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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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August 4, 2008 10:58 PM

The Miracle at The Safe

Posted by Larry Stone

Well, I can't say I saw THAT coming.

In fact, I was crafting a story angle on the surprise resurgence of the Twins -- some of which I touched upon earlier -- when the seventh inning happened. That led to some mad scrambling to re-cast my story, which is one of the fun parts about covering baseball for a morning newspaper. That's the truth -- there's a big adrenalin rush when you have to furiously scramble to re-do your story right on deadline, which happens enough times a season to keep you honest.

Not surprisingly, the big talk in the clubhouse was about Raul Ibanez. No, he wasn't trying to match Fernando Tatis, the only player in history with two slams in one inning (1999, for the Cardinals, against the Dodgers). This quote, in fact, is classic Raul. I asked him if he was thinking about Tatis when he came up with the bases loaded again in the seventh after unloading his first grand slam:

"Actually, I was thinking the opposite,'' he said. "I was thinking smaller -- stay to the big part of the field and don't try to do too much. The likelihood of doing that (another grand slam) was not too great.''

OK, on to Batista. Yes, he was awful. With Ryan Rowland-Smith pitching six strong innings for Tacoma, you've got to think a change is coming. Riggleman was asked that very question after the game, and he gave a non-commital answer:

"We have been and will continue to monitor how he (Rowland-Smith) is doing. We want to get him up here, but we have no timetable on it. We'll keep discussing it.''

Seems to me they need to end the discussion on both Rowland-Smith and Brandon Morrow and make it happen. This is the time of year for examining the future. Mel Stottlemyre pulled Morrow into his office after the game, reportedly to go over some options of his eventual transition to the rotation. Before the game, Riggleman pulled back a little from his comments of Sunday. It seems he might have spoken out of turn when he said, rather definitively, that the team wanted to move Morrow into the rotation once Putz re-claims the closer job.

"I've been more aggressive talking about it than I probably should have,'' he said. "It might be soon, but it might not be as soon as I was alluding the other day.''

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Posted by ethan

11:18 PM, Aug 04, 2008

Batista is such a POS. him and Vidro need to retire. hold a dual press conference and commit hara-kiri.

Posted by oceansaway

11:20 PM, Aug 04, 2008

We can and should be auditioning Feierabend, Rowland-Smith and Morrow for the rotation next year NOW...

And it is beyond understanding why Vidro or Cairo ever see another at-bat with this team. If we are going to keep Bloomquist, then let him play some, but Reed, Lahair and any players who may possibly see time in the majors next year that are currently on the farm should be given a shot.

Posted by scottM

11:24 PM, Aug 04, 2008

to The Mariners F.O.:

I'm just a semi-anonymous blogger here. I don't even have the phone numbers of my comrades-in-arms, those brave fellow members of THE JOSÉ GUILLEN SOCIETY, let alone BrianL's credentials to talk baseball.

But we wish we had access to Lincoln and Armstrong the way you do. There's a player in Kansas City I'd like them to know about.

Posted by BrianL

11:27 PM, Aug 04, 2008

Yikes, Larry! Any truth to the Morrow/Stottlemyre conversation after the game? If so, I hope it was a productive meeting.

And by productive I mean "we're sending you down to Tacoma tomorrow morning to stretch out."

Posted by scottM

11:48 PM, Aug 04, 2008

from Big Ebu:
"I think it is more likely that [KC] would try a salary dump similar to what Seattle and NYY were negotiating with Washburn except we play the role of NYY in this case."

exactly, my thought

"We’ll probably have to take all $24M in salary but it shouldn’t cost us any important prospect. Still, I’m not sure I would go this route unless the FO gets shut out on other option."

Despite what any of us bloggers think, I also sense that this is how it will play out. The M's will first look at other solid, less expensive options first. Guillen at $12m a year for the next two years is expensive. However, if we know that the M's front office intends to make a serious run at reloading some key positions in 2009, then Guillén would be worth the risk/investment over rolling the dice on Wlad Balentien who looks to be the least MLB-ready of the three Tacoma call-ups this season: Clement/LaHair/Balentien.

And, above and beyond any of the other players they may be considering in the OF, José Guillén will bring that intangible fire we all witnessed in 2007. If he helps the other key players around him play with more keenness, he will be more than worth the premium the M's will have to pay to acquire him.

