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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 19, 2008 10:24 PM

Barely a whimper

Posted by Geoff Baker

angels2 014.jpg

The fireworks go off after the home team secures a victory in just two hours, 11 minutes.

Let's get a few things out of the way. The Mariners had some chances on some well-hit balls tonight, balls that died at the wall or near the warning track. They got decent pitching from Jarrod Washburn, who was indeed a Mike Reilly strike call away from getting out of a three-run fourth inning unscathed.

But the Mariners lost 4-1 here to the Los Angeles Angels because they simply haven't played good enough baseball. Good teams find ways to get runners home from third when they have to. They tend to get umpire's calls to go their way. More often than not, they find the luck that eluded Washburn on that Erick Aybar single off the end of his bat that cashed in two runs.

And goods teams don't pour salt on their own wound the way Brad Wilkerson did with those two terrible throws home from right field. I stopped counting the bounces after three or four. The second throw turned out not to matter. But the first one, ill-advised to begin with, led directly to a fourth Los Angeles run when Aybar moved up to second and was able to score on a two-out single by Chone Figgins.

"If we want to catch them...we've got to beat them,'' Washburn said. "We did a good job, played a good series up at our place. But we haven't played that well the two games here.''

Washburn felt the 2-2 pitch to Aybar was a strike and that the teams would still be playing a 1-1 game had umpire Mike Reilly given him the call.

While the lefty did keep his team reasonably close, leaving after six innings down 4-0, the M's appeared to have no chance of coming back. That's a string of strike-throwing pitchers that have given them fits already. Joe Saunders, Edwin Jackson, Zack Greinke and now Ervin Santana. What's going on?

"I think you've got to try to lay off his breaking balls because he had a good breaking ball some of us chased,'' said Greg Norton, whose second-inning double was one of only three hits by Seattle off Santana. "Just try to get him over the plate and not miss when you do get it.''

Trouble is, the M's did miss. They can't keep relying on late home run balls to get them back into games. They have to start doing some things earlier. The M's do miss hittable pitches. They did a lot of it the first two weeks, got better on their recent 7-3 stretch, but haven't done much in the early going here.

It's not a season-wrecker just yet. But some of you have already pointed out the importance of tomorrow's game. Win it and the M's go home a respectable 3-2 on the trip and only two games out of the division lead. Lose the game, to the Angels' worst starting pitcher, and the trip is 2-3 and Seattle is four games out. Not a season-ender by any means. But a much less comfortable environment in which to fix some of the offensvie struggles still plaguing this squad.


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Posted by bizambo

8:27 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Any news on Bedard?

Posted by byebyeSexson

8:30 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Whimper, whimper, whimper...

Posted by Bring up Clement

8:31 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Bring up Clement and Balentien to replace Vidro and Wilkerson. Thats all we have to do.

Posted by Stevo in Oregon

8:32 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Re-post from earlier thread:

Get out the broom. This game is over and the sweep is on.

Santana is pitching well, as he usually does at home. I tip my hat to him. We should be able to generate a little more than a hit off him though.

As usual, Washburn doesn't have the 'out' pitch to snuff an inning. Isn't it 'weird' that every ground ball to the right side seems to get through?

Geoff, I'm glad you mentioned the Wilkerson throws. Not only does he have a very weak arm, he shouldn't have made those two throws in the first place. He gave them second base both times - and gave them their fourth run as a result. There was two outs and the balls weren't hit that hard to him. Both runners at second on those hits were fast. There was no way he was going to get them. My question is - Did he throw it in a fashion to where Richie the cut off man could have got them and threw out the runner going to second? If so, then we can't fault the throw, that would be a bad decision not to cut by the catcher. Brutal either way.

I don't think I can wait a day longer for Wilkerson to produce. Not only can he not hit, he's giving away run's on 'D'.

As usual, the Angels are a superior team, even without their starting pitching studs. We spend in the top 10, as do they I would imagine. However, they sign Gary Matthews, Vlad Guerrero, and even though they still have Garret Anderson, they sign Torri Hunter. This franchise has a history of not finding the right bats/impact players in free agency and/or trade. I'm sick of it. Booooooo!

Posted by byebyeSexson

8:36 PM, Apr 19, 2008

I don't neccesarily agree with dumping Vidro but I too am ready to bring Balentien to replace Wilkerson.

Go M's!

Posted by Gator Bait

8:38 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Bye, bye Wilkerson! Lets do it!

Posted by John

8:44 PM, Apr 19, 2008

None of this should surprise anyone. It's all about pitching matchups, and they just didn't favor us in the first two games. The M's had virtually no shot given who was on the hill for us and for them. I was actually impressed how we almost pulled it out last night.
Santana is legit. He's going to do that to a lot of people this year, especially in his own ballpark.
Sunday is huge. Batista has to find a way to keep it together and not blow up like he has been,and the O has to show up and not make this guy look like Cy Young. Getting out of L.A. down only two games would be big vs. slinking out of town down games and swept.

