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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 12:20 PM

Silver lining?

Posted by Geoff Baker

Yes, even after this morning's post, there is a silver lining in what's gone on with the Mariners so far. Even with an offense as bad as it's looked -- whether it's the flu, aging hitters, bad hitters, etc. -- the team is still a .500 club. So, to answer what Jeff seemed to be asking in the last thread, no, what many folks were advocating in the off-season would not have automatically made this a better club. Bring in a hitter at the expense of upgrading the starting rotation? That was what many were calling for, if not Jeff in particular. Let's see, had the club kept Adam Jones in right field, it would now have a .632 OPS hitter playing that spot rather than Brad Wilkerson. Net gain there, despite Jones being slightly "better'' if you can call it that, would be about zilch. This offense is to the point where one big bat isn't going to make much of a difference. The team needs some of its existing bats to get going. It also has the option of interchanging Wladimir Balentien and Jeff Clement with some existing hitters if things don't improve.

This offense doesn't have to be night and day better than it is right now. Just more consistent. Too many games, as one of you noted, where the team scores four runs or less. Even with standout pitching, it's tough to always hold opponents to three runs or fewer. Add another run per game, though, and the one-run wins should start to pile up in Seattle's favor.

I shudder to think of where this team would be without Carlos Silva. Even Erik Bedard, when he's pitched, has seen his team go 2-0. He's offered up a pair of "quality starts". That's six "quality starts'' between Bedard and Silva. The M's are 5-1 in those games. So yes, the upgraded pitching has made a difference. Throw this offense in with last year's starting rotation and the team is probably more like 8-14. We knew coming in that the offense was going to be a challenge. Seattle didn't exactly light things up last season. Heading in, the goal was to try to maintain that offensive output while reaping gains on the pitching side. So far, the mediocre defense on this club hasn't harmed as badly as some had expected. The M's are fine when it comes to runs allowed and much of what has been scored on Seattle has come via an injury-riddled bullpen.

It's a lot easier to plug in a hitter or two to provide satisfactory offense than it is to go out and find a starting pitcher or two that will give you a rotation among the league's finest. Seattle starters have delivered the most innings in the American League and the second-best ERA. Overall, the M's have the fourth-best ERA in the league even with the bullpen's struggles.

The mound isn't the problem. Pitching is the toughest thing for a team to improve in today's tight marketplace and the M's have improved. It's at the plate where the fixes are needed, as we mentioned this morning. But bringing in an added bat -- at the expense of those pitching fixes -- this winter would not have made the team better. It would probably be worse. This is a .500 team, even without Bedard -- supposedly the biggest pitching acquisition -- being 100 percent just yet. Even with an attrocious offensive start by two thirds of the lineup. Even with the slew of injuries. In other words, the pitching is so good, it's bought this team time...plenty of time...to figure out how to correct its shortcomings. Not saying it's going to be an easy fix. But it's a lot easier than having to go out and find a No. 1 and No. 3 starting pitcher.

Remember, this team went 10-10 in its opening month last year and went on to win 88 games. It's time to get cracking on some solutions, but the 11-11 start has negated the need to panic just yet, soft opening schedule or not.


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Posted by NB

12:37 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"It's a lot easier to plug in a hitter or two to provide satisfactory offense than it is to go out and find a starting pitcher or two"

I'm sorry Goeff but I just can't agree with that statement. Major League Clubs as a whole haven't yet come up with very good systems for evaluating pitching. At least as compared to hitting. There is plenty of good, cheap pitching available if you know where to look. But most of baseball agrees with you which leads to Kevin Brown, Barry Zito, Denny Neagle, Mike Hampton, Chan Ho Park, Jarrod Washburn, Carlos Silva, Adam Eaton, Carl Pavano, Dontrelle Willis, etc.

The list of spectacularly bad free agent pitching signings goes on and on and on. It's not because of bad luck (at least not solely). There's a shift coming in thought regarding pitching. You can see the beginnings of it already in a team like Tampa Bay which has cheaply built incredible depth at starting pitching or in how Kyle Lohse (a fairly comparable pitcher to Carlos Silva) couldn't get a multi-year deal. Now I fully expect the Mariners to be among the last teams in baseball to get on board this new philosophy but then that's just par for the course.

Posted by baseballev

12:37 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Geoff, I couldn't agree more with you. We will see soon enough what changes need to be made on the offensive side.

Posted by Ziasudra

12:43 PM, Apr 24, 2008

To MJ (11:47) If you want to bring back fan favorites, how about Jay Buhner and Edgar? They hit all kinds of stuff, and the fans love them. Okay, they are older now - and Griffey isn't?
PS let's wait and see if Thomas can hit, before we coronate Beane one more time.
Yeah, I know our FO isn't doing anything helpful at the moment, but Thomas doesn't seem that helpful, either.

Posted by Lance

12:53 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Ichiro hasn't exactly been the igniter, has he? .258 average, .310 OBP. As long as he continues hitting like that Raul's run production will suffer in the third hole.

Which is why Raul should be hitting cleanup and someone who can get on more frequently should be hitting third. There's your addition run or two a game right there.

I suppose Ichiro is weighed down with the presssure of that new contract. Isn't that what they always say when a guy isn't living up to his end of the bargain?

And, he's going to have to step it up with those four SBs if he's going to reach that 80 that Mac challenged him for.

Posted by kranky

12:53 PM, Apr 24, 2008

This thing with Bedard not pitching against Baltimore has me concerned. Am I just paranoid, or does it seem awfully convenient that whenever Bedard is supposed to pitch against his old team, he can't? Is this guy more of a head case than has already been shown?

