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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 1:16 PM

Wilkerson, Norton DFA'd; Clement, Balentien here tonight

Posted by Geoff Baker

The headline says it all. Brad Wilkerson and Greg Norton have been designated for assignment, while Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien have been recalled from Class AAA Tacoma. Both will be in-uniform for tonight's game. They aren't here yet. The Mariners aren't talking yet, other than to announce the move. We spoke at great length this morning about how the team could not continue to give away power in both the right field and DH spots.

The team obviously reached the same conclusion. Jose Vidro stays, as to be expected, because he still serves a useful purpose as a switch hitter off the bench if he fails to hold on to his DH job full-time. Wilkerson is not as useful and his defense wasn't good enough to justify keeping him around.

Norton leaving is a surprise. He was hitting .438 and also serves a useful role as a guy who can play first base, not to mention the outfield. He's sort of like Vidro, a switch-hitter off the bench. Only difference is, he's hitting and Vidro isn't. Interesting decision. It comes down to the team wanting to keep two speed clones -- Willie Bloomquist and Miguel Cairo -- over two switch-hitting pinch-hit clones, Jose Vidro and Greg Norton. That is, clones when they're hitting the way they should. Vidro isn't.

"I guess it was a surprise,'' Norton said moments ago as he sat by his locker. "But it's part of the business. Salaries, the people who have been here. Everything's involved in the decisions that are made.''

The lineups just got posted. Balentien is starting in right field and batting seventh. Vidro is hitting fifth and still starting at DH. After all, have two doubles last night and he hits lefties, which the M's face tonight in Cliff Lee. I'd expected to see Vidro in there again. Clement is not in the lineup, but will, obviously, be available off the bench.

As for the DFA rules, the team now has 10 days to trade, release, or outright Wilkerson and Norton to the minors. As veterans, they can refuse the assignment and become free agents.

Norton plans to return home, spend time with his wife and see if there are any major league jobs out there for him. If not, he'll cross that bridge. So, for now, he doesn't know whether he'll accept or decline his assignment.

"Everything's up in the air,'' he said. "I still love the game. I still think I can play.''

He's hurting inside, obviously. But he kept his sense of humor. He mentioned following the rumor mill the last few days when it came to Balentien and Clement being promoted, though he never expected to be a casualty.

"Along with all that talk, it also said my playing time was going to increase as well,'' he said of the rumor mill. "So, I guess you (media) guys are lying, because it definitely decreased today.''



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Posted by Brian

12:57 PM, Apr 30, 2008

So if both of these guys are coming up, who will be the other to be let go, and are there any other empty lockers?

Posted by Brian

12:58 PM, Apr 30, 2008

It sure is sad that the Mariners think bringing up some unproven kids will help them. It might for a few days but once everyone knows what these kids can do the bats will go cold. I see Mariners fans all complaining about their players and wanting help from their prospects. Prospects don't make an offense better. You bring them up slowly to learn to hit in the majors. Just look at the struggles the Dodgers are having. And that's been going on a couple years. Do Mariners fans just think anyone has to be better than who they have now?

Posted by Ben

12:59 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Wow. After that 3 for 3 day... and we don't have a ton of depth at RF (veteran depth), i thought they'd at least keep him around for that. I'm surprised that he was the first cut and not Cairo - who is obviously more expendable.

I'd like to know if there is any rumblings about picking up a veteran outfielder from the actual mariners people (not fans). I know there is talk about Griffey in this blog and Kenny Lofton is available too.

Posted by magwhich

1:02 PM, Apr 30, 2008

from what im hearing it sounds like Wilkerson was stealing signals. if this is the case no wonder Bavasi is still trying to sign Conway to a multi year deal.

Posted by Gordie

1:03 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Poor Wilkerson. If he only had protection in the lineup. Imagine how great his .232 average and five RBI would look with Scott Spiezio still at third, Rich Aurillia at shortstop, Pokey Reese at second, Carl Everett in left, Jeremy Reed in center and Jose Vidro at DH. It's the Bavasi dream lineup!

Posted by weebs

1:04 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Brian, look at the Dodgers' struggles? They are .500 and Loney and Kemp have absolutely dominated pitchers in their time in the bigs so far. Their struggles can be attributed to other pieces than those 2 players. Kemp's hitting .301 and Loney .287 with a good amount of RBIs.

Posted by Ben

1:06 PM, Apr 30, 2008

I would add that the Dodgers struggles might be attributed to a veteran - Andruw Jones - who is terrible now.

James Loney and Matt Kemp hit well last year. Russel Martin, another one of their young guys, also hit very well and was one of the best hitting catchers in baseball.

Another veteran that's a problem for them - Jason Schmidt.

Posted by Eric

1:06 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Brian, meet Ryan Braun and Troy Tulowitski. Two prospects brought up by their respective teams who also brought a good deal of offense with them.

Balentien and Clement might have trouble hitting, but they also might hit a lot. Rookies aren't guarnteed to suck when they get to the Majors. There have been many that have provided boosts to their offense. And, considering the production that we are getting from DH and RF, the team has nothing to lose by bringing them up.

Posted by Brian

1:12 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Weebs - I'm an Angel fan so I see a lot of Dodgers coverage. The Dodgers have some good young players but they aren't really enough to make the Dodgers contenders. What they really do is cause turmoil with the veteran players. The vets don't like them actually. Maybe the Dodgers and Mariners would be better getting rid of their vets and going all young. I just don't see how adding three young hitters will improve the Mariners.

