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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 6, 2008 4:10 PM

Minnesota Twins at Mariners: 08/06 game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

daygame0806 003.jpg

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.

3:25 p.m.: Jarrod Washburn looked like he might go seven innings after retiring the first two hitters in quick fashion in the sixth. But after jumping ahead 1-2 on Brendan Harris, he suddenly threw seven straight balls to walk a pair of hitters with Carlos Gomez coming up. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre paid Washburn a visit -- there was no way he wanted to face Denard Span after Gomez. Washburn buckled down and fanned Gomez on three pitches for his sixth strikeout of the day.

Some of you were quick to write in (from Colorado especially) asking whether I was sticking with my Washburn "snapshot" and I guess I will. He notched seven flyball outs today. By my count, four were popups. There was a fifth that caused the outfielder to move about two steps and wasn't hit all that hard, but I'll count it as a flyball. Other than that, he struck out six. So, no, the Twins didn't exactly crush the ball outside of that one inning. So, the "snapshot" of the past two months remains largely in-play. As opposed to the snapshot of last week's lone game. If he's pulled from today's contest -- and his pitch count is at 102, so I assume he's done with the top of the order coming up -- he'll have notched seven "quality starts" in his last 11 outings. Not too many Mariners pitchers have done that. I know some of you are disappointed and want to see Washburn implode to satisfy some groundball-flyball theory, but seriously...you're looking at the wrong stuff. He is what he is. A middle of the rotation, league average pitcher who keeps teams in games and does it by getting hitters to swing and make poor contact. Outside of today's one inning, that's pretty much what he did. Has been that type of flyball pitcher for most of his career and for the last two months. It's not going to change by throwing groundball-flyball rate stats out there at me every five days. You have to analyze the quality of the flyballs. Today wasn't his best work. There were a couple of extra-base hits, one on a particularly well-hit flyball by Brendan Harris. But I'm sure, given how the game began, that he'll take the result.

Anyhow, we're on to the seventh, the M's trailing 4-3 thanks to that unearned run. Washburn is indeed out of the game and Mark Lowe is on. Washburn allowed three earned runs on five hits.

Bet none of you thought Mariner Moose had to wait for elevators just like the rest of us? At least he gets a security detail to escort him.

daygame0806.jpg

For AD in the comments thread, what are you, some kind of tattletale? Or the Moose's distant cousin? From the squirrel part of the family?

3:17 p.m.: Seattle just scored twice in the fifth to cut the deficit to 4-3. Yuniesky Betancourt was hit by a pitch, then Ichiro singled to put two on with none out. Jeremy Reed, having a good series, singled to bring one run home and then -- after a groundout by Raul Ibanez advanced the runners -- Adrian Beltre grounded out to third to score another.

Jarrod Washburn is three outs away from a "quality start" despite that second inning. No, he wasn't at his best today. But he is one inning away from avoiding the diasater this outing could have been. I think he's done a good job of keeping the M's in the game. Plenty of mis-hit pop flies to the infield and outfield. He has to continue that now. This is a big inning.

2:47 p.m.: Jarrod Washburn did a good job of keeping it a 4-1 game in the fourth inning, getting out of a jam with a runner on third and only one out. He struck out Carlos Gomez on a 2-2 pitch, then retired Denard Span on a comebacker. Washburn knocked the ball down, then, lunging from his knees, heaved the ball to first in time to nab the lightning-quick Span -- who gets down the line to first base the way Ichiro used to. Washburn has allowed three earned runs through four innings. Adrian Beltre got back the run he gave away with his glove in the second inning, driving in Seattle's only marker in the third with a two-out single to center. Jose Lopez lined out with two on after that to end the rally.

2:15 p.m.: A disastrous second inning by Jarrod Washburn, aided and abetted by an Adrian Beltre error. Washburn allows four runs -- one of them unearned -- by not making quality pitches when he had to and trails 4-0 as we head to the bottom of the second. The big pitch was an 0-2 offering that Denard Span laced down the right field line for a three-run triple. You can't let an 0-2 pitch catch that much plate. It broke right down the middle. If you don't believe me, I happened to snap a picture of it you can see below.

daygame0806 006.jpg

Prior to that, Washburn allowed an RBI single to .175-hitting Adam Everett. But the pitch that will haunt him was a full-count offering to No. 9 hitter Carlos Gomez that resulted in a walk that loaded the bases. Whenever Washburn runs into trouble, it's usually a walk that does it. The one positive is that, with Span at third and only one out, Washburn got out of the inning on a popout and a soft grounder to keep the M's within striking range. But it was not a good inning for him, error or not. The one thing the error did was change the complexion of the inning. With two out, you pitch the hitters differently. You aren't as hesitant to allow them to make contact, or to waste a pitch. But with the bases full and one out, you have to be more cautious.