Posted by BrianL

12:53 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Ziasudra -

People are fawning over Beane's move right now because it was a typical Beane move. At the money they're paying Thomas, the deal becomes one of those low-risk high-reward propositions. If Thomas doesn't pan out, it only cost them a little more than league-minimum salary. If it does work out, then Beane will have gotten a very useful player for table scraps.

Posted by JohnDoe

12:56 PM, Apr 24, 2008

I'm sorry, but wasn't the entire point of this blog during the offseason to say that the problems with the offense, defense, and bullpen didn't matter, because they had two aces, and those two aces were good enough to make them division favorites because it's all about the starting pitching?

Felix and Silva have a combined ERA of about 2.25. You don't get much more duel aces than that. Despite getting amazing performances from their top two starters, the team is at .500, pretty much debunking the entire two aces theory.

And, after watching your theory go up in flames, you're now using the .500 record to claim that you were right?

Give me a break.

Posted by BrianL

12:57 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Lance -

Ichiro is the least of your worries. He's typically a lousy-April hitter. When he set the single-season hit record in 2004, he hit a rather pedestrian .250-.260

Even in the last few games he's been looking better. BABIP is up, and his contact rate overall is about five points higher than his career norms. As long as he keeps doing what he's doing, he's going to be in 200+ hit territory again.

Posted by hcoguy

12:58 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Here is an analogy of what Beane did:
He bought a used car for almost nothing, fixed it up and got some great performance out of it and let it go to the highest bidder. He got a good draft pick out of it (Corey Brown lighting up the midwest league) and now he is getting that car back essentially for free with only a few more miles put on it while the other owner poured gallons of money into it.

That is pretty impressive.

Posted by Mike

1:02 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"But bringing in an added bat -- at the expense of those pitching fixes -- this winter would not have made the team better. It would probably be worse."

Geoff, I don't think people were advocating bringing in a bat at the expense of those pitching additions. They were advocating bringng in a bat in addition, especially after trading a lot of our future for Bedard. The concern was that offense (and defense) was not good enough for Bedard to put us over the top. The current hitting malaise has those of us who thought this way banging our heads on our desks because we feared this might be coming. Let's hope all those slow, aging, 30ish professional hitters prove us wrong.

Posted by Faceplant

1:08 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Oh, and not only did Oakland sign Thomas, but they are only paying him 337,000 dollars. That's it.

Anyway, tough break for RRS. It wasn't a terrible pitch to Markakis (though not a great one either). Markakis was definately looking for it.

Posted by arthur

1:10 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Hey NB:

Adding Carlos Silva to the "list of spectacularly bad free agent pitching signings" must have been a mistake. Bavasi has made some bad moves but that was not one of them.

Posted by dc

1:15 PM, Apr 24, 2008

I'd love to think the M's would make a ballsy move and bring up Clement to DH but I don't think they'd do it. They've steadfastly refused to shelve veterans in favor of AAA call ups ever since Lou was here. Sure, the occasional rookie has been given a shot, but never in a situation where they've been asked to substantially improve a position.

I remember all the screaming for Bucky Jacobsen a few years ago. The M's refused to bring him up for quite a while until they were seemingly out of the race. Then they brought him up and he was about the only bright spot of that season.

Posted by Faceplant

1:18 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"I suppose Ichiro is weighed down with the presssure of that new contract. Isn't that what they always say when a guy isn't living up to his end of the bargain?"

Or maybe he's just having a slow start like he usually does. Due to his reliance on singles he's prone to streaky hitting. Every year he goes through a stretch like this, sometimes a couple stretches like this. And every single time people start saying that "the league has finally figured him out", or "he's finally losing a step".

Then by mid may people have completely forgotten about the slump. Ichiro will be fine.


"And, he's going to have to step it up with those four SBs if he's going to reach that 80 that Mac challenged him for."

I don't think anyone needs to tell Ichiro how to steal bases. Ichiro is very selective about when he goes, and is successful the majority of the time because of it. It isn't the number of bases you steal, it's the % of successful steals that matters.

Posted by Faceplant

1:22 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"Adding Carlos Silva to the "list of spectacularly bad free agent pitching signings" must have been a mistake. Bavasi has made some bad moves but that was not one of them."

Sorry, Arthur. I'm enjoying the ride so far, but that doesn't change the fact that there is no way Silva keeps this up.

Nobody thinks Silva is bad. He just is not worth what Bavasi paid for him. It was a bad contract then, and it's a bad contract now.

Posted by John

1:25 PM, Apr 24, 2008

John Doe (if that IS your real name):
Give me a break. The ONLY reason this team IS .500 is because of the great pitching. If we had the pitching staff of most teams in the majors we'd be the Texas Rangers right now - who, by the way, have a better offensive lineup than Seattle does but NO pitching. And look where they're at.
And nobody said you didn't need anything but two aces to be successful. NO bullpen? NO hitting? NO defense? Of course you need those things. The argument was that two great starters were one of the best ways to build a winner. It wasn't the only thing you need.

NB: The great plan that Tampa Bay has used to build this deep but cheap pitching staff has nothing to do with some "shift in thought." It's because they've sucked for years now and have been able to build up a deep minor league system. When you're getting that many high draft picks, you BETTER have a decent major league pitching staff after almost a decade of futility. If sucking fumes for 10 years is what you'd suggest to build a pitching staff I'll pass on that one.

Posted by Adam

1:26 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Remember, this team went 10-10 in its opening month last year and went on to win 88 games. It's time to get cracking on some solutions, but the 11-11 start has negated the need to panic just yet, soft opening schedule or not.

Well, aside from the fact that 2007's record has no bearing on 2008, I don't think it's a good thing we are only a .500 team. With Escobar and Lackey out, the Angels were ripe for the picking. And we've had a pretty easy schedule. I've always believed it imperative to get a cushion over the Angels before Lackey came back. Now that he's getting closer, and we are two games back, that window of opportunity is closing.