The Angels have plenty of good young hitters but they all struggle once pitchers find their weaknesses. Your kids will too. You can bet on it. It's very rare a kid comes up and hits great and makes all the adjustments.

Also, the kids aren't used to the longer season. That's what caused problems for the Dodgers last year. They're used to a shorter season. You don't want an offense dependent on young hitters.

As for the Dodgers being .500, I say so what. Look at who they've been beating to get their. Over the weekend they swept the Rockies. This isn't the Rockies team from the World Series last year. Their whole offense is struggling right now with RISP. I watched parts of their games. You think the Mariners stink with RISP? Just watch the Rockies.

I think the Dodgers will soon fall back under .500 again. They always seem to have an easy April. Then May hits and bam. They play much tougher teams in May.

Posted by M'sFanTanner

1:15 PM, Apr 30, 2008

The other cut should be Miguel Cairo to make room for both guys. He has not been productive and the managers obviously have no trust in him. I think Clement and Johjima should share the cathcing duties and Clement can sub in DH every other day for Vidro. That should light a fire under those two.

Then we can platoon Ibanez, Sexon,Vidro to first and keep Richie out some games. (Raul should not miss any games his bat is valuble defense questionable) Although Richies power is good this year. Sexson should be out there but also needs to bring average up above his weight. The you have Balentien to playt in Right and Left as needed and put pressure on these veterans.

Also I like Willie Bloomquist but what about Reed or Jimerson...dont we have some room now with Morse out for another back up OF? If we have to send down a pitcher I say Morrow or Coccoran both have been very average or below.

I like Dickey and Morrow both should be here I just think Morrow is not quite healthy yet.

C'mon M's lets get those bats going, improve the BP and Get JJ back in his groove and win some close games. And lets go sweep the Yanks in NYC!

Posted by Brian

1:16 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Eric - I just think it's foolish to expect too much from rookies. I've seen it from the Angels. We have kids who hit even better in the minors than your kids. Then they get to the majors and can't hit. Major league pitchers are just a lot better overall and scouts find their weaknesses. You might get lucky but I wouldn't count on it. Maybe bring up one rookie and bat him 9th. Don't put any pressure on him. Rookies should be given a chance to develop in the majors. When the fans all beg for the kids to be brought up it's asking too much

Posted by Davis

1:16 PM, Apr 30, 2008

THIS IS A GASEY REVELATION.

Posted by NYC M's Fan

1:17 PM, Apr 30, 2008

It's a cold business.

Posted by Mike

1:17 PM, Apr 30, 2008

I'm surprised Cairo is still on the team.

Posted by blazers91

1:18 PM, Apr 30, 2008

GREAT MOVE!!! Should help the offense once they adjust to being in the bigs. While we're talking about the offense, I didn't see the game last night, but I have a question for those who did:

Vidro had two deep doubles that Beltre did not score on, even though he was at first and there were two outs, so presumably he would have been going on contact.

Are the coaches/playesr being too tentative on the basepaths, or could Beltre not have legitimately scored on one or both of those? On both, he ended up being stranded by Sexson outs on the next play, I believe.

Posted by Gordie

1:19 PM, Apr 30, 2008

What did Norton do to deserve to get cut? Especially when Cairo is still on the roster!!!

Posted by Patrick F.

1:19 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Yes! Though Norton has looked solid. Oh well, this seems like the best move.

Posted by mark logan

1:19 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Fukudome would have looked nice out in RF. I still wonder why the M's didn't go after him.

Posted by scottM

1:20 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Non-Rocket-Science Prediction now the Wilkerson is gone:

Balentien has at least until Griffey hits #600 to prove he belongs in RF full time. Reminds me of '06 when the team scrambled to replace Reed in Center.

With Clement up––who I think will deliver as advertised at the plate––Vidro will be riding the bench as PH for most of '08.

At $15.5 million, the team will endure Sexson's rally-killing swing for the rest of '08 and not a day longer.

Griffey will be signed during '08, and he will play Right Field on the days when Johjima catches, and DH when Clement catches. Balentien will spell Griffey and Raul for the rest of this season once we get Griffey. Likewise, Raul will continue to play most everyday in Left.

I don't have a sense if Ibanez will be extended for '09? He should be, especially if he can play a solid 1B. Both he and Griffey are excellent athletes and should be able to play 1B. I'm not convinced that Clement could adapt to 1B so easily.

The M's should try out this rotation in '09:

Balentien is the regular Right Fielder.

Day One: Griffey at 1B/ Clement DH/ Ibanez in LF
Day Two: Ibanez at 1B/ Clement DH/ Griffey as PH
Day Three: Griffey at 1B/ Clement DH/ Ibanez as PH
Day Four: Griffey at 1B/ Ibanez DH/ Clement as PH
Day Five: Ibanez at 1B/ Griffey DH/ Clement at catcher

Go with this rotation for the first month and see how it works. It can be adjusted according to both offensive and defensive performance, and how well the aging legs of Jr. and Raul hold up. Every fifth day, one of the players will rest. The competition could be good for all of them.

This rotation of Clement/Ibanez/Griffey should provide excellent offensive pop, and preserves the aging legs of Griffey and Ibanez.

Balentien will likely the everyday Right Fielder in 2009.

If they have no intention of ever starting or playing Reed or Jimerson on the big squad, then the Mariners need a FA outfield acquisition for '09 in LF.