2:09 p.m.: Jarrod Washburn just struck out the side in the first inning, yielding a two-out single to center by Mike Redmond in the interim. Washburn is not a strikeout pitcher, but he'll take it.

Seattle got singles from Jeremy Reed and Adrian Beltre in the bottom of the inning, but Jose Lopez flew out to right to end the threat.

To answer Bill in the comments thread, it makes sense for Seattle to carry three catchers, where with other teams it might not. Jeff Clement is the future, so you've got to figure out what you've got in him. What you don't have, from the looks of things, is an arm capable of throwing anybody out. Runners are 11-for-11 in steals off him and he's hardly tearing the cover off the ball. You need a second guy at the position and, unfortunately, Kenji Johjima hasn't hit this season and pitchers don't enjoy throwing to him because of how he frames the ball and approaches game-calling. So, you've got Jamie Burke, by far the best defensive catcher on the team and the "real" backup -- or late replacement -- that you want in a pinch, or with the game on the line. Johjima's contract situation, with three more years, is really going to hurt this team going forward unless a solution is found.

An important start for Washburn this afternoon. Washburn did not look sharp against the Baltimore Orioles last week. There is still a chance for the team to move him to a contender this month, particularly the New York Yankees, given the uncertain status of Joba Chamberlain, who is headed to the DL according to a New York Times report. The injury to Chamberlain gives New York an "out" in the Washburn talks. They can make a deal with the Mariners, one that would include a better prospect than they offered before the July 31 deadline, and explain it away to Yankee fans as being the result of Chamberlain's injury rather than a capitulation to Seattle's demands.

But it all hinges on Washburn performing well. Forget groundball/flyball ratios. He's a flyball pitcher. It's not going to change overnight. It's the quality of the flyballs that count. Are they hit hard to the gaps? Or popped up to outfielders who have all day to camp under them? When Washburn's going well, it's the latter. When he isn't, the flyballs turn into extra-base hits.

The lineups:

TWINS (62-51)

2 Denard Span RF
8 Nick Punto 2B
6 Mike Redmond C
33 Justin Morneau 1B
16 Jason Kubel LF
56 Randy Ruiz DH
23 Brendan Harris 3B
12 Adam Everett SS
22 Carlos Gomez CF

53 Nick Blackburn RHP


MARINERS (44-69)

51 Ichiro RF
8 Jeremy Reed DH
28 Raul Ibanez LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
4 Jose Lopez 2B
9 Jeff Clement C
50 Wladimir Balentien CF
39 Bryan LaHair 1B
5 yuniesky Betancourt SS

56 Jarrod Washburn LHP

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Posted by DC

1:48 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Nice start for Washburn. Hopefully the M's can still trade him. Regarding the possibility of getting something decent in return for a post-July 31st waiver trade, can someone speak to these two scenarios:

1) if multiple claims are put in for a player, isn't he awarded to the team with the worst record? in this case, a decent player in return for Washburn would just have to get by the Nationals.

2) Can't we do something like trade for a "Player to be Named Later" or "Player to be Determined Later". I believe one way these types of trades happen is that a player to be traded is agreed upon by both sides, he just doesn't move until a later date, i.e. after the season.

Anyone know for sure if this could get the M's someone like Melky or Gardiner instead of just salary-relief?

Posted by joebbaseball

1:52 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Ok Geoff... lets say Wash does well today, and Joba is done for the year. (one can only hope) The Yanks get desperate enough to make a trade for him and make a a descent offer. Prospects + money. Wouldn't that kind of a trade be blocked by a contending team with a worse record than the Yanks?

Posted by Mike

2:01 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Even if the trade is blocked we win because we can let Wash go. The $10M we save next year will be more valuable than any middling prospect we might get back.

And I know it doesn't really matter since we are so far out of it but Ibanez in LF and Reed DH? And Wlad in CF? If you are trying to get good results to enhance the trade-value of your flyball pitcher wouldn't you stand a better chance with Reed in CF and Raul at DH?

