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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 11, 2008 7:37 AM

Interesting weekend

Posted by Geoff Baker

Not the greatest start to a season by the Mariners. Not the worst one either, when you think about all that has happened with the hitters and bullpen. A lousy starting rotation, this team could be 1-9 instead of 4-6. Seattle has actually won two of the three series it has played this season. I know, I kind of smacked my head a couple of times when I thought about that last night.

Of course, dropping four in a row in Baltimore was an awful result that takes away from the two series wins. No doubt about that. So, I'd say the M's had best put the past 10 days behind them and look ahead. And why not? They have, as I said, taken two series out of three. And now, with a series win against the Angels, they'll have taken three of four. Yes, they will still be a sub-.500 club if they win this series instead of sweeping. But as I said, keep doing that -- taking series -- and this Baltimore debacle will eventually be overcome.

In other words, nothing catastrophic has happened yet. Look at the standings. Only two teams in the entire American League are more than two games over .500. Plenty of clubs have sorted through a myriad of troubles the first two weeks.

That would be the Orioles and Kansas City Royals, both still building off early sweeps at 6-3. We know neither of those teams is going to the post-season. If you have to ask why, you have not been paying attention.

So, the M's, for all of their problems in getting started, truly have not lost all that much -- yet. This is where they have to forget the past and focus on the future because the hurting Los Angeles Angels are in town. You know, those Angles. Thumped 13-6 in games by the Halos last season. That cannot happen again and -- truly -- there is no reason it should. The M's have the pitching matchups in their favor this series. It's up to the hitters to get their game faces on and start producing. Yes, there is pressure. And yes, the bats are being squeezed a little tougher. That's the difference in playing on a team that's expected to win, as opposed to one that surprised folks with an 88-74 record last season.

Someone wrote in a few days ago saying that I was wrong last season, when I told you how to approach the season in the first few weeks, and in which I said the M's weren't really contenders for anything yet. Well, I was not wrong. The Mariners never did contend for anything that mattered past the first few days of September. In my book, a true contender goes until mid-September within realistic -- read that word -- striking distance of the other playoff-bound teams.

After that, anything can happen the final two weeks. But at least your "contending" team is right there.

Note that I said realistic.

A team that sits six games back with two weeks to go and then whittles that down to two games was not a realistic contender. A team that sits two games out with two weeks to go, then gets swept by the division leader in four straight to fall six out?

A more realistic contender.

If the M's want to realistically contend all season and when it truly matters in September, they have to start sweeping series against lesser opponents (at some point in the next month) and winning series like this weekend's where the cards seem in their favor.

That's my definition of contending.

What's yours?

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Posted by Higbie

7:43 AM, Apr 11, 2008

i feel gasey after that roadtrip.

Posted by SeaHokie

7:54 AM, Apr 11, 2008

Am travelling all the way from Virginia for Sunday's game. I best see some "contention."

Posted by HappyFan

8:01 AM, Apr 11, 2008

Hopefully the rest of the team will start to take some pitches in this series so that they can square up on a few.

Lopey has shown great improvement in that regard. Too bad the emphasis is only on him.

It seems like they are all trying too hard to be the team that we are all carping about here in the infancy of the season.

They will win the series this weekend.

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

8:16 AM, Apr 11, 2008

this is a key series for sexson. he's shown us glimmers of hope this past week, and a lot of fans want to believe, but if he bombs over the weekend and the m's drop 2 of 3, that could likely be the end of him...

Posted by Bob Loblaw

8:21 AM, Apr 11, 2008

Fire Mac! Release Sexson! Get rid of the garlic fries!

(Thought I'd get that in early. I'll be away from the computer most of the weekend)

:-P

Posted by 9k

8:30 AM, Apr 11, 2008

Big test for our Guns. Sexson hasn't had that much success against the Angels. Beltre looks like he can hit Weaver (5 for 11 - .455) but Richie is doing his best to balance that out by hitting .067 against ALL of the Angels. Beltre had solid numbers for the group hitting .295 against the team last year but until Richie can prove he can hit against our division rivals this series may already be over. These guys are getting big bucks and I look to both of them lead this series by putting up some solid numbers. Meanwhile, Vlad hit .466 with six home runs and 20 RBIs in 18 games last season against Seattle.

Note to McLaren: Don't Pitch to Vlad! Good god - .466 against! That's painful.

Let's go M's!

Posted by AKMarinersFan

8:32 AM, Apr 11, 2008

With all the early season pitching problems the Angels have the M's have to win the series this weekend. BTW i saw the Angels play the Indians this week. They hit 5 HR's. It would be nice to have that kind of power.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

8:32 AM, Apr 11, 2008

With all the early season pitching problems the Angels have the M's have to win the series this weekend. BTW i saw the Angels play the Indians this week. They hit 5 HR's. It would be nice to have that kind of power.

