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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 30, 2008 3:33 PM

Balentien everyday right fielder

Posted by Geoff Baker

balentien0430 027.jpg

John McLaren made it official moments ago: Wladimir Balentien (seen above taking BP today) is now the team's every day right fielder. Not much of a surprise with Brad Wilkerson gone. But there will be no shifting around of Raul Ibanez, nobody else brought up to share time with him. He's the guy.

"Balentien's going to play,'' he said.

GM Bill Bavasi said he didn't want to have any regrets in September about not moving sooner.

"We think we're getting to the point where we're getting the bullpen straightened out,'' he said. "The starters have been doing a good job. But they're getting into the fifth, sixth and seventh inning looking over their shoulder it seems like every night. So, something's got to give.''

Jeff Clement (pictured below, also during BP) will get his primary time as a designated hitter. He will also catch occasionally. McLaren avoided using the word "platoon'' but it seems pretty clear that's what Clement and Jose Vidro will be doing. Vidro faces the lefties, Clement the righties.

balentien0430 050.jpg

"We're going to try to flip people around,'' McLaren said.

McLaren also mentioned that Vidro will see some time as as first baseman and even at second base. He talked about his rationale for shedding Greg Norton, who he called "a victim of circumstance.'' Figured, as I did in the previous blog post, that Vidro and Norton are clones of each other when it comes to switch-hitters not confined to one position. McLaren sees the potential for a lot of late-game pinch-running situations with all the position switching around that will be going on.

"We feel like we need protection,'' he said. "With Burke as the extra catcher and when we DH Clement, we need pinch-runners every night. Because there are so many guys who need pinch-running for. We don't pinch-hit for that many guys, so we felt like this is the way we need to go.''

balentien0430 003.jpg

The manager spoke to several players individually earlier on today, including Vidro (above) to let them know exactly what was going on. He and Wilkerson had a long chat in the sofa lounge area of the team's hotel in downtown Cleveland this morning. Wilkerson did not go to the ballpark. Norton did. The team had made up its mind on Wilkerson, by the way, before his three hits last night. Those came too late to save him.

Putting Balentien and Clement in there right away isn't a problem for him.

"We know what they're all about,'' he said. "They showed us a lot both last year and in spring training.''

Any more moves coming soon?

"I think we're done,'' he said.

Clement and Balentien were both told the news after their Tacoma team's game last night. They caught a 6 a.m. flight here today on United Airlines through Chicago. Their plane was a little late. What else is new, right? Clement also said the landing here in Cleveland was about the worst he's ever been through.

"I thought I blew my back out,'' he quipped.

Boy, wouldn't that have been a hoot?

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Posted by SDF Mariner

3:02 PM, Apr 30, 2008

This is truly amazing. First, the M's actually make a play and land a MAJOR frontline starting pitcher in the offseason. Then, the M's have the balls to make the right roster moves to put the best team on the field and not worry about people's feelings.

Way to go M's!!!!

Posted by Mike

3:07 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Here's hoping that Wlad lights it up and the majority of scouts who like Jones better were wrong. Let the Wladimir Balnetien era begin.

Gotta' figure that Clement will get the opportunity to pinch hit tonight. Lee won't throw a complete game will he? Admittedly he's been tough but we've murdered lefties.

Posted by good ol' george

3:08 PM, Apr 30, 2008

I'm probably in the minority in this, but...why not make Willie Bloomquist the every day man in right field?

Posted by Mike

3:09 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Because he is an awful hitter

Posted by dkallday

3:12 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Hey Geoff, do you think Clement will start tonight?

Posted by Adam

3:12 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Balentien in RF everyday - Good.

Clement in platoon at DH - BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD.


I'm trying to be happy about this, but honestly, I am sick and tired of Jose Vidro. He's done ZERO to deserve to be in the lineup, even against LHPs. Just given the job to the guy with a 1.200 OPS, for crying out loud.

Posted by VanillaGorilla

3:12 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Dont forget he's also a below average defensive outfielder. Other than that though there isnt much reason he's not in the lineup everyday

Posted by SDF Mariner

3:13 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Actually, Willie is not an awful hitter. He doesn't deserve being referred to as a "hitter." Willie is a pinch runner and backup fielder. He serves no other purpose. For further clarification, see Miguel Cairo.