Posted by Frosty Raptor

8:46 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Huh.

I wonder if the Blue Jays will take Jarrod Washburn for Frank Thomas.

Not likely, but if Wash doesn't want to throw to Joh, then maybe...

Posted by Renaissance Man

8:51 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Batista pitching - don't hold your breath - it looks like a matchup of who has the highest era. How about we use Wilkerson in long relief, wasn't he a pitcher at Florida?

Posted by scottM

8:56 PM, Apr 19, 2008

"Whimper" is the right word for that lame offensive performance. Not close to half-full, the glass was all but empty tonight. Are the M's going to be this pathetic at the plate against every above average pitcher they face. First Greinke and now Santana. If this team can only hit against the run-of-the-mill hurlers, I hate to think what they'll do in the playoffs, should we be so lucky.

Wilkerson has to be on the verge of being pulled from the starting line-up for good. Give him five weeks to turn it around or the M's need to write him off as a bad investment and build toward the future with Balentien in RF. A buck fifty at the plate with those routine pop-ups aren't going to cut it.

And, as for Sexson's glove, why do so many grounders seem to roll right beneath him?

Who do we send down when JJ and Bedard rejoin the team? Right now the two weakest Bullpen members are Sean Green and Cha Seung Baek. Corcoran, Lowe, Dickey, Rhodes, Morrow, and Ryan Rowland-Smith are all pitching too well to be sent down.

Did Bavasi go on vacation? Why is there no trade in the works for Cha Seung Baek and Jeremy Reed for a promising or aging power hitter? I thought keeping Baek was as an insurance policy for the starting rotation. If they are going to use Dickie instead, then why keep Baek? After all this, why isn't Bavasi trying to get some value for Baek (and Reed) on the trading block?

In the opening series against the Angels, McLaren seemed to throw in the towel by keeping O'Flaherty in the game after we were down four runs. Don't expect the Angels to do the same tomorrow. Unlike McLaren, Scioscia knows how to go for the jugular. The M's need to get a sense of urgency going against the Angels. Hey Mac, maybe it's time for a team meeting. See if you have the leadership to light a fire under this team. Or do the M's think they're in Anaheim to relax at Disneyland?

Posted by Tahoma

9:05 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Baek and Reed together won't fetch a power hitter, young or old, at best they might bring in some prospects for AA ball. Still a trade is a good idea, maybe Washburn packaged with Reed might bring in some kind of decent hitting right fielder, but we still need to move Ibanez from left to DH / 1B. Wlad is a real option, certainly more so than Wilkerson who doesn't deserve five more weeks.

McLaren vs, Scioscia, no contest, McLaren couldn't think his way out of Little League

Posted by Bad Dawg

9:09 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Who should manage when the M's dismiss McLaren? How about Mel? But I suppose Perlozzo has the experience and maybe he could use Mac as a Bench Coach, which is his natural position.

Posted by Merrill

9:10 PM, Apr 19, 2008

John, I was about to say I agreed with your post on the last thread--the last post--but I see you've posted essentially the same thing below.

I don't think four down is insurmountable, but the difference between two and four is pretty big at this stage.

Adam, thanks for answering my question with your thoughts on "clutchness." Yes, I had read what you said earlier, and DrLo's points, with great interest, but this time you were more complete (last time you only included your third point from this past post). Thanks for that.

I still have to agree with Mr. X on this issue (performance under pressure is a real thing in all walks of life and some people are better at it than others), and Donovan's got a good point, too, about choking versus performing in the clutch. Beau's point is well taken, as well (he said that in order to reach the ML, all these guys would have had to have shown the ability to perform under pressure, and also that the presence of choking falsely indicates the existence of clutch--did I get that right, Beau?).

Like I said, I found DrLo's post on pitching with men on very interesting--that's one big reason I read this blog. However, Adam, most of your post deals with hitting, and in a very general way--with men on base. As Mr. X pointed out, hitting with men on base is not the same as hitting with RISP is not the same as hitting with RISP with the game on the line is not the same as hitting with RISP with the season on the line is not the same as hitting with RISP with a playoff game on the line is not the same as hitting with RISP with a game in the Series on the line is not the same as hitting with RISP late in Game 7 of the Series.

And that's only hitting. There is also pitching, fielding, throwing (re: Wilkerson's beauties), etc. And some guys, like Jordan and Bryant, get kind of bored in non-clutch situations and are actually at their best in the clutch.

So, again, thanks for explaining your thoughts. We'll have to agree to disagree on that. I'll add the caveat that academia has long since accepted that numbers and statistics are not the only kind of acceptable "evidence" or reason or logic to support an argument. Although perhaps many engineers--and lawyers/former lawyers? ; )--are still behind the times there.

Finally, I reiterate: Just because we haven't found a way to measure something doesn't mean it's an illusion.