Posted by sjazzdude

8:43 AM, Apr 11, 2008

Half of our lineup is batting lights out. I mean all their averages combined couldn't harness enough energy to dimly light a lightbulb. McLaren seems to think Sexson, Vidro, Johjima and Wilkerson can hit themselves out of this slump as he keeps them in the lineup. I don't understand that rationale. If they can't hit the ball now with their current approach, what makes Mac think that they are going to get any hits if they don't change that approach??

Meanwhile, Burke is just going to play second fiddle and will only play to spell Johjima. He's the only one hitting right now and gets thanked by sitting on the bench. We also have Jimerson, Morse, Cairo and Bloomquist just sitting on the bench collecting dust. How are they going to contribute to the team if they're only going to play during junk periods??

If McLaren keeps the same lineup during the Angel's series, I can see us getting blown out and swept. Six of their regular starters in the lineup collectively have more hits than the entire Ms roster. That is embarrasing!

Posted by Chris from Bothell

9:06 AM, Apr 11, 2008

HAPPY FELIX DAY!

It's Felix Day,
It's Felix Day,
Hip-hip-hooray, it's Felix Day!

It's Felix Day,
It's Felix Day,
Glory, alleluia, It's Felix Day!

I'm a Mariner fan and I can't complain,
Just gimme Felix, 2 runs and I'll go insane!

It's Felix Day,
It's Felix Day,
Let's go out to the park -
- it's-a-Felix-Daaaaaaaaaaay!

Got tix tonight to go with my family - upper deck behind home plate. Great vantage for my first trip to the Safe this year.

Here's hoping the slumping power hitters don't try too hard in front of the home crowd, that Green, RRS and Lowe get used well and briefly, and that everyone else just keeps goin'. Hair-tearing over the road series aside, the Ms *do* have the pieces to be able to fend off the Angels, if they build on what they've done this past week.

A complete game out of at least one starter would be a nice gift too, to take the bullpen decision out of Mr. McLaren's hands. ;) Not realistic given how well the Angels have been hitting, but hey.

And in the "*whack* neigh! *whack* neigh! *whack* neigh!" department: interesting analysis of Mr. O'F's pitches over on lookout landing.

http://www.lookoutlanding.com/2008/4/10/391686/eric-o-flaherty

Posted by i heart Morse

9:20 AM, Apr 11, 2008

Contention for the Mís is simply to hang around the Angelís as long as possible. I think if the baseball gods offered us a scenario in which they were 3 games out late august/early September we would all take it.

The Angels are simply a better team. The Mís should be good, but they need to play well and catch the Angelís slipping a time or two. Itís unrealistic to expect the Mís to run away with or even lead the division for the majority of the season.

Stay within a series or so of the Angels and our starting pitching MAY give us the edge down the stretch.

Posted by sjazzdude

9:29 AM, Apr 11, 2008

I Heart Morse: Even if they do keep close w/ the Angels, they will fall short of the playoffs. I can tell by looking at the rest of the AL that the wildcard will not come out of the West.

Posted by i heart Morse

9:50 AM, Apr 11, 2008

sjazzdude -

I donít think you can say that with any certaintyÖat least not this early. As Geoff pointed out, no teams have really separated themselves from the pack save Baltimore and KC (and come on, theyíre no Wildcard teams).

The Mís are playing without their 3 best bullpen arms from last year. Sherillís obviously not coming back but Morrow and Putz will. As bad as theyíve seemed at times theyíre only 2 games out and have taken 2 of 3 series (is there a plural version of that word?). If we learned anything from last year itís that their offense is undeniably streaky. Itís not impossible to imagine them rattling off a dozen straight wins at some point this season.

I think weíll know a lot more after Sunday. How they perform this weekend will greatly effect fanís, and probably the playersí, expectations for the season.

Posted by Mint Husky

9:54 AM, Apr 11, 2008

No doubt about it? Is Geoff on vacation again? And why did he let Mike Blowers cover for him this time?

Posted by daddydriz

10:05 AM, Apr 11, 2008

Geoff, I was disappointed that you didn't post a video record of your return to Seattle in the continuing "Travel Ain't Great for a Beat Writer" series. I enjoyed "sharing" those experiences with you.

To answer your serious question, I don't think you can even start talking about being "in contention" until mid-August, although you can certainly define those teams that are out of contention before then (heck, you can do that for a handful of teams--Giants, Pirates, Rays, Orioles, Marlins, Royals, Nationals) before the first pitch.

If a team is within 5 games of the leader on September 1st, then it is in contention. If it is within 3 games on September 15th, then it is in contention. There are exceptions (Mariners in 1995, Rockies and Phillies in 2007), but those are exceptions that prove the rule.

Posted by Merrill

10:06 AM, Apr 11, 2008

sjazzdude--

I say this both seriously and facetiously, with an eye to Resin:

Regarding Burke: That's his role!

