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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 12, 2008 8:12 AM

A good start

Posted by Geoff Baker

Many thanks to Bob Condotta for the excellent job done filling in last night. A big time for all of you to be able to throw your two cents in. My guess is that, down the road, the M's might look back on last night's victory as a milestone for a number of reasons.

1. They were owned by the Angels last year and taking the season-opener between these clubs sets the tone for what's to come.

2. It enabled the M's to win their third game in four tries. That's a bit of a streak. As good as any Seattle has had these first 11 days.

3. It came against an expected contender.

4. Seattle took advantage of the Angels when they're down and could not send either of their two best starters to the mound. Jered Weaver is a lot of things, but he is not a staff ace. Good teams do that.

5. The victory gave Seattle a leg up in its quest to achieve what should be its goal this weekend: win the series. Yes, a sweep would be good for the team. But winning the series is paramount. The M's now have to win one of the next two to do that.

By the way, has a team ever captured three of its first four series to start a year (series of at least three or more games), and been under .500 afterwards? I'm sure it has happened, but it's probably not all that common. If Seattle takes two of three this weekend, it will still be 6-7.


Here's a quote I fished off the Halos Heaven blog, which caters to all things Angels.

"This swinging at pitches out of the hitting (not to mention strike) zone is nothing new to this crew. It is very tough to watch the FSNW K zone show nearly every pitch they swing at is nowhere near the strike zone! HGH was very guilty of this as was Vlad (as usual) last night."

HGH is meant to be Gary Matthews Jr., I assume. But I have no way of knowing. Doesn't it sound like a lot of the talk that goes on here on this blog? Angst is a common thing, I suppose. Yes, the author of that post did accuse the umps of handing Seattle the game. Interesting. He gets shouted down by fans on the site later on.

Look, it's only one game. I'm not going to read too much into the tea leaves. Let's just say it was a bit of good news for a team that hasn't had much to start with.

I liked the move swapping Greg Norton for Charlton Jimerson. Most of you already know my thoughts about how the bench was constructed, keeping three all-speed, no-hit guys on the bench at the expense of an extra pitcher. Adding Norton would still have been my second choice coming out of spring training, but if you're dead set on using only 11 pitchers, he was the best position player option there.

The other night in Baltimore, when John McLaren made the right move in getting Brad Wilkerson out of the game and forcing the O's hand with pinch-hitter Mike Morse, he had the right idea. You get the O's to burn the lefty reliever without throwing a pitch. Trouble is, once Baltimore countered with righty Dennis Sarfate, McLaren had no lefty bat off the bench to throw at the Birds. Every team in the AL knows this is Seattle's strategic weakness. So, it was going to be a game of chicken all year, in which teams would call McLaren's bluff. Any team with a decent bullpen, with some depth, was going to win that battle of wills most night.

And it wasn't like, after being beaten in that chess match, McLaren could console himself with a bullpen that had a little added seven-man depth of its own. Nope, instead he had Jimerson. A guy who had gotten into only one game and had yet to have a single at-bat before getting used in a mop-up ninth inning at Tampa Bay two nights ago.

That wasn't working. As for what's left, I'm still not sure what Miguel Cairo's role is supposed to be. I know McLaren wants him as that extra pinch-runner so he doesn't have to worry about burning Willie Bloomquist too early. Also likes his veteran clubhouse presence. And believe me, those who pooh-pooh the idea are missing the point about the impact that Jose Guillen had here last season, especially when it came to talking with Jose Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt. When two players, who are obviously young, do not have a great command of English, it isn't always enough to have an English-speaking veteran leader to show them the way.

Raul Ibanez does speak Spanish, which is to be expected, given his heritage. But he's from the United States. Born and raised. Cairo hails from Venezuela, as does Lopez. He's an infielder, like Lopez and Betancourt, and will be spending more time with them every day in drills, workouts and such. In that regard, I don't think his veteran impact can be shrugged off as easily. Is at least some of that responsible for the quick start -- and more alert play -- by Lopez? None of us knows for certain. But then, we also can't shrug it off as irrelevant.

For now, I'm still on-the-fence about keeping Cairo. I will say that not getting him in a single game until the 10th contest of the season seems ridiculous and smacks of a poorly organized bench. But on the other hand, it is still too early to make a definitive call. There haven't been many situations where the need for an extra pinch-runner was screaming out to the M's.

