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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 24, 2008 5:43 PM

Bedard a go for Saturday

Posted by Geoff Baker

safe0424 022.jpg

A look above at pre-game batting practice for the Mariners, quickly becoming a feature attraction here given all the hitting woes of late. Yes, that is George Sherrill taking notes in the black sweat top. Not that he needs many. Some quick news for you: Erik Bedard threw his second bullpen session this afternoon. Mariners manager John McLaren told me moments ago that Bedard is all clear to start on Saturday. Carlos Silva is feeling better as well. "Nothing's going to put me out of my next start,'' he said. "Nothing.''

Talked to Raul Ibanez about my theory that pitchers of late have been targetting the strike zone aggressively on Seattle's hitters because they know the M's are trying to draw walks -- and that they won't do all that much damage when they do swing. Ibanez says the team needs a strategy of "patience through aggression.''

In other words, no point sitting around waiting for the pitcher to throw strike one.

"I think, at some point, if it's a good pitch, you've got to put a good swing on it,'' he said. "I think sometimes, when you hit the ball hard early in the count, it forces them (pitchers) to be more fine.''


So far, not much swinging taking place. A lot of 0-1 counts that quickly become 0-2. You can bring in a big new power hitter if you'd like (really, really, you can), but unless the lineup in general gets going and makes pitchers pay for landing those early strikes, this stuff we've seen will continue. One guy isn't going to make two thirds of a lineup better on his own. Sure, in a perfect world, it would be nice for every team to land a No. 1 and No. 3 starter and a 30-homer, .900 OPS guy all at the same time over the same winter. Doesn't always work out that way. This team passed on a big bopper free agent and went for the bigger name pitchers. It cast its lot with what you see hitting-wise. You can call up some guys from Class AAA, but that only improves two out of the six trouble spots we've pinpointed. And by how much, for how long?

It's almost as if this team got so good at drawing walks those first two weeks that it forgot about making contact on the hittable pitches. Now, the cycle has swung and is coming back to bite the M's. As Ibanez said, it's time to make some adjustments and -- more importantly -- solid contact on the hittable pitches.

McLaren figures much the same thing.

"The one pitch you might get might be the first pitch,'' McLaren said. "If you take that pitch and fall beind 0-1 it might be the best pitch you get.''

Sounds so simple to fix, doesn't it? Not quite that easy when a guy has good stuff and is throwing that first pitch. But better to swing at a 95 mph fastball sometimes than a change-up that's 20 mph slower and is what's coming at you on pitch No. 2.

safe0424 005.jpg

Yes, it's that time of year again. Ichiro Bobblehead night goes tomorrow and none too soon with attendance on this cold homestand sinking like a Mariners batting average. They'll give them away to the first 25,000 fans at tomorrow's game. In the photo above, you can see this year's entire bobblehead lineup, some of which might be inserted in the team's real lineup in-place of breathing humans if things don't improve. You can read the names on the bases, so I won't repeat them here. Each Mariners "icon'' has a backdrop with two Seattle icons -- clever marketing gimmick there. Ichiro's dual icons are the Space Needle and the Pacific Science Center arches.

Anyhow, here are tonight's lineups. Brad Wilkerson ran in the pool today but is still out and listed as day-to-day with that tight hamstring.

ORIOLES (12-9)

1 Brian Roberts 2B
6 Melvin Mora 3B
21 Nick Markakis RF
15 Kevin Millar 1B
17 Aubrey Huff DH
16 Jay Payton LF
55 Ramon Hernandez C
10 Adam Jones CF
12 Brandon Fahey SS

29 Adam Loewen LHP


MARINERS (11-11)

51 Ichiro CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
3 Jose Vidro DH
44 Richie Sexson 1B
2 Kenji Johjima C
16 Willie Bloomquist RF
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS

56 Jarrod Washburn LHP


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Posted by Pedro De Pacas

6:05 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Great news about Eric Bedard, now we might finally see what all the hype is about...

But tonight we need a great game from Washburn.

He has to get tough.
He has had decent years with us, but he just hasn't proven that he is a winner. Washburn is 19-32 since joining the Seattle rotation
A whiner maybe, but not a winner.
Not yet.

I just don't see much mental toughness from Jarrod.
He has a Poodle attitude, he needs to get Bulldog! Washburn is 19-32 since joining the Seattle rotation. Pretty lame production for the money he is getting.

Now step the F up grow some huevos and pitch like a friggin pachuco Washburn!!!! we need ya buddy!

Posted by Jeff

6:09 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Answering for myself in the previous thread.....

When did mention we should "bring in a hitter at the expense of upgrading the starting rotation"? Funny, I didn't say that. However, had the Mariners used their pool of resources more effectively, they could have upgraded the offense, defense, and pitching!

Posted by George

6:11 PM, Apr 24, 2008

I agree Pedro! Washy always looks like he's pinching a loaf out there. What's his deal anyways, why can't he get tough and win? Geoff is Washburn a fluff or what?

Posted by joe

6:13 PM, Apr 24, 2008

what is a "fluff" ? For that matter what is a "pachuco"

Posted by Pedro De Pacas

6:15 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Yo joe! I don't know what the F a fluff is, but Pachuco means gangsta! Washburn needs to get ruthless!!!

