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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 22, 2008 11:08 PM

A pie for Putz

Posted by Larry Stone

OK, this whole shaving-cream pie business has gotten a little tired, but there was a twist tonight that really made it memorable.

J.J. Putz, who is usually the mastermind of all pie capers in the Mariners' clubhouse, was talking to the press -- about 10 of us gathered around him in front of his locker -- after the game. It was a big night for Putz, of course, coming off the DL and earning the save in a 4-2 win by the Mariners.

Putz was in mid-sentence, talking about how nervous he had been, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, Mark Lowe emerged from his locker and nailed him with a pie.

I've got to say, it was kind of frightening for a split second. I'm not the only one who felt that way. Turns out that Lowe had crawled behind the clothes hanging in Putz's locker -- a fairly large cubicle -- and was covered enough that no one could see him. The element of surprise was so absolute, for Putz and everyone else, that you had to think for just a second that it was some sort of intruder. But that passed quickly, and general hilarity ensued. Boys will be boys.

A very nice win for the Mariners. Felix has been bothered by the flu all week and really felt poorly -- dizzy, headaches, fatigue, In that light, his performance was excellent (7 ip, 6 h, 2 er, 3 bb, 7 ks). Arthur Rhodes got his first win since May 23, 2005 (while with Cleveland) and Yuniesky Betancourt led to two runs with his aggressive baserunning. Yes, he saw Sam Perlozzo's stop sign in the fifth. He just thought he could make it. And he was right -- as you had better be when you run through a stop sign.

Jose Vidro capped it with the game-winning hit in the eighth. He took a very long time coming out to his locker, so most, if not all, reporters didn't get a chance to talk to him. Deadlines, you know. I'd be interested in what he had to say after some people (ahem) advocated signing Frank Thomas to replace him.

It wasn't a great offensive night for Seattle -- just five hits off Jeremy Guthrie, who deserved a better fate. Brad Wilkerson remains a big concern. No word on the seriousness of the hamstring issue that knocked him out of the game in the fourth inning. His average is down to .178, and his struggles are getting more glaring.

Good night for now. I'll be back tomorrow night.

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Posted by Fin

11:36 PM, Apr 22, 2008

I feel part of the problem with Wilkerson is that McLaren has him only batting against righties, when he tends to have reverse splits and hits better against lefties.

I personally would rather have the Mariners sign Lofton or bring up Reed and move Ibanez to DH than sign Thomas, but if signing Thomas is the only way that Vidro will be disposed of, then I am all for it.

Posted by David Gee

11:38 PM, Apr 22, 2008

I think part of the problem with Wilkerson is that he sucks.

Posted by Tirong

11:44 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Adam Jones would have gotten to that leadoff double by Yuni. Oh, wait... :P

Posted by OlyHomer

11:45 PM, Apr 22, 2008

FSN showed Putz getting the pie and he was paranoid the entire time. When he was getting interviewed in the dugout and when he sat down at his locker. I loved how Putz loved how well he got him.

Good to have him back!

Posted by oceansaway

12:40 AM, Apr 23, 2008

Two questions:

1 - Is it time to bring up Reed and give him a last shot at filling an outfield spot?
2 - What possible value is there in keeping Baek on the Major League roster when we never use him anyway? Dickey has so many more possibilities...

Posted by fukell

1:09 AM, Apr 23, 2008

what's wrong with Mc and FO??? WE NEED HELP offensively!!! Can't they see that??? Holy cow bring some help already. Hint: RF, inconsistent DH, maybe Catcher. Do something...it'd be cool if Yuni can pop some HR. He looks strong. Do they have batting cage over there in Cuba? Look likes he didnt do much of batting practice in the off season.

Posted by Menelaus

1:48 AM, Apr 23, 2008

Doesn't mean you weren't right, Larry.

Posted by seattlelawgirl

6:17 AM, Apr 23, 2008

I have got to respectfully disagree with Larry's opinion on getting Thomas. The last thing the M's need to do is go out and spend *any* money on another old guy. He could have a great year, but he could also tank. And don't forget about the Bermuda Triangle of hitting that seems to exist for a lot of players here in Seattle...how many players have we brought here for their offensive pop who've absolutely...fizzled?!?

In any case, I'd stick with the current line-up for another 3 weeks or so - if nothing changes significantly by mid-May, I'd start exploring our options at that point. I'd love to make a rule that the M's can't go out and spend any significant money (or talent) bringing any more old guys to Seattle! I swear, we act like the farm team for the rest of the MLB, and like the semi-retirement home for the has-beens. "Come to Seattle for your sunset career."

On a happier note, I *loved* watching Felix settle down a bit last night after the first two innings. It's definitely looking like some serious maturation went on over the off-season. Nice to see Vidro get a clutch it. Great to see Yuni doing some smart base-running. All-in-all, a fun game to watch. We can do better against this team, though - and we'll have to, over the long-run, to be contenders at the end of it all.

Geoff - You may miss this comment since it's so freaking early in the morning, but can you comment on whether Cairo has, indeed, been part of the reason behind the relative (to last year) improvement we're seeing out of Lopez and Yuni? Otherwise, I don't see a whole lot of reason for him to eat up a roster spot. What am I missing?

