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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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July 11, 2008 9:21 PM

M's hitters AWOL again

Posted by Geoff Baker

royyals0711 039.jpg

The new video scoreboard here says it all.

Another one of those nights for the Mariners, turning mediocre Royals starter Luke Hochevar into a Cy Young Award contender. Hochevar went seven innings, allowing just a run on five hits. That's what Erik Bedard needs to do for the M's. Anyhow, a 3-1 loss by Seattle. Felix Hernandez gave up three runs in his five innings, but had no shot of winning this game with an offense behind him that's barely done anything the past week.

Seattle led the Royals 6-4 in hits, but stranded five men on base.

"In Oakland, we weren't finishing off some rallies,'' Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said. "Here, we just really didn't rally at all. But you know, that's the nature of it. I'll take it. Just keep pitching good and playing good defense. The hits are going to come and the runs are going to come.''

I understand where Riggleman's coming from. Hitting is a cyclical thing. But this team's hitting has been catastrophic. It's not like last year, when the M's would go on a two-week rampage to offset a two-week slump. I mean, the last Mariners guy to hit a home run was Richie Sexson. What does that tell you. Hernandez himself has more home runs the past four weeks than the guy who started tonight's game at DH, Jose Vidro, or the one playing first base, Miguel Cairo.

royyals0711 037.jpg

This offense, even if it starts hitting, lacks the power to push runs across. And that's a serious long-term problem. It demoralizes pitchers. Makes them feel they have to throw a perfect game every time to have a shot at winning. Want to keep Hernandez here beyond the next few years? Start working at getting this problem fixed now. Even if it means a wholesale rearrangement of its core.

"I felt comfortable,'' Hernandez said. "I felt like my mechanics were there. I was commanding my fastball. I don't know how I was doing it, but I was.''

At least somebody on the M's is commanding something.

Riggleman was right in that this team is pitching better and playing defense better. And it's lost five of the last six games.

Hernandez didn't want to come out of the game. But Riggleman made the right call. Hernandez hadn't pitched in weeks, had just thrown 30-plus pitches in the fifth and -- as the manager noted -- some of his breaking balls in that final inning weren't their sharpest. Especially in the at-bat to David DeJesus, who fouled off four straight strike-two pitches before lining a two-run double over Ichiro's head.

"Earlier in the game, he was throwing some sliders to lefties that they were swinging over the top of,'' Mariners catcher Jeff Clement said. "And that's the one (pitch) DeJesus hit for the double. Maybe that one wasn't quite as sharp as those other ones earlier in the game. But it's been a while since he’s taken the ball.''

Clement said Hernandez was otherwise as good as he'd looked before the ankle injury.

He wasn't the problem tonight. The problem, as it's been all trip and for most of the year, has been with the bats. And from the looks of things, it isn't about to change anytime soon.

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Posted by BrianL

7:31 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Just can't resist getting your shots at Bedard in, can you?

Posted by Briguy17

7:32 PM, Jul 11, 2008

What the heck is up with our offense? I'll tell you what: Jose Vidro. Why on earth do we continue to put him batting cleanup, let alone start?!

This is the worst M's offense I have ever seen, and I've seen some bad ones.

Posted by fortheloveofsexson

7:37 PM, Jul 11, 2008


What do you or others think about trading Sean Green. Seems like he would have great trade value.

Posted by kaseyswagger

7:49 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Geoff When are the M's gonna start dealing.I know they got Craig Wilson from the Pirates for a player to be named but that does not count in my book especially when he was hitting .230 in Triple A.

Posted by DistantFan

7:51 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Well, obviously the offense will turn around if we just TRADE SEXSON!!!!! When will the boys upstairs realize that?

Posted by Scott

7:52 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Why does Jose Vidro continue to bat cleanup? Can't Raul hit cleanup? Can't we persuade Bucky Jacobsen out of retirement -- that has to be a better option than Vidro... 0-4, 2nd worst OPS in baseball, .214 BA...

It's bad enough that he is still on this team; it's worse yet that he bats cleanup.

Posted by Truth

7:52 PM, Jul 11, 2008

The good news is that Vidro did a heckuva job protecting Raul tonight, he was a professional hitter up there and put the ball in play. He has shown a lot of veteran moxie during this rough stretch and is a presence in the lineup, all of the grit and intangibles he brings to the team may not necessarily show up in the box score but he's just a ballplayer who gets the job done.