With the release of Wilkerson and the potential acquisition of Griffey, and if we extend Raul as suggested, I see this team stabilizing on the offensive front and making a strong run in both 2008 and 2009.

Minor question: (why Norton and not Cairo???????):

Posted by Ben

1:20 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Brian,

I am in Los Angeles as well - although i'm a Mariners fan - and i don't think the dodgers problem is the young guys. I think they generally just don't have enough talent to compete with Arizona or some of the other decent teams in the NL.

As i mentioned, i think their problem is mostly with people like Andruw Jones, who is supposed to be a veteran guy they could bring in for the full season and slot him in at the #4 or #5, but instead he's been atrocious and they've played him in the #8 and the # 2 and nothing works.

Matt Kemp, James Loney & Russel Martin have all been good though.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

1:20 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Cairo must have some damning pictures of Bavasi. There is no other possibility.

Other than that this is a HUGE improvement for the team.

So Balentien is going to be the regular right fielder? Please say yes.....

Posted by blazers91

1:20 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Actually, when I said great move, I meant everything but cutting Norton instead of Cairo.

Can someone explain THAT to me?

Isn't Norton a more relilable bat for a team that needs them desperately, than is Cairo?

Posted by Jeff

1:22 PM, Apr 30, 2008

What does Cairo have on Bavasi?

Posted by JI

1:23 PM, Apr 30, 2008

I was hoping Vidro would get the boot. I'm afraid they're going to sit Clement like they did Jones. Mac needs his toy taken away from him.

Posted by chanes8cwu

1:24 PM, Apr 30, 2008

about freakin time! Although norton was hitting pretty good off the bench, i would have designated cairo and kept him.

Posted by Ben

1:24 PM, Apr 30, 2008

I'm still confused as to why Wilkerson and now Norton were the first to go... Miguel Cairo adds very little to our team except speed off the bench...

Norton is a clutch PH - which is why we got him... craziness...

I assume that both players will not play until tomorrow at the earliest.

Posted by Mike

1:24 PM, Apr 30, 2008

If we are going to insist Ibanez is an outfielder can we at least move him to right and put Balentien in left? Safeco calls for range in left.

Posted by dave

1:24 PM, Apr 30, 2008

I know the Mariners are struggling to hit right now, and they've wasted three excellent starting pitchers the first month from Hernandez, Bedard (well, half of a month) and Silva.

However, I do wonder about how wise it is to call up Clement and/or Balentien now, when waiting a mere 9 days will give us control of each player for an additional year. If these players are the answers to our problems THIS year, then won't they be more of the answer in SIX years?

Not that I oppose either coming up. Oh, and why is it Norton and not Vidro?

Posted by Donovan

1:25 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Once again, the team surprises me with the form if not the substance of the move. I guess this means Wlad is the new everyday RF. Welcome to the show kids. Now get ready to be put under the microscope!

I'm dying to see the blogsphere react to this. Remember - if you have been baying for this change, you can't complain when the kids' inexperience shows.

Wilk had to know this was a high probability, but I feel bad for Norton. Maybe he'll accept a MiL assignment. I also feel kind of bad for Miguel Cairo. He's about to get his very existence challenged in 4000 blog posts.

Posted by Eric

1:25 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Brian - I couldn't agree with you more. Rookies shouldn't be asked to carry the team. And, from what I gather, neither are Clement and Balentien. They are being asked to produce more than the dismal numbers that were posted by Wilkerson and Vidro. Considering the bar that those two have set, that is not much to ask for at all. Both should be at least somewhat of an improvement on offense and, in the case of Balentien, be a bit of an upgrade on defense.

In short, they are only being asked to be themselves by the team. They are going to be given the time to develop at the MLB level, and they will bring more to the table than what Wilk or Vidro have brought this season.

Posted by ScottM

1:26 PM, Apr 30, 2008

AKMarinersFan, is that you??? The positivity becomes you!!

Posted by Doug

1:26 PM, Apr 30, 2008

auditioning for a griffey trade i hear!!! YES!!!

Posted by Nat

1:26 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Personally, I'm thrilled to see the rookies coming. We've put them off for a year now, so let's see how they can do. Not expecting them to perform miracles or to be dominant; average production will be fine for the time being. They may even struggle for awhile. Like Wilkerson has up to this point.

And, why is a troll telling Mariner fans how to react when the M's organization makes a move? LOL. Get a life, Brian.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

1:27 PM, Apr 30, 2008

EXCELLENT.

And the 2008 Mariners season starts again. If Jeff and Wlad are not everything we've been hoping for, it's going to be a long, long season. It's been overdue, now let's see what they can do.

And apparently they misspelled Cairo as N-o-r-t-o-n. Fare thee well, Mr. Norton, thanks for those 3 nice at-bats the other day.

Free Cleme.... oh, wait, there he is. Right. Carry on.

Posted by Frito Bandito

1:27 PM, Apr 30, 2008

scottM: Hope that prediction comes true, rocket science or not. Also baffled as to why Norton goes instead of Cairo. Kudos to the FO for actually making a move.

Posted by ANDY R

1:27 PM, Apr 30, 2008

WOW... they finally showed some knads... bravo Bavasi. Unfortunately Norton was the odd man out, because Vidro will now fill the lefty (and righty) off the bench roll. This just made my week!