Regarding the bench: Yes, I'd really like to see them get used. Seems like Mac is always planning ahead for those potential extra innings. Heck, why not go for the win now and roll with what ya got should the ol' extry come up?

I haven't done a study, but I'll guess the high-percentage play is "strike when the opportunity presents itself," not "hesitate because something might happen later."

Lovely song, Chris! Add harmonies, and parts after the "It's Felix Day" (you know, "It's Felix Day--We're so happy to say," or better yet, something less goofy of your own concoction; you get the idea), then sing it with your family as a counterpoint to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th-inning stretch. Your seat-neighbors will heart you for it!

Posted by Fukell

10:07 AM, Apr 11, 2008

I have the same meaning as yours too geoff, they should sweep texas and rays...shouldn't drop a single game to Bal instead of getting swept. This signals a struggling season. I like the Mariners to get in the playoff, but in reality I have to disagree with you they are not going to get it done. This coming series with the Angels. 3-0...Angels. God, I hate them so much!!!
Unless we make some changes, fire Mc and bring up the young talents, we are going to see our record droppong 16-37 by the end of May.

Posted by fastrs4

10:19 AM, Apr 11, 2008

In order to contend the Mariners have to have at least two clutch guys in that 3,4,5 spot. (And obviously a good rotation, bullpen and defense.)

Raul seems like a solid major league #6 hitter.
Beltre seems like he's pretty solid at #3.
Sexson should be hitting #8.

They in essence have no 4/5 hitters worthy of making their team a contender. Probably not in the organization at all.

I just don't see them at that level yet. They need one more really good off season of moves.

Posted by Pokenour

10:25 AM, Apr 11, 2008

Once again, I would like to suggest that the M's move Batista into the closer's role. The results of yesterday's game and his previous start suggest that he is not prepared to go deep as a starter. However, he pitches extremely well for short stints and he has shown great flexibility when saving a game earlier this season and in the past. While some have suggested that it might not be worth it in the short term and that he would have to be stretched out again when resuming a starting role after Putz's return, there is no telling when Putz will be back and if he well be effective. For those holding the breath for the return of Morrow, it may not be the save all situation as promised as he has shown a remarkable tendency to wildness and his injury may take awhile to recover. Indeed, it might be best if the M's where to begin the conversion process to make Morrow a starter, after all this is probably his best use in the long haul. With Batista closing, Baek could start every fifth day and if he fails, there is Dickey throwing near complete one run games in Tacoma. Baek may be trade bait, but there is need to get him work so that he might be attractive to other teams. Use of Batista as closer, appearing frequently, and Baek as fifth starter, appearing every fifth day, would give the M's more bullpen options and meet their immediate needs in a far more flexible manner necessary to sustain the six man bullpen that McLaren has chosen to employ this season. Surely the existing pattern of bullpen deployment continues, there will be many tired arms by the All Star Break and little hope for a division pennant.

Posted by i heart Morse

10:38 AM, Apr 11, 2008

Pokenour -

I'm on board. Batista has shown his value as a possible short-term closer while Baek has demonstrated his inability to pitch in relief situations. I see nothing risky about swapping Baek with Batista every fifth day while establishing some stability in the bullpen.

Posted by joe

10:40 AM, Apr 11, 2008

The Mariners ought to reflect on these first ten games. Learn their lessons, take a deep breath and say "Ok, it is ok, there are 152 games remaining"
.
Let's wipe the slate clean. The REAL season begins tonight! Time to man up and begin the battle for the title of the American League West.
.
Go Mariners!

Posted by Lance

11:06 AM, Apr 11, 2008

If the M's were to lose two of three to the Halos here and split against KC the rumblings will begin (and rightfully so) for Mac's firing. I suspect even management will start to have doubts about the decision to leave Mac at the helm.

Then, if they go on the road and are no better than 1-4 Mac will be let go on the April 21 offday.

Anything better and Mac survives. But, unless the next 10 games are a marked improvement over my foreseen 3-7 the rumblings will at least begin.

The problems will this team go far beyond J.J.'s being out and EO's poor performance.

Can anyone say Mariners manager Jim Riggleman?

Geoff, there's been all this talk about not panicing. Okay, so when is it time to panic? I'd love to see a blog entry with that title. Your blog, I mean.

Posted by PRchef

11:20 AM, Apr 11, 2008

Geoff

I think the question then becomes: what does realistic really mean?

I mean, by terms of realistic, look at the Mets last season, or the Rockies for that matter.

I agree with most of your points, but I also am of the mindset that anything can happen...

Realistically speaking, more or less : )

Posted by Lance

11:22 AM, Apr 11, 2008

Porknour, what you said made sense for a week ago. But, after his last start, Miguel wouldn't be available to close until the Royals series, unless he's used on his throw day, again (which aboslutely should not happen if he's staying in the rotation).