Posted by backstabbers

3:13 PM, Apr 30, 2008

becasue bloomquist can't hit, it an avg. fielder, has no arm....

Posted by backstabbers

3:15 PM, Apr 30, 2008

i would be more than fine with trading bloomquist for Dunn and maybe a good bullpen arm.

Posted by fish93

3:15 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Willie is better served as a late-inning pinch runner for sexson or Joh. I would have cut ties with Ciaro, but we are now going to have 3 catchers up in the bigs. What happens to Burke if Clement gets a chance to catch.

Posted by Mike

3:17 PM, Apr 30, 2008

No one would give you anything close to Dunn for Willie Bloomquist. He's a 25th man who can run and play mediocre defense at several positions.

Posted by maverick

3:17 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Because if Bloomquist had grown up in Port St Lucie instead of Port Orchard he would be bagging groceries right now. (Or whatever people do with an ASU education.)

The guy cant hit throw or field. Other than that he is 'gritty' whatever that means

Posted by Adam

3:21 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Even when Bavasi/McLaren make a good decision, they can't help but make bad ones.

Cairo is more valuable to this team than Wilkerson or Norton? Really?

And who plays 1B if Sexson goes down? Vidro? Blech. Clement? His first time playing 1B is in the majors? Really?


Aargh. This is why it is so difficult to root for this team. Perhaps this is picking nits, but I just wish we could see some intelligent team management for once.


And I sure hope we see Clement win that platoon and force Vidro to the bench for good.

And finally, I am rooting for Wlad if for but one reason: SO THAT EVERYBODY PRAYING FOR GRIFFEY CAN SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by scottM

3:21 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Excellent point, Adam. Just give the DH to Clement and let Vidro PH and spell Sexson every fifth day. However, if the splits for Clement start to show that Vidro should be given ABs against lefties, then so be it. But, first let Clement prove that he's not worthy of being the everyday DH (except when he's catching). It's the righties who've been killing us, so that's the main benefit of Clement's bat right now.

Good news about Balentien as the everyday starter. Let him get comfortable so he can be a true asset for the pennant race.

Baptism by fire! Should be fun to watch.

Posted by Novice

3:24 PM, Apr 30, 2008

why dont we just throw Beltre to DH and put blooomquist at 3rd. this solves our DH problem and that way keeps Balentin over in RF while clearing up bench room .

Posted by eastcoast

3:26 PM, Apr 30, 2008

with wlad being the everyday RF, I would suggest that Bloomie and Cairo have become clones of eachother as well. Also, do the M's really need to carry 3 catchers?? Cairo isn't exactly seeing a lot of playing time. I feel the M's would be better served with Reed on the bench as opposed to one of Cairo/WB/Burke.

But, having said that, I'm excited to see Wlad and Clement get a well deserved shot. I hope they ignite this O.

Posted by wabubba

3:27 PM, Apr 30, 2008

What the hell about Norton?!! The guy is a switch hitter, can play the OF corners and 1B, has above average speed (at least matches Cairo), and has hit .438 this year. Obviously, he had no role on this team.

Having both Vidro and Norton would have been great in the later innings. Two switch hitting PH to go to against good relief pitching...both veterans. I don't know why they would opt to clone Bloomquist (with Cairo) rather than Vidro (with Norton).

Actually, scratch that, I think this is Bavasi's way of avoiding the next roster controversy...how many days until Norton takes Sexson's job at 1B.

Pathetic!

Posted by BrianL

3:27 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Novice, you're kidding right?

Move Beltre to DH? Move one of the best defensive 3Bs in baseball to DH?

Posted by Choska

3:27 PM, Apr 30, 2008

With no apologies for harping on this, we could have had Jones in right, Balentien in left, with Ibanez at 1B and Clement at DH/C.

Not to mention having Sherill in the pen and Tillman getting ready for a July call up

Though this team probably wouldn't have "won" in '08, it would have won more games than what we broke camp in the spring with. And it DEFINITELY would win more games next year.

Posted by helpFelix

3:28 PM, Apr 30, 2008

The M's HAD TO release Wilkerson!!!

Why?

Because it sets the tone for the rest of the offensive players like Sexson/Vidro/Ibanez/Lopez to keep them on their toes...OR ELSE!!!

There is NO PUTTING up with this crap any longer OR YOU'RE GONE!