Posted by jim

1:28 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Um, Brian, where do you think big-leaguers come from, trees? Magic? They come from the MINOR LEAGUES, dude. "Prospects don't make an offense better." What are you talking about? So, you think that it's ok to just leave "big-leaguers" who couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat in the lineup?

Regardless of how these kids "learn to hit in the majors," this was a good move. The M's need to be shaken up a bit. Right now, we're getting ready to waste what's shaping up to be a terrific year of starting pitching because the M's can't drive in runs. If they lose too many more games, they'll lose contact with Oakland and L.A. and it'll be ANOTHER long season.

Do whatever it takes...get the bats going. And Brian, read up on some baseball before typing come nonsensical blabber

Posted by Mariner Optimist

1:30 PM, Apr 30, 2008

PROS:
- Much more exciting hitters to watch, soon to be fan favorites.
- Can't be worse than Wilkerson/Vidro/Kenji have been, so nice situation for the young guys - no downside.
- Vidro much less likely to have his 2009 option vest.
- Energizes team and fans

CONS:
- By not waiting a week, we start the clock ticking on their eventual free agency. That may really hurt someday.
- Cairo still with the team.
- McLaren will see this as a reason to give Willie MORE starts in RF.

That's all I got.

Posted by Tony In Dallas

1:30 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Kudos for the M's for bringing up Clement and Balentien and gettting rid of Wilkerson. Hopefully, Clement and/or Balentien can help jump start the offense.

Now...what are the M's going to do with Vidro and possibly Sexson? I guess Vidros two doubles saved him for another day.

Posted by Bill Bavasi, GM

1:30 PM, Apr 30, 2008

It is important for Cairo to stay with the team because he is pushing Lopez to do great things this year!

Posted by Ben

1:31 PM, Apr 30, 2008

But is this move #1 of a series of moves - or are they done? Will a veteran backup outfielder be brought in.

It'll be nice to see these guys hit. I wish i wasn't in Los Angeles...

Posted by The Ultimate Optimist

1:32 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Cairo has been useless as a PR this year because our hitting sucks so much. There just hasn't been the need. If Clement and Balentien come as advertised and our offense kicks it up a notch, then Cairo might actually have some value on the bench as a PR since we'll have guys hitting their way on base.


Cutting Norton seems to make sense too. With Clement up, he'll likely DH most of the time thereby making Vidro our #1 pinch hitter, taking Norton's job.


At least, that's how I see their line of thinking going.

Posted by Bailey the Dog

1:32 PM, Apr 30, 2008

I know this is sacrilegious around these parts -- because Willie Bloomquest, for God knows why, is an untouchable among fans -- but the guy can't hit his way out of a paper bag.

Time to get rid of Willie. Short of that, just ask him not to swing the bat when he's up. Maybe he'll walk occasionally.

I am bummed they got rid of Norton. He was always my favorite Honeymooner.

Posted by Novice

1:32 PM, Apr 30, 2008

reports are that Cairo stayed instead of Norton becasue of the batting stance Cairo prides himself with. Norton was never able to lay off the heater while appearently Cairo has the vertern leadership.

Posted by Mike

1:32 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Evidently it is reallly important to McLaren to have an extra utility infielder so Bloomquist can pinch run. Not the way I'd do it but if we have a switch-hitting Vidro on the bench I think we're better off than we were.

Posted by Brian

1:36 PM, Apr 30, 2008

"And, why is a troll telling Mariner fans how to react when the M's organization makes a move? LOL. Get a life, Brian."

So I'm a troll just because I think it's a mistake to expect much from rookies? I've noticed lately Mariners fans are upset they have no offense. I knew going into the season you had no offense. Last year Jose Guillen helped your offense a lot. This year you had nobody to replace him. These kids might do better than the guys they're replacing but it won't be enough. You still need to replace Guillen with a real major league hitter you can depend on.

Posted by PayClayBennett

1:36 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Cairo should not be here, regardless of the "reasons" - what else could Norton do? Speed off the bench has gotten this team nothing so far, how about some contact and offensive production. Wow - you think they do good by bringing up the studs then they miss the point - again.

This is why, people, Bavasi should be s-canned anyway. I think Cairo has some pictures of Billy hanging with some Catholic Priests and some boys....

Posted by Bruce

1:37 PM, Apr 30, 2008

The M's didn't need Cairo on opening day, and don't need him now.

Posted by Walla Walla Girl

1:39 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Thanks for that explanation, Bill ... but I'm still puzzled as to why Norton? I'd like to thank Norton for his efforts. And while I'm at it, good on you for going out with some hits, Wilkerson.

Congratulations to AAA guys! See you in the game! I'm excited.

Go M's!

Posted by seavet

1:40 PM, Apr 30, 2008

So much for the May 8th speculation, which I thought was spot on. It's worth noting that Bavasi, whatever you think of him, was telling the truth when he said that wouldn't be the deciding factor.

I'm now interested to see how Johjima will react to additional pressure. I've been a big fan of his the past two years, watching him learn how to catch in a very different league. I have been surprised at how long it's been taking him to get untracked.

Posted by Mike

1:41 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Yeah, I think Cairo is a mistake too but it is a mistake with the 25th man......it's not that big of a deal, just odd. I'd much rather have an extra bat.

The Ms are finally addressing issues many thought they should have before the season. I think the kids are a great plan B. I just wish Bavasi had had a better plan A.