Oh, and Big Ebu, after the M's acquire Guillén this summer, you are cordially invited to request membership in:


Posted by yardwork

12:00 AM, Aug 05, 2008

Didn't Tatis hit both his Grand Slams off of the same pitcher in that inning? Chan Ho Park Maybe?

Posted by 11Records

12:13 AM, Aug 05, 2008

How can you say that Balentien looked the least major league ready of those 3 guys when LaHair has like 40AB's? Didn't Wlad have 3 bombs in his first 40AB's too?

Anyway - he should be up and playing right now, with Raul at DH, and Vidro being released. I mean - I respect what Vidro has done in his career. He was a great Expo. And, he'd be a good SH PH option for an NL contender. But, for right now, he's definitely not what the M's need as their everyday DH.

Posted by Veejax

12:17 AM, Aug 05, 2008

Too bad Raul probably wouldn't clear waivers at this point. A game like this from him a week ago and someone surely would have ponied up enough for even a lame duck GM to make the move. We are stuck knowing what needs to happen for the greater good while the guys on the field are auditioning for next year. I wonder if there is any understanding at all between the dugout and the front office that the rest of this year is not a valid sample of the coaching staff's ability? I would really like to see Riggleman back as manager, but they CAN'T throw the rest of the year away playing to win a meaningless game on the field that day. Riggleman should be allowed to play the kids, given a hall pass, and be left alone to run the team going forward, whether built to win next year or not. I mean, come on... how many mangers out there are really worth any number of extra wins at the end of the year? We know of one in Chicago... are there any others? Our fortunes are tied up in the next GM, not the manager. We need stability and a plan! Get some guys in here who can hit and there's no reason why Riggleman & Co. can't lead them back to the shining path...

Posted by scottM

12:37 AM, Aug 05, 2008

"How can you say that Balentien looked the least major league ready of those 3 guys when LaHair has like 40AB's? Didn't Wlad have 3 bombs in his first 40AB's too?"

First, I do think Wlad should get another extended look with the big team, even though it would mean less time for Raul. Riggleman is hired to win games, wants to win games for his future chances at managing, so I don't see him messing with his best power hitter, Raul.

Second, I've carefully watched the batting approach of Clement/LaHair and Balentien with the M's this year. Even when Clement has struggled, his mechanics and swing always looked good. He has needed to relax and react and not guess so much at the plate. LaHair, even taking into consideration the small sample size, has shown the most poise of the bunch. His swing has looked sound, and his results have been much better than the other two. Let's see if how this plays out the rest of the way this year.

Balentien often looked shaky in the field. Not Clement behind the plate, or LaHair at first. At the plate, Balentien showed some real power, but his overall approach looked horrible. The opposing pitchers fed him a steady diet of sliders, and Wlad couldn't handle it. This said, why not bring him back up and see whether he can figure it out.

Posted by tomtom

12:56 AM, Aug 05, 2008

It isn't Batista and his sore leg tendons; it has been the M's offense. The offense caused the leg strains in the Pitcher. They have ruined every Starters legs this year including young Felix. You can't expect those guys to throw shut-outs so they can win by one.

the way the M's go about it, defense is rough on Pitchers certainly too. The M's had them sprinting to first to make an out because the 1B fell on his face a LOT and could only catch about half the foul balls down the line. But, the real wear and tear comes from doing the Catchers job. Kenji calls one outside, and then sets up inside. He isn't doing well. He chucks two or three into CF and makes the Pitcher run for the heck of it, because there is always a tying run on 3B. The typical M's starter has had to cover home way too much this year.

Jerrod has said it, and Arthur had a melt down over it before he was traded. More than half the guys don't want to pitch to Kenji, but don't want his bat out of the line-up either. Their line-up has been that weak, particularly when they use another Catcher that can't hit .200. Every time Kenji's brain melts, they have to run and risk re-injury. They have tried using Kenji instead of Vidro, because the DH isn't a Big Poppy.

Their arm and pitch count is only half of it. If they had a 3 run lead, the pitchers would not risk and run as much. They pretty much know how much their legs can take, and so they ask to be taken out once in a while.

Except for Bedard, who wants to wait until next year.

Posted by slider

3:36 AM, Aug 05, 2008

Geoff nice of you to let us know that Morrow was sent down after the game!!!!! Dude do your job!!! How would I know this and you don't even know?