So, I'll reserve further judgement until the season progresses. If these trends continue, I can't see the justification in wasting the roster spot. But we have to allow for games to unfold over time and natural situations to present themselves in a larger sample size before we call this move a failure. McLaren has said he wants to be more aggressive and use some "small ball'' aspects to manufacture runs. He's already got his team leading the league with five sacrifice bunts -- three by Lopez. That's a start. It's better than what we saw last season, that's for sure. If McLaren insists Cairo is a key to an improved overall baserunning attack by his club, I'm willing to put my own doubts aside and wait and see a bit longer. It's only April, for crying out loud. The bullpen seems to have righted itself somewhat after the Baltimore series, making the need for that extra arm a little less urgent.

My gut also tells me that Cairo has had something to do with keeping Lopez (and Betancourt is still not a perfect defensive player, or hitter and could also use steady guidance) on his toes. Sort of replacing what former third base coach Carlos Garcia used to do other than waving runners home.

As I said, I don't want to underestimate that impact in a game that is, after all, played by humans.

But Cairo eventually has to start getting in more games. If not, hire him as a coach and let's move on. The way this team wastes roster spots (see Ellison, Jason) can't continue indefinitely.

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Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

8:24 AM, Apr 12, 2008

Why can't Cairo just hang out in the dugout, imparting his great wisdom gained through 10 mediocre seasons all over the league, without actually wearing a uniform and taking a key bench spot? Maybe he could just take the young guys out to sizzler after the game and we could have Dickey in the pen instead?

Posted by Chuck

8:45 AM, Apr 12, 2008

OK, Mac saw his mistake by sending Norton down and he erased it. BUT, he sent the wrong guy down! Whats up with Cairo still in the bigs? Can the skipper do anything right?

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

8:50 AM, Apr 12, 2008

Huge win. Must win the series here. We will have to cross our fingers the offense puts up a lot of runs early so that bullpen decisions don't come into play.

Adam-if you want to see a great slider watch our very own Felix Hernandez. Or even watch Ray's starter Edwin Jackson more closely, great sliders. Note the life and movement of the sliders and how it continues to break through the zone until caught by the catcher.

EOF does not have a great slider in my opinion. It is frisbee flat and has little life to it. You can cite any blogger you want. It's comical that someone would say EOF has a great slider based on Lookout Landing's pitch/fx chart. Pitch/FX chart's cannot explain how well a slider breaks. It only marks location. You're better offer using Gameday as a source.

The fact Lookout Landing backs up their claim that EOF's slider is "terrific" and "dynamite" based on location is exactly why I hate numbers-only analysis. Location of a pitch in the strike zone does not tell you how well a slider breaks. You need to be able to look at a pitch and watch it break from point a to point b.. Honestly, most fans could probably tell the difference between a good slider and average one.

Posted by don gato

8:56 AM, Apr 12, 2008

Halos heaven is terrible.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

8:58 AM, Apr 12, 2008

My gut also tells me that Cairo has had something to do with keeping Lopez

Mac is that you? Gut? So Cairo made Lopez work deeper into counts and not chase balls on the outside of the plate? Cairo replaced former third base coach Carlos Garcia? Lol.


Posted by Chris from Bothell

9:00 AM, Apr 12, 2008

Was too tired after coming home from the game to comment, but I was pretty psyched about it. On Sexson's bases-loaded walk, I'd said to my wife on the 3-2 count "you watch - they're going to pitch him low and away, and he's gonna swing at it". I was never so happy to be only half right. :) Now he needs to apply that same focus to his defense...
Both errors seemed to be jitters, to me. Rushing throws instead of taking the extra second to plant feet and throw accurately.
Not as big a crowd as expected for a Felix v. Angels matchup, but in the upper deck they seemed pretty enthused, and especially behind Raul and Joh.
What were all those balls that Felix was missing with, esp. early on? From where I was I couldn't tell if he wasn't spotting his fastball, or if it was something else. I know the ump wasn't giving that outside corner on righties for most of the night.
And finally, I'm still not convinced Wilkerson is the right guy in right field, but he acquitted himself nicely last night. Showed off a decent arm in the later innings to keep a runner from going to 3rd.
All in all, very encouraging last night. Good stuff! here's hoping Carlos can shut down the middle of the order (esp. Vlad) like Felix did last night.

Posted by Eric

9:01 AM, Apr 12, 2008

I appreciate Mac trying to "get him going" in reference to Wilkerson, but isn't Tacoma the place for him to figure out his swing? In the meantime the hottest hitter of the spring sits and rots on the bench while the club loses games with a hitter that needs to be elsewhere. Someone please explain thin to me.

Posted by scottM

9:06 AM, Apr 12, 2008

Ah yes, the oh so important Venezuelan Veteran (V.V.) leadership. It explains $12 mill a year to Silva and a roster spot for Cairo, too.