Posted by dc

1:41 PM, Apr 30, 2008

I feel terrible for Norton but this proves there is a God. Thank goodness this team hasn't lost it's ability to think. I am so looking forward to watching Clement. I really hope both are in the lineup tonight. I thought for sure that Wilks hits last night would buy him some time. I'm glad I was wrong.

Go M's.

Posted by ZoinksScoob

1:41 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Stupid, stupid, stupid all the way around. I'm definitely in favor of promoting both Clement and Balentien, but not at the expense of the bench. I would have gotten rid of Cairo before either Wilkerson or Norton, though one of them clearly had to go. Now the bench has NO power whatsoever (Burke, Bloomquist, Cairo and Vidro). We also have no true backup OF, since both Bloomquist and Cairo are infielders who "masquerade" as outfielders.

In addition, by waiting a week, the Mariners could have kept both Clement and Balentien through 2014, But since they both spent the entire month of September as callups last year, they can now be free agents after the 2013 season, as long as they don't go down to the minors again.

This is just horrible management all the way around for the Mariners. If they're so willing to cut bait on someone like Wilkerson (who had 3 hits last nght) and Vidro (who drove in 2 runs last night), then where is the willingness to get rid of Richie Sexson? The salary is a SUNK COST which no one else will eat. Cut bait and move on already!

And as for other cuts, I'm certainly in favor of getting rid of Bill Bavasi at this point. In addition to his clear inability to judge major league talent, he has now shown fiscal irresponsbility with regard to the long term future of the franchise by accelerating the service time clocks of Balentien and Clement, as well as Brandon Morrow, who should still be down in the minors learning to be a starter. It's definitely time to cut bait on him.

Posted by scrapiron

1:42 PM, Apr 30, 2008

I tip my hat to Bavasi for making this happen. We've been saying this is the move to make and the Mariners were afraid to DFA players. Today they did it. Kudos. I'm excited to watch these kids in action and hopefully the rest of the team feeds off their enthusiasm. Now to set expectations.

Do not expect too much offensively from Balentien. He's a free swinger and will struggle for a while with major league pitching. But he only has to hit .230 to be an improvement over Wilkerson, keep reminding yourself of that. He also brings speed, power, and vastly improved defense to right field. Let him play everyday and keep him down in the batting order to keep the pressure low. Adam Jones is only hitting .258 now, and Balentien has less plate discipline. We need patience and Balentien will produce.

Clement is ready to hit and will be a huge offensive improvement over Vidro from day one. He is going to be fun to watch and should help us improve our hitting against right handers immensely. It'll be interesting to see how much catching he gets. Defensively he is a step down from Johjima, but might actually call a better game than Joh with a little more experience.

Posted by Donovan

1:45 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Sounds like the M's are hoping that the young guns will put a lot more balls in play, thus enabling the running game in waiting. We will see.

All in all, it is the right thing to try. Now if only Griffey would hit his three dingers and announce his intention to retire, so we don't have to hear all the irrational pining for his return.

Posted by John

1:46 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Don't understand getting rid of Norton and not Cairo. Bill clearly has a thing for having "speed" on the bench, if that's what you want to credit Cairo with. He obviously can also play all the infield positions. But I just don't think you need a Bloomy and a Cairo.
Curious to see if Clement really does get the nod over Vidro every day.
I'm also curious to see if Sexson starts against Wang in New York. There's no way in Bozo's Green Earth that Sexson should be allowed on the field against a tough sinker, slider pitcher. Vidro should get the nod.
Just a thought.

Posted by Jeff C

1:47 PM, Apr 30, 2008

You da man Geoff.

Hey, fast Q: do you know for sure when Clement & Wlad's plane would land in Cleveland?

Posted by AKMarinersFan

1:47 PM, Apr 30, 2008

ScottM - I am positive every time the Mariners do something smart...its been awhile...

Posted by M's Fan

1:47 PM, Apr 30, 2008

"they can now be free agents after the 2013 season,"

...assuming that during the next 5 years they cannot manage to sign either or both to a contract extension.

Posted by scrapiron

1:48 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Once Norton clears waivers the Mariners will send him to AAA and he'll be recalled if/when the next injury occurs.

I really doubt anyone would put a claim in on Norton as long as there are big names like Lofton, Piazza, Sosa and Bonds begging for jobs.

Wilkerson will join that illustrious group on the unemployment line. I can only see the Rangers taking a flyer on him at this point, if at all.

Posted by wsucoug_24

1:49 PM, Apr 30, 2008

keeping baek around and sending down norton? hmmm....

Posted by Matt W

1:50 PM, Apr 30, 2008

I think this really just comes down to parameters. Cairo has the experiences the titles and the knowledge to shed to other young teammates. It was only a matter of time before he stepped up and led this team.

Posted by Ben

1:53 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Perhaps Bavasi told Wilkerson that they were going to bring up Balentin to start at RF and Wilkerson asked to be DFAed?

Posted by gMoney

1:53 PM, Apr 30, 2008

My theory is Norton was sent down because he is or could potentially become trade bait.

He's probably worth a little more as long as his big leage BA is over .400 :)

Griffey for Norton? whos with me?

Posted by Rain King

1:53 PM, Apr 30, 2008

If a player gets DFA'ed, can they be brought back to the big club before the 10 days is up?

This is just a question...please don't flame me with "why would the mariners want to do that?" posts.

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

1:53 PM, Apr 30, 2008

In Balentien we Trust, he will save the season! I'm kidding, great day in Seattle.