In fact, I'll submit that the one time Batista closed weakened him enough that he was only good for six innings yesterday.

No, Mac is committed to his closer-by-committee decision now and he's going to have to live with it until J.J. gets back regardless of the consequences.

Changing his mind only would add to the thinking that Mac does not make good decisions. To borrow a phrase, that he's a flip-flopper.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

11:25 AM, Apr 11, 2008

Merrill - Thanks. Intended to be a jaunty, 30-second thing... with lots of swinging one's elbows around.

Pokenour - IIRC, Baek hasn't pitched more than about the 5th inning on average when he's started games the last couple years (with the exception of that nice complete game). I don't see how this is better than Batista on 5th day and round-robin closing, but I suppose some stability until JJ is back would be nice. Free RA Dickey!

Lance - Um, no. Not even I think Mac would be fired before the end of the year, unless the team is hopelessly behind (8 games+) at the ASB. I'm sure the FO would note that he hasn't been the manager for a full year and give him some lead time. The same FO that gave him this bench to work with, isn't about to expect him to produce in April or die.

Posted by Swung On And Belted

11:30 AM, Apr 11, 2008

I'm all for Batista as the full time closer until JJ comes back, cause this closer by committee thing isn't working. I also agree that we are constantly being told by the voices of reason, Geoff, Adam, Donovan, etc. That it's not time to panic and any moves now would be drastic. They could be right. I don't think Mac should get canned this soon, but I do think if we get swept by the Angels we will be in serious trouble. Even if we maintain and win series after series, if we lose big head to head against the Angels, we could be 10 games back by May 1, or May 15. Then after everyone in the lineup's been given their 6 weeks, it might be too late. Obviously this would be a worst case scenario. But I'm just trying to keep it real here. I think much of what we end up doing will depend greatly on the results of our next two series with the Angels, after which the right moves, if any, need to be made.

Posted by Nat

11:36 AM, Apr 11, 2008

Tallahassee, Pokenour, Lance, et al: thanks for the chuckles this morning!!! Your comments calling for -respectively, Sexson's release after this series if he tanks, Batista taking over as closer til JJ returns, and Mac's firing $/21 should a losing record ensue!


OMG, I laughed so hard! What you suggest requires a FO that actually LISTENS to fans and ACTS logically. Whether I agree or disagree with you is irrelevant here. The fact of the matter is that this FO takes a very long time to make personnel decisions and the FO is not going to fire Mac in the first month of baseball, if at all.


But I'm happy today because, as Chris says:

It's Felix Day, it's Felix Day!
Let the boys come out to play!

And I will enjoy this game in person as well, so am looking forward to a good game. Felix rocks!!!

Posted by California Bob Kelly

11:49 AM, Apr 11, 2008

Geoff,
You are right about the pitching matchups, but where do we get such sage batting advice from Pentland about "getting the big part of bat on the ball". If that is the extent of his advice, is it any wonder our guys are last in the league in B.A. Any father in the backyard can tell his son or daughter to "keep your eye on the ball and hit it on the big part of the bat". I am sure all the other batting coaches are telling their players to hit it off the end or on the label or handle. Is it any wonder we never seem to develop solid .280-.320 hitters with some "pop". Oakland and the Angels seem to find a way...maybe its those handle shots that Anderson, Guerrero, et al about 420 feet. Get a real job, Pentland.

Posted by brock

11:55 AM, Apr 11, 2008

O'Flaherty is off to a poor start. Could it be that because the person he spent the most time with and obviously influenced him is not with the team anymore? I'm talking about Sherrill.

Posted by Babu

12:01 PM, Apr 11, 2008

Good luck to Felix and the Ms tonight! I'll be checking out the Nationals' new stadium in DC as they take on the Braves on this lovely spring night.

Lance, I have to agree with Chris from Bothell and others that Mac is not likely to be fired in April if the Mariners tank on another road trip. I'm guessing that he'll have the whole year to manage the team, based on statements made when he was given the job. As for the comment that Mac wouldn't be fired because the FO doesn't listen to the fans when it makes personnel decisions, I found that a bit of a head-scratcher. Let's just say, as a hypothetical, that the FO decided to read this blog for the past week and do what the bloggers say. The FO would have to immediately:

1. Sign Barry Bonds and not sign Barry Bonds
2. Trade/DFA Morse and play Morse every day
3. Have Batista be the full-time closer until JJ returns, and stop Batista from closing
4. Play Bloomie daily as the lead-off batter, and trade/demote/DFA Bloomie

I'm not defending the FO -- I am not a big fan -- I'm "just sayin'" that the decisions the fans want --aside from winning -- aren't at all unanimous.