Posted by The X Factor

9:20 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Well presented Merrill, your reasoning is well beyond logical positivism, which was the insight of the sixties. Clearly statistics are not always the answer and performance varies due to many factors, however, some players have always come through in the clutch while others have folded and faded under pressure. The evidence is also manifest in home and away performance, at home players and team seem to preform better, so it suggests that feeling comfortable is a factor in performance. Perhaps great clutch players like Roberto Clemente have it in themselves to relax under pressure.

But now tell me, ala Mr. X's comment, what pressure did McLaren ever face that so neutered him?

Posted by scottM

9:21 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Washburn wasn't the problem tonight. He was one badly squeezed should-have-been a strike from keeping this a 1-1 game. He is a solid #4 or #5 SP.

Trading Baek has to do with him being out of options and not being much of a long or short reliever. If they are going to use Dickey as the insurance #6 SP, then Baek must go. Reed is a good defensive outfielder who no longer figures in the M's planning. Get some value for them both as borderline major leaguers.

I was being very generous in giving Wilkerson five weeks. If the M's bring Wlad Balentien up tomorrow, then more the better. How much worse than .150 BA, pop-up specialist with very mediocre fielding will Wlad be? And Wlad has a future. Bring on Balentien. [Stevo in Oregon makes some good points about Wilkerson's throwing decisions].

Frustrating night.

Posted by Tahoma

9:26 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Nothing wrong with your reasoning Scott M, in fact, I applaud it, but I just think we could not get a finished or quality outfielder for both of them at this point. Still I agree that it is best to trade Baek for the reason you illuminate, so the best option is, in my opinion, to try and trade both Baek and Reed for a quality prospect in building the minor league system that was recently depleted in the hip inflammation trade.

So where is Bill went we need him?

Posted by Tahoma

9:31 PM, Apr 19, 2008

PS Trade Baek and that gives you a roster spot for Bedard when his hip is less inflamed, surely there is some team needing a descent starting pitcher which I believe of Baek. And Reed has an upside, he he would be an upgrade over Wilkerson in right.

Posted by Merrill

9:52 PM, Apr 19, 2008

The problem with Reed lies in both his excessive left-handedness and the construction of the roster demanding a power hitter in RF due to The Vidro DH Factor.

I'm sure they'd've signed that Jenkins dude had the Bay-Trade not dragged out so bizarrely long. I think the reason they didn't want to re-sign Guillen to multiple years was the Balentien Future Factor.

If they move Ibanez to first, Sexson to DH, and bring up Wlad, then they can afford to stick Reed in right (Wlad might be a slight downgrade from Raul for a short while, but I guess that in the long run--this season, I mean--we'd see improved D at three positions--anyone else sick of reading about grounders going under Sexson's glove?). If the Wilky and Vidro trends continue through mid-May, plus Sexson and Ibanez keep looking good, that's what I'd like to see. (Although Vidro does seem to be improving. If that continues, then it might be a simple case of replacing Wilky with Wlad.)

Posted by Merrill

10:00 PM, Apr 19, 2008

X Factor, thanks. I have no idea what you're talking about with the Mr. X/Mac's Mashed Cojones reference, though. I went back a few threads to your orignial comment after Mr. X's comments and couldn't find anything there, either.

And in so doing, I found that I mischaracterized, above, both Beau's and Donovan's arguments. Sorry about that, guys. My bad.

Beau actually said on the earlier thread ("M's Win Streak Snapped") that the presence of choking indicates the presence of clutch performance, not the reverse.

And Donovan, in addition to what I reported he said, also said that hitters are much more likely to get good pitches to hit with men on, due to the pitcher being under pressure to not walk guys, and that the hitters can thus afford to wait on "their" pitch.

Again, sorry, guys.

Posted by Tahoma

10:01 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Merrill, again, I like your reasoning - first rate assessment. It much as I was thinking, perhaps in the process try and move Baek for a young pitching prospect. Morse might be packaged with Baek but of course he would have to come off the DL before it could be thought. There needs to be some consideration of fitting together a roster with necessary role players,

Posted by dr

10:04 PM, Apr 19, 2008

At this point, Bedard can't be counted on.....for anything other than taking up space on the DL. So, we used our #1 and #2 pitchers against Oakland. For the LAA series we threw a "newbie" and our # 4 guy against Saunders (3-0) and Santana (3-0). Note: and you folks who love to suck the life and the joy out of baseball by turning it into "CSI:MLB", please don't start a long thread about how win/loss records really don't mean anything.

That said, when the Ms' offense sucks, it probably doesn't matter if our top guys faced the LAAs - it'd just be more close losses for Felix and Silva.

It's still April, and we've all seen teams turn things around, but that's not necessarily a bet I'd take given how much the offense looks exactly like last year's (Sexson notwithstanding) and Washburn still can't come up big when needed.

What you saw the last 4 nights? That's pretty much the rest of the year. Good efforts by Felix and Silva while waiting for Bedard (waiting for godot?) and offense only against teams' lesser pitching talents. Check back with me in September.

