help if he could actually get 100 pitches and keep us in the game consistently.

BTW, it seems like the captcha timeout is longer now. Or maybe I'm just not as long-winded as I used to be.

'Night all.

Posted by CHEMDORK

11:46 PM, Apr 09, 2008

Nat - Sorry, but please speak for yourself. I don't agree with the article written by Seth Kollen at all. In fact I think the entire premise of the article is ridiculous.

You start benching veterans for unproven minor leaguers and you risk losing the veterans for the entire year, then who do you replace the minor leaguers with when they falter? AA players? The players in the M's minor league system that everone thinks will be these sacrifcial lambs to the baseball gods will lift up this "pathetic" offense (which by the way is above average so far this year as it was last year) are not of the same quality as Clete Thomas. And as many people like to point out on this blog it's cherry picking. So here is a cherry picked to counter that...Andrew Jones is batting 3 for 29 for a BA of .103 who's his manager? Joe Torre...I think he'd qualify as one of baseballs best. The only reason I bring up that example is he's killing me in my fantasy league. Anyway my point is, it's a stupid, stupid article.

I guess my question to all of you that want to bring up these young guys to save the offense would be, what happens when they don't perform any better? Now, you've most likely lost the veterans on the team and you may have lost the young kids to due to a loss in confidence.

McLaren has been around baseball a hell of a long time and has lightyears more experience than any of the armchair managers on this blog. It's easy to be critical when you have the benifit of hindsight to say that you would have done something different.

Posted by Maui Mariner

12:08 AM, Apr 10, 2008

Merrill, it's good to see you back.

Here's hoping the M's can get a little streak going before they hit the Angels. That will be a good game with Felix pitching.

oregongal, yes the timeout is longer and the letters are easier to read I believe. The back button still works if your submission gets rejected. Your text will still be entered and you will have a new captcha.

Go M's

Posted by Merrill

12:18 AM, Apr 10, 2008

Thanks, OG, and thanks for the good wishes. It did go pretty well. A hassle but well worth getting out of the polluted air and horrific commute conditions of Bangkok.

Thanks for the link, Nat. Although I agree with Chemdork. It's early, but I was of the opinion before the season began that of the four big question marks (Vidro, Sexson, Wilkerson, Ibanez), it was very very likely two would have very successful years, and it was only necessary for two of them to do so for the M's to experience success (reada: playoffs), with the upgrade from Weaver/Ramirez (and I reiterate, the BP was a smaller part of the Pythag diff than 2-5s of the rotation sucking up a blue storm).

I think the results from the first 10 days bear that out: They stink when all four (plus Kenji) are going bad, and pick it right up when two of them do well.

Adam's right, the jury's still out on Wilky. He's a low-average, high-bop-per-AB guy, and I don't think, due to the Vidro DH anomaly, the M's can afford to replace him with either Morse, Jimerson, or Reed, unless they do as many have suggested, and move Ibanez to DH, Vidro to the bench, and bring up Balentien.

I don't think we'll see the current results/lineup sustained beyond mid-May. But neither do I think we'll see such substantial wholesale changes before then. A quick knee-jerk reaction is the surest way to erode confidence, and shows flightiness and weakness. Quick hooks are the bane of basketball rotations as well as baseball lineups. Just ask Donovan and Daugherty--or their players--about that.

It's more likely Leyland saw something going on with Jones and pulled him to help his confidence, let himself work on his swing for a few days and get the kinks out--rather than continue to fail and be destroyed--than as a punitive performance-related benching.

Thanks, Maui. It's good to see the tech guys continue to improve their product. I was trying to be helpful because I noticed someone complain about "user-unfriendliness."

Maybe now they'll get a blog link up and running on the stats page???

I can dream....

Psyched about the Angels series, with the new guys and Felix pitching. It'd be great to go back to the Safe at .500 and get out of that series over .500 and in first place.

Go M's!

Posted by Joof

12:30 AM, Apr 10, 2008

A couple things from this thread.

First off, that throw from Ibanez was weak. It was accurate, but with very little velocity. Someone with any speed would have easily made it home. Still was pretty exciting to watch, though it wasn't something that shows amazing defense.

Second, Clete Thomas sucks, and was a 24 year old in AA ball who barely put up a barely passable line last year.

Thirdly, Beltre isn't batting in the low 200s. He's batting 294 and was over 300 for much of the night tonight. Also, errors is a stupid way to measure defense.