Posted by Anthony

12:07 PM, Apr 11, 2008

I wouldn't sleep on the Royals, Geoff or anybody else on this board for that matter. They've got great starting pitching -- not just good, but great -- with Bannister and Greinke finally coming into their own to go with Meche. Then you throw in a bullpen led by Soria that is very solid and youngsters like Gathright and Gordon and Teahan, that's a good team. I think if they don't win the central (Indians are my pick still) they will certainly contend for the Wild Card.

My top 7 teams in the AL:
Toronto
Seattle
Cleveland
Kansas City
LA Angels
Chicago
Boston

Posted by daddydriz

12:22 PM, Apr 11, 2008

Anthony, I hope you meant to type "New York" but accidentally typed "Kansas City" in your top 7 list.

Posted by Donovan

12:42 PM, Apr 11, 2008

Lance - Dude, seriously. You think the manager has factored significantly in the M's dropping 6 of the first 10? Really? It isn't the lineup. It isn't the pitching. IT'S THE OFFENSE! This team would have exactly the same record with Torre or Piniella or Earl Weaver managing. To suggest otherwise is truly absurd and escapist.

Posted by Lance

1:06 PM, Apr 11, 2008

"Lance, I have to agree with Chris from Bothell and others that Mac is not likely to be fired in April if the Mariners tank on another road trip. I'm guessing that he'll have the whole year to manage the team, based on statements made when he was given the job." ---Behu

If the team "tanks" in April I don't see where Mac should be considered safe. Absolutely no way! It's pretty simple to me. If management continues to have faith in Mac's managing abilities he stays. If they've lost all faith in him he gets "relieved of his duties.".

Too much has been put into this season by Bavasi and ownership to believe Mac is not on an incredibly hot seat (no one will say so for obvious reasons).

He'd be the first to go. Then, if this don't turn around Bavasi's next. But, depending on how things go, that wouldn't happen until September, if at all.

Also, don't blame Bavasi for the bench. The bench is composed of the guys Mac wanted. It's his bench, including how that bench is used, or not being used as the case may be..

Also, don't think Mac is safe just because of what was said about him when he was hired/kept. That's not how it works. Of course they're going to say those things. But, if a team fails to win to management's satisfaction the manager is always the first to go. It's been that way for a hundred years.

I'm not calling for Mac's firing. Yet. Not that that matters, anyway. Just calling it the way I see it.

Posted by Lance

1:28 PM, Apr 11, 2008

"Lance - Dude, seriously. You think the manager has factored significantly in the M's dropping 6 of the first 10?" --- Donovan

Dude, to a degree, yes. To what degree can be argued back and forth. But, if it gets worse, and not better, then I won't be the only one saying such things about Mac.

Not that 4-6 is anything worth worrying about, in itself. Otherwise, people like Jim Leyland would be in far worse trouble. But, if that 4-6 becomes 7-13 or worse, which is what I'm really talking about, and we lose four of six or worse against the currently crippled Angels then to think Mac isn't on some sort of precipice is neither absurd nor escapist.

It'll be what I said it'll be.

Posted by northamericanscum

1:29 PM, Apr 11, 2008

A contending Mariner team will have to have Johjima and Vidro (or some other DH) start hitting anywhere between .265-.275, and the bullpen must improve drastically. If that happens, the M's can be 2 or 3 games out by the time August ends and therefore in contention.

Posted by Batter Up!!!

1:34 PM, Apr 11, 2008

Poor Offense + Poor Bullpen Work = Non Contender

M's Skipper, 'Can't get the square peg in the round hole', Johnny Mac, said today (10/01/08) "We coulda' been Contenders if the guys woulda' just got back on the horse and learned to play their roles!"

Posted by Al

1:35 PM, Apr 11, 2008

Who got sent down for Norton to come up? Anyone know.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

1:46 PM, Apr 11, 2008

Al - No info, but my hunch is Sexson's on the DL for a (well-timed, duck-the-boobirds, still legit) groin pull. TV guys were wondering about him favoring a leg / walking gingerly off the field after one of the later innings.

Posted by i heart Morse

1:58 PM, Apr 11, 2008

Anyone else scared that Mac's going to a 10 man pitching staff??

Posted by Statboy's dad..

2:02 PM, Apr 11, 2008

(1) Trade Wilkerson, Baek and batiista to NL team, Reds? For Griffey? Philly for (Moyer) Leadership!!

(2) Go get Bonds..$2, 3 4Mill?

(3) Bring up Dickey, Morrow and Rhodes when ready. Now the bull pen is set...

(4) with Bonds or Griffey or both they will protect a Sexson or Johjima..

(Q)Would we be that bad off if Johjima was traded and we had Burke and Clement?

The inter changing or the team is now very versitle.. Yeah a lot but it would not cost a lot of prime time players or money..You would now be the team to beat in the West..