GEOFFSITO, all Major league clubs know that you can't possibly win a pennant without V.V. leadership. Oh, and, GEOFFSAN, don't forget about how badly we need those seasoned Japanese translators. How about a roster spot for one of them? Or did Bavasi screw up and think that Baek (and his fluent Korean) was really a translator for our catcher and center fielder?

With Baek limited to translating for himself in the far end of the bullpen, we're really only five deep. (Lowe/Green/RRS/ Corcoran/O'Flaherty). Not good.

The only thing that made sense in signing Cairo that you suggest here, GEOFF, is how Lopez couldn't get complacent. So far that has worked.

Forget the leadership of a deep bench player. Comparing Cairo to Jose Guillen is ridiculous. Like JJ Putz closing, Guillen's dugout leadership followed his gutsy performances in the field and at the plate. I would rather have Jimerson and his better base stealing, than Cairo.

RE-POSTED:

I agree that next year when the M's bring in Griffey, Raul should be pulled from Left Field. However, he shouldn't be moved to the DH, but to first base. Raul is far more athletic, defensively, than Sexson (who won't be brought back).

Let 39-year-old Griffey play the DH with Vidro gone. Balentien should be in right with Wilkerson gone. Bring in a good hitting free-agent in LF. Sexson should be released, Johjima traded (with Clement brought up). 2009 should be a good year. This year expect a roller coaster ride.

I saw the play you're talking about NB. That would have been a tough play for any left fielder to get to in the air. It didn't get past Raul. It was the type of play that, last year, Adam Jones might have dived for and seen slip past him into the corner for a triple or possible in-the-park HR.

Again, Raul in LF is far, far less of a concern for the M's right now than the 5/6/7/8 "murderer's row" of Vidro/Sexson/Wilkerson/Johjima, the brain dead fielding errors, and a shaky bullpen.

And, Stango, why shouldn't Raul's great fielding plays be brought up at least as much of those who repeat and repeat and repeat that he is sooooooooooo terrible? He is very serviceable in LF, and his range not as bad as so many insist. Did you see that great throw to the plate against the Rays? In other words, if he continually makes great plays, at what point does THAT get resected. In other words give the guy his props when he deserves them. Three RBI's and a great rally-killing catch in Left. Without RAUL last night this team is three games behind the Angels. Felix should be buying him the best steak dinner in Seattle!!!

Posted by Chris from Bothell

9:07 AM, Apr 12, 2008

Hm, the Ms need more lefty bats on their bench?

Isn't Jeff Clement a lefty?

Posted by byebyeSexson

9:11 AM, Apr 12, 2008

I don't expect an answer to this. When I read, "his seventh walk with the bags full this season..." about Sexson, I just wonder what is going on. I think he has about nine walks and it is really helping in that he now gets more pitches to hit (or at least swing at). But has he been up with the bases stacked SEVEN times and gotten a walk each time? Wow!

byebyeSexson

Posted by Chris from Bothell

9:17 AM, Apr 12, 2008

bbs - Yes, because they'e been walking people to get to him, and because the OBP of the top of the order has been just that good so far, and because Sexson is laying off pitches he flailed at last year.

Imagine what kind of monster scores, and near-perfect record the Ms would have, if someone were getting doubles / singles instead of walks in those situations...

Posted by Adam

9:24 AM, Apr 12, 2008

The fact Lookout Landing backs up their claim that EOF's slider is "terrific" and "dynamite" based on location is exactly why I hate numbers-only analysis. Location of a pitch in the strike zone does not tell you how well a slider breaks. You need to be able to look at a pitch and watch it break from point a to point b.. Honestly, most fans could probably tell the difference between a good slider and average one.

Resin - next time you should read the whole piece. Did you notice this:

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.

Personally, if a guy is getting a lot of swings and misses on his slider, I'd say it's a good one. But that's just me.

I'm not sure how many lay persons can evaluate a slider just by watching a game, but if you want to measure it by break, fine. Aside from watching EOF's slider (which to the naked eye does have good break), I went to the Gameday feature at MLB.com for EOF's outing against the Rays and Felix's outing last night. Gameday is really cool, because it uses the FX/pitch system to measure speed and break of each pitch thrown.

So looking at EOF's slider, it broke either 8 or 9 inches each time (see the 7th inning of the Tampa game). Felix's sliders ranged from 7 to 9 inches.

So they have the same break. According to your parameters, that means their sliders are roughly equal. Now, we shouldn't forget that Felix throws his harder (around 90 mph) than EOF (about 82 mph). So I have no problem saying Felix's is better.

But that's not the point - you've been presented with evidence that EOF has good break on his slider (at least as much as Felix) and that he gets a bunch of swings and misses with it.