Posted by drlo

6:16 PM, Apr 24, 2008

While hitting isn't as simple as many might make it out to be, I find the notion of swinging or not at first pitch, simply because it is the first pitch, to be a pretty silly notion. MLB hitters are not children (at least not when hitting is the subject matter), and the ideain the abstract that anyone hitter either should or shouldn't swing at a first-pitch strike is pretty silly. A professional hitter will shrink the strike zone and go to the plate looking for a certain pitch in a certain location for the first pitch. If he gets it, he'll swing. If not, he won't. Similar to what one does with a 2-0 or 3-0 count, swinging only if the ball is precisely the one for which one is ready.

Anyone who goes to the plate planning in advance to take or not take the first pitch (with possible exceptions of leadoff hitters in the first inning or hitters given the take sign) is really not a professional hitter. And if any of the Mariners are actually doing that at this level, it would certainly go a very long way in explaining their hitting woes.

Even Edgar, selective as he was, jumped all over first pitch strikes that were belt high on the inside half of the plate. Oh, and don't forget Nick Markakis....

Posted by Get Griffey

6:19 PM, Apr 24, 2008

lol

Posted by drlo

6:20 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Sorry for the mangled sentence above. Should have read:

"and the idea in the abstract that any hitter either should or shouldn't be swinging at a first-pitch strike is pretty silly."

Apologies.

Posted by Get Griffey

6:22 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Wasn't laughing at you drlo.
… Must… post… faster!

Posted by Alaskan

6:23 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"You can bring in a big new power hitter if you'd like"

Really? Where is he? Because, unlike you, I believe that one good hitter can make a difference, so I'd like to bring him on. Geoff, you're making it sound like a player has no impact on the players around him. Like it doesn't matter if he drives up pitch counts, or forces intentional walks, or creates havoc on the basepaths. A good hitter's value is not limited to the number of hits he gets more than the guy he replaces. It just isn't that simple. You don't really believe that it is, do you?

As you pointed out, we are losing one run games. You know what wins one run games? Two more runs. It doesn't take much. The Mariners just need to have the courage to act.

Posted by Bring up Clement

6:31 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Man, if Bedard can stay healthy, I get chills just thinking of what our pitching staff is capable of. Now about that hitting...

Posted by Get Griffey

6:33 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Alaskan-

He was saying that we SHOULD get a power hitter, but that it would not magically make every-one ells who is hitting poorly suddenly hit tons better!

Posted by Get Griffey

6:36 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Alaskan-
Love persuasive the attitude though.lol

Posted by Get Griffey

6:38 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Should reed

"Love the persuasive attitude though.lol"

Posted by Chris from Bothell

6:40 PM, Apr 24, 2008

*sigh* For the umpteenth time - assuming the rest of the team keeps doing exactly as it's doing, one more hitter WILL make the difference, if they are an averge hitter or better, and if their defense is no worse than who they're replacing.

It's not about making the rest of the lineup better, it's not about landing multiple guys, it's not about getting Bonds or some super-monster All Star. It's about getting that one or two extra runs per night. It's about winning one-run games.

It's about this exact team, for all its flaws... plus 2 extra runs.

One guy can do that.

Posted by scottM

6:55 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Good news on Bedard.

I posed the question before the season as to which of the M's position players might be the clubhouse motivator the way that Jose Guillen was in '07. Every third or fourth game this team seems to put up a real snoozer at the plate. These lackluster performances should be viewed by the team as an embarrassment. Only JJ Putz shows the fiery leadership that this group needs. Problem is, he's in the bullpen.

Scrapiron, I like the idea of platooning Clement and Johjima. Except, I would rather see Clement DH the three days when he's not catching and Vidro play DH when Clement is catching. Johjjima would be a worse DH than Vidro. Three days on and two off would be fine for Joh the way he's hitting. Two days on and three days off would keep Vidro fresher.

Again (and again), Balentien should be given a serious chance in RF.

Besides the obvious promise of these two AAA players, one of the reasons I like this youth movement is to light a fire under this leaderless bunch of position players. [Most of these M's have been hitting this April the way Shaun Alexander would hit the hole ever since he landed his big contract].

Posted by Batter Up!!!

7:04 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Not only would one good hitter make a difference, so would some aggressive field managing decisions i.e. putting a pinch runner on 1st for Raul last night and putting the game in motion.

Did anyone ask why that did not happen last night?

Good news on Bedard & Silva!

Posted by Nay Laren

9:27 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Argue with the umpire, get tossed, that's the way to do it - Mac. So now do you think you are Lou Pinnella?

Seriously Mclaren's inept management has cost the M's five games this season. He has no idea when to pull pitchers and he makes no use of his bench, you think he has a clue?

dfa McLaren

Posted by Corey Miller

9:29 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Hey so is it too late to sign that Jones kid? Is he under contract with Baltimore for long? Oh wait...or even better lets look for some emails between Angelos and Bavasi with the words "damaged", "tainted" and "sucker" in them. Then we can sue Baltimore!!

Oh wait thats being done by another Seattle team.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:36 PM, Apr 24, 2008

I wonder if Mac allowed Rhodes to load the bases with zero outs because Arthur is a "veteran."

Posted by Corey Miller

9:39 PM, Apr 24, 2008

ICHI!!!!!!!!RO!!!!!!!

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

9:42 PM, Apr 24, 2008

That's what the star player must do for you. Nice.

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