Vidro & Sexson are next if they don't quickly bring their averages back up, AND Sexson needs to keep pace at about 32-26 HRs OR ELSE!!!

FINALLY, a great authoritative move, with guts & balls, from our front office!!!

KUDOS for once since the season started!

Posted by porkins

3:28 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Why didn't we send Burke down and keep Norton? Clement could then DH and Catch. Other than that thought, I love the moves!

Posted by scottM

3:28 PM, Apr 30, 2008

I was talking about your first post in this thread, Adam at 3:12.

In your second post at 3:21 you worry too much about the impact of the bench on this team. McLaren underutilizes his bench, so our key focus should be on who he is starting.

Also, with Sexson gone in 2009, and Ibanez potentially gone, Griffey will be a solid asset for the powerlite M's, at the plate and hopefully at First Base especially.

There will be NO shutting up, Adam.

GET GRIFFEY!!!!

Posted by BrianL

3:29 PM, Apr 30, 2008

porkins

If Johjima is hurt and Clement is forced to move from DH to C in a game, the team loses the DH and the pitcher has to hit.

Posted by OlyOle

3:29 PM, Apr 30, 2008

too bad they didn't cut Willie Boom-Boom and bring up Jimerson in the same move as the Clement/Balentien transaction. If they're really going to keep Cairo and Vidro on the payroll, why not sign up someone with some real speed and at least the possibility of hitting a ball into a gap somewhere...

pull the plug on willie. Nice guy, but a wasted roster spot.

Posted by thedude

3:30 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Becuase Beltre is one of the best defensive 3rd basemen in the league. He's a golden glover for god sakes!

Posted by sancerre

3:31 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Beltre to DH and Bloomquist to third? Huh? Have you ever seen Beltre play defense? I don't get that one at all...

Posted by Novice

3:32 PM, Apr 30, 2008

u cant cut Bloomquist. Willie is one of those guys that is old fashioned guys, eats sunflower seeds and plays baseball hard. Runs out the plays and stays focused. You cant replace his clubhouse presense or bat.

Posted by OlyOle

3:35 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Novice, good point. So let's make him a coach. He can be Rich Amaral.

Posted by Brian

3:36 PM, Apr 30, 2008

As far as waiting until next week to call up Clement in order to give the M's another year to control him, perhaps Clement will see what they did today as a classy move (instead of holding him back), and perhaps those postive vibes might make him more willing to sign a long term deal when the time comes. It didn't work with ARod, but nothing would have.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

3:44 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Wladimir Balentien=A.L. Rookie of the Year

Posted by Corey Miller

3:44 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Ok ladies and gentlemen...since I haven't seen this addressed yet:

Let us ALL remember these are moves we have been WAITING FOR! Keep this in mind if Clement and Wlad have a rough first few outings.

Let's not stake 'em to the centerfield wall if they don't pull off a .300+ BA in their first month up here.

With that said....Let's Cheer For The Mariners Baby!!

Posted by scottM

3:45 PM, Apr 30, 2008

"I thought I blew my back out,'' he [Clement] quipped.

Boy, wouldn't that have been a hoot?


That one busted me up. Careful, GEOFF, such perverse humor may set a poor example for the trolls and flamers here!

Isn't it interesting that this move, which very well may be pointed to as the bold stroke which saved the 2008 season, hasn't received so much as a mention in FoxSports.com. However, if we trade for Griffey it will be the top sports baseball headline everywhere, even though the impact will likely have less impact on our competitiveness than this move.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

3:47 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Clement should be the every day DH. I really don't expect to see a platoon. Mac stated the same thing about Wilkerson/Morse as a platoon and it never materialized. We just added serious power to the line-up. Let's hope Vidro stays on the bench.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

3:49 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Mmm-boy-howdy, I sure will be happy to see this running game that Mac keeps talking about. I'm almost convinced I'm going to see unicorns grazing on the infield grass, more often than I will see pinch runners.

Adam - totally agree. If Sexson doesn't get it going, the Ms master plan is to replace him at first with... Vidro, the other guy who wasn't getting it going.
Unless of course, Griffey is planning on returning to Seattle as a first baseman? :) And the team that values the running game, and the ability to pinch-run, is now carrying 3 catchers. hee.

Good luck, Wlad and Jeff. Mariners nation is gonna turn on you guys right quick if you don't both have a really hot start.

