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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 4:29 PM

Putz back, Dickey down

Posted by Geoff Baker

The Mariners have activated J.J. Putz off the DL, while R.A. Dickey gets optioned to Class AAA Tacoma. I don't understand the latter move all that much. Dickey pitched well the other night in Anaheim. One bad pitch cost him three runs and the game. Still, Baek has made similar bad pitches with lesser results. He does not seem comfortable coming in as a long man, which he will be if Erik Bedard now starts Saturday, as expected. Dickey is useful as a starter or a reliever. He gives you flexibility. So, the team now sends him to AAA where he has no use whatsoever.

Actually, I do understand the move. The club does not want to outright Baek to Tacoma and risk losing him to another team on waivers. Dickey has options left. But in this case, though, I'm not a fan of what's going on. Dickey helps this team right now and his flexibility might be his biggest asset. But this move negates that flexibility. Baek's greatest asset is as a starter. Right now, there's no room for him to start. So, in effect, he clogs up a roster spot.

This smacks of the team taking the "easy'' way out and trying to keep everyone, instead of putting the best guys out there.

ADDTIONAL COMMENTS (4:52 P.M.): For Jon B., if Bedard's health becomes a long-term issue, you could use Dickey as a swing-man in the bullpen and rotation. Have him be the long-man for now, which he'd be better at than Baek, then move him back to starting if Bedard goes down again. Dickey looked about as good as Baek as a starter as well and the knuckleball is not as prone to lefty-righty differences. I'd say it's better than a rotation with four righties and a lone lefty in Jarrod Washburn. If you want, you could call up Ryan Feierabend from Tacoma and have him start for a while, giving the rotation a second lefty, while Dickey becomes the long man. Either way, Baek is the least desirable option. Right now, he's going to sit and then come in to a role he's ill-suited for if a starter implodes. If a starter goes down, you'll have a guy who -- at best -- is Dickey's equal in the rotation. I know that keeping Baek gives you one extra body, one added option if the rotation thins out. But Dickey fills two roles at once -- long man and starter. Every day he spends at Class AAA is another day his value can't be maximized.


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Posted by Adam

4:40 PM, Apr 22, 2008

If you want to keep Baek, shouldn't you at least use him once in a while?

Posted by NB

4:40 PM, Apr 22, 2008

This is the Jose Vidro of roster moves.

Posted by ganso

4:41 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Maybe they will try to trade Baek to get some value for him instead of losing him outright via waivers.

Posted by rdaz

4:44 PM, Apr 22, 2008

I'm not all that convinced he's worth anything.

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

4:45 PM, Apr 22, 2008

lets just trade baek for a prospect and be done with it. here that bavasi? pick up the phone and get it done.

Posted by benthic

4:45 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Why limit the conversation to Baek? Dickey outpitched the other starters in spring training, too, [all of them] but they're all earning so much money that it would be too embarrassing for the team to start Dickey instead of, say, Washburn. Dickey's less proven, but on the field this year he's been better.

Posted by -k

4:46 PM, Apr 22, 2008

I've heard speculating the Baek only made the team out of Spring Training so the team could shop him. The window for trading him just got longer, but at what cost. RAD belongs on this team, Baek is just trade bait. If this drags out any longer than this weekend, than this moves makes no sense whatsoever. If Baek does get traded, then i can understand it. Why lose Baek for nothing when you can get something in return?

Posted by all4ms

4:50 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Does Bavasi have something against knuckleballers? Dickey looked good, aside from that 1 bad inning. Why send down someone who can help the team right now?

Posted by Jon B.

4:51 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Uh, well, given that Bedard's health is a complete mystery, why would the M's want to lose Baek?

A no-brainer to hang onto Baek for now. Geoff, your criticism is way off-mark. It's not the "easy" way, it's the smart way.

That being said, sign the Big Hurt pronto before the A's do.

Posted by Lap Dog

4:52 PM, Apr 22, 2008

I'm beginning to think Baek has some embarassing photos of Bavasi. I just can't understand the allegiance to Baek. I think its a game a chicken with the other teams who might have an interest in Baek. They think the Mariners will try to send him through waivers and they can snap him up then. That's why the M's can't find a trading partner. Or maybe its more obvious, perhaps Baek has no trade value. If so, that should tell Bavasi something. I know Dickey has options but the fact is that he outpitched Baek (and others) this spring and is more versatile.

Posted by Alex

4:53 PM, Apr 22, 2008

I don't get it....Baek sucks! He has never done well...who cares if we lose him. Dickey is solid...he is flexible. I never understand these moves..

Posted by Jason

4:53 PM, Apr 22, 2008

I believe that even if another team picks up Baek they still have to trade for him. It isn't a free-for-all. They could send him through waivers and if he clears, cool. If not? See what the team wants to offer.

If that is true than sending RAD down is even more of a head scratching move. Perhaps their waiting for more chances to showcase Baek?

Posted by rickyab

4:54 PM, Apr 22, 2008

I don't mind the move to see how Bedard responds to the start. If he seems fine long term then let Baek go and recall Dickey. If Bedard comes up lame again we might wish we had Baek around, although he is barely a 6th or 7th starter.