Posted by Donovan

2:18 PM, Apr 11, 2008

Lance - I understand your clarification that you are just predicting fan reaction, but I don't see that counting for squat with the FO. People call for the manager's head every time the team loses. That means nothing. This team is not going to fire any manager in April or May or even June unless he does something illegal. It won't make any difference what the fans say, and you know what? It shouldn't. 90% of fan complaints come from the gut, not the head, and the fans' collective gut would be a foolish thing to manage a team by.

Bavasi's job is not to make fans happy. That is beyond his power. It is to field a winning team. The only thing that would jeapordize a first year manager's job is if the FO believed he was responsible for losing. I don't think fan reaction to the manager counts for diddley. If the team wins, the fan support will be there. If the team loses, it won't matter if the manager is the Dalai Llama. People will still want him run out of town. It is commonly stated that the difference between a great manager and a poor one is 5 wins a season. I think that's generous. Managers are not very important at the Big League level. They are often scapegoats for bad teams, but we don't have a bad team, so I don't see that scenario playing out. Nothing about the first 10 games suggests to me that this team is going to tank. I expect a series win against the Angels this weekend.

Posted by Greenman

2:19 PM, Apr 11, 2008

Maybe the Mariner's could avoid losing 10 or 11 games in a row this year? Avoiding a collapse will obviously keep them in contention.

Posted by sjazzdude

2:25 PM, Apr 11, 2008

I would like to see Clement up here. Even if he weren't catching he could DH or play first base. If indeed Sexson is injured, this might be a good time to bring him in to see what he can do to upgrade our pitiful offense.

Statboy, you're the first person I've read who would actually want to pick up Bonds, along with all of the negative publicity attached to him. Bonds is not worth it. No team (contending or non) would want him. If he ever does get picked, that team would have to publicly apologize everyday for being associated with him.

Griffey, another head case, is also not worth pursuing. I don't care if he wants to come back, that door's been closed. Let's keep it shut.

I would like to see Dickey up here. I think he and Baek would be good no. 4&5 starters. With Baek as the number 5 starter, I agree that Batista should be the closer. Obviously this "closing by committee" is not working.

Posted by statboys, gpa!

2:45 PM, Apr 11, 2008

sJzdude..I am not a Bonds fan..I have a 11 yr old baseball nut and he isn't the best example. i will have to ad though this is america and look at the LB in Baltimore..Didn't he kill someone? Wasn't Reggie in Green bay a drug user? We embrased these guys again. I am not saying we should with Bonds but he hasn't been proven guilty and I think baseball has finally realised to just move on with a new set of rules..Guillen was realesed today from his suspension..I want to see the city and the state excited about winning, get the excitment level back to 1995..

Posted by scrapiron

2:45 PM, Apr 11, 2008

Chris, you got good seats. You can throw garlic fries at Geoff in the press box, or me on the 100 level. Go M's!

We ran into a hot team in Baltimore. They chewed up Texas too. They're not a contender, but any team can get hot and the Orioles are right now. Let's regroup and put that behind us. Winning the series against the Angels would get everything back on the right track again.

Let's just get a nice lead so the bullpen doesn't get put in a pressure cooking with Vlad at the plate. I'm thinking Felix is primed for a CG tonight.

Posted by Adam

3:19 PM, Apr 11, 2008

sjazzdude - I'm one of the biggest fans of getting Bonds. He is EXACTLY, EXACTLY, EXACTLY what this team needs.

I said this the other day: the press will create the distraction around Bonds, not Barry himself. He keeps quiet, and he produces. And he will not be in trial in 2008. As a former attorney, I am sure of that. They haven't even begun pre-trial motions, I believe. Just tell him he can't have his entourage or any special perks, and the team will be fine. He probably won't be chummy with anyone on the team, but who cares?

I drool for his production as our regular DH.


And if anyone blanches at the idea for reasons of "integrity," you haven't been following the Mariner roster over the past 7 years or so...

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

3:35 PM, Apr 11, 2008

Adam-Have you ever watched EOF pitch? I know you value your own opinion so much that when someone disagrees you would ask them such an insulting question. Does EOF even have one plus pitch?

Posted by Adam

3:41 PM, Apr 11, 2008

We have the pitching advantage in all three games. If we don't win this series, it's a big disappointment. Can't wait to watch the most talented pitcher in the game take down the hated Halos of Anaheim.

Posted by joe

3:44 PM, Apr 11, 2008

ADAM: Bonds could be a good acquisition.
.
But, what if he WAS juiced all these years? What if all his success was due to the Juice? And now with the watchdogs watching him like a hawk, do you feel that Unjuiced Bonds will be capable of producing anything at all?
.
How will a washed up nonjuiced cranky old Bonds help the Mariners.
.
If he wasn't juiced and can produce like he has then great.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

3:50 PM, Apr 11, 2008

Bonds creates an atmosphere in the clubhouse that isn't conducive to the team winning a championship. I read the ESPN article on how the Giants players are so relieved and happy that Bonds and his cloud of legal issues and negativity is gone.