Posted by Merrill

10:11 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Man, dr, that "Waiting for Godot" comment made me laugh and cringe at the same time.

Oy!

Thanks, Tahoma; I'm a big Baek fan and I'd hate to see him go. But it does seem as if there is no room for him now. Perhaps next year when Wash comes off the books? Or do I have my contract timing wrong?

Posted by Tahoma

10:13 PM, Apr 19, 2008

dr as you predict, so go the M's this year if the roster stays static in its present form. Sometimes a young bat can really help turn an offense around and that is why bringing up Wlad to play left is a good idea. Reed in right would also upgrade the defense and couldn't do any worse than Wilkerson, so I agree with Merrill's notion of moving Sexson to DH and Raul to 1B. In doing so cut loose the dead wood - Wilkerson and Vidro - they don't give this team any punch and loosing the salary can simple be seen in gaining better young players such as Wlad and Reed in the starting lineup. Although the M's had no comeback tonight, games are often held close with a good defense. The outfield and 1B defense would be significantly upgraded by the suggested changes and very little offense would be lost by the dfa's of Wilkerson and Turbo.

Posted by scottM

10:26 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Merrill, I don't think we need to overthink the problem and solution here. Reed is very unlikely to be part of any solution. With Vidro and Sexson (especially) looking better at the plate, this team's glaring offensive weak spot belongs to Wilkerson. Replace him with Balentien unless he goes on a hot batting streak VERY soon.

Looking at how badly Norton looked at First Base yesterday, I think the M's in '08 are stuck with Sexson. His range sucks, but he has a very good vacuum glove when they're throwing out runners.

I've made my point about Ibanez in LF. Namely, with the solid plays he continues to make, his limited range is a very low priority problem.

Vidro's clutch, yes CLUTCH, hitting of late, has earned him some more time to produce at the DH.

I expect the big position player changes with Richie, Vidro, and Joh (with Clement coming up) won't happen until '09.

The bigger short term, pressing issue, other than Wilkerson, is who gets sent down from the bullpen when JJ and Bedard return.

Posted by Nick in PDX

10:28 PM, Apr 19, 2008

No. Offense.

Posted by Tahoma

10:33 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Bedard is damaged goods, he is not likely to return anytime soon, so the real question is who will go down when JJ returns. That is why a timely trade of Baek is in order now, he is a starter and to my mind a descent one but he is not going to get a chance with the M's so try and get something for him. It may be a pitching prospect from AA ball but at least the investment in Baek would bring some return and it would give the pitching staff some flexibility. Certainly it may be that problems are ahead with Batista in the SP role, he has not fared well this far and it may be that he is best as a reliever. At any rate, it is time to make some changes with this club, remember this period is suppose to be the easy part of the schedule.

Posted by oregongal

10:35 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Geoff, can you find out anything about Wlad?

Dave adds: Also, Wlad hurt his knee down in Tacoma tonight. Initial reports are that itís bad.

Posted by Merrill

10:36 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Tahoma, I was thinking I'd rather see Vidro stay on the bench, with Norton, Jimerson, Burke, and Bloomquist. Cut Cairo and Wilky (not now, I mean--except for Cairo, dangit--make him a coach after no one picks him up).

But that doesn't add up with a 12-man staff, and with Dickey starting, that's what we'd need. Perhaps we could move Baek to the starting rotation and send Corcoran and Green down.

I know a lot of people think Baek sucks, but I obviously disagree. One, I have a pro-Korean bias after living there for nearly four years, and two, he's never really been allowed to get in a groove, and shown flashes of brilliance at the ML level, plus sustained brilliance at the AAA level.

The first reason notwithstanding, the second reason is reason enough, in my book.

Plus, I don't think they'd get value for him.

But, anyway, I think they should keep Dickey starting, even though it's probably counterintuitive, keep a 12-man staff, and the jury is out of Baek being a good long man--he has not had time to adjust to the role--which means I'd have to swallow hard and admit Vidro should be cut. Norton's got more pop (not necessarily what you want in a PH, though--I'd rather have an average guy there--but he can also play 1st and a corner position on occasion.

Anyway, it's all silly speculation. Fun at times, though...

Posted by BrianL

10:36 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Dave Cameron at USSM is reporting that Wladimir Balentien injured his knee today, and initial reports are very, very bad.

Posted by Tahoma

10:43 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Merrill, you again make very good sense with your reasoning on these matters. As I agree with you concerning Baek and his upside, perhaps he should be starting with Dickey in the long role. Of course, this situation necessitates some of the changes that you suggest including biting the bullet with Vidro, however, the news of Wlad having a knee injury certainly changes everything in our plan. Again I think Reed is a far better option than Wilkerson and it would seem that we might retain Vidro under these circumstances. Definitely do not need Cairo, as you suggest let him become a coach.

Posted by -k

10:43 PM, Apr 19, 2008

I've been a big proponent of giving Wilkerson time to get settled from the beginning. People have been calling for his release or benching for a while now, and i've kept calling for patience. I think it's time for that to change.