Because if we get Bedard back, and the Angels get Lackey, they are the better team.

Time to call up Clement or sign Bonds. And once he's healthy, call up Wlad and put him in RF. That's the only way we can catch up.

Posted by MJ

1:26 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Ziasudra -

I'm not saying they should just bring in fan favorites. One major difference between the guys you mentioned and the one I did is that those guys are retired, Griffey is still playing. That and they are 5-6 years older than Griffey. He would be a power left handed bat that could DH a heckuva lot better than the guy in there right now. Having him be a fan favorite is just icing on the cake. If it takes too much to trade for Griff then sign Bonds for the remainder of this year and try to get him next year when he'll most likely be free agent on the cheap.

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

1:28 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"Let's see, had the club kept Adam Jones in right field, it would now have a .632 OPS hitter playing that spot rather than Brad Wilkerson."

You simply don't know that. Any number of factors could change this - increased famiiarity with AL West pitchers, comfort of being with many of the same teammates and in the same city for another year, schedule, ballpark, less attention as THE savior of the team than he's getting now for being the return on Bedard (pressing a bit maybe?), etc.

You just don't know if Adam Jones would be the same hitter 3 weeks into the season here as he is in Baltimore right now. You just don't know. Over a course of the year, or this and next, sure, I will concede we could analyze and compare the value we've gotten with the value Baltimore has realized (provided Adam gets a fair shake in playing time out there at some point). Also, what do you think the net gain of Jones getting to (or at least handling better) hits like Willie missed (and then misplayed) last night is? Talk about costly.

Defense has mattered, and will over the course of the season. Again, as I mentioned the other day, a bad defense will catch up with you. Just because you don't feel lightning struck yet (and I disagree to some degree), it will eventually. And you've not accounted for the range issues we've seen in the corner spots. Just because Raul makes it look like others would not have gotten to a ball, it does not provide evidence that a good fielder would have watched it drop in. He has played the many bounces in front of him and off the wall he's seen pretty well. That's something, I guess.

Wlad's not ready. Take a look at what he's doing. He needs more time. Clement is a bad option unless he replaces Kenji (and that's stupid). He needs to get better as a catcher and that only happens by playing every day until he's at a level that makes sense to bring him up. Bring him up as a most-of-the-time DH and you take his value down significantly. He's where he needs to be right now.

It's also a red herring to compare last year's rotation to this one and talk about improvement as if we'd run the same group out there as last year instead of Bedard or Silva. Why? Because, if this team had any sense, we wouldn't have brought back Ramirez and we sure as heck weren't going to sign Weaver. So I argue that 2 spots in the rotation get upgraded no matter what. We see Felix as he is this year, and maybe we even get Silva for one of the empty slots - (though I think he's coming to earth some time this year). Bedard is a separate issue from Silva. Silva will be a fine middle/back of the rotation pitcher so long as his control stays in tact. We just overpaid for him. So the question is not whether we upgrade the rotation. That was a given. The only question is whether keeping Jones and Sherrill (man we could have used him!) is better than having Bedard.

Objectively, Bedard's value to us so far has been very small. I hope that changes, but you really can't evaluate the trade when our end of it is on the DL. Let's talk at the All-Star break about that when we've got a bit of a larger sample size. Claiming Jones is a bust this year or wouldn't have helped us, or saying Bedard is worthless and has doomed are season is -in both cases -premature.

And I hope you are right about it being easier to find some hitters. The team better start doing just that.

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

1:28 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Thomas going to the A's.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3365079

Now with Morse out for the reason thats two fewer things for us to sit around and debate. Thanks Bavasi!

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

1:30 PM, Apr 24, 2008

season

Posted by Ben

1:32 PM, Apr 24, 2008

I'd say the silver lining is that we're losing to teams like Baltimore and the Angels are playing in Boston and beating them... oh wait... that's not silver lining.

Boston was supposed to send out Becket and Dice-k but they were both scratched... so they didn't help us out there...

Maybe if we arranged to get a Rally Mackerel or something we could start winning the games we should... then we could only let businessmen and little kids into the stadium. Perhaps taking a page out of Anahiem/Los Angeles' book wouldn't be so bad.

Posted by K-Man

1:35 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Seriously, I can't imagine how anyone can disagree with Geoff's analysis. Pitching good, hitting bad. Pressure on Pentland (hitting cages) and Griffin (TheraFlu and DayQuill).

Square it up!

Posted by MJ

1:40 PM, Apr 24, 2008

How about the fact that we gave up more pitching in Sherill than we've gotten in Bedard?

Seems to me, not only would there be more output from AJ out in right and better D, but the few games we lost because of the bullpen faltering has to factor in as well.

Posted by ricofoy

1:41 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Billy Beane does it again. Did anyone here really think Bavasi had any chance of getting Thomas if Beane was involved? If this was a girl, Beane would be walking away with her arm in arm while Bavasi is still standing there with his thumb up his butt.
That said, I don't think Thomas is the answer..he probably saved Bavasi from himself much like Sabean did with the Zito signing. On the other hand, Sabean did have the good sense to draft fragile little Timmy Lincecum. At the rate their respective careers are going, Morrow will have to pitch as long as Mike Morgan to accomplish what Lincecum is going to do in 5 years. It stings every time he pitches because it's a constant reminder of what might have been. For me. that's a constant refrain of the Bavasi, Armstrong, Lincoln era.

Posted by Ben

1:42 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Jose Guillen:
2008 OPS - .486
BA - .165

Wilkerson:
2008 OPS - .546
BA - .178

We got the better deal!! Woo!! now there's some silver lining.