And finally, wouldn't it also be smart to rotate Diaz through the LF, DH, 1B positions with Wlad, Raul & LaHair to see if you might have something there?

Posted by Donny Fe

2:07 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Washburn is back to his old crappy self. Take the carrot away from his face and he's back to crap

Posted by joebbaseball

2:13 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Nevermind, Washburn is finally pitching like Washburn again. No way were we sweeping this series.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

2:16 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Either a better prospect, or just salary relief, is what should be considered with trading Washburn to the Yankees. The Ms should not take Cabrera or Gardner. They already have a logjam of 4th outfielders, AAAA players and question marks for the OF. Last thing they need is more so-so players clogging the system.

The coin of the realm for the Ms should really be roster space and playing time now. If they can move Washburn for salary relief alone, awesome - frees up $, frees up a roster spot. If they can do that AND a quality prospect, better than what we have in the pipeline, super. If they're going to get others' castoffs, forget it - you can trade Washburn in the offseason or shuffle him around next season as a 4th / 5th starter.

Nice to see Washburn continuing to tank post-deadline (4-0 Twins bottom of the 2nd...). Someone needs to whisper in his ear that there's still a chance he'll be traded - he obviously only applies himself when it's all about making him happy.

Posted by Mike

2:18 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Washburn hsan't suddenly stopped trying. He's just being the same pitcher he has historically been. He wasn't doing anything special on his hot streak other than facing bad teams and getting some luck. He wasn't that good. Nor is he as bad as he appears today and the last start. Regression to the mean can be ugly though.

Posted by Ms Fan in Exile

2:25 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Todays line on Morrow (Tacoma beat Albequerque 8-0 for their ninth win in a row):

1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 SO, 34 Pitches, 21 for strikes.

Let the future begin!

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

2:29 PM, Aug 06, 2008

I hope, Geoff, that you are no longer taking the snapshot view of Washburn. The M's may well have overplayed their hand and may be stuck with him for next year. It would have been an absolute STEAL to get even a batboy thrown in for Washburn in addition to taking his salary off the books. The Mariners should have tried to dump him Aug 1 if the Yankees didn't bite. The more they allow him to pitch the worse it will get. Washburn won't be going anywhere at this rate. I fear that, in Spring Training, we will be looking at this "stand off" with the Yankees as one of the serious mis-plays of Lee P's brief tenure as GM.

Posted by DC

2:33 PM, Aug 06, 2008

The Ms should not take Cabrera or Gardner. They already have a logjam of 4th outfielders, AAAA players and question marks for the OF. Last thing they need is more so-so players clogging the system.

I agree to a point with you. We have enough outfielders with little to no power in their bats. Still, more talent in the organization is better than not having it. I'd rather get Melky or Gardiner or comparable talent in return than not get it.

And if another teams claims Washburn instead of the Yanks. Oh well. He can be their $10 million problem.

Posted by Novice

2:36 PM, Aug 06, 2008

How much time before the FO decides that it would be in the org. best decision to trade Betancourt and throw Bloomquist in at SS. The move probably should of been mades months ago, but with our FO patience is a virture.

Willie is a gamer, he leads by example unlike most of the guys we have already gotten rid of. His professioanlism is unmatched, and pluggin him in as an everyday starter can only bring good things to this ballclub.

Posted by Mike

2:38 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Novice--you left out his secret power hitting ability that he is waiting to unveil until just the right time.

Posted by AD

2:40 PM, Aug 06, 2008

ummm, did the Mariners press box rules change, Geoff? Cuz I know that last year when I went to about 10 games the rules were that you were unable to take photos during the game. What are you doing, Geoff?

just thought it was funny that you "happened" to get a shot of the pitch right down the plate that the guy hits for a triple. Obviously you're taking pictures on pretty much every at bat if not every pitch or so...

Posted by Jasime

2:40 PM, Aug 06, 2008

shouldnt Willie be out on the bench or something and not posting on this blog right now???

Posted by The Ancient Mariner

3:02 PM, Aug 06, 2008

As several of you have noted, we do not need another so so outfield prospect for Washburn. Yet many do not see the advantage of simple salary relief in the case of Washburn. The M's have serious sunk costs with the likes of Batista, Johijima and Silva, not to mention Washburn. Moving Washburn for salary relief helps to defer the sunk costs involved with these other poor signings made by Bonehead Bill (Johjima excepted as he is the product of ownership). So a trade of Washburn for salary relief also gives the means of dealing with at least one of the sunk costs underachieving players - Batista, Silva, Johjima. It becomes a two for one improvement via subtraction of one loser's salary and then eating another's. A wise GM would jump at the chance to get Washburn's salary off the books. Trade him now for salary relief.