It's your burden to disprove the idea that EOF has an effective slider.

Posted by NB

9:38 AM, Apr 12, 2008

Seriously Goeff, linking to Halos Heaven just makes everyone dumber. Those guys are the quintessential SoCal, mindless morons. Some Angel fans aren't that way, but none of them are on that god awful site.

Posted by i heart Morse

9:46 AM, Apr 12, 2008

John Lackey from Fox Sports article:

Then he poked some fun at the Mariners, who went 6-13 against the Angels while finishing six games behind them last season. Last month, Seattle manager John McLaren declared he was sending a message by starting his regular lineup and ace Erik Bedard against Los Angeles for the rivals' first meeting in spring training that the Mariners won.

"If you feel you have to make a statement in spring training ... ," Lackey said, shrugging his shoulders and chuckling.

Man I'm glad we won last night.

Posted by -k

9:52 AM, Apr 12, 2008

This is likely to get a lot of flaming responses, but i'm not for breaking this lineup up yet. Not completely, yet...

Joh has shown that's he's an above average catcher in all phases of the game. his hitting will come around, and benching him will only prolong his slump. he needs a chance to work his way out of it.

Sexson's improved walk rate is a tremendous sign. His average is still down, but teams are going to have to start pitching to him more. To be average isn't everything. OBP is more important. A walk is as good as a single (unless someone is on 2nd or 3rd), and it might be better, as it forces the opposing pitcher to waste a lot of pitches one one batter, and they don't even get the out for it. The game plan is obviously not to pitch to him. We'll see how thing go over the next few weeks. If he's getting more hittable pitches and still can't get his average up, then we can talk about replacing him. Right now i ready to give him more time.

Wilkerson and Vidro are a different beast altogether. The biggest problem is who do we replace with. Morse's OF defense is worse then Raul's, by a lot. And his power numbers at the plate are as bad as vidro's, so is he really the answer? I'm not convinced. I'd love to see him get a chance to play more so we can see. Norton nees to be getting some more ABs as well. I'd like to see start for Vidro occasionally, if nothing more then to keep him sharp.

Then there are the kids in Tacoma. Wlad is hitting, well worse then Wilkerson, down in Tacoma. The kid has talent, but he's in a horrible slump. How does bringing him up now help? We obviously have to wait until he gets his stroke back. The WCL has horrible pitching compared to other AAA leagues, and if he can't hit that junk, he wont help the big club.

Clement could be brought up to play DH, but his catching skills are laking still. Playing him at DH helps the team win now, but will slow his development as a catcher. Don't we all want him as our full time catcher next year, especially if Joh doesn't fully bounce back? Plus, Clement has great offensive skills as a Catcher, but is only average for a DH. He's also never faced big league pitching, and will likely have an adjustment period. Bring him up now isn't the instant upgrade people think it is, and it hurt the team in the long term by losing their best C prospect for an average DH prospect.

The best route to improve this team is through trades. Reed and Baek are trade pieces that should be moved soon. Vidro has no trade value, but Wilkerson might. Packaging the 3 for a serviceable OF would really help the team now, without hurting the team long term. We know the Rays and Pardes want Reed, and almost everyone needs pitching. The M's would likely have to eat most of Wilkie's salary, but thats not my problem.

Posted by Pokenour

9:55 AM, Apr 12, 2008

Much is made over McLaren's desire to play small ball and manufacture runs, but in each incident when he called for a bunt presuming to do so, it was with Richie Sexson first base and Wilkerson bunting. Small ball is played with fast runners, such as a pinch runner like Jimerson not with big slow footed guys like Sexson. Last night McLaren did lift Sexson after Wilkerson successfully sacrificed him over to second, however, in Tampa, Sexson was very much jeopardy had the Rays played the ball properly and this would have negated Burke's homer as he would not have batted. Point is when you make the decision to play small ball you need to pinch run for you slow footed first baseman before the sacrifice bunt. But McLaren tells us, he had no chance to play Jimerson, to the contrary, he had no will to play Jimerson.

More to the point here, however, is the mismanagement of both the bench and the bullpen. Yes it is a good idea to have a switch hitter like Norton on the bench to counter moves like the one in Baltimore involving Morse pinch hitting for Wilkerson, however, you do not need to carry excess in the form of Cairo while robbing the bullpen of an arm. As noted earlier, Baek is a starter who has seen little action so that you really have only five effective relievers to call on, this lack of depth will catch up with the Mariners pen in time. If you want to keep Cairo to translate for Yuni and Lopez, then DFA Vidro so that the bullpen can have some depth.