Posted by Alaskan

1:44 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"This offense is to the point where one big bat isn't going to make much of a difference. The team needs some of its existing bats to get going" -Geoff

Uh... Really? Is there something I'm missing? This must be a typo, because surely if the bat is big enough, it could make a very significant difference? And if the bat could play LF, and Ibanez could DH, and Vidro could PH.... there's a domino effect, Geoff, that I believe you are overlookiing in that statement.

Regardless of what people argued before the Bedard deal (and there were several different arguments), after the deal was done, everyone agreed that offense was our new primary weakness. And since we gave away top prospects (NOT JUST ADAM JONES), it was obvious that this was a 'go for broke'-type move by the FO. This season should never have started with all of these offensive questions, let alone now be 20+ games in without any answers.

Time is up. There was no reason to expect better out of Vidro, Sexson or Wilkerson. At least one of these problems should have been dealt with in the offseason, if the M's were willing to give up a capable closer, right fielder, and two top pitching prospects to make a run at the playoffs. Oh, and Mickolio.

It's time to make a move. We cannot wait. Every win can be the difference between the playoffs and sitting home. Starting with the cheapest, I'll say our most obvious options are: J. Reed or W. Balentien, K. Lofton, B. Bonds. Any of these guys would make us SIGNIFICANTLY better. Period. What is Bavasi waiting for?

Posted by MJ

1:45 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Had we kept Sherill so we were able to keep Morrow in AAA to stretch his arm out to be a starter, I think we'd see the returns Lincecum is making in SF. Morrow has some nasty stuff and now that he has that new change up, he really should be moved into the rotation. Then we'd have a great young 1-2 punch and a young stud in the OF... Oh wait...

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

1:45 PM, Apr 24, 2008

MJ, you know what really hurts? The fact that Sherrill has slammed the door shut on us so many times already! Granted we don't play Baltimore all that often, but we've felt some of the sting of the trade in this limited sample size every time we groan at seeing Sherrill coming in from the bullpen. I haven't heard that discussed at all

Posted by Mike

1:48 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Now a Rally Mackerel is something I can get behind. I just hope Bavasi doesn't trade Aumont for one.

Posted by MJ

1:49 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Exile-

Totally agree. Although last night Beltre was a little backspin instead of topspin away from a game winner last night.

Posted by Jason

1:53 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Ricofoy - Thomas isn't supposed to be an answer. He's a cheap bargain to flip at the deadline. Beane is going to show Pittsburg what they shoulda been doing 10-15 years ago. Sign vets for CHEAP, have them play decently well, flip them for prospects or offer them arbitration and get draft picks. If Thomas totally falls on his face it's still less than $350k. No harm, no foul. But if he bats .250/.350/.450 until the deadline Beane is gonna fleece some team.

Posted by Ben

1:56 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Well i've at least got one person behind me on getting this Rally Mackerel thing started - Geoff, do you think you could suggest it to Bavasi? I think it might give us the edge on Anahiem.

There's nothing more annoying than stealing someone else's idea, changing it slightly and succeeding more with it.

I think this might be a high priority topic (if not #1) for the next press session Bavasi has.

Posted by Ben

1:57 PM, Apr 24, 2008

By the way - Angels just took a series from Boston in Boston... outhitting them.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

2:04 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Angels were #3 in runs before the games started today, with Boston #1 in the A.L. Staring pitching was good for both clubs. Boston's bullpen imploded today. Nice to see a weakness in the team to beat in the A.L.

Posted by NB

2:13 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Tamba Bay Rays Starting Pitching (just a sample):

Andy Sonnanstine: 13th round draft pick by Tampa

James Shields: 16th round draft pick by Tampa

Jason Hammel: 10th round draft pick by Tampa

Scott Kazmir: 1st round pick by New York (N). Traded to Tampa for Victor Zambrano because the Mets didn't know how to evaluate pitchers.

Edwin Jackson: 6th round pick by Los Angeles (N).

That's just a small sample of Tampa's collection of pitching talent (all five of which are better than Jarrod Washburn btw. And younger. And cheaper.)

Doesn't really seem like any of them came as a result of their draft position does it?

Posted by Faceplant

2:14 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"NB: The great plan that Tampa Bay has used to build this deep but cheap pitching staff has nothing to do with some "shift in thought." It's because they've sucked for years now and have been able to build up a deep minor league system. "

You have no idea what you are talking about. The Rays had a complete front office shakeup in 2005. two-fifths of their starting rotation came via trade, and despite a payroll increase they refuse to overpay for mediocre talent. Their entire rotation is built via trade, or draft. That is the complete opposite of the Mariners who's rotation is built on one draftee, on trade, and 3 free agent signings.

Posted by NB

2:15 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Also Silva's fine. Today. For about 6M. Let's talk in 2010 when he's twenty pounds heavier and has lost a couple of MPH off that already average fastball. Jarrod Washburn V. 2.0 anyone?

Posted by Faceplant

2:16 PM, Apr 24, 2008

And Geoff is there a reason that you COMPLETELY ignore defense when evaluating position player talent?

Posted by theron

2:20 PM, Apr 24, 2008

PLEASE Vlad and Jeff PLEASE!

It would be so fun to watch these kids fill the bottom of the order instead of Wilk and Vidro.

At least theres a chance they could put one over the fence.

Joh will get it going, he'll be .270 and 18 with 80 by seasons end. And if he doesn't, Jeff will slide right in there with more than just a September's worth of Majors exp.

This makes sense.