Even with Bonds , it doesn't eliminate McLaren constant sabotaging the team's chances of winning games. It doesn't eliminate a very suspect bullpen. It doesn't eliminate Sexson and Wilkerson destroying opportunities to score runs. It doesn't eliminate Ichiro, the fastest player in the league needing a sacrifice to reach second base.

Say no to Bonds, it's a waste of discussion . Lincoln and Armstrong have publicly stated Bonds is not welcome in Seattle.

Posted by Adam

3:51 PM, Apr 11, 2008

Resin - what do those questions have to do with how EOF pitched on Thursday? I watched every pitch he made against the Rays. He made one mistake, and hit the JERSEY of Carlos Pena. He jammed Upton. He got Hinske to nub one to the mound. Then he had to IBB Gomes.

As for his pitches, go look at Lookout Landing. He's throwing a very good slider, but his fastball is getting killed.

Here's the relevant part:

It's interesting that, despite O'Flaherty's struggles, his slider has been terrific. His early swinging strike rate on the slider has doubled, and as you'd expect it's been put in play less often than a year ago. That slider has been dynamite.

But the fastball's just been putrid. Putrid. O'Flaherty's thrown it all over the place, and when he's actually managed to come over the plate, the hitters have made contact. On ~90% fewer fastballs against lefties than he threw in 2007, he's allowed just one fewer hit, and nobody's swung and missed.


They've even got charts up so you can see how he's pitching lefties. He's been missing with his fastball. That's it.

I am positive he's going to get better and deserves to be on this team over any other lefty reliever in the organization. Why? Because his career numbers (much better sample than 6 games, no?) suggest as much.

This year, his OPS allowed to lefty bats is an incredible 1.750. Last year? It was .482!! As a rookie in 2006? .571.

He hasn't lost velocity, and he's actually throwing a better slider this year than last (see the Lookout Landing article). He's just missing with his fastball. And given his track record, I have every confidence that he'll do just fine and be a solid lefty specialist.


Thursday was evidence that he's on the right track.

Posted by Lance

4:14 PM, Apr 11, 2008

"Lance - I understand your clarification that you are just predicting fan reaction, but I don't see that counting for squat with the FO. People call for the manager's head every time the team loses. That means nothing. This team is not going to fire any manager in April or May or even June unless he does something illegal." --- Donovan

What on earth makes you think I'm simply talking about fan reaction? I thought I made it pretty clear I was speaking of FO perception of Mac. I wasn't speaking of "fan reaction", at all. I agree that the FO couldn't care less about what the fans' pefection is. By saying "others" I was referring to media types. Not that the FO would or should care about their views, either.

And, to think Mac's job is safe through May, or even June, unless he does something illegal I think is being quite naive. Anymore than Willie Randolph's job with the Mets is safe if they "tank" early.

Remember, both manager's have late season collapses they need to overcome before their respective managements start thinking that they had more to do with those collapses than originally thought.

A manager's job is to win. Even more so when investments and expectations are high. We've all known that going into this year. Don't win and heads will roll. The manager first, than underperforming players, and finally the GM.

As I said earlier, that's the way it's worked for a hundred years.

Posted by Donovan

4:17 PM, Apr 11, 2008

Well, I'll be at Safeco tonight, trying to make one of those $8.50 beers last. The roof will be open, Felix will be on the mound, and it should be a full house. I'm really hoping the frustration of the Baltimore series will create an edgy, angry crowd tonight who will put their bloody cell phones away, stop doing the wave, and get all over the Angels all game long.

Posted by SpokaneFan

4:24 PM, Apr 11, 2008

I've got a question. I won tickets for this Sunday's game on the radio. Anyone know anything about the Terrace Club? What should I expect? I haven't been in this area yet. Thx.

Posted by Donovan

4:35 PM, Apr 11, 2008

Lance - Well, I guess I don't understand what you talking about at all. What makes you think the FO is unhappy with Mac over last season? He didn't screw anything significant up. The team outperformed expectations of any reasonable fan. The M's '"collapse" last year had nothing to do with Mac whatsoever. It was a foregone conclusion from April. People on this blog called it in April. The horrible rotation led to bullpen burnout. Nobody thought they should have finished higher. Most people thought they should have finished lower. The FO knows this. Mac was an emergency stand-in, and he started this season with an absolutely clean slate. The FO does not hold him responsible for anything bad that happened last year, nor should they. His situation and Randolph's are not remotely similar.

An autocratic owner like Steinbrenner or Angelos might fire the manager just out of frustration in a bad year, but that has never happened with our current ownership. Mac would have to screw up phenomenally to lose his job. I think that's highly unlikely.