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

10:04 AM, Apr 12, 2008

Halos Heaven = SOCAL morons.

Here's their current headline:

"Angels @ Frappucino Pregame".

Does this even warrant a response. I think the blog is run by a bunch of fraternity guys, and rather than taking a hard look at their team's own shortcomings (relief pitching), they just poke fun at other teams. Neither this blog, nor any self-respecting M's fan, would ever stoop to such lows.

Posted by Pokenour

10:11 AM, Apr 12, 2008

For some time, I have thought about a package deal of Baek and Reed, which might improve the M's overall situation and depth. Whether it be Wilkerson or perhaps Morse is another possibility, Morse is proving to be a liability as far as the outfield is concerned and McLaren does not seem to want to play him despite his bat. So some package deal with Baek, Reed and or Wilkerson or Morse makes some sense. Of course, Morse might could DH is Vidro is moved but as stated he has no trade value, his only option is dfa. Raul is the best choice for DH, but that leaves Morse to the outfield and he is a liability there. This bench needs attention and some life, despite Wlad's momentary troubles in Tacoma, he hit nearly .300 with power last year and he had a good spring as well as a grand slam the other night. Sometimes young players just need an opportunity to make an impact.

Posted by good guy fan

10:15 AM, Apr 12, 2008

I think the line up still needs some work, and was incredibly nervous when Wilkerson came up to bat with the bases loaded. I am glad he proved me wrong since I was screaming for a pinch hitter.

If Cairo provides what Jose did last year (to Lopez and Yuni) as Geoff says, then I agree he should stick around - but still think there are one too many bench warmers. how come no-one ever talks about Bloomquist ? cause he's been here so long- he's a "hometown favorite?" he never dazzles me, and I think that Cairo, Morse, and Norton can come in and take care of anything Bloomquist has in the past.

I was at the game and did not hear any talk on radio or tv, but did anyone else almost vomit when Felix dove for that ball to try and save the Angel's 3rd run on that bloop infield hit? I thought he should have just let it drop and then try and get the runner at first, if possible- who knows, but that attempted catch looked like it could have been disastrous if Felix hurt himself.....

Posted by Pokenour

10:25 AM, Apr 12, 2008

If McLaren would use Bloomquist as he should, much like the way Lou used McLemore as a quazi regular, you would not think him to be a liability. Bloomquist has exceptional value as a bench player. His ability to play virtually every position with great effectiveness is a true bonus to the Ms bench. When he plays, he is a reasonable singles hitter and he could average .270 over the year if given a chance. The problem is that Bloomquist's great versatility is also his bane because McLaren seems to think he needs to always keep Willie in reserve for some late game replacement, perhaps extra innings, etc. Supposedly having Cairo this year was going to let McLaren use Bloomquist earlier and more often, but such has not been the practice as McLaren seems to have very little imagination and flexibility in his use of the bench. Every team dreams of having the flexibility and skill that a Willie Bllomquist brings to the bench.

Posted by BrettJMiller

10:47 AM, Apr 12, 2008

Why is pinch hitting for Wilkerson vs. an LHP the right move? Over his career, Wilkerson is a better hitter vs. LHP than RHP. Not to mention last year the platoon split became even more extreme.

2007: .859 OPS vs. LHP, .757 OPS vs. RHP

This platooning of Brad Wilkerson needs to stop, as he's had his most recent success hitting LHP. Who should be used to get Morse his at bats?

Raul Ibanez, 2007: .650 OPS vs. LHP, .899 OPS vs. RHP

Raul may have gotten a hit vs. a LHP last night, but he's still 1/11 against them this year and is running a .143/.250/.286 line against them. Platoon Raul! He's a great hitter vs. RHP and not much else. I don't understand why no one in the mainstream media will address this, Raul has got to realize by now that he doesn't hit LHP and he's a team guy so I can't see him being offended if they told him he was going to be platooned....

Posted by JI

11:05 AM, Apr 12, 2008

I recommend never visiting Halos Heaven.

Posted by JI

11:09 AM, Apr 12, 2008

I'm sure Ibanez, like most players, is a team guy until you ask him to sacrifice some PT for the greater good of the team. Remember when he was very vocal in being upset about DHing a few years back? The guy would be a great Dh, But as it stands he is so incredibly terrible in LF that he gives nearly all his goodwill at the plate with his glove.

If this team isn't going to do the right thing to help them win (Barry Bonds), then the least they could do is give the LF job to Kenny Lofton, and move Ibanez to DH.

Posted by Typical Idiot Fan

11:17 AM, Apr 12, 2008

Don't bother quoting anything from Halos Heaven. There's nothing useful on that site to pay attention to. When the site's owner, and a couple of others, are calling for Jered Weaver to intentionally hit Raul Ibanez with a pitch, you know that blog is nothing but classless trash.

