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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 20, 2008 9:07 AM

Take tour of Angel Stadium

Posted by Geoff Baker

A video tour of Angel Stadium ready for you above. First off, though, an update on Wladimir Balentien, helped off the field last night in Tacoma after hurting his knee. From what I heard, he slammed his knee hard when he was diving for a ball. He apparently didn't twist his knee or anything. So, at first glance, this would not appear to be a case of torn ligaments or something that could sideline the Class AAA right fielder the rest of the year. As long as he did not crack a kneecap or anything, this may not be a long-term injury. A bruised knee would be the best diagnosis for Mariners fans. I would have expected to see Balentien called up to the big club at some point in the next two months.

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Posted by Andy

9:32 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Since Frank Thomas was released today, is there a chance we go after him? Should we go after him?

Thoughts....

Posted by -k

9:42 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Those words about Wlad make me happy, very happy. I'd expect to see him aas our new, full time RF in about a month. I hate to see anyone get hurt.

Frank Thomas got cut because he was hitting worse than Wilkerson, and is a pain in the neck in the clubhouse. How would he help the M's exactly? That would be a horrible pickup.

That said, it does kinda sounds like a Bavasi type veteran hitter.

Posted by dc

9:59 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Hey Geoff,

I've really enjoyed the behind the scenes videos of the ballparks. I was wondering if you wouldn't mind expanding on it and showing us some of the behind the scenes 'M's' life. I'd love to see what they see. What does it look like where they enter the ballpark, what does the inside of their plane look like, what do the visiting clubhouses look like? Do they use airports like John Wayne or do they fly into smaller private airports like they do with Boeing Field? I seem to recall that teams that fly into Detroit use a small 'charter' airport near downtown. I could be wrong on that.

I'm guessing maybe some of that is restricted, I don't know. But it would be fun to see some of that stuff also.

On another note, would love to get your thoughts about Frank Thomas and Toronto parting ways this morning. With all the calls on this blog for Vidro and Wilkerson to be shipped out it's interesting that this happened this morning with Frank. I think as M's fans we're all a little tired of the M's staying committed to under-performing veterans. It seems we stay with them for much longer than we should, in hopes they'll 'snap out of it'. Granted, the decision between the Jays and Thomas was a mutual one and had some extenuating circumstances, but the gutsiness of it is still impressive. The Jays saw that he wasn't performing and quickly changed directions.

Do you think the Jays erred? Do you think the M's would have an interest in Frank? Do you think the M's have the guts to drop Wilk or Vidro or would that be a bad move on their part? Based upon Wilk's play in right field I believe his failure to hit and to field properly have probably cost us at least 1 game, possibly 2 this year.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Posted by dc

10:08 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Additional on Frank Thomas.....M's hitting woes, etc.....

I don't fault the M's for not bringing back Guillen in right. He's hitting .181 with 1 hr for the Royals so that makes his departure an easier pill to swallow. I just think the club looked at Wilkerson as some sort of insurance in case of Adam Jones departure but never desired for him to be a right fielder who would make a significant contribution.

With the failure so far of Wilk & Vidro I wonder if the M's would be interested in Frank Thomas as a DH? Along with that, what about a guy like Kenny Lofton? Granted, now we're talking about going back to the veteran lock box once again, but both are good hitters (Lofton hit .296 with 7 hr's and 38 rbi's last year). Lofton brings an intangible emotional element to any team. It seems like any team he's on goes to the playoffs. Not sure his '07 numbers hold up enough to be an effective DH, but they're sure better than Vidro and there's no question he can still handle an outfield position effectively if you made him your RFielder.

Posted by Everett fan

10:19 AM, Apr 20, 2008

I expect something will happen by Thursday with the pitchers on DL, and I would hope might DFA Wilkerson. Never mind his "statistics," he just looks like he has no athleticism left. If Vlad is not available, (too bad about Morse), let Reed fill in. Vidro will have a few more weeks to pan out. . .
Incidentally, I was glad to see some comments on clutch performnances, one of my saddle burrs for years: the players who look good enough to get themselves put into a lineup, but continually fail at the spot that loses the game for you.

Posted by -k

10:21 AM, Apr 20, 2008

dc - the problem that i have with a frank Thomas signing is stated above. I don't think he's adds anything, and his natural tenancies to anger management and teammates makes me think that he will subtract a lot more than he adds.

Lofton is a more interesting question, but i think the team has available options in house with Reed and Wlad that will perform about the same. At this stage of BOTH of their careers, i honestly think Reed and Lofton add the same thing to the OF. good defense, average arm, can get on base but offer little power. I'm just not willing to see them pay the extra money for Lofton's leadership abilities, i just dont think it's worth is at this point.