Posted by Lance

5:07 PM, Apr 11, 2008

"An autocratic owner like Steinbrenner or Angelos might fire the manager just out of frustration in a bad year, but that has never happened with our current ownership. " ---Donovan

Apparantly, you've never heard Bob Melvin.

Posted by Lance

5:11 PM, Apr 11, 2008

Donovan, maybe I misinterpreted what you said. Melvin was not fired "in" a bad year, but certainly "over" a bad year.

Then, again. there's always a first time.

Posted by oregongal

5:27 PM, Apr 11, 2008

As far as contending, I'm in the "doesn't count til September" group. Spent too much of my life watching teams that could play 2/3 of a season or 2/3 of a game. That's not real contention, that's not having a strong enough team to make it through.

Chris--Great ditty.

Adam--Got to part company with you on Bonds.

Lance--I don't think Mac gets fired during the because I think the FO thinks the same way he does. As far as I can tell, they believe you win with veterans and you let the vets work their way out of their slumps (even if it takes months) because once a guy has put up the numbers, you just know he'll do it again.

Bob Loblaw--I've never had the garlic fries, but I can't believe anything with garlic and grease is bad! Can we get rid of the rally fries instead?

Posted by Lance

5:33 PM, Apr 11, 2008

"Lance - Well, I guess I don't understand what you talking about at all. " --- Donovan

Dude, how can I be more clear? You might not agree with what I'm saying, but how can you say you don't understand what I'm talking about? I'm speaking simple English. Can you not understand simple English?

Posted by Lance

5:40 PM, Apr 11, 2008

"Lance--I don't think Mac gets fired during the (season?) because I think the FO thinks the same way he does. As far as I can tell, they believe you win with veterans and you let the vets work their way out of their slumps (even if it takes months) because once a guy has put up the numbers, you just know he'll do it again." --- OG

Yes, very true. So, if this team isn't winning to a satisfactory level either the FO will conclude they've got the wrong manager or the wrong
veterans.

Guess who loses in that discussion.

Can't blame the current coaches or prior manager again. That's been tried already.

Posted by antsy in anaheim

5:43 PM, Apr 11, 2008

While no one wants to admit this, I do believe this is a critical weekend for the Ms. With all the off season fiasco, should the Ms lose this series, all the enthusiasm gets knocked out. The Angels have more injuries in more key positions than the Ms. If we can't beat them now, we won't be able to catch the Angels. Top to bottom, offense as well as rotation, they're just too good. I watch these guys all the time living in Anaheim. The Ms must capitalize this weekend and all of April. No more sorry excuses. Given our early gift from the Angels injuries, the "it's early" mindset has to go. I don't even want to hear those sorry words anymore. Let's go Ms. Now is the time!

Posted by Donovan

5:45 PM, Apr 11, 2008

Lance - Yeah, I think there is a much higher threshold for firing a manager mid-season (which is what we are talking about) than off-season. Also, keep in mind that Bavasi didn't hire Melvin, he inherited him, and they still gave Melvin 2 full seasons. Mac is Bill's handpicked guy. They brought him here to be Grover's successor, even if the timing got moved up. I can't believe they would dump him halfway through his first season (last year just doesn't count). At the end of the season if the team tanks completely - possibly.

I think Mac actually did a credible job last year under difficult circumstances, and don't say he inherited a contending team. They were on the brink of falling out in July, and everybody paying attention knew it. That's the main contention of yours that I take issue with. Mac hasn't done anything to deserve being fired, and it would take a lot with this management. They are not a reactionary bunch.

I really expect the M's to have a good season this year. I don't really understand why the first 10 games would suggest otherwise to anybody. It will be a fight to beat out the Angels, no matter what pitching they have, but I expect it to be a fight all season. I don't see the Manager getting sacked as a scenario remotely on the horizon. Not with this manager, this team, and this ownership group. If Bavasi goes, then Mac goes with him, but I think that happens only if we totally collapse or at the end of the season.

Posted by Lance

6:24 PM, Apr 11, 2008

"I don't really understand why the first 10 games would suggest otherwise to anybody" ---- Donovan

The first ten games doesn't. But, the first ten games doesn't actually give the skipper a rousing thumbs up.

But, remember also, these first ten games were supposed to be the first step in giving the M's a headstart against the crippled Angels. That is now a lost opportunity.

The next ten games will be much more telling, especially when six of those games will be against the one team you need to beat. If they end up 3-7 in those games I think their's going to be some doubts about Mac. And, I'm referring to the FO, not the fans or media. It's not like he's got a record of managerial success that he can fall back on.

I just hope Mac doesn't feel as safe about his job and some of you seem to feel.

Of course if the team starts winning then it's all moot. But, if it doesn't, IMHO, it'll be as I said it would be. Things are must more critical then what Donovan, and others, may want to believe. Just because Lincoln isn't talking "hot seat" don't think for a minute there isn't one.

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