Posted by shane/olympia

1:53 PM, Apr 30, 2008

what better mentor could there be for balentine other then

jr or lofton

i would try and land one of them

it would be awesome to see griffey/lofton ibanez and ichiro in the outfield with
balentine
vidro
willie
cairo

so the lineup goes

ichiro - ichiro
lofton - lopez
ibanez - ibanez
beltre - beltre
sexson - griffey
clement - sexson
lopez - clement
kenji - kenji
uni - uni


that would be intresting and griffey would get me to drive from school at central to see some games

i would love it

Posted by reality3

1:53 PM, Apr 30, 2008

I wonder what REED is thinking right now? I bet he is fit to be tied. Maybe on the phone with his agent right now telling him to, "get me the hell out of Tacoma!"

Posted by Lance

1:54 PM, Apr 30, 2008

"Eric - I just think it's foolish to expect too much from rookies." --- Brian

Brian, and a few others. Who said anything about expecting too much from these two guys? They're here to fill some big holes that have shown up in the offense. Nothing less, nothing more.

Bringing up these guys doesn't mean you're expecting them to carry the offense. Just fill a couple of holes which up to this point have been virtually bottomless.

I suppose now the switch-hitting Vidro is your main pinch-hitter. Which is why Norton got cut (sorry to see that. Guess our manager is more the pinch-runner type and not the pinch-hitter type). Clement becomes the main DH while doing some catching.

With Wilkerson gone, if Ichiro, Sexson and Johjima can step it up some, and Clement and Balentien just do a decent job, this offense can start looking pretty good. I mean aren't the M's something like 9-2 in games they score five runs and 4-12 in games they don't? So, it's not going to take a lot.

Clement and Balentien in no way need to carry this offense. They just have to contribute, which Wilkerson and Vidro pretty much weren't.

BTW, I think Wilkerson was cut because he was becoming a singles hitter, but he wasn't signed to be a singles hitter.

Posted by slescotts

1:55 PM, Apr 30, 2008

About time. The Norton move is tough: you gotta feel for the guy. Wilkerson will go down as one of the worst buys in a long time. Bavasi may actually be feeling some heat from the higher-ups. They also 'get it': you got decent teams that are playing at too high a level in B'more and tampa... The universe will settle out soon, B'more and Tampa will be looking to get back in the race. Once that happens, talent'll get way too expensive. By making a move now, we are in a far better position as an organization to right the ship. I've felt all along that June/July will be simply way too late and this season would end up as a wash. Finally, we did something drastic. I argue with the sanity of signing a guy like Wilkerson in the first place, as it is a sign of the 'insanity test'... 'Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome'... Again, we signed a washed up player for way too much money... Only this time, we cut him... hooray for us!

Posted by ewakio

2:00 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Really disappointed with Norton's DFA. He's certainly more valuable than Cairo IMO.

Posted by Sparksicus

2:03 PM, Apr 30, 2008

My understanding was that if Vidro reached a certain amount of plate appearance this year he'd get a vesting option for 09. If having Clement around robs Vidro of enough at bats that he fails to get that extra year, then I don't care what Jeff does at the plate -- it's a great move.

While I don't now exactly how Balentien's AAA numbers will translate to the bigs, Wilkerson has set the bar sow low that it's not much of a gamble. Wlad may not excell right away, but he'll be better than Wilkerson. Also a good move.

In response to Brian, I'll concede that there's no guarantee that either Clement or Balentien will out-perform the veterans they'll be replacing. It is possible (although remotely so) they'll do worse, but their potential warrants that risk. Wilkerson and Vidro (who remains on the roster but will likely be riding some serious pine) have been proven performers in the past, but the reality is that they are no longer the players they once were. At this point, the only chance the M's have to improve is sit/cut the slumping vets and see what these kids can do. Of course there will be growing pains, but every major leaguer has to deal with that at some point. For Clement and Balentien, it might as well be now.

Posted by ANDY R

2:03 PM, Apr 30, 2008

WSU_COUG24...

Maybe you didn't see Baek's last outing? Do we have any long relievers if he were to be sent down?

that's what I call a "Coug frame of mind"...

Posted by KirklandDawg

2:06 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Another vote for keeping Norton and getting rid of Cairo instead.

Posted by wgainley

2:07 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Jeremy Reed seemed to be hitting a lot better than Balentien, why wasn't he brought up instead?

Posted by mickey

2:07 PM, Apr 30, 2008

It sure would be nice to see Dickey brought back up sometime soon. Maybe the M's need to make a trade first.

I think bringing up the two players from Tacoma can't hurt the team and in the long run will be helpful this year. Let's hope the fans can wait til they get their feet on the ground before putting too much pressure on them.

Posted by Choska

2:09 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Not to quote to liberally from Baseball Prospectus, but here is what Tillman, Mickolio, and Butler are doing in the minors.

Bottom line: Fire Bavasi/Antonetti in '08

"The Bedard Trade Down On The Farm : Most of the focus so far on the return from Seattle for Erik Bedard has been on the two players in the majors. Center fielder Adam Jones has mixed moments of greatness with streaks of little production, while George Sherill has stepped into the closer role, racking up an impressive save total with the kind of peripheral numbers that scream, "There’s trouble ahead!" However, the Orioles received three more players--all big power pitchers--in the deal, and the results so far in the minor leagues have been a mixed bag.