Posted by BrianS

5:58 AM, Aug 05, 2008

Seems to me that the discussion also need start on what to do with Ryan Feierabend. The kid is only 22 and his past failures at a very premature stage in his development should not be held against him. Seems to me like his stuff is superior to that of Rowland-Smith and he is also more than ready for a call up. He has been outstanding since coming back from his injury.

Posted by ancient mariner

5:59 AM, Aug 05, 2008

The good ship Mariner is merely staying the course for the rest of this year in order to try to avoid losing 100 games. That explains all the non-trades.

Posted by The Centerfield Bum

6:03 AM, Aug 05, 2008

Brandon Morrow is going to be sent to AA West Tennessee where he has a relationship with the pitching coach. The announcement is likely to come today.

The Centerfield Bum knows...

Posted by Mr. X

6:31 AM, Aug 05, 2008

If Vidro's option vests, that should be grounds for dismissal of everyone who could have stopped it. It makes me wonder if Bill Bavasi is sitting in a corner office with a fake moustache/glasses combo (and wig) with Pelekoudas on speed dial.
I can't see that much has changed, except Bloomquist starting games, which is a bad thing, not a good thing.

Posted by M's Fan

6:52 AM, Aug 05, 2008

Bring up both Feierabend and Rowland-Smith. Batista needs to be cut loose or sent down to Tacoma,Tenn.,Everett, wherever, until he proves he can do something other than throw BP.

Posted by Ryan

7:13 AM, Aug 05, 2008

Breaking News: M's designate Batista for assignment.

Then I woke up....

Posted by Ryan

7:19 AM, Aug 05, 2008

Vidro's up to .233 now. He may have bought himself time until the end of the season.

Posted by M's Fan

7:33 AM, Aug 05, 2008

"Geoff nice of you to let us know that Morrow was sent down after the game!!!!! Dude do your job!!!"
Geoff was last reported chasing an XXXXXXL fur coat wearing el búfalo into the woods. He has not been seen or heard from since.

Posted by ragarm

7:37 AM, Aug 05, 2008

"I've been more aggressive talking about it than I probably should have,'' Riggleman said.

Just as I suspected, wiggleworm has to echo the FO line and talk like one of Jeff Dunham's puppets. That means all the mistakes of this season originate much higher in the organizatiion.

How degrading that a manager can't even speak an opinion.

Posted by meagain

7:42 AM, Aug 05, 2008

First, kudos to Larry Stone; a great job all around.

"Bingo-bango." Surprise! I want some more of that. The team came back in Texas too, but Putz couldn't hold the lead. I would like to see a winning attitude in place for next year, and I think that's more important than moving up a few notches in the draft.

Vidro started because Riggleman looked at his bench and took a right-handed bat. Same reason Clement pinch-hit for Johjima, a standard baseball move. The second one paid off. Vidro can't be around much longer, can he? I hope some NL team picks him up.

Posted by hoke

8:00 AM, Aug 05, 2008

The M's front office is retarded. Vidro and Cairo would not even be on the roster of any major league team. On the M's they start.

There is no hope until Armstrong and Lincoln are flushed away down the dumper.

Posted by Chuck

10:00 AM, Aug 05, 2008

Face it, the Ms re dreamers. They will keep Morrow in the pen and hope Silva, Batista, and Dickey will miraculously become stalwart starters. And RRS is a long way from returning to the big club. The suits just don't want to make changes unless they absolutely have to. No leadership there at all!

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:37 AM, Aug 05, 2008

Ugh. I knew Riggleman was just an interim caretaker kind of guy, but sounds like he's got even less of a free hand than I thought.

Posted by DownOnStrikes

1:19 PM, Aug 05, 2008

Well, slap me on the wrist. Riggie mispoke and got called on the carpet. Funny.

RRS and Morrow are ready for starting now. Batista and Silva sit down please.

I listened to Bill Krueger on the post game show a few nights ago and he said any of these pitchers can go more than the low pitch counts and the youngsters are ready to start. He basically said that the ptichers have become soft and the managers have bought into the concept, a concept that is false.

Bring these two to the starting rotation and send Vidro and Cairo packing.

Just one man's opinion.

Posted by Dave can't believe this win!

8:01 PM, Aug 05, 2008

Nice to see signs of Life in the M's offense (although, a case of too little too late...). I enjoy competitive baseball. Ironic that all the good stuff for the M's didn't begin to happen until poor beleaguered Batista had left the game. He's not a very effective pitcher, is he?

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