Posted by Bill

3:02 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Geoff, thanks for answering my question. It's not an ideal situation for the team to be in regarding an important defensive position, plus the fact that this team needs offense from everyone in the lineup.

Posted by Ben

3:08 PM, Aug 06, 2008

So, say we have the same team that we're currently fielding for next year. What big free agents would the mariners pick up and where would they put them?

Our outfield is crowded, if we're going to stick with Ibanez, Reed, Ichiro and Balentin. LaHair has been decent at 1st and could develop into something good. Lopez and Betancourt don't figure to go anywhere. Beltre is our 3rd baseman. And then we have 3 catchers.

So where do you put that big power hitter that we've all been asking for?

Posted by kranky

3:18 PM, Aug 06, 2008

The Ms have a mess at catcher. It will be interesting to see what they do about it.

If Clement sucks defensively there's no point having him play the position. Bring up Rob Johnson and put Clement (or Joh) at 1B or DH.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

3:19 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Ben - LaHair can be a bench player or trade bait, if there's a legit power solution at 1b. Reed, the same, if you can find a legit LF power bat (moving Raul to DH). I'm not so convinced Betancourt's job is secure; there's just so few decent SS to be had in general (certainly not ready in 09 in the M's minors) that he's safe for now. And well, enough has been said about Joh's cholesterol, I mean contract, and there's not much remaining for power catchers available either.

So yeah. 1b. LF. DH. RF if you move Ichiro to CF and leave Reed on the bench.

Posted by Mike

3:19 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Ben---Reed is probably a fourth outfielder. If Ibanez is with the team it will most likely be as DH and we have no idea how Balentien or LaHair will turn out. There's plenty of room. That's why the rest of the season is important so we can evaluate what holes we might have.

Posted by Yuni for breakfast

3:25 PM, Aug 06, 2008

The Twins are a perfect example of what the Mariners should aspire to be. The Twins are perennial contenders on a limited budget.

They lost Tori Hunter, Johan Santana and Matt Garza, yet they continue to compete. The Mariners add an "ace" Bedard, and bomb.

The Twins do pretty much everything well. Pitch, hit, bunt, steal H&R. Ron Gardenhire is an excellent old school field manager who commands respect from his players.

I find it incredible that they lost Santana and Garza, but still run out a stable of talented young starting pitching. Blackburn, Perkins, Baker, Slowey and Liriano are all under 28 years old.

The Mariners should take a close look at this Twin organization. It is run the right way. I hope the M's can emulate their succes. Soon.

Posted by Ben

3:27 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Well it does not seem likely to me that Ibanez will be a DH. He seems to hit better when he plays in the field.

If LaHair can be a doubles hitter and bat .280-.300, that's fine - as long as balentin steps up and hits for average and power. Beltre could also have a bounce back year next year.

I just think we have a bit of a messed up outfield and catcher situation. I think it actually has a good deal to do with the Japanese players. We won't get rid of Ichiro, so he is pretty much written in with a pen for that RF spot. Johjima has a lot of money behind him and 3 years... so he really can't go anywhere.

I just hope that who ever the mariners go after, they get someone who actually will produce in the AL (ie not Cirillo, Sexson, Aurillia, Spiezio, etc.)

Posted by Waz

3:28 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Interesting matchup..

washBURN vs blackBURN.

GO MARINERS! Hopefully they can comeback for victory like they did in last two games.

Posted by Thunderchicken

3:30 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Francisco Liriano was a reliever turned starter who got injured. Joba Chamberlain also. Then you have Papelbon who was going to be starter but the Sox kept him as closer and no injuries.

Should the M's rethink this whole Morrow to the rotation thing? I mean he's not very helpful to us if he's on the DL.

Posted by Ben

3:36 PM, Aug 06, 2008

No they shouldn't rethink Morrow. He's got a sturdy body and a smooth delivery - hence the reason they took him over Lincecum (who i wouldn't be surprised if he broke down next year).

What i do find funny is that the Yankees were desperate for pitching and the guy they traded to get Xavier Nady has pitched in two games for hte pirates - pitching 15 innings of shutout baseball (including a complete game today - almost no hitter). Sucks to their asmar.