Posted by ht

2:21 PM, Apr 24, 2008

the sad thing to all of this is:

1. the best right fielder in the organization plays in tacoma (balentien)
2. the best dh in the organization plays in tacoma (clement)

they averages couldnt be any worse than what we have and these young guns have lots of power to deepen the line up

so why isnt this happening already?

b/c maclaren woories too much about offending the veteran player rather than playing the best player, grow a set Mac and do whats best for the team
the money shouldnt be an issue b/c ya gotta pay wilkerson and vidro anyway and the two young guns make the minimum
if you cut them they may get picked up and the salary would be a wash anyway.....Just PLAY THE BEST PLAYER!!

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

2:27 PM, Apr 24, 2008

I'm glad we didn't get Thomas. I'd rather be wrong on a 40 year-old DH that appears to be done. Unlike some who believed we were a #1 starter away from contending. I knew that was a pipe dream with the manager we have in place, and the lack of bullpen depth. Heck even with Putz back, It won't matter one bit that Putz is back if the bullpen implodes by using a 3-man pen.

Chris- I wouldn't have said a thing if Green gave up a home run to Markakis because the bases were empty.

I realize RRS is responsible for executing his pitches. But these misconceptions that all lefty vs lefty match-ups favor the pitcher should have gone the way of the dinosaur with the easy availability of basic splits stats that even a non-saber person like myself use. This is the big leagues and most teams that face each other are extremely talented. The decision a manager makes, can make a team that should win 88 games this year into a 75 win team by October.

Posted by Bella Caramella

2:30 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Wladimir Balentien is out of options, right? If he comes up (current injury notwithstanding) to be a "big bat" and play RF, he's in the major leagues to stay. If he starts poorly or flames out, they're stuck with a body on the bench, and I just don't see this FO wanting to take that chance. I bet they use Reed in RF before they bring up Wlad.

Posted by Nat

2:31 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Ben- the flu hit the Red Sox as well, so although no doubt the Angels can play Boston hard and win, the Red Socks were playing sick. It makes a difference, people.

As far as Frank Thomas goes, I can't wait to see him try to get a hit off Morrow or Putz - scouting reports say he's not seeing the ball well and his bat speed is down. We will see this weekend!

Posted by BrianL

2:32 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Here's the thing with Wlad and Clement

Wlad - He's hurt right now, so I imagine that the club will wait a couple of weeks before deciding whether or not to call him up.

Clement - He needs to be catching at least 4 days a week. His value is as a catcher, and not a DH/1B (even if you wanted to make him a first baseman, he'd need at least a full season at Tacoma to get the footwork under him). DH shouldn't be an option, because we already have someone on the 25 man roster who should be a DH right now.

Raul Ibanez.

Raul's bat is extremely important to this team, and the productivity of his bat depends on his body being healthy. At 36, it's hard to take the field every day. By DHing him, he's more likely to stay healthy and therefore, more likely to sport a quality bat all season.

Posted by BrianL

2:33 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Bella Caramella -

No, Wlad still has option years left.

Posted by Ben

2:34 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Yes it does happen... but i don't like seeing the angels go into boston about to face their best two pitchers and getting off the hook. I was looking at the mariners possibly sweeping Baltimore and Boston taking those 2 games...

Anyway, no such luck.

Posted by macdoubter

2:48 PM, Apr 24, 2008

...the 11-11 start has negated the need to panic just yet Really? With no solutions in sight? Then, are we supposed to be comforted by your statement--This offense is to the point where one big bat isn't going to make much of a difference.

This offense doesn't have to be night and day better than it is right now. Just more consistent. Really? Consistent? Hey, this offense has been consistent--consistently poor. Should Wilkerson, Joh, Suckson and the rest be more consistent at not hitting? That's what they do, and they do it consistently well as we can all see.

Incredible. Is Bavasi now running this blog under the name of Geoff Baker, or did Geoff get a new contract with Nintendo? Boy, we waited a year for this...the M's still suck but the spin gets better?

Posted by Full Count

2:53 PM, Apr 24, 2008

22 games into it and they have only played one contender and the rest were considered pretenders.
I can't imagine there isn't some big concerns in house.
Cleveland, New York road trip is very big....against the very teams they would see in the playoffs.
Per Game AL Rank MLB Rank
Runs Scored 4.5 7th 15th
Runs Allowed 4.1 4th 9th
Season AL Rank MLB Rank
Batting Avg. .248 12th 23rd
Home Runs 19 9th 17th
Steals 11 9th 17th
ERA 3.94 11th 11th
Pitcher Ks 133 5th 17th
Pitcher Walks 71 7th 14th

Posted by Fin

3:04 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Can we trade Wilkerson + Vidro + Cairo + A player to be named later (Johjima when Clement is ready) for Coco Crisp + anything else he can get for those four. But knowing Bavasi's negotiating skills, he would probably just get Crisp for all four, but that is fine. Now I am not the one to list dreamed up line-ups, but here goes nothing.

C Clement
1B Sexson
2B Lopez
SS Betancourt
3B Beltre
LF Crisp
CF Ichiro!
RF Balentien
DH Ibanez

Now I am not giving up on Sexson and Lopez just yet, and I am not sure of Clement's catching abilities or Johjima's trade value, but I assume despite Joh being a solid catcher and all, I think he would block the way for Clement to advance as a catcher and be a valuable player to the team. But not only does the offense improve, the outfield defense improves dramatically.

Posted by paul

3:12 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"Seriously, I can't imagine how anyone can disagree with Geoff's analysis. Pitching good, hitting bad. Pressure on Pentland (hitting cages) and Griffin (TheraFlu and DayQuill)."

Just want to say that was my favorite comment ever.

Posted by Mike

3:26 PM, Apr 24, 2008

The last catcher we had that was "too good to come up to the majors" was Veritek. And the truth is, keeping Wilson instead wasn't really such a bad deal. What really hurt was not getting anything valuable for Veritek.