Posted by ChicoV

7:56 PM, Jul 11, 2008

So what your saying GB is that they still suck right?
Good! Then everything is as it should be,.... let the demoition continue!

Posted by smith

7:57 PM, Jul 11, 2008

I've tried to remain positive and optimistic but this Mariners offense is downright horrible. Would Tug Hulett produce more than Vidro? I find it hard to believe that he could do worse.

Neil Young said "It is better to burnout than fade away"

some of these Mariners are definitely burnt out, now it is time for the Mariners FO to fade them away.

Posted by mikey

8:08 PM, Jul 11, 2008

DistantFan, are you freakin retarded? lol

Posted by Jack

8:20 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Wow. Nobody could've predicted this before the season started. I guess that's why they play the games.

If only Guillen was on the team still so team chemistry would be better and this whole thing would've never happened.

Posted by mac R.I.P

8:34 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Theres a article on about how the Yankees are very interested in picking up Richie Sexson...This is sooooo comical, if that SOFT, mental midget couldn't handle the fans in Seattle what is he going to do in NYC.....

Posted by downonstrikes

8:34 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Oh, woe is me! Can't we get anyone to hit? Even the fish on Pike Place smell better than this team. And they don't have Carp.

Vidro again. Again doing nothing. Doesn't Riggleman realize his lineup is a sham? Even the TV crew is getting down on this team and its lack of offense. I bet even Rick Rizz will break down and join my negative roster soon.

Our aquisitions suck and continue to suck. We need to bring in Amanda to hit cleanup. Use that optimism to score runs. The FO continues to stagnate. Woe is me.

Our ace can't win. Our second ace can't win. Good thing we have Batista and Silva and Washburn to give us hope.

The only thing that rules on this team is sarcasm.

What a disgrace.

Posted by Miles

8:45 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Clement is hitting .162 now. While I want to see the kids play, if they can't hit even at the poor level of the bad vets, I'm not sure it's worth giving them a ton of at bats.

Posted by scottM

8:55 PM, Jul 11, 2008

from Nat, earlier: "When he refused to acknowledge that it was time for the rookie, Adam Jones, to get his shot, Guillen's stubbornness became irritating very quickly."

Guillen was batting .290 with an OBP of .350 and slg. of .460 on pace for 100 RBIs when the M's brought Adam Jones up. What was he supposed to do? "Here Adam, here's my roster spot." Hardly what we'd expect from the team's competitive fireplug.

Knowledgeable fans were more annoyed with Ibanez's defense in Left and at the Plate in the first half of '07 than with Guillen. Once Adam Jones came up, Ibanez's bat lit up. Guillen was a steady contributor all season long. People, like ADAM, wanted Jones for his LF defense. Besides, with the world looking at how Jose Guillen would react to Jones, the veteran made a point of giving Jones positive advice.

Let's not re-write history. It's awfully hard to agrue against Guillen's positive influence on this team. He's the only position player that did not return in 2008. Again, his position in '08 is down 50+ runs and 60+ RBIs from '07. Huge slide.

Posted by Scott

8:59 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Tim Kirkjan (sp?) just mentioned on Sportscenter that the D-backs really need Raul Ibanez... I wonder if there is something brewin' there? Maybe the D-backs have a 1B prospect that they can send our way? I'd hate to lose Ibanez, but we need to blow things up and he deserves a shot at a ring.

Posted by dawgman

9:03 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Tough loss, but it seems the M's are starting to turn things around. This season has had many ups and downs but you must admit it has been a fun ride.

There is just no quitting with this team. Looking foward to a much better 2nd half of the season

Posted by Terry

9:14 PM, Jul 11, 2008

In '07, Guillen had a VORP of 28 while being a -20 run defender (UZR) suggesting he was less than a win better than replacement.

Guillen was as big a part of the problem as anyone last season and he'd be an big anchor this season as he's been below average offensively for a RFer while playing in a hitter's environment. He's on pace to be worse defensively this season to boot.

The fact that Bavasi suggests letting Guillen go was one of his biggest regrets only further serves to illustrate why Bavasi deservedly was fired-he thinks not giving Guillen $9M to be decidedly below average was actually a big mistake.

Posted by BrianL

9:18 PM, Jul 11, 2008

MIles, Jeff Clement has struggled historically each time he's moved up a new level. It lasts for about two to three months with each promotion.

That said, here's the question: Do you let Clement play every day to adjust to the league (since there is clearly nothing more he can do at Tacoma) or do you let him rot on the bench and do it all over next year?