Clearly at the top of the heap is right-hander Chris Tillman, who has a 3.31 ERA in a quartet of starts at Double-A Bowie, including five no-hit innings three days before his 20th birthday. Already in possession of plus velocity and a plus curve, Tillman is an improved changeup and better control (12 walks in 16 1/3 innings) away from putting himself among the top pitching prospects in the game.

Coming out of the bullpen is gargantuan righty Kam Mickolio, who is listed as having 256 pounds on his six-foot-nine frame, and that almost seems a little light when you see him. Delivering low- to mid-90s heat from a very low three-quarters delivery that borders on sidearm, Mickolio’s pitches are very difficult to pick up for right-handed hitters, but, like many pitches of his style, his future ability to consistently retire big league lefties remains in doubt.

The sleeper is Tony Butler, the 2006 third-round pick who had a phenomenal pro debut, but struggled last year with command, conditioning and a series of minor injuries. Still, six-foot-seven lefties who throw downhill in the low 90s are hard to find, and while Butler has been quite hittable in five appearances at Low-A Delmarva, giving up 25 base knocks in 23 frames, the fact that he’s walked only two batters points to some progress."

Posted by Joof

2:11 PM, Apr 30, 2008

We could just leave them in AAA for 10 days some time over the next 5 years and delay their free agencies again. >_>

Posted by AKMarinersFan

2:11 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Norton is a class guy. Unfortantely the Mariners management really botched the way they handled this. It gives you the feeling that is not a lot of planning that goes on in the Mariner FO.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

2:14 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Forgive me for saying this but Antonetti isn't the bees knees. I see why some in the Sabr community dig him but c'mon...

The Indians are a nice franchise, but they have issues like many. He's NO Billy Beane. Sure, he'd manage the roster better than Bavasi but who's to say he won't make errors we all get worked up about like always?

I am not Bavasi apologist but if we can him, I feel there are some better people out there than Antonetti. Who's the assistant GM in Arizona? Now HE'S a guy I am very interested in!

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

2:15 PM, Apr 30, 2008

thank god they released wilkerson! i was convinced mac would let him hang around all season, even if he was just part time. clean break! this is really exciting news.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

2:16 PM, Apr 30, 2008

AK, it was a bad move. I think the managment saw another 1B/OF as one too many and he was the guy to get the axe.

What bugs me is why we need Cairo when Balentien will play everyday in the OF and Willie could spell him. Since Willie won't play everyday (hopefully) he can still be the backup IF with Norton giving Sexson a rest and even playing RF from time to time.

Cairo is useless as we all seem to agree. Too bad, Norton is a good fella.

Posted by Lance

2:20 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Geoff, I'm not sure Norton was trying to display his sense of humor in his parting shot at you media guys.

Posted by Jeff C

2:22 PM, Apr 30, 2008

If anything, I'm glad we will see the kids have their chance and at least get some PT so their adjustment from triple A to the bigs is something more than a few spring training games. Since I expected the M's to be around .500 all season, I won't be so crushed if both players struggle.

My hope is they are given a chance. If they are the future, give them lots of ab's. Let them play, and shut Dave Valle up whenever he goes into his "professionals" speech (man, how I've learned to hate that term).

Posted by fortheloveofsexson

2:23 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Can someone please explain the logic, for the team, of playing Sexson because they are paying him a lot. Please. I just don't get it. I understand it from a CYA basis for Bavasi or Mac -- but that's not logical for the team. As I see it -- and very clearly so -- the team wants to make money and to make as much money as they can, the team needs to win. Period. That excites fans and fills stadiums. Nothing else comes close, not even bobbleheads! So, if winning is the key, and Sexson's salary is lost no matter what, why on god's green earth would you continue to play him? He has marginally improved this year, but basically he has sucked for a few years now. He looks done. If we want to win, try to find someone else who can help the team.

I know I am at the end of a long string, but I would love to hear from someone as to what I am missing. Geoff -- perhaps you could blog on this?

Posted by Mike

2:30 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Call me crazy but I think the Ms are playing Sexson because they think his power is really important to their success and they think last year was an aberration. I disagree with them but I don't think money is the biggest factor. They've seen just enough to think he will rebound.

So what if Clement turns out to be a little better than we thought when/if he gets a chance behind the plate? Does that mean we just did a really stupid thing, extending Johjima?

Posted by Cleveland fan in Seattle

2:38 PM, Apr 30, 2008

If you haven't seen the SI piece about rankings of ballparks by fans, check it out:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/baseball/mlb/specials/fansurvey/2008/index.html?eref=T1

Cleveland is #1, but Seattle is pretty close. (Personally, I think it should be Cleveland 1, Seattle 2)

Posted by FuKell

2:45 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Why would they bring Jeff and Vald in the line-up today??? Cleveland will have a toughest pitcher in the AL on the mound today. Shouldn't they bring them in to hit against mediorce pitchers first. Bad move in a good move. They designated Greg Norton?????? I'm pretty sure he's hitting better than Vidro, Willie, Carol, Joh or even Richie. I don't know what Mc thinking these days. He's the next Mariner to designate to assignment...bench coach!

Posted by George

2:54 PM, Apr 30, 2008

oh man I liked Norton. Good luck Greg.

Posted by LA Mariner

2:55 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Another bonehead move by Bavasi and company. Cairo is a wasted spot on the bench. Norton should be here and Cairo gone, There is no plausible, reasonable explanation for keeping this loser around. No one trusts him enough to even play him. Why bother keeping him?