Posted by bikeman

10:21 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Just say no to Thomas. We don't need a veteran player that will incessantly complain about playing time when they are producing poorly.

Posted by Corey Miller

10:23 AM, Apr 20, 2008

In my own opinion, I think the throws from Wilkerson actually distrubed me more than the lack of hitting. A few guys in the lineup hitting ahead or behind you can mask your poor performance for a while (see Sexson last year). Playing right field however is all on you as an individual. The throws yesterday were simple plays and decisions you are taught as a little leaguer. Throw a base ahead and hit the cutoff man. Know your own arm strength and where you are in the field. He did neither of those and in turn the runners advanced. That hurts your team.

Posted by oregongal

10:30 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Geoff, thanks for the update on Wlad.

Dave also posted an update last night:

"Stress that it's early
So far, one guy told me it “looked bad”, was carried off the field by two teammates without putting any stress on his left leg. No MRI or anything yet, obviously."

I'm not as high as Wlad at this point as others, but I think he could be really valuable at some point. Besides, the idea of a kid getting seriously injured before being able to play in the bigs (and get the money) always makes me sad. Hopefully, he'll be fine soon.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

10:31 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Interesting, the Blue Jays bench a Hall-of-Fame lock Frank Thomas, 18th on the all-time home run list, for struggling offensively. Yet, Brad Wilkerson deserves two more months drowning against American League pitching? Wow.

Posted by Mike in PDX

10:33 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Look, Frank Thomas hit .277 26-95 last year. Yes, he can be a pain in the neck sometimes, but he isn't always. Jose Guillen can be a pain sometimes too, but he was great last year. These are somewhat desparate times and Vidro and Wilkerson are supplying no pop. This team needs power badly, and I think we should take a flyer, there isn't much out there. Just one opinion.

Posted by stango

10:35 AM, Apr 20, 2008

I sure am glad I missed the game last night.

If we drop Vidro (we won't), why go after either of these guys when we can bring up Jeff Clement to DH? Everything that I've read indicates that he'll never really be a catcher, anyway.

I want nothing to do with Thomas, and Lofton's palatable, but has no arm since hurt his shoulder diving into 1st. I'd rather not spend the money on someone who's as good an option as Reed, as one of you said.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

10:40 AM, Apr 20, 2008

I'm not as high as Wlad at this point as others

Why? Is it because he's been advocated in trade proposals by local blogs for the past few years?

Or is it that Geoff was willing to deal him for Al Reyes, last year?

Posted by Corey Miller

10:40 AM, Apr 20, 2008

I agree with your point Resin. The M's for whatever reason have always been slow to pull a guy based on performance. I admire the loyalty but the job is to contribute and play winning baseball and I can't find where Wilkerson is doing that for us in the defensive or offensive capacity.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

10:58 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Releasing Vidro now would be smart as we would avoid his contract vesting for 2009.

Posted by scrapiron

11:01 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Why not call up Reed and Balentien? Balentien is your long-term answer in right field anyway, why not call him up and let him learn on the job. Balentien is only hitting .245 at Tacoma, but he has an .843 OPS and he leads the team in RBIs.

Call up Reed as your fourth outfielder and give him lots of playing time by letting him give the three outfielders a day off from time to time and also subbing in for Ibanez in the 8th and 9th inning of any game the Mariners have a lead defensively.

Posted by -k

11:03 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Resin - I'm not going to speak for Ogal, but i can tell you my thoughts on the matter. I too am not as high on Wlad as most everyone is. (that said, i did say i expect him to be our everyday RF buy mid-may)

Wlad's swing is more upper-cut then i'd like to see by a major league hitter. I don't think he'll hit for high average, or take an huge amount of walks at the major-league level. He's more of a jay buhner type player, but i think Bone is Wlad's ceiling, not an expectation. My guess is that he falls somewhere between bone and Wilkerson when it's all said and done. Sme type of player though... power with a low average.

That's just not how i build my team for a park like Safeco. Ogal, is this similar to your thinking as well?

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

11:17 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Well, I won't play the prediction game with Wlad. Let's just say the front office values his bat, and we'll see how he does if he ever replaces Wilkerson.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

11:26 AM, Apr 20, 2008

Wlad's swing is more upper-cut then i'd like to see by a major league hitter.

K-Just to let you know. An uppercut swing is more conducive to hitting for power, it has nothing to do with hitting for average. A line drive swing is more conducive to hitting in the gap and keeping the ball down. There are elite players in the game with uppercut swings. I would suggest looking at bat speed and how long a player's swing is for forecasting "hitting for average." Wlad's swing is very similar to a Manny Ramirez in my opinion.

