Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
August 6, 2008 6:14 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
Bryan LaHair reached base on a leadoff single in the ninth. But Yuniesky Betancourt, pictured above, swung into a first-pitch double play grounder. Haven't seen that before. Ichiro flies out to right and the M's and Jarrod Washburn take a 7-3 loss.
Washburn goes six innings, yielding three earned runs on five hits. But Mark Lowe gives up the same hits and runs total in five fewer innings. That, and an error by Adrian Beltre and a great catch by Denard Span was the difference today. Joba Chamberlain is on the DL with tendinitis in his rotator cuff. The Yankees need pitching. Let's see if a deal can be struck.
Mariners catcher Jeff Clement said Washburn had plenty of late movement today, with the ball either sinking or cutting on hitters. As a result, with a few exceptions, they could not square up and make solid contact.
"I thought he threw the ball really well,'' Clement said. "You could tell in the first inning, striking out the side, that he had his good stuff going.''
The 0-2 pitch to Span was supposed to be a slider that started off on the outer corner and broke down and away. Instead, it began inside and broke over the middle, as you saw from our photo.
"It just kind of hung up there over the plate,'' Clement said.
That was enough to be a difference maker on the ensuing three-run triple.
"Early on, Span had a big hit,'' Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said. "That pitch, I'm pretty sure Wash would like to have back. But as he always does...he kept us in there against a tough ballclub.''
Washburn has a 3.44 ERA since May 25. That's a whole lot of outings. I know ERA doesn't mean everything, but hey, that one outing against Baltimore last week doesn't exactly paint a complete picture either. he has seven quality starts in his last 10 outings. That means a little. He gave up only five hits today against a Twins team that scored 12 runs the past two games. Like I said, the big key is to figure out how hard the flyballs Washburn yields are being hit. When they're mostly mis-hit, as they were today, the damage is minimal. The groundball-flyball numbers in this case won't tell you the full story about a flyball pitcher.
New reliever Jared Wells tossed two scoreless innings. But he cost Mark Lowe an earned run when he bobbled a bunt attempt and mistakenly tried to nab the runner at third. Clement had yelled "third!'' when Wells tried to pick the ball up, but the moment he fumbled it, you have to get the sure out.
"I was wanting to go to third, but I couldn’t get a good grip,'' Wells said. "I should have maybe ate it and gone to first.''
August 6, 2008 4:10 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
Mark Lowe got knocked around in the eighth inning, yielding two singles and a two-run double to right center by Brendan Harris. Jared Wells came in to make his M's debut with Harris at second and one out and fielded a bunt to his right by Adam Everett. Wells made a poor choice to throw to third and was far too late to nab the runner. That put runners at the corners with none out. After a Carlos Gomez popout, Denard Span -- a mighty fine looking player -- legged out a bunt single to score the third Minnesota run of the inning. Jose Lopez dropped the relay from Bryan LaHair, enabling lead runner Everett to advance to third. Span then stole second base, still with only one out. Wells then walked Nick Punto to load the bases, struck out Mike Redmond with the count full, then got Justin Morneau to fly out. But the damage was done. Seattle trails 7-3.
Hard to believe Seattle came within a hair of taking the lead a half-inning earlier, when Adrian Beltre smoked what looked like a two-run homer to right field. But Span made a leaping catch at the wall for the inning's final out. The roof caved in on Seattle from there.
August 6, 2008 9:36 AM
Posted by Geoff Baker
So, here we are, the Mariners now 1-0 in the post-Jose Vidro era. For me, the Vidro trade with the Washington Nationals truly symbolized the Bill Bavasi regime. It's funny, too, in a way. Because an argument can be made that Bavasi actually "won" that deal. But it was one of those wins that may not have been worth the effort. Like so many Bavasi moves, he might have actually out-thought himself on this one. Bavasi thought that, given the right circumstances, Vidro could go back to being a line drive doubles hitter and deliver an on-base-plus-slugging percentage that would be right up there with other DH types typically paid more money for hitting home runs. Sort of like an undervalued "Moneyball" type.
But here's where he out-thought himself.
First off, Vidro wasn't cheap. He cost two players plus $6 million per year in cash -- not to mention a vesting option for 2009. We've told you all along that the vesting option would not become a factor this year (once the M's fell out of contention) and it wasn't. Too much ink spilled on that one. There was plenty else to get antsy about with Vidro without having to nit-pick over a token contract clause. Only way it would have mattered was if he'd produced and the team contended. Then, as he approached the magic number of plate appearances, the team would have a painful choice to make between playing Vidro and sitting him.
Not once the team fell out of it. But where Bavasi might have helped himself was by simplifying things and simply sticking to the commonly held perception: that a DH is all about getting the guy most likely to rake home runs and extra-base hits with no defense required. And that they are generally easy to find.