I like Joh, but his bat is hurting the team right now. Same with Wilkerson. I would rather bring the young guys up now and see what they can do. If they play well enough to get us into the playoffs, then great. If not, then at least we won't be in this same position next year, talking about these same guys and worrying about whether we should take a chance on them because they are unproven.

Ask yourself, would you be excited if Joh or Sexson or Wilkerson went on the DL? That's not the way you are supposed to feel about your starters.

Posted by Nat

3:32 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Roger Hansen, Mariners catching coordinator, says Clement is ready for the big leagues NOW.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/baseball/360219_mfarm23.html

Me thinks Joh and Clement can platoon at C/DH, allowing Clement 3 or 4 days a week to catch and to give Joh a little competitive push with the bat.

Vidro to PH, and when Balentien is healthy and ready, bring him up and dfa wilkerson as has been suggested by literally hundreds of people posting in this and other Mariner blogs. And sooner rather than later, please!!!

Posted by Lance

3:37 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"Ichiro is the least of your worries. He's typically a lousy-April hitter. When he set the single-season hit record in 2004, he hit a rather pedestrian .250-.260

Even in the last few games he's been looking better. BABIP is up, and his contact rate overall is about five points higher than his career norms. As long as he keeps doing what he's doing, he's going to be in 200+ hit territory again. " --- BrianL

Fine. Then as soon as Ichiro begins to produce like he's expected to then there's the additional run production needed. That, and Wilkerson either coming to the party or getting dumped for someone who'll produce much better. Everyone else just needs to be themselves. No additional big bat needed. Except, maybe, Jeff Clement.

Posted by Lance

3:43 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"Well, aside from the fact that 2007's record has no bearing on 2008..." --- Adam

Am I the only one who is getting pretty sick and tired that you feel totally justified to quote the past when it suits your purpose regardless of how far back you choose to go, but when someone else refers to the past it "has no bearing"?

Posted by Chris from Bothell

3:47 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"This offense is to the point where one big bat isn't going to make much of a difference."

No. No, no, no.

The Mariners are 1 and 5 this season in 1-run games.

And I assume the definition of a "big bat" is one who'd provide at least one extra run driven in, about half the time. Either by being on base themselves to be driven in, or by doing the driving.

Assuming the starting pitching stays the same, and the bullpen and defense don't degrade, one bat ABSOLUTELY makes all the difference. Take back just 2 of those one-run losses and the Ms could be tied or ahead by 1 for leading the AL West now.

Wlad, or Reed, or Clement, by themselves, could make the difference if any of them can provide league-average offense, while not degrading the defense at their position. (Which for Clement should be DH much of the time.)

Posted by Mike

3:50 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"Ask yourself, would you be excited if Joh or Sexson or Wilkerson went on the DL? That's not the way you are supposed to feel about your starters."

Hey Mike at 3:26....I like the fact that if we share a name at least I agree with your thoughts. And while personally I don't want to see anyone get hurt I can't believe you didn't include Vidro.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

3:50 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"It's time to get cracking on some solutions, but the 11-11 start has negated the need to panic just yet, soft opening schedule or not."

That solution-cracking better not take longer than mid-May. Because the exact danger is that the team will, in the name of not panicking, try to ride their vets into the ground. I've seen good signs so far with Mac's willingness to plug in Morse and Willie. But something more is needed, sooner.

"They'll come around, give them time" is what we got for 2007. There's no indication that the Raul/Vidro jumpstart that happened mid-last-year, will happen with Richie, Joh or Wilkerson. Which is where it's needed, with the current lineup.

Posted by scrapiron

3:54 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Nat - you got it. Create a rotation platoon at DH/C would be very beneficial.

Terry "Bud" Bulling used to be Gaylord Perry's personal catcher in Seattle and would always start when Perry was on the mound.

I'm suggesting something similar. Clement would start at catcher when Felix and Washburn are on the mound, Johjima would start when Bedard, Silva and Batista are on the mound. Johjima would get the majority of the time behind the plate, but Clement would still develop as a catcher. Whoever wasn't starting as the catcher would be the DH that day.

Posted by scrapiron

3:59 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Also, having a bench consist of two switch-hitting pinch hitters in Vidro and Norton would also be a strength.

I'm suggesting the odd man out would be Cairo. We don't need a light hitting infielder on this roster. He's on the roster for his speed? How many times has he pinch ran this year? How many stolen bases does he have? If you're going to keep a guy on the roster because of his speed, go with blazing speed and call up Jimerson instead.

Posted by Adam

4:01 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Lance - First of all, I'm not sure I've seen you are anyone else making that complaint, so if you are "getting pretty sick and tired" it is news to me. Second, there is a difference between saying the team was 10-10 in 2007, so a .500 start in 2008 is fine, and saying that Carlos Silva's performance in 2007 can instruct us on what to expect in 2008.


If you'd like to explain how the fact that the Mariners were .500 20 games in last year and finished with 88 wins has any correlation to whether the 2008 Mariners will do the same, be my guest. Honestly, what does it matter that the 2007 Mariners were .500 after 20 games?

On the other hand, I'd be happy to talk about why, for example, Silva's peripherals (GB%, K%, BB%) in 2007 paint a better picture of what he's likely to do in 2008. For one thing, it's a larger sample size. Further, his peripherals over 33 starts produced results much different from his current results, even though his current peripherals are quite similar. So, given the fact that his history shows his current performance produces results quite different results than those he has now, it is perfectly legitimate to use his past stats.

There's a difference between looking at historical trends and isolating a single statistic from a single point in time and trying to make any future judgments based upon it.