Geoff mentioned that the players on this team would only be given enough rope to hang themself with. I think that most of us will agree that Wilkerson has done that. I hate to say it too. Wilkerson is a nice honest guy. I want to see him be successful, but i no longer think he will be as a starting OF.

I'm not sure Wlad is the answer. not right now at least. He's struggled in the early going this season in Tacoma. It's just a slump, and we all know he work his way out of it, I just dont think the timing is the right to call him up. He is getting close again. his average is up to .260, but lets give a chance to find his stroke again. Wlad needs a couple more weeks. Yes, i know that even a slumping Wlad would be better than Wilkerson at this point, but i'd rather do what's best for Wlad's long term development.

I'd suggest that Reed be brought up instead. He can provide good defense, and a .240-.260 average, if that's all we get out of him, will be better than what Wilkerson is giving us.

Posted by alpenfan

10:43 PM, Apr 19, 2008

I've had it with Wilkerson. The first throw was ill-advised -- "What the hell are you doing?" was my comment to my TV - and astoundingly he makes the same boneheaded play on the very next hit, with an even worse thrown and even less of a chance to catch the runner!

This guy has proven nothing with this team and it's time to give someone else a shot to produce, or at least to be a defensive upgrade. Too bad Morse put himself out of commission. He should have gotten the starting job right out of spring training - ya gotta go with the hot bat there.

On the other hand - boy is it nice to see real signs of Sexson coming around in April. In warmer weather those at-the-fence outs are homers.


Posted by Tahoma

10:46 PM, Apr 19, 2008

-k, agreed, but of course if the reports are true about Wlad, then your option with Reed is the only course available.

Posted by Merrill

10:54 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Good points, Scott, just a bit of fun, like I said. They're gonna do or not do what they do regardless of our little debates. Cairo (and common sense) are ample proof of that.

Any changes I'd like to see would not be before mid-May at earliest.

I've been reading your Ibanez fielding comments with interest, Scott; I'm not one to put much trust in the new defensive stats. I had considered that about Sexson's glove receiving throws, and also, who knows how good Ibanez would be at fielding grounders?

It'd definitely be a risk--I wouldn't want to mess with anything with Sexson for at least a few weeks; the no-fielding thing may just throw him off-stride--but it'd be a way to address the non-traditional DH thing and allow for a defensive upgrade with no power, in Reed, which is not really an option with a non-power DH.

Anyway, with this apparently terrible Balentien news, it's moot.

(Aside from the circumstances, nice to see you, Oregongal.)

ON the JJ/Bay-dar returning issue, it's likely to be Corcoran and Green, or possibly they might try to sneak Baek through waivers and keep one of the other guys. Green, likely, given his greater experience, though he has been a little shaky this year.

They can always pull Baek back and send the other of the above down if they really want to keep Baek for the future.

Jury's still out, Tahoma, on the damaged goods thing. I don't think he's be throwing BP sessions if he really had a labrum tear--even a minor one--and a LOT of pitchers have similar hip motions, so I'm not buyin' that physical therapist's "diagnosis."

Posted by scottM

10:54 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Unfortunately (for Wlad, if it's true), I think you're right, Tahoma, about Reed as the only option for Wilkerson right now.

Posted by Tahoma

11:06 PM, Apr 19, 2008

On the Bedard assessment, let's hope you are right Merrill, there is enough disappointment with this news concerning Wlad. All season long, I have been disappointed that he was not with the big club to start, but now this gives me little solace for improving the club. Still a move to Reed into right would do wonders for the defense and would even make the offense a little better.

Still there are many problems remaining with the makeup of this team and management needs to be considering the very matters we are so pleasantly discussing. Thanks for the stimulating and intelligent conversation.

Posted by -k

11:07 PM, Apr 19, 2008

This Wlad injury, if it's as bad as USSM makes it sound, changes things completely in my view. Let me illustrate:

Before the injury: Reed take wilkerson's place in the outfield. corcoran gets replaced by JJ, When Bedard is ready, Beak and Reed are traded away to make room for Bedard and Wlad is brought up, being given the time he needed to completely find his stroke. (Loads of speculation there, especially the trade part, and that Bedard will be another couple weeks before he can start, but in my cloudy version of reality it make sense)

After the injury: Reed can no longer be traded because he's being counted on play every day. corcoran for JJ, Baek gets traded away for very little just to make room for Bedard. The big loss here is was both the Rays and Padres value Reed, and a package deal with Baek adds to Baek's value, not to mention the fact that wlad has much more power than Reed.

In the end though, the most important thing is that i hope he's alright. Not because of anything stated above, i just never wish to see anyone get hurt.

Posted by Merrill

11:22 PM, Apr 19, 2008

I second your comments, Tahoma--you're welcome, and thanks right back! Always fun...

-k, I think you have a pretty good assessment there. Corcoran's been a nice surprse, but I think they'll keep Green before him. Of course, I don't think any changes will be made in the outfield before mid-May.