Posted by scottM

11:18 AM, Apr 12, 2008

GEOFF, if Bedard signs this one-of-a-kind button, how much will it be worth after he wins game seven of the World Series for the M's?

Can you please use one of your four questions after tomorrow's game to ask him if he'll autograph it? (I'll cut you in on the profits later ;=)

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/mariners/2004343708_msbutton12.html

Posted by TimsHead

11:38 AM, Apr 12, 2008

Quite interesting that despite all the sturm und drang, the M's are just two games behind the A's (as if they will keep that up) and one back of the Angels. Much of the thanks should go to the starting pitching which -- with the exception of Batista -- is keeping the team in the game and getting into the seventh or eighth inning. With a thin bullpen, that's huge.

I'm hoping the double is a bit of a turnaround for Joh. What he's not doing at the plate, however, should be weighed against what he's done behind it. How many catchers can gun down Figgins? This is a guy who stole 41 while injured last year, 52 and 62 the previous years. There must be some kind of statistical measure of the difference in run-scoring probability between a runner at second with one out and bases clear with two out, so it's hard to underestimate a good defensive catcher.

I like the idea of recalling Norton to sort of remedy the poor bench construction at the start of the season. Haven't seen a lot of good pinch-hitting this year, and he's one of those veterans this organization appears to prize.

Obviously the O's series was a horrible thing to happen with the Angels still skating shorthanded, but winning this series would go a long way toward making amends. You can't replay yesterday's games; you can only play the ones still on your schedule, so all of our statistical debates and kvetching won't put anything in the win column. Good pitching, timely hitting, sound use of personnel, however, will.

Posted by PositivePaul

11:42 AM, Apr 12, 2008

When two players, who are obviously young, do not have a great command of English, it isn't always enough to have an English-speaking veteran leader to show them the way.

Raul Ibanez does speak Spanish, which is to be expected, given his heritage. But he's from the United States. Born and raised. Cairo hails from Venezuela, as does Lopez. He's an infielder, like Lopez and Betancourt, and will be spending more time with them every day in drills, workouts and such. In that regard, I don't think his veteran impact can be shrugged off as easily. Is at least some of that responsible for the quick start -- and more alert play -- by Lopez? None of us knows for certain. But then, we also can't shrug it off as irrelevant.

What about Adrian Beltre? What about Jose Vidro? I actually do subscribe to the importance of having a clubhouse veteran to mentor the younger guys, especially someone they can relate to. But both Beltre and Vidro are excellent leaders and veterans that can and have mentored Yuni and Lopez. And both Beltre and Vidro follow up their veteran-ness with both talent, track records of success, and a decent amount of continuned performance. Yeah, Vidro's been off to a slow start this year, but from what I understand, he's been a huge help for Jose Lopez's defense.

There's absolutely no need for Miguel Cairo on this team. They've got plenty of clubhouse veteran mentors -- some who can actually perform. They've got a pinch runner in Bloomquist. I would've swapped Reed out for Jimerson, myself, because you still need someone who can play the outfield without killing us (as Morse and Norton both would do). His bat's been pretty solid in Tacoma so far, and he's left-handed. I like having Norton up, too, but they need a defensive asset and someone who might actually be able to hit. And Reed's not a liability on the bases, either. Swapping Jimerson & Cairo for Norton & Reed makes this team a lot better.

Posted by Donovan

11:43 AM, Apr 12, 2008

That was a great game to attend last night. Lots of drama, highs and lows, lead changes. You just never feel safe against the Angels. The crowd was really lame, but hey, it's Safeco Field - most beautiful place in America to sit outside and talk on your cell phone. Do you think a court would rule justifiable homicide if you choked a stranger to death for starting "The Wave" in the middle of a key home team at bat? I may have to test those legal waters this season.

Felix just gets better and better. He really looked in control of himself last night. 3 K's of Vlad the Impaler? Have we ever seen that? Lowe was aces, and Green was great too if he didn't blow that throw. Richie is becoming a BB machine. It's bizarre, but so preferable to last year. The man has to have the biggest strike zone in the AL, so he really must have an excellent eye. If only he and Pentland could figure out how to put the fat part of his bat on the ball. I give him an A for effort though. An infield single! I think it took him about 10 daddy longleg strides to get to first. Raul is such a pro, but he really is slow. Maybe it's the blog posts here sinking in, but I keep thinking what a fantastic DH he will be next year... Kenji had a great night. Two more walks (tying his career high) and the big RBI double. The guy was so visibly happy when he slid in to 2nd. Moments like that almost make the suffering through slumps worthwhile. Good on Wilk too. It was not a beautiful game, but it was gutsy, and there were some real feel good moments. These guys are playing to win this year. I don't see any sign of anybody holding back.