Posted by fc

4:07 PM, Apr 24, 2008

This team would be better off with Norton as the DH and Vidro coming in to pinch hit in late inning situations, other than that the offensive outlook is grim.

Posted by Will

4:18 PM, Apr 24, 2008

This post is self-refuting.

The pitching staff is a strength? Great, so the Mariners sold the farm for something (a SUPER ACE) that a month into the season is obvious that they didn't need. (11 IP)

Interesting that the names George Sherrill and Kam Mickolio aren't mentioned with regards to the "injury-riddled bullpen".

Posted by Lance

4:25 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Adam, you missed the entire point, which you tend to do when the point does not originate with you.

The fact that the team was .500 after 22 games last year simply illustrates that a .500 record at this point does not necessarily reflect how the rest of the season will go, good or bad. No one ever said it foretells how the team will finish in 2008. And, I agree with the point being made.

But, you love to argue anything. And, how about you respond to my point. Why is it ok for you to refer to the past, but not others can't make a valid point, even for illustrative purposes, doing the same thing? Seems to me you post under two sets of rules. One for you and one for others, especially those you don't agree with.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

4:46 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Nat-You won't get an argument out of me from Roger Hansen. I always thought the talk of Clement needing to refine his defensive game was being blown out of proportion.

Lance- I understand your frustration, believe me.
I agree with you.

This team does not need to acquire another bat outside the organization. We have Clement and Wlad. I'd bet the house they produce better than the NL pinch hitter we have at DH right now, and the NL bench player we have at right.

Posted by Nat

4:47 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Scrapiron- Cairo should be dfa'd yesterday. I'm not gonna address this anymore b/c everyone but Bavasi and McLaren know this. It's too stupid to discuss something this obvious. I think I need a break from the Mariners already and it's not even the end of April...

Posted by Adam

4:48 PM, Apr 24, 2008

The fact that the team was .500 after 22 games last year simply illustrates that a .500 record at this point does not necessarily reflect how the rest of the season will go, good or bad. No one ever said it foretells how the team will finish in 2008. And, I agree with the point being made.

Exactly. So what is the point of even making the comparison? I know Geoff isn't arguing that this team will win 88 games, but the fact the 2007 team did with the same start should have no bearing on the team's actions to improve the team right now.

But, you love to argue anything. And, how about you respond to my point. Why is it ok for you to refer to the past, but not others can't make a valid point, even for illustrative purposes, doing the same thing? Seems to me you post under two sets of rules. One for you and one for others, especially those you don't agree with.

Did you miss the distinction I made and my discussion re: Silva, or are you choosing to ignore it? That was your answer. There is a difference between looking at historical trends to make a judgment and taking a snapshot. Not sure why this is an issue.

It's especially true in the case of a team's W/L record. It's one thing looking at Sexson's LD and GB rates for the last three years to measure whether his bat is slowing (it is) and another to look at one team's record at one date in one season and give it any credence.

Posted by ag

4:49 PM, Apr 24, 2008

The first thing I'm wondering is how does anyone know that Bavasi didn't talk Frank Thomas about coming here?

The second thing I wonder is why he would come here to hit inSafeco Field which is known to be tough on RH hitters if he had another option?

The last thing I wonder about is why we would need a big, slow right handed hitter with a low batting average? I think we already have one of those.

Posted by Al

4:54 PM, Apr 24, 2008

No, Bedard has offered 1 quality start by your standards of 6 innings 3 or less earned runs, and has only offered 11 innings of average pitching so far.


Also to say a Jones wouldn't be an upgrade to Wilkerson is dissappointing considering you also neglected to consider what Sherrill would have given this team.


Seriously just stick to nitpicking real problems like Vidro the 5 hole hitting DH who has an OPS under .600. I mean how can you get on the case of Lopez for being 0.011 under the .700 mark you so covet and not rail into Vidro in the same post when the guy is in the middle of the lineup where he needs to produce and not be the horrible 2 hole hitter people believe.

Posted by John

4:55 PM, Apr 24, 2008

NB and Faceplant:
Let me know when Tampa makes the playoffs.
And I like how you use "shift in thought" as if you are sitting in on GM meetings around the country.
One thing I won't argue is that Tampa drafts better than Seattle ... but then most teams do.

Posted by joe

4:58 PM, Apr 24, 2008

SIlver Lining? more like aluminum..

Posted by Mike

5:00 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"And I like how you use "shift in thought" as if you are sitting in on GM meetings around the country."


John, it really is happening. Boston, Cleveland, Arizona, Tampa, Colorado, Oakland are all integrating this "shift in thought."

Posted by John

5:03 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Scrap:
I really like your idea of platooning catchers and using who isn't catching as the DH. I'm not sure the organization feels Clement is ready to catch a major league game, but I'd be willing to see.
Quite inventive on your part. Congratulations.

Posted by Ben

5:07 PM, Apr 24, 2008

This bores me... I am sorry i spent time reading some of these posts... Oh online arguments...

Posted by Nat

5:08 PM, Apr 24, 2008

ag- I don't believe there was a consensus of M's fans yammering for Thomas.

Even over at AN, where I was just reading the game post in which the A's whipped the Twinkies 11-2, everyone in the A's roster got a hit...except for Thomas. Scouts certainly don't think he has much left in him. It's a gamble.

Which isn't to say the A's will lie down this weekend. Their bats are just warming up and according to the comments I read AN fans are thrilled with the way the team is now playing. And they have two of their hottest pitchers (Eveland, Duchscherer, as well as Blanton) set to pitch against Batista, Bedard (?), and Felix.

And our hitters have, as of the last seven games, forgotten how to take a pitch!

Wake me up when it's over!