Vidro does seem to be coming on, but if Wilkerson comes on, then perhaps Reed to right, Wilky to DH might be a more traditional approach that would improve the D. There's always Norton at DH, Reed in right, if Vidro doesn't keep his upward spiral going and Wilky's downward spiral continues.

Posted by Merrill

11:26 PM, Apr 19, 2008

...or possibly Norton to right, Jimerson on the bench, bye-bye Cairo, if Vidro keeps going up and Wilky down.

It's a speculative frenzy in Merrillville! I usually don't enjoy that, but every once in a while...

Posted by BrianL

11:27 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Just a nugget for you guys to think about.

If we go with the scenario involving Reed taking an outfield spot on a full-time basis, I would put him into left field. The dimensions at Safeco between left field and center field are enormous. I think Reed would help the team far more in left because he can cover so much more ground than Raul can.

Posted by Merrill

11:36 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Brian, other people have mentioned that, but given that you generally want your better arm and fielder in right, Ichiro can cheat over in left-center if Reed is in right.

Also, they have to play half their games away from the Safe, and I doubt it'd be a good idea to switch 'em up for home-n-away.

In terms of the whole "role" thing. (That's you, Resin! ( ; )

Posted by -k

11:36 PM, Apr 19, 2008

Merrill - i think you were being too nice, i'm not sure my post made any sense! I'm too tired for this. That said...

I think that Vidro has earned a few more weeks. He's starting to hit like he did in the 2nd half last year, and i can take that. it's not ideal, but i can accept it.

I'm not seeing much from Wilkerson that's making me feel like he'll pick it up soon. Too many short at bats and swinging at bad pitches. He did have that 11 pitch strike out a few night ago, and he really battled there, but overall he just doesn't look like seeing the ball well at all.

this is why i've decided to drop my call for patience with him. Perhaps it's just frustration and i'll come to my senses tomorrow... we'll have to see.

Posted by BrianL

11:41 PM, Apr 19, 2008

There really isn't much of an arm-strength difference between Reed and Ibanez. As much as I rag on Raul for his defensive shortcomings, he does possess what I'd call a "league-average" arm. Reed isn't much better, and may actually be a wash overall.

If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that Reed could prevent more runs tracking down fly balls in left field rather than using his arm to nail runners at third or home. Granted this is completely unscientific and I haven't even taken a look at the zone ratings and other defensive metrics to back it up.

Posted by JJ

12:11 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Another Washburn start...ANOTHER loss...big surprise. That's 40 mil + well spent right there. Whaaaa Whaaaaa....you guys can cry over the offense all you want...but am I the only person noticing that Washburn can NEVER get a win, no matter what the cirumstances?!?!?!? I hope Washburn takes a season ending line drive to his face, so I never have to watch his sorry ass pitch for this franchise again

Posted by Merrill

12:18 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Ouch! Don't bottle it up, JJ! What are your real feelings???

Mebbe so, -k, mebbe so... I was talking more about your trade thinking, to be honest...

Makes sense, Brian...

Posted by Merrill

12:41 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Well, joking aside, JJ, I have to echo ScottM, in that Wash and Batista (if he straightens out) make up the best 4-5 duo in the game.

That's an extreme statement because I haven't done the research. Please call me on it if it's off-base. But in my (VAST) experience, everyone but the Yankees' and Red Sox' 4-5 guys stink up a storm.

(And this year is a transition year for the Yanks; I don't expect either their old guys or their young guys to carry them though the whole year. Kennedy and Hughes need seasoning and Moose and Pettitte are just too old to last all year. Wang is the only ace there. Could be wrong, but hey... I don't see the Yanks making it this year, and next year they'll have too many position players to replace. Plus Rivera, likely, although Chamberlain will likely be able to fill his shoes.)

Most teams are lucky to have one ace, let alone two, and if Silva's improvement proves to be for real, we could have two even without Bay-dar--and a dominating three with. But the other 2-3 guys, the whole staff, give us a chance to win every day, and not many teams can say that. (Maybe Arizona and Boston. Anyone else? Possibly the Angels once they get Lackey back, if Saunders and Home-and-Away Santana are for real.)

I disagree with Geoff, above, that the M's need to hit Greinke, Jackson, or Saunders/Santana. Yes, they need to hit hittable pitches, but guys pitching out of their minds are going to shut anyone down. Anyone notice that Yankee shutout yesterday?

Jackson and Greinke have both been out of their minds this year, Santana is Santana-like at home, and Saunders is doing an excellent job against EVERYONE, not just us. Indeed, all of them are.

We were one knuckler and one no-strike call away from being 2-0, 5-1 against the Angels. (I don't think their BP outside Shields could have held us.)

O, and, sad to see, using Cot's (thanks again, Oregongal!), that Wash's contract goes through the end of next year. Oops.

Posted by kingk

12:54 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Bedard is slated to start Thursday...do you have information to the contrary? Share it with us otherwise stop saying things that are untrue...Give a source that contradicts the team saying he should be coming off the dl Thursday...