The errors are stupid and frustrating, but I see that as a correctable problem. The players making errors really are better fielders than they have shown so far. I think that was what Mac was trying to say in his inarticulate manner after the game. If he didn't sound like such a dufus in interviews, I swear he would get half the abuse that he does. The way he made the decision to PR for Sexson was bizarre too (after the sac bunt). It really did look like he forgot and somebody reminded him. Oh well, a sweet win over a hated rival. Keep it going Mr. Silva.

Posted by markus

11:48 AM, Apr 12, 2008

There is NO excuse for Cairo to be on this roster!! He should have gone long time ago! they had a chance to make it right now and still swung and missed at it (which is funny, because if Cairo ever bats that's what he'd do too!). And I don't buy into the 'keeping Lopez on his toes' line either. You know what would keep Lopez on his toes? thinking his job is really endanger with someone that could actually beat him out. Cairo is dead weight and Mac loves the crap out of this guy but has no idea what to do with him.

I am positive that Cairo has naughty pics of Mac and Bavasi or somebody. there is really no other legit reason for him to be on the big league active roster. If he is here to keep guys on their toes, then he should be wearing a coach's windbreaker and open up the roster spot. It's driving me nuts!

Posted by wally

11:52 AM, Apr 12, 2008

Are Wilkerson's legs hurt? The guy's swing looks painful at best. His rotation through the swing is terrible. He has one of the ugliest swings I've seen from a lefty in a while. I don't think he will hit under .200 all year, but I do think most of his hits will continue to be of the cheap ground balls and looper variety. I don't see him really contributing what this team needs offensively.

Posted by BavasiRocks

11:53 AM, Apr 12, 2008

scottM:
Why the speculation about next year and the pipe dream about obtaining Griffey to actually produce results? The only reason the Mariners would get Griffey is to get some more current photos of him in an M's uniform to send to the HOF, and to rekindle the hope that he'll go into the Hall as a Mariner.

Let's put the Griffey hopes to bed and move on to the year 2008.

Posted by markus

12:04 PM, Apr 12, 2008

I know it's early in the year to be thinking about this, but reading some of the comments about next year made me think. There is a lot of dead money coming off of the books next year, particularly Vidro and Sexson. A lot of people are assuming that they won't be back, but I realized that unless we collapse this year (which hopefully doesn't happen) McVasi will still be making the decisions. And their decisions are apparently based on two things: "Has he been through the wars?" and "Can I pay more for something that is readily available for cheaper". Vidro and Sexson are two guys that easily fill those two requirements. I would not be surprised to see them both back next year, based on management's track record with their roster.

Posted by thewyrm

12:27 PM, Apr 12, 2008

But Markus. . . They've been through wars!

Seattle, I will never forgive you for slowly turning the whole state of Alaska into M's country. If I could have picked my own team, maybe I could have picked someone who doesn't hurt me so. . .

ps- for love of God Geoff, could it be any harder to post here?

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

12:39 PM, Apr 12, 2008

if you ever start feeling down about the mariners, dwelling on your dislike for Bavasi's idiotic moves and just pissed about mgmt, go spend 5 minutes at halosheaven and read the garbage those clowns write about our team. as one poster noted, the head of the halos site actually argued:

"When a hack like Raul Ibonerz hits a funk blast off ya, the next at bat you crack his helmet of at least putz his ribcage."

First of all, what does "funk blast" even mean? But I digress...this site will leave you utterly convinced that the angels are evil and that you are doing a good thing by supporting the mariners. let good triumph over evil!!!

ps what is up with vlad guerrero's helmet? ok ok, we get it, you're a real tough guy, you were not only digging around in a tar pit before the game, but you also got in a fight with a grizzly bear and he got a few good swipes at the old helmet. what a stunt. can someone just get the guy a clean helmet?

Posted by Frankie

1:20 PM, Apr 12, 2008

Stuff like that really makes me hate the Angels fans. They can't take it when they lose, and they are always trying to make excuses of why they ended up losing.
Also, that sarcastic remark from John Lackey in that article was uncalled for. Yes, we did send a message to you guys. Watch your backs this year buddy, because it's not gonna be that easy for you. And how about you keep your mouth shut while your benched, and when, or if, you do come back and beat us, you can open your ugly trap.

There is a reason why I hate the Angels. And it's pretty much the same reason why I hate the Yankees here in NY. Their fans are trash and their players are big-headed arrogant morons.