Posted by Faceplant

4:54 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Completely agree with you Geoff. Dickey has to be wondering what the heck he has to do to stick with the big league club. I've never been a big fan of Baek. Guys like him are not THAT hard to find, especially as a bullpen arm. Talent is what should matter.

Posted by Alex

4:55 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Next thing we'll do is cut Willie to bring back Morse just because nothing we do makes since...

Posted by Aaron

4:56 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Baek is just trade bait, he'll round out a nice package Im sure.....

Posted by tumwaterfan

4:58 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Wow, Geoff actually disagrees with a management move, amazing.

Posted by Lance

4:59 PM, Apr 22, 2008

We had to send Dickey down. He looked too good after his rough first inning in his start. So, he had to go.

This way we can keep Brandon Morrow around to throw his 97-mph heat out of the strike zone and help blow a few leads for us before they finally send him down to get re-straightened out.

I'm sorry. Am I sounding upset over this?

Hey, at least J.J. is back! That's IS fantastic!!!! .

Posted by John

5:04 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Baek doesn't suck, nor is he that great. He's a mediocre Major League pitcher, and he always will be. He could probably be a decent No. 5 on most rosters. I agree that if you're going to keep Baek it would be good to use him, but I agree with Geoff that relief is not a role Baek is used or all that good at. They need to trade Baek ... package him with someone else and trade him for an outfielder (Juan Pierre) with speed for some late-inning defense - although Pierre has an arm like a 7-year-old girl.
I completely agree with Geoff that Dickey has more value on the big league club right now. I think what's going to happen is Bedard will be off and on all year with injuries, and Baek will be inserted, pitch his usual couple of good innings and then get shelled for an inning. After a few games like that, Dickey will be brought up and end up spending most of the rest of the season as the No. 5 starter whenever Bedard can't make his turn. Baek will be traded by the trade deadline.

Posted by shortbus

5:06 PM, Apr 22, 2008

DIckey did NOT look that good IMO. He gave up a ton of contact and was fortunate that a lot of hard-hit balls found defenders. Eight hits and two walks over seven innings is very similar to what Baek typically gives you. Send Baek down, you lose him....so send down Dickey.

Baek only clogs up a roster spot if we have another starter for Thursday...which we don't, so Baek will start. Which sucks, because I'd rather see Dickey. I was "fortunate" to be at the last Baek start against the LA Angels. Bleh.

Posted by Mr. X

5:06 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Bavasi has already DFA Baek twice, so I doubt if you could argue that any unnatural love exists there. It's just Bavasi's way. He always keeps a couple of guys on the roster just because they are out of options. It's called incompetence.

Posted by MarinerMan6

5:07 PM, Apr 22, 2008

I don't understand the move but why is everyone in love with RA Dickey. Giving up 5 runs in 6 innings is not getting the job done. Say what you will but Dickey was getting hammered by the Angels so to me he and Baek are the same. In the end, who cares. The long relief guy is only there to pitch in blowouts we are losing. Pitch Dave Sims at that time for all I care. We are arguing over the 25th roster spot--get real guys and gals. Hopefully when Bedard returns Cairo goes away, but probably its Corcoran.

Posted by Will Thompson

5:07 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Jeez. Does this team understand anything?

Posted by Jason

5:11 PM, Apr 22, 2008

You gotta have patience with a knuckleball pitcher. Sometimes they're gonna get SHELLED if the pitch isn't working.

Posted by Walrus

5:13 PM, Apr 22, 2008

I really do not like the obvious conclusion that several people here have already hinted at...which is the Mariners do not trust that Bedard is healthy.
If Bedard goes down for another 3 to 6 weeks, I doubt the Mariners will be able to overcome this, unless Lackey does the same.

Posted by John

5:13 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Given the chance to pitch more often, I think Dickey has tremendous upside. He's a new breed of knuckleballer that could be very effective if given a chance. I, for one, would be very excited to see him replace Washburn in the rotation next year.
Baek does not have an upside. He is what he is. He's not suddenly going to get better at getting people out after all these years in the minors. He's not terrible by any means, but he's just serviceable guy.
Given the choice, Dickey is better suited to bouncing back and forth between roles, and can get guys out from both sides of the plate - as Geoff pointed out.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

5:14 PM, Apr 22, 2008

I... the... wait, what?

Posted by Stat Prof

5:19 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Baek is no better than a AAAA player. There are lots of isomorphs in the PCL. If he is claimed, no big whoop.

Posted by Nat

5:19 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Ughhh.

Posted by Batter Up!!!

5:21 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Obviously there is a strategy at work here that no one can understand, that would include Mac & BB. I just do not understand why M's fans have no confidence in our FO.

OK if you must keep Baek up for whatever reason, why wouldn't you send down Morrow? Dickey is unique and is just the guy you want around to start or come in for long relief when one of our fab 5 has a bad start or a twitch in the glass hip.

Ludicrous!!!

Posted by Bring up Clement

5:28 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Geoff, any news on how Bedards simulated game went? Is he feeling healthy?