Posted by Merrill

1:42 AM, Apr 20, 2008

who exactly you talkin' to, there, kingk?

Posted by Paul

5:26 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Interesting that everyone is calling for a Reed trade just as it's becoming extremely clear to even the most optimistic that Wilkerson is a complete dud and his career is likely just about over...or at least it should be. In any case, Reed would be a huge upgrade defensively over Wilkerson, and you can still keep a LH bat in the lineup if you bring Reed up to fill his spot in RF. DFA Wilkerson.

Balentien, IMO, is Raul's replacement in LF once they realize that he's an everyday DH to replace Vidro. DFA Vidro. Now we've got a real roster. We get a HUGE defensive upgrade in the OF and let's be real: our offense can't get any worse. At least Reed and Balentien bring some speed to the basepaths and some young "hunger" that the old, slow Vidro and Wilkerson clearly lack.

Posted by Paul

5:31 AM, Apr 20, 2008

SUPER news that Putz and Bedard appear to be headed back to the roster this week. Putz sounds ready after his simulated game yesterday with 41 pitches, and Bedard had no hip pain or problems after 38 pitches BP pitches. He's throwing again on Tuesday, two days before he's eligible to return from the DL....that also happens to be 2 days before a possible start vs. the Orioles on Thursday.

The team has managed to tread water without two of our three best pitchers and an offense with holes like swiss cheese. I think this team is primed to break out once we get these guys back and the brass makes some simple yet much-needed changes to the bats on this team.

Posted by Babu

6:04 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Is there anything further on the reported injury to Wlad? According to the box score and Tacoma press reports (sorry, Geoff, reading another paper), he played the entire game against Colorado. Would be grateful for further information from those who have it!

Posted by Mike

6:51 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Zero walks in the first two games against the Angels. Hitting is physical ability, but talking a walk is mental ability. Remind me again...how much of the game is mental?

Posted by Merrill

7:15 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Mike, I think those stats are 90-50, as in 90% of the game is 50% physical, or 50% of the mental is 90% game, or 90% of the physical is 50% game.

Something like that.

Posted by Merrill

7:35 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Besides, Mike, you can't take walks if the other guys don't throw enough balls. That's what we did to the A's, and from what I've read, that's what the Angels have done to us.

Posted by DK

8:26 AM, Apr 20, 2008

When are we gonna call up Ballentine? Looks like he might be a better fit in RF right now than Mr. Below Avg. RF Wilkerson.....

Posted by jujay

8:34 AM, Apr 20, 2008

sorry guys, there will be no calling up balentine as he will be on the dl for a long time....frank thomas is available though....

Posted by joe

9:07 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Frank Thomas in a Mariners uniform?

Posted by California Bob Kelly

9:14 AM, Apr 20, 2008

The M's bats supposedly are led by the Mariner's self proclaimed best leadoff hitter in baseball, batting less than .250 and who continues to flail away at the first pitch of a ball game...maybe Ichiro hasn't listened to Ron Fairly, but he should. Leadoff men are better at taking at least two pitches before swinging so the other members of the TEAM can see what velocity and movement the starting pitcher has that game...thanks Ichiro for thinking of your team again, again and again. Why did not the M's front office think of a few things like getting your uniform dirty, doing anything like taking a walk or bunting to get a rally going, or being a good clubhouse guy like Torii Hunter before giving Ichiro half of the payroll?

Posted by -k

9:50 AM, Apr 20, 2008

California Bob Kelly - Ichiro has never said that he's the best leadoff hitter in baseball. That is what self-proclaimed means. The M's think he is, and if he'd take a few more walks i might agree with them.

As for blaiming his not taking any pitches on the entire offense struggling, the only player that MIGHT effect is Lopez. Everyone else can get the information you claim is so vital simply by watching Lopez's at-bat.

Ichiro isn't hitting well right now. He goes through these slumps from time to time. Last year it was most of April before hit bat heated up, he ended up batting .351. Calm down, take deep breaths, Ichiro isn't a player we have to worry about.

Posted by Turbo

9:50 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Geoff - would really like to hear your thoughts on the upside of getting Frank Thomas into our DH hole. A historic slow-starter (Sexson-esque, perhaps?), the guy was nearly a 100 RBI man who gets nixed in what appears to be a silly budget crunch in Toronto - the guy LEAD THEIR TEAM IN HRs last year. Sign Thomas and DFA Wilkerson? But I worry that Thomas may not be the world's best clubhouse presence. Then again, Thomas in Bitter Revenge Mode might be just the kind of firecracker that lineup needs. Where would you bat him?

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:19 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Things I think I know:

- Something's wrong with Ichiro. Mentally, perhaps. At the plate, he's not legging out infield base hits and not finding gaps to golf shots into. In the field, he seems slower to the ball than usual, with a worse path than usual, not as effortless as Im' used to seeing.