Posted by Nat

1:02 AM, Apr 10, 2008

CHEMDORK: I did misspeak when I said "you will all agree..." obviously wasn't thinking completely clear at this late hour. And of course you are entitled to your opinion. For those of you who may have missed the article we're talking about, you can read it here:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/baseball/358471_kolloen10.html

But however long Maclaren has been around baseball (I read 38 years somewhere), DOES NOT A MANAGER MAKE! It seemed logical when Grover abandoned ship last year to replace him with Mac, but plugging a guy, who's been 'around baseball' a long time, into a team management role doesn't guarantee sound baseball leadership or management. There are such things as talent evaluation, putting together a strong lineup, and in-game strategy and other skills that will be new, in which he's probably had minimal if any experience. After all, he's been the #2 guy, or the #3 guy or whatever, all those years! He's not the decision-maker.

Additionally, bearing the brunt of all these decisions the top dog has to make may not rest easlily on the shooulders of certain types of personalities. Which isn't to say Mac isn't a wonderful person. I don't know one way or the other.

I actually hope Mac proves me wrong! I don't have a chrystal ball but I would love it if this team goes all the way in 2008, with or without Mac! I also don't advocate the wholesale dumping of veterans and replacing them with rookies! But I do know there are times to make strategic moves that will help the team, and the author of this article articulates that very well. You don't agree? Good for you.

I happen to believe performance incentives are a great idea. Now I'm going to sleep because there is a baseball game I want to watch in the morning

Posted by tomd

3:35 AM, Apr 10, 2008

Sorry if I missed this, but Geoff, where do you get the pictures for this blog? Are they yours? I love the composition, the way they show the fans, the crew, the players, the park itself... Fantastic.
Thanks!

Posted by thewyrm

3:55 AM, Apr 10, 2008

RE: Morse and Bloomquist need more playing time.

There are only two instances where a fan can make this statemnent and have it be true.

1. The Mariners have the worst starting lineup in baseball.

2. That fan doesn't know a lot about Bloomquist or Morse.

I'm not trying to be a jerk by any means, but anytime you find youirself saying Bloomie and Morse need more playing time you really need to take a step back and re-evaluate baseball talent. Morse is a terrible defender with a weak bat. Kinda like Vidro, just not as good. Anyone here who knows me would realize when I call you not as good as Vidro you must be really bad. Bloomie is an adaqute defender with an aweful bat. The only place he would ever be an every day starter is n AAA. Don't get me wrong, I actually think he is great to have around for a late game defense sub or a stolen base, but he should never be a long term solution for a contending team.

sjazzdude- Blommie fastest guy on team? I think that dude in center field who bats leadoff for us would take exception to that statement.

Posted by Samuel L. Jackson

7:33 AM, Apr 10, 2008

Hope the Mariners can sweep today. OK, my problem with RRS coming into the game last night was for the fact that he shouldn't have even been up in the bullpen in the 8th anyway. The 8th should have been given to Lowe or Green and then if it's still 4-1 or closer put in RRS in the 9th. Then the problem of throwing anyone three days in a row is a mute point. I love the Mariners too much to continuously watch below average managing place this team at risk for needless losses too often.

Posted by sjazzdude

8:20 AM, Apr 10, 2008

If Bloomquist and Morse were that bad, they wouldn't be up here. They'd still be down at AAA. Morse was the hottest hitter this spring hitting well over .400. I think he deserves playing time. Bloomquist is a reliable defender, his OBP is over 50%, and is a constant threat to steal bases. Yes, he is the fastest runner on the team. Ask Ichiro.

Ichiro maybe the quickest on the team, but Bloomquist is the faster runner.

Posted by Donovan

9:52 AM, Apr 10, 2008

Nat - One comment/clarification on your characterization of Mac. He didn't fall into this job. My understanding is that the team went out and got him to be groomed as Grover's replacement. Grover didn't hire him. Bavasi did. Sitting Gover's eventual replacement next to him on the bench was part of the hot seat concept, as I understand it. He was always going to be the next M's manager, no matter what Grover did last year.

I think the jury is still out on Mac. He got an unfair share of the blame for last year's collapse, which was inevitable given our shoddy rotation and was made more so by Grover's mismanagment of the bullpen. Give him more than a week this year. I agree with some of the sentiments about bench management, though I wouldn't be benching multiple starters yet. I'd just work some relief through the lineup routinely.

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