Posted by scottM

3:58 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Good luck, Wlad and Jeff. Mariners nation is gonna turn on you guys right quick if you don't both have a really hot start.


I don't think that's true, Chris. We're building toward the future. Both did very well last September. Both see this as their big break. Wlad doesn't have Adam Jones to worry about. Clement doesn't have the added pressure of being our regular catcher. The standards set by Wilkerson and Vidro in April 2008 are pathetically low. Finally, this will not be a "short-leash" scenario by the management.

Don't expect to see them slump. Expect this team to be energized!!!!

Posted by markus

4:05 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Even when the team does something awesome, they manage to do it in a way that takes the fun out of it. Norton? What did the guy have to do? AND WHY IS CAIRO STILL AROUND? Mac really said that there are so many options to pinch run? Then why has Cairo only pinch ran like three times all year? And why did Jimerson get jettisoned? WHY? Cairo? Really?

CUT CAIRO! Stop the madness now!! Seriously, in ST I joked that Cairo had naughty pics of Bavasi and Mac, but now I'm pretty sure that he has really dirty pics.

Posted by Ben

4:08 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Well here's to raising cliff lee's ERA substantially.

Posted by statboysdad

4:20 PM, Apr 30, 2008

YEAHHHHHH

The Mariners are coming

Posted by C Diddy

4:33 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Willie B should only play once every 2 weeks...But pinch run whenever is a good chance... And you should be banned from posting comments for suggesting Willie B to third and beltre to DH..hahahah.Do you know the game of baseball????

Posted by Mr. Prez

4:38 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Kinda lazy swing by Balentien on that DP

Posted by helpFelix

4:47 PM, Apr 30, 2008

What the #&*()#&$*#()?????!!!!

We did bring up Clement to DH over Vidro right?! You know that guy from AAA that has about a 1.3 OPS over Vidro!!!

Mac does realize that Clement has a .978 OPS against LHPs right? He has a 391 BA against LHPs, and 400 BA & a 1.3 OPS against RHPs.

Mariner management gave him that extra FA year by bringing him up 7 days early...TO SIT HIS ASS ON THE FLIPPIN BENCH OVER VIDRO?!!!!

JUST when I praise the M's management for the 2 callups, they pull this CRAP??!!

Come on Mac...PULL YOUR FLIPPIN HEAD OUT!

THEN to top it all off, Vidro 1st AB tonight we had a small rally going with a guy on 1st and 2nd...WHAT HAPPENS? Vidro strikes out!!!

This is the kind of BS I can't deal with anymore! We've lost A LOT more games from horrible Mac decisions, than our offense...AND THATs flat out discusting!

I sure hope Mac comes here and reads this blog of your Geoff.

GEOFF CAN YOU PLEASE ASK MAC IN THE PRESS CONFERENCE TONIGHT WHY HE CHOSE TO DH VIDRO TONIGHT OVER CLEMENT WHEN CLEMENT HAS THE SUPERIOR OPS OVER VIDRO THIS YEAR AGAINST LHPing?

Thanks in advance!

Posted by B_A_

8:10 PM, Apr 30, 2008

HALLELUJIA!!! Not that I am giving up on this year...I actually think things are really going to start heating up soon for the M's - -however, I couldn't help myself:

NEXT YEARS LINE-UP:

CF: Ichiro
2B: Lopez
DH: Ibanez
RF: Griffey Jr.
LF: Balentien
1B: Clement
C: Johjima
SS: Betencourt

That's right...Johima's 3 year deal was the writing on the wall. Say good-bye to Sexson, and Clement takes over at 1B. We sign Griffey as a free-agent (if we don't trade for him this year), and Belentien is your full time LF.

What do you guys think?!??! Now that's a line-up that will score runs!!

Posted by B_A_

9:11 AM, May 01, 2008

Sorry...I can't believe I did this - - but, I left Beltre off that line-up!

Let me try this again:

Ichiro
Lopez
Ibanez
Griffey
Beltre
Clement
Balentien
Johjima
Betancourt

Posted by Tom R.

9:25 AM, May 02, 2008

The only thing attractive about going to Safeco Field these days is drinking beer and talking to the gals in the left/centerfield stands. Norton was hitting well and so the idiot Bavasi cuts him. Sooooooooo stupid.

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