Come on Silva, show this team what you are made of tonight!!!!

GO M'S!!!!

Posted by markus

1:29 PM, Apr 12, 2008

Frankie, I don't think that Lackey's remark was uncalled for. He said pretty much what we all thought at the time anyway. Talk to me when you make a statement in the regular season (like last night!! Got M's!) when the other team is trying to make a statement also. You don't make a statement against a team that doesn't know that the game matters.

Posted by Squatch

1:56 PM, Apr 12, 2008

Old Willie (Cairo) is Johnny Mac's caddy. He shines Johnny's shoes, washes his car, does his laundry, makes him tamales, margaritas and continuosly tells Johnny that he is a great manager. OW (Cairo) is invaluable because he has been through the wars.

Posted by Lance

2:09 PM, Apr 12, 2008

Free Yuniesky from the #9 hole!!!!!

CFB, you're right. Sexson is not the guy to protect Raul, and neither is JV. Adrian is! Also, AB is too much a free swinger to bat third. But, with AB hitting 5th you can deal with it. Yuni is also a free swinger, but is imroving and not as near as bad as AB.

We've also got to get more guys on base when Raul slams one over the rightfield wall. Hitting Ichiro, JLo, and Yuni 1-2-3 greatly increases the chances that these Rauuuul Blasts are more than just solo jobs.

Then let Vidro, Sexson, Johjima and compete for the botom four spots.,

C'mon, Mac. Make the move. The time has come.

Posted by Lance

2:13 PM, Apr 12, 2008

Ah, I forgot Wilkerson. Easy to do.

Posted by markus

2:34 PM, Apr 12, 2008

Che Geoff, te digo que no es deficil encontrar alguien que hable espanol para guiar a los jovenes del equipo. And I can play just as much as Cairo and be happy to do it for nothing!! But, it might be better to bring somebody in who can actually play a little bit. Poor Jimerson, he was so excited to wear 42 on Jackie day, but instead he lost his job to a guy who was never as good as Jimerson is now. Sorry Jimerson, we were rooting for you buddy.

Posted by PRchef

3:49 PM, Apr 12, 2008

Oye Marcus

Si consigues el trabajito con los Marineros y necesitas un poco de ayuda, I will be happy to do it for free as well.

Me avisas


Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

4:08 PM, Apr 12, 2008

Adam-now we have a legit argument when using Gameday. At least in a statistical argument, we can debate about what is more accurate. Our own two eyes that can easily recognize that Felix's slider is superior to EOF, or do we rely on Gameday that shows EOF has more or equal break as Felix's slider. I'll side with using my own two eyes over Gameday.

By using swing and misses, to evaluate the break of a pitch is a complete stab in the dark. A team could be aggressive on a given night against a pitcher, it doesn't mean a pitcher's slider is a plus pitch.

As far as not trusting the average fan in distinguishing a slider, it's hard to imagine the dramatic difference between sliders from Eric and Felix couldn't be seen by the everyday fan. I don't hold an elitist belief that everyone is inferior in the ability to distinguish pitches.

I'm sure people can recognize easily that EOF throws his slider from a low 3/4 position and it sweeps horizontally and flattens out. While Felix has a true slider with high velocity and breaks down vertically with constant break.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

4:30 PM, Apr 12, 2008

lance - aaa! don't you dare move yuni! :) we need him onbase for Ichiro or J-Lo to drive in, or to occasionally drive in sexson, vidro or joh. He hasn't got enough power to bat 5th or 6th and is mucks up other current guys' effectiveness if you slot him higher than that.

Posted by Adam

5:40 PM, Apr 12, 2008

Resin - since when did the debate center around whether Felix's slider is better than EOF's?


And if you've got a better way to judge a slider than swings and misses, I'm all ears.

Posted by markus

5:46 PM, Apr 12, 2008

Che Pr-

Cuando escuche algo te avisare'. Pero debido al hecho que yo no 'he pasado por las guerras' no tengo mucho esperanza que me llamen. que lastima, no?
And the good thing is when I type it you can't tell my accent ;)

Posted by Steve

7:58 PM, Apr 13, 2008

m not a ranter, but I'm gonna rant tonight.

I've coached little leaguers who played the outfield better than mike Morse did tonight. He does not belong in the major leagues.

Mac gave up on this game before it even started. Mac decided that he wasn't going to burn the bullpen and he didn't. He just left O'Flarity out there to twist in the wind.

Why is Dickey cooling his heels in Tacoma? What are O'Flarity and Morse doing in Seattle? When I pay $100 for gas, parking & tickets I expect to see a major league baseball game.

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