Posted by lol

5:10 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Geoff - "The sun is shining and the birds are singing."

Adam - "I prefer light rain, because it helps pretty flowers grow. The sun makes me perspire, and I don't like the way I smell when I perspire. Singing birds are nice, but you can purchase cd's of recorded birdsong. So why would you like a day like today, when things can be better for me?"

Posted by John

5:14 PM, Apr 24, 2008

If the "shift in thought" is NOT overpaying for bad free agent pitching and building more from within, I don't really see that as a shift in thought. No one has EVER wanted to pay for bad free agent pitching. It's just that pitching has been so sparse that there hasn't been much of a choice but to overpay in the free agent market. But as Peter Gammons pointed out in a recent radio interview, over the past couple of years good young pitching is on a definite upswing all over the majors. Young players have seen that pitching is one of the fastest ways to reach the majors, so better athletes are taking to the mound. That combined with the decline of roid-bots like Bonds, McGwire and Sosa have resulted in a friendlier environment all the way around.
I would credit a healthier supply of pitching, which has allowed teams to not go out and bid on the free-agent busts as often. If that's what you mean by a shift in thought, then I agree with you.

Posted by John

5:27 PM, Apr 24, 2008

I'm a huge M's fan, but I would love to see the look on Bavasi's face if Thomas comes in here and hits a couple of homers while Vidro flails away. I'm not one of those that think another big, slow right-handed bat would do much for this offense, but Bavasi's lack of initiative or imagination, and unbelievable belief that his offense can be anything but mediocre at best boggles the mind.
Whifferson, Sexson and Vidro are 10-pound weights on the floating fly-line of life in Seattle. And Big Bad Bill is still chucking it out there without a prayer or clue.
Drives me crazy.

Posted by Waah

5:31 PM, Apr 24, 2008

The USS Mariner dudes sure are pussies.

Posted by Scott

5:46 PM, Apr 24, 2008

I think your points are well taken. It is much easier to find hitting than it is to find pitching. Our starting staff -- on the whole -- is as good as anyone's in my opinion. And, we're winning without Bedard. Now that JJ and Morrow are back, I think our bullpen is one of the better pens in the league as well. There will always be bats out there if we need one and are willing to trade for one.

I do maintain that letting Guillen go was a huge mistake. He had an attitude and not a bad hitter, either.

Posted by Jeff

6:08 PM, Apr 24, 2008

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 Anthony

6:17 PM, Apr 24, 2008

Ichiro is the problem. You can't have a leadoff hitter hitting .260. He's always been an infield singles hitter and now he can't even do that! I don't understand why we chose to re-sign him in 2004 when we could've went after Vlad and I certainly didn't when we signed him last season to a new extension.

Listen, the guy is a good outfielder but sooner or later you're going to need a leadoff hitter that can come thru with clutch hits when he's in that situation and can produce more than a measly 30 Xbase hits a year! He's on the wrong side of 30 now and yet everybody around the team still thinks he's the second-coming of JC. The dude is garbage! When are people like Steve Kelley and Larry Stone and the rest of the fair-weather Mariner fans going to get off of his nuts?

I would take Curtis Granderson (even on the DL) 10 times out of 10 over Ichiro. Give me Gary Matthews, Grady Sizemore, hell even B.J. Upton over his a** any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

This lineup needs wholesale changes if it wants to be a World Series contender and you start with the top. The only current hitters that should be kept on are Beltre, Lopez and Betancourt. Everyone else needs to pack their belongings and get the hell out of town!

Posted by Faceplant

6:31 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"The last catcher we had that was "too good to come up to the majors" was Veritek. And the truth is, keeping Wilson instead wasn't really such a bad deal. What really hurt was not getting anything valuable for Veritek."


This just isn't true. Varitek was never a big time prospect like Clement is. Nobody saw that level of offensive production coming from Varitek once he got to the majors. His career minor league OPS was .739.

Posted by Faceplant

6:33 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"Am I the only one who is getting pretty sick and tired that you feel totally justified to quote the past when it suits your purpose regardless of how far back you choose to go, but when someone else refers to the past it "has no bearing"?"

Do you really think win/loss record has ANY predictive value at all? It's like trying to evaluate pitching talent based on how many wins they had. It's useless.

Posted by Faceplant

6:45 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"Let me know when Tampa makes the playoffs."

Whatever that has to do with anything. I guess when you can't refute the obvious points it's easier to just throw up a strawman.

"And I like how you use "shift in thought" as if you are sitting in on GM meetings around the country."

Or we actually just pay attention.

"One thing I won't argue is that Tampa drafts better than Seattle ... but then most teams do."

Uh, actually no most teams don't. Bob Fontaine is absolutely fantastic. The problem is that the Mariners don't value what they have. They trade away the Tillmans, and Butlers, just for the right to pay Jarrod Washburn and Carlos Silva top of the rotation money.

Posted by Faceplant

6:50 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"It's just that pitching has been so sparse that there hasn't been much of a choice but to overpay in the free agent market."

This is just absolutely false. This Erik Bedard trade is a perfect example. The M's traded away two top pitching prospects, because in their mind prospects are too risky. You need to sign the established veterans. This is a philosophy that has been around the game for years, and one that the majority of teams practiced.

This isn't just the Mariners. There is no shortage of teams who overpay for mediocre talent, just becauase they are the "established veteran".

Posted by Faceplant

6:53 PM, Apr 24, 2008

"I would take Curtis Granderson (even on the DL) 10 times out of 10 over Ichiro. Give me Gary Matthews..."

I just threw up in my mouth a little. GARY MATHEWS? Dude, you seriously need to be on medication!

ICHIRO IS FINE! Jesus people need to step back from the ledge.

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