Posted by G Unit

3:38 PM, Aug 06, 2008

liriano had a pretty unconventional delivery/one pitch (i forget which one) that really wore his arm down if i remember correctly, so he isn't really a good example. and now he's still poised to become a true ace in the next year or two if he finds his way back.

Posted by Mike

3:42 PM, Aug 06, 2008

"Well it does not seem likely to me that Ibanez will be a DH. He seems to hit better when he plays in the field."

He's only DHd twice this year. I would think that saving wear and tear might prolong his career as a hitter and then there is the problem of being a -20 run defender. Of course the Ms don't value defense so you might be right.

Posted by ricofoy

3:47 PM, Aug 06, 2008

So much for the Joba rules. They didn't do a damn bit of good. Hopefully, the Morrow rules will turn out differently but I have a bad feeling. Meanwhile, little fragile Timmy Lincecum, with the unorthodox mechanics, pitches yet another gem. It will never cease to amaze me how the Mariner's didn't draft this local kid. Everyone associated with that move should do the honorable thing and resign.
And speaking of honorable things to do, Johjima should tear up his contract and go back to Japan. When Geoff said huge fan base, he had to have been talking about Japan because I don't know a single person in the states who can stand him. (as a player).
Vidro should accept his demotion to Tacoma and start his coaching career. He is a class act.
Clement is not going to make it as a catcher unless he starts hitting like Piazza used to.

Posted by Ben

3:48 PM, Aug 06, 2008

I really don't get the whole pinch hitting for Reed thing... he's been hitting everything lately. I don't care if the matchup is better for Willie Bloomquist... it just seems like a slap in the face to Reed and counter-productive to the team.

Posted by jangle

3:50 PM, Aug 06, 2008

ahh why pinch hit for REED.. frickin WHY!!!?!?! god asldkjasdl;k

Posted by BrianL

3:53 PM, Aug 06, 2008

That pretty much sums up the way Adrian Beltre's season has gone for him.

Posted by Novice

3:54 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Give Bloomquist props where props are due. He has been there whenever the M's have needed him. The guy just never quits. I agree the he should pinch hit for Reed. He has better plate dicipline and knows how to come up with the big hit late in the game.

Posted by drake

3:54 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Yeah, hard to argue that Span 'knew where to play him.' That was an amazing catch.

Posted by ken

4:23 PM, Aug 06, 2008

Now that the situation re. Vidro has been rectified, it is time tofocus on what will be the future regarding Kenji. Kenji does not really have a future with this team as catcher as in addition to Clement, we have Rob Johnson and Adam Moore as top prospects at AAA & AA. Kenji is not a good defensive (or offensive) catcher and does not help pitchers out by doing the little things that will influence a game - work the umpires, frame pitches, etc. Kenji should be transitioned beginning in Sept. to a platoon role at 1B with LaHair. If Kenji doesn't like it, so be it - everyone, including the FO, would be overjoyed if he asked to have his contract sold to a Japanese team.

Posted by Mike

4:32 PM, Aug 06, 2008

The Kenji situation is certainly a mess but moving him to 1b or DH is not a good option. Even when he was hitting well for a catcher he was not hitting well for a DH or 1Bman. Putting him there will cost you runs and we need all of those we can get.

Just imagine if we hadn't extended Joh or signed Silva. We'd have $20M available for next year and $40M over the lives of those contracts. Paying top $$ for good free agents is fine. Paying that for players whose contributions be equaled by those making much less (Kyle Lohse and Cha Seung Baek say hello) is really stupid.

Posted by doug

4:34 PM, Aug 06, 2008

MARROW WOULD HAVE SAVED US THIS LOSS FROM LOW OMFG RETARTED GM

Posted by David Gee

4:34 PM, Aug 06, 2008

It's becoming all too apparent that Yuni is just stupid and uncoachable.

Posted by Jonathan

4:35 PM, Aug 06, 2008

"I really don't get the whole pinch hitting for Reed thing... he's been hitting everything lately. I don't care if the matchup is better for Willie Bloomquist... it just seems like a slap in the face to Reed and counter-productive to the team.'

Reed's 3 for 38 hitting against lefties the past 3 years is the slap in the face. He almost killed a rally last night against a lefty hitting a weak grounder to the pitcher that could of been a double play.

It was a good matchup by Riggleman, just one you lose sometime.

Posted by downonstrikes

8:29 AM, Aug 07, 2008

Actually, a very good lineup for this game.

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