Remember, Miles, this season is toast. What is there to loose?

Posted by MarkB

9:23 PM, Jul 11, 2008

When Rick Rizz joins the Mariner naysayers group watch out! The sun won't shine tomorrow!

I guarantee you Rick will begin tomorrow night's broadcast with a "what a night for baseball!" quote. Too bad the Mariners have forgotten how to swing the bats...

Posted by BrianL

9:24 PM, Jul 11, 2008

The day Evil Rick Rizzs shows up to the ballpark, you will know that the end of the world is nigh.

Posted by InBrug

9:32 PM, Jul 11, 2008

I'm not going to watch any more games with Vidro batting cleanup. I find it insulting to the history of Mariners baseball.

Posted by 1996Coug

9:36 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Lay off Geoff, about Bedard. Bedard hasn't been worth half of what we sent to the Orioles. I don't have to interview the guy or be around him on a daily basis and I'M tired of his shtick.

He's pitched like a girl. Plain and simple.

Posted by Lenny Randle's Breath

9:39 PM, Jul 11, 2008

I hope they make some changes before the trade deadline. The pitching has been better but it will go back in a funk if they continue not to score.

Posted by BrianL

9:43 PM, Jul 11, 2008

We knew about Erik Bedard's health issues before we traded for him. There's no reason to be surprised and infuriated by it now, unless you were willingly ignoring that stuff when the trade went down.

And before you go any further, I was in the anti-trade camp. I'd still prefer to have Jones, Tillman, and Butler in this organization. Perhaps this is why I'm more at ease with Bedard than everyone else. I knew exactly what we were getting.

You know what? I give credit to Bedard. He knows when he's on the verge of hurting himself. Wish we could say that about Miguel Batista, who's always an inning away from a back problem or groin pull. Nope, those guys just motor on through and hurt their effectiveness for the rest of the season.

At least Bedard has delivered quality outings. Accusing Bedard of "being a girl" is a lazy, cheap, and childish argument. All you're doing is projecting your frustrations on to him, much like you were doing with Beltre and Ichiro earlier in the season.

Stop hating the players who have talent. Voice your dissatisfaction with the players who have nothing to offer. Cairo, Vidro, Bloomquist, Johjima. Those are the players who have caused this team to tank. When your club is staffed by a 1B and DH who can't even hit better than some random body from AAA, you're in a world of hurt.

Posted by wag the dog

9:49 PM, Jul 11, 2008

The good news is that as the suckage continues all the overly optimistic projections of this team being a piece or two away from contending look more and more like what they are - wrong. The more we lose the more management has to get serious about changing course rather than constantly trying to tweak a crappy roster into contention.

Richie Sexson was terrible but he's hardly the only one. Releasing him is the first of what should be many MANY moves. As for getting something in return for him, I think we all need to take the blinders off and realize our roster is almost bereft of tradeable value. We don't need more low level prospects. We have a minor league system full of mediocrity. We need top tier prospects, guys who have the potential to make a difference on a consistent basis. To get these guys we have to stop trying to get something for nothing. Guys like Sexson, Vidro, Batista, Cairo and so forth aren't going to bring us any useful players in return. They aren't. Bank on it.

Maybe some team will bite on coughing up a decent piece for Washburn (on a wing and a prayer). But beyond that it's going to take moving guys like Bedard, Beltre and yes, Ichiro (if the package is right) if they want to get younger and more skilled - key ingredients to building a contender.

Let the overhaul begin. It may be ugly and painful, but it's better than continuing to make the same mistakes that got us to this point in the first place.

Posted by BrianL

9:53 PM, Jul 11, 2008

You know, with a $117 million payroll this team doesn't have to endure a Cleveland-style rebuild. It is possible for a club like this to play for now without mortgaging the future. For Oakland and Cleveland, it's a necessity because they can't make FA signings.

Our payroll gives us a luxury that many other teams don't have. There's an interesting article over at LookoutLanding that covers this very topic.

Posted by wag the dog

10:02 PM, Jul 11, 2008

The Mariner payroll has been over $100 million for several years and what has it bought us? Mediocrity? All we've proved is we can write big checks to guys who suck. Where are the quality free agents? In same cases the Mariners haven't even gotten into the chase when a real top tier FA is out there. But more often, it would seem, the top FAs just aren't interested in coming here. Maybe it's hitters not wanting to play half their games at a pitchers park. Maybe it's the (mistaken) notion that Seattle is at the end of the earth. Either way, free agency has hardly been a boon when it comes to improving the Mariner roster.