- Sweet tapdancing Buddha, I am getting tired of seeing Richie dive to his right and miss.

- The patience at the plate that we've seen in every other series this year, is just GONE when the Ms play the Angels. The 2007 Ms show up at the plate when they're playing the Angels, and the mental lapses and rushed throws (by Yuni, J-Lo, Wilkie) and juggling acts on infield defense just compound the problem. It has to stop. There's getting psyched up for a game and then there's psyching oneself out. They've got to calm down.

- Richie's back, we just don't know it yet. He just needs to revert to Patient April Richie for a little bit while the rest of the offense tries to find itself again. We need the walks he was drawing more than we need the long-flyball-outs he's getting. In 3 weeks or so, the shots he's taking would get out of the park. Right now, we need baserunners. But in every sense at the plate, he's better than 07. Now if he could just get in better position on defense...

- There's no one to fear in this lineup now. Raul's hot streak was just that. Ichiro, as previously mentioned, isn't getting on. Sexson is not as bad as 2007, but still someone you walk to get to. J-Lo is an excellent #2 but he requires people on base to be a contributor. Yuni's improving but not automatic yet. When #1 - #5 are on, the Ms win series; when any of them are just a little bit off, they turn average schmoes into Cy Young. The lineup needs a presence. Not necessarily a homerun king, but at least an RBI guy. Frank Thomas. Griffey Jr. . Someone you can actually build the lineup around, instead of lining up people and hoping they all work in sync.

- Wash has the same problem with letting his emotions get to him, that Joh was praising Felix for mastering earlier last week. I.e. In some senses, Felix is more composed and mature on the mound than Washburn. I wouldn't be surprised if Wash was complaining about Joh calling a bad game again. He pitches well enough to keep the team in it, but it can be difference between a 1-run "in it" and a 3 or 4-run "in it".

Posted by BrianL

10:36 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Everyone, repeat after me.

Ichiro is fine.

We go through this song and dance every year, convinced that it's finally the season that Ichiro collapses. April is historically one of his worst months. Heck the season he broke the single season hits record he hit something like .240 in April.

To calm your nerves here is something Matthew at LL pointed out: Ichiro currently has a 93% contact rate, five percent higher than his career norms. If he's anywhere close to that rate the rest of the season, the hits will start falling. and he'll revert to the 200+ hits a year guy we're used to.

Ichiro will be fine. He is the least of your worries.

Posted by PRchef

10:53 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Merrill

"I disagree with Geoff, above, that the M's need to hit Greinke, Jackson, or Saunders/Santana. Yes, they need to hit hittable pitches, but guys pitching out of their minds are going to shut anyone down. Anyone notice that Yankee shutout yesterday?

Jackson and Greinke have both been out of their minds this year, Santana is Santana-like at home, and Saunders is doing an excellent job against EVERYONE, not just us. Indeed, all of them are.

We were one knuckler and one no-strike call away from being 2-0, 5-1 against the Angels. (I don't think their BP outside Shields could have held us.)"

I think that assessment is spot on. It would speak volumes if those pitchers continue that trend throughout the season.

It seemed to me that some pitches being called for the Angels this weekend so far have not been as consistently called for the Ms pitchers. Specially for Washburn who could not get that outside curve called to save his life yesterday. It sure seemed like Joe's tracer had a better take on them than the ump did.

As for the 5 weeks for Wilkerson comment, did you mean five weeks from now, or five weeks into the season?

Big difference there

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:54 AM, Apr 20, 2008

BrianL - Perhaps the offense tracks against historical stats. I would be happy to be proved wrong on this point in a month's time when he's hitting .350 for the month of May and getting on base 2 or 3 times ever night.

But have you watched his defense lately? When was the last time you saw him start on a path to a fly ball, then hurry in the last couple seconds (with a worried look on his face) to either just barely get it or just barely miss and take it on a hop? I've seen this several times over the last few games. His route to fly balls is usually so precise and automatic, that it really stands out when he's rushing to get there.

Posted by kyle

12:05 PM, Apr 20, 2008

I completely agree with Clement's post from last night. This team has two supremely talented minor leaguers that are playing at a Major League level in Clement and Balentin. Vidro's a good guy and doing ok, but puts absolutely no fear into an opposing pitcher. Wilkerson looks lost out there in all facets of the game. I understand Balentin got hurt last night, but once he's good to go can you imagine having Clement and Balentin in our 5 and 7 holes. Talk about a power upgrade that would make opposing pitchers think a little harder.

Oh yeah, how nice would it have been be watching Lincecum last night pitching 7+ awesome innings instead of Washburn. Oh well...

Posted by pbk13

12:05 PM, Apr 20, 2008

In my opinion, this season is, and always has been, a lost cause. The trade for Bedard hurt -- it certainly did not help, and I've felt that all along.

The Mariners are stealing your money, folks, by trotting out this ridiculous team. My interest began waning when the front office started pulling PR stunts like pretending to give us fans a contender. A contender, we are not.

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