Posted by Babu

5:28 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Geoff, any idea if Adam Jones will start for the Orioles against Felix tonight? For all of Trembley's talk about holding Jones out against superior pitching, Jones has appeared in 18 of Baltimore's 19 games.

Looking forward to the return of JJ!

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

5:29 PM, Apr 22, 2008

From what I've seen/read, Clement has two problem areas defensively: the accuracy of his throws and his lateral motion (blocking the plate)

You have goid points there, that yes catching mechanics as far as positioning for blocking the plate could be improved upon with repetition. Not sure if I buy he needs to do that at the AAA level. He could work on this in winterball as he done the past 2 years and focus on hitting in the DH spot. I'd argue he doesn't need a whole year in Tacoma to do that.

He could back-up Johjima and work on blocking the plate on days Kenji rests sending Burke down to AAA. The accuracy of throws won't vastly improve at this stage in Clement's career. It's quite basic how to position your grip on the seams of the ball instictively without looking at the ball. You don't need AAA at bats to correct a flaw in his grip if this is the case. I've seen his arm angle on the throws and it looks fine. But yes, I have seen Clement throw wildly at times off target. He'll never contend for a gold glove there so I honestly think it's an excuse to keep a young guy down and use a veteran instead at the big league level. Joe Mauer isn't a very good defensive catcher and the Twins didn't keep him down very long to work on that part of his game.

Posted by Miles

5:30 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Sure seems like the M's are being hamstrung with players that have no options left. Seems like some sort of moves should have been made to avoid this situation.

Posted by KingCorran

5:38 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Hear, hear. Tell it like it is, Geoff. This team doesn't hardly need Baek anyways... they're not making use of him. If some other team wants him, let them have him if it means we're using Dickey (and building up his goodwill toward the team, let us not forget...)

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

5:39 PM, Apr 22, 2008

Also you could carry Burke and DFA Cairo who does nothing for us.

Posted by Mark in Beaverton

5:41 PM, Apr 22, 2008

I haven't decided yet on Baek. He hasn't had a fair shot yet. He has only made two appearances. If he shows he can't pitch then DFA him, but he needs to be given a chance. My other concern the lack of work by some of our relievers. The last few days our starters have pitched deep into games and with Monday's off day, I think some our relievers will be rusty when we might need them. Since Putz is back tonight, he needs to pitch one inning regardless of the score.

Posted by Mr. X

5:50 PM, Apr 22, 2008

"For all of Trembley's talk about holding Jones out against superior pitching, Jones has appeared in 18 of Baltimore's 19 games."

He hasn't started 18 games, and the year is still young. Trembley's strategy with Jones has already been stated, and is unprecedented for a so-called "top prospect." The only question is, does he still have Jones on Similac, or has he moved on to the pureed carrots and squash? I want to see if he can get his 2nd "golden sombrero" of the season versus Felix tonight.

Posted by Idaho Invader

5:57 PM, Apr 22, 2008

LOL

I love how Geoff basically tried to be diplomatic in saying Baek sucks and its stupid to send Dickey down.

He's right of course. But this is the FO that thinks Vidro is a viable option for DH...sigh

Posted by John

6:07 PM, Apr 22, 2008

I agree with Resin. I don't see why Clement cannot be DH and continue to work on his catching skills on the side. His work on blocking the plate, throwing to second could all continue during practices. True, it's not game action, but he can spend this winter doing that, and he would be such an upgrade offensively over Vidro. I'm not a Vidro hater like some, but we clearly could use a power upgrade at DH, and Clement is an obvious (and cheap) option.
As it is, Clement is only getting part-time catching work in Tacoma since he's splitting time. Why not bring his bat up where it will do this team some good?

Posted by Faceplant

6:14 PM, Apr 22, 2008

"Joe Mauer isn't a very good defensive catcher and the Twins didn't keep him down very long to work on that part of his game."

Well, to be fair, the big reason for this is because the twins didn't really have a catcher at the time, and they Mauer could start behind the dish every day even in the majors. Anything would have been an improvement over Henry Blanco and his .290 OBP.

The problem is that the M's do not want to risk stunting his defensive development. Why? Because he holds more value as a catcher than a DH, or a 1B. His bat is more valuable behind the plate, and they are going to do everything they can before they consider moving him from that position.

And I can't say I really blame them.

Posted by Faceplant

6:17 PM, Apr 22, 2008

"True, it's not game action, but he can spend this winter doing that, and he would be such an upgrade offensively over Vidro."

The problem, however, is that this is rarely the way things turn out. (Although I find it funny that Jones completely outhit Clement in AAA last year, but people were arguing whether he would actually constitute an improvement.)

This is the same type of thinking that has resulting in Brandon Morrow likely never becoming a starter.

Posted by Faceplant

6:58 PM, Apr 22, 2008

"He hasn't started 18 games, and the year is still young."

Nope, he's started 17 of Baltimores 19 games. Of all of the pitchrs Baltimore has faced so far this season, Jones has faced all but one. Felix Hernandez.

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