Posted by scrapiron

11:26 AM, Apr 20, 2008

It wasn't widely reported, but did anyone notice during last week's home stand that Jose Vidro went up to the plate with the wrong batting helmet? (Flap on the wrong side). It was as if he didn't notice that they had made a pitching change and brought in a left hander. Maybe a momentary lapse, but when your job is a designated hitter I'd like to think that you are completely prepared for every at bat, since that is all you do.

Wilkerson was given a day off to re-focus and get out of his hitting slump, then returns to the field and makes poor throws and bad decisions in the outfield?

The reason you have veterans on your roster is so occurrences like this don't happen. If you can't count on the veterans, go with youthful enthusiasm to energize the clubhouse instead.

Posted by daddydriz

11:41 AM, Apr 20, 2008

If fans are desperate enough to even consider Thomas and his declining production/whining/huge contract, why isn't there more discussion about Bonds. Look, I detest the guy's attitude. But this team is not going anywhere as currently constituted. And maybe Bonds has been humbled by his experience.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Posted by Corey Miller

11:47 AM, Apr 20, 2008

The report I read on Thomas was that the Blue Jays were responsible for what is left of the 2 year 18 million. Now thats barring anyone else taking a stab at him right?

Posted by dobber2

11:59 AM, Apr 20, 2008

With the current situation in right field, this would be the perfect time for our Super Star center fielder to take one for the team and offer to move back to RF. This would allow fpr Jeremy Reed to be called up and assume the starting CF position that he left due to a wrist injury.

The lack of a team leader since Jose Guillen departed has been very evident. Ichiro, given his status, should be the one guy to offer his services to benefit the M's. He seems to only care for himself and his legacy.

Bite the bullet 51. Be a great teammate, as well as a legend in your own time. Also, how's about a few more base hits and a stolen base or two for good measure.

Posted by Tahoma

12:09 PM, Apr 20, 2008


At present the M's have too many DH/1B type players - Vidro, Sexson, Horton, Morse, and albeit in the outfield Ibanez and Wilkerson. Talk of DFAing Wilkerson and Vidro is in part because of their lack of defensive flexibility as much as their inability to hit and hit for power. Take a hint for the Blue Jays, get rid of Wilkerson and follow suit with Vidro, neither veteran is performing well enough to keep young players - Balentien and Clement, as well as Reed, down in Tacoma.

Let end this speculation concerning Thomas and above all Bonds, we don't need these bums on this team, they will not make it better but only add their impossible egos and in Bonds case dishonesty which has sullied the game. The M's farm system took a big hit with the Hip Gate trade, but there are still quality MLB players in Tacoma - specifically Balentien, Clement and, at the low end, Reed. DFA Cairo, Wilkerson and Vidro. If Balentien is well, bring him up to play right, Reed to play left, Ibanez to DH / 1B, or if Balentien is injured then Reed to play right, Clement to DH / 1B. It is time to use the young players and develop them, otherwise it will be a long season of watching fading, ineffective veterans that have no future on this team.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

12:10 PM, Apr 20, 2008

Dobber - I don't understand how Reed in center and Ichiro in right is better than the reverse. If the object is to get Reed's bat into the lineup, they're the same thing. And last I checked, Ichiro has better range in center. (Even though I'm still convinced something's up with him, as from previous posts - his route to the ball doesn't look as efficient, he's running harder to make plays I'm used to him getting to easily, etc.).

If something is truly up with Ichiro, mentally or physically, then sure - stick him in right and turn those doubles and triples into long singles and the occasional double. But if I'm wrong about Ichiro's d and it's fine, then it's Reed for Wilkerson, not Reed in center.

Assuming Reed's bat is better than Wilkerson to begin with.

Posted by Donovan

12:22 PM, Apr 20, 2008

I sincerely hope that Wlad's knee injury is just a minor knock, and he's back in action soon, but here's yet another example of why diving for routine catches is just stupid and irresponsible. Injuries like this happen multiple times every year, and guys who play every game on testosterone instead of brains always risk hurting their team more than they help it. Give me Ichiro's controlled slide and common sense over flying horizontal dives in the OF any day.

One more "I'm cranky because it is late April and still winter in Seattle" commment - Am I the only one who thinks it ironic that our FO gets constantly ripped here for pinning their hopes on washed up veterans, but when people suggest roster acquisitions, it is invariably retreads like Thomas, Lofton, and Griffey who are brought up?

Ok, positive, must think positive. If we salvage the split today, we are 3-3 so far against the Angels. Given our injured stars, that's not such a bad start. It's much better than last year.

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