Posted by Paul

6:18 AM, Apr 23, 2008

This was a huge win for the team. Got that back over .500 and within a game of the Halos after they were defeated last night. I'm happy to see Vidro get that hit. Maybe a bit of confidence to spark a little streak to get that average around .300, where it should be. The flipside is that hits like this make the brass think he's still a viable DH and might make them balk at making a much-needed change to the roster. Thomas isn't the answer, but they can get creative within the organization to at LEAST improve the defense in the outfield and get the useless Baek and Cairo off the roster. They are useless. Although useless might be better than damaging, like Wilkerson. I agree with you David Gee....the problem with Wilkerson is that he sucks. I hope he's put on the 60-day DL with that tight hamstring and Reed is brought up. Please. Something. Anything to let the fans know that Bavasi and Mac realize this offense will cost us if they don't change it.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

7:24 AM, Apr 23, 2008

Holy ****! Felix did all of that while pitching with the flu?? WOW.

Posted by eastcoast

7:35 AM, Apr 23, 2008

I agree with many of the posts above. There is no point having Baek on the team. It is obvious that he is delegated to mop up roles only, and there is NO WAY that he fits in to any future M's plans. Just take your chances, and (for once!) leave the nore deserving player on the team. This team is littered with guys still here because we pay them too much, or they are out of options, or they were really good 5 yrs ago. C'mon, quit screwing around and play the BEST players.

As for last nights games, Felix once again showed his maturity by rebounding to pitch 7 strong innings. Welcome back JJ, and Rhodes looked good as well.

This offense, however, is going to drive me NUTS! FYI - watched the orioles broadcast last night with Jim Palmer and Gary Thorne on MASN. They mentioned several times how Beltre and Yuni were swinging at balls way out of the strike zone. Mentioned Beltre 1 for 19 with RISP (don't forget he was a .247 hitter last yr with RISP). Basically called him a selfish hitter as well (swinging for the fences in the 8th when all the M's needed was a single). Also mentioned the walks thing again. After taking 60 walks in the first 15-16 games, now only 8 in the last 5. As I stated yesterday, this team will be in many close games this season because of its pitching - we must find a way to be more consistant offensively and scratch out runs. Anybody for Wilk would be an upgrade, but please at least insert someone who is quick and plays good defense. And why did Ichiro not bunt Yuni over in the 8th. What happened to "small ball"? Of all the times McLaren has bunted this season, this was the most appropriate time! And he has the speed to beat out a sac bunt!

Posted by Grandson

7:37 AM, Apr 23, 2008

It's nice to know that a outing where Felix isnt that sharp and a game where the offense struggles once again still produces a 4-2 win.

Posted by Mr. X

7:51 AM, Apr 23, 2008

I missed the postgame show. What did Adam
"excuse machine" Jones blame his brain-flatulence, I mean the pickoff by Felix on? Was it because his former teammate Sexson was chatting him up? Was he mesmerized by the way some of the dirt in the baseline kind of resembled an airplane? No, wait, I bet he blamed it on global warming, I mean climate change, in honor of Earth Day.

Congrats to JJ on his first save since his Doyle List stint, and his 2nd real save since his 39th save of last year. Maybe he'll get 40 or more in a legit way this year.

It really is amazing that we're 1 game over .500 while basically going 5 on 9 offensively every night. No leadoff hitter, no DH, no Right Fielder, and unfortunately, no catcher. Our 1/1a starter has only 2 starts so far, and Beltre only has 6 runs batted in (3 of them being himself). Our hottest bat out of spring training was a big, fat flop. Lopez, Ibanez, and Sexson are carrying this team offensively, and I don't think anyone would have predicted that at the beginning of the season. Our leadoff hitter is "bottom 5" in the AL with a .313 OBP, but that's with 7 walks in the early season. Not a "repeatable skill" for this particular player. There's nowhere to go but up.

Posted by philipdenver

9:09 AM, Apr 23, 2008

The Doyle List comment was pretty funny.

Posted by ajdaddy

9:14 AM, Apr 23, 2008

I think it's rare to have 9 of 9 hitting, however, Mr. X's concerns are well-founded. They have to shake something up, and it doesn't involve carrying TWO light hitting, ok fielding 'savvy' infielders on the bench in Cairo and Bloomquist. The Wilkerson experiment is a concern. I think trying the 'Big Hurt' out might not be a bad idea, you have months till the trade deadline, if he pans out, you don't need to think of making a move and perhaps trading Wlad or Clement. After all, it's not like Oakland is a hitter's park, right? And Thomas is coming off of two seasons that were WAY better than say, Richie or Vidro from a production standpoint. Roll the dice! How is this different than signing a Brad Wilkerson coming off of 2 injury filled seasons?
Lastly, the post game show was funny, just for JJ looking around like he was a spy on the run in East Berlin! I bet if he could have had Angie Mentink interview him with his back against the wall, he would have!

Posted by Donovan

9:24 AM, Apr 23, 2008

Mr. X. - You make a valid point about the team, particularly the last comment, which is perversely optimistic, but aren't you overlooking the fact that our nonexistent leadoff hitter has hit game-winning or tying leadoff triples in the last two games? If not for Ichiro, we were swept in Anaheim. Last night, he was the one who got that run back right away - a huge momentum reverser. The signs are that Ichiro is starting to heat up. There isn't any doubt about what he's capable of certainly.

Posted by Stat Prof

9:40 AM, Apr 23, 2008

Worrying about Ichiro's hitting is kind of like worrying about whether or not the sun is going to rise.

Every spring we seem to go through a few weeks of Ichiro hitting for a 0.250ish average. Everybody gets upset, and then it turns around.

Posted by Adam

9:59 AM, Apr 23, 2008

X - did Adam Jones steal your lunch money or something? This is getting a bit ridiculous...

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