Posted by ChicoV

2:57 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Why not Ritchie instead of Norton?!? Does ANYONE still think there is upside to Ritchie. Last I checked, Safeco is going nowhere and he can't hit in Safeco, his... home.... park!!

14 million down the drain, lets face it, its gone, whether we release him or not.

Posted by Zach C

3:03 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Its not like norton was going to get playing time or plate apearances. how many time have we used him so far?...jeez guys its not the end of the world

Posted by CS

3:11 PM, Apr 30, 2008

I smell a trade with Cinci soon involving catchers and outfielders.

Posted by Norton Fan

3:14 PM, Apr 30, 2008

To Greg Norton:

You did a fine job. People like you. If you don't take a job somewhere else, please consider Tacoma while things settle down in Seattle. I believe you can help this team.

Until then, I will miss having you around and I look forward to your return.

Very sincerely,

Norton Fan

Posted by Fat Freddy's Cat

3:15 PM, Apr 30, 2008

yowza! what a move, no matter what happens it will be good to see the kids. Maybe Balen and Clement can infuse this listless team with some fire. And all they have to do to stay here is be better than Bad Wilkerson and Vidro. I bet they can do that. I am really looking forward to seing Clement at The Safe.

by the way...anyone see how Campillo is doing for the Braves? Ch ch check it out, atta boy Bavasi. yowza!

Posted by antsy in anaheim

3:17 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Mac has no credibility. You tell your guys if you don't hit, there will be consequences. So you go out and get 3 hits. Your batting better than several guys on the roster. Certainly better than the guy that just got a 3 year extension. So what does mgt do? Kick you out. UNBELIEVABLE! How would the players feel? No trust Mac. This is the beginning of the end of your rapport w/the players.

Posted by Huh

3:20 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Why on earth Mc still put Canjun Joh in the line up??? Doesn't he proves enough last night's double play he deserves to play in a better league??? Triple-A or up the I-5 a little bit...Everett. He totally belongs in Japan. talk about 3 years contract extention!!!! Please!!! I am asian but I still think that was a racist move by the owner. go Vidro!! whatever. Since Jeff here, play him regularly please!!

Posted by Resin isn't Cheating

3:28 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Brian - I couldn't agree with you more. Rookies shouldn't be asked to carry the team

Having Wlad hit #7 isn't asking him to carry the team Eric. You would have a valid point if Wlad was in the #3,#4, #5 spot. All you critics of young players are going to be eating crow when these kids start raking right out of the starting gate. I am floored by the questioning of this brilliant decision after watching. Just because Adam Jones has continued to struggle against big league pitching so far, doesn't mean Wlad and Clement will. Enjoy tonight's game.

Posted by good guy fan

3:35 PM, Apr 30, 2008

I'm glad that Clement and Balentien are up, though I think they should have waited til May 8 cause of the free agent thing. I am sad to see that Norton is gone though, I'd agree that Cairo isn't doing anything much, or as Bailey the Dog mentioned, why is Bloomquist untouchable ? I would have kept one of them but not both Cairo and Bloomquist.

Posted by greyguy3

3:54 PM, Apr 30, 2008

I'm glad to see these guys up, but it was stupid to dump Norton and keep Cairo. Why would you not want a backup who can hit for Wlad, who has not been the model of consistency in the minor leagues? They aren't even using Cairo, so where is the loss in dumping him?

Posted by spokaloo

3:58 PM, Apr 30, 2008

YAY!!

Posted by greyguy3

3:58 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Why is everyone so keen on Griffey? He's hitting .248/.338/.416, is 38 years old and a big injury risk and is getting paid 8 million.

Posted by northamericanscum

4:22 PM, Apr 30, 2008

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. If this doesn't work. What is Plan B?

Posted by knuckler

5:24 PM, Apr 30, 2008

WHAT DOES CAIRO HAVE ON MAC AND BAVASIII!!!!!.

How could you cut Norton after his production. He was not the problem!! We do not need a Willie Bloomquist clone. We need a Vidro clone. We do not need pinch runners if there are no men on base!!!

Welcome to the team Jeff and Vlad. I hope you can hit as well as Norton at this level

Posted by Brian

10:01 PM, Apr 30, 2008

Resin isn't cheating - You talk about how the Mariners are having the kids bat low in the order and aren't asking them to carry the offense. The problem is the whole Mariners offense is doing nothing so this all looks like desperation. The Mariners need a big bat in their lineup. You just don't have anyone who the Mariners can trust.

I'm an Angel fan and we aren't getting much production so far from out big hitters but guys like Kotchman, Napoli and even Aybar are coming through. Vlad and Garret Anderson will both heat up soon.

Maybe we should just bring up our whole Triple A team. Have you heard what the Salt Lake Bees are doing? Their record right now is 23-2. They're off to a historic start. Most of the team is prospects waiting to get to the majors.

Posted by Gordie

10:54 AM, May 01, 2008

"It sure is sad that the Mariners think bringing up some unproven kids will help them."

Yeah! You can't play rookies in the bigs until they have some major league experience under their belt! It's like an entry level position requiring five years of experience!

"Prospects don't make an offense better. You bring them up slowly to learn to hit in the majors."

So all those rookies who make opening day rosters and have long major league careers, that's the wrong way to do things? The Mariner way of never playing or bringing up the young players and signing "proven vets" like Wilkerson, Spiezio, etc. instead, that's just a thumbs up all around right there.

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