So while the Mariners may have the money to improve via free agency what we seem to lack is the actual ability to turn that cash into a true advantage. Which team would you rather be over the last seven years? Oakland, Cleveland or Seattle? Which of these teams is best set for the future? I wouldn't say the Mariners on either count.

But lets assume that unloading more cash on FAs is the way to go. Which free agents would you target and how many of them could we expect to land in the next season or two? How many of these targeted FAs will be in their primes for more than a season or two before entering into a steep decline?

Posted by BrianL

10:05 PM, Jul 11, 2008

It doesn't help that the man making the FA signings since things went south was Bill Bavasi. Get a competent GM and the entire landscape changes. Now, I'm not saying we spend wildly in free agency. There are good, undervalued but productive finds to be had. Russ Branyan will be an FA this year. A fairly good left-handed bat with some pop, can play 1B. He'll need a platoon partner, but that can also be had cheap.

This team doesn't need a whole lot, just getting some positions up to league-average.

Posted by BrianL

10:09 PM, Jul 11, 2008

I guess the point I'm trying to make is this:

Playing for now and gearing towards the future are not mutually exclusive for a club like Seattle that has a large payroll.

Posted by Ms Fan in Exile

10:15 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Look at the bright side. The M's didn't face Horacio. I bet even he would look Cy Young-caliber against this lineup. Which would then force Pelekoudas into trading Morrow, Bedard, and Clement, plus this year's first round draft pick just to get Ramirez back, since he evidently had fixed his problems.

Posted by Walla Walla Girl

10:15 PM, Jul 11, 2008

This team needs players who can hit the ball ... or even walk. The offense has been ineffective for a LONG time. And we need more than one guy who can hit, so opposing teams don't just walk him to get to the next loser. I feel sorry for our pitchers. I have little to no confidence that the FO can/will fix this team.

To balance the whining with a positive thought or two, the pitching was good (relievers too) and Beltre was 2 for 4.

Where does this team rank with guys LOB? #1? I've seen the question posed several times but have not seen any answers.

Posted by BrianL

10:18 PM, Jul 11, 2008

The offense is hurt by Vidro and Cairo in multiple ways, if you think about it. It's more than their ineptitude in the batter's box. There mere presence in the lineup causes our hitters who have anything that resembles talent to get nothing worth hitting. Why worry about walking Beltre, Ibanez, or Ichiro when you know that not too far down the lineup, you can just lob meatballs at Cairo, Vidro, and Johjima and get away with it?

Posted by Scott

10:36 PM, Jul 11, 2008

I still don't understand why we abandoned the "NL style" of baseball we played under Piniella in the early 2000s: pitching, speed and defense -- wins games at Safeco. I know we never got to the WS with that formula, but we were a playoff team and 1 power hitter away from the WS in 2001....

Posted by ethan

10:45 PM, Jul 11, 2008

hey at least we got a bunch of nice guys!

Posted by NoMoMojo

10:57 PM, Jul 11, 2008

Breaking News:

Mariners offense, missing for several days, was found this evening, flailing harmlessly inside a wet paper bag. Details at 11.

Posted by Chris in pdx

11:59 PM, Jul 11, 2008

2 Months ago I said that one thing the mariner`s were missing was a passionater,fiery clubhouse guy and that we were missing Gienn,which I was taken` to task for.I also mentioned that all you stat geeks and self prfessed wannabe G,M`s were nothing more than b-grade fantasy baseball owner`s and that you could never underestimate the human spirit and the that the human element couldn`t be measured in stat`s.Where are you Now?Oh Yea, Armstrong and Lincon still Suck.

Posted by Jonathan

1:10 AM, Jul 12, 2008

For the love of God keep Green. Does anyone remember 1997? We had 3 nasty lefites in Randy, Moyer and Fassero but no bullpen to save games.

You can't underestimate a good bullpen.

Posted by Dave from the coast

2:52 AM, Jul 12, 2008

Mariners hitters AWOL? That assumes the hitters were ever present to begin with. Felix did okay. All we needed were three lil' ol' runs. Oh, wait, that's a largely insurmountable amount for the M's to assemble.

Posted by Bums

5:50 AM, Jul 12, 2008

Riggelman is being a bit optomistic, this offense will never get going. Vidro is doing worse than Sexson, but still hits cleanup. When are they going to start slashing his ABs and seeing his "body language"? Hard to argue Joh and Bloomquist as better options, but they probably are at this point. Vidro needs to sit for a while.

At this point, the farm does not have a whole lot of offensive talent that will be ready next year and the club might be gun shy on signing FAs with all the bad contracts Bavasi gave over the years. I am afraid Felix may leave when he can. Especially since it sounds like he doesn't want to re-sign right now. Who wouldn't if you could go somewhere and get 5-6 runs per game as opposed to 0-1?

Posted by oldiecoach

8:02 AM, Jul 12, 2008 don't get it do you???
Bedard is a target of criticism/comparison until he starts performing at the level he was obtained for. Bedard is a better pitcher than most of the opposing pitchers he goes against, and yet....he underperforms.....
You obviously are still sad over the releasing of Sexson....

Posted by Village Idiot

8:27 AM, Jul 12, 2008

We need a DH right? well how's this line up sound:

RF Ichiro
2B J-lo
3B Beltre
DH Barry "Home Run King" Bonds
1B Ibanez
CF Reed
C Clement
LF Willie the B
SS Yuni

It would inject some personality into the club house and provide except the stupid baseball fan would roit if it happened.

Posted by TimsHead

8:41 AM, Jul 12, 2008

It's pretty uninformed to refer to Luke Hochevar as a "mediore" pitcher. He is better classified as an inconsistent young pitcher. Even cursory research would have turned up that he was the overall #1 draft pick in 2006. Mediocre #1 picks are not starting two years later and sporting almost .500 records (on the Royals).

By that same token, I guess you would classify Jeff Clement as "a mediocre catcher." He was drafted third in 2005, if you didn't know. Mind you, he has indeed played mediocre (at best), but he's more clearly defined as a struggling young catching prospect.

Posted by Patrick F.

9:07 AM, Jul 12, 2008

I blame the lack of hitting leading to a terrible record, and a lousy season. The rotation has been great lately, by keeping the team in the game for nine innings, but the offense can't even muster a hit. Silva looked good in Oakland, only to lose and it was the same for Felix today. It shouldn't be that hard to put three runs on the board, to get Felix a no-decision instead of a loss. He pitched too well to go home with a loss.

Maybe the addition of Craig Wilson can infuse some punch into the offense.

Posted by Top pick in 09 draft

9:09 AM, Jul 12, 2008

With the M's present situation, it doesn't make a lot of sense to spend huge $ going after the big name free agents like Texeira this offseason. What they should do is have a good GM go after guys who can play sound fundamental baseball, play small ball, and have good speed - guys like McLemore and Javier were key players Gillick brought in to transform the club back in 2000. Bonehead Bill never understood the need for guys like that and instead went for plodding sluggers (Sexson, Spiezio, etc). It is no coincidence that the Angels changed their approach after Bonehead was fired by them and we see the stark difference between the teams now - no team plays small ball better than the Angels. Armstrong is still caught up in the success of the Kingdome teams and hopefully he will be "retired" and will not have a role in choosing the permanent GM.

Posted by 1996Coug

9:37 AM, Jul 12, 2008

Brian, that was my first post of the year. How could I have criticized Beltre and Ichiro prior? You conveniently make up something like that to dismiss what I posted and I'm the one who's lazy?

Bedard HAS pitched like a girl. He has no stamina and he's acted like a prima donna. Everyone stinks on this team, no one has played up to their level. Not even Ichiro, but he's earned some time to struggle. Bedard has never been what we paid for and doesn't deserve our leniency.

But don't let that ruin your day...

Posted by tall one

9:39 AM, Jul 12, 2008

To Mac RIP--it's time to move one. Let Richie be.

Posted by Lance

10:35 AM, Jul 12, 2008

"The hits are going to come and the runs are going to come.'' --- Jim Riggleman

Seams I've been hearing this kind of stuff for a few years now. Bob Melvin, Mike Hargrove, John McLaren, and now Riggs.

The Mariners offense, and it's future ability to score "meaningful" runs, can best be summed up by a term used in information technology: garbage in, garbage out. There's nothing "cyclical" about it.

One question, Geoff. Do your buddies at Elias have any stats on what percentage of the men the M's leave on base are in scoring position, versus those left on first base (which isn't such a big deal), and how that stacks up compared to other teams? That would be interesting to know.

This team is light years away from the days of "two outs, so what?"

Posted by Lance

10:41 AM, Jul 12, 2008

1996coug, what do you have against girls? LOL

Posted by john

10:49 AM, Jul 12, 2008

